Thursday, May 31, 2012

National Macaroon Day: Add Chocolate

Today is National Macaroon Day. Now I know that macaroons are not really the same thing as the "French" macarons, but the word has the same root.

The words both come from the Italian maccarone or maccherone which is derived from ammaccare, meaning crush or beat--referencing almond paste as the principle ingredient. Most macaroon recipes contain egg whites, almonds or nuts. Sometimes coconut--and definitely sugar! I grew up with macaroons that were mainly coconut.

The 'French' macaron is a sweet meringue-based confection that is filled with ganache, buttercream or jam and is between two 'cookies'. It's smooth and domed. Lots of flavors, including, of course, chocolate! Although French, there has been much debate about its origins. Larousse Gastronomique cites the macaron as being created in 1791 in a convent near Cormery. Some have traced its French debut back to the arrival of Catherine de' Medici's Italian pastry chefs whom she brought with her in 1533 upon marrying Henry II of France.

In the 1830s, macarons were served two-by-two with the addition of jams, liqueurs, and spices. The macaron as it is known today was called the "Gerbet" or the "Paris macaron" and was created in the early 20th Century by Pierre Desfontaines of the French pâtisserie Ladurée, composed of two almond meringue discs filled with a layer of buttercream, jam, or ganache filling.

But for today's post, I thought I'd focus on MACAROONS, since it's National Macaroon Day!

First, you should know that there is an Almond & Macaroon Museum  in Montmorillon, France. This museum pays homage to the generations of craftsmen who built the reputation of Montmorillon, Cité of Macaroons.  The Museum reveals the history of the macaroon, from the culture of the almond tree (and the multiple uses of almonds), to the arrival of the macaroon in France.

There are informative panels, interactive terminals, and machines and old instruments used in the kitchen. At the end of the exhibition, a film summarizes the broad outlines of the visit, and dwells on the arrival of the Macaroon of Montmorillon, and on the creation of Rannou-Métivier House. The visit culminates in the opportunity for tasting in the Winter Garden of the museum.

And, a few recipe to help you celebrate the day! Stay posted for Macaron recipes another day!

CHOCOLATE MACAROONS

Ingredients
1 1/3 (8 ounces) cups dark (70%) chocolate, broken up into small pieces, divided
2 large egg whites
pinch of salt
1/4-1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sweetened fresh flaked coconut

Preparation
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 1 cup chocolate  in microwave-safe bowl; microwave on low setting at 10-second intervals until chocolate is melted, stirring occasionally (or melt in a double boiler). Cool just to room temperature.

Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, then vanilla, beating until whites are thick and glossy. Fold in melted chocolate and coconut, then remaining 1/3 cup chocolate (broken into small pieces the size of mini-chips).

Drop batter by heaping teaspoonfuls onto prepared sheets, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart.
Bake cookies 10 minutes. Reverse sheets. Bake until tops are dry and cracked and tester inserted into centers comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 10 minutes longer.
Cool cookies on sheets on racks.
Store airtight at room temperature up to 2 days.

Two More Chocolate Macaroon Recipes:

CLEO COYLE'S MOCHA DIPPED RUM MACAROONS

CHOCOLATE CHIP MACAROONS

Want to try a variation? This Dark Chocolate Macaroon Cake from une Gamine dans la Cuisine will fill the bill.

And for those of you who like to drink your Chocolate Macaroons, here's a great:
Chocolate Macaroon Martini

6 ounces vodka
1 ounce chocolate-flavored liqueur
1 ounce Amaretto
orange twist

Combine liquid ingredients in cocktail shaker with cracked ice and shake well.
Strain into chilled martini glass and garnish with orange twist.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chocolate Chip Gate: Chocolate Bytes


Chocolate Bytes: Kosher Chocolate Chips

According to the Jewish Daily Forward, a chocolate chip supermarket sweep was caused by the announcement of a label change in Trader Joe's Chocolate Chips. The product itself hasn't changed. The manufacturing company has changed its cleaning process, forcing a "may contain traces of dairy" label to be added to the chips. The possibility that the product will have dairy means that the new version is no longer Kosher when eaten with meat.  Just an FYI: The Trader Joe's Chocolate Chips are still Kosher 'dairy', just not pareve.

Kosher consumers appreciate the pareve designation on chocolate chips because it allows for the substitution of non-dairy chocolate chips in baking for desserts following a meat meal.

As soon as the news that Trader Joe's would substitute the OK pareve hekhsher (kosher certification symbol) for a dairy one, discussion threads were launched on Facebook describing how favorite recipes for trail mix and chocolate chip challah would be an impossibility without the pareve chocolate chips from Trader Joe's. An online petition was started to urge Trader Joe's to reverse the decision.

I did a little research, and a good substitute for these chips would be Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips. They're definitely 'pareve'. Available at Whole Foods and some Target stores and online.

Whole Foods also sells vegan chocolate chips that are non-dairy. I don't think they're quite as tasty, and they're definitely more expensive. I'm not sure they're Kosher (and I should have checked when I was at the market), but if it's a non-dairy chip you want for allergy reasons, you can use these. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

MEMORIAL DAY 1943: Chocolate is a Fighting Food

I see a lot of Chocolate Advertisements in Life Magazine, and during WWII there were many. I've posted some before, but thought that today, being Memorial Day, I would add these two from Nestle's. "Chocolate is a Fighting Food."

Nestle's produced the D-ration chocolate that was sent to our infantry during WWII. "Chocolate supplies the greatest amount of nourishment in the smallest possible bulk. So wherever America fights, the Army uses chocolate in the form of emergency rations, selected because it contains so much quick energy."

Be sure and take time today to remember those who defended our country. 





Saturday, May 26, 2012

Chocolate Ancho Rub: Great on Brisket

Continuing with the Memorial Day Barbecue theme, here's an easy recipe for Chocolate Ancho Rub. Use this on Brisket with one of the Chocolate BBQ sauces I posted yesterday.. Fabulous.

Here are step by step directions for Smoked Beef Brisket with Chocolate Ancho Rub from the Home Brewed Chef. I use my own Chocolate Barbecue Sauce, but you want to try his.

CHOCOLATE ANCHO RUB

Ingredients
1 Cup Cocoa Powder (Scharffen Berger)
1/2 Cup Ancho Chili, ground
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
1/4 Cup Black Pepper, freshly ground
1/4 Cup Cumin, ground

Directions
In medium size bowl, add all ingredients and mix with whisk, until you have uniform mixture.
Put in quart size jar and seal until ready to use.

Friday, May 25, 2012

MEMORIAL DAY CHOCOLATE BARBECUE SAUCES

When I was growing up barbecues at my house were mostly on holidays: Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. My Dad would don his Westinghouse apron and hat and fire up the grill. I still have my Dad's apron, but not the chef's hat. Very nostalgic--and retro. Wish he were still with us. I miss him every day. He'd love these barbecue sauces (and this list of Barbecue Crime Fiction.)

If you're planning a Memorial Day barbecue, you'll want to check your stock of dark chocolate. I've posted several chocolate barbecue sauces and chocolate rubs before, but here are two more. Both can use Hershey's products-- #1 Hershey's Special Dark Syrup and # Scharffen Berger Dark Chocolate.

This first recipe is from The BBQ Report. I use a different Dark Chocolate Sauce from an artisan chocolate company, but you can always use Hershey's. The flavors will be different, but both would be good. Season your meat with some cocoa powder (unsweetened) for double chocolate goodness.

#1 CHOCOLATE BARBECUE SAUCE

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Hershey’s Special Dark syrup (or another)
 1/4 cup olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp prepared mustard
1/2 tsp hot sauce

Directions
In a sauce pan saute onions and garlic in olive oil, cooking until tender.
Stir in lemon juice, salt, pepper, paprika and hot sauce.
Simmer for 5 to 6 minutes and reduce heat.
Stir in ketchup, vinegar and Hershey’s Syrup.
Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

#2 CHOCOLATE BARBECUE SAUCE

From the Hershey's Website comes this amazing and much more complex Chocolate Barbecue Sauce recipe, utilizing Scharffen Berger 82% dark chocolate (Scharffen Berger is now owned by Hershey's) Recipe adapted from Chef Ken Gladysz at the Hotel Hershey (see link above)

Ingredients
1 tablespoon sweet butter, soft
4 each garlic cloves, minced
1/2 Spanish onion, diced small
2 each Roma tomatoes, stem removed, diced small
1 1/2 oz. dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons ancho chili powder
4 oz. apple cider vinegar
8 oz. barbeque sauce
14 oz. vegetable stock
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 oz. SCHARFFEN BERGER 82% dark chocolate
2 tablespoons cilantro, fresh, chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground

Directions
 Melt butter in small sauce pan over medium heat.
Add garlic and onion, sauté 5 minutes until golden brown.
Add tomatoes, stir, and sauté an additional 5 minutes.
Add sugar and chili powder, mix well, and cook for 5 minutes.
Add vinegar, reduce for 5 minutes, mixture should have a paste consistency.
Add sauce, stock, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper. Mix well.
Bring to a boil and reduce to a slow simmer for 30 minutes.
Add SCHARFFEN BERGER chocolate and cilantro; allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove sauce from heat and let stand for 10 minutes.
Puree sauce, transfer to a clean container and cool.
For best results, refrigerate for 12 hours before using.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Golden Gate Bridge: 75th Anniversary in Chocolate

The Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco icon, turns 75 this weekend.

The bridge opening celebration began on May 27, 1937 and lasted for one week. The day before vehicle traffic was allowed, 200,000 people crossed by foot and roller skate. On opening day, Mayor Angelo Rossi and other officials rode the ferry to Marin, then crossed the bridge in a motorcade past three ceremonial "barriers", the last a blockade of beauty queens who required Joseph Strauss to present the bridge to the Highway District before allowing him to pass.

An official song, "There's a Silver Moon on the Golden Gate", was chosen to commemorate the event. Strauss wrote a poem that is now on the Golden Gate Bridge entitled "The Mighty Task is Done." The next day, President Roosevelt pushed a button in Washington, D.C. signaling the official start of vehicle traffic over the Bridge at noon. When the celebration got out of hand, the SFPD had a small riot in the uptown Polk Gulch area. Weeks of civil and cultural activities called "the Fiesta" followed. See the footage of the opening in the video below.

In May 1987, as part of the 50th anniversary celebration, the Golden Gate Bridge district again closed the bridge to automobile traffic and allowed pedestrians to cross the bridge. However, this celebration attracted 750,000 to 1,000,000 people, and ineffective crowd control meant the bridge became congested with roughly 300,000 people, causing the center span of the bridge to drop almost 7 feet and flatten out under the weight.

Although the bridge is designed to flex in that way under heavy loads, and was estimated not to have exceeded 40% of the yielding stress of the suspension cables. The 75th anniversary celebration will be held this Sunday, May 27, 2012. As a safety measure, the Bridge will not be open to pedestrian traffic during the celebration.  However, you can do a Virtual Bridge Walk here.

Interested in Celebrating? Here's a link to all the activities planned for the weekend for the 75th Anniversary.  Sunday, May 27, from the Waterfront to Fort Point to Pier 39.

iPhone/iPad App: GoGGBridge. Fun facts, historic slideshows, games and recordings of Bridge Workers telling astounding stories from the 1930s.

Like Mystery Fiction? Check out the Golden Gate Bridge on Mystery Covers from its opening until now.

Of course, you'll want to celebrate this icon in Chocolate.

Ghirardelli Chocolate, another San Francisco icon, has a Solid Milk Chocolate Golden Gate Bridge.

As part of the Golden Gate Bridge celebration, Ghirardelli Chocolate is also having A Tribute to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Visit Ghirardelli Square for a special exhibit in celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary. For two days only, take a self guided historical walking tour exploring the history of the Golden Gate Bridge!

Also on exhibit will be a four foot long Golden Gate Bridge carved from Ghirardelli Chocolate!

On Saturday, the first 750 participants will receive a FREE solid Ghirardelli Chocolate Golden Gate Bridge.  All participants must check-in at the arched lighted sign at Larkin St.

Bridge Brands has a great San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge Milk Chocolate Souvenir Tin.


Their signature tin features the image of a single stately Golden Gate Bridge tower, and contains 3.5 oz. of their milk chocolate drops. Also comes with Dark Chocolate Drops. The tin is really beautiful. Image created by artist Michael Schwab.

Are you making anything in chocolate to celebrate the Golden Gate Bridge? Comment below or send photos!

Here's some great footage from the Opening of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Caribbean Chocolate Soup: Sweet or Savory

The other day I mentioned that there will be a Caribbean Chocolate Soup available for tasting at the Berkeley Chocolate and Chalk Art Festival. Got me thinking of various recipes I've posted for Chocolate Soups (Cocoa Soups). I'm sure the one that's going to be available at the festival will be savory, and below I have a link to a recipe for a savory Caribbean Chocolate Soup.

But... I really like sweet soups. This recipe for Chocolate Soup With Caramelized Bananas is by chef Jacques Torres (posted on FabFood). He developed it for Le Cirque 2000. The chocolate and bananas fit the bill for Chocolate Caribbean Soup! This dessert consists of a hot chocolate soup over caramelized bananas and topped with a spectacular meringue crown. What could be better?!! It's not that difficult, looks fabulous and tastes divine. Definitely more elegant than a chocolate covered banana on a stick!

FROM JACQUES TORRES ABOUT THE RECIPE:
The clients at Le Cirque love chocolate desserts, so I am always trying to come up with new ones. One year, Kris and I went to Disney World. She insisted I try a frozen chocolate covered banana and, quite frankly, I questioned the concept. Well, I loved it! I didn't think Sirio would be too pleased if I served bananas on a stick at his restaurant, so here is the version I adapted for the dessert menu.

JACQUES TORRES' CHOCOLATE SOUP WITH CARMELIZED BANANAS

Ingredients
  • For the Caramelized Bananas:
  • 4 large bananas, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • For the Soup:
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 10 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • To finish the Soup:
  • 7 large egg whites
  • 1 3/4 cups confectioner's sugar

Directions

  1. Prepare the caramelized bananas:
  2. Heat heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat. If it starts to smoke, it is too hot and you need to run it under cool water, dry it, and start again. When it is warm, sprinkle tsugar into pan. Try to keep  sugar in  even layer to allow all to caramelize at same time. As soon as sugar begins to melt, start moving pan over the burner to keep sugar from burning. Tilt pan from side to side so melted sugar runs over unmelted sugar. Cook until all of sugar is a light golden brown. Chef Torres usually adds a tablespoon of butter at this stage because it makes the caramel smoother. Add bananas and rum and spread evenly in pan. When cooking with alcohol, there is always the chance of it catching on fire, so be very careful when adding rum. Continue to cook until almost all of the liquid has evaporated and bananas are soft but not mushy; they should still hold their shape. Remove from theat and pour caramelized bananas onto plate. Cover with plastic wrap and let cool for about 20 minutes. Covering hot bananas with plastic wrap keeps the caramel from drying as it cools.
  3. Prepare Chocolate Soup: Pour milk into 2 quart heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Add chopped chocolate and stir until well combined and Chocolate has melted. Bring mixture to boil again, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat and set aside while you prepare soup bowls.
  4. The bowls Chef Torres uses hold 4 1/2 ounces. Use any oven-safe bowls. Place one large spoonful of caramelized bananas in bottom of each soup bowl. Bananas will give texture to soup, so be generous. Cover bananas with hot soup, filling each bowl three-quarters full. Set soup bowls on baking sheet and place in refrigerator until chilled, about 2 hours. Soup will set and thicken, allowing it to support the meringue; chill well before topping it.
  5. To Finish Soup: Place egg whites in medium-size mixing bowl and whip with electric mixer on medium speed until foamy. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and make French meringue by adding the powered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and whipping whites to stiff but not dry peaks.
  6. Place meringue in large pastry bag fitted with a 3/4-inch star tip. Remove soup from refrigerator and pipe tmeringue onto tops in a decorative pattern. Place soup bowls in deep roasting pan or baking dish and fill with warm water to come one third of way up side of bowls. Let stand for about 30 minutes to warm soup. If you do this before you serve dinner, the soup should be ready to be browned by the time you have finished eating.
  7. Preheat oven to 450°F. Remove soup bowls from warm water bath and place them on  baking sheet. Place in oven just until meringue begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Soup should not get hot. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
  8. Great Tip: When you cut Chocolate, start at one corner and always cut on an angle. Don't try to cut big pieces, because it is too difficult. If you cut on an angle, it will be easier and safer. This way, you do not have to cut so much surface at one time.
  9. Place diced bananas in medium-sized mixing bowl with rum and toss to coat. Set aside to let macerate at room temperature while you prepare the caramel. Chef Torres tops the warm soup with meringue to add another layer of texture and enhance visual appeal. You can skip this step if you prefer.
I tend to think, though, that the recipe for Caribbean Chocolate Soup that will be served at next week's Chocolate and Chalk Art event in Berkeley will be more like this recipe from Maricel Presilla on Gourmet Sleuth. 

CARIBBEAN CHOCOLATE SOUP

Ingredients

1 ounce cacao nibs
1 chile guajillo
4 plum tomatoes (about 10 ounces), stemmed
1/2 white onion (about 3 1/2 ounces)
4 garlic cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon aniseed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon brown loaf sugar (preferably Colombian panela or Mexican piloncillo), grated or demerara natural brown cane sugar
2 pounds calabaza (or Caribbean pumpkin, acorn, or hubbard squash) peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
8 cups well-flavored chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ounce dark chocolate (preferably 58.5 percent or 60 percent cacao content)

For Garnish:
1 cup Mexican cream or creme fraiche
1 cup cubed Manchego cheese
Kekchi Cacao-Chile Balls, recipe follows

For Directions on how to make this Caribbean Chocolate Soup, go here
Also directions for making Kekchi Cacao-Chile Balls!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chocolate Truffle Cake: Guest Post by Avery Aames

Today I welcome back Avery Aames a.k.a. Daryl Wood Gerber, author of A CHEESE SHOP MYSTERY SERIES and THE COOKBOOK NOOK MYSTERIES.

This post and recipe originally appeared on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, and if you haven't checked out this fabulous blog with recipes by mystery authors, now's the time. Reprinted with permission.

AVERY AAMES: 

When I went to the Malice Domestic Conference, I was lucky enough to join fellow authors for a dinner sponsored by our fabulous publisher Berkley Prime Crime. We went to a top-notch restaurant, RUTH'S CHRIS STEAKHOUSE, and were wined and dined. I sat at the table with my editor and other authors, including Ellery Adams, her writing partner Sylvia, new delightful author Erika Chase, and the fabulous Jenn McKinlay. The six of us laughed so hard! When dessert came around, we were stuffed, but we were offered two choices: individual cheesecakes and flourless chocolate cake. How could we say no?

I chose the chocolate, thinking I'd have a bite or two and push it aside. Well...what was that commercial way back when? "I can't believe I ate the whole thing." I did. Everyone did. A whole slice. It was like a smooth, satiny chocolate truffle candy. Throughout the experience (and it was an experience), I said I had to learn to make it.

So when I got home, I went on a hunt for a chocolate truffle kind of cake on the Internet. I promised myself I would make this cake until I got it right. On the first try, it was delicious and I ate another WHOLE slice in the first sitting.

I'm sharing this recipe with you today because it'll wow your family and friends...but I have to admit, this cake still doesn't have the consistency that the Ruth's Chris cake did. Which means, of course, POOR ME, I'll have to keep experimenting. However, I think I'll have to limit my experiments to every month and not every week, or I'll resemble the Pillsbury Doughboy in less time than it takes to spell,
"C-h-o-c-o-l-a-t-e!"  

CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE CAKE 
ALA RUTH'S CHRIS FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE 


INGREDIENTS: 
2 cups half-and-half
2/3 cup sugar
2 oz. flavored liquid of your choice (cordials, coffee, etc.) I used espresso
2 lbs. dark, milk or mixed chocolate, chopped (5 CUPS) * I used half dark, half semi-sweet
6 eggs (whisked)

DIRECTIONS: 
Preheat the oven to 300º.
Brush a 10" spring-form pan with butter, line the bottom with buttered parchment and wrap the pan in foil in case of any leaks. [MINE DIDN’T LEAK AT ALL.]
Bring the half-and-half, sugar and coffee JUST to a boil.
Place the chocolate into a mixing bowl.
Pour the hot milk mixture over the chocolate.
Let sit for a few minutes. [It will melt nicely.]
Mix at low speed for two minutes.
Add the eggs in all at once and mix thirty seconds, until incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared spring-form pan.
Bake until the cake is “set” - about 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours.
The cake will still look wet and slightly loose in the very center, but the edges will be set, slightly puffed and have small cracks. [looks like a cheesecake – I cooked mine one hour then turned off the oven and let it set for another 20 minutes]
Allow cake to cool on a rack (this takes about 2 full hours), then chill for 6 hours or overnight before removing pan sides. [Note: the cake was really "high" as it came out of the oven and then it sank to a firm 2 inches, more like a cheesecake.]
[Also, note, I "found" the basis for this recipe on a website called "Go New England." 

By the way, I'm thinking of adding a half cup of applesauce to see if that will bring out the velvety smoothness. What do you think?

You can learn more about me, Avery, by clicking this link.
Chat with me on Facebook and Twitter.
And if you haven't done so, sign up for my mailing list
 so you can learn about upcoming events, releases, and contests!

Also, do you know about my alter ego? DARYL WOOD GERBER...
That is my "second" name on the left. Daryl is what my husband actually calls me.

Daryl--I--will have a new series out in 2013: THE COOKBOOK NOOK MYSTERIES
featuring a cookbook store owner who is an avid reader and admitted foodie!

You can find her at: www.averyaames.com, www.darylwoodgerber.com, www.mysteryloverskitchen.com, and killercharacters.com.

"Like" Daryl's page on Facebook and "follow" Daryl on Twitter.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chocolate Bytes: Chocolate is a tasty remedy for hiccups

According to the People's Pharmacy via onlineAthens, Chocolate is the best ever cure for hiccups.  Here's the scoop: put a small bit of 70-90% cacao dark chocolate on the roof of your mouth and your hiccups will disappear. I've read this before, and it really works! I always have dark chocolate on hand, so I'm ready. Chocolate is, indeed, a health food!

Berkeley Chocolate & Chalk Art Festival

Saturday, June 2, 2012, 10am-5pm
(Rain Date June 9) 
Gourmet Ghetto North Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA

BERKELEY CHOCOLATE & CHALK ART FESTIVAL

Chalk Art Contest! 
Eat Chocolate! 
Free Admission

The sidewalks along North Shattuck Ave. in the Gourmet Ghetto in Berkeley are the target of artists young and old, professional and greenhorn during the 16th annual CHOCOLATE & CHALK ART FESTIVAL on Saturday, June 2 (rain date June 9).

No fees to artists. Areas of sidewalk will be assigned to participants to create your own fanciful chalk drawings. CHALK ART CONTEST for the best drawing will be judged after 4 p.m. First prize: $250 cash and runners-up get a gift certificate from Philz Coffee. Winners will be notified by Monday after. Same-day registration takes place 10AM-5PM in event booths located at 1495 and 1673 Shattuck Ave. where special artist's chalk is available for $10.

To EAT CHOCOLATE, purchase a packet of tickets (20 for $20) at event booths located at 1400, 1495 and 1673 Shattuck Ave. The to-go menu features picante habañero chocolate chunks gelato, Nutella crepes, adult brownies, or savory chocolate ricotta pizza, Caribbean chocolate soup, chicken molé and lots more. 

Spend your tickets on these delights available in the local businesses then savor your chocolate as you stroll along the sidewalks, viewing the chalk artwork. Or enter your tickets in a raffle for a real chocolate-colored diamond ring at M. Lowe & Co, or for a real pocket camera that looks just like chocolate at ArtVisions Portraiture.

Vote for your favorite chocolate menu item by ‘liking’ it on the Chocolate and Chalk Art page on Facebook no later than Monday, June 4 at 5PM. Businesses with the most ‘liked’ menu items get bragging rights for a year.

Vendors with chocolate, chocolate-related items, and hand made arts and crafts fill the blocks between Rose and Vine Streets. A special children’s area at 1673 Shattuck Avenue has pony rides, inflatable bounce houses, jugglers, face painters and many more surprises. 

Family-friendly free event produced by Another Bullwinkel Show 510-548-5335 and sponsored by the North Shattuck Association, City of Berkeley, Fiat, Art Kapour Realty, Comcast, KFOG, Berkeleyside.com, East Bay Express, East Bay Loop and YELP.

Photo: Cupcakes by Love at First Bite

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Devil's Food Cake Day: Retro Ads & recipes

Baker's Ad 1933
Today is National Devil's Food Cake Day. Devil's Food Cake is one of the most popular chocolate cakes in the United States. Because of that I've posted many Recipes and Retro Ads before, but here are a few more for Devil's Food Cake!

Want to drink your Devil's Food Cake today? Head over to The Martini Diva for a Devil's Food Cake Martini.

Hope you enjoy this Round-up of Retro Devil's Food Cake ads. Have a big piece of Devil's Food Cake to celebrate!

Baker's Chocolate Ad 1940s

The Baker's Ads are earlier and everything is from scratch, but as you know from reading this blog, boxed mixes came in as a space saving measure after World War II, so I have several ads for Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines.






Friday, May 18, 2012

Goat Cheese Souffle with Cocoa Nibs

Photo: Recchiuti
Today is National Cheese Souffle Day. Definitely a holiday I can get behind.  

Michael Recchiuti, one of my favorite San Francisco chocolatiers, has a wonderful and fairly easy Goat Cheese Souffle recipe in his James Beard nominated cookbook Chocolate Obsession. This recipe also appears in the recipe section of the Recchiuti website. I've mentioned before that many chocolatiers and other food purveyors share recipes on their sites. Always a good source. His fabulous chocolate--truffles, whoppie cakes, bars, etc, are available online or in the Recchiuti store in the San Francisco Ferry Building. Other chocolate shops also sell Recchiui chocolates.

This Goat Cheese Souffle is savory. The chocolate addition is in the form of cocoa nibs used to line the ramekins. If you're interested in a sweet Chocolate Goat Souffle, check out Kathi Gori's recipe at The Colors of India.

GOAT CHEESE SOUFFLE
Michael Recchiuti from Chocolate Obsession

Makes 6 Souffles (in ramekins)

Ingredients: 
1/2 tablespoon Unsalted butter (reserved for ramekins)
1/2 cup Cocoa nibs 
3/4 tablespoon Unsalted butter (reserved for roux)
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon All purpose flour
1/2 cup +2 tablespoons Whole milk
3 ounces Goat cheese (Chevre)
2 tablespoons Egg yolk
3/4 cup Egg whites
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
2 tablespoons Lemon juice

You can't go wrong with this Chocolate Goat Cheese Souffle. For Directions to make this, go here.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Recchiuti Whoopie Cakes are Back!

Michael Recchiuti is the quintessential San Francisco artisan chocolatier and one of the trailblazers of the Bay Area Chocolate Renaissance. His chocolates are innovative yet approachable, and always meticulously crafted.

Recchiuti introduced chocolate lovers to the wonder of burnt caramel truffles, and it’s one of my favorites. Take that caramel love one step further and try the Burnt Caramel Almonds. The almonds are toasted in-house so they develop that super nutty flavor and extra crunch. They’re then covered in layers of burnt caramel and chocolate and sea salt and cocoa powder. Their flavor keeps developing long after the first bite. It's hard to believe that something so small can pack such a punch!

Another favorite confection for dark chocolate lovers is the Force Noir truffle. Recchiuti's Force Noir truffle is silky 70% extra-bitter chocolate ganache infused with whole vanilla bean and enrobed in pure bittersweet chocolate. It will satisfy your craving for dark chocolate every time!

There are many other wonderful chocolate treats at Recchiuti, but I was thrilled to learn the other day that their Whoppie Cakes are back. Here's an excerpt from Jackie Recchiuti's Blog about their Whoopie Cakes. Whoppie Cakes are available for a limited time at the retail store in San Francisco's Ferry Building, as well as onlineFYI: Little Nib in Dogpatch is closed while the build-out of Chocolate Lab is planned in that location.

JACKIE RECCHIUTI:

My first taste of a traditional whoopie pie was Amish country in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia where Michael grew up. According to food historians, Amish women would bake these desserts (known as hucklebucks at the time) and put them in farmers’ lunch pails or lunch boxes. When farmers would find the treats in their lunch, they would shout “Whoopie!”. 

When we first introduced the Recchiuti version of whoopie pies at our Ferry Building store in 2004, they were made with Michael’s famous devil’s food cake filled with a marshmallow crème center then enrobed with chocolate to keep the cake moist and the filling from oozing out. Needless to say, they took off like a rocket. Before long, as our chocolate business grew, we were unable to keep up with the various baked products we were offering as we had only one tiny convention oven. Since truffle making was our focus we sadly retired the whoopie pies, featuring them periodically when time and space allowed more baking. 

Read more HERE. 

Recchiuti Whoopie Cake: Burnt Caramel buttercream, sandwiched between two layers of Michael's rich Devil's Food chocolate cake, topped with a strip of candied orange peel and covered in custom chocolate. Oh yes, you won't want to miss this!

Photo: Recchiuti

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Spicy Beef and Chocolate Casserole: Guest Post


Today I welcome Dave Harrison, a British based foodie and chocoholic currently working with Le Creuset cookware. How lucky is he? I always enjoy a savory chocolate recipe, and this is one I know I'll be trying soon. Measurements are set for the UK, but you can easily convert them to US. Lots of conversion tables on line.

DAVE HARRISON:

If, like me, you’ve ever said you can eat chocolate every meal of every day, then this recipe for a Spicy Beef and Chocolate Casserole is something you’ll want to try. Yes, you read that right-- beef and chocolate cooked together! I know it sounds a crazy idea, but it works, as it has done for centuries in Mexico, where chicken or turkey are also cooked with chocolate, to produce “Mole” a traditional dish.

If you’re expecting a beef covered in chocolate sauce like ice-cream then think again. Only a small amount of chocolate is used, which thickens the juices as it cooks, resulting in a sauce that is dark and velvety smooth. Combined with the hotness of the chillies and the aroma of cumin, cinnamon and parsley this is a delicious recipe, and great for special occasions. The puff pastry heart croutons are not a must, but could add that touch of romance if you are cooking for that someone special.

SPICY BEEF AND CHOCOLATE CASSEROLE
 Serves 4 

Ingredients: 

Casserole

• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 red onion, sliced thinly
• ½ kg good quality braising beef cut into 2.5 cm cubes
• 1 medium size red chilli, seeded and chopped
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 400g can Italian plum tomatoes
• 1 bay leaf • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
• 40g plain chocolate
• salt
• freshly ground black pepper

Pastry Croutons

• 200g readymade puff pastry
• a little beaten egg
• 1 tablespoon pine nuts

1. Heat the oil in the heart casserole over a medium setting. Fry the onion until beginning to soften, but not brown.
2. Add the cubed meat and brown evenly, stirring occasionally. Stir in all the remaining ingredients with one full (tomato) can of water. Season.
3. Cover and cook in the oven for 2-2½ hours on 120ºC. Stir once during cooking. When the meat is tender, remove the casserole from the oven and raise the temperature for the pastry croutons.
4. Whilst the casserole is cooking roll the pastry out to the thickness of a £1 coin. Use a large heart shaped cutter (approx 9cm long) to cut out 4 hearts. Brush with a little beaten egg and press a few pine nuts into the centre of each. Chill the hearts on a baking sheet for at least 1 hour before cooking
5. Bake the hearts for 10-15 minutes on 200ºC until well-risen and golden brown.

Serve a portion of the beef and chocolate casserole topped with a pastry heart. 

Photo: Dave Harrison

Monday, May 14, 2012

Chocolate Bytes: 9 Ton Chocolate Mayan Temple

Qzina Specialty Foods has broken the Guinness World Record for the world's largest chocolate sculpture. In celebration of their 30th anniversary, Qzina Specialty Foods decided to build a 6 foot tall chocolate pyramid in tribute to the Mayans, considered the first chocolatiers.

It's modeled after the Temple of Kukulkan at Chichen Itza.

So if you think the world is going to end this year, take a bite now. The sculpture weighs 18, 239 pounds and stands 6'5" high. It's topped off with a Mayan man holding a spear. It's inside, and heaven knows how they'll get it out....



See More Photos here.

Chocolate Buttermilk Biscuits

Today is Buttermilk Biscuit Day. American biscuits are nothing like British Biscuits which are cookies. No, our biscuits are more like scones, only fluffier. They're great with breakfast and gravy and chicken or just about anytime. I love biscuits.

I couldn't pass up this great Retro Space Age Ad for Puffin Biscuits. I think Sterling Cooper could easily have created this ad.  I, of course, suggest you make your biscuits from scratch, and they truly will be "So Light they almost fly"...

Following is a recipe for Chocolate Buttermilk Biscuits (see below).

First, though, a few biscuit making tips from the Bisquick site. These apply if you use bisquick or make your biscuits from scratch.


1. Leave inch or two space around the biscuits on the cookie sheet. They'll heat more evenly and cook better.
2. In a pinch, a straight-sided plastic glass can also substitute for a rolling pin.
3. For crunchy top, skip kneading and rolling and drop biscuit-sized spoonfuls directly onto baking sheet.
4. Loosen freshly baked biscuits from tray with spatula so they don't stick.
5. Count to ten; kneading biscuit dough too much can make biscuits tough.
6. If you don't have a biscuit cutter, either use a knife to cut squares or cut rounds with upside-down drinking glass. A little flour or extra Bisquick on the knife or glass will help keep things from sticking.

CHOCOLATE BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

This first recipe is great served with whipped cream and strawberries! Or just grind some Trader Joe's Sugar Chocolate Coffee Bean --or some Cinnamon Sugar-- over them just after you brush with the melted butter. Yum! Another possibility is to add chocolate chips or chunks of chocolate to the dough.

Ingredients
2 cups of Flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
5 Tbsp DARK cocoa powder
4 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbsp cold butter, cubed
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp cold buttermilk (no buttermilk? add a tsp of vinegar to whole milk)
2 Tbsp melted butter for top of biscuits

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450
In food processor: combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Pulse. Add cubed butter. Pulse until butter combines to create grainy mixture.
Put contents of food processor in bowl. Make well in center and pour in chilled buttermilk. Mix to form sticky dough. Place dough on well floured surface. Fold dough a few time. DO NOT OVERWORK.
Roll out dough with floured rolling pin to one inch thickness.
Using biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits in straight up and down motion. Do not twist when cutting out the biscuits. Hint: Twisting will seal sides of biscuits preventing biscuits from rising and making for tough, flat biscuits.
Place cut out biscuits on parchment paper lined baking sheet so that they are close but not touching.
Once all of biscuits are on baking sheet, bake for 10-12 minutes in center of oven until golden brown. Brush with melted butter.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

As American as Apple Pie



Can't believe that Mother's Day falls this year on National Apple Pie Day. How cool is that? So this post is for "Mom and Apple Pie," and this Chocolate Apple Pie is "as American as Mom and Apple Pie." But what's the origin of these catch phrases? What's the meaning of as American as Apple Pie and Mom

From Wikipedia: 
Although apple pies have been eaten since long before the European colonization of the Americas, "as American as apple pie" is a saying in the United States, meaning "typically American". In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, apple pie became a symbol of American prosperity and national pride. A newspaper article published in 1902 declared that “No pie-eating people can be permanently vanquished.” The dish was also commemorated in the phrase "for Mom and apple pie" - supposedly the stock answer of American soldiers in World War II, whenever journalists asked why they were going to war.

My grandmother made an awesome apple pie. I've written about it before. It did not contain chocolate, and she made it in a huge rectangular pan. She made it because it was American, and when she came to these shores, she became an American!  My Bubby was born in the Ukraine, married in London, and settled in Philadelphia, the cradle of liberty. She took her new citizenship to heart, and she baked her apple pie for every Friday night dinner. She did it because she saw her self as a true American. So Celebrate Mom (and Grandmom) and Apple Pie with this easy Chocolate Pie Recipe!

CHOCOLATE APPLE PIE


Ingredients
Pastry for a double-crust 9-inch pie, unbaked
8-10 tart apples (peeled, cored and sliced thinly--number of apples depends on their size)--Gravensteins aren't available this time of year, but they're my favorite, especially for pies!
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup 70-85% dark chocolate fair-trade organic, chopped into smallish pieces

Directions
1. Apples: peel, core, and slice thinly.
2. Combine cinnamon & sugar = cinnamon sugar. (you may need a tiny bit more). I've also used the chocolate cinnamon sugar from Trader Joe's
2. Place 1 layer apple slices on bottom crust. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar. Repeat twice.
3 Spread chopped chocolate pieces over top.
4. Using remaining apples, make 3 more apple/cinnamon sugar layers.
5. Top with 2nd crust and seal edges. Make cut on the top--or prick with fork in a few places.
6. Bake in preheated 450 F oven for 15 minutes (until golden).
7. Lower heat to 350F and continue baking for another 25-30 minutes, or until apples are tender.

As American as Apple Pie and Mom

Can't believe that Mother's Day falls this year on National Apple Pie Day. How cool is that? So this post is for "Mom and Apple Pie," and this Chocolate Apple Pie is "as American as Mom and Apple Pie." But what's the origin of these catch phrases? What's the meaning of as American as Apple Pie and Mom

From Wikipedia: 
Although apple pies have been eaten since long before the European colonization of the Americas, "as American as apple pie" is a saying in the United States, meaning "typically American". In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, apple pie became a symbol of American prosperity and national pride. A newspaper article published in 1902 declared that “No pie-eating people can be permanently vanquished.” The dish was also commemorated in the phrase "for Mom and apple pie" - supposedly the stock answer of American soldiers in World War II, whenever journalists asked why they were going to war.

My grandmother made an awesome apple pie. I've written about it before. It did not contain chocolate, and she made it in a huge rectangular pan. She made it because it was American, and when she came to these shores, she became an American!  My Bubby was born in the Ukraine, married in London, and settled in Philadelphia, the cradle of liberty. She took her new citizenship to heart, and she baked her apple pie for every Friday night dinner. She did it because she saw her self as a true American. So Celebrate Mom (and Grandmom) and Apple Pie with this easy Chocolate Pie Recipe!

CHOCOLATE APPLE PIE

Ingredients
Pastry for a double-crust 9-inch pie, unbaked
8-10 tart apples (peeled, cored and sliced thinly--number of apples depends on their size)--Gravensteins aren't available this time of year, but they're my favorite, especially for pies!
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup 70-85% dark chocolate fair-trade organic, chopped into smallish pieces

Directions
1. Apples: peel, core, and slice thinly.
2. Combine cinnamon & sugar = cinnamon sugar. (you may need a tiny bit more). I've also used the chocolate cinnamon sugar from Trader Joe's
2. Place 1 layer apple slices on bottom crust. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar. Repeat twice.
3 Spread chopped chocolate pieces over top.
4. Using remaining apples, make 3 more apple/cinnamon sugar layers.
5. Top with 2nd crust and seal edges. Make cut on the top--or prick with fork in a few places.
6. Bake in preheated 450 F oven for 15 minutes (until golden).
7. Lower heat to 350F and continue baking for another 25-30 minutes, or until apples are tender.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Chocolate Handbags and Platform Shoes

Perfect Gifts for Mother's Day!  Jacques Torres Chocolate offers these sensational chocolate platform sandals. Pick up a couple for Mom for a sweet time! I love that they come in pairs! Available at Jacques Torres stores.

Jacques Torres Chocolate also offers matching handbags that resemble the classic Chanel bag. They're molded in chocolate and handpainted. Available at all Jacques Torres stores. Not available to be shipped.


Neiman Marcus has a Zebra-Striped Handbag Cake.
Inside: Chocolate cake layered with caramel toffee and chocolate buttercream.
Outside Chocolate.


Or you could pick up some more traditional chocolate shoes and purses from Frances Cooley at Clifton Cakes (Bristol, UK)





Friday, May 11, 2012

Mixmaster Cake Genius: Retro Devil's Food Cake

So yesterday I posted a Mother's Day Sunbeam Mixmaster Ad and recipe for Chocolate Cake. The Mother in that ad looked more like my grandmother. It got me searching, and I found this Sunbeam Mixmaster Ad from May 28, 1945 (below).  The woman in the advertisement looks more like my Mother. Don't you think?

Of course, I just kept digging for a clearer version of the recipe for Devil's Food Cake, and I found this handy dandy little cake pamphlet from Sunbeam: How to be a Cake Genius with your Sunbeam Mixmaster. Pretty fabulous, huh?

So here's another recipe for Mother's Day Chocolate Cake: Mix Easy Devil's Food. You know you were a little devil, so make Mom this Devil's Food Cake to repent.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! 
May 28, 1945

My Mother c. 1942



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Retro Mixmaster Mother's Day Ad: Chocolate Cake Recipe

I adore Retro Advertisements and this one is particularly close to my heart. My mother had a Sunbeam Mixmaster. So many cookies, cakes and brownies were made with that Mixmaster. I don't have my mother's Sunbeam Mixmaster, but I have my mother-in-law's--the same model with all the attachments. I use my Kitchenaid Mixer mostly, but I love the functionality of the old Mixmaster War Horse. It still works, and I'll bet my mother-in-law got it in the 40s or 50s.

So, for Mother's Day, here's a Sunbeam Mixmaster Mother's Day Advertisement from Life Magazine, May 1, 1950, complete with Chocolate Cake recipe. What are you making for Mother's Day?




Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Girl Scout Cookie Candy Bars

TODAY.com reported in February, that Nestle was going to be making Girl Scout candy bars. The wait is almost over.

The 'limited edition' Nestlé Crunch Girl Scout Cookie Candy Bar will be available this summer at participating retail stores nationwide, beginning June 1 through September, the Girl Scouts organization confirmed. The bars will be available in the three most popular cookie flavors – Thin Mint, Peanut Butter Crème, and Caramel & Coconut (or Samoa, as they are known in in some parts of the country). Cookies make up most of the bars, with layers like coconut caramel crème and crunchy crispies filling in the rest.

Thin Mint: taste of Thin Mints, the Girl Scouts’ top-selling cookie, paired with additional dark chocolate, mint chocolate creme, and those airy crispies from a Nestlé Crunch bar.

Caramel & Coconut: based on the Samoa, the Girl Scouts’ second best-selling cookie. More wafers, but layered with coconut caramel creme, more caramel, and more coconut.

Peanut Butter Creme:  inspired by the Tagalong. More cookie wafers, accompanied by peanut butter creme, coated in chocolate, and sprinkled with more of those Nestlé Crunch crispies.

Happy 100th Anniversary, Girl Scouts!