Chew This! Rich Chocolate Pudding

On the first and third Sunday’s of each month, I write an exclusive food column for Henry County’s own number one and circulated newspaper “The Courier-Times”. Today’s column is for my rich chocolate pudding. This delicious and easily made treat is perfect for pie fillings or spoons – or anything else you can imagine.

Also included in my column is how to get a boxed cake and brownie mix to taste like homemade – made from scratch – desserts! It is simple and easy tricks taught to me by my Grandma Barbra.

Rich Chocolate Pudding

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, March 20th 2016 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Scratch made pudding is perfect for pies, or spoons…
Blaise Doubman

I have been on a mission lately to see how many things around the house that I could make, from scratch, instead of buying a pre-made packaged box mix, and then comparing the differences to see if the extra time and effort was worth it. It’s been a fun, interesting and tasty journey and my results produced one of the recipes that I’m sharing with you here today. The first item I tested in “boxed versus scratch made” was cake. Growing up, my Grandma Barbra taught me how to take a boxed cake mix, add a few ingredients not listed on the box, and transform it into really something special. Did you know you should always add milk, instead of water to a boxed cake mix? Or that sometimes instead of vegetable oil, you can add melted butter? You would be surprised how different the final taste and texture of the cake is, after adding the “secret ingredients”. In my experiments, there is a taste difference between cake mixes and scratch made cakes, of course, but there’s nothing wrong with using a cake mix when pressed for time. Just remember to try and add extra flavor to the cake mix for a “scratch made” flavor.

Brownies were my next experiment and honestly I wouldn’t turn down any brownie, so this one was a little trickier. Scratch made brownies, for the most part, are deeper and richer than the boxed variety. But in turn, boxed brownies have been a staple for me since my childhood. After many taste tests, I have to say that I like a scratch made brownie, although to make a boxed brownie mix taste pretty close to something scratch made, add milk instead of water, add chocolate chips and stir in some instant coffee granules. My favorite testing though was for chocolate pudding. I tested pudding cups, instant pudding mix, cooked pudding mix, and pudding from scratch. The chocolate pudding from scratch was by far superior to anything that you can buy in stores. The taste is so much better, it’s a pretty basic recipe and the ingredients you should already have on hand! It makes a delicious dessert served as is, or as a pie filling topped with whipped cream or meringue.

Rich Chocolate Pudding

This rich chocolate pudding is so much better tasting, and better for you, than the chocolate pudding mix that you can buy in the grocery store. To add even a little extra chocolate flavor to this pudding, stir in about a teaspoon of instant coffee granules, chocolate chips, or chopped dark chocolate. I prefer serving this pudding in individual serving containers and topping with whipped cream.

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt
2 ¾ cups whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Start by stirring together the white granulated sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat with a wooden spoon.

Add the whole milk, and stir constantly until a full boil is reached. This will take several minutes, but you will know when it’s ready because the mixture will appear thick, and will easily coat the back of your spoon.

After thickened, remove from the heat and stir in the unsalted butter and pure vanilla extract. Once combined, let cool slightly before serving or refrigerating.

If refrigerating, apply plastic wrap to the top of your serving container to prevent a skin from forming on top. If using for pie filling, pour into pie shell and decorate accordingly.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

I can not tell you how many times I have tested this recipe because you would not believe me. So – let me just tell you the things I have learned about these along the way…

1. You MUST use a brownie mix for the recipe. I have made the brownies in this from scratch several times and it does not work. Do not ask me why – it just does not. 

2. You MUST use the brownie mix that I have specified. Why? I tested a lot of brownie mixes too and it must have great flavor, fit an 8×8 inch square pan and the mix must have chocolate chips inside. 

3. You may NOT want to use all of the chocolate chip cookie dough for the top of the brownies. Why? You may want to snack on the dough – which is what I usually do. OR you may want to bake them off by themselves later on. Totally up to you. 

4. Use milk in place of the water in the brownie mix and when making the brownies, add in a teaspoon of instant coffee granules. You will not taste the coffee – but the addition of this makes the chocolate flavor come out even stronger. 

Ok. Let’s get started…

  
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

For the brownies…
1 package (18.9 oz) Ghirardelli double chocolate brownie mix and ingredients to prepare – eggs, oil, milk, instant coffee granules

For the chocolate chip cookies…
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, soft
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
4 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup white all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8×8-inch square pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, prepare the brownie mix according to the package directions – and my notes listed above.

Pour the prepared brownie mix in the prepared pan and even out with the back of a spoon.

Next, make the chocolate chip cookie dough by stirring together the unsalted butter, white granulated sugar and light brown sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.

Add in the large egg and pure vanilla extract, and stir to combine.

Gently add in the white all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt. Fold together until no white marks are visable.

Finally, fold in the semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Place big spoonfuls of cookie dough on top of the brownie batter. Place as little or as much as you would like. I usually use about 1/2 of the batter and eat the rest – or save it and bake it off later.

Place this in preheated oven for 37 minutes.

Carefully watch when baking. If the cookies start to turn too brown – place aluminum foil over the top while still baking.

Once baked, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before cutting and serving.

Enjoy!

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Chew This! Zesty Lemon Bars

Happy “Chew This!” Sunday! Be sure to pick up a copy of “The Courier-Times” and check out my newest food column! I LOVE anything lemon and this recipe may be one of my favorite lemon recipes EVER! They are so good and even better left in the refrigerator for the next day. The recipe calls for lemon juice and lemon ZEST. In my instructions I ask for EXTRACT. This was an error in my steps. NEVER use extract in lemon bars (in my opinion) because you always want the freshest taste possible – which can only be achieved using fresh ingredients. So – when in this recipe I ask for lemon extract to be added – it should read lemon ZEST.


Zesty Lemon Bars

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, March 6th 2016 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Lemon bars bring brightness to winter days…
Blaise Doubman

We are entering the final weeks of winter, and lots of people online are pulling up their “spring inspiration” recipes for some much needed solace from the cold, snow and rain. I have been looking over my recipe files, and whenever I have the “winter blues”, I always head straight to one of my favorite dessert ingredients – lemon. Growing up, I hated lemon. My Grandpa Max and Grandma Deloris would always keep a small crystal bowl filled with lemon drops in their living room, and I would always just shrug them away. I would, however, occasionally suck on one long enough for the sugar that was dusted on the outer shell of the candy, to be dissolved in my mouth, but after that the candy went straight into the garbage. I didn’t start loving lemon until I found out I loved lemon bars. I had my first lemon bar in “Sweden” at Disneyworld’s Epcot. I loved the taste, the texture, the brightness and the zing I got from each bite. I don’t remember why I agreed to try the dessert, since lemon wasn’t my favorite flavor, but at the moment, I was so glad that I did. From them on out, I’ve loved lemon. Lemon brownies, lemon candy, lemon cupcakes, lemon scent, lemon lip balm… I’m addicted.

When developing this recipe, I wanted to stay close to home with simple tastes and textures. I had already gone “outside of the box” on my Blaise the Baker blog when awhile back, I developed a recipe for crunchy lemon bars, which incorporated saltine crackers. They’re delicious, but not what I was looking for here. I was looking for something bright, familiar and flavorful. Something that would take me back to the first time I had ever had lemon bars. After experimenting with several different variations of lemons and how to get the certain taste I was looking for, I finally did it. I found that, of course, using fresh lemon juice and lemon zest was the answer. Whenever I would mix in the lemon extract, the taste wasn’t as pure as I knew it could be. This recipe for my zesty lemon bars are a lemon dessert staple in my family that I make again and again.

Zesty Lemon Bars

This recipe has been perfected over the course of experimentation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put your own twist on things. How delicious would these be with a cup of white chocolate chips stirred in before baking, or perhaps some lime juice and zest added to the mix? For a more tropical theme, incorporate a little pineapple juice, and top with chopped cherries once cooled. To get the one cup of lemon juice, as well as the four tablespoons of zest, you will need about 6-8 large lemons. Also always remember to zest the lemon first, before squeezing. Gently microwave your lemons for 10 seconds to get the maximum amount of juice from each lemon.

2 ½ cups white all-purpose flour
¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, cubed
6 large eggs
2 ¼ cups white granulated sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons grated lemon zest

Start by preheating your oven to 350-degrees F. Lightly spray a 9-inch square pan with non-stick cooking spray and cut a square of parchment paper to fit easily on the inside of the pan. This will help you “lift” the bars out once they’re baked. Press the parchment down inside the pan, allowing for a little overhang of the parchment.

To make the crust, combine 2 cups of the white all-purpose flour (leaving aside the remaining ½ cup), powdered sugar and fine sea salt in a large bowl. Next, add in the cubed butter and using a pastry butter, fork, or your fingers, gently blend everything together until the mixture resembles course sand. This is almost like making pie pastry.

Once coarse sand is achieved, press this mixture, gently, into the prepared pan. Be sure to evenly press in the crust, taking some of the crust up the sides of the pan. This is important in holding the bars together, as well as how they will bake in the oven.

Place the crust into the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Once baked, remove from oven and sit aside to cool slightly.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300-degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the large eggs and granulated sugar until smooth and light in colored. Next, add in the lemon juice and lemon extract and combine.

Finally, stir in the remaining ½ cup white all-purpose flour and pour into the crust.

Place back into the oven for 45 minutes, or until the lemon filling no longer jiggles.

Once baked, remove from oven and allow to cool at room temperature before lifting out of the pan. Dust with powdered sugar, cut and serve.

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Home Economics Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe is inspired by Nancy, who was my High School Home Economics teacher. She was, and still is, a big influence on my life. I talked about, and shared, her recipe for peanut butter cookies in my “Chew This!” column a few weeks ago. You can find the recipe and links to the column and recipe here on my blog. 

I loved the peanut butter cookies so much – I decided to try her recipe for chocolate chip cookies. They were delicious! I followed her recipe, except I added a few more chocolate chips.

Shout out and special thanks to Nancy for the recipe and inspiration.

  

Home Economics Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup white granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon water
2 1/2 cups white all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips, mixed with 1 tablespoon white all-purpose flour to help the chips not sink to the bottom of the cookie.

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees F and line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the solid vegetable shortening, light brown sugar and white granulated sugar. Beat until combined and creamy.

Next, add in the large eggs, pure vanilla extract and water. Cream this mixture until light in color and fluffy in texture.

In a seperate bowl, whisk together the white all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt. This will remove all lumps from the mixture.

Add the flour mixture to the beaten shortening, sugar and egg mixture and blend well. Carefully fold in the flour coated chocolate chips being careful not to over mix the dough. The dough will take all of the chocolate chips – they just need a little coaxing.

Drop teaspoon size amounts onto the parchment lined baking sheets and bake (one sheet at a time) in preheated oven for exactly 12 minutes.

Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet before removing and serving.

Enjoy!

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