Bourbon Chocolate, and More…

RaakaChocolate

I don’t really think I need to tell you much more. I’ve debated at work about the few foods that go good with anything. We narrowed it down to two: cheese and chocolate. Well, I believe I’m helping make the chocolate point with the Raaka Bourbon Cask Aged Chocolate. Raaka touts itself as the first company to make a chocolate that uses cask-aged cocoa beans in their bourbon cask-aged chocolate.  The first time I noticed this chocolate was in Bryant Park during the Christmas season. My fianceé and I went into the small shop expecting some kind of gimmick. They provided small samples of each flavor. I could definitely taste the sweetness of the bourbon in the chocolate.

Of course, I tried all of their other flavors, and each sample had a distinctly pleasant and different flavor from the other. End of story–I ended up with a gift bag full of Raaka chocolates for Christmas (thanks fianceé). The bars are still hidden away to savor for the sudden urge I may have every now and then. Apparently the trick to the deliciousness of these chocolates is twofold: (1) the chocolates have uniquely different flavors (see Bourbon Cask Aged, Vanilla Rooibos, or Porter) and (2) the simplistic “virgin” crafting of the chocolate.

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Extreme Mother's Day Brunch Recipe: Francois Payard's Chocolate Brioche Pain Perdu

Brioche Pain Perdu

You”re not really gonna make plain old French toast for Mother”s Day are you? If you”re looking to kick that up a few notches, chef Francois Payard offers this Parisian take on Mother”s Day brunch, with an at-home recipe for his world-famous Chocolate Brioche Pain Perdu.

A counterpoint to American-style French Toast, Payard”s version is more of a sandwich with a chocolate chip filling, topped with sauteed bananas and whipped cream. OK wait, maybe it is pretty American after all. I mean, whipped cream and chocolate chips for breakfast? Doesn”t get any Yankier than that.

Best yet, this decade break-sert can be made ahead of time by freezing the sandwiches overnight (once assembled and soaked thoroughly), and then baked for 10 minutes before serving.

Chocolate Brioche Pain Perdu

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Burns My Bacon: Dessert Gimmicks

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So the food porn-obsessed Internet is going crazy this week with news that Dominique Ansel, he of the great cronut craze of 2013, is back with his latest trademark creation: a chocolate chip cookie shot “glass” with a shot of milk. It’s beautiful. It’s mouthwatering. It’s waste-free.

It’s also stupid.

Why? Because, um…who wants to drink a shot of milk and THEN eat a cookie? It’s cute, yes. But the order is just all wrong. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer here but there are some things I just have to take seriously and this concoction is NOT practical. I feel like I would end up with milk and crumbs drizzling down my face as I tried to get the perfect last bite.

This gimmick is just not an improvement on the traditional milk and cookie. Cookie first, then milk. It doesn’t work the other way.  Design me a shot glass made of milk with a cookie contained inside it, and then I might be impressed, Dominique.

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Endless Peeps: Vanilla Sugar-Peep Sandwich Cookies

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When we say endless, we mean it. I know the day of love has past, but it is still dreary February and we could all use a pick-me-up. I made these for Valentine’s day for my fiance (she was stuck going to work to save lives as essential personnel while I enjoyed a snow day). Plus I had vanilla cream Peeps, and a sweet tooth. The result? Peep sandwich cookies.

Years ago, my mom found a sugar cookie recipe that was just delectable. They melt in your mouth, have just the right amount of sugar, and they have the perfect texture. With golden brown edges, they provide just the right crunch to be complemented by creamy vanilla marshmallow. PLUS, there is additional sweetness in the vanilla frosting that acts as a glue for the marshmallow.

These are good fresh out of the oven or a few days later. I’ve even dunked them in milk. I was concerned about the sandwiches becoming too sweet, but the peep has just enough of a flavor without being too overwhelming. Plus, the vanilla flavor in the peeps goes well with the icing and the cookie. The challenge is pushing the cookie down without breaking the cookie and popping the peep out of the sandwich. Once you mess up a couple, it’s smooth sailing and off to enjoying your Peep-Sandwich.

Vanilla Sugar-Peep Sandwich Cookies

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Endless Peeps: Peeps Popcorn

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Yes, MORE Peeps! Really…there is no thing as too much Peeps. The opportunities are endless! So this time, I took a different route—a sweet and salty route: POPCORN. Popcorn is great. But let’s be honest, unless it’s drowning in greasy fake movie theater butter, it just isn’t that good. UNLESS you drown it in something sweet. This brings us to…Peeps Popcorn.

Yes, it’s sweet…and it’s also easy. So easy, a kid could do it (as long as they don’t touch the stove or burn the sugar, or touch the hot melted Peeps). I do have to tell you though; you have to be okay with killing innocent marshmallow bunnies and chicks. Their suffering was worth it (as it typically is) and ends in a tasty treat that is not loaded with calories and carbs.

I used the chocolate mousse Peeps and the raspberry Peeps, and did two separate batches. The nice thing about this is that it takes one package or less of the Peeps, and some fresh-popped popcorn. Other than some butter in the pan, there are no other ingredients. The chocolate mousse popcorn came out a little crispier than the raspberry. Must be something in their blood…

The chocolate flavor stands out on the popcorn, so I added some sea salt and it was tasty. The sweetness of the raspberry reminded me of cotton candy for some reason—no salt needed. Since Peeps offers so many different flavors now, I would definitely pick two flavors and make two different batches. This way, you can compare and contrast. Now consider this…what if you mixed two flavors? Hmmm…

Here’s the “recipe” (pay attention – it’s complicated)

Peeps Popcorn

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