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Sugar High Friday #27: Dark Chocolate Creme Brulee January 22, 2007

Posted by Sarah in Desserts.

dark choc creme brulee 1

This weekend my husband and our guy friends left town to gather at another friend’s house for their quarterly “Guy’s Weekend.” That meant that the females of our group gathered at my house for a “Girl’s Weekend.” And it just isn’t a great “Girl’s Weekend” without a rich chocolate dessert. So, I decided to make a dark chocolate creme brulee.

On Thursday, I went to Hy-vee and shopped for my chocolate. Since it didn’t call for pounds of chocolate (like when I made truffles) I wanted to buy something a little more expensive. I love Green and Black’s (and I probably should have bought that…) but for some reason I saw the Lindt Excellence 70% cocoa Dark Chocolate Bars on sale and went for those instead. I had never had it before and decided to try something new. It actually was pretty good, I don’t really have complaints about the chocolate … just read on…

the dark chocolate

There is a restaurant in town that my girlfriends and I love (the guys hate it calling it pretentious and overpriced with minuscule portions) called The Cafe. They offer a lot of organic and locally grown food and have amazing desserts. Awhile back we had a dark chocolate creme brulee that was fantastic. I was trying to imitate it with this recipe, but … I’m sad to say … I failed horribly.

I looked on-line and found several recipes. I thought the one shown above sounded pretty good, so I decided to go with it. It had a full 12 oz. of chocolate to 10 yolks and 3 cups of cream (plus other ingredients). So, on Friday night I set to work. I heated the cream, added flavorings, tempered the eggs before adding them to the cream; and all seemed well when they were put in the fridge to chill.

This was my first attempt ever at a creme brulee and I didn’t realize how finicky they are. This is not to say that I am not a fault here; I really should have read a little more about creme brulee before trying to make it. Maybe I should have followed the recipe more exactly, too. But, I over-baked them and I think I should have used less chocolate (hard to imagine, I know). They turned out more like a thick ganache than a light, creamy dark chocolate custard with a crisp sugar top.

dark choc creme brulee 3

This isn’t to say that what I made wasn’t tasty. It just wasn’t creme brulee. And, it was extremely rich so you couldn’t have more than a few spoonfuls at a time. Thankfully, my creme brulee failure did not dampen our girlie weekend. We shopped, ate chips and candy, watched movies, talked and played the Friends Scene-It game.

Don’t worry, this is not the end of my dark chocolate creme brulee making. I will get it right and I’m sure it will be amazing when I do. Maybe that’s what we’ll have next Girl’s Weekend…


Product Review: Kashi All Natural Entrees January 22, 2007

Posted by Sarah in Product Review.
1 comment so far

In general, I am not a fan of frozen meals. The ones that I have tried are usually not enough food to make me feel full. Also, more often than not, the meat seems by-product-y (which is a huge deterrent for me) and it just doesn’t really taste like real food. The only ones I have had that taste okay are loaded with fat and sodium and still don’t really fill me up.

When I saw that Kashi was making frozen meals, I was a little skeptical (just because of my feelings about frozen entrees) but I decided to put my trust in Kashi. When have they failed me before?

The first one I bought was the Lemon Rosemary Chicken. What surprised me the most was how much it filled me up. I was able to eat the meal, which was under 400 calories with milk and salad and not feel hungry until a late supper. I could have done with a little more lemon but otherwise it was quite tasty. It tasted like real food; like something I could have cooked myself.

The next one I tried was the Lemongrass Coconut Chicken. This one was heavy on the lemongrass flavor and light on the coconut. Still, it was satisfying. I ate it and an orange and stayed full until supper once again.

I would recommend these meals. There are a lot of different flavors and they are quite filling. The price is about the same as any other “healthy” frozen meal, and it is actually pretty healthy. I wouldn’t expect Kashi to do anything different! Check out the website. It has photos and nutritional information so you can decide for yourself!


Lemon-Raspberry Muffins January 14, 2007

Posted by Sarah in Baking.

Very nearly everything I cook or bake is based on some sort of craving that I have had at one point or another. I also have been making and freezing muffins to eat every morning for a quick breakfast. After a rather unappetizing batch of muffins (strawberry-almond-oat … they were pretty dry) I craved something bursting with tangy lemony flavor. Something moist, bright, and pretty. I decided I wanted to make Lemon-Raspberry Muffins. I haven’t seen too many recipes for these, nor have I had them before, but I have seen the lemon-raspberry combination in desserts and it sounded good. I used a recipe that I clipped out of Food and Wine a while back and modified that. It turned out to be everything that I hoped it would be. Tart, moist, and tangy. Sweet, bright, and still delicious the day after baking!


Lemon-Raspberry Muffins

(Makes 12)


1 3/4 cups flour

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons white sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoons salt

1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)

2 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice


1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup sugar

Lemon Sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel



Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin pan. Whisk together the dry muffin ingredients in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil and lemon zest. Then whisk in the lemon juice. Toss the raspberries with the flour (I used frozen berries) then add the wet ingredients to the dry. Stir gently with a rubber spatula until just blended. Do not overmix.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes until a cake tester inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean (a few crumbs are okay). While the muffins are baking, mix the 1/2 cup of sugar with the lemon peel in a small bowl. Set aside. Then, in a small saucepan stir together the 1/4 cup of sugar and the 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a simmer and simmer until it is slightly thickened. The syrup should measure about 1/4 of a cup.

When the muffins are out of the oven and have cooled 5 minutes, brush them with the lemon glaze, then gently dip/roll the tops in the lemon sugar. Let cool on a wire rack.  To freeze, let cool completely.  Then, wrap individually in plastic wrap and place muffins in a large freezer bag and freeze.  To defrost, microwave on the defrost cycle until soft and warmed.


Pork Stew: A Work In Progress January 12, 2007

Posted by Sarah in Dinner.
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pork stew 1

I have a recipe for a pork pot pie that for some reason provoked a desire for pork stew. I have never had pork stew or made pork stew or even had the pork pot pie that inspired this feeling… but I knew exactly how I wanted it to taste.

I wanted it to have a nice, rich, heavy pork flavor with big chunks of potatoes and sweet potatoes. I also wanted it to have a bit of sweet spiciness (not hot spicy, but cinnamon spicy… but not in such a way that you think, “Hey! This has cinnamon in it!”).

So, I started out by following the method used for my beef stew (browning meat, cooking for an hour, then adding the vegetables…) but my main problem was that I bought the wrong kind of meat.

I decided to buy the ingredients for pork stew on my way home from work and I forgot the cut of meat some other pork stew recipes had suggested. I remembered the words shoulder and tenderloin being used… but I knew I wanted something other than tenderloin. Although tenderloin is delicious, I was looking for a cheaper cut of meat. I ended up buying something that had way too much fat and was a major pain to cube. I should have just bought pork steaks, or just gone all out for tenderloin. But I really didn’t want to screw up an expensive piece of meat on an experimental recipe.

However, it turned out pretty well. I would definitely go for a different piece of meat and try to get a little more of that “extreme” pork flavor that I wanted (maybe use pork broth?) Even though this recipe was very satisfying, it is still a “recipe in progress” so some of it may change as I work to perfect it to my tastes.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. If you tweak it, let me know what you did and how it turned out!

Sarah’s Pork Stew


3 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

2 lbs. pork (tenderloin or maybe steaks?)

1/4 cup red wine

1 teaspoon each of dried thyme, sage, rosemary

1/2 teaspoon tarragon

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 bay leaves

2 medium onions

8-10 cloves garlic, minced

2 med.-large potatoes

2 medium sweet potatoes

4 cups chicken broth

pork stew 2


Cube the pork into 1 inch chunks. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter. Brown half of the meat until brown on all sides. Remove meat to a plate, add the rest of the butter and brown the rest of the meat. Remove the meat to the plate and add the onions, spices, garlic. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes. Add flour and cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add wine and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the broth and stir. Add the meat and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Check the seasonings and adjust to taste. Add the potatoes and cook for 20 minutes. Check seasonings and adjust again. Then serve with a salad and your favorite bread.

Apricot Sage and Orange Chocolate Cookies January 11, 2007

Posted by Sarah in Baking.
1 comment so far

I had been dreaming of making these yummy cookies for quite some time. They were going to go in my Christmas Cookie line up, but I ran out of time and energy. However, by New Year’s I was ready for more. I decided to make these to take to my friend’s New Year’s Party. These cookies were originally from a 2004 Better Homes and Gardens Cookie Magazine.

When I saw the recipe for Apricot Sage Sandwich cookies, I thought, “Interesting, but I don’t know too many people that would eat them.” Then, this year, I told a friend about them and she got really excited. She just happened to have a large stock of fresh sage that she had nothing to do with (in the dead of winter in a window box, no less…) and she urged me to make them. I had originally planned to alter them and make an orange cookie with a dark chocolate ganache filling. So, I did both! For the most part, they turned out really well. I liked both very much. It is important to roll the cookies pretty thin because you bake them until they are only very lightly browned and no one wants doughy shortbread…

Orange Dark Chocolate Cookies

Orange Dark-Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 sugar

1/4 yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup butter

finely grated orange peel from 2 fresh oranges

3 tablespoons milk

1 egg white

1 tablespoon water


8 oz. heavy cream

8 oz. chopped dark chocolate


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl stir together flour, sugar, and cornmeal. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling. Stir in orange peel. Add milk and stir with a fork to combine. Form mixture into a ball and knead until smooth. Divide dough in half.

On a very lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough at a time to a 1/8 inch thickness. Use a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter (or biscuit cutter) to cut out dough. You can set the scraps aside and re-roll them, just don’t flour your surface too much, the dough really doesn’t need that much at all (at least mine didn’t). Try to make sure you make an even number of cookies…

In a small bowl, whisk the egg white and the water. Brush the cookies with the egg white mixture and sprinkle with sugar. Place cookies 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake in preheated oven about 7 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are very lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool.

Heat the cream to a boil. Pour over the chopped chocolate. Let sit for 30 seconds then whisk until smooth. Spread filling on half of the cooled cookies and place another on top.

Orange Dark Chocolate Cookie 2

Apricot Rosemary-Sage Cookie2

Apricot Sage Cookies

As above except substitute 2 tablespoons snipped fresh sage (or lemon thyme, rosemary, or any combination of herbs. If using dried, use 2 teaspoons) I used a combination of fresh sage and dried rosemary.

For the filling use a good quality apricot preserves instead of the chocolate (although you could use chocolate filling with the herb cookies. I did that too and it was pretty good). You will need 2-3 tablespoons of apricot preserves.

If you have a lot of fresh sage, you can also decorate the cookies with some of the leaves. During the egg wash step, brush a cookies with the egg, put a sage leaf or two on the cookie, then brush with more egg. Then sprinkle with sugar.Apricot Sage-Rosemary Cookie 1

The recipe makes anywhere from 16-24 cookies, depending on how thin you roll them. They can be stored separated by waxed paper in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Freeze unfilled cookies for up to three months. Thaw cookies, then assemble (obviously…)