Roasted almonds are covered with a crunchy caramelized shell, dipped in milk chocolate, and dusted with cocoa powder. These chocolate covered caramel almonds are an addictive snack… you won’t be able to stop at one!
These chocolate covered caramel almonds were supposed to make it onto the blog before Valentine’s. So, what happened? Basically, I have no one to blame but myself, and my disorganized ways. I based these off of a recipe from a cookbook that I have, but I made some changes that I wrote down on a little scrap of paper.
Well, I have two little kids and a baby, and little scraps of paper tend to end up with one of these three fates:
- Scribbled all over and then cut up by my kids.
- Accidentally thrown into the recycling bin when I do a quick cleanup.
- Falls to the floor and goes right into baby’s mouth.
It’s amazing how quickly my 9 month old can scoot over to any type of paper that falls to the floor. It’s her favorite food. I have to dig the pulp out from her clenched jaws.
Anyways, I lost the recipe right before I was going to write it up. I had the pictures taken and everything! And with this and that, I just didn’t get around to remaking them to double check the ingredient amounts. This isn’t the first time I’ve had this happen to me… so now I make sure to jot my notes down on my phone.
Last night I hosted a bookclub meeting at my place, so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to remake these! They are roasty from the almonds, have a nice crunch from the caramelized sugar, and finish with a smooth chocolate coating and rich cocoa powder dusting.
These are so good, I can sit down with a bowl and eat an absurd amount before my husband walks over and says, wait, how many have you eaten?! Then I tell him to go away.
Anyways, these would’ve been a great Valentine’s treat, but let’s be real. They’re great any time.
Chocolate Covered Caramel Almonds
Roasted almonds are covered with a crunchy caramelized shell, dipped in milk chocolate, and dusted with cocoa powder. These chocolate covered caramel almonds are an addictive snack, and you won't be able to stop at one!
- 3/4 cup raw almonds see note
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 T water
- 1/2 T unsalted butter
- 4 oz good quality milk chocolate I've used Baker's and Ghirardelli
- 1/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder or regular cocoa powder, see note
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place almonds on a baking sheet and roast for about 7 minutes. Keep an eye on the almonds to make sure they don't burn. The almonds are done when they have a nice roasty flavor and are slightly darkened.
Set out a silpat mat or parchment paper. When almonds are done roasting, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until it starts to simmer. Add the almonds and stir continuously. The sugar will eventually crystallize and become grainy and white. Keep stirring, and the sugar will melt again and start turning amber. The sugar will caramelize and turn a deep amber color. Make sure to watch carefully so you don't burn the sugar! Remove from heat, add the butter and stir to combine the butter fully with the sugar. Quickly spread the almonds out on the mat. Take a fork or chopsticks and separate the almonds from one another. Allow to cool. (For method two, below, cool the almonds in the fridge)
Meanwhile, prep the chocolate for dipping. Place cocoa powder in a small container and set aside. Break chocolate into pieces and place in a double boiler. Alternately, place in a glass bowl over a saucepan with about an inch of water. Bring water to a low simmer, and place bowl on top of the saucepan, making sure the bottom doesn't touch the water. Note: Do not let any water come in contact with the chocolate or else it will seize and be ruined. Stir the chocolate until completely melted.
You can choose either method, below.
Method one- ice method: Place some ice in a large bowl. Place the almonds in a medium bowl and nestle over the ice. Pour about 1/4 of the chocolate over the almonds and stir until the almonds are covered and chocolate starts turning white-ish. Remove from ice and stir until chocolate is mostly solid. Return to ice and add another 1/4 of the chocolate. Repeat until chocolate is gone. If too much chocolate gets stuck to the bottom of the bowl, place over the saucepan with the hot water for a few seconds. The residual heat should be just enough to soften the chocolate at the bottom. Once the chocolate is solid, toss the almonds in the cocoa powder to coat.
Method two- easier/uglier method: Place refrigerator chilled almonds in a large bowl and pour the chocolate over them. Stir until fully coated. Spread the almonds out over a silpat mat or parchment paper and place in the fridge to chill and harden. Once the chocolate has set, remove from fridge and toss in cocoa powder to coat.
Method one tends to result in better looking shapes. Method two, at least for me, resulted in less uniform chocolate coverage, and flat spots. That being said, it's less work and is easier. They basically taste the same, so choose whichever method suits you.
Using roasted almonds from the store will work, but roasting your own almonds will result in a deeper, more roasty flavor.
Dutch process cocoa powder has a less bitter/intense flavor, and I prefer it for coating applications.
Adapted from Orange Page- 初めてのお菓子 cookbook
Butter mochi is a classic Hawaiian treat made with coconut milk and mochiko (glutinous rice flour). All you have to do is mix and bake!
Butter mochi was a great discovery for me when I “discovered” Hawaii via my now-husband. Butter mochi is another classic local style treat that is a hybrid of cultures. Now, don’t quote me on this, but I believe it’s a mix of Filipino bibingka and Japanese mochi.
I learned today that bibingka is made out of cassava, which I have never used or eaten before. But, the similarity is the coconut. While Japanese recipes don’t tend to use coconut, this butter mochi has an entire can of coconut milk in it! It kind of adds a slightly tropical hint to it.
This recipe is ridiculously easy. You barely even have to measure anything, because you just dump a can of this, a can of that, and a box of mochiko. ALL you have to do is mix, pour, bake, cut. SO easy and the result is so delicious! Fattening, yes, but delicious. And isn’t it okay to indulge sometimes?
This recipe makes a 9×13 inch pan full of butter mochi, so you’ll want to bring this to a potluck or at least have someone to share it with. I had my husband take most of it to work and it was a hit!
Mmm, I just love the bouncy texture of mochi. I mean, it looks kind of like a piece of cake, but you bite in to it and… yum.
Some people like to add shredded coconut on the top of their butter mochi, but I like mine plain. Actually, wait… I’ve never had it with shredded coconut. Maybe I’ll try it next time! I bet it would be good…
Even if you aren’t a baker, you can definitely make this, so please give it a try!
Hawaiian Butter Mochi
Butter Mochi- a classic Hawaiian treat made with coconut milk and mochiko (glutinous rice flour). All you have to do is mix and bake!
- 1 stick unsalted butter melted
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 t vanilla
- 16 oz mochiko flour 1 box
- 2 t baking powder
- 1 can evaporated milk 12 oz
- 1 can coconut milk 14 oz
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and grease a 9x13 inch pan.
Mix the melted butter and sugar until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Stir in vanilla. Pour in the mochiko and add the baking powder. Stir until mostly combined. Stir in the evaporated milk, stir in the coconut milk. When batter is totally smooth, pour into pan and bake for one hour.
Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Remove from pan and cut into pieces on a cutting board.
Adapted from Hawaiian culture stories.
Beef soboro is an easy weeknight dinner. Ground beef is flavored with a delicious Japanese sauce, and eaten over hot rice with an egg on top. This recipe comes together in no time at all!
I mentioned before in my Keema curry post the necessity of having easy ground beef recipes in my arsenal. I go through phases where I really plan out my week, and I know on Sunday night what I’ll be making for the entire week. Those are good good times and I feel really put together.
Aaaand then there’s the flip side. I’m scrambling around at 4 pm trying to figure out what I’m going to make for dinner. Want to know what we had for dinner tonight? Blueberry pancakes, bacon, and a kale and beet smoothie to make the meal healthy. I’m not even kidding.
Actually, the kids LOVE those kinds of dinners and it usually means they will just sit there and eat, instead of getting up every 5 seconds, and complaining about how they don’t like *insert basically any ingredient* every 10.
Okay, so usually I’m in between those two extremes, and I have a decent dinner prepared. And decent dinner is really really easy when it’s this beef soboro. I always have the sauce ingredients on hand, and I always have ground beef in the freezer, so this is a meal I can make anytime. It’s definitely one of my go-to’s!
Not to mention, the kids eat this one up! Well, as long as I leave the green onions off the top. Compromise, my friends.
Add this quick and easy beef soboro to your weeknight dinner list!
Ground beef is flavored with a delicious Japanese sauce, and eaten over hot rice with an egg on top. This recipe comes together in no time at all!
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 T fresh grated ginger
- 4 T soy sauce
- 3 T mirin
- 3 T sake
- 3 T sugar
- green onion for topping
- eggs for topping
Combine ginger, soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar in a small bowl.
Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium high heat and cook the ground beef, breaking it up into small pieces. We don't want any big chunks here! Actually, the pictures you see above are too big of chunks. I actually like mine a little more chunky, but that's technically not the correct way. Do what you want! You can either use chopsticks (a bundle of chopsticks is the traditional method), or a whisk to break the meat up into small pieces.
Once the meat is nearly cooked through, add the sauce and stir until the beef has absorbed the sauce and the pan is mostly dry.
Serve over hot rice and top with green onion and egg. I poached mine, but you can sunny-side-up it, of throw just a raw egg yolk on there!
Adapted from: cookpad (Japanese)
“Chocolate dipped strawberry” hi-hat cupcakes- a play on the classic romantic treat, the buttercream uses freeze dried strawberries to get its beautiful pink hue and intense strawberry flavor.
The first time I saw a hi-hat cupcake, on Pinterest, I fell in love. They are just so pretty and FUN! They kind of remind me of those dipped cones you can get at DQ. I’m usually not a fan of food coloring and artificial flavors, but for some reason I always find myself getting the cherry dipped cone at DQ. I hate myself during and after eating it, and yet it’s what I get every time. Such a mystery.
Well, this cupcake has neither artificial colors OR flavors. Yep, that vivid pink hue is au naturale, baby.
I got the idea to make this cupcake when I was trying to brainstorm fun Valentine’s day ideas. What’s more classic on Valentine’s day than chocolate covered strawberries? (Answer: Roses. But do we eat those? Exactly)
I made this great connection in my head. Chocolate dipped strawberries… chocolate dipped hi hat cupcakes… chocolate dipped strawberry buttercream hi hat cupcakes… Oh YES I was onto something! Seriously, I thought I was such a genius, and then I went to Pinterest and saw that, of course, someone had already done it. Oooooof course. I mean, are there any untried food ideas left in the world? I feel like we are all just tweaking and “adapting” each others’ recipes over and over.
BUT I took it a step past just regular hi-hat cupcakes because I wanted my buttercream to actually resemble a chocolate dipped strawberry. Because that’s just adorable. The outrageous (albeit awesome) amount of frosting on a regular hi-hat is like, 5 strawberries-worth. Mini cupcakes are the perfect size! Plus, you won’t feel overwhelmed. I mean, you can eat one and be done. Or you can eat 5 and be done. Whatever you want.
A few notes: 1. I’ve seen freeze dried sliced strawberries at Trader Joe’s and Target. 2. This buttercream is stiffer than your average swiss meringue, but that works well for dipping. Probably would not work as well for frosting a cake. 3. The mint is supposed to represent the stem, DID YOU CATCH THAT?! 4. Swiss meringue buttercream is a little more work but the taste makes it worth it! It’s less sweet than your normal American buttercream, which works well with the strawberry and the chocolate coating.
And also, here’s how big it is. Aww, so cute!
AND ALSO here’s my first video everrrrr how exciting.
"Chocolate dipped strawberry" hi-hat cupcakes
"Chocolate dipped strawberry" hi-hat cupcakes- a play on the classic romantic treat, the buttercream uses freeze dried strawberries to get its beautiful pink hue and intense strawberry flavor.
- 1/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa NOT "natural" cocoa
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 2/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1 t baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 t vanilla
Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 4 egg whites
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 cup unsalted butter softened, but still cool
- 1 oz freeze dried strawberry slices
- 10 oz semi-sweet chocolate
- 5 t crisco optional
- small mint leaves for garnish optional
Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 375 Degrees F. Line your mini muffin pan(s) with 36 mini cupcake liners.
In a small bowl, combine boiling water and cocoa powder and stir until smooth (again, make sure you are using dutch process cocoa). Allow to cool.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and the sugar. Add the egg, mix, scrape down the sides, and mix in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add the cocoa mixture and, using a rubber spatula, stir in until smooth.
Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 of the way full (or equally amongst the 36). Bake for about 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven, allow to cool on a wire rack.
Make the buttercream: Clean the bowl of your stand mixer, the whisk attachment, and a handheld whisk, to make sure there is absolutely no oil on them. In the bowl, whisk together the egg whites and sugar. Set over a small saucepan with about an inch of simmering water (medium low heat), making sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Whisk the mixture continuously until hot to the touch and no longer grainy.
Move the bowl back to the stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment to whip the egg whites into a meringue. This will take several minutes. Once the bowl is completely cooled and the meringue is whipped up, fluffy, and glossy, stop the mixer and switch out the whisk attachment for the paddle. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time until all the butter is incorporated.
While your buttercream is whipping up, crush the strawberries into a powder. I do this by cutting a tiny hole in the top of the bag (if you bought a one ounce bag of strawberries) and using my hands or a rolling pin to crush to a fine powder. Make sure the hole is small, enough to get the air out but not big enough for the powder to come out of.
Warning: your buttercream may turn into a goopy separated mess, if the meringue and the butter are not at the same temperature. If it does, try mixing it for a little longer, cranking up the speed. If it doesn't come back together after a few minutes, try taking a couple spoonfuls out, place in a microwave safe bowl, and microwave for a few seconds to melt it (don't make it too hot!). Drizzle the melted buttercream back in while whipping, and it should come back together!
Frost: Using a large round tip, frost the cupcakes, piping the buttercream tall, to form a "strawberry" shape. Once the buttercream is piped, place the cupcakes in the fridge to firm up.
Dip: Melt your chocolate and crisco (optional but makes for easier and smoother dipping) either in a double broiler or in the microwave. If you use the microwave, make sure to take it out every thirty seconds and stir, to prevent burning/scorching. Place melted chocolate in a container that is not too wide, and deep enough that you can dip your buttercream in it. Holding the cupcake by the base, dip the buttercream into the frosting, leaving a bit of pink showing around the base. Allow the chocolate to cool and harden completely.
Garnish with mint leaves to make the strawberry "stems"
Chocolate cupcake recipe adapted from: Joy of baking.
Feel free to use your favorite cupcake recipe!
These cinnamon chocolate truffles are inspired by Japanese nama chocolates. A few simple ingredients come together to make a truly spectacular confection.
When Slofoodgroup asked me if I was interested in trying their products, I was beyond excited! I LOVE gourmet ingredients, and I am always up for the challenge of creating a recipe highlighting a special ingredient. It’s so much fun cooking up ideas in my head and then testing them out!
Slofoodgroup sent me some of their cinnamon quills and vanilla beans to try out. When I say cinnamon quills, I’m not talking about what you can find at your local grocery store. Those are Cassia and, well, suddenly I’m a cinnamon snob (okay okay, they are both good), but what they sent me were Ceylon cinnamon quills. Basically, according to some basic Google research, Ceylon is “true” cinnamon, and Cassia bark is similar, but not quite the same. Cassia got marketed as a cheaper cinnamon, but now it’s basically all there is in the USA, unless you go to a specialty store or buy online.
Cassia is strong, sweet and spicy, and it’s what you have in your cinnamon rolls. Ceylon is more delicate, sweeter, and has floral notes. When you use Ceylon, I would suggest going with more simple ingredients. Rather than throwing it in to compete against other spices, like in pumpkin or apple pies, I would use it with chocolates, vanilla, or other applications where its smooth flavor can really shine. By the way, I wanted to see what it tasted like, so I just flaked off a piece and ate it and… it was actually quite good just eating plain! Kind of crazy, but it has a natural sweetness and I found myself picking at the quill and eating bits and pieces of it.
I played around with different cinnamon ideas. When I looked up ideas for using cinnamon, I kept getting cinnamon rolls, snickerdoodles, apples, etc. etc. No no no no! Those are classic American dishes and yes they are good, but I wanted to make something that was… elegant. Something that really let the cinnamon stand out. And also, something that wasn’t so AUTUMN. I also wanted it to be an option for Valentine’s Day.
Chocolate was the only way to go. Once I decided on the chocolate route, it was pretty easy for me to decide on nama chocolate. It’s quite popular in Japan, and is simple to make and absolutely delicious. It’s basically what we in America call truffles, but it’s in squares, rather than balls. The basic nama chocolate recipe is just two ingredients. Cream and chocolate.
This recipe uses dark chocolate, which tends to work well with a 3:2 chocolate to cream ratio. Now, my next question was whether to use cinnamon powder mixed into the chocolate, or to infuse the cream with cinnamon. I decided to take the infusing route, because I wanted my chocolate to be absolutely silky smooth.
I also added vanilla to the cream, to add extra warmth. By the way, when I opened the package that the cinnamon and vanilla came in, the vanilla smell wafted out and it. was. divine.
I really hope you’ll try these truffles/nama chocolate. The dark chocolate with the floral notes from both the ceylon cinnamon and vanilla bean made it so… I don’t know… just, “grown up”. It’s really something special, and if you love dark chocolate, I know you’ll love these.
Want to try out Ceylon cinnamon? Get some at slofoodgroup, and you won’t be disappointed!
If you really can’t get Ceylon, then try these out with your regular cinnamon quills. Try subbing in vanilla extract right before pouring into the baking dish, if you can’t get your hands on vanilla bean. I can’t say if it will be QUITE as good, but I think it’ll still taste delicious!
Cinnamon Chocolate Truffles (nama chocolate)
These cinnamon chocolate truffles are inspired by Japanese nama chocolates. A few simple ingredients come together to make a truly spectacular confection.
- 8 oz good quality dark chocolate I used 60% bittersweet Ghirardelli
- 1 cup heavy cream you will be using 5.3 ounces of it
- 6 in Ceylon cinnamon quills 2 three inch quills or 1 five inch quill plus another small piece
- 1-2 vanilla beans split lengthwise
- dutch process cocoa powder
- ground cinnamon to taste
Line a 6x8" baking dish with parchment paper (or be lazy and use plastic wrap like I did). My baking dish said 6x8 but the bottom was closer to 5x7. The thickness of the final product will depend on how big the dish is, so be careful not to go too big! You can always double the recipe and use a bigger container.
Pour the heavy cream in a small saucepan with cinnamon quills and vanilla beans (split lengthwise). Heat over medium-low heat until simmering. Keep at a bare simmer for a few minutes, cover, and set aside to cool.
Cut the chocolate into shavings or small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. Strain the cream (I squeezed the cream out of the cinnamon quills to get that extra cinnamon-y cream out) and measure out 5.3 ounces of it, to get the 3:2 ratio. Pour the 5.3 ounces over the chocolate shavings, and set aside the rest (you can add sugar and whip it, or add it to a drink perhaps?). Place the bowl on small saucepan with about an inch of water in it, and heat over medium-low heat. Make sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl. Also, make sure that water doesn't get into the bowl of chocolate, or it will seize and be RUINED! Gently stir the chocolate and cream until it starts getting warm and the chocolate starts melting. Be careful not to let it get it too hot, or the chocolate will start to separate. Once most of the chocolate is melted, remove from heat and keep stirring until chocolate is completely melted. Pour into the container, smooth the surface, and place in refrigerator to set. This can take several hours.
Remove the chocolate from the baking dish and place on cutting board. Cut the rounded edges off, and cut into squares. Toss in a mixture of cocoa powder and cinnamon powder. I grated my cinnamon quill on a microplane, and added to taste. I liked mine with lots of cinnamon!
Cover and store in refrigerator.
Infused cream recipe adapted from: Amazing food made easy