Thursday, April 24, 2014

Gluten-Free Better Than Almost Anything Cake

Photo: Betty Crocker
Recently a friend sent me this recipe for Gluten-Free Better than Almost Anything Cake from Betty Crocker, It's basically a Chocolate Caramel Poke Cake made with a Flourless Chocolate Cake. Whatever you call it, it's delicious! As I always say it's all about the ingredients. Always use the best caramel, the best chocolate, and if you're using dairy--the best whipped cream!

The original recipe uses Betty Crocker's Gluten Free Devil's Food Cake Mix. I've tried the mix by itself, and it's o.k., but the caramel really takes it up a notch. You might also want to make your own Flourless Chocolate Cake. If you don't have a recipe, try one of these:

Cracked Earth Flourless Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Flourless Cake for Passover (or any time!)

For the Caramel sauce, I use FatToad Farm Goat's Milk Caramel... oh my.. it's sooo good. I also use Recchiuti Burnt Caramel Sauce. So rich and good. Both are good to have in the pantry!

For the Toffee bits, I use toffee from ToffeeTalk, my favorite toffee.

And, I don't usually use whipped topping. This cake is just fine without a topping, but if you have to have one, use real whipped cream!

GLUTEN-FREE BETTER THAN ALMOST ANYTHING CAKE

Ingredients
Box Betty Crocker Gluten Free Devil's food cake mix  (or make your own Flourless Chocolate Cake!) Water, butter and eggs called for on cake mix box
1 jar (12 or so ounces) Fat Toad Goat's Milk caramel topping (or sometimes I use Recchiuti Caramel Sauce!)
1 cup whipped cream  (the original recipe calls for frozen (thawed) whipped topping)
1/2 cup toffee bits

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F (or 325°F for dark or nonstick pan).
Make a flourless chocolate cake (recipes above) or make and bake cake mix as directed on box, using water, butter, eggs and any of the pan choices.
With handle of wooden spoon, poke top of warm cake every 1/2 inch.
Drizzle caramel topping evenly over top of cake; let stand until absorbed into cake.
Cover; refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled.
Spread whipped cream over top of cake. Sprinkle with toffee bits.
Store covered in refrigerator.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easy Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake!

Photo: Pillsbury (I leave off the chocolate on top)
In celebration of National Cherry Cheesecake Day, I thought I'd repost an easy delicious recipe for Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake adapted from Pillsbury. Of course I make my own tried and true Chocolate Cookie Crust!

About the crust. Sometimes I bake it first, and sometimes I don't. It won't matter in this recipe, but I like it to be a bit more crunchy for texture, so I posted with baking it before adding filling.

CHOCOLATE CHERRY CHEESECAKE

Chocolate Cookie Crust
About 40 chocolate wafers (Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers-2 cups crumbs)
6 Tbsp sweet butter, melted and slightly cooled
Pinch of salt

Directions
1. Process cookies in food processor until finely ground.
2. Transfer crumbs to mixing bowl & combine crumbs, butter, salt. Stir until crumbs are moistened.
3. Press mixture evenly across bottom of 10-inch springform pan and all the way up sides of pan. Pack tightly so crust is even.
4. Bake in 350° oven for 6-8 minutes or until crisp.
5. Let cool completely before filling. You can put it in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

Filling 
4 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1/2 cup whipping cream
20 ounces cherry pie filling  (I use Chukars Sour Cherry Pie Filling!)

(Optional) Glaze 
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup (or about 6 ounces) dark chocolate, chopped

Directions
1.  Make crust as above.
2.  In large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium until smooth. Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. Add 1/2 cup whipping cream; blend well.
3.  Spoon 3 -1/2 cups cream cheese mixture into crust-lined pan, spreading evenly. Carefully spoon 1 cup pie filling evenly over cream cheese layer (reserve remaining pie filling for topping). Spoon remaining cream cheese mixture evenly over pie filling.
4.  Bake 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes or until center is set. Cool in pan on wire rack 1 hour.
Serve topped with remaining cherry pie filling.

Optional: I don't think you need to add this, but if you want more chocolate!
5.  In 1-quart saucepan, heat 1/2 cup whipping cream to boiling over medium-high heat. Remove from heat. Stir in chopped chocolate until melted.
6.  Line cookie sheet with waxed paper. Remove side of pan. Place cheesecake on paper-lined cookie sheet. Before adding the extra cherry pie filling-- Spread chocolate glaze over cooled cheesecake, allowing some to flow down side. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day: Cracked Earth Flourless Chocolate Cake

Earth Day! As many of you know, I blog about mystery/crime fiction at Mystery Fanfare, as well as about Chocolate. I'm also the Editor of the thematic review Mystery Readers Journal. Last year (Volume 29:1) focused on Environmental Crime Fiction/Mysteries.

Today on Mystery Fanfare, I blog about Reservoir Noir: Books that deal with intentional flooding of towns and villages because of building dams and reservoirs for water supply, irrigation, power and other reasons--a sad addition to the environmental crime fiction list.

I don’t know of a good crime novel that involves the chocolate trade. That’s a theme ripe for a good mystery. Something to think about while you enjoy “Cracked Earth Flourless Chocolate Cake” from the recipe below.

I've posted many flourless chocolate cake recipes, but this cake is adapted from Tyler Florence of the Food Network. It's his Cracked Chocolate Earth Flourless Chocolate Cake. And, it's Gluten-Free.

Cracked Earth Chocolate Flourless Cake

Ingredients
1 pound organic fair-trade dark chocolate (65-85% cacao), chopped into small pieces
1 stick sweet butter
9 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
2 cups heavy cream, cold 

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter 9-inch springform pan.
Put chocolate and butter in top of double boiler over simmering water until melted.
Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks with sugar in mixing bowl until light yellow in color.
Whisk a little of chocolate mixture into egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs - this will keep eggs from scrambling from heat of the chocolate; then whisk in rest of chocolate mixture.
Beat egg whites in mixing bowl until stiff peaks form and fold into chocolate mixture.
Pour into prepared pan (spray bottom with nonstick spray) and bake until cake is set, top starts to crack, and toothpick inserted into cake comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it, 20 to 25 minutes (and then check every five minutes after that--don't overbake).
Let stand 10 minutes, then unmold.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ways to use Leftover Easter Chocolate

Right now both low end and high end Easter Chocolate is a bargain at 50% off. Maybe you still have a lot of leftover chocolate at home? Perhaps not the ears of the bunny, but body parts and decimated eggs? Put them to tasty use!

If it's still in its wrapping, donate leftover chocolate to homeless shelters or if it won't melt, ship overseas to military personnel.

But if it's in pieces and chunks, here are a few ideas. Leftover chocolate goes great on ice cream or added to brownies and cookies. So many creative ways to re-purpose and re-savor Easter Candy. Feel free to add your own leftover Easter chocolate ideas!

Freeze for Later: Chop up chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs. Freeze the pieces and use instead of chocolate chips in cookies and other goodies. 

Ice Cream: Melt Easter bunny parts and pour over ice cream. Add some nuts. Or just chop it up and sprinkle on ice cream. Add berries and whipped cream for a great sundae.

Milk Shake: Use any chopped chocolate with two scoops of ice cream and some milk. Blend!

PEEPS S'Mores: Well they're a natural with Peeps, especially the chocolate covered ones.. but in a pinch add some chocolate bunny, a peep, a graham cracker, and put in the oven or microwave.  Add another graham cracker and you're good to go!

Trail Mix: Well, duh... chop up the chocolate and add some dried fruit and nuts. I think a chopped up chocolate coconut egg would be a great addition, too! Put in a small baggie and go for a hike!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries. Instead of dipping (unless you have a lot of chocolate), drizzle melted chocolate over fresh strawberries.

Candy from Candy: Melt Chocolate Bunnies or Easter eggs in double boiler or microwave. Once  chocolate is hot and smooth, pour into candy molds.

Chocolate Fondue: see my fondue recipes. The Bunny has never tasted so good... Retro treat with Retro Chocolate. Dip leftover PEEPS and fruit.

Hot Chocolate: Melt some chocolate. Add water or milk and heat until perfect. Add some whipped cream (or a PEEP)!

Brownies: I always add some extra chopped chocolate to my brownies, so why not some chocolate Easter eggs? Chop and fold into batter. 

Pancakes: Make a batch of pancakes and drop some chocolate in (do it toward the end or the chocolate or chocolate will scorch) or melt some chocolate and use in place of syrup.

Muffins and Waffles: Chop up Chocolate and add to muffins or waffles.

Trifle: Layer chopped Bunnies with leftover cake or brownies, whipped cream, cookie crumbs and anything else that seems yummy to you. I like to make trifles in clear glass containers!

Cookies: Do I really need to tell you how to do this? Chop and Drop in your favorite batter!

Cupcakes: Any way you'd use other chocolate -- or use an apple corer and fill the centers.

Rice Krispies Treats: Melt chocolate then stir in Rice Krispies. Spread on a tray. Put in Refrigerator. Cut.

Any other ideas for left-over Easter Chocolate?