Tag Archives: chocolate

Amsterdam + Bruges + Foreign Food = totaal koel week

For my job, I travel occasionally. I work in marketing but I work with lots of sales representatives, who mainly do the traveling. But for the big industry tradeshows, it’s important having the marketing team join them, to meet business partners, to be more connected to the industry, etc.

Which is amazing for myself. I never dreamed of having a job that brought me to The Netherlands! At least this early in my career! I never thought I’d even go to The Netherlands!

This was my second year going on this work trip. It’s great, because all our meals are expensed, and the restaurants we go to are vastly more expensive than what I’d pay for traveling on my own!

This is a journey of the food I ate: “Smakeleijk eet”, as they say in Dutch!

On the first night, a co-worker and I went out to eat, and when asked what I wanted to eat, I said “Something different and unique.” Somehow, I found myself eating pizza, though at an admittedly fancy Italian restaurant. But even the proscuitto on it didn’t liven up this relatively boring meal. AND I couldn’t take the left overs with me, which I love doing.


I love traditional Dutch breakfast. I love it more than North American breakfast. Even than English breakfast! I love meats and good cheeses and eggs with tomatoes and cucumbers, and of course the sweet jam or Appelstroop (apple syrup, a staple in Holland!). The hotel I stayed at this year even had smoked salmon in the breakfast buffet!


They also had this wrapped sausage thing, which I found tasty, but didn’t know what it was. I just found out that it’s raw beef sausage. Yum? But actually, it was seriously really great. I wonder if I can find it in the States?


The presentation of coffee and tea is way more impressive than in the States. At really nice places in the States, the presentation for these drinks can be nice, but in many places in Europe, any standard restaurant makes ordering coffee or tea a nice little experience, with a little Biscoff cookie or other treat! I miss that when return to the States!



Dutch Stroopwafels (syrup waffles): the simple placement of syrup inside thin slices of waffle – a food originally made for the poor – is quite likely the best gosh darn treat I’ve ever and will ever taste in my life. It’s fantastically delicious! (Fresh or packaged!) I ate so many of these while I was there!


Cadbury, and other chocolate companies sell what’s called “drinking chocolate” which I’m sure is beyond amazing. But that’s still just measly powdered chocolate. This, below, was a chunk of chocolate that you stir into a cup of hot milk. And you get extra chocolate treats on the side. It’s not, but it’s almost too much.


Below is a delicious “Dutch Coffee” which involves coffee, a Dutch liqueur and I think someone said something about egg?? I forget, but it was WONDERFUL. I tried looking it up, but Googling “Dutch coffee” brings up mainly “Dutch coffee shop” results.


Below is a delicious mint pea soup that I got at the restaurant connected to my hostel, St. Christopher’s in Bruges. (Stay there if you go to Bruges! It was great!)


When I bought this salami panini, I was regretting getting something so simple on my first night in Bruges, but it was quite literally melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I was also sure that I’d only eat half of it, but to my astonishment, I ate that gosh darn entire sandwich.


And after the sandwich, I still had room for this Belgian Waffle! I’m not huge on too much sweet, so I told him to put less chocolate on it than normal. He acted as if it was blasphemous, but obliged. “But it’s Belgian Chocolate!” I had pistachio ice cream, because I’d deluded myself into thinking it would be less sweet than other flavors, like chocolate.
It was quite good, but, as you might have guessed, very sweet for me. I only ate half and then, sadly, chucked it.



Dark Chocolate & Banana Muffins

UPDATE: I just discovered that Kim and I, here at Fourthbrookstick, have been awarded the Liebster Award from Nicola at Unhip Squirrel! I couldn’t believe it! We’d like to offer other people ideas for new ways of eating and thinking about food and cooking, and it’s great to be recognized for that! Thanks so much Nicola! Make sure to visit her blog too, because she’s got some delicious stuff!

Round up your best recipes, y’all, because now Kim and I must now choose 5 from all your amazing blogs to forward this award to!

And on that note, of unique recipes, here’s a not-so-startlingly unique concept, but delicious never-the-less!

With peanuts. Of course. I was inspired to make this from Caron’s Chocolate Banana Bread recipe at VeganMonster. I’ve been waiting for my bananas to ripen enough to bake with, and when I read Caron’s blog, I’d found a match!

I don’t actually own measuring spoons, so since I’ve moved out of Mom & Dad’s, when I cook, I kind of got in the habit of guesstimating, well, everything. So I was a pleasantly surprised when these muffins turned out a perfect light, moist texture and delicious taste.

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup flax seed

1/4 cup oat flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

a couple pinches salt

1/2 cup applesauce

2 bananas

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips +/or crushed peanuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine whole wheat flour, flax seed, oat flour, baking soda, cinnamon, chocolate chips and peanuts in one bowl.

Mush bananas and combine with applesauce. These, and the dark chocolate, are our sweeteners. Notice there’s no sugar or butter in this recipe. This is an incredibly tasty, “no-guilt”, as they say, muffin. Dark chocolate, as opposed to milk chocolate, or even semi-sweet chocolate, has less sugar and cocoa butter (fat), while tasting, in my opinion, far better than milk chocolate.

Slowly add flour mixture to applesauce mixture, folding it into itself.

Spray muffin pan, and fill muffin cups to somewhat overflowing. Bake for about 15 minutes, but check on them after 10.

What I thought: Once these were baked, and I’d taken my photographs, I curled up on the couch and ate these with a cup of coffee and read “Sense & Sensibility.” Perfect. They were perfectly sweet, healthy, and filling.


Chocolate Molasses Drop Cookies

In my experience, vegan cooking is incredibly underestimated. Beth’s and my good friend Caron over at Vegan Monster makes delicious vegan dishes and baked goods – especially baked goods. Vegan baking won me over last year when my professor at Michigan State, Adam Brown, created the best (the BEST) vegan chocolate cake. I asked for the recipe, but alas, I forgot to add baking powder, and even then I’m sure Adam neglected to mention the tablespoon of magic that undoubtedly goes in it. Caron made it and you can find the recipe here.

But this cookie recipe was not inspired by that cake, it was inspired by Caron’s amazing chocolate chip cookies. However, I changed a few of the ingredients. My version is not vegan, but simply because I did not have the vegan alternatives.

2 cups flour
2 tsps baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbps cinnamon (I like cinnamon)
chocolate chips (or carob chips) – as many as you like.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup butter (or vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup milk (or soy milk or water)

Set oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add the chocolate chips. In another bowl mix sugar, oil, and molasses. Add the vanilla and milk. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Spoon onto baking sheet and bake for 8-9 minutes.


Cocoa Créme Fraîche cupcakes

I very very very loosely followed this recipe, a by that I mean, I just took the idea and ran with it. I recently bought créme fraîche from the local co-op food store (where Beth and I get our milk in glass jugs that we return on our next visit – very environmentally friendly!). But I’m not sure how much I like it. It’s just… too rich! I do eat whole-fat cheese, but I drink skim milk and eat skim yogurt, and other dairy products I buy are usually skim or low-fat, so perhaps my taste buds are just not used to it. Anyway, I thought it would be a fantastic use to the créme fraîche to bake with it, and thus, cocoa créme fraîche cupcakes! And, er… I cut a LOT of butter and sugar out of the recipe, so it’s definitely not for the sweet-toothed.

1 cup  all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used sea salt, but my cupcakes came out tasting very salty, which so if using sea salt, lower the amount even more)
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 pat unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup crème fraîche, at room temperature and stirred until runny, plus more for serving

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray two 12-cup muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray or line with baking cups.
Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In another bowl, beat the butter, egg and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and crème fraîche. Combine all ingredients slowly while constantly mixing.
Spoon the batter into the muffin pans, filling each one two-thirds full (will not fill all 24 cups). Bake the cupcakes for 15 minutes. I baked mine for 9 minutes, and they were oh so gooey. Almost too gooey, but I loved it. What I didn’t love was the salty-ness. Perhaps I’ll make them again sometime and fix that.


No-Bake Chocolate Bottom Pumpkin Tart

Beth gave me the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook for Christmas, which I browsed through once before and decided was one of the coolest material things to own (combining two loves, Harry Potter and cooking). So last night Beth and I were invited to dinner at our friends’ house for fondue (which was amazing! A great idea for hosting a dinner party – you eat slow and have plenty of time to talk!). Beth and I brought dessert. We decided to make a chocolate pumpkin tart (served at the beginning of the year feast in Prisoner of Azkaban. Harry, Ron, and Hermione can’t wait for it to be cleared so they can congratulate Hagrid for getting the Care of Magical Creatures position). I can’t find my battery for my camera, so I took this pictures using Photobooth on my computer, so I’m very sorry for the poor quality. And if you happen to have a Canon XSi usuable battery, I’m in the market.

What’s great about this pie is it’s better made early so it can sit in the fridge and set and you have more time to get ready for the dinner.

It’s called a no-bake pie, but you do have to bake the crust if you’re going to make it yourself.

Tart Dough
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbsp granulated sugar
6 tbsp cold butter
1 large egg yolk
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla

Combine flour, salt and sugar in food processor and pulse. Scatter small pieces of butter over flour and pulse about 15 times (until it resembles course yellow flour, and try not to over-pulse, the dough will come our differently). Whisk together egg yolk, cream, and vanilla. Pour over flour mixture and mix with spatula until it begins to stick together. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or up to three days.

When you’re ready to bake the crust, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Flour your work space generously and roll the dough out to 11″ circle on with a floured rolling pin. Fit dough into a 9″ tart pan. Prick the bottom with a fork and cover with aluminum foil so the crust doesn’t brown too quickly. Fill the pan with pie weights or dried beans or rice (which will brown the beans or rice, so toss them afterwords. We used rice and kept it to see if it’s still edible!). Bake for 20 minutes. Remove weights and foil, lower temperature to 350 degrees and bake another 7 to 10 minutes until crust is golden brown. Remove and let cool.

Chocolate Bottom
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Place cream and chocolate in microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for two minutes stopping to stir every 30 seconds. You can also use a double boiler by boiling water in a pan and placing another pan on top with the cream and chocolate. Never heat chocolate in a saucepan that is directly in contact with the stovestop, you will burn the chocolate. Stir until smooth and pour into tart shell. Let cool before adding pumpkin filling.

Pumpkin Filling
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs

1 tbsp cornstarch (I forgot this ingredient and it turned out fantastic still, but the cornstarch will thicken the filling, which might just help with keeping it looking like a piece of pie rather than a blob of yumminess. Tastes great either way.

Combine pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and heavy cream in medium saucepan until hot, stirring frequently. Whisk eggs with cornstarch and add to pan, stirring constantly until hot and bubbling. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Poor pumpkin filling over chocolate bottom and smooth with spatula. Refrigerate until firm.

We all found this pie incredibly delicious. It was not particularly sweet, but the heavy cream gave it a wonderful taste. The tart crust was fantastic. I think the chocolate bottom was the best part. Hogwarts house elves know how to cook! Though I’m guessing they don’t have a microwave in their kitchens.