Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Dark Chocolate Covered Pomegranate Seeds for Rosh Hashana

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, starts tomorrow night. I've already posted a recipe for Chocolate Honey Cake for a sweet New Year, but here's another. This time for Chocolate Covered Pomegranate Seeds.

On the second night of Rosh Hashanah,  a "new fruit" is eaten. It's usually a fruit that has recently come into season but that you haven't yet had the opportunity to eat. Traditionally, one says the shehechiyanu blessing thanking God for keeping you and yours alive and bringing you to this season. This ritual reminds everyone to appreciate the fruits of the earth and being alive to enjoy them.

A pomegranate is often the new fruit. In the Bible, the Land of Israel is praised for its pomegranates. It is also said that this fruit contains 613 seeds just as there are 613 mitzvot (commandments). Another reason given for blessing and eating pomegranate on Rosh Hashanah is that one wishes that good deeds in the ensuing year will be as plentiful as the seeds of the pomegranate.

For this recipe for Dark Chocolate Covered Pomegranate Seeds, I buy packages of Pomegranate seeds at Trader Joe's, but you can always go the old fashioned way and buy two whole pomegranates and remove the seeds. For an easy way to deseed pomegranates, see this post. Rich bittersweet dark chocolate goes very well with the tart pomegranate flavor, and the textures meld well. Even if you're not celebrating the Jewish New Year, Chocolate Covered Pomegranate Seeds make a great snack, and you'll enjoy the benefits of both sources of antioxidants. 

DARK CHOCOLATE COVERED POMEGRANATE SEEDS

Ingredients
Pomegranate Seeds
About 7 ounces (depending how many seeds you have) of good quality Dark Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped

Directions
Line cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper.
Melt dark chocolate in double boiler or saucepan on top of saucepan of simmering water. Stir to make sure chocolate doesn't burn.
Add dry pomegranate seeds (so if they've been in the refrigerator make sure to dry them) to melted chocolate and fold gently with rubber spatula until seeds are thoroughly covered.
Spoon clusters of mixture onto wax or parchment paper.
Place wax or parchment papered cookie sheet in refrigerator and let chocolate covered seeds cool for several hours or overnight.
Keep refrigerated. Will last 3-4 days.

No time to cook? 
Trader Joe's sells chocolate covered pomegranate seeds.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Pomegranate Fudge for Rosh Hashana (or any time!)

Here's another chocolate recipe for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Even if you're not celebrating this holiday, you'll want to bookmark this recipe and try it today or another time. This is a very simple recipe, but you'll find it incredibly tasty. I use dark chocolate, but milk chocolate works well, too. I buy my pomegranate seeds at Trader Joe's, but you may want to buy a whole pomegranate and de-seed it. Here's a link to an easy way to do that. As I've mentioned before, use the very best ingredients for the best flavor!

On the second day of Rosh Hashana, it's traditional to eat a fruit you haven't had this season. Pomegranates are often the 'preferred' fruit, because they also symbolize fruitfulness. It's also said to have 613 seeds which corresponds with the 613 commandments of the Torah.

Pomegranate Fudge

Ingredients
23 ounces Chocolate, chopped  (60-65% cacao) or chocolate chips (or milk chocolate, if you prefer)
14 ounces Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/4 cup Pomegranate Molasses
1/2 tsp Sea Salt (fleur de sel)
Seeds of 1 Pomegranate (about a cup or 5 1/3 ounces if you're buying them loose)

Directions
Line pan that is at least 7 x 7 and 2 inches high with parchment paper.
In saucepan over saucepan over simmering water, combine chocolate and condensed milk. Stirring constantly.
Remove from stove and mix in pomegranate molasses. Mix in 1/4 teaspoon sea salt.
Pour fudge into parchment-lined pan, smoothing with spatula.
Spread pomegranate seeds over top of fudge and gently pat into fudge so they stick to fudge as it cools.
Add another 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt over top of fudge.
Put in refrigerator to set.
Remove from refrigerator.
Cut and eat.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Chocolate Honey Cake

Here's a wonderful recipe for Chocolate Honey Cake. Honey Cake is a great treat to celebrate Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, that begins next Wednesday night. Honey is a traditional food that symbolizes a Sweet New Year. Add Chocolate, and the year is bound to be even sweeter!

This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Honey Cake aka Honey Bee Cake. She decorates her Chocolate Honey Cake with the most adorable marzipan bees, but I never get quite that involved. Too bad, because they're really beautiful. FYI: Honey cake doesn't have to be dry and heavy. This cake is incredibly moist! As I've mentioned many times, though, your final product will be different depending on the type and brand of chocolate and the type of honey you use.

Chocolate Honey Cake

Ingredients

Cake:
4 ounces dark chocolate (50-65% cacao), chopped
1 1/3 cups soft light brown sugar
8 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup local honey
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp DARK cocoa
1 cup boiling water

Sticky Honey Glaze:
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup honey
6 ounces dark chocolate (60-75% cacao), finely chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp confectioners sugar

Directions:
Have all ingredients at room temperature.
Melt chocolate from cake part of ingredients list in large bowl, either in microwave or bowl over pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool slightly.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and line 9-inch springform pan.
Beat together sugar and softened butter until airy and creamy, and then add honey.
Add 1 of eggs, beating in with tablespoon of flour, and then second egg with another tablespoon of flour.
Fold in melted chocolate, and then remaining flour and baking soda.
Add cocoa pushed through tea strainer to ensure no lumps, and last of all, beat in the boiling water.
Mix everything together well to make smooth batter and pour into prepared springform pan.
Bake for up to 1 -1/2 hours, checking cake after 45 minutes. If it's getting too dark, cover top lightly with aluminum foil and keep checking every 15 minutes.
10. Let cake cool completely in pan on rack.

Glaze: 
To make glaze, bring water and honey to boil in pot, then turn off the heat and add finely chopped chocolate, swirling around to melt in hot liquid.
Leave for few minutes, then whisk together.
Add sugar through sieve and whisk again until smooth.

Putting it together:
Choose plate or stand, and cut 4 strips of parchment paper and form square outline on plate. Reason: So when you put cake on it and ice it, icing won't run all over the plate (you can always cut the excess off later).
Unclip  springform pan and set thoroughly cooled cake on prepared plate.
Pour glaze over cold chocolate honey cake. It might dribble a bit down the edges, but don't worry too much about it. Glaze stays tacky for some time (which is what gives it its melting goeyness) so ice in time for glaze to harden a little, at least an hour before you want to serve it.

Nigella Lawson decorates this great cake with marzipan bees. For the recipe for them, and for her exact recipe, go HERE.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Chocolate Rugelach for Rosh Hashana

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, starts Wednesday night, so I thought I'd get a headstart on chocolate recipes. First up: Chocolate Rugelach. I adore Rugelach, and I must admit, I usually buy them at the bakery, but sometimes you just want to make your own. Rugelach are made with a cream-cheese dough that is wrapped around a filling. Sometimes the filling is nuts or jam, but, of course, for me it's always chocolate!

This recipe for Chocolate Rugelach is adapted from Giora Shimoni on Kosherfood.com.  She calls them Israeli Chocolate Rugelach, because she says Americans tend to fill their chocolate rugelach with mini-chocolate chips, while Israelis make their own filling. Since I always have chocolate around, I make my own filling. This is a go-to recipe. It's easy. Be sure to scroll down for Giora's tips on rugelach making. Even if you're not celebrating Rosh Hashana, you'll love these pastries for breakfast or brunch or with morning coffee. Yum!

CHOCOLATE RUGELACH 

DOUGH:
7 ounces sweet butter
8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour

CHOCOLATE FILLING
1 Tbsp DARK cocoa
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup grated bitter-sweet chocolate  (65-75% cacoa)
butter, melted

TOPPING
1 egg
1/8 cup sugar  (if you don't add cinnamon, use 1/4 cup sugar)
1/8 cup cinnamon (optional)

DIRECTIONS
In mixing bowl, cream butter and cream cheese together. Add sugar and vanilla, and mix until smooth. Add flour and mix lightly. Refrigerate dough for an hour or more.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Divide dough into four balls. On floured surface, using floured rolling pin, roll one ball out into circle until about 1/8 inch thick.
In small bowl, mix first four filling ingredients together (cocoa, cinnamon, sugar, grated chocolate). Spread some melted butter on center of the circle. Sprinkle chocolate mixture on top.
Cut pastry into pie-shaped wedges. For bite-size and nice looking rugelach,  thick end of wedge should be about 1 to 1-1/2 inch wide.
Start at wide edge of wedge and roll dough up toward point.
Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place each pastry, seam side down, on paper.
Brush each pastry with egg and sugar/cinnamon.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.
  
And here are some great tips from Gloria for making perfect rugelach.

TIPS:
1. Using too much filling leads to messy looking rugelach.
2. A pizza cutter makes it easier to cut the dough into pie-shaped wedges.
3. If you don't want to use parchment paper, you can spray cookie sheets with non-stick spray.
4. After rolling dough up and placing on parchment paper, stick them in freezer. When you need fresh rugelach, take them right from freezer into oven and add a few minutes to the baking time.

Have a sweet New Year!