Colpa Degno Cookies

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There is a lovely restaurant called Powder that I take my mother to when I visit. It helps that it’s close to where she lives, because if I visit at any time between October and May, who knows how much snow I have to contend with getting anywhere not close.

My mother lives in Park City, Utah, which is known for its powder-like snow, thus the name of the restaurant. The restaurant is in the Waldorf Astoria, which doesn’t really seem to fit in my mind with the quaintness of Park City. The Waldorf makes me think of New York City for some reason.

In any case, when I last visited Mom in December, we dined at Powder and luckily didn’t have to deal with a blizzard.

The food has always been superb there, and the service slow but good. It seems like we have always ordered their charcuterie and cheese platter to start. Here are three of them I happened to document.

The first hurdle is always my mother fainting over how the waiter pronounces charcuterie. Being French, it’s still hard for her, even after 65 years of living in the U.S., to hear French words mis-pronounced. I’ve given up trying to convince her that charcuterie is a difficult word for Americans to say.

Also being French, my mother has a daily chocolate requirement, or at least enjoys a sweet after lunch. So after our cheese and you-know-what goodies, including an outstanding paté, we perused Powder’s dessert menu.

I ordered the Chocolate Dirt Pudding, but without the mint ice cream. She thought it would be too rich, like that’s ever stopped her!

This is what it looked like, after we both attacked it like we were starving. Not the prettiest dessert, but the black cherry fudge sauce was indescribable. Neither of us tasted the cherry part, interestingly enough, but it didn’t matter. The sauce, which was really a pudding, was fabulous.

After getting back home, I looked into Colpa Degno cookies, which were the crumbled “dirt” on the pudding. Turns out the name roughly translates to “worth the guilt.”

From Food52: Created by Megan Fitzroy Phelan, currently an owner of Richmond, Virginia’s lauded Longoven restaurant, and formerly a Sullivan Street pastry chef, these cookies are small and addictive and so delightful that they are well worth any remorse you might feel from eating a half dozen or so.

The actual cookie recipe is in this book:

I’m not much of a cookie or dessert maker, but I really wanted to recreate the dessert, including the mint ice cream, for my husband’s birthday. He loves chocolate and mint together, and he deserves a sin-worthy treat! And it all started with my making Colpa Degno.

Colpa Degno Cookies
Makes 2 dozen cookies

1 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 scant cup (40 g) unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Whites from 2 large eggs
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup (100 g) milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup (100 g) dark chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt with a fork in a medium bowl to combine.


Whisk together the egg whites and the vanilla with a fork in a small bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg whites; stir the mixture with the fork until it just begins to come together.

Add the chocolates and stir until well combined. The dough will be extremely sticky and as dark as black licorice.

At the bakery, we use a #60 scoop (like a small ice cream scoop) to scoop and ball these, but an ordinary 1 tablespoon measuring spoon works well too.

Pack the batter into the spoon by squashing and dragging the spoon against the inside of the bowl to make sure the rounds of dough are tight and compact – if the dough is too loosely packed, the cookies tend to really spread out and separate as they bake.


Place the rounds of dough on the parchment-lined cookie sheet a good 3” apart and bake for about 12 minutes or until the tops are glossy and set.

When the cookies are done, they will be quite gooey, but they will continue to cook as they cool.

Once they’ve cooled off enough to eat, they should be soft and chewy – if they’re hard or crisp, they’ve baked too much.


Cool the cookies on the paper, set on a wire rack, for 10 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Serve these cookies the day they are made.

Sneak preview to next post!

Mille Crêpe Cake

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Mille. What is that – a million? Well, a thousand, but still, a lot. A Mille crêpe cake is one created from stacked crêpes that form layers. In between the crêpes can be just about anything from jam, curd, mousse, marscapone, whipped cream, pastry cream, and much more. The flavor possibilities are endless, with fruits or chocolate or nuts included.

Here are photos I discovered on Pinterest of Mille Crêpe cakes; photo credits below.

Aren’t they just stunning?

Just recently, my blogger friend Suzanne, from A Pug in the Kitchen, wrote a post that really spoke to me. She wrote about challenging herself in the kitchen, so as to present posts of her creations that were much more than “everyday” food.

All of us who follow Suzanne love her blog just as it is, plus admire her tireless work as a passionate animal advocate as well, but I completely understood what she was saying.

I actually went through this quite a few years ago, before I began my blog. It stemmed from the fact that my daughters had moved away, I had retired from catering, and I was only cooking for my husband. His meal requirements are simple, which is fine, but I missed the creativity from the years I cooked for others. And you can only have so many parties!

So I began making dishes that were “out of my comfort zone,” so to speak. One Christmas I made a yule log, for example, and it came out pretty darn well! And all of that led to me starting this blog almost four years ago, where I’m able to make dishes I consider fun, and use ingredients I personally love.

The only negative with food blogging, when there’s no one around to eat what you make, is that you must eat it all yourself, or feed friends who have similar tastes. That is challenging when my favorite foods are snails, steak tartare, pigs feet, pork belly, stinky cheese, and everything liver.

In any case, what also seemed poignant in Suzanne’s blog post was that she planned on taking a whole day off of work in order to make a Mocha Daquoise for her upcoming birthday!

I also had an April birthday, and I’d pondered making a Mille Crêpe cake for so long, that I decided it was finally time! In all honestly, Suzanne has a much bigger challenge on her hands.

To make this cake one must first make crêpes. Then I had to figure out a filling.


The very top middle photo is by Honestly Yum, and the filling is a mixture of marscapone and dulce de leche. I happened to have chestnut cream in my pantry. Mixed and lightened with marscapone will make a perfect filling.

For the top? So many options, but I thought of simply melted dark chocolate. Done.

Just to see if she had a Mille Crêpe in her book, I looked at Dorie Greenspan’s book “Around my French Table.”

She doesn’t have an actual cake recipe, but she had this to say.

To me, that sealed the deal. No recipe is really needed. Turns out this may not be as challenging as I previously thought, but still a little more attention to detail than what I typically put into a dish.

To make the crêpes, I followed my own recipe, adding a little vanilla extract. You might have your own tried-and-true recipe; just make sure you get 18 – 20 crêpes for the cake.


For the filling, I mixed together 32 ounces of marscapone and 12 ounces of chestnut cream, both at room temperature.

After refrigerating the crêpes overnight, I began the ordeal of stacking and filing them. It didn’t start well.

My filling was a bit on the thick side, even though it was at room temperature. At that point I probably should have added some whipped cream, but I didn’t. I pursued. I discovered that pressing with the top crêpe with my fingers was the best way to get the filling spread evenly, all the way to the edges.

This is important otherwise the cake would be domed in the middle. This was definitely tedious, but I persisted.

I covered the cake with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Then I proceeded to melt 12 ounces of dark, bittersweet chocolate. One bit of advice I read in a cookbook is that when you are tempering chocolate, you are melting it. You are not cooking it. I always have remembered that, and even if it takes a bit longer, I melt chocolate over very low heat.

Now comes the challenging part for me, as I am no pastry chef. If you haven’t figured that out already, you will definitely come to that conclusion on your own.

I gently poured the chocolate over the cake, and let some dribble down the sides. Then I refrigerated the cake for 30 minutes.

The cake sliced easily enough, although the hard chocolate shell wanted to crack.

That was when I realized I should have made a chocolate ganache instead of using melted chocolate. Oh well.

The cake itself was delicious, although a ganache would have made the “icing” more pleasant.

Will I make a mille crepe cake again? Probably not. But I’m glad I made it and survived my challenge. It was truly delicious. And, I ended up with a birthday cake that was just as enjoyable the next morning with coffee!

The green matcha cake is from http://matchatearecipes.co.uk/post/122421717800/matcha-mille-cake
The black and white cake is from https://www.buzzfeed.com/emilyhorng/awaken-your-dessert-love-sensors-with-this-black-white-mille?sub=4201473_8372322&utm_term=.nnJJKl0pQ#.vbZNyXZOz
The red velvet cake is from https://www.sweetandsavorybyshinee.com/
The Boston cream cake is from http://www.willcookforsmiles.com/2013/08/boston-cream-crepe-cake.html

Fruit and Chocolate

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I have a thing for the combination of dried fruits and chocolate, like dried apricots dipped in chocolate. Every holiday season I plan on dipping some variety of dried fruit or candied fruit in chocolate, but I know, in the end, I will be the only one who eats them.

photo from Windy City Sweets

photo from Windy City Sweets

Then I came across a recipe that combines chocolate and dried fruit – figs, to be specific – with nuts thrown in. And these bars seemed like something everyone would love.

The original recipe is in the book shown below, and it combines bittersweet chocolate, milk chocolate, macadamia nuts, and figs. Doesn’t that sound spectacular? I made the switch to hazelnuts just because I happen to have a lot left over from the holidays; plus they’re my favorite nut.
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I typically would have added different fruits to the mixture as well, but I held back, limiting it to the nuts and figs like in the actual recipe.

This batch was made last week, and what my husband didn’t eat went into a freezer bag. Maybe I’ll pull them out on Valentine’s Day. But what is funny, is that he wouldn’t eat a chocolate-dipped fig, yet he gobbled up these bars.

And that’s life cooking for people, isn’t it?!!

So here’s the recipe as printed in the cookbook.
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No-Bake Chocolate, Macadamia and Fig Slices

100 grams/6 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons clear honey
300 grams/10 ounces dark/bittersweet chocolate
100 grams/3 1/2 ounces milk chocolate
6 digestive or other sweetmeal biscuits/graham crackers
100 grams/2/3 cup shelled macadamia nuts
100 grams/2/3 cup ready-to-eat dried figs, chopped

Place the butter and chocolates in a double boiler and slowly begin melting the chocolate. I omitted the honey.

Meanwhile, grind the graham crackers, or whatever biscuit/cookie you’re using, in a food processor until smooth.

Measure out the hazelnuts, or whatever nut you’re using, as well as the figs. Add them to the graham crackers.

By now the chocolate should have begun melting. You want to be patient and wait until it’s smooth and shiny.

Mix together the chocolate and the goodies, then immediately spread into a foil-lined baking dish. The recipe suggested a 7″ square pan, I used a 5″ x 9″ rectangular pan. No greasing of the foil is necessary.
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Let the mixture cool, then cover the pan tightly and refrigerate for a few hours.

To serve, slice in the shape of biscotti, and top with a light dusting of cocoa.


As you can imagine, these are a wonderful chocolatey treat. I like their rustic appearance as well.

I enjoyed one with an afternoon coffee, though it was hard limiting myself to one.
choc6

I wasn’t kidding when I said my husband finished off all of the bars that didn’t fit into the freezer bag, which I think totaled six. Well, he’s not on a diet.

verdict: These are fabulous. I’m really glad I omitted the honey. My only complaint is that these could be heavier on the dried fruit and nuts. Next time I’ll include dried cherries and apricots.

Christmas Logs

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This recipe is from Charlie’s blog called Hotly Spiced. I’ve been saving it for a year or so, and finally decided to make these sweets, originally called Mum’s Christmas Whiskey Logs. And if you haven’t become a fan of Australian Charlie and her blog, you need to. She’s very funny, and a great storyteller. She also somehow gets away with telling stories about her kids on her blog!

So on Christmas eve, just days ago, I realized I didn’t have any plans for a dessert – a cake, pie, or some kind of sweet treat. We’re not a serious sweets family, so I tend to forget about such things. Instead I had about 30 pounds of cheese in my refrigerator.

I did post on Nigella’s Christmas rocky road bars recently, but that was a re-post from last year. So these quick and easy Christmas logs from Charlie were a perfect choice!

The recipe for the base of the logs is very similar to my ginger spice truffle balls – butter and gingerbread cookie crumbs mixed with goodies and chilled. In fact, the recipe for this “dough” could be made into balls as well. But Charlie’s mum coats the logs in chocolate, which is a lovely addition, and the log slices quite pretty and festive.

The only change I made is the whiskey. None of us is a huge whiskey fan in our family, except for my son-in-law. We’ve tried, mind you. We even visited the famous distilleries in Scotland and Ireland. But it’s hard for me to even smell the stuff. So, I opted for spiced rum. No huge change.

So thank you, Charlie’s mum, for this recipe. I love that it can be changed up with various fruits and chocolates, crystallized ginger, and even nuts, if desired. I’ve typed the recipe as it is on her blog. Cheers!

Mum’s Christmas Whiskey Logs
from Hotly Spiced

400 grams plain biscuits (I used shortbread cookies)
125 grams butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar)
1 large egg
1/2 cup whiskey, I used spiced rum
200 grams dried fruit, I used 150 grams of dried cranberries
100 grams chocolate chips* (I used 150 grams chocolate chips)
100 grams glaceed cherries, halved
200 grams dark chocolate**, I could only find semi-sweet

Crush biscuits and set aside. I used a food processor for this step.

Beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy.
log6
Add the egg and beat until smooth.

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Add the whiskey/rum and beat slightly.
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Then add the chocolate and fruit mixture.
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Then add the processed cookies.
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Using a wooden spoon, mix everything together.
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Get out 6 pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper.

Place approximately 1/6 of the batter onto a piece of plastic wrap.
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Work it, using both sides of the plastic wrap, until a log shape is formed, and roll up, sealing the ends.
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Continue with the rest of the batter, and refrigerate the logs overnight, or at least for four hours. They should be cold and firm before continuing with the recipe. You should have 6 logs, each approximately 6″ long.

This is what the logs looked like before I coated them with chocolate.

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Place chocolate in a double boiler, and slowly melt it. I remember reading in a cookbook once, perhaps one by Alice Medrich, that you’re not trying to cook the chocolate, simply melt it. Words to live by.

Then however is easiest for you, somehow spread the melted chocolate on the logs. Charlie suggests that it’s best to do one “side” of the logs, refrigerate them for a bit, then do the other side.

Now, Charlie and her Mum must be chocolatiers, because I had a horrible time doing this. You can tell in the following photo.

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And also, I would recommend twice the amount of chocolate for this last part. There were two logs that I wasn’t able to coat in chocolate at all.

Once the logs are refrigerated well, remove them from the fridge, trim the ends, unless yours look nice, and make slices, approximately 1/4″ wide, for serving.
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The chocolate kept breaking off in pieces as well when I was slicing the logs.

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But I have to say, they were very popular.

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The next time I might turn the “dough” into balls, and dip them in chocolate, because the chocolate really does add something to these treats!

*Mini chocolate chips might be smarter; they would aid in neater slicing of the logs.
**Unless you’re really good working with chocolate, I would suggest 400 grams of chocolate.