Category Archive: baking

Good Food Hunting: Spices, Witches and Chocolate Cake

Posted by on March 24, 2014

By Kat Nielsen

By now you’re asking, what on earth is she writing about this time? Well, I can tell you that all three of these things have quite a bit in common. Hear me out.

decadent spiced cake 2Healers are typically defined as practitioners of alternative medicine, basically it’s our terminology here in America for medicine as it’s practiced by other cultures. There is Aryuvedic, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Reiki just to name a few. As open minded individuals of Boston, many of us have embraced balancing these therapeutic modalities out with western medicine, but just how did we get to our current status of things as we know it? Believe it or not, it actually goes back to witches.

Every culture imaginable has had some version of a healer. They work with “magic,” better known as energy work, along with treatment options coming from nature’s elements. When the witch population died out here in America (Salem witch trials), we lost our ties with herbs and a form of healing energy. While I speak of medicine in our country as a whole, think about our food culture as well. Do we have a wide range of spices used in American food? Not really. Isn’t it a coincidence with the way things have developed?

This month I’m bringing to you a recipe that will perhaps stir up some magic in the kitchen by broadening your spice cabinet. And as luck would have it chocolate is a wonderful medium for spice. While I recommend cinnamon and chipotle chili powder in the main recipe, don’t be afraid to experiment with more bold pairings including curry powder and dark chocolate, cardamom and bitter sweet chocolate, ginger and dark chocolate or orange and pepper with milk chocolate.

To full plates and adding some spice into your life,

About the writer: Author Kat Nielsen is a horse enthusiast turned food blogger. She maintains a day job in the horse world handling marketing and brand support to various companies while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences. Visit her blog at or email her at

Recipe: Decadent Spiced Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:decadent spiced cake 1

4 ounces of Ghirardelli or other good quality baking chocolate
1/2 cup of butter, unsalted
3/4 cup sugar 3 eggs
1/2 cup of cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of chipotle chile powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt

Preheat oven to 375°F and butter an 8-inch springform pan. Line bottom with parchment paper and butter paper. If you don’t have a springform pan, a round 8-inch pan will work, just butter generously.

In a double boiler, or metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt chocolate with butter. Stir till smooth and completely melted. Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture.

Add eggs one at a time and whisk generously. (A slow addition of eggs and fast whisking does not allow the egg to heat and scramble on you).

Add cocoa powder, cinnamon, chipotle chile powder and salt into chocolate mixture, whisk until just combined. Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven 20 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cake will be domed, and during cooling will invert.

Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and remove from pan. If you don’t like the inverted look, cool the cake for five minutes and invert onto a serving plate. Cake can be served immediately or stored in refrigerator till consumption. Dust with powdered 2 tablespoons of powdered Sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.

Best eaten with ice cream and/or fresh fruit. You can also top with a homemade chocolate ganache or caramel sauce.

Oreo Cupcakes

Posted by on March 13, 2014

Oreo Cupcakes 1small

All over the web we’ve been seeing some great Oreo Cupcakes, so today we decided to try some of our own. These can be as simple or as complicated as you would like to make them based on the cupcake recipe you use and how much Oreo you want to put in them.

We’ve gone with the simplest recipe possible, for all you busy people out there. It takes no time at all to have a fabulous dessert.

The first step is the best, and a great way for kids to help out. Oreo Cupcakes 2smallLine your cupcake tin with your favorite liners (we used polka-dots) and place an Oreo in each.

Next, preheat your oven and prepare cupcake batter according to your favorite recipe or package directions. We used chocolate cupcakes, of course. Because who doesn’t want some extra chocolate in their lives? We know we do.

Once you’ve got your batter prepared, you are ready to add it to the Oreos. In order to get the Oreo to stay in the cupcake better, use a rubber scraper to shape it around the edges of the Oreo, pushing down on the batter so the Oreo “sticks” inside the cupcake instead of falling off the bottom. Oreo Cupcakes 5small

Make sure all sides of the Oreo have batter around them. Otherwise the Oreo will fall into the liner when you take it off the finished cupcake.

Bake your cupcakes according to recipe or package directions. As always, make sure they are not too close to the bottom of your oven (this is even more important than usual, as you don’t want to burn the Oreos).

Take your cupcakes out of the oven and cool completely- if you can. Oreo Cupcakes 7smallWe can never manage to not eat at least ONE warm- it’s just too good!-but do your best.

Once they are cool, frost and decorate as desired. Consider crushing some Oreos on top, like we did, or placing a mini-Oreo into the frosting.

So now that we’ve made the cupcakes what do we think? We give them 2 thumbs up. As other bloggers have mentioned, the hard Oreo on the bottom is a bit of a stark contrast to the softness of the cupcake. We think adding crumbled Oreos to the top makes this a little less unexpected. Overall, though, you can’t go wrong when combining cookies and cupcakes. Really, what’s NOT to like?!?


Cinnamon Chocolate Almonds

Posted by on February 24, 2014

One of the tour guides for Boston Chocolate Tours always opens up her tour with a question. It gives everyone a chance to get to know one another when you answer “what’s your favorite kind of chocolate?” Are you a milk chocolate kind of guy, are you a nuts and dark chocolate kind of girl?

chocolate almonds 2I always have a hard time answering this question because it varies by day. Chocolate has so many wrappings, coatings, stuffings, etc., that depending on my mood or what my body seems to be craving, dictates which variation I’ll lean towards.

However, there are two that I always seem to be in the mood for, chocolate and almonds and caramel coated chocolate. It’s a shame not too many people include all of them! But in an effort to bring one of my more enjoyable combinations to life, I decided to look at chocolate and almonds. For whatever reason I enjoy whole almonds more than the pieces in chocolate, yet trying to coat them at home usually leaves you with a blobby mess. Well that is, until now!

This recipes uses sheer force and a coating of cinnamon and cocoa. The cinnamon offers a welcome surprise that helps compliment the sweetness and nuttiness, bringing a whole new level of delicious to your chocolate almond experience. And the best part? You can whip this recipe up in just under fifteen minutes.

And if that weren’t awesome enough, you then can mix the leftover bits of chocolate and cinnamon powder for a delicious base for your next cup of hot chocolate. Sounds like a great way to spend Valentine’s, or to share the love with those around you.

As always, let us know on Twitter and Facebook what you thought of the recipe so we can continue bringing you delicious recipes and more fun ways to incorporate a little more chocolate into your life!

To full plates and eating your tarte out,

Cinnamon Chocolate Almonds

1 cup of almondschocolate almonds 1
1 cup of milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of salt

In a dry saucepan, heat the almonds on medium heat until they give off a nutty aroma, 4-5 minutes turning periodically. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely.

In a double boiler, heat chocolate until melted. Add the almonds and coat completely.

In a large tupperware container, container with a lid, or ziplock bag, add the remaining ingredients. Add in the almonds and all of their chocolate shaking vigorously until coated completely with the cinnamon mixture.

Lay individual almonds onto plate or cookie sheet and allow to set. Anything remaining from the chocolate/cinnamon mixture, set aside and use as a base for hot chocolate.

About the writer: Author Kat Nielsen (Tarte Chic) is a horse enthusiast/musician turned food blogger. She maintains a day job handling marketing and brand support to various companies while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences. Visit her blog at or email her at

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking… powder?

Posted by on August 20, 2013

The perfect chocolate chip cookie

I became a chocoholic early on in life. My mother was a home economics teacher, so I also learned to bake pretty early on. By the time I was 7, my mother had made me memorize a chocolate chip cookie recipe. I would get quizzes in the kitchen… “OK, now it’s 1/3 cup margarine, 1/3 cup shortening, then what?”

To this day I still know the recipe by heart, with one exception. I can never remember if it is baking soda or baking powder I need 1 ½ teaspoons of. I wrote out a recipe card once from memory and that single line is crossed out and rewritten a dozen times. Every time I go to make cookies I think- wait- did I do it right last time? If not, did I think to change it on the card? And I’m back to square one.

That’s why I was so excited to see this handy chart posted on Facebook recently. Tessa at has devised a handy pictorial guide to help all of us “make the PERFECT batch every time, whatever you consider to be perfect.

Now Tessa’s base recipe is a little bit different from mine, but it is easy to see from her post the effect each of these ingredients will have on your final product. So what’s the difference? Why would it matter so much which leavening agent you use?

You may remember from high school that baking relies on chemistry. (I promise, this part will be quick!) Baking powder contains more acid, so it interacts differently with different ingredients. If you want to know more about the science behind it all, click here. The Cliff’s notes? Well, according to La Petite Americaine, “cookies using baking powder… bake faster and spread less.  Baking soda reduces acidity causing the cookie to spread a bit more and brown faster.

So there you go. You can make reasonable cookies using either, but your specific recipe and individual tastes will help you make the best choice.

As for Mom’s recipe? I checked in with the source (thanks, Mom!) and she is pretty sure it’s baking powder. Looks like I will HAVE to test that recipe soon. Everyone in my household will be SO disappointed by all the cookies.