Category Archives: Chocolate

Say Cheese…Cake!

In my opinion, there is no better combination of flavors for dessert then sweet and sour.  Any dessert with citrus is usually my top order at restaurants or the dessert I am most excited to make (and then of course eat)!   Cheesecake always seems too heavy and plain for me so I decided to jazz it up by adding a citrus component to the mix and lightening up the cheesecake filling.  Four layers make up this fabulous full flavored cheesecake!

Graham Cracker Crust  +  Lime Curd+  Lime Cheesecake + Sour Cream Chocolate Ganache = The most amazing, eye catching and delicious dessert you could put on your table for Shavuot!
 

Lime Cheesecake with Sour Cream Chocolate Ganache

Makes 2-14″x4″Tart Pan or 1-8″ Round Springform Pan

 
Lime Curd:

6 Egg Yolks
3/4 C. Sugar
8 Tbs. Fresh Lime Juice
1 Tsp. Lime Peel, grated

Crust:

1 3/4 C. Graham Crackers, finely ground (about 12 whole graham crackers)
1/4 C. Sugar
1/2 C. Butter, melted

Filling:

2 (8-ounce) Packages Cream Cheese, room temperature
2/3 C. Sugar
2 Eggs
4 Tbs. Lime Juice
1 Tbs. Lime Peel, grated
1 16 Oz. Container Sour Cream

Sour Cream Chocolate Ganache:

2 ½ C. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 C. Sour Cream
3 Tbs. Oil

Lime Curd:

Whisk all ingredients together in a small saucepan over medium heat.  While whisking constantly, bring to a boil and let boil for 30 seconds.  The ingredients should thicken.  Put the side.

Crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two 14×4 inch tart/quiche pan with non-stick cooking spray.  In a bowl, mix together the graham crackers, sugar and butter until thoroughly combined.  Press half the crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and on the sides of each pan. Bake 5 minutes. Cool completely.

Filling:
With an electric hand mixer, mix the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, lime juice, lime peel and sour cream until completely blended.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Pour half of the curd on each graham cracker crust.  Spread carefully with the back of a spoon or side of a knife until the bottom of each crust is covered.  Pour the cheesecake filling on top of the curd and spread evenly.  Bake for 40-45 minutes until the cheesecake is set.  When cheesecake is done, set on a cooling rack and make the ganache.

Ganache:
In a medium saucepan melt the chocolate chips, oil and sour cream over medium-low heat until thoroughly combined and smooth.  Stir constantly so the chocolate does not burn.  Spread evenly over each tart and smooth with the back of a spoon or knife.  Sprinkle with lime zest and/or sea salt if desired.  Refrigerate until ready to eat.  May be refrigerated for 2 days or frozen up to 1 month.
 
 

One Word…Decadent

OSEM pound cake can be used year round for snacking, baking and DEFINITELY making this tiramisu.  The coffee and liquor in the cake make it a true adult dessert!  The moist cake and creaminess of the filling make this an amazing lasting impression to an incredible meal!  One of my favorite year round and during Passover.
 

 
Tiramisu

Makes 6-8 Servings

¾ C. Heavy Cream

1 Cup Mascarpone Cheese
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
3 TBS. Rum
6 TBS. Sugar
1 Cup Strong Coffee, cold
2 – 8.8 oz. Osem Pound Cakes
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Cup Chocolate Chips
2 tsp. Oil

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave for 2 minutes, checking and stirring every 30 seconds, or until melted.  Stir in oil.  On a piece of wax paper, drizzle the chocolate into shapes and place in the freezer until hardened.
Whip the cream and 4 Tbs. sugar to stiff peaks.  Set aside.  In another bowl, mix the mascarpone cheese with the rum and vanilla.  Whisk until it forms soft peaks.  Fold mascarpone mixture into the whipped cream.  In a measuring cup, pour in the coffee and combine with 2 Tbs. sugar and 1 more Tbs. of rum if desired.  Cut each cake in half length wise, like a sandwich.  In a small clear dessert glass or a loaf pan, take one side of the cake and cut it measure the shape of the pan or glass you are using. Put the cake on the bottom of the glass or pan and pour 1/3 of the coffee over the top.  Top with 1/3 of the whipped cream and layer another piece of cake on top.  Repeat two more times if doing a 3 layer cake, the final layer on top should be whipped cream mixture. Sift cocoa powder on top.  Garnish with a chocolate shape.

Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.


 
 

Crunchy and Sweet Biscotti

These crunchy cookies will make you question whether it’s really Passover.  The creamy chocolate coating has a silky texture that melts with perfection when dipped in a steaming hot cup of tea.  You will love these as an on-the-go sweet snack or to impress your guests when you serve them for dessert.

Chocolate Dipped Biscotti

Makes 10 Biscotti

1 – 8.8 Oz. Package of Pound Cake (any flavor), sliced

1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
2 tsp. Vegetable Oil
½ Cup Chopped Walnuts, Pecans, or Almonds* (optional)

Preheat oven to 250.  Cut the pound cake into 10 slices and lay on a foil lined baking sheet.  Bake for 1 hour until the cake feels dry and looks very lightly toasted.  Cool. 

Melt chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl stirring every thirty seconds until melted.  Keep an eye on the chocolate so it does not burn.  Add in the oil and stir until creamy and shiny.  Dip half of the biscotti in the chocolate and place on parchment paper to dry.  *If desired, sprinkle chopped nuts on top of melted chocolate.

 

The Ali”BABKA”!

With the name AliBabka, how could I NOT have that perfect babka recipe?!  I have made so many babkas in the past two years that I have lost count.  But let me be honest with you, all the babkas I made were actually quite tasty…if my goal was to make sweet challah.  The dough was just never right.   The previous contenders were all delicious, had a sweet and amazing aroma, and looked beautiful, but they weren’t the one!

This babka recipe is adapted from the Jerusalem Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.  If you do not own it, I highly recommend purchasing this cookbook.  All the recipes I have made from the cookbook turned out amazing and the pictures make you want to eat the book in its entirety! 

Babka is a yeast cake and yeast cakes are tricky.  There’s that small border between bread and cake.  Too far to the left and you have a bread, to far to the right and you have a birthday cake.  The perfect yeast cake is in between.  This babka recipe is not fast.  The dough need a lot of time to rise and rest.  Once you get through the waiting I guarantee you will have the most fantastic babka waiting for you on the other side!  With that being said, may I present to you what I would consider to be The Ali”Babka”!

The Ali”BABKA”
Makes 2 Babkas

Babka Cake:
4 1/2 C. Flour
1/2 C. Sugar
2 tsp. Fast Rising Active Dry Yeast
1 Lemon, Zested
3 Eggs
1/2 C. Water
1/4 tsp. Salt
2/3 C. Earth Balance, cut into chunks
Oil, for greasing

Chocolate Filling: (I love chocolate babkas so this is super chocolaty)
1 C. Confectioners Sugar
2/3 C. Cocoa Powder
9 Oz. Chocolate, Melted
1 C. Earth Balance, Melted
2 C. Pecans, Coarsely Chopped (optional)
2 TBS. Sugar

Syrup (to cover cakes):
2/3 C. Water
1 1/4 C. Sugar

Dough:
Place the flour, sugar, yeast and lemon zest in a kitchen aid stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Mix on low speed for 1 minute.  Add the eggs and water and mix on low speed for a few seconds and then increase the speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes until the dough comes together.  Add the salt and start adding the earth balance, a few cubes at a time until it is incorporated into the dough.  Continue mixing for about 10 minutes on medium speed, until the dough is completely smooth and elastic.  During mixing scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times.  Place dough in a large bowl brushed with oil and cover with plastic wrap.  leave in the fridge overnight (at least half a day).

Grease two 9X4 loaf pans with spray or oil.

Filling:
Mix together the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate and butter to form a paste.

Divide the dough in half and  roll out one of the halves of dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle measuring 15X11 inches.  Spread half of the chocolate filling over the rectangle leaving a
2cm border all around.  Sprinkle half the pecans and sugar over chocolate.
Brush a little bit of water on border of dough.  Use both hands to roll the longer side up like a roulade or jelly roll.  Press to seal the dough and rest on the seam. 
Trim about 1 inch off the end of each side of the roulade (these are extra pieces so you can bake them and eat them as little pastries or rugelach).  Use a knife to gently cut lengthwise, starting at top and finishing at seam.  With cut sides facing up, gently press together one end of  each half and put left side over right and repeat to create a twirl (always keep filling side up).  Pinch together the other end of the intertwined babka and put in loaf pan.  Repeat with the second half of the dough. 
Cover the pan with a wet paper towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours.  The cake will rise about 10 percent. 

Preheat oven to  375.  Remove towels and place cakes in the middle rack of the oven to bake for 30 minutes.

While cakes are in the oven make the syrup.  Combine the water and the sugar in a sauce pan and place over medium heat till it reaches a boil and all the sugar is dissolved.  Take the syrup off the stove immediately and cool.  As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, brush the syrup over them  Use up ALL the syrup.  Leave the cakes until they are warm and remove them from the pan to cool the rest of the way before serving.

                                      From the Jersusalem Cookbook how to roll the babka

Cooking Around The World

Guest Blog Post: Bracha Arnold

Hi! I’m Bracha, a friend of Alison’s from way back. We met in seminary in Israel, and while everyone knew that Alison loved to cook, I had no idea that I loved the culinary arts as well. A few years later, I now work for a kosher travel company called Kosher Culinary Adventures. Aside from bringing guests all over Europe (we have trips in Tuscany, Provence, North Italy and Andalusia so far!) we also prepare three meals daily for them, making sure they get to experience the local cuisine, while being strictly kosher.
~a magical village in Provence, South of France~

This recipe is one of my favorite show-stopper desserts, with its nutty, pistachio-flavored crust, smooth chocolate ganache and fruit topping. Aside from being gorgeous, (relatively) simple and delicious, it is also parve. It can be made dairy if you want by swapping the coconut oil and cream for butter and regular cream, but is fantastic as a parve dish. I top it with sliced strawberries, but if they’re not in season or you prefer other fruit, try raspberries or pomegranate seeds for a festive Rosh Hashana and sukkot flair.
For this dessert, I had my local nut merchant at the shuk (market) in Jerusalem grind up some pistachios into a fine powder. You can often purchase ground pistachios at your local grocery store; if it is too hard to find, simply pulverize them yourself in a food processor or coffee grinder. If you have it handy, a dash of toasted almond oil adds a wonderful extra flavor to the crust.

 
Strawberry, Chocolate and Pistachio Pie
Crust:
1 1/4 C. All-Purpose Flour
1/4 C. Pistachio Powder, finely ground
Pinch of Kosher Salt
1/4 C. plus 1 TBS. Powdered Sugar
1/2 C. Coconut Oil, or Canola Oil, or Butter
1 Large Egg Yolk
3/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Nonstick Vegetable Oil Spray
Filling:
6 Oz. Bittersweet Chocolate (do not exceed 70% cacao), chopped
3/4 C. Coconut Cream or Heavy Cream
⅓ C. White Sugar
1 small basket Strawberries, Raspberries, Pomegranate, or fruit of your choosing
Pistachio Powder
Whisk flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a small bowl. Pulse powdered sugar and butter in a food processor until smooth. Add yolk and vanilla; pulse to mix well. Add dry ingredients and pulse just to blend. Gather dough into a ball, flatten into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.
Spray a standard (8-9”) pie or tart pan with nonstick spray. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper to 1/8′ thickness. Peel off top sheet of paper. Transfer dough into pie pan, pressing gently onto bottom and up sides of the pan. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325°. Bake pie until slightly puffed and firm to touch, 12–15 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Pour cream over chocolate; stir until melted and smooth. Let ganache cool to room temperature. Cover and chill until set, about 20 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 12 hours ahead. Keep chilled.
To assemble pie: Pour chocolate ganache into baked pie shell. Let chill until the chocolate has hardened slightly. Garnish with strawberries (or fruit of your choosing) in a circular pattern (see pictures) and sprinkle pistachio powder in the middle. Serve immediately. (If you choose not to serve the pie right away, wait to garnish it–it will look much better if the garnish is fresh.)
For more recipes, blog posts, or to find out more about our company, check out www.avicamgitlin.com

Me Want Cookie!

One of my most favorite foods of all time is the Chocolate Chip Cookie.  Eating a warm, crispy on the outside (I like em’ crispy) and gooey in the middle cookie right out of the oven or even straight from the freezer, brings me memories of happiness.  The smell could make someone tune into their animal like tendency’s to sniff and salivate till they munch down on their treat.  
Asking a chef their favorite dish is like asking a painter their favorite color.  It is just impossible!  Too many choices and too many ideas!  It might be just as evil to give a child an ice cream cone in each hand during the middle of the summer and tell them to finish both. 
The bottom line is, I have numerous amounts of favorite foods and dishes and will continue to be my favorite till the end of my days while always adding more to my list!  Who knows…tonight I may have an addition to make!  
I guarantee  99% of the time you ask someone if they like chocolate chip cookies you will get a resounding yes.  There is even a study shown that links chocolate chip cookies to a homier feeling.  Have you ever gone through a house you were thinking of buying and smelled a whiff of baking cookies in the oven?  Suddenly that grungy, not so perfect house, became a little more appealing!
Do you want to woo that boy you have a crush on?  Make him chocolate chip cookies!  It worked with my husband…


Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Nestle Toll House…who else?)
2 1/4 C. Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1 cup (2 sticks) Butter or Earth Balance, softened
3/4 C. Sugar
3/4 C. Brown Sugar, packed
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs
2 C. Chocolate Chips
1 C. Walnuts

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. 




Dear Coco

Saigon Fireball and Paraguay Passion Fruit sound like cocktail names you only find on tropical islands.  Well, I have had the honor and pleasure of tasting these Dear Coco delectable’s in chocolate truffle form.
These creamy truffles stay true to their name and are bursting with powerful flavor! 

Saigon Fireball = Vietnamese Saigon Cinnamon + Dark Chocolate + Chili Powder + Cayenne Pepper + Natural Cocoa
Paraguay Passion Fruit = Passion Fruit + Dark Chocolate + Organic Hibiscus Flowers
Rachelle Ferneau, owner of Dear Coco and pastry-chef-turned chocolatier, is so inspiring! Check out her website and see what other flavor combinations she puts into chocolate form!
Inspired by these creative combinations, the upcoming holiday of Purim, and my wedding in Columbus, OH, I decided to create a NEW cocktail hamantashen!  While I finish creating and perfecting this recipe you can check out the three I created last year! Stay tuned!

Happy National Chocolate Day!

Perhaps one of the greatest pros about writing your own blog are the free samples people send your way.  Some samples are better than others, but I am excited to tell you about one of the best products I have sampled so far.  My mother discovered a product called Brownie Points and told the owner about Alibabka.   A few days later a package arrived at my door.  There was a delicious assortment of popcorn and brownies with delectable flavors.  I couldn’t resist opening up the popcorn first, since it is one of my most favorite snack foods. Between me and a few of my friends, we managed to consume almost all of the contents of the box within a week.  I had to taste a bit of each in order for me to write a review…it’s just so so hard being a food blogger 😉

In order to prep for Hurricane Sandy or “Frankenstorm” I made some delicious popcorn inspired by the one from Brownie Points.  I recommend ordering from Brownie Points and making this recipe while you wait for the package to come.  It will definitely tide you over.  Below, you will see all the flavors that were sent to me.  The brownies are more like fudge, but nonetheless awesome.  I put them in order from most to least favorite, enjoy!

Contents of my Brownie Points box

Popcorn
(I would love to try the Nutty Caramel Popcorn)
Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt – Popcorn + Chocolate + Caramel + Sea Salt = Holy Shnikey! AMAZING!
Peanut Butter Caramel Crunch – You have to try this!  Loaded with peanut butter, caramel and chocolate!
Apple Pie – So good!  Really impressed by how authentic the taste was to apple pie!
Trendy Trash – Good, but too many flavors and textures.

Brownies
Butterscotch Sensations – We put this in the microwave for less than a minute.  It make this even more amazing!
Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt – Caramel and Sea Salt were meant to be paired together.
Buckeye Brownie – Ummm, yummm! Just look at the picture.
Raspberry Caramel Fudge – Something different and not loaded with caramel or peanut butter, the raspberry was refreshing and delicious!
Cappuccino Toffee Fudge – I should replace this with my morning coffee (or with my morning coffee)
Fudgey Cookie Crunch – Chocolate Chip Cookies + Brownie = need I say more?
Chocolate Fudge – Chocolate lovers, you want this!
Peanut Butter Passion – Definitely loaded with peanut butter, just a little too much for my taste.
“Original” Kitchen Sink – Tasty, but a lot going on.
Brownie Points is certified kosher under the vaad of Columbus.
Chocolate Covered Popcorn
3 TBS. Oil
1/3 C. Popcorn Kernels
1/2 C. Peanuts
1 1/2 C. Chocolate Chips
Salt to taste

In a large pot with a lid, heat up oil and add a small handful of popcorn kernels to start.

 When the popcorn starts popping, add in the rest of the kernels and cover the pot leaving a little bit of the lid ajar (this keeps the popcorn from becoming soggy).  When you hear a few seconds in between popping, take the pot off the stove.

Dump the popcorn onto a cookie sheet pan lined with foil.
In a smaller pot melt the chocolate on low.   When the chocolate chips are almost completely melted, take the pot off the heat (you do not want to burn the chocolate).

Mix in the peanuts on top of the popcorn and drizzle the chocolate all over the popcorn. Sprinkle a little salt over the popcorn. Pop the pan in the freezer or fridge and serve when chocolate has hardened.

Shout out to Shy and Sivan Krug for helping me consume the popcorn!

Chocolate Goodness!

Chocolate Cake- the epitome of all that is good in this world.   Perfecting the chocolate cake is an extremely rewarding experience and the criteria are very simple. In honor of The Wall Street Journal article, I decided to make myself the best chocolate cake in the world!   
This one bowl wonder is easy, versatile, and requires very little cleanup.  Chocolate lovers, get ready to make the best chocolate cake of your life with this super moist (non dairy) and chocolaty crowd pleasing recipe!
Cake of Chocolaty Goodness
2 C. Sugar
1 ¾ C. Flour
¾ C. Cocoa
1 ½ t. BP
1 ½ t. BS
1 t. Salt
2 Eggs
1 C. Almond or Soy Milk
½ C. Oil
2 t. Vanilla
1 C. Boiling Water
Pre-heat oven to 350.  Spray a bundt pan.  In a bowl, Stir together the dry ingredients.  Add the rest of the ingredients, except the boiling water, and whisk together till smooth.  Whisk in boiling water, until it is completely incorporated.  The batter should look runny.  Pour into your sprayed bundt pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely and flip over to turn out cake.
Adapted from Hershey’s
Alibabka Tip: I like to jazz up my cake my drizzling melted chocolate on top.  It not only looks great, but it covers up any potential mishaps when unmolding the cake.  You can drizzle with dark and white chocolate or sprinkle nuts over the top. Anyway you choose to decorate, it will turn out beautiful!

Dinner For Two

Mazal Tov! Yael and Josh got engaged last night and I made my first engagement dinner! I had the honor of catering their first meal as an engaged couple.  After Josh proposed, I came out with 4 delectable dishes focusing on some of Yael and Josh’s favorite foods.  I even included the recipe for my pomegranate and citrus glazed salmon at the end of the page!
Appetizer 
Beet, Goat Cheese and Mixed Green Salad with a Balsamic Reduction

 Main Course
Pomegranate-Citrus Glazed Salmon, Roasted Vegetables (Fennel, Orange Pepper and Zucchini), and Creamy Brown Rice with Cherries

 Dessert
Warm Chocolate Lava Cake with Whipped Cream and Strawberries 

 Homemade Chocolate Hearts served with Fresh Mint Tea

 The newly engaged, very full and happy couple

Pomegranate-Citrus Glazed Salmon
Makes 2 Servings
2 Fillets of Salmon
1 Cup Pomegranate Juice
1 Orange, squeezed
1 tsp. Thyme, fresh
1 TBS. Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 Cup Pomegranate Seeds
Heat a saute pan with about 2 Tbs. of oil to cover the bottom. Sprinkle salt and pepper on each side of the salmon fillets and lay in hot pan skin side down.  Sear for about 3 minutes and flip on the other side.  Sear the fish till it becomes flaky and has caramelized in color, about 5 minutes.  Remove the fish and reserve.  In the same pan, add the pomegranate and orange juice, thyme, and apple cider.  Reduce the liquid until it coats the bottom of a spoon and looks thick.  Keep a good eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Drizzle the glaze over the salmon and garnish with pomegranate seeds.
Helpful Hint:  When removing pomegranate seeds, cut into quarters and remove with hands in a bowl of cold water.   When all the seeds have been removed, strain out the water.  This is a no mess and no stain!