Chocolate Crepes

Want a decadent brunch or dessert recipe? Perhaps something to serve this Easter weekend?

At the Chocolate class I taught at Thyme to Cook in Guelph a couple weeks ago, one of the recipes I made was Chocolate Crepes with Cream Cheese Filling.

You could easily use another filling of your choice for these crepes: chopped fruit, caramelized bananas, ice cream, sherbet, frozen yogurt, pudding, or ????  What do you suggest?

Or, you could simply roll up the crepes and drizzle them with fruit syrup, maple syrup or chocolate sauce.

Chocolate crepes filled with chocolate ice cream and topped with strawberries and a sprinkle of icing sugar

Chocolate Crepes with Cream Cheese Filling

(Makes about 18 small crepes or 10 large crepes)

2 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp (45 mL) sugar
2 tbsp (30 mL) cocoa
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
1-1/4 cups (300 mL) milk
2 tbsp (30 mL) melted butter
Vegetable oil
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A basic chocolate cake recipe, with variations

For Valentine’s Day – a basic chocolate cake with lots of variations (see below)….in case you’d rather have cupcakes, or a different size or shape of cake.

Chocolate Cake

(Makes 10 to 12 servings)

2 cups (500 mL) sugar
1-3/4 cups (425 mL) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (175 mL) cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) baking powder
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) baking soda
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
2 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) milk
½ cup (125 mL) vegetable oil
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
1 cup (250 mL) boiling water
Chocolate Icing (recipe below)

Grease and flour two 9-inch (23 cm) round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water. (The batter will be thin.) Pour batter into prepared pans.

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A St. Patrick’s Day menu – snake free!

Although I like to watch Survivor on TV, I could never participate in the game. There are many reasons, not the least of which is that there are always snakes slithering or swimming about in whatever location the show is filmed.

I’m not a fan of snakes. I figure the game of Survivor could probably use Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patrick. He is said to have rid Ireland of snakes and is commemorated annually on March 17, the date of his death in 460 A. D.

How he actually performed this feat is the stuff of legends. A popular explanation is that one day St. Patrick created a nice cozy box and invited the chief snake to climb in. The snake took a look at the box and deemed it too small. A heated discussion ensued. To prove he was right, the snake crawled into the box. Quick-thinking St. Paddy slammed the lid shut and threw the box into the sea!

To this day, Ireland is said to be snake-free (lucky Irish!), and some insist that the rough waters of the Irish Sea are caused by the boisterous attempts of the snake still trying to free himself from the box.

On March 17, whether you wish to celebrate a snake-free Ireland or the pleasure of swilling green beer, take the opportunity to indulge in some hearty Irish cuisine. Vegetables such as potatoes, onions, leeks, carrots and rutabagas figure prominently in Irish cooking, as do lamb stews, and braised meat and corned beef dishes. Accompany the main dish with potato bread or soda, and finish the meal with a sweet custard or apple cake, and an Irish coffee.

Irish Stew
(Makes 8 servings)

If lamb shanks are not available, thick shoulder chops can be substituted.

8 lamb shanks
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup (125 mL) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon each (5 mL) dried thyme and rosemary (or 1 tablespoon/15 mL) chopped fresh
2 bottles (341 mL each) stout-based beer
3 cups (750 mL) beef stock or broth
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
3 tablespoons (45 mL) packed brown sugar
3 onions, cut in wedges
3 carrots, cut in 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces
3 parsnips, peeled and cut in 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces
Half a rutabaga, peeled and cut in 1-inch (2.5 cm) chunks
1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped fresh parsley

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The Ultimate Brownie? You Decide!

The Ultimate Brownie

Who doesn’t love brownies?

I suppose if you don’t like chocolate, you might not care for brownies.

Whoa! Back up! Who doesn’t love chocolate?

As hard as it might be for some of us to fathom, there are people in this world who are indifferent to chocolate. They can take it or leave it. Quite easily. Without much care or thought. Some of those people may even prefer to ignore chocolate altogether. Don’t pity them, however. Consider how much more this leaves for the rest of us!

But back to brownies.

Recently I found a recipe for The Ultimate Brownie on the Desserts/Baking website. I’ve never understood the idea of an “ultimate” anything because what might be the best ever version of something (e.g. brownies) to you may very well be a just okay version of that something (e.g. brownies) to me. And vice versa. If you claim something is the “ultimate” or “world’s best” or “greatest ever”, you’ve set up some pretty high expectations as to what that something will look like, taste like, feel like, act like, and so on, depending on exactly what that something is. So many things in life are subject to an individual’s taste preferences, perceptions, biases, and experiences that I’m always hesitant to label anything (and in the context of this blog, a recipe!) with the moniker of “ultimate” unless it’s been highly rated by more people than just me.

That said, I did try The Ultimate Brownie recipe, and it was pretty good! Thick and fudgey (my preference as opposed to cakey), it would rank fairly high on my scale of “best brownies ever eaten”. I’ve posted the recipe below.

Speaking of things “ultimate”, I’m also posting a link to the website of my colleague, cookbook author Mairlyn Smith and her healthy Decadent Brownies recipe. It’s from her and co-author dietitian Liz Pearson’s best-selling book, Ultimate Foods for Ultimate Health…and don’t forget the chocolate (Whitecap Books, 2007). Mairlyn’s recipe uses whole wheat flour, canola oil and cocoa powder.

As well, here’s the link to the recipe for Fudgey Special Dark Brownies on Hershey’s website; it’s made with cocoa powder and Chipits. If you make the brownies in a 15 x 10-inch (38 x 25 cm) pan instead of a 13 x 9-inch (33 x 23 cm) pan, you can cut the brownies into heart shapes for Valentine’s Day. On the Hershey’s website you can also find chocolatey recipes for mousse, cookies and truffles. Perfect fare for giving to all your loved ones and sweeties! Assuming they all like chocolate, that is!

The Ultimate Brownie
(Makes a 13 x 9-inch/33 x 23 cm baking pan)

8 squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped into chunks
1 cup (250 mL) butter, cut in chunks
5 large eggs
3 cups (750 mL) sugar
1 tablespoon (15 mL) vanilla
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
2-1/2 cups (625 mL) chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted

In a saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate and butter, stirring frequently; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on high speed for 10 minutes. (Mixture will be thick and pale yellow in colour.)

Stir in chocolate mixture. Fold in flour and salt until just mixed. Stir in nuts. Pour into a lightly greased 13 x 9-inch (33 x 23 cm) baking pan.

Bake in a preheated 375F (190C) oven for 35 to 40 minutes. The brownies should be moist in the centre.


  • Measure all ingredients carefully. Measure flour and sugar in a dry measuring cup. Scoop flour into the cup and level the top with a blade of knife.
  • For easy removal of the brownies from the pan, line baking pan with aluminum foil or baking paper. Grease foil or paper, then add batter.
  • Brownies can be iced, but it is not necessary as they are sweet and decadent enough on their own. If desired, top with chopped nuts and semisweet chocolate chips before baking, or drizzle with a white chocolate glaze, or sprinkle cooled brownies with icing sugar.
  • This recipe is very similar to the Blockbuster Brownies recipe inside the box of Baker’s Unsweetened chocolate squares. That recipe calls for 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) butter, 6 eggs and 1 cup (250 mL) chopped nuts. The batter is baked in two 8-inch (2 L) square pans at 350F (180C) for 35 to 40 minutes.
  • Brownies freeze well.

For more brownie recipes, visit Brownie Lover’s Diary.

Hot Chocolate Spices up Wintry Day

Another blustery wintery day in southwestern Ontario!

A perfect afternoon to stay indoors, curled up with a book and a steaming mug of spiced hot chocolate. To complement the beverage choice, and in honour of this sweet month of February, I picked out JoAnna Carl’s chocoholic mystery, The Chocolate Cat Caper, from my library of culinary mysteries.

Spiced Hot Chocolate with Chocolate Rim Trim

Before filling my mug with hot chocolate, I dipped the rim in a mixture of cocoa powder, sugar and ground cinnamon. Hardly essential, but it made for a pretty presentation – and an extra bit of spice and sweetness with every sip!

Spiced Hot Chocolate
(Makes about 4 cups/1 L)

3 oz (90 g) semisweet chocolate
3 tablespoons (45 mL) water
2 teaspoons (10 mL) sugar
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) ground allspice or nutmeg
Pinch salt
4 cups (1 L) milk

In a medium saucepan, combine chocolate, water, sugar, cinnamon, allspice and salt. Place saucepan over low heat and stir until chocolate is melted and ingredients are blended together. Remove from heat. Add milk. Return to stove. Over medium heat, stir frequently until milk is not, but not boiling. Remove from heat. Whisk until frothy or use a frother to froth. Pour into mugs and serve.

Optional: To decorate mug rims, combine about 2 tablespoons each (about 30 mL) sugar and cocoa powder with about 1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground cinnamon; stir to blend. Pour mixture into a plate; give plate a shake to spread mixture out evenly, about 1/4 inch (5 mm) thick. Dip rims of mugs in water, then into the cocoa powder/sugar mixture. Fill mugs with hot chocolate and serve.

Pancakes, Plain or Chocolate Chipped

A few co-workers and I prepared a pancake lunch yesterday at work. We used a basic Buttermilk Pancake recipe courtesy of Carolynne Griffith, the chairwoman of the Board of Directors for Egg Farmers of Ontario. The pancakes were tender, light and fluffy, and enjoyed by everyone. For the chocolate lovers in the group, we made one batch of pancakes with chocolate chips. They were exceptionally delish! (The Triple Chocolate Pancakes from my February 4th post would also have gone over well with the chocoholics!)

Here’s the recipe, with the chocolate chip variation. (We omitted the sugar in the recipe.)

Buttermilk Pancakes
(Makes about 16 pancakes)

1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (30 mL) sugar (optional)
2 teaspoons (10 mL) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) salt
2 large eggs
1 cup (250 mL) buttermilk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) melted butter or cooking oil
Cooking oil
Butter and maple syrup

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar (if using), baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs. Add buttermilk and butter; whisk to combine.

Add dry ingredients to liquid ingredients; whisk just until combined (batter should be lumpy).

Heat a small amount of oil on a griddle or frying pan over medium heat. When the surface is hot enough, spoon about 2 tablespoons (30 mL) batter per pancake onto the skillet, spreading batter into a circle. Cook until edges appear set and bubbles form on the surface, about 1-1/2 minutes. Flip and cook second side until browned, about 1-1/2 minutes.

Serve immediately with butter and maple syrup. Or, transfer to a baking sheet or heatproof platter. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and keep pancakes warm in a 200F (95C) oven. Continue cooking remaining batter, brushing griddle with a small amount of oil as necessary to prevent sticking.

Chocolate Chip Pancakes: Prepare dry ingredients, adding 1/2 cup (125 mL) chocolate chips. Proceed as directed above.


  • This recipe can be doubled or tripled.
  • If batter is too thick, thin with a small amount of additional buttermilk.
  • Freeze any leftover pancakes up to 3 months. Reheat on a baking sheet in a preheated 350F (190C) oven. Pancakes can be also be reheated in the toaster or microwave. If using the microwave, be careful not to overheat as they will become rubbery.

Triple Chocolate Pancakes

Triple Chocolate Pancakes

Got your pancake recipe ready for tomorrow, Pancake Tuesday? Consider celebrating with an extra special recipe for Triple Chocolate Pancakes!

With cocoa powder and chocolate chips in the batter, you may think you’re making a cake or brownies, but don’t be tempted to pour it into a cake pan and slide it into the oven. We really are making pancakes. Just chocolatey ones, finished off with a good drizzle of chocolate syrup. Some might consider this chocolate overload. For chocoholics, this may be the best way (the only way??) to eat pancakes.

If you don’t have a nonstick frying pan or griddle, you will need to grease your pan with a small amount of cooking oil, butter or margarine before making each batch of pancakes. I like to cook a test pancake to check my pan’s heat.

To serve all the pancakes at one time, keep cooked pancakes on a heatproof plate in a 200F oven until all the batter is cooked.

If you want to take these pancakes completely over the top, serve them with vanilla or chocolate ice cream. In season, sliced strawberries are a great addition. Instead of chocolate syrup, the pancakes can be served with maple syrup.

This recipe is easily doubled, or more appropriately tripled! Any leftover pancakes will freeze well.

Triple Chocolate Pancakes
(Makes 12 3-1/2 inch pancakes)

2 large eggs
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Cooking oil, butter or margarine
Chocolate sauce or hot fudge sauce

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until blended. Add milk and oil; whisk to combine.

In a small bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa and salt until blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

Add dry ingredients to liquid ingredients; whisk just until combined. There should be some lumps in the batter.

Heat frying pan or griddle over medium heat (adding a small amount of oil to grease surface if using a nonstick pan) until a few drops of water scattered over surface sizzle and evaporate. Drop about 1/4 cup pancake batter per pancake onto pan, spreading batter slightly. Leave some room between pancakes; they will expand a little during cooking.

Pancakes are ready to flip when the edges appear set and the top is full of bubbles; this will take about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. Flip pancakes and cook second side until lightly browned, about 45 seconds to 1 minute.

As pancakes cook, serve them immediately or keep them warm in a 200F oven. Continue cooking remaining batter.

Serve pancakes with chocolate or hot fudge sauce.

A Perfect Pork and Potato Pairing

Pork Tenderloin with Brandied Cranberry and Thyme Reduction
Smashed Sweet Potatoes

This was on the menu for dinner last night. Sweet…and simple!

Pork Tenderloin with Brandied Cranberry and Thyme Reduction
(Makes 4 servings)

If you wish, oven roast unsliced tenderloin at 400F (200C) until meat reaches an internal temperature of 155 to 160F (58 to 60C), about 20 to 25 minutes. Prepare sauce as directed. Slice tenderloin and serve sauce alongside.

1 cup (250 mL) chicken broth or stock
1/3 cup (75 mL) brandy (or additional chicken broth)
1/2 cup (125 mL) dried cranberries
1 lb (500 g) pork tenderloin
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon (15 mL) butter
1 tablespoon (15 mL) cooking oil
2 teaspoons (10 mL) chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) dried thyme

In a medium saucepan, combine broth, brandy (if using) and cranberries. Cover and simmer until cranberries are plumped, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cut pork into 3/4-inch (2 cm) slices. Cover with plastic wrap or waxed paper; with a meat mallet, flat side of a cleaver or bottom of a small frying pan, pound slices to flatten to about 1/2-inch (1 cm) thickness. Season pork with salt and pepper.

Heat butter and oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add pork to frying pan; cook for about 3 minutes per side. Remove pork from pan; cover to keep warm.

Add cranberry mixture to frying pan, stirring to loosen any browned bits on bottom of pan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until sauce has reduced slightly and thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in thyme. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Return pork to pan; cook until pork is heated through and glazed with sauce.

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Bring on the Biscuits!

Cheese Biscuits

Sorting through some Creative Cooking columns I wrote for The Record and Guelph Mercury, I happened across one from March ’06 which made me smile as Murray and I had just enjoyed a few meals of homemade Hamburger Soup (see post from Jan. 19) and made-from-scratch biscuits. (The biscuits in the photo are actually small cheese biscuits I made in a mini muffin/tart baking pan. They took about 9 minutes to bake.)

When the column was initially published, apparently Murray endured a little teasing from a few friends and colleagues who read it.

Read on to learn why. And for a good basic recipe (with variations) for biscuits.

I will admit it may have been a less than stellar supper that appeared on our kitchen table a few nights ago. But at that point in what had been a busy week and a particularly long day, I figured I had done well to produce something edible at all.

When my hungry husband sat down to a supper of hot biscuits and soup, and then spied the empty soup can on the kitchen counter (I had neglected to recycle it immediately after opening it), his response to that night’s menu was “at least we’re having biscuits.”

To be fair to canned soups everywhere, there are many good varieties that come in a can. This was a thick, stew-like soup to which I had added some frozen vegetables. But my husband is just not a big canned soup fan. Fair enough. That’s why I lovingly prepared some biscuits to serve with the soup. From a box of Bisquick, mind you.

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Hot Hearty Soup Melts Winter Chill

Hamburger Soup

Thick, rib-sticking, hearty, beefy soup to warm you from the inside out! On a cold day like today in Kitchener, a bowl of homemade Hamburger Soup is a welcomed comfort food in our house.

You could probably complete this soup in about 50 minutes, adding uncooked pasta, barley or rice in the last 15 to 20 minutes. I prefer to leave the soup lazily simmering on the stovetop for a couple hours to allow the flavours of the simple ingredients (ground beef, canned tomatoes, broth, carrots, celery, onions and seasonings) to meld and turn into a thick and delicious melange.

One might question whether the end result is really a stew masquerading as a soup, and meant to be eaten with a fork rather than a soup spoon. And if you make the soup with crushed tomatoes instead of diced tomatoes as I have on occasion, you will end up with an even thicker soup! Call it Hamburger Stewp and dig in with a fork, or add broth to thin the mixture a little.

Instead of thyme, Italian seasoning can be used to flavour the soup. Once fully cooked, check the soup for overall seasoning, adding salt and pepper if you find it necessary.

Serve Hamburger Soup with bread, buns or biscuits, and add a salad, if you wish. It’s a simple meal perfect for a cold January day.

This soup freezes well, and as with many soups, it tastes even better the next day!

Hamburger Soup
(Makes 8 servings)

1 lb (500 g) extra lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, thinly sliced (about 1-1/2 cups/375 mL)
3 ribs celery, thinly sliced (about 1-1/2 cups/375 mL)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (1 to 2 mL) dried thyme
1 can (28 oz/796 mL) diced tomatoes
1 cup (250 mL) tomato sauce or 1 can (10 oz/284 mL) condensed tomato soup
4 cups (1 L) beef broth or bouillon
1/2 cup (125 mL) uncooked barley or broken spaghetti
Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Cook beef, onion, garlic, carrots and celery in a large frying pan or soup pot over medium-high heat until meat is thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently; drain off any fat.

Stir in thyme, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes to 1-1/2 hours.

Stir in pasta; simmer until pasta is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve garnished with parsley, if desired.