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I made some of these incredible chocolate rum cake balls for a work party and judging by how only two out of 60+ balls were left at the end of it, I’m guessing they were a big hit. Chocolate and booze just never goes wrong!

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As someone who prides herself on making things from scratch, I opted to make the chocolate cake and the glaze from scratch, even though I would be mashing them up into little balls later. The original recipe didn’t include rum, but I subbed some of the hot water that went into the cake with rum for some added booze. The cake itself was pretty darn delicious and moist and rich, but I knew I couldn’t just bring in a sheet cake to the party. No, that wouldn’t have been nearly as impressive nor delicious. I saved half the cake for non-party eating purposes, giving it away to appreciative friends who don’t get no homemade goodies all that often.

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As for the other half, I smushed it all up into little balls, while also throwing in some rum, heavy cream, and chocolate sauce, the proportions of which I eyeballed until the cake mixture became suitably compact.

While the original recipe called for a dark chocolate coating, I knew it was going to be a bit too bitter, so I used half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate instead. It was an excellent call.

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Dark Chocolate Rum Cake Balls
Adapted from Cookie Madness
Makes 60~ balls

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups (8 oz) all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, natural type (try Dutch)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk, room temperature
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water (or coffee)
1/2 cup rum

Ganache
3 ounces of chopped semisweet chocolate
3 ounces of heavy cream
6 oz milk chocolate
6 oz semisweet chocolate

Instructions
Preheat oven to 325 F. Spray a 13×9 inch pan with flour-added baking spray.
Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add oil, milk, eggs and vanilla. Beat two minutes with electric mixer at medium speed. Stir in water and rum until blended. Batter will be thin.
Pour batter in the pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until skewer or pick inserted comes out clean.
Let the cake sit in the pan for about 10 minutes, then carefully turn it from the Bundt.
Let the cake cool and then drizzle it with ganache. To make ganache, heat 3 ounces of heavy cream in microwave or saucepan. Pour over 3 oz chopped dark chocolate and stir until smooth. Let cool until thick enough to drizzle.

When you are ready to make the cake balls, set aside half the cake in a large mixing bowl. Mash up the cake. If you used all the ganache in the recipe, you won’t need any extra. Add rum, heavy cream and/or chocolate sauce until cake balls hold together. I recommend adding more rum than the other two ingredients.

Line a baking sheet with wax paper or parchment. Shape the scoops into smooth balls. Line the balls up on a tray, cover the with plastic wrap and put them in the freezer until firm.

In a chocolate melting pot, top of a double boiler or in the microwave, melt the milk and semisweet chocolate.

Dip cake balls into melted chocolate and lift with two forks, allowing extra chocolate to drip back into the pot. Put the balls on a wax paper lined cookie sheet to set.

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These cookies are très chocolatey, and when I noticed how little flour it involved, I decided to swap it out entirely for gluten-free flour. Unfortunately I think it made my cookies too crumbly. That’s the downside to using gluten-free flour, it doesn’t seem to have the stretchy, bond-y properties that gluten protein has. Oh well.

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Unlike the recipe I adapted from, I didn’t have salted chocolate around, so I just used regular chocolate. The salt doesn’t seem to hold up too well in the recipe – I think sprinkling it before baking would result in a better contrast. I just forgot to =/ Try to use actual flaky sea salt; it’ll look much prettier on your cookies and I’ve found that it just tastes better.

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Salted Chocolate Truffle Cookies
Makes about 20 cookies
Adapted from Butter Baking

Ingredients
300g dark chocolate, chopped
30g unsalted butter
2 eggs
¼ cup white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup gluten-free flour (or regular all-purpose flour)
¼ tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt (plus extra, for sprinkling)
⅓ cup chocolate chips

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F) and line trays with baking paper.
Place the chopped chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring between each burst, until chocolate and butter are melted, smooth and combined.
Whisk in the sugar. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.
Add the flour, baking powder and salt, stirring to combine.
Allow the dough to cool a little, then stir in the chocolate chips.
Chill the dough in the fridge until slightly hardened.
Use a cookie scoop to drop balls of dough onto the prepared trays. Sprinkle each cookie with a little sea salt (optional and to taste).
Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are slightly cracked.
Allow to cool before removing from trays. Makes about 20 cookies.

I have two major updates in my life that will perhaps significantly impact the output of this baking blog in the future.

Firstly, I discovered that I am gluten-sensitive. This is pretty devastating news for someone who loves American desserts. Ever since I moved to New York City from Singapore, I’ve found that my internal plumbing hasn’t been working so great. The gastrointestinal discomfort that plagues me has been chronic but surmountable, which is why it took me so long to do something about it. But recently, I went to get some blood work done (thanks, full-time job and health insurance!) and tested positive for anti-gliadin antibodies. This explains everything. It explains my IBS-like symptoms ever since I moved to the US, since my diet here is certainly higher in wheat products. (Pasta, bread, cakes and cookies, vs. rice, rice noodles, congee, etc.)

One of the most misunderstood things about gluten sensitivity – that even I had – was that one has to always eat lesser versions of gluten products. Gluten-free pizza. Gluten-free cakes. Gluten-free cookies. Like, eww? Every time a bakery or a restaurant championed itself as “gluten-free” my purist instincts scoffed at the idea of having a gluten-free version of the clearly superior original. But now that I am diagnosed as gluten-sensitive, my perspective is changing.

In terms of savory foods, the perceived level of sacrifice I have to face seems alright. While I enjoy pasta and bread, these are Western staples that I rarely have at home.  There are several savory naturally gluten-free options that I prefer, such as rice, rice noodles, and so on. I even compromise with my Austrian boyfriend by eating potatoes instead of bread. But what will I do now that I can’t enjoy classic American desserts? Red velvet cake, chocolate chip cookies, brownies… all these are things that are just full of gluten.

The second thing that’s misunderstood about gluten sensitivity is perhaps the severity of the symptoms. Granted, this is on a case by case basis, but given that many gluten-sensitive individuals go years undiagnosed, you can infer that the symptoms aren’t all that bad. And really they aren’t. I have never been held captive in bed, or entered a life-threatening state due to this condition. But have I been too bloated to exercise, lethargic the entire day after a breakfast of pancakes, and excluded the possibility of wearing certain outfits due to my probable three-months-pregnant waistline by day’s end? Yes.

Armed with this new-found understanding of my body, am I going to be posting more gluten-free recipes? Probably. But mostly because those recipes are MEANT to be gluten-free, such as macarons, certain brownies, puddings, some Asian desserts… I’ve grown up on Asian desserts such as red bean soupcheng tng, and dried beancurd skin soup, so I have a wider repertoire of desserts than your usual baked butter/flour/sugar/egg combo. And thank goodness I can still consume dairy products with wild abandon. Cheesecake and ice cream in my belly!

So why am I still baking gluten-ridden double chocolate chip cookies? Because I like chocolate cookies, plan and simple. But this gives me cause to exercise a little more self-restraint, to enjoy baking for its process as much as the finished product.

Also, I just moved into a new apartment and I was burning for the opportunity to use the AWESOME NEW OVEN THAT FITS A FULL SIZED (13×18) BAKING SHEET! This is the second major update. I can’t tell you how much grief it gave me to have to use a 10×15 baking sheet. My baking times were essentially doubled due to how pathetically small that “urban living” oven was. Sure, it had a sleeker stainless steel finish but who cares about a nice looking kitchen when you can’t cook properly in it. But now, I can bake twice as fast AND use my awesome non-stick silicone sheet! It saves me money I’d otherwise be spending on parchment paper and the clean up is so quick.

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I also get SUNLIGHT in the kitchen to take pretty pictures of my food. Before I’d have to actually move my food into the balcony of my bedroom in order to get some flattering natural light.

These cookies are easy to make, bite-sized and its crumbly, sandy texture is rather European. The chocolate force is strong in this one, so definitely use real chocolate instead of crappy hydrogenated oil chocolate chips. Some packaged chocolate chips have a higher melting point due to the hydrogenated oils and thus stay intact when you bake them, but don’t you want ooey gooey meltedy chocolatey goodness in your cookies?

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I tweaked the recipe a little bit, and the most significant substitution is that instead of using light brown sugar, I used half regular sugar and half dark brown sugar. I’ve realized that you can calibrate the molasses level in brown sugar by simply adjusting the proportions of your dark brown and regular sugar content. Why buy three kinds of sugar when you can buy just two?

Anyway, I hope you enjoy these cookies in a way that my gluten-sensitive bowels can’t.

Crumbly Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 50 small cookies
Adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen and David Lebovitz

1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (25 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
5 ounces (140 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped in chip-sized chunks
½ cup, plus 1 tablespoon (125 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup (50 g) (packed) light brown sugar
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla and/or chocolate extract**
optional: cinnamon salt or fleur de sel

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.

1. In a small bowl, sift both flours, cocoa powder and baking soda together.

2. In a clean, dry bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or in a microwave), melt half of the chocolate (2½ oz, 70g), then let cool to room temperature.

3. Beat the butter with a standing electric mixer, or by hand, just until smooth. Beat in the sugar, salt and vanilla or chocolate extract.

4. By hand, stir in the melted chocolate, then the flour-cocoa mixture. Then finally the chocolate chunks.

5. Scoop the dough into rounded teaspoons and place evenly-spaced on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon salt or fleur de sel, if desired, then bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cookies take on a slightly dry sheen to the top. They may feel soft, but don’t worry; they’re firm up just fine when cool.


Sables are French shortbread biscuits, and it’s distinguished by its sandy, gritty texture and rich mouthfeel as a result of its high butter content. What sets these Pierre Herme’s cookies apart from a traditional sable is that it’s double chocolate – cocoa powder in the batter, and good quality chocolate studded within the cookies.


I’m currently learning French right now, and naturally I’ve been gravitating to all things French, and by extension, all things European as well. After having had the original Sachertorte from the Sacher Hotel in Vienna, I realized something: Europeans, unlike Americans, like their pastries dry and crumbly! When you think of American pastries, you think of chewy chocolate chip cookies and moist red velvet cake and creamy cheesecake. European pastries tend to have more finesse, and are carefully constructed and quite delicate. Think of macarons and crepes. Such refined things!

This chocolate sable recipe actually helps to bridge the gap between refined European and homemade American desserts. The cookie itself has the gritty, sandy texture of a sable, but has melty hand-chopped chocolate chips within it. It’s also a slice-and-bake cookie, i.e. you roll up the dough into a log and slice as many cookies as you want, so you can have them fresh whenever it’s convenient.


This is a recipe where it’s crucial that you use good quality butter and chocolate, because their flavors are so pronounced. I use Trader Joe’s unsalted butter and Pound Plus Bittersweet Chocolate. Using chopped chocolate instead of chocolate chips is highly recommended. I personally never use commercial chocolate chips because they make a cookie look so… lacking in character. I love it when hand-chopped chocolate swirls and melts into a cookie. It just looks and tastes wonderful.

Pierre Herme’s Chocolate Sables
From NYTimes
Makes about 36 cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick and 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chip-size bits.

1. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together. Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat at medium speed until the butter is soft and creamy. Add the sugars, salt and vanilla extract and beat for another 1 or 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the sifted dry ingredients. Mix only until the dry ingredients are incorporated (the dough may look crumbly). For the best texture, work the dough as little as possible. Toss in the chocolate; mix to incorporate.

2. Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface, divide in half and, working with one half at a time, shape the dough into a log that is 1 1/2 inches in diameter. (As you’re shaping the log, flatten it once or twice and roll it up from one long side to the other, to make certain you haven’t got an air channel.) Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill them for at least 1 hour. (Wrapped airtight, the logs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for 1 month.)

3. Center a rack in the oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

4. Working with a sharp, thin-bladed knife, slice rounds 1/2-inch thick. (If the cookies break, squeeze the broken-off bit back onto the cookie.) Place the cookies on the parchment-lined sheets, leaving an inch of space between them. Bake only 1 sheet at a time and bake each sheet for 12 minutes. (The cookies will not look done nor will they be firm, but that is the way they should be.) Transfer the sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest, on the sheet, until they are only just warm. Repeat with the second sheet of cookies.

Note: It is very important that you not overbake the cookies, and let them cool completely before you remove them from the baking sheet.

Sundays as a full-time student and Sundays as an intern are worlds apart. During the school semester, Sundays is when I scramble to finish my homework that I’ve left neglected over the weekend. However, now Sundays are for me to contemplate what I’d like to bake and what creative concoctions I can conjure. (Guttural alliteration!) The idea for this was actually somewhat fortuitous. I was cycling to Chinatown for my weekly groceries on the cheap, and I thought about how I could incorporate the chocolate stout I randomly bought into a baked good. I thought back to the whiskey bread I had at Gwynnett Street, and I was like, hey, beer has yeast. Bread needs yeast to rise. I should make a beer bread!

Of course, beer bread isn’t an original idea. Google yielded hundreds of beer bread recipes, all in various incarnations: with ale, with cheese, with scallions, etc. Me being me, I decided to put chocolate and bacon in my beer bread. I know, I’m starting to get a little bit predictable on this front and I’m also five years behind the bacon trend, but you really can’t go wrong with bacon. I also converted the recipe into muffin form because it’s so much easier to freeze individual portions and reheat each one when the munchies strike. I loved how simple the recipe was: it really is a matter of just mixing everything into one bowl and then baking it. No complicated mixing techniques, no compulsory order of ingredients: just slosh everything into a bowl and go. While the concept behind beer bread is that the yeast in beer will help the bread rise, I think the rising action is more a consequence of the liberal amount of baking powder that went into it. This is definitely more a bread than a muffin, so don’t be disappointed if it isn’t as much of a dessert as you’d hope it might be. The texture of the bread is more like a healthy breakfast muffin. Feel free to spread butter or cream cheese onto this slightly stout-tasting bread.

Chocolate Stout Beer Bread
Makes 12 muffins
Adapted from Food.com

Ingredients

3 cups flour (sifted)
3 teaspoons baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
1 teaspoon salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
1/4 cup sugar
1 (12 ounce) cans chocolate stout
1/2 cup melted butter ( 1/4 cup will do just fine)
Chocolate chips or bacon bits, optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
Pour into 12 muffin tins.
Bake 15 minutes, remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes.


When you’re craving chocolatey goodness with a chewy texture, these cookies are the answer for you. They are simple to make and comfortingly delicious, with a brownie-like texture with a distinct cocoa taste. The crackling with a glossy top makes it especially visually appealing; I didn’t want to mar it with a sprinkling of sugar. I suspect they would be really good with milk; I also crumbled a cookie on top of some Greek yogurt with a spoonful of blackberry jam and it was a pretty yummy parfait.


The original recipe seemed like it’d make a pretty large batch, so I reduced it by a third with some hocus pocus and good math skills. Click through to the original link for the full recipe, but feel free to use my version if you have a kitchen scale.

Small Batch Chewy Chocolate Crackle cookies
Adapted from Kokocooks
Makes about 20 cookies

83g flour (I used whole wheat flour to no ill effect)
1/3 tsp baking soda (I used a heaping 1/4 tsp)
1/12 tsp salt (try a pinch of it)
2/3 sticks butter
2/3 cups brown sugar
3.5 tbsp cocoa powder
Dash of vanilla essence
1 large egg
2 and 2/3 oz of bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line 3 cookie sheets with a baking liner or parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar together. Beat in the cocoa powder and vanilla until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. Add the melted chocolate and beat on low until blended. Add the flour mixture and mix on low until just combined. (My cookies turned out fine when I added the flour mixture last, effectively making it a one bowl recipe.)

Shape dough into 1 ½ inch balls. Place balls about 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Flatten the balls slightly with the palm of your hand. Sprinkle sugar over the tops of the cookies. Bake one sheet a time, until the cookies are a bit cracked on the top, 11-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack and cool completely.