Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chocolate Shoes

I love shoes. Yes, like chocolate, it's a passion. I don't necessarily wear high fashioned shoes, since I'm really into comfort, but I do covet them. So why not combine the two passions? That's exactly what cake maker Frances Cooley did.

Frances Cooley is the owner of Clifton Cakes in Bristol, and she launched a line of chocolate shoes after discovering a vintage chocolate shoe mold in Belgium. She added her own designs to the shoes, and she can barely keep up with demand despite the £21 price tag. She said: ''People are wowed about them because it's the perfect gift for a woman – chocolate and stiletto shoes put together. 'They've been selling like hot cakes. This past year sales have been incredible. 'They've been sold alongside pink champagne at some stores as well, and I could see someone drinking the champagne right out of the shoe.''

To create the mouthwatering footwear she hand-pipes a design into the mold and fills it with tempered Belgian chocolate which shrinks slightly as it cools. She then pours out the excess and lets the coated mold to set before finishing each shoe by hand with handcrafted frills and rosettes. Her unique designs have become so popular that they have garnered attention from high-end retailers in London – including luxury department store Liberty.

She added: ''A friend, who is a French chef, had a meeting at Liberty in London and he suggested that I accompany him in case they might be interested in selling my cakes. 'They were immediately interested in the shoes and started talking about packages and designs. 'About six months ago I got my first order from them, and as well as selling my products, Liberty has also used my chocolate shoes for promoting events.''

And, in case you're wondering, she makes handbags, too!

From The Telegraph and the ChocoRico website 
 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

6th Annual San Francisco Chocolate Salon: A Don't Miss Event!

Chocolate lovers, get ready for a world of fabulous chocolate! I'll be there, and I hope you will be, too! This Sunday in San Francisco: the San Francisco International Chocolate Salon.

The Premier Chocolate Show on the West Coast takes place this Spring at the 6th Annual San Francisco International CHOCOLATE SALON, March 4th, 2012 at Fort Mason Center, San Francisco.  10-6. Chocolate aficionados, fanatics, buyers and journalists can experience the finest in artisan, gourmet & premium chocolate in one of the world's great culinary metropolitan areas.

Featuring a delicious selection chosen and curated by the Organizers, the 6th Annual International CHOCOLATE SALON participants include over 50 master chocolatiers, confectioners, wineries and other culinary artisans such as Amano Artisan Chocolates, William Dean Chocolates, The TeaRoom Chocolate Company, Guittard Chocolate Company, La Chatelaine Chocolat Co., Monterey Chocolate Company, CocoTutti, Saratoga Chocolates, CC Made, Toffee Talk, Dandelion Chocolate, David Bacco Chocolatier, Socola Chocolatier, Nicole Lee Fine Chocolates, Toffeeology, Neo Cocoa, Sixth Course Artisan Confections, Vice Chocolates, Clarine's Florentines, Victoria Chocolatier, Christopher Michael Chocolates, Jade Chocolates, Truffles in Paradise, NewTree, Alter Eco Fair Trade Chocolate, Kika's Treats, Kallari, Chuao Chocolatier, Snake & Butterfly, COCOA and more.

New Chocolate Salon Additions include Celebrity Chef demos, the Chocolate Salon Fashion Bar, and the 2nd Annual SF Invitational Wine Salon.

Wine and Spirits include R&B Cellars, Urban Legend Cellars, Sol Rouge / Winery Collective, The Winery SF, Quady Winery, SLO Down Wines, VAD Vodka, Alquimia Organic Tequila, 21st Amendment Brewery, and Firehouse Grill and Brewery.

Other participants include Books Inc., the Bread Project (non-profit charity), The New York Times, Rigolo Cafe, Earthbody Day Spa, Mercury Fitness: High Performance Pilates, California Cookie Cutter Collectors' Club, Cuisine Noir magazine, San Francisco Professional Food Society, The San Francisco Orchid Society, Chocolate Covered SF, Hair Play Salon, Gems and Silver, The San Francisco Bay Area Chocolate Meetup, TasteTV, and more.

Salon highlights feature chocolate tasting, demonstrations, new product launches and flavor combinations, fair trade & organic offerings, celebrity chef & author talks, wine pairings, Chocolate Hair Spa with makeovers, ongoing interviews by TasteTV's Chocolate Television program, and book signings.

Demos and Panels include Chocolate and Wine Pairing Panel, The Return of the Toffee, Asian Flavors and Influences in Artisan Chocolate, Why I Make Handmade Truffles, and Fair Trade and Organic Chocolate Forum.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chocolate Kahlua Cheesecake: National Kahlua Day

Today is Kahlua Day! Now who doesn't like a shot of Kahlua in their coffee or hot chocolate? Kahlua is a coffee liqueur that was first produced in Veracruz in 1926 when a distiller added coffee beans to his rum. In 1964, Kahlua started exporting its product to the United States. Today, Kahlua is one of the most popular liqueurs in the world and for good reason.

Drink of the Week has a great description of Kahlua that taps into all the senses (better than I could do): Kahlua: Visually: clear with a medium plus, dark brown color. On the nose: medium intensity of coffee, cocoa, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and a hint of vanilla. On the palate: medium intensity of coffee (most dominant flavor), cocoa, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice and vanilla. Medium minus finish. Body is very viscous but has a nice texture on the palate. The Kahlua keeps the sugar and sweetness in check with a subtle hint of cinnamon. Medium plus finish.

On DyingforChocolate.com, I've posted recipes for Killer Kahlua Brownies from Mary Kennedy that will knock your socks off. Other Kahlua recipes posted: Chocolate Kahlua Date Nut Bread, Kahlua Peppermint Mocha Hot Chocolate, and Auntie Helen's Chocolate Kahlua Cake. I think she just added a bottle, so it wouldn't all burn off. Try one of those recipes today, or if you like cheesecake, try this easy recipe for Chocolate Kahlua Cheesecake!

EASY CHOCOLATE KAHLUA CHEESECAKE

Crust Ingredients
1 1⁄3 cups chocolate wafer crumbs 
1/4 cup sweet butter, softened
1 tablespoon sugar

Alternate Oreo Crust -- yum! just crush the oreos (or pulse in the Cuisinart), add a little sweet butter, and press into the springform pan

Cheesecake Ingredients
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate, chopped (65-75% cacao)
1/4 cup Kahlua
2 tablespoons sweet butter
2 eggs, beaten
1⁄3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
16 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into pieces

Directions
Prepare chocolate crumb crust by mixing together the crumbs, butter & sugar and press firmly into a nine-inch springform pan.
Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
In small saucepan over another saucepan with simmering water, melt chocolate with Kahlua and butter. Stir until smooth. Set aside. Let cool a bit.
In a bowl, combine eggs, sugar and salt. Add sour cream and blend well.
Add cream cheese to egg mixture. Beat until smooth.
Gradually blend in chocolate mixture.
Fold mixture into prepared crust and bake for 35 minutes or until filling is barely set in center.
Turn off heat and let stand in oven for 15 minutes with door open.
Take out of oven and let stand at room temperature for one hour.
Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chocolate: A Night at the Movies

Tonight I'll be watching the Academy Awards, and I started to think about all the great movies that involve Chocolate. No time for a detailed post, but thought I'd do a short list. There are a lot of movies with Chocolate in the title that have nothing or little to do with chocolate, so I've skipped those. Enjoy! Make some Chocolate Covered Popcorn to watch! Recipe at the end of this post.

Chocolat.  2000. A woman and her daughter open a chocolate shop in a small French village that shakes up the rigid morality of the community. Based on the book by Joanne Harris with Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and Alfred Molina.

Like Water for Chocolate. Como agua para chocolate. 1992. Based on the novel by Mexican author Laura Esquivel.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. 1971 with Gene Wilder. Based on the book by Roald Dahl. The Best of the Willy Wonka movies.

Consuming Passions. Cioccolato Bollente. 1988 in Italian, made in the UK. Black Comedy about a young executive who tries to modernize a chocolate factory.

Bread and Chocolate Pane e cioccolata. 1973 Italian film about an Italian immigrant in Switzerland trying to make a better life for himself while dealing with increasing bigotry and bad luck.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 2005. Johnny Depp. Based on the Roald Dahl book, but no where as good as the first movie.

Milton Hershey: The Chocolate King (documentary). 1995

Kings of Pastry.  (documentary) 2009. Sixteen French pastry chefs gathered in Lyon for three intense days of mixing, piping and sculpting everything from delicate chocolates to six-foot sugar sculptures in hopes of being declared one of the best. Prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France competition. Not just chocolate, but there's a lot of chocolate!

EASY CHOCOLATE COVERED POPCORN

1. Make a bag of popcorn (buttered or plain) and pop it according to the directions.
2. Put the popped popcorn into large bowl or flat baking pan (for more even distribution).
3. Melt dark or white chocolate or both (in separate bowls) in top of double boiler (or in microwave).
4. Drizzle chocolate on popcorn. You can always add more chocolate, but you can't remove it, so use sparingly.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Minny's Chocolate Pie for your Oscar Party

If you’ve seen The Help, you know that Minny’s Chocolate Pie has to be the main dessert on your Oscar Party menu this Sunday night.

The recipe below was used to make a movie prop and is the actual recipe that was used in the film. Newspaper columnist Lee Ann Flemming made a total of 53 of these chocolate pies for the movie, and this is the recipe she used. The original recipe appeared in the August 2011 Food & Wine issue. 12 of the pies that Lee Ann Fleming made were vegan and gluten-free versions that she prepared in just one day for actress Bryce Dallas Howard. Just an FYI, the "real" super fudgy version isn't vegan or gluten-free. You can make your own crust, but Flemming used packaged.

In  case you haven't seen the movie, The Help's ending hinges on a secret involving Minny's famous chocolate pie. However, this recipe is fabulous and easy and definitely a Hilly Two-Slice, without that 'other' ingredient.

Two Slice Hilly aka Minny’s Chocolate Pie
Ingredients:
9-inch pie crust, unbaked (packaged: Pillsbury, Trader Joe's)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
4 tablespoons sweet butter, melted
2 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
Whipped cream, for serving

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°.
Ease pie crust into 9-inch pie plate and crimp the edges decoratively. Prick the crust lightly with a fork. Line t crust with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes or until set. Remove the foil and weights and bake for about 5 minutes longer, just until the crust is dry but not browned.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk sugar with cocoa powder, butter, eggs, evaporated milk, vanilla and salt until smooth.
Pour illing into pie shell and bake for about 45 minutes, untilfilling is set around edges but a little jiggly in the center. Cover the crust with strips of foil halfway through baking.
Transfer pie to rack and let cool completely before cutting into wedges.
Serve with whipped cream.

Minny's Chocolate Pie can be refrigerated overnight.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Chiquita Banana, Carmen Miranda & Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Another year, another National Banana Bread Day! I've always loved Chiquita Bananas, especially the logo with Chiquita and her Fruit Hat that was popularized by Carmen Miranda. There was something so foreign and exotic about Chiquita--and Carmen Miranda.  I was so taken by all the Carmen Miranda Hollywood productions that when I was in Rio, I made a pilgrimage to Carmen Miranda's home on Avendida Rui Barbosa. Very fun!

So in honor of the day, here are two more recipes for Banana Bread. These are from Chiquita Bananas.  Just add them to the other recipes I've posted in the past and let me know which one you like best. I added chocolate chunks to both of the following recipes because I love chocolate and bananas. You can also add nuts. The second recipe is gluten free! Be sure to skim down to Carmen Miranda in the" Tutti Frutti Hat" Here's the 1950s "Chiquita Banana" song!

THE CHIQUITA BANANA SONG



Best Chiquita Banana Bread
adapted from Chiquita Bananas

Ingredients
4 whole Chiquita Bananas
1 cup All-purpose flour
1 cup Unprocessed wheat bran
1 1/2 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Brown sugar
3/4 cup Dark Chocolate, chopped
1 cup Unsalted butter, soft
2 whole Eggs
1 tsp.  Madegascar Vanilla extract
1/2 cup Walnuts
1 Tbsp. Local Honey

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large 9x5 inch loaf pan.
Whip 2 Chiquita Bananas and sugars until mix is creamy (about 3 minutes).
Add butter, eggs and vanilla and whip until smooth.
Mix in all dry ingredients until blended.
Fold in walnuts and Chopped Chocolate.
Slice two Chiquita Bananas and toss with honey until Chiquita Bananas are well coated.
Pour mix in loaf pan and place honey coated bananas on top.
Bake in oven for 60 minutes.
Let cool for 5 minutes then place plate on top of pan and flip pan upside down so loaf falls onto plate.

Gluten Free Banana Bread 
with Chocolate Chunks
adapted from Chiquita Banana Bread, recipe idea Alisa Bennett

Ingredients
3 large Chiquita bananas
3 large Eggs
1/4 cup Coconut oil (melted)
1 Tbsp. Vanilla extract
2 cups Almond meal
2 Tbsp. Coconut flour
1 tsp. Baking soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup chopped Walnuts
1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped into chunks

Instructions
Puree egg, oil, vanilla, and bananas in blender.
In separate bowl, blend dry ingredients.
Add banana and egg mixture to dry ingredients and mix well.
Fold in chopped walnuts  and chopped chocolate.
Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 50-55 minutes.



"THE LADY IN THE TUTTI-FRUTTI HAT" from Busby Berkeley's Welcome to Banana Island

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Almond Joy Truffles with Orchid Vanilla

Photo: Heidi Rand
For Valentine's Day, my friend George gave me two of these truffles pictured at the right. Only two you say? Well these are bigger and better than any truffle I've ever tasted. These truffles were not one, two or three bite truffles. They really look like truffles in the woods: kind of gnarly and big. And they have a bold unique flavor to match their size. Definitely not gnarly.

As I said these may be the best truffles I've ever tasted, and I've tasted a lot of truffles. I tried to identify the ingredients, but I was totally off-base. Thought coffee, thought alcohol... none of those. Well, I just had to have the recipe. Now that I'm sharing, George will have to kill me. :-) There is definitely a secret ingredient: vanilla from George's Vanilla Orchid. I don't happen to have a vanilla orchid in my home, but George assures me that any good vanilla will work in the recipe. I'm skeptical, but I'll try. I do have some fabulous homemade Bourbon Vanilla that my friend Laura K. Curtis sent to me for Christmas. I'll let you know. In the meantime, make these. Once you've tasted them, you'll think you're in heaven!

George McRae is a professional actor who finds great joy in the kitchen and cultivating his orchids, hens, and garden. He makes his own vanilla flavoring from the vanilla orchids that he grows, harvests, cures, and extracts. A chocoholic by nature, he makes a variety of truffles and other chocolate delights. George is also a beekeeper and bakes with honey (baklava!) from his backyard hives.

To learn more about Vanilla Orchids, check out Heidi Rand's post about George growing and cultivating the vanilla orchid he uses in these truffles: Heidi's website is: Garden Delights Arts & Crafts.

Georgie's Almond Joy Truffles

Ingredients:
3/4 cup heavy cream
12 oz semisweet chocolate
4 oz bitter sweet chocolate
1 cup unsweetened butter
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup finely ground almonds, toasted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon anise extract
12 ounces semisweet chocolate  (for coating)
cocoa powder for final dusting

Directions
Make the "ganache"
Heat the cream in a double boiler to simmer, add 1st 12 oz semi and 4 oz bittersweet chocolate to simmering cream.
When melted and incorporated, add butter.
When all incorporated, add coconut and freshly toasted ( golden color) ground almonds.
Add vanilla, and extracts.
When all mixed and distributed evenly pour into pyrex baking dish and cool in refrigerator. Mix should be about an inch deep. An 8 x 8 dish works pretty well with these amounts.
When cool and thickened but not solidly, scoop amounts which when rolled in your palms give you balls about half the size of a golf ball, 1.5 inches at most.
Put into freezer on a waxpaper lined cookie sheet while you melt remaining 12 oz chocolate in double boiler.
When all melted, remove from heat and take out ganache balls and dip and cover in melted chocolate. When all done roll in cocoa powder liberally and keep cool in fridge when not devouring........

Photos: Heidi Rand

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Moon Pies, Mardi Gras & Mobile

Moon Pies are a very Southern snack food, and Moon Pies in their packaging are thrown from floats during Mardi Gras in Mobile, AL, and other towns along the Missippi Gulf Coast. They might not have the allure or shine of purple (justice) green (faith) and gold (power) beads, but they are a tradition, and people covet them--and they're great to eat! Catching items from floats means good luck, but sometimes, as in this case, it means a tasty treat!

I have a good friend from Mobile, AL, and Moon Pies are definitely a Mardi Gras throw there. The first group to throw these chocolate covered marshmallow treats were the Maids of Mirth in 1956. The Chattanooga MoonPie company supplied the MoonPies after crackerjack boxes were banned because of dangerous sharp corners, and the  MoonPie became a traditional "throw" of Mardi Gras "krewes" in Mobile, Alabama. The westernmost outpost of the Moon Pie as an important Carnival throw is Slidell, Louisiana, which has a parade by "The Krewe of Mona Lisa and MoonPie." The Moon Pie Company actually now offers smaller bite size individually wrapped MoonPies for throwing off floats.

So what is a MoonPie? Although it's often mistaken for a Whoppie Pie, it's not the same thing at all! A  moon pie is a sandwich composed of brittle soft crumbly graham crackers and thick soft spongy marshmallow and then covered with rich dark chocolate.

The Moon Pie Brand began in 1917 with its trademark registered on Jan 1, 1919 in Chattanooga. According to the MoonPie Company, the story goes that Earl Mitchell, Sr, a bakery salesman, visited a company store that catered to coal miners. The Miners wanted something solid and filling because they didn't get time to break for lunch. About how big? he asked. A Miner held out his hands, framing the moon, and said, "About that big!" When Mitchell returned to the bakery, he notices some workers dipping graham cookies into marshmallow & laying them on the window sill to harden. The idea of adding another cookie and a generous coating of chocolate was tried, and samples of this new MoonPie were distributed. It had a great response and became a regular item for the bakery.

During the 1930s, the MoonPie found its place in Southern folklore as part of the 'workingman's lunch". Coal miners and laborers could enjoy the biggest snack on the rack, a MoonPie, and a 10 oz RC Cola, each for a nickle. This inspired the 1950s country music hit "Give me an RC and a MoonPie. Double Decker MoonPies with three cookies and two layers of marshmallow appeared during the 1960s, and they were easier for vending machines.

So if you're in Alabama or Louisiana for Mardi Gras today, try to catch some MoonPies!

Want to make your own Moon Pies? Recipe links.

BrownEyedBaker
TidyMom
Delish
Serious Eats

Monday, February 20, 2012

First Ladies' Chocolate Recipes for Presidents Day

Since I posted Martha Washington's Recipe for Devil's Food Cake this weekend, I thought I should post a few other Chocolate Recipes from other first ladies. The recipes are found in the individual Presidential Archives. Make any of these great recipe and celebrate Presidents Day.

From Mamie Eisenhower (Dwight D. Eisenhower) 
Mamie Eisenhower’s Million Dollar Fudge
* I posted this recipe last year in a slightly different version from the cookbook Politics & Pot Roast **This recipe makes 4 pounds of Fudge**

Ingredients
4 1/2 cups sugar
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 tall can evaporated milk
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate bits
12 ounces German-sweet chocolate
1 pint marshmallow cream
2 cups nutmeats

Directions
Boil the sugar, salt, butter, evaporated milk together for six minutes.
Put chocolate bits and German chocolate, marshmallow cream and nutmeats in a bowl.
Pour the boiling syrup over the ingredients.
Beat until chocolate is all melted, then pour in pan.
Let stand a few hours before cutting.
Remember it is better the second day. Store in tin box.

From Betty Ford (Gerald Ford)
Betty Ford's Chocolate Icebox Dessert

Ingredients
6 Eggs
1 Angel food cake
12 oz Chocolate chips
4 Tbsp Sugar
6 Tbsp Water
2 teaspoon Vanilla
1 teaspoon Salt
2 cups Whipping cream

Directions
Line flat 9x9″ cake pan with wax paper.
Slice angel food cake and place a layer of cake in pan. (Slices easier if frozen). Separate eggs, beat yolks.
Melt chocolate in double boiler over water.
When melted, add sugar and water. Mix well. Make sure sugar melts.
Remove from heat and stir gradually into the beaten egg yolks. Beat until smooth. Cool this mixture. Add vanilla and salt. Mix well.
Beat egg whites until stiff.
Whip the cream.
Fold egg whites into chocolate mix, then the whipped cream.
Place a layer of chocolate on the angel food slices, than another layer of cake, then a layer of chocolate.
Place in refrigerator overnight.
This can be frozen and used later. Be sure to chill overnight before freezing.

From Lady Bird Johnson (LBJ) 
Lady Bird’s Chocolate Nut Drop Cookies



From Hillary Clinton (Bill Clinton)
Hillary Clinton's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
Vegetable oil, for baking sheets
1 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup (firmly packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 package (12-ounce) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease baking sheets with vegetable oil.
Combine flour, salt, and baking soda on waxed paper.
Beat together shortening, sugars, and vanilla in large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, beating until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture and rolled oats. Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop batter by well-rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Chocolate Mint Recipe Round-Up: Chocolate Mint Day

I love the taste of Chocolate and Mint. So refreshing! There are so many different types of mint, and I grow many in my garden: spearmint, chocolate mint, peppermint, catmint (a favorite of the cats) and many more. Mint oil and mint flavorings go well in truffles, cakes, cookies and brownies--not to mention pies and ice cream! So in honor of Chocolate Mint Day, I thought I'd do a Chocolate Mint Recipe Round-Up. Have a Chocolate-y Minty Day!

Grasshopper Pie: Recipes, Cocktails, History & Vintage Cookbooks

Peppermint Patty Cake: National Peppermint Patty Day, Vintage Recipe & Ad

Chocolate Mint Bars: Guest post by Bobbi Mumm

Layered Mint Chocolate Fudge: Guest Post by Lesa Holstine

Thin Mint Cookies from Pattie Tierney

Peppermint Patties from Pattie Tierney

Chocolate Mint Ice Tea

Chocolate Mint Pots de Creme
Peppermint

Chocolate Mint Herbs and Mint Geraniums in The Chocolate Garden

Crushed Peppermint Cheesecake from Sunset

Peppermint Cake: Vintage Ad & Recipe

Chocolate Peppermint Bark 

Peppermint Bark Brownies

Peppermint Patty Drinks:
Peppermint Patty Hot Chocolate Cocktail
Chocolate Peppermintini
Peppermint Patty on the Rocks

Chocolate Cheesecake Candy Cane Bars

Chocolate Peppermint Ganache

Peppermint Patty Ice Cream Sandwiches

Peppermint Cookie Recipes
Chocolate Peppermint Patty Cookies
Peppermint Bark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Peppermint Trifle

Kahlua Peppermint Mocha Hot Chocolate & Peppermint Whipped Cream


Chocolate Peppermint Creams: Vintage Ad & Recipe

Chocolate Peppermint Pie with Peppermint Oreo Pie Crust

Candy Cane Fudge

Peppermint Ice Cream Pie

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Martha Washington's Devil's Food Cake: Presidents Day

Martha Washington was known for entertaining, and who better than to put forth a recipe for Devil's Food Cake than the First First Lady. Her Devil's Food Cake is a classic chocolate-buttermilk cake that has been handed down through the generations, republished (with variations) by baking chocolate companies and appearing on thousands of websites. Presidents Day is a celebration of Presidential Birthdays, and this is the perfect Birthday Cake.

This recipe is from Capitol Hill Cooks: Recipes from the White House, Congress and All of the Past Presidents by Linda Bauer (Taylor). The collection of appetizers, entrees, sides and desserts, from two centuries worth of politicos, is a benefit for Homes for Our Troops, which helps injured veterans build or adapt their homes for handicapped accessibility.

Martha Washington's Devil's Food Cake

Ingredients
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, divided
2 -1/2 cup cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-15-inch pan or two 9-inch cake pans.
2. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Add 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup buttermilk, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Cool.
3. Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder, baking soda and salt and sift together three times.
4. Cream butter thoroughly. Add 3/4 cup sugar gradually, and cream together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat well. Add about a quarter of the flour mixture, mix thoroughly. Add chocolate mixture and blend. Add remaining flour, alternately with buttermilk, a small amount at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add vanilla.
5. Pour batter into greased pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until done. Let cool. When completely cooled, trim edges and cut rectangular cake in half crosswise to make a two-layer cake. Fill and frost with icing of your choice.


Illustration: San Jose Mercury News Staff

Friday, February 17, 2012

George Washington's Favorite Drink: Chocolate

Chocolate Pot & Caudle Cup
President's Weekend and what better way to celebrate than with the George Washington's Favorite Drink: Warm Chocolate Cream.

George Washington definitely liked his chocolate. A favorite breakfast for him was cornmeal hoe cakes with honey and butter, washed them down with Warm Chocolate Cream, according to a new cookbook, Dining with the Washingtons, by the staff at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate. The cookbook offers updated versions of typical recipes from the period and a glimpse into the first president's favorite foods.

Dining with the Washingtons, Historic Recipes, Entertaining, and Hospitality from Mount Vernon, edited By Stephen A. McLeod

Chocolate was a favorite drink at Mount Vernon in George Washington's lifetime. Washington's first recorded order for chocolate was for 20 pounds of the product, which arrived from England in 1758. He continued to buy chocolate throughout his life, in quantities as small as one pound and as large as the 50 pounds purchased three months before his death in 1799. (Source: Pleasant Living Magazine)

Chocolate was a typical breakfast beverage, not only at Mount Vernon but throughout British North America. It was made by grating a small amount of chocolate into boiling water, milk and water, or wine and water, and later adding sugar (See recipe below from Dining with the Washingtons).

 In a letter to his wife in Scotland, tutor John Harrower at Belvidera Plantation wrote that breakfast with his employer usually consisted of warm bread and either coffee or chocolate. In 1794, a friend wrote to George Washington requesting two or three bushels of chocolate shells "such as we've frequently drank Chocolate of at Mt. Vernon, as my Wife thinks it agreed with her better than any other Breakfast....". Martha Washington's daughter-in-law admitted to one of her daughters that "the more simple food I have is best" and went on to say that "I breakfast on Chocolate....".

Special ceramic forms were used to serve this beverage. Among the 309 pieces of white and gold French china acquired in 1790 for the presidential mansion were 12 chocolate cups and saucers, which were brought to Mount Vernon upon Washington's retirement. The Washingtons purchased three sets of tea china and six chocolate cups in 1793, further evidence that chocolate, although popular, was not served as often as tea. A covered, two-handled chocolate or caudle cup, probably intended as a display piece, survives from the "States" service given to Martha Washington in 1796 and is exhibited in the museum at Mount Vernon.

In addition to enjoying cocoa, the Washingtons often made a healthful tea from the shells (hulls), which they served to guests.

Recipe from Dining with the Washingtons:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut: Homemade Almond Joy

Today is National Almond Day, and for me, Almonds are all about Almond Joy. Today, Almond Joy candy bars are manufactured by Hershey's.  Almond Joy has a coconut-based center topped with two toasted almonds and covered in a layer of milk chocolate. Almond Joy is the sister product of Mounds, which is the same confection but without the almond and coated with dark chocolate. I'm actually partial to Mounds, but for the purposes of today's holiday, I'm posting about almonds and Almond Joy. One concession, in the recipe for Homemade Almond Joy Bars, I use dark chocolate!

According to Wikipedia, Peter Paul Halajian, a candy retailer in Connecticut in the 1919, along with other Armenian investors, including Dutch candy manufacturer Jett Schaefer, formed the Schaefer Candy Manufacturing Company in 1919. The company first sold various brands of candies, but following sugar and coconut shortages in World War II, they dropped most brands and concentrated their efforts on the Mounds bar. The Almond Joy Bar was introduced in 1946 as a replacement for the Dream Bar (created in 1936) that contained diced almonds with the coconut. In 1978, Peter Paul merged with the Cadbury company. Hershey’s then purchased the United States portion of the combined company in 1988.

During the 1970s, the Peter Paul company used the jingle, "Sometimes you feel like a nut / Sometimes you don't / Almond Joy's got nuts / Mounds don't," to advertise Almond Joy and Mounds together. In a play on words, the "feel like a nut" portion of the jingle was typically played over a clip of someone acting like a "nut", engaged in some funny-looking activity. See the Vintage Commercial Video below.

Did you ever try any of these? In the 2000s, Hershey began producing variations of the product, including a limited edition Piña Colada and Double Chocolate Almond Joy in 2004, a limited edition White Chocolate Key Lime and Milk Chocolate Passion Fruit Almond Joy in 2005, and a limited edition Toasted Coconut Almond Joy in 2006. Although Peter Paul as a company no longer exists, the name still appears on the wrapper as part of the bars' brand names.

Want to make your own Almond Joy Bars? Simple and delicious. I know that Almond Joy uses milk chocolate, but I'm partial to dark which is why I probably always liked the Mounds Bar better. You can use either type of chocolate in the recipe below. As always use the very best chocolate for the very best candy!

Homemade Almond Joy Recipe

Ingredients

7 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup sweet butter, softened
Pinch of Salt
1 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
14 ounces sweetened flaked or shredded coconut
24 ounces dark chocolate, chopped  (milk chocolate if you're a traditionalist)
3/4 cup whole almonds (that you'll toast-see recipe)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F
1. Spread raw almonds on baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
2. In big mixing bowl, blend milk, butter and vanilla. Add powdered sugar a little at a time. Add coconut a little at a time and mix until combined. The mixture will be thick. Place mixture in refrigerator for 30 minutes. (Use can use your Kitchen Aid flat beater, but I prefer the texture  that comes from hand mixing.)
3. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove coconut mixture from refrigerator. With hands, shape one tablespoon of coconut into small log - 2 inches long and 3/4-inch thick. Press coconut mixture tightly together. Place logs on lined baking sheet and continue until all coconut mixture is finished.
4. Press an almond on top of each coconut log.
5. Place baking sheet in freezer to chill while you melt chocolate.
6. In medium microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate in tmicrowave 2-4 minutes at 30 SECOND intervals until chocolate is melted (or melt in top of double boiler or pan over saucepan of simmering water).
7. Remove coconut logs from freezer.
8. Dip in Chocolate: See next step

How to Dip in Chocolate:  Two Ways

1. Place one coconut almond log on fork. Use spoon to scoop a bit of chocolate over almond. This helps almond stick to coconut log during dipping. Lower fork into chocolate and spoon chocolate over candy to coat. Lift fork and gently shake to release some of the chocolate. Scrape bottom of fork along the side of bowl and place on lined baking sheet. You might need a toothpick to help get the candy off the fork. Repeat until all candy is coated in chocolate. If chocolate gets thick, return to microwave or heat for a tiny bit more.
Let dipped candy harden for 45 minutes. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

2. Using Two Fork method (or a special dipping tool-I find this handy), dunk coconut logs in chocolate, bring up and tap on lip of bowl to remove excess chocolate. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and repeat.

Do You Remember this Almond Joy Commercial?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Chocolate Gifts

Galaxy Desserts: Chocolate Satisfaction Mousse Cake
I think Chocolate is the most appropriate gift to give on Valentine's Day. You can make homemade chocolate gifts such as:

Chocolate Cherry Truffles 
Valentine's Day Chocolate Heart Shaped Truffles
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Chocolate Souffles
Chocolate Marshmallow Hearts

Or you can Buy:
Truffles and Candy: Check out your local chocolatier.
Heart Shaped Chocolate Cakes, Cookies, Brownies: Check out your local Bakery or Specialty Supermarket 

I'm lucky I live in the San Francisco Bay Area because there are so many wonderful chocolate shops and bakeries.

Williams Sonoma, besides having lots of choices for Valentine's Day gifts such as heart shaped cookie cutters, molds, pans, and more, has some great chocolate products. Here are two of my favorites.


S'mores Hugs and Kisses from Williams Sonoma
Created by hand at Two Hearts Bakery in San Francisco, S’mores are made by hand. Graham crackers are baked with a touch of wildflower honey and Saigon cinnamon. Hand-cut marshmallow is made with Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon vanilla. Dipped in Guittard milk or dark couverture chocolate. Packaged in a gift box tied with red ribbon. A Williams-Sonoma exclusive.


Red Velvet Cake from Williams Sonoma
Heart-shaped version of the classic red velvet cake combines two  layers of rich, fudgy devil’s food cake with fluffy vanilla buttercream frosting. From the Perfect Endings vintage cake collection, it is made using premium ingredients, following an old family recipe.  8" diam., 2" high. A Williams Sonoma exclusive. (might be too late since you can't buy this at the store, but if it's still available, it's really yummy)

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!  What chocolate treats are you giving or having?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Chocolate Cherry Truffles for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is all about Chocolate and for me anything red, and that includes cherries. Remember your first Valentine's Day card? I bet it had a red heart on it. I used to love Chocolate Covered Cherries on Valentine's Day. I've posted a recipe for those before: Chocolate Covered Cherries.

This year I thought I'd do two recipes for Chocolate Cherry Truffles. One has alcohol (Kirsch-cherry liqueur) and one is non-alcoholic. They're both easy to make which is what this blog is all about.

Chocolate Kirsch Truffles
adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients
1 pound DARK chocolate (65-75% cacao),  chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup sweet butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature
4 tablespoons KIRSCH (cherry liqueur)
3 cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Directions
Melt chocolate with cream in a heatproof bowl or a saucepan set over another saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Add butter and Kirsch; stir until smooth.
Transfer to 8-inch square baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm but still maleable (about 2 hours)
Using melon baller, drop balls of chocolate mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate 10 minutes.
Put cocoa powder into a large bowl. Using cocoa-dusted hands and working one at a time, roll balls between your palms until smooth.
Roll in cocoa to coat. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.


Easy Chocolate Cherry Truffles

Ingredients
13 ounces dark chocolate, chopped into pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped  (Trader Joe's has different kinds)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Dash of salt
1/2 cup DARK cocoa powder

Directions
In saucepan over another saucepan with simmering water, combine chocolate and cream. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
Stir in chopped dried cherries, balsamic vinegar and salt.
Pour into small baking pan (8 x 8) and refrigerate until set (about 2 hours).
Put cocoa in a bowl.
Using melon baller, scoop out about a small ball of chocolate mixture.
Place each ganache ball on silpat mat or parchment lined cookie sheet until all chocolate is used up. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Take out of refrigerator and roll into balls with your hands.
Roll balls in cocoa powder until coated.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chocolate & Cheese Pairings

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, I've been posting information about Wine & Chocolate and Wine & Beer. Either would be great for a romantic Valentine's Day 'event'. A Third pairing for the special day is Chocolate and Cheese. They go together like--well like chocolate and cheese (not chalk & cheese!). Thanks to the California Milk Advisory Board for this post on Chocolate and Real California Cheese Pairings. Use this post as a guide. Love to hear which chocolate and cheeses you pair. I had Cowgirl Creamery Triple Brie & Taza 70% Stoneground Chocolate the other night (photo). I think the Brie would have gone well with the 80-87%, but I didn't have any on hand. Happy Valentine's Day!
 
***
Rich, bold, decadent – this pair is a savory-sweet love connection is sure to make your foodie heart race. Creating the perfect pair is easy with these dating guidelines. Foods with similar flavor profiles go together best. For darker chocolates, choose a more complex, aged cheese while sweet milk chocolates work best with buttery cheeses, like Brie. Bright, fruity chocolates are perfect with sharper cheeses and nuttier chocolates find a perfect pair in high butterfat cheeses. Want to spice things up a bit? Try pairing spicy chocolates with sharp cheeses – the intensities play off each other beautifully!

· Pair a dark chocolate with more the 80% cocoa with a delicious true Blue cheese
· Indulge in burnt caramel chocolates with a beer-soaked table cheese
· Pair a Bordeaux-style chocolate with a creamy triple crème Brie
· Treat yourself to candied orange peel and an aged Cheddar

Take the pairing up a notch with help from “Pair Savvy” a smart phone app that helps you pair the myriad of delicious California cheese varieties with the wine and beers you enjoy. The user-friendly application is free for download on most smart phones, including iPhone and Android devices, available at pairsavvy.realcaliforniamilk.com.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Peppermint Patty Cake: National Peppermint Patty Day

I love Peppermint Patties. February 11 is Peppermint Patty Day (however you spell it-- Patty/Pattie). Here's a great Vintage Advertisement from March 31, 1941 for Chocolate Peppermint Patty Cake to welcome Spring. Spring may not have arrived where you are, but February 11 is Peppermint Patty Day!

Want to make Peppermint Patties instead of cake? Check out this guest post from Pattie Tierney.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Bourbon Cream Cheese Brownies

February 10 is National Cream Cheese Brownies Day, and I've posted several different recipes for Cream Cheese Brownies including ones from scratch, ones using box box brownie mixes, and a one-bowl recipe.

This recipe, adapted from Southern Living, December 2011, for Bourbon Cream Cheese Brownies. Delicious and easy! I've changed some of the measurements, and I've added pecans, but feel free to adapt what you'd like!

Bourbon Cream Cheese Brownies

Ingredients
5 ounces dark chocolate (85% cacao or higher)
3/4 cup sweet butter
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 - 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 large eggs, divided
1 teaspoon Madegascar vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 cup bourbon
1 cup chopped pecans

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottom and sides of a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil, allowing 2 to 3 inches to extend over sides; lightly grease foil.
2. Melt chocolate and butter in top of double boiler or saucepan on top of a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk in brown sugar and 1 cup granulated sugar. Add 3 eggs, 1 at a time, whisking just until blended after each addition. Whisk in vanilla, salt, and 1 cup flour. Fold in pecans. Spread half of batter in prepared pan.
3. Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth; add 2 Tbsp. flour and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, beating until blended. Add bourbon and remaining 1 egg, beating until blended.
4. Pour cream cheese mixture over brownie batter in pan; top with remaining brownie batter, and swirl together. Once through-- don't overswirl.
5. Bake at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely in pan on wire rack (about 1 hour). Lift brownies from pan, using foil sides as handles. Remove foil; cut into squares.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wine and Chocolate: Northern California Valentine's Celebrations

My company TeamBuilding Unlimited has long been known for its Chocolate Team Building, as well as its Winning Wine Team Events. TeamBuilding Unlimited also produces a combination event-- Team Wine: The Noir of Wine and Chocolate Tasting. Wine and Chocolate are the Perfect Pairing.

I plan to do an in-depth article on Wine and Chocolate Pairing, but in the meantime, here are several different Wine and Chocolate Events (not necessarily pairings) in Northern California that will jumpstart your Valentine's Celebration. Wine and chocolate is what it's all about.

February 10: "Food From the Heart"at the 1898 Ferry Building Marketplace, San Francisco. Kick off Friday night, February 10th, in the candlelit Grand Nave. Merchants and restaurateurs at the Marketplace will offer chocolate tastings and seasonal hors d'oeuvres, and local Napa Valley Vintners will pour wine. The event is free with nominal charges for food and wine samples. 
       Marketplace shops will all be open from 5 to 8 PM for Valentine shopping on Friday night. Proceeds from purchases of wine and hors d'oeuvres will benefit Slow Food San Francisco's programs such as the School Garden Projects 

February 10: 6-9 p.m. Rock Wall Wine Company, Alameda. Via Amore! Viva Wine! Rock Wall Wines, treats and chocolate.  www.rockwallwines.com

February 11: 12- 5:00 pm. Domenico Winery, San Carlos. Winter Wine Festival & Chocolate Festival. 6 wineries pouring their wines at Domenico Winery....Jazz Cellars, Muccigrosso Vineyards, Naumann Vineyards, Pinder Winery & Travieso Winery! Each winery will pair their wines with chocolate in celebration of Valentine's Day. For more info.

Feb 11-12, 10am-5pm: B.R. Cohn Winery, Glen Ellen Wine and chocolate lover celebration for Valentine’s Day. Mention the phrase “my special Valentine” to receive a complimentary tasting. There will be a chocolate fountain with dipping delights paired with a heavenly Cabernet Sauvignon.  B.R. Cohn Winery, 15140 Sonoma Hwy, Glen Ellen www.brcohn.com

Feb 11-12, 10am-4:30pm: Kenwood Vineyards, Kenwood. Cabernet & Chocolate
Kenwood Vineyards is offering a sweetheart of a deal on their Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon. Taste their current vintages paired with dark chocolate. Kenwood Vineyards, 9592 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood. www.kenwoodvineyards.com

February 11, 1-4pm: DeLoach Vineyards, Santa Rosa, A Zin Affair to Remember. A Zin-extravaganza that  includes Vertical Zin tastings, gourmet chocolate, local artisan cheeses, raffle prizes, case specials, and music. DeLoach Vineyards, 1791 Olivet Rd, Santa Rosa www.deloachvineyards.com

February 11 & 12, 12-5 p.m.: Mountain Winery, Saratoga. The Wine & Chocolate Event.  WINE & CHOCOLATE TASTINGS: Empanadas with Spicy Chocolate Dipping Sauce ~ Paired with The Mountain Winery Zinfandel, Chocolate dipped Cured Peppered Bacon ~ Paired with the Mountain Winery Merlot, Chocolate Pizza Nutella, Dried Fruits and Nuts ~ Paired with the Mountain Winery Syrah, Chef Sidoti’s famous brownie – Paired with the Mountain Winery Cabernet Sauvignon. Go here for more info.

February 11, 11-5 p.m: "In Love with Redwood Valley, A Day of Wine, Spirits and Chocolate. Mendocino. Third annual chocolate and wine extravaganza. Professional chocolatiers will present tastings of exquisite dark and milk chocolates, truffles, dipped strawberries, heart-shaped cakes and more, paired with Redwood Valley's dark, rich ports, cabernet sauvignon, petite sirah, muscat canelli and world-class liquers and brandies.  Click here for more info.

February 11-12, 11 am -4 pm: Lodi Wine & Chocolate Weekend. Travel from winery to winery while taking in each of the winery’s hosted activities such as wine and chocolate pairings, live music, barrel tasting and cellar tours.  Go here for more info. 

February 11: 1-3 pm: Silverado Vineyards, Napa, Wine & Chocolate.  Anette's Truffles paired with Silverado Vineyards wines. A true wine/chocolate pairing. For more info, click here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chocolate and Beer

This is Beer Week, and Beer and Chocolate are a great match. Lots of ways to celebrate this duo.

There are Chocolate Ales to drink:
  
Boulevard's Chocolate Ale
Rogue's Chocolate Stout
Bailey's Chocolate Ale
Bison Organic Chocolate Stout
Kelso's Chocolate Lager
Young's Double Chocolate Stout
Steelhead Brewing's Chocolate Kiss
Imperial's Choklat Stout
Harpoon's Chocolate Stout
Lips of Faith's Series Cocoa Mole
New Glarus's Chocolate Abbey
Lagunitas's Bourbon Barrel Cappuccino Stout (not exactly a chocolate stout but tastes like it)
Samuel Adams' Chocolate Bock

Or you could attend the Third Annual Chocolate and Beer Festival (info below).

Want to do your OWN Chocolate and Beer Tasting? Do a beer tasting with a few of the stouts above.  

Want to do a Chocolate/Beer pairing? Pair a malty beer with a fruity truffle or tea truffle. Switch it up and take notes. Decide what you like or don't like.  

Chocolate/Beer Truffles to Buy: 
Socola makes an awesome All Shakespeare Stout Truffle (using Rogue Brewery's Shakespeare Stout)

Or make your own Beer/Ale Truffles: Chocolate Guinness Truffles

**
 The Third Annual Chocolate and Beer Festival brings together local Chocolatiers, breweries and bands to raise money for a good cause: The Children's Learning Center.
Saturday, February 11, 2012, 2:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Craneway Pavilion, Richmond, CA

This sweet spot in SF Beer Week pairs suds (including the debut of Rosie the Riveter Ale and selections from Drake's Brewing, Anchor Steam, Moylan's Brewing Company, Lost Coast, Trumer, Marin Brewing Company, Triple Rock, Linden Street, and more) with cacao and confections (provided by Coco Delice, Galaxy Desserts, and Bittersweet Cafe) and live jazz music (The Emperors's Jazz, Beam and several other local musicians).

Tickets $30 in advance online, $40 at the door.
"The Works!" Entrance ticket include four (4) sample sized chocolates and four (4) sample sized beers. Additional beer and chocolate available for purchase inside event. 
Chocolate Only Tickets $15
Ticket includes Entry, four (4) sample sized chocolates. Great for kids 10 years or older, guests not of drinking age, designated drivers, guests who do not like beer.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Walker's Shortbread Scottie Dogs with Muddy Boots

Walkers introduced its new Shortbread Scottie Dogs at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. I love Walker's pure butter Shortbread, and I'm a sucker for dog shapes. These scotties are definitely BEST IN SHOW!

As it's raining today, and my own pup came in with 'muddy boots', I thought it would be fun to dip these Scottie dogs in Chocolate. I decided on milk chocolate to be more 'mud-like'.  Apologies for the photo.. I didn't shake the cookies off after I dipped them. That would have shown the shape better, but they still taste wonderful! And, these Scottie Dogs don't need to be walked in the rain!

Walkers Shortbread Scottie Dogs with Muddy Boots

Ingredients
4 squares of Guittard baking milk chocolate
a bit of sweet butter

Directions
Melt chocolate and butter together in the top of a double boiler or saucepan over saucepan with simmering water. Stir so it doesn't seize.
Dip Shortbread Scottie dogs in 'mud'. Remember that Scotties are low to the ground, so dip as low as you like.  Be more professional than I was, and shake the excess chocolate from the shortbread cookie.
Put chocolate covered Scotties on parchment and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to harden.

You can also dip in chocolate and roll in chopped nuts. You know dogs-- they pick up 'debris.'

Monday, February 6, 2012

Chocolate & Raspberries: Amanda Whitworth Guest Post

Today I welcome Amanda Whitworth from Homemade Chocolate Treats. If you haven't visited her website, you must! Incredible chocolate recipes. As it says on her opening page:  If you are looking for the world's finest chocolate recipes you have come to the right place!

Both of these Chocolate Treats would be wonderful for Valentine's Day--or any time! In the following recipes, Amanda gives both UK & US measurements. FYI: Castor Sugar is Superfine Sugar in the U.S. I need to find the proper US equivalent of Golden Castor Sugar--it's not brown sugar. Update to come.

Amanda Whitworth: 
Chocolate And Raspberries, A Divine Combination

Good morning chocoholics!

My name is Amanda and I have my own choccy website called Homemade Chocolate Treats. I have the best job in the world as I get to test chocolate recipes every day in my kitchen in a little village in Norfolk in the UK.

When Janet asked me to guest post on her fabulous blog, I didn't take long to decide I would like to share a couple of choccy/raspberry recipes with you all. Mainly because they are my favourites! The combination of dark chocolate and delicious sweet raspberries is just too gorgeous to keep to myself.

You just have to try these muffins, so simple, you cannot go wrong, just make sure you bake plenty as they will disappear fast!

Raspberry And Chocolate Chunk Muffins

INGREDIENTS
250g/8oz self raising flour
125g/4oz caster sugar
125g/4oz dark chocolate
150ml/5fl oz full fat milk
125g/4oz butter
2 eggs
200g/7oz fresh raspberries

METHOD
Preheat the oven to 190C, 375F, Gas 5.
Line a muffin tin with 12 paper muffin cases.
Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl.
Stir in the sugar.
Break the chocolate up into small chunks and add this to the bowl.
Melt the butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.
Beat the eggs and add to the butter.
Add the milk to the egg/butter mix.
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients.
Carefully combine into a batter but do not overmix.
Wash and cut each raspberry into 4.
Carefully fold in the raspberries.
Divide the mixture between the 12 muffin cases.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes until risen and firm to the touch.
Transfer to a wire rack.
Serve your raspberry chocolate muffins while they are still warm from the oven if you can.
When completely cool store in an airtight container.

And now for something a little more decadent.....

Raspberry Chocolate Cake

INGREDIENTS
4oz/125g unsalted butter, cubed
7oz/200g plain chocolate, chopped
8 medium eggs, separated
7oz/200g golden caster sugar

Chocolate Sauce
4oz/125g golden syrup
6oz/175g dark chocolate 70% cocoa solids
7fl oz/200mls water

To Decorate
6oz/175g fresh raspberries or 10oz/300g frozen raspberries
Milk chocolate curls

METHOD
Preheat the oven to 180C, Gas 4.
Grease and line an 8" deep baking tin, preferably springform.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring until smooth.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Separate the eggs and put the yolks in a large mixing bowl.
Add the sugar and whisk until thick and creamy.
Whisk in the chocolate mixture until smooth and well combined.
Using a clean whisk thoroughly whisk up the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Carefully add the egg white to the chocolate mixture bit by bit and folding in with a large metal spoon.
Do not over mix.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface.
Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for one hour and fifteen minutes.
Turn off the oven and allow the cake to cool in the oven, it will sink a little in the middle.

To make the chocolate sauce:
Put the water and golden syrup in a pan and heat gently.
Add the chocolate and stir until it is melted and smooth.
Bring to the boil and simmer for at least five minutes.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
When the cake is cooled, arrange the raspberries on the surface.
If you are using frozen berries make sure they are thoroughly drained.
Drizzle the sauce all over the cake.
Decorate with chocolate curls.
Enjoy your raspberry chocolate cake!
If not eaten the same day cover and store in the fridge.

Unless raspberries are in season you might prefer to use frozen berries otherwise these recipes may prove to be rather expensive. Fresh are best though if you can get hold of them.
Try to use the best quality chocolate you can afford too as it generally tastes better.
For many more tasty choccy recipes pop on over to www.homemade-chocolate-treats.com where you will find a warm welcome.

Thank you Janet for giving me a spot on your blog.
**
My pleasure--Janet

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Easy Nutella Pizza: World Nutella Day

I think of nutella as goodness in a jar!  You can buy it or make your own, but whatever you decide, celebrate World Nutella Day: February 5, 2012!
Nutella is more than just a “chocolaty hazelnut spread,” it is a way of life.

EASY NUTELLA PIZZA

Ingredients
Pizza Dough (I use Trader Joe's)
1/2 cup Nutella
1/3 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts
1/3 cup grated white chocolate or chopped white chocolate

Directions
Preheat oven to 425.
Spray baking sheet. Set aside.
Prepare dough.
Flatten dough on baking sheet. Make it thin. This is a 'thin crust' pizza. Bake dough for 10 minutes.
Spread NUTELLA over pizza dough.
Top with toasted chopped hazelnuts and grated chocolate (to look like cheese) or  chopped white chocolate.
Put pizza back into the oven for 5 minutes.
Cool before cutting.

How easy is this? What Nutella treat are you making?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cocoa Soup: National Homemade Soup Day

Today is National Homemade Soup Day.  Last year for National Soup Month (January), my friend Louise over at Months of Edible Celebrations sent me a link to Cocoa Soup. The thickening agent is what makes this a soup and not a steaming hot cup of cocoa. I was amazed to find so many cocoa soup recipes including Black Bean Cocoa Soup. So here are a few recipes to warm you up today.

Icelandic Cocoa Soup, although it uses potato or cornstarch, is not all that thick. Nevertheless, it has a different texture and taste from regular drinking cocoa. Give it a try. The savory Cocoa Black Bean Soup definitely has a different flavor with the addition of the cocoa.

According to the website Gestgjafinn, Sweet Dessert Soups are common in Iceland and Northern Europe. This unusual dessert soup often surprises visitors to Iceland, who will not encounter it at restaurants but may be served it in private homes.

Icelandic Cocoa Soup

Ingredients
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups water
3 cups milk
1 tablespoon potato starch or 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Pinch of Salt

Directions:
1 Mix the cocoa powder, sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan.
2 Add the water gradually and stir until smooth.
3 Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
4 Add the milk, reheat to boiling point and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
5 Mix the potato starch or cornstarch with a little cold water, stir into soup and remove from heat.
6 Salt to taste and serve.
7. Serve with crushed zwiebacks.

For a fancier version, use 3 ounces dark chocolate (55-75% cacao) instead of cocoa powder and serve soup with whipped cream instead of zwiebacks.

Want something savory?

Black Bean Cocoa Soup with Lime Zest
 
Ingredients
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 large carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 cups low-sodium organic vegetable broth
2 tablespoons DARK cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups canned black beans
grated zest of 1 lime

Directions
1. Place olive oil in medium saucepan and add onion.
2. Saute on low heat until onions are caramelized, about 15 minutes.
3. Add garlic, carrots, and celery and cook for 5 minutes.
4. Add vegetable broth, cocoa powder, and cumin. Stir well.
5. Simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Stir in the black beans.
7. Add lime zest.
8. Cook for aabout 20 minutes over low heat.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Chocolate Chip Coconut Carrot Cake

Today is National Carrot Cake Day! I've always loved carrots, and growing up I was called Rabbit by some family members. This is a great 1928 vintage ad from the Ladies' Home Journal, but not the recipe for this carrot cake. I had to add chocolate: cocoa and chocolate chips. All the great food groups in this one, especially with the cream cheese frosting!

CHOCOLATE CHIP COCONUT CARROT CAKE

Ingredients
1 cup sweet butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
2 tbsp DARK cocoa
1/2 cup water
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
2 c. shredded carrots
3/4 cups chopped nuts
1/3 cup coconut
3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips

Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sweet butter, room temperature
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time; beating well after each addition.
Sift dry ingredients together; add to creamed mixture alternately with water and vanilla.
Fold in carrots, nuts, coconut and chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate pieces)
Pour into 9"x13" baking pan. Bake for 45 minutes. 
Cool and frost with cream cheese frosting.

For Frosting
Combine cream cheese, butter and vanilla and mix until blended.
Scrape down bowl and add sifted powdered sugar.
Mix until smooth.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Heavenly Hash Cake

Today is Heavenly Hash Day. Of course, I'm not talking about the Hash in the Vintage Advertisement. Heavenly Hash can be lots of things: a fruit salad held together with sour cream or whipped cream, or it might be a chocolate candy or chocolate cake filled with marshmallows and nuts. Some ice cream makers have a variety of chocolate ice cream called Heavenly Hash (kind of like Rocky Road).

Since I'm into Chocolate, I'm posting a Heavenly Hash Cake recipe to celebrate the day. Warning: this is very sweet, but it's really good since it has three layers. It's also simple to make!

HEAVENLY HASH CAKE

Ingredients:
2 sticks butter
4 tbsp. cocoa
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 cups nuts, chopped
1 tsp Madagascar Vanilla
1 bag mini marshmallows
Dash of salt.

Directions
Melt butter and cocoa together.
Beat eggs and sugar.
Add flour, salt and vanilla.
Fold in butter and cocoa mixture. Mix well.
Fold in nuts.
Pour into a 13 x 9 inch greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
Remove from oven.
Distribute marshmallows evenly over warm cake top.
Return to oven for 5 minutes (just until marshmallows puff a bit)
Let cool.
Top with chocolate icing layer (this can be thick-take one pass over the cake and add rather than swirling)

ICING:

1/4 cup milk
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 lb confectioners sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla

Heat milk and butter together. Beat in confectioners sugar, cocoa and vanilla.