Chocolate Sauce of …

How really to describe chocolate sauce, especially one that works out so nicely.  This one uses cream, but I could see it using a coconut or almond alternative.  That I should try at some point to see how those flavors play in this.  I’ve been making this for a few years as a drizzle for angel food cake, and recently as a way to make my own chocolate sauce for mochas.

  • 1/2 C Baking Cocoa
  • 1 C Granulated Sugar
  • 1t Cinnamon
  • 1/2 C Water
  • 1/4 C Heavy Cream (Light works as well)
  • 1T Kahlua

In a small saucepan [1] combine the cocoa, sugar, cinnamon and water.  Mix well [2].  Bring to a boil over medium heat and stir constantly for 5 minutes once it boils.  Remove from heat and add the cream and kahlua.  Let it cool completely [3] and then store it in a tight sealing container.

And now for some notes.

[1]  I use a saucier.  This is far from being fancy, more of an accident, but now I can recommend it and seem fancy.  This distributes the heat well, but also by design it is a lot easier to stir in.  If you get the right shape one, these are also great for steaming things in (with a basket) or heating soups in.  Mine in an integral part of my cooking routine for a lot of things outside of sauces due to the distribution of heat.

[2] Yeah right.  Ever try to mix cold ingredients?  Just turn the heat on and stir.  Ideally you have it all mixed before this boils.

[3] I find this is easier to pour when molten.  I store it in a 1 pint Ball jar, and put a spoon in it prior to pouring in the hot liquid.

When making a mocha with this, I’ll use about 1T of the sauce — maybe 4t.  It’s all ‘ish’.  I’ve also taken to putting a few drops of peppermint extract to have my own peppermint mocha.  Yum!

Spiced Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies (of enduring tastiness)

For a long time I made my grandmother’s recipe for oatmeal cookies.  Recently I started wanting crispier cookies and then we tried this vegan experiment which demanded finding a different recipe.

This recipe is almost certainly a lingering winner.  I am even experimenting with a protein-like bar variation.

  • 3/4 cup margarine
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 cups quick cooking or rolled oatmeal
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Cream together the margarine and sugars until smooth. Add vanilla and soy milk and mix well.

Add flour, baking soda and spices until well mixed, then stir in oats and cranberries.

Spoon 1 1/2 inch balls onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees, or until done.

But, of course, I’m not posting here just because I like to use copy/paste.  My first modification to this was to find a way to increase the crispiness.  I tried baking for 20 minutes and that didn’t do it.  My attempt to bake for 25 minutes failed due to “I’ll remember” as apposed to using a timer… oops.  What I also did on that attempt was use vegetable oil instead of margarine — which I think helped.  The cookies did come out crispy, but some were a tad scorched.  I do also notice a huge difference depending on the pan used… so, as they say, ymmv.

My next, measured, test will be to follow the same second modification but to definitely time them for 25 minutes.  There is a chance I cooked them for 30 minutes which is why they were overly crisp, though still edible.

Protein Bar Attempt #1

This is a relatively easy variation.  Changes and additions were…

  • +1 cup flour (so, 2 cups)
  • 2oz (basically, two servings) protein powder of choice (mine was one soy, one rice)
  • +1/2 cup soy milk (so 1 cup)
  • Optionally, replace cranberries with another berry mix like an anti-oxidant mix

I then spread this out on a cookie sheet to get it as flat as possible.  Bake the same way.

Results:  It was edible, in a good way.  It wasn’t as dense as I wanted nor as protein-like.  It was also more moist than I inteded.

Next time:  an additional scoop of protein, 1/2c less flour (so 1-1/2c), and +5 minutes cook time.

Ambush of Spices Chick-Pea Stew

I learned a lesson recently that is very important:  no two powdered cinnamons are created equally.  Some are bland and cardboard-like and others can almost light my mouth on fire.  This (http://www.simpleveganrecipes.co.uk/index.html?recipe=recipes/vegan-chickpea-stew-recipe.html) recipe could vary wildly depending on what kind of cinnamon was used.  But that’s not the only ambush — for me, the ambush was the lack of spices listed in the ingredients list.  Once again there is much importance for a Kitchen Kleric to read an entire spell — you don’t want to invoke the Kooking Kthulhu because you trip up half-way through a recipe.

  • 2T ground cinnamon
  • 2T ground cumin
  • 2T ground corriander
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 8 oz. (200g) carrots, halved and coarsely chopped (about 4 … ish)
  • 4 oz. (100g) sweetcorn (1 cup)
  • 8 oz. (200g) courgettes (zucchini)
  • 8 oz. (200g) chick-peas, cooked (or 2 tins of pre-cooked chick-peas)
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 tbsp. tomato purée

Mix dry spices.  Heat 2T olive oil and saute onion and carrots for 5-10 minutes.  Stir in dry spices.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Stir in sweetcorn, courgettes, chick-peas, water, tomato purée.  Simmer for 25-30 minutes.

Draught of Fortitude (aka My Morning Shake)

When was the last time you saw an adventurer linger over breakfast?  It’s always a victory feast or some such.  Perhaps it’s because putting on all that armor takes so long, saddling the horse takes time, or perhaps they’re just focused on the loot.  Me…?  I’m usually bleary-eyed, uncoordinated, confused, trying to brush my teeth with my comb, and hoping my socks match.  So I really need to make sure my breakfast is nutritious, quick, and sticks with me.  So what better than a protein-like shake that I can just pour and quaff?  I could try not eating, but I fear I’d join the ranks of the Commuter Zombies.  Nrrg…

I started with a shake that would fill me up, and then moved on to a shake with extras which help contribute to my general well-being.  It’s kind of the same logic as “A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down”.

The ingredients all have a rationale.  The plain yogurt avoids adding too much sugar.  This shake does not suffer from lack of sweetness, and if something like Vanilla yogurt was used this would be too sweet.  The whey protein is one of the good proteins (note that flavored varieties have sugars added…), and protein sticks with a person longer; part of the goal here is to manage hunger and snacking.  The oatmeal is there for the fiber, but not too much because oatmeal is also a carbohydrate – which is bad sugar.  Turmeric is good for joints.  Cinnamon is good for the heart.  Ginger is good for many things.  Bananas taste good – oh, and they have potassium.  The frozen fruit mix is mostly for flavor, but if you choose wisely you can work in some anitoxidant properties.  Fairer weather (or climates) are great for this because it’s easier to work in readily available fresh fruit.  The milk is simply a thinner; calcium is good for a person and the yogurt already has plenty of that.  This could also be thinned with alternatives to milk such as rice or soy milk.

I also think I’ve finally found a process of blending this together so it does so cooperatively.  This is mixed half-batch at a time.  I don’t have a Blender of Holding… only a Blender of Might.  So half-at-a-time is necessary.

Draught of Fortitude (serves 6 humans, or one human six times, or one Giant)

  • 1 Blender of Might – using a whimpy blender for this may result in dodging a lid (roll save vs. blender lid…)
  • 32 oz plain yogurt
  • 2 oz whey protein
  • 1/2 c oatmeal
  • 10 dashes turmeric
  • 10 dashes cinnamon
  • 4 T chopped ginger
  • 4 large bananas
  • 24 oz mix frozen fruit (blackberries, strawberries, etc. – fresh is nice if you have it)
  • milk to thin

Add yogurt (16 oz), followed by (remember… half) whey protein, oatmeal, turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger.  The whey protein and oatmeal add body; protein will stick-with-ya longer.  The turmeric is for joint health, cinnamon is good for the heart, and ginger is good for many things.

I usually halve (as in break-in-half) the bananas and then stick them down into the yogurt.  They don’t have to be buried, just slightly submerged to help make room for the rest.  Add the fruit and then the milk.  Usually I will add the fruit, cap the blender, and pour the milk through the pour cap in the top – but I’ve seen a few blenders that don’t have a pour cap.

Start blending this slowly, perhaps on the second speed.  Your blender may go up to 11, but if you start there, you’re probably going to break something – especially if you fail to dodge an ejected blender lid.  Not that I’ve ever done that.

When you’re done, the blender may be too full to pour.  I usually use a ladle or a measuring cup to scoop some out into appropriate vessels.  If I am not serving 6 humans or a giant, I will put these into something I can keep in the refrigerator all week.  This is one of the reasons for the mixed fruit; they make the shake a pleasant rich-purple color instead of a strange brown due to the turmeric and banana (after a few days).

Since I don’t strictly measure the ingredients, I’ve had this last all week some times.  It keeps well over that time, and doesn’t adopt a funky flavor.  One reason for this is that I will separate it into multiple small containers.  The less contact it has with air, the longer it will take to spoil when kept in the fridge.

So this one is more mixing that strict “cooking”.  That’s why the rules are really more like guidelines!