Tag Archives: chocolate

Goji Berry Granola Bars

15 May

IMG_7693The other day while I was wandering around the charming Orticola Flower Market in Milan I picked up a bag of Goji berries at an organic fruit tree stand.  I think we’ve all heard, over and over again over the past years, how healthy and beneficial these berries are for our health.  To tell you the truth I was actually avoiding them due to all the hype (and the fact that I read you’d have to eat a truck full to reap any sort of special health benefits from them).

In any case, I was hungry and the berries were there at the right time and place.  I have to admit that when I tried them I was pretty disappointed with the fact that they are….tasteless.  Seriously, I think cardboard has more flavour than those goji berries.  I was expecting something sweeter and with a rich flavour (especially since the berries have such a beautiful dark brick orange-y red colour).

So yesterday when I was looking for something to bake for the kids I decided to try and use up some of the berries (in order to make them a bit more edible than straight out of the bag).

Since they were quite dry I decided to soak them in a little bowl of apple juice for about 10 minutes before using them.  And the berries actually came to life.  They became soft and plump and the apple juice brought out a distinctive  flavour that I didn’t taste before.  It’s possible I ruined all the health properties of the berries by soaking them but it was worth it.

IMG_7683Read on for the recipe… Continue reading


Fudgy Chocolate Cake with Dates

4 Mar

This past Christmas a good friend of ours brought us some dates back from his recent trip to Algeria.  I’m going to be honest here and tell you that I thanked him and then proceeded to hide them away at the back of my baking cupboard.  I’ve had a thing against dates that goes back to childhood.  My mother and grandmother would always sneak them into various sweets and desserts or try and get me to eat them straight-up.  It was torture.  Just the look of those dark brown sticky LARGE looking raisins really made my stomach turn.

But I’m happy to announce that at 39 years old I’ve finally matured and realised that dates aren’t all that bad actually.  I’m still not interested in eating them straight-up but can admit that added to certain dishes they can really enhance the taste and texture (including a mind-blowing Lamb and Date Tagine we ate in Morocco).


So a few weeks ago I dug in the back of my baking cupboard and got out the box of Algerian dates.  I decided I wanted to try to make a fudge chocolate cake and thought the dates could be a perfect way to intensify the flavour (and make it a little bit healthier?).  And the result was delicious.  And keeping with family tradition I did not tell my kids the secret ingredient in the chocolate cake they were so happily enjoying.

This recipe seems quite fussy with all of the different steps and bowls that have to be used but it really is quick to make and so worth it.  The addition of cinnamon with the chocolate and dates makes it a really deep and rich cake.  I’ve proclaimed my love of the chocolate and cinnamon combination here in the past when I made these Chocolate and Fresh Cherry Cakes with Cinnamon.

Read on for recipe… Continue reading

After Eight Brownies

9 Oct

Is there anything tastier than chocolate and mint together?  For me it’s one of my favorite flavour unions.  Deep rich dark chocolate with a hint of that fresh minty taste just satisfies my sweet tooth like nothing else (see recipe for my Chocolate Shortbreads with Minty Ganache Filling too).  And the mint just gives me the idea that it’s healthier.  It is green and grows in my garden after all.

For these brownies I did not use my own fresh mint but I did use an entire box of After Eights.  I made a double batch of my favourite brownie recipe and poured half the batter into the bottom of a glass rectangular baking dish.  I then covered the top with After Eight chocolates before pouring the remaining batter on top.  So easy and so tasty.  And of course the mint makes them really healthy and low fat.

These made the perfect little treat for a dear friend who just turned 50.


Chocolate Oat Dulce de Leche Bars

15 Jun

These are the richest, sweetest, gooeyest, chocolatey-est bars you’ll ever eat.  When you take your first bites it’s heaven.  After you’ve finished a whole bar you kind of feel like you shouldn’t have eaten a whole bar.  It’s a love/hate relationship to say the least.  I would definitely advise to cut very small bars and eat them slowly.  You should have seen my son after he ate one.  He was doing laps around our house for over an hour.  Then he passed out on the grass.  Like I said…they’re so right but so wrong at the same time.

After making these squares I made the whole family go for a 2 hour walk in the woods to try and get some of the sugar out of our systems.  We saw these gorgeous roses.  The pink against the bright blue sky was just mesmerizing.  I stared at them for a long time.  My kids stared at me staring at the roses and asked me to hurry up because they wanted to go home for some more squares.I gave some to my Italian neighbours and friends and I could tell by their faces that they were maybe a bit too heavy and rich for their liking.  My British, Irish and American friends thought they were great though.  I’m thinking that maybe these would be better to make in the cold winter instead of the warm summer.  In summer it’s all about light, fresh and fruity around here (something like this frozen honeydew recipe from the  joelix blog or this citron meringue pie from the classicplay! blog would fit the hot summer weather much better).  Get recipe for Chocolate Oat Dulce de Leche Bars here on the Daily Crave site.

I found these plastic boxes in Chinatown in Milan (usually used for take-out in sushi restaurants).  They’re actually great for giving little baking gifts to neighbours and friends.  I absolutely love this Tour Eiffel tape that I found in Japan (and it’s not washi!).

Chocolate Chunk Cookie Cupcakes

12 Jun

These are a mean cupcake. Mean as in you can scoff down 5 or 6 because they’re just so good. And then you realise that they are extremely rich and you have to lay on the couch for a few hours to recuperate. But not to worry. It’s all worth it. And I’d say they’re maybe more of a muffin than a cupcake which opens the whole discussion of the difference between a muffin and a cupcake. Please let me know your views.

I’ve been making these for years and it’s truely one of my kid’s favorite recipes. The other day my son was home “sick” and he was desperate to read stacks of books from when he was little and bake something together. In the end we decided on this recipe because it’s tasty, quick and loved by all.

Here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Chunk Cookie Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (226g) softened butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup whole milk
1-1 1/2 cups chocolate chunks or chips

1. In small bowl mix together dry ingredients.

2. In mixture cream butter and sugars together. Add eggs one at a time then vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in two batches alternating with milk. Stir in chocolate chunks/chips with spatula.

3. Spoon into cupcake papers placed in muffin tin and bake at 375 (180) for approx. 20 minutes.

4. Remove from oven, transfer cakes to a wire rack and let cool.

Recipe found here on the Martha Stewart site.


Makes a lovely little gift as well (I like to tuck them into friend’s mailboxes or hang them on their gate as a little surprise treats)

Chocolate Shortbread with Minty Ganache Filling

17 May

Today I baked some delicious Chocolate Shortbread with Minty Ganache Filling and they turned out really really tasty.  At least for those who are fans of the mint/chocolate combination.  Which I seriously am.  It’s really one of my favorite flavour unions.

It all started when I had my first After Eight as a small child.  And the fact they come individually wrapped in those tiny black glassine envelopes makes them that much more appealing to me (lover of any sort of packaging!).

These are really rich cookies so one is definitely enough (ok maybe tw0).  The addition of the mint makes them slightly lighter than a shortbread with straight-up chocolate ganache.

Continue reading for recipe… Continue reading

Coffee Cake (senza caffe)

23 Feb

It’s a little overcast today.  The kids are home on vacation for the settimana bianca.  My mom is visiting.  My friend brought me buttermilk from France. I had a craving for chocolate.  All of these are perfect excuses to make a good cake.  I found this recipe on the joy of baking website and I tweaked it ever so slightly (adding half sour cream and half buttermilk).  As always it’s really simple and the result so yummy.  I made the mistake of asking the kids if they want a piece of coffee cake and they all bolted while making gagging noises.  I guess they don’t understand that there’s no coffee in it.  Oh well.  All the more for us.

 And can I just talk for a second about the combination of cinnamon with chocolate?  It’s just so…harmonious together.  The cinnamon really deepens the richness of the dark chocolate I used.  It gives it a little umph if you know what I mean.  I had to google the spelling of umph. Get recipe here.

Choco Spread

14 Dec

This morning I have one of the twins home sick.  Poor girl has torcicollo (stiff neck).  We decided to make my mother-in-law’s homemade chocolate spread to give the teachers as Christmas gifts.  I, of course, used 100% Belgian chocolate.  The recipe is:

250 grams Belgian chocolate

250 grams butter

1 can sweetened condensed milk (or 2 tubes if you live in Italy!)

Melt butter and chocolate in saucepan.  When melted and smooth stir in condensed milk.  Take off heat.  Pour into prepared jars.  Simple as that.

Mini brownies

4 Nov

This is my all-time favorite brownie recipe.  I make them for just about any occasion and they are so tasty.  The recipe is from joyofbaking.com.  You can make them in a pan as you would usually for brownies or as mini brownies.  I just put the mini cupcake papers directly on a baking sheet and fill them up.


5 ounces (150 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chopped

1/2 cup (1 stick) (113 grams) unsalted butter cut into pieces

2 tablespoons (15 grams) cocoa powder

1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 large eggs

3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (125 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Brownies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Butter (or spray with a nonstick cooking spray) an 8 inch (20 cm) square pan, and line the bottom of the pan with parchment or wax paper.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a large stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and stir in the cocoa powder and sugar . Next, whisk in the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Finally, stir in the flour, salt and chocolate chips (if using).

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a little batter and a few moist clumps clinging to it. Do not over bake. Remove from oven.  Enjoy!

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