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archive for chocolate

the chewy parts of life

Monday, January 13th, 2020

Recipe: flourless chocolate walnut cookies

We have emerged on the other side of the holidays more or less unscathed. People are crazy, and there is nothing like Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day to really drive that observation home. Jeremy and I filled the past few weeks with many flavors of skiing, catching up on work, exercising the pups, long and thoughtful discussions, doing our best to eat like sensible adults, and avoiding other people. It was great.


christmas morning, an uphill ski on the mountain with our crazy pups

calendar girl, yuki (rezdawg rescue’s 2020 calendar)

national bacon day and a -10°f skate ski with my denver erin

new year’s day uphill ski

frost flowers on a cold skate ski in crested butte

skiing down the mountain with this crazy pack



During the holiday downtime, we came to the realization that Yuki is now an adult (despite behaving like a puppy) and that travel might just become a reality for us again. And I decided it’s time to put Twitter and Facebook into full neglect mode. The only reason I keep a Facebook account is to access the driving conditions page for our local canyon – otherwise it is a hugely unproductive time suck. So for now, if you want updates on new posts, you can follow me on Instagram at @jenyuphoto (personal) or @userealbutter (just the blog), subscribe to this blog (there is a link at the top of this page), or periodically check here.

Also? I sorta got my cooking mojo back! There were recipes that piqued my interest enough to want to make and even photograph to share here. I’ve always got one eye open for decent gluten-free recipes. I eat the hell out of gluten, but there are a handful of people I really like who cannot. If I like you, I will bake for you. If I really like you, I will cook for you. Don’t let the gluten-freeness of these flourless chocolate walnut cookies deter you if you dig on gluten. These gems are not only delicious and perfectly textured, they are easy to make (i.e. hard to fuck up). It’s like the ghetto version of a French macaron.


walnuts, powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, cocoa powder, egg whites



Apparently, there is great flexibility to the recipe according to the Food52 post. You can omit the nuts, change the flavorings, add chocolate chips. I haven’t tried any ingredient variations yet. First, you want to toast the walnuts which involves a quick 9-10 minutes in a moderate (350°F) oven. Chop them up and let them cool. If you mix the cookie dough with a stand mixer, the nuts will get bashed up by the paddle during mixing. If you mix the dough by hand – which I haven’t done – you may want to chop the walnuts a little finer as they won’t receive as much of a beating. I do recommend weighing your ingredients rather than measuring by volume because: 1) it’s more accurate and 2) fewer dishes to wash.

coarsely chop the toasted walnuts

combine the dry ingredients in a bowl



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something shiny

Sunday, February 10th, 2019

Recipe: chocolate mirror glaze

This past week in Crested Butte has seen a good bit of progress for Yuki. She improved her length of sustained running during our skate ski compared to the last few times when she would slow down, fall behind, and then STOP abruptly. We also took her on the mountain at the ski resort for her first uphill ski and she was pretty good despite so many new and loud distractions like ski patrol, snow mobiles, and large grooming machines. Yuki was a trooper through it all and it helped tremendously to have Neva present to show her there was nothing to be afraid of, but rather everything to be excited about. Crested Butte provides an excellent environment for dog activities with its consistent snow, designated dog-friendly Nordic trails, dog-friendly uphill policies at the ski resort, and good backcountry coverage.


when it is -25°F outside, we stay home and snuggle until it warms up

enjoying the nordic trails on a bluebird day

frost flowers form on the river when it is really cold and calm

skiing out after skinning up the mountain with the pups

plenty of snow down in town



I see Valentine’s Day on the calendar this week and have absolutely zero plans except to possibly ski a powder day. Oh wait, I *do* have something for you all. Last September, I made a random chocolate raspberry mousse cake for Jeremy’s birthday and a few people had asked if I would post the recipe. I didn’t feel there was a recipe to post since most of the cake was made from components that have already been published on the blog. However, the chocolate mirror glaze was new, and that’s what I will discuss in this post. A glossy dark chocolate mirror glaze lends a nice wow factor to a dessert and is pretty easy to whip up. I’ll also go through the steps of my cake assembly, but the cake under the glaze can be (almost) anything you like.

The chocolate chiffon cake and the chocolate mousse recipes come from my chocolate mousse bombes recipe. If you plan to make the chocolate chiffon cake, I blogged the recipe for the hazelnut praline paste last week. In this example, I baked two 6×2-inch rounds of the chocolate chiffon cake and leveled the tops to give me two 1-inch layers of cake. This uses half of the chocolate chiffon cake recipe which can yield three 6×2-inch cakes (I had extra batter left over). I doubled the mousse recipe because I wanted enough mousse to form a half-inch layer around the cake and a thin layer on top of the cake. For raspberries, I had 3 cups of fresh raspberries for filling the mousse layer as well as garnishing the cake.


trimmed cake layers, raspberries, and chocolate mousse



I couldn’t find a 7-inch ring mold anywhere in town, but managed to improvise one using an 8-inch (point-to-point) hexagonal ring mold whose side-to-side measurement was 7 inches. I taped a strip of 4-inch acetate in a circle around the inside of the mold and set it on parchment inside of a larger (9-inch) baking pan. I set the first cake layer down in the center (base to bottom), then piped mousse on top of it (piping makes it easier). I pressed the raspberries into the mousse, not worrying too much about mousse spilling over the edge since I was surrounding the cake with a mousse layer. Next, I filled the gaps between the cake and the acetate strip with mousse. In hindsight, I should have used a smaller piping tip because it is difficult to fill the tight spots, but it mostly worked.

center the cake in the mold

top with mousse

arrange the raspberries in the mousse

fill the sides with mousse to the raspberry level



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back on track

Monday, December 10th, 2018

Recipe: mendiants

At the start of the summer I had grand plans to resume long trail runs, big hikes, and backpacking with Neva while exploring new wildernesses. Then we got a puppy. And while Yuki is an exceptional dog, puppy training can derail some (or all) of those big summertime adventures. The incessant smoke from western wildfires didn’t help either. As September neared, my oncologist said I could stop my tamoxifen (estrogen modulator), which I had been taking daily for a decade to prevent a recurrence of breast cancer. That was great news! Except I think it left me feeling tired. In the last month, I’ve finally begun to pull myself out of this funk that slowly crept in and took over my life. Part of that process involved long overdue household upgrades, massive cleaning, and also important life updates – like who will take Yuki and Neva if we both die? Folks, make sure you have a will and make sure it is up to date! Another part was putting my physical and mental health ahead of things like social engagements, social media, other people’s drama, or this blog. The older I get, the more I value my time and what I do with it.


quality time outside with a good friend and good pups



Before we get to the super fast, super easy, super awesome recipe, I need to share Maggie’s story in the hopes that someone out there will see her and realize that their life will be incomplete without this sweet girl. Maggie was surrendered this summer to RezDawg Rescue (the wonderful organization that rescued our beloved Yuki). She was terribly malnourished and neglected. Under the care of her foster family, she has returned to a healthy weight and her beautiful coat is growing back. Despite what she’s been through, she has a lot of love to give. Maggie is a smart and gentle 5-6 year old yellow lab mix who is looking for her forever family and is available for adoption now. Believe me, if we could handle a third dog, she would be my girl. If you or someone you know is interested in providing Maggie with the loving and caring home she deserves, you can apply to adopt at this link: https://www.petstablished.com/pets/public/6615. She is currently being fostered in Longmont, Colorado. You don’t have to live in Colorado to adopt Maggie!

maggie is on santa’s nice list



This year’s cookie list is shorter than last year’s list for the sake of my sanity. One of the simplest and most popular sweets I distributed last year were mendiants, which I learned to make 11 years ago in my advanced pastry skills program. Traditionally, these one- or two-bite French confections are disks of dark chocolate studded with dried fruits and nuts. They are crazy easy to make if you merely melt the chocolate without bothering to temper, but tempering the chocolate gives the final product a shiny finish, that distinctive snap, and a longer shelf life. I had a lot of fun thinking up flavor, texture, and visual combinations.

dark chocolate, candied kumquats, hazelnuts, dried apricots, chopped raw pistachios, toasted coconut flakes, pulverized freeze-dried raspberries, cocoa nibs, candied ginger, dried organic rose buds, flake sea salt, almonds, dried cranberries



If you opt to melt your chocolate, do it gently over a water bath or at half power in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring between each zap session. If you decide to temper the chocolate, you can see how I go about the seed method. You’re not limited to dark chocolate. Milk chocolate and white chocolate are a little finicky compared to dark chocolate due to the milk solids and cocoa butter content. They tend to burn more easily and temper at a lower temperature, so you’ll have to be more vigilant.

seeding the melted chocolate



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