Category Archives: Chocolate

Hosting a Tea Party: Part Two – Chocolate Walnut Biscotti

You might think that Biscotti is a bit unconventional for a High Tea (and so did I), but it ended up being the perfect fit. These are crunchy enough that you can savour eating it through an entire cup of tea, but small and light enough that it doesn’t stop you from enjoying all of the other miniature goodies. They are very fast and surprisingly easy to make, and also offer many opportunities for personal variations. Enjoy playing around with the recipe and eating these with a good cup of coffee or tea.

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Easy to Make Dark Chocolate Bowl

I was flipping through a cooking magazine the other day published by my favourite chef, Ricardo, a French Canadian cook with a penchant for preparing foods high in cholesterol, sugar and fat, or at least that’s the impression a reader would get from this one issue. The magazine features his take on all the (traditional) foods that I grew up with as a boy in Quebec, like hot chicken sandwiches smothered in gravy, poutine, mac and cheese, and chocolate donuts. As if this wasn’t incentive enough to pick up a copy, the remainder of the magazine paid homage to the splendours of chocolate and is replete with new and creative ways to rot teeth and keep dentists employed. One recipe in particular (if a recipe with a single ingredient even qualifies as a recipe) struck me as ingenious and I felt compelled to share it.

Those of you who work with me may already know I’m referring to a bowl made entirely of chocolate, like the one I brought in midweek to keep as far away as possible from my house. It is not as daunting as it appears and the method for creating it is so quick and easy that you’ll almost slap yourself after I reveal it. I feel like I’m giving away something esoteric, like a solution to the magic trick where a women gets sliced in half; but recipes, unlike David Copperfield secrets, are meant to be shared and enjoyed.

There are so many things one could do with the chocolate bowl, the least of which is devour it as is. They are also great to use for serving ice cream, cereal, or chocolate covered strawberries. I made the latter, as I had some melted chocolate leftover that I didn’t want to waste. I haven’t yet served hot soup in it, though I can pretty much guarantee your table cloth will need to be laundered. Enjoy!

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Double Chocolate Chip Maple Cookies

I’ve tried and tasted dozens of chocolate chip cookie recipes over the years and licked my fair share of batter from a spatula or bowl, though this is the winner hands-down. It is chewy, betcha-can’t-eat-just-one-addictive and is guaranteed to make you crave a cold glass of milk.

I’ve modified the recipe from one found in my very first cookbook, a dog-eared copy of Betty Crocker that my mom bestowed upon me the year I moved out. The pages are yellow and stained from the splatter of ingredients. The best recipes can always be found hidden between pages that have stuck together over time. My mom’s endearing, hand-written message on the inside cover always makes me smile. How did she know that I would eventually grow to love cooking, at a time when all I could muster up from my repertoire was grilled cheese and Kraft Dinner? Thanks Mom.

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Soft Maple Sugar Creams at a Quebec Reveillon

Whenever I think of maple sugar cream fudge, or sucre a la creme, I think of two things. First, of my mom guiltily sneaking samples from the fudge vendor at Saltspring’s Summer Market when my step dad isn’t looking. Being raised in Quebec, her favourite flavour is naturally maple. I also think of Quebec during the winter holidays, of the late night festivities during reveillon and of the doting French Canadian women who serve platter after platter of food and stare you down until your plate is wiped clean. The food is mouth-watering and worthy of a Lipitor commercial it is so artery-clogging. Sometimes, you’ll find a few unexpected menu items at these dinners, like Cheese Whiz served on hot dog buns or on white bread without crusts, or mini hot dogs in sauce. All in all, though, French Canadians serve up exquisite desserts that’ll leave you with a sugar high: you’ll get to splurge on homemade doughnuts and cakes drizzled in maple toffy and of course, my favourite, maple sugar cream.

If you haven’t yet had the privilege of being invited to a reveillon, I’ll describe one to you. Usually taking place around Christmas or New Year’s Eve, reveillon is an all-night, family-friendly house party with limitless food and alcohol, traditional music and plenty of cheek-kissing. When entering the person’s home and after the customary two-cheek kiss, the host will normally take one’s boots or footwear and toss them into the bathtub where they’ll sit with a dozen other pairs, likely the cleanest method of containing the slushy mess from outdoors. The newly arrived will make the tour of the room, exchanging pleasantries and many more cheek-kisses until their lips are well-chapped. Continue reading


Dark Chocolate Dessert Risotto

I’ve had this recipe in mind since before Christmas, but have been waiting for the right moment and the right people to test it on. It’s based on a recipe that my friend Nathalie forwarded to me, though I’ve personalized it with several other ingredients, including beets to compensate for using less sugar and to give it a richer, darker colour, as well as some coconut milk and rum for additional flavours. So much for my resolution to eat better in the new year.

When my friends Daniel and Danielle invited me to Sunday dinner tonight, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to bring this dessert. Daniel is one of the best cooks I know – each dinner party is always replete with bold, flavourful meals, good Italian wine and lots of laughs. But as he was making chicken tikka with some of his home-roasted and ground marsala spices, I knew that any accompanying dish I contributed to the evening would have to be worthy enough as a following act.

Don’t be scared off by the thought of eating rice for dessert – it’s like rice pudding, but with sinful chocolatey goodness. I guarantee this will be a hit!

Serves 6. Preparation and cook time: 30 minutes

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Christmas Snowy-Lava Cookies

Christmas with lava? This might seem a bit unconventional for most, but I have spent a good many years of my childhood Christmases in Hawaii. These wonderful lava cookies are soft and moist, like a great brownie. They are super simple and fast to make, but their appearance is unique and festive and make a great party-host present (which is what I made them for in this particular case).

This is going to be your best friend for this recipe. Don't be afraid to use it liberally.

You will need:

  • 1 & 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • a helluva lot of icing sugar, for rolling:) Continue reading

Mexican Dark Chocolate Espresso Truffles – Ole!


Sometimes I wish I drank more often.

No, really. I feel like if I did, I would have this wonderful pantry full of liqueur to use in my baking recipes.

This recipe calls for (an irritatingly small amount of) Kahlua, and it just didn’t seem worthwhile for me to buy some to only use 1 tablespoon of it. Why are these truffles Mexican? Not because they are spicy, but because I made them in honour of a Mexican friend of mine. They are a perfect sweet treat to have with an after-dinner cup of tea or coffee ( or, if you are so lucky, Kahlua?). Enjoy!

You will need:

12 ounces (or, 1.5 cups) of bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1.5 tablespoons instant espresso powder

3/4 cup whipping cream

(optional: 1 tablespoon Kahlua)

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

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