Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sarah Magid's Organic & Chic


Looking forward to reviewing Sarah Magid's Organic & Chic (HarperCollins), but in the meantime here's a short blog on the book that will be out June 2.

Sarah Magid is an organic baker based in Brooklyn, NY. who bakes custom organic cakes and sweets for weddings, parties, corporate events, and 'for all those who have a sweet tooth."

Sarah discusses the inspiration behind her new book, Organic & Chic.

Watch the video of how Sarah Magid came up with The Goldies, a signature dessert and a tribute to the Twinkie, but a cylindrical buttercream-filled chocolate sponge, dusted with gold! It's organic. No defense needed!

The recipe is in the book! Can't wait or can't bake? Goldies are available for purchase in various places in the New York area.

I can't wait to get the book and try my hand at the Goldies. Watch this site!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Wedding Pie: Make Mine Chocolate

I was intrigue by an article in the Chicago Sun-Times last month "Bridal couples choosing wedding pie, not cake," and I started thinking about chocolate and chocolate related pies that would work for a wedding. We all know cupcakes often replace cakes at weddings, but how about pie? and how many pies? what kind of pies? Just so you know, this isn't really new this year. Wedding pies have been popular for quite some time. Just new to me. So my motto is "let them eat pie."

Wedding cake is a big part of the budget, and cost is usually by the slice. Of course, it's traditional to have a wedding cake and a groom's cake--for the photos. Don't even go there with pie! But wedding pies can be quite versatile and less expensive. There are so many flavors and styles. Berry Pie with lattice, with a second crust, nuts, fruit, combos, with cream, lemon chiffon, key lime, chocolate chip cookie pie..I mean it's really endless. I even saw a photo of a three tier wedding pork pie with a bride and groom on top. I do like pie. Lots of chocolate pies out there, too, but I'll get there.

Wedding pies can be stacked on tiers, having the similitude of a cake. Some 'wedding pie' bakers arrange a large pie as a centerpiece with varieties around the central pie. Wedding Pies can be presented on silver tiers or glass stands. They can be centerpieces for each table. And, here's a good idea--guests can be sent home with a tart or slice of pie. (There are pie slice baking pans). Of course there's the problem of year old frozen pie for the anniversary. I don't think it would hold up well.

Want a white wedding? Limit your pies to cream-topped or meringues. You can even put a bride and groom on top--in the pastry or riding high on meringue waves. Bake the initials of the bride and groom in the pastry or spell out something or have other shapes. And, the groom's cake which is usually chocolate (red velvet) can be a chocolate silk--or the groom can pick his favorite kind of pie. So why pie? Pie is moist where cake can be arid. So many kinds of crusts, too: flaky, graham, oreo (yes), bready, fatty, fried, crumbly, airy. Anyway, as I mentioned, there are so many variety of pies, and everyone loves pie. If you put a different pie at each table, it would encourage guests to mingle. The ideas are endless.

Of course, a whole other idea for Wedding Pie would be Cheescake. Cheesecake is not cake. It's pie. So you could have wedding cheesecakes. Several cheesecakes that stacks as in layers or different smaller varieties. Cheesecake is not an uncommon wedding 'cake.' I've been to several weddings with cheesecake wedding 'cakes.'

Sugar pie, Honey Bunch.. I can't help myself.. Make mine chocolate pie.

An Easy CHOCOLATE SILK PIE from cooks.com

1 unbaked single pie crust
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 eggs
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large, microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and butter at 50% power for 2 minutes until butter is melted; stir until smooth, Whisk in salt, sugar, cocoa powder, eggs, evaporated milk and vanilla extract, whisk until well blended. Pour chocolate mixture into crust. (Bake the pie shell 8 minutes in preheated 350 degree oven before filling shell)

Bake 30 minutes or until filling has puffed, but center still wiggles. Cool completely. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

And a fabulous Deep Dark Chocolate Cheesecake to die for...

Deep Dark Chocolate Cheesecake from Bon Appetit (October 2006) by Jeanne Thiel Kelley. Reprinted on Epicurious.com

Crust
24 chocolate wafer cookies (from one 9-ounce package)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

Filling
1 9.7-ounce bar Scharffen Berger 70% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate,* chopped
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Scharffen Berger)
4 large eggs

Topping
3/4 cup whipping cream
6 ounces Scharffen Berger 70% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate,* chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
* Bittersweet chocolate curls

Preparation
For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 3-inch-high sides. Blend cookies in processor until finely ground; blend in sugar. Add melted butter and process until well blended. Press crumbs evenly onto bottom (not sides) of prepared pan. Bake just until set, about 5 minutes. Cool while preparing filling. Maintain oven temperature.

For filling:
Stir chopped chocolate in metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water; cool chocolate until lukewarm but still pourable. Blend cream cheese, sugar, and cocoa powder in processor until smooth. Blend in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in lukewarm chocolate. Pour filling over crust; smooth top. Bake until center is just set and just appears dry, about 1 hour. Cool 5 minutes. Run knife around sides of cake to loosen. Chill overnight.

For topping:
Stir cream, 6 ounces chocolate, and sugar in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Cool slightly. Pour over center of cheesecake, spreading to within 1/2 inch of edge and filling any cracks. Chill until topping is set, about 1 hour. Do ahead: Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover with foil and keep refrigerated.

Release pan sides. Transfer cheesecake to platter. Top with chocolate curls. Let stand 2 hours at room temperature before serving.

And, there's always Chocolate Cherry Pie!

Pie in the Sky on your Special Day!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Chocolate Cherry Pie...give me some

The other day was National Cherry Dessert Day, and I put together several different recipes of varying degrees of complexity. I made sure to mention that the recipes should only use fresh cherries.

Well, today Local Lemons, one of the best and most complete websites, subtitled "Living, Eating & Cooking from the bounty of the East Bay" has an incredible recipe for Chocolate Cherry Pie. This is indeed one of the most decadent chocolate cherry combinations I've seen in a long time. Using fresh ripe deep purple cherries, sweet agave nectar and rich dark chocolate from Dagoba with a butter pie crust, this is positively sinful. The directions and photos are outstanding.

Go to this site now. Don't wait! It's the perfect pie for the weekend!!!

Photo from Chocolate Cherry Pie on Local Lemons.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Poco Dolce

Poco Dolce! I first tasted Poco Dolce chocolate at the San Francisco Chocolate Salon. I may have tasted their chocolates before, but the fact that I didn't remember leads me to believe I hadn't. The taste is so unmistakable, especially their 2 inch bittersweet squares with grey sea salt that brings out the flavor. I know I had their toffee mini-squares at the San Francisco Chocolate Salon, and since I was there early in the day, some other chocolates.

Kelli Stanley, mystery writer extraordinaire and chocolate expert, and I have been exchanging notes about chocolate for the past few months. Kelli was a guest author at our Berkeley Mystery Literary salon last week, and she brought two boxes of Poco Dolce 2 inch Bittersweet Tiles. Did I say, two? Well, I put the first box out for the other guests, but I secreted away the second box--clearly a hostess gift--and I'm not sorry. The assortment box of Chocolate Tiles topped with Grey Sea Salt from Brittany contained Double Roasted Almond, Crystallized Ginger, Burnt Caramel Toffee and Aztec Chile. The Aztec Chile was my favorite. Wish I had included it in my 3 day Cinco de Mayo Chocolate litany. Next year. Poco Dolce's Aztec Chile is made with cinnamon, chile and toasted pumpkin seeds. The pumpkin seeds really make it unique. All Poco Dolce chocolate tiles are made by hand and packed in their signature blue box. Other tiles available at different times include Sesame Toffee, Mint Toffee, Ginger, Hazelnut and Almond Coconut.

The Toffee Squares are smaller and hand cut into one inch squares and then covered in bittersweet chocolate. The sampler comes with Sea Salt Toffee, Single Shot Espresso Toffee, Double Shot Toffee and Burnt Caramel Toffee. You can't go wrong with Poco Dolce toffees. Terrific.

I still haven't tried the Bon Bons, but the website says that The Cortina Collection (inspired by the city of Cortina in Northern Italy) has a selection of chocolates featuring bittersweet nut ganaches and exotic spices. The Paradiso Collection takes their favorite latin flavors and tucks them inside a shell of bittersweet chocolate. Mango Chile, Dulce de Leche and Mayan Chile. I need to sample these, and I see a quick trip to Poco Dolce in the near future.There are other bon bon flavors, and I'll just have to try them and report back.

It may sound easy and simple, but the 2 inch squares are absolutely fabulous--complex and basic at the same time. How is this possible? The grey sea salt on the outside gives you that bit of salt with your sweet chocolate-.. and then the inner part.. well, it's all taste perfect-- and crispy!

Poco Dolce means a little sweet, and it's the salt that balances the bittersweet chocolate which is from Guittard. The flat tiles are perfectly balanced for me.

I'm usually a purist. I like my chocolate unadulterated, but Poco Dolce has won me over. I'll be adding Poco Dolce to my daily dose of afternoon chocolate--chocolate is good for you, after all.

You can purchase Poco Dolce online or at local stores.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Deep Fried Chocolate Chip Dough

Yesterday on Twitter @FabulousCheri posted a link to 25 Awesome Foods You Never Knew Could be Deep Fried! I knew about the deep-fried Twinkies at State Fairs and some of the others on the list, but I was totally taken by deep-fried chocolate chip cookie dough.

Here's a recipe from the Food Network. In this one, you make the chocolate chip cookie batter. Of course, in a pinch you can always use a refrigerator chocolate chip cookie dough. Just follow the directions for the batter, and be sure to freeze before batter and frying.

Ingredients
Dough:
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup pasteurized eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (12-ounce package) chocolate chips

Batter:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
1/2 cup seltzer water or club soda, plus more if needed
Vegetable oil, for frying

Directions
For the dough: Put the flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl and stir it with a whisk to combine. Set aside. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the butter until it is lighter in color. Slowly add in sugars and beat until it is light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time and beat until they are incorporated. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture using the low speed, then stir in the chocolate chips. Set aside.

To form the cookies: Use 2 teaspoons of the dough and roll it into balls. Put the balls onto a cookie sheet. When they are all made, put them into the freezer for about 30 minutes to firm up.

For the batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking powder. Add the egg and half the seltzer and whisk well to combine. Add more seltzer as needed until the batter is thick and the consistency of heavy cream.

To make the cookies: Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer to 350 degrees F.

Dip the chilled dough balls in the batter and carefully place them into the hot oil. Fry a few at a time, turning them over from time to time, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes total. Drain on paper towels and serve while still warm.

Photo: The Food Network

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

National Cherry Dessert Day

Leave it to The Nibble to keep track of all the esoteric food holidays. Today is National Cherry Dessert Day, and it couldn't come fast enough for me. There were some great cherries available over Memorial Day weekend at markets and road-side stalls, and there's a Farmer's Market in Berkeley today.

Chocolate and cherries are the perfect match. The flavors work so well together. The obvious cherry/chocolate dessert is Black Forest Cake, but I've never made it with fresh cherries. I have lots of recipes that call for cherry pie-filling, but with fresh cherries you know what you're getting.

Just as you'll want to have the sweetest best cherries, you'll want to choose the very best chocolate. Ghiradelli and Guittard both have great baking chips, and you can also break up most bars into small pieces for the same effect.

Here's a fabulous recipe from Associated Content for Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes. This is a real crowd pleaser. I just love these cupcakes.

Ingredients:
1 stick of butter
9 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
14-16 ounces of cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and line the cupcake pan. This recipe makes one dozen cupcakes. Melt the chocolate chips and butter together. This can be done on the stove top, or in the microwave on low heat in thirty second intervals. Keep stirring until smooth. Beat in the sugar, vanilla and eggs until glossy. Stir in the flour until just mixed - don't keep pounding away at the batter.

Put a spoon full of batter in each cupcake wrapper. Then drop in about ten chocolate chips and three cherries. Cover them up with the remaining batter and toss them in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes, until tops appeared to be puffy and cracking. They can go as long as twenty five minutes, but it is better to undercook than overcook.

The cake has a nice crumb, not too moist and not too dry. The best part is the chocolate chips that melt around the cherries, becoming a truffle like center. Cupcakes are delicious on their own, or can be frosted.

Cherry Buttercream Frosting
Ingredients:
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup shortening
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
4 tablespoons cherry juice

Cream the butter and shortening in a large mixing bowl. Add two tablespoons of cherry juice. Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Keep beating at a medium speed. During this process, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Once all of the sugar is incorporated, add the remaining two tablespoons of cherry juice. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Frost the cupcakes after they have cooled. Decorate with cherries on top, or chocolate chips.

The recipe above is fabulous and easy, but if you only have a few minutes, here's an easy brownie recipe, and you can still celebrate National Cherry Dessert Day --with chocolate.

Fresh Cherry Brownies

1 package brownie mix
1 c. fresh cherries, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg

Combine the brownie mix, cherries, oil and egg. Pour into greased pan. Bake at 350 for 30-50 minutes (test with toothpick).

If you have more time, you can always use your favorite brownie recipe and add chopped pitted cherries. Take care to adjust for liquid from the cherries.

Have a great Cherry Dessert Day!!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial Day Chocolate Recipes

I was thinking about Chocolate for Memorial Day and found a few recipes and ideas that are unique, tasty and chocolate-y.

Planning on grilling? Watch this YouTube for Grilled Chocolate Coffee Steak on Blisstree.com. I haven't tried it myself, but looks and sounds perfect for the holiday. Have to admire a main dish with all the best food groups!

I was going to suggest a patriotic cupcake using your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe and frosting with cream cheese icing and red, white and blue sprinkles. But then I saw this recipe that certainly takes it several steps further. Cupcake Project has a recipe for All American BBQ Cupcakes: Smokey Chocolate Cupcakes with Sweet Corn Cream Cheese Frosting. How American is that? The secret ingredient is liquid smoke. And that corn frosting.. all I can say is Wow!!!

O.K. maybe you're more traditional, but still want to make something patriotic and easy, try this Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake recipe from Cooking for Kids on About.com. Strawberry ShortCake is almost as American as Apple Pie and chocolate just improves on it! Strawberries are in season right now in Northern California, and the Farmers' Market has some delicious ones.

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Scharffen Berger)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
4 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into chunks
1 large egg
2/3 cup half and half or heavy cream
1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup powdered sugar
* whipped cream or thawed frozen whipped topping

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder and salt.
3. With a pastry blender or two forks, cut in butter until crumbly.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and cream.
5. Pour cream mixture into the flour mixture, and mix with a fork until the dough just comes together. It will be sticky.
6. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.
7. With an ice cream scoop, drop dough onto prepared cookie sheet. Flatten with your fingers to about 3/4-inch thick.
8. Bake 12-15 minutes.
9. Meanwhile, stir together strawberries and powdered sugar.
10. To make shortcakes, place on chocolate biscuit, flat side up on a plate. Top with strawberries and whipped cream.
Serve immediately.

And, although I tend to favor artisan chocolate, I do love See's Candy. You can always run out to your local See's (too late to order online if there's no See's near you) and buy Chocolate Stars. They're perfect for the holiday. They come in Red, Silver and Blue, six Milk and six Dark solid chocolates. Throw them across the picnic table. See how long they last.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day aka Decoration Day. Not meaning to be unpatriotic, but you can always 'decorate' your cakes and cupcakes with flags or poppies for the holiday!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Grilled Chocolate Cheesecake Sandwich

In April, Cakespy.com had a fabulous entry on their blog for Grilled Cheesecake: A Sweet Take on a Classic Sandwich. It really looks and tastes heavenly--how could it not when it includes all the best food groups: Cake, Cheescake, Butter-- and it's Fried! The photos are stupendous on the Cakespy site, too. And, if you haven't checked out Cakespy for other recipes and comments, you absolutely must.

So how is this Grilled Cheescake Sandwich made? Well it's really slivered cheesecake layered between slices of buttered pound cake. Be sure and butter the pound cake on the outside. Assemble as you would a sandwich with the buttered side of the pound cake down. Cakespy includes the crust from the cheesecake for crunch. Good idea. Then add the other slice of pound cake, buttered side up. After about a minute and half, lift with spatula and if it's browned enough flip it. Press down with a spatula, as you would a 'regular' grilled cheese sandwich. Second side browns faster, so watch it. Remove from heat, slice in half and eat.

This is such a great and easy recipe, I thought --well how about a grilled chocolate cheesecake sandwich? And, yes, it does work. Perhaps it doesn't look as pure as the original, but it certainly is tasty. Want to get inventive? Try this with a chocolate pound cake. O.K. it's a different type of dessert, but still fabulous! What isn't good fried? I was going to do an easy chocolate cheesecake recipe, but I decided that with a little more effort a quality chocolate cheesecake would make this better. I usually use the recipe from Epicurious. If you don't have Scharffen Berger, use another high quality chocolate with a high percentage cacao. So here it is, without the topping!

Crust
24 chocolate wafer cookies (from one 9-ounce package)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

Filling
1 9.7-ounce bar Scharffen Berger 70% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate,* chopped
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Scharffen Berger)
4 large eggs

For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 3-inch-high sides. Blend cookies in processor until finely ground; blend in sugar. Add melted butter and process until well blended. Press crumbs evenly onto bottom (not sides) of prepared pan. Bake just until set, about 5 minutes. Cool while preparing filling. Maintain oven temperature.

For filling:
Stir chopped chocolate in metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water; cool chocolate until lukewarm but still pourable. Blend cream cheese, sugar, and cocoa powder in processor until smooth. Blend in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in lukewarm chocolate. Pour filling over crust; smooth top. Bake until center is just set and just appears dry, about 1 hour. Cool 5 minutes. Run knife around sides of cake to loosen. Chill overnight.

So now, use this cheesecake (in slivers between plain or chocolate pound cake) for a Grilled Chocolate Cheesecake. Enjoy! And, thanks to Cakespy for such a creative fun Grilled Cheesecake idea!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Stone Ground Taza Chocolate

We did an in-house blind Chocolate Tasting yesterday here at our office. TeamBuilding-Unlimited/Murder on the Menu does Chocolate Tastings with our corporate clients, and we're always looking for new chocolate and different chocolate for each tasting event. They're always blind, and we don't reveal the brands or percents until the end. One of my favorites at yesterday's Tasting turned out to be a 70% Taza Bar. It has such a distinctive texture--stone-ground.

I've mentioned Taza before when I was doing my Earth Day chocolate round-ups, but there's more to tell. Located in Somerville, MA, they do not grow cacao there. But you knew that! The beans come from small farming cooperatives in Central and South America. Fair trade. Ethically traded.

The beans are lightly roasted. Then winnowed. To get the stone grind, Taza uses two Molinos-traditional Mexican stone grinding mills to transform cacao nibs into chocolate liquor. By minimally processing the cacao with stone mills, they maintain the flavor. The stone ground process continues in their two stone roll refiners that reduce the particle size of the sugar they mix into the chocolate to transform it into an eating chocolate. Then they deposit the chocolate into moulds, cool, and wrap by hand.

What's missing? No conching. They skip this step in order to preserve the texture of their chocolate and "to hold in as many natural flavors of the beans as possible." They do an excellent job of it.

Taza cacao comes from a small cooperative in the Dominican Republic with a tree stock called La Red Guacanejo. Their sugar is sourced from an innovative company in Brazil called the Green Cane Project, and they use true cinnamon (not cascia) and whole vanilla pods, both organically grown, from a tiny plantation in Costa Rica called Villa Vanilla.

As I've mentioned before, the direct relationship with their growers brings high quality ingredients while ensuring fair wages and work practices.

I love Taza Chocolate, and I agree that it must be the imperfect surface of a granite millstone, unrefined cacao particles and sugar granules that remain in the finished chocolate that give it it's explosive flavor!

Next up, I'll try the 80% bar--and I haven't had the Mexican chocolate yet! I'm stashing a bar of the 70% in my desk now.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Things to do with Ganache

What to do with left-over Chocolate Ganache? It freezes well (up to 3 months)), but be sure and dethaw before using. O.K., maybe you've already eaten it all.. but if you didn't.

1. Thin with half and half and use as chocolate fondue.

2. Reheat in double boiler to soften, add whipped cream and use as chocolate mousse.

3. Roll chilled ganache into balls, roll in cocoa. Instant truffles.

4. Use as filling in Homemade Oreo Cookies.

5. Use as icing on cake or cupcakes. Warm and beat in powdered sugar.

6. Use to coat strawberries. Dip in warm ganache. Allow to cool and serve.

7. Pour into tart cups, add a raspberry and instant chocolate raspberry tarts.

8. Just eat it!

Ganache is the French term for a smooth mixture of chopped chocolate and heavy cream. To make ganache, hot cream is poured over chopped chocolate and the mixture is stirred until smooth.

Like any other good chocolate based product, the taste and quality of the Ganache depends on the quality of chocolate you start with. Chocolate with a higher cocoa butter content will produce a ganache that is firmer than one made with a chocolate that has a low cocoa butter content. Chocolate with a velvety smooth texture will produce a ganache that is velvety smooth. The most important point to consider when choosing a chocolate for making ganache is whether you like the chocolate when you eat it.

There are so many Ganache Recipes out there. I don't have a favorite, but would love to hear if you do. Here's an Easy Ganache Recipe. I'm a purist, but many people add cognac or brandy to their recipes.

12 ounces good quality chocolate broken into pieces (I like Dagoba but there are lots of great chocolate brands)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Place chocolate in a medium sized bowl. Heat cream over medium low heat until it just barely begins to boil. Remove from heat immediately. Do not over-heat! Pour hot cream over chocolate and let sit for about a minute. Stir mixture (gently) until chocolate is melted and blended with the cream. Add in the butter and combine. Do not beat the mixture.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Go Green with Dagoba

TeamBuilding Unlimited/Murder on the Menu loves to use Dagoba Chocolate in our Chocolate Tastings. The chocolate is delicious and the company is organic and supports fair-trade. I mentioned Dagoba Organic Chocolate during my Earth Day chocolate wrap-ups here on Dying for Chocolate, so I was very pleased to see a contest Dagoba Organic Chocolate is running as part of it Seed the Day Club.

Chocolate for Good™

You could win a Chocolate for Good™ Kit to support your greening project!

Doing good works for the earth offers rich rewards – like chocolate! We want to support your efforts, so tell us how you’re going to green your community and you could win one of 25 Dagoba® Organic Chocolate for Good™ Kits we’re giving away!

Each kit will include 24 - 2oz. Dagoba® Organic Chocolate bars, 25 packets of seeds, two sets of work gloves, two Dagoba hats and tools to help you unearth the potential in your neighborhood!

Entries to be judged on the following criteria:

  • project innovation
  • feasibility of project execution
  • degree to which the project will
    fulfill a community need

Entries must be received by July 10, 2009. Winners will be notified by July 24, 2009. You must be 18 or over to enter.

Dagoba Organic Chocolate is committed to a multi-year reforestation program in Costa Rica at the Upala Cacao Cooperative.

You can sign up for Dagoba's Seed The Day Club and receive offers and behind-the-scenes info about Dagoba's commitment to sustainability here at home and in Costa Rica.

Go Green with Dagoba!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bacon and Chocolate: Salty and Sweet II

A few months ago I did an entry on chocolate covered bacon and mentioned chocolate bacon brownies and chocolate chip bacon cookies, although I did not give from scratch recipes for the cookies or brownies. Friday was Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, and my friend Sal sent her recipe for Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies. It appeared in a comment on DyingforChocolate.com, but not everyone reads the comments, so here is Sal's recipe.

1C dark semi-sweet chips and 3/4C (i.e. 3/4 lb uncooked) bacon bits. The recipe I was working from also added 1C white chocolate chips (of which I had none) and used 2C (2lbs!!! uncooked) bacon bits so the ratio I used was about the same, but I do like to have a =little= dough in between my bits of chocolate and bacon.

Recipe says NOT BACOS only real bacon bits.
The fat in the dough is butter.

From Sal: "I cooked the cookies almost all the way and cooled them on racks, then put them back on a cookie sheet (2 1/2 cookie sheets worth onto one cookie sheet). Right before dessert, I put the cookies back in a 350 F oven for three minutes. Guests thought I'd somehow miraculously been baking cookies while we ate dinner."

Bacon must be on everyone's mind this weekend because my friend Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations sent me a link to Lemonpi for what appears to be an incredible Bacon Brownie recipe, along with some very fun comfort food advice. This recipe was featured in O Magazine and awarded 'best brownie' by America's Test Kitchen and the Today Show. Pretty good credentials with or without the bacon. I converted some of the measurements and temp., but I wasn't positive about the bacon slices. When I bake, I do a lot of guesswork-a pinch of this and a pinch of that, but often a whole bunch of this and a whole bunch of that, especially with chocolate.

The Baked Brownie:
(yields 24 brownies; recipe from Baked by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito)

1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 oz dark chocolate (60 - 72% cacao), coarsely chopped [use a great quality chocolate]
8 oz unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups caster sugar (super fine sugar)
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 176′C (350 F) Butter the sides and bottom of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt and cocoa powder together.
Put the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature.

Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then cut them into squares and serve.

Tightly covered with plastic wrap, the brownies keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.

To baconize the Baked Brownie:
Bake 2.6 grams (5-6 slices? more?) thinly sliced proscuitto or bacon in the oven until crispy. Crumble the bacon slices over the top of the brownie batter (or fold it through the mix) before baking. The bacon brownie is best eaten on the day it’s made, if you like your bacon crispy. Otherwise, the bacon will soften a little over the next couple of days, but still be perfectly tasty.

I can't wait to try these.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

5 minute Chocolate Cake in a Mug

My friend Janet Appel sends me chocolate recipes from time to time, and they're all great. So last week she sent me her Papa Jack's recipe for Five Minute Chocolate Cake in a Mug. How decadent is that? She says Papa Jack wasn't much of a baker, so he must have found this recipe somewhere. Whatever the source, it works, and since he makes it routinely, I thought I'd post.

FIVE MINUTE CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional -but not if you're a chocoholic)
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug (MicroSafe)
Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well..
Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts.
The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!
Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT ! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous).

And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world?
Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!

Photos: Papa Jack?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

Yes, another chocolate holiday. Today is Chocolate Chip Cookie Day! How else to celebrate but with a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies. Either you bake 'em or buy 'em, but do it. And, falling on a Friday, you'll have the whole weekend to eat them. As if they'd last?

I thought I'd narrow the field and focus on Chocolate Chip Cookies. My old faithful recipe is the one for Toll House Cookies (for the history of Toll House Cookies, go HERE) on the back of the Nestle bag of chocolate chips. I used to make those when I was in school, and they were always a success.

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (we only had sweet butter at my house, so that's what I used to use)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Directions:
PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

**
I also put out a call for recipes. The first person to respond told me she was going to make bacon chocolate chip cookies today. Cool, Sal. Continuing the salt/sweet bacon/chocolate theme of a few weeks ago. Traif? Yes. This isn't Sal's recipe, and I wouldn't do the Maple Cinnamon Glaze, but this recipe will help with proportions. Or just do equal pieces of bacon to chocolate chips.

Another response was from the blogger Evil Shenanigans who sent an awesome recipe for Chocolate Chip Overload Cookies. I saw this recipe at the beginning of the month, and I must say her suggestion of stackable cooling sheets is great. Too bad, you missed the contest. But back to the cookies. The reason these cookies are called overload is because they have three times the chocolate chips of most chocolate chip cookies. I say go for it. Following find the recipe, but you MUST go to Evil Shenanigans to see all of her fantastic photos of the cookies and the process. The photo in this Blog is from Evil Shenanigans. Thanks so much for sending.

Chocolate Chip Overload Cookies Yield 5 dozen

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, cold
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 - 12 oz bags semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 350 F and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
In a bowl mix the flour, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
In the bowl of a mixer cream the butter and two sugars until mixed, but not fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Add the vanilla and stir to combine.

Chocolate Chip Overload Cookie - Dough
Pour in the flour mixture and stir until the flour is almost absorbed, then add the chocolate chips and mix until the chip are incorporated and no flour remains. (You may need to do this by hand)
Scoop the dough into 1″ balls onto the prepared sheet pans. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.
Allow the cookies to cool for 3 minutes on the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store in an air tight container for up to 5 days or freeze for up to one month.

My search didn't end there, though. ExtremeChocolate.com has 27 Tips for Creating the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie. Also some good general chocolate tips.

The actual recipes go on and on. Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

Because this is Chocolate Chip Day, and not just Chocolate Chip Cookies, I'll probably have some other recipes tomorrow.

And, don't forget, there are some wonderful artisan chocolate chips out there!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Chocolate Events


So, it's been mentioned to me that I've been spending a lot of time on recipes rather than chocolate one can consume without the work. So I thought I'd mention a few events that involve chocolate.

First, my company TeamBuilding Unlimited/Murder on the Menu does Chocolate Tastings, Chocolate Scavenger Quests, Chocolate Tours of San Francisco, Chocolate Team Building and lots of other Chocolate events.

With this in mind, Frank and I went to a great event last week in Palo Alto where we heard Timothy Childs of TCHO talk about his experiences of melding chocolate and technology. Very exciting and fun. He's always such a dynamic speaker. The room was a mix of chocoholics and techies. After the presentation that was right out of the Jetsons, we had a tasting of TCHO chocolates. Definitely could tell the difference between the chocolates and the locales where the beans are from. TCHO has a storefront on Pier 17, and is available, of course, at other fine chocolate outlets and online. Check out the cool slideshow on the TCHO website. By sometime this summer the factory will be open on Pier 17 for tours. We will continue to include TCHO in our San Francisco chocolate tours. TCHO is the only bean to bar chocolate company in San Francisco. (I reviewed TCHO chocolate awhile ago here on DyingforChocolate. Might be time to revisit.)
So what else is happening in the world of chocolate in the San Francisco Bay Area?

May 30: Chocolate & Chalk Art Festival in Berkeley
The sidewalks along North Shattuck in the Gourmet Ghetto in Berkeley are the target of artists young and old, professional and greenhorn during the 13th annual CHOCOLATE & CHALK ART FESTIVAL.
There will be a chalk art contest, but for the purposes of this Blog, DyingforChocolate, the Chocolate part of the Festival is key. Chocolate Sampling starts by purchasing a packet of tickets (10 for $10) at any of the registration sites. The to-go menu features organic café mocha, chocolate mochi ice cream, chocolate truffles as well as savory chocolate mole, spicy chocolate tandori chicken, or a chocolate foot massage! Vendors with chocolate-related items and hand made arts & crafts will fill the Farmer’s Market area, music and clowns and more.

June 25: The next event is much more focused (and inside), and I'm going to reserve now. Women and Chocolate: A Natural Combination will explore why the fair sex loves the stuff so much. There'll be an expert panel of local female artisan confectioners: Carly Baumann (Cosmic Chocolate), Christine Doerr (Neo Cocoa), Malena Lopez-Maggi (The Xocolate Bar), and Kathy Wiley (Poco Dolce). And because talking about art can be like, say, dancing about architecture, a chocolate tasting at the end of the session will let the audience experience the passion firsthand. Date: Thursday, June 25, at 5:30 p.m., the Commonwealth Club (595 Market at Montgomery). Tickets are $20 ($12 for CC members).

Monday, May 11, 2009

National Nutty Fudge Day


Another holiday, another recipe or two. Today is National Nutty Fudge Day. My Aunt Ann made the best fudge in the world, but now that I know more about candy nomenclature, I think she made truffles. They were dark chocolate balls rolled in cocoa. I'll always remember her truffles as fudge.

However, I had my first taste of the 'real' fudge down the shore in Atlantic City. Fudge was sold along with Salt Water Taffy at many of the Boardwalk candy shops. Yum!

History of Fudge: Fudge was supposedly invented in the U.S.in the late 1880s. Historians believe the first batch of fudge resulted from a bungled batch of caramels, as in "Oh, Fudge" I don't think so... According to Wikipedia, the main component of Fudge was similar to the traditional recipe for Scots Tablet found in The Household Book of the Lady Grisell Baillie (1692-1733). The term 'fudge' is often used in the UK for a soft variant of the tablet recipe.

One of the first documented examples of American fudge (containing chocolate!) was found in a letter written by Emelyn Batersby Hartridge, a Vassar College student, who wrote that a friend's cousin made fudge in Baltimore in 1886 and sold it for 40 cents a pound. Hartridge asked for the fudge recipe, and in 1888 made 30 pounds of the fudge for the Vassar Senior Auction. In The Candy Book (Alice Bradley, 1929) an entire chapter is devoted to fudge.

Fudge is a crystalline candy, which means that, unlike lollipops, caramels, and taffy, crystal formation is the key to making great fudge. Tiny microcrystals of sugar in fudge give fudge its firm but smooth texture. The secret to successful fudge is getting these crystals to form at just the right time. Fudge is one of the rare exceptions to the rule that sugar crystals are not desirable in candy. Tiny microcrystals in fudge are what give it its firm texture. When the crystals are small enough, they don’t feel grainy on your tongue, but smooth.

While you ultimately want crystals to form, it's important that they don't form too early. Now it gets tricky! The key to successful, nongrainy fudge is in the cooling, not the cooking. If you disturb the cooling fudge during this cooling phase you increase the potential for larger crystals (seed crystals) of sugar to form too early and thus a grainy fudge results.

O.K. this is too much for me to take in, not being a candy maker. So how to make fudge relatively easy? Here are three recipes.

Recipe 1: Easy Million Dollar Fudge from Stephanie in All Recipes
4- 1/2 cups white sugar
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
2 cups chopped nuts
1 (12 ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips
12 (1 ounce) squares German sweet chocolate
2 cups marshmallow creme

1. Butter two 9x9 inch baking pans and set aside.
2. Place chocolate chips, German chocolate, marshmallow creme, and nuts into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
3. In a 4 quart saucepan, combine sugar, salt, butter, and evaporated milk. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, and cook for 6 minutes.
4. Pour boiling syrup over ingredients in bowl, beat until all chocolate is melted. Pour into prepared pans. Let stand a few hours before cutting.

Recipe 2: Foolproof Dark Chocolate Fudge Recipe

3 C semisweet chocolate chips, 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk dash, salt, 1 C chopped walnuts, 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla

In heavy saucepan over low heat, melt chips with sweetened condensed milk and salt. Remove from heat; stir in walnuts and vanilla. Spread evenly into aluminum foil lined 8 or 9 inch square pan. Chill 2 hours or until firm. Turn fudge onto cutting board; peel off foil and cut into squares. Store loosely covered at room temperature.

Recipe 3: Alton Brown had a great show on the Food Network on making fudge, so I thought I should include one of his recipes for nutty chocolate fudge.

Ingredients
2- 3/4 cups sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped, roasted nuts, optional

Directions
Grease an 8 by 8-inch pan with butter. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, chocolate, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter, half-and-half, and corn syrup. Over medium heat, stir with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved and chocolate is melted. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and boil for 3 minutes. Remove the cover and attach a candy thermometer to the pot. Cook until the thermometer reads 234 degrees F. Remove from the heat and add the remaining butter. Do not stir. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes or until it drops to 130 degrees F. Add vanilla and nuts, if desired, and mix until well-blended and the shiny texture becomes matte. Pour into the prepared pan. Let sit in cool dry area until firm. Cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

And, there are two websites that are just devoted to fudge. Fudge-Recipes.net and Fudge-Recipes.com and Fudge Recipe Collection. In addition there are many, many nutty chocolate fudge recipes on various food blogs.

Have a wonderful Nutty Fudge Day!

Chocolate Wine Brownies

Eventually I'll get back to reviewing chocolate, but I seem to be on a roll with these 'alcoholic' brownies. The other day I did a variation on Butter 'Scotch" Brownies for National Butterscotch Browning day, so today I thought I might do Red Wine Brownies. Murder on the Menu/TeamBuilding Unlimited, my interactive entertainment and teambuilding company, does chocolate tastings, and often we do Wine and Chocolate tastings, so this would be a oneshot one-shot.

Here are two very different recipes. Give them both a try and see which one works best for you.

1. Red Wine Brownies

1 cup Merlot
3/4 cup butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (always choose the very best)
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup toasted chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)-optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease (o.k. I use butter) a 13x9-inch baking pan. In a small saucepan, simmer wine over medium heat until reduced to 1/4 cup. Pour into large bowl and set aside. In top of a double boiler, melt butter and chocolate. Pour into wine and whisk until smooth.
In top of double boiler, whisk together eggs, sugar, and vanilla until very light and thick. Pour into chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Stir in flour and ½ cup nuts. Pour into pan and sprinkle with remaining nuts.
Bake 40-45 minutes (give it the toothpick test)

I think this is a great icing for the brownies above. Let the brownies cool before frosting.

Chocolate Wine Ganache for the Icing from Brownies Chocolate-Wine Ganaches in Diana's Recipe Book

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 tablespoon sweet red kosher wine (or any sweet red wine/try a late harvest dessert Zin)
Whisk all ingredients in small saucepan over medium-low heat until melted and smooth.

2. Red Wine Brownie Bars from Cookie Madness

Cookie Madness is a really neat site. Recently, Anna posted a recipe for a Red Wine Brownie Bar that sounds irresistible and odd at the same time. Haven’t made these yet, but will. Be sure and post on the Cookie Madness site, if you do. She’s looking for comments.

From Cookie Madness, “After combining the two recipes and making a few adjustments, what I got was a dense and firm cake that was just dry enough to soak up the topping that seeps down into it. It doesn’t seem quite soft enough to be traditional American style cake and it’s not quite fudgy enough to be a true brownie. And while the base is chocolate, it’s not so chocolaty that you can’t taste the wine….which is what I was going for. Because why bake with wine if you can’t taste it?

4 oz/114 grams unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 ounce (28 grams) unsweetened chocolate, broken up
1 cup granulated sugar (192 grams)
2 eggs
1 tablespoon red wine (Cabernet Franc)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups all-purpose flour (spoon lightly into cup to get 94 grams)

Red Wine Icing
3 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter (50 grams)
1 oz unsweetened chocolate
4 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar (60 grams)
3 tablespoons red wine (Cabernet Franc)

Preheat oven to 350 degress F. Line an 8 inch square metal pan with foil and grease bottom of pan only or spray the bottom with cooking spray. Don’t spray the sides.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and add chocolate. Stir until chocolate melts, then add sugar. Continue heating for about 30 seconds to dissolve some of the sugar. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Whisk the eggs, wine, baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl. Make sure you’ve whisked out any lumps of stray baking powder. Add a small amount of the slightly cooled chocolate mixture to the eggs and whisk until blended, then whisk in the rest of the chocolate mixture. Fold in the flour with a large spatula – the goal is to mix it, but not beat the flour too much. Pour into pan. Drop pan onto counter from about 5 inches once or twice to remove air bubbles. Bake on center rack and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Meanwhile prepare icing. Melt butter over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and add chocolate, sugar and wine. Continue heating over low, stirring often, until mixture is smooth – don’t let it boil. Pour hot wine mixture over fresh-out-of-the-oven brownie/cake base and let stand for an hour or so. The topping should sink down into the cake and settle on top. Let sit until topping has set. I put mine in the refrigerator to speed up the chocolate-setting. This worked well for the topping, but I think the refrigerator adds to much stiffness to the base so if you chill these, let them come back to room temp before serving.

I like this second brownie recipe since the wine icing really soaks into the brownie.

Maybe I'll combine the two... hmmmm...

Red wine and chocolate: Always a good pairing.

Photo: Cookie Madness

Friday, May 8, 2009

May 9: Butterscotch Brownie Day: add the Scotch

May 9 is yet another esoteric Chocolate Holiday. Let's face it, everyday is a chocolate day, and we really don't need a holiday to eat chocolate . Anyway, May 9 is Butterscotch Brownie Day. However, butterscotch brownies do not include chocolate.

So instead or a recipe for Butterscotch Brownies (although I really do like them), I thought I'd do a brownie recipe with Scotch in it. Makes more sense to me. DrinkoftheWeek.com had a great recipe for Whiskey Brownies. Perfect timing. I've done bourbon brownies, and I've done another recipe for St.Patrick's Day Irish Whiskey brownies, but these brownies should be made with Scotch for Butterscotch Brownie Day. Hey, there's butter in the recipe!

This recipe, of course, can be made without the Scotch — but why would you want to?

I've adapted the recipe a bit.

Butter "Scotch" Brownies

3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
2 tbs. water
2 eggs
1 (6 oz.) package semi-sweet chocolate chips (or the best chocolate you can find)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup Scotch (yeah, it's pretty boozy!)

The recipe at Drink of the Week had a nice looking chocolate icing, but I think we might as well go all the way with the "Scotch" Brownie theme, so here's an icing with Scotch.

Scotch infused Icing
1-1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons half-and-half
1 tablespoon good Scotch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: In the top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the butter. Combine rest of ingredients in a bowl and with electric mixer, beat in melted chocolate and butter. Beat until smooth. Mixture will be runny, but will stiffen as it cools. Frost the cooled brownies.

How's that for a Butter Scotch Brownie?

Chocolate Chocolate Crepes for Mother's Day

So Mother's day is Sunday, and there are so many chocolates and truffles to buy. I'll do a run-down tomorrow, but I thought today, I'd mention one of my favorite breakfast (or dinner) recipes.

Williams Sonoma has a recipe for Dark Chocolate Crepes that is easy and delicious. I'm definitely not the only one who thinks so, because I found great photos and comments for Dark Chocolate Crepes on DelightfulDelicacies.


2 cups milk
2 eggs
2 1/2 Tablespoons melted butter
1 oz. dark chocolate, melted (I use Scharffen Berger, but I've been experimenting with others)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa (high quality chocolate)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt the butter and chocolate together, mixing to combine and smooth out the chocolate. In a large bowl combine the milk and eggs. In a separate, smaller bowl, combine the dry ingredients.

Whisk together the milk and eggs with the dry ingredients, continue whisking as you incorporate the butter and chocolate mixture.

Cover and refrigerate at least an hour, or overnight. Be sure to re-whisk the batter before you cook the crepes.

To Cook the Crepes:
Butter a hot fry pan (small or medium, not large) or crepe pan, then wipe out the excess butter with a paper towel so it is dry-ish. Pour in a small amount of crepe batter and tilt the pan as needed so the batter spreads and covers the bottom of the pan. As the edges begin to peel up flip the crepe with a spatula for a few seconds to cook the other side.


These are fabulous plain, or with strawberries and whipped cream, or with bananas, or with chocolate sauce, and, if you want to be completely decadent, you might want to fill these with chocolate ganache. Definitely drip some good chocolate sauce on these.

Here's an easy Banana Filling with Chocolate chips. I'm a big fan of chocolate and bananas.

Banana filling: Saute bananas cut in 1/4" slices in melted butter with brown sugar. Shake the pan to make sure the bananas are well coated. Cook bananas until they begin to brown and carmelize (3 min?). Flip the bananas and cook other side until brown. Remove from heat. Place bananas and chocolate chips (yes, more chocolate) on half a crepe, fold in half and half again or anyway you like to stuff your crepes. When you've stuffed all your crepes, return to the pan that was used to cook bananas. Heat the crepes over medium heat to melt the chocolate chips. (I didn't give any proportions, because I really believe it depends on how many crepes you make, how thick and rich you want your filling, etc. This is the 'a little bit of this, a little shake of that' recipe.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chocolate Powered Race Car

Everyone and his mother sent me a copy of the story about the Formula 3 race car that runs on chocolate. It's not as far-fetched as one might think, given that fuel can be made out of almost any vegetable.

The University of Warwick is testing a Formula 3 raced car that is powered by chocolate. The World First race car is built mainly from potatoes and the race-legal steering wheel is made from carrots and other veggies. The seat is made with soybean-oil foam and covered with a flax fiber weave. This is the first Formula 3 racing car made from renewable and sustainable materials.

The car can reach speeds of 125mph around corners and will be hitting a race track later this week. Unfortunately, Formula 3 cars can't race on biodiesel, which is the only thing that keeps this car from meeting all Formula 3 racing standards.

This is an excellent example of how cars, race boats and more can be safer for the environment. This biodiesel engine runs on waste chocolate and vegetable oil. Waste chocolate? Is there really such a thing? Bad chocolate is better than no chocolate, right?

O.k. the reality is that the fuel is really waste chocolate oil from chocolate factories which is not recommended for consumption.

Fumes would be heavenly!!!

Chocolate Faux Salami

Chocolate Salami

This is not a real salami, but it sure looks like one. This appeared on the BritishLarder, a website you should absolutely check out. No raw meat in this salami, and no baking! How cool is that? BritishLarder is, of course, a British website, so here's a link to a converter. You'll get the hang of it, and this recipe doesn't have to be absolutely precise, as long as it holds together and tastes good. Icing sugar is powdered sugar (confectioners sugar). I like McVittie disgestive biscuits that I find in local markets, Cost Plus or British importers.
  • 80g unsalted butter
  • 200g bitter chocolate, 70%
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 150g digestive biscuits
  • 40g flaked almonds
  • 40g dried cranberries
  • 40g pistachios
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 120g Port Wine
  • 2ml vanilla essence
  • 80g Condensed milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • Cocoa powder

Crush the Biscuits into small pieces, but not crumbs. Add the almonds, cranberries and pistachios and sprinkle half of the port wine over the mixture, set aside.

Put the chocolate and butter in a metal bowl, place over a pot of boiling water, allow to melt.

Once the chocolate is melted add the icing sugar, salt, egg yolks, the rest of the port wine and the condensed milk, mix well and continue cooking over the bain-marie (water bath) for a further 4 minutes to cook the eggs, stir regularly.

Add the biscuit mixture. Mix well.

Let the mixture cool for 10 - 15 minute, as it starts to thicken and it's easier to work with.

Shape in to a salami shape with a double layer of cling film. Let the salami set in the fridge.

Remove the cling film and then roll the salami in cocoa powder. Its now ready to serve and you can wrap it again in the paper and tie it with string to mimic a classic salami.

Tip: Remove the salami at least one hour before serving from the fridge.

Chocolate Salami Photo credit: The British Larder

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

New Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe

Chef2Chef has been linking gluten-free recipes on Twitter recently, and chocolate is gluten-free! Their website has a lot of Gluten-free recipes, but the one that stood out for me was this recipe for Flourless Cake. Totally different from mine, and I can't wait to try it. Let's face it my flourless cake is a lot easier, but this looks delicious and much more elegant.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

=== FOR THE CAKE ===
8 oz Bittersweet or semisweet-chocolate
1/2 c Rum, brandy or strong coffee
1/2 c Unsalted butter - (1 stick)
6 Egg yolks
1/3 c Granulated sugar
6 Egg whites

=== FOR THE ICING ===
10 oz Semisweet or bittersweet-chocolate; chopped
1 c Heavy cream
12 oz Chocolate Snaps - (to 16-oz); see * Note
(or other coating chocolate)

Instructions

* Note: Available at baking and cake decorating departments of cookware
stores or on-line.

Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees (300 degrees for convection oven). Grease and flour an 8-inch or 9-inch cake pan.
In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, rum, brandy or coffee and butter. In a bowl with an electric mixer beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and lemon-colored.
Fold chocolate mixture into yolk mixture.
In clean grease-free glass or metal bowl, beat whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the whites. Pour batter into cake pan, transfer pan to middle of preheated oven and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on pan size and type of oven. Cake will be firm at edges, but will seem under-baked in center. Remove from oven and let cool completely in pan. Put cake in pan in the refrigerator, overnight if possible. Cake must be cold to successfully remove it from the pan.
To remove cake from pan:
Cut 2 cardboard circles the same size as the pan used. Put one circle on top of cake still in pan.
Heat the bottom of the cake pan on top of the stove over high heat for approximately 20 seconds. Remove from heat and invert cake onto cardboard, gently tapping pan on table if necessary. Cake will fall out of pan. Put the other cardboard circle on bottom of cake and invert cake. Remove cardboard from cake top. Keep cake in refrigerator until ready to use.

For the icing: In the top of a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over simmering water melt the chocolate, stirring, until smooth. In a small saucepan bring cream just to a boil. Remove pan from heat, add melted chocolate and stir until smooth. Transfer melted chocolate to a bowl and let cool completely at room temperature.

This is called Ganache and can be made and stored in the refrigerator for up
to one month. To assemble the cake: Ice the top and sides of the cold cake with the ganache. If ganache becomes too cold to spread, soften it in a microwave oven or on top of stove for a few
seconds and stir to blend. Use as much or as little of the icing as your taste desires. The extra can be stored as stated in the recipe. Put the iced cake on a serving platter. Refrigerate if desired.

To decorate the cake: Cut 3 to 4 strips from a new (one-gallon size) freezer bag, each 10 1/2 inches long and approximately 5 inches wide. There should be enough strips to cover an 8- or 9-inch cake. Melt chocolate as described in above instructions. Spread the melted chocolate over the entire surface of one strip. While the chocolate is still wet, pick up the strip and place it
with the chocolate side to the cake, aligning the bottom of the strip to the bottom of the cake. Allow the top to fold over the top of the cake -- just like a piece of fabric. Refrigerate until the chocolate strip is cold (this should be about a minute or less). Remove cake from the refrigerator and peel away the plastic strip from the chocolate. The chocolate will adhere to the cake.
Repeat the process with the next strip, and then the third strip. The cake will be "wrapped" in a free-form blanket of chocolate. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.
This recipe yields ?? servings.

Recipe Source:
COOKING LIVE with Sara Moulton
Recipe courtesy of Madeline Lanciani
From the TV FOOD NETWORK - (Show # CL-9075 broadcast 02-27-1998)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

May 5: Chocolate Custard Day/Mexican Chocolate Bread Pudding

Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations pointed out that May 5 is also Chocolate Custard Day. Here's her link to a Chocolate Sponge Custard.

So since it's Cinco de Mayo, I did a quick search for specific Cinco de Mayo Chocolate Custard. How esoteric is that? Not very, I found out. The Food Network has a recipe for Chocolate Custard Corn Pone, and Triple-Chocolate Custard.

I'm a big Bread Pudding fan, so here's a recipe for Cinco de Mayo, Chocolate Custard Day, and every day. (Recipe from Erika Kerekes) This serves 20, so it's a great treat to take to a party. You can always make less, but be sure to figure out the right measures before you do it. Baking is rarely about halving. I thought it might be fun to use this recipe for muffins.

Mexican Chocolate Bread Pudding
1 large loaf challah, cut into 1-inch cubes (no need to remove crust)
1 lb dark chocolate, broken into pieces
12 eggs
3 cups heavy cream
4 cups milk
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp ground pure chile (not chili powder - New Mexcio chile or ancho chile or California Chile)
1 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pile the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for about 15 minutes. You want them to dry out a bit before mixing them with the custard so that they absorb as much of the liquid as possible. Remove them from the oven and let them cool a bit. Raise the oven temperature to 375.

While the bread is toasting, put the chocolate pieces in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave the chocolate on high for 1 minute, let it rest, then zap it for 1 minute more. Remove the chocolate and stir it with a spatula or spoon until it is smooth and melted.

In a very large bowl, mix together the eggs, cream, milk, sugar and spices. Add the melted chocolate and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Put the bread in the bowl, toss well, and let the bread soak in the custard mixture at least half an hour and up to two hours, tossing occasionally to make sure all the bread cubes are well coated.

Spray a very large baking pan (or two medium baking pans) with cooking spray (I don't use spray, so you can always butter the pans-JR). Turn the bread-custard mixture into the pan(s) and smooth out the top. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes to an hour, until the pudding is set. Remove the pudding from the oven and let it sit at least 15 minutes before serving.

Cinco de Mayo Chocolate Desserts

Cinco de Mayo Chocolate Part II: Desserts.
Be sure and check Dying for Chocolate yesterday for entrees, chips, and Tequila.

To celebrate this Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) we pay homage to the Mayans and the original, authentic taste of chocolate. Pairing chocolate and cinnamon in desserts and beverages is classic Mexican. Many Mexican dishes also use chiles, both dried and fresh. Besides chocolate and cinnamon, there are lots of brownie recipes that use chipotle chile powder. Don’t use chili powder in these brownies: Chile powder is composed of dried chile peppers. Chili powder is a mixture of chile powder and other spices such as garlic, oregano, coriander, cumin and cloves. Definitely not for the brownies.

Cinco de Mayo Chipotle Brownies
1 cup sweet butter
4 ounces unsweetened dark chocolate
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons ground chipotle chile pepper (not chili powder)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
4 eggs
1 cup Mexican chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts (optional)

Grease and flour an 11 x 7 inch baking dish.

1. Heat the butter and chocolate in a saucepan over another pan containing water for about 2 minutes; stir until melted.
2. In a bowl, mix the sugar, salt, flour, chile powder (ground chipotle), and cinnamon,
3. Add the chocolate/butter mixture, vanilla, and eggs.
4. Mix well, then stir in the walnuts.
5. Spread the batter evenly in the pan and bake at 350° 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Easy Cinco de Mayo Brownies
Don’t have time to mix up your own brownies? Here's an easier way to get that Cinco de Mayo taste.
Prepare your favorite boxed brownies, adding 3/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the batter (for a batch that fits a 9-by-13-inch pan).

Spicy Chocolate for Cinco de Mayo. To buy and eat**

Painter Girl Chocolate has Tribute Bars. Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, there's a portrait of her (she was known for her self-portraits) and her motto is on the bar. Viva la Vida. Long Live Life. These bars are made with 70% dark chocolate, dried chilies and cinnamon. Six 5 ounce bars to a package.

One of my favorite bars is Chuao's Spicy Mayan chocolate bar. Chuao uses a single origin dark Venzuelan chocolate, a hint of Pasilla chile, cayenne Pepper and cinnamon. Dagoba has an organic chocolate xocolatl with 74% cacao, chilies and nibs. Poco Dolce (made in SF) creates an aztec chile square that is very hot. Thanks to Kelli Stanley, mystery writer par excellence, for her recommendation on the Poco Dolce. Xocolaterre has Chili Pepper Chocolate Shapes laced with chili, ginger & cinnamon.

Need some Mexican Hot Chocolate to go with that? After all the original chocolate was used in a hot drink. O.K., this isn't that drink, but you can make your own Mexican hot chocolate.
2 cups milk
4 tbsp dark chocolate powder (I use Scharffen Berger or Valhrona)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp orange zest
1/2 tsp chile ancho powder
Sugar--to taste
Heat up the milk. Stir in the chocolate powder and whisk to combine. Add the ancho power, orange zest, and cinnamon and stir. Add sugar to taste. Makes 2 cups.

Or, you can buy some hot spicy chocolate from Jacques Torres Hot Chocolate.The Wicked Hot Chocolate has dark chocolate, allspice, cinnamon, ground sweet ancho chile peppers and smoked ground chipotle chile peppers. Dagoba makes a Xocolatl Hot Chocolate that contains evaporated Cane juice, 100% cacao powder and unsweetened cacao chunks, chiles and spices. And, Chuao makes a Spicy Maya Hot Chocolate to die for...

Have a great Chocolate Cinco de Mayo.

So there you have it. Chocolate, Chocolate and Chocolate for Cinco de Maya.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cinco de Mayo Chocolate Menu: Entrees

Cinco de Mayo (The Fifth of May) is a Mexican holiday celebrating the victory of the Mexican army over the French at the Battle of Puebla, May 5, 1862. Puebla's signature dish is Mole Poblano--a Chocolate spicy stew.

Chocolate and chiles are a part of many Mexican dishes, so I’ve put together my own chocolate ‘menu’ for Cinco de Mayo. Some things you can buy, some you can make. Whatever you decide, you’ll get your fill of chocolate on Cinco de Mayo.

Today: Snacks and entrée and drinks. Tomorrow: Desserts, Hot Chocolate and Chocolate Bars

Chocolate Tortilla Chips: To purchase.
Food Should Taste Good makes a great Chocolate Tortilla Chip—good balance of the salt and sweet. They’re available in many markets and online. Another choice for Chocolate Tortilla Chips are the Vosges Red Fire Chocolate-Covered Tortilla Chips. They’re sweeter, but delicious. They are nicely salted chips drenched in milk chocolate and dusted with ancho and chipotle chilies.

Chicken Mole,
my favorite Mexican chocolate main dish, can be very complicated to make. I always order it when it’s on the menu, and I was thrilled to find that Paula Deen has a quick Chicken Mole recipe. o.k. it's not all that quick, but faster than the traditional recipes.

Paula Deen’s Quick Chicken Mole

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 chipotle peppers, roughly chopped
1 (10-ounce) can chicken broth
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 (5-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), for garnish
White rice, for serving

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add garlic and spices and continue to saute to toast and develop flavor. Add diced tomatoes, peppers, chipotles, broth, peanut butter, and chocolate. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and puree until smooth.

Sear the chicken in a heavy bottomed hot saute pan over medium-high heat until browned on both sides. Add to casserole dish, cover with sauce and braise the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Garnish with pepitas and serve with white rice.

You can also use this mole dish in Enchiladas!
**
Here’s another “Main Dish”—I know it’s really a dessert, but they’re tamales, after all, so I’m counting them as a main dish.

This recipe for Chocolate Tamales for Cinco de Mayo is from Diana's Recipe Book. The tamales are easy to make and delicious.

1 cup milk
1 pound melted chocolate
1 pound butter
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 pounds corn flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
24 corn husks
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).

Boil the milk and add the chocolate. Stir constantly until chocolate is completely melted. Add the butter and the sugar. Mix until smooth. Set aside to cool.

Mix the corn flour and baking powder together in a bowl. Slowly add the chocolate mixture and mix by hand for 10 minutes. Grease 2 (12 cup) muffin pans and line with corn husks. Fill with chocolate tamale mixture and bake for 20 minutes.

Makes 24 Chocolate Tamales.
***

And what is more traditional to drink than Tequila? This would be my drink of choice, and Tanteo has a 100% Weber blue agave blanco tequila infused with cocoa beans and jalapeno. Not too sweet and has a kick!

Tomorrow: Dessert--Mexican Chipotle Brownies, Spicy Hot Drinking Chocolate and great peppery Chocolate Bars.