Monday, October 31, 2011

Pets and Halloween Treats

Topper has his own Treats for Tricks
Here's an important post on Pets and Halloween Candy. It's a Q &A between Neenda Pellegrini and Dr. Sheppard Thorpe, an emergency veterinarian at Puget Sound Veterinary Referral Center in Tacoma about Halloween and Pets that appeared in the Seattle TimesDark chocolate is always dangerous to pets, and candy in various forms is, too. Read the entire article HERE.

Question: This is that scary time of year again, full of ghosts, witches, pumpkins -- and sugary bags of trick-or-treat candy. A fun time for kids and adults can be a disastrous time for pets who share those bags of treats, landing them at the vet's office or emergency clinic. What kind of health emergencies do see most often during the Halloween holiday?

Answer: Around the trick-or-treating time, we see many dogs that eat chocolate and other Halloween candy.

Pet ingestion of Halloween treats can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, pancreatitis, heart arrhythmias, seizures, liver disease, kidney disease, gastrointestinal obstruction and even death.

Dangerous or even fatal chocolate toxicity is rare because knowledgeable owners usually get their chocolate-eating pets into the clinic within a few hours of ingestion. Once the pet arrives, we do what is called "decontamination" -- vomiting is induced and then activated charcoal is administered.

We also see pets with general vomiting and diarrhea from gastrointestinal upset after they've eaten candy, wrappers and holiday decorations. This can be very serious if the pet develops pancreatitis or if the pet becomes very dehydrated.

A quick and timely response makes the treatment much easier on your pet and your wallet.

Question: Why is chocolate dangerous? Is some chocolate -- dark or bittersweet chocolate -- worse than others, such as milk or white chocolate?

Answer: Chocolate contains an active ingredient called theobromine, which is toxic to pets. Theobromine is a stimulant that pets are more sensitive to than people and can cause hyperactivity, elevated heart rate, twitching and tremoring, vomiting and diarrhea and, worst of all, seizures.

Dark chocolate is more potent, having a higher concentration of theobromine, and, therefore, is more toxic. All chocolate (cakes or brownies, milk chocolate, white chocolate, chocolate syrup, cocoa powder) is considered "rich." Although not as serious as theobromine toxicity, foods with high sugar and fat contents can cause serious stomach and bowel problems. Decontamination and quick treatment is key.

Question: What harm can one little candy bar do?

Answer: It depends on the size of your pet, the presence of any underlying conditions and the amount of chocolate your pet has ingested.

A Hershey's Kiss is safe for a 70-pound Labrador retriever to eat but harmful to a 3-pound Chihuahua.

Another problem with "just one little treat" is that dogs can develop a liking to chocolate and soon may be climbing on the table to help themselves to that whole bowl of Halloween candy.

The power of the dog nose can also help them find that wrapped box of chocolates under the Christmas tree or hidden away for Valentine's Day. I know one Beagle who learned to open the pantry, and he loved to eat the brownie mix.

Question: What should I do if my pet accidentally eats chocolate? What symptoms should I watch for?

Answer: Call your regular veterinarian or local emergency/referral veterinary hospital for recommendations.

It helps to have the candy wrapper with the list of ingredients and percentage of cacao or cocoa in the product.

Monitor your pet for hyperactivity, elevated heart rate, vomiting/diarrhea, tremors, twitches and seizures although preventive treatment long before any of these symptoms is the best approach.

If you have access to the Internet, check out www.veterinarypartner.com and look up chocolate toxicity. The website has an excellent chart comparing the number of ounces of chocolate a pet would need to ingest for toxicity.

Consider calling the National Animal Poison Control Center (1-800-548-2423; $65/call) or the Pet Poison Helpline (1-800-213-6680; $50/call) to speak directly with a veterinary poison specialist.

READ MORE HERE.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Chocolate Candy Corn Cocktails: National Candy Corn Day

Nothing says Halloween like candy corn!  Shaped like real pieces of corn, candy corn is as fun as it is tasty.  In addition to the original candy corn or yellow, orange and white, there are different varieties, including Indian candy corn which is brown where the original candy corn is yellow, adding a hint of chocolate  (it's only a hint and a bit waxy, and it's not real chocolate, but I don't care at Halloween).

The National Confectioners Association estimates that 20 million pounds (9,000 tons) of candy corn are sold annually. The top branded retailer of candy corn, Brach's, sells enough candy corn each year to circle the earth 4.25 times if the kernels were laid end to end. Too much information? 

For more history on Candy Corn, go to last year's post (also a recipe for Chocolate Candy Corn Truffles.

So today, why not Drink Your Candy Corn? Following are three very different cocktail recipes for Chocolate Candy Corn Cocktails.

Chocolate Candy Corn Cocktail
From Camarena Tequila:

1 oz Familia Camarena Reposado Tequila
1/2 oz butterscotch schnapps
1/2 oz Crème de Cacao
2 oz fresh orange juice
1 tsp dark cocoa
4 pieces candy corn

Rim martini glass with orange juice then cocoa powder
In a shaker, add tequila, butterscotch schnapps, crème de cocoa and orange juice
Add ice and shake well
Strain into prepared martini glass
Garnish with toothpick of candy corn


The Chocolate Candy Corn Cocktail
From the Hawthorne Hotel, Salem, MA

Chocolate liqueur
Cinnamon schnapps
Bailey's Irish Cream
Shake and pour over ice
Photo: Hawthorne Hotel


White Chocolate Candy Corn Martini
from A Little Bite of Life Blog

Candy Corn Vodka Mix
1/4 cup M & M's White Chocolate Candy Corn candies
1 cup Vanilla Vodka

For individual cocktail:
3 oz. Candy Corn Vodka Mix
1/2 Jigger (1 oz) Banana Schnapps
2 Jiggers (4 oz) Butterscotch Schnapps
About 4 oz. Crushed Ice
About 1 Tbsp Whipping Cream

Place the M & M's and Vodka in a small mason jar. Cover and shake well, and then let sit overnight.
To make the cocktail, strain 3 oz. of the vodka mix into a cocktail shaker. (You need to strain out any remaining pieces of M & M).
Add the banana and butternut schnapps. Add the crushed ice and shake well, using another cocktail shaker to shake.
Strain into a martini glass, and carefully float the cream on the top.
Photo: A LittleBiteofLife

 Celebrate Candy Corn Day!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pumpkin S'mores for Halloween

Summer may be over, but it's never over for S'mores. Just a small adaptation, and you'll have fabulous Fall Pumpkin S'mores. Toast special Pumpkin Spice Mallows for Pumpkin S'mores around the Halloween Bonfire!

Easy Pumpkin S'mores

Ingredients
Hershey's Chocolate Bars (or Dark Chocolate Bars or Pieces)
Pumpkin Spice Mallows
Graham Crackers

Directions
Toast Pumpkin Spice Mallows
Place Toasted Pumpkin Spice Mallows & Chocolate between two Graham Crackers
Microwave for 2 seconds or wrap in foil and place on grill for 2-3 minutes

Halloween Chocolate: Teuscher Beverly Hills

Guest Post from Teuscher Chocolates Beverly Hills: 

Teuscher Chocolates is truly an all Swiss import-business.We fly our finished product confections in each week from our kitchens in Switzerland. Our boxes are completely made in our workshop in Zurich.  Our eighty year old family recipes are all natural using the finest ingredients. Our Champagne Truffle is our house specialty. The teuscher champagne truffle was the first of its kind in the world, dreamed up almost 70 years ago by Mr. Dolf Teuscher, Sr. It was featured on Oprah as one of her favorite things, and remains a favorite amongst celebrities and locals alike.

For Halloween:
It’s that time of year! Autumn is in the air and the holiday season is just around the corner. This year make it a sweet one with the gift of Teuscher Chocolates. Fresh as a crisp fall day, and imported directly from Switzerland, our award winning confections are a perennial Halloween favorite. From whimsical witches to friendly ghosts, our festive handcrafted boxes are ready to be filled with your choice of teuscher treats! Choose from our classic truffles and pralines or a variety of limited specialty chocolates just in for the season. Here at Teuscher Beverly Hills, Halloween is no tricks, all treats!

Friday, October 28, 2011

National Chocolate Day: Part II

In honor of National Chocolate Day, I thought I'd post this wonderful Vintage Chocolate Advertisement. Celebrate! Be sure and scroll back on the Blog for yummy chocolate recipes, reviews and news!

National Chocolate Day

Today is National Chocolate Day! Every day is Chocolate Day on DyingforChocolate.com

Chocolate is the world’s number one flavor. Chocolate as a food has a history going back  3,000 years. While its origins can be traced to Mexico, Central and South America, it has fans all around the world.

The process used to turn cacao into an edible delectable has several components. The first part including the harvest, drying and fermentation has remained more or less the same. The rest of the process has been modified through conching, blending and tempering to create a seemingly endless variety of chocolate that is used for truffles, cakes, ice cream, cookies, bars and much more. Chocolate has found its way into fashion and cosmetics. And yet in some places in the world it can still be used as a form of money, as it was in the past.

Whether on its own or blended as a subtle flavor,  Chocolate is used in countless food and drink worldwide. The demand for chocolate has reached a point where nutritional evidence is proffered to show that chocolate is needed by many and not just as a fleeting fancy of one’s taste buds.

Long ago, in Central America, chocolate was viewed as an aphrodisiac and the legend has grown. Special “holidays” such as Valentine’s Day, have been used to promote giving and sharing chocolate as a sign of love. Many countries have their own chocolate celebrations. In the country of Ghana, for instance, which is a major producer and exporter of chocolate, the government decreed that February 14 would henceforth become National Chocolate Day. The thinking behind this was that the associated Valentine’s Day celebrations were corrupting the youth of the country and that a focus on chocolate for that day would reduce the “wanton immorality” on the part of young people on that day. Personally, I’m not so sure that was a good idea. After all, chocolate has been considered an aphrodisiac for centuries. The Ghanaian government may have more to deal with than they bargained for.

If you've been reading this blog--or the news-- you know that chocolate comes with a surprising array of health benefits, various studies have shown that the chemicals in chocolate can boost your mood, lower your blood pressure and improve your cardiovascular health. The latest study says it may be able to prevent or slow Alzheimer's, but that's still in the study phase. Technically, chocolate is a vegetable, it comes from the cacao tree found in Central America and Western Africa. Of course, we all know how important it is to eat our vegetables, right?

Despite all this, Chocolate does have its detractors (clearly these people are no fun at all). The two main criticisms are that it contributes to obesity and to the development of acne. The fact of the matter is that any food eaten in excess will cause obesity, not just chocolate. It’s a matter of maintaining moderation; everything in your diet has its place, including chocolate. Chocolate has been shown to improve skin clarity, and there are several chocolate scrubs and creams. Many spas have specific chocolate treatments.

Personally, I think the most important benefit of chocolate is that it tastes good. Don’t we all deserve to enjoy a break once in a while with the world’s greatest taste? Even if chocolate were completely unhealthy, I’d argue the taste and psychological benefits would make it all worthwhile.

So remember, on October 28, feel free to celebrate National Chocolate Day without guilt and in whatever manner you see fit: Chocolate mousse, chocolate sauce, dark chocolate, white chocolate, the possibilities are endless!

Need a recipe? Skim back over the past 1066 (Yikes!) posts and make something chocolate today. No time? Buy a Truffle or Chocolate Croissant or grab a Chocolate Bar!  Happy Chocolate Day!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bewitching Perfectly Poisonous Parfaits for Halloween

One of my favorite sites for Party Planning.. and other reasons.. is Frog Prince Paperie. If you haven't visited this site, you're in for a treat. Paula's mission at Frog Prince Paperie is "to bring inspiration for spectacular parties, DIY party projects and interesting party finds." Oh yes.

Here's a special Halloween post for Bewitching Perfectly Poisonous Parfaits (reprinted with permission). Be sure and visit HERE for some fabulous Halloween party ideas. Her Frog Prince Paperie etsy store can be found HERE.  Happy Halloween!

BEWITCHING PERFECTLY POISONOUS PARFAITS

Ingredients
Vanilla Pudding
Non-pareils (in orange)
Crushed up Oreos
Tall shot glasses

Vanilla pudding can be made from scratch (time consuming) or  you buy the premade little snack pack cups (easy and no clean-up)

Drop a few tiny spoonfuls of pudding into the glass. Drop in some orange non-pareils. More pudding, then some crushed up oreo–then repeat till your glass is full! For those keeping track, she used 2 pudding snack packs to make three parfaits in these shot glasses.

That fun veined look comes from the non-pareils soaking into the pudding, so make them a bit ahead of time…that is, at least an hour! Put in a demitasse spoon and you’ll be ready to serve these perfectly poisonous little parfaits to your unsuspecting guests.

Want to make the Witch Hat Toppers? Here's a link to the Tutorial.

Photos: Frogprincepaperie.com

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chocolate & Pumpkin Recipe Round-up: National Pumpkin Day

I've posted many Pumpkin and Chocolate recipes, but since today is National Pumpkin Day, I thought I'd do a round-up. So many wonderful recipes out there.

Have any other favorites? Be sure to add a link.

Cleo Coyle's Chocolate Fudge Pumpkin Cookies 

Double Layer Chocolate Pumpkin Mousse Pie

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Chocolate Pumpkin Bark

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake

Easy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
  
Pattie Tierney's Pumpkin Pie Cocoa  

Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Pumpkin Cocktails

 ****
And a few other Chocolate and Pumpkin Recipes from terrific food blogs: 


Full Moon Pumpkin Cheesecake from Months of Edible Celebrations! (photo)

Pumpkin Chocolate Spiderweb Tart from Handle the Heat.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Waffles from Pimp My Menu

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Biscotti from Home Beccanomics.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies  from Two Peas and a Pod.

Any other Pumpkin Chocolate recipes you love? Leave a comment.

Photo #1: Cleo Coyle
Photo #2: Months of Edible Celebrations

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Cocoa: Pattie Tierney

My friend Pattie Tierney has several fabulous websites that encompass my own passions: Food and Mystery. I've asked her to guest blog before, and she's always posted something wonderful. So, this past month I saw her recipe and post for Pumpkin Pie Cocoa, and I knew readers of dyingforchocolate.com would love this. So here's a repost of this fun and easy delicious recipe. Perfect for the Fall and Halloween. Thanks, Pattie!

Pattie Tierney is a blogger, reader, traveler, diner, jewelry-maker, and lover of all things chocolate and mysterious. Visit Pattie's Etsy store for really cool and crafty mystery jewelry, and check out her mouth-watering blog: Olla-Podrida. Follow her on Twitter @pattietierney

PATTIE TIERNEY: PUMPKIN PIE COCOA

I spent a good bit of time the past couple of days "whipping up" (and yes, I did use the term facetiously here) the meal we enjoyed for dinner tonight, and that graces the cover of the October 2011 issue of Bon Appetit. It is a good one (stay tuned later in the week for the results and step-by-step tutorial), but it took up so much time that I thought I deserved a break.

So I decided to enjoy the beautiful day, put my feet up, and peruse the latest issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray (I do seem to have a one-track mind, don't I?). Craving something pumpkin (as I tend to do this time of the year), this recipe leapt off the page at me, and sent me right back into the kitchen. Pumpkin and chocolate (for those of you know don't know) is an excellent combination. It was nearly a year ago when I first acquainted you with this combo in the recipe for Harvest Pumpkin Loaf. Now here I am again acquainting you with yet another and, people, this one is DECADENT! I groaned when I took my first sip, that's how good it is. Since I only wanted to make one cup I cut the recipe in half. I used Williams-Sonoma's Sweet Ground Chocolate instead of hot cocoa mix (pricey but well worth it), and added a pinch of pumpkin pie spice to the whipped cream.

Try it. Go ahead. I'm sure you deserve it.

Pumpkin Pie Cocoa

2 1/4 cups low-fat milk
1/2 cup hot cocoa mix
3 tbsp. canned pure pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup whipped cream

In a saucepan, whisk milk, cocoa mix, pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice; heat until steaming. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream.

Originally posted at Olla-Podrida. Reprinted with permission.
Photo: Pattie Tierney

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chocolate Pumpkin Cocktails

I didn't realize that there are so many pumpkin liqueurs on the market at this time of year.  Check out DrinkoftheWeek.com for a review of pumpkin liquors.  Of course, pumpkin needs chocolate, so I put together three recipes for Chocolate Pumpkin Cocktail recipes for Halloween. These can be served all through the Fall. But you knew that, right? The first two recipes call for Pumpkin Liqueur, but the last one uses other liqueurs and some pumpkin spice.

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN COCKTAIL

3 oz Pumpkin Liqueur
Chocolate (melted)

Shake the pumpkin liqueur with ice in a cocktail shaker.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Slowly add melted chocolate to the glass.

WHITE CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN MARTINI

Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur
2 oz Vanilla Vodka
1/2 oz Pumpkin Liqueur
1 tsp whipped cream

Pour white chocolate liqueur, vodka, and pumpkin liqueur into shaker filled with ice.
Shake, Pour into martini glass. Optional: Add whipped cream.

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN MARTINI

3/4 ounce Vanilla Vodka
1/2 ounce Bailey's
1/2 ounce Kahlua
1/2 ounce Crème de Cacao
1/4 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
Pinch cayenne pepper
Ice cubes

In cocktail shaker, combine Vanilla Vodka, Bailey's, Kahlua & Crème de Cacao, Pumpkin Pie Spice, and cayenne pepper. Add ice; cover and shake until very cold. Strain into chilled martini glass.


Photo: DrinkoftheWeek.com

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Halloween Vintage Candy Ads

Today I thought I'd post a round-up of Vintage Halloween Candy Ads. Happy Halloween! Remember any of these?






Friday, October 21, 2011

Chocolate Caramel Apples

Today is Caramel Apple Day, and if you've never had a caramel apple, you're really missing something. Add a layer of Chocolate and you have an even better Caramel Apple. You can buy Chocolate Caramel Apples from many different purveyors. Amy's Gourmet Apples are delicious and offer incredible variety. They're also inspirational if you'd like to make your own. Be sure and visit their website to see all the ways you can 'upgrade'.

There are so many ways to dress up your Chocolate Caramel Apples with drizzle techniques or rolling in nuts or chopped candy bars or sea salt. For your chocolate, you can use milk, dark, or white chocolate or a mixture of all three. Experiment! These Chocolate Caramel Apples are great to serve for Halloween!

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL APPLES

Ingredients:
4 ripe firm apples
4 wooden skewers
14 ounces soft caramel candy
2 tbsp water
10 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp shortening
2 cups chopped candy bars, nuts, or sea salt or M&Ms

Preparation:
1. Line baking sheet with waxed paper and and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Wash and dry the apples carefully or dip in boiling water for under a minute to remove any wax. Cool. Remove stems, and stick the skewers firmly in stem ends.
3. Place unwrapped caramels and the water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, then stir, then microwave for additional minute until completely melted and smooth (and liquidy)
4. Hold apple by skewer and dip in caramel, tilting bowl at an angle and rotating  apple to cover  completely with  smooth, even layer. Set on wax paper. Repeat with remaining apples.
5. Refrigerate caramel-covered apples for 30 minutes to set.
6. Heat chocolate and shortening in  microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted and smooth.
7. Dip caramel-covered apple in chocolate. Spoon  chocolate over top to cover apple completely.
8. While chocolate is still wet, dip bottom half in chopped candy bars, nuts or seasalt (or whatever!) and roll until bottom half is covered. Place back on baking sheet and repeat with remaining apples.
9. Chill apples in refrigerator until completely set-45 minutes.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Salon du Chocolat: Cocoa-ture

Cindy Fabre, a former Miss France,  wore more than 300 chocolates carefully sculpted together into a gladiator-style bikini as part of the 'Salon du Chocolat,' a yearly trade fair for the international chocolate industry, this year held in Aix en Provence.


The dress was designed by Benjamin Brass and constructed by Puyricard, a locally-based artisan chocolate company. They used more than 300 pieces of chocolate including chocolate truffles, chocolate hearts and caramel filled chocolate bites to make the outfit, and even covered the Fabre's shoes with the confectionary.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2050079/Cindy-Fabre-Miss-France-models-bikini-300-pieces-chocolate.html#ixzz1bNABKWtR

National Brandied Fruit Day: Chocolate Cake with Brandied Fruit

Today is National Brandied Fruit Day and adding brandied fruit to chocolate cake is easy and delicious. This recipe was adapted from a recipe for Passover Chocolate Cake with Brandied Fruit from Canadian Living. This is also a great cake to serve during the Christmas holidays or just about any time. It's not your grandmother's Fruit Cake! I've changed some of the ingredients--I never use margarine. No time to bake? Have a glass of Brandy with some fruit and chocolate! Or take some Brandied Fruit and pour over chocolate ice cream.

Storing fruits in brandy is a simple way to preserve the harvest season without the hassle of canning. To make your own brandied fruit, all you need is ripened fruit, sugar, and brandy (the higher the quality, the better). Wash the fruit, peel off any skin, and slice if necessary. Fill half a container with brandy and add the fruit. For each cup of fruit you add, stir in 1/6 cup of sugar. Make sure all the fruit is submerged in the mixture, cover the container, and store it in a dark place. You can continue to add fruit at any time. Brandied fruit will be cured after a couple of months. Better get going if you want to make this for the holidays.

CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH BRANDIED FRUIT

Ingredients
1 cup finely chopped pitted prunes
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup Brandy
7 oz dark chocolate (65-85% cacao), chopped
1 cup sweet butter
1-1/2 cups finely ground almonds
pinch of salt
4 eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Glaze:
4 oz dark chocolate (65-85% cacao), chopped
1/4 cup sweet butter
2 tbsp Brandy

Garnish:
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Preparation
Grease and line bottom and side of 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper; set aside.
In saucepan, bring prunes, raisins and brandy to boil over medium heat; reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until brandy is absorbed, 3 minutes. Let cool.
In heatproof bowl over saucepan of simmering water, melt chocolate and butter. Let cool slightly.
In small bowl, whisk almonds with salt; set aside.
In large bowl, beat egg yolks with sugar until pale and thickened. Beat in chocolate mixture. Fold in almond mixture then prune mixture.
In large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold half into batter; fold in remaining whites. Scrape into prepared pan. Bake in center of 375°F  oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until puffed and cake tester inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it.
Let cool in pan on rack. Remove pan ring; invert onto rack. Remove paper and let cool completely.

Glaze: Meanwhile, in saucepan over simmering water, melt chocolate with butter. Remove from heat; stir in brandy. Let cool for about 10 minutes or until thick enough to spread. Spread all over cake.

Garnish: Press almonds onto side. Refrigerate until glaze is set, about 1 hour.
Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chocolate Covered Cranberries: Fresh & Dried

Autumn is all about Cranberries for me! I love cranberries--in muffins, in bread, in brownies and cookies--and, of course, cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving.  I like both fresh and dried cranberries. This morning there was a discussion on Twitter about  Chocolate Covered Cranberries. Oh yes! You can buy Chocolate Covered Cranberries from lots of chocolatiers and stores (Trader Joe's) or you can make your own. It's really easy! 

History of Cranberries (from the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association)

The cranberry, along with the blueberry and Concord grape, is one of North America's three native fruits that are commercially grown. Cranberries were first used by Native Americans, who discovered the wild berry's versatility as a food, fabric dye and healing agent. Today, cranberries are commercially grown throughout the northern part of the United States and are available in both fresh and processed forms.

The name "cranberry" derives from the Pilgrim name for the fruit, "craneberry", so called because the small, pink blossoms that appear in the spring resemble the head and bill of a Sandhill crane. European settlers adopted the Native American uses for the fruit and found the berry a valuable bartering tool.

American whalers and mariners carried cranberries on their voyages to prevent scurvy. In 1816, Captain Henry Hall became the first to successfully cultivate cranberries. By 1871, the first association of cranberry growers in the United States had formed, and now, U.S. farmers harvest approximately 40,000 acres of cranberries each year. 

Here are two recipes: One using fresh cranberries and one using dried cranberries. You'll love the tart and sweet together!

1. CHOCOLATE COVERED CRANBERRIES (dried)

Ingredients
4 ounces Dark or Milk Chocolate
1/2 cup dried, sweetened Cranberries

Directions
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate in double boiler or in glass bowl in microwave. Once melted, remove from heat.
Add cranberries to chocolate. Stir until coated. Remove coated cranberries with two forks or slotted spoon (this works very well), shaking off excess chocolate on side of bowl. Transfer to lined baking sheet.
Put baking sheet in refrigerator until chocolate hardens, about 20 minutes.
Store in refrigerator.

Want to make Chocolate Covered Cranberries with Fresh Cranberries? Here's another great and easy recipe. 

2. CHOCOLATE COVERED CRANBERRIES (fresh)
Recipe adapted from Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association.
Ingredients
1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries
1 (12 ounce) package milk chocolate chips (or chopped dark chocolate-if very dark, add a little sugar when melting the chocolate with shortening)
2 tablespoons shortening (Crisco or butter)

Directions
Melt chocolate and shortening (and sugar if you add it) over low heat, stirring frequently until melted.
Dip cranberries in chocolate until coated (remove from mixture with slotted spoon or two forks).
Place on wax paper (or parchment paper on a cookie sheet).
Refrigerate until firm.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Guest Blogger Mystery Author Cleo Coyle: (Sleuth-Worthy) Chocolate Fudge Pumpkin Cookies

Starting off my series of Guest Halloween Chocolate Posts, today I welcome back Guest Blogger Mystery Author Cleo Coyle. If she thinks I'm an inspiration (see note below), she's got it a bit reversed. Cleo Coyle is my inspiration with her wonderful mysteries, fabulous recipes, and terrific photos!

A former journalist, Cleo Coyle is the pseudonym for a multi-published author and New York Times bestselling media tie-in writer. In collaboration with her husband, Cleo pens two popular series for Penguin. The Coffeehouse Mysteries are a series of light, amateur sleuth culinary mysteries set in a Greenwich Village coffeehouse, the first of which, On What Grounds, is now in its sixteenth printing. The tenth book in the series, Murder by Mocha, which includes an appendix of chocolate recipes, is a national bestseller. Under the name Alice Kimberly, Cleo also writes the Haunted Bookshop Mysteries. You can find out more at Cleo’s virtual coffeehouse: www.CoffeehouseMystery.com 

CLEO COYLE: (Sleuth-Worthy) Chocolate Fudge Pumpkin Cookies

First, I must take a moment to thank Janet and her excellent blog for being such an inspiration to me. In the acknowledgments of my new Coffeehouse Mystery, Murder by Mocha, I gave a more official shout-out to Dying for Chocolate for sharing so much wonderful food for thought. Thanks again, Janet!

As for today’s chocolate recipe, I hope you’ll find it worthy of a sleuth. Why? Because these fudgy cookies have the flavor and texture of gooey chocolate brownies, yet they are lower in fat than a typical cookie. By sneaking in an entire can of pureed pumpkin, I’m able to replace all of the shortening in the recipe while simultaneously bringing iron, dietary fiber, and vitamins A, C, and E to the Halloween party.

Here's how the recipe came about. Last year, I posted my recipe for Chocolate Hurricane Muffins. (Click here to get the recipe in a PDF format).

These quick-and-easy muffins are made by adding mashed bananas (along with a few other ingredients) to a cake mix starter. The bananas add nice flavor while also cutting down on the amount of fat.

One of my Coffeehouse Mystery readers (Sue) liked my muffins and dropped me an e-mail about another recipe that uses a chocolate cake mix starter: Weight Watcher Chocolate Pumpkin muffins.

To make these 2-ingredient muffins, you mix one box of chocolate cake mix with one 15-ounce can of pureed pumpkin. That’s it. The recipe sounded odd, but I gave it a try anyway. The muffins seemed on the heavy side for me, and I thought it would work better in smaller bites, which is why I adapted it into today's fudge brownie-like drop cookie.

And there you have it, the origin of today’s healthier Halloween recipe. With thanks to Sue and Weight Watchers for the inspiration. It's a treat that’s not a trick to make (as long as you have a can opener).

CLEO COYLE’S CHOCOLATE FUDGE PUMPKIN COOKIES with EASY PUMPKIN GLAZE

To download this recipe in a PDF format that you can print, save, or share, click here. 

Ingredients:
1 box (18.25 ounces) of Devil’s Food cake mix
1 can (15 ounces) pureed pumpkin (100% pumpkin and not pie filling)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or equivalent of chopped chocolate)
Cleo’s Pumpkin Glaze (recipe below)

Step 1 – Make Batter: First pre-heat oven to 350º F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with non-stick spray or grease with oil or butter. (For best results, do not use parchment paper. The cookie batter needs to feel the full heat of the baking pan.) In a mixing bowl, combine entire box of cake mix with canned pumpkin and vanilla. Do not add any additional liquid. Gently stir, working the canned pumpkin into the cake mix until a blended, wet batter forms. (This may take a minute but trust me, it will work.) Finally, fold in the chocolate chips.

Step 2 – Drop and Bake: Drop batter by tablespoon onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake in a well pre-heated 350º F. oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Do not over-bake. Cookies should be a bit gooey in the center. While warm, they will be very soft on the outside, as well. Allow them to cool on the pan a few minutes and then transfer carefully to a rack to finish cooling. (They will always be somewhat soft because these are gooey fudge brownie cookies, not hard or crunchy cookies.)

Step 3 - Decorate: Finish with a drizzle of Cleo’s Pumpkin Glaze (recipe below).

A note on storing: Because pumpkin takes the place of shortening in these cookies, they are best eaten within a day or two. Store in refrigerator.


CLEO’S EASY PUMPKIN GLAZE


Ingredients
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (*see note below to make your own)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Food coloring (orange OR red and yellow to make orange)
2 cups powdered sugar

Step 1 - In a medium saucepan, combine butter, water, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and food coloring. Heat slowly, stirring until butter melts. At no time should this mixture simmer or boil.

Step 2 - Add the powdered sugar and stir until it all completely melts into the liquid. Whisk to remove any lumps and blend into a smooth, thick glaze. If the glaze is too thick, whisk in a bit more water.

Step 3 - While the glaze is still warm, use a fork to drizzle it over the cookies. As the glaze cools, it will harden. If the glaze hardens in the pan, simply return the pan to the stove top and warm the glaze while whisking. If needed, add a bit more water to thin the glaze back to the right consistency for drizzling.

*SPICE NOTE: Pumpkin pie spice is available in most grocery store spice sections. To make your own, simply mix the following ground spices for 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice or ground cloves, and 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

To download more of Cleo’s recipes, sign up to win free coffee, or learn about Cleo’s national bestselling Coffeehouse Mysteries, visit her online coffeehouse at: http://www.CoffeehouseMystery.com

Photos: Cleo Coyle

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chocolate Cherry Bomb Cocktail: National Liqueur Day

Today is National Liqueur Day, and I've posted lots of truffle recipes with various liqueurs. Always adds a special flavor! If that's what you feel like having to celebrate, be sure and search back to specific easy truffle recipes. But today, I thought I'd post two recipes for a Chocolate Cherry Bomb Cocktail. Happy Holiday!

Chocolate Cherry Bomb Cocktail

1/2 oz Godiva chocolate liqueur  (or Creme de Cacao, white)
1/2 oz cream
1/2 oz grenadine syrup

Layer grenadine, then Godiva, then the cream. Shoot.

Tastes just like a chocolate covered cherry! 

Spicy Chocolate Cherry Bomb Cocktail

Want to make this cocktail more like the explosion of a cherry bomb? 

1/2 oz Godiva chocolate liqueur  (or Creme de Cacao, white)

1/2 oz Red Pepper Vodka
1 Tbsp Chocolate Syrup
Splash of Grenadine

Fill a shaker with ice, add red pepper vodka, chocolate liqueur, grenadine and chocolate syrup and shake. Strain into glass.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Vintage Chocolate Cake Ad: Perfect Chocolate Frosting Recipe

Today is my Mother's Birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom!

When we were young, we used to stop at the Hershey Factory on our way to visit my Aunt in Harrisburg. One of my fondest memories. Here's a Vintage Ad for Hershey's Baking Chocolate and Cocoa. Since the ad features a white cake, I've posted Hershey's Perfect Frosting recipe below. Perfect Frosting for a Perfect Day!

PERFECT CHOCOLATE FROSTING

1/2 cup sweet butter
2/3 cup Hershey's cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla extract

Melt butter in the microwave or in a small pan on the stove.
Stir in cocoa.
Alternately beat in powdered sugar and milk.
Add small amount additional milk, if needed.
Stir in vanilla.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Honey Chocolate Pie from The Pooh Cook Book: Dessert Day & Month

October is Dessert Month and today is National Desserts Day. Two Food Holidays in One! To celebrate I chose a Chocolate Recipe from my "Tie-in" Cookbook Collection. This one is from The Pooh Cook Book by Virginia H. Ellison Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard (1969: Dell Publishing). This Cook Book (yes, two words) is inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne.

One of my favorite stuffed animals as a child was Tigger, and I have always been a big honey fan, probably because of the Winnie the Pooh stories. I have honey every day, and perhaps Winnie had allergies, too, and needed his "Hunny".

From the Introduction to The Pooh Cook Book:

As a cook you should know that honey is almost twice as sweet as sugar, and yet when you eat it, it doesn't make you want to go on eating sweets. Honey is also healthful, and very good for active people. When used in cooking it keeps food moist and adds a flavor all its won, as you will see when you've made some of the dishes in The Pooh Cook Book. Clover honey is the best all-purpose honey but there are as many flavors, or kinds of honey as there are blossoms on flowers and bushes and trees."

HONEY CHOCOLATE PIE


Chocolate Cricket Chip Cookies: National Chocolate Covered Insect Day

Today is a holiday worth of Halloween. October 14 is National Chocolate-Covered Insects Day. I've posted several examples of chocolate covered insects before: Chocolate Scorpions and other chocolate covered insects, but here's a recipe from Weird-Food.com for Chocolate Cricket Chip Cookies. They put the crunch into the cookie. O.K. it's weird, but Frank spent 3 years in Cote d'Ivoire, and it doesn't seem weird to him at all. They add protein and crunch. Luckily, I do all the baking at home. I've seen a different version of these Chocolate Chip Cricket Cookies with whole crickets in them. Too much for me! Declaration: I've never made these, and I never will. I'm definitely not a bug person. But because of the holiday, I thought I'd share the following recipe.

Chocolate Cricket Chip Cookies

Ingredients
2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 12-ounce chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup dry-roasted crickets

Directions
Preheat oven to 375.
In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla; beat until creamy.
Beat in eggs.
Gradually add flour mixture and Crickets, mix well.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Drop by rounded measuring teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Photo: Chocolate Chips not Crickets. I just couldn't.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

M&Ms Day! Celebrate with M&M's Cookies

Today is National M&M's Day! Celebrate with Red's Ultimate M&M's Cookies or just eat a bunch of M&M's.

Red's Ultimate M&M's Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 12-ounce package M&M’S® MINIS® Milk Chocolate Candies
3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional) 

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy
Beat in egg and vanilla.
In medium bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt; blend into butter/sugar mixture.
Stir in M&M’S® MINIS® Milk Chocolate Candies and nuts, if desired.
Drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and centers are still soft. Do not overbake. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; cool completely on wire racks.
Store in tightly covered container.

MAKES ABOUT 50 COOKIES.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cooking to Kill!: Chocolate Noose

With Halloween is a few short weeks away, I thought I'd choose another "Chocolate Recipe" from one of my favorite "Tie-in" Cookbook Collection: Cooking to Kill! The Poison Cook-book. 

This is a most prized book in my Killer Cookbooks: Mystery-related cookbooks. Published in 1951, Cooking to Kill! has Recipes by Ebenezer Murgatroyd with Comic Drawings by Herb Roth (Peter Pauper Press, 1951).  Cooking to Kill! has been called "not only a cook-book to end all cook-books, but also a cook-book to end all cooks." Enjoy!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lamingtons: Guest Post by Bobbi Mumm

A little while ago, I heard about Lamingtons for the first time from my friend Bobbi Mumm. Now, I read a lot of Australian books, but I didn't remember Lamingtons being mentioned. Maybe I wasn't paying attention. That being said, since Bobbi's mention on Facebook, I've now seen Lamington recipes and comments all over the Internet in both the Foodie Community (Pink Lamingtons for Breast Cancer Awareness) and Mystery (Kerry Greenwood) Community. Very odd, but it's usually that way. So once again my worlds collide. Today I welcome back Bobbi Mumm. Be sure and comment on your Lamingtons experiences.

Bobbi Mumm is a mystery and thriller writer in Saskatoon, Canada where she works half-time as an event planner at the University of Saskatchewan. Married to a nuclear physicist, she has four children.
A year ago, Bobbi completed her first novel, Cream with Your Coffin and is seeking a publishing home for the novel. Cream with Your Coffin was a quarter-finalist in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Almost finished her second novel, thriller De Rigueur Mortis, Bobbi spends much of her day immersed in 1954 Paris.

BOBBI MUMM: Lamingtons

Lamingtons, an Australian childhood favourite, are a delicious combination of chocolate, coconut and cake.

Why is a Canadian writing about Australian confections? Australia is about as far away from Canada as you can get. It’s because I’m married to an Aussie. The result of this blissful union is a few children who consider themselves half-Australian. And this year my daughter wanted Lamingtons for her birthday.

In Australia Lamingtons are used as lunchbox treats and, most often, as the feature of school fund-raising bake sales. I can only imagine that they have the status of rice crispy squares in North America. But perhaps something more because there is an Aussie national pride surrounding this sweet treat.

I first tried them - served on lovely china - at a ladies’ tea, hosted by an Australian friend.

Cake (from Betty Crocker’s Yellow Cake)

½ cup butter, softened
1½ cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk

Beat butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl with mixer until fluffy.
Beat in eggs.
On low speed, beat in flour in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions. Increase speed and mix for one minute, scraping sides of bowl as needed.
Pour into 13" x 9" cake pan (greased and lined with waxed paper).
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn out of pan onto rack and cool completely.
Cut into 3” squares. For a ladies’ tea, cut smaller. Freeze squares, on rack, until completely frozen. The freezing step is important and one that I added (because in Canada we adore freezing). Otherwise you end up with a mess of crumbs in your icing.

Icing
4 cups sifted icing sugar
2/3 cup sifted cocoa
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup water (approximate)
Mix icing, adding water slowly, until it is retains a slight thickness but is quite runny. You can adjust as you experiment. The icing should drip off the squares for a few seconds.
4-6 cups unsweetened shredded dried coconut (in a separate bowl)
Place a baking rack on top of a cookie sheet (to catch drips).
Taking no more than four or five squares from the freezer at a time, dip one square into icing mixture, making sure that all sides are coated.
Dip square into coconut, so that all surfaces are covered.
Place on rack to harden.
Repeat until all squares are done. If icing mixture thickens as you work, mix in a teaspoon of water at a time.

Note: Your fingers will get very messy with this process.
Lamingtons, once prepared, can be stored in a sealed container for up to three days. I’ve also frozen them, with no ill effects. Makes 16 Lamingtons.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Columbus Day Chocolate Cherry Biscotti

Columbus Day is a big deal in San Francisco. Columbus Day originated as a celebration of Italian-American heritage and was first held in San Francisco on October 12, 1869, and it's still celebrated that way. In 1892 President Benjamin Harrison, 400 years after Columbus' first journey, gave a public statement in memory of the 'New World' being discovered. Let's not go into that!  In 1905 Colorado was the first State to recognize an official 'Columbus Day'. From 1921 Columbus Day was observed each year. President Franklin Roosevelt in 1937 declared October 12 as 'Columbus Day',  but in 1971, Congress proclaimed Columbus Day a national holiday the 2nd Monday of October.

There's also a Columbus Chocolate Connection. Although people tend to associate chocolate with European culture, the confection’s roots are actually a whole lot deeper in the Americas. The trees that grow the cacao beans actually originated in the tropical regions of the Americas. Chocolate didn’t find its way to Europe until Christopher Columbus brought the cacao bean back to Spain from his “New World” adventure. 

So today for Columbus Day, and Italian-American celebration, I'm posting one of my favorite recipes for Chocolate Cherry Biscotti.

CHOCOLATE CHERRY BISCOTTI

I originally found this recipe on the Internet in several places, but I've adapted it a bit. I don't like candied cherries, so I used dried cherries. My favorite are from Chukar Cherries. You can't go wrong with Biscotti on Columbus Day or any day. No time to cook? Pick up some Biscotti at the local Italian Bakery.

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup sweet butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries (original recipe uses candied cherries, but I prefer Chukar Cherries)
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large cookie sheet.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth.
Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the almond extract.
Combine flour and baking powder; stir into creamed mixture until just blended.
Fold in dried cherries and mini chocolate chips.
With lightly floured hands, shape dough into two 10 inch long loaves.
Place rolls 5 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet; flatten each to 3 inch width.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until set and light golden brown.
Cool 10 minutes.
Using a serrated knife, cut loaves diagonally into 1/2 inch slices.
Arrange slices cut side down on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until bottoms begin to brown.
Turn, and bake an additional 5 minutes, or until browned and crisp.
Cool completely. Store in tightly covered container.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Double Layer Chocolate Pumpkin Mousse Pie: Canadian Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is Canadian Thanksgiving, and because I think all holidays should be celebrated  with Chocolate, I know you'll love this Double Layer Chocolate Pumpkin Mousse Pie. Perfect  for the holiday!  Since it's Canadian Thanksgiving, this recipe is from the Dairy Farmers of Canada website Dairy Goodness. Hope my North of the Border friends have a wonderful celebration. And, for those in the U.S., this Pie is fabulous for our Thanksgiving in late November.

I first celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving at a Bouchercon (the World Mystery Convention) that was held several years ago in Toronto. I confess, I didn't realize there was 'another' Thanksgiving. For me Thanksgiving was about the Pilgrims, the Rock, the Turkeys. Same foods in Canada, but different date and reasons. So in case you're also unaware, here's some information on the origins of Canadian Thanksgiving which is more closely aligned to the traditions of Europe than of the United States.

The very first Thanksgiving celebration in North America took place in Canada when Martin Frobisher, an explorer from England, arrived in Newfoundland in 1578. He wanted to give thanks for his safe arrival to the New World. That means the first Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated 43 years before the pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts! For a few hundred years, Thanksgiving was celebrated in either late October or early November, before it was declared a Canadian National Holiday in 1879. It was then, that November 6th was set aside as the official Thanksgiving holiday. On January 31, 1957, Canadian Parliament announced that the second Monday in October would be Thanksgiving -- "a day of general thanksgiving to almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed." Thanksgiving was moved to the second Monday in October after World War II.

Another reason for Canadian Thanksgiving taking place earlier than its U.S. counterpart is that Canada is geographically further north than the United States, causing the Canadian harvest season to arrive earlier than the American harvest season. But what are the differences between Canadian and American Thanksgiving, other than the date? Not much! Both Canadians and Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with parades, family gatherings, pumpkin pie and a whole lot of turkey! (Info from Kidzworld.com)

So here's a fabulous Pumpkin Pie for the Thanksgiving table.

Double Layer Chocolate Pumpkin Mousse Pie

Ingredients
Crust:
1-1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (chocolate wafers that have been crushed)
1/4 cup sweet butter, melted

Chocolate Ganache Layer:
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp sweet butter, softened
1 cup 35 % whipping cream

Pumpkin Layer:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1 cup thick whipping cream
Whipped cream, to garnish
Freshly grated nutmeg

Directions:
Crust:
In a bowl, combine cookie crumbs and butter until moistened and pat evenly into bottom and up side of 10-inch deep pie plate. Bake in preheated 350 °F oven for about 10 minutes or until firm. Let cool.

Chocolate Ganache Layer:
Place chocolate and butter in bowl. In small saucepan bring cream to boil. Pour over chocolate and let stand for 1 minute. Slowly whisk chocolate until melted and smooth. Gently pour into cooled crust. Place in refrigerator for about 1 hour or until set.

Pumpkin Layer:
Meanwhile, in large bowl, beat Cream Cheese and Sugar until fluffy. Beat in pumpkin, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger and cloves until smooth.

Whip cream. Fold half of the cream into pumpkin mixture until light. Fold in remaining whipped cream until well combined. Spread over top of chocolate layer and smooth top. Refrigerate for about 2 hours or until set and firm. (If you make ahead: you can cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.)

Garnish with whipped cream and nutmeg before serving.

Photo: Dairy Farmers of Canada

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Chocolate and Cheese Pairings/Recipe for Cream Cheese Truffles

Chocolate and Cheese go perfectly together. You just have to have the right pairing.

Here are a few guidelines for choosing the perfect  CHEESE and CHOCOLATE pairing. Foods with similar flavor profiles work best together. For Darker Chocolates, choose a more complex, aged cheese. For Milk Chocolates choose a buttery cheese such as a Triple Brie. For Fruity Chocolates pair with a sharper cheese. For Nuttier chocolates pair with cheese high in butterfat. Spicy chocolates pair with sharp cheeses,

A few examples of Savory-Sweet Pairings:
Dark chocolate (80% or more cocoa) with a delicious true Blue cheese.
Burnt caramel chocolates with a beer-washed Cheese.
Bordeaux-style chocolate with a creamy triple crème Brie.
Citrusy chocolate with a semi-hard, buttery table cheese (feta or havarti).

Here's an easy recipe for Cream Cheese Chocolate Truffles. You might also want to try my recipes for Goat Cheese Truffles or Blue Cheese Truffles.

Cream cheese & Chocolate truffles

Ingredients:
3.5 cups powdered sugar
8 ounces softened cream cheese
4 ounces unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup DARK cocoa powder, for rolling (or ground/chopped walnuts)*

Preparation:
1. Pour cocoa powder or nuts into a shallow pie pan and set aside.
2. Chop  chocolate into small pieces and melt in top of doubleboiler (or a pot over a pot of simmering water),  stirring after every 45 seconds to prevent overheating. Set chocolate aside.
3. In large bowl of electric mixer, beat softened cream cheese. Gradually add powdered sugar. Beat mixture on medium speed for a few minutes, until well-blended.
4. Stop mixer and stir in melted chocolate. Beat until well combined.
5. Remove bowl from mixer, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm enough to scoop, about 20-30 minutes.
6. Once candy is firm but not hard, scoop into 1 inch balls using a teaspoon or candy/cookie scoop.
7. Roll truffles in cocoa powder or ground/chopped walnuts.
8. Serve truffles at room temperature, but if you're not eating right away, put in airtight container and keep in refrigerator.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chocolate Chip Noodle Kugel: National Noodle Day

There's nothing like celebrating two holidays at once. Today is National Noodle Day, and I've been thinking of making a Lokshen (Egg Noodle) Kugel for the Breaking of the Fast at the end of Yom Kippur. Why not put the two together? So here's a recipe for a fabulous Noodle Kugel with Chocolate Chips. It's a sweet Kugel anyway, so why not add chocolate chips?

A bit of  history on Kugel. It's a traditional Ashkenazic Jewish dessert or side dish. Kugel is Yiddish for ball, but it is sometimes translated as pudding or casserole, and related to the German Gugelhupf. The first Kugel were plain-- made from bread and flour, and salty rather than sweet. About 800 years ago, their flavor and popularity changed when cooks in Germany replaced bread mixtures with noodles or farfel. Eventually eggs were incorporated. The addition of cottage cheese and milk created a custard-like consistency which is common for today's dishes. In the 17th century, sugar was introduced, which gave the option of serving kugel as a side dish or dessert. In Poland, Jewish women sprinkled raisins and cinnamon into recipes. Hungarians took the dessert concept further with a hefty helping of sugar and some sour cream.

Today many people add corn flakes, graham cracker crumbs, ground gingersnaps or caramelized sugar on top. Some people layer the dish with sliced pineapples or apricot jam. So it's not surprising that I like a Chocolate Chip Kugel! Happy Noodle Day! Enjoy this today or any time!

Chocolate Chip Noodle Kugel

Ingredients:
12 oz pkg medium wide noodles boiled & drained
4 tbsp butter, melted
8 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 pint (16 oz) cottage cheese (large curd)
2 cups sour cream
1 tsp. Madagascar vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.
Butter sides and bottom of 9 x 13 Pyrex or another Pan.
Beat together eggs and sugar. Add cottage cheese, sour cream, melted butter and vanilla and mix with wooden spoon.
Fold in noodles and chocolate chips.
Pour mixture into buttered pan.
Bake at 350°F for 40-60 minutes until just set.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Black Russian Truffles: National Vodka Day

Today is National Vodka Day, and there are some wonderful Chocolate Vodkas on the Market. You can always make yourself a Chocolate Vodka Martini or a Chocolate Vodka Cake, but I'm a huge fan of Truffles. Here's a simple recipe for Black Russian Truffles.  A Black Russian is a cocktail made with vodka and coffee liqueur (three parts vodka to two parts coffee liqueur, or five parts vodka to two parts coffee liqueur). I love Kahlua, so that would be my coffee liqueur of choice in the following recipe.

BLACK RUSSIAN TRUFFLES

8 ounces dark (70-85% cacao) chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons sweet butter
3 1/2 tablespoons Kahlua
1 1/2 tablespoons vodka
1 1/2 cups DARK cocoa  (or espresso powder or toasted walnuts)

Directions:
Melt chocolate in a doubleboiler or in a pot on top of another pot of simmering water.
Heat cream and butter together in microwave or in a pot (don't scorch). Remove from heat and pour over melted chocolate. Using a rubber spatula, stir chocolate and cream/butter mixture gently until smooth.
Add liqueur and vodka. Stir until blended.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours to overnight.
Shape chocolate into 1-inch balls using a melon baller or small ice cream scoop or two spoons (or your hands).
Roll in cocoa (or pulverized espresso beans or toasted walnuts)
Store in airtight container in refrigerator.
Serve at room temperature.