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Monday, October 15, 2012

Caramel Buttercream and Cookie Dough Dip

Every once and I while, you get lucky.  Recently, I was lucky enough to be chosen to test out some of Ghirardellis newest "Intense Dark" chocolate creations.  You should have seen me when I picked up my package of chocolate from my apartment office.  First, I thought how heavy it was (heavy with deliciousness).  Next, I wondered what exactly they sent me!  I'll tell you...

The Intense Dark line of Ghirardelli chocolates are as follows.  Sea Salt Caramel, Cabernet Matinee, Toffee Interlude, Hazelnut Heaven, Evening Dream, Twilight Delight and Midnight Reverie.  As a taste tester, I was asked to pair these chocolates with different foods and beverages, rather than use the chocolate in a baked good.  Boyfriend and I decided this would be the perfect thing for a dessert buffet.

I chose three of the chocolates and paired them with different dips, trying to play off of the flavors in each chocolate.  Midnight Reverie (86% Cacao Dark Chocolate), a rich and classy bar, was paired up with a homemade blackberry marshmallow fluff.  The sweet and tart blackberries really went well with the deep, dark chocolate.

Evening Dream (60% Cacao Dark Chocolate) went exquisitely with cookie dough dip.  The reason behind this pairing?  Chocolate chip cookie dough usually used a semi-sweet chocolate chip and the 60% Dark bar was like having a cookie with the best possible chocolate chips.

Hazelnut Heaven (Dark Chocolate with Hazelnuts), a semi-sweet and crunchy bar, went perfectly with a sweet, homemade caramel buttercream.  Caramel and hazelnut was the perfect pairing and this plate of chocolate was devoured first.

The remaining flavors were tested with less auspicious pairings.  I allowed a square of Cabernet Matinee (Dark Chocolate with Blackberry and Cabernet) to melt slowly over a warm piece of French bread.  Sea Salt Soiree (Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt and Almonds) was a surprising treat with leftover bacon from breakfast.  And Toffee Interlude (Dark Chocolate with Toffee)?  I just had that one with a bottle of sparkling water.

So next time you have a dinner party, don't worry about a tricky dessert.  Set out plates of chocolate and a few different dips and let everyone choose their favorite!

This post is brought to you by Ghirardelli Intense Dark™ Chocolate.

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Caramel Buttercream
Adapted from Several Sources

1 cup your favorite vanilla buttercream (my favorite)
1/4 cup caramel sauce (cooled)

Stir together frosting and caramel sauce until smooth.

Caramel Sauce
Adapted from The Ultimate Ice Cream Book

While I at first used this to make my caramel buttercream, I eventually used this to cover my vanilla ice cream!  It's not super thick, so don't worry when your caramel sauce flows easily.  It won't move like lava, more like maple syrup.

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place heavy cream in a microwave safe container.  Microwave for 30 seconds, stir.  Microwave for 30 seconds more.  Set aside while the caramel is made.

Combine sugar and water in a small pot and heat over medium-high heat.  Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and the solution is clear.  Stop stirring and allow sugar solution to bubble away.  As the sugar syrup starts to yellow, don't leave the stove.  It will turn quickly from perfect, to burnt.  Once the sugar syrup turns golden brown, remove it from the heat.

Whisk in heavy cream.  Be careful as the syrup will bubble and spit.  Return the caramel to the heat and whisk until all of the caramel is dissolved in the cream.  Let simmer for 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add vanilla extract.  Allow to cool for 30 minutes before adding to the buttercream.

Cookie Dough Dip
Adapted from How Sweet Eats

8 tbsp butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Combine cream cheese and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl, beat ingredients for about 1 minute.

In a small pot, melt butter over low heat.  Remove from heat and add brown sugar, whisk until smooth.  Add vanilla extract then let cool for 3 minutes.

With mixer on medium speed, add butter mixture slowly.  Beat until everything is combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl once.  Add chocolate chips and stir until incorporated.

The blackberry fluff didn't come out exactly the way I wanted it to, so I'll hold off on publishing that until it's perfect!  Hold tight!
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