Baked Chocolate Coconut Doughnuts


Back to my blog – hope you haven’t forgotten me. I have been cooking and baking a lot this fall but have not taken the time to update and publish. Let me know what you think of these semi-healthy doughnuts..

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly coat doughnut pan with nonstick cooking spray (I like the ones made with coconut oil)


First, mix together in medium bowl:

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa powder

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

Then stir in:

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 large eggs, beaten

3 tablespoons canola or safflower oil

1/2 teaspoon coconut emulsion

Transfer batter to gallon ziploc bag. Snip off corner, then fill each doughnut pan cavity 3/4 full. Bake until puffed and golden, about 8-10 minutes. After 5 minutes, gently transfer to wire rack to cool. Then prepare glaze.

Chocolate Glaze

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/4 cup good cocoa powder

4-6 tablespoons milk

Blend until smooth. Dip each doughnut in glaze and top with toasted coconut flakes and sprinkle with mini semi sweet chocolate chips.



California Chocolate Chili


A few weeks ago I went to visit my family in Illinois and we attended one of our favorite events – a local tradition for 30 years, the Belleville Chili Cook Off. I hadn’t been thinking about fall food much, as it was still 90 degrees plus here in California. The chili that won “people’s choice” was a delicious combination of savory, spicy and sweet – chocolate chili! I had never tasted chili with cocoa powder and as soon as I came home I started researching recipes. I am still refining, but this my best effort so far. This doesn’t taste exactly like the winner – I am still working back channels to see if I can get my hands on that one – but it is really close. Try it and see what you think about adding cocoa powder to chili. We are having our own neighborhood chili cook off later this month and this is what I plan to make. Tip: I use the food processor to chop the onions and peppers – it makes the prep time much shorter.


2 pounds good quality ground beef, 85/15

2 medium white or yellow onions, finely chopped

3 teaspoons chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons chopped garlic (I use Christoper Ranch, but any jar chopped garlic found in the produce section will work)

4 tablespoons good quality unsweetened cocoa powder ( I use Rodelle)

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

2 15 ounce cans dark red kidney beans

2 15 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes

4 cups tomato sauce

sour cream and cilantro to garnish, of desired


In a large dutch oven, brown the ground beef over medium high heat. After 5 minutes, add the onion, chili powder and cumin, chopping and stirring continuously until beef is browned and onions are soft. Next, add the cumin, garlic, cocoa powder, sugar and jalapeño. Mix together thoroughly and cook for 3 minutes. it should look like this:


Next, add in the beans, and cayenne, and cook for another minute or so. Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce and mix well.


Cook partially covered on low heat  for 30 minutes, then adjust seasonings to your taste. Cook an additional 30 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and chopped cilantro, if desired. Makes 10-12 servings.

Dark Chocolate Dipped Madelines


The idea for this recipe came from Starbucks -they discontinued my favorite chocolate dipped madeleines and now just have the plain ones. Then I found this amazing product – Ghirardelli Dark Melting Wafers – that made this recipe even easier to make.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

1 egg

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

1/3 cup sugar

4 ounces Ghirardelli Dark Melting Wafers

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (350 degrees if using a dark metallic nonstick madeleine pan). Melt butter in microwave. Let cool for 5 minutes then brush butter lightly into each madeleine plaque. Let remaining butter cool another 5-10 minutes until just warm. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Combine egg, lemon peel, vanilla bean paste, almond extract and sugar and beat for 15-20 seconds at medium speed. Stir into flour mixture and beat a few seconds more. Add reserved butter and mix thoroughly until just combined. (do not over mix) Spoon into molds of pan, dividing equally (each mold should be a little more than half full) Bake 12-14 minutes until just golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes, then unmold and transfer to wire rack to cool thoroughly. Melt chocolate in a glass Pyrex measuring cup in microwave. Dip each madeleine in glass cup and set on wax paper to dry. These are best served the same day, or you can store in airtight container an additional day or two.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Toffee Brownies


Brownies…who doesn’t love brownies? No one in this house – they are one of the most requested desserts. As much as I love cooking and baking, I have used the box mix more often than not. They are super easy to make and always taste great. Sometimes I even hide the box and pretend I made them from scratch. There is definitely a difference between the box and from scratch and making them from scratch is worth the time. I have been experimenting with different recipes and this is the current favorite. It is the perfect combination of cakey vs fudgy brownies – if you want them even cakier you can add in another egg. If you aren’t a toffee fan, you can substitute chocolate chips or walnuts if you like.

The secret to this whole deal is using a very good quality chocolate…this is the one I use:


Ghirardelli 60% cacao…I love baking with this! Ever since my visit to the factory in San Francisco in 1985, I have been hooked on this brand.  Another good quality baking chocolate to try is Scharffen Berger. Trader Joe’s is really good too….


2 bars (7ounces) Ghirardelli 60% Cacao chocolate baking bar

1/2 cup plus one tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or good vanilla extract

1/2 cup Heath English Toffee bits

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper so that the paper over hangs by a few inches.

Melt chocolate and butter together in the top of a double boiler. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool. If you don’t have a double boiler, place in microwave safe dish and microwave on half power in 30 second increments, stirring after each time. Stir until thoroughly blended, let cool for 5 minutes.

In a seperate bowl, add eggs and beat slightly, then stir in sugars, salt, vanilla and Heath bits. Stir until well blended. Add chocolate mixture and and stir until smooth. Add flour and salt and mix until just combined.

Pour mixture into pan and spread evenly, smoothing top. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Transfer pan to wire rack to cool. When cooled, lift brownies out of pan using the overhanging parchment paper. Cut into squares and watch them disappear!


*Inspired by a recipe on the website “Bake or Break” 

Oreo Double Chocolate Cheesecake


I have been incredibly busy this month with the non profit fundraising season in full swing. I work a lot of nights and weekends and sometimes just don’t have enough left in the tank to create something amazing, original and delicious for dinner or dessert during the week. I will slack off for a whole week if I am feeling overscheduled but this week I was asked to make a special dessert and the deadline was fast approaching so I had to get it going!

This recipie needs to have its own category – called “the most bang for the buck” – literally.  I have made it two years in a row for the school fundraiser and both times it raised over $200 (did I mention that alcohol is served at this event?) This looks and tastes absolutely decadent but does not take a lot of time to prepare – just a little planning ahead.


24 Oreo cookies, crushed

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

32  ounces cream cheese (4 eight ounce packages ), softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

9 ounces good semi sweet chocolate (I use Ghirardelli)

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup fresh blueberries or 8 additional oreo cookies, for garnish

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Preheat over to 325 degrees.

Combine crushed oreos and butter, press into bottom and up sides of a 9 inch springform pan (an easy way to do it is to use the bottom of a measuring cup.) Bake 10 minutes, remove from oven, leave oven on. Beat cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla bean paste with mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add melted chocolate and mix well. Add eggs slowly, mixing on low speed, until just blended into batter. Pour over crust and smooth top evenly. Bake 55 minutes to 1 hour or until center is almost set. Run rounded spatula or knife around rim of pan to loosen, then cool completely before removing rim of pan. Refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours (preferably overnight) before serving. Garnish with berries and powdered sugar or cookies just before serving.

To kick it up a notch add 2 tablespoons of hazelnut liqueur when adding eggs. This makes it taste even better!

The PERFECT chocolate cake…..

Hello and Happy March! I realize, after a few months of being a food blogger, that I am coming pretty late to the party – there are many, many awesome, unique and special food blogs. I have wanted to start this blogging thing for several years – but something always seemed to grab all my time and my attention (moving cross country, new job, new job, getting married, moving to California, new job, kid starting college…. ) okay you get the drift. I am feeling more settled and have a tiny bit of free time, so finally I can share some things I have learned about cooking and baking over the years.
I have spent a lot of time trying to create /ammend/improve upon some tried and true recipes for chocolate cake. Many of my favorites have icing and really can’t carry the show by themselves. After many months experimenting, I realized I had the best recipe all along – it is really perfect, exactly as written, with no improvements or changes. It is the “Chocolate Domingo Cake” in Rose Levy Berenbaum’s “The Cake Bible”. I have been making this cake for years (the pages are almost ready to fall out (see below) and for good reason. It is simply, the best chocolate cake.

IMG_1548 The cake is incredibly easy to make. The reverse creaming method is almost foolproof, and results in an absolutely tender, velvety crumb. Most “from scratch” cake recipes start out with creaming the butter and sugar “until light and fluffy”. With the reverse creaming method, you start out by beating (and I mean beating) the dry ingredients along with the butter and most of the liquid, and then you add the remaining liquid in two or three increments.If you have never tried this method before, it is very different and you will  be vigorously beating the batter, flour and all, pretty much from start to finish. This goes against the well-known guidance for obtaining cake tenderness, which involves being as gentle as possible with the batter as soon as you start incorporating the flour.This chocolate cake is particularly special because it is delicious on its own.  This one needs no adornment to taste good. It is impossibly – but not overwhelmingly – chocolate-y. I just sprinkle a little powdered sugar on top and garnish with fresh berries. If it is a birthday party this cake is for, I will add a small scoop of really good vanilla bean ice cream on the side before serving.

 Adapted from The Cake Bible

Prepare a 9 or 10 inch round springform pan by lining the bottom with parchment paper, and then greasing and flouring the sides and bottom of the pan. Preheat your oven to 350ºC.


 1 1/2  ounces Dutch-process cocoa

  5 1/2  ounces sour cream

  2 large eggs

  1 ½ teaspoon vanilla (I use my favorite vanilla bean paste)

Mix by hand in a medium bowl until smooth. In another mixing bowl, such as the bowl of a stand mixer, add:  

 5 1/2 ounces cake flour, sifted 

 7 ounces sugar

 ¾ teaspoon baking powder  

 ¼ teaspoon baking soda

  ½ teaspoon salt

With the paddle attachment (or with the regular beaters if you are using a hand mixer), mix the dry ingredients above on low speed.  The goal is to blend them all together really well, so let the mixer do its thing for about 30 seconds. After that, add to the dry ingredients:

 14 Tbsp butter (1 cup minus 2 tablespoons , or 7 ounces) 
plus half of the cocoa mixture that you prepared in the beginning.

Mix all these on low speed until moistened. Increase the speed to medium (or high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat the lthat batter for 90 seconds.  Stop the mixer and scrape down sides.Gradually add the remaining cocoa mixture in 2 additions, beating 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary.You will have a fluffy, light brown mixture when you’re done. Pour this batter into your prepared pan.  It will be about half full. Smooth the top and bake at 350ºC for 30-40 minutes.  The cake is ready when a tester inserted near the centre comes out clean.When you remove the cake from the oven, allow it to cool on a rack, in the pan, for 10 minutes.  Then loosen the sides with a thin knife and invert the cake onto a greased rack.  Reinvert it so that the top is up.  Let it cool completely (or not … it really depends on how long you can restrain yourself from digging in!) This cake lasts two day, tops at my house – everyone has their share but I cannot walk by that cake safe without sneaking a bite or two..or three…

domingo cake

Vanilla Cocoa Swirl Pound Cake


So wine week didn’t exactly go as planned – sometimes things happen. I was going to follow up cooking with wine week with updates to my wines page, but this weekend we are getting some much needed rain here in northern California.  It has been raining for two days and it looks like the whole weekend will be rainy and soggy so my thoughts turned to comfort food instead – specifically updating some classic recipes that I have used for many years with some of the great new ingredients that are available today with a few clicks of the mouse.

This blog is named berries and cocoa because they are my two favorite ingredients to bake with. I am always searching for better quality ingredients to improve upon old favorites. Twenty years ago Hershey’s baking cocoa was most readily available to the home cook in the supermarket, and most home cooks used it –  but professional chefs had their secrets. I found one on Amazon this month: Rodelle Dutch Process Dark Cocoa.


The new dutch process dark cocoas today are amazing – and this is just one of them. Try this the next time you are baking – along with the pure vanilla bean paste I told you about in November – I think you will notice a definite difference in your recipies.

Traditionally pound cake was made with a pound of each of these four ingredients: flour, butter, eggs and sugar. The first recorded recipie dates back to Northern Europe in the late 1700’s, but the basic recipe can be found in cookbooks in France, Germany, Mexico, Columbia and Venezuela. This recipe is most popular in the American South in its tradidtional form, but there are literally hundreds of variations with sour cream and lemon being the most popular. I’ve also added a few tips to make your cake even better:

* when you cream the sugar and butter, beat until very light and fluffy – it takes a good five minutes to get the right consistency. Make sure the butter is at room temperature for best results.

*to “marbleize”,   use a large metal spoon to cut through the batters in a wide zigzag – go around only once so the batters won’t mix.



2 cups sugar

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 1/2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour

1 cup milk

1 1/2 teaspoons double acting baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup dutch process dark cocoa

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray 10 inch tube pan with nonstick flour based spray. In the large bowl of a stand mixer, mix sugar and butter until well blended. Beat on high speed for five minutes until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add all remaining ingredients except cocoa powder. Beat until thoroughly blended, scraping sides of bowl frequently. Increase speed to high and beat 4-5 minutes longer, mixing thoroughly.

Remove a scant three cups of the batter and transfer to a small bowl. Using a wire whisk, beat cocoa into batter until well blended. Spoon a 1 inch layer of the vanilla batter onto bottom of the cake pan, then drop dollops of the chocolate batter over top, as shown. Repeat with another layer of the vanilla, then use the remaining chocolate batter to drop chocolate dollops over top of vanilla batter. With a large metal spoon, cut and twist through batter in a zigzag pattern only once to achieve the marbled effect.

Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Do not overbake. Remove from oven and cool cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Use a spatula or icing knife to loosen cake from pan. Remove and cool completely on a wire rack. This makes a really big cake so you can freeze half – but it is so good that it usually disappears in a couple of days.