Milk Chocolate Pretzel Tart

Milk Chocolate Pretzel Tart
As my toddler’s eating has gotten pickier, it’s become clear that he inherited my snack food gene. Now instead of eating the veggies on his plate, he carbs out on pita chips and crackers. He even requests pretzels for breakfast, when a normal person wouldn’t touch those salty nibbles until lunch. I can’t be the only parent with a limited threshold for forcing healthy eating on my offspring.

We don’t make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day, but I wanted to bake a special treat. It had to be chocolate because it is a favorite at our house, and then I used my son’s snack of choice. With its extra crunchy crust, this milk chocolate pretzel tart was equal parts salty and sweet. I only let my little guy have a few bites. I don’t need to encourage the sweet tooth that I passed on to him.
Milk Chocolate Pretzel Tart
Milk Chocolate Pretzel Tart
Adapted from Food & Wine February 2009

For crust
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/4 cups coarsely crushed thin pretzels (about 3-1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

For filling
3/4 pound milk chocolate, roughly chopped
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
Maldon sea salt and crushed pretzels, for serving

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, 3/4 cup pretzels and the confectioners’ sugar on low until creamy. Beat in the flour, egg and the remaining 1/2 cup pretzels making sure to leave some pretzel pieces. Between two sheets of plastic wrap, pat the dough into a disc. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out the dough between the plastic wrap sheets into a 12-inch circle. Remove the top piece of plastic wrap and invert the dough into a 10-inch fluted tart pan. Press the dough into the sides of the pan patching any tears as necessary. Remove the other sheet of plastic wrap. Trim the excess dough and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until firm.

Line the shell with parchment and fill with pie weights. Bake for 30 minutes until the dough is almost cooked through. Remove the parchment and weights and continue cooking until set, an additional 10-15 minutes. Cool the shell completely before brushing with the melted bittersweet chocolate. Chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Place the milk chocolate in a large bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the heavy cream to a simmer. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes before gently whisking until smooth. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Pour the milk chocolate filling into the shell and chill in the refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours. Sprinkle with sea salt and pretzels before serving.

Scandinavian Rye Bread

Scandinavian Rye Bread
Lately I’ve been all about simple, straightforward recipes that make delicious meals. I’ve never been one to shy away from an intimidating kitchen project, but it can be a real challenge to carve out time for such an undertaking. Most of my blogging happens during naptime or after my toddler goes to bed, which doesn’t leave much opportunity to experiment with endless ingredients and complicated instructions.

I love baking bread. Nothing is more satisfying than dough rising. Pizza is a favorite at our house, and even though I make the dough from scratch, it isn’t the same as pulling a fresh-baked loaf from the oven. I did manage to squeeze in baking this Scandinavian rye bread. Each slice was hearty and perfect for any smear or topping. What we didn’t eat right away is now sliced and stored in the freezer.
Scandinavian Rye Bread
Scandinavian Rye Bread
Adapted from Food & Wine February 2015

1/2 cup rye berries, rinsed and drained
5-1/4 cups warm water
1/2 cup millet, rinsed and drained
1 envelope (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
4 cups whole-grain rye flour
1 cup bread flour
2 tablespoons fine sea salt
1-1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
Vegetable oil for greasing

Combine the rye berries and 2 cups water in a small saucepan. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer covered until the rye berries are cooked and the water has been absorbed, about 40 minutes. Spread the rye berries on parchment paper and cool completely.

While the rye berries are cooking, combine the millet and 1 cup water in another saucepan. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer covered until the millet is halfway to tender and the water has been absorbed, about 12 minutes. Spread the millet on parchment paper and cool completely. (Both the rye berries and millet can be cooked a day in advance. Store in the refrigerator.)

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the remaining 2-1/4 cups water and yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the bread flour and rye flour and mix on low speed for 5 minutes. Then increase to medium speed for 2 minutes. Mix in the rye berries, millet and 3/4 cup oats. Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup oats over your work surface. Roll the dough coating outside in oats and then shape it into a brick. Place the dough in a greased 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Let the dough rise slightly, about 1-1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Bake the bread for 55 minutes to 1 hour until the top has browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center reads 200 degrees F. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before removing from the pan to cool completely.

The bread can be wrapped and stored at room temperature for up to 5 days. It can also be sliced and frozen.

Double-Chocolate Cookies

Double-Chocolate Cookies
When it comes to the all-important Super Bowl spread, dessert can get forgotten. Salty and savory are the focus of game day where there is no shortage of chips & dips that are begging to be paired with a cold beer, and then those nibbles are followed by tacos and pizza. With that monster all-you-can-eat buffet, it’s no surprise sweets don’t get much attention.

I am someone who always craves a treat even after a hearty meal when I don’t have much room left. Well before the 4th quarter I know I will be reaching for dessert. I usually make brownies, but this weekend I am going to bake these double-chocolate cookies with crisp edges and soft centers. They are rich, so they will hold their own next to lots of big, bold food.
Double-Chocolate Cookie
Double-Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from Flour By Joanne Chang

Makes about 15 cookies

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped, plus 2 ounces, finely chopped
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped, plus 2 ounces finely chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
3/4 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 inch of water to a low simmer. Place 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate and 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over the saucepan without the water touching from the bottom of the bowl. Stir frequently until the mixture is fully melted. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, on medium speed, beat the sugar and eggs until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. On low speed, drizzle in the chocolate mixture for about 15 seconds. The mixture will not be fully combined.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, espresso powder, the remaining unsweetened & bittersweet chocolate and walnuts. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 3 hours up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment.

Drop the dough by the scant 1/4-cup-full. Bake the cookies until they are set in the center, but still a bit soft, about 15 minutes. Cool on the sheet pan for 10-15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

Chicken Tinga Tacos

Chicken Tinga Tacos
Like a lot of people I am planning on tuning into the Super Bowl, but I don’t care who wins. My team hasn’t made it past the first round of the playoffs for seven years straight. Despite my bitterness, I am very excited for the spectacle of this annual sporting event from the commercials to the halftime show, and that other thing, the game.

Since I am not rooting for a team, food has taken the top spot in my book. I am already planning what to make on Sunday, and these chicken tinga tacos could be a strong contender. They are spicy, a little bit smoky, and they can be cooked in advance. What better way to stay fueled for four quarters than with a taco bar and all the fixings!
Chicken Tinga Tacos
Chicken Tinga Tacos
Adapted from Serious Eats

Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
1 cup medium-diced white onions
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 large tomatillo, husk removed, rinsed and roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1-14.5 ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
2 tablespoons roughly chopped chipotles plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from one (7-ounce) can
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Warm flour tortillas, thinly sliced scallions, thinly sliced radishes, crumbled cojita cheese, lime wedges and tomatillo salsa for serving

Place the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chicken skin side down. Brown the chicken, about 6 minutes. Then flip and cook for another 3 minutes until lightly browned. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are soft and starting to brown at the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatillo and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Stir in the oregano, cumin and salt followed by the tomatoes, chipotles and  adobo sauce. Remove from heat. Carefully puree the sauce in a blender and return to the pot. Put the chicken thighs in the sauce and reduce the heat. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Remove the chicken from the sauce and discard the bay leaf.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle. Use a fork to shred it, discarding the skin and bones. Return the chicken to the sauce over medium heat until warmed through about 3 minutes.

Assemble the tacos serving with tortillas, scallions, radishes, cojita cheese, lime wedges and tomatillo salsa.

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