Archive for Chocolate

Recipe ReDux: The merriment of mixes – chocolate chip banana scone gift mix

Blink and you might miss the end-of-year holiday season. Before you know it, the pumpkin pie pan will host nothing but crumbs, smoke will waft away from the blown-out menorah candles, and you’ll be considering launching a search & rescue team to find Little Timmy in the avalanche of ripped-open wrapping paper.

But thanks to the Recipe ReDux, you can feel good about gifts that will endure right into the new year – for this month’s theme, we’re doing shelf-stable food mixes that you can share with hostesses, friends and family alike.

Scone mix2

Now would be the time to get your name on my gift list, because I think you’ll like what I’m giving out: a mix to make warm, moist but crunchy, banana chocolate-y scones.

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These are the same tasty little guys with which I kicked off this blog; with a pedigree like that, you know they’re good. But I don’t want to be that jerk who gives the gift of a grocery-shopping trip, so I changed up the ingredients (dry vanilla powder in the mix instead of liquid extract) and the method (chocolate chips added before butter, not after) to try to minimize the effort needed to bring the dry mix to scone-y life.

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Do you know someone who likes a little something special for breakfast? Then package up this mix and check some gifts off your to-do list.

Chocolate chip banana scone mix

(8 servings, approx. 310 calories each)

Dry mix:
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp dry vanilla powder
½ cup chocolate chips

Combine all the dry mix ingredients and package in a sealable, present-y container.

Scone mix1

Write or print out the following instructions to accompany your scone mix gift:

Ingredients to add to the dry mix:
½ cup (1 stick) of butter, softened slightly
2/3 cup buttermilk (or 2/3 cup 1% milk with 2 tsp vinegar; let sit 5-10 minutes)
½ banana, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Put the scone mix in a large bowl. Use your fingers to squish the butter into small pieces & drop them into the dry mix. Using your fingertips, blend the butter into the dry mix until it resembles wet sand and the butter is evenly distributed

Add the buttermilk to the butter/dry mix and blend with your hands until they just come together. Add the banana pieces and mix until evenly distributed.

Divide the dough into eight balls and transfer them to the baking sheet. Press gently on the tops to flatten them a little, then pop them in the oven for 20-25 minutes (the magic number is 22 in my oven). When done, let them cool for a few minutes on a rack before eating

Have a big gift list this year? Never fear – my fellow ReDuxers have got you covered with a bunch more shelf-stable gift mix recipes:

Recipe ReDux: The Cupcake Conundrum

That’s right – a cupcake conundrum. Yes or no? Hot or not? On trend or on the way out?

This photo probably gives away the answer….

For this month’s Recipe ReDux – courtesy of The Meal Makeover Moms @JaniceBissex and @LizWeiss – we were challenged to either proudly fly the mini-cake flag, or put a new hand-held dessert on the pedestal. And while I appreciate a good cupcake now and then, I don’t really get why there are practically as many cupcakeries as Dunkin Donuts around Boston. Is there a rampant frosting deficiency in America?

But I still kept things trendy when I came up with my hand-held alternative: orange chocolate chia squares. The hydrophilic little weirdos known as chia seeds are well on their way to displacing kale as the icon of healthy foodie-ism. They’re full of healthy fats, can be used as an egg replacement in baking, and reportedly fueled some extraordinary runners.

Chia seeds will glom onto water and form a viscous gel, but that doesn’t exactly lend itself to palm-of-hand portability. So to transform the goo to ready-to-go, I started with a strawberry energy gel recipe from Tim Woodbury’s Running Recipes: Chia-Powered Sole Food (which I reviewed previously). I futzed around with the sugar, water and fruit contents, and then transformed the gels into decadent chocolate-covered treats.

These little beauties probably aren’t going to make great running companions (body heat + sweat + chocolate = ew), but I’ll certainly have one as a reward after a weekly long run. You can get your hands on them, too, with the following recipe:

Orange chocolate chia squares

(20 pieces, approx. 185 calories each)

2 large oranges, peeled
2 Tbs grated orange rind, divided
½ cup water
1 Tbs orange juice
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown rice syrup
7 tsp powdered gelatin (approx. 1 oz)
6 Tbs chia seeds
¼ tsp baking soda
1 ½ cups dark chocolate chips

Puree the oranges, water and juice in a food processor. Add the puree to a saucepan with the sugar, rice syrup, gelatin, chia seeds and baking soda, and put them over medium heat for 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Be sure to use a long-handled spoon because the mixture likes to bubble & spurt.

Remove the orange mixture from heat and mix in 1 Tbs of the orange rind. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 9×9 baking pan. Allow to cool for up to 4 hours, or until well set (I left mine on the counter for ~20 minutes, then cooled it in the fridge for another 1 ½ hours, and they were ready).

In a shallow bowl, microwave the chocolate chips for 1 minute at 50% power. Stir, then microwave at 50% in 15-30 second intervals, stirring again afterward, until fully melted (it took 1 ½ minutes for me).

Slice the orange gels into 20 pieces (cut in 4 one direction, and 5 the other). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil. Use a wood skewer or similarly sturdy pointy implement to pierce a gel longways, then dip it in the chocolate until coated. Gently push the square onto the lined baking sheet, then top with a pinch of the remaining orange rind.

Repeat the dipping with all the orange gels, then cool in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.

Once you eat these, you’ll still have another hand free, which I suggest you fill with one of the treats on offer from my fellow ReDuxers:


Love Your Heart Week – Heart-healthy ingredients

One in four deaths in America. 600,000 deaths each year. The number one killer in the country. Do you know what it is?

It’s heart disease, and February is the month we hope to raise awareness and learn how to our risk of disease. The good news (well, from a food-blogger’s perspective) is that diet is one of the major ways we either help or hurt our hearts. So I’ve pulled together a week’s worth of recipes that feature foods rich in fiber, phytonutrients, healthy fats and more, to help keep hearts in tick-tock shape.

Chocolate (the darker, the better). It’s not for nothing that chocolate and heart-themed Valentine’s Day are paired up in our collective consciousness. Full of heart-friendly flavonoids, chocolate can help control blood pressure if you eat the high-cocoa content stuff (70% or more) regularly. And if you try it in my chocolate veggie enchilada recipe, you’ll also get some healthy fats from avocado and a good dose of vegetables.

Nuts. Your heart goes nuts for the mono- and polyunsaturated fats and phytosterols in foods like walnuts and almonds. And the little buggers are tasty, too, especially when ground up into creamy nut butters like the simple maple walnut butter from Eating Well With Janel.

Legumes. Beans, beans, the magical fruit. The more you eat, the more you… reduce your risk of heart disease! Yeah, my version isn’t as melodic (or amusing to first-graders), but it casts these fiber-rich, vitamin-packed legumes as the nutritional powerhouses they are. Give lentils a while in my curried lentil shepherd’s pie, or check out Bean Week for more recipes.

Berries. Blueberries, cranberries, cherries, elderberries, and more – they’re all packed with phytonutrients (flavonoids, carotenoids, polyphenols) that have been shown to promote cardiovascular health with regular consumption. Work them in easily as a snack or dessert with Cooking Light’s blueberry orange yogurt parfait.

Green vegetables. Well, duh, green vegetables are healthy for you. But foods like broccoli, spinach and others are especially good for the ol’ ticker because they’re rich in carotenoids, fiber, and potassium, among other nutrients. Epicurious has a simple, colorful side-dish recipe for chard with pine nuts and golden raisins that can ease anyone into the green-vegetable habit.

Orange vegetables. Carotenoids give foods like carrots, acorn squash, and sweet potatoes their lovely orange hue, and contribute to their associated with lower risk of heart disease. So orange you glad there’s a recipe like carrot “pasta” with kale parsley pesto from Betacyanin?

Fatty fish, flaxseeds, and other omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods. There’s some confusion about unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids’ role in heart health, because supplementation hasn’t conclusively been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. But there’s ample evidence that eating foods rich in omega-3s does reduce your risk. So if you put down the pill bottle, pick up your fork (or spoon) and try adding fatty fish, nuts and seeds, and other good food sources to your diet. Cooking Light has a pan-seared salmon with jalapeno-pineapple relish recipe that sounds great for fish eaters, and veg-heads like me might want to throw some flaxseeds on their yogurt or into a bowl of oatmeal.

Recipe Redux: Straight to the heart – double chocolate ginger scones

In the month when we celebrate love, Recipe Redux is aiming straight for your heart with chocolate.

Chocolate has a taste that has launched a thousand obsessions. But the cocoa bean – and darker, less processed chocolates – also contains flavanoids that may act as antioxidants, help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow throughout the body, and prevent abnormal blood clotting. It’s no wonder that the culinary dietitians of Recipe Redux would focus on this heart-healthy, tastebud-friendly food for February (which is National Heart Month in the U.S.).

For my contribution, I figured one superfood is great, and two would be even better. So I combined heart-healthy chocolate from local Taza with the spicy-sweet anti-inflammatory root, ginger.

The result: a rich, zesty start to your morning with double chocolate ginger scones:

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