I was browsing through the hundreds of pictures I took during my trip to California over the summer and when I came across this beauty, I just had to share this miraculous creation with the world. The night I experienced this miracle of a dessert, we were having a delightful dinner at a sea-side restaurant named Moonshadows near Los Angeles. Now, I must compose myself before I go into the description of this dessert because of all these sensory memories that are bombarding me right now.
Okay, thank you for giving me a moment to compose myself. Now let me begin: When it arrives at the table it looks like your typical molten chocolate lava cake elegantly sprinkled with powdered sugar and decorated with an adorable sprig of mint. The scoop of coffee ice cream is melting off to the side, just begging you to dig in as soon as possible. The cake itself sits in diminutive pond of spiced coffee sauce that takes the luxurious flavor of coffee in this dessert to a whole other level (which you can barely see because I have devoured into near extinction). And when you just can’t seem to stare at the melting ice cream a moment longer you dig into the cake itself, unleashing a flood of hazelnut flavored cream mixed with a perfectly gooey chocolate center. Oh my lordy. What perfection. And the hazelnut cream, it’s no wimpy cream that barely tastes of hazelnuts. It’s an explosion of hazelnut flavor. In your mouth. It’s pretty awesome.
Well, now that I have revealed to you my desperate love for this dessert maybe one of you, yes you dear readers, will be inspired to try something similar instead of your ordinary molten chocolate lava cake (not to say that those aren’t amazing)? I know I am.
I’ve always thought I’ve been a decent person. I try not to talk about people behind their backs. I try not to be mean. I try not to make things more dramatic than they need to be. I try to be nice and stick by that pre-school mantra of treating others the way you want to be treated.
But do you know how stressful school can be? Well, it is, especially in this day in age. Now stress – like the stress you feel when your friends might pressure you to drink or the stress you feel as finals seem to be approaching as quickly as a train with failed brakes hurtling down a train track (the logic behind this simile will be explained in a later post) – this stress, it can make one do irrational things. Irrational things in my case like being irrationaly mean. Let me elaborate.
My AP english class this past year was not exactly a walk along a sunny beach. There were also no ice cream cones to make it more pleasant. Regardless of how difficult the class seemed though it was my favorite because I finally felt challenged at a level where I could learn and improve. Unlike math where I am challenged but cannot learn or improve because the part of my brain which processes all things math related is dysfunctional. Also, math is stupid. I apologize if I offend any math lovers. My point is I like english, otherwise I probably wouldn’t be writing such an elaborate story. Anyway, near the end of the year we were given an extra credit assignment to write a letter to the rising juniors on how to survive my teacher’s class. Of course nothing as epic as an extra credit assignment at the end of the year could go unannounced on facebook. I’ll spare you the tragic details and just say that there were some statuses posted and some comments made that were offensive but obviously sarcastic towards the class and teacher. And some genius came up with the novel idea to print out this conversation and to put it in my english teacher’s mailbox anonymously. Some people are just so noble and smart, aren’t they? Well it ended up with an emotional breakdown for all of those involved. There was sadness, regret, anger, and apologizing. Lots and lots of apologizing. One week’s worth of apologizing. There were flowers, letters, emails, conversations, and baked goods.
Specifically this scrumptious batch of baked goods. Despite the story that comes along with them, don’t hesitate to make these sticky peanut cookie bars. These are out of this world AMAZING. You know these are good because I just used capital letters. They are like a candy bar taken to a whole new level. With their crumbly, peanuty shortbread base, thin but distinct layer of chocolate, and a sticky gooey caramel topping studded with lightly salted peanuts, these bars will dispel all negative feelings. I can only hope that this is exactly what they did for my english teacher. And I hope they will do the same for you; no matter how you are feeling these bars make life worth living.
Sticky Peanut Cookie Bars from Chow
Note: You could use any caramel you have on hand, I had some leftover that I made for a recipe – it was about 3/4 cup worth and it was the perfect amount.
For the shortbread:
For the topping:
A pound of butter. More than a pound of chocolate. 3 tablepoons of coffee granules. More chocolate chips. Only 1 cup of flour. What could these ingredients possibly make?
Ina’s fudgy, chocolaty, mocha-y, outrageous brownies.
Out of the oven these were quite crumbly, but yet fudgy. It was like it was a crumbly mess but then it melded together into delicious fudgy goodness in my mouth. Surprisingly the coffee flavor wasn’t as prominent as I thought it would be and it really brought out the chocolate flavor. What I missed in these brownies though was the signature crispy brownie crust and chewy edges.
Fresh out of the oven these brownies were quite crumbly and didn’t have that crispy crust that is unique to brownies. Strangely, half of my pan of brownies rose more than the other half. Very bizarre, but who am I to question the science of brownies. To my distress the brownies were still pretty crumbly the next day even after refrigeration, although they did become very dense and fudgy. In denial, I ate brownie after brownie to make sure they weren’t as crumbly as I thought, nuking a few to try them warm which only made them crumblier and put me further into “denial”. Beside their crumbliness that I could not get over these brownies were soooo good. They were fudgy and chocolaty and mocha-y and brownie-y.
In the quest for my perfect brownie I’d say these were good but not the best. They were too crumbly for my taste, but the flavor, as their name promises, really is outrageous.
Ina’s Outrageous Brownies from here
I highly recommend baking with best friends some time. It’s quite something. That’s what made this challenge the most fun yet. If my life weren’t in danger of being attacked by three hungry girls I would post pictures of exactly how much fun we had “drizzling” (more like drenching) the cream puffs with chocolate glaze. And waiting for the glaze to set was most definitely not an option. Not with my friends there.
The moment after the pictures were taken the piece monte was demolished into little more than a few chocolate drizzles and a few blobs of espresso pastry cream.
Come on, how could you resist this for more than a few seconds?
Thanks so much Cat from Little Miss Cupcake!!
Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt
When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.
Use one of these to top your choux and assemble your piece montée.
8 ounces/200 g. finely chopped chocolate (use the finest quality you can afford as the taste will be quite pronounced; I recommend semi-sweet)
Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately.