Lower East Side, Manhattan

Roni-Sue’s Chocolates
148 Forsyth Street
www.roni-sue.com

Go to Roni-Sue’s Chocolate Shoppe for chocolate truffles, toffees, caramel popcorn, pretzel treats, and other confections. Bacon lovers can’t miss the Pig Candy (chocolate-covered bacon). The café has a cute backyard garden and also offers classes and hosts private events. Roni-Sue uses MOHO Chocolate, direct-trade, single origin 60% dark chocolate from Belize.

Amelie Dips Chocolate

I visited Roni-Sue’s for “Fall Into Chocolate” co-hosted by Divalicious Chocolate Events. This was a chocolate-dipping party with both a dark chocolate fountain and—something I’d never before seen—a matcha white chocolate fountain.

Divalicious Chocolate Fountains
Want one of these for a party? Check out Divalicious Chocolate Fountain Rentals.

There were strawberries, cookies, pumpkin muffins, pretzels, marshmallows, cream puffs, popcorn balls, gummy candy…and much more to dip. I think my favorite were the rice crispies treats, the chocolate really got into the crevices!

Dippers for Chocolate
Popcorn, fruit, cookies—including beautiful pizzelles—and even potato chips were perfect dippers for both the dark chocolate and matcha-flavored white chocolate.

Happy Chocolate Dippers

Chocolate Dipped Goodies

To wash it all down, there was hot chocolate and hot apple cider with chocolate-dipped cinnamon sticks.

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Mini Apple Pies topped with Sonoma Syrup Co. Salted Caramel (Photo by Jason Walker-Yung)

It is fall here in New York, and the delicious, fresh-off-the-tree apples are to be had in abundance. I don’t want any to go to waste, so it was apple pie time! Of course, I had to try baking some in cupcake tins.

Filling

Baking what I blog, I followed my instructions for making and freezing apple pie filling. I used 7 apples, which were 2 1/2 pounds once peeled and cut. Juice from a Limoneira lemon along with cinnamon and nutmeg flavored the filling. I needed only about 1/3 of it to make 12 mini apple pies, so I froze the rest for a future pie.

Amelie Peeling Apples

I cut the apples in chunks rather than slices to better fit the muffin tins, and I perhaps could have cut smaller, though I did not want it to turn into applesauce. I could only get about 4 pieces of apple in each. It was enough, though I felt there were some gaps in a few pies (gasp!).

Cooking Apple Filling

Crust

I’ve had good results with Simply Recipes‘ all-butter crust recipe, though I use a stand mixer with a flat beater instead of a food processor.

My method: After mixing together the flour, sugar and salt, I stop the mixer to add the butter, tossing with a fork to coat before mixing on medium-low speed until it resembles coarse cornmeal. I then add ice water a tablespoon at a time until the dough starts to pulls together.

Mini Pie Crusts

I cut out 4-inch rounds to place in the bottom of greased muffin tins. After filling the cups, I cut pieces of pastry dough and wove a lattice with six strips for each. It took awhile, but the results were pretty cute! I could have gone larger for the bottom crusts, I didn’t have a rim to fold back over for a better edge. It worked out ok, I just tucked each strip under, trying to connect to dough below.

Amelie Weaving Pie Lattice

Caramel

To get in just a bit more deliciousness, I used Sonoma Syrup Co.‘s Sea Salt Caramel Syrup to add a finishing touch. I put the caramel in a squeeze bottle for more control and drizzled some over the uncooked pies before putting them into the oven.

Sonoma Syrup Co. Caramel on Apple Pies

When researching caramel apple pie recipes, I’d read one that poured caramel over the lattice, which is all I did here. A taste of just the top crust was delightfully caramel, but overall I’d say that I did not use enough. If you try the same, you should really pour that stuff on!

It got messy in the oven, but once the pies had cooled somewhat and come out of the pans, I was delighted with the results.

Mini Caramel Apple Pies - Photo by Jason Walker-Yung

Thank you to Sonoma Syrup Co. for the caramel syrup. The company handcrafts its extracts, syrups, and bar mixers in small batches in Northern California with botanical ingredients. Learn more at www.sonomasyrup.com.

 

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I dabbled in cake mix when I was younger. You know, teenagers like to experiment. But I learned my lesson and have been a “from scratch” girl since.

Why so tough on mixes? Typically, they are full of preservatives and down right baffling ingredients. I mean, do polyglycerol esters of fatty acids sound like something you want to consume? You can taste the “mixiness” of it. No, thanks.

Enter Foodstirs

foodstirs_amelie

Foodstirs—founded in 2014 by Sarah Michelle Gellar (yes, of Buffy fame) and friends Galit Laibow and Gia Russo—offers what they call quick-from-scratch mixes. Each mix contains only 6-10 organic and GMO-free ingredients that can be traced to their source. Now, that’s a kind of mix I can get behind.

I decided to try out the exclusive Brooklyn Brownie Mix that recently debuted at Whole Foods in the neighborhood of Williamsburg. This mix makes a chocolate brownie with chocolate chips and salt flakes on top. (Someone thinks we Brooklynites are “salty,” eh?)

Foodstirs Brownies
Brooklyn Brownies, made in Brooklyn!

As promised, the instructions were simple and quick. I needed only 2 eggs, vegetable oil, and a little water to get going. I grabbed my whisk and batter bowl, and set to work.

Ingredients for Foodstirs brownies

Stirring Foodstirs brownies

One change to the instructions, I made cupcake-sized brownies instead of spreading them in a 8″x8″ or 9″x9″ pan. That worked great and gave me reasonable single portions.

Of course, I immediately ate two.

They were delicious with none of that “mixiness” I so loathe. I look forward to trying out some of Foodstirs’ other offerings. (I have my eye on you, Chocolate Chippy Cookies.)

Scooped Foodstirs brownies

Find Foodstirs mixes at all Whole Foods Northeast locations or on Foodstirs.com. The Brooklyn Brownie Mix is available exclusively at Williamsburg Whole Foods. Foodstirs also offers foodcrafting kits (buy online or subscribe) such as the Celebration Cupcake Baking Kit, which includes frosting and cake mixes, sprinkles, liners and toppers.

Thank you to Foodstirs for providing mixes for me to sample.

I’m on Snapchat! Add me @cupcakesamelie.

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Pears Chocolate Cake SliceStill have an abundance of Christmas-gift pears? Grab some chocolate and let’s bake!

PearsChocolate

I had 10 small Bosc pears (each less than 4 ounces). A tart or pie seemed the obvious choice to use them, but my husband and I had just finished off an apple tart I’d recently baked, so I wanted something different.

This torta di pere e cioccolato recipe is from Brooklyn’s Al Di La, a lovely Italian restaurant in Park Slope, by way of Deb of Smitten Kitchen (thanks for getting it out of them!).

Chocolate and Pear Cake
A little powdered sugar on top prettied it up (and hid the imperfections).

I made 2/3 the recipe in a 6.5″ diameter, 3″-deep baking dish to bake a small cake for dinner with another couple. That put three of my little pears to use.

As a cupcake baker, a cake that spends almost an hour in the oven intimidates me. I cooked for 20 minutes, turned, then another 20 minutes. I put it on for about 10 minutes more, paranoid by comments of not baking long enough. The edges were darker brown than I like, but it was cooked through and still moist.

baked pear chocolate cake

Bittersweet chocolate and pears taste deliciously fancy together! It was a treat. Now I need to go try it again at Al Di La.

Thanks to the Daily Meal for this baking playlist

 

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Thanksgiving is coming! Traveling? Baking an apple pie?

Slice of Apple Pie

Last year, I spent Thanksgiving with my husband’s family, and my mother-in-law asked me to bring a pie. I was happy to provide the pie, but I wasn’t sure how to get it to upstate NY in primo condition. I’ve been foiled before by train heaters and bumpy car travel. After much consultation with friends (and my bestie, the internet), I decided to make the dough and filling separately to transport, then assemble and bake upon arrival.

Ingredients

I made the French Apple Pie from The Cotton Country Collection, a cookbook almost everyone in my north Louisiana family owns. This recipe incorporates a custard and apricot preserves into the pie filling.

I baked with Golden Russets from Red Jacket Orchards in Geneva, New York.

This heirloom apple has a firm flesh with an intense sweet-dry flavor. It is a great keeper and very versatile for eating, cooking and juicing.

I also added one Granny Smith to make up the required amount and add some variety, always nice in apple pie.

Prep

I made the dough ahead of time, divided it into 2 and froze each piece in plastic wrap. I cooked and spiced my apples and froze them in a gallon freezer bag.

Frozen Apple Pie FIlling

The night before traveling, I made the custard, which I refrigerated.

On travel day, the frozen items went in a tote to cool during the train ride, and the custard traveled with an ice pack in a cooler bag. (Note that you likely could not do this for plane travel due to liquid constraints. In that case, I would probably freeze a prepared but unbaked pie to carry with me.)

Assembly

I was more grateful than stressed by my mother-in-law’s help with the pie construction. She definitely has more experience with pie-baking than I do. She started hands-off but couldn’t help but get involved! It was fun to do together.

Cut Out Pie Crust
I used a small heart cookie cutter to cut holes in the top crust.

Have a tasty Thanksgiving!

Baked Apple Pie

See also my blog post at Farm2Me about freezing pie filling (for a more basic apple pie recipe) prepared with all your extra autumn apples!

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