Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Tapioca, along with junket and pudding, were standard desserts when I was growing up. I knew what pudding was, but never junket or tapioca. As a child that was fine, but as an adult interested in food and food derivations, this holiday--National Tapioca Day--got my attention.

According to Ask.Yahoo, tapioca is a root starch derived from the cassava, or yuca plant. It's often used to thicken soups and sweeten the flavor of baked goods, and it makes a great pudding. The cassava plant is native to South America and the West Indies, where its thick, fibrous roots are used in a variety of forms: bread flour, laundry starch, an alcoholic brew, and of course, tapioca pudding.

From Wikipedia: The pudding can be made from scratch using tapioca in a variety of forms: flakes, coarse meal, sticks, and pearls. Many commercial packaged mixes are also available. British schoolchildren have traditionally nicknamed the dish frog spawn, due to its appearance. American children often call it fish eyes and glue.

And here's a reason not to make tapioca at home -- cassava roots have traces of cyanide in them! The ever-resourceful Mayans, the first known to use tapioca, figured out how to extract this poison for their blow darts, leaving the uncontaminated roots free for eating. Perhaps this information would be better served on my other blog, Mystery Fanfare.

So a processed tapioca should be used in the following recipes. The first recipe for Dark Chocolate Tapioca Pudding recipe is adapted from Kraft recipes and uses instant tapioca. The second recipe uses tapioca that needs to be soaked overnight. I think the flavor is much better, but really for me, it's all about the chocolate.

1. Easy Dark Chocolate Tapioca Pudding 

1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp MINUTE Tapioca
3-1/2 cups whole milk
3 ounces dark chocolate (60-75% cacao)
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla

Beat egg lightly in medium saucepan with wire whisk.
Add sugar and tapioca; mix well.
Gradually add milk, beating well after each addition.
Let stand 5 minutes. Add chocolate.
Bring to boil on medium heat, stirring constantly.
Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until chocolate is completely melted, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat.
Stir in vanilla.
Cool 20 minutes; stir. (Pudding thickens as it cools.)
SERVE warm or chilled.

2. Longer to make but worth it -- Dark Chocolate Tapioca Pudding
adapted only slightly from JamHands (a great site)  

1/2 cup Tapioca Pearls
2-1/2 cups Whole Milk
Pinch of Salt
2 Eggs, Separated
1/2 cup Sugar
1 Tbsp Madagascar Vanilla
4-6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

Soak tapioca in 2 cups of room temperature water overnight. Drain water in morning.
Heat milk over medium low heat in top of double boiler (for just a very short time, do not boil). Add salt and tapioca. Continue to heat until small bubbles appear. Cover, turn heat to very low and cook for one hour. Make sure the milk mixture does not simmer or boil.
Separate egg whites from yolks.
Beat egg yolks and sugar together until light yellow in color. Add a little of hot milk mixture to egg yolks and blend thoroughly.
Add egg yolk mixture into hot milk mixture, stirring constantly.
Place double boiler over medium heat and cook until tapioca mixture is very thick, from 15 – 30 minutes.
Beat egg whites until stiff.
Slowly fold hot tapioca mixture into egg whites.
Stir in vanilla and chopped chocolate and combine thoroughly until smooth.
Serve warm or chilled.


Monday, June 27, 2016

One Ingredient Banana Ice Cream

My favorite ice cream when I was little was Banana Ice Cream. We used to stop at the Howard Johnson's on the Highway, and I was always thrilled that they had 28 flavors! As amazed as I was by all the flavors,  I usually picked banana. Here's an unbelievably easy One Ingredient Banana Ice Cream recipe. It's healthier, too, since there's no cream, no sugar ... just bananas. And, since this is a chocolate blog, just pour some chocolate sauce over it when you're ready to eat! This pure banana 'ice cream' is really creamy, too, because bananas are high in pectin.

One-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream 

Large ripe bananas.
Peel bananas and chop into evenly sized small pieces.
(Optional but good step) Put bananas in airtight container: freezer bag. Freeze banana pieces for at least 2 hours to overnight.
In small food processor, blend frozen banana pieces. Keep blending —  banana will look crumbly. Scrape down food processor. Keep blending —  banana will look gooey: like banana mush. Scrape down food processor. Keep blending — banana will look like oatmeal: It will get smoother but still have chunks of banana in it. Scrape down food processor. Suddenly, as the last bits of banana smooth out, you'll see mixture shift from blended banana to creamy, soft-serve ice cream texture. Blend for a few more seconds to aerate ice cream.
Transfer to airtight container and freeze until solid: You can eat the ice cream immediately, but it will be quite soft. You can also transfer it back into airtight container and freeze until solid, like traditional ice cream.

Food processor vs. blender: Food processor works best since it has enough room for the banana to get fully creamy and a little bit aerated. Some people do make it in a blender, but be careful; make sure your blender is powerful enough to process the frozen bananas. 

Making a bigger batch: Make sure your food processor is big enough (and powerful enough).

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Chocolate Pudding Cake: National Chocolate Pudding Day

Today is Chocolate Pudding Day. I just love this old-fashioned Chocolate Pudding Cake. This cake actually has two layers--a moist chocolate cake and a thick chocolate pudding sauce. The recipe has been around for a long time and is a precursor to Molten Chocolate Cake. The first recipe is incredibly easy--kind of a chemistry experiment. No need for the mixer. You can do everything quickly by hand. Both recipes are pretty simple and great to make with kids! Always good to have a choice. Chocolate Pudding Cake is the perfect recipe for a great dessert. And, there are many fun variations--and just as many terrific toppings. Ice cream is #1 for me, but Bourbon Whipped Cream would be great, too!

1. Chocolate Pudding Cake

1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
2 Tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups boiling water

Sift dry ingredients together. Mix milk, egg, and oil together in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in the big bowl. Stir until smooth. Add vanilla to bowl. Pour mixture into baking dish (1 ½ - 2 quart casserole dish). Mix together additional dry ingredients (brown and white sugars and  cocoa) and pour on top of everything already in the baking dish.
Pour boiling water on top of everything. DO NOT STIR.
Bake at 350 degrees F. for 45-50 minutes.

2. Chocolate Pudding Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter, or spray with a non stick cooking spray,  8 inch (20 cm) square baking dish.

Pudding Sauce Ingredients: 
1 1/2 cups boiling water
2 teaspoon instant coffee (powder or granules)
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Cake Ingredients: 
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup (25 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 large egg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Pudding Sauce Directions: 
Stir instant coffee into boiling water (or freshly brewed hot coffee.)
In separate bowl, stir together white sugar, brown sugar, and cocoa powder.

Cake Directions: 
In bowl, sift flour with cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder.
In another large bowl, whisk the egg with the melted butter, sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture until combined. Spread batter evenly onto bottom of prepared pan.
Sprinkle sugar/cocoa mixture evenly over cake batter. Gently pour coffee mixture over cocoa mixture.
Bake for 25 minutes or until cake is puffed and just beginning to pull away from sides of the pan. Remove from oven and place on wire rack.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Strawberry Chocolate Cookie Crumble

I recently ordered a Strawberry Crumble for dessert. Yes, I ordered this over the Chocolate Plano Pudding, but it was a warm day, and I was splitting dessert with a strawberry shortcake fiend, so it was a compromise. Well, imagine my surprise when the crumble was not like any crumble I ever tasted before...or at least that I remembered, and it was all about chocolate! I asked the waiter. "Chocolate cookie dough crumble," he said. Obviously this dessert was not well described on the menu, but it was so delicious, who cared? I asked for the recipe. Well, no, it's chef's secret. So began my search for a recipe. Thank you, Internet, I found a good recipe at Food & Wine that replicated the chocolate cookie crumble, so I adapted that to use over my strawberries. I saw other recipes, but this one came closest. As far as the strawberry part..in the original restaurant dessert, they were cut up and seemed to be marinated with simple syrup and balsamic vinegar, but I can't be sure. Rememeber that the freshest strawberries will make for a winning dessert.. This would be great for Fourth of July!


1/2 pound dark chocolate (72 percent), coarsely chopped
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup oat flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup turbinado sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Strawberries (marinate with simple syrup & balsamic vinegar)

In food processor, pulse chocolate until size of peas. Transfer to plate and freeze for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325°.
Sift both flours with cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
In large bowl, using electric mixer, beat butter with both sugars at medium speed until very light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture until just incorporated, then stir in frozen chocolate.
Put marinated strawberries in heat-proof deep pan (or individual ramekins).
Drop clumps of chocolate cookie dough on top of strawberries.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until top is dry but crumble is still soft. Let cool completely.