Category Archives: Chocolate

A Peanut Butter Cookie with Finesse

Peanut butter cookies dotted with dried cherries and cocktail peanuts.
Peanut butter cookies dotted with dried cherries and cocktail peanuts.

Peanut butter and bananas — of course!

Peanut butter and jelly — you bet.

But peanut butter and dried cherries?

I admit the combo gave me the briefest pause when I first considered this particular cookie recipe.

I had been on the hunt to find a recipe to use up a big handful of dried cherries I had around. I didn’t want the usual oatmeal-cherry cookie. Or the standard chocolate chip-cherry one. Or even the typical cherry shortbread.

Been there, baked those already.

Martha Stewart’s “Peanut Butter Cookies with Dried Cherries” offered a peanut butter cookie not only studded with dried cherries, but also salted cocktail peanuts.

It also offered up a pleasant contrast to the usual heavy and indulgent peanut butter cookie archetype. As my neighbor murmured between contented bites when I shared some with her, these are “less in your face.”

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The All-Natural Red Velvety Strawberry Cake

A most unique red velvet cake.
A most unique red velvet cake.

Admittedly, the hoopla over red velvet cake has always left me perplexed.

Sure, the dramatic color captures your fancy — for a hot second.

Then, as quickly, reality tells you that’s all due to red food coloring. At which point, I say, “Pass me a wedge of all-real devil’s food cake instead.”

“Red Velvety Strawberry Cake,” though, sparked a far different reaction.

It had me all in from the get-go.

Nope, no artificial anything in this stunning cake. No food coloring whatsoever — only an entire bottle of red wine.

And if that doesn’t grab you, I don’t know what will.

Now, that my friends, is a cake.
Now, that my friends, is a cake.

To be fair, this cake doesn’t possess that vivid maroon you expect from red velvet. Instead, the wine, which first gets reduced before being added into the batter, adds the merest bit of rosiness to the dark chocolate-colored cake. The wine (I used a Pinot Noir) also adds a touch of acidity to balance out all the sweetness.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 35

Fresh bucatini and beef ragu from Etto that I cooked in a flash for dinner at home.
Fresh bucatini and beef ragu from Etto that I cooked in a flash for dinner at home.

Etto, Paso Robles

Yes, this might be a stretch for takeout, but since I actually did get everything to-go to enjoy later at home, I say it qualifies.

Plus, if you are ever in the Paso Robles area, you owe it to yourself to drop by Etto, a three-year-old boutique pasta shop started by third-generation Italian American Brian Terrizzi.

After reading an SFGate article about this charming store that makes and sells both dried and fresh pastas, I knew I had to stop in when I was in the vicinity last month to attend an outdoor wedding.

The small shop carries olive oils, salumi, cheeses, cookies, wines (including from Terrizzi’s Giornata Winery, and a slim selection of locally-grown produce. Basically, it’s everything you need to put together a simple yet satisfying Italiano meal at home.

The containers of bucatini and sauce.
The containers of bucatini and sauce.

Terrizzi learned how to make pasta from his grandmother, and from regular trips to Naples and Tuscany. He is a purist, making pasta with only organic durum semolina flour and water, which gets extruded through traditional bronze dies.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies

If you love chocolate chip cookies and adore brownies, these bar cookies are sure to satisfy.
If you love chocolate chip cookies and adore brownies, these bar cookies are sure to satisfy.

After this grueling past year and a half, you most certainly deserve a special treat.

Or two treats in one to be exact.

“Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies” is precisely that.

Let those words roll over your tongue and sear into your mind for a hot minute: Chocolate chip cookie. Plus brownies.

Stacked one on top of each other, these cookie-brownie bars are truly the best of both worlds.

And a riot of dark chocolate.

This decadent recipe is from “Martha Stewart’s Cookie Perfection: 100+ Recipes to Take Your Sweet Treats to the Next Level” (Clarkson Potter) from the Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living.

They are essentially Brookies, which are often made as individual circular cookies. This recipe streamlines that because you bake everything in one pan. Which, of course means you get to enjoy them even sooner.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 34

The butternut squash and salsa verde Milan-style pizza from Pizzone.
The delicata squash and salsa verde Milan-style pizza from Pizzone.

Pizzone, Palo Alto

Let’s start by saying that I’ve never paid nearly $70 for one pizza before ($69.90 to be exact).

But Pizzone’s pie is unlike most.

For one thing, it’s a massive 18-inches in diameter and 1-inch thick all around.

It’s also Milan-style, meaning that it’s airy, soft, fluffy, and more like focaccia.

Milan-native Dario Presezzi, founder and CEO of Redwood City’s Biotechforce Corp., put his entrepreneurial skills to use in a different way this summer when he opened this ghost kitchen inside of Palo Alto’s Vina Enoteca.

That means it’s pick-up and delivery only. And if you pick it up yourself, just note that you do so at a side door just to the left of Vina Enoteca’s main entrance.

By the time you get the pizza home, the cheese may have congealed just a bit, so you can rewarm it in the oven or zap it in the microwave for the briefest of seconds.

The whole pie.
The whole pie.

The pizza comes either in a box of two slices ($9.90 to $11.90, depending on the toppings) or as a full pizza (12 slices that will serve 6, starting at $54.90). Because the crust is thick, two slices will definitely fill you up comfortably, too.

There are five vegetarian pizzas to choose from, and four meat ones. The beauty of the whole pizza is that you can choose up to six flavors on one pie, which is what I went with.

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