Slabs of Chocolate aka High’s Brownies

(recipe makes 12 large brownies)

Microwavable bowl:

2 sticks butter
1/2 pound semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Large bowl:

3 eggs
1 T instant espresso powder
1 T vanilla
1 C plus 2 T sugar

Smaller bowl:

1/2 cup plus 2 T flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 C chopped walnuts, toasted
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13” X 9” jelly roll pan with non-stick spray. Make sure to spray sides. Press parchment paper into the pan and trim off excess.

Microwave the first bowl for five minutes at 50% power. Remove from microwave and slowly whisk until smooth.

In the large bowl, combine ingredients and stir gently just to incorporate the eggs. No whisking!

In the smaller bowl, combine ingredients making sure the nuts and chips are fully covered in the flour mixture.

Add melted chocolate mix to the egg mix and gently combine. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Add flour mix to cooled chocolate mix and combine. Again, gently. Do not overwork the batter.

Pour batter into the prepared jelly roll pan.

Place into oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then, carefully take the baking pan and gently tap it on the oven rack allowing the air to escape. Rotate pan and bake for another 20 minutes or until the batter is not jiggling.

Remove to a cooling rack. Once the brownies have cooled to room temperature, place them in a refrigerator for further cooling. Once cooled, wrap in plastic for overnight storage.

For service, remove from brownies from the refrigerator and cut them into pieces using a very sharp, heavy knife.


Nice cracks on the top are perfect. You can trim the edges if you like. They can get a bit crunchy. At High’s, we keep a bowl of the trimmings in the kitchen for snacking.

Chilling is important for clean cuts.

Brownies can be wrapped really well and frozen for later use.

Bittersweet Chocolate Sorbet


12 ounces bittersweet chocolate

3 c filtered water
1 3/4 c sugar
1 T instant coffee
pinch of salt

Place water, sugar, coffee and salt into a pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow about 10 minutes of cooling.

Break up pieces of chocolate and place into a food processor fitted with the steel blade.
Pulse machine to further break up chocolate. ONLY PULSE!

Pour water mixture through feed tube of processor while machine is running. Be careful.

Pour chocolate mixture into a separate container for overnight cooling in the refrigerator.

The next day, freeze mixture in an ice cream maker. Place sorbet into the freezer for further chilling.


(recipe makes one 9” x 13” baking sheet)


1 1/2 C graham cracker crumbs
1/2 C coconut for crust
1 stick butter, melted

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1 1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 C walnut pieces, lightly toasted
1 C coconut for topping
1 can sweetened condensed milk

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Lightly coat a 9” x 13” baking sheet with non-stick spray. Make sure sides are sprayed too. Press a sheet of parchment paper into the pan. Trim away excess paper.

Combine graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 C coconut and butter. Evenly press crumb mix into the baking pan using the bottom of a measuring cup.

Evenly spread chocolate chips, walnuts and coconut over the top of the crumbs. Drizzle condensed milk over the top. Make sure to drizzle along the edges and corners.

Place baking pan into a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate pan and bake for an additional 12-15 minutes more or until golden. Remove baking sheet and cool bars on a cooling rack. Wait until bars are completely cooled before cutting into squares. Using the edges of the parchment paper, lift the bars out of the baking sheet onto a cutting board. Cut into squares. They hold well for several days in an airtight container.


Orange Cinnamon Sugar Cookies with Jam Center

(makes 17-18 large cookies)

2 1/4 C flour
1/2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

1 1/2 C sugar
2 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces, room temperature
Zest of half an orange

6 T butter, melted and warm

1/3 C vegetable oil
1 egg, room temperature
1 T half and half
2 t vanilla

1/3 C  additional sugar and 1/2 t cinnamon for coating and sprinkling

Raspberry jam


In a mixing bowl, combine flour, soda, powder and salt. Whisk to combine. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, cream cheese and orange zest. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, mix well. Press the cream cheese and zest into the sugar. Add warm butter and stir to combine. Add oil, egg, half and half and vanilla. Stir to mix well. Add flour mix to butter mix and stir to combine well. You will have a soft dough.

In a small bowl, mix an additional amount of sugar with cinnamon.

Using a #24 ice cream scoop or a 1/4 C measuring cup, scoop out dough portions and form them into balls. Place dough portions in bowl of sugar/cinnamon and toss to coat. Place dough portions on a parchment lined baking sheet. Using a measuring cup, slightly flatten each dough portion. Make a small indention in the center of each. Spoon about a 1/2 t of raspberry jam into each indention. Sprinkle each cookie with an additional amount of sugar/cinnamon mix.

Place cookies (no more that 9 per baking sheet) into a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Rotate pan and bake for an additional 7 minutes. Cookies will be lightly golden and cracked. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Remove cookies to a wire rack for further cooling. These cookies hold well for several days. A perfect mix of crispy and chewy.


Pumpkin Cheesecake with Cranberry Compote

(makes 12 slices)


For crust:

2 C of gingersnap crumbs, finely ground in a food processor
6 T butter, melted
1/4 C sugar

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For filling:

32 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (very important)
1 C sugar
Zest of half an orange
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1 1/2 t ginger
1 1/2 t allspice
1 1/2 T cornstarch
1 – 15 ounce can of pumpkin
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 1/2 t orange extract
4 eggs, room temperature (very important)

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Cooking at a lower temperature and allowing the full hour of rest in the oven makes a gorgeous cake that is free of cracks. Must be prepared at least a day ahead.

For cranberry compote:

2 C fresh cranberries
1/2 C orange juice
1/4 C sugar
1/2 t ginger
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t orange extract
Zest of half an orange

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Combine gingersnap crumbs, butter and sugar. Press crumb mix into the bottom of a 10” springform pan that has been generously sprayed with non-stick baking spray. (A 1/2 C measure works well for pressing the crust.) Make sure sides are well sprayed too. Place springform pan on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place crust into a preheated 325 degree oven for 10 minutes. Rotate baking sheet and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove and cool. Leave oven on.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add cream cheese and blend until smooth using the paddle attachment. Add sugar and zest. Blend in. Add cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cornstarch. Blend in. Occasionally, remove paddle attachment and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the bowl for a well blended batter. Add pumpkin and blend. Add vanilla and orange extract and blend. Drop eggs, one at a time, into batter mixing well after each addition. Continue to check for any stubborn bits that cling to the bottom of the bowl. A smooth and well blended batter is the goal.

Spray an additional coating of non-stick spray on the sides of the springform pan. Pour cheesecake batter into pan. Place cheesecake into oven (same temperature as crust) and bake for 25 minutes. Rotate baking sheet and bake for an additional 25 minutes. After 50 minutes of baking, turn oven off. Use a ladle or wooden spoon to slightly prop open the oven door. Leave the cheesecake alone, in the oven, for one hour. No peaking. Remove cheesecake and place it on a cooling rack. Allow the cake to cool completely to room temperature. The sides of the cake will release from the springform pan. Carefully open the pan and slowly pull pan away from sides of the cake. Place cheesecake in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled. Loosely cover with plastic and allow overnight chilling.

For the compote, place all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook cranberries until they pop and most of the liquid has evaporated. Place compote into a bowl and chill for serving later.

For presentation, slice the cake into 12 pieces. For a nice slice, use a warmed knife for cutting. Slice down into the cake making sure that the knife cuts all the way through the crust. Pull the knife straight out the side of the cake rather than lifting up. Much smoother edges. Ok, OCD coming out a bit. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and a side of compote. Pumpkin seed brittle is a nice touch too. See below:

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Place 1/2 C of water into a medium-size sauce pan. Add 1 C of sugar. Place on stove over high heat. Bring to a boil. Do not stir or move the pan. Once sugar reaches the right temperature, it will begin to caramelize. Careful at this point to regulate the heat. Once a nice amber color is achieved, remove the pot from the heat and stir in 2/3 C of pumpkin seeds. Pour mixture out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Work quickly now! Using the back of a wooden spoon, spread the brittle out. Allow it to cool completely. Break into shards for garnish. Swanky. Store in an airtight container. For cleaning, just allow the pan to water soak for a while. Never doubt the power of soaking!

Gobs of Chocolate Cookies

(recipe makes 32 large cookies)


You will need 7 cups of bittersweet chocolate chips – 42 ounces.


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4 1/2 C flour
1 T baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

3 1/2 C bittersweet chocolate chips
2 C pecan pieces, toasted

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1 stick butter, soft
2 C brown sugar
1 1/2 C sugar
8 eggs
2 t vanilla


3 1/2 C of bittersweet chocolate chips (60% cacao), melted


2 T brewed espresso

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In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, powder, soda and salt. Whisk well to combine. Add 3 1/2 C of chocolate chips and pecans. Stir to coat.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and both sugars. It will look sandy. Remove paddle and scrape down bottom of bowl to insure even mixing.

Combine eggs and vanilla in a pourable container. Drop eggs, one at a time, into butter/sugar mix. Mix well after each addition. Batter will look like smooth frosting.

Melt 3 1/2 C of chocolate chips in a microwavable bowl in short time increments at 50% power. Stir, place back in microwave and cook in 30 second increments – always at 50% power. Residual heat will melt all of the chocolate. No need to nuke until everything is melted! Stir to achieve a smooth consistency.

Add melted chocolate into egg mix and blend on slow speed. Add espresso and blend. Finish incorporating by hand.

Add chocolate mix to dry mix and fold together. A few streaks of flour are ok. Portion dough onto a cookie sheet for chilling. I used a large ice cream scoop. Smaller portions are fine too. Refrigerate. Once dough is chilled, you can place portions into a freezer bag for baking later. Once you go to the trouble of preparing this amount of batter, you might as well go ahead and have a few on reserve.

For baking, place chilled dough portions on a parchment lined baking sheet. Careful not to crowd the cookies. Place into a preheated 325 degree oven. Bake for 11 minutes, rotate and bake for an additional 11 minutes. Large cracks will appear on the tops. Remove cookie sheet from oven and tap sheet pan on the counter. This will “deflate” the cookies. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 15 minutes. Then, remove them to a cooling rack for further cooling.



Pots of Chocolate

(recipe makes 12 small pots of chocolate)

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Begin with 10 ounces of good quality bittersweet chocolate. I use Ghirardelli 60% cacao. Cut into small pieces. Place chocolate into a pourable bowl.


In a small bowl, combine 1 T of vanilla, 1 T of water and 1/2 t of instant espresso powder. Set aside.


In a mixing bowl, combine 5 egg yolks, 5 T sugar and a pinch of salt. Whisk well until smooth ribbons form on the end of your whisk.

Add 1 1/2 C of heavy cream and 3/4 C of half and half to the egg mix. Whisk to combine. Place mixture into a heavy bottomed sauce pan and place on the stove over medium high heat. Whisk constantly until temperature reaches about 165 degrees. The mix will begin to thicken and stick on the bottom of the pan. Pour the custard mix over the chopped chocolate through a fine mesh strainer. Allow the mixture to sit for about 30-45 seconds. Slowly whisk the mixture until chocolate melts completely and a smooth texture is achieved. Add reserved vanilla mix to the chocolate. Whisk to combine. Careful that you do not beat the mix. Just slow whisking to thoroughly combine all ingredients.

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I used small mason jars purchased at HEB. Approximately 7.95 for a dozen jars. Portion melted chocolate mixture into “pots”. Gently tap the jars on the counter to release any air bubbles. Let them sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to cool to room temperature. Place the jars of chocolate in the refrigerator, uncovered, until thoroughly chilled. Once chilled, screw the lids on. So simple. Chocolate pots will hold for several days. Great make ahead dessert.

For service, add a dollop of whipped cream, shaved chocolate and some fresh raspberries or strawberries on the side. Place the fruit in the jar lids and drizzle some orange blossom honey over the top.

For service, add a dollop of whipped cream, shaved chocolate and some fresh raspberries or strawberries on the side. Place the fruit in the jar lids and drizzle some orange blossom honey over the top.

Fresh Fruit Tart

This recipe makes one 9-inch tart. It is lifted from Cook’s Illustrated Best Recipes 2014.

It’s an impressive dessert and can be broken into parts for easier preparation. Give it a try. Your call on the fruit topping.

For crust:

1 large egg yolk

1 T heavy cream

1/2 t vanilla extract

1 1/4 C flour

2/3 C confectioner’s sugar

pinch of salt

8 T butter cut into 1/4 inch pieces and chilled in the freezer

Combine eggs, cream and vanilla in a small bowl. Mix well. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine flour, confectioner’s sugar and salt. Process to combine. Sprinkle frozen butter pieces over the flour mix and pulse 15 times until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg mix through feed tube while machine is running. Process until dough begins to gather around the blade. I had to add a smidgen more of cream. Remove dough and flatten into a disc. Wrap in plastic and chill. I did this the night before and baked the crust the next morning. Remove dough from refrigerator and allow it to sit on the counter for 15 minutes. Flour counter and dough and roll out evenly until you have a 1/4 – inch thickness. Constantly check to make sure your dough is not sticking. Loosen dough from counter and add additional flour to prevent sticking. Work quickly. Once your round is large enough ( about 11-inches in diameter) for the tart pan, roll the form onto your rolling-pin and unroll it onto the tart pan that has been sprayed with non-stick baking spray. Trim off excess. Patch where needed using excess dough. Sides and bottom should have a uniform thickness – 1/4-inch. Place tart shell onto a baking sheet and put it in the freezer until frozen. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Take frozen tart shell out of the freezer and place a double layer of aluminum foil on top. Place dried beans on top of foil to weight the foil down. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully remove beans and foil. Place shell back into the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes until golden. Remove and cool on a baking rack.

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For pastry cream filling:

2 C half and half

1/2 C sugar

pinch of salt

5 egg yolks

3 T cornstarch

4 T butter, sliced into 6 pieces, room temperature

1 1/2 t vanilla bean paste, or extract

In a sauce pan, add half and half, 6 T of the sugar, salt and bring to a simmer. In a bowl, combine egg yolks,  the remaining 2 T of sugar and cornstarch. Whisk until smooth. Add a ladle of the warmed half and half mix to the egg mix. Whisk slowly to combine and temper. Add remaining half and half to the egg mix and whisk to combine. Place the custard mix back into the sauce pan and place over medium heat. Whisk constantly until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat and add butter pieces one at a time while whisking. Add vanilla and whisk. Pour thickened custard through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl for chilling. Press plastic wrap directly on top of warm custard. Place in the refrigerator and thoroughly chill. This can be done up to 2 days ahead.

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For assembly:

Evenly spread vanilla cream into tart pan. Layer fruit on top. Whole berries work best as they don’t “leak” juices into your cream. Kiwi provides great color. Make sure they are not too ripe. Glaze fruit with some warmed apricot jam. I thinned it out with a few drops of water. Assemble about 30 minutes prior to serving and chill. Ooh and aahs are sure to come forth.

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Strawberry White Chocolate Cheesecake

(recipe makes one 9” cake or 8 individual cakes)

no baking required!!!

For crust:

1 1/2 C graham cracker crumbs
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 C sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Place crumbs in a bowl. Add sugar and salt and mix well. Melt butter in the microwave. Add vanilla into melted butter. Add butter mix to crumbs. Mix well. Press crumb mix into pan or pans that have been sprayed with non-stick spray. Place in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

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For filling:

7 ounces white chocolate broken into pieces
1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
1 C powdered sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla bean paste
Zest from half an orange
Zest from one small lemon

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1 C heavy cream


3 T strawberry jam

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Melt chocolate in the microwave. Use 50% power and melt in 10 second intervals. Careful not to over heat. Let melted chocolate sit on the counter while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add cream cheese. Make sure it is room temperature. A couple of seconds in the microwave can assure this. Beat until smooth and void of lumps. Sift powdered sugar into the cream cheese and blend well. Add vanilla bean paste and zests. Mix until well combined. Add cooled white chocolate and blend. Once combined, remove cream cheese mix to another bowl. Clean mixing bowl.

In the stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the cream until firm peaks form. Fold about a third of the cream into the cream cheese mix. Incorporate using a folding technique. Add remaining whipped cream and strawberry jam. Fold to mix. Place filling into graham cracker crust(s). Chill in the refrigerator for 4-5 hours or overnight. They will hold nicely for several days.

For service, unmold and add additional strawberry jam as a topping. Gently warm jam with a few drops of water to reach a spreadable consistency. Slice strawberries on top.

With the addition of whipped cream, the texture of the cheesecake is very light and airy.

With the addition of whipped cream, the texture of the cheesecake is very light and airy.

Recipe lifted from Food & Wine.

I used individual baking molds. For information on those, check out the recipe for Lemon Blueberry Cakes.

Another thought on this idea would to substitute bittersweet chocolate for the white chocolate and omit the lemon zest. Use more orange zest instead. Chocolate cookie crumbs for  the crust would work too.

Almond Cookies

(recipe makes 45 small cookies)


3 C blanched slivered almonds
1 1/2 C sugar
3 egg whites
3/4 t almond extract

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Found  this recipe on the internet. Delicious cookies, great texture, a breeze to make and gluten-free!

Found this recipe on the internet. Delicious, great texture, a breeze to make and gluten-free!

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, add the almonds. Process until almonds are ground into a fine meal. Add sugar and process another 45 seconds or so. Make sure sugar and almonds are well-integrated. Add egg whites and almond extract. Process until dough forms around the blade.

Using a small ice cream scoop, portion cookies onto a parchment lined baking sheet making sure to leave about 11/2 inches around each portion. You may need three baking sheets. (The recipe can be cut in half.) Place cookies into a preheated 300 degree oven and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Cookies should be lightly golden in color. Leave to cool on the baking sheets. They will be soft at first but will harden as they cool.

These store well for several days in an airtight container. Great texture…crispy on the outside with a slight chewiness on the inside.