Until my husband Ted, Cousin Martin and I visited Tlacolula, a small village near Oaxaca, on a New Year's Eve some years ago, I didn't really "get" Mexican chocolate. The only business open on the holiday, save for the three-table restaurant where we had the most incredible mole colorado of all time, was the village grindery, where people would bring their grain, coffee or chocolate to be ground. As we walked along the main street, we caught the distinct aromas of chocolate and cinnamon which, together with sugar, make what we know as Mexican chocolate. These cookies don't use actual Mexican chocolate but they incorporate all of the key flavors, plus the tiniest bit of cayenne pepper, which doesn't make the cookies spicy, but simply must be there. The first time we made them, we used a Scharffen Berger mocha dark chocolate bar, and the addition of the coffee taste took these cookies over the top.
Continue reading "Recipe for Mexican chocolate cookies" »
One of the disadvantages of working at home -- and there are few, really -- becomes very obvious when you bake something as irresistible as these fudge mocha brownies. If you work outside the house, you can bring your baked goodies with you and distribute them among your colleagues, who will do a happy dance when they see these brownies coming. However, when you work at home, and the kitchen is in the center of your house, and you must walk through the kitchen to get from your office to any other room or to the front door or the back door, and the aroma of fudgy brownies cooling on the countertop grabs you each time you pass by... well, you understand the problem. As you know, I'm not much of a baker, but I've been having great success with recipes from Cooking Light Quick Baking, a magazine special published in Fall 2010. It took me longer to collect the ingredients from the pantry than to put these brownies together. The original recipe calls for a crushed toffee topping, but they're rich enough without it.
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Here in my log house kitchen, we're setting up for our annual Drop In & Decorate® cookies-for-donation event this coming weekend. Over two days, more than 50 people will stop by to decorate the world's best sugar cookies for donation to nonprofit agencies serving our neighbors facing the challenges of hunger, homelessness or domestic violence.
At the same time, I know many of you are baking for your annual cookie exchanges with friends or family.
So, it seems like the perfect time to swap some of our very favorite cookie recipes, made with ingredients we always have in the pantry -- as we say here in Rhode Island, flauwah, sugah and buddah -- the cookies we'd bring to a cookie exchange.
Continue reading "The Perfect Pantry's favorite cookie recipes. (Want to swap?)" »
One scientific thing to know about artificial sweetener:
For many people, including those with diabetes, artificial sweeteners are a fact of life, but not all are created equal. In fact, not all are created the same way. Splenda® (sucralose) is the only one made from real sugar, by moving some atoms around on the sucrose (sugar) molecule. The change in molecular structure prevents the "sugar" from being absorbed into the body (i.e., no calories). It's more a modified product than an artificial one. On the other hand, both Equal (aspartame) and Sweet 'N Low (saccharin) are made from chemicals that, when combined, form crystals.
If controlling your blood sugar is an issue, please check with your doctor before incorporating any artificial sweetener into your diet. Stevia might be a good natural option.
Continue reading "Artificial sweetener (Recipe: sugar-free Colombian cocoa muffins)" »