Raw Chai Coconut Pecan Brownies

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This week has been crazy.  Tom’s in the middle of an insane work schedule.  14 hour days for 2 weeks straight.  I have a 4 month old and a 9 year old who is acting more like a 15 year old lately.  Its been stressful, I don’t know how we do it.  I am so glad it’s almost over.

I’ve been craving sweets all week, but since I cut out dairy and eggs most of my favorites are off the menu.  A friend of mine recommended I try raw vegan desserts.  So I did some research and found this one at Green Kitchen Stories.  I have been a longtime follower of their blog.  I LOVE the photography.  Just beautiful.  I love macro and started out shooting macro with my grandpa’s camera a long time ago.  When it came time to take pictures of these brownies I dusted off my macro filters and began playing.

I had to change up the recipe a little since I didn’t have syrup or hazelnuts.  Plus I wanted more coconut flavor.

They. Were. Awesome.  Like incredibly awesome.  Especially when smeared with honey roasted peanut butter.

Raw Chai, Coconut & Pecan Brownies

  • 2 cups of pitted Medjool dates
  • 4 tbsp of extra virgin coconut oil, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp honey (or maple syrup)
  • 6 tbsp raw cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 bags of chai tea, cut open bags and use tea.
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

1.  If you have a good food processor then just throw everything except the pecans in and let it go, scraping down the sides occasionally, until its thick and pasty.  My magic bullet didn’t cut it, so I chopped up the dates until very fine.  Mixed all the ingredients in one by one with a spoon and then mashed everything with a fork until it was thick like paste.  Add the pecans and fold in until they are spread throughout the dough.

2.  Press the dough into a parchment lined brownie tin.  It should be about 1/2 inch thick.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

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Cookie Month: Caramel, Walnut and Chocolate Thumbprints

I woke early.  The morning was unusually quiet.  Fog enshrouded our hill and the valleys beyond it dampening any sound.  I put the kettle on the stove, made a fire and then sat on the couch for a while just staring at the landscape, the fog, the apple trees.  Suddenly I was overcome by a desire to walk amongst it all.  To be there in it.  I headed back to the bedroom to change, wrote a note to Tom and headed down the road.  I eventually ended up in a big apple orchard near my house.  It was beautiful.  The leaves were yellow and occasionally the lightest breeze would shake one loose and it would twirl silently through the fog to rest on the ground.

I am amazed by the bounty of life in this place.  Maybe it’s because I was raised in the desert where life is harsh and brutal.  Out there you are more likely to come across a pile of bones than a live animal.  Northern CA is very different.  I found late blackberries still growing on vines near my road.  Mushrooms everywhere.  Those red ones were gigantic and were growing right next to our mailbox.  I found tracks for a small herd of deer, but not the deer themselves.  Starlings have flocked to the vineyards by the hundreds gobbling up everything the pickers have left behind.  With them came extra hawks and turkey vultures looking for the slowest birds of the flock.  Plus we have been on the lookout for raccoons, opossums, and foxes breaking into our bird house.

Its been fascinating to watch the transformation of the vineyards.  The brilliant colors were completely unexpected.  I thought grape leaves just turned brown and fell because that’s what the grapevines back home did, but here is different.  Its been a pleasure to drive past them each morning and watch as the leaves transform from green to yellow to russet and then suddenly vanish overnight in the crazy windstorm we had.  Now the vines are beautiful in their stark barrenness.  Perfect rows of empty brown vines reaching for the sky.  Bright green grass blanketing the paths between and eventually disappearing into the low fog that hugs the foothills beyond.

All this beautiful winter weather really put me into the Christmas spirit.  I started by joining in on the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.  You can check out all 500+ cookie recipes through that link.  The cookies I received were awesome and I cant wait to participate next year.

When I was 6 my new step-father moved into our house bringing with him a passion for Christmas cookies that he could trace all the way back to his Ohio born great grandmother.  I have many happy memories of deciphering her 100 year old recipes,  mixing the dough, freezing dough, sneaking bites of dough, and making more cookies than anyone would ever want to make in a weekend.  We would send these cookies out to every person my stepfather had ever met and then sink down with exhaustion and swear not to make another cookie until next Christmas.  Of course, that never lasts.

I asked my stepdad if I could share some of his family’s recipes and got a resounding NO!  Instead I am testing out new recipes for my old favorites starting with caramel, shortbread and nuts.  Any combo of these ingredients and I am in love.  This year I came across an awful recipe for Caramel Walnut Thumbprint Cookies.  I wont say which recipe it was, just know it involved a lot of premade ingredients!  What does matter is that I completely reworked the recipe and came out with something I really liked.  The chocolate cookie base is Alice Waters Pate Sucree recipe I have used before with a little chocolate powder thrown in.  The caramel sauce recipe belongs to David Lebovitz.  His helpful instructions on making caramel were vital to my success.  Hope you enjoy them!

Caramel, Walnut & Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

For the cookies

  • 8 tbsp butter (1 stick), softened at room temp for 15 minutes
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk, room temp
  • 1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp chocolate powder
  • 1 cup of crushed walnuts

1.  Preheat the oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  In a small bowl stir together the flour and chocolate powder and set aside.

2.  In a medium sized bowl beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth & creamy.

3.  Add the salt, vanilla and egg yolk and mix until completely combined.

3.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until until there are no dry patches.  Form into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap.  Chill for 4 hours in the fridge.

4.  When firm let the dough soften on the counter for 15 minutes then break off pieces of dough and roll into 1 inch balls.  Roll the balls in the crushed walnuts.  You may need to press the nuts into the ball slightly.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet about 1 inch apart.  Press your thumb into the center of each ball making a crater like depression.

5.  Bake in a preheated oven for 12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and fill the depressions with warmed caramel sauce.  Bake cookies for another 3-5 minutes or until the caramel smooths out.  Let them cool completely before serving.

For the Caramel Sauce

This is David Lebovitz’s recipe found via The Purple Foodie.

He sure to read David’s Caramel Help Page before attempting to make caramel.

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp sea salt

1.  Spread the sugar evenly over the bottom of a light-colored heavy pot.  I like using my white enameled cast iron pot.  Heat the sugar over medium heat without stirring very much until the sugar is completely melted and has turned a rich amber brown.  Gently swirl the pot or push the sugar toward the middle of the pot if it looks like it is darkening too quickly.

2.  When the color resembles the top photo on David’s help page, a rich amber brown, very carefully take the pot off the heat and carefully add the butter & cream.  Expect foaming and bubbling so stand back and let it go for a few seconds.  When the steam has cleared stir everything until smooth.  Stir in the salt.  Let cool.

Store in a bell jar in the fridge.  It will last for weeks.  Eat from the jar with spoons or put on ice cream, or cookies, or on top of my Chocolate Tart.

Back on Track Granola

Back on Track Granola

I stepped onto the scale for a bi-weekly weigh in. Oh crap. Do my eyes deceive me? Is it true? I groan and step off.

“Tom, somehow I gained ten pounds in the last few weeks!”

Tom smiles and crosses the room to hug me from behind. We both look into the bathroom mirror.

“You always look incredible to me.” He kisses the top of my head, pats me on the bottom and heads back into the bedroom. Easy for him to say, he could eat a whole cow and not gain an ounce. I look back into the mirror with a critical eye. I call them stretch marks, Tom calls them battle scars. I think my hips are too wide, he thinks I actually look like a woman and not a ten-year old boy.

Had I really been eating that bad? Well, I have been drinking a lot more juice instead of water or my always present green tea. Those caramel coconut walnut brownies I made for dessert on Easter were to die for, but probably not the greatest thing for my blood sugar… or my behind.  I also made my chocolate chip cookies last week, which were heavenly.  And I have been reaching for the butter and even reserved bacon fat instead of olive oil when I want to fry something.  A quick glance at my twitter feed told me what I already knew, I had been indulging, like its Christmas.

Back on Track Granola

I guess its time to get back on track.  My energy has been low and I feel sluggish during the day.  Unmotivated even.  So I am starting with a healthier breakfast.  I often skip breakfast (gasp!), but lately I have been eating brunch instead.  A lot of brunch.  Pancakes covered in real maple syrup, lots of fried eggs in butter, and bacon…  oh bacon…

No! No bacon!  At least not until I lose these extra 10 pounds.  Then I can have a little bacon.

OK, OK back to the granola.  This one is not too different from the granola bars I posted a while back.  They use the same ingredients with lots of room for variation.  I can eat this granola all day.  In a bowl with milk in the morning (warm or cold), on a salad for lunch and sprinkled on top of a cup of plain yogurt with fresh berries for dessert.

Back on Track Granola

Back on Track Granola

  • 3 cups of old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup crushed cashews (or peanuts, or walnuts, or brazil nuts, or a mix)
  • 1 cup of roasted sunflower seeds, without shells
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (or raisins, or apricots, or cherries, you get it right?)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup or a richly flavored honey (or a mix of both!)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips (optional – not optional for me, but maybe for you)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Grind 1/2 cup of the oats to a flour in a food processor.  This is an optional step, but the flour helps clump the granola.  In a large bowl combine oats, oat flour, nuts, seeds and brown sugar.  In a smaller bowl mix together the maple syrup/honey with the oil and salt.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together.  Mixing with your hands is the way to go here.  Just get in there and pretend to be five again making mud pies.

When everything is well coated spread onto two lightly oiled sheet pans and bake for about 75 minutes.  Carefully stir oats around with a spatula every 15-20 minutes while baking so they cook evenly.

When finished, remove from the oven and transfer to a large bowl.  Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before stirring in the chocolate chips.  I like my chips to melt and stick to the nuts around them.  If you want yours to stay solid then wait until your granola is completely cool before adding the chocolate.  Store in a large glass jar or ziptop bag and enjoy.  Makes one week worth of granola, enough for a family of 4.
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A Working Man’s Granola Bar

Granola Bars

“I am starving!  I haven’t eaten for hours.”

I walk in the living room to find Tom sitting on a chair by the door kicking off his muddy boots and peeling back layers of dusty clothes.  He casually drops them at his feet and heads straight for the kitchen.

As he passes me I glance back toward the mess by the door.  That will have to come later.  I know that “I haven’t eaten for hours” means since lunch, which was 6-7 hours ago.

“You know, you really need to bring a snack to work for the afternoons.”

“I don’t have time to clean up and sit down to eat something at 4 pm.  We are getting ready to go.  Then there is the commute home.  No time.  I need something I can eat while I work, that will give me enough energy to finish the day, and it has to have a wrapper because my hands get filthy.” To prove his point he holds up ten stained fingers and heads to the sink with a bottle of orange scrub.

Hmmm, a healthy, non-perishable, energy powerhouse that is hand-held with a wrapper…  Granola Bars, of course!

Granola Bars

Granola Bars

(This recipe is adapted from Alton Brown’s Granola Bars)

  • 2 cups of old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup of raw sunflower seeds, without shells
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/8 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of various dried fruit and nuts.  I used 1/2 each of raisins, cashews and walnuts.  But you could use any other dried fruit or nut.  Just chop them up first.
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips for mixing in bars
  • 1/2 – 1 cup chocolate chips for melting on top of bars

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 9×9 inch pan.

2.  Spread the oats, seeds and nuts onto a cookie sheet.  Toast in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Be sure to stir everything around occasionally for even browning.

Nuts and SeedsNuts and Seeds

3.  While those are toasting combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat.  Stir slowly with a wire whisk until the brown sugar is completely dissolved.

4.  When the oats and nuts are done reduce the heat of the oven to 300F and add them to the sugar mixture in the saucepan.  Add the dried fruit and stir well to completely coat everything in the honey sugar mixture.  Add 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.  Mix gently to combine.  Its okay if they melt a little just try to keep some chunks of chocolate in there.  Dump everything into the 9×9 pan and pat it down flat.

5.  Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips over the top.  Let them sit for a few minutes until the have turned a darker color.  Spread the melted chocolate chips over the top of the bars.  Allow to cool on the counter then refrigerate for a couple of hours until the chocolate hardens.  When the chocolate has hardened remove the bars from the pan and cut into 16 squares.  Wrap each individually in plastic wrap and store on the counter for up to a week.

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Granola Bars

Chocolate Truffle Cake or the From the Bottom of My Heart Cake

Chocolate Truffle Cake

My Dearest Husband,

Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.  You are amazing and you prove it everyday.  We made this cake just to say how much we appreciate everything you have done for us.

Love,

Us

With my note finished I could now deliver what would be my 5th From the Bottom of My Heart Cake.  My Mom discovered this recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook a few years ago and decided to make it for a friend who had recently helped cut down the 3 ft tall grass in Mom’s backyard.  A considerable task that far outstretched our resources and energy.  The next cake was gifted to a trusted doctor, another went to an understanding babysitter and so on until it suddenly was our family thing.  When we are bowled over by a person’s generosity we bake them this cake, when a friend has gone above and beyond the call of friendship, we bake them this cake.  It has become a tradition, steeped in love and appreciation for those around us. 

This particular cake is for my husband.  Since Christmas he has worked consecutive 55 hr work weeks while we search for a new employee.  All the while performing his job spectacularly.  He has proven to his bosses and coworkers that he is a gentle and guiding teacher, a diplomatic negotiator and expert handler of all things grouchy, human and animal alike. We are so proud of him and want him to know how much he means to us.

My daughter and I spent the later part of the afternoon in the kitchen.  She learned to melt chocolate in a double boiler and crushed nuts with her favorite mortar and pestle, the wooden one with the handle that fits so perfectly into her hand.  We watched with wonder as the eggs were whipped from little spheres of bright yellow into a light and airy froth which was then folded back into the chocolate magically transforming once again.  Into the oven it goes.  She watches through the oven window as the cake puffs itself like a hot air balloon.  “Mom its going to explode!”

“Not to worry my dear.  Its done cooking, but not done transforming.  Watch how it sinks and cracks as it cools.  The cake is showing us its personality.  Just like people, each cake is different.  They change as they get older with cracks, puckers and wrinkles here and there.  I promise when the cake is completely cool it will look different again.”

I stick our cake in the fridge as she scampers off to draw a new cartoon about cooking a giant brownie.  For her six year old mind baking is like magic.  Watching her enjoy baking is magic for me too.

Chocolate Truffle Cake

From the Bottom of My Heart Cake

(The original recipe was the Chocolate Truffle Cake from the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook)

Crust

  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts (our favorite), toasted and coarsely ground
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Filling

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • Two 8oz packages of semisweet chocolate chips or 16 oz of other high quality semisweet or dark chocolate, cut up
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Whipped Cream, for serving (this is not really optional in my opinion)

Supplies

  • 9 inch spring form pan
  • Saucepan and metal bowl for melting chocolate
  • a second large bowl for beating eggs
  • hand mixer or standing mixer

1.  To make the crust stir the crust ingredients together in a bowl until well mixed.  Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a springform pan with butter and press the crust into the bottom.  Set aside.

2.  Warm the whipping cream in a double boiler over low heat (find out how to make your own double boiler here).  Add the chocolate and stir gently until the chocolate is completely melted and combined with the whipping cream.  It should look smooth as silk.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

3.  Preheat the oven to 325F.  Add the eggs, sugar, and flour to a large mixing bowl and beat together with a mixer for ten minutes.  It will change color and texture becoming a thick and smooth pale lemon yellow.

4.  Fold 1/4 of the egg mixture into the chocolate then fold all the chocolate into the egg mixture.  Folding them together this way helps retain the air we spent ten minutes whipping into the eggs while also bringing the temperature of the warm chocolate and cool eggs closer together.  Pour into your prepared pan.  Try not to lick the bowls, rinse them out in the sink and leave on the stove to dry.

5.  Bake at 325F for about 45 minutes.  The edges and halfway to the center should be puffed up.  The center should be slightly soft and jiggly.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.  Remove the sides of the pan and let cool until room temperature before moving to the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours.  Serve with whipped cream.  Store leftovers covered and in the refrigerator.

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(No recipe card for this one.  Sorry!  You can print it by clicking the Print Friendly button)

Deep Chocolate Brownies for Big Boys

Deep Chocolate Brownies

It is almost dinner time and I am chopping carrots for stir fry when Tom walks though the garage door chattering away on his bluetooth.  He waves and blows me a kiss as he heads into the backyard with a falcon.  Another work phone call.  Or so I thought.  A few minutes later he is back through the door.

“D- is coming to visit on his way back to Oregon.  He should be here Friday afternoon.”

He is trying to keep his voice steady, but his bright eyes and flushed cheeks betray him.  As much as he tries to control it I can feel the joy radiating from him.  D- is Tom’s best friend and has spent most of the last 6 years fighting with the 82nd Airborne in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He has faced death far too many times for a young man and come through it miraculously alive, although not untouched physically, mentally and spiritually.  His service term has finished and with many battle scars he is finally home for good.

When I hear Tom’s words painful memories of my own best friend John, killed in Iraq on St. Patrick’s day 2007, are brought to the surface.  I can still see his smiling face as he runs down the grassy field at our high school.  Suddenly he springs into one back-handspring after the next without stopping until he reached the fence line where he always landed on his feet eyes wild with adrenaline.

“Really, that’s great!  It will be nice to see him.” I move in for a hug.  His arms encircle me and for a moment I feel myself try to soak him in closer to me.  My mind fantasizing that perhaps if I imagined hard enough I could squeeze him into myself and never let him go.  That is, until a sour acrid odor invades my nose.  Laughing I push him away, “Yuck! You stink like falcon crap and the landfill.  Go shower so I can hug you!”

Feeling mildly disgusted as well as blissfully happy, I head back into the kitchen to wash up and find something special to make for D-. If I remember correctly, chocolate was his favorite.  I began to rustle through my recipe box.  Yes, here it is.  A perfect choice.

(Click on recipe card to save and print.  It is designed to be printed on 5×7 photo paper and stuck in a card file, on the fridge or given to a friend.)

Deep Chocolate Brownies

  • 1 stick of butter, cut into pieces
  • 10 oz of Dark Chocolate, cut into pieces or chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Supplies

  • medium-sized metal mixing bowl
  • small saucepan
  • wooden spoon or scraper
  • aluminum foil or parchment paper
  • 8×8 baking dish

Preheat oven to 325F.  Line 8×8 pan with foil or parchment paper.

Melt chocolate and butter together in a double boiler.  I use a metal bowl and a small saucepan for this step. After they are completely melted and combined remove from heat and add sugar.  Mix well.

Stir in eggs one at a time, incorporating each in well before adding the next.  Stir in vanilla extract.

Stir in flour and salt mixing until almost combined.  Add walnuts and chocolate chips.  Mix until all flour is incorporated but try not to overmix.

Bake at 325F for 35-40 minutes.  Check for doneness with a toothpick.  You want the toothpick to come out dry with a couple of crumbs clinging to it.  Don’t over cook these.  Its better to slightly undercook then overcook these brownies.  Cool 45 minutes before slicing.

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Recipe adapted from The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle.

Disappearing Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter Rice Treats

Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter Rice Treats

Tom arrived home from a 12 hour work day with his partner right behind him.  Both guys were exhausted and hungry from spending the day walking through hills and searching the sky for birds.  As they headed into the kitchen to clean up Tom spotted a plate of Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Rice Treats cut into squares and left on the counter only a few minutes before.

Without a thought he shoved one treat into his mouth while handing his partner a second.  Crunchy peanut butter and cereal mixed with chunks of chocolate and gooey marshmallow wiped away the rumbling growls coming from his empty stomach.  Before they realized what had happened the plate is nearly empty and Tom guiltily came looking for me in the living room.

“Honey, are those rice treats for anything special?”

“Not really, I just wanted to take pictures of them for my blog.  You can have a couple if you want.”

Trying not to sound worried he asks, “Are you going to need more than two?”

I look up from my book, eyes narrowing, “Why?”

“Well, I had a couple, and K had a couple, and now there are two left.”

At this time K walks up behind Tom, “These are the best Rice Treats I have ever had!  They are awesome!”

Tom joins in hoping to get out of trouble.  “Yea! Aren’t they great!”

I grin, my hands on my hips, “I am happy you like them, however, both you suck-ups keep your paws off the last two treats.  I haven’t photographed them yet!”

That settles it then.  They are as good as I thought they were.  I smile and settle back into my book.


I am experimenting with printable recipes.  The one above was designed to be printed on 5×7 photo paper and stuck in a card file, on the fridge or given to a friend.  My printer ran out of ink so I wasn’t able to do a test print.  Please let me know how it prints up!  I have also written out the recipe below which you can print by clicking here.

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Also, don’t sell any of my images or recipe cards in any way, thank you!

Chocolate Chip & Peanut Butter Puffy Rice Treats

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter plus a little extra for greasing
  • 3 heaping spoonfuls of peanut butter
  • 3 cups of mini marshmallows (1/2 of a bag)
  • 3 cups puffy rice cereal
  • 2 handfuls of chocolate chips

Supplies

  • 8×8 baking pan
  • aluminum foil
  • wooden or other strong spoon
  • spatula

Get everything together beforehand because this goes fast!

1.  Cover a 8×8 inch baking pan with tin foil.  Coat the tin foil with butter and set aside.

2.  Melt the butter on low heat in a heavy pot.  When melted add the peanut butter and stir until smooth.

3.  Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted and incorporated into the peanut butter.

4.  Add puffy rice cereal and stir until completely covered in marshmallow.  Remove from the heat and mix in 2 big handfuls of chocolate chips.  Fold these in gently, but be quick about it.  They will start to melt so you want to mix fast because you do not want them to melt completely.

5.  When the chocolate chips are mixed in dump everything into the greased foil covered pan and press flat and into the corners.  Allow to cool completely before lifting them from the pan holding the foil.  Peel the foil off and cut into 9 large squares.

Hide some for yourself then share and enjoy!

No Bake Chocolate Tart for a Happy Husband

Chocolate TartChocolate Tart

While rolling out the dough for this tart my husband called from work for our ritual lunchtime chat.  I could tell right away that he was not in the brightest mood.  As I rubbed flour across the rolling pin and began to flatten the round of dough on the table he vented his frustrations about employees, morning traffic and extra meetings.  I listened quietly, as I always do when he is in this mood, agreeing that morning traffic is terribly frustrating and extra meetings are indeed inconvenient.

When he paused, and I was sure he was feeling less angry I took a deep breath, and hoping to make his day better said, “I am making a chocolate tart for dessert.  It should be done by the time you get home.”

“…. Really… a chocolate tart… that sounds really good right about now…” His voice sounds brighter, more cheerful.  I know I am getting to him.  I go in for the kill.

“Yes, sweetie.  Its full of dark chocolate and cream in a sweet flaky dough, not like pie crust at all, more like a sweet shortbread cookie full of chocolate truffles.  I even have whipped cream for the top.  We can eat it while watching the newest episode of IRT: Deadliest Roads.” This is his favorite show right now.  “Does that sound like a plan?”

Chocolate Tart

“That sounds great!  What’s for dinner?” I got him.  He has forgotten about traffic, employees and meetings.  His mind is now on more important things… like what kind of pasta pairs best with sausage and mushrooms.

Chocolate Tart for a Happy Husband

Recipe from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters.  My favorite and most used cookbook.

  • 6 oz dark chocolate, chopped or use good quality chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • one baked and cooled sweet tart crust, recipe on bottom of post

Chocolate Tart

1.  Warm cream in a stainless steel bowl.  I used a double boiler method for this step.  To do this place a medium-sized bowl over a pot 1/3 full of very warm, but not boiling water.  Put your stove on low to keep the water hot.  This is a gentle way to melt chocolate without burning it.  Be sure to keep all water away from the chocolate or it can seize and will be ruined.

Chocolate Tart - Chopping Chocolate

2.  When the cream is almost too hot to touch, remove from the heat, add the chocolate and gently stir to melt and completely combine.  Careful, if you stir too quickly your chocolate will form bubbles.

3.  When the chocolate and cream are completely combined, but still very warm pour chocolate into the pre-baked tart crust.  Gently tap the side of the tart pan to even out the filling.

Chocolate Tart

4.  Leave tart to cool for an hour then very carefully move it into the refrigerator until completely firm, about 2-3 hours.

5.  You must eat this with whipped cream and a glass of milk, there is no other way.

This tart is just screaming for flavor additives.  Peppermint, almond, rum, brandy, orange and that’s just the beginning.

Pate Sucree (Sweet Tart Dough)

  • 1 stick of butter, softened on the counter for 15 minutes
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (unbleached)

1.  Beat butter until smooth.  Add sugar and beat until fluffy and creamy.

2.  Add salt, vanilla and the egg yolk.  Beat until combined.

3.  Add flour and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough is crumbly and most of the flour is mixed in.  Mix the rest by hand until all flour is gone and the dough forms a ball.

4.  The dough must be refrigerated before rolling so place the ball onto a long piece of plastic wrap.  Flatten the ball with the palm of your hand into a disk shape.  Wrap in the plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours or up to two days.  You can also store this in the freezer for a couple of months, but you have to refrigerate it overnight to thaw before using.

5.  When ready to use take dough out of the fridge 20 minutes before you are ready to roll so it can soften a little.  I found it easiest to roll the dough between two sheets of floured wax or parchment paper until it is 1/8 inch thick.

Chocolate Tart - Rolling Out Sweet Dough

6.  Remove the top piece of wax paper and slide your hand under the dough and on top to support it.  Then carefully flip it over onto a tart pan.  Its okay if it breaks a little, you can reroll it, or just patch the cracks with extra dough.  Very carefully remove the last piece of wax paper and tuck the dough into the tart pan edges.

Chocolate Tart
7.  Trim the edges with your fingers and save the extra dough for jam thumbprint cookies.  Prick the dough all over with a fork and place the whole thing in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to rest. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 350F.

8.  Bake shell in the oven for 15 minutes or until it’s a light golden brown.  Halfway through baking check the tart and very gently pat down any bubbles that might be forming.  When its finished baking cool the shell completely before filling and unmolding.

Fill tart shell with any kind of sweet no bake fillings and enjoy!