Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Brown Cow: National Ice Cream Soda Day

Today is National Ice Cream Soda Day, and, of course, I'm going to have a Brown Cow! See recipe below. Ice cream sodas, aka ice cream floats, are made by combining ice cream with soda or carbonated water and flavored syrup. Of course, mine always contain chocolate. While many people consider root beer and vanilla ice cream to be the classic ingredients for an ice cream soda, there are lots of variations. Be sure and experiment.

According to Wisegeek.com, "although the recipe for an ice cream soda is quite simple, there is a trick to creating the perfect drink. Plain soda foams because it releases carbon dioxide gas, but ice cream is actually a foamy mixture of liquid, ice crystals, and air pockets. Therefore, if you want to make an ice cream soda with a lot of foam, put the ice cream in the glass before pouring the soda. If you want to make a treat with a minimal amount of foam, add the ice cream after the soda has been poured."

Supposedly, the ice cream soda was invented in Denver in 1871 by Otto Baur.  Soon, there were soda fountains and ice cream parlors scattered throughout the United States.

Brown Cow Ice Cream Soda Recipe

Root Beer
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup
Chocolate ice cream

Pour a good quality rootbeer into glass, leaving about 2 inches on top.
Scoop some chocolate ice cream and drop in.
Drizzle 1 tablespoon of chocolate syrup on top.
Whipped cream optional

Celebrate!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Chocolate Picnic Cake: The Picnic Game


I'm going on a picnic, and I'm bringing Chocolate Picnic Cake, what else?

Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations loves picnics so much, that once again this year, she's playing the International Picnic Game. Each letter of the alphabet has been taken by a different blogger who will post what they're bringing to the Perfect Picnic A-Z!

Want to find out about the history of the picnic? Be sure and read the story at Months of Edible Celebrations.

The picnic this year is filled with international recipes and posts. We're going to have fun! Check out all the recipes at all these different blogs, so you can have your own Virtual Picnic... or real!


CHOCOLATE PICNIC CAKE

There are many recipes for Chocolate Picnic Cake--some using box mixes, some from scratch, but I'm posting an easy one! The nice thing about this Chocolate Picnic Cake is that it travels so well. It doesn't have to be refrigerated, and you can actually make ahead and freeze.  This is a variation on Mary Kennedy's Chocolate Kahlua Cake and my Double Chocolate Bundt Cake. They would all travel well to a picnic--virtual or real!!

Ingredients
1 (18 ounce) box Devil's Food  or Dark Chocolate Cake mix (I use Duncan Hines)
1  package instant chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup warm water
1- 1/2 cups 70% or higher dark chocolate (chopped) or dark chocolate chips
1 cup (16 oz) sour cream
3 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions
1. Mix all ingredients together.
2. Pour into oiled and floured Bundt pan.
3. Bake at 350 for about an  hour or until tooth pick comes out clean.
4. Dust with powdered sugar.

So, I'm going on a Picnic, and I'm bringing ...

A--Almond Joy Pie 
B--Baked Beans
C--Chocolate Picnic Cake
D--Dutch Funnel Cake
E--Easy Blender Chicken Pie
F--Five Bean Salad
G--Granola Bars
H--Herb and Cheese Pasta Salad
I--Incredibly Fruity Raspberry Cakes
J--Jeweled Picnic Bars
K--Kaltschale (cold fruit soup)
L--Long Island Lemonade Cocktail
M--Mushroom Tart
N--Nut Roast
O--Olive Nut Bread
P--Pomegranate Mousse Cake
Q--Quiche
R--Raspberry Chocolate Macaroons
S--Spicy Glazed Shrimp and Veggie Kabobs
T--Turkey and Pear wraps w/Curried Aioli
U-"Unoriginal Whole Foods Salad Bar"
V-Vegetable Things of Spring Salad+
W-White Caramel Popcorn
X X-quisite Layered Fruit Salad 
Y-Yellow Squash Casserole (soon:)
Z-Zucchini Bread 


(I'll be updating ALL the foods "I'll be bringing..." to the picnic on July 1)

I'm ready for the picnic! Thanks, Louise, for organizing the Picnic!

Mikki's Mandelbrot

There are many Mandelbrot recipes, and they're all delicious. When I was growing up, I loved our neighbor Flora's Mandelbrot. She was a great baker, and she always seemed to have extra for the neighborhood children.

Mandelbrot is very similar to biscotti in that it's twice baked. Chocolate Chip Mandelbrot is very special, and, of course, my favorite. Technically it's not mandelbrot since the word itself mean almond bread, but adding the chocolate chips makes these heavenly.

I've posted a Mandlebrot recipe before, but recently my neighbor Mikki brought Mandelbrot to my Literary Salon with mystery author Elizabeth George. I love when my worlds of mystery and chocolate collide. The Salon was great, and the Mandelbrot was terrific, so I asked if she would share it here on DyingforChocolate.com. The directions are Mikki's, complete with her own notes. If you compare Mikki's Mandelbrot with the other one. It's a difference in technique. The ingredients are quite similar.  Mikki left the extra Mandlebrot with me, and I snapped this photo before devouring the remainder. Of course when I make it, I will add more chocolate chips, but then I'm a chocoholic. Either way, you'll love these.

Mikki’s Mandlebrot

Eggs                3 large
Oil (Vegetable)1 Cup (If using canola or a blend it changes flavor)
Sugar               1 Cup (more or less, according to taste)
Flour                 3 1/2 cups
Baking powder 2 tsp
Salt                   1/4 tsp
Vanilla               1 tsp
Walnuts/Almonds 1 Cup, chopped (I prefer almonds. Mostly I delete nuts)
Semi-Sweet choc chips 3 oz. chopped (or use minis - easier)

Topping:
Cocoa       1 tsp
Cinnamon 1 tsp
Sugar        1 Tbsp
Mix together. Adjust to personal taste

Almonds, slivered 4 oz. (Mostly I delete)

Oven 350F

Beat eggs well & add oil & sugar. Sift dry ingredients then add to egg mixture. Add vanilla, (nuts, if desired), and chips. Shape into 2, 3, 4 rolls (whatever fits cookie sheet, whatever size cookie you want. Bake for 25 mins. (will crack on top a bit). Let cool 10 mins, slice, sprinkle with topping and separate each cookie a bit so next baking will bake all cookies throughout. Return to oven and bake for approx. 15 mins. Longer baking time makes crispier cookies; shorter baking time - cake like.

Makes about 50 cookies. Freezes well and taste great frozen.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake: 2 Easy Recipes

The other day Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations posted about the birth of Richard Hellman (Hellman's Mayonnaise) in 1876. The exact date coincided with her own birthday. Of course her birthday was many, many years later. Since there is no holiday dedicated to Mayonnaise, she and I think there should be. Where would tuna fish be without mayonnaise; where would sandwiches be? So better late than never, let's celebrate Mayonnaise Day. Be sure and check out the history of Mayonnaise, the life of Hellman, and a lot more info about mayonnaise at Months of Edible Celebrations.

Since it was Louise's birthday, she decided to make a Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake. I've made chocolate mayonnaise cake before, and you'd be surprised how many recipes there are. Seems like everyone's Aunt Sadie had a recipe. It shouldn't be a surprise to you that mayonnaise was used often in past generations. Remember mayonnaise in jello molds? That used to be a staple at special occasions all over the U.S. If you don't remember, be glad!

Since I try to post easy recipes here, I have two. The first is slightly harder since it means making a layer cake (2 layers) and icing the cake. That's not really difficult--just takes a bit more time--and sometimes layer cakes aren't even, so you need to do a bit of shaping. The second recipe is for a Chocolate Mayonnaise Bundt Cake. You just mix all the ingredients together and pour into the bundt pan and bake. Easy peasy. And delicious.

As I said there are many recipes for Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake. I've chosen to post Louise's recipe with her photos. Thanks, Louise, for your permission. Louise collects cookbooks, and this recipe is from That amazing ingredient: mayonnaise! Talk about your odd cookbook!

Mayonnaise Cakes are really moist, so it's hard to go wrong on either of these recipes.



Here's Louise's finished Birthday Cake:


Want to try a variation of the above recipe? Use Miracle Whip instead of Mayonnaise. Totally different taste. Most people are particular when it comes to the choice between Mayonnaise and Miracle Whip. I still think it's worth trying Miracle Whip in this chocolate cake recipe... or for that matter, in the bundt cake recipe below. Word to the wise: don't taste the batter before it's baked. It will seem a bit odd, but the final results will be delicious.

Chocolate Mayonnaise Bundt Cake
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
6 tablespoons dark cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla (or whatever you have)
1 cup mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip)
1 egg, whipped
1 cup lukewarm water
1 cup chocolate chips or broken dark chocolate 70% or higher cacao
powdered sugar

Directions:
Blend dry ingredients.
Mix in vanilla, mayonnaise, egg and water-- just enough to get all ingredients blended.
Fold in chocolate chips (broken up chocolate)
Pour into greased Bundt pan.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool cake.
Dust with powdered sugar.

Photos: Months of Edible Celebrations

Saturday, June 26, 2010

National Chocolate Pudding Day: Hot Chocolate Pudding Cups

June 26 is National Chocolate Pudding Day. I've always loved chocolate pudding, even from a box mix, but this tastes soooo much better. This great recipe comes from Ghirardelli. I'll be having a Ghirardelli contest next week, so be sure to stop back for that. In the meantime, if you have some chocolate at home, try this hot chocolate pudding recipe. As always you can use any chocolate you have, but since this recipe is from Ghirardelli, I usually use Ghirardelli chocolate!

Hot Chocolate Pudding Cups


Ingredients:
10 ounces (1bag) Ghirardelli Gourmet 58% Cacao Semi-Sweet (I've used 72 %) Chocolate for baking
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
whipped cream
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Directions:
Position rack in middle of oven and heat to 350° F.
Arrange 6 oven-proof six-ounce coffee cups or mugs in a baking or roasting pan.
Melt chocolate and butter in bowl set over simmering water, whisking occasionally until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
Stir eggs and sugar together in separate bowl over simmering water until warm to the touch. With handheld electric beater, beat 3 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.
With spatula, fold eggs into chocolate mixture until light and smooth.
Spoon batter into cups.
Add enough very hot water to the baking pan to come halfway up sides of cups.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until tops of puddings are no longer shiny.
Serve warm, topped with a dollop of whipped cream.


Photo: Ghirardelli

Friday, June 25, 2010

Chocolate Chip Macadamia Cookies

I decided to post the recipe for Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies for the weekend since I'm going to the Beach, but yesterday Caron at Caron's Beach House/Everything Coastal posted a recipe for a very similar cookie. Her recipe is great, too, so here's a link to her recipe for Island Cookies. Her cookies include coconut and white chocolate chips. Different measurements, so why not try both this weekend? Funny how 'fine minds' think alike! :-). There's always room for one more chocolate chip cookie!

 Chocolate Chip Macadamia Cookies

1/2 cup sweet butter, softened
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure Madagascar vanilla
1 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
1 1/4 cups semisweet or white chocolate chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Lightly grease 2 large cookie sheets.
Cream the butter and sugars together in a large bowl.
Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until well blended.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually blend into the batter.
Stir in the chopped macadamia nuts and chocolate chips.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto the cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown.
Remove from the oven, and transfer the cookies to cooling racks.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kentucky Chocolate-Nut Pie Mix in a Jar

Continuing the Cookies and Brownies in a Jar Motif, here's a recipe for Kentucky Derby Pie Mix in a Jar. This is a good example of Derby Pie for which I've posted about four different recipes over the past few years. I like the idea of giving this Derby Pie (Chocolate Chip Nut Pie, if you want to be P.C.) on Derby Day, but any time is good.  One thing I changed in the original recipe is substituting Bourbon for the vanilla in the directions. You can always write vanilla (or Bourbon optional) on your recipe gift card.

Ingredients:
1 cup granulated sugar (or use half brown and half granulated)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup coursely chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

Preparation:
Pour sugar into a lightweight food storage bag. Tie bag and cut off some of the excess and fit bag into the bottom of a 1-quart wide-mouth canning jar. Pour in half of the nuts, the chocolate chips, and remaining nuts. Into food storage bag, add flour and pinch of salt. Tie with twine or ribbon and cut off excess plastic bag end, if necessary. Fit into the top of the jar then screw on top.

Directions for gift tag or label:

Kentucky Derby (Chocolate Chip Nut) Pie

Kentucky Derby (Chocolate Chip Nut) Pie Mix
1 9-inch pastry shell, unbaked
4 ounces (1 stick) melted sweet butter
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon Bourbon

Preheat oven to 325°

Remove the bag of flour from jar; set aside. Pour nuts and chocolate chips into pie shell, spreading evenly. In a small mixing bowl, whisk 2 eggs. Remove sugar bag and empty the sugar and flour bags into the bowl, stirring to blend well. Whisk in 1 teaspoon Bourbon or a splash more (or vanilla) and the 4 ounces melted butter. Blend well. Pour batter evenly over nuts and chocolate chips. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until nicely browned. Chill thoroughly before cutting. Serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ben & Jerry's Exclusive Flavor at Target

Ben & Jerry's has a new chocolate ice-cream available exclusively at Target Stores. It's called Brownie Chew Gooder, and it's a "philanthropic" flavor aimed at encouraging consumers to volunteer in their communities. The Brownie Chew Gooder is vanilla caramel ice cream with pieces of fudge brownie and with caramel swirl.

Scoop it Forward is offering a coupon for free Ben & Jerry's, while supplies last, for volunteers in various projects. Go to Scoop it Forward for all the details. Get out and Volunteer: Together for a Sweet Cause. You can volunteer for a short-term project or an ongoing commitment through VolunteerMatch.org

And, in case you need to know, there is also a Berry Voluntary flavor during this promotion.

National Pecan Sandies Day: Chocolate Pecan Sandies

Today, June 23, is National Pecan Sandies Day. Pecan sandies are great cookies, and I've just added chocolate to make them all that much better. If you're a purist, check out the BrownEyedBaker's recipe for "non-chocolate" pecan sandies. It's awesome.

So I have two recipes for Chocolate Pecan Sandies. The first is the full recipe for  Chocolate Pecan Sandie Cookies. The second would be to use a 'regular' pecan sandie recipe and add chocolate chips.

These cookies are simple to make and taste delicious. Not too sweet. I added Rum, but you don't need to do that. Some people like to chop the pecans coursely, and that works, but you can also pulverize them. To form the cookies, I use the drop method, but some people like to make logs and then slice them. Either way, they'll be great!

Chocolate Pecan Sandie Cookies

1 cup sweet butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp dark rum (optional)
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) ground pecans, divided use
1/2 cup unsweetened good quality dark cocoa powder
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease cookie sheet or line with parchment.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and rum until well blended.
Mix together flour, 1 cup ground pecans, and cocoa powder, then beat flour mixture into butter mixture.
Chill dough for 30 minutes.
Combine remaining 1/2 cup ground pecans and 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar in a bowl.
Form dough into 1-inch balls.
Roll in pecan sugar mixture (reserve any leftover sugar mix) and place on baking sheets.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool, then dip pecan sandy cookie tops in any remaining pecan sugar.

Monday, June 21, 2010

National Chocolate Eclair Day: Mini Chocolate Eclairs

June 22 is National Chocolate Eclair Day.

I've adapted this recipe for Mini Chocolate Eclairs from Paula Deen. It is one of my favorites because it's easy and fabulous! I never use margarine, so I've dropped that from the recipe as a choice. Real butter is always best. As always, I use the very best dark chocolate for the topping. I've changed a few measurements and directions in the recipe, and I think it helps make it a bit clearer for the novice Eclair Chef. If you're a purist, just click on Paula Deen's recipe above.

Because these eclairs are so small, feel free to have 3 or 4. :-) Yield depends on how small you make them, but I usually get about 50 small eclairs. They're great for a crowd!

Want to make these even more chocolate-y? Add a handful of chocolate chips to the egg cream filling or fill with chocolate cream instead: just add 1/4 dark cocoa to the dry ingredients. To fill the eclairs, I use a pastry bag, but if you don't have one, you can always fill a Ziploc bag and cut the tip off to pipe the filling into the eclair.

You will probably have some extra icing. You can always half the recipe if you ice sparingly. I'm for more chocolate, so there's never much left.

Pastry:
1 cup water
8 tbsp or 1 stick butter
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
3 eggs

Filling:
3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla

Icing:
3 ounces unsweetened dark chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Heat water and butter to boiling point. Add flour and stir constantly until mixture is smooth and forms a ball when tested in cold water. Remove from heat and let cool. Beat in 3 eggs, one at a time. Drop dough from teaspoon, elongate slightly to form small eclairs, onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until light brown. Set aside to cool.
3. Prepare filling by mixing all dry ingredients. Very slowly add milk over low heat and cook until mixture thickens (don't let the heat get too high), so you don't have any lumps. Then pour this custard  into the beaten eggs, stirring quickly (so eggs don't cook). Cool and add vanilla.
4. With a serrated knife, slice pastry puffs lengthwise, but not all the way through. Pipe custard mixture into the center.
5. Melt chocolate for icing, add sugar and cream. Cook over medium heat until soft ball stage. Let cool and beat until smooth. Ice tops of the eclairs.

Photo: Food Network

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Jar

If you don't have time to bake, and you need to take a gift, "Cookies in a Jar" are fabulous. These are 1 quart mason jars that you fill with the dry ingredients for great cookies, cakes or brownies.  I've posted recipes for Brownies in a Jar and Chocolate Cookies in a Jar, but I never posted Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Jar, and let's face it, Chocolate Chip Cookies are the all American favorites.

Just a few reminders: I mentioned last time I blogged about "Cookies in a Jar" how important it is to pack down each layer. You can use any tool with a wide flat bottom. You must do this after each and every ingredient. Be sure and put any white sugar below any nuts or chocolate chips because the sugar will seep down. And, if you really pack things down well, you'll have a better looking jar of ingredients. It's kind of like sandpainting. You can also experiment adding other 'dry' ingredients.

Someone asked me about shelf life. As in any mix, there is a use-by date. I think three months is about the limit. I like my chocolate and nuts to be fresh. My hope is that the recipient will make cookies or brownies within the next few days.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES IN A JAR
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1- 1/2 cups (about 9 ounces) Dark Chocolate Chips

Directions
Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Place flour mixture in bottom of 1-quart jar. Layer remaining ingredients in order listed, pressing firmly after each layer. Seal with lid. Cover with burlap and tie with raffia.

Recipe to Attach: I usually make my own label on the computer and attach to the front of the Jar, but you can do this as a tag (or small card) and attach with the raffia.

Preheat oven to 375° F.
Beat 3/4 cup softened sweet, 1 large egg and 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until blended.
Add Chocolate Cookie mix. Mix well, breaking up any clumps.
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.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Peanut Butter Marbled Brownies

Peanut Butter and Chocolate go so well together. I love Brownies, especially Peanut Butter Brownies. You can use just about any Brownie recipe. What I like about this recipe adapted from Michelle's Peanut Butter Marbled Brownies at Allrecipes.com is that the Peanut Butter part is really extra rich and creamy because you mix the peanut butter with cream cheese, egg and milk. Adding a few handfuls of chocolate chunks or chips makes these brownies even that more chocolate-y, too!

If you're in a hurry, the Second Recipe (below)  for Peanut Butter Marbled Brownies utilizes a brownie mix and peanut butter from the jar. Simple, easy and fast.

Peanut Butter Marbled Brownies

Ingredients
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
*
1 cup sweet butter, melted
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
dash salt
1 cup chopped dark chocolate (65% cacao or higher) or dark chocolate chips

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9x13 inch baking pan.
2. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1 egg, and milk until smooth. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, mix together Melted Butter, 2 cups white sugar, and vanilla. Mix in the remaining 3 eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; mix into the batter. Stir in chopped dark chocolate (or) chocolate chips.
4. Remove 1 cup of the chocolate batter. Spread the remaining batter into the prepared pan. Spread the peanut butter filling over the top. Drop the reserved chocolate batter by teaspoonful over the filling. Using a flat knife, gently swirl through the top layers for a marbled effect.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out almost clean. Cool completely, then cut into bars.

In a hurry? 
You can make great and easy Peanut Butter Brownies from your favorite Brownie Mix (Betty Crocker? Duncan Hines? Trader Joe's?)

Easy and Fast Peanut Butter Marbled Brownies
Prepare boxed Brownie Mix.
Pour batter in prepared pan.
To make Peanut Butter Marbled Brownies, spoon dollops of creamy peanut butter on top of the brownie batter.
Sprinkle with 1/2 cup chopped chocolate or chocolate chips. 
Swirl with flat knife to create marbled effect.
Bake according to directions.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches

I've posted lots of easy Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwich recipes including one for making your own Chipwich, but Martha Stewart offers an excellent chocolate chip cookie recipe that gives a sturdier cookie..essential for chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches. I'm always looking for a new chocolate chip cookie recipe.

One change I would make is to use either Chocolate Chip Ice Cream or in my case Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia. One other tip for making ice cream sandwiches is to soften the ice cream and use a cookie cutter to get the size you want. Then when you squeeze, ever so lightly, you'll have a perfect center with very little cookie crumbling.

By the way, I read today...I need to find where I read that.. that if you don't have vanilla on hand, you can substitute Bourbon. Cool.

And, of course,  you can use packaged chocolate chip cookies if you're in a hurry.

Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches 
Makes 12

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips
1 pint Ben & Jerry's Jerry Garcia ice cream

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in center. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Using  electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add sour cream, egg, and vanilla; beat until smooth. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; mix in 1 cup chocolate chips.
2. Using 1 rounded tablespoon per cookie, drop mounds of dough, about 1 1/2 inches apart, onto two baking sheets. (You'll have 25 to 30 cookies.) Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes; transfer to a rack to cool completely.
3. Scatter remaining chocolate chips on a plate. Place about 2 tablespoons ice cream between 2 cookies--or cut a chunk of ice cream using a cookie cutter the approximate size-pressing slightly until ice cream exceeds or matches the size of the cookies, bottoms facing in; press gently. Roll the sides of each sandwich in chips. (If ice cream is melting, place sandwiches in freezer until firm enough to roll in chips.) Transfer sandwiches onto baking sheets. Freeze until firm, at least 2 hours; then wrap individually in plastic. Freeze up to 2 weeks.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

National Fudge Day: Philly Fudge

Today is National Fudge Day. I love fudge, and I've blogged lots of fudge recipes over the past year or so. I thought I'd do a round-up of some of those fudge recipes and add a new one.

Goldie's Fudge
Vanilla Macadamia Nut Fudge
Nigella's Chocolate Pistachio Fudge
Creamy Chocolate Fudge
Chocolate Coffee Fudge (Cooking with Trade Joe's) guest blog

Last Year's Post on National Fudge Day that includes a recipe for Foolproof Dark Chocolate Fudge.

I'm from Philly, and I grew up with Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Here's a recipe for Philly Fudge: This recipe, an adaptation of the famous uncooked fudge recipe developed by Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese, became popular right after World War II. It's pretty foolproof.

Philly Fudge

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1- 8 ounce package Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
2 tablespoons milk or cream
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts

1. Butter an 8 inch baking pan well; set aside.
2. Melt chocolate in double boiler over hot, not boiling water.
3. Mix cream cheese and milk (or cream), beating on high speed until smooth. Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat at low speed until creamy.
4. Blend in melted chocolate, vanilla, and salt. Beat until smooth. Stir in pecans or walnuts, but not both.
5. Press mixture into pan, cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight or until firm. Cut into 1 1/4-inch squares.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chocolate "Cooking with Trader Joe's": Guest Blogger Deana Gunn

I shop at Trader Joe's a lot, and I buy their chocolate and chocolate mixes. A few years ago I met Wona Miniati at the Northern California Independent Bookstore Association book show. Her first cookbook co-authored with Deana Gunn was just out: Cooking with all things Trader Joe's. The recipes are fabulous, and you'll want to pick up a copy, as well as a copy of The Trader Joe's Companion: A Portable Cookbook. Since their cookbooks include several chocolate recipes,  I invited them to Guest Blog. You can follow them on Twitter at @CookingwithTJ. Check out their website www.cookingwithtraderjoes.com. Lots of tips and recipes.

Guest Blogger Deana Gunn:

Trader Joe’s is a delicious playground for chocolate lovers, full of basic and unique chocolate-centric offerings at affordable prices. If you shop at Trader Joe’s, you’re likely familiar with their French Truffles, portable 100-calorie chocolate bars, milk and dark chocolate Classic Bar, and their famous Belgian Pound Plus ($3.50 for a pound of 72% Belgian chocolate). Their huge assortment of combination candies includes chocolate-covered salted caramels, Mini Peanut Butter Cups, chocolate covered espresso beans, Dark Chocolate Crisps (imagine a Pringles chip meeting chocolate!) and cocoa-dusted almonds. During the holiday season, new treats hit the shelf, from Peppermint Bark to Candy-cane Joe-Joe’s cookies (Trader Joe’s all-natural take-off on Oreos), their addictive Sipping Chocolate (one of the best hot cocoa mixes I’ve had) and even chocolate ornaments! Trader Joe’s frozen food aisle is another place brimming with chocolate desserts such as the Chocolate Ganache Torte, various mousses, and lava cakes.

As co-author of the two original Trader Joe’s cookbooks, “Cooking with All Things Trader Joe’s” and “The Trader Joe’s Companion,” I can say I’ve had the pleasure (nay, duty!) of trying as much as I can. (And in case you were wondering, my co-author and I are independent authors, so our fanatic ravings of Trader Joe’s are with an objective eye!) Trader Joe’s chocolates are generally on the upscale side, usually private label, with high quality and all natural ingredients. This is not to say that they’re pricey – in fact the Classic Bar is a mere 69 cents! In addition to their house brand chocolates, Trader Joe’s carries names such as Scharffen Berger and Valrhona.

Valrhona is not only one of the smoothest and richest chocolates around, it’s also one of the best melting chocolates, making it a noted choice in smooth chocolate recipes such as mousses and puddings. It’s also a free trade chocolate, something we like. We use it here in our simple chocolate mousse recipe, and Valrhona is smooth and never grainy. The mousse is not too sweet and has few ingredients, so the chocolate is really the star. Despite the rich creaminess, there is no heavy cream – the mousse is primarily made with light coconut milk. For a dairy-free version, omit mascarpone cheese.

South Seas Chocolate Mousse

Mousse:
7 oz dark bittersweet chocolate such as 2 bars of Valrhona 71% Cacao
1 (14-oz) can Light Coconut Milk
4 oz Mascarpone Cheese (1/2 container)
2 Tbsp Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum (regular rum is too harsh and not as sweet)

Topping:
2 cups fresh mango, chilled or frozen Mango Chunks, thawed

1. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or use the microwave. Microwave method to melt chocolate: Break up chocolate bars into squares (8 squares for each bar) and place in a small glass bowl. Microwave for 1 minute and stir. Microwave with 30-second increments, stirring in between until fully melted and waiting a minute to let the heat of the bowl dissipate. Melting 2 chocolate bars should take about a total of 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn the chocolate.
2. Add coconut milk, mascarpone cheese and rum to your blender. Pour melted chocolate into the blender and blend right away for about 30 seconds. Pour or spoon mousse into individual cups and place in the fridge for at least one hour. If you will be leaving them in the fridge longer than a couple of hours or making it the day before, cover mousse cups with plastic wrap.
3. Top each mousse cup generously with mango chunks right before serving (about ¼ cup per serving)

Prep time: 5-10 minutes. Make at least 2 hours ahead of time.
Makes 8 mousse cups (1/2 cup each)

(Excerpt from Cooking with All Things Trader Joe's by Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati and reprinted with permission from the authors).

This next recipe is a simple 3-ingredient chocolate fudge with the secret ingredient of instant coffee! In chocolate desserts, a hint of coffee enhances and intensifies the taste of chocolate. Soon after I developed this recipe, my co-author Wona made it for her husband’s office party. It was a farewell party for a co-worker who was a chocolate fanatic and connoisseur, and everyone was to bring a chocolate dessert, of which one would be selected as the winning dessert. People spent days preparing complex treats and delightful creations. Wona was shocked when the fudge she had brought was the winner! I soon received a panicked phone call: “Deana, the fudge won and now everyone wants the recipe. After all those fancy desserts, I’m too embarrassed to tell them it’s just THREE ingredients!” We had a good laugh. I hope you’ll enjoy this fudge. Trader Joe’s carries sweetened condensed milk only during the holiday months, but it’s a generic ingredient that you should be able to find it at any grocer.

Chocolate Coffee Fudge

1 (12-oz) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14-oz) can Organic Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 Tbsp instant coffee (or espresso powder)
1/2 Tbsp water

1.) Heat the condensed milk in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
2.) Dissolve the instant coffee in the water (it will be thick) and stir into the condensed milk.
3.) Add the chocolate chips, lower the heat, and stir just until melted and smooth (don't scorch it!).
4.) Pour into a very lightly oiled 8x8-inch pan. Chill in fridge until set (about 2 hours).

Thanks so much!

Monday, June 14, 2010

National Strawberry Shortcake: Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

Today is National Strawberry Shortcake Day, and I have a simple recipe for Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake that utilizes a chocolate biscuit, fresh strawberries and whipped cream. How easy is that.

I like all kinds of Strawberry Shortcake--made with lady fingers, with biscuits, with cake... doesn't matter to me. Now, if you really want to get more adventurous, you've got to try Annmarie Kostyk's recipe for Double Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake. OMG!!! Can't wait to make that one!

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

This recipe for Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake is originally from Stephanie Gallagher's recipe on About.com.  It's part of the KidsCooking series, so you know it's easy! This is quick and simple, and you could use the same recipe with cherries or almost any summer fruit, but today being National Strawberry Shortcake Day, use strawberries. I love this recipe because I love biscuits...and chocolate biscuits...well, how can you go wrong?

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
4 Tbsp. cold sweet butter, cut into chunks
1 large egg
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup granulated sugar (original recipe calls for powdered, but I like granulated sugar)
whipped cream

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, 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. (this is a great tip for making biscuits)!
8. Bake 12-15 minutes. Let cool.
9. Meanwhile, stir together strawberries and sugar.
10. To make Strawberry Shortcakes, place chocolate biscuit, flat side up on a plate. Top with strawberries and whipped cream--or cut the biscuit in half and put strawberries and whipped cream on bottom half and add the top!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dark Chocolate Cherry Muffins

I found this recipe on Sassy Radish a few years ago. Be sure and visit Sassy Radish for some exceptional photos and hints. This recipe was originally from Gourmet Magazine, January 2005.

I adapted this Chocolate Cherry Muffin recipe to take advantage of fresh cherries, but it's terrific with dried cherries, too. Dried cherries and blueberries are a staple in my pantry. Very versatile and good in so many different recipes. 

Dark Chocolate Cherry Muffins

Ingredients:
6 tablespoons sweet butter
5 ounces Madecasse 70% Dark Chocolate (because I just got some at the Madecasse party the other night)
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt  (I usually use 'a pinch' but these muffins need the 1/2 tsp)
1 cup sweet cherries pitted and chopped (not too fine) or 1 cup dried sour cherries (4 ounces)

Preparation:
1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Be sure and do this ahead of time, so you won't be like me trying to move a hot rack with the dog in the way.
2. Melt butter and half of chocolate in milk in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until just melted. Remove from heat. Cool 15 minutes. Add eggs and whisk until smooth.
3. Whisk together flour, cocoa, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl until  combined. Add chocolate mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in remaining chopped chocolate and chopped cherries.
4. Now here it gets tricky. The original recipe said to divide among 12 greased (1/2-cup) muffin cups. I have different sized muffin pans, so just make sure your batter is about 1/2 full in each cup. Bake until toothpick comes out clean, 14 to 18 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 5 to 10 minutes.

Photo: Sassy Radish

Saturday, June 12, 2010

National Peanut Butter Cookie Day: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

Today is National Peanut Butter Cookie Day.

Rather than posting a new recipe, I thought I'd refer back to the great and easy and delicious recipe I posted on May 15 for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate--a great combination!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Madecasse Chocolate Launch: Great Company, Great Chocolate & a Chocolate Mousse Recipe

The amazing owners and creators of Madecasse Chocolate were at Hub SOMA in San Francisco last night to 'launch' their chocolates. I've been eating their great chocolate for some time now, but it's always good to gather chocoholics and chocophiles together for an evening of great chocolate.

The history of their chocolate is worth telling. Tim McCollum &Brett Beach were inspired by their Peace Corps experiences in Madagascar. Besides producing fabulous chocolate, Madecasse helps rural cocoa farmers access the equipment and training they need to get more value from their crops. If you know anything about chocolate growing and harvesting in African countries, you know there are often child labor problems, as well as poorly paid worker and growers. Madecasse Chocolate is actually made in Madagascar, making it one of the only chocolates made in all of Africa. This creates four times more income for the people there than Fair Trade.

The Madecasse Principles
1 Good food starts with good ingredients.
2 Partner with the people of Madagascar to share skills, ownership and profits.
3 Farming and creating finished products, together, make a sustainable economy.

Madécasse is “tree to bean to bar” in Madagascar. Everything is done at the source, from harvesting and curing the cocoa in the Sambirano valley, to crafting their finished chocolate bars in the highlands of Madagascar.

Last night we tasted lots of chocolate starting with the 63% Dark which was very smooth... well all their chocolate was pretty smooth. I tried the Sea Salt and Nibs which was excellent, too. Actually I tried everything. I think it was a tie for me betweet the 75% and 80% dark chocolate. I like my chocolate, like my tea, strong.

I often give recipes on his blog that call for real vanilla. Madecasse produces and sells pure Vanilla Powder, Vanilla Extract, Vanilla Cane Sugar (yum!), and Bourbon Vanilla Beans. Definitely worth ordering directly from Madecasse.


Sarah, Brett Beach's wife, made Chocolate Mousse for all those in attendance last night. Of course, I needed the recipe, and she was very forthcoming. It's so simple!

Chocolate Mousse 

Melt 1 bar of Madecasse Dark Chocolate over a pan of simmering water --or in a double boiler. While the chocolate is melting, whip the whites of two eggs until you have peaks. Fold the chocolate into the whites, blending. That's your mousse! Easy and delicious. To really have a taste sensation, mix 1/2 of one bar with 1/2 of another! Sarah made enough Chocolate Mousse for 100, and she ended up using a pastry bag to fill the containers without a lot of fuss. Good idea. Thanks, Sarah!

Frank Price, a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Cote d'Ivoire, does the Chocolate Tastings for TeamBuilding Unlimited. He uses at least one Madecasse chocolate at each tasting.

Enjoy this Video of Madecasse!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Napa Luxury Chocolate Salon Awards

I went to Napa last Sunday, June 6,  for the Napa Luxury Chocolate Salon. What a chocolate treat! What I particularly liked about this Chocolate Salon was the intimacy. There were about 30+ chocolatiers and confectioners, a few wineries and a few other specialty purveyors. This smaller number of exhibitors really allowed me time to talk with people about their chocolate. I tasted lots of new chocolate and chocolate products. Just a few notes I jotted down. Here's a link to the Award Winners.

I use Guittard in baking a lot, so it was wonderful to be able to taste so many different chocolate with different amounts of cacao. The 72% Queztacoatl (sp?) has no cocoa butter. It was delicious. My favorite was the 70% 9 bean blend. Very complex.  I even liked the 91%. Not bitter at all. Guittard makes such a good consistent product.

At Gateau et Ganache I tried La Rose a bittersweet chocolate ganache truffle infused with rose black ta and rose essence. It really smelled and tasted of roses. My favorite though was their Le Coco Coconut. Reminded me of coconut patties my grandmother used to bring back from Florida...but this was elevated into a wonderful truffle with coconut inside and sprinkled on top.

Saratoga Chocolates, one of my favorite companies, there was a lot to taste. Their Blueberry-Tinis were sensational. They're composed of dried blueberries rehydrated in Vodka, dried and then rolled in dark chocolate. Heaven! All their truffles were great, as expected. I loved their big Chocolate Saratoga Chocolates sign, too.

The Sterling Truffle Bars are so beautiful. They're like modern paintings. Love cutting into them. The chocolate reminds me of cookie dough, but it's delightfully rich--and it's chocolate! There's something about cutting off a slice from a log of beautifully colored chocolate!

Socola had a very rich jasmine tea truffle. I think that was my favorite this time, but I love all their truffles. The Vietnamese espresso truffle was outstanding, too.

Had a long talk at the Snake and Butterfly table. Located locally in Campbell, CA, they produce an organic Bean to Bar. Their countries of origin are Ghana and Madagascar, Papua New Guinea and Venezuela at least that's what I discussed. I tasted the bacon caramel truffle which was smooth, rich and absolutely fabulous. It's made with agave not corn syrup. Yum. Their green curry paste truffle (Thai Truffle) was delicious.

I tried an amazing Black Lager sea salt truffle from Vice Chocolates, another local chocolate company. I love their anise and fig chocolate bar. All their truffles were great, and don't even get me started on their Salty Dog!

Clarine from Clarine's Florentines was there. What a pleasure to meet her. She really loves her brittles.  You might remember, Clarine's Florentines was one of my favorite brittles from the San Francisco International Chocolate Salon. The brittle is made by hand in small batches using thinly sliced natural almonds that are mixed with butter, sugar, honey and cream and then baked until bubbly into a golden brown brittle. The final step to creating "heaven in your mouth" is to give Clarine’s Florentines a coating of Guittard bittersweet chocolate. They're gluten free. Absolutely yummy. This is now a staple at my house.

Jade Chocolate's Dragon's Breath was terrific. It's made with 65% bittersweet chocolate, roasted sesame seeds, lapang souchong, and a little bit of red chile pepper.  I also like the edamame and chocolate.

Au Coeur des Chocolats was making Smores with hazelnut Cookies and their dark chocolate. You can never have enough variety in your smores-and everyone loves a blowtorch! Their chocolates were great, too.

For a change of pace, although there was a brownie mix available, Little Sky Lavender had some wonderful lavender cookies--made from their mix. The ones I tried were made with olive oil rather than butter, and they were like eating a piece of heaven. You really taste the lavender.

This is far from a complete report on my Napa Luxury Salon experience, and I will have more to say in the future. By the way, there will be a San Francisco Luxury Salon in November. Limited tickets and limited vendors. Stay tuned for more information.

Best in Salon went to Vice Chocolates and Au Coeur des Chocolats, but there were winners in lots of categories from Best Truffle to  Best Dark Chocolate and all the rest, go HERE.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

National German Chocolate Cake Day: Make it a Bundt Cake this Year

June 11 is National German Chocolate Cake Day. Last year I posted the history of German Chocolate Cake which isn't really German at all. German Chocolate Cake is an American creation that contains the key ingredients of sweet baking chocolate, coconut, and pecans. Read the history along with the 'original' recipe in last year's post HERE.

That recipe is great and not difficult at all, but if you want to be really quick, here's a really simple recipe that uses a box mix. I make it with Duncan Hines German Chocolate Cake Mix, but you can use any brand. This is a bundt cake, and I always think bundt cakes look great. You can always sprinkle powdered sugar on this cake or do a thin chocolate glaze to dress it up, but it has everything going for it as is so no real need.

GERMAN CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE

1 cup chopped (fine) pecans
1 cup grated coconut
1 German Chocolate Cake Mix (Duncan Hines)
1 - 1/4 Cups water
1/3  Cup vegetable oil
3 Large eggs
1 (15 oz) Can Coconut Pecan Frosting ( Duncan Hines)

Mix the cake mix, water, oil and eggs at low speed until moistened.
Beat at medium speed for two minutes.
Fold in Coconut Pecan frosting until thoroughly combined.
Place grated coconut and chopped pecans on bottom of bundt pan.
Pour batter over top.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for about 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes.
Remove from pan.
Cool completely and either leave plain or sprinkle with some powdered sugar or do a thin chocolate glaze.

Fabulous!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

National Chocolate Ice Cream Day: Chocolate Ice Cream Cake

June 7 is National Chocolate Ice Cream Day and what could be better than  Chocolate Ice Cream Cake? You can always buy one at Baskins & Robbins or another ice cream shop, but here's a simple and very different recipe for "Chocolate Ice Cream Cake (but not what you think)" posted by Aleta Meadowlark at Omnomicon. Aleta collects cookbooks, specifically by New England civic organizations between 1950 and 1980 for fundraising purposes. That's quite a niche. The following recipe comes from one of those cookbooks, Potpourri from Calvary (Calvary Baptist Church in Easthampton). 

I first made this cake when I saw Aleta's recipe last year. OMG! You're going to love this. This could become your favorite birthday cake! 

The secret ingredient in this cake is Chocolate Ice Cream. This is a simple recipe with stunning and tasty results. It's unbelievably moist--well, it has chocolate ice-cream in it! And, there are all kinds of possible variations--different ice cream, different cake mixes. I usually use Duncan Heinz Devil's Food Cake mix. I don't ice this cake because I think it's already so rich.

You can also add dark chocolate chunks to this cake. Just fold  the chocolate chunks into the batter after it's beaten.

Be sure and soften the Chocolate Ice Cream. You can do this by scooping it into a bowl and letting it sit for about 10 minutes. Your mixer will do the rest of the work.

I've adapted the recipe a bit by adding the chocolate chunks and always using a great dark chocolate ice-cream. You can, of course, make your own cake batter with cocoa and flour and sugar, etc, but this is sooo simple.

Chocolate Ice Cream Cake (but not like you think)

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 pint good quality dark chocolate ice cream, softened
3 eggs
1 cup water
1/2 cup broken dark chocolate chunks (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a tube or bundt pan, then dust with cocoa powder.

Beat all ingredients together for 4 minutes.
Fold in dark chocolate chunks,  pour into pan and bake 45 minutes.
Serve with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar.

Photos: Aleta at Omnomicon Be sure and click to see the other photos

Friday, June 4, 2010

Chocolate Cookies in a Jar

I've posted several different "chocolate in a jar" recipes such as Fabulous Chocolate Brownies in a Jar. This is not to be confused with cakes that are baked in jars. That's a whole other thing. But I think pies, brownies, cakes and cookies in a Jar are fabulous for gifts.

As I mentioned last time, I usually make a label with the instructions on the jar itself. It's easy to design and very personal. I attach the label with a gluestick. Be careful not to use too much. Just a few dabs in the corners of the label.

So here's an easy recipe for Chocolate Cookies in a Jar. Be sure and pack the ingredients very tightly.. and fill to the top even if it means adding more chocolate pieces. After you've packed the jar, print the instructions on a label. I usually put a circle of burlap over the top and then tie some raffia in a bow.

For a variation, you can add broken white chocolate or white chocolate chips in place of the chocolate chunks (broken chocolate) or chocolate chips.

Chocolate Cookies in a Jar

1- 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1 - 1/4 cup sugar
Layer of broken up dark chocolate (or chocolate chips) 1/2 cup? 3/4 cup? whatever will fit
Chopped Walnuts

Layering: Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside. In a clean Mason quart jar, pour 1/2 of the sugar. Be sure and pack tightly, and do that with each layer. Next mix the rest for the sugar with 1/4 cup of the cocoa. Add to jar. Pack down. Pour in half of the flour mixture. Pack down again. Mix the rest of cocoa with the rest of the flour mixture and pour into jar. Pack down. Add chocolate chunks or chips to the top. I love chocolate cookies with walnuts, and the recipient of this gift might, too. So put the chopped walnuts in a small see-through bag and tie to the jar.

For the Label:

Chocolate Cookies in a Jar

1 lb butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp Vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.
Whip together the butter, eggs and vanilla.
Blend jar ingredients in a separate bowl and then add into the dough.

Stir until completely blended.
Shape into 1" balls and drop 2" apart on baking sheet.
Bake for 8-10 minutes.
Cool on Rack.

Photo.. which is fabulous is from Wikipedia Commons: File: Semi-sweet chocolate chips

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Napa Luxury Chocolate Salon: June 6

Mark your calendar for this Sunday, June 6, for the Napa Luxury Chocolate Salon. Brought to you by the same fabulous folks who brought you many other International Chocolate Salons (SF, LA, Seattle), Chocolate Television & Taste TV, this intimate Luxury Salon will be fabulous. There will be chocolate, confection & wine!  My favorite food groups.

I'm really lucky. I'll be a Judge at the Salon, and you know you can never taste enough chocolate! Salon highlights include chocolate tasting, chef/ author talks, wine tasting and ongoing interviews by TasteTV's Chocolate Television program. (Salon Entry includes all chocolate confection tastings, demos, etc.)

Location:  
Yountville Community Center/Community Hall, 6516 Washington Street, Yountville, CA
11 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Ticket Information: "All Tastings included with Entry"
Adults: $20 (Door), $17.95 (Advance, available through June 4th)
Children under 6: Free*
Children, 6 to 12: $10
*Applies to 2 children per adult. Each additional child under 6: $10

Participants: Just a sampling, but there will be Exhibitors, Partners and Sponsors including:
The TeaRoom, Saratoga Chocolates, Guittard Chocolate Company, Clarine's Florentines, Tcho, CJ's Bitz, Amano, Socola, Vice chocolates, Landru chocolates and more!

See you there!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

National Rocky Road Day: Rocky Road Bread Pudding

Today is National Rocky Road Day and what could be more fun for such a "road' holiday than Rocky Road Bread Pudding? This recipe is adapted from Chef Mario Batali's Mario Tailgates NASCAR Style: The Essential Cookbook for NASCAR fans. Like most recipes I post, this one is very forgiving. Be sure and check out Mario's cookbook for more easy tailgating recipes. This Rocky Road Bread Pudding can be made ahead and heated up on your tailgate grill.

Rocky Road Bread Pudding

Butter or oil for skillet
3 cups whole milk
6 ounces  65-75% dark chocolate (organic fair-trade)
1/4 cup sweet butter
1/2 cup sugar
dash of salt
8 slices brioche (any white bread will work), cut into roughly 1-inch pieces
3 large eggs
6 ounces chocolate chips or dark chocolate, broken up
4 ounces pecans, coarsely chopped (original recipe called for walnuts, but you can also use pecans)
1 cup mini marshmallows (natural if you can get them)
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup bourbon  (you can also use brandy).. and this is optional, of course.


Preheat  oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch skillet, preferably cast iron. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the milk, chocolate, butter, sugar and salt. Heat, stirring continuously, until the butter and chocolate are just melted.

Put the pieces of bread in the skillet and pour on the milk mixture, making sure all the bread is covered. Let rest for five minutes. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and then stir them into the bread mixture to combine well.

Put the skillet in a large roasting pan and place on the center rack of the oven, then pour hot water into the roasting pan within 1 inch of the top of the skillet. Carefully slide in the rack and bake for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the broken chocolate (or chocolate chips) walnuts, marshmallows and raisins. Add the bourbon,  and toss together. After the pudding has baked 40 minutes, spread the chocolate mixture evenly over the top.

Continue baking until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pudding comes out clean or with a few specks attached, 10 minutes to 15 minutes more. Pudding should still be a bit wobbly. Serve warm, if possible, or cover the skillet in foil and store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cherry Chocolate Crumble

I still have fresh cherries, so I thought I'd make a Crumble. I was going to use my regular crumble topping, but I read Local Lemons blog on Peach Cobbler yesterday, and I thought maybe substituting walnuts for the almonds in her crumble topping recipe would go perfectly with cherries and chocolate! If you don't subscribe to Local Lemons, you should. The recipes are fabulous, and she's about to start a restaurant in Oakland where if you're local, you'll be able to enjoy the 'fruits' of her labor, rather than yours.

So here's an easy Chocolate Cherry Crumble recipe. Of course, there are so many different "crumble"toppings you can use. You might want to try topping this Chocolate Cherry Crumble with the almond topping on Local Lemons blog (same as below but substitute almonds for walnuts) or use a plain crumble topping (see recipe below). This dessert is very forgiving, so play with the ingredients.

Chocolate Cherry Crumble

Topping:
1 cup walnut halves, chopped
7 tablespoons unsalted, cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour

Fruit:
About 25 or so fresh cherries, pitted and sliced in half
2 tbsp local honey
Zest of 1 orange
1 -1 /2 to 2 oz. 65%-75% dark chocolate (bittersweet chocolate), broken into chunks

Preheat oven to 350
Mix cherries, honey, chocolate and orange zest in mixing bowl.
Distribute cherry/chocolate mixture on the bottom of 8 in. pie pan (lightly buttered)

Make Topping: Combine 1 cup flour and sugar. Add the pieces of butter and chopped nuts. With your hands, mash up butter and combine into a loose dough. Break into small pieces and sprinkle mixture evenly over the top of cherry/chocolate mixture. You don't have to use all of the topping.

Bake 20-25 minutes. Crumble should be golden brown, but not burnt. Serve warm.

Regular Crumble Topping (delicious)
1 cup flour
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
8 ounces sweet butter
1 tbsp cinnamon
Combine  flour, sugar, butter and cinnamon until blended and beginning to gather into small balls. Break into small pieces and sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the cherry/chocolate mixture.