Category Archives: chocolate

Chocolate Fix: Black Bean Brownies

I’m a little excited. It’s time for another Chocolate Foray, and I looooove chocolate. (In case you hadn’t figured that out yet.)

Black Bean Brownies.

I know, I know, they sound weird and suspiciously healthy. I can’t really vouch for the “health” quality except that there is chocolate in them and chocolate is the other food group. Beans are good for you. There is also applesauce. The original recipe didn’t call for it, but the original also turned out very, very dry. Eww. Applesauce makes these kind of gooey and fudgey. And there’s chocolate, of course.


Black Bean Brownies

1 15oz can black beans, well rinsed and drained
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
3 large eggs
3 tbsp vegetable or canola oil (Or be brave and use coconut. Yum!)
¼ cup cocoa powder
⅔ cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp instant coffee (or your favorite coffee substitute) — optional
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

Put all ingredients except chocolate chips in blender.

Blend until very smooth. Stir in half the chocolate chips. Pour into greased 8-inch square baking pan and sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips. Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes.

Chocolate Fix: Any-Nut Torte

Do you know what time it is??

It’s chocolate time!

This time we’re doing a cake. It’s yummy and it’s easy. (Okay, putting the nuts on the sides is a little challenging, but well worth the effort. Don’t let it intimidate you!) When you make it—you know you want to!—be sure to let me know how it turned out. Send me pictures!


Any-Nut TorteAny-Nut Torte

1 cup flour
1 tsp. Baking powder
Dash salt
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. Vanilla
4 egg yolks
⅓ cup milk
4 egg whites
⅛ tsp. Cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
¾ cup finely chopped nuts
¾ cup sugar
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 ½ cups whipping cream
1 ½ cups chopped nuts

Great and lightly flour 2 8” round cake pans.

Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In large mixing bowl beat butter on medium speed 30 seconds. Add ½ cup sugar and vanilla; beat till fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time. Alternately add flour mixture and milk, beating on low just till combined. Spread evenly in pans.

For meringue layer, in a medium bowl beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold in ¾ cup chopped nuts. Spread the mixture over the batter. Bake at 300°F for 1 hour or till toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake in pans on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove and cool.

For frosting, in a chilled medium bowl stir together ¾ cup sugar and cocoa. Add whipped cream; beat on low till soft peaks form. DO NOT OVER-BEAT.

To assemble, place one cake layer, meringue side up, on plate. Spread with thin layer of frosting. Top with second cake layer, meringue side up. Frost top and sides, reserving some for piping if desired. Press the 1 ½ cups chopped nuts onto sides. Put remaining frosting in decorator bag with large star tip. Pipe around bottom edge and into rosettes on top. Cover and chill up to 24 hours. To serve, cut with knife dipped in water.

YIELD: 12 servings

Chocolate Fix: Chocolate Magic Custard Cake

When I was a little girl my mom spearheaded an annual Baking Campaign that started in October or November and came to a glorious, beautiful, tasty finale at Christmas. She set up a long, narrow table covered with a red tablecloth and decorated with gold tinsel. A basket shaped like a sleigh held old-fashioned, don’t-touch-it, fiberglass “snow” and some of her antique ornaments. She made a beautiful gingerbread house. There were fancy bowls of ribbon candy. But the best part was the cookies. Two shallow, rectangular baskets held rows and rows of cookies. Each row was different, and it was so exciting to be given the task of going out into the garage to the big chest freezer that held a veritable treasure trove of goodies so the baskets could be reloaded. Sometimes with even more different cookies.

Sometimes I snitched. There were a few varieties that were perfectly acceptable straight out of the freezer.

Mom—and the siblings old enough to participate in the baking frenzy—used to keep track of what cookies were made each year and how many of each. The very biggest year of all was a record 160 dozen cookies, not to mention the candies and breads that were also a part of the feast.

I almost don’t remember any turkeys…

Even so, all of us should have walked away from Christmas with a distinct waddle. Or maybe we should have rolled! But no, none of us were roly-poly. I continued the tradition (in a more restrained manner) when I grew up and married. My kids loved it. My husband is more of a fan of FRESH baking. And now that the kids have all flown the coop I don’t do much Christmas baking at all. But …

Over the New Year’s weekend I had to bake. I found a recipe—chocolate, of course—that severely tempted my tastebuds at the same time it (mostly) catered to my desire for something easy to prepare. It’s not hard to make, but it is just a little bit involved. (Hey, if it requires more than one bowl, it’s “involved”!) I tweaked the recipe very slightly, but the original can be found at Give Recipe.


Chocolate Magic Custard Cake

Yield: 8 servings

4 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla powder or extract
1 ¼ cup sugar
½  butter, melted
½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups milk, lukewarm
1 tablespoon powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 320°F (160C).

Grease an 8in x 8in baking pan well.

Separate egg whites and yolks.

Beat egg whites in a bowl until stiff and put aside.

Whisk egg yolks, vanilla powder and sugar until creamy.

Add melted butter and mix for half a minute.

Add the flour and unsweetened cocoa powder. Mix with a spatula until incorporated well.

Pour the milk in gradually and continue beating gently.

Add the egg whites, one third at a time, and gently mix with a spatula. Pour this liquidy batter into the baking pan and bake for 60 minutes.

Let it cool and when it comes to room temperature chill for an hour. Slice and dust with powdered sugar just before serving. Keep in refrigerator.

My husband is not a great fan of custard, but he loved this. I love it. Make some. Tell me what you think! And, as always, if you have a terrific chocolate recipe to share, DO IT!

NaNoWriMo 2014!

Greetings, dear readers!

It’s the first Friday of the month, and time for A Drift of Quills to get together and chat about books and writing.

You may also have noticed that it is November, and November means NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). While Patricia is off flitting about the countryside, Kristie and I are knee-deep into the crazy, wonderful writing frenzy that is NaNoWriMo.

Do you know what that means? Hundreds of thousands of people around the world leap headlong into the challenge of writing a novel (50,000 words long!) in thirty days. (Though if I wrote through Thanksgiving Day, I would probably be stuffed and roasted!)

Writing is a passion. A passion driven by voices we hear in our heads. Driven by stories that need to be told.  Don’t be afraid to let them out. Nurture them like they are your children and let them blossom into fruition. Most of all—live your dream.  

~Vivienne Courtoise

I love writing—and yet I struggle to write. Last year I let someone convince me not to participate in NaNoWriMo. “You can set your own thirty days any time of the year,” he said. So I did.

And I didn’t.

As a result, I wallowed for a long time in a stinking pit of discouragement and gloom and doom.

The thing is, I like the challenge of that goal, and I like the little competitions between buddies. I like the Pep Talks and the camaraderie and the sense of excitement. So here I am again, pushing up my sleeves and leaping into the frenzy of thirty days of literary abandon.

You might see me around, but then again you might not. The effort is a little intense.

Not for the first time,
I’ve found that my best writing time is at night. I can’t blame Hubby for objecting, so I’m trying my best to reroute my productivity and do most of my writing in the morning. So far, no luck! If anyone has any helpful ideas about reprogramming the ol’ gray matter, let me know!

In the meantime, here are some good ways to get some work accomplished, whether you are a morning person or a night owl:

  1. Schedule your time, whether it’s five minutes or five hours. Own it.
  2. Turn off the distractions (tv, phone, husband—I mean internet, radio, etc.…). Some days I write better with music playing in the background, some days not so much!
  3. Make sure you’ve got a supply of chocolate within easy reach. And a beverage. I’ve heard water is good for you.
  4. Do some warm up exercises. Jumping jacks are great if you can handle it, but ten minutes of free writing are also recommended. Try WriteOrDie, if you dare. Or just open up a blank document, set a timer, and write as fast as you can. Content, grammar, and logic don’t matter. It’s very … freeing.
  5. Take breaks. I know it sounds counterintuitive (“I just HAVE to finish this one scene/word quota/whatever!”), but your body needs to move and that movement can actually provide you with time to work through a scene or come up with something wildly awesome. Mindless chores are the best for that kind of thing.
  6. When you must stop, leave off in the middle of a scene. Or even as sentence. You probably already know which direction it’s going, and it’s easy to pick up again.
  7. Before you start a scene, make a quick sketch of what it needs to include. Again, you’re not striving for a Pulitzer here. Just get down the bare bones.
  8. I haven’t had much success with this, but I like Chuck Wendig’s advice to “Write with your internal editor gagged and shoved in a box.” I need to find a nice, roomy box for my inner editor to kick back in.
  9. Celebrate your progress, no matter how small. Kristie says so, and I trust her.
  10. What, you were looking for a nice, even number of suggestions? Ha!
~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Author of Oathtaker

I admit I’ve never participated in the event known as NaNoWriMo. I can’t even pronounce it, and I have to check other sources for how to spell it every time I need to use the word, or acronym, or whatever it is. Suffice it to say, I don’t know much about it. Still, from what I’ve heard, it sounds like an amazing venture …

The closest I’ve ever come to a NaNoWriMo effort was during a summer week when the rest of my family went camping. Blissfully alone (and, I confess, not lonely), I set out to write the opening of my new story …

… (Read more!)

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Author of the short story, Sanguis Dei and a poetry collection, Light and Dark

NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month is upon us! If it’s possible that you’ve never heard of it, the NaNoWriMo website says this:

“National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel by 11:59:59 PM on November 30.”

Sound crazy? You bet! But it’s wonderful, too. Why? 

… (Read more!)

Stay Tuned!

Next week (November 10-14) I’m participating in the Blogger Book Fair. All week long! What’s in it for you, you ask? Why … BOOKS! And… GIVEAWAYS! What could be more important than that?
~  ~  ~
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

What do you like best about it? Hate most?

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever heard for a marathon writing stint?

Chocolate Fix: Cinnamon Toasties

There is a bag of chocolate chips in my pantry in severe danger of being exterminated. Or… I might break down and make a family favorite. Cinnamon Toasties.

Now, they’re not 100% chocolate (I know, shocking isn’t it?) but they are just so darned good it’s hard to eat just one. And they have chocolate chips IN them. In the world of “almost chocolate,” these little items are hard to beat. And they’re ridiculously easy and quick to make. Always a bonus.

photo by Boyd Lythgoe

Once upon a time this recipe had no chocolate chips. It had raisins.

You should have seen the horrified expressions on the faces of my children when I shared that little historic tidbit…

My big sister used to make it (with raisins) when I was little. I don’t remember when she decided to use chocolate chips instead, but it was a game-changer. When I moved out on my own—and out of state—I could not get the recipe to turn out right. It wanted to be flat and dry, so I experimented, and now it is wonderfully cake-y. And cinnamon-y. And, of course, chocolate-y.



Cinnamon Toasties

3 cups flour
1½ cups sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1½ cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbsp. melted margarine
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan.

In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Blend in remaining ingredients. Turn into prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Drizzle with an additional ¼ cup melted margarine. Combine ½ cup sugar with 1 tsp. cinnamon. Sprinkle over cake. Bake 10 minutes more. Cut into squares and store in air-tight container.

Chocolate Fix: Chocolate Molten Cakes

Happy Valentine’s Day! Today ranks right after National Chocolate Day on the scale of chocolate yumminess—even if my husband is jonesing for some soft sugar cookies. Being the dear that he is, he even suggested topping them with our favorite glossy, soft, messy chocolate frosting. Aside from the concoction not being straight up chocolate, what’s not to like?

And I have a simple, quick cure for that!

Whether you’re a boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife—or even a good friend—you have plenty of time to whip up this decadent little somethin’ somethin’ for Valentine’s Day. Oozing chocolate with the first bite, this little number is set to impress—and so easy to make from scratch! You don’t have to save it for Valentine’s Day; eet mor choklit!

Chocolate Molten Cakes

ingredients 2 servings 4 servings 6 servings
margarine, melted 4 Tbsp. 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp.
cocoa 2 Tbsp. 1/4 cup 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp.
powdered sugar 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. 1 1/2 cups + 3 Tbsp.
whole eggs 1 2 3
egg yolks 1 2 3
flour 3 Tbsp. 6 Tbsp. 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease 6-ounce custard cups or soufflé dishes. Place on baking sheet.

Whisk cocoa and sugar into melted butter. Add whole eggs and egg yolks. Beat until well blended. Stir in flour. Divide evenly amongst custard cups. Bake 12-14 minutes. Centers should be soft. If removing from custard cup to turn out on plate, run a knife around the sides to loosen. If desired, top with whipped cream.

The whole thing is done in 20 minutes, and it is sooooooo yummy!

Is chocolate a big part of your Valentine’s Day? What is your favorite, from-scratch decadent chocolate deliciousness?

Chocolate Fix: Chocolate Orange Ice Cream

It’s been a while since we had a chocolate fix—online, anyway. 🙂 You don’t really think I’d go without, do you? I’ve got some serious scrumptiousness lined up for you. I hope you’re not tired of ice cream yet. I’m not. I thought that when the temperatures started going down I’d crave something new (and warm!), but nooooooo … So I have to indulge in one more chilly, creamy confection before winter actually sets in, and then I’ll find something more suitable to the season to share with you.


Chocolate Orange Ice Cream

(modified from the recipe at Scoop Adventures)

Yield: about 1½ quarts

Chocolate-Orange Syrup

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ cup sugar
½ cup water

2 teaspoons orange zest, freshly grated (one orange)
1/4 cup (2 ounces) fresh squeezed orange juice (1 orange)
½ ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Ice Cream Base

2 cups whole milk

1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

1½ ounces (3 Tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup heavy cream
½ cup sugar

2 Tablespoons light corn syrup

Combine cocoa powder, water, sugar, orange zest, and orange juice in a small saucepan and place over medium low heat. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar melts and ingredients are combined. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate. Let stand for 5 minutes and then stir until chocolate is melted. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix 2 Tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch. In a medium bowl, whisk the cream cheese, chocolate-orange syrup, and salt until smooth. Set aside.

Combine remaining milk, cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium pan. Bring milk mixture to a boil.  Cook over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves, about 4 minutes.

Remove from heat and off the heat, gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the mixture is slightly thickened (draw a line on a spoon), about one minute. Gradually pour the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture and whisk until smooth. Place the bowl in an ice bath and stir occasionally until the mixture has cooled to room temperature. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Once chilled, strain mixture through a sieve to remove lumps of orange zest, then pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Place in refrigerator freezer until firm, about 4 hours.

November—and NaNoWriMo—are almost upon us! Have you got your chocolate supplies laid in for a month of writing feverishly?
Check out some of these helpful ideas for getting set for 30 Days and Nights of Literary Abandon:
Want to hook up on the NaNoWriMo site? You can find me masquerading as StillCypher. So… who’s going to join the party, and how do you prepare?

Chocolate Fix: Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

In a moment of weakness (or genius), we bought a new ice cream maker. It’s one of those nifty new machines that has a double-insulated freezer bowl with a cooling liquid between the walls—No ice! No salt! “Indulge your tastebuds!” the company urged. So we have been. We’ve had, thus far, Dark Chocolate Sorbet, Chocolate-Orange, Cherry Lane (a spectacular chocolate-cherry invention from my father-in-law), Orange Cream, Raspberry, and Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.

I’ve probably made more ice cream in the last couple weeks than I’ve made since we got the original ice cream maker for our wedding a loooong time ago. Not to worry, I’ve been taking my portions in a little bitty bowl and I’ve staunchly resisted having seconds. I can’t say the same for the rest of the family.

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a recipe, for which I apologize. It’s important to explore a wide variety of chocolate avenues. Without further ado, I present the latest chocolate yumminess.


Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream
(modified from a recipe I found at the Brown-Eyed Baker)

Yield: About 1½ quarts

Chocolate Ice Cream:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1½ cups heavy cream

1½ cups whole milk

¾ cup granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

4 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough:
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

6 Tbsp. light brown sugar

1½ Tbsp. granulated sugar

1½ Tbsp. tablespoons heavy cream

pinch of salt

¼ cup all-purpose flour

⅓ cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

1. Prepare the Ice Cream Custard: Combine the chocolate and cream in a large, heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted, then remove the bowl from the saucepan.

2. Warm the milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

3. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spatula (it should reach 170-175 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer). Pour the custard into the chocolate mixture and stir in the vanilla extract. Place the bowl in an ice bath and stir occasionally until the mixture has cooled to room temperature. Cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

4. Make the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough: Combine the butter and both sugars in a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cream, vanilla and salt, and mix for another minute or so, until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl, then reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour, mixing just until incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days.

5. Churn the Ice Cream: Just before churning the ice cream, scoop the cookie dough into ½-teaspoon or smaller balls and place on a plate or parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the freezer. Churn the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When finished churning, fold in the chunks of cookie dough and transfer to an airtight container. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.


Go ahead. You know you want to try it…

Have you got any spectacular ice cream recipes to share? Chocolate sauce? I’m waaaaaiting…!

Chocolate Fix: Chocolate Toffee Crack(ers)

Chocolate Toffee Crack(ers)—Fast. Easy. SWEET! at

Time for a break—a chocolate break! With so much going on between publishing As the Crow Flies, doing Christmas things, and tending to the everyday stuff, I am certainly ready for a few minutes of peace and quiet!

I’m also quite fond of “easy,” and this recipe fits the bill. Doesn’t take very long to throw together, and hey—it’s chocolate!

I’d actually been looking for some tasty way to use up a box of saltines. My family just doesn’t eat them that often, but we always have a box. They do go nicely with chicken noodle soup when your tummy’s rebelling… Now, however, I think I might have to make sure we always have a box of crackers on hand, because these little sweets are yummeh!

Yes, I ate most of them myself the first time around. And I’m craving them again.

So, I’m going to leave you with this recipe, and go make some for me!


Chocolate Toffee Crack(ers)

Cooking spray
35 to 40 saltine crackers
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
1 cup light brown sugar
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
1 package (8 ounces) toffee bits or chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 1 large or 2 small jelly-roll pans with aluminum foil, spray with nonstick spray and arrange the saltines salt-side down in a single layer.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together and boil until it turns a caramel color, a few minutes. Remove from the heat and pour over the crackers, covering them evenly.

Put the jelly-roll pan into the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just bubbly, watching carefully. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the crackers. When the chips melt a bit, spread them over the crackers with a knife.

Sprinkle with toffee bits. Cool.

Transfer the pan to the refrigerator or freezer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until completely cold. They will form one big sheet. Break up into pieces. Store in an airtight container.


These make good gifts, too!

I’m always on the lookout for good (chocolate) recipes to try. So what’s your favorite way to consume chocolate?


2 Minutes to Chocolate Heaven with a Dollop of NaNoWriMo on the Side

Writers! Need chocolate in a hurry to fuel those writing sprints or to reward yourself for meeting a goal? This blissful cup of brownie goodness is sure to hit the spot.

My experience with recipes for Brownies in a Mug has been largely unsuccessful—until now. They were either not chocolately enough (Remember, milk chocolate is a color, not a flavor!), too spongey (the result of using a whole egg, and if you only use part, what do you do with the rest?), or too dense and dry. Not any more! This recipe is a huuuuge hit at my house, and I can make it so quickly I don’t feel guilty for briefly abandoning the BIC** rule. (Secret: The whole thing can also be prepared and completely finished during a single commercial break…)


Brownie in a Mug

In a 12 ounce microwaveable mug* mix the following:

1/4 cup flour (oat is good!)
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. cocoa
3/8 tsp. baking powder
dash of salt
1/2 Tbsp. canola oil
3 Tbsp. milk, water, or coffee

Stir together until well blended. Microwave on HIGH for one minute. Microwaves vary! Check every 30 seconds. When done it will be springy but gooey on top.

*Any other 12 ounce microwaveable dish will work just fine. Anything less and you’ll have a Brownie Mess. No, the NaNoWriMo mug is not actually large enough—unless you want a slightly more dense brownie, in which case decrease baking powder to 1/4 tsp., and then it will turn out just like the photo. My daughter said it was every bit as tasty and ‘do-over-able.’


Speaking of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), it’s coming right up! Only nineteen days! Are you excited? I am. I’d be even more excited if I knew what I was going to write. It’s time now to be plotting and outlining, but I’m working feverishly to finish up a few other projects.

I do know that I’ll be tackling one of Sherakai’s stories, but I’m not yet sure which.

I do know that I’ll have plenty of cocoa on hand for Emergency Brownies. And I suddenly wondered how this would taste if orange juice was used for the liquid…

Check out some of these helpful ideas for getting set for 30 Days and Nights of Literary Abandon:

Want to hook up on the NaNoWriMo site? You can find me masquerading as StillCypher. So… who’s going to join the party, and how do you prepare?

(**BIC = Butt In Chair!)