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Cover: Founding Flavors

Recipes with Chocolate

17Mar 13

Stracciatella Marshmallows

It is true that one can find creative inspiration everywhere but I never expected Peeps to serve as my muse for the creation of Stracciatella Marshmallows.  You read correctly…Peeps…those little marshmallow candies that bombard every grocery store and pharmacy aisle in America about this time of year.  As we become hypnotized by their bright yellow and pink colors, we start to tell ourselves “who cares that they are not truly representative of what a Spring chicken or bunny should look like and why bother contemplating why these sugary treats never seem to melt regardless of how long they are in the microwave.”  For those that think I might be exaggerating, might I point out that only a few weeks ago when our politicians were debating the fiscal future of our country with budget cuts, the Washington Post was announcing calls for participants to join the Seventh Annual Peeps Diorama Contest.  And, it was this particular announcement that reminded me about how absolutely delicious and entertaining marshmallows are in the world of desserts.

So, I started searching for homemade marshmallow recipes and realized that most stick to the same generic vanilla flavored marshmallows with occasional deviations to something a little more unique like peppermint.  But for something so simple to make, there really are endless opportunities to get creative, not only with flavors but also with how you opt to shape your marshmallows.  Below is an easy recipe for Stracciatella Marshmallows that combines a vanilla base layer with shaved milk chocolate and finally topped-off with a chocolate flavored layer of marshmallow that is shaped using a Linzer cookie cutter.


Gelatine: 2 packets
Water, cold: ⅔ cup
Light corn syrup:  ⅔ cup
Salt:  ⅛ teaspoon
Sugar: 1 cup
Vanilla powder: 1 tablespoon
Cocoa powder: 2 tablespoons
Shaved milk chocolate: ½ cup

1. Place ⅓ cup of cold water and gelatine in a standing mixer bowl and whisk on low.

2. Place ⅓ cup of cold water, light corn syrup, salt, and sugar in a saucepan and heat until the mixture reaches 240°F, which should take 8-10 minutes.










3. Once the mixture reaches 240°F, pour it into the standing mixer and whisk on high for 8 minutes.








4. Add in the vanilla powder to the mixture and whisk for another 30 seconds.

5. Pour half of the mixture onto a pan covered with aluminum foil.

6. Use a spatula that has been greased with oil to evenly spread the vanilla marshmallow layer.







7. Sprinkle chocolate savings over the vanilla layer.







8. Now, add in cocoa powder to the remaining mixture and whisk for 30 seconds.

9. Cover the pan with the chocolate layer of marshmallow using the spatula to spread it evenly.







10. Top off with chocolate shavings and powdered sugar.







11. Allow the pan to rest overnight.

12. Use a Linzer cookie cutter to shape the marshmallows.  Apply additional powdered sugar if the marshmallow becomes too sticky.

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16Dec 12

A Delicious Stroll Through the Marienplatz Christmas Market in Munich

This year, I embarked on a holiday journey to Germany to experience the tradition of European Christmas markets.  My only expectation was that I’d encounter a healthy overdose of everything related to Christmas, trying all sorts of goodies along the way.  While I made various stops in markets throughout Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich, my favorite was a Christmas market in Munich.  Situated in the heart of Munich, the Christmas market in Marienplatz provided a magical experience with the gothic New Town Hall building serving as the backdrop for an illuminated Christmas tree towering over the market.  Walking through the various booths filled with Christmas trinkets and food stands selling mulled wine known as Glühwein, bratwurst, and a gloriously overwhelming selection of sweets, one easily comes to understand why so many people flock to Germany each year to partake in the holiday celebrations.

While most of my behavior was rather civilized, I had occasional moments when I was unsuccessful at resisting the urge to shove innocent bystanders, as I followed the scent of sugar and spices towards booths filled with sweets.  There were gingerbread cookies decorated with frosting dangling from colorful ribbons.  Then there were pastries filled with apples, plums, marzipan, and poppy seed, as well as Berliners – donuts filled with jelly.   Hidden behind the crowds, there were crepes and hot chocolate.  And, not to be forgotten were the rows of almonds covered in sugar, and Chocolate Kiss’ consisting of chocolate-covered domes filled with a soft, creamy meringue offered in flavors like amaretto and rum raisin.

Regardless of what time of year you visit Germany—and Munich in particular—you are quickly impressed and intimidated by this country’s appreciation for the art of scrumptious and elegantly presented pastries.  But, as you stroll through the streets and markets, looking into various booths and pastry shop window displays, you are left with the sense that the holidays are recognized as the perfect time to showcase all these sweet treasures.

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28Oct 12

What Does 100 Years of Existence Get You? Unforgettable Rugelach!

While last week’s blog entry focused on the Founding Flavors’ discovery of Tel Aviv’s Vaniglia ice cream shop, today I’m focusing my attention on an equally enticing sweet shop called Said Abuelafia & Sons bakery.  This bakery—located in Jaffa, a southern suburb of Tel Aviv—has been around since the late 1800s.  Given Jaffa’s 4,000 years of existence, this could technically place Abuelafia among a list of newcomers!  Once you arrive at this outdoor bakery and swoon over its mouth-watering selection of savory and sweet pastries, you quickly understand why customers have been lured back to this establishment for over a hundred years.

After a little assistance from the staff, I opted for dibla, awwami, and rugelach.  The dibla is best described as a pastry that has a crunchy texture with a slightly sweet taste and is topped off with sesame seeds.  While I’m glad I tried this pastry, I did feel like I’d wasted by calories on a treat that was not very flavorful.  Next, came the awwami, which is a donut ball that is offered with or without jelly filling.  My overall impression… that which we call a donut ball by any other name would taste as sweet.  Don’t get me wrong, the awwami was delicious but I was looking for something that had a combination of ‘to die for amazing’ and unique to Israel.

That is when I tried the rugelach.  And, hands down, the rugelach at Abuelafia has the Founding Flavors’ stamp of approval because it is one of the best rugelach that I have ever tasted.  In addition to a delectable blend of chocolate and cinnamon, there are three things that stand out about their rugelach.  First, the overall appearance of the rugelach, which is displayed in large mounds and perfectly lined with chocolate or jam filled swirls.  Second, the size of the rugelach is large enough to hold you over until lunch or dinner but not so small that you keep craving more as you tour around the area.  Third, the consistency of the rugelach is substantial, chewy, and not overly drenched in syrups or honey.  This is particularly key as a tourist because the last thing you want is to be strolling around Tel Aviv eating rugelach and then be left with a sticky hand and no conveniently located area to wash up.

Said Abuelafia & Sons bakery is a pastry establishment that is definitely worth a visit.   If you’re ever in Jaffa, head towards 7 Yefet Street, one block behind the Jaffa clock-tower, and you will not miss it.  Abuelafia’s rugelach was so amazing that it left me wanting to try my hand at making some on my own.  So, stay tuned for next week’s blog entry on making rugelach!


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04Oct 12

The Versatility of Short Dough

While I’m still getting acquainted with the various types of dough used in baking, I’ve come to have a greater appreciation for short dough.  It is one of the most commonly used types of dough in bakeries because it can be used for so many items such as cookies, tarts, and cake bottoms.  Its texture is crumbly, which is attributed to a couple of factors.  First, there is a higher fat (butter) content.  Second, the technique for mixing the ingredients together calls for the butter to be thoroughly mixed in, as opposed to left in clumps for making a flaky dough.  Because the butter is thoroughly mixed in with flour, which contains protein, gluten strands are prevented from being completely developed and instead are ‘shortened’.  This shortening of the gluten strands is what ultimately creates the crumbly texture.  Some additional online references can be found on Gourmet Traveller or The Biscuit Doctor.

The first short dough recipe I tried focused on the classic approach to making short dough.  It had a simple taste and color, which made it easy for using as a base for other pastries.  I ended up rolling out the dough to make cookies that I covered with royal icing and decorated using a brush and food coloring.  Additionally, I tried alternative short dough recipes consisting of chocolate flavored short dough and hazelnut short dough.  At this point, I realized you can really get creative with short dough because the primary ingredients consist of sugar, flour, and butter, followed by whatever else you want to include.  So I decided to create a chocolate pistachio flavored short dough and changed up some of the primary ingredients and measurements to be a bit more health conscious.  For instance, instead of using refined sugar, I used the same amount of unrefined sugar, which is better for you because it has not been stripped of nutrients and minerals during the refining process.  In addition, I reduced the amount of butter from eight tablespoons to six.

As I compared the tastes of the various short dough flavors I baked, I have to say that they were very, very similar.  If you plan to use the short dough as a base, the subtle flavors of items like chocolate, pistachio, and hazelnut should work well in complimenting the final pastry.  However, if you plan to serve the short dough as a cookie, I suggest playing around with the flavors and measurements to create a stronger or more noticeable taste.

While there are endless recipes for making short dough, below is my recipe.  One thing I did notice was that the dough was slightly difficult to roll out, most likely because of the reduced amount of butter.  I ended up wetting my hands to knead the dough.  And, after doing this two times, the dough was much easier to shape.


Chocolate Pistachio Short Dough
Recipe type: Baking
  • Bread flour: ¾ cup
  • Butter: 6 tablespoons
  • Cocoa powder, unsweetened: 1 tablespoon
  • Egg: roughly ¼ of one egg
  • Pistachios, finely grinded: 2 tablespoons
  • Unrefined sugar: ¼ cup
  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  2. Cover dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 375°F.
  4. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface. Depending on the use for the short dough, use cookie cutters to create shapes or line tart pans with short dough.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes.


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02Oct 12

OatCho Treats

A few months back, I was having lunch at Lime Tree Cafe in Dubai when I stumbled across one of the most memorable desserts that I’ve had in a while.  It was a triple chocolate brownie filled with gigantic chunks of white, milk, and dark chocolate.  I remember thinking to myself, “how do they get the chocolate to just the perfect consistency so that it oozes into your mouth without having to pre-heat it before it is served.”  So when I recently came across an article on yahoo entitled Best-Ever Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies, I remembered my Lime Tree Café treat and decided to adjust the recipe listed in this article to create a dessert that would resemble the triple chocolate brownie.  And thus, the OatCho treat was born!

For those who have been following the Founding Flavors blog, you probably noticed that I tend to substitute or reduce the amount of certain ingredients to make my desserts a little healthier.  So, it will not be a surprise to you that my first adjustment was to reduce the amount of butter by fifty-percent.  Then, instead of using refined sugar—which is stripped of all nutritional value—I opted for honey.  Next, I added a bit of oats and topped it off with chunks of white and dark chocolate.  The result was a delicious dessert that was a mix between a cookie and a muffin.



OatCho Recipe
  • All-purpose flour: 2 ½ cups
  • Baking powder: 1 teaspoon
  • Oats: ½ cup
  • Salt: 1 teaspoon
  • Butter: 8 tablespoons
  • Honey: 1 cup
  • Eggs: 2
  • Vanilla extract: ½ tablespoon
  • Dark chocolate chunks: 1 cup
  • White chocolate chunks: 1 cup
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and oats in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Combine softened butter and honey in a mixer for 15-20 seconds.
  4. Add mixed flour, baking powder, salt and oats to the mixer.
  5. Add in eggs and vanilla extract.
  6. Finally, stir in white and dark chocolate chunks.
  7. Using a cupcake pan, place enough dough so that each cupcake mold is three-fourths full.
  8. Bake for 14 minutes.


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