It is hard to believe that another year is ending and 2014 begins in just two days. Before we look ahead I thought we could take a quick look back at some favorite Chocolate Monday posts of 2013.
It was a wonderful year for discovering new recipes and learning more about converting recipes to gluten-free with some spectacular disasters and crowning achievements. It is like being a beginning baker again and rediscovering the joy of first successes.
|Merlot Brownies with Chocolate-Port Frosting|
|Ultimate Chocolate Milkshake|
|Chocolate Irish Whiskey Cupcakes|
I got to try some incredible flours made from grape skins and seeds (the leftovers from the winemaking process) from Whole Vine. They are really remarkable and add a subtle aroma and flavor to your baked goods. They also have the added benefit of naturally increasing the shelf-life which is always a good thing plus they are gluten-free. Bonus!
The Artist and my lives were changed forever with the simple concept that instead of using ice cream to make milkshakes, use gelato! We have gone on to make a whole variety of new versions and they are so much more intense with deep, rich flavors. Truly luscious!
|Easter Egg Coconut Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting|
|Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies|
|Bourbon Chocolate Brownie Gelato|
I have also fallen in love with white chocolate thanks to Guittard. I had only had cheap imitations before, which were quite distasteful to me. And then I tried Guittard’s white chocolate and it was eye opening. Spending more for a high quality ingredient isn’t always necessary, but in this case, it more than pays for itself!
You may have noticed that I have begun a love affair with bourbon – in my cooking and baking. I love the caramel notes it adds to chocolate. If you are Celiac or have extreme sensitivity to gluten, you should use wine, vodka, or other liquid in its place. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t the alcohol that is the problem. The distillation process takes care of just about any contamination. But the distillers often add caramel coloring back in to deepen the color and that is usually what people are affected by.
|Vanilla and Chocolate Marbled Loaf Cake|
|Chocolate-Glazed Chocolate Scones|
|Hazelnut Chocolate Sandwich Cookies|
Almond meal/flour is a common ingredient in gluten-free baking, but this year I also discovered the beauty of hazelnut meal. It is a little richer, lends a deeper nut flavor, and more color to your baked goods. And you don’t have to be gluten-free to use these nut meals. They are amazing in regular desserts too. Try replacing about 1/2 cup of either for 1/2 cup of your regular flour. It is that simple!
Did you know that adding high quality vanilla extract enhances the flavor of chocolate? Yes indeed. And have you discovered vanilla paste yet? It is even more pronounced than extract and includes the minute seeds from the vanilla pods. So if you are making vanilla custard, ice cream, or anything pale, using vanilla paste will give you the look and flavor of real vanilla pods at a fraction of the cost!
|Tiramisu with a Twist|
|Samoa Caramel Cookie Tart|
Through the Secret Recipe Club, I was able to introduce you to some other really talented food writers and their recipes. It is such fun to go through my assigned blog and find one of their recipes to recreate and share with you. Two of my favorites this year were the Raspberry Brownies and the Samoa Caramel Cookie Tart. The first I made in honor of my mother and her love of chocolate bars and the second is a reinterpretation of my favorite Girl Scout cookie, the Samoa. Having to work with someone else’s recipes forces us out of our comfort zones and expands our culinary visions. I love this group!
|Homemade Snickers Bars|
|Chocolate Cakelettes with Ganache Glaze|
|Chocolate-Peanut Butter Truffles – Homemade Reese’s|
When I was a little girl, I made candy with my grandmother Mimi. She would slather my tiny hands with butter and we would pull taffy until it became opaque and shiny. It was a wonderful lesson in patience – from waiting for the sugar syrup to cook to the correct temperature and letting it cool enough to handle, to pulling it seemingly forever until it reached the correct consistency.
This gave me the perfect foundation to try a couple of my most fun recipes this year … Homemade Snicker’s Bars and Reese’s Peanut Butter Truffles. Both of them utilized peanut butter, in totally different ways and both addicting.
|Coconut Cream Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crust|
|Cocoa Meringue Kisses|
We closed out the year with two of the most creative and interesting chocolate desserts, Chocolate Tamales and Cocoa Meringue Kisses. I had always know traditional tamales but had never heard of a chocolate version. My friend Chef Shannon from Gourmet Garden came out and taught a class for me. What a blast! The chocolate tamales can be filled with anything you like, from chocolate chips to jams and fruits. The only limitation is your imagination!
Meringues are fairly well known, but this time I added a lot of cocoa powder and made mini sandwich cookies with them. Rolling the edges in some crushed peppermint candies and chocolate jimmies gave them a jaunty look, not unlike Santa hats, LOL.
I hope you have enjoyed this little walk through the months of 2013, revisiting some of my favorite recipes. Perhaps you missed a couple of them or had forgotten that you wanted to make them. I know I had fun remembering each of them.
I wish for all of you the most joyous New Year (stay safe tomorrow night!) and a beautiful, peaceful, prosperous, and amazing 2014!
Happy New Year Everyone!!
For all recipes posted since July 2012 there is a gluten-free alternative included. For recipes posted prior to that, see the “Gluten-Free” tab at the top of the page for guidance on making your own
Create a New Tradition Today!
Unauthorized use, distribution, and/or duplication of proprietary material from The Heritage Cook without prior approval is prohibited. This includes copying and reprinting content and photographs. If you have any questions or would like permission, I can be contacted via email at theheritagecook (at) comcast (dot) net. Feel free to quote me, just give credit where credit is due, link to the recipe, and please send people to my website, www.theheritagecook.com. Please see the Disclaimers page for additional details.