Chocolate Ganache

This recipe is life changing. Now I know I have been throwing a lot of bold words around on Lemon & Mocha lately, but there are so many recipes out there that I can’t afford to be meek. If I let you live your life even just one more day without tasting this chocolate ganache I could never forgive myself. And if I withheld this deliciousness from you for months before suddenly sharing, well, I shudder to think about the angry mobs.

Chocolate ganache is just a fancy way of saying a sauce of chocolate and heavy cream, or a fancy way of saying “mmm.” You heat heavy cream until it’s steaming, add in the chocolate then voila- the ganache is complete. This ganache has been known to bring people to their breaking point. I have even heard someone utter that they were ready to smack a ganache-topped cupcake out of child’s hand because they thought it was the last one! Don’t worry, I won’t name names ;-).

Now this photo is deceiving because once you have poured, dipped or drizzled the ganache it hardens into a glistening chocolate shell and develops a fudge-like quality. The beauty of this recipe other than the rich chocolate taste and smooth velvety texture is its versatility. Originally used to make faux Hostess cupcakes, I have since used the ganache for a wide variety of chocolate sinfulness. Topping chocolate cupcakes? Check. Coating brownies? Check. Eating with a spoon? Check. Matt likes to heat leftover ganache in the microwave then drizzle over ice cream. Now is that a boy after my own heart or what? You better make sure your computer screen is clean because when you see what I make with the ganache on Friday you might find yourself licking your monitor. It’s ok, I won’t judge.

Chocolate Ganache
 
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1- 12 ounce bag of bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Directions
  1. Heat the cream over medium heat until steaming, stirring constantly.
  2. Once steaming, remove the cream from the heat. Add the chocolate and stir then let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the butter to the chocolate mixture then stir until smooth.
  4. Dip, pour or drizzle as directed in your recipe.
Notes
Any leftover ganache will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.

Recipe from The Curvy Carrot.

Kale and Walnut Pesto Pasta with Lemon Shrimp

 

I’m a little late to the kale trend, but I have recently started experimenting with it in the kitchen. Kale is a superfood and no that does not mean it has sonic vision or invisibility powers. A superfood is one that is light in calories, rich in nutrients and has additional health benefits. Kale’s extra health goodies include all kinds of fancy science words like phytochemicals and beta-carotene. But all you need to know is that it’s good for you.

Don’t run away just yet! I promise I wouldn’t share something that wasn’t also sneak-back-for-seconds delicious. Through my adventures with kale I have discovered that it can also often be very bitter. Turning the kale into a pesto with walnuts, Parmesan, lemon and olive oil ensures that the kale is vibrant, savory and definitely not bitter. It might just be my new favorite pesto.

I love loading my meals with seasonal vegetables, which is why I added the leeks and red peppers. The kale may shine, but the lemon shrimp isn’t far behind. I love anything with a fresh lemon flavor and the shrimp in this recipe do not disappoint. They were so tasty I would certainly not promote skipping the shrimp in this dish, but if you needed it to be vegetarian you could omit the shrimp and add the lemon juice and zest to the vegetables instead.

Kale and Walnut Pesto Pasta with Lemon Shrimp
 
Yield: 6 servings, plus 1 extra cup pesto
Ingredients
for the pesto
  • ¾ cup shelled walnuts
  • 12 ounces kale
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ⅔ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
for the pasta
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1 bunch leeks
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
for the pesto
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Evenly spread the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until the walnuts are roasted, about 6 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cool chop ¼ cup of the walnuts, leaving the rest whole, and set aside for garnish.
  2. Remove the hard stems from the kale then roughly chop. Steam for 4 minutes, or until tender.
  3. In a food processor or with an immersion blender pulse together the steamed kale, garlic, ½ cup of the roasted walnuts, Parmesan and 2 tablespoons lemon juice until a paste forms. While pulsing pour in ⅔ cup olive oil then season with salt and pepper.
for the pasta
  1. Cook the linguine until al dente then drain.
  2. Prepare the leeks. Trim off the dark green parts and discard. Trim off the root ends and discard. Cut the entire leek lengthwise then slice crosswise into pieces.
  3. Leeks harbor a lot of dirt so special care needs to be taken to remove all the grit. First rinse the sliced leeks thoroughly in a colander. Then fill a large bowl with cold water and add the rinsed leeks. Swirl and rub the leeks with your hands to dislodge any dirt. The dirt will sink to the bottom of the bowl so remove the leek pieces with a slotted spoon and set back in the rinsed colander to dry.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Add the sliced red peppers and prepared leeks. Cook for 5 minutes, or until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Once cooked remove from the pan and set aside.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in the same sauté pan. Toss the shrimp with the flour then sauté in the pan for 5 minutes, or until firm and pink making sure to turn while cooking. Stir in the zest and 3 tablespoons lemon juice then season with salt and pepper. Add the sautéed leeks and red peppers then remove from the heat.
  6. Toss the pasta with 1 cup pesto, shrimp and vegetables. Garnish with the chopped walnuts and extra grated Parmesan, if desired.

Recipe adapted from November/December 2013 issue of Cuisine at Home.

Homemade Brown Sugar

I am about to reveal a secret that will blow your mind. If you already are aware of the fact I am about to share, I am obviously very excited so the least you can do is play along. So here it is: you can make your own brown sugar. Are you still there or did your head explode with that knowledge? That is how I felt when I stumbled across this nugget of information. Brown sugar is simply granulated sugar with molasses added. Who knew?! Well, maybe you did. But shh! Don’t spoil the moment.

When you buy a fresh box of brown sugar at the store, bring it back and open it up, it’s so soft and fluffy. You measure out your necessary amount with ease and since no recipe exists that calls for an entire pound of brown sugar you always store the rest of it. A few weeks later you have a cookie craving so you go to take your brown sugar out of the pantry and it looks like this:

Look familiar? You chip off a chunk and follow the “re-softening” directions on the box. Somehow after putting it in the microwave with a wet paper towel over top it is now both syrupy and still hard. How is that combination of qualities even possible?

It’s time to say goodbye to your brown sugar woes forever. You can simply make your own fresh brown sugar whenever you need it. Just mix one cup of granulated sugar with one tablespoon of molasses. That’s it! For dark brown sugar use two tablespoons of molasses.

Homemade Brown Sugar
 
Yield: 1 cup
Ingredients
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses, 2 tablespoons for dark brown sugar
Directions
  1. Pour the sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Add the molasses.
  2. Stir with a fork. This takes some time. After the first five minutes it will look barely any different and you will think there’s no way this is going to look like the picture. You will want to give up, but you can’t! All good things come to those who wait so keep stirring and fluffing with the fork. Stir and fluff until no molasses clumps remain. Suddenly, ta-da! Brown sugar.
Notes
*No need to lift weights after this recipe. Your bicep will grow a whole ¼ inch from this recipe workout!
*Sometimes I have had some excess brown sugar and have stored it in a plastic container. I used it in the next couple weeks and it was still soft enough to measure out perfectly.

Recipe from Joy the Baker.

Leftover Halloween Candy Cookies

Happy Halloween! I wanted to post a recipe that would utilize leftover Halloween candy and I came across this idea in a magazine. Cookies are delicious, but what makes them even more decadent? Candy! Most people usually have leftover Halloween candy so you may find yourself in this very situation tomorrow. Maybe you didn’t get that many trick-or-treaters this year or you bought too much because you were worried about running out. Or maybe you live in an apartment building with no kids, but bought a bag of Halloween candy anyways because you have serious chocolate addiction problems that you should really see someone about.

For all you leftover candy havers it’s time to reinvent your candy. Sick of all those miniature Milky Ways? Transform them into cookies! Suddenly it’s a whole new food group. For all those less fortunate folks who got picked clean from those neighborhood rascals, don’t pout just yet. Now all the Halloween candy is on sale; unless they already replaced it with Christmas candy, which is both extremely possible and incredibly ridiculous. So go buy some so you can put it in these cookies.

I used miniature candies for these, but if you’re one of those houses that hands out the full size candy bars, first of all kids everywhere thank and applaud you. Second, you can just add an extra step and cut your large candy bars into one inch squares to use in this recipe.

The cookies are soft and chewy, which nestles the gooey candy center perfectly. I used a chocolate chip cookie base without the chocolate chips, but if you’re feeling extra devilish this Halloween you can always add one cup of chips to the batter. Muhahaha!

Leftover Halloween Candy Cookies
 
Yield: 16 cookies
Ingredients
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 16 unwrapped miniature chocolate candies
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Melt 10 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. While the butter is melting, whisk together the flour and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. When the butter has melted, keep it on the heat and swirl the pan until the butter is a golden brown. This should take 2-3 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Continue to stir until completely melted then transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add the brown sugar, sugar, vanilla and salt to the bowl with the butter. Whisk to combine.
  6. Add the egg and egg yolk to the butter mixture. Whisk until the mixture is smooth.
  7. Let the mixture sit for 2 minutes then whisk again for 30 seconds. Repeat this 1 more time so that the mixture is smooth and shiny.
  8. Using a rubber spatula carefully stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combined. If you were including chocolate chips you would add 1 cup of them to the batter after this step.
  9. Scoop out about 3 tablespoons of batter and press one of the unwrapped candies into the center. Carefully form a ball with the batter and the candy in the center with your hands then place on the baking sheet.
  10. Continue this process until you have 16 cookies total, 8 per baking sheet.
  11. Bake 1 tray at a time for 8-10 minutes or until the edges have begun to set and the cookies are golden. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through the baking time.
  12. Set the baking sheet on a wire rack and let sit for a few minutes then transfer cookies to the wire rack using a spatula to cool.

Recipe slightly adapted from May & June 2009 issue of Cook’s Illustrated.
Inspiration from October 2011 issue of Everyday Food.

Prosciutto & Gruyere Pinwheels

Sometimes the simple things in life are the most delicious. Especially when they involve cheese. And prosciutto; prosciutto makes everything better. These prosciutto and gruyere pinwheels made with puff pastry are simple, delicious and fitting for the next time you’re cooking for guests.

Every year my friend goes on a trip with the same group of women and for one of the nights they have an appetizer party. All the women bring a couple appetizers and they cook the miniature items up for dinner. Brilliant! Smaller sizes of candy is a total bummer. But bite sized food? Now that’s a whole different ball game. The joy of appetizers is that you can have thirds, fourths and fifths. Just do a little drive by on your way to refill your wine glass and pop a pinwheel in your mouth. No one will be the wiser!

This year my friend commissioned me to make her appetizers and these pinwheels made it on the list. According to my friend the pinwheels were one of the favorites of the trip. I tried one and the buttery flakiness of the puff pastry with the saltiness of the prosciutto and the creaminess of the cheese made it an incredibly satisfying bite. A kind of bite you would pull an oh-I-don’t-mind-if-I-do-definitely-not-my-sixth maneuver on.

Except I couldn’t do that. I could have one. As in singular. And that, my friends, is why I could never be a caterer. You make all this food, but aren’t able to sit down and have a major snarf session when it’s all done? Torture! So when you make these pinwheels cook up some extra so you and all your guests can have fifths and sixths.

Prosciutto & Gruyere Pinwheels
 
Yield: 16 pinwheels
Ingredients
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
Directions
  1. Defrost both puff pastry sheets according to the directions on the package.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Lay the defrosted puff pastry flat and evenly spread the mustard leaving a ½ inch border on 1 long side of the puff pastry.
  4. Evenly place the prosciutto on the mustard topped puff pastry.
  5. Sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly over the prosciutto.
  6. Brush the beaten egg on the ½ inch border.
  7. Roll the topped puff pastry up the long way starting at the long edge without the egg, similar to rolling a jelly roll. Make sure the roll is sealed.
  8. Wrap the roll in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  9. Take the roll out of the fridge and cut into ½ inch slices.
  10. Place the slices on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Recipe adapted from Pepperidge Farms.