Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Chocolate on the Brain

ATTENTION LOCAL CHOCOHOLICS: The Annual Community Chocolate Festival is Saturday, February 21st, 2009, from 1-4 pm (it's been moved up due to rain.) Procrastinators (like me!) can purchase tickets the day-of in front of WaMu. Last year it was crazy-bananas, and there were lines allllll the way down 2nd Street (if you can, grab your snack map and start your exploring more around 1ish than 4ish.) Besides being yummy, the chocolate festival is a great way to support our retail neighbors :) For more info call (562)434-3066.

If you aren't a Belmont Shoreian, try whipping up something chocolately at home. These darling, heart-shaped, oh-so-delicious ice cream sandwiches are adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe from a few year's back, and they're really surprisingly simple to make. Kidlets can even help with measuring-cup scoop duty.

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon milk
2 1/2 pints strawberry ice cream, slightly softened

Easy-Peasy Directions:
Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; then set aside (most kidlet helpers love to sift...)

In an electric mixer bowl, cream your butter, vanilla, & sugar. Add eggs & milk.

Add flour mixture to the mixer mixture, and mix on low.

Say the previous sentence five times fast :)

Divide your dough in half, and smush each half into a flat, pancakey disk (Many kidlet helpers also enjoy smushing.) Wrap each disk in plastic wrap, and chill til firm (about 1 hour.)

Preheat your oven to 350. Roll out your dough (on a lightly floured surface.) Roll to an 1/8-inch thickness. Cut dough using heart-shaped cookie cutters. Try to use cookies that are around 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter (Have older kidlets get science-inspectory with a ruler.) Make sure there is a matching top and bottom cookie for each sandwich! Place your hearts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill til firm (about 30 minutes.)

Remove from fridge and prick holes all over the surface of the cookies with a fork (to give it that classic ice cream sami look.) Bake until firmish, between 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly on baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Spoon softened strawberry ice cream about 1/2 inch thick on the underside of half the cookies. Place matching cookie on top of ice cream, fancy top-side facing out. Immediately place in freezer to harden.


These are perfect for Valentine's Day, but you could use different cookie cutters and make them for all sorts of occasions, and you could also use different ice creams, too (I love me the mint chip!)

If you're feeling something more warmish, you might try the easy & indulgent hot chocolate recipe my best friend whips up (actually, whisks up!) It's pretty much pure melted chocolate. I've read that this is how Catherine the Great liked to start her morning (paired with fresh fruit.) Who am I to question the wisdom of a Zsarina? YUM!

* Reminder for Pet Parents: Please remember that chocolate (and most other) human foods are made for humans only, and should never be shared with our furry friends, most especially dogs. This is a good thing... it means... MORE FOR YOU!

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