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The chocolate lover’s garden

The possibilities are endless and delicious

July 21, 2017
By Kathie N. Lapcevic - GRIT magazine , Farm News

By Kathie N. Lapcevic

GRIT Magazine

Garden-fresh fruit and vegetables are delicious on their own and even mixed together in traditional ways. They are also key to the success of many sweet and savory baked goods. Take it one step further and you will discover that garden-fresh produce can enhance some of your favorite chocolate-centric desserts.

Article Photos

Lavender blossoms in chocolate cupcake batter, and placed on top of the frosting, turn plain into wonderful.

While the flavor of an individual fruit or vegetable remains in the baked goods, it's usually light, and, in chocolate desserts specifically, the chocolate will always be the most dominant flavor. Adding vegetables and fruits to baked goods provides extra moistness and, in many cases, lightness, which makes them perfect treats when lighter fare is desired. Let the creative mind run wild instead of getting stuck on a specific list of ingredients in any given recipe. If all the fresh zucchini was used in last night's side dish, try using shredded patty pan squash, carrots, or even radishes instead - and don't forget about beets, rutabagas and turnips.

Don't have mint? Try lemon balm or anise hyssop as a tasty, albeit differently flavored, substitute. No pears? Use apples. Most any winter squash that has been roasted and pureed can be substituted for pumpkin. Don't be afraid to mix it up either. Only one cup of raspberries when a recipe calls for two? Try a cup of berries with a cup of chopped cherries.

Chocolate lavender cupcakes with lavender honey frosting

Delicately flavored, these chocolate lavender cupcakes, topped with fresh lavender flowers, make for a lovely party presentation. They look fancy and bake up in no time.

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup olive oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup milk

2 tablespoons fresh lavender blossoms, or 2 teaspoons dried

Lavender honey frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tin with cupcake papers; set aside.

In large bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In small bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, vanilla and milk. Pour into dry and stir until almost completely combined. Fold in lavender blossoms and mix to combine. Pour batter into prepared tin, filling each cup about 3/4 full.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove from muffin tin. Cool completely on wire rack before frosting.

Lavender honey frosting:

1/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons fresh lavender blossoms, or

2 teaspoons dried

6 tablespoons butter, softened

3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

In small saucepan, whisk together milk, honey, and lavender blossoms. Heat gently to simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cooled, strain lavender blossoms from liquid.

In bowl, cream together butter and confectioner's sugar, adding infused milk a little at a time until smooth frosting forms.

Spread frosting on cooled cupcakes.

Peanut butter and white chocolate zucchini oatmeal cookies

Thick and hearty, these cookies are great treats in a packed lunch or in a backpack for a hike.

1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup peanut butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups grated zucchini

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease baking sheets, or line with parchment paper; set aside.

In medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In large bowl, cream together butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined.

Add sifted dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Gently fold in grated zucchini, oats and white chocolate chips.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets, keeping them about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until edges of cookies are golden.

Remove from baking sheets to cool completely on wire racks.

Store cookies in airtight container when completely cooled.

Pumpkin coconut custard tart with chocolate

snickerdoodle crust

The making of chocolate snickerdoodles for the crust means this tart takes a bit more time and planning. If you don't have the time, simply use crushed chocolate graham crackers or some other kind of chocolate wafer cookie.

Crust

1 cup sugar, divided

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 egg

Pumpkin coconut custard (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease baking sheets, or line with parchment paper; set aside.

In pie plate, combine 1/4 cup sugar with cinnamon; set aside.

In medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and cream of tartar; set aside.

In large bowl, cream together butter and remaining sugar until light. Beat in egg. Add sifted dry ingredients and mix until dough forms.

Roll dough into walnut-sized balls between palms. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture, coating evenly. Place balls on prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until edges of cookies just begin to brown. Remove from oven and cool completely on wire racks.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 10-inch tart pan; set aside.

Pulverize cooled chocolate snickerdoodles in food processor, or place in plastic bag and crush with rolling pin. Into small bowl, measure 1 2/3 cups cookie crumbs; add 2 tablespoons melted butter and mix until combined and cookie crumbs are thoroughly moistened.

Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up sides of prepared pan. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes, or until set. Cool on wire rack.

Pumpkin coconut custard

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour

2 eggs

1 can (15 ounces) coconut milk

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (or any winter squash puree - butternut, Hubbard, sweet meat, etc.)

1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

In saucepan, combine sugar, flour, eggs, coconut milk, and pumpkin puree. Whisk until smooth.

Bring to simmer over medium-low heat; cook, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens. Stir in coconut and remove from heat.

Pour filling into baked tart shell, and refrigerate until cool and set. Serve chilled. Cover and refrigerate leftovers.

Chocolate-covered strawberry cake with strawberry jam frosting

Use homemade strawberry jam in the frosting if possible. If not, store-bought will work, but choose an all-fruit or low-sugar variety as the extra sweetness isn't needed.

Cake

1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup milk

2 cups strawberries, halved or quartered (about 10 ounces by weight)

Frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 9-inch square cake pan; set aside.

In large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, and baking powder; set aside.

In small bowl, whisk together butter, eggs, vanilla, and milk. Pour into dry ingredients and stir until almost combined. Fold in strawberries, and gently mix until thoroughly combined.

Pour into prepared pan, spreading evenly.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely in pan on wire rack before frosting.

Frosting:

1/4 cup butter, softened

3 cups confectioners' sugar

1/3 cup strawberry jam

In mixing bowl, cream together butter and confectioners' sugar. Add jam and mix until thick and spreadable. Frost cooled cake.

Dark chocolate and cherry cream cheese brownies

Experiment with different fruits in the cream cheese layer of this delicious brownie recipe. Most types of berries would work equally well, and perhaps even pie cherries with just a bit of extra sugar.

Cherry cream cheese

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1 egg

2 cups pitted sweet cherries

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Brownie batter

6 tablespoons butter

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

2/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-inch-square cake pan; set aside.

To make cherry cream cheese: in food processor, puree cream cheese, egg, cherries, and cornstarch; set aside.

To make brownie batter: in double boiler, melt together butter and chocolate; set aside.

In large bowl, beat together sugar and eggs until emulsified. Add chocolate mixture, beating until thoroughly combined. Stir in flour and cocoa and mix well.

Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Pour cream cheese puree over brownie layer. Swirl gently with butter knife.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool completely on wire rack before cutting into bars.

Drink your chocolate

garden

Maybe you don't have a large garden, but those herbs on the windowsill are getting big and bushy. Those should never be left out of the chocolate dessert repertoire.

A cup of hot chocolate is a delightful after-dinner drink. Great by a campfire as the evenings begin to cool toward fall and, of course, delightful during a cold winter. Make your cups full of homegrown goodness by following this general method.

Herby hot chocolate

1/4 cup fresh chopped herbs, or

2 tablespoons dried

3 cups milk

3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

In saucepan, combine herbs and milk. Bring to simmer and gently heat for 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and cover with lid. Allow to steep for 20 minutes.

Strain herbs from milk, and then pour milk back into saucepan.

Gently heat milk while whisking in chocolate. Heat until milk is hot and chocolate is completely dissolved.

Pour into mugs and serve with a few miniature marshmallows or a dollop of whipped cream.

NOTE: Plan ahead by steeping and straining milk earlier in the day and keeping mixture refrigerated. When it's time for dessert, simply pour chilled milk into a saucepan and continue by adding chocolate and heating thoroughly. Some herbs to consider infusing into your hot chocolate include: mint (any of the mints), lemon balm, anise hyssop, lavender, basil, fennel and rose petals.

Excerpted from Grit, Celebrating Rural America Since 1882. To read more articles from Grit, please visit www.grit.com, or call 866-803-7096. Copyright 2017 by Ogden Publications Inc.

 
 

 

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