Homemade Nutella: Two Ways (Chocolate Hazelnut Spread)

Homemade Nutella

To my palate, store bought Nutella tastes like overly sweet, poor quality chocolate, with way too much vanilla and the lingering taste of stale powdered milk. But wait, you can easily make your own! And it’s fabulous. There are five basic ways to make Homemade Nutella. This articles explores two of the best.

Chocolate Snacky Wacky Cake (Depression Cake)

Chocolate Cake Serving 2

This is NOT your average, common place, every-day, garden-variety cake. Frankly, it’s not normal or even respectable. It doesn’t play by the rules. If you are Merriam-Webster, you might call it bizarro, wacko, crazy, curious, eccentric, far-out, odd, kooky, offbeat, outlandish, peculiar, quirky, screwy, strange, or weird. In other words, this unassuming little snack cake is […]

Mexicano Chocolate Pudding Cake (Hot, Easy & Good)

Serving 2

When it comes to special desserts these days, I’m  into EASY. But I’m not willing to compromise on taste, so it’s got to be EASY and GOOD. And because Valentine’s Day is in two days, it’s also got to be HOT. And seriously, why can’t HOT, EASY, and GOOD go together? There are three components […]

Chewy Peanut Butter, Roasted Peanut & Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Chewy Peanut Butter, Roasted Peanut & Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I’ve been working on perfecting Peanut Butter Cookies since around the age of eight. Not the taste, which is nearly always great, but the texture. I love these All-American cookies super-crispy or super-chewy–but not in-between.

Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Honey Creme Brulee

Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Honey Creme Bruleee

Who doesn’t love Creme Brulee? Or better yet, Chocolate Creme Brulee? And February is all about love and chocolate at LunaCafe. But, there are so many formulas for Chocolate Crème Brulee, I hardly knew where to begin. After some initial testing, I figured that the important thing was to first get the perfect proportion of egg yolks to cream, then the perfect types and amount of chocolate, and finally the perfect process. The romantic flavor pairing was added after I worked out the basic formula.

Cupid Crunch (Cracker Jacks for Lovers)

Cupid Crunch (Cracker Jacks for Lovers)

Cupid Crunch (Cracker Jacks for Lovers)

I’m in a Cracker Jack craze, and there is no end in sight. After developing Chinese Cracker Jacks in December and eating it daily for weeks, I can’t stop thinking about all the possible flavor permutations. This is such a versatile concept: popcorn, nuts, seasonings, caramel brittle. Hey, wait a minute, what about chocolate?

Heavenly Hot Chocolate Mix–with Seven Variations

Heavenly Hot Chocolate

I adore Hot Chocolate, as distinct from Hot Cocoa or Drinking Chocolate. Definitions abound, but which is best?

Warm-Spiced Molten Chocolate Cake

Spooning into Warm-Spiced Molten Chocolate Cake

I know, I know! Molten Chocolate Cake, or Lava Cake, as it is sometimes called, is so YESTERDAY. I am almost perturbed today when I see one on a dessert menu.

I mean, really, can’t the pastry chef think of SOMETHING ELSE? Haven’t we moved beyond warm, fragrant, oozing, fudgy chocolate soufflé cakes and their requisite ice cream accompaniments?

Chocolate Ginger Chipotle Stout Cake

Chocolate Ginger Chipotle Stout Cake

I have a confession to make. This is not a new cake. I created it at the tail end of LAST YEAR’S All Chocolate! All Month! celebration, and then in the excitement of planning a slew of new spring recipes, forgot to post it. In fact, I forgot it altogether. Until yesterday.

Spicy Chocolate, Banana & Fresh Ginger Tea Loaf

Close Up of Spicy Chocolate, Banana & Fresh Ginger Tea Loaf

It’s All Chocolate! All Month! in the LunaCafe OtherWorldly Kitchen. As usual during the Month of Love, I am covered in chocolate: milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, white chocolate, and unsweetened cocoa powder. All in an effort to come up with the most delectable, memorable Valentine’s Day dessert ever.

Mexicano Chocolate Ebelskivers (Aebleskivers)

Mexicano Chocolate Ebelskivers

The first time I bit into the airy pillow of dough known as ebelskiver (pronounced ay bil skee ver), I could not quite categorize it. Was it donut, beignet, popover? Or something else entirely? The only thing I knew for sure was that I loved them—whatever they were.

Chewy Gooey Congo Bars (Blondies on Steroids)

Gingerbread White Chocolate Congo Bars

I was flipping through my well-worn copy of The Great Book of Chocolate by David Lebovitz, flagging the pages of interest, when I saw a recipe for something called a Congo Bar and realized that I didn’t know what a Congo Bar was.

Then, as I read through the recipe, it started to coalesce in my head as a Blondie loaded with chocolate chips and chopped nuts. And as good as I’m sure David’s recipe is (which came to him courtesy of the Goddess of Baked Goodness, Flo Braker), I couldn’t help remembering that I created the Best Blondie in the Universe last year around this time and even suggested loading it with chocolate chips, chopped nuts, coconut, chopped peanut butter cups and anything else you can think of. For the post, I made a Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce and dolloped that throughout the batter. So was that creation actually a Congo Bar?

Chocolate Almond Pound Cake

Chocolate Almond Pound Cake with Glazed Strawberries

I have been dreaming of creating a chocolate and almond paste pound cake for some time now and have finally done it. The impetus was Valentine’s Day of course but maybe even more this gorgeous, nonstick Nordic Ware quilted heart cake pan.

Spirited Mocha Crepes with Peanut Butter Caramel, Peanut-Cocoa Nib Brittle & White Chocolate Crema

Spirited Mocha Crepes with Caramelized Bananas

When I’m creating chocolate desserts, one of the first flavor pairings that pops into my mind is chocolate and peanut butter. I mean, does it get any better than that? And if I’m trying to please my man on Valentine’s Day, well chocolate and peanut butter are surely going to do the trick.

Heavenly Chocolate Crepes

Heavenly Chocolate Crepes

Recipes can be inspiring, but there is nothing as satisfying as truly understanding the underlying formula and technique of a particular dish. Once you’ve got those under your belt, you OWN that dish and can riff it successfully and endlessly. That’s when the real fun begins.

Take the concept of dessert crepes (pronounced kr?ps in French or kr?pes in English) for instance, which are a type of very thin pancake. You can go straight to a comprehensive French cookbook, grab the basic dessert crepe recipe and process, and rely on that forever. Or, if you are more curious, you can gather 10-20 solid resources, compare the formulas and processes, and then hit the kitchen and test your way through them. When you are done, the entire world of desert crepes will open up for you and reveal its secrets. You will become the Zen master of dessert crepes.

Heavenly Chocolate Beet Tea Loaf

Sliced Heavenly Chocolate Beet Tea Loaf

Bless your heart if you are actually reading this post rather than running for cover to another food blog. Yes, I know this combination sounds a tad bit unusual, but I assure you it is Pure Genius.

Lest you think I’m being immodest here, the idea is not mine. The combination was recently featured in Gourmet Traveler, and that’s where I first encountered it.

Fried Banana Split with Mexican Chocolate Sauce & Strawberry Lime Salsa

Fried Banana Split with Mexican Chocolate Sauce & Strawberry Lime Salsa

As I said in the previous post, Caramelized Ancho Chile & Cinnamon Almonds, are you ready for one of the most spectacular desserts I have ever created? It is so indulgent, so bright, so refreshing, so festive, and so sinful (Using fresh strawberries out of season? Have I gone to the dark side?) that it may well be the PERFECT dessert with which to bid winter a grateful farewell. Goodbye freezing rain, mud, ice, and threats of snow. Goodbye short grey days and long dark nights. Have a safe journey to the other side of the globe, and please please please don’t hurry back.

Quintessential Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce

LunaCafe Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce and Strawberries on Ice Cream

Is there anything better in the world than a scoop of the richest vanilla bean ice cream you can get your hands on and a generous topping of an equally rich dark chocolate sauce? Okay, maybe add a couple of perfect strawberries to that picture. And then, since we’re talking perfection here, how about a small handful of toasted almonds as well?

LunaCafe’s Burnt Caramel & Lemon Chevre Brownies

LunaCafe's Caramel  & Lemon Chevre Brownies

Folks sometimes ask what inspires my recipes. Such a hard question. Anything and everything is my truthful response. I am almost always thinking about food.

This brownie recipe, for instance, was inspired by the following nearly concurrent events:

•Sampling goat’s milk cajita in a Mexican grocery store in Portland.
•Making cajita myself.
•The All Chocolate! All Month! celebration at LunaCafe.
•Plan to work cajita into a brownie recipe for the celebration.
•A Brownie Throw Down on The Food Network, which the Vermont Brownie Company won with their chevre brownie.

Bittersweet Chocolate Orange French Toast for Lovers

Bittersweet Chocolate French Toast for Lovers

With this post, we kick off the second annual Love Rules! All Chocolate! All Month! celebration at LunaCafe OtherWorldly Kitchen. To check out the wonderful chocolate creations we debuted last February, be sure to visit the All Chocolate! recipe archive.

Beginning now, every post until the end of February will feature, you guessed it, CHOCOLATE. In fact, I’ve been covered in unsweetened and bittersweet chocolate, as well as cocoa, for many weeks now, trying to come up with the world’s best, truly CHEWY (not fudgy, not cakey) brownie. And finally, after many attempts, I succeeded. In all the testing, I also serendipitously hit upon a wonderfully silky, light, and luscious fudgy brownie that turned me, the swamp boogie queen of chewy brownie lovers, into a fudgy brownie convert.

Mocha Java Hazelnut Cookies

Mocha Hazelnut Cookies in Box

On the second day of Christmas … my true love gave to me … Mocha Java Hazelnut Cookies.

Every Christmas cookie bake-a-thon should include at least one amazing chocolate cookie. Not only does chocolate add a festive and luxurious note to any celebration, it actually elevates mood and feelings of good cheer. As if this were not enough advantage for a single food source, chocolate is also the richest source of antioxidants known. Imagine! Cookies that bless the mind AND the body.

Arizona Sweet


A whirlwind tour of Phoenix/Scottsdale restaurant desserts, complete with fabulous photos.

Burnt Sugar & Rosemary Chocolate Tarts

Burnt Sugar and Rosemary Chocolate Tart

I want to wrap up LunaCafe’s February 2009 Love Rules! All Chocolate! All Month! celebration with a really special dessert. If you’ve been following along, you know that I’ve been covered in cocoa powder and melted chocolate all month. I discovered and perfected the world’s most delectable cookie, Bittersweet Chocolate & Toasted Walnut Cookies Perfecta […]

Bittersweet Chocolate & Cabernet Butter Cake

Bittersweet Chocolate & Cabernet Butter Cake on Red Plate

This cake has a moist and tender texture, which I love. Plus, it’s beyond delicious. It’s one thing to drink a fine Cabernet while slowly savoring bittersweet chocolate, but altogether finer to combine the two with aromatic and elusive spices in this lovely cake.

A Gift of Drinking Chocolate

One Hot Mama Hot Chocolate

This is not mildly-flavored American-style hot cocoa, which is typically made with cocoa powder, or sometimes with chocolate syrup. Rather, it is European-style drinking or hot chocolate, which is made with whole milk (and sometimes part cream) and melted high-quality bar chocolate. Once you have had hot chocolate made in this way, you won’t settle for anything less.