Monday, May 22, 2017

Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies: Perfect for Memorial Day

"Rosemary is for Remembrance"-- so this recipe for Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies is perfect for Memorial Day. I grow a lot of rosemary in my garden that I use it in baking and grilling. It's a very versatile herb. There are several varieties, and they flower, so it's also quite pretty -- and deer resistant. Rosemary is also very aromatic. And, a little goes a long way.

The phrase "Rosemary is for Remembrance" comes from Shakespeare's Hamlet. Ophelia says, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember.” 

Even before Shakespeare's era, many cultures assigned meaning to this herb. It was often used in funerals or in the care of the dead. But also, at one time, it was the fashion for brides to wear wreaths of rosemary. Rosemary was also thought to repel evil spirits and cure thievery. 15th and early 16th century statesman and writer, Sir Thomas More, tied rosemary to memory in his writing. He wrote fondly of it “running” about his garden without cultivation because: “it is the herb sacred to remembrance, and therefore, to friendship…” And for my mystery friends, an Agatha Christie novel, published as both Remembered Death and Sparkling Cyanide, uses the Shakespeare quotation.

ROSEMARY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients 
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups Chocolate Chips
1 cup pecans, chopped
2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl.
Beat butter, both sugars, and vanilla in large mixer bowl until creamy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Gradually beat in flour mixture.
Stir in Chocolate Chips, chopped Rosemary, and pecans.
Drop by rounded tablespoon onto un-greased cookie sheets.
Bake 9-10 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Build a Chocolate "Campfire Cake"!

Here's a great "Campfire Cake" you can make ahead for a picnic, barbecue, or camping trip. Serve this Chocolate Campfire Cake on a wooden plank/log for effect...but a wood cutting board or plate will do, too. I first saw this Campfire Cake in 2015 in  CountryLivingMagazine, but now it's all over the Internet. Lots of variations. Such fun! This would be great for Memorial Day. Bring the great outdoors into your backyard.

Here's what to do: Make your favorite two layer Chocolate Cake and your favorite Chocolate Frosting. Buy some rolled wafer cookies (I like Pepperidge Farm Pirouette Rolled Wafers) and red and orange hard candy.

HARD CANDY RECIPE

Preheat oven to 375.
Put red and orange hard candies on parchment-lined cookie sheet; put in oven.
Once candies have melted (about 10 minutes), remove from oven.
While still liquid, use a skewer to marbelize the colors.
Set aside and let cool.
Once hardened, peel from liner and break into triangular shapes.

Decorate top of cake with rolled wafer cookies and candy flames when you're ready to serve.
Tip: Do not put the candy flames in the refrigerator of they will soften up and lose their shape.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Strawberries Stuffed with Chocolate Cream: Strawberry & Cream Day

Tomorrow is National Strawberries and Cream Day! I knew I had to find a way to add "chocolate" cream. Strawberries can be stuffed with all kinds of things that make them even more wonderful. I posted a recipe for Strawberries stuffed with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Cheesecake, Tiramasu or Marscapone all of which also included dipping the strawberries in chocolate first. So for Strawberries and Cream Day, I thought Strawberries with Chocolate Cream Stuffing would be perfect. I've made these many times, and there are lots of variations, of course, depending on the chocolate you choose and if you use Kahlua or Cream (or another liqueur). This recipe is adapted from both  RecipeZaar and Yummly,  two great sites for you to check out!

STRAWBERRIES STUFFED WITH CHOCOLATE CREAM

Ingredients
24-36 strawberries
1 cup dark chocolate (65-75%), chopped
2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream or kahlua
4 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
14 cup powdered sugar

Directions
Wash berries, cut off stems and hollow out a bit to resemble a small cup.
Place chopped chocolate (or chocolate chips, if that's what you have) and Cream or Kahlua in a small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds on high. If not melted continue for 10 seconds each time until melted.
Set aside until cooled just a bit.
In separate bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until fluffy.
Add chocolate mixture to cream cheese mixture and beat until combined.
Put finished mixture into a Ziploc or pastry bag and fill strawberries. Heap chocolate onto top a bit and finish with a swirl :-).
Put strawberries in refrigerator for at least an hour.

Photo: Yummly

Friday, May 19, 2017

Camp Sunset: Dutch Oven Double Chocolate Cake

I love Sunset Celebration Weekend! This year it will be held once more at Cornerstone in Sonoma, May 20-21. There is so much planned to make your weekend exciting, educational, and fun, including Camp Sunset: DIY interactive Retro crafts activities with a modern twist, food demos showing off the ins and outs of backcountry cooking, and Western Spirit: Exploring locally influenced whiskies! Of course, there's much more at Sunset Celebration: Food and Wine with celebrity Chefs, Live Fire Cooking Stage, and Wine & Spirit Seminars. Don't forget to stop by the Sunset Smart Cottage. I loved it. High-tech meets high-style at the Sunset Smart Cottage. There's also a Smart Trailer (special-edition Tommy Bahama Airstream). Be still my heart!

Here's a great recipe for a Dutch Oven Double Chocolate Cake that you can make on your next camping trip. Everyone will love you and this cake! Recipe from Sunset, of course.

Dutch Oven Double Chocolate Cake
Tip: use charcoal briquets instead of wood to better control the heat.

Ingredients 
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup dried buttermilk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips, divided
About 1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Sweetened whipped cream (whisk whipping cream in a bowl with a little sugar or use canned)

AT HOME 
Combine flour, sugar, dried buttermilk, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and 1/2 cup chocolate chips in lidded container or resealable plastic bag.
Pour 1/3 cup oil and the vanilla into second container with snug lid.
Cut circle of parchment paper to fit bottom of 4-qt. camp dutch oven.

IN CAMP
Fill charcoal chimney starter one-third with briquets, set in irepit, ignite, and let burn until briquets are spotted gray, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, generously oil dutch oven, line with parchment paper circle, and oil paper.
Pour flour mixture into medium bowl.
When fire is ready, add oil mixture and 1 cup water to flour mixture and stir until blended.
Scrape into dutch oven and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips.
Using tongs, space 8 coals in firepit in circle a little smaller than dutch oven.
Set dutch oven on coals, checking that it's level. Set lid on top, then arrange 14 coals on lid around the lip and 2 coals in center of lid. Set any extra coals aside.
Bake cake until skewer inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes; to check, lift lid by sliding tongs through lid's center handle and bracing them against side of lid closest to you, then tilting lid up.
Remove lid and let cake cool at least 15 minutes before cutting into wedges.