I made these chocolate peppermint cookies for tea at Leith Hall last week and Bill from Absecon paid me a great compliment. He said that they were the best chocolate cookies he had ever had, and he doesn’t even like sweets!. They are very easy to make.
Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
1 ¼ cup (2 1/2 sticks) butter
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 cups flour
¾ cup Dutch cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Icing – Melt together 1 cup of bittersweet chocolate and 1/2 stick butter plus 1 tablespoon light corn syrup. Add 1 tablespoon peppermint extract. Put one dollop on each cookie.
Beat the butter and sugar together until they are fluffy. Beat in eggs and extracts. Mix the flour, cocoa, soda and salt together and beat the mixture into the butter mixture. Drop by tablespoons full onto parchment lined cookie sheets. I use a scoop to get exactly even size domes. Bake for 9 minutes at 350F. Cool on cookie sheets, then again on cookie racks.
O.K., you can’t lie out in the sun and bake, but you can stay indoors and get that healthy glow from the wine and beer events on both the March 9 and March 16 weekends. There are three choices; a self guided wine trail, a self-guided wine and brewery trail, and a winery tour and tasting.
The second weekend – March 16, is also Sherlock Holmes Weekend presented by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities. There are still a few tickets availible for the whole program including the murder mystery dinner, the tours, the denouement and the parties. At the same time, East Lynne Theater Company is presenting a dramatization of The Adventure of the Norwood Builder, one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s best stories.
Give us a call at Leith Hall to visit Cape May in March!
Chocolate Valentine’s Day at Leith Hall in Cape May
What could be more romantic than Valentine’s Day weekend in Cape May? Valentine’s Day weekend in Cape May with chocolate, of course! We’ll be serving chocolate at breakfast and at tea, with raspberry and chocolate butter cream brownies, pumpkin bread with chopped bittersweet chocolate, buttery chocolate chunk muffins and chocolate peppermint sandwich cookies – a festival of chocolate.
Call us now or go online to make reservations for this coming weekend.
I often serve pound cakes for teatime, though seldom the simple vanilla version. Last week, our neighbor Arielle claimed that the chocolate chunk version didn’t count as the required chocolate dessert for tea. I beg to differ. The contrast between sweet, sour-creamy cake and bitter chocolate is like a little explosion in your mouth. You could overdo it and serve a chocolate sauce or raspberry sauce to go with the cake.
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter (soft or melted
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbs. vanilla extract or vanilla paste (or other extract)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line an 8″ loaf pan with cooking parchment and spray with cooking spray. Or, grease and flour a decorative bundt pan.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in sour cream. Beat in extract.
Add flour and baking soda, mix well. Pour into loaf pan or bundt pan.
Bake for 1 hour (check at 45 minutes) , or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, or cake springs back when prodded.
You can use orange extract, or lemon, or coconut, or anything else you like. You can also make a simple syrup of 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water, plus extract, and dribble it over the cake after it is baked.
Or, you can chop 1/2 cup of bittersweet chocolate and fold it into the batter before pouring it into the baking pan. Another alternative, chop 1/2 cup of crystallized ginger and fold into the batter.
FOOD AND WINE CELEBRATION AND VICTORIANA IN CAPE MAY
Food, wine and Victoriana
This year’s Food and Wine Celebration is over. The Harvest Dinner, the Clambake, Chef Poon’s demonstrations are gone. And it’s on to the next festival! At the end of September, Cape May celebrates Octoberfest. (O.K., we’re a little dyslexic.) There’ll be a street fair on Jackson Street, the best wurst, and music, crafts and entertainment on September 29th.
October 5th through 9thwill be Victorian Weekend; with a tour of private homes not usually open to the public, several chocolate events (the Chocolate Championship Contest, the Beer and Chocolate tasting, and the Fudge Fantasy Workshop). There’s a winery cellar tour and tasting, a Champagne brunchwalk, theater, and several festive dinners.
Our guests who just left Leith Hall bed and breakfast yesterday asked for the recipe for these almond and chocolate sandwich cookies that I served for tea – so these are for you, Stephanie and Michael von M . You could, of course, substitute coconut extract for the almond, or lemon extract, or orange. If you used coconut extract, you could also roll the filled cookie in toasted coconut for decoration. You can also roll the pre-baked dough balls in sugar to give the cookies a crunchy crust.
Almond Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
Leith Hall’s Buttery better-than Moon Pies
1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, cut up
½ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
½ cup 60% (minimum) chocolate
¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Beat butter and sugars together. Beat in extracts and egg. Mix flour, salt, and baking powder together. Beat flour mixture into batter until just moistened and smooth. I use a small dough scoop to get perfectly even hemispheres of dough. That way, they are even size to make neat sandwich cookies. Arrange on parchment-lined cookie sheets and bake for 8 to 12 minutes at 375 F. degrees. They should be just lightly colored around the edges.
Melt butter and chocolate together and mix. After the cookies are absolutely cool, make sandwich cookies and store in refrigerator (if it’s summer) until you serve them.
This same recipe can be made with lemon extract and pignoli to make wonderful unfilled Italian cookies. Or, you could use hazelnut extract and use Nutella for the filling.
Leith Hall Bed and Breakfast Chocolate Cherry Cake
I recently served this rich chocolate cherry cake at Leith Hall at teatime. Our guests asked for the recipe, so here it is. I bake it in a glass bundt pan, but it would work in any ring-shaped pan, or in two nine-inch round cake pans with a frosting or icing.
2 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¾ cup cocoa powder (I use Droste’s, Rademaker, or Van Houten)
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup hot coffee
1/2 cup milk
½ cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla paste
½ cup dried cherries, dusted with flour
1 jar of cherry preserves
Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Beat the sugar, oil coffee, milk, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla together. Add the flour mixture and beat in. Fold in the dried cherries. Turn into a greased and floured bundt pan. Place a ring of cherry preserves on top of the batter by teaspoonsfull . As the cake bakes, it will sink toward the bottom. Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes. Check the cake by prodding with a finger. It should spring back and seem fully baked and cakelike. Add time as needed.
Those of you old enough will remember the 1973 movie Sleeper, in which Woody Allen wakes up far, far, into the future and discovers that the really healthy activities are smoking cigarettes and eating ice cream. It’s come true! A recent story reported by WebMD described a large Australian study that found that eating three to six ounces of high-percentage chocolate every day greatly lowered your risk of heart disease. That was one to two chocolate bars of 60 to 70 percent chocolate every day!
Chocolate – Miracle Food!
Having had two heart attacks, four angioplasties a quintuple bypass, and a partridge in a pear tree, this is news I want to hear! Suzie has prophetically been implementing the recommendations of this study for years. One of the conclusions of the story was that money spent teaching people to eat chocolate would save so much in medical costs later that it would be cheaper for Medicare to pay to encourage chocolate eating. The next thing we’ll hear is that World Peace has broken out and lions are napping with lambs.
Recently one of our guests at Leith Hall b&b contacted me to request two recipes we serve at afternoon tea. This one, Leith Hall’s Cape May bed and breakfast Gingerbread, is for Donna. It has bits of crystallized ginger in it for an extra sharp bite. Sometimes I ice it with a bittersweet chocolate and butter icing (which I’ll put on almost anything) and sometimes I’ll sprinkle it with confectioner’s sugar through a paper doily laid on top of the gingerbread. We always have one chocolate and one non-chocolate treat at teatime. Suzie would never forgive me if I left out the chocolate, and we sometimes have guests who (sadly) don’t like chocolate.
Leith Hall Cape May bed and breakfast Gingerbread
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup crystallized ginger, cut into tiny slices
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F Line a 9 “square pan with cooking parchment and spray with cooking spray
In an electric mixer, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the egg, and mix in the molasses.
In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Beat into the creamed mixture. Stir in the hot water. Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, until the gingerbread springs back when prodded with a fingertip. Allow to cool in pan before serving.
Did you know that wooden house trim is called gingerbread because gingerbread was once very heavily decorated? During the Middle Ages, ginger was fabulously expensive and gingerbread was a desert at Royal and Noble courts. Sometimes, it was ornamented with real gold leaf in elaborate swirls. When sawn wooden ornament was introduced in the nineteenth century, people started calling it gingerbread because it reminded them of Christmas gingerbread houses – which are the last vestige of great medieval gingerbread constructions.Architecture and dessert all in one, my favorite combination
We just had our third annual Spring Chocolate Championship yesterday and, once again, I didn’t win. You may remember that Chocolate Championship was my suggestion several years ago for MAC to start a new tour during Spring Festival. Any tour is improved by adding chocolate. Last year I made Julia Childs’ chocolate mousse, which is the best chocolate mousse ever, and yet I didn’t win. I consider it an insult to Julia Childs’ memory . (Maybe we can get Meryl Streep to protest.) This year, Anna Marie McMain won with with her Chocolate Delight. It must have been spectacular, ’cause my truffles were pretty darn good. Richard Degner wrote a very nice article in the Atlantic City Press about the contest and Leith Hall. You can have chocolate treats every day at teatime, if you make a reservation.
ROMANTIC GETAWAY TRUFFLES
I started making these chocolate truffles to include in our Romantic Getaway package. The basic recipe is incredibly easy, and depends on really good ingredients. The different flavors are created with extracts.
32 oz. (1 quart) heavy whipping cream
32 oz. by weight of bittersweet chocolate
1 Tbs. organic extract.
Melt the chocolate in the cream. Use 60% to 72% chocolate. Use a very good brand because the quality of the truffles is entirely dependent upon the quality of the chocolate. I use Valrhona, Valor, Green and Black, Guittard or Ghirardelli. Don’t use Hershey’s or Nestlé’s. You can microwave it for one minute at a time, stirring with a rubber spatula between minutes. Or you can melt the chocolate in an uncovered metal bowl over simmering water. Or you can melt it in a 200 degree Fahrenheit oven. It doesn’t matter. The important thing is not to overheat the mixture and to stir often.
Stir in the extract. I always use organic extract from the health food store. It really does taste better. You can use orange extract, peppermint extract, coconut extract, almond extract, or any other that you like. You can also double or triple the amount of extract.
Cool the melted chocolate mixture (ganache) in the refrigerator until it thickens. Whip it in a stand mixer. It will double in size and fluff in a few minutes. Scoop the ganache into little balls with a little scoop. Put the balls onto a cookie sheet and refrigerate. Decorate the truffles by tossing in toasted coconut for coconut flavor, or toasted almond slivers for almond. You can toss any flavor in a mixture of cocoa and powdered sugar.