Chocolate Fingers

Chocolate finger invitations

Growing up I always loved leafing through Martha Stewart’s Halloween edition of her magazine for all sorts of creepy ideas. I remember being particularly struck by her severed finger invitations, and thinking that some day I would use those for an amazing Halloween party. Unfortunately, the store kits she used to sell have come and gone, and neither my parents nor I could find rubber mold to make them at home. But luckily, that’s when I discovered Silicone Moulds, who just so happened to carry a finger shaped silicone mold. Not only could I make my severed finger invitations, but I could have my cake and eat it too!

Chocolate Fingers
Yields about 18 fingers

For the cake truffle filling:
1 stick (113 grams) butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup white or yellow cake mix
1/2 cup all purpose flour

For the chocolate coating:
3 bars white chocolate
A few drops black food gel
Cooking oil (for thinning, if necessary)

Other ingredients or tools:
Silicon finger mold
A small, clean brush
Brown food gel
A sponge or cotton ball
Red jam (optional)
Boxes and black ribbon (if making invitations)

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Chocolate Maple Cupcakes

Chocolate maple cupcakes

The other day my husband and I took a walk where we ended up at one of the grocery stores for a little after walk snack. As we were perusing the isles trying to decide what we wanted, we managed to end up in my favorite isle: the baking isle. And as I was looking to see if there were any new sets of sprinkles I might want to add to my growing collection, I saw a small glass jar of golden brown liquid… maple syrup!! This delectable syrupy treat is not so easy to find here in Norway where everyone seems to think it’s too sugary and can’t understand why in the world we’d want to make a sticky mess out of our pancakes (here they smear pancakes with jam and eat them with their hands). So I snatched it up (even at almost $20 for a bottle) and raced home to add it to my ever growing list of Fall baking ideas.

Chocolate Maple Cupcakes
Yields 12 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
1/2 stick (57 grams) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 tbsp. baking cocoa
1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup milk

For the frosting:
2 1/2 sticks (285 grams) butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

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Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

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Sometimes, a recipe is a work in progress. Sometimes, you make it and make it over again just because it didn’t turn out quite right the first time. I wish I could say every recipe I make turns out right on the first try, and that I’ve gotten to the point where I can just put myself on autopilot and bake away. Honestly, I don’t think the latter ever really happens; it’s at that point that you get overconfident and mess up, and the whole process humbles you right back to where you’re supposed to be, having a healthy amount of respect for the wild, finicky beast that is baking. This recipe is one of those examples. It’s a recipe that I made and remade until I got each component just right, until I found new respect for my unpredictable oven, my “I’ve changed the setting 50 times on this thing just to get it the right amount of cool” refrigerator, and all my little “What the #&*/ did I do wrong?!” learning moments along the way. Sometimes, everything works out right the first time. Sometimes, even the simple recipes like to remind you that no matter how many years you’ve been cooking, you’ve still got a whole lot to learn!

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes
Yields 12 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
1/2 stick (57 grams) butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup milk

For the filling:
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 tbsp. butter

For the chocolate ganache frosting:
3 1/2 bars (350 grams) dark chocolate
1 cup heavy cream

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Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

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My dad has always been a banana lover. He loves everything from banana desserts to banana breads, and all the weird combos in between… like peanut butter and banana sandwiches (seriously, he swears by those things). So when I decided I wanted to try making a banana cream pie with a twist, I knew exactly who to consult! The result: a delicious creamy, chocolately banana dessert, Pappo approved!

Chocolate Banana Cream Pie
Yields one 9″ pie

For the crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 stick (113 grams) melted butter

For the vanilla cream pudding:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 tbsp. butter

For the chocolate pudding:
1 cup milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. all purpose flour
3/4 cup (120 grams) chocolate chips

1 banana, sliced

Optional whipped cream garnish:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup powdered sugar

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Chocolate Croissants (Pain Au Chocolat)

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While my husband and I were in Oslo about a year and a half ago visiting the US Embassy for my Norwegian residency permit, we stopped by a little bakery on Oslo’s famous shopping street, Henrik Ibsens gate. As soon as I saw the colorful display of macarons in the window, I knew I had to go in. My husband agreed, and we ventured in to a cozy shop where we enjoyed warm cups of hot chocolate (it was the middle of winter, at the time, and very cold outside), macaron sampling, and some freshly baked pastries. Everything was delicious, and I couldn’t help but buy a small box of colorful macarons to take home. The entire time I was selecting my take-home box, my husband and I kept stealing kisses from each other and cuddling (yes, we can be that couple), when out from the back walked a man in a white chef outfit. In a very thick French accent he exclaimed, loudly for the whole shop to hear “Oh look at ze love birdz! Iz good to see such young love!” That, ladies and gentleman, was famous pastry chef Pascal Dupuy. I suppose I can now check “Get embarrassed by famous pastry chef for PDA with husband” off my bucket list. And on the eve of renewing my residency permit to reside in Norway, it seemed only fitting to take a page out of Pascal’s book (literally) and whip up some delicious chocolate croissants.

Chocolate Croissants (Pain Au Chocolat)
Yields about 15 pastries

Ingredients:

For the pastries:
1 tbsp. instant yeast
4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/3 cup milk
2 1/4 stick (250 grams) cold butter

For the filling:
1 bar (100 grams) dark chocolate

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