Rich, creamy chocolate pudding topped with fluffy peppermint whipped cream tastes so luxurious, and looks beautiful on any holiday table. Yet this holiday pudding is surprisingly easy to make from scratch. All you need are some basic ingredients!
Times like these call for a hot cup of tea. Lulled into a false sense of spring fever by the warm weather last week, we are now plunged back into winter weather with a bitter wind and even snow. I am pretty sure by next week things will feel like spring again, but for now, we need to cope with this sudden blast of cold. Hot tea is the most soothing and comforting drink I know, and tea tastes even better with cookies. I wanted to make some cookies with a fruity flavor, but also with dark chocolate (since dark chocolate is good for us), and I have always loved the combination of orange and chocolate. I built this recipe based on basic sugar cookie ingredients, and just added some orange zest, dark chocolate chips, and almonds. The cookies are lightly sweet with a subtle orange flavor, and the unmistakable taste of dark chocolate.
A cup of tea and a plate of cookies signals comfort and quiet joy to me. A pot of tea and a plate of cookies shared with a friend or family member invites intimate conversation and trust. We are urged to slow down and wait for the tea to cool to a temperature we can drink. We sit quietly and breathe in the aroma of the tea and let the steam warm our faces. The warm liquid soothes our busy minds and allows us to think more clearly. To drink tea and share cookies with someone is to slow down and savor the present moment with them. To be present with someone or even to be present with oneself is a great gift. We are able to hold the moment as it passes into the next, enveloped in a comforting glow of warmth, no matter what is going on in the outside world. That, to me, is the beauty of cookies and a cup of tea.
Orange Chocolate Tea Cookies
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, softened
- 1 and 1/2 cups of unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 teaspoons of orange zest
- 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup of slivered almonds (optional)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grate the peel of an orange for your orange zest. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with a wooden spoon. Add half of the flour, and all of the sugar, egg, baking soda, vanilla, and orange zest. Stir until well combined. Add the rest of the flour and stir again, incorporating the dry ingredients into the moist batter. Stir in the dark chocolate chips and the slivered almonds until well combined. Drop the batter by a rounded teaspoon onto a baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. (I like to made these cookies on the small side, to made them perfect to go with tea.) Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cookies are firm, yet soft, and lightly golden. (The orange zest will make them lighter in color.) Repeat until all the batter is baked. Enjoy!
Chocolate in the heart of wintertime. There is something special, yet completely crucial about having chocolate in the bleak mid-winter. It is an inexpensive luxury that we should not live without. My mouth is watering as I go over the photos for this post. I think I will have to make another batch of these brownies very soon. This may be old news to some of you, but to me it was a pleasant surprise–making brownies from scratch is not that difficult or time-consuming! I am not someone to shy away from cooking and baking from scratch–I love to do it when I have the time, and I often make the time–but for some reason, I always made brownies from a box mix. I guess I imagined making brownies from scratch took forever, or that I needed a double boiler to melt the chocolate, or that it made a huge mess. But really, this recipe is not that much more time-consuming than using a mix, it doesn’t make a huge mess, and this way, you know exactly what is in your brownies–just the basic ingredients many of us have on hand, plus that magic ingredient–chocolate. No food cheers me up like chocolate does, and this time of year, many of us can use a bit of extra cheer! Though I have made some changes, the recipe I am using is adapted from Susan Branch’s “From the Heart of the Home: Autumn,” an inspiring cookbook my cousin gave me years ago. I feel that making a special batch of brownies is a treat we can offer to those we love, and a way we can treat ourselves too. I am taking this pan of brownies over to Angie’s blog, The Novice Gardener, where part 2 of a very special celebration is taking place. She has been coordinating Fiesta Friday for one whole year, and the connections she has fostered through this link party are incredible. The bloggers who take part in this are kind, supportive, and not least of all, talented. I love to look at their photos and read their posts. This week’s celebration is co-hosted by Nancy from Feasting with Friends, and Selma, from Selma’s Table. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.
Rich, Chocolate Brownies with Powdered Sugar and Cinnamon
- 2 ounces (2 squares) of unsweetened chocolate (baker’s chocolate)
- 1/3 cup butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 cup of flour
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- powdered sugar and ground cinnamon to sprinkle on the top
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with butter. In a large saucepan, gently melt the chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring often. Stir the rest of the ingredients into the pan, in the order they appear above, until everything is well combined. With a wooden spoon or a spatula, scrape the batter into the baking pan. Bake for about 30 minutes in your preheated oven. Allow the brownies to cool, and sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Enjoy!