Cinnamon Toast for Santa’s Helpers

December 22nd, 2009 / comments 4

Last December, after I had mailed out the final gift boxes of cookies to friends, I realized that I had forgotten to save cookies to serve to Christmas Eve visitors and any of Santa’s helpers who might stop by.

Pt Peace Bell c egbert copy 314x305 Cinnamon Toast for Santas Helpers

Out of time, frosting and cookie-baking energy, I wondered if the adage, “less is more” was true and then I remembered my breakfast in bed at the Colony Club twenty years earlier.

Pt Four girls c egbert Cinnamon Toast for Santas Helpers

The Colony Club, established in 1902, was the first social club for women in New York City. It is an elegant and very private club with members whose last names range from Astor to Whitney. I spent a weekend there as the guest of my friend Jean. She was my guide in the culinary world and to the rarified dining of the Colony Club. As we planned my trip to New York, she took me under her wing and insisted that my day begin with “perfect Colony Club cinnamon toast” served on a tray in my bedroom. Perfect cinnamon toast? I had my doubts but Jean was a Manhattan matron with a sophisticated palate who was not to be denied. She ordered my breakfast, it was perfect and I’ve never thought of cinnamon toast in the same way since. Inspired by that memory I decided that Colony Club Cinnamon toast would be perfect Christmas Eve treat. Here’s how I made it: … read more

Gift from the Kitchen #6 – Spicy Hot Chocolate Spoons

December 17th, 2009 / Comments 1

Hot chocolate spoons were the final creation to come from my kitchen this week.

BV chocolate spoon Gift from the Kitchen #6   Spicy Hot Chocolate Spoons

Here’s how I made them:

Spicy Hot Chocolate Spoons

I used a double boiler to melt eight ounces of semi-sweet chocolate over simmering water. While the chocolate melted, I sifted together a quarter of a cup of cocoa powder, half a cup of confectioners’ sugar, half a teaspoon of cinnamon, a pinch of salt, and a quarter of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. I omit cayenne pepper when I’m giving these spoons to friends who prefer food without a spicy kick.

When the chocolate was melted, I added two teaspoons of unflavored vegetable oil, anything but olive oil will do, and used a spatula to stir in the sugar/cocoa mixture.

I put one tablespoon of chocolate into the bowls of eight Chinese porcelain spoons that I found in an Asian market. I added a tag to each spoon with the these simple directions: To make a sublime mug of spicy hot chocolate, put six ounces of very hot milk in a mug and stir with this spoon until the chocolate has melted.

Mugs c egbert Gift from the Kitchen #6   Spicy Hot Chocolate Spoons

I used the remaining chocolate to make chocolate cubes with cinnamon stick stirrers by spooning  the chocolate into plastic ice cube trays and poking a cinnamon stick into each cube before the chocolate hardened. Regardless of how they are packaged, it is important to include directions or the hot chocolate cube will be mistaken for a piece of spicy fudge or a chocolate lollipop.

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Spicy Hot Chocolate List

  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1/4 c cocoa powder
  • 1/2 c  confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper
  • a pinch of salt
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Gift from the Kitchen #5 – Chocolate Covered Almonds

December 16th, 2009 / Comments 0

On Monday I made chocolate covered almonds.

Pt Flag Holly 01 Gift from the Kitchen #5   Chocolate Covered Almonds

They are simple to make and look as if they came from an upscale chocolatier. I tuck away a few small gift bags of them, decorated with a ribbon and a gift tag as last minute gifts for unexpected visitors. Here’s how I made them: … read more

Gift from the Kitchen #4 – Chocolate Turtles

December 14th, 2009 / Comments 1

Today marks the end of chocolate week in my holiday kitchen. Homemade chocolate treats are a gift of my time and since they are delicious and extraordinarily consumable they don’t occupy valuable space in anyone’s home for very long.

Pa turtle 01 Gift from the Kitchen #4   Chocolate Turtles

Last Saturday, I created chocolate turtles consisting of five pecans (the head and four legs), held together with a disc of creamy caramel (the body), and topped with dark chocolate (the shell). Creating chocolate turtles is a three-step process: building each turtle body, making caramel and adding the shell.
turtles 01 Gift from the Kitchen #4   Chocolate Turtles

Here’s how I made them:
… read more

Chocolate Chip Date Cake – A Chemist/Baker in the Kitchen

December 2nd, 2009 / comments 4

Last week, as I was serving my favorite chocolate cake, I remembered that my fascination with chemical reactions began when I was eight. Every Saturday morning, I watched Mr. Wizard explain the science behind ordinary things on our fuzzy black and white television. He said that chemical reactions made cakes rise. I wanted to be a chemist at work in the kitchen. It was time to move on from transforming copper saucepans from dull brown to garish, peachy pink with lemon and salt.

Pt Boat 01 c egbert Chocolate Chip Date Cake   A Chemist/Baker in the Kitchen

I was ready for more than powering my green plastic boat across the sink with a chemical reaction of baking soda and vinegar. Curdling milk and making my sister cry by adding blue food coloring to her milk were child’s play.

I would become a baker/chemist. Kitchen experiments would be well received if the end results were sweet and tasty. After all, my sister always smiled when she saw a cake. My first cakes began as powder in red and white boxes from the grocery store. I measured water, broke eggs and mixed. Not much chemistry there. I moved onto the more complicated angel food cake mix and enjoyed transforming white powder into fluffy peaks using a primitive, hand operated, eggbeater. That was a bit more fun but I wanted to really make a cake, I wanted to “Start from Scratch!”

Pt egg beater 02 c egbert Chocolate Chip Date Cake   A Chemist/Baker in the KitchenThe first cake I made from scratch was a Chocolate Wacky Cake. I knew that this was the recipe for me when I read the part about creating a volcano with vinegar and baking soda to give the cake its ‘lift’. I had found a way to have both a chemical reaction and a sweet reward. I branched out and created brownies and pound cakes in my search for even more interesting recipes.

When I was nine, I saw a recipe for a walnut, chocolate chip, date cake in a small cookbook from the grocery store. I had only eaten dates at Christmas time and couldn’t imagine how the cake would taste, but with chocolate chips and walnuts, it sounded delicious and it was. I made it a couple of times before I lost the recipe and moved on to the challenge of perfecting tapioca.

ZPD Birthday Cake Chocolate Chip Date Cake   A Chemist/Baker in the Kitchen

Nearly ten years later, I saw a recipe for a chocolate, date cake in a newspaper column. With minor adjustments, this is the cake I have baked for many parties. I always use a Bundt pan and slather the cooled cake with unsweetened, heavy cream that has been beaten to stiff peaks. Last week, I topped the cream with sliced strawberries and promised our guests that I would share the recipe. Here’s how I did it:
… read more

Hot Fudge Sauce for Adults Only

September 6th, 2009 / comments 2

An ice cream cone from the White Cottage as an after dinner treat is fun.

D ice cream conepink Hot Fudge Sauce for Adults Only

But since the Cottage Blanc, as we like to call it, is eight miles from the dining room table – a bit too far to travel when guests are ready for dessert, I have created a hot fudge sauce for adults only. It is made of just two ingredients and takes less than thirty seconds to make. If you want to see how I make it, you will have to read on. … read more

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