Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Chocolate Milk and Chocolate Milk Cocktails

Today is National Chocolate Milk Day. Everyone knows that chocolate milk is a sweetened, chocolate-flavored milk drink that can be purchased pre-mixed or made at home. But there are lots of ways to make chocolate milk, and lots of different ingredients can be added to give it a special flavor. As always, remember it's the quality of the chocolate that will make a big difference-- and the milk: 2%, whole, etc.

So to celebrate the day, I have Three Chocolate Milk recipes and Two Chocolate Milk Cocktail Recipes! Take your choice!

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As always, use the very best chocolate. Basically you make a chocolate syrup first, then add the milk.

1. Chocolate Milk

11 ounces milk
1 ounce water
1-1/2 teaspoons cocoa
2 tablespoons sugar

Put sugar, cocoa, and water in microwavable 12 oz glass.
Microwave for 30 seconds or until sugar and cocoa dissolve.
Add cold milk and stir.

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Want something a little more unusual? Sunset (1994) had a wonderful Ultimate Chocolate Milk Recipe (Nicaraguan Chocolate Milk). This is not a classic, but it might soon be for you. Preparation takes some time, so you won't be drinking this today.

2. Nicaraguan Chocolate Milk (Orchata de cacao)

1-1/2 cups long-grain white rice
2 cups (about 2/3 lb) cocoa beans
4 cups water
3 cinnamon sticks (each about 3 in.), broken into 1-inch pieces
8 cups whole, low-fat, or nonfat milk
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
1 cup sugar
Ice (optional)

Place rice in bowl, cover with cool water, and let stand to soften somewhat, up to 24 hours; drain.
Place cocoa beans in 9-inch metal baking dish. Bake in 500 degree oven 5 minutes. Shake beans. Continue to bake until beans smoke and some skins have split, 5 to 8 minutes longer.
In blender, place half rice, cocoa beans, water, and cinnamon. Whirl until ingredients are very finely pureed. Place large, fine strainer over a bowl; pour cocoa mixture into strainer and stir to extract liquid. Discard residue. Repeat with remaining rice, cocoa, water, and cinnamon.

Rinse strainer, then line with a double thickness of damp cheesecloth. Pour cocoa liquid through strainer into bowl, stirring to extract all liquid; discard residue.

To cocoa liquid, add milk, vanilla, and sugar; stir until sugar dissolves. Serve plain or over ice. If making ahead, chill, covered, up to 3 days. Stir to serve Makes about 10 1/2 cups, 10 servings.

3. Salted Chocolate Milk

Several years ago, I paid homage to one of my favorite TV sitcoms, Modern Family. In one episode, Manny is studying with a girl he has a crush on. She comes to his house and Manny's doting Columbian Mama Gloria (Sofia Vergara) makes the kids chocolate milk. The young girl with whom Manny is smitten says that they always add salt to chocolate milk at her home. Gloria, threatened by another 'woman' in Manny's life, says she doesn't like it that way.  Of course, when she tries it without the two in the room, she really loves it.

I've posted lots of reviews and recipes that call for salt and chocolate. Salt gives chocolate a certain pop, and I think you'll find it very refreshing in chocolate milk. Just don't add too much. A pinch will do.

The Modern Family Chocolate Milk with Salt Showdown:
Gloria: So how is it going?
Manny: Great, Kelly's moving her stuff into my notebook.
Gloria: This is sudden.
Kelly: It just felt right. Oh, you know what you should do, put a pinch of salt in the chocolate milk, it really brings out the flavor.
Gloria: Salt is for the popcorn.
Manny: Sounds good.
Gloria: You wouldn't like it.
Kelly: Maybe we should let Manny decide.
Gloria: Okay, here's the salt. We'll see what he likes.
Manny tries both:
Manny: Wow! It's great! Try it, Mom.
Gloria: I don't care for it.

Her best line of the episode, defeated and with her accent, she tells the camera and the viewers, "It was delicious."

So moving from the youngsters to the oldsters, here are two very easy cocktail recipes for Adult Chocolate Milk Cocktails!

1. Chocolate Milk Cocktail

Glass of Chocolate Milk
Couple Splashes Kahlua
2 or 3 ice cubes

Add Kahlua to chocolate milk and add ice

2. Chocolate Milk Cocktail

1/2 shot Kahlua
1/2 shot milk
Dash of Amaretto

Put the milk in the bottom, pour the liqueur on top and add dash of amaretto. Do not mix.
Serve in a tumbler. 

 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Key Lime Pie with Chocolate Crust

Key Lime Pie is one of my favorite pies. There seem to be several different Key Lime Pie Days (September 23, 26, and June 15). You pick... or have this easy delicious pie whenever you want. I'm going with September 26 for the purposes of this blog!

One year when I visited the Florida Keys, I tasted over 25 different key lime pies. I judged them (for myself) on tartness, firmness, sweetness (too sweet is unacceptable), whipped cream, meringue, and more. It was a hard job, but someone had to do it. I've made different variations of key lime pies, and, as I always say, you can never have too many recipes. Variety is what it's all about. One ingredient that will is essential is using real key limes.

I buy key limes at my market. Key Limes are definitely different from 'regular' limes. Key limes are smaller, about the size of a ping-pong ball. They are round, think-skinned, and contain very few seeds. They're juicier than other limes, too. Green key limes are actually immature fruits. They ripen to yellow as they mature. I buy them green, probably because that's they way they sell them in my market. Just an FYI: bottled Key Lime juice is sometimes used in Key Lime Pies. This juice is not always made from key limes. Find fresh key limes, if you can. It will make a huge difference.

Key limes are also known as Mexican limes and West Indies limes. Cultivated for thousands of years in the Indo-Malayan region, this variety made its way to North Africa and the Near East via Arabian traders, and then carried on to Palestine and Mediterranean Europe by the Crusaders. Columbus is credited with bringing the Key lime to Hispaniola (Haiti), where it was carried on by Spanish settlers to Florida. Key Limes  in South Florida, particularly the Florida Keys, hence the current common name of Key Lime. Due to hurricane-depleted soils, locals switched from pineapple commercial crops to limes in 1906, and business boomed until a hurricane once again reared and wiped out the lime groves, never to be restored. Today, most Key limes come from Mexico.

And FYI: Key Lime Pies are yellow..not green (unless you add food coloring--ugh!).  And, some people top Key Lime Pie with Meringue.. some with whipped cream!

Key Lime Pie with Chocolate Crust

Ingredients

Crust
1 1/2 cups crushed chocolate graham crackers
3 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
Spray pan with non stick spray.

Filling
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
2/3 cup fresh squeezed Key Lime juice
1 Tbsp grated Key Lime zest

Directions

Crust
Mix together crumbs and sugar in bowl, add butter and mix well. Press into bottom and up sides of  9-inch pie pan. Make it tight.
Bake 350F for 8 minutes.
Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Filling
Beat egg yolks and grated Key Lime zest (peel) for about 5 minutes until fluffy.
Add sweetened condesnse milk and beat for 4 more minues.
Reduce speed and beat in lime juice until combined.
Pour into prepared chocolate crust.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes (until firm in center)
Remove from oven and cool on wirerack.
Cover and chill for 2 hours.
Top with Whipped Cream

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Chocolate Cherries Jubilee

Today is Cherries Jubilee Day. There are so many variations on this very special dessert, but here's an easy Chocolate Cherries Jubilee recipe adapted only slightly from Epicurious. Of course, if you want to be showy with this dessert, add the Cognac to the sauce and heat without stirring it in. Light with a match and spoon the flaming sauce over the ice cream!

CHOCOLATE CHERRIES JUBILEE

Ingredients
1/2 cup cherry preserves (I use Bonne Maman Cherry Preserves)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons Cognac
1 pint chocolate chocolate chip ice cream
Toasted sliced almonds

Directions
Melt preserves in heavy small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently (alternatively, try with Chukar Cherries Jubilee Dessert Sauce).
Mix in cinnamon and Cognac.
Scoop ice cream into bowls.
Spoon sauce over.
Sprinkle with almonds.

Friday, September 23, 2016

White Chocolate Chunk Macadamia Nut Cookies

Today is White Chocolate Day. By definition, white chocolate is not actually chocolate.White chocolate doesn't contain any cocoa solids (chocolate liquor) and does not have 'chocolate' flavor. But I like the unique creamy flavor that good white chocolate does have -- of course it depends on the brand and that varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. (see below) 

White chocolate contains cocoa butter, a product of the cocoa bean used to make chocolate. White chocolate that's used in baking and candy making is a blend of milk, cocoa butter, sugar and often vanilla. The same ingredients you'll find in milk chocolate, except without the cocoa. If you are going to bake with white chocolate, make sure to buy the very best. Cheap white chocolate often has the cocoa butter replaced by vegetable fat. Check the ingredients on the package. It should have a cacao percentage just as good dark and milk chocolate bars do.

Examples of good white chocolate:
E. Guittard has 31% Cacao White Chocolate wafers. Great for baking (and eating).
Green & Black's White Chocolate uses cocoa butter, pressed directly from the crushed cocoa beans. They also use a blend of milk and Bourbon vanilla. Available in 3.5 oz bars.
Divine makes an awesome White Chocolate Bar. All natural without coloring or preservatives. 
Askinosie has a bean to bar white chocolate and uses goat's milk instead of cow's milk. The main ingredient in their white chocolate is 34% natural, non-deodorized cocoa butter. The cocoa butter is pressed in their factory, and they are the first small-batch chocolate maker to do this. After pressing the beans to create the cocoa butter, they combine them with goat's milk powder and organic cane juice, and then craft it for days in their 85-year old German melanguer, making their white chocolate one of the only single origin white chocolates in the world. It has a very unique buttery/nutty flavor, less sweet than many other white chocolate.
Merckens chocolate makes a great 2 pound bar, terrific for baking (or eating). Available through King Arthur Flour
Trader Joe's has good (and inexpensive) white chocolate for baking, as well as terrific white chocolate chips.

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Because it's comprised mainly of cocoa butter, white chocolate can be used in so many ways. Check past posts for White Chocolate Mashed Potatoes,  White Chocolate Coffee Cake, White Chocolate Truffles and a host of other white chocolate candies and baked goods.

WHITE CHOCOLATE CHUNK MACADAMIA NUT COOKIES

Ingredients
2 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1⁄4 tsp salt
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1⁄2 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sweet butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
1 1⁄2 cups white chocolate, chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In medium bowl combine flour, soda and salt. Mix well, set aside.
In large bowl with mixer blend sugars and salt at medium speed. Add butter and mix to until it forms grainy paste, scraping down sides of bowl. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat at medium speed until fully combined. Add flour mixture on low speed until just combined. Fold in macadamia nuts, and white chocolate chunks (chopped white chocolate). Do not overmix. 
Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges begin to brown.
Move immediately to cooling rack.