Monthly Archives: September 2012

Mint Cookies and Cream and Chocolate Pudding

Mint Cookies and Cream and Chocolate Pudding

Mint Cookies and Cream and Chocolate Pudding

We had guests in town this weekend and it was a lot of fun. I asked Pooja to give me three ingredients that she liked so I could make her a dessert. She thought about it for a little bit and then decided on Chocolate and mint. I pondered for a bit on what to make as I did not want to make anything that involved baking, and I wanted to make something that was light but a little bit decadent. I did not want to incorporate the mint and chocolate as one dessert. This was to give anyone the option who did not want mint to have a mint free dessert. As it turns out we had one person who was not a fan of the combination so I used just whipped cream and sugar and topped it with chocolate chips. I was initially going to use peppermint extract to do the minty portion but then when I saw the mint Oreo cookies at Publix I decided to incorporate that into the dessert and leave out the extract.

The chocolate pudding is very simple to make, the only challenge if you want to call it a challenge is the amount of time to cook the pudding to get it to the right consistency. The best test method is dip a spoon into the mixture, let it cool for just a bit and then run your finger across the back of the spoon, if the pudding flows back to cover the line then the mixture is not thick enough.  Just remember that even if it is less thick when you are cooking it, it will thicken a little more as it cools and then when it is refrigerated. I added a little brandy to the pudding mixture right after all the chocolate had melted. It is totally optional and you can most certainly leave it out if you want to have and alcohol free dessert. The chocolate pudding is also not sweet since it has a low amount of sugar and it also has a fair amount of coffee.

I tried to add an alcohol flavoring to the cream topping – rum, brandy and baileys but they did not go really well with the mint cookies so the cream topping was alcohol free. If you do want the topping to look green you can always add food coloring but I liked the green against the white. The Oreo cookies also resulted in a nice burst of flavor every time you got to bite the tiny chunks of cookies with mint.

The dessert on the whole was really light and was really relished by everybody.

Ingredients
Chocolate pudding

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons instant Nescafe (or an instant coffee of your choice)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 5 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons brandy (optional)

Cream topping

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 12 Oreo cookies

Method

Chocolate Pudding

Put the first four ingredients into a pot. Add the milk and cream, whisking to incorporate. Put it on the stove on medium high heat. Stir or whisk slowly. You will see after about 30 seconds that the mixture beginning to incorporate and the milk begins to get a lovely chocolatey brown color. The mixture will start to thicken at around the 1 minute mark. This will actually depend on how high your heat has been set. The best way to test if your pudding is thick enough is to dip a clean spoon into the mixture and then let it cool for just a bit and run your finger across the back of the spoon. If you get a clear line that stays then your pudding is ready. If not keep stirring/whisking until you get to the right consistency. Once it is at the right consistency turn off the heat. Add the chocolate chips and the vanilla extract and stir until the chocolate chips have melted and you have a smooth mixture. Add the brandy at this time if you are using it and stir to incorporate. Transfer the pudding to a wider glass dish. Put a clear plastic wrap on top of the pudding so it does not get a skin and set it aside to cool.

Cream topping

Once the pudding is cool start making the topping. Whip the cream until it starts to thicken. Add the sugar slowly while continuing to beat. Once the sugar is added keep beating for about 20-30 seconds more to make sure it is incorporated and your cream is fairly thick.

Put the Oreo cookies into a plastic bag and coarsely crush them. Fold the crushed cookies into the cream.

Layer the pudding, top with the Oreo cookie cream and then add a cracked Oreo cookie on the top for decoration. Refrigerate for about an hour before you serve it.


Thai Salad

Thai Salad

Thai Salad

You are absolutely going to love this salad. Its really simple to make and it bursts with flavor and its healthy and can I add one more ‘and!’, it took all of 20 minutes to make and you can have leftovers for the next couple of days for lunch or dinner. Convert it into something else like a wrap with your favorite protein, wrap it in soaked rice paper for a Vietnamese take on it, let those creative juices flow and let me know what you converted it into for the next day!

I have a vita-mix so I did not bother to remove the seeds from the apple as they all get pulverized. If you do not have a vita-mix or equivalent then you can core the apple. and remove the seeds.

Ingredients

Dressing

  • 1 granny smith apple stem removed and chopped
  • 2.5 heaped tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2.5 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 teaspoons of your favorite hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Salad

  • 1/2 a small cabbage shredded (about 6 cups)
  • 1 cup frozen green peas (soaked in hot water for about 10 mins)
  •  1 red bell pepper (finely sliced)
  • 2 green onions (sliced)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint

Method

Puree all the dressing ingredients in the vita-mix (or your blender) till smooth. Toss the dressing with the salad. Eat right away or store and eat slowly for up to 3 days.

1.5 qt. Stainless Steel Double Boiler


Goat Cheese and Chives Scones

Scones

Scones

I have not made any sort of bread in the last couple of weeks and since we had a visitor I thought I would do something quick. There is something to be said about waking up in the morning to the smell of bread being baked in the house and it just gets your taste buds watering. I picked scones because they are easy to make, you do not need to wait for rise one and two. They are simple and the combinations are endless of what you can put in them. My favorite variety are the ones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. Of course, to get proper clotted cream one must go to England or find the closest store in your neighborhood that sells them and if that fails you can always order it online – but that requires per-planning. If you have never had clotted cream I think its a must, but then I am slightly partial to anything with a dollop of cream.

A little bit of a factoid : Scones are originally from Scotland and  traditionally were triangular in shape. However, most places in the US have them in the shape of rounds. The pronunciation is different as well, in the UK, Australia etc they are called a ‘skon’ – whereas in the US they are called a ‘skown’. You can make them sweet or savory and shape them as well.

I made mine by just pulling pieces of the dough and dropping them on the baking tray. The dough pieces were about the size of a golf ball and a half.  So they come out nice and domed with lots of bumps giving them a nice crunchiness.  We ate some with salty butter and then some plain.

Ingredients

Makes about 15

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tablespoon butter, chopped into cubes
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives (or less if you do not want less of a chives flavor)
  • 5 oz goat cheese crumbled
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 large egg

Method

Preheat your oven to 250F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Stir flour, baking powder and salt together. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. I did the cutting in the butter by just rubbing the butter and flour with my hands until all the butter was incorporated and the mixture looked like bread crumbs. Add the chives and goat cheese and stir to mix.

Beat the cream and egg together. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and use your hands to bring it together. You do not need to knead the mixture. It just needs to be evenly moistened. If the mixture is a little too dry then add heavy cream one tablespoon at a time. The dough will be sticky and not smooth.

Pull apart some dough the size  of about a golf ball and a half and drop it onto the prepared tray. Continue doing that until all the dough is used. Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until they are light golden brown on the top and a toothpick inserted into it comes out clean. Take out the tray and put it on a wire rack to cool.