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Pear & Dark Chocolate Turnovers

Café Soufflé is my pit stop in Montreal for all things delicious in the morning. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s 4 doors down from my favorite resting place, Urban Haven. Café Soufflé seems to have mastered the art of variety. With each stop you never know what treats will come out of their kitchen that day… but lucky the day I walked in and found warm out-of-the-oven pear & chocolate turnovers.

This Montreal coffee shop has become my model for when I save enough money to open up my perfect little coffee shop in Dallas. One that is known for the FOOD as much as their coffee.

Maybe I’ll add these to my coffee shop menu… they are divine.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box frozen puff pastry (2 sheets per box), thawed overnight in refrigerator
  • 3 pears – peeled, cored & cubed into 1/2 dice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoons water
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2-3 ounces dark chocolate bar, broken into chunks (i prefer a 54-60% chocolate bar)

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients (except chocolate) in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Cook for about 5 minutes or until pears are just tender (you don’t want them mushy). Cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut each puff pastry sheet into 4 squares (8 total squares).

Brush the edges of each square with egg wash and place about 1/8 of the pear mixture on one side of the square. Top with dark chocolate chunks. Fold the pastry diagonally and seal the edges using a fork. Place these on a baking pan lined with parchment paper and brush the top with egg wash. If desired, sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned. Serve warm.

Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes with Vanilla and Dark Chocolate Glaze

My sweet tooth is fairly tiny which makes these mini bundt cakes perfect for my house of one. Mostly everything from my kitchen goes out the back door to neighbors and friends so these made cute little packages to give away. These are super moist cakes and are super cute when you mix the glazes and toppings. If you want one big cake all to yourself, by all means just bake it longer (see directions below).

On a side note about using good ingredients, this recipe is one you can really make special. Valrhona Cocoa Powder and Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract are 2 ingredients I splurge on because they have a long shelf life and taste delicious.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup freshly brewed strong black coffee
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Vanilla glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-4 tablespoons cream or milk

Whisk powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla in small bowl to blend, adding more milk by 1/4 teaspoonfuls if glaze is too thick to drizzle.

Related posts: Crema.co Coffee Subscription: 80+ coffees from small batch roasters.

Chocolate glaze:

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chop chocolate and put in a small bowl; set aside.

Combine remaining the heavy whipping cream, corn syrup, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a small saucepan. Cook the mixture, stirring, until mixture boils. Pour over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Let cool to room temperature then spoon over the cooled cake. If too thick, thin with a little more cream.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350. Spray your bundt pan with non-stick baking spray (with flour) or butter and dust with cocoa powder. The batter is very wet and dusting with cocoa powder will prevent sticking. Trust me on this, I only buttered my first pan (no flour or cocoa) and it wasn’t pretty.

Whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl. Set aside.

In a mixer on low speed add the milk, coffee, canola oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix until everything is incorporated. With the mixer still on low speed slowly add in the dry ingredients. Once all of the flour mixture is added, mix the batter for a full four minutes on medium speed.

Pour the batter into the bundt pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. If using a mini bundt pan, bake time is 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Once cool, drizzle cake with icing and top with chopped nuts or mini chips if you desire.

Pots de Crème with Fleur de Sel, Lime and Dark Chocolate

Montreal is a dream inspiration for this foodie. I always come home with a ton of ideas and can’t wait to recreate flavors I’ve experienced.

This recipes is inspired by one tiny little chocolate from Marius et Fanny, a chocolate shop on Rue St-Denis in Montreal’s Plateau neighborhood. I found this cute little place on my first trip and I’ve continued to stop in every visit since. I always get the same exact luxury: Chocolate Caramel and Lime chocolates.

The French classic, Pot de Crème, was the perfect choice to infuse with these unexpected combination of flavors. You get that amazing creamy and dense feel – just like the oozing caramel middle from the sweet little chocolate.

Sometimes a little decadence is all you need.

INGREDIENTS

For the custard:

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 3/4 cups whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2 limes zested
  • 1 tsp Fleur de Sel (French sea salt)

For the chocolate sauce:

  • 4 ounces high-quality bittersweet or dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cream

DIRECTIONS

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Place six 2/3-cup soufflé dishes or 3/4-cup custard cups in large roasting pan. Combine sugar and water in heavy large saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until deep amber, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 6 minutes. Gradually whisk in 1 1/2 cups cream and milk (mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir until caramel dissolves, about 2 minutes. Add lime zest. Let cool for 10-15 minutes to avoid scrambling your egg yolks.

Whisk egg yolks in large bowl until foamy. Gradually whisk in cooled caramel. Strain into 4-cup glass measuring cup. Divide among dishes. Pour enough hot water into pan to come halfway up sides of dishes. Cover pan with foil. Bake until custard is just set at edges but still moves in center when shaken gently, about 1 hour. Remove from water; cool on rack. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; keep chilled.)

For the chocolate sauce, bring cream to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; whisk until smooth. Top each pot with a layer of chocolate and return to refrigerator until set.

 

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

These cookies are dead simple and the ingredients are probably already in your pantry. Yes, I always have Valrhona cocoa powder in my pantry – who doesn’t???

The egg whites do not have to be whipped into a froth – just lightly beat with a fork. You can use any combination of nuts and substitute cocoa nibs for the chocolate chips if you can find them!

The bowl is definitely worth licking.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder (Valrhona is the best)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup each of toasted pecans, mini chocolate chips & toasted almonds (chopped)
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, mix together powdered sugar, cocoa, and salt using a whisk. Add in nuts and chocolate chips. In a small bowl, stir together the egg whites and vanilla and then pour into the nut, cocoa& sugar mixture. Give everything a good stir until everything is well combined.

Line cookie sheets with parchment or silpat and then drop batter using a tablespoon. Make sure that there is at least 2 inches between each cookie and that you have no more than 8 cookies per sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes. You will know that they are ready when the cookies lose their shine and become matte. Use a spatula to carefully lift each cookie onto a cooling rack. Makes about 24 cookies.

Kaitlyn’s Cheesecake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

This little creature was the first to officially make me an Aunt. I’ve loved her since the moment I set eyes on her. She entertained me with her silly games when she was little and my family lived for every second we could spend with her. It’s unbelievable she just celebrated her 18th birthday and graduated Cum Laude!

From an early age Kaitlyn’s food selections were always impressive. When she was 4 years old I took her to a local kids pizza place with games and lots of noise. She headed straight to the salad bar and piled up a plate of cherry tomatoes, carrots and baby corn. She still loves her vegetables but also developed quite a friendly relationship with her mom’s best friend… chocolate.

Cheesecake made with vegan baking supplies and chocolate is what she wanted for her graduation party. So I made her one… with cherries on top.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz. graham crackers, finely crushed (2 cups of crumbs)
  • 3 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 7 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • Table salt
  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • chocolate shards or curls, for garnish

Chocolate Ganache

  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate
  • 6 ounces semi sweet chocolate
  • *I used Valrhona chocolate

DIRECTIONS

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.

In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs and 3 Tbs. granulated sugar. Mix in the melted butter until the crumbs are evenly moist and clump together slightly. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of the pan (to press, use plastic wrap or a flat-bottom measuring cup). Bake until the crust is fragrant and slightly darkened, 9 to 12 minutes. Let the pan cool on a rack. Lower the oven temperature to 300°F.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, flour, and a pinch of table salt on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle frequently, until very smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Make sure the cheese has no lumps. Add the 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar and continue beating until well blended and smooth.

Add the vanilla and beat until blended, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs one at a time, beating just until blended. (Don’t overbeat once the eggs have been added or the cheesecake will puff too much and crack as it cools.) Pour the filling into the cooled crust and smooth the top.

Bake at 300°F until the center jiggles like Jell-O when nudged, 55 to 65 minutes. The cake will be slightly puffed around the edges, and the center will still look moist. Set on a rack and cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. The cake can also be frozen at this point for up to 1 month. (To freeze, put the unmolded, cooled cake on a rimmed baking sheet in the freezer, uncovered, until the top is cold and firm; then wrap it in two layers of plastic and one layer of foil. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.)

For the ganache: Pour 3/4 cup of whipping cream into a saucepan on the stove and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Remove from heat, and stir in the chocolate. Keep stirring, and as it comes together, switch to your whisk, stirring until it is completely combined and smooth. Let this cool slightly. Pour the ganache on the cheesecake and spread evenly.

Garnish with chocolate shards and serve immediately. To cut, run a thin knife under hot water, wipe it dry, and cut the cake into slices, heating and wiping the knife after every slice.

Dark Chocolate Molten S’more Brownies

My great friend Laura is a wonderful cook and her lemon bars, guacamole and salads dressings are famous in our circle of friends. She was in charge of dessert for a recent dinner and quite kindly brought these to share. The graham cracker crust was perfect and was the star of this sinfully gooey dessert.

These look half done, but just the inside was molten. The outside of the brownies were dense and chewy.

She purposely left the pan on my kitchen countertop… but after a few grazings and slivers they have been banished to the neighbors.

I wish I had them back…

INGREDIENTS

For the Crust:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch fine salt

For the Brownie:

  • 1 box Dark Chocolate Brownies

For the Topping:

  • 4 cups large marshmallows

DIRECTIONS

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8 by-8-inch square baking pan with foil so it hangs over the edges by about 1 inch.

For the crust: Lightly butter the foil with some of the melted butter. Stir the rest of the butter together with the crumbs, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Press the crumb mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the brownie batter according to the directions on the box.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the top is crispy and a toothpick inserted into the middle is to your preferred level of “gooeyness”. For a more gooey inside check after 20 minutes. For brownies more well done bake for about 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and carefully position a rack about 6 inches from the broiler and preheat on low. Layer marshmallows across the top and toast under the broiler until golden, (keep an eye on it, it can go quick), about 2 minutes. Cool on a rack, gently removing the brownies from the pan using the aluminum flaps. Carefully separate any marshmallow from the foil and fold away. Cut into 12 (2-inch) squares.

Dark Chocolate Bark with Fruit & Nuts

Shoes for chocolate… WHY NOT? My original plan was to make a fabulous chocolate tart with dried fruits and nuts and a bottom layer of raspberry preserves. I came to my senses.

What the hell was I going to do with an entire tart worth a nice pair of shoes in 72% dark French chocolate?

Make something cheaper AND buy Italian leather shoes in celebration of 2009 being my favorite year thus far.

I had a bag of nuts & fruit with the ingredients below… but use whatever nuts & fruit you have on hand for an antioxidant packed treat.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios, walnuts and almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, cherries and blueberries

DIRECTIONS

Melt the chocolates in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, about 5-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Pour the melted chocolate over the paper and spread to form a square. Sprinkle the nuts and fruit over the chocolate. Set aside for 2 hours until firm. Cut the bark in pieces and serve at room temperature.