Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Brandy Alexander Pie: National Brandy Alexander Day

Today is National Brandy Alexander Day. A Brandy Alexander is a sweet, brandy-based cocktail that became very popular in the early 20th cntury. It was supposedly created for the wedding of Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood and Viscount Lascelles, in London, in 1922.  The Brandy Alexander is based on an earlier, gin-based cocktail called simply an “Alexander”.

From the Brandyalexander website comes the history that Movie Stars have consumed Brandy Alexanders on sets of movies and TV shows and during celebratory events throughout  the last century.  Among the famous drink calls are by Jack Lemon in Days of Wine and Roses. In one scene Lee Remick receives a Brandy Alexander and is impressed with the chocolate flavor, yet smooth taste of the drink. In the pilot of the Mary Tyler Moore show, Mary calls for a Brandy Alexander when asked if she would like a drink at her job interview, and Peggy on a blind date in an episode of Mad Men, Indian Summer orders a Brandy Alexander

So for this exciting alcoholic Food Holiday today, break out the Brandy and Creme de Cacao

Check out last year's post for a recipe for the Brandy Alexander and for Brandy Alexander Brownies.

Brandy Alexander Pie
from the New York Times Magazine, January 18, 1970

Ingredients
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup cognac
1/4 cup creme de cacao
2 cups heavy cream, whipped
I substitute a 10 inch chocolate wafer crumb crust for the graham cracker crust in the original recipe
Chocolate curls for garnish

Directions
1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a saucepan. Add 1/3 cup of the sugar, the salt and egg yolks. Stir to blend.
2. Heat over low heat while stirring until gelatin dissolves and mixture thickens. Do not boil.
3. Remove from the heat, and stir in the cognac and creme de cacao. Chill until mixture starts to mound slightly.
4. Beat the whites until stiff. Gradually beat in the remaining sugar and fold into the thickened mixture. Fold in 1 cup of the whipped cream. Turn into the crust. Chill several hours or over night.
5. Garnish with remaining cream and chocolate curls.

Monday, January 30, 2012

National Croissant Day: Chocolate Croissants

I was going to skip posting today since I just did a review of Trader Joe's Chocolate Croissants, but since I had some this morning, I thought I'd put up some links. As I mentioned in the TJ Chocolate Croissant post, they're simple to make and delicious to eat! Keep them in the freezer, but take them out the night before so they can rise. You'll love them! I've added some other links to Croissant recipes I've posted or noted.

And, I've added a recipe from RealSimple for Croissant and Chocolate Bread Pudding. Heavenly!

Trader Joe's Chocolate Croissants review

Julia Child's Croissant Episode from The French Chef

Make Your Own Chocolate Croissants

Croissant and Chocolate Bread Pudding
from RealSimple, January 2009

Ingredients
Sweet Butter (for the baking dish)
6 large egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Madegascar vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 croissants, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 pound)
4 ounces dark chocolate (65-85 % cacoa/fair play), cut into chunks

Directions
Heat oven to 375° F.
Butter 8-inch square or other shallow 2-quart baking dish.
In large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, salt, & nutmeg. Add the croissants and chocolate and mix to combine.
Transfer mixture to tprepared baking dish and bake until set and knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

How to Make Cake Pops Video

I love Cake Pops, and I plan to write a post about Cake Pops in the near future. In the meantime, here's a really cool How to Make Cake Pops Video from Cakeb0t.  Cool step by step instructions.

Be sure and check out Cakeb0t.com for more Cake Decorating Techniques and Tutorials for the Cake Artist! Great Video from Binky!




Hat Tip: Julie Hyzy, author of the White House Chef Mystery Series

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chocolate Blueberry Pancakes: Two Ways



I posted these recipes last year on Blueberry Pancake Day, but since it's Saturday morning, I thought I'd repost, so you can get a jump on the weekend's brunch. Add some chocolate to Blueberry Pancakes, and you can celebrate this fun food holiday in two ways.

This first recipe is from Cooking Light for Perfect Buttermilk pancakes. I've added blueberries and chocolate to tweak the recipe to fit this blog and the 'holiday'! I usually have fresh blueberries around, but if you don't, you can use frozen blueberries. Trader Joe's has great wild blueberries that go great in this recipe.

BUTTERMILK BLUEBERRY CHOCOLATE PANCAKES

Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1 cup Blueberries (less if frozen.. I like the frozen Wild Blueberries from Trader Joe's)
1/2 cup Dark Chocolate chips or Dark Chocolate, broken up (alternatively, you can use white chocolate!)

Directions
1. Spoon flour into dry measuring cup; level with knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (flour through salt) in large bowl, and make well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk, oil, and egg; add to flour mixture, stirring until smooth.
2. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter onto hot nonstick griddle or nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray. 3. Add Blueberries and Chocolate pieces (or Chocolate Chips).  Turn pancakes when tops are covered with bubbles and edges seem cooked.
***

So that's what you'll make fresh today! I'm also fond of Mixes in a Jar. Here's a quick and delicious recipe for Chocolate Blueberry Pancakes in a Jar. You can have this on hand or to give as a gift. One helpful hint when making mixes in a jar is to really pack the ingredients in. Use a tamper, if you have one...except for the dried blueberries and chocolate.

CHOCOLATE BLUEBERRY PANCAKES IN A JAR

Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried Blueberries
2/3 cup dark chocolate chopped into chip size (or dark chocolate chips)

Layer flour, then sugar, then baking powder mixed with baking soda and salt in a 1-quart wide-mouth jar.
Add blueberries, then chocolate. Seal Jar.
Cover jar with burlap or other fabric and tie with raffia or a bow.
Attach gift tag with the following instructions:

Chocolate Blueberry Pancakes 
Makes 25 pancakes
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sweet butter, melted
Contents of Jar of "Chocolate Blueberry Pancakes"
1-1/2 to 2 cups whole milk (or buttermilk)

Mix eggs and melted butter in large bowl. Add contents of jar. Stir until well blended. Add 1-1/2 cups milk. Stir until dry ingredients are moistened.

Heat griddle or skillet. Pour batter onto hot griddle 1/4 cup at a time. Cook pancakes until golden on both sides.

And, just saw this on TwoPeasandPod's blog for Lemon Ricotta Blueberry Pancakes. No chocolate, but they look yummy!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Paula's Golden Cream Chocolate Cake: National Chocolate Cake Day, Vintage Ad & Recipe

I've been waiting awhile to post this Baker's Chocolate Cake Ad. In the 1930s and 40s, the Baker's Chocolate Advertisements told a story, and this one that appeared in Life Magazine on February 7, 1938 (and again June 5, 1939) is of my favorites. What a period piece! I mean really...just read the headline, "Paula Gives Mother-in-Law Her Come-Uppance".  And don't you just love the word "Flibbertigibbet."  Good thing Paula had a mind and talent of her own. And what a saint she was not lauding her baking skills over her mother-in-law. Such modesty. Oh puh..lease. I feel like writing 'the rest of the story.'

This recipe really is delicious. The cake is a "cross between a Fudge Cake and Boston Cream Pie." A perfect posting for National Chocolate Cake Day!


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread with Pistachios: National Pistachio Day

Today is National Pistachio Day! I posted this recipe for Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread with Pistachios last summer when my zucchini plants were taking over the garden. I can get zucchini at the market (not the farmers' market), so I can make this Zucchini Bread to Celebrate the day. This bread is tasty hot out of the oven or toasted the next day with fresh sweet butter, cream cheese or mascarpone.

The Secret Ingredient: Pistachios! Pistachios add taste and texture to this wonderful moist zucchini bread.

A bit of information from ferrebeekeeper (a wonderful blog about art, nature and gardening anecdotes):

Pistachios' clam-like seeds pop open when they are ripe and the exposed seed has a brownish pink skin–which in turn reveals a pale creamy green flesh inside. Pistachios are members of the Anacardiaceae family, which includes sumacs and poison ivy.  (this makes it perfect for my other blog: www.mysteryfanfare.com) Like these scary relatives, pistachio plants (and seeds) can contain the oily irritant urushiol—so pistachios sometimes trigger allergies and rashes, however, dieticians assert that the seed is one of the healthier sources of protein and oils. Traditionally pistachio nuts were dyed red to hide the blemishes made by handpicking, however this false color is no longer necessary.

Please use natural pistachios in the following recipe. No red dye #3!

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread with Pistachios!

Ingredients
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp Madagascar Vanilla
2 Tbsp sweet butter
6 Tbsp DARK Cocoa
2 cups zucchini, grated
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped chocolate chunks or dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pistachios
2 tsp flour

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°.
In large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Mix until well blended.
In small saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp butter, add 6 Tbsp cocoa and blend tuntil smooth. Set aside to cool.
Peel and grate zucchini. Add zucchini and cooled cocoa mixture to the large mixing bowl and blend well.
In separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to the batter. Stir only enough to blend in all the dry ingredients.
In another bowl, coat broken up chocolate chunks (or chips) with 2 tsp flour.
Fold in flour-coated chocolate chunks and chopped pistachios to batter.
Spoon batter into two greased and floured 9x5x3 loaf pans or into a greased bundt pan.
Bake 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
Cool in pans for 5-10 minutes.
Remove from pans and continue to cool on a wire rack.

US Pistachios: How they're Harvested.




Hat Tip @FriendsEatNYC for YouTube Pistachio Harvesting Video

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Irish Coffee Day: Irish Coffee Truffles: Irish Coffee Day

Today is National Irish Coffee Day, and it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood! I'll be stopping by the Buena Vista Cafe for a glass of Irish Coffee. Irish Coffee was invented at the Buena Vista Cafe, right here in San Francisco.

On my first day in California I was lucky to hitch a ride with a visiting dignitary. The day's tour of San Francisco included the hills of San Francisco, Sonoma County, the Renaissance Fair, Sausalito, Fisherman's Wharf, the Palace of Fine Arts, Cliff House, the Golden Gate Bridge and a stop at the Buena Vista Cafe for an Irish Coffee. I saw more of the San Francisco Bay Area on that one day than I did over the next ten years.

Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista is a very San Francisco drink invented in 1952 at The Buena Vista Cafe. The recipe was a collaborative effort between Jack Koeppler, the Buena Vista’s owner, and Stanton Delaplane, a well-known international travel writer and Chronicle columnist. Here's the original recipe. Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista is still made the same way.


The official story of Irish Coffee tells of the perseverance and repeated attempts of Koeppler & Delaplane and even a trip to Shannon Airport, where a forerunner of Koeppler’s vision was served. The whipped cream posed a problem, but the input of a prominent dairy farmer turned Mayor of San Francisco, solved the problem: Age the cream for 48 hours and froth it to a precise consistency so it would float on top of the hot coffee, to Koeppler’s specifications.

So if you're in San Francisco today, it's a big day at the Buena Vista. Stop by and raise a glass!

But this is a Chocolate Blog, so once again I wanted to post a recipe that includes Chocolate and the day's 'food' holiday. Since I love alcohol infused truffles, I decided to post a recipe for Irish Coffee Truffles. You'll love this easy recipe from Martha Stewart Weddings. I use darker chocolate than in the recipe, but otherwise, it's just about the same. It's pretty much no fail, and that's what I like.

IRISH COFFEE TRUFFLES

Ingredients
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
1 pound plus 14 ounces bittersweet chocolate, (60-72%), finely chopped
1/2 cup sweet butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon packed dark-brown sugar
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup Irish whiskey
2 tablespoons coffee extract
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder, for rolling

Directions
1. Coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray; line with plastic wrap, allowing a 2-inch overhang; set aside.
2. Put chocolate and butter into a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water; stir until chocolate and butter have melted. Remove from heat.
3. In a separate saucepan, bring cream, corn syrup, and brown sugar to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Immediately pour over chocolate mixture; whisk until smooth.
4. Whisk in yolks, whiskey, coffee extract, and salt.
5. Pour into prepared pan.
6. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on surface to prevent a skin from forming.
7. Refrigerate until firm enough to roll into balls, about 4 hours (or more).
8. Using a 1-inch ice cream scoop or a medium melon baller, scoop chocolate into balls, immersing scoop completely, then rotating it; transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
Coeur d'Alene Irish Coffee Truffles
9. Put cocoa powder into a shallow dish. Remove truffles from refrigerator. Roll each ball in your palms until completely smooth, then roll in cocoa powder to coat (if truffles become too soft to roll, return to refrigerator until firm); transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (up to 3 days).

No time or ingredients to make your own? You can buy Irish Coffee Truffles. I'm very fond of the Coeur d'Alene Irish Coffee Truffle. Maybe easier to find if you have to celebrate today would be the Lindt Irish Coffee Bar. They're both great and use real Irish whisky.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Sandwich

Today is National Peanut Butter Day. To celebrate, you can eat some out of the jar--chunky, smooth, organic.  Or you can make this scrumptious Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Sandwich.

Peanut butter and Banana sandwiches are great but adding chocolate makes this sandwich even better. Follow the adapted recipe below from the Vosges website for a Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Sandwich. It's easy and one of my favorites--maybe because I love the Vosges Organic Peanut Butter Bonbon Bar. To make this great sandwich, use a panini press, a skillet, a waffle iron or your clothing iron. Whatever you have. Who doesn't love a grilled sandwich?

Some alternatives if you don't have the Vosges Peanut Butter Bonbon Bar would be to use a few Reese's Peanut butter cups. Not the same quality, but delicious all the same! Or you can use Peanut Butter & Co's Dark Chocolate Dreams.  It's a wonderful organic product and has a place in your pantry or fridge.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Sandwich

Ingredients
2 white bread slices (soft sweet sourdough or Italian white bread) about 4-5 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick
2 tbsp Sea salted butter (or make your own by mixing 1/2 tsp sea salt and 2 tbsp of a fabulous sweet butter-or leave the salt off since there's salt in the Vosges Peanut Butter Bonbon Bar)
2 squares Vosges Organic Peanut Butter Bonbon Bar
1/2  banana, sliced

Directions
Spread butter on all sides of the bread.
Place peanut butter bar squares on one piece of bread, followed by sliced banana and a sprinkle of salt.
Place other piece of buttered bread on top/
Press with Panini press until golden brown.

Monday, January 23, 2012

In the Kitchen with Miss Piggy: Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownies

The Challenge on Project Runway All Stars this past week was to design a "flamboyant cocktail dress" for "one of the most famous fashionistas in the world." That fashionista came with a very unique figure and large ears (to be considered in hats or headpieces): Miss Piggy. Now unless you've been living under a barrel for the last 20 or 30 years, you'll know who Miss Piggy is and that she has a great sense of style. Fashion houses such as Burberry and Prada have created fabulous outfits for the divine Miss P, the fairest muppet of them all. Some of the contestants on Project Runway did her proud, but she had comments for those whose dresses didn't please her. Yes, Miss Piggy was a Guest Judge!

As many of you know, I collect celebrity, literary, mystery, and tie-in cookbooks. Of course, I went directly to my bookshelf and pulled off In the Kitchen with Miss Piggy: by Moi. This would have been a valuable book for the designers on Project Runway All Stars because besides cooking advice, there is a section on Miss Piggy's Guide to Food and Fashion. Lest you think that Miss Piggy spends all her time in the kitchen--well how could she? She's busy making movies and TV shows--Miss Piggy asked her dearest and closest celebrity friends to send recipes. When the cookbook came out in 1996, a portion of the proceeds was donated to Citymeals-on-Wheels.  The book was dedicated, "To Kermit, who has always been the hottish dish in moi's life."


In the section on Miss Piggy's Perfect Pantry #1 is Chocolate! I love her Chocolate Bar Graph.


Here's a chocolate recipe from In the Kitchen with Miss Piggy for Ben and Jerry's Superfudge Brownies with A Tip from Miss Piggy! Enjoy!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dagwood's Blondies: National Blondie Brownies Day

Today is National Blondie Brownies Day. Now this is a misnomer because Blondies aren't really brownies. I addressed this last year on National Blondie Brownies Day with a different recipe. Blondies are all about the butter and brown sugar, and as with their versatile cousin, chocolate brownies, you can add other ingredients such as macadamia nuts, cocounut, white chocolate chips, pecans, or other goodies.

This year I'd like to celebrate National Blondie Brownies Day with a recipe that features Blondie, that wonderful comic strip woman known for her baking and sandwich making! Created in 1930 by Chic Young, Blondie and Dagwood appear together in blissful love and happiness in over 2300 newspapers all around the world and translated into 35 different languages in 55 countries and read by an estimated 280 million people every day.

This recipe isn't from the Blondie Cookbook (I posted a recipe from the cookbook for a Chocolate Sandwich, of course).  This recipe for Dagwood's Blondies is from the Lurpak Butter Company.  Enjoy!

Dagwood’s Blondies

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 oz (1 cup or 16 Tablespoons) Sweet Butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.
1. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. On medium speed, beat butter and both sugars until pale and fluffy.
3. Add eggs, one at a time and then vanilla.
4. Lower speed and stir in flour mixture
5. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips or pieces.
6. Transfer batter to 9 x 13" non-stick or sprayed baking pan.
7. Bake for 45 minutes.
8. Cool completely in pan before cutting into 2-inch squares.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Chocolate Cranberry Granola Bars: National Granola Day

Today is National Granola Day. Granola isn't just for hippies anymore. Granola Bars are great for a healthy snack after school or on the trail. Yes, you can buy a lot of wonderful Granola Bars with Chocolate at the Market, but you can also make them very easily.

Last year on National Granola Day I posted recipes for Chocolate Cherry Granola Bars and Chocolate Granola. Since I'm all about easy, here's a simple recipe that you can adapt to your own needs or wants. There's no right or wrong here. You can add different nuts and cereals, different dried fruits, different chocolate chips or chopped chocolate with different amounts of cacao. You can add flavorings, too, such as Vanilla or Almond.

HEALTHY CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY GRANOLA BARS

Ingredients
1/4 cup local honey
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
1 & 3/4 cups oats
1 cup rice cereal (or another type of cereal you like)
4 tbsp DARK chocolate chips or 4 ounces chopped chocolate (65-85% cacao)
1/4 cup chopped peanuts (or almonds)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or dried cherries)

Directions
1. Heat honey, molasses, and brown sugar  (do not boil). Take off stove.
2. Immediately add peanut butter and stir until smooth.
3. Stir in oats, cereal, nuts, and dried cranberries.
4. Fold in chocolate chips or chopped chocolate.
5. Spread mixture into a pan coated with cooking spray. 
6. Bake at 325 for 15 minutes.
7. Cool and cut into bars or squares.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Laura Chenel's Chèvre Chocolate Truffles

I'm a huge fan of goat cheese, and I've posted several goat cheese truffles recipes on DyingforChocolate.comLaura Chenel's Chèvre Fresh Log took 1st place in the 2011 American Cheese Society competition, and it's a favorite of mine. I was so excited to meet Chef Jacquelyn Buchanan  from Laura Chenel at the Fancy Food Show this week. We chatted about chocolate and cheese, and I picked up her recipe for Laura Chenel's 'Award-Winning' Chèvre Chocolate Truffles. You can never have too many truffle recipes or too many truffles. In this recipe you can use either Log or Chabis (creamy, not flavored).

LAURA CHENEL'S 'AWARD WINNING' CHEVRE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

Ingredients
4 ounces Laura Chenel's Chèvre (Log or Chef’s Chèvre-not flavored)
6 ounces fine quality semi-sweet chocolate (72% cacao)
¼ cup agave nectar or mild-flavored honey
1 tablespoon Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
Unsweetened cocoa powder for coating
Optional Special equipment: 1-inch paper candy cups

Directions
1. In the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring gently until it is smooth. Be sure the bottom of the bowl of chocolate is not touching the simmering water. Take care not to get water into the chocolate. (Tip: To melt the chocolate in a microwave use a low power setting, microwave for 30 seconds, then stir. Repeat until the chocolate is smooth.)
2. Add the Laura Chenel's Chèvre and agave nectar or honey to the melted chocolate and stir until smooth. Stir in the Frangelico, orange zest and almond extract. (If using the microwave, the mixture: may need to be re-warmed). Transfer the mixture to a glass baking dish and refrigerate for 2 hours or place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
3. Using a small ice cream scoop, melon baller or spoon, shape the mixture into ¾-inch rough rounds. Place truffles on a plastic wrap-lined plate or platter. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4. Working quickly while truffles are cold, shape each round into a smooth ball by rolling it in the palms of your hands. Drop into cocoa powder and roll to coat. Place each finished truffle in a paper cup. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Recipe by Chef Jacquelyn Buchanan
Laura Chenel’s Chèvre

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Happy Anniversary: 3 Year Blogiversary Chocolate Cake

It's been three years since I started blogging at DyingforChocolate.com. Over these past three years I've had 1180 Chocolate Recipes, Reviews and News posts. You know I love Vintage Ads, so here's a  Baker's Chocolate Cake to Celebrate! OK. it's a 175th Anniversary Cake, but it works for me! If I knew you were coming, I would bake a cake!

Thanks to all who have contributed and commented--and to all the chocoholics out there.
Happy Third Blogiversary to DyingforChocolate.com


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Taza Chocolate: How to Make Mexican Hot Chocolate

It's really chilly today, so it's a perfect day to post this recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate from one of my favorite chocolate companies: Taza Chocolate. I got to meet Alex Whitmore, one of the founders of the company, at the San Francisco Fancy Food Show yesterday, and for me it was like meeting a rock star.  I always have Taza Chocolate in my desk.  Love that aroma when I reach for a pen. Taza Chocolate is a bean to bar company with a stone ground process. They're also serious about sustainable agriculture and fair trade.

Taza Chocolate was founded in 2006 and combines the Meso-American tradition of chocolate with a modern, high-quality product manufactured in a socially responsible way. In 2005, Taza cofounder Alex Whitmore traveled to Oaxaca to steep himself in the history and culture of Mexico. He learned about the pre-Columbian ritual of “xocolātl” in Latin America, and the customs that surrounded the transformation of cacao into a drink. The Oaxacan treatment of chocolate, compelled by the minimal processing and traditional method of stone grinding the beans, influenced him to start a business dedicated to crafting artisan, Mexican-style chocolate in the United States.

Alex Whitmore, Co-Founder, Taza Chocolate
Taza Chocolate produces 100% stone ground, organic chocolate using only the best ingredients while compensating growers fairly for their work. Taza found its initial sources in Chiapas, Mexico; in Talamanca, Costa Rica; and in Nagua, Dominican Republic. Today, Taza produces thousands of chocolate bars each month, which are sold in almost every state. Taza Chocolate has had a positive effect on their community, the industry, and livelihood and welfare of their growers.

This recipe is from the Taza website. As I've mentioned before, there are some wonderful recipes to be found on food product websites. I've made this Mexican Hot Chocolate with both the 'regular' Mexican Chocolate disc, the Chipotle Chili Chocolate Mexicano and the Guajillo Chili Chocolate Mexicano. There are lots of choices, and you can always add other flavors to your hot chocolate blend. See the recipe for ideas. Let me know what you make!


MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE

Step 1: Grate a disc of Chocolate Mexicano, and set aside:
To make a traditional taza de chocolate, start by grating one disc (approx. 1.3 oz) of Chocolate Mexicano for every cup (6 to 8 oz) of hot chocolate you'll be making. Use a rasp, microplane, or cheese grater. If you're using an unflavored Mexican chocolate, add any extra spices now. Vanilla, almond, cinnamon, and chili are common additions. Keep in mind that while it's not strictly necessary to grate the chocolate before melting it into your liquid, grated chocolate melts faster and is less prone to burning to the bottom of the pan.

Step 2: Heat water or milk until just below boiling:
In Mexico, hot chocolate is typically made with water, not milk. For a thinner, more refreshing taza, use water. If you prefer a thicker, richer version, use milk. Start by heating the milk or water in a high-walled saucepan until just under boiling.

Step 3: Remove Liquid from heat and mix in chocolate:
Take the saucepan with either milk or water off heat and add in grated chocolate. Continue to mix to prevent the chocolate from sticking to the bottom. Any liquid additions (rum, bourbon, tequila, vanilla) should be mixed in now.

Step 4: Pour chocolate mixture into pitcher; whisk:
Taza de chocolate is typically served frothy, with a thick head of foam on top. This is achieved by vigorously whisking the mixture using a molinillo (wooden Mexican whisk) or a standard whisk. Pour the liquid into an earthenware pitcher or narrow high-walled vessel (or leave it in your saucepan and risk a mess). Whip until airy and frothed up, about two minutes.

Step 5: Pour mixture into warm mugs. serve :
Pour your hot chocolate mixture into pre-warmed mugs. Garnish with a cinnamon stick for stirring, grated chocolate on top, or everyone's favorite: marshmallows and whipped cream. Serve immediately.

You can find Taza Chocolate  in Stores or order online

Monday, January 16, 2012

San Francisco Fancy Food Show: Chocolate

So many Chocolate Products at the San Francisco Fancy Food Show. I'll be doing some reviews in the next week or so, but in the meantime, thought I'd post a few snapshots from yesterday's foray! Chocolate and more Chocolate! Going back today for more!


Napa Cakes Panforte
Chewy's Chocolate Raspberry Rugelach
Seapoint Farms Dark Chocolate Edamame

Dutch Chocolate Sweet Sticks


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Blue Cheese Cheesecake with Chocolate Cookie Crust

I love chocolate and cheese, and I'm looking forward to the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, where the entire Moscone Convention Center will be filled with chocolate and cheese from all over the world. Yes, there will be other fancy foods and beverages, but I have my priorities. I will be writing about the show over the next few days, but in the meantime I want to share this great recipe for Blue Cheese Cheesecake. I use a Chocolate Cookie Crust, of course.  

Chocolate and Blue Cheese go well together. I've made Blue Cheese Truffles on numerous occasions, and I love them. If this is your first foray into the combination, choose a mild creamy blue cheese. If you're not sure, ask your cheese specialist.

BLUE CHEESE CHEESECAKE WITH CHOCOLATE CRUST

Chocolate Cookie Crust:

Ingredients
30 chocolate wafers (Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers-1 1/2 cups crumbs)
5 tablespoons sweet butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla extract

Directions
1. Process cookies in food processor until finely ground.
2. Transfer crumbs to mixing bowl & combine crumbs, butter, salt, and vanilla. Stir until crumbs are moistened.
3. Press mixture evenly across bottom of 9-inch springform pan and all the way up sides of pan. Pack tightly so crust is even.
4. Bake in 350° oven for 6-8 minutes or until crisp.
5. Let cool completely before filling. You can put it in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

For the Cheesecake:
1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
10 ounces Blue Cheese, room temperature (I've used Humboldt Fog)
3 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons honey
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch cracked black pepper

Directions
1. In large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add blue cheese; beat until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape bowl. Add sour cream, honey, salt and pepper. Beat until combined.
2. Pour into cooled prepared Chocolate Cookie Crust. Bake 40 to 45 minutes in a 325° oven or until set and knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool to room temperature in pan.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Julie Child Croissant Episode

The other day I reviewed Trader Joe's Chocolate Croissants. They're great and they're easy, but if you want to make them yourself, take a lesson from Julia Child. This is a classic! She's making croissants not pain au chocolat, but it's a wonderful episode.

"If you're afraid of butter, just use cream."--Julia Child

Friday, January 13, 2012

Gold Rush Brownies: Vintage Ad & Recipe

Got to love Elsie the Cow, the Borden's Mascot. Elsie made her debut in 1939, and after 70 years, Elsie is still going strong.

This recipe uses sweetened condensed milk. Gail Bordon patented his invention for making condensed milk in 1856 and that his company was the first manufacturer of condensed milk. Follow this link to an article from Smithsonian Magazine to learn more about this miraculous food product.

Here's a vintage Ad & Recipe for Gold Rush Brownies that are made with Borden's Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk, but the brownies are made without Eggs or Butter. I love my butter, but this is such a great ad reflecting the time period of "modern" baking short-cuts. This Advertisement appeared in Life Magazine, April 23, 1951.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chocolate Hot Toddy: Whiskey & Pacari Chocolate

Today is National Hot Toddy Day, and it couldn't come at a better time. Last night I attended a Chocolate & Whiskey Pairing in San Francisco, sponsored by Pacari Chocolate.

I hadn't tasted Pacari Chocolate before, and I am pleased to say it hit the mark on several levels. There were 9+ fabulous Ecuadorian Pacari Chocolates to taste including the Raw Line,  Lemongrass bar, Salt&Nib bar, Raw Maca bar, Merken Chili bar, and their Single-Origin line. My favorite was the Raw Nib Bar with Pink Sea Salt from Cuzco. 

Pacari Chocolate is a great organic chocolate. Their first single-origin organic chocolate is made in small batches entirely in Ecuador. All of their ingredients are 100% organic and produced according to fair and equitable standards. Each of their single-region, raw and specialty chocolate products is crafted to maintain the complex flavor profile of the Arriba Nacional cacao bean. Pacari partners with small-scale cacao growers to preserve their traditional way of farming.

The pairing of chocolate with whiskey made a big impact on me. I wasn't a big whiskey drinker before last night, but this Whiskey & Chocolate Pairing made me a convert--both to whiskey, particularly Scotch, and to pairing with chocolate. I've used whiskey in truffles and bourbon balls and cakes, so I knew chocolate and whiskey went together--just hadn't tasted them together--a bite of chocolate-a swig of whiskey! They totally go together and each brings out the flavors in the other. The whiskeys on deck last night: High West Double Rye, Basil Hayden's Kentucky Straight Bourbon, Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon and Laphroaig Single Malt.

Knowing that today was National Hot Toddy Day, I asked the mixologist for his favorite whiskey to pair with a specific Pacari chocolate to make a Hot Toddy. Of course, this quickly became a 'heated' discussion with the Pacari Chocolate expert and everyone else at the tasting table. Since Hot Toddys are often consumed when one is a bit under the weather, the first Hot Toddy suggested might pair one of the whiskeys with Pacari Lemon Grass Chocolate since lemon grass has several healthy properties.

But I think the Raw Maca Bar would be even better as an ingredient in a hot toddy. Maca, an important traditional Andean food and medicinal plant, is regarded as a highly nutritious, energy-food, and as a medicine that enhances strength and endurance. O.K, it also has been known to act as an aphrodisiac, so if you're under the weather in need of a chocolate hot toddy, this is the chocolate to pick. You're bound to get healthier. Here are a few combinations: The Pacari Raw Maca Bar and the High West Double Rye which is a bit spicy-- or the Basil Hayden's Kentucky or Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon which are both smoother.

Want a little heat in your Hot Toddy? Try Pacari's Chile Bar. This Bar combines dark organic chocolate with Merkén, a spice traditionally used by the indigenous Mapuche people of Chile. It gives the heat of chili but with a spicy, smoky flavor. I'd pair this with the Laphroaig.

You don't have to heat up the whiskey and chocolate to enjoy them at a pairing, but since it's National Hot Toddy Day, you might want to give it a go. You don't have to be sick to have a Chocolate Hot Toddy!

CHOCOLATE HOT TODDY RECIPE (makes 4 cups)

Ingredients
1- 1/2 cups grated dark chocolate  (see Pacari chocolate choices above)
1/2 cup dry milk powder
4 cups whole milk
8 tablespoons your favorite Whiskey

Preparation
1. In medium bowl, mix grated chocolate and dry milk powder.
2. In medium saucepan, heat whole milk over medium heat. Once heated, stir in chocolate mixture and whisk until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth and hot.
3. Pour 2 Tbsp. Whiskey into each mug (four mugs total), then fill each mug with the hot chocolate mixture. Serve hot. Add whipped cream if you want!

Pacari is hosting an open to the public Whiskey and Chocolate Pairing in San Francisco, January 16 at PhotoBooth, 1193 Valencia St @ 23rd, San Francisco, CA.  If you go, be sure to comment below. Love to hear about your favorites!

Thank you, Sarah from Pacari, for a fabulous evening of Chocolate and Whiskey! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie

Today is National Milk Day, and according to "Anonymous" who comments frequently on this blog, there's nothing quite like a tall glass of milk with chocolate brownies, cookies or cakes!

In honor of National Milk Day, I thought I'd post a very simple recipe that includes a cup of milk: Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie. Great combination of healthy foods to give you a boost in the morning or mid afternoon!

CHOCOLATE BANANA PEANUT BUTTER SMOOTHIE

1 cup Milk
1 ripe Banana (or frozen banana)
1 cup Ice
2 Tbsp Vanilla Greek Style Yogurt
3 Tbsp Chocolate Syrup
2 Tbsp Creamy Peanut Butter

In a blender, combine milk, banana, yogurt, ice, chocolate syrup, peanut butter and blend until smooth.
Pour into glass and drink.

How are you celebrating National Milk Day?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bittersweet Chocolate Cookies: Bittersweet Chocolate Day

Today is National Bittersweet Chocolate Day. Two years ago on this fabulous chocolate holiday, I posted information on just what Bittersweet Chocolate is. Be sure and go back and have a look. There's also a recipe there for Bittersweet Chocolate Bundt Cake.

As in any of the recipes I post, the quality of the ingredients will make a difference in the taste. I often have left-over chocolate (I know, who has left-over chocolate, but I do), and I like to combine different brands of chocolate and amounts of cacao in this recipe--both in the melted chocolate part of the recipe and in the chunks that are folded in later. Very fun and yummy! You can also substitute brown sugar for white, but you'll have a different cookie!

Happy Bittersweet Chocolate Day!

Bittersweet Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients
1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
8 oz dark (bittersweet) chocolate (65-85% cacao, organic, fair trade), chopped into chunks
2 tbsp sweet butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar (this can be brown sugar or white-it will change the cookie)
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
6-7 oz dark (bittersweet) chocolate chunks (65-85% cacao, organic, fair trade)
1.5 cups chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F.
Whisk together the flour baking powder & salt. Set aside.
Melt together butter & bittersweet chocolate.
Meanwhile, whisk eggs, sugar & vanilla together.
When chocolate has melted, whisk in small amount of chocolate into egg mixture and slowly add in remaining chocolate, continuing to whisk. Stir in flour mixture
Fold in chocolate chunks & nuts.
Drop cookies 2 inches apart in heaping teaspoon onto prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 12-14 minutes.
Cool on wire rack.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Apricot Chocolate Chunk Cookies: National Apricot Day

Today is National Apricot Day! I love Apricots, but this isn't the season for fresh ones. No problem, dried apricots are wonderful and  can be used in lots of way. You can just dip them in dark chocolate or you can dip them in dark chocolate and roll them in pistachios. You can chop them up and add them to a nice chocolate nut loaf. So many choices.

Here's an easy recipe for Apricot Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I use dark chocolate with a 65-72% cacao, but use what you have available or what you like. Milk chocolate? White chocolate? You can always add some dried cherries, too! This is a very versatile recipe.

APRICOT CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES

Ingredients
1/2 cup sweet butter, at room temperature (refer to cookie tips)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped into quarters or 1/2" pieces
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped into biggish chunks (1/2")

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°.
Cream butter & brown sugar in medium-size mixing bowl until blended.
Beat in egg and vanilla.
Add flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring mixture into smooth dough.
Fold in apricots, nuts and chopped dark chocolate, making sure to distribute evenly.
Drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 10 minutes, until edges are lightly browned.
Cool cookies on sheet for 2 minutes before transferring with spatula to wire racks to cool.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Chocolate Full Moon Cake

1/8/12, 5:05 am: Berkeley, CA
Another fabulous Full Moon this morning. I know the moon comes out at night, but I'm an early riser, and there's nothing quite like seeing the Full Moon and its shimmering reflection on San Francisco Bay. I truly live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Having posted recipes for Full Moon Brownies and Full Moon Cocktails, I thought I'd post a recipe for a simple Chocolate Full Moon Cake. This is a round cake with a thin spreadable icing that actually makes 'craters' as you pour it on top.  

Perfect for the Full Moon!

CHOCOLATE FULL MOON CAKE

Ingredients
2/3 cup Sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sweet butter, melted
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Magagascar vanilla extract

Lemon Icing:
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar  (powdered sugar)
2 ounces lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and line with parchment paper one 8 inch round cake pan.
Mix together sugar and eggs until dissolved. Stir in melted butter.
In separate bowl, slowly add hot water to cocoa and mix until smooth, dissolving cocoa completely.
In third bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder; add to creamed mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture. Blend in vanilla. Pour batter into 8 inch round pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
Let cake cool then ice with Lemon Moon Icing.

Icing: 
Combine confectioner's sugar with enough lemon juice to make icing spreadable without being runny or stiff (about 1/4 cup). Stir in grated zest.
Spread (or pour if you want lots of lunar irregularities!) icing thinly over top of cake.

Get out there and Howl at the Full Moon!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Trader Joe's Chocolate Croissants

I've mentioned Trader Joe's Chocolate Croissants before, but I've never dedicated a post to them. These are some of the best frozen croissants you'll ever taste. The 'proof' is in the pudding, as they say, and these croissants are proofed (allowed to rise) overnight before they're baked for 20 minutes the next morning. The heavenly smell will take over your kitchen. Perfect for the weekend or that special day.

And, the price can't be beat--just $3.99 for 4! Chef Jean-Yves Charon from Galaxy Bakery is the genius behind Trader Joe's Chocolate Croissants.

O.K. these "Croissants" are really Pain au Chocolat, as anyone can see by the shape, so feel free to imagine yourself at a sidewalk cafe in Paris when eating these! The croissants are incredibly flaky and buttery, so light and airy, and the Callebaut chocolate is rich and delicious. Since there are four to a box, and each croissant contains 18 grams of fat, you might want to offer a few to family or friends. If you don't care what they'll do to your waistline or thighs, indulge. They're terrific!

This is one product that I think outshines most home baked croissants. Yes, you can make your own Chocolate Croissants, but these are so good, why bother?

You'll find TJ's Chocolate Croissants in the freezer section. This product was voted by Trader Joe's Fans as one of the top 10 of 2011. I totally agree.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Chocolate Shortbread Fingers: National Shortbread Day

Who doesn't like butter? One thing about shortbread is that it contains a lot of butter! Last year for National Shortbread Day I posted Michael Recchiuti's recipe for Chocolate Shortbread Cookies. They're absolutely delicious and worth the time and effort. This year for National Shortbread Day, I'm more about easy and quick, so here's my favorite recipe for Chocolate Shortbread. The following recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. You can also make cookies using this recipe, but that's for another day. I use sweet butter in this recipe, but then I use sweet butter in just about every recipe!

CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD FINGERS

Ingredients
1-1/2 cups plus two tablespoons all-purpose flour
4-1/2 tablespoons dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 cups sweet butter, softened  (this is really key.. butter should be room temperature)
1 cup superfine sugar (ok, I have this on hand, but if you don't, put granulated sugar in the blender. Be sure and measure again)
Granulated sugar (for sprinkling)

Directions
Preheat oven to 325F. 
1. Butter 12 by 8 inch pan. Line with parchment paper.
2. In bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda until combined
3. Place butter and superfine sugar in mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy – three to four minutes (use the paddle attachment). Scrape down sides of bowl and add flour mixture. Beat on medium until just combined.
4. Spread dough in pan, using spatula or your fingers to even out the surface. Freeze dough until firm – approximately 15 minutes. Prick dough all over with tines of a fork, and place in oven. Bake 20 (to 30) minutes. Dough should be just firm to the touch.
5. Place pan on wire rack to cool. While still hot, cut dough into strips, and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Dough should cool completely in pan. 

For a twist: Sprinkle sea salt on top instead of sugar--or a mixture of both.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chocolate Bytes: Krispie Kreme New Chocolate Doughnuts

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts has launched a limited time special chocolate offering. The dark chocolate Kreme filling, glazed chocolate cake and new dark chocolate iced glazed doughnuts are available now through March 11 at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts in the U.S. and Canada.

The Dark chocolate Kreme filling doughnut is topped with dark chocolate icing and a milk chocolate drizzle and is filled with a smooth dark chocolate Kreme filling.

The Glazed chocolate cake is a chocolate old-fashioned cake doughnut covered in Krispy Kreme's Original Glaze.

The new Dark Chocolate Iced glazed tops Krispy Kreme's Original Glazed doughnut topped off with a ring of rich dark chocolate icing.

Want to Make your own Krispy Kreme Chocolate Glaze? Here's an easy recipe that's pretty close to the 'original'.  Of course, you need to make the donuts.

"Krispie Kreme" Chocolate Glaze

Ingredients
1/3 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4-6 tablespoons hot water
4 oz milk chocolate or semisweet chips

Directions:
Melt butter and chocolate together in top of double boiler (or saucepan over another saucepan with water simmering) until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat.
Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.
Stir in water 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

America's 3 Favorite Chocolate Foods: Baker's Chocolate Vintage Ad & Recipes

There certainly are a lot of favorite Chocolate Foods, but this Baker's Chocolate Vintage Ad from Life Magazine, January 6, 1941, gives three chocolate recipes that are still a great way to start the New Year-- 71 years later! Rich Chocolate Frosting. Yes! Chocolate Fudge. Yes! Devil's Food Cake. Yes! Enjoy!


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Chocolate Covered Cherry Day

Life is just a Bowl of Chocolate Covered Cherries! Because there's nothing quite like a chocolate covered cherry, I thought I'd repost a few recipes from last year's Chocolate Covered Cherry Day blog in celebration of National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day. I've added another recipe, too, for Chocolate Covered Dry Cherries. That's 4 recipes for Chocolate Covered Cherries. Still don't have any time to make these? Buy your favorite chocolate covered cherries to celebrate!

When I was growing up, I always wanted the chocolate covered cherry in the Whitman Sampler Box. As I remember they were usually covered with milk chocolate, but I'm a dark chocolate fan. Here are several simple and easy recipes for Chocolate Covered Cherries to celebrate the day. I can get cherries at Berkeley Bowl, but if you're a locavore, you may not want to buy Chilean Cherries today. I've also provided recipes for dried or maraschino cherries. If you decide to use maraschino cherries, be sure and dry them thoroughly or your chocolate will sieze. And, if you're using maraschino cherries, save the juice from the jar to make the Chocolate Covered Cherry Cocktail in this post! Any of these recipes would be great for Valentine's Day, so bookmark this page!

Chocolate Covered Fresh Cherries

Personally I like dark chocolate with cherries, but if you're a milk chocolate fan, go for it! As always, use the very best quality, organic, fair trade chocolate!  Hint: If the melted chocolate starts to harden  before you’re done dipping, put it into the microwave for a few seconds and then give it a good stir.

8 ounces of fair-trade  chocolate (I use Guittard 72%)
1/2  pound of fresh, sweet cherries

Wash and dry cherries.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate in top of a doubleboiler or in a saucepan over a saucepan that has simmering water.
Stir chocolate until completely melted and smooth.
Remove chocolate from heat.
Grab each cherry by stem and dip into chocolate. Swirl cherry clockwise, coating bottom 3/4.  It's always nice to see the cherry showing at the top.
Place cherry on parchment paper covered baking sheet.
Repeat with remaining cherries.
Place in refrigerator until chocolate hardens.
If not eating right away, put chocolate covered cherries in covered container and keep in the refrigerator for a few days.

Chocolate Covered Marschino Cherries

Use the above recipe with maraschino cherries. Just be sure and dry cherries thoroughly before dipping.

Chocolate Covered Dried Cherries

8 ounces Dark or Milk Chocolate
1 cup dried Cherries

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate in double boiler as above or glass bowl in microwave. Once melted, remove from heat.
Add cherries to chocolate. Stir until coated.
Remove clumps of coated dried cherries 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.

Feel like something alcoholic to celebrate National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day? Want to drink your Chocolate Covered Cherries?

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cocktail

Fill a tall glass with ice.
Add 1/2 ounce Bailey's, 1/2 ounce Kahlua.
Add a few drops maraschino cherry juice.
Shake.
Strain into another glass with ice.
Add a Chocolate Covered Maraschino Cherry for garnish!

And for your listening enjoyment! Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries 1931.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Chocolate Cream Puffs: National Cream Puff Day

Today is National Cream Puff Day. Cream puffs are actually one of the easiest pastries to make, and incredibly versatile. You can stuff them, top them, add flavoring to the choux and really change them up! For example, during the holidays, you can make a Croquembuche, a pyramid of cream puffs drizzled with chocolate or spun sugar. You can stuff Cream Puffs with all manner of sweet and savory fillings.

The Cream Puff is a baked puffed shell of choux pastry. In spite of the Betty Crocker Vintage Ads from the 1950s for Cream Puff mixes displayed on this page, they're really simple to make from scratch.  Following is an easy basic recipe for Cream Puffs and Chocolate Cream, as well as a non-traditional recipe for Chocolate Cream Puffs. I posted a different Chocolate Cream Puff recipe on the Croquembuche post last year, and you might want to try that recipe, too.

CREAM PUFFS

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour (some people use bread flour and that will really give these a different taste and texture, give it a try)
4 eggs

Instructions
Preheat Oven to 425.
1. In large pot, bring water and butter to rolling boil.
2. Stir in flour and salt until mixture forms a ball. Transfer dough to large mixing bowl.
3. Using a wooden spoon or mixer, beat in the eggs one at time, mixing well after each.
4. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet.
5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in preheated oven, until golden brown. Centers should be dry.
6. When the shells are cool,  split and fill.
How easy is that!

Chocolate Cream Filling

Ingredients 
14 ounces chocolate (65-85% cacao), finely chopped
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar

Instructions

1. Place chocolate in ttop pot of a double boiler over simmering water in lower pot (or in double boiler). Stir just until chocolate melts, then remove from heat.
2. Pour cream into bowl. Using electric mixer set on high speed, beat until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form, about 20 seconds.
3. Pour all of  melted chocolate into the whipped cream quickly, and continue to mix on high speed until evenly combined, about 1 minute.
4. Place chocolate cream in a clean pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe into bottoms of cooled cream puffs. Replace tops on the filled bottoms and serve immediately. Alternatively, spoon cream onto the bottoms being careful not to put too much. Of course, it looks pretty when it's piped!
***

Or you can make Chocolate Cream Puffs. The following recipe adds cocoa to a traditional cream puff recipe. Stuff with sweetened whipped cream. You don't need to add the sugar in the cream puff recipe, but I find the chocolate cream puffs taste a little better since there's no sugar in the cocoa. Of course, you could try this recipe with sweetened cocoa. Let me know what you think if you do that.

CHOCOLATE CREAM PUFFS

Ingredients
1 cup water
1/2 cup sweet butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons sugar
4 eggs

Instructions
Preheat Oven to 400
1. Combine flour, cocoa and sugar in small bowl.
2. In heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring water, butter and salt to a boil.
3. Stir in flour, cocoa, sugar mixture, until smooth ball forms. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until smooth and shiny.
5. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls (golf ball size) 3 inches apart onto greased (or parchment lined) baking sheets.
6. Bake (in middle of oven) at 400 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until set and browned.
7. Remove to wire racks. Let cool before splitting. Cool puffs completely before filling with whipped Cream, Ice Cream, or whatever!