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Dark Chocolate Bark is studded with sweet dried cranberries and salty pistachios, and finished with a sprinkling of sea salt – perfect for dessert to an elegant wine and cheese pairing or for a holiday gift.

Cranberry-Pistachio Dark Chocolate Bark

I’ve been trying really hard to keep our schedule free and clear. I’ve failed miserably. Somehow, over the past two weeks, we ended up attending 4 potlucks, hosting friends for an evening 3 times, and hosting overnight guests for a long weekend. Add this to school Halloween events, prescheduled doctor’s appointments, and work crazy and I’m seriously ready for a vacation.

A couple of weeks ago, I attempted to get ahead of all of these events. I spent an epic weekend cooking and baking to get us through the busy week and the numerous events. That weekend, not only did I make Kahlua Truffle Triangles, but I made a Cranberry-Pistachio Dark Chocolate Bark – a sweet perfect for an evening out without the kids (potluck!). Bonus? Like most candies, bark keeps pretty well at in at a cool room temperature, so I didn’t need to spend that Saturday baking (in between family photos and a Halloween potluck party) before heading out to the party, an hour away.

Cranberry-Pistachio Dark Chocolate Bark

This chocolate bark – or at leas some variation of it – will definitely be included in my holiday baking this year. Because it keeps so well, I can make it a bit ahead of time instead of stressing out at the last minute and the recipients won’t have to consume it immediately, along with all of the other holiday goodies they’re sure to make and receive.

Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of this post for more #CranberryWeek recipes! Thanks again to Caroline at Caroline’s Cooking for hosting!

Cranberry-Pistachio Dark Chocolate Bark

Ingredients

  • 3 lb. good-quality 70% cocoa chocolate, divided
  • 1 c. Dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 c. Pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tsp. Sea salt flakes

Instructions

  1. Lay out two baking sheets. Line each with parchment paper, taping paper to the baking sheet in each corner. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine chopped cranberries and pistachios. Toss to mix and set aside.
  3. Take 2 lbs. of the chocolate and chop into small pieces. Place in the top bowl of a double broiler set over medium heat and allow to melt, stirring occasionally. Continue until chocolate is melted and the temperature (taken with an instant read thermometer) is between 115 and 120. Turn off stove and remove bowl from double broiler. Wipe bottom dry with a dish towel.
  4. Place 1/2 lb. of the remaining chocolate into melted chocolate. Fold melted chocolate around solid chunk, which will begin to melt. Continue folding and mixing until mixture reaches 95F. Remove solid chunk from mixture, setting onto a piece of wax or parchment paper to harden and save for later use. Add remaining 1/2 lb. chocolate piece and repeat until mixture reaches 90F.
  5. Quickly pour half of the chocolate onto one of the prepared baking sheets.
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Recipe Notes: 

  • Recipe by Books n’ Cooks, but I followed the tempering technique outlined in Fine Cooking, issue #144. Fine Cooking also recommends using the largest blocks of chocolate you can find for making bark, in particular for the tempering, as the larger blocks are easier to remove. (When removing the blocks from the chocolate, place on a piece of wax paper and pop back in the fridge to set again. Store in an airtight container or baggie and save for use in another recipe.)
  • If you choose to use milk or white chocolate for this recipe, please be sure to read the above Fine Cooking article, as the temperatures listed in this recipe will be different.
  • I used Scharffenberger chocolate for this recipe.
Cranberry-Pistachio Dark Chocolate Bark on Books n' Cooks

See all the other recipes being shared for today’s final Cranberry Week post – we hope you’ve enjoyed following along and will try some of the many cranberry creations!

 

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Tart cranberries are sweetened with sugar and an orange to create a relish perfect for the Thanksgiving table, a topping for breakfast favorites like french toast and waffles, or a spread for turkey sandwiches.

Cranberry Orange Relish

I think I’ve mentioned before, but I’m not really a big fan of Thanksgiving. I can take or leave most of the food, and pretty much never host. I’ll bring a dish to a friend’s house when we crash their dinner, but the lack of Thanksgiving recipes on this blog give you an idea of how little I get excited about the holiday. I eschew the standard pumpkin or pecan pies for a cranberry pear tart, or maybe, as a homage to the traditional, a chocolate pecan pie. I’ve got some lovely cranberry appetizers on this blog, which scream fall and Thanksgiving appetizers to me. That’s as close as I’ve really gotten to Thanksgiving recipes on this blog.

Until now. This cranberry orange relish recipe is similar to one my uncle brought one year to Thanksgiving at my parents house, when I was growing up. Compared to the canned cranberry… sauce? gelatin? that my mom used to buy, this was wonderful. Tart cranberries sweetened with sugar and orange, with a hint of Grand Marnier – yum! It’s a wonderful side dish/condiment for your Thanksgiving table, or even better – a topping for brie, pancakes or french toast, or a spread for Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwiches.

Cranberry Orange Relish

Thanks again to Caroline at Caroline’s Cooking for hosting #CranberryWeek again! Be sure to scroll down to check out more fall cranberry recipes for all occasions!

Cranberry Orange Relish #CranberryWeek

Ingredients

  • 1 12-ounce package fresh for frozen fresh cranberries (see note below)
  • 1 medium orange, cut into eighths, not peeled with seeds removed
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbs. Grand Marnier

Instructions

  1. Place cranberries and orange slices into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until desired consistency.
  2. Transfer to a glass bowl. Stir in sugar and Grand Marnier.
  3. Refrigerate at least an hour, or until serving.
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Recipe Notes:

  • I used frozen cranberries in this recipe, which gives it a more liquidy texture (like in the photos above). If you use fresh cranberries, the relish will have much less liquid.
  • This recipe was adapted from Ocean Spray Cranberries.
  • Relish may be frozen for future use on pancakes, waffles, sandwiches, baked brie, or for use in other recipes. I recommend freezing in 2 Tbs. portions (i.e. in an ice cube tray) or in 1 cup portions.
Cranberry Orange Relish on Books n' Cooks

See all the other recipes being shared today as part of Cranberry week – follow #CranberryWeek on social media for all the tasty cranberry creations:

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Cranberry Moscow Mules are a fall twist on a classic cocktail.

Welcome to the start of Cranberry Week, a week-long virtual event for all things cranberry. #CranberryWeek is the official hashtag, so be sure to follow along on social media all week long to see the recipes we have in store for you. And big thanks to Caroline at Caroline’s Cooking for hosting this event!

Cranberry Moscow Mules

Moscow Mules seemed to be all of the rage last year, but I was never impressed. They were alright, but not something I’d choose or get excited about. And I doubted that I could finish a whole one.

But Moscow Mules were everywhere – all over the blogs, on many restaurant menus. What was wrong with me? Did I just try them on an off day? And then I started experimenting with versions made with some other flavor – a bright fruit juice or an herb – and my opinion changed. I found that while I might not get excited about a traditional Moscow Mule, I enjoyed the drink much more when there was some fun twist to the original recipe.

My go-to version is a Cranberry Moscow Mule. I always have a couple bottles of fresh cranberry juice in the pantry and a bag of cranberries in the freezer (stashed away when they’re plentiful in fall), making it easy for me to mix up any time I wanted a change from my evening glass of wine.

Cranberry Moscow Mules

What do you think about the Moscow Mule? Do you enjoy the traditional version or do you have a favorite variation you enjoy? Please leave a comment and tell me! I’m always on the look out for new flavor combinations.

Cranberry Moscow Mules

Yield: 1 Drink

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. good-quality vodka (I like Grey Goose)
  • 4 oz. cranberry juice
  • 1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 4ish oz. ginger beer
  • fresh or frozen cranberries and a lime slice for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a copper mug or your choice glassware (mugs hold 12 oz.), fill a third of the way with ice. Add vodka, cranberry juice, lime juice, and ginger beer. Stir gently. Garnish with cranberries and lime slice, if desired.
  2. Serve immediately.
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See all the other cranberry creations being shared as we kick off Cranberry week today – follow #CranberryWeek to see all the delicious recipes.

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Give a homemade snack for the holidays this year. Sweet, sugar-cinnamon Chex Mix will be a winner with kids and adults alike.

Churro Chex Mix

Guys, this fall has turned out to be way busier than I ever planned it to be, and things don’t seem to be slowing down. It’s so bad that I think I’ve accepted that I won’t be hosting a holiday party this year, or even a brunch for our closest friends. I LOVE the annual tradition, but you know what, I just have to keep myself sane. And this year, there’s just no way I can commit to it.

So instead, I’ll talk to you about last year. I hosted a brunch for a couple of our closest family friends. While I missed our annual party, I switched it out for a brunch so that close friends could bring their young children without having to bump into nap time. And I shrunk the guest list way down to keep from stressing out and spending hours cooking and baking.

Churro Chex Mix

Even though the brunch was simpler than my child-free parties, I still wanted to do a little something special for friends. The children received small Christmas gifts, the men received boozy brownies, and the woman received sweet, cinnamony Chex Mix. Want to talk about a snack that is like crack? Both the ladies and the lucky children who snuck fistfuls loved it. I couldn’t stop eating the leftovers. It’s quick and easy to make and is soooo yummy. Gift it as a gift, serve or bring it to an upcoming holiday gathering, or hoard it for yourself. There’s no wrong answer. 🙂

Churro Chex Mix #FoodGifts

Yield: 10 Cups

Ingredients

  • cooking spray
  • 9 c. Chex cereal (Rice Chex, Corn Chex, or a combination of the two)
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 c. light brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/4 c. light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Prep: Place cereal in a very large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. Cook: In a large pot, heat brown sugar, butter, salt, and corn syrup. Stir until butter is melted and sugar is mostly dissolved. Bring to a boil. Let boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda.
  5. Pour mixture over cereal, and stir until cereal is completely coated. Turn out onto prepared baking sheet. Spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar, enough to coat. Put the extra aside.
  6. Bake for 5 minutes. Flip and spread out. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar and bake for another 3 minutes. Chex Mix will be starting to turn golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Break into pieces.
  8. Store in an airtight container.
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This recipe was adapted from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

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Book Review: Life, On the Line{Book Review}

Life, On the Line:
A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat

By Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on the link and purchase, I make a very small percentage (at no additional cost to you!) which goes towards maintenance of this blog. Thanks for your support!

Life, On the Line is the story of Grant Achatz, a young man from Michigan who grew up in the kitchens of family restaurants and how he rose to become one of the greatest chefs in America.

Review/Recommendation: Although I consider myself to be somewhat of a foodie, Grant Achatz was unknown to me until my husband received his gorgeous cookbook, Alinea, one year for Christmas. After paging through the cookbook – which was more of a coffee table book full of incredible photos than a cookbook for the home cook – I immediately ordered Life, On the Line to learn more about Achatz.

Achatz’s story – his drive and passion for food and cooking – was incredible, and shown through every aspect of the book. I was rooting for him from the beginning, as a young chef out of culinary school who wanted nothing more than to learn and become the best. We readers watched Achatz grow, experiment, and find himself in Life, On the Line. We watched him nurture his restaurant and his food to become Best Restaurant in America, per Gourmet magazine.

I also was really touched by Achatz’s relationship with his mentor, Thomas Keller of The French Laundry. Another famous chef from one of the country’s best restaurants, I loved reading about how Keller mentored Achatz, encouraged him to find his own way, and cheered on his successes.

About 80% into the book, the tone changed completely as Achatz’s life was turned upside-down in his early 30s. For those that don’t know, shortly after Achatz’s restaurant took off and started receiving national accolades, the chef was diagnosed with stage IV squamous cell carcinoma – tongue cancer. The end of the book was emotional and sometimes tough to get through, as the reader followed Achatz’s battle for his life – his fight to find the will to survive, the journey to figure out how to keep his tongue and his livelihood, the torture of his treatments, and his struggle to maintain his passion for food.

Food-lovers would love the insight into the drive and passion of one of America’s greatest chefs. But truthfully, Achatz’s story should inspire everyone to work hard to make their dreams come true, despite any obstacles that get tossed in their way.

Life, On the Line is available on Amazon.

 

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A rich chocolate bread topped with a generous sprinkle of sea salt, children and adults alike will enjoy this Chocolate Zucchini Bread, or “Chocolate Cake,” for those fearful of veggies!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Disclaimer: Thank you to #Choctoberfest Sponsors  Barleans, The PinterTest Kitchen and our gold sponsor Imperial Sugar for providing prizes for #Choctoberfest free of charge. These companies, as well as sponsors Rodelle and Davis Chocolate also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #Choctoberfest.  All opinions are my own.

Sweet things happen when families are together in the kitchen. When I pull out my sugar jar – which is currently filled to the brim with Imperial Sugar, my kiddos come running. They know that Mommy is going to be making something, and even if they won’t eat it, they’re sure going to help make it. I have memories from baking with my own mother and grandparents and I love the time I spend making those same lifelong memories with my own children. Holidays and every day.

And so, a couple of weeks ago, the sugar jar came out and little feet came running. Out came the flour, Rodelle cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. What are we making, Mommy? Wait for us, we want to help! We set up the ingredients, got each kid propped up on a stool and started measuring and stirring.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

One ingredient remained hidden from my kiddos though. Remember all of that zucchini that I had this summer? Well, some of it ended up shredded and in my freezer for baking at a later date. And one of those bags of zucchini was destined for the recipe the kiddos and I were making. They just didn’t know it.

You see, I love my usual zucchini bread recipe, but the kids won’t touch it because they can see flecks of green. With this bread, the kids can’t see the zucchini. I can call the bread “chocolate cake” and they’ll eat it with no problem. While not the healthiest out there, the little bit of zucchini in each slice is more vegetable they usually get in a day. (Side Note: Can someone please tell me when picky eaters get easier? Anyone? Lies being accepted!) For myself, I added a generous sprinkle of sea salt to the top of the bread, the perfect balance to the sweet, rich chocolate bread.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

HUGE thanks to Imperial Sugar and Rodelle for sponsoring #Choctoberfest! Be sure to scroll down to enter the GIVEAWAY, which includes a ton of sugar and a $100 gift card to Williams Sonoma both from Imperial Sugar, as well as some other goodies. Full giveaway details here.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Yield: 1 Loaf

Ingredients

  • cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 c. packed shredded zucchini (unpeeled)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. Dutch process cocoa powder (I used Rodelle)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus more for top
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 3/4 c. packed light brown sugar (I used Imperial Sugar)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (I used Rodelle)
  • 1 c. semisweet chocolate chips, divided

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Place shredded zucchini in a clean towel or wrap in cheese cloth. Squeeze to get out most of the water. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, stir or whisk together eggs, melted butter, canola oil, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add shredded zucchini, breaking up any large pieces. Stir in dry ingredients. When almost all of the dry ingredients are mixed in but some of the flour mixture remains on the sides and bottom, add 3/4 c. chocolate chips. Continue mixing until chocolate chips are evenly distributed and no more flour is on sides of pan.
  5. Pour into prepared loaf pan, spreading as needed with a spoon or spatula and tapping the counter with the pan a few times for dough to settle. Top with remaining 1/4 c. chocolate chips and a generous sprinkling of sea salt.
  6. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center comes out mostly clean. The bread is moist, so it likely won't be complete clean. Don't overbake.
  7. Allow bread to cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan and placing on a serving dish.
  8. Store airtight at room temperature.
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This recipe was rewritten but barely adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Chocolate Zucchini Bread on Books n' Cooks

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Enjoy this sweet, crunchy granola by the handful for snack or atop a big bowl of yogurt for breakfast. Easy to make and easy to customize to taste, this Chocolate Coconut Granola is sure to please. 

Chocolate Coconut Granola

Disclaimer: Thank you to #Choctoberfest Sponsors  Barleans, The PinterTest Kitchen and our gold sponsor Imperial Sugar for providing prizes for #Choctoberfest free of charge. These companies, as well as sponsors Rodelle and Davis Chocolate also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #Choctoberfest . All opinions are my own.

Do you prefer your breakfasts sweet or savory? I enjoy sweet breakfasts – like pastries and cinnamon buns – but tend to find that I’m hungry an hour or two later. For that reason, I tend to enjoy savory breakfasts with a protein + carb combo. When I want to satisfy my sweet tooth while still having a fairly healthy breakfast, my default is to turn to granola.

Made at home, granola is not nearly hard as most of what you might purchase at the grocery store. It’s actually quite easy to make and very easy to customize to your liking. This particular granola has a wonderful richness from the Rodelle cocoa powder, and sweetness from the Imperial Sugar and toffee pieces. There is a subtle coconut flavor from the coconut oil and the unsweetened coconut chips. Slivered almonds adds crunch and protein. Served with a bowl of your favorite yogurt and you have a sweet but relatively healthy (and filling!) breakfast.

This particular recipe is also a wonderful snack. I’ve been eating it by the handful instead of a piece of chocolate, to satisfy my post-dinner sweet tooth.

Chocolate Coconut Granola

If you’re not familiar with Imperial Sugar, I’d encourage you to check them out. Based in Texas, Imperial Sugar has been manufacturing and distributing sugar and sugar products to the US since 1843. Their sugar products are 100% natural and non-GMO. Check them out for great Halloween and holiday recipes for you to make and enjoy with your loved ones.

Chocolate Coconut Granola

If you haven’t entered the #Choctoberfest giveaway, be sure to scroll down and enter via the Rafflecopter. The prize pack is worth over $450 and includes enough sugar to keep you baking for the next year, as well as a $100 Williams Sonoma gift card, a set of Barlean’s products and a HUGE bag of Lindt truffles. Full giveaway details here.

Chocolate Coconut Granola

Yield: 5 cups of granola

Ingredients

  • 1/4 c. plus 1 Tbs. coconut oil, divided
  • 1/3 c. cocoa powder (I used Rodelle)
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar (I used Imperial Sugar)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract (I used Rodelle)
  • 3 c. oats
  • 1/2 c. slivered almonds
  • 1 c. unsweetened coconut chips
  • 1/2 c. toffee bits

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 275F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Grease with 1 Tbs. unmelted coconut oil and set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt 1/4 c. of coconut oil. Whisk in cocoa powder, honey, sugar and salt until sugar is melted and ingredients are thoroughly combined (whisking constantly). Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, toss oats, silvered almonds, and coconut chips to combine. Add coconut oil-cocoa mixture and toss to coat.
  5. Spread onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown. Turn off oven and allow the tray to sit in the oven for another 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  6. Break granola into pieces. Toss with toffee bits and store in an airtight container.
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Recipe Notes:

  • I actually tossed the toffee pieces in pre-baking. The end result was still a deliciously sweet  bite to complement the rick cocoa powder, however, the toffee was no longer individual pieces. Do whichever you please. 🙂 Although not intentional, I enjoy the granola with the melted toffee pieces in there.
  • This recipe was adapted from Bobby Flay.

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An indulgent cocktail of rich dark chocolate and sweet caramel that will satisfy your sweet tooth.

Disclaimer: Thank you to #Choctoberfest Sponsors  Barleans, The PinterTest Kitchen and our gold sponsor Imperial Sugar for providing prizes for #Choctoberfest free of charge. These companies, as well as sponsors Rodelle and Davis Chocolate also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #Choctoberfest . All opinions are my own.

When I signed up for #Chocotoberfest this year, I knew pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to be sharing all dessert recipes. It’s not that I don’t enjoy chocolate desserts, but I wanted to ensure that there was some good variety. And I really wanted an excuse to shake up my usual cocktail routine and experiment with something new. 🙂

Experimenting with my cocktails  came at the perfect time, as the past 6 weeks have been ridiculously stressful both at home and at work. Work has been frustrating, the kids have been cranky, the house always seems to be a mess no matter what I do, and the chores don’t go away. There may have been a lot of stress eating (damn you perfectly salted and perfectly crispy Cape Cod Potato Chips!) and more evening glasses of wine than I care to admit. I know I need to figure out how I can take a day off, a day to myself. to get some stuff done and relieve some of the stress. But the work and chores won’t do itself and I can’t seem to find time to make that happen.

So during naptime recently, I made this recipe. I savored the 45 minutes of quiet that I got while writing this post with the television turned to something that wasn’t a cartoon. Toys still covered the floor, dishes and laundry were still piling up, but the quiet I got was essential. Reinvigorating. And my martini? It was like dessert in a glass. The perfect marriage of rich dark chocolate and sweet caramel. Indulgent but not so much that I couldn’t finish it. In fact, I could have had a second and been quite happy.

If you haven’t checked out the #Chocotoberfest giveaway, you can do so here. There’s a prize package from our sponsors worth more than $450 and multiple ways to enter. Rafflecopter below the recipe, followed by a linkup that includes more #Chocotoberfest recipes shared today.

Dark Chocolate Caramel Martini

Yield: 1 Martini

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. Godiva Dark Chocolate Liquor
  • 1 oz. Caramel vodka (i.e Van Gogh Dutch Caramel Vodka)
  • 1/2 oz. dark Creme de Cocoa
  • 2 oz. milk, preferably not skim milk
  • Dark chocolate shavings and/or caramel for garnish

Instructions

  1. If using caramel as a garnish, drizzle caramel along inside of a martini glass. Set aside.
  2. Add liquor and milk to a cocktail shaker filled halfway with ice. Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds.
  3. Strain into prepared martini glass. Garnish with dark chocolate shavings.
  4. Serve immediately.
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Recipe Notes:

  • I used 2% milk for this recipe. The higher the fat content, the creamier it will be.
Dark Chocolate Caramel Martini

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Welcome to #Choctoberfest!

#Chocotoberfest is the third annual food blogger celebration of all things chocolate, made possible thanks to our gold sponsor Imperial Sugar and the other sponsors listed below. This is my first year participating, and I’m excited to share a couple of great recipes with you. And don’t worry – they’re not all desserts!

 

#Choctoberfest 2017 Giveaway

Disclaimer: Thank you to #Choctoberfest Sponsors  Barleans, The PinterTest Kitchen and our gold sponsor Imperial Sugar for providing prizes for #Choctoberfest free of charge. These companies, as well as sponsors Rodelle and Davis Chocolate also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #Choctoberfest . All opinions are my own.

Over 70 bloggers are participating in #Choctoberfest 2017 and will be posting 200+ chocolate recipes over the next week. Keep your eyes peeled, visit any of the blogs listed below, or use the #Choctoberfest hashtag on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to follow along. You can also check out our #Choctoberfest Pinterest board, where we post chocolate recipes all year long.

You can also enter to win our #Choctoberfest prize pack. Thank to our amazing sponsors who are contributing the following items for the prize:

    • $100 gift card to Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table from our gold sponsor Imperial Sugar
    • 1 case of granulated white sugar (40 pounds), 1 case of light brown sugar (24 pounds), 1 case of dark brown sugar (24 pounds), and 1 case of powdered sugar (24 pounds) from our gold sponsor Imperial Sugar – search social media for #88lbsofsugar to see just how much this is!
    • 16 oz Barlean’s Butter-Flavored Coconut Oil, 9.52 oz canister of Chocolate Silk Greens, and 8oz bottle of Essential Women Omega-Swirl Chocolate Mint from our silver sponsor Barlean’s
    • 300-piece Lindt LINDOR Truffles gift bag (you choose the flavors!) from blog sponsors The PinterTest Kitchen

This prize pack is valued at over $450! To enter, simply follow participating sponsors and bloggers using the below giveaway widget.

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Stay tuned to see the delicious recipes bloggers have cooked up using Imperial Sugar and Barlean’s products. Thank you also to Davis Chocolate and Rodelle for being #Choctoberfest shoutout sponsors! Watch Instagram and Facebook to find out more about about their chocolate products.

Here is a complete list of all the bloggers participating in #Choctoberfest 2017, so you can see the recipes they are posting throughout the week:

The PinterTest KitchenFix Me a Little LunchSavory MomentsCrumbs in my MustachioHouse of Nash EatsBake It With LoveThat RecipeHardly A GoddessCooking With CarleeA Kitchen Hoor’s AdventuresBody RebootedCindy’s Recipes and WritingsThe Redhead BakerFaith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered AccompliceSweet CoraliceSeduction in The KitchenCooks&Books&RecipesEveryday EileenUnder My Apple TreeFamily Around The TableBottom Left of the MittenThe Spiffy CookieFairyburgerJoin Us, Pull up a ChairJonesin’ For TasteJane’s Adventures in DinnerTake Two TapasJennifer BakesThe Unlikely BakerHostess At HeartKaren’s Kitchen StoriesKate’s Recipe BoxKelly Lynns Sweets and TreatsWildflour’s Cottage KitchenChocolate SlopesLittle House Big AlaskaMakes, Bakes and Decor2 Cookin MamasThat Skinny Chick Can BakeBooks n’ CooksMildly MeanderingLiving IdeasRestless ChipotleGet the Good Stuff!The Weekday GourmetAn Affair from the HeartWest Via MidwestCookie Dough and Oven MittThe Bitter Side of SweetCookaholic WifeDaily Dish RecipesFor the Love of FoodThe Saucy SouthernerCook’s HideoutBy the PoundsTramplingrose: Cooking, Baking & Ranting in Small-Town South DakotaSarah Cooks the BooksChef Sarah ElizabethFantastical Sharing of RecipesSarah’s Bake StudioThe Pajama ChefFrankly EntertainingLong Distance BakingPalatable PastimeThe Freshman CookThe Food Hunter’s Guide to Cuisine ♥ A Day in the Life on the FarmWendy PolisiTampa Cake GirlMy Southern Sweet ToothCanning and Cooking at HomeFull Belly SistersSuperSizeGuy.comOur Good LifeThe Jolie Life


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This review covers the three books in The Grisha Trilogy: 

1 – Shadow and Bone
2 – Siege and Storm
3 – Ruin and Rising

This series also consists of a number of short stories (you can find the list on Goodreads). I did not read any of the short stories prior to writing this review.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on the link and purchase, I make a very small percentage (at no additional cost to you!) which goes towards maintenance of this blog. Thanks for your support!

Book Review: The Grisha Trilogy

Book Review

The Grisha Trilogy

By Leigh Bardugo

The Grisha are a people endowed with special powers, a people who are considered Masters of the Small Science. Each Grisha is able to manipulate a certain type of matter to achieve extraordinary results. Some, Corporalki, work with what’s in the human body. Others, Etherealki or Summoners, are able to manipulate nature’s elements (wind, fire, water). The final set, the Materialki, are gifted scientists and builders, working with elements such as steal.

Many Grisha – persecuted, experimented on, sold as slaves in some parts of the world – make their way to the land of Ravka, where their unique gifts are nurtured. Here, the Grisha, considered to be part of the country’s elite, learn how to use their gifts and then serve in Ravka’s Second Army, led by the Darkling. The Darkling is the only known Grisha who is capable of summoning darkness, a leader with no equal. That is, until Alina reveals herself. Alina is the Darkling’s opposite – she is the Sun Summoner, a woman who can manipulate light.

This trilogy is largely centered around Alina and the Darkling. In the first book, Shadow and Bone, Alina’s powers are revealed. Throughout the book, Alina struggles to find her place among the Grisha and how to summon light. She is unsure of who to trust, feeling very alone. By the end of the book, Alina comes to realize that the Darkling’s intentions are not what they seemed; that her destiny was not to lead along side him, uniting a country ravaged by war, but rather to oppose him and defeat his plans to rule Ravka.

The second two books in the series, Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising, chronicles Alina’s fight against the Darkling. She’s helped by both new and old friends as well as amplifiers, magical items intended to strengthen her power. She still struggles with who to trust, as everyone seems to have a hidden agenda and multiple sets of loyalties. Will Alina and her group of friends be enough to defeat the Darkling and rebuild a war-torn country?

Review/Recommendation: Although a couple of the books (particularly the third) was hard to get into, the trilogy was an enjoyable, quick read. This young adult series (fantasy genre)  has something for everyone – love stories and love triangles, action and deceit. For the most part, the story was fast-paced (I found the beginnings to be the slowest part) and kept me wanting to turn the page and read just one more chapter.

As a former student of Russian language and culture, I’d be remiss if i did not mention the similarities to the Russian culture throughout the series. For starters, the word “grisha” is the diminutive of Gregory, which means watchful. (Bardugo states in the Q&A in the back of book 1 that the word also visually and aurally evokes the word “geisha,” enforcing the sense of beauty and secrecy that surrounds the Grisha people.) The names of people (Nikolai, Morozova, Misha, Aleksander, Sankta Alina) and places (Tsibeya, Novyi Zem, Dva Stolba) were some of the most obvious examples that will resonate with those familiar with the Russian culture. But certain scenes in the snow, of the characters drinking kvas, the troika arriving with holiday gifts to the orphanage etc. reminded me of my Russian studies.

If you like young adult/fantasy books, this series is worth a read. While  I didn’t love it as much as I loved Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Daughter of Smoke and Bones or Divergent books(to name a few), it’s an enjoyable read if you’re looking for another series in the genre.

Available on Amazon.

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Books n’ Cooks is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. Some links on Books n’ Cooks may be affiliate links – links books and kitchen supplies that I love and would recommend. If you click on the link and purchase, I make a very small percentage (at no additional cost to you!) which goes towards maintenance of this blog. Thanks for your support!

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