after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Archive for the ‘Chocolate’ Category

In Ina We Trust

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t says:  A while ago, g got me some bananas.  For some unknown reason, these bananas went un-eaten (very unlike me).  But I had no fear … because when bananas go bad, g shifts into banana bread mode … and life gets good.

This particular month, she let me choose the recipe – and choose I did.  You see, for me, the only thing banana bread is missing is chocolate, so when google revealed an Ina Garten recipe, it was a done deal.  Here’s the copy-pasted recipe.

For the bread:
– 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 3/4 cup granulated sugar
– 1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (3 to 4 very ripe bananas)
– 1/4 cup sour cream
– 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the streusel topping:
– 3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
– 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
– 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
– 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
– 3 tablespoons sliced blanched almonds

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour an 8x8x2-inch square baking pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer on low, beat in the egg, vanilla, banana, and sour cream and mix until combined. Don’t worry—it may look curdled. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ones. Scrape into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

For the streusel, combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a medium bowl and pinch the ingredients together with your fingers until the mixture makes crumbles. Add the chocolate and combine.

Distribute the streusel evenly over the batter, sprinkle the almonds on top, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan and serve warm or at room temperature.

How’d it turn out?  Take a look:

extreme close-up!

extreme close-up!

How’d it taste?  Heaven.  Seriously.  Pure heaven.  Even g agrees that it was “holy crap” good, not hesitating to mention this recipe to friends immediately.  Throw out anything you might have thought about banana bread, and instead replace it with something more like banana “cake” … with a crazy good topping.  Super-moist, flavorful, accented with just the right amount of chocolate (I went with 60% cacao – the bitterness with a nice foil to the sweet cake) – it was one of the first times that I didn’t wish for something else to add (we did use pecans instead of almonds in the topping, however – they were on sale).  Is it blog-worthy just to put up someone else’s recipe and rave how good it is?  I have no idea – I put it here just so I can find the recipe more easily when it comes time to make it again.  Speaking of which: have we made it again (it’s been about a a month since we made it last)? Hell no.  Why not?  Because I’d eat it all by myself … in a single sitting … sorry g.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

28 August 2016 at 1:45am

olive oil chocolate mousse?

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t says: I came across this bizarre recipe.  Somebody try it out and tell me how it is!

Recipe courtesy of James Beard Foundation

Pastry chef turned Indian take-out queen Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez demonstrated how to make this rich, dairy-free chocolate mousse at her chocolate workshop at the Beard House. The recipe was inspired by her good friend, Teresa Barrenechea, author of The Basque Table (2005) and The Cuisine of Spain: Exploring Regional Home Cooking (2005) and chef/owner of Marichu restaurant in NYC. For the most delicate flavor, choose a sweet, subtle olive oil, such as those produced in the Lake Garda region of Italy.


6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup brewed espresso
2 tablespoons liqueur, such as blackberry brandy

Yield: 8 servings


Melt the chocolate over a double broiler and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer on high speed until light and lemon yellow in color. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, as you would for a mayonnaise. Once the olive oil has been incorporated, add the melted chocolate, espresso, and liqueur. Mix on low speed until combined.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until they form medium peaks. Fold the whites thoroughly into the chocolate mixture and refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

13 February 2014 at 12:47pm

g’s mom conquers bacon-chocolate cupcakes!

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t says:  g and I visited her mom a few days ago, who proceeded to surprise us/me with cupcakes!  And not just any ol’ cupcaktes … bacon-chocolate cupcakes!

homemade bacon chocolate cupcakes

I think she said she was inspired by the latest donut post.  Behold the power of suggestion!

Now, I don’t care if people are now “over” bacon, because I’m sure not!  It’s no surprise then, that these were obviously awesome.  Maybe she’ll point to the recipe she used so that all of you can share in the bacony chocolatey goodness.  I recall her admitting that it wasn’t an easy recipe (requiring espresso, coffee, bacon, etc), but I feel like the steps were worth it, as these were probably the moist-est cupcakes I’ve ever had – blowing away anything from a box.  Furthermore, they survived for days in the fridge with losing only the slightest, if any, moisture (which, in retrospect, is actually kind of weird?! But why complain about not-rock-hard cupcakes?).  The bacon did get chewy by day 3-4, so I’m glad I employed the help of friends to consume them – people seemed more impressed with the cupcake than the bacon.  Oh well.  I liked ’em!

Great job g’s mom!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

25 April 2012 at 6:45pm

Crack Chex

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t says: a pointed out that perhaps I’ve been posting too much about desserts, accusing me of having a sweet tooth.  Well, it’s true.  I do have quite the sweet tooth, especially as stress levels rise (e.g. little is more comforting at midnight-1-2-am than a handful of Swedish Fish … or a Crunch bar … or  Twix).  Things have been more stressful recently, as exams approached, meaning that I have a few more posts about some sweet encounters coming up … sorry a.

The first is a recipe.  It’s not my recipe – and I’m not changing anything about it, so I’ll link you to the original: Crack Chex.  As you can see, it’s not actually called “Crack Chex” … but it should be.  Basically, you melt down chocolate, peanut butter, and butter … toss some cereal in it … and then toss with powdered sugar.  And that’s it.  The end result isn’t exactly “beautiful”, but it tastes awesome!

Crack Chex ain't pretty ... but you're not making it to look at it.

Here are some tips/tricks:

1)  Personally, I use dark chocolate chips – but you might have to cut back a little on how much you use because it can easily overwhelm peanut butter.

2)  As you can see in the pic, there are some other non-Chex shapes in there.  That’s because I replace some of the volume allotted to cereal with some trail mix and/or some of those mixes of dried fruit and nuts – it really punches up the eating experience with different textures and tastes.  I recommend this tactic because without this substitution, the flavors/textures might get a bit monotonous, meaning that you might actually be able to stop eating it at a certain point.  If you do it my way, you break up the monotony so you can easily polish off an entire bowl in a single movie (especially if you get one with dried fruit).  Oh wow.  I just thought that maybe I should do this to popcorn.  That sounds amazing.  I have to try it …

3)  There is genius in this recipe.  And it’s the powdered sugar.  The powdered sugar’s purpose is not just to add sugar – it’s to make it so that you can consume a chocolate-covered snack without getting chocolate all over your fingers.  And the powdered sugar usually sticks to the treat and not to your fingers (unless you’re one of those freaks with really warm hands).

4)  It’s gluten free!!!  So that means that just so long as you coat gluten-free snacks with this chocolate-peanut-butter-sugar concoction, you and your celiac disease suffering friends can enjoy a sinfully sugary snack together.  And the kingdom will rejoice.  Yay!  Ironically, I have no idea if Rice Chex itself is gluten free or not – so before you accidentally cause a lot of horrible GI distress upon your gluten-sensitive friends, check that first!!!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

27 March 2011 at 7:36pm

Chocolate Taste-off: Vosges vs. the World

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t says: Back when I was a wee one, I ate Hershey’s chocolate bars. They were yummy. They had that classic Hershey’s texture where no matter what temperature it was outside, it was soft and flexible – almost like a fudge or really thick ganache. Flash forward 20 years, and I’m still eating Hershey’s chocolate bars … how can you make s’mores without ’em? I guess I don’t consider them to be “fine chocolate”, but I still consider them as tasty … “things”. At a recent Philly food tour, I was introduced to better chocolates and was intrigued … but hadn’t had the chance to really explore these fancier chocolates …

One day a month or so ago, lc sent us some Vosges chocolate, which was flavored with bacon. She thought we’d get a kick out of the concept. I did! My response was “ooooooo, bbaaccoonn …”. But g’s was, “oooooo, Vvoossggeess …”. I had never heard of Vosges, aside from the mountains. g tells me it’s some really nice, really expensive chocolate. I took her word for it. I imagine real choco-philes would probably snub Vosges (much like they snub Max Brenner), instead preferring some kind of chocolate that was had from a certain cocoa plant that was fertilized with a certain type of manure from a sacred cow that fed on a blessed field of grass. Whatever. I was going to judge for myself just how “good” these chocolates were; would they fulfill the ultimate criteria: would I buy it again?

A few weeks passed and I still had not yet tasted the bacon chocolate – I kept holding off until we got more other chocolates to taste with it. Of course, I kept forgetting to pick up other chocolates when I saw them (e.g. at Naked Chocolate Cafe). Then g and I just happened to run into a store in Kennett Square that had a clearance on Vosges – buy one, get one free. I considered it but was not super-convinced it was worth $8 for two bars ($8 each, normally). Then the manager gave me a piece of the Vosges chocolate that featured chiles. I put it in my mouth and was greeted with a nice bitter dark chocolate. As it slowly melted in my mouth, the taste of chocolate increased as the bitterness faded – it was delicious! But then came the heat. Now, I like heat, and I even like heat with my chocolate – but it was a little distracting – it just screamed “I’m hot and I’m here and I killed the chocolate – what are you gonna do about it?”. So I decided that I wanted to try more Vosges but vetoed getting the chile one – we picked up one creole bar (flavored with chicory, espresso, and cocoa nibs) and one naga bar (flavored with curry and coconut milk). The stage was set – we were going to have a four-way taste-off … or so I thought …

Two more weeks passed, and I found myself at the local drug store staring at Cadbury chocolate bars that were on sale for $1. g and I have a thing for Cadbury fruit-and-nut bars (especially the one that kp brought back from England, i.e. not made by Hershey’s), so I was thinking of throwing it in the mix. I was sold when I saw the “2009 Chef’s Choice” or some other meaningless award advertised on the package. Then, a few days later, in Picnic (I needed some eggs and the drug store was too far away), I had to buy some more stuff so that I could use my credit card. They had some other chocolate bars – these were by “Chocolove”! Swayed by the goofy name, I bought one that included crystallized ginger and another that was “cherry and chilie” (I hate spelling it like that). Now, it was going to be a 7-chocolate tasting! A random Thursday night came around and I figured that I should put this tasting to rest or risk buying more chocolate “for the sake of the blog”. I was totally ready for it. g was also psyched … but she fell asleep before I was done opening each of the packages (she’s narcoleptic like that). It was just me and the chocolate (I saved her some) …

That's a lot of chocolate!

The chocolate's ready!

I couldn’t figure out how one should go about properly tasting chocolate. For wine, you normally start with those that have less body/flavor/tannin and increase – so light, herbaceous whites, followed by fruitier, intense whites, followed by light reds, followed by hit-you-in-the-mouth reds. For chocolate, do you go by the bitterness or by the sugar? I was afraid to go for the milk chocolate first because then the dark ones might come off as far too bitter. I was also afraid of getting full if I tried to save the Vosges for last (that’s a LOT of chocolate). So I did the four Vosges at random, had a Cadbury interlude, and then finished with the last two (which I figured would be sweeter than the Vosges).

The creole bar was first. In retrospect, this was very dumb because it was the darkest of the bunch (I think), but random is random – so that’s the way it was. As soon as I put it in my mouth, all I could taste was “yikes, that’s bitter”. It was very bitter. But there was something about this bitter – it didn’t taste like chocolate. It was something else … I remembered the espresso … there we go … that’s what it was – the flavor of bitter coffee was up first … then the chocolate took over as the bitterness faded. Next came a slow building up of coffee flavor that eventually dissipated, returning once again to chocolate, but now it had a very enjoyable sweetness. It was a rollercoaster for my mouth – I enjoyed it very much. There was also something crunchy in there … not sure what it was (?cocoa nibs?), but it was fun to munch on. I did taste this again later, just to make sure the tasting note was consistent … it was.

Next was the Naga bar. Even before I put it into my mouth, my nose caught a whiff of the curry – it was strong, but delightful. I thought I knew what was coming – it was going to be a blissful marriage of savory and sweet … Unfortunately, what I thought was coming was actually better than what came. Yes, there was curry flavor, and yes there was chocolate (more of a milky, sweeter chocolate than the creole – ?coconut milk?), but I just didn’t think the two played well with one another. It reminded me of the Vosges chocolate-chile sample I had in the store – both flavors were there and vivid, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great combo. Would you dip your chocolate in curry?

The bacon bars were next. I had high expectations. Having made bacon-chocolate-chip cookies, I knew this was going to be fun. I bit into the milk chocolate bacon bar, immediately running into something with crunch. It was bacon. I was surprised! I didn’t think that it’d actually have bacon in it – does that mean it should be refrigerated? No idea … In any case, the bacon flavor was profound; the chocolate barely touched the bacon flavor – that was weird (it made me sad). Then a bacon bit got stuck under my tongue (it made me mad). Fortunately, the second bite, which had far fewer bacon bits, had more chocolate-bacon balance – woohoo! I found the chocolate to be very nice (texturally and taste-wise), but it was a little on the sweet side. I looked forward to the dark chocolate …

The flavor of the dark chocolate bacon bar swung the balance in favor of chocolate – the bacon flavor was only there in the presence of a hint of salt – which was nice with the chocolate, but in honesty, the bacon bits tasted more like salted nuts than actual bacon. The bacon flavor only really came on well after I had swallowed the chocolate. It was good, but I want some more bacon up front. In any case, it was very interesting to see what the effect of the chocolate had on the taste of the different bacon bars.

Yeah, Cadbury chocolate bar that was next … dumb idea. It tasted like a sweet, sugary mess. It almost tasted gross which is weird, because it’s normally not a bad chocolate at all – for $1 it was a steal! I guess its cacao percentage just couldn’t stand up to the bolder chocolates I had had up until then … For a split second, I felt like a full-fledged chocolate snob!

The chocolate-cherry-chile bar hit me in the face with cherry from the get-go. And then I bit into something soft – presumably a cherry. Splash! My palate got another dose of sweet cherry. I was caught offguard and regretting that chomp (but I liked the texture – it was the first squishy thing of the evening). But then the chile flavor turned on and saved the day, adding some refreshing spice to my mouth. The only thing – I really didn’t get a whole lot of chocolate – some was there (more up front with the cherry), but it didn’t last. Still – cherry and chile was a fun combo – I think I’d eat it as a 2pm snack for a little fun pick-me-up – like one would eat some sour patch kids or something.

Finally … the last chocolate of the night (well, except for having to go back and re-taste the creole bar). I faced the chocolate and crystallized ginger. I put it in my mouth, not knowing if I could handle the perfume of ginger if it was turned up as high as the cherry was in the bar before. Lo and behold, it was quite tasty! Just the right amount of sweet and tangy ginger to balance the lush and bitter chocolate. Why didn’t I think of this? It’s so simple! While perhaps not as complex an evolution of flavors as the creole bar (ginger and chocolate turned on at the same time and ended at the same time, with the sugar from the ginger buffering the bitter from the chocolate), I was still super-happy. I could totally see a crystallized ginger-dark-chocolate-chip cookie coming out of this. I’m going to have to try it soon.

And I guess that’s it … Summary? The chocolate, itself, in the Vosges bars was great! I think the other flavors that were incorporated ranged from great to ick (*sighs* curry). I think that it’s probably a good idea to sample a variety pack and decide for yourself which of these flavor combos works the best. Nevertheless … I still recommend the bacon for everyone (even though I preferred the Creole one) – if for no other reason than it’s a great conversation starter.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

4 April 2010 at 10:03pm

Bacon Bacon Bacon!

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t says: This past weekend, g said, “I want some mac and cheese.”  A quick trip to google led me to Ina Garten’s recipe.  I was psyched to use bacon – but the same ‘ol “problem” came up: the recipe called for far less bacon than one can purchase in a package at the supermarket.  So what should I do with the rest? I made it my mission to use the entirety of the bacon to complete the meal.  This is what I did …

Step 1 was to cook nearly all of the bacon (I’m saving some for some eggs this weekend) in the oven as per Ina’s recipe.

9 went into the oven - only 8 made it to the picture ...

3 of the strips of the bacon would serve as the 4-oz required by Ina’s recipe (which I also modified a little – upped the cheddar by an ounce and lowered the blue cheese by an ounce – a good thing, too cuz that blue cheese I got was kickin’ – g thinks it still has too much oomph!).

What next?  Well, I figured that I needed a side dish.  But what could I make that incorporates bacon?  As I sat there looking at the dirtied pan, something shiny caught my eye … I knew what I had to do …

The grease says: "Don't forget about me!"

Through some crafty aluminum foil bending, I reserved the liquid gold ...

Inspired by Tyler Florence’s “Bacon-Braised Brussels Sprouts” that I must have seen 57 times around the holidays, I used the bacon grease to coat some halved Brussels sprouts, which I then seasoned with salt, pepper, Cayenne powder, and garlic powder before roasting in the oven at 400 degrees (turning every 5-10 mins).  The end result was one appetizer and one side.

Main and Side ... both with bacon!

I didn’t originally intend to use bacon grease for the Brussels sprouts, but when I realized I used the last of the oil in the house for our eggplant parmigiana-lasagna, I had little choice.  I must admit that I was a little disappointed with the color of the Brussels sprouts – I got a bad bunch so I had to prune way a lot of the dark green outer leaves – so what I used looked a little pale.  They were also kind of small – so they were tender before their leaves got nice and brown – I guess a frying pan would have given me the char that I wanted, but I didn’t want to deal with high heat frying tonight – I was having a lazy day).

Ok, so you probably see where this is going …  I have several strips of cooked bacon … and a need for dessert … I had the perfect solution …

A while ago, a friend of mine and I attempted bacon-chocolate-chip cookies.  They were phenomenal – but quite annoying to make (you had to make the bacon ahead of time and incorporate it into the dough).  I wanted to do something similar, but all of my cookie dough was already made and sitting ready-to-go in the freezer; incorporating bacon pieces wouldn’t be easy.  The solution?  Well – one time at Talula’s Table, a component in the dish called “Asparagus, Asparagus, Asparagus” featured bacon “powder” (which was genius).  And there I had it – I’d dust the cookies with some bacon powder (or very tiny bits – I didn’t want to bring out a food processor to actually get a powder).

Bacon bits in a baggie - ready for cookies!

Pig and chocolate - before the oven ...

Savory and sweet, in one luscious package ...


So, I obviously still have bacon bits left over, but I’m going to rim the drink of a margarita glass like I saw on Iron Chef America recently.  Can’t wait to see how that’ll taste (I’m hoping for a melon-based mixed drink so it’s like prosciutto-wrapped melon).

And … there we go!  Three courses and a drink incorporating bacon!  I must confess that I didn’t make the cookies the same night as the sprouts and the mac-n-cheese – I was just too full!  But I could have!  And isn’t that what really matters?

Oh … and a complete freak coincidence … a day or so after I thought of dusting my cookies with bacon (and didn’t tell anyone!) – look what lc sent us in the mail:

Pig and chocolate ... in bar form!

Can’t wait to try it!

Tofu Brownie-Cakes

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t says: Why on earth would I make these? I have no dietary restrictions. Tofu shouldn’t be in desserts. So why? I’m a prankster.

g’s older sister lc frowns upon tofu. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard her swear that she will not eat it. Because of this (or because I imagined this – she may have actually eaten tofu before – I have no idea), I made it my mission to make her eat tofu. But how? Surely she has eyes, so it’d have to be concealed. Surely she has a tongue, so it’d have to be texturally masked. I then read online that someone said you could add tofu to boxed cake mix. That person was a genius.

Now, really, there’s no reason to add tofu to boxed cake mix – you still have to add eggs (well, I still do – some people say you don’t – I think they’re lying). Also, it doesn’t “do” anything for the cake – it just comes out a little thicker than normal (which is why I made them in a cupcake pan and called them “brownie-cakes” – sinister, right?), but otherwise imparts no flavor to the brownie (especially if you use dark chocolate chips – their flavor’s fairly strong).  So I want to restate: there really is absolutely no reason one should add tofu to cake mix … unless you want someone to eat tofu … without him/her knowing until it’s too late …


__ 1 package of silken tofu, excess liquid removed
__ 1 boxed cake mix
__ some chocolate chips (optional)
__ all the ingredients the box calls for (# of eggs cut in half)


0) Preheat the oven as per the box’s directions for cupcakes. I greased the cupcake pan because I did NOT use cupcake wrappers – brownies don’t have wrappers.

1) Mix together all ingredients and beat VERY well. If there are chunks of tofu, your eater will be suspicious. Add chocolate chips to give the cupcakes some textural contrasts (and to hide the texture of any tofu chunks you might have missed – still pretty sinister, right?)

2) Bake as per the box’s directions.

3) Serve to unsuspecting eaters. Why? Because you’re a sinister mastermind …

PS I don’t know if there is such a thing as a soy allergy, but if someone avoids tofu for some sort of medical reason, don’t serve them these – that’s not sinister – that’s stupid (and likely criminal).

PPS Yes, it worked.  She ate them.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

21 February 2010 at 10:24pm