Food and Fiction: Mercy’s Trouble Chocolate

Alright, it’s chocolate-centric week, because I’m most likely in Belgium right now, gallivanting about and visiting chocolate shops. However, that is something I’ll probably be blogging about much later in the week when I get back from vacation, and instead, this is more along the lines of “Oh, hey, I finally finished Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs and I want to talk about chocolate chip cookies!”

Or chocolate in general.

So just a quick summary of the book and the Mercy Thompson universe: Silence Fallen is the tenth installation of the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, and revolves around Mercedes Athena Thompson Hauptman, now the mate of the Columbia Basin’s Alpha werewolf. For those who are a fan of–or who have read–the series, you’ll know at this point that Mercy is living a rather eclectic life as a mechanic and non-werewolf wife. She’s also a shape-shifting coyote, is friends with a powerful fae, is bonded to an equally powerful vampire, and has adopted a fire-generating fae spirit. Mercy can also see and command ghosts. So. Yeah. Not a normal life by any means, and things just escalate from there.

One of my favorite things about Mercy is the fact that she bakes cookies. You laugh at this minute detail, but seriously, she does a lot of baking in the books. I admire her for that, because honestly, how does she find the time between being kidnapped by vampires and having to fend for herself against the Gray Lords and coyote-hating pack members? But she does, and in the beginning of Silence Fallen legit starts with her trying to bake cookies.

Of course, everything goes horribly wrong afterwards, but that’s besides the point.

The point is, I ended up with a craving for chocolate chip cookies. So I made them.

Thankfully, I wasn’t making cookies for a pack of werewolves, so I didn’t have to worry about lack of ingredients! So no vampire-induced car accidents here!

I was, however, baking these cookies for a get-together, so I decided to add a bit of extra into it. Mmm…coffee chocolate chip cookies here we come!

I used the recipe from Cathy at Lemon Tree Dwelling. And they came out delicious, by the way!

The coffee flavor came out, and the cookies themselves were seriously disappearing pretty quickly! I’d definitely make them again.

Anyway, I’ll end it there. Gotta run and frolic!

This post counts as #3 of my Food and Fiction Challenge.

Food and Fandom: Dread Wolf’s Toffee

Alright, this may seem like the thinnest and most random connection to a fandom, but I swear there is a story to this. And it went mostly like this:

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So there I was, sittin’ all innocent-like, and the thought of toffee (and Dragon Age: Inquisition) became forever marked for me. AND IT’S ALL MY FRIEND’S FAULT, I TELL YA.

But enough about that, a little about the fandom (Also, SPOILER ALERT?):

Dragon Age Inquisition is the third installment of Bioware’s ever-popular epic fantasy RPG: Dragon Age. It has dragons (duh). It has kickass women holding all sorts of power (including my own lovely Inquisitor). It has witty party banter and mind-blowingly beautiful scenery. It has all the magicky goodness I could ever ask for.

And most of all: it has men. Elf-men, hu-men, qunari, dwarf. It’s just thriving with romanceable characters of hetero, homo, and bi-sexualities, and honestly, the game brooks no apologies in dashing your heart to pieces or elevating your character’s relationship goals to a higher plane. Which is probably why I keep playing the game over and over and over again. It’s my umpteenth time starting it right now (as a male dwarf warrior, of all things…).

Anyway, there’s this character that wouldn’t have been my typical go-to character, only I’m a pervy elf fancier for the most part (this seems to be true for several games I’ve played that have elf-characters…), and he’s got swag:

Hem hem. Anyway, the toffee conversation happened. I will say this: I can see chocolate almond toffee as a type of food that could describe Solas in a sense. The elf-man runs a particularly massive deception throughout the entire game, and it isn’t until the very end of DAI where the player even sees the extent of Solas’ role in the story. Kind of like my toffee. The entire time my sister thought it was a brownie, up until she bit into it and realized it had the texture of a cookie. A caramelized cookie filled with complication after complication.

But now I’m waxing profundity. So I’ll just go straight to the toffee now…

Chocolate Almond Toffee

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The recipe comes from Chungah @ Damn Delicious, though since I didn’t have pecans or whole almonds at the time, I did, as usual, improvise a bit.

Altered Ingredients

  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks (for easier melting)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used a mixture of semi-sweet and dark choco chips)

Spread almonds on baking sheet (I used a silicon mat). Toast almonds at 350 F for 10 minutes in oven. Set aside. (I separated 1/3 cup of the toasted almonds to replace the pecans).

In saucepan, combine butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Whisk constantly until mixture turns a light caramel brown color. It took me about 15 minutes to get the color I wanted.

Spread mixture over the almonds evenly. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips and wait 1-2 minutes. Use rubber spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the caramel mixture.

Sprinkle the 1/3 cup of toasted almonds on top.

Verdict: They’re actually very good, albeit on the sweet side. I might actually take Chungah’s advice about using whole almonds instead of sliced ones at the bottom, though I didn’t actually mind using the sliced almonds on top. Maybe walnuts might cut in the sweetness even more. Also, I’m not a big fan of semi-sweet chocolate for anything, so I might just use dark chocolate chips if I ever make toffee next time.

So yes. I’m sure the Dread Wolf would approve.

Chocolate on Chocolate on Chocolate

I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve done anything geeky-baking-related. But! Since I’m off to the beach in a few minutes, and I technically haven’t finished reading anything since the past week, I figure I can take a bit of time to show what I’m bringing to my friends this weekend.

Normally I’m more interested in doing fruit-related, refreshing desserts, but when it comes to chocolate, it better be a lot of chocolate. Paired off with booze, and I’m sold! I found a derivation of some awesome Guinness Cupcakes that I wanted to try, though, like the recipe did, I decided to forego the Bailey’s and just went with a mocha frosting.

Not much else to say, but I will mention that waiting for that damn ganache to set took a bit more time than I thought, and now that I’ve begun molding chocolate, I could try to get them molded better (but at least I managed not to mess up tempering the darn things!). I do love my gear and wing molds, so I guess it’s a good way to end June by putting something steampunk-related in my post.

I haven’t tried the whole cupcake out yet, mostly because I’ve been tasting them as I went, but going on the cupcakes I fed my cousin and brother, these sound like a hit.

Enjoy the weekend!

Cupcake-A-Day: #8

I seriously have a separate picture folder for all the food I try making, and it’s titled simply “Food.” Nevermind that most of what I have saved is baked goods, and I could have gone the more creative route by naming it something like “Kooky Confections” or whatever. But honestly, “Food” works just fine.

Anyway, moving on.

I do love to bake, and I always like doing something new, even if there’s that slight chance that whatever I bake could come out desperately wrong. And sometimes this happens (though not to the point of inedibleness, mind), but it’s a learning process, and that’s another great part about baking. When things go right, however, the recipe gets thrown into my little binder, with some notes and tweaks that I thought would work better.

Unfortunately, this time around, I did not try to get all geeky and decorate things with my fandoms (though I was tempted to turn my icing TARDIS blue in preparation for the Doctor Who Christmas special). But I stayed on theme and thought “well, what’s reminiscent of the holidays?”

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In come the Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Marshmallow Frosting! A friend of mine had suggested I do the Cupcake-A-Day challenge, so I bookmarked the recipes for later use. I thought there was no better time to start the challenge than during Christmas, where baking was certainly of utmost importance. And from the list, I thought the most festive-tasting was going to be cupcake #8.

As usual, I did some tweaking already (because I never follow recipes to a T…which is a semi-bad idea, but that’s okay…I GOT DIS).

The cupcakes: The cocoa I used was unsweetened dark chocolate. I’m not sure how this differed from regular cocoa powder, but at risk of having a cupcake that was too darn sweet, I tend to go for the dark chocolate route to begin with. I kept the rest of the ingredients the same as far as the cupcakes went, though I did bake it for 18 minutes at 350 F as opposed to the suggested 20 mins.

The frosted top: Right, this is where I did some substituting and replacing. I’m not personally a fan of peppermint, so I scratched that ingredient entirely and used a mint extract instead. I halved the called-for amount of peppermint flavoring to 1 teaspoon of mint flavoring, because while I do love my share of dark mint chocolate, too much mint could overpower everything. Also, for the life of me, I could not find the darn marshmallow fluff/cream at the grocery store. So I had to make do with making my own with marshmallows and butter (I suppose you could use corn syrup, too…). The suggestion was 1 tbsp of butter to 2 cups of mini marshmallows, though I suppose if you wanted a more sticky, solid consistency, you would need to add more marshmallows.

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And then liberality with the chocolate chips! Again, these are dark chocolates, because I feel mint is best with dark chocolate. I didn’t completely douse the cupcake with the mint marshmallow frosting, but as I said, I didn’t want to overpower the cupcake with a complete mint makeover.

Verdict: Minty fresh and cute, festive yet elegant enough for classy holiday parties. Ignore that my cupcakes got slightly more drippy than usual, but all I can say is these cupcakes have CHARACTER.

And a very happy holidays to you lot, too!