Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day of the Dead Chocolate

Day of the Dead, November 1-2, focuses on gatherings of family and friends who pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration occurs on November 1st and 2nd in connection with the Catholic holiday of All Saints' Day which occurs on November 1st and All Souls' Day which occurs on November 2nd. Traditions include building private altars honoring the deceased, using sugar and chocolate skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts.

Many cultures and countries celebrate Day of the Dead, but in Mexico and parts of the U.S and Canada it is tied to an historic Meso-American holiday that originated with the Aztecs 3000 years ago or earlier. When the Spanish Conquistadors landed in what is now Mexico 500 years ago, they found the natives practicing this ritual that seemed to mock death. It was a ritual the Spaniards tried unsuccessfully to eradicate. Although the ceremony has since merged with Catholic theology, it still maintains the basic principles the Aztecs intended, a view that death is the continuation of life. Life was a dream and only in death does one become truly awake.

Many people believe that during the Day of the Dead, it is easier for the souls of the departed to visit the living. People go to cemeteries to communicate with the souls of the departed, and build private altars, containing the favorite foods and beverages, as well as photos and memorabilia, of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so that the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.

Skulls are a major symbol of the cycle of death and rebirth. The Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations kept skulls as trophies and displayed them during the ritual to honor the dead and exalt the sphere of death and rebirth.

Although sugar skulls are more common, chocolate skulls and coffins have become de rigueur. Celebrate Dia de los Muertos with three solid chocolate skulls sparkling with black salt eyes, in 3 chocolate flavors: Barcelona, Red Fire & Blanca. Day of the Dead Chocolate Skulls from Vosges.

Want to make your own? Mexican Chocolate Skulls sells skull molds. Their chocolate molds can be made with tempered chocolate, candy coating wafers, melted chocolate chips. Their mold designs were inspired by the famous Mexican woodcut artist, Jose Guadalupe Posada (1852 -1913). Here's a link for recipes using candy coating wafers, chocolate chips or tempered chocolate with these molds.

Mexican hot chocolate is one of my favorites. In Oaxaca during the Day of the Dead (and other times), the many chocolate shops serve hot chocolate that is a mix of cocoa beans, cinnamon sticks, almond and sugar ground together into a paste, then grated down and mixed with steaming milk. You can make a similar version easily at home. As always use the very best chocolate.

Day of the Dead Hot Chocolate

2 teaspoons good-quality ground cocoa
1 teaspoon sugar, plus extra to taste
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground almonds. You can add more if you want a thicker texture
1 cup milk

Mix all the ingredients, except the milk, together in an empty, clean glass jar. Shake until completely combined.
Heat the milk in a pan and add the chocolate mix. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat.
Simmer for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly; use a small whisk to froth the milk. Serve hot.

And, for the Bakers out there, Sunset Magazine has a wonderful Pasilla Chile Chocolate Cake recipe for The Day of the Dead.

2 1/2 ounces dried pasilla chiles (also called chile negro) or 2 1/2 ounces dried ancho chiles plus 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (see notes)
1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup (6 oz.) butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
5 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar or finely crushed piloncillo sugar (see notes)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Powdered sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla or 1 tablespoon coffee-flavored liqueur such as Kahlúa

1. Lay chiles in a single layer on a 12- by 15-inch baking sheet. Bake in a 400° oven just until pliable, about 2 minutes. Wearing rubber gloves, break off stems, shake out seeds, and break chiles into small pieces, dropping into a small bowl; discard stems and seeds. Cover chiles with warm water and let soak until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain chiles and put in a blender with 1/3 cup water; whirl until smooth, adding 1 more tablespoon water as needed to make a thick paste. Push purée through a fine strainer; discard residue. You need 1/3 cup chile purée. If using ancho chiles, stir cayenne into the chile purée.

2. Line bottom of a 9-inch cake pan (sides at least 1 1/2 in. tall) with baking parchment.

3. In a large bowl nested over a pan of simmering water (water shouldn't touch bottom of bowl), combine chocolate and butter. Stir occasionally just until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, about 8 minutes. Remove from over water and whisk in 1/3 cup chile purée, the egg yolks, vanilla, and flour until mixture is blended.

4. Pour brown sugar into a small bowl and stir or whisk to break up lumps and loosen. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on high speed, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until very frothy and foamy. Gradually add brown sugar to whites, beating until stiff, moist peaks form. With a whisk, fold a third of the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture until well incorporated. Then fold in remaining whites just until blended. Scrape batter into prepared pan.

5. Bake cake in a 425° regular or 400° convection oven until it appears set and center barely jiggles when pan is gently shaken, about 15 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack for about 15 minutes. Run a knife between cake and pan rim, then invert onto a serving platter. Lift off pan and peel off parchment. Let cake cool about 30 minutes, then chill until firm and cold, at least 4 hours; cover cake once completely chilled.

6. For best texture, let cake come to room temperature before serving, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Sift powdered sugar lightly over cake (for a pattern, lay a stencil on cake before sifting the sugar, then carefully lift it off).

7. In a bowl, beat whipping cream until soft peaks form. Stir in vanilla. Cut cake into wedges and serve each with a dollop of whipped cream.

NOTES: Dried long, dark, skinny chiles labeled pasilla or chile negro give this dark chocolate cake a subtle fruit flavor with a hot finish. If these are not available, use dark, blocky chiles labeled ancho, which are sweet and fruity with little heat, and add cayenne to boost spiciness. Both pasilla and ancho chiles are available in Hispanic markets. To use piloncillo sugar (also available in Hispanic markets), put it in a heavy zip-lock plastic bag, cover it with a towel, and pound it with a mallet or hammer until finely crushed. You can make this cake up to 2 days ahead; chill airtight.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkin + Chocolate

Halloween is all about Pumpkins for me, so I thought I'd put together some Pumpkin and Chocolate pairings.

Easy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 (15 oz) can of Pumpkin
1 Spice Cake Mix
1 cup of broken high end dark chocolate (or a cup of dark chocolate chips)
Chopped walnuts (optional)

Mix pumpkin and cake mix until blended and moist. Fold in chocolate chips (and walnuts if you're using them). Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or so.. you'll know when they're done, but start checking at 8 minutes.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (adapted from Recipe Bazaar)
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 (15-16 ounce) can pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil (you'll need this much oil to make these moist)*
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (or broken dark chocolate)

In large mixing bowl beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla and oil until smooth.
Mix dry ingredients together and mix into pumpkin mixture. Fold in chocolate chips.
Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full.
Bake at 400 F for 16-20 minutes.

To make Lite Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, USE THIS RECIPE -substitutes applesauce for the oil. You can do this with almost any spice/pumpkin cake, bar, muffin.

Quick and Easy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
2 boxes of spice cake mixes (Duncan Hines)
1 30-oz. can pumpkin (Libby's)
1 - 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips or broken up pieces of dark chocolate

Preheat Oven to 350. Mix together cake mixes, pumpkin and fold in chocolate chips or pieces. Spoon into lined muffin tins--either mini or regular. Fill to the brim, not much rising. Sprinkle some chocolate chip pieces on top. Bake for about 20-25 minutes.

More Chocolate + Pumpkin recipes

CookWomanFood.com has a great recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars. They're moist and delicious, and you can vary the recipe to cut down on fat.

Real Mom Kitchen has a family recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread.

Don't forget Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake. Good all year!

And, Maria at Two Peas and Their Pod posted a fabulous link to Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies! What a great recipe!

Doughmesstic has an incredible decked out pumpkin brioche! She uses it in Pumpkin & Chocolate Toffee Cinnamons Buns with Caramel Cream Cheese Icing (be still my heart!) and gives you lots of inventive uses for this terrific Pumpkin Pie Brioche dough.

Don't miss the Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Loaf on Felicia Sullivan's Blog.

Have a Pumpkin + chocolate recipe you love? Let me know, and I'll add a link.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Special Halloween Chocolate


I've read several articles recently about all-time favorite Halloween candy, and I must admit I join the majority in enjoying Reese's Pieces, Hershey's Krackel, Kit Kat Bars and Chocolate Tootsie Roll Pops during the holiday. But, I am also very happy that some of my favorite chocolatiers are making special candy for Halloween.

I used to love the candy I'd bring home after Trick or Treating. Lots of people would hand out apples. Not that I don't like apples, but Halloween was all about candy when I was a kid. I trick-or-treatered (is this a verb?) at a time when apples, boxes of raisins and loose candy were given out, never inspected and eaten by everyone. Those were the days. Candy was safe, and probably unhealthy to boot. My Aunt Ann made homemade fudge, rolled them into small balls and distributed those as her treats. They were really truffles. Her house was a must stop for Trick or Treat stop in our neighborhood, because her fudge was fabulous. The fudge balls weren't wrapped either. They were made at home in an unsupervised kitchen, and everyone loved them and ate them, often before arriving home.

These days my palette appreciates different candy, for the most part. A lot has to do with being more socially responsible, but also that there is such wonderful organic, earth-friendly and fair-trade chocolate out there for Halloween. I've put together a short list of special Halloween Chocolate from some of my favorite Chocolatiers.

Recchiuti has a wonderful Halloween Motif Box of Kooky Characters for their 2009 Halloween Motif Boxes. Four different hand-illustrated images on their signature Burnt Caramel chocolates. Available through October 31 only.

Vosges has some really cool and delicious Chocolate Skulls: Red Fire Skull (with Ancho & Chipotle Chilies & Ceylon cinnamon with dark chocolate.; Barcelona Skull: hickory smoked almonds & grey sea salt & deep milk chocolate, and Blanca Skull: Single origin Venezuelan white chocolate.

Xocolaterre has Halloween Grinning Skull Chocolate Lollipops, Dia de los Muertos "Calacas" chocolate lollipops, Halloween Jack O'Lantern chocolate shapes and Dia de Muertos "Catrinas' Chocolate Shapes and also Halloween Jack O'Lantern Chocolate Lollipops

Sweet Earth Organic chocolates: Very Scary Halloween Chocolate. Witches, bats & Pumpkins each in a heat sealed clear bag. Bats are 65% dark chocolate while the witches & pumpkins are milk chocolate. 100% organic & fair trade. 65% chocolate is vegan & soy lecithin free.

Chocolatique has Boo Box Halloween Chocolate Truffles.

Endangered Species has Milk Chocolate Halloween Treats. O.K, these are their regular delicious Milk or Dark Chocolate in bite-sized squares, wrapped in special Halloween brown & orange wrappers.

Divine Chocolate has Spooky Halloween Balls – Not only are these fair trade chocolates delicious, but they won't break the bank. $4.99 for a package of 22.

Montezuma's (UK) Organic Chocolate has a mix of organic chocolate trick or treat bags that include: Milk and White Chocolate Poisoned Frogs, Milk and White Chocolate Eyeballs, Milk and Dark Chocolate Witches.

Oliver Kita has cool Hosts of Ghosts. Five Phantoms created with organic peanut butter and covered with dark chocolate robes. Their Voodoo Bon Bons also look great. "inspired by True Blood."

Even if you don't choose any of the 'special Halloween' chocolates, you can always give (and eat) any of your favorite organic fair trade chocolate.

Have a spook-tacular Halloween! Make it Chocolate!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

October 25: National Pasta Day

October 25 is National Pasta Day, and I hope you're out there having some great pasta dishes at your favorite restaurant or cooking up a storm in the kitchen. I used to make my own pasta a lot, but not so much anymore. There are so many fresh pasta vendors in my neighborhood. However, since it is National Pasta Day, I thought I'd post a recipe for:

Chocolate Pasta
.
1 3/4 c Flour
1/4 c Cocoa powder
2 Egg
4 T Water

Mix flour and cocoa well. Mound on your work surface or in a large bowl. Make a deep well in the center of the mound and break the eggs into it. Beat the eggs in there with a fork, adding about 2 Tbsp water. Using a circular motion, draw the flour and cocoa into the center. Toss in another Tbsp of Water. Stir with your fork until all the flour is moistened. Add a little more water as needed. You're gonna have to finish mixing by hand. Pat the dough into a ball. Clean off work surface, and flour it. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until the dough becomes silky and elastic. Cover the dough and let it rest for half an hour so the gluten can activate in the flour. Roll out 1/4 of the dough at a time, the same way you would any pasta. A machine makes this really easy. Allow pasta to dry a little before cooking. Makes 4 to 5 cups of cooked pasta---plenty for dessert.

You can always buy some great dark pasta.

Here are two recipes from Pappardelle (they make great Dark chocolate Pasta)

Dark Chocolate Pasta with Chocolate Sauce

1 lb. Pappardelle’s Dark Chocolate Pasta
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Cook pasta in a pot of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente (about 8-10 minutes). Drain and rinse with cool water.
2. Melt chocolate chips and butter together in a small saucepan. Add powdered sugar and milk. Stir constantly and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 8 minutes, continuing to stir constantly. Add vanilla.
3. In desired serving dishes, add pasta, top with chocolate sauce. Garnish with favorite topping.

I'm a sucker for a Noodle Kugel, and this one looks fabulous. Think I'll try it out for Pasta Day!

Chocolate Noodle Kugel

1 lb. Pappardelle’s Dark Chocolate Noodles (these really are quite good)
1 stick butter, cut into pieces
1 cup whole milk
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 lb. container of sour cream
1 lb. container of small curd cottage cheese

Topping:
2 cups cornflakes, coarsely crushed
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13- by 9 inch baking dish (lasagna style pan).
2. Meanwhile, cook pasta in 6-8 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente (about 8-10 minutes). Drain, then return to cooking pot and add butter. Toss until noodles are well coated and butter is completely melted.
3. Whisk together milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt until combined, then whisk in sour cream. Stir in cottage cheese and add to noodles. Spoon gently into baking dish.
4. For the topping, stir together cornflakes, sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over noodles. Dot with butter and bake kugel until edges are golden brown, about 40-50 minutes. Let stand before serving.

To order Dark Chocolate Linguini, go Here.

Have some chocolate pasta recipes? Love to see them.

Friday, October 23, 2009

October 23: Boston Cream Pie Day!

October 23: National Boston Cream Pie Day!

A Boston Cream Pie is a round cake that is split and filled with a custard or cream filling and frosted with chocolate. Not exactly your standard pie, but it's been around since 1855 or 1856 (two different sources with different dates). Let's just say it's been around awhile.

According to Wikipedia, Boston Cream Pies were created by French Chef M. Sanzian at Boston's Parker House Hotel, opened in 1855, this pudding/cake combination comprises two layers of sponge cake filled with vanilla custard or crème pâtissière. The cake is topped with a chocolate glaze (such as ganache) and sometimes confectioner's sugar or a cherry. I'm a purist, so I wouldn't do this!

The real question is why this is called a pie. It's a cake, after all-- two layers of yellow cake filled with custard and topped with chocolate frosting. Suggestions on why it's called pie are welcome.

The Boston cream pie is the official desert of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Below is a good recipe for Boston Cream Pie. For a wonderful step by step with great photos, go to The Hungry Mouse, a visual guide to food & cooking.

Recipe from Food Network.

Ingredients
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pastry cream, recipe follows
Ganache, recipe follows

Pastry Cream Filling:
2 cups whole, 2 percent fat, or 1 percent fat milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Ganache:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream, boiling

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add milk, oil, egg yolks, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until combined. Beat an additional 3 minutes on high speed and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium to high speed until soft peaks form. Pour the egg yolk mixture over the egg white mixture and fold in. Gently pour the batter into a 9-inch greased pie pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Invert the pan onto a wire rack. Cool completely.

Pastry Cream Filling: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture, reserving the empty saucepan.

Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. (The custard can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate until 1 hour before using.)

Ganache: In a medium bowl, pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until melted.

To assemble pie, remove the cake from the pan. Cut the cake in half horizontally. Place bottom layer on a serving plate or board, and spread with the pastry cream. Top with second cake layer. Pour chocolate ganache over and down the sides of the cake. Store in refrigerator.

Boston Cream Pie is best eaten the day its made. It takes a long time to make all the components, and each needs to cool before adding the next. Add an extra hour or two to chill before serving.

Have a Great Boston Cream Pie Day!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dark Chocolate Graveyard Pots de Creme & Tombstone Chocolate Cookies

I've always been a big Sunset reader. I hated throwing away (recycling) any of the issues. As you can imagine I had stacks of Sunset Magazine in lots of places. Welcome the Internet. I no longer had to have all these magazines cluttering up my house.

I still get Sunset Magazine, but now I can do an easy search for those older recipes on the Web. Of course, my notations are not on those recipes, but it's a small price to pay, and I can always add changes to my online recipe file.

A few weeks ago I posted Martha Stewart's recipe for Chocolate Cemetery Cupcakes, well here's Sunset's recipe for Dark Chocolate Graveyard Pots de Creme with Chocolate Wafer Dirt plus Chocolate Nib Tombstone Cookies. Great for the sophisticated Ghoul!

Makes 8 servings
Ingredients
14 ounces (about 3 cups) semisweet or bitter-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
2 large eggs, plus 2 yolks
2 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup coffee-flavored liqueur
1/2 cup chocolate wafer crumbs

Preparation
1. In a food processor or blender, whirl chocolate until finely chopped. Pour into a bowl. Put eggs and yolks in the processor or blender.
2. In a 4-cup glass measure, heat whipping cream in a microwave oven at full power (100%) until cream boils, 3 to 5 minutes.
3. With processor or blender on high speed, add boiling cream to egg. Check temperature of mixture with an instant-read thermometer; if below 160°, pour mixture back into glass measure and reheat in microwave oven at full power until it reaches 160°, stirring and checking at 15-second intervals.
4. Combine hot cream mixture, chopped chocolate, and liqueur in blender or processor (or whisk the ingredients together in a large bowl); whirl until smooth, about 1 minute.
5. Pour chocolate mixture into 8 ramekins or glasses (1/2-cup size). Chill until softly set, 30 to 45 minutes. If making ahead, cover and chill up to 1 day. For creamiest texture, let desserts stand at room temperature about 30 minutes before eating.
6. Spoon 1 tbsp. wafer crumbs onto each pot de crème. Insert a Tombstone Cookie into each serving.

Tombstone Cookies
Notes: Cocoa nibs, also called "cacao nibs," give these cookies a mottled look that resembles stone. You can make this recipe with both chocolate-covered nibs made by Scharffen Berger or plain nibs from Dagoba Organic Chocolate--or try your favorite chocolate nibs. You can also substitute 2 tbsp. finely chopped bittersweet chocolate. Make up to 3 days ahead; store airtight.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen (so you'll have lots of extras to eat!)

Ingredients
2 tablespoons chocolate covered (or regular cacao) nibs
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling cookies
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Melted semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 400°. In a blender, whirl cocoa nibs until each is about the size of a grain of rice.
2. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and 1/2 cup sugar until creamy; beat in egg and vanilla.
3. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa nibs; gradually add to butter mixture, blending thoroughly, to form a soft dough. Divide dough into thirds, cover each portion tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm (at least 1 hour), or up to 3 days.
4. On a floured board, roll out dough, a portion at a time, to a thickness of 1/8 in. (keep dough refrigerated when not in use). With a sharp knife, cut out free-form tombstone shapes (about 1 1/2 by 3 in.; cut bottom edges at an angle to make them easier to poke into the pots de crème), and place slightly apart on ungreased baking sheets. Sprinkle generously with sugar.
5. Bake cookies until edges are lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and let cool completely before handling.
6. Using a pastry bag with a very fine tip, pipe the letters "RIP" in chocolate on at least 8 of the cookies. Stick these cookies into the Dark Chocolate Graveyard Pots de Crème and serve the rest of the cookies alongside (or eat them)**.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day: Add Chocolate


I love all these food holidays. October 21 is National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day: Add Chocolate...I love pumpkin and chocolate... and cheesecake is my thing, so here's an easy recipe for a Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake! Celebrate. Great for Halloween and Thanksgiving!

The filling for this pumpkin cheesecake is from Hershey's Kitchens. I like this one, though because it has a Chocolate Cookie Crust, but I've also posted another simple crust recipe using chocolate wafers!

Ingredients:

CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUST
3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup canned pumpkin
4 eggs
1-1/2 cups HERSHEY'S Mini Chips Semi-Sweet Chocolate

Directions:
1. Prepare CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUST. Increase oven temperature to 400°F.

2. Beat cream cheese, sugar, flour and pumpkin pie spice in large bowl until well blended. Add pumpkin and eggs; beat until well blended. Stir in small chocolate chips; pour batter into prepared crust. Bake 10 minutes.

3. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F; continue baking 60 minutes or until almost set. Remove from oven to wire rack. With knife, loosen cake from side of pan. Cool completely; remove side of pan. Refrigerate about 5 hours before serving. Cover; refrigerate leftover cheesecake. 10 to 12 servings.

CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUST: Heat oven to 350°F. Stir together 1 cup vanilla wafer crumbs (about 30 wafers), 1/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa, 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter or margarine in medium bowl. Press mixture firmly onto bottom and 1/2-inch up side of 9-inch springform pan. Bake 8 minutes; cool slightly.

You can always make a chocolate cookie crust with chocolate wafers. I think that's what I'd do... Here's an easy recipe for

Chocolate Cookie Crust:

Ingredients
30 chocolate wafers (Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers, to yield about 1 1/2 cups crumbs)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions
1. Put the cookies in the container of a food processor; process them until they are finely ground.
2. Transfer crumbs to a mixing bowl; combine crumbs, butter, salt, and vanilla; stir until the crumbs are moistened.
3. Press mixture evenly across the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and all the way up the sides of the pan; pack tightly so crust is even and compacted.
4. Bake in a 350° oven for 6-8 minutes or until crisp.
5. Let cool completely before filling.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Top 10 Chocolate Museums

I love to travel, and what could be better than visiting a chocolate museum?

VirtualTourist.com compiled a list of the World's Top 10 Best Chocolate Museums. Have a favorite chocolate museum you'd like to add?

1. The Cologne Chocolate Museum; Cologne, Germany
Located on the Rhine River, this futuristic building gives visitors three floors of chocolate history to ponder, but the real center of attention here is the famous chocolate fountain. Museum staff dip waffles in the hot liquid for salivating guests.

2. Musee les Secrets du Chocolat; Geispolsheim, France
Complete with theater, tea room, and gift shop that sells chocolate pasta, chocolate vinegar, chocolate beer and decorative antique chocolate molds, this museum is every bit as elegant as the country it represents.

3. Pannys Amazing World of Chocolate, Phillip Island Chocolate Factory; Newhaven, Phillip Island, Victoria, Canada
This facility houses such tongue-in-cheek exhibits as statue of David replicas, a Dame Edna mural and an entire chocolate town. Aside from the eye candy, visitors are treated to real candy with a chocolate sample upon arrival.

4. Choco-Story Chocolate Museum; Bruges, Belgium
In addition to dedicating a section of the museum to the health benefits of chocolate, this museum also houses a quirky collection of chocolate tins that pay tribute to the Royal family.

5. Museu de la Xocolata; Barcelona, Spain
The sculptures at this museum are so impressive, you'll forget you're looking at chocolate. Subjects range from copies of serious religious works to whimsical cartoon characters.

6. The Chocolate Museum (Musee du Chocolat); St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada
This museum pays tribute to the Ganong Bros who were candy makers in the area and who have the distinction of introducing the world to the iconic heart-shaped chocolate box, many of which, not surprisingly, are on display here.

7. Choco-Story Chocolate Museum; Prague, Czech Republic
Chocolate may be a feast for the palate, but this museum is truly a feast for the eyes. With collections of stunning antique chocolate wrappers and demonstrations of the chocolate making process, it's hard to know what to look at first.
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8. Candy Americana Museum, Wilbur Chocolate; Lititz, Pennsylvania
Started when the wife of the company president began collecting chocolate memorabilia at flea markets and antique shows, this now over-30-year old museum still admits visitors for free.

9. Chocolate Museum; Jeju-do Island, South Korea
While the chocolate workshop, "Bean to Bar" showroom, and art gallery are all impressive, perhaps this museum's biggest draw is their working San Francisco-style trolley car.

10. Nestle Chocolate Museum; Mexico City, Mexico
Known more for its modern design and the speed with which it was built (by most estimates 75 days from start to finish), this futuristic building is an exhibit in itself.

Please add comments about your favorite Chocolate Museum.

Chocolate Fashion Show Paris


Paris was the place for more than chocolate hats last week. The Chocolate World Masters took place, but so did the 15th Annual Chocolate Fashion Show Paris. Ooh.. la... la...

The Salon du Chocolat Fashion Show featured models, TV hosts, actresses and singers wearing dresses made of or decorated with Chocolate.

Check out all the photos, here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Scharffen Berger Contest

I'm an adventurous chocolate person, are you? Now's your chance to create an innovative recipe for any course or drink using Scharffen Berger Chocolate and at least one of the adventure ingredients (see below) and submit it to the Chocolate Adventure Contest. You might win $10,000... the grand prize in each category.

Last year, Frank Price, our resident chocolate teambuilder, entered a terrific recipe for African chocolate stew which he's perfected over the years. He was in Peace Corps in the Ivory Coast, so it was a natural. Alas he didn't win. I'm sure he'll try again.

Here are the basics of the Chocolate Adventure Contest:

There are two categories: Sweet and Savory. You can create recipes for one or both categories.

Each recipe must include Scharffen Berger chocolate—with anywhere from 41% to 99% cacao—and at least one of our enticing adventure ingredients (see below). This year, the adventure ingredients are from countries along the cacao-belt.

Recipes will be judged on creativity, taste, ease of preparation and whether the recipe reflects a spirit of adventure. Review the Official Contest Rules here.

PRIZES: TWO GRAND PRIZES

$10,000 for the winning recipe in both the Sweet and Savory categories as well as a delectable, custom selection of Scharffen Berger® chocolates. The recipes will be featured on chocolateadventurecontest.com, ScharffenBerger.com and TuttiFoodie.com

TWO SECOND PLACE PRIZES

Second-place prize in both the Sweet and Savory categories. Winners receive a signed copy of Demolition Desserts by Elizabeth Falkner, Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich, and The Essence of Chocolate, by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg as well as a delectable, custom selection of Scharffen Berger® chocolates. The recipes will be featured on chocolateadventurecontest.com, ScharffenBerger.com and TuttiFoodie.com.

Deadline for contest is January 3, 2010. Get cooking and mixing!

ADVENTURE INGREDIENTS

Fresh mint (any varietal)
Crystallized ginger
Pandan leaf
Banana leaf
Sumac
Raw honey
Cacao nibs
Fresh or whole dried chili pepper
Malbec
Peanut butter
Black-eyed peas
Rice flour
Papaya
Cumin
Paprika (any varietal)
Smoked sea salt

Have a look at the past winning recipes Here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Chocolate Cemetery Cupcakes for Halloween

I posted a version of this last year on my other two blogs, Murderous Musings/TeamBuilding Talk and Mystery Fanfare, but this is so relevant to this blog, because I'm always... DyingforChocolate.

Being that Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, I'll be having a lot of links and recipes. The internet is filled with great Halloween chocolate treats, but this is one of my favorites. I was pretty sure these scary tombstones was originally from a Martha Stewart article or website, but I've been making them so long, I wasn't sure. Yep! Credit Martha Stewart.

These spooky Halloween cupcakes are fun to make and eat. Use any one of the following decorating ideas on its own, or put several together to create a tray of different treats. Easy to bake, you can use any devil's food cake recipe.

To make a cupcake cemetery, spread devil's food cupcakes with chocolate icing. Dip the top of each frosted cupcake in crushed chocolate wafers to look like dirt, then insert chocolate shortbread-cookie tombstones, piping them with scary messages like "Boo!" or "R.I.P." in royal icing.

Top more devil's food cupcakes with chocolate ganache and chocolate-wafer "dirt," make a hole in the center of each cupcake with your finger, and put in half a gummi worm to look like it's coming out of the hole!

Happy Halloween! Boo!!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

World Chocolate Master Winners Announced

Japanese Chef Shigeo Hirai is the "World Chocolate Master 2009"
2nd prize goes to Lionel Clement from USA
3rd prize to Michaela Karg from Germany


Paris: October 16: After three-days of breathtaking competition between nineteen national Chocolate Masters, the results of the third World Chocolate Masters competition have been announced. The event took place at the "Salon du Chocolat Professionnel" exhibition at Porte de Versailles in Paris (France).

At this year's world finals, organized for the third time by Cacao Barry, Callebaut and Carma, Shigeo Hirai, Sous Chef of the Grand Hyatt Tokyo, was selected as the "World Chocolate Master 2009" by an international jury composed of twenty-two leading chocolate professionals. In second place was Lionel Clement from United States and in third place Michaela Karg from Germany.

With the theme of this year's competition being "Haute Couture", the jury carefully evaluated the contestants' work and creativity through chocolate. The jury was headed by President of Honour, Yves Thuriès, Meilleur Ouvrier de France, and included Presidents Jacques Bellanger, Meilleur Ouvrier de France, and Jean-Philippe Darcis, Belgium's First Chocolatier.

In addition to the overall winners, the jury gave special awards for "Best Praline", "Best Gastronomic Chocolate Dessert", "Best chocolate Pastry" and "Best Chocolate Showpiece". As a highlight this year, additional awards have been granted for "Best Chocolate Decorated Hat" and "International Press Award".

The overall winner was awarded the World Chocolate Masters 2009 trophy specially created by leading Dutch designer Rob Verhoeven, as well as a € 25 000 prize package.

Full results on www.worldchocolatemasters.com

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chocolate Spiders & Ghouls, Oh My!

A Mini-round-up of Chocolate Treats to bake for my favorite Holiday: Halloween!

Stephanie Jaworski at Joy of Baking.com has a great and easy Chocolate Spiders Recipe using Chocolate Coconut Macaroons, pretzels and candy eyes.

From All Recipes comes Classic Cookie Cut-Outs. Collect your cookie cutters: use a chocolate dough for bats, witches' hats, black cats and spiders. Sugar cookie dough makes perfect pumpkins, owls, ghosts, bones and skulls. Both types can be frosted and decorated (with chocolate). Try making Stained Glass Cookies in Jack O'Lantern shapes with glowing yellow eyes and grins.Try these Dark Chocolate Spider Cakes from Liz Brooks at Easy Meals Examiner. Great How-To article.

Duff Goldberg makes Chocolate Chip Eyeball MiniCakes. Video! Pumpkin with mini chocolate chips!

Fahrenheit 350: The Temperature at Which Sweets Happen has a great entry on Chocolate Witches Hats and Brooms, both from the Betty Crocker Cookie Cookbook.

Have fun!

photo: Stephanie Jaworski at Joy of Baking.com

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October 14: Chocolate Covered Insect Day

October 14 is National Chocolate Covered Insect Day. Not my cup of cocoa, but since this is a holiday, I did a little research.

Educational Innovations (a source for teachers) offers Chocolate Covered Insects that are completely edible and farm raised. Yeah, that's what I need to know-- that the insects were farm-raised. They come in single (Bug-350) or Box of 24 packages (Bug-350BX). Each package comes with 4: 2 crickets and 2 larva. Ugh. Description says tastes like chocolate covered popcorn. I'll pass, but if you're feeling adventurous, try them and let me know. From the illustration looks like the insects (and larvae) are covered with white and dark chocolate.

The CandyWarehouse offers packages of Chocolate Covered Insects that seem similar. One thing that any chocolate lover wants to know is the quality of the chocolate. No description except milk chocolate and white chocolate. This website is quite flip. Although the description refers to roaches, I don't think there are any in the pack. But who knows? I found "Chocolate Covered Ants Candy" in the "You Might Also Like" box. I don't think so. I do think the CandyWarehouse needs a new copy writer. I'm not volunteering, but would you want "Gross' in your product copy? Perhaps the owners don't care or haven't read it. Or maybe this whole chocolate covered bug thing is reaching for a completely different sense of aesthetics.

CandyFavorites offers Edible Insects in many different chocolate varieties. I have no fault with their copy, "We are often asked if the edible insects are real and the answer is “yes.” As featured on television reality shows, edible insects are ideal for any occasion in which you want to offer a truly unique treat!" Now, I'm a baker, and I love to entertain, but I just don't know what that special occasion might be. However, for those who are interested, they also have Chocolate Covered Crickets in addition to the standard Chocolate Covered Ants.

My husband Frank was in the Peace Corps in Cote d'Ivoire where much of the cacoa is grown, and even though he often had roasted crickets as treats, he never had chocolate covered ones there. There were plenty of cacoa trees where he lived, but no finished product.

While searching for Chocolate Covered Insects, I found a very interesting recipe for Chocolate Scorpions on the BBC Homepage. Leave it to the Brits! This was listed under Onsite Catering/
Recipes that won’t go down well with a film crew.

Chocolate Scorpions
You will need:
12 dead scorpions
a big bar of chocolate (good quality, fair-trade)
a big pan of boiling water
a big heatproof bowl

Put the chocolate in the bowl, and gently rest it in the pan of boiling water. Once the chocolate has melted, carefully remove it from the water, taking extra care not to burn your fingers. Dip the scorpions in the chocolate, and allow to dry. Now eat. Yummy! (PS: Scorpion stings are not lethal once they’re dead.) Of course, you may not be able to make this if you don't happen to have a few scorpions around or if you're a purist and need to know that the ones you might have are farm-raised. They're probably not.

Searching some more I found a wonderful photo of a tray of chocolate scorpions (see above) on A Yankee-in-Belgrade. Bibi, the Yankee in Belgrade, told me she saw these in the window of a candy store in Pismo Beach (CA) when she was back in the States. My good friend Pierre was in Pismo this past week. Should have asked him to pick me up some. On the other hand, maybe it was just as well I didn't ask.

Enjoy!

Addendum: Perhaps I was too glib about insects. Have a look at SmallStock dedicated to a steady supply of foods derived from farmed insects.

Photo: permission of A Yankee-in-Belgrade

Monday, October 12, 2009

October 18: National Chocolate Cupcake Day


October 18 is National Chocolate Cupcake Day. I've given various Chocolate Cupcake Recipes before, and I had planned to do a round-up of chocolate cupcake recipes, but instead, I thought I'd post a wonderful Chocolate Cupcake recipe by Grace Parisi on Food & Wine. I like a good chocolate ganache for these, but you can use any of your favorite toppings or have a look at suggestions below.

Ingredients

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or foil liners.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the vegetable oil and water over low heat.
3. In a large bowl, sift the flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add the melted butter mixture and beat with a handheld mixer at low speed until smooth. Add the egg and beat until incorporated, then add the buttermilk and vanilla and beat until smooth, scraping the bottom and side of the bowl. Pour the batter into the lined muffin tins, filling them about three-fourths full.
4. Bake the cupcakes in the center of the oven for about 25 minutes, until springy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool slightly, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Frost and top the cupcakes as desired.

Want to vary this recipe? Grace Parisi gives you tips to create mix-and-match cupcakes using this recipe with different toppings.

Another idea that's always fun and beautiful is to top the chocolate ganache with a chocolate covered strawberry.

Photo: Kana Okada

World Chocolate Masters Competition

TeamBuilding Unlimited/Murder on the Menu does a Chocolate Challenge that's a lot of fun and pretty scrumptious. In this team challenge, each team must build a structure entirely of chocolate or chocolate related products. I've seen great buildings, hospitals, palaces and castles from different teams at Genentech, Hitachi, and PDL BioPharma and other companies.

Taking this competition a step further and having nothing to do with us :-); the World Chocolate Masters competition invites Chocolatiers from all over the world to enter a similar competition.

The finalists of the World Chocolate Masters 2009 work within a limited time of 11 1/2 hours. Each of the contestants has to create a complete range of chocolate items:
- a chocolate showpiece to the theme of "Haute Couture"
- a moulded and a dipped praline
- a chocolate pastry
- a gastronomic chocolate dessert
- a decorated "Haute Couture" hat

It's the Hat that's the Building Part of the Competition. Talk about a Chocolate Challenge!

The objective of both the National Selections and World Finals is to "provide a high interest format to promote the best artisans around the globe and support the best chocolate practice."

Lionel Clement, the French born chocolatier and the head chocolatier for the Wynn Las Vegas Hotel, is the U.S. Candidate at the World Chocolate Masters competition. He topped four other pastry chefs at a daylong competition in NY last November. In the structural part of the competition he used several layers of chocolate to produce a silhouette of a woman's face, with long hair and a fancy hat. That won him the chance to compete in the world competition.

Clement will face chocolatiers from 12 other European countries, China, Japan, Thailand, Russian, Canada and Mexico. The showdown will be in Paris. Clement has been practicing for four months with his flavors, four months designing and developing his show pieces and 4 months practicing, so he'll be able to get everything done within the 11 1/2 hours at the biennial culinary competition that starts October 14. The judges will judge competitors on a roughly 25-pound showpiece, as well as two identical layered cakes to serve eight people, a gastronomic chocolate dessert, two different pralines and the decorated haute couture chocolate hat.

"It has to be unbelievable, and at the same time you've got to be able to make it because otherwise it's not going to work," said Clement. "It's not only how to make and build master showpieces, it's also about flavor."

The competition is serious even if its participants wield only sweets; a prize of euro 75,000 ($109,000) is on the line including a euro 20,000 package (roughly $29,000) for the winner. The competition is organized by Barry Callebaut, the Switzerland-based cocoa and chocolate manufacture. The large showpiece has to be made almost entirely of chocolate or cocoa-derived products--parts must hold together with cocoa butter or melted chocolate.

Another amazing part of the competition is that each competitor works alone in hauling and assembling their piece and is also judged on how clean their workspace is 45 minutes after they're done. Clement said, "During the whole competition, it's only you and yourself — that's it."

At TeamBuilding Unlimited, nothing is singular. We encourage our teams to work together to build their showpieces. Everything we do at TeamBuilding Unlimited is customized to include the theme of the meeting, goals and objectives, jargon and buzzwords. In the Chocolate Challenge, we supply the chocolate materials and usually give you about 1-2 hours to complete the project. We have prizes, too, but not monetary! After all, the goal is to work together as a team in a fun challenging team bonding way!

To read more about the World Chocolate Masters, go Here.
The Participants
The Jury

To read more about the Chocolate Challenge at TeamBuilding Unlimited, go here.

UK Chocolate Week


Last week was Chocolate Week in the UK, one of the biggest & most indulgent chocolate celebrations, and there are many terrific chocolate happenings! October 10 and 11 was Chocolate Unwrapped at the exclusive May Fair Hotel in London. Chocolablog was there. Have a look at their photos, video and comments here. Chocolate Unwrapped Highlights during the weekend included a dedicated chocolate show with 25 of the best chocolate companies under one roof. There was a fantastic exhibition of chocolate art and sessions on Chocolate as well as tastings.

Other events during Chocolate Week this year was the collaboration with The London Restaurant Festival bringing a unique chocolate dinner with top London chefs and chocolatiers. Read the menu here. A list of Chocolate participants is here. So if you were unable to attend, you can always do your own tasting at home with chocolate from these chocolatiers.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Angel Food Cake Day: Make it Devil's Food!

I know today is Angel Food Cake Day, but I had to do something devilish. Here's an easy recipe from Diana Rattray at Southern Food for Devil's Food Cake. Enjoy!

Devil's Food Cake
Ingredients:
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (use a high grade cocoa)
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups milk, scalded
2 cups cake flour, sifted or stirred before measuring
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
3 eggs
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation:
Grease two 9-inch layer cake pans and line bottoms with wax paper. Grease wax paper. Sift the cocoa with 1/3 cup sugar; pour into the milk gradually; stir until well blended. Set aside to cool. Sift together flour, remaining 1 cup sugar, soda, and salt. Add shortening and half of the cooled cocoa and milk mixture. Beat at medium speed of an electric hand-held mixer. Add eggs, vanilla, and remaining cocoa and milk mixture. continue beating for about 2 minutes, scraping bowl with a spatula occasionally. Pour into prepared pans. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes; turn out on racks and peel off paper. Cool and frost devil's food cake.

The original recipe says to frost as desired, but I know it needs Fudge Frosting. You can' have enough chocolate!

Fudge Frosting
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2/3 cup evaporated milk
3 squares (3 ounces) unsweetened baking chocolate (I like Ghirardelli or Scharffen Berger)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:
In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, corn syrup, milk, and chocolate; stir to blend well. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture forms a very soft ball when a small amount is dropped into cold water, or about 232° on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat; add butter without stirring. Set aside and let cool until bottom of pan is lukewarm, about 1 hour. Add vanilla and beat until frosting is creamy and just begins to hold its shape. Spread quickly on cake before frosting hardens. Makes about 2 cups.

My favorite Devil's Food Cake recipe is from David Lebovitz. Have a look at his recipe and decide which you'll make. He uses Valrhona cocoa powder, and I suggest using Valrhona in the above recipe, too. He also has a great ganache frosting! David Lebovitz is the author of The Great Book of Chocolate (and other books). You should have it on your Chocolate Cookbook shelf!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pink October: Breast Cancer Awareness & Chocolate


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and chocolate makers, chocolatiers and food bloggers offer some wonderful chocolate and recipes. The best part is that there will be a lot of awareness raised for breast cancer research. Think Pink!

Here's my inspiration for today's blog. Deeba Rajpal's blogs at Passionate about Baking, one of my favorite blogs. (You'll want to check out her site and archives). Two years ago she made a Think Pink for Pinktober Cake as a birthday cake but also as part of a blogging event in support of breast cancer. After missing last year, she returns with an incredible new Pink cake this year, joining other bloggers going Pink.

Her Chocolate & Strawberry Mascarpone Cake for Pink October is extraordinary. Not only is it a fabulous recipe, but her decorations include Rangoon creeper, which blooms the first week of October (in Malaysia/she's outside Delhi). Beautiful. I love to decorate my cakes with flowers from my garden. Of course this cake, like the Pinktober cake, is chocolate! Pink icing, chocolate shavings and that Strawberry Mascarpone is something else!

The basic cake is a chocolate sponge from Indulge-100 Perfect Desserts by Claire Clark that she reviewed for BloggerAid. The rest of the cake was a bit of a whim for her. She made her own mascarpone (yes!) because its firmer than soft cream cheese and really has a different flavor. Who doesn't love mascarpone? You have to read her notes! What a lovely Twitter/Blogger community that seemed to bake this cake along with her, if only in giving advice and tweets. Try this recipe in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For the complete recipe and fabulous photos, go here. Be sure and bookmark this site or add it to your RSS feed.

Breast Cancer Awareness Chocolate to Buy: Donations & Awareness

Vosges is donating 10% of the sales of their new Goji Exotic Candy Bar Library to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. Four Goji bars are nestled in our signature purple box and finished with a large, pink satin ribbon--satisfying chocolate that is full of Goji berries (which have major health benefits) AND the purchase sends money to a worthy cause. Goji: goji berries + pink Himalayan salt + deep milk chocolate, 41% cacao

Sweet Earth Organic Chocolate is donating $1 for every framboise truffle sold to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation

Astor Chocolate has a 1 oz Milk Chocolate Bar with Breast Cancer Awareness Wrapper. Net proceeds given to the October Woman Foundation for breast cancer research to support ongoing research programs. They also have a 2 oz. Milk Chocolate Bar, and a 2 pc. Pearl Nouveau Truffle Box.

Pink Wish Tim Tams. Australia's favorite chocolate biscuit, Arnott's Tim Tam, has launched a limited edition product this month. Arnott's will donate ten cents to the National Breast Cancer Foundation for every packet of Tim Tam "Pink Wish" luscious Strawberry sold. They expect to raise $150,000 for breast cancer research.

Ghirardelli has a Luxe Milk Chocolates contest. They will donate up to $100,000 to the National Cancer Foundation.

Pink Hershey's Kisses: “Three of our most popular products — York peppermint patties, Hershey’s Kisses and Hershey’s Kissables chocolates — turn pink this fall, adopting this widely recognized symbol of breast cancer awareness. They are increasing their donation to the Young Survival Coalition in outright contribution, continuing their support for its important work on behalf of breast cancer survivors.”

Hershey's York Pink Peppermint Patties: Hershey partners with the Young Survival Coalition to help raise money in an effort to encourage young women to become educated about breast cancer. Donation from each sold.

Hershey's Bliss Chocolate features pink ribbon wrappers and is available nationwide. Hershey’s Bliss Chocolate also is honoring and supporting breast cancer survivors by profiling the stories of five women who battled the disease. All diagnosed under the age of 40, these women have shared their courageous, inspirational stories of breast cancer survival through personal video testimonials, photos and blogs. Their stories were chronicled on www.hersheyspledge.com throughout September as they trained for the Hershey’s Tour de Pink. Consumers followed along, lent support and encouragement to the women, and learned how to support the Young Survival Coalition.

Athena Chocolate by Dilettante Chocolatier has Chocolate Cherry Truffles. All company profits are donated year-round to breast cancer research and education.

Dove Promises of Hope Chocolate. Inside each chocolate wrapper is an inspirational message from a breast cancer survivor.

Mars will be donating $850,000 to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer awareness foundation. Mars is also releasing Pink M&M's. You can buy them as one of the specialty colors or you can buy them Breast Cancer Awareness theme packs.

Strawberry Kit Kats: Nestlé who now produces KIT KAT supports the awareness of breast cancer with its annual limited edition Kit Kat Chocolate Strawberry flavor. Nestle donates to the NBCF.

The Signature Collection has Breast Cancer Awareness Coins. Dark Chocolate coins measure 1.5" in diameter and are wrapped in pink foil with a picture of a ribbon on the chocolate. Not sure if a donation is made.

4Imprint USA offers Chocolate Ribbons, for breast cancer awareness. Don't think there's a donation here.

Chocolate for the Fountain?
Food Network offers a recipe for Pink Chocolate. Great for a pink fountain!

Cupcakes?
Celebrations/Life of the Party has an easy recipe for Pink Lemonade cupcakes. Decorate with pink icing ribbons.

Send me your Chocolate Recipes for Breast Cancer Awareness Month or Blog a Chocolate Recipe for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I'll post a link!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Here's a great recipe for Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze from the new cookbook: Absolutely Chocolate (Fine Cooking Magazine). This is gluten free. This is not the same recipe for my own Flourless Cake or the TV Food Network Flourless Chocolate Cake. Whatever you do, celebrate with chocolate this week!

Ingredients:
3/4 ounce (1/4 cup) unsweetened natural cocoa powder, sifted if lumpy; more for the pan
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (2 1/4 cups)
6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces; more for the pan
5 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water

For the glaze:
1/4 pound bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (3/4 cup)
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter

Directions:
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 300 degrees. Lightly butter the bottom of a 9x2 round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment. Lightly butter the parchment and the sides of the pan and dust with cocoa. Tap out any excess cocoa.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a medium bowl and let cool slightly. With a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt and 2 tablespoons water. Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is very foamy, pale in color, and doubled in volume, 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually pour the chocolate mixture. Increase the speed to medium high and continue beating until well blended, about 30 seconds. Add the cocoa and mix on medium low just until blended, about 30 seconds.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a pick inserted in the center comes out looking wet with small gooey clumps, 40 to 45 minutes. Do not overbake. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 20 minutes. If necessary, gently push the edges down with your fingertips until the layer is even. Run a small knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Cover the cake pan with a wire rack and invert. Remove the pan and parchment and let the cake cool completely. The cake may look cinched in and around its sides, which is fine. Transfer to a cake plate. Cover and refrigerate the cake until it's very cold, at least six hours or overnight.

Glaze the cake: Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave or in a medium metal bowl set in a skillet of barely simmering water, stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth. Pour the warm glaze over the chilled cake and, using an offset spatula, spread the glaze evenly to within 1/4 inch of the edge. Refrigerate the cake until the glaze is set, 20 to 40 minutes. Before serving, remove the cake from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, 20 to 30 minutes. To serve, cut the cake into small, if not tiny, slices using a hot knife.

Photo: Terri Lee Gruss

Saturday, October 3, 2009

National Vodka Day: Chocolate drinks & cake

October 4 is National Taco Day, but it's also National Vodka Day. In honor of the holiday, I have put together several Chocolate Vodka drink recipes. There are several good quality chocolate vodkas out there. Try them all.

Chocolate Raspberry Martini (A Drink of the Week Original Cocktail)
1 1/2 oz. Stoli Raspberry Vodka
1/2 oz. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
Splash Soda

Combine Vodka and Liqueur in a shaker with ice. Shaken and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with a splash of soda. Garnish with a fresh raspberry.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Daiquiri
3 oz chocolate Goldenbarr chocolate vodka
1 cup fresh strawberries

Combine ingredients in a blender, and blend well. Pour into a chilled daiquiri/margarita glass, garnish with a chocolate covered strawberry, and serve.

Cherry Cordial Recipe
Chocolate Vodka
Cherry Liqueur

Pour in Shot Glass

Chocolate to Die For
6 oz cream soda
1 1/2 oz chocolate vodka

Pour the chocolate vodka over ice in an old-fashioned glass. Add cream soda and serve.

Fudge Slide
1 oz Goldenbarr chocolate vodka
1 oz Kahlua coffee liqueur
1 oz Bailey's Irish cream

Pour each ingredient into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes. Shake well, strain into a cocktail glass, and serve.

Chocolate Chocolate Martini
1 1/2 oz Vincent Van Gogh Dutch chocolate vodka
1/2 oz creme de cacao

Pour both ingredients into a cocktail shaker with a few ice cubes. Shake well, strain into a cocktail glass and serve. Garnish with grated chocolate.. You can also rim the chilled glass with cocoa powder but pour slowly. Even better: Rim a chilled glass with chocolate sauce and put it in the freezer until you're ready to serve the drink!

Desperate Housewife
1 1/2 oz Players Extreme caramel-infused vodka
1 1/2 oz white chocolate liqueur

Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drizzle with chocolate sauce, and serve.

Fudge Slide
1 oz Goldenbarr chocolate vodka
1 oz Kahlua coffee liqueur
1 oz Bailey's Irish cream

Pour each ingredient into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes. Shake well, strain into a cocktail glass, and serve.

Serve in: Cocktail Glass

Starry Night Martini
1 1/2 oz chocolate vodka
1 1/2 oz vanilla vodka
1 oz Bailey's Irish cream
1 oz Kahlua coffee liqueur
1 splash cream

Fill a shaker-strainer with ice. Pour the chocolate and vanilla vodka into the shaker simultaneously for three counts. Pour the Bailey's and Kahlua into the shaker for two counts. Add a splash of cream. Cover shaker, shake, and strain into a cocktail glass.

Tootsie Roll Shooter (recipe from Three Olives Chocolate Vodka)
2/3 oz Three Olives Chocolate Vodka
1/3 oz amaretto
Chocolate Syrup

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a shot glass.

Want more drink recipes? Go to Drink of the Week.com or DrinksMixer.com

I like to eat my chocolate, so here's a recipe for:

Black Russian Bundt Cake


1 box yellow cake mix (without pudding)
1/2 c. sugar
1 pkg. (6 oz.) chocolate instant pudding
1 cup oil
4 eggs
1/4 cup Vodka
1/4 cup Kahlua
3/4 cup water

Combine all ingredients and beat on low speed for one minute and then on medium speed for 4 minutes. Pour into a greased and floured 10 inch bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto plate and pour on glaze.

Glaze
1/4 cup Kahlua
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Combine and have ready when cake comes from oven. Poke holes in cake and pour glaze over cake. Dust with sifted powdered sugar.

Raise a glass or eat your cake October 4: National Vodka Day!


Friday, October 2, 2009

National Taco Day: Chocolate Tacos


October 4 is National Taco Day. You may seem that's odd to mention on a Chocolate Blog, but you'd be mistaken. As I've said before, you can make practically anything out of chocolate.

I have two different types of chocolate tacos to share with you. The first is more like a traditional taco and very healthy, too. Great chocolate and fresh fruit with a hint of heat from the cayenne.
This reminds me of real tacos. Anything with chocolate, cinnamon and cayenne works for me.
The second taco is a frozen ice-cream: Choco Taco. You can buy this ready made at various locations--or I've added a link to a Choco Taco blog at Serious Eats, so you can make it yourself.

Chocolate Tacos (listed as Chocolate Tortillas)
Adapted from Breakfast by Barbara Passino ((The Gerald & Marc Hoberman Collection) February 2009

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened high quality cocoa
2 egg whites
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup skim milk
1 -1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Preparation

To make the batter:
Place all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth with an electric mixer. Cover batter and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

To cook and shape the tortilla:
Remove the batter from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature, which will take 20-30 minutes. Heat a small non-stick skillet or crepe pan over medium heat. Pour in a little less than 1/4 cup of batter and tilt the pan quickly to spread the batter into a 6-inch circle. Once the edges look dry (2 or 3 minutes), loosen the edges with a knife and turn over the tortilla. Cook another minute or two.

Lift the soft hot chocolate tortilla out of the pan with a knife and quickly drape it over a rolling pin. It will become firm and crisp as it cools. Alternatively, if you have a taco rack, put the soft tortilla in that to firm up, teasing the middle open so that you'll have lots of room for fruit.

Hint from the Chef: *** (this is very important)***
If the tortilla doesn't firm up, it means it isn't thoroughly cooked, so cook it a bit longer. It should be dry when you remove it from the skillet.

Fresh Fruit Filling (you can choose all of the below or just what you'd like)

2 pints strawberries, hulled and sliced (grind a tiny amount of fresh black pepper on top)
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blackberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1 mango, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes or sliced into 1/2-inch thick strips
2 kiwi, peeled and sliced into rounds
1 banana, peeled and sliced into rounds just before serving to prevent browning

Gently mix berries together in a bowl. Keep the remaining fruit separate until assembling or they'll pick up the colors from the berries.

To serve:
1/2 pint sorbet (Use a flavor of one of the fruits)
8 mint sprigs
8 edible flowers

Place a tortilla on a serving plate. Generously fill it with the berries and then tuck in the mango, kiwi and bananas. Add a scoop of sorbet and garnish with mint and the edible flower.

***
Here's another variation on a Chocolate Taco: ChocoTaco: A Waffle Cone folded like a taco with ice cream inside and frozen chocolate all over. This is marketed under both the Good Humor and Klondike Brands. You can find this in the freezer case at grocers, gas stations, and sometimes at Taco Bell.

Want to make your own Choco Taco? Erin Zimmer at Serious Eats has a recipe for just that. I love that she molds her tacos on Kafka's The Trial. Great recipe and step-by-step photos.

So now you have several options for Chocolate Tacos for October 4: National Taco Day.