Tag Archives: chocolate

homemade nutella

Today my blog is 1 year old! This also happens to be the same week as my own birthday, so instead of making two cakes this week (which I strongly considered) I wanted to make something I’ve been thinking about for a long time- homemade nutella. I also just got a brand new hot pink food processor this week (thanks credit card rewards!) and finally could make this dream of mine come true. I never really liked Nutella, but after I lived in Germany for two years I was smitten and I nearly forgot about my original spread of choice- peanut butter. That’s mostly because peanut butter isn’t so popular there and Nutella was cheaper and more abundant. I don’t really know why it took me so long to realize that Nutella is the gateway into eating chocolate for breakfast. Well now that I live back in the states, peanut butter is easier to come by and Nutella not so much. I am back in love with peanut butter for sure by now, but I still think of Nutella often. This homemade kind has a grainer texture than the packaged stuff, and I can’t really make up my mind which I like better, but I do believe it was a good choice for breaking in my new kitchen gadget.

based on this recipe from one of my favorite blogs

makes enough for 1 small jar


  • 2/3 c. bittersweet chocolate (or whatever you like)
  • 2/3 c. hazelnuts
  • 1/3 c. almonds
  • 2/3 c. powdered sugar (use maybe 1/2 cup if you are using milk chocolate)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 1-2 tsp. canola oil (add one at a time)
  • 1/4 tsp. honey


Roast nuts on a cookie sheet at 400° F for 7-8 minutes. Watch carefully because they will burn very quickly! Let cool, then remove skins, as far as possible. This part was tricky, so if anyone knows an easy way to do this, please let me know. Next time I may try to buy the nuts without skins so I can skip this task. (P.S buy the nuts in the bulk section at the store to save money!). Melt chocolate in the microwave in a bowl, and then set aside. In a food processor, grind almonds and hazelnuts together until it becomes smeary when the fats are released. Add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder and salt and blend again. Add melted chocolate and blend again. Blend well. Then add canola oil, one teaspoon at a time. The batch I made only needed one teaspoon, but if yours seems a little too thick, go ahead and add two. Make sure to blend well after each addition. Fill nutella into jars or other resealable container. Can be stored on the counter or in the fridge, for 1-2 weeks.



Filed under breakfast, dessert, recipes, unbaked

just a chocolate cake

yes, that’s right. just your simple, unfancy one layer chocolate cake. sometimes that is all you need to be happy. and sometimes you just want to eat chocolate. this is one of those times. there was no special occasion. no birthdays, no holidays, no large group of people to share a cake with. it was just a day where we thought, “hey, how about a chocolate cake?” okay, sure.

most of the time in the past my family would just pick up a boxed cake mix at the grocery store if we ever had one of these cravings. but lately i’ve managed to guilt everyone in my family to making most baked things from scratch. i don’t mean to be so snobby about it. but i just explain that i have a food blog to maintain, and then it’s okay. homemade things do come across as intimidating at first i must admit too. sometimes i also get carried away thinking about all of the processed stuff that is probably in those mixes when i’m on a health kick (i like how i use the phrase health kick when i’m here talking about baking cakes…). but besides there being processed things found in packaged mixes, homemade food almost always tastes better. especially cakes. you really can’t compare store bought cakes and mixes to the reward of making a cake all by yourself from the very beginning. or if you receive a homemade cake for your birthday or whatever other holiday. it’s so special. i’m pushing homemade here because this cake was not at all complicated. i’m also sharing it because this is the first time i’ve made this recipe, and it was one of those where after the first bite you say “oh yeah we’ve got to save this one.”

it’s a really dark looking cake, but not too dark-chocolatey. the secret ingredient is coffee and i think that is what makes the chocolate taste so uh-mazing. i’ve always wanted to write that. to make the cake all pretty, we made homemade buttercream vanilla frosting to contrast with the almost black cake. and to be very unfancy, we used just a 9×13 sized cake pan to keep it one layered and simple. according to the ina garten’s recipe, this will make enough if you want be fancy and make a two layer round cake. by the way, i want to mention that ina garten is one of my most favorite food personalities, along with the handsome jamie oliver.

an extra note: i learned how to make a substitute for buttermilk when making this cake. a lot of homemade chocolate cake recipes call for buttermilk and i almost never have it on hand to just use whenever. i usually buy it when i  have a specific recipe in mind. and even then, i almost always have some left that ends up going bad before i find another use for it. this time we didn’t have it so we stopped by the local grocery store, but they were fresh out on the saturday evening that we wanted cake. i’ll give up on buttermilk before i give up on chocolate cake. below the recipe is the how-to.

adapted from Barefoot Contessa At Home

cake ingredients:

  • butter for greasing the pans
  • 1 and 3/4 c. all purpose flour, plus more for the pans
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. buttermilk**
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 c. freshly brewed hot coffee

**buttermilk subsitute: place a tablespoon of white vinegar in a liquid measuring cup. add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the 1-cup line. then pour this mixture into a small bowl, so that the vinegar gets tossed in to the milk a bit. let stand for 5 minutes. then simply use in place of the buttermilk in the recipe.


preheat the oven to 350° F. brew some coffee if you haven’t already. butter and flour a 9×13 cake pan, or two 8-inch round cake pans. whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a big bowl. in another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. then, slowly stir in the hot coffee. stir until just combined. pour the batter into the prepared pans, scraping the edges with a rubber spatula. bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. remove the cake and cool in the pan on a wirerack. meanwhile, prepare the frosting.

buttercream frosting ingredients:

  • 3  3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened or at room temperature
  • 4 tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

buttercream frosting directions:

beat together the powdered sugar and the butter in a medium bowl. you can use a stand mixer, hand mixer or just a spoon. mix until it’s an even consistency. stir in the milk and vanilla extract until everything is evenly incorporated. wait until the cake is completely cooled to frost. don’t be afraid to make it look slightly messy and fully homemade.


Filed under cake, dessert, recipes

schoko lebkuchen

two years ago, i bought this by accident at aldi here in germany. it was soon after i had moved here, and i was still in the homesick/culture shock adjustment mode of the transition. in the beginning i was a little nervous venturing out on my own for fear of getting lost. dessau isn’t very big, but it was overwhelming for me at first. grocery shopping was the first thing i became more adventurous about, like trying different stores and locations, and especially different food. it’s an interesting challenge learning how to go grocery shopping in a foreign country. i remember one day i was in the grocery store aisle for about an hour trying to figure out which was baking powder and which was baking soda. all i wanted to do was make cookies!! that day i had a lucky guess and celebrated later by eating cookies of course. well at aldi this one day, i wanted chocolate. and i figured you can’t really mess up with chocolate right? well, when i bought these and tried one later, it confused my tongue quite a bit. i was expecting a chocolate cookie thing, with some sort of chocolate or typical filling. my taste buds told me otherwise. have you ever drank a sip of water when you expected it to be something else, like soda? yeah, that feeling. after asking my good friend, google translate, it turns out it was chocolate covered gingerbread. lebkuchen = gingerbread. not something i would have bought on purpose, but it ended up being one of my favorite treats here. it’s only sold at “christmas time” (september to january-ish) and it’s in a category of other favorite european holiday things of mine (glühwein, stollen, christmas markets…). i’m bringing up this story because today i was aldi and was very excited to see these waiting for me. i was originally looking for glühwein, but i guess it’s still slightly too early in the season for that. i have absolutely no idea how to make these cookies, but i’m okay with that. this post isn’t about a recipe on making them, i just wanted to bring them up. they may be from aldi, but they are so perfect in their own little way. and eating them today tasted like eating christmas.

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Filed under bought, stories, winter

homemade croissants

my first encounter with authentic croissants happened in Paris. it sounds typical, but the hype about French croissants exists for a reason in my opinion. my most favorite version is pain au chocolat, which is basically a croissant with chocolate inside. dough and chocolate = my favorite things. i’ve been to Paris only a few times, but each time i was able to enjoy a few of the pastries fresh from a bakery. i love the bakery culture that exists here in Europe. you can have fresh pastries any time of day, and you can actually find a bakery on every corner. the pastries are cheap too! in Germany, i find so many for under 1 euro! apfeltasche is a really good one by the way. back to the story i was telling, i think i have formed a lifelong romance with pain au chocolat. i tend to eat them very slowly to make them last as long as possible, and i wish i could have one everyday. i live in Germany now, and while they are not quite the same as in Paris, the chocolate croissants here will happily suffice. i ate some a few weekends ago in Dresden when i was visiting a friend. you can see in the picture how cute they look.

well, it inspired me to try and make my own croissants. i’ve tried once before back in February when i was baking props for my semester design project presentation. for some reason, in my head i think of accomplishing the “perfect croissant” equal with being an accomplished baker. it seems so daunting, and i expect it’s not something i will successfully master for years to come, hopefully i’m wrong. but practicing is so tasty. i get to make one of my favorite pastries and perfect my skills at the same time. making croissants takes a long time too, but for me baking has always been a way to relax and spend free time, so when i do have the time i don’t mind at all. i really love working with dough too. i’ll start to sound like a weirdo again and mention that i love the texture and smell of fresh dough. it makes me happy. the recipe i used back in February was quite easy and the pastries turned out pretty delicious, but the texture wasn’t the true texture i’ve had from bakeries in France. my goal is to eventually recreate that. i’m on a continuous search for the best croissant dough recipe, but this one i tried out last week. the results were again delicious, and i was very excited to see the texture resembling the croissants from European bakeries that i know so well. i made some normal croissants, and also experimented by filling some with dark chocolate. they were really lovely to wake up to in the morning and have with coffee. i haven’t perfected any specific recipe of my own yet for these, so i won’t retype the one i used from the website. i’ll keep looking for more techniques and tips, and i love croissants so much that i will use a cheesy cliché… but in this case practice makes perfect and my tummy happy.  

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Filed under made, pastry, stories