Baked Thai Coconut Curry Chicken Breasts

Whenever I head out of town, I try to make sure to leave a few goodies in the fridge for Eugene to eat while I'm away. I make a few mains and sides, then let him put them together however he'd like.

This weekend, I'm heading up to Vermont for a few days to work as a guest chef at Good Commons, so I want to make sure that Eugene is as well-fed as the retreat participants.

First up on this list are these Baked Thai Coconut Curry Chicken Breasts, which are beautifully fragrant, with just a touch of heat.

This is an easy dinner recipe that's perfect for busy weeknights. I especially love this recipe because it requires practically zero prep on my part.

All the ingredients are pureed in the blender and then poured over the chicken--then the oven does the work.

So easy, and the final dish is rich and flavorful. Serve this one over fluffy jasmine rice or quinoa to soak up that lovely sauce. Leftovers would also be wonderful in a sandwich or wrap.

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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!       


Baked Thai Coconut Curry Chicken Breasts
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
2lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (not cutlets)
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1 (14oz) can full-fat coconut milk
3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 small bunch cilantro, root ends trimmed (leave the stems--they add amazing flavor!)


Directions
Preheat oven 350 degrees. Arrange chicken breasts in a single layer in a roasting pan. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and black pepper.

In a blender, combine coconut milk, curry paste, ginger, garlic cloves, and cilantro. Puree until smooth, then pour mixture over chicken. Bake chicken for 30 minutes, then turn on broiler and broil for an additional 5-7 minutes or until crispy and slightly charred on top (keep on eye on the chicken as broilers vary).

Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before serving. Serve over rice or vegetables, with leftover pan sauce drizzled on top.

Giant Flourless Chocolate Cashew Muffins

While I'm not making any specific promises, you should know that there is a chance that these Giant Flourless Chocolate Cashew Muffins might help you live forever.

Here's the story:

A couple months ago, Eugene read a story in the news about a new Harvard study that showed that people who eat a handful of nuts a day live longer than those who don't. The report said that for the benefits to work, one has to eat a serving of nuts at least 7 times a week.

We conjectured that since a handful of nuts can help you live longer; eating MORE than a handful will probably make us live forever. We're already big nut eaters in this household, but since then, it's become something of a slightly-morbid joke for us.

Anytime one of us wants a snack or just happens to eat something with nuts, we'll say "Eating nuts--going to live forever!" Or "I ate more nuts than you today; you better catch up so you don't die."

We also chase Hudson around and feed him almonds and hazelnuts so that he can live forever, too.

(He loves nuts, so he's a fan of this game.)

With this (admittedly flawed) theory in mind, I created these delicious muffins so that we can all live forever in delicious style!

These muffins are made with no flour or refined sugar. The base is cashew butter, which you can make by finely grinding cashews until it turns into a smooth, buttery paste (you can also buy it, of course!).  This is mixed with eggs, cocoa, maple syrup, a little vanilla, salt, and baking soda, and then baked into giant puffy muffins.

I love to make these in giant muffin pan (that holds 6 instead of the usual 12) for a fabulous oversized muffin (for maximum live-forever-properties, you see), but you can also make it in a regular muffin tin or even a loaf pan.

These are fantastic on their own or warmed slightly and spread with butter. They keep well for a few days (thanks to those glorious life-giving nuts!), but can also be made and frozen.

Enjoy these muffins. I'll see you in a 100 years!



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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!      

 



Giant Flourless Chocolate Cashew Muffins
Makes 6 giant muffins (or 12 regular muffins)

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups smooth cashew butter (substitute almond, pecan or other nut butter, but make sure it's a very smoothly ground butter--nothing course or crunchy), slightly warmed until easily stir-able
5 large eggs
2/3 cup maple syrup (substitute honey; do not use agave)
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions
Preheat oven 350 degrees. Grease an extra-large muffin tin (or use a regular muffin tin).

Beat together cashew butter and eggs with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Beat in maple syrup, cocoa powder, vanilla, salt, and baking soda. Mixture will be smooth, thick, and glossy (like a brownie batter).

Divide batter into prepared muffin tin. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until puffed up and cracked on top. A tester inserted into the center should come out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pan about 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.


How to Make Honeycomb Candy

The theme for my latest recipe collaboration with Netflix is the "Science Fair."

This month, Netflix has curated a great line-up of kid-friendly movies and TV shows about different aspects of science and "how stuff works." They're a great way to reinforce what kids are learning at school, or even give them ideas for science fair projects and experiments that they can make at home. 

For my recipe, I decided to pick something that would essentially be like an edible science experiment--Homemade Honeycomb Candy!

Just about everything you do in the kitchen can relate back to science, but I think that the process of making candy is an especially great way to talk about science and chemistry, in a fun, safe, and exciting way.

(Plus...what kid doesn't like candy?!)

Depending on where you are in the country (or world!), this candy goes by a lot of different names--seafoam, sponge toffee, fairy food--but the sweet is the same. It's a kind of hard caramel that is then aerated with the addition of baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate). When the baking soda combines with the boiled sugar, it creates Carbon Dioxide that form lots of bubbles and puff the candy up. Once it hardens, the bubbles get trapped inside and create a texture that looks just like a sponge or piece of foam.

It's crunchy and sweet, with an almost molasses-like flavor. This is fun to eat on it's own, but it can also be dipped in chocolate for a little extra deliciousness.

Safety Note: This is a fun recipe to make with kids, but use your best judgement about what parts they can participate in. This should only be made with adult supervision, since it involves the stove and hot sugar. Older kids who can safely use the stove should be able to help you with the addition of the ingredients to the pot and keeping an eye on the thermometer, while younger kids can watch from a safe distance, and join in parts like the measuring of ingredients and then the cracking of the candy once it has cooled. If you're uncertain, I would suggest making it once yourself first so that you can feel comfortable with the process, before getting the kids involved.

Check out my step-by-step tutorial and recipe below. I've included notes on different scientific properties that you can point out to the kids as you follow the recipe.

The Ingredients
This recipe calls for three different kinds of sugar (light corn syrup, honey, and granulated sugar) which make up the base of the recipe.

Once the sugar reaches a specific temperature, you'll add baking soda, which will cause it all to puff up really high in the pot.

It's a really cool reaction that your kids will definitely enjoy (even grown-ups think it's a lot of fun!).

The Equipment
Like with all science experiments, you're going to need a bit of special equipment.

  • A Pot: The most important is the pot. Even though this doesn't call for a lot of ingredients, the reaction when you add the baking soda requires that you do this in a large tall pot so that you don't end up with a big mess. (I love to use a big soup pot for this.
  • A Thermometer: You'll also need a candy thermometer, which you can easily find at kitchen stores like Bed Bath & Beyond or even some grocery stores. It usually costs around $15 and is key for making sure that your sugar hits the right temperature. (These can also be used for measuring oil when frying, so you'll find that it comes in handy!)
  • Lined Baking Sheet: You can use any kind of baking or cookie sheet for this, just be sure to line it with parchment paper so that the candy doesn't stick. You can also use a silicon mat, if that's what you prefer.
  • Wooden Spoon: And be sure to pull out a wooden spoon or two. You don't want to use anything plastic, as it may melt in the hot sugar.

Step 1
Prepare your lined baking sheet and set it aside. Attach your candy thermometer to the pot. Measure out all of your ingredients and have them ready to go. This recipe goes quickly once it gets started, so you won't have time to stop and measure things out.

Step 2
Combine the sugar and water in the pot over medium-high heat, and give it a stir so that it starts to dissolve. You can point out to the kids how the sugar is dissolving into the water.

Step 3.
Pour in the corn syrup and honey and give it another stir. Mention that honey, corn syrup, and white sugar are three different kinds of sugar.

Step 4
Bring the sugar mixture up to a boil and then continue to let cook. Keep an eye on your thermometer.
You want the mixture to reach 300 degrees F, which is also known as the "Hard Crack" stage. This means that the sugar has been cooked to a point where, once cool, it will make a hard candy (like a cough drop). If you stop before it reaches that point, you may end up with something chewy like a caramel or taffy, which is not what you want for this recipe.

Step 5
Once the temperature hits 300, turn off the heat and immediately remove it the pot to a cool surface.

Step 6
Pour in the baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and use the wooden spoon to quickly stir it in. The mixture will start to foam and rise as the carbon dioxide is formed.

Stop stirring, and let it rise to the top.


Step 7
Pour the candy mixture onto your prepared pan. Don't worry about spreading it out onto the sides--you don't need to do that (in fact, it's better that you don't so that you don't release the bubbles). Just get all of it onto the pan.

Step 8
Give the pan a little bit of a shake to settle the candy, then let cool in a cool dry spot for about 30 minutes, or until it sets and hardens. You can watch it as it hardens, and point out the bubbles created by the carbon dioxide on the surface of the candy.

Step 9
Crack! Once the candy is hard, use your hands to break the candy into big chunks (feel free to snack on it).  Look at the inside of the candy and point out the different bubbles and the change in texture.

Step 10
Eat and enjoy! You can dip it into melted chocolate for an added treat, or just enjoy it as is. Store any leftovers in an air-tight container; if left in the open air, it will absorb moisture from the air and get soggy. 

Note: This post is sponsored by Netflix. Thank you for supporting great companies like Netflix who make it possible for me to keep creating fun new content for you to enjoy. All photos, opinions, and recipes are (of course!) my own.

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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!      


Homemade Honeycomb Candy
Making this homemade candy is easy, but it requires a bit of preparation. Be sure to read the complete recipe and measure out all your ingredients first, as once you get started, the process goes by quickly.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1/2 cup filtered water
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Directions
Line a baking sheet or large pan with parchment paper or a silpat, and set aside.

Affix a candy thermometer to a tall stockpot and set over medium-high heat. Add the sugar and water, and stir with a wooden spoon until dissolved. Add the honey and corn syrup, then bring the mixture to a boil (do not stir). Continue to cook until the temperature on the candy thermometer reaches 300 degrees and the sugar mixture is a golden amber shade.

Immediately remove from heat and add the baking soda. Use a spoon to stir gently. The mixture will foam up high. Once it foams up to the top, immediately pour out onto the prepared sheet pan--note that the mixture does NOT need to reach the edges.

Place the pan in a cool dry area, and let set for about 30 minutes or until hard.

Use your hands to break apart into small pieces.

Enjoy as is (also delicious when dipped in chocolate). Store candy in an air-tight container. Do not leave uncovered as it will absorb moisture from the air and become soggy.

A Few Things I'm Currently Loving

 
1. Pedro Ximenez Sherry
Lately I've taken to ending my days with a few sips of Pedro Ximenez sherry. It's sweet and nutty, and deliciously warming. (Bonus points if served in a vintage sherry or cordial glass!)

2. Truffles from La Maison du Chocolat
For Valentine's Day, Eugene brought me a box of assorted truffles from this incredible chocolate shop. By far some of the best chocolates I've ever had. My personal favorites were the passion fruit and pistachio truffles, but there were a lot of good flavors. At about $40 a pound, they're pricey, but worth it when you want something absolutely luxurious.

3. Flavia de Luce Mystery Series
Eugene got me these books for Christmas (they'd been on my to-read list for months), and I'm absolutely smitten with them. They're old-fashioned mysteries starring a precocious 11-year-old detective. They're written from the point of view of the girl, but definitely written for adults. I'm on my third one, and each one is better than the last.

4. Endeavor
While searching for something to watch one snowy afternoon, I came across the BBC series Endeavor on Netflix and became an instant fan. Set in the mid-60s, it's a detective series about Endeavor Morse--a young, brilliant police inspector. It's actually a prequel to the famous Inspector Morse series (which features Endeavor as an adult). I watched all the episodes in a weekend, and can't wait for the next season.

5. Target Threshold Performance Sheets
I picked up a set of these sheets on a recent Target trip and they're my new favorite. Soft and deep, they're some of the most comfortable sheets I've slept on in ages. I want to go back and buy them in every color.

6. West Elm Faux Bois Mercury Candles in Wood Fire
These are currently on clearance so hurry up and snap them up before they're gone. These were from Christmas, but I think the Wood Fire scent is one that works well all Fall and Winter long. It reminds me of that smokey incense they burn in Catholic churches--kind of mysterious and a little bit sexy (yeah...I know that sounds weird, but trust me on this). And they come in mercury glass-style holders that will be great to use long after the candles burn out.

7. Nars Dragon Girl Lip Pencil
Creamy and richly pigmented, this is my new favorite lip pencil. Works alone or under your favorite lipstick or gloss.

8. L'Occitane Supple Skin Oil
This beautifully perfumed skin oil is a wonderful moisturizer. I love rubbing this on after a bath. 

9. MAC Riri Woo
The perfect red! An incredibly flattering color and the lipstick stays on through a meal without having to reapply. This is part of the limited edition Rihanna collection and is sold out in stores, but you can easily find it on eBay. I bought 4 tubes of it because I love it so much.

10. Hello Toothpaste
The best tasting toothpaste ever. This leaves my mouth feeling fresh and clean, without any strange chemically aftertaste or burn. It comes in several flavors, but my favorite is Supermint. (The packaging is so cute, too!)

11. C. Booth Body Wash
I bought this moisturizing paraben & sulfate-free body wash for Eugene because he has sensitive skin, but ended up falling in love with it myself. I may have to spring for a second bottle sooner than I thought.

12. Mrs. Meyer's Geranium Soap
I was at a shoot a couple months ago when I noticed an amazing smell in the air. I asked what it was, and realized that someone had just washed their hands with Mrs. Meyer's Geranium soap. I loved it so much that I went out and bought a bottle for our kitchen. I also got their Radish dish soap (against Eugene's protests that we "already have enough dish soap") and am glad I did--the scents are clean, fresh, and naturally floral--not that weird chemical-y smell you usually get from dish soap.

Inspired Living: How to Organize Necklaces With Cup Hooks

Before this month, my necklace storage solution was a bit of a disaster. Basically, I just hung them up all over the place.

On bookshelves. My mirror. Door handles. I'd leave them in the soap dish in the bathroom. In cups near the sink. 

I'd essentially come home, take off my necklace, and then hang it in the first place I saw.

This meant that, come time to get dressed, I'd end up wandering around the apartment trying to find the necklace I wanted to wear.

But not anymore!

A couple weeks ago, I decided to create an easy (and pretty!) solution to my necklace problem.

First, I bought two packages of inexpensive cup hooks at Home Depot (they were about $2 for a pack of 25). Then I pulled out a quart of the paint I used in my bedroom (if possible, you should always get an extra quart for touch-ups and little projects like this one), and painted the hooks to match.

(The best way to do this is to stick them in a piece of foam and paint away.)

You don't have to paint the hooks, but I like the way they disappear into the wall and just leave the necklaces as the focal point.

I let these dry for 24 hours, and then took a ruler and marked dots about 1 1/2" apart on a portion of my wall next to my dresser. How many you make depends on the size of your space and how many necklaces you want to hang.

I made another similar row with holes 2" apart about 14" above the first row. The plan was to put shorter, wider necklaces on top, and thinner longer necklaces on the bottom. Again...your distribution will depend on what kind of jewelry you have.

I used a hammer and small nail to make "starter" holes in each dot, then screwed the cup hooks in.

Then I hung my necklaces up, leaving a few empty hooks for future necklace purchases. (I also added a few hooks along the side to hang some bangles and small headbands.)

I love the way this looks--it's organized, but it's also like a work of art in itself. It makes getting ready a lot more fun, and makes it easy to keep track of my jewelry.

P.S. You could also do this for belts!

Inspired Living: DIY Yellow Bedroom Lamp

I've spent the past couple weeks working on a few fun projects around our apartment. I love my home, but I've lived here for more than 6 years, so lately things have started to feel a little stale, cluttered, and just generally uninspiring.

Since I work from home and often have to entertain here for work, the problem is further compounded. This year, I decided to work on making my home a place that I'm really proud of. I want a space that feels inspiring and conducive to the kind of creative work that I do. I also thought it would be fun to share a few of these here with you!

Hudson, testing out the new bedding & pillows.
I started out with my bedroom, creating some new storage, bringing in a few new pieces, and adding some brighter colors with the help of a new duvet and curtains. When I first moved in here years ago, I painted the walls in my bedroom a gorgeous shade of marine blue (the shade is called "Deep Blue Sea" by Behr, but I had it matched in Benjamin Moore Aura paint, which is one of my favorites).

I kept that as my base, but switched around the accents (previously chocolate brown + lime green) with bright yellow and charcoal. I'm loving the new colors, which feel joyful and elegant against the blue paint.

I had an old lamp that my mom bought me for my bedroom back when I was in college. I've had it on my dresser for years, but it was never very useful as the dark old-fashioned shade blocked most of the light. Whenever I did my make-up, I would take the shade off, and then put it back on when I was done--not the best solution in the world.

So I decided to do something about it! I bought a can of Krylon Sun Yellow spray paint and a new lampshade from Target, and got to work. To prep, I wiped the lamp down very well, and then put the cable inside a plastic bag. I should probably have taped the fixture part a bit better, but eh...whatever. It's hidden by the shade.

The painting process took about four days, since I had to do multiple thin coats. Patience is key when spraypainting. And admittedly, it's not ideal in the freezing winter since you have to open the windows to ventilate, but fortunately the lamp is small enough that it would only take a few bursts at a time and I could close the windows in between coats.

(I definitely wouldn't try to spraypaint a piece of furniture indoors!)

I wanted a bit of the dark to shine through in order to highlight the details, so I stopped once I reached a point where I was happy.  I let it dry a full 48 hours before putting it back on my dresser and topping it with the small shade I bought at Target.

The new lamp looks gorgeous on my dresser, and the light bucket shade lets a lot of light shine through. I'm super happy with it!


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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!   




Video: Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

The latest video from the YouTube cooking series I co-host for Peanut Butter & Co. is up, and it's one of my favorites. In this episode, my lovely co-host Caroline showed me how to make Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles using Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter.

It's a cool new technique that I'd never tried before, and which was much less messy than my usual ganache method.

Also...it uses almost an entire jar of peanut butter, so--you know it's good.

Behind the scenes secrets:
1. That "biting into the truffle" scene required a few takes because it is NOT easy to bite into a sticky truffle, smile, and immediately deliver a line. My face clearly gives it away...

2. I loved that sweater so much  (picked out for me by the wardrobe stylist) that I went to H&M and got it in every color. At 15 bucks a pop it was a steal!   
3. I also fell so in love with the lipstick they put on me (Dragon Girl by Nars) that I went out the day after filming and bought that, too. 

Watch the video & get the recipe below:


(Don't forget to Like + Subscribe so you don't miss a single one!)

xoxo

Alejandra

7 Cozy Soup Recipes for Snowy Days

I pulled back my bedroom curtains this morning to reveal yet another fierce snowstorm. The snowflakes are the size of fists and as far as I can see it's just gray gray gray.

Even Hudson is not pleased. Eugene took him out for a few minutes this morning, and he basically stampeded through the apartment and jumped back into his bed as soon as he got back. He's still there, cozy and warm and I don't anticipate that he'll be moving from that spot all day.

Days like this call for bowls of comforting soup. Here are 7 of my favorites (and a few can be made with pantry ingredients, so you don't even have to leave the house)!

1. Spicy Roasted Tomato Soup
Made with canned tomatoes and a few other common pantry ingredients (garlic! spices!), this cozy soup is one of my go-to recipes on days when I need a bowl of comfort.

2. Mexican Chorizo, Sweet Potato & Spinach Soup
I love this combination of spicy chorizo with sweet potatoes--it hits all my favorite flavor notes. If you don't have or like chorizo, you can substitute any other kind of fresh sausage (a spicy Italian sausage would work well), or you can even spice up some breakfast sausage or plain ground beef. Feel free to get creative and use what you have on hand.

3. Creamy Asparagus Soup with Bacon
It's technically not asparagus season, but lately I keep finding gorgeous bunches of it on sale at the store. This harsh winter has me craving some freshness so I go for it, and this creamy soup is one lovely way to serve them. The crunchy, salty bacon garnish at the end is a MUST.

4. Potato and Leek Soup
This is a classic, and with good reason. A rich, creamy, mashed potato-y bowl of comfort, it's absolutely perfect for days like these.

5. Mexican Lime Soup with Spinach
A little chicken broth seasoned with fresh lime juice and chillies, this is a lovely alternative to plain broth when you want something light. I add plenty of spinach to mine, and it's a warming and filling meal.

6. Vegetarian Split Pea Soup with a Smokey Yogurt Swirl
Regular split pea soup is usually made with ham, which adds a lovely flavor to the soup. For this vegetarian version, I added this smokey yogurt swirl which is absolutely wonderful.

7. Chestnut Bacon & Green Apple Soup
The ingredients here might seem a little odd, but I can assure you that the combination is incredible. It's creamy, a little bit sweet, a little bit salty, and the tart apple adds just the right amount of "zing" to cut through the richness. You can used canned chestnut puree for this, or roast and puree your own chestnuts.

It takes a little work, but the results are worth it!

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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!   

Loacker Love Valentine's Day Photo Contest

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Loacker USA.

When I lived in Italy (now, way way too many years ago) one of my favorite activities was visiting the local supermarket and browsing the aisles filled with local goodies. The packaged cookie aisle was a particular source of wonder for me, and I was forever bringing home bags filled with new-to-me treats to enjoy with my coffee.

One of my favorites? Loacker Quadratini. These cookies are fantastic!

They're wafer cookies layered with different flavors of cream filling cut into perfect little bite-size squares. Something about the shape made them totally addictive and just as fun to play with as to eat (I love food that I can play with.)

They were also great for using in recipes (pretty fantastic for icebox cake recipes or for mixing into ice cream).

The cookies are available in the US now, and the company has asked me for a little help spreading the word about a fun photo contest they're currently hosting.

Here's how it goes:

TO ENTER
Snap a pick that shows how much you love (or would love to love) Loacker biscuits, and enter it via social media using the hashtag #LoackerLove. You can enter via Twitter or Instagram, or via their Facebook page. (Don't forget to tag @LoackerUSA!)

This isn't about skill; it's about creativity..so have fun with it! A pic of you raiding the cookie aisle at the grocery store dressed like a cookie bandit. An elaborate cookie sculpture on your kitchen table. Cuddled up in bed with your favorite flavor--whatever you want. Just don't forget to tag it @LoackerUSA and #LoackerLove.

At the end of the contest period, the 5 pictures that gathered the most votes will each win an amazing gift assortment of Loacker wafers.



Learn more & share your Loacker love by visiting the Loacker USA website, following Loacker on Twitter and Pinterest, and liking them on Facebook.

The contest has already started, so get snapping, and may the best cookie lovers win!!

Disclaimer: This was a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Loacker USA. All opinions and experiences are my own (I really do love these cookies!). For more information, visit the Loacker USA website. Thank you!

Mixed Berry Cocoa Jam

At one point this past summer, I found myself in possession of an enormous quantity of blackberries. It was my fault--I'd meant to order a couple quarts, but instead ordered a couple cases of quarts.

I'm admittedly not the most detail-oriented human being in the world, so this kind of stuff happens to me quite a bit. I decided to see it as an opportunity, and went to town with the berry recipes.

One of my favorite concoctions was a Blackberry Cocoa sorbet. A lovely combination of tart and sweet with rich cocoa undertones, it was a hit with everyone I served it to (and I admit that I couldn't stop slipping to the back freezer to sneak yet another spoonful of it). That recipe is something that I definitely plan to share with you in a few months when the berries are in season.

For now, let's talk about jam, which is significantly more winter appropriate.

This one is made with frozen berries--a whole mix of them that I had crowding my freezer (from yet another shopping frenzy). Remembering that wonderful sorbet, I simmered them with sugar and good cocoa, and marveled as it turned into a luscious and fragrant spread that's perfect on any number of carby vehicles.

The recipe below makes a small batch--just about a pint and a half--and requires no special ingredients. Just simmer, divide into jars, and store in the fridge.

The ultimate morning (or anytime) treat.

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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!   



Mixed Berry Cocoa Jam
Makes about 1 1/2 pints

Ingredients
2 pounds mixed berries (fresh or frozen & thawed--do not drain)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 large lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
Place a small plate in the freezer. Combine berries and sugar in a large saucepan and toss to coat. Let sit 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is slightly dissolved.

Add the cocoa powder and lemon juice, and bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is softened and the sugar is completely dissolved (about 5 minutes)

Lower the heat to medium-high, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the fruit breaks down and the jam thickens into a syrupy mixture (about 20 minutes).

To test jam, drop a small spoonful of jam on the frozen plate and tilt. If it runs, it's not ready and needs a few more minutes. If it's thick and stays mostly in place, it's ready.

Remove jam from heat and stir in salt and vanilla. Divide into glass mason jars and cover. Let cool completely before storing in refrigerator up to 3 months.

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