Chocolate Guinness Tofu Pudding

chocolate guinness

Back before baby, when I was a busy busy working gal, I was not the sort to get all crafty when holidays rolled around (except for Valentine’s). Far from it. Most of the time, I worked right through them, especially for the lesser, B list holidays (ahem, Presidents’ Day).

But even for the big holidays, my efforts were decidedly lackluster. Let’s just say there were many a hastily scrawled coupon for Christmas gifts over the years.

But now that I am a mom, I am trying to make an effort to celebrate the holidays in all their cheesy glory, for our little dude.

He gets so excited for holidays, especially if any sort of cake is involved.

When he noticed all the leprechaun decorations at the grocery store, I resolved to come up with some sort of Irish feast to celebrate.

But, never having actually celebrated said holiday, let alone cook for it, I was at a loss as to what make.

So I poked around the internets for inspiration, but the luck of the Irish was not with me. I found a whole of lot recipes for Irish soda bread, which seemed nice enough, if rather dull.

Of course there were all sorts of recipes for corned beef, which I learned is not even a traditional Irish dish.

But more than anything were recipes featuring Guinness or whiskey, because apparently the Irish are fond of drink.

I did love the sound of Nigella’s chocolate Guinness cake, which she describes as “magnificent in its damp blackness.” Damp blackness, you say? I was intrigued.

However, to my chagrin, I am not a big fan of Guinness stout, even though I am a wee bit Irish. I might partake of a pint once in a blue moon, but I didn’t really want a whole six pack of the stuff sitting around. Plus I didn’t want to make a whole cake that our little dude couldn’t eat.

Nothing else sounded all that appealing, and I briefly considered scuttling the whole thing.

But then, whilst wandering around the grocery store, I spotted a sixer of Guinness black LAGER, and I thought “Leaping leprechauns! Now there is a fine drink, to be sure.”

Neither I nor the hubbie are much for stout, but lager? Well, that is a different story, laddie!

The stout version is a little too much for my taste, too rich, too filling, if pleasingly creamy. But the lager is fantastic – crisp, slightly bitter, frothy. It might be my new favorite drinky-drink.

With that discovery, the wheels started turning, and all of the sudden chocolate Guinness tofu pudding popped in my head.

I make this easy chocolate tofu pudding all the time, but for special occasions, I bust out this slightly fancier version from The Minimalist.

For St. Paddy’s Day, I thought, why not nix the Mexican flavor and sub Guinness black lager for the liquid?

So I did just that and a fine time was had by all. Except for little dude, he had a fine time but with a Guinness-free version.

Chocolate Guinness Tofu Pudding

Adapted from The Minimalist
Recipe notes: The cool thing about silken tofu is that it turns incredibly smooth and creamy when you give it a good whirl in the blender or food processor. Plus it has a relatively mild flavor, which makes it a wonderful base for puddings with a strong flavor, such as chocolate. Not that I have anything against eggs or milk, but they can be a bit finicky when making pudding or custard. Well, if you are me. I have been known to accidentally scramble eggs when making custard. The tofu is pretty much foolproof. The recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman, but I changed it a bit to work with the package size of the tofu I normally buy, which is Mori-nu. It comes in 12 ounce blocks, whereas The Minimalist recipe calls for 16 ounces. It seemed weird to use 1 full 12 ounce block, and a mere 4 ounces of another block, leaving a random 8 ounces for some other use. So I adjusted the recipe to use a single 12 ounce block. (It turns out Nasoya makes silken tofu in 16 ounce blocks, but I have never come across this product in grocery stores). Also, The Minimalist version calls for 8 ounces of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, which is basically two full bars of chocolate. That is a little over the top for my budget (and girlish figure) so I dialed back the chocolate a bit too, to just one full bar. This pudding is nice and chocolate-ly, with a subtle, malty finish. And since I went the Guinness route, I thought hey, why not break out the whiskey too? It’s a party over here, and you’re invited. So I found this recipe for whiskey whipped cream, from Pioneer Woman. And to complete the caricature, a bit o’ green, in the form of homemade sanding sugar, from The Sweet Adventures of Sugar Belle. To make an alcohol-free version (and gluten-free to boot), replace the Guinness in the pudding with water, and omit the whiskey in the whipping cream. To make this vegan, skip the whiskey whipped cream entirely, oh and use vegan sugar and chocolate, natch.

½ cup sugar

½ cup Guinness stout or lager

4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

12 ounces silken tofu

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1. In a small pot, combine sugar with Guinness; bring to a boil and cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Take off heat and add chocolate. Cover and let stand 5 or 10 minutes.

2. If you have an immersion blender, add tofu, vanilla and salt to the pot and blend until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, put chocolate mixture in a blender or food processor, add tofu, vanilla and salt and blend until smooth. Divide among 2 to 4 ramekins and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Whiskey Whipped Cream

Adapted from Pioneer Girl

1 cup whipping cream

4 teaspoons whiskey

4 teaspoons sugar

In a cold bowl, beat whipping cream until it starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Add sugar and whisky, and beat until soft peaks form.

Green sanding sugar

Adapted from The Sweet Adventures of Sugar Belle

Green gel food coloring

Sugar

Put however much sugar you want in a ziplock bag, add a drop of food coloring, close the bag and work the coloring into the sugar. Add more food coloring for more intense color, as desired. Pretty cut and dried, but do check out Sugar Belle’s post on this, the details and photos are the bee’s knees!

Granola Cookies, aka Breakfast Cookies, aka Kitchen Sink Cookies

granola cookies

My little guy is totally addicted to Annie’s granola bars.

And what’s not to love? They are just soft and chewy enough for his little teeth to bite into without sending cascades of granola bits flying everywhere. They are just wee enough for his chubby little fist to grab and carry with him on all his little toddler adventures. And the wrapper, which I leave on and pull down as needed, keeps him mostly sticky free, until he devours the last little nub.

Plus they are organic with recognizable ingredients and less sugar than most granola bars out there (hey, helps with my mom guilt).

But at nearly $5 a box for 7 little bars, they are kinda on the pricey side. And we go through them super fast around here.

So the other day, I totally spaced out and forgot to pick up a box at the grocery store, which caused a minor meltdown when little dude asked for one later that day.

I managed to distract him (What, you want a granola bar? Hey, let’s go play on the trampoline!), and mentally made a note to go to the grocery store the next day.

But then I thought, ugh, the grocery store. I dread going to the grocery store. Anyone who’s been grocery shopping with a two year old knows what I am talking about. Plus we live out in the country, 10 miles from the nearest Annie’s granola bars, so running out to the store for a single item is not exactly convenient.

Then I thought, what if I made some instead? I’d made granola bars once before, and they were good, and easy to make, but really sticky, and really sweet. I wanted something a little less sweet and maybe not so sticky. I do enough laundry around here.

Then it hit me – what about a granola cookie instead? All the goodness of granola packed into a cute little cookie, what child could resist?

I turned to the internets for research and development and came across these kitchen sink cookies on Martha Stewart. These were just what I was looking for – crisp on the outside, moist on the inside, chock full of fun bits and chunks. It’s like oatmeal cookie’s parents went out of town for the weekend and she invited all her bffs from the pantry over for a night of, umm, granola making.

I did end up tweaking the recipe to healthify it a bit, but they are still cookies after all.

When little dude asked for a granola bar, I distracted him with these (Hey, cookie!) and started thinking about ways to healthify a lollipop.

Granola Cookies, aka Breakfast Cookies, aka Kitchen Sink Cookies

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Recipe notes: This recipe is very versatile – I made a bunch of tweaks with no disastrous results. What I ended up with was a very lightly sweet cookie, not too crumbly, crisp on the outside, soft in the middle. I cut the sugar in half, swapped all purpose flour for white whole wheat, added almond flour for protein, and swapped the chocolate for dates and sunflower seeds. Oh, and switched coconut oil for the butter. Whew. Normally when I sub white whole wheat flour for all purpose flour, I only do up to about 25%, per Cook’s Illustrated. But then I remembered the 100% whole wheat chocolate chip cookies from Kim Boyce, and I thought, let’s do this. So I went for it and did 100% white whole wheat flour. The dates I had were kind of tough and chewy, so I soaked them in apple juice and that made them a little more tender. Actually I soaked them a little too long and they started to turn gelatinous, so then I had to try to dry them out a little. It was a big mess. Don’t soak them too long, 5, 10 minutes tops. These are super easy to make – usually cookies involve creaming room temperature butter and sugar (which I find tedious), then beating in the rest of the wet ingredients, and finally adding all the dry ingredients. But these substitute melted coconut oil for butter, so you can skip the creaming and just mix that bad boy up with a simple wooden spoon, no need to bust out the mixer. There is a lot of measuring due to all the add-ins, but it goes pretty quick. The dough is rather thick – once I got all the stuff mixed in, I scooped heaping tablespoons and basically pressed them into little balls, them smooshed ‘em a bit for that classic cookie shape. They are very crumbly right out of the oven (I know this through scientific, uh, research) but firm up nicely once cooled completely. Then they are pretty portable, if you are into running around with a cookie in your fist. Makes about 26 cookies. If that is too much, scoop all your cookies as directed, bake just a few, then freeze the rest on a baking sheet for a couple of hours. You can then store them in a ziplock bag and bake them straight out of the freezer as needed, adding a minute or two to compensate. Next time I might try adding an extra egg white and maybe some peanut butter for extra binding and protein. And of course there is plenty of room for experimenting with the add-ins.

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cups white whole wheat flour

¼ cup almond flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup chopped dates

½ cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup sweetened flake coconut

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl with a wooden spoon, stir oil and brown sugar together until smooth. Mix in egg until well blended. Stir in vanilla.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt (or just mix together, I never bother with sifting). Add oats, seeds, coconut, raisins, dates and walnuts and stir until well blended. Gradually stir dry mixture into oil mixture until well blended.

Drop batter by heaping tablespoons on baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Press tops down with the bottom of a glass or your hand to flatten cookies evenly. Bake until golden, about 14 to 16 minutes. Cool on pan for 2 minutes. Remove from pan, and finish cooling completely on wire rack.

Update 3/17/2013: I tried a batch with an extra egg white and puffed rice in place of the sunflower seeds. They held together pretty well, but the puffed rice sort of disintegrated into the cookies.

Healthy-ish Beet Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Frosting for Your Boo

beet cupcakes

Usually I am not the sentimental sort, but when V Day looms, I can’t resist whipping up something special for my boo.

Back Before Baby, I spent many happy hours concocting all sorts of decadent treats for my guy. One year, in a fit of unabashed sappiness, I crafted a surprisingly convincing 2D Jack Skellington and Sally from melted dark and white chocolate, complete with a chocolate Zero and little chocolate hearts. We ate the whole thing for dinner and washed it down with cheap champagne, lots of it.

But these days, now that I’m a mama, my efforts are a little more, wholesome, shall we say.

Like these here cupcakes. That lovely, vibrant red crumb? The work of beets, my friends! Also, there is whole wheat hiding in there. And the frosting is dark chocolate, which is practically a health food, am I right? OK, so the candy hearts are, ummm, candy. But know that I planned to top these with pomegranate seeds instead, I was just too lazy to peel the dang thing.

Healthy-ish Beet Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Frosting for Your Boo

Cupcakes adapted from Sunset Magazine/Diane Morgan. Chocolate ganache frosting adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.

Recipe notes: These cupcakes are super easy to make, but it does take a bit of time to pull them all together. For me, it was easier to roast the beets (along with some other vegetables I planned to put in a stew) a day before, so they were ready to go when I started the cupcakes. The original recipe calls for cake flour, but I never have that on hand, so I went with a substitution. Also, I cut the sugar by 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons. As for the chocolate ganache frosting, the recipe calls for letting it cool in the fridge for 45 minutes before frosting your cupcakes. If you happen to let the frosting kick it in the fridge overnight, as I did, it may turn a bit hard, which makes it very difficult to work with. You might try whipping it to loosen it up, not sure if heat would help. Also, I’ve tried swapping out the whipping cream for other liquids, but so far that hasn’t worked out. This frosting, it’s finicky, but hey, only two ingredients.

BEET CUPCAKES

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 pound red beets (3 medium), scrubbed

1 cup all purpose flour

¾ cup white whole wheat flour

¼ cup corn starch

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs, beaten to blend

2/3 cup canola oil

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Roast beets: Preheat oven to 400°. Wrap each beet in foil, put on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast until tender when pierced, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Let cool. Peel, cut into chunks, and purée in a food processor. Measure 1 1/4 cups purée.

2. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 12-cup muffin pan (1/2-cup size) with paper liners. Sift together flour, corn starch, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.

3. Whisk together beet purée, granulated sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla in a large bowl. With a plastic spatula, stir in flour mixture one-third at a time just until smooth.

4. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each almost to the top of the liner. Bake until cupcakes spring back when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted in center of one comes out with a couple of moist crumbs clinging, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool completely.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE FROSTING

Makes about 2 cups, enough for 12 cupcakes

1 cup heavy cream

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Bring cream to boil in small saucepan.

Remove off stovetop (this is important. I forgot to do this once and the frosting turned out very, very dense).

Place chocolate in the saucepan, cover and let stand 5 minutes.

Whisk until smooth, then cover and refrigerate until cool and slightly firm, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Remove from the fridge and frost those babies!

Blackberry Crumble

Whenever I think of my grandma, I think of blackberry crumble. I’m sure there were also blueberry crumbles and raspberry crumbles and all manner of pies and cobblers, but what I remember most was her blackberry crumble. It was sweet and jammy and impossible to stop eating. It tasted like summer. I would tiptoe downstairs and sneak spoonfuls straight out of the fridge.

It’s a long story, but we moved into her old house just over a year ago. By then the blackberry brambles were threatening to take over. We are trying our best to keep them at bay, and that means a lot of blackberry crumble.

Sadly, grandma never wrote her recipe down – I guess she made it so often she didn’t have to think about it, like breathing. She just knew what to do.

I, on the other hand, never made a crumble in my life until we moved out here, which was right around the time I turned 37. So I turned to the internets for help.

I ended up using a recipe from 101 Cookbooks as a template. The technique for the crumble was alluringly simple – melt the butter then mix it with the dry ingredients. Most of the other recipes I came across called for cutting chilled butter into the dry ingredients, which seems excessively tedious when your two-year-old is wailing and wrapped around your ankles. I also liked the use of almond flour in place of all purpose flour, which makes this version gluten-free, if you use gf oats. I did made a few tweaks here and there. I cut the sugar nearly in half (I’m a mama bear, that is how I roll). I also upped the oats, just because I like oats.

It tastes nothing like grandma’s, but I still eat it cold out of the fridge.

(So is it a crumble? Or a crisp? I always called it a crumble, but I guess technically it’s a crisp, since we are right here in the good ol’ US of A. My bad!)

A few notes: I’ve swapped out the blackberries for all sorts of fruit, to good effect. Although if you go with something very tart, such as rhubarb or cranberries, you might want to increase the sugar. We eat this with yogurt for breakfast, ermmm, the oats make it healthy, right?

Topping:

1/2 c almond flour

1/2 c nuts

3/4 c rolled oats

1/4 c sugar

1/2 tsp table salt

1/4 c + 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

Fruit:

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tsp lemon juice

1/4 c sugar

5 c blackberries

Preheat the oven to 375F, with rack in the middle.

Put coconut oil in a bowl and microwave until melted. Add the flour, nuts, oats, sugar and salt. Mix until thoroughly combined, then place in freezer to chill for about 10 minutes.

Put fruit in a 8×8 baking dish. Sprinkle cornstarch, sugar and lemon juice over the top. Toss fruit until evenly coated. Pull the topping from the freezer, and crumble over the fruit.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the topping is golden and the fruit juices are bubbling. Let cool before serving, heh, if you can wait.