Monday, March 11, 2013

Death By Chocolate

Let's say this week started rough yet got better really fast. I spent the weekend updating art, baking, and carrying on. You can see that in the last post.

But this last week (the first week of March) started off at work as usual and was a rough start. I just recently had a new group added to my desk and it has kicked my butt a little the first month.

So Mike and I, as usual, when we don't see each other for a weekend we text. So he's texting me like he normally does after he wakes up and we are chatting away. He then starts asking me questions like "how many miles are you running today?" Ok, fair enough - he knows I run pretty much daily now. So I reply back with 4, then he starts saying, you should do only 3, maybe only 2. Ok......

Then he proceeds to ask if I am taking an early lunch. No, same time. So I get a few of these types of questions about how my day is planned. What are my plans for tonight etc. Which isn't totally out of the ordinary just strange that they are all strung together within an hours time.

So I keep going along my day, coming up on lunch. I get a phone call as I am packing up to head out. It's Mike, ok well he does know I take lunch at 2 pm every day. No biggie.

So I say hey, how's it going and he says, "Good, come downstairs, bye." I get this bright look on my face, smile. Grab my things and race down the stairwell.

There he is sitting in the lobby. I didn't know he was coming. Then he had flowers for me too. Gorgeous flowers with lilies and sunflowers. Sunflowers are my favorite, I'm a Kansas girl for sure, and lilies are just so pretty especially in orange and yellow :)

He also brought me a can of Lysol because I had said that I needed Lysol to spray my office with since everyone around me seemed to be sick.

He definitely surprised me and I love him so much for the random act. Coming down to see me when I wasn't expecting it and then coming to my office with flowers and Lysol :) I'm keeping him.

So I had Mike with me till Wednesday morning where after our fun Monday and Tuesday filled with playing Mario Kart with my neighbor and getting Imo's pizza and him running 1 1/2 miles with me, he went home and I planned my co-workers birthday.

She's a dear lady that is so amazing so I wanted to make her an amazing treat. She also loves loves loves chocolate and booze. So I incorporated both. Epic brownies turned into "Death By Chocolate." Oh no? Oh yes!

The ingredients are simple, just a few extras you need, like chocolate pudding, caramel sauce, instant coffee, Kahlua  and whipped topping.

If the shear amount of chocolate wasn't enough, 24 oz plus 1/3 cup of cocoa, there are 6 eggs and 3 sticks of butter in these brownies.

You mix your dry ingredients then you mix your wet ingredients all separately then mix together. I must say at this point I'm thinking, what on earth am I doing to these people?!? Oh that's right, making them happy on a Friday :)

So I then pour this delicious looking batter into my 9x13 pan, it FILLS the pan. These are DEEP dish brownies. None of those wimpy boxed Betty Crocker brownies (there is a time and a place for boxed brownies, this is not one of them.) I found the death by chocolate idea but was turned off by the lack of creativity of the brownie/chocolate cake aspect. So That's where epic brownies came in.

Once the brownies were cooked and pulled out to cool for about 5 minutes, I dumped 1/2 a cup of Kahlua on them after I poked them to let it soak. OMG!!! I tested and was like, holy cow, we are partying tomorrow! Then I brought my heath bars out of the freezer - yes the freezer - promptly I started to slap them against my counter top to break them up. Three candy bars worth of crumble in that little bowl.

Once the brownies cooled and the whipped topping thawed and my two large boxes of pudding set up, mind you this took 6 cups of milk to create chocolate pudding. HOLY MOLY! Good thing I bought more while at the store. Total depletion of my 1/2 gallon.

Step 1: Cut up brownies into bites and layer on bottom of bowl.
Step 2: top with half chocolate pudding.
Step 3: Top with 1/3 of the heath bar (or skor bar)
Step 4: Top with half whipped topping

Step 5: Repeat
Step 6: Top with remaining candy bar pieces

I made a little one for my neighbor in a clear glass to show the layers.

I must say this is a terribly delicious and dangerous dessert. When I brought this to work it, 1. weighed a ton, 2. got lots of stares and walk away, and 3. made a lot of people hate me for the rest of the day.

One co-worker and I had this conversation:

CK: I'm going to stick my head in the bowl.
Me: Haha, let JC have one more go before you do then, then go ahead. I want to take very little home with me this weekend.
CK: Can'
CK: I even took a small amount, just because I knew better. Still wanted to sleep before I was done. Pretty sure my kidneys just walked off stage.
Me: hence "DEATH" by chocolate
CK: I think I could jump of this building and fly right now. Or, I just lost 3 years of my life in the past 10 minutes. In other words, you forgot to tell me there was cocaine in that thing. I.just.ate.brown.cocaine.
Me: HA! Yeah that stuff will get ya. The fact that it has an exorbitant amount of chocolate, sugar, booze, and more. It's a killer dessert - made only now and then, like 1x a year, much like gooey butter cupcakes.
CK: For some reason I feel like I would have been healthier eating a stick of butter.
Me: Probably fewer calories actually, or at least less sugar. Or you could have eaten 6 eggs on their own.
CK: It's no fun without a little sugar. Gross. I once learned how to bombardier raw eggs.
Me: Ha! well dip it into sugar and I'm still sure it's better for you.

So yeah, that's about how all felt. Didn't quite get the same imagery from the boss or others as I did with CK but he is a writer.

So the long awaited recipe is here, I got the brownie from A Spicy Perspective and then blended a few Death By Chocolate recipes together from 

Epic Brownies
1 lb dark chocolate, chopped (or semi sweet chocolate chips) **I'm cheap**
3 sticks unsalted butter
13 oz can Dulce de leche (or 1 jar -13 oz- Smucker's caramel sauce) **I'm cheap and refused to pay $3.50 for Dulce de leche - sorry guys**
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
6 eggs
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp instant coffee granules (3 pkts of Starbucks Columbia Via)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional or get creative with toffee bits, crushed Oreo's, butterscotch chips etc.)
1/2 cup Kahlua

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 pan and set aside.

Melt the butter, 1 lb of chocolate, and caramel/Dulce de leche together in the microwave or double boiler. If melting in microwave, heat for 60 seconds  then stir. Repeat in 30 second increments until mixed. Allow to cool a little.

Mix flour, cocoa, salt, and coffee granules together in a separate bowl.

Whisk eggs, sugar, and vanilla into the chocolate mixture. Then slowly add the dry mixture while whisking until just combined.

Finally add the chocolate chips and chopped nuts or other chosen goodies. Stir well.

Pour the brownie batter into your prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE. Check at 35 minutes with a toothpick. The moment the toothpick comes out mostly clean, remove from oven. The brownies will continue to cook a little as they are cooling, but you don't want them to be overcooked.

Allow brownies to cool for 5-10 minutes. Poke an even amount of holes all over the brownies with a fork. Then pour the Kahlua over the top and let cool completely.

Once cooled cut into bite size squares and set aside.

Death By Chocolate
2 pkgs (the large ones that serve 8) chocolate pudding mix
6 cups milk
1 - 16 oz- pkg whipped topping
3 Heath or Skor chocolate covered toffee candy bars (frozen then smashed into bits)
1 recipe (above) Epic Brownies soaked with Kahlua

Take whipped topping out to thaw. Make chocolate pudding, place in fridge to set up. Bake epic brownies and cool completely.

Take a large bowl, or large trifle bowl.

Layer brownies evenly on bottom. Then top with 1/2 of the chocolate pudding. Top the pudding with 1/3 of the toffee candy, then top with 1/2 the whipped topping. Repeat brownies, pudding, candy, whipped topping and then top the last layer with the remaining candy. Place in the fridge for an hour or so to set up. **Mine sat all night. OMG!

WARNING: This is extremely rich and decadent and very very very dangerous. You have been warned.

This is the perfect dessert for a chocoholic. And by all means if you don't like a specific ingredient, be it coffee or the Kahlua take it out or substitute something for it. Whiskey, a dark beer. Get creative. These are EPIC brownies and therefore the ingredient list needs to stay EPIC.

Now go out and COOK!

Friday, March 8, 2013

(Shot) Guns and (Cookie) Roses

So last weekend I was a little bored. I was also in kind of a "I love you" type of mode. Just felt like baking and making something pretty. It was a "me" weekend. Mike and I had our off weekend and he was working and I was enjoying the weekend in the ways I know how.

I first started off by getting up early Saturday so I could make it to the range by opening (10 am).

I shot well the first round, the second I didn't take my time like I should have. So out of two rounds 16/25 and 13/25 for my first Trap practice without Mike. He's gonna come with me this weekend. To watch.

So while shooting and being so happy with myself for breaking clay birds, it's quite a thrill really. Everyone should learn how to responsibly use a firearm, learn the value of life, and go shoot some clay birds. 
Of course while I shoot, being still fairly new to it, I remind myself things as I get ready. "Feet wide, toes forward and out slightly, bend at waist, knees loose, elbow up, beads only on barrel, breathe, focus, take my time, follow through." Yes I really do say these things to myself. But it's helpful and I'm told to do it. Habit makes for muscle memory and second nature. 

Of course one shot I thought I had it all down, had recited my little shtick and said "PULL!"  Bird goes flying, I pull the trigger and BANG!! Yeah, that one wasn't set into my should right. Somehow I had it just a bit high and the stock kicked just enough to hurt. So in the end here I am with a bruise.

Needless to say I learned my lesson. Only takes one bruise to learn.

So, later that weekend, after shopping and working out, I decided while I waiting for Svengoolie to come on MeTV at 9 pm (CST) I decided to bake some pretty cookies. 

I found this recipe by chance, I think through a food related newsletter in my email. They are called Fragile Rubella. The blog was in Polish, so Thank God for Google and the ability to translate a page. :)
Of course I still had to figure out a few things. Like translating Celsius to Fahrenheit. Of course grams is no biggie since I have a scale and milliliters is easy now that I have my trusty oxo cups that measure in just about every available system, metric or standard. This cookie is basically a basic butter/spritz type of shortbread. A little of both mixed together. 

So to start off, after making your dough and chilling it. You roll it out and then cut circles out, I used a 3 inch cutter. Then you take your circles and layer 4 together (just the edges overlapping, creating a line of circles.)

I forgot to capture this while doing it, messy hands.

Then you roll up all 4 circles on top of themselves. Then cut them right down the center to make two pieces. like so.

Continue to do so until you run out of dough. Then place the cut side down and pull down the "petals" to shape the rose.

So once you have them shaped, place them on a baking sheet. I did that the first time and all my roses fell over and turned out rather pathetic, so the next batch I put in muffin tins so they wouldn't wilt on me. That worked absolutely perfectly!

The final product on the right was beautiful. Dust with powdered sugar to give a little extra. The original recipe doesn't call for food coloring to create red roses but I just felt like it. So you could make dough colored roses and sprinkle with red sugar crystals or edible glitter. Get creative.

Speaking of creative, I got creative Sunday. I had an empty space up above my headboard in my bedroom between the 4 small pictures I have. So I brainstormed, got a few ideas from Mike and then made a decision. I would create something rather than buy it.

I got to playing with the shells that were on my counter from trap practice and shaped them into a heart which then gave me an idea to turn those shells into something even more beautiful than shot.

I took the two canvas I had and painted them completely black. Then mapped out where I would glue the shells on. From there I let everything dry and set. Then I wrote a quote on the canvas with a silver sharpie (because it's prettier than me painting words, trust me)

"The best thing to hold onto in life is each other." Audrey Hepburn *my favorite actress ever also stars in my favorite movie set in Manhattan New York New York, "Breakfast at Tiffany's." You can see all those elements here below. The New York pictures in black and white with just a pop of color. And the art in the middle depicting a black and white setting with a pop of red color. I call this - Shotgun Love.

So, while we are now finally coming to the end of the "Great Blizzard of Oz," the two weeks where we had almost 2 feet of snow dumped on us within 3 days worth of time, I can finally see some grass and the sidewalks are emerging once again to be run on so I do not have to dodge drivers that don't care to give me the time of day while I run on the side of the road.

So we have survived the snow, and I have gotten some cool pictures because of it. Ice and snow walls on the sidewalks at the brownstone.

Ok, enough flapping my fingers on you. Here's the recipe you are wanting.

Fragile Rubella

200 g cold butter (about 2 sticks)
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
Pinch of salt

Chop flour together with salt and butter. Add sugar and egg yolks and chop everything together with a pastry blender or with your hands. Quickly knead the dough and form a ball. If it does not stick together add 1-2 tablespoons of cold water until it comes together.

Wrap the dough in plastic and place in the fridge for about half and hour.

Roll out the chilled dough thinly on a lightly floured surface (about 3-4 mm thick). Cut dough into circles, about 3 inch circles. After you have 4 circles, arrange so as to overlap each other, and roll it into a roll (rather loose). Cut the roll in half to create two parts. Thus obtaining two rubella's.

With the cut side down on your rubella part the petals on the top and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or place in cupcake cups). Bake in a preheated 200 degree C/400 degrees F oven for about 10-15 minutes, until golden brown on the edges.

Baked cookies can be sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Go out and cook, make something pretty and delicious. :)