Sunday, March 31, 2013

EASTER EGG CAKE: Retro Ad & Recipe

Happy Easter! I posted a Chocolate Bunny Cake recipe this past week, but be sure and Check out this Easter Egg Cake Recipe. It's a"Retro" Swans Down and Baker's Chocolate Ad from March 30, 1953--that's 60 years ago! "Quick Like a Bunny Make this Gay Easter Egg Cake." This "Golden Yellow" Cake has Chocolate icing. Easy and pretty. You can, of course, update the recipe to make your own yellow cake and your own icing, but the idea is there. Most kitchen and craft stores have special pans to create an egg shape, but if you want to go retro, follow this recipe and carve the egg into shape!



Jacques Torres on Decorating PEEPS

Yesterday I posted about PEEPS, that ubiquitous U.S. confection connected with Easter (although PEEPS are available all year round). Saw this video of world renowned chocolatier Jacques Torres on Decorating PEEPS on the Today Show and had to share. Enjoy!



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Saturday, March 30, 2013

PEEPS S'MORES

I just love this time of year, because it's all about PEEPS! Read my post on PEEPS. I also posted a recipe for Matzo S'mores Cake, so being in the ecumenical spirit,  I thought I'd post two easy recipes for PEEPS S'mores!

I prefer baking PEEPS S'mores in the toaster oven, but you can always microwave them. Just 10 seconds if you do. I always use high quality chocolate... o.k. so PEEPS aren't artisan marshmallows, but I love their flavor (and sugar rush)--at least once a year! Do I earn my girl scout S'MORES badge?

1. PEEPS SMORES in the Toaster Oven (or oven)

Ingredients
PEEPS
Graham Crackers
Dark chocolate squares

Directions
Preheat toaster oven to 350°F.
Put chocolate on graham cracker, top with Peep.
Put on aluminum foil covered tray and bake 2 to 3 minutes. Watch because they can burn.
Take out of oven, add another graham cracker and squish.

II. PEEPS S'MORES in the Microwave

Ingredients
PEEPS
Dark Chocolate Squares (or Hershey's Milk Chocolate-the traditional)
Graham crackers

Directions
Put chocolate on graham cracker, add PEEP, put on microwave safe dish and zap in microwave for 10-15 seconds. Watch them.. they can explode if you leave them in too long.
Top with another graham cracker and squish.

And here's a photo of PEEPS vacationing in Bodega Bay! Rabbits beware. Hope the Chicks don't join The Birds! March 28 was the 50th Anniversary of the release Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds!


Friday, March 29, 2013

Cinnamon Lamb Curls for Easter Brunch

I used to do a lot of bread baking when I was younger. Not so much anymore. However, this recipe is one of my all time favorites to make for Easter Brunch. Cinnamon Lamb Curls. They're a fun variation on traditional Cinnamon Rolls. They not only taste great but look terrific for the holiday!

This "Cinnamon Lamb Curls" recipe is from Bread Sculpture: The Edible Art by Ann Wiseman (101 Productions, 1975). And, yes, the stains on the page are mine. The book is a wonderful source for bread baking, as well. All kinds of tips on dough, bread making, tools and sculpting bread. If you do an Internet search, you'll probably find a copy of this out of print book. It's a great asset on my shelf. Scroll down for a Chocolate/Cinnamon Alternative to the filling!




And, since this is a chocolate blog, here's a chocolate/cinnamon alternative to the filling in the recipe.

CHOCOLATE/CINNAMON 'FILLING' VARIATION

Spread this on the dough before cutting and baking.
Where the recipe says "Spread with butter & brown sugar and cinnamon".. you can substitute:
Sweet butter, room temp (as in recipe)
Then sprinkle with a mix of:
Granulated white sugar
Dark chocolate, chopped fine
Ground cinnamon

Thursday, March 28, 2013

PEEPS: History, Commercial, Dioramas and Chocolate Covered

This is a longish post for me, but then I think PEEPS merit this. So get ready for a post on the history of PEEPS, DIORAMAS, CHOCOLATE COVERED PEEPS and an hilarious commercial on What to do with PEEPS.

Of all my childhood Easter memories, PEEPS stand out. My sister and I still buy each other PEEPS around Easter, even though neither of us actually eat the sugary marshmallow-y creatures any more--or at least I don't. She buys me purple rabbits; I buy her classic yellow chicks --the original PEEPS. You see where this is going? I'm a purist.

O.K. should I be holding PEEPS up to a higher standard? Maybe not. After all, it's all about childhood memories. Maybe I personally don't want Chocolate Covered PEEPS when I can create new memories with quality chocolate and marshmallow combinations. But, if I were a kid again, I bet I'd love them! So I'm not dismissing them altogether. The price can't be beat, and they're available at your local drugstore or supermarket.

Peeps are an American phenomena. There's even a PEEPS Store (near D.C.). PEEPS are their own industry, and the Washington Post, Smithsonian Magazine and many local papers have PEEPS diorama contests. Certainly a good use for this national favorite. Check out some of the winners below and throughout this post.

PEEPS is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and they've made the first TV Peeps commerical in 10 years. It certainly captures the true essence of PEEPS.  You either love them or hate them. People do all sorts of things with Peeps, only some of which involve giving them to kids at Easter or eating them straight from the box. Which are you? Feel free to comment below.



And then there's the ultimate in the ever improving PEEPS: Chocolate-Covered PEEPS, available from the original company in both Dark and Milk chocolate. These are not the small peeps packed together in rows. No, these Chocolate Peeps come in individually wrapped packages. Sadly, the cool sparkly coating of sugar is missing, and I think it would have been a nice buffer between the chocolate and marshmallow to make it stand out from the rest of the chocolate marshmallow candy.

Anyway, the large singular chocolate covered PEEPS has a yellow-colored marshmallow center. Chris Schneewiss, brand manager for PEEPS at Just Born, said, "These PEEPS® will please loyal fans and entice newcomers, perhaps becoming our biggest hit ever." I beg to differ. With so many wonderful chocolate marshmallow treats out there from various chocolatiers who make their own marshmallows, why would I want this new PEEP that's not a PEEP.

So, let me tell you what I think. First the chick is not sitting, as in chicks all in a row. Well, he's by himself, and he's on his side, kind of, and well-articulated. It's the elastic quality of the "old" peeps that's all the fun for me--pulling them apart.

Each individual Peep, then, of the Chocolate Covered Peeps has chocolate covering a yellow marshmallow center. Probably because of the 'outcry', this year there's also a three pack of PEEPS Chocolate Covered Chicks (both dark and milk chocolate), as well as the Dark and Milk Chocolate PEEPS Chocolate Dipped Mousse Flavored Marshmallow Chicks! These come in a three pack! Oh yes, there's also the 'unadulterated' PEEPS Chocolate Mousse Flavored Marshmallow Chicks and Bunnies.

And, just as an aside, Jacques Torres makes fabulous chocolate, and they sell Chocolate-Covered PEEPS. Their name: Chirp'N'Dales. They are adorable. Also, Asher's Chocolates makes Milk Chocolate Covered PEEPS.

Other great uses for PEEPS:

1. Make PEEPS S'Mores, especially with the chocolate covered ones
2. Plop a Chocolate Covered PEEPS down in your Hot Chocolate or Coffee
3. Decorate cakes or cupcakes with PEEPS
4. Create Your Own Diorama

Want to make your own Chocolate Covered PEEPS using the original PEEPS? Here's how:

Chocolate Covered Peeps:

1. Melt good dark chocolate or milk chocolate (about 8-16 ounces, depending on how many you plan to make
2. Remove PEEPS from package. I would use Chicks since they're the original, but the other shapes (rabbits, etc) work well.
3. Grasp the individual Chick PEEP gently by the head and dip--or use a two fork process or a special dipping tool.
4. Two choices: Either cover the entire Peep or just dip one end as you would strawberries. Be sure and let any excess drip off.
5. Place on wax paper covered cookie sheet. Continue process.
6. As a colorful bonus, roll in sprinkles (as you would truffles), starting with the coolest one.
7. Pop into refrigerator for 20 minutes to harden.

The Washington Post's 7th Annual Peeps Show.


"Twinkies, Rest In Peeps"
Fellow sugary confections mourn the loss of one of their own as the Twinkie is laid to rest following Hostess’ announcement in November it was filing of bankruptcy. 
Submitted by Anna Munoz, 37, and Kate Norman, 31, of Arlington.

And, I'm not sure who did this one, but continuing the Twinkies, Rest in Peeps Diorama theme:




Wednesday, March 27, 2013

18 Layer No Bake Matzo S'mores Cake for Passover

I often find recipes in odd places such as the back of a carton or box. And, that's exactly where this one was--on the back of the Manischewitz Matzo Box. What's really funny is that this is a recipe for a No Bake Matzo S'more Cake. Right up my alley, with a few tweaks! Nothing you can do about replacing the matzo with graham crackers if you're serving this during Passover.  However, you can replace the non-dairy whipped topping with marshmallow creme. There are several kosher varieties, including at least one that's kosher for Passover.

Here are some tips, too! 
First, you can half this recipe. How many people are you feeding, after all?
Second, it's easier to prepare each layer separately before stacking.

18-Layer No Bake Matzo S'more Cake  
Recipe from Back of Manischewitz Matzo Box 

Ingredients:
21 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted in the microwave
2 tsp ground espresso
16-ounce container frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed (or substitute Passover Marshmallow Creme-yes, it does exist!)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1 box (16 oz) Manischewitz Matzo
1/2 cup chopped almonds
White chocolate and fresh berries for garnish (optional)
 
Preparation:
Add the ground espresso to the melted chocolate; mix well. Set aside.
Using the beater attachment of your mixer, whip the topping as you slowly add the sugar and almond extract and form soft peaks.
Separate half the whipped topping into another bowl. Add about 1/2 cup of the cooled, melted chocolate into one of the whipped topping bowls. Gently fold the chocolate into the topping using a rubber spatula.

To Assemble Cake:
Using a pastry brush or a knife, shmear a layer of the melted chocolate onto the top of each matzo square.
Layer each chocolate covered matzo with whipped topping, alternating between the white topping and the chocolate topping. Sprinkle chopped almonds over each layer before adding the next chocolate covered matzo.
Repeat until you have come to the last piece of matzo.
Garnish the top of the cake with shaved white chocolate, fresh berries and any leftover chopped almonds.

Refrigerate for up to two hours before serving.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

CHOCOLATE EASTER BUNNY CAKE

Photo: Chocolate Bunny Cake-William Sonoma
This Chocolate Bunny Cake is the ultimate Easter Bunny Centerpiece.  I've mentioned before that there are so many great places to find recipes. This Chocolate Easter Bunny Cake recipe is from the Williams Sonoma Kitchen. They no longer sell the pan that accompanied the recipe, but you can find it or the one I use on eBay and other sites. I actually have a different Easter Bunny 3-D cake pan for this cake, and there are lots of other bunny cake pans you can find.

Double sided cakes aren't all that hard, and they're fun to make. The Wilton Cake Pan with the Eggs is the one in the recipe (first cake pan photo). If you use the second cake pan, skip the directions for the cake egg. You can make your own chocolate eggs or decorate with Jellybeans or Cadbury chocolate eggs.

Other alternatives: Bake a chocolate cake and cover with a buttercream 'fur' frosting!

Wilton Cake Pan used in Recipe
CHOCOLATE BUNNY CAKE

Ingredients:

For the cake:
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. salt
20 Tbsp sweet butter
2 cups sugar
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 tsp. Madasgascar vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk

For the chocolate ganache:
1 lb. dark chocolate (65-70%), chopped into small pieces
6 Tbsp sweet butter, at room temperature
2 cups heavy cream
1 jelly bean

Directions:
Have all ingredients at room temperature.

To make cake, position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 325°F. Grease and flour bunny cake pan; tap out excess flour.

Over sheet of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Williams Sonoma Bunny Cake Pan
In bowl of electric mixer fitted with flat beater, beat butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 30 seconds. Add sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping mixer occasionally to scrape down sides of the bowl. Add eggs a little at time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla just until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with milk and beginning and ending with flour. Beat each addition just until incorporated, stopping mixer occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl.

Spoon batter into prepared bunny pan, spreading batter so  sides are higher than center. Bake until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 35 to 38 minutes.

Transfer pan to wire rack and let cake cool upright in pan for 15 minutes. Invert pan onto rack and lift off pan. Let cake cool completely, at least 2 hours, before serving or decorating.

To make chocolate ganache: in metal bowl, combine chocolate and butter. In small saucepan over medium heat, bring cream just to boil. Immediately pour  cream over chocolate and butter. Whisk until melted and mixture is smooth.

Transfer 2/3 cup of ganache to small bowl and let cool to room temperature. Keep remaining ganache warm and fluid by placing the bowl over but not touching barely simmering water in small saucepan.

To assemble and decorate cake:  wash and thoroughly dry pan, then return both halves of cooled bunny cake to pan. Level cake by using serrated knife to gently saw off part of each cake half that rose above the edge of pan.

Line baking sheet with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, making sure it covers edges of pan, and set  wire cooling rack on sheet. Place both cake halves, cut side down, on rack. Remove any crumbs that fall off cake onto baking sheet. Slowly pour warm ganache over halves, coating completely. Tap baking sheet to allow excess ganache to drip off. Place rack on another baking sheet or piece of parchment paper. Using rubber spatula, scrape excess ganache from lined baking sheet back into bowl. Reheat over simmering water if not fluid. Set rack on lined baking sheet again and placeegg cake halves on  rack alongside bunny. Pour warm ganache over eggs.

Cut jelly bean in half and attach halves to bunny to create eyes. Place baking sheet, with rack still on top, in refrigerator until ganache has set and cake halves are firm enough to handle, at least 30 minutes.

Place one Bunny cake half, cut side up, in center of large piece of aluminum foil. Ganache on this side of bunny may smudge a little. Using small offset spatula, spread 1/2 to 2/3 cup of room-temperature ganache over  cut side. Slide  metal spatula under other cake half and carefully place cake half on top of other one. Press down on jelly bean eye to help secure halves. Use foil to help turn bunny upright, then squeeze bunny on jelly bean eyes, feet and tail to secure the halves. If there are any gaps in seam, place some warm ganache on small offset spatula and fill in gaps. Dab warm ganache onareas where you squeezed the cake and on any other exposed areas. Soften any smudged areas by heating gently with culinary torch.

Carefully slide large metal spatula under base of bunny and transfer to platter. Using spatula, transfer the egg halves to platter.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Chocolate Truffle Cake for Easter

I used to clip recipes out of the newspaper, especially around holiday time. Those recipes would fall out now and again when I opened a cookbook or was looking for something else. Always a nice surprise! Now I have a vaguely organized system for articles and recipes on my computer.

This recipe appeared in the Daily Mail at Easter in 2009 (Jo Pratt's Chocolate Truffle Cake). I've converted (and adapted) the measurements for a US audience, but if you're in the UK, be sure and check back to the original recipe. To make this cake even more 'Easter-y", shape the truffles into oval 'eggs'! You're going to love this cake. It''s really easy, too!

CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE CAKE

Ingredients 

For the cake
3/4 cups self-rising flour
4 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
5 oz superfine sugar
2 1/4 tbsp golden syrup  (Lyle's is available at many stores/ do not substitute)*
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup corn or vegetable oil

For decoration
1 cup whipping cream
11 ounces quality dark chocolate (70-80% cacao), chopped
1 1/4 ounces sweetbutter
Dash of salt
5 tbsp raspberry or apricot jam  (cherry is great, too!)
White chocolate to grate/peel over the top

Directions
Preheat oven to 350  F.
Grease two 8 inch cake pans, and dust with flour.
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder into large mixing bowl.
Add remaining cake ingredients and beat well until smooth, thick batter consistency.
Divide mixture between cake pans and bake in oven for 30-35 minutes, until just firm to touch. Leave to cool in pans for about 10 minutes before turning out onto wire rack.
To make truffle mixture, put cream in a saucepan and place over medium heat. Once cream is hot, but not quite boiling, stir in butter until melted. While cream is heating, break chocolate into small pieces and place in medium-sized mixing bowl with pinch of salt. Pour over hot cream and butter, and stir well until chocolate melts into cream. Put aside.
Once cake is cool, sandwich two layers together with jam. Frost with truffle mixture, leaving enough to make 11 truffles. Place remaining mixture in refrigerator for about 30 minutes until firm. Roll into 11 truffles and place around top of cake. Finish by grating or peeling white chocolate all over the top.

Photo: Daily Mail 2009

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Chocolate Covered Raisins: Raisinets & Dancing Raisins

Today is National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day. If you read this blog, you'll know that I've posted about Chocolate Covered Raisins before because I love them. Throw some chocolate covered raisins in your oatmeal or use in cookies, bread, muffins or coffee cake--or just eat them as a snack!

Raisinets are one of my favorite 'movie' treats. Raisinets were first made in 1927 by the Blumenthal Chocolate Company. Nestlé acquired the brand in 1984 and added the motto "Taste the Sunshine." Raisinets are made with California Raisins and milk chocolate. There is now a dark chocolate version, as well.  Many confectioners make chocolate covered raisins, so check them out, along with your favorite chocolatier.

Raisinets are nostalgia food for me. The real cook in me says make your own if you want to get a higher end chocolate covered raisin. Here's a simple recipe, and you can change it up by using different types of chocolate.

Chocolate Covered Raisins

Ingredients
6 ounces Chocolate -- 60%-75% cacao fair trade organic chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla
2 cup organic raisins

Directions
Combine chocolate and corn syrup in saucepan on top of another saucepan (or double boiler). Bring water to boil. Reduce heat to low. Cook until chocolate melts, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and stir in powdered sugar, vanilla and raisins.
Drop by half teaspoons onto waxed paper; chill.
Store in refrigerator.

Celebrate Chocolate Covered Raisins Day! 
Love the California Raisins ads ... Enjoy.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Chocolate Walnut Flourless Cake

Continuing with Passover Chocolate Recipes today. This Passover Chocolate Walnut Flourless Cake is delicious and gluten-free. I love the texture. You can use an optional jam and chocolate topping or add whipped cream and berries. If this is for Passover, check to see what the main course is...to be pareve.

CHOCOLATE WALNUT FLOURLESS CAKE

Ingredients
8 ounces semi-sweet dark chocolate, divided into 7 and 1 oz
7 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar, divided
3/4 cup sweet butter (or margarine, softened
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1-1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces, finely ground (whirl in blender)

Optional: 1/4 cup orange marmalade

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and dust side of 9-inch springform pan with some ground toasted walnuts.
Melt 7 ounces of the chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water; set aside.
Beat egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on high speed until thick and lemon colored.
Add butter (or margarine); beat until light and fluffy.
Add melted chocolate, orange zest, and ground walnuts; mix well.
Beat egg whites in separate small bowl with electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form (don't overbeat). Gently stir into chocolate mixture. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake 35 - 40 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool in pan on wire rack 10 min. Run small knife or spatula around rim of pan to loosen cake; remove rim of pan.
Gently loosen cake from bottom of pan with spatula; place cake on wire rack.
Cool completely.

Optional topping: ( I have used thick cut Scottish orange marmalade with peel. This works well since it adds tartness and texture)
Microwave jam in microwaveable bowl on high 10 sec. Spread over top of cake.
Melt remaining 1 oz. chocolate; drizzle over cake. Let stand until chocolate is firm.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Matzo Brittle for Passover

Passover starts Monday evening, March 25 (lunar calendar). A few years ago,  I found this terrific easy recipe by Amanda Gold in the San Francisco Chronicle. I just love Matzo Brittle. I've been making this recipe ever since, with slight adaptations. The texture of the matzo, the saltiness of the nuts, and the sweetness of the chocolate makes this recipe a keeper! As always, the chocolate you choose will make a difference in flavor.

MATZO BRITTLE

Ingredients
4-5 sheets of Passover Matzo
2 sticks butter or margarine (I would only use butter, but if you're keeping kashrut and serving meat, you can use margarine)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
12 ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips (or 12 ounces dark chocolate--65-75% cacao, chopped)
1/3 cup chopped roasted salted almonds (or other nuts: walnuts)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil, and grease foil with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Arrange matzo in one flat layer in baking sheet, breaking up and fitting pieces as needed to cover whole pan.
3. Combine butter and brown sugar in saucepan over high heat, and bring to boil, stirring well to dissolve sugar. Once it starts to boil, continue to cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until it turns into caramel.
3. Remove caramel from heat and pour evenly over the matzo, using spatula to coat all matzo. Bake for about 12 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and let stand for 1 minute, until topping is slightly solidified. Pour chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate) evenly over matzo, and return to  oven for 1 minute to soften chips.
5. Remove from oven and, using spatula, spread melted chocolate out over matzo in one layer.
6. Sprinkle nuts over sheet. Let rest at room temperature at least 30 minutes, then refrigerate at least 1 hour, uncovered.
7. Break into pieces and store between parchment or waxed paper in  airtight container for up to 1 week until ready to serve.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse

I often substitute olive oil for cream or butter in recipes. Also, because many DyingforChocolate readers keep kosher, olive oil dessert recipes are great to use with meat meals. And, then we come to Passover. What to serve at the seder or any night during Passover? Here's a new take on an old recipe.

This recipe for Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse is relatively simple, and absolutely delicious. It comes from from Chef Tony Maws at Craigie on Main (Cambridge, MA). The original recipe calls for brandy, but I use Kahlua. Try whatever liqueur you'd like. Make sure your olive oil is fresh. They're nothing worse than making a terrific dessert ruined because of rancid olive oil. You might make this Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse for Passover, but I'll bet you'll end up making it all year round.

OLIVE OIL CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

Ingredients
11 oz. chocolate
9 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp Kahlua
salt
9 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar

Directions
Finely chop the chocolate, and then melt over simmering water in a double boiler.
While the chocolate is melting, whisk together the yolks and ½ cup sugar until the mixture is thick in texture and a pale, lemony yellow.
Gently fold the warm (not hot--the eggs would curdle) chocolate into the yolks.
Stir in the Kahlua, olive oil and a pinch of salt.
In another bowl, whisk the whites until they are frothy and then whisk in the sugar. Keep whisking until they are at medium peaks. Fold the whipped egg whites into the chocolate, 1/2 at a time.
Pour into glasses and allow mousse to set for at least four hours before serving.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

CHOCOLATE SPONGE CAKE with Almond Flour

Almond Flour for Passover Chocolate Sponge Cake
Passover starts next Monday night (March 25) this year (lunar calendar), so time to plan your chocolate Passover dishes. Sponge Cake is a staple for Passover, and a Passover Chocolate Sponge Cake goes great with morning tea or coffee, and certainly replaces cardboard tasting matzoh. So here's one more chocolate option for the Passover holiday--or any time! And, it's Gluten-free! You can also dress this cake up with sliced fresh strawberries and whipped cream or cut the cake in half and fill with a chocolate buttercream.

ALMOND FLOUR:  
Almond flour is readily available where I live, but you can grind your own. Use a hand grinder (a clean coffee grinder) or blender. Don't use a food processor or you might end up making oil. If you use a blender, do this in small increments, about 1/2 cup at a time. Almond and chocolate go very well together. In a pinch? You can always use matzoh cake meal (for Passover), but it won't have the same nutty flavor, but you might like it. Try using different types of chocolate to achieve the flavor you like best. Enjoy!

CHOCOLATE SPONGE CAKE

Ingredients
7 ounces dark chocolate (65-75% cacao), chopped
10 eggs, separated
3/4 cup white sugar
2 cups ground almonds

Directions
1. Melt chocolate in top of double boiler or saucepan over another saucepan of simmering water. Set aside.
2. Beat egg yolks until thick and lemony looking. Gradually beat in sugar. Blend in chocolate and ground almonds.
3. In separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold whites into chocolate batter.
4. Spoon batter into an ungreased 10 inch Bundt pan or tall springform pan with hole in the middle.
5. Bake at 350 for 1 hour, or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Remove from oven, invert pan, and cool about 40 minutes before removing from pan.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars: National Chocolate Caramel Day

Photo: Martha Stewart Living
Today is National Chocolate Caramel Day. My favorite Chocolate Caramels are from Recchiuti Confections and EHChocolatier. But in case you want to make something to celebrate the day, here's and easy delicious recipe from Martha Stewart for Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars. And, since I've posted several chocolate caramel recipes, I thought I'd do a Round-Up of a few other recipes! Be sure to scroll down.

If you don't want to bake, pick up a Chocolate Caramel at your local chocolate shop... or in a pinch have some Milk Duds.

Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars
adapted from Martha Stewart Living, November 2009

Ingredients
For the Crust
4 1/2 ounces (9 tablespoons) sweet butter, room temperature, plus more for parchment
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt

For the Chocolate Caramel
10 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) sweet butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon sea salt, preferably fleur de sel

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make crust: Line 9-inch square baking pan with parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides; butter parchment, excluding overhang. Beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add flour and table salt, and beat until just combined.
2. Press dough evenly into pan, and bake until lightly browned, about 30 minutes.
3. Make chocolate caramel: Place chocolate in medium bowl. Heat granulated sugar and water in small saucepan over medium-high heat, washing sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming, until amber, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter, cream, and table salt. Bring to boil, stirring until smooth. Pour over chocolate. Let stand for 2 minutes. Stir to combine, and let stand until cool, about 10 minutes.
4. Pour mixture over crust. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight. Run knife around edges; lift parchment to remove whole bar from pan. Sprinkle with sea salt. Trim edges, and cut into 16 bars. Bars can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Caramel Round-Up

Chocolate Caramel Trifle with Raspberries
Hazelnut Caramel Toffee Bon Bon for National Chocolate Covered Nut Day
Warm Chocolate Caramel Cakes for National Chocolate Caramel Day
Caramel Filled Chocolate Cookies for National Caramel Day last year  (and some sorted caramel chocolate reviews)

Chocolate Caramel Apples
Nutty Chocolate Chip Caramel Squares 
 

Monday, March 18, 2013

One Bowl Chocolate Cake: Retro Ads & Recipes

I've posted this recipe for One Bowl Chocolate Cake before.. a different Ad. I found both of these ads for the same product--two different brands, same product: Crown Brand Corn Syrup (Canada) and Karo Corn Syrup (U.S.). Thought you'd like the comparison. The first Advertisement emphasizes the Cake -- "A Delicious One Bowl Chocolate Cake." The Second is all about the Marshmallow Frosting--"At last...an easy "No-Cook" Marshmallow Frosting!" Same Cake photo, although the first frosting recipe is for Chiffon Frosting, while the second is for Marshmallow Frosting. Both recipes below!







Sunday, March 17, 2013

GUINNESS STOUT BROWNIES

Happy St. Patrick's Day! It's the perfect day for Guinness!  I've already posted recipes for Guinness Chocolate Cake, and Guinness Chocolate Silk Pie, but here's one more. It's an easy and delicious recipe tor Guinness Stout Brownies, adapted from About.com. The texture of these brownies is great: mousse, candy, fudge, cake. You won't actually taste the beer (although it will make these brownies moist), so have a pitcher or mug on hand to drink.

GUINNESS STOUT BROWNIES

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I like Scharffen Berger)
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons sweet Irish butter, cut into cubes
8 ounces dark 75% organic free trade chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup white chocolate (make sure it's cocoa butter white chocolate), chopped
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup superfine or granulated sugar
1-1/4 cups (10 ounces) Guinness Extra Stout beer (see Note below)
1 cup 60 % chocolate, broken into small pieces (or chocolate chips)
optional: 1/8 cup confectioners' sugar for dusting

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Line 9 x 13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil.
In medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt until evenly combined. Set aside.
Melt butter, dark chocolate, and white chocolate in double-boiler over simmering water, stirring constantly until melted. Remove from heat.
In large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add melted chocolate mixture, beating until combined.
Beat reserved flour mixture into melted chocolate mixture.
Whisk in Guinness stout beer. Batter will seem thin.
Drop chocolate smaller bits  (or chips) evenly on top of batter (some will sink in).
Pour into prepared baking pan.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes on center rack in the oven, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean.
Let brownies cool, uncovered, to room temperature.
Optional: Frost with Guinness Buttercream Frosting (I like mine plain)

Note: Guinness should be at room temperature. This recipe uses a little less than a standard 12-ounce bottle of Guinness stout beer. Do not include foam in the measurement. Spoon off foam or let rest until foam subsides. 

Guinness Buttercream Frosting 

Ingredients
1 Cup Sweet Butter (room temperature)
2 1/2 Cups Sifted Powder Sugar
1/4 Cup Milk
1/2 Whole Scraped Vanilla Bean
1/2 Tablespoon MadegascarVanilla Extract
1 Cup Guinness Extra Stout

Directions
In saucepan, simmer Guinness on low heat for 10-15 min, until stout becomes reduced and thicker in consistency--similar to syrup. *Tip: keep your eye on the store, so stout does not over cook. Let cool.
In stand alone mixer, cream butter 1 minute
Slowly add powdered sugar in thirds, alternating with some milk each time till mixture is creamy.
Add scraped vanilla bean and vanilla extract.
Slowly add reduced Guinness a little at a time. Taste test to desired flavor. You may not use all the Guinness reduction.
Spread on cooled brownies.

Pour yourself a big mug of Guinness and drink while making ...or drink with Brownies!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Homemade Irish Cream

I love Bailey's Irish Cream, but maybe you want to make your own? Try this recipe and tell me what you think. Just in time for St. Patrick's Day! You can substitute this Homemade version in Irish Cream Truffles and Irish Cream Fudge (recipes on the blog).

Erin Go Bragh!

Homemade Irish Cream

Ingredients
2 cups heavy cream
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 cups total mix of Irish Whiskey, brandy, dark rum, and/or Kentucky bourbon
2 Tablespoons chocolate flavored syrup (Hershey's)
2 teaspoons instant coffee crystals
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Directions
Blend all ingredients well in large mixing bowl on low speed, or use large whisk.
Chill overnight.
Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.
Use within 7 days.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Bailey's Irish Cream Fudge

Moving on from Guinness to Bailey's Irish Cream in my St. Patrick's Day Count Down, here's an easy recipe for Bailey's Irish Cream Fudge adapted from Fantasy-Ireland.com. As I've mentioned, you can find some great recipes in some unusual places: Food associations, Travel Sites, and other product site.

Bailey's comes in different 'flavors', and your fudge flavors will vary when you use their Mint Bailey's Irish Cream or the Coffee Irish Cream or Creme Caramel Irish Cream. Try them all.

BAILEY'S IRISH CREAM FUDGE

Ingredients
24 oz milk chocolate (35-45% cacao), chopped, or 2-12 oz packages of milk chocolate chips
12 oz dark chocolate (65-85% cacao), chopped or 1- 12 oz package semisweet chocolate chips
2-7 oz. jars marshmallow creme
2 teaspoons Madagascar vanilla extract
2/3 cups Bailey's Irish Cream
2 cups chopped nuts (optional)
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1-12oz. can  evaporated milk
1/2 pound sweet butter (Kerrygold, if you have it), softened 

Directions
1. In very large bowl, combine milk chocolate chips, semisweet chocolate chips, marshmallow cream, vanilla extract, Irish Cream, and nuts (if you are adding them). Set mixture aside.
2. Line 10 X 15 baking pan with foil and spread lightly with butter.
3. In medium saucepan, combine granulated sugar, evaporated milk, and butter. Bring to gentle boil over medium heat and cook slowly, stirring constantly for about 10 minutes.
4. Pour milk mixture into chocolate chip mixture. Stir slowly by hand to combine. It is very important to do this by hand and NOT use any kind of mixer.
5. Pour fudge into prepared pan and chill until set.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Grasshopper Pie for National Pi Day & St. Patrick's Day

Today is National Pi Day. Since St. Patrick's Day is this weekend, I thought I'd post a 'Green Pie' to celebrate both holidays.

Pi Day is an annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant Pi. Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern. Pi Day is observed on March 14 (or 3/14), since 3, 1 and 4 are the three most significant digits of Pi in the decimal form. In 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives supported the designation of Pi Day.

Grasshopper Pie is named because for its green color, although modern recipes may omit coloring the pie green. That would be a shame, though, since it's what makes it a classic. This pie was most likely invented in the 1950s in the U.S, and may have been inspired by the "Grasshopper Cocktail" invented at about the same time. Grasshopper Pie is a chiffon pie usually made with a Chocolate Cookie Crust, so you see why it's perfect for DyingforChocolate.com.

Chiffon pies in the 1950s were often a combination of whipping cream, gelatin, sugar, eggs, and flavoring (see vintage recipe at the end of this post). In the case of the Grasshopper Pie, common flavoring used was alcohol in the form of crème de menthe, and sometimes other alcohol like crème de cacao. For non-alcoholic pie, mint flavoring was achieved by using mint extracts instead, though these might still contain a tiny amount of alcohol. Green food coloring gave the pie a light green color.

There are huge differences between classic recipes for Grasshopper Pie and modern ones. Since gelatin can be  annoying to work with, many people now prepare the pie by melting marshmallows and blending them with milk or whipping cream, and sometimes cream cheese. Several recipes advocate the use of specific cookies like Oreos in the crust, but I use chocolate wafers.

In the US, Grasshopper Pie tends to be most popular in the South, but other parts of the country enjoy it too. The pie rose in popularity especially up until the 1970s. Many ice cream stores capitalized on the flavor of this pie by producing their own version with mint or mint chocolate chip ice cream and a cookie crust. Some ice cream stores are particularly known for their grasshopper ice-cream pies.

Following are several different recipes for Grasshopper Pie. As I said, this is perfect for Pi Day and St. Patrick's Day! Let me know if you have a special family recipe. 


Simple Grasshopper Mallow Pie  
 from Kraft

Ingredients
1/4 cup green creme de menthe
1 jar (7 oz.) JET-PUFFED Marshmallow Creme
1 pt. (2 cups) whipping cream, whipped
1 OREO Pie Crust (6 oz.)

ADD creme de menthe gradually to marshmallow creme in large bowl, beating with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gently stir in whipped cream.
POUR into crust.
REFRIGERATE 4 to 6 hours or until chilled. Store leftover pie in refrigerator.

Frozen Grasshopper Pie
from cooks.com

Ingredients
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 rows Oreo cookies (lg. pkg.) crushed (you can also use chocolate wafers)

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 c. creme de menthe
1/4 c. white creme de cacao
2 c. (1 pt.) whipping cream, whipped

Directions
Combine crushed Oreos and butter and press in bottom of 9 x 13 inch pan.
In large bowl combine sweetened milk, creme de menthe and creme de cacao.
Fold in whipped cream.
Pour over crust. Cover.
Freeze 6 hours or until firm. Garnish with chocolate curls. Return leftovers to freezer.

Expert Grasshopper Pie  
From Bon Appétit

Ingredients
Crust:
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
22 chocolate wafer cookies
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
1 cup whole milk
Pinch of salt
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons cornstarch
6 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Baker’s or Lindt), chopped
2 tablespoons sweet butter
2 tablespoons green crème de menthe
2 tablespoons light crème de cacao
3/4 cup chilled whipping cream
Shaved white and dark chocolates

Directions 
For crust: Spray 9-inch-diameter glass or ceramic pie dish with nonstick spray. Finely grind chocolate cookies and sugar in processor. Blend in butter. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up sides of prepared dish. Freeze. 

For filling: Combine milk and salt in heavy small saucepan. Bring to simmer. Whisk egg yolks and cornstarch in medium bowl to blend well. Gradually whisk in hot milk mixture. Return mixture to same saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until mixture thickens, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Add white chocolate and butter; whisk until smooth. Transfer custard to large bowl. Whisk in crème de menthe and crème de cacao. Set custard over another large bowl of ice water until cold and thick but not set, stirring often, about 30 minutes.
Whip cream in medium bowl until stiff peaks form. Stir 1/3 of whipped cream into custard. Fold in remaining whipped cream. Pour filling into crust. Freeze at least 5 hours or up to 2 days. Garnish with shaved chocolates.

And one more,  
Vintage Cookbook Recipe for Grasshopper Pie that includes gelatin!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Chocolate Guinness Cake for St. Patrick's Day

1938 Guinness Poster
For St. Patrick's Day every year, I post a lot of Guinness recipes. No big surprise because when I think of Ireland, I think shamrocks and leprechauns...and Guinness. Guinness Beer was founded in 1759 when Arthur Guinness signed a 9000 (!) year lease on a brewery in Dublin. That brewery is still the center of Guinness operations, and all the Guinness sold in the UK, Ireland and North America is brewed there! FYI for those of you in the U.K., Guinness is served chilled in Ireland and the bottles read "Serve Extra Cold."

St. Patrick's Day calls for a Chocolate Guinness Cake! My all time favorite Chocolate Guinness Cake Recipe is from a recipe in the New York Times (12/8/04). There are several recipes I like, including an "Easy" Chocolate Guinness Cake made from a cakemix--and a whole bottle of Guinness. The final one on today's post is from Chef Brian Leth of Vinegar Hill House and appeared in People Magazine last year (see below). My friend Loanne Heavey Slapar swears by it.It's pretty similar to the one from the NYT, but I'll bet it all comes down to the cocoa used.. and a bit of technique.

CHOCOLATE GUINNESS CAKE
Recipe from NYT (see above)

Ingredients
Butter for pan
1 cup Guinness stout
10 tablespoons sweet butter
3/8 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa
2 cups superfine sugar
3/8 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon Madagascar vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper.
In large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter. Place over medium-low heat until butter melts, then remove from heat. Add cocoa and superfine sugar. Whisk to blend.
In  small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add to Guinness mixture. Add flour and baking soda, and whisk again until smooth. Pour into buttered pan, and bake until risen and firm, 45 minutes to one hour. Place pan on wire rack and cool completely in pan.
Remove cake from pan and place on platter or cake stand.
Ice the top with cream cheese icing..

The NYT recipe uses a white cream cheese icing. If you use a white cream cheese icing, you can ice the top of cake only, so that it resembles a frothy pint of Guinness. If you use chocolate, well.... you'll be eating more chocolate!

Don't have the time or inclination to make a cake from scratch? This Chocolate Guinness Cake is even easier and calls for more Guinness!!! This recipe is from Canela and CominoDon't worry about the taste or smell of the Guinness because you're using the whole bottle. You'll only have a tang from the Guinness and no yeasty smell, just great chocolate aroma!

EASY CHOCOLATE GUINNESS CAKE
Ingredients
1 box of dark chocolate cake mix (one with pudding in the mix)
1 bottle of Guinness Stout
1/2 cup of Canola oil
3 eggs
4 oz. Bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Directions
Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine cake mix, Stout, oil, and eggs in mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed just until combined. Add bittersweet chocolate and gently stir in. Divide between two 8” cake pans, coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when stuck in middle.
Remove from oven and cool in pans for about 15 minutes, then transfer to  cooling rack. Once cooled, frost with a rich Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.  (see recipe above or use canned)

CHOCOLATE GUINNESS CAKE
From People Magazine/Vinegar Hill House:


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ben & Jerry's Dublin Mudslide: St. Patrick's Day Chocolate


Here's one of my favorite easy ways to celebrate St. Patrick's Day:   
Ben & Jerry's Dublin Mudslide. Irish Cream Liqueur Ice Cream with Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies and Coffee Fudge Swirl.

How easy and delicious is this? Eat it out of the container--or serve with your favorite Chocolate St. Patrick's Day Brownies, Pies (Guinness Chocolate Silk Pie) or Cakes.


Coconut Almond Torte with Chocolate Chips

Today is National Coconut Torte Day. Well you know it just has to have chocolate! I make a great Chocolate Coconut Torte with a thick chocolate ganache, but I also like this recipe from Ghirardelli Chocolate, a hometown favorite.

COCONUT ALMOND TORTE WITH CHOCOLATE CHIPS

Ingredients: 
1 1/3 cups Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 1/4 cups whole almonds
1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
8 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoon(s) sugar, or more to taste

Directions

Position rack in the lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease bottom and sides of 9-inch spring form pan.
In food processor, pulse almonds, salt, and 1/4 cup of the sugar to consistency of crumbs. Set aside. Beat egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tarter at high speed until they hold a soft shape. Gradually beat in remaining 1/2 cup sugar until eggs whites are stiff but not dry. Transfer to a large bowl.
Fold in almond mixture. Set aside 1/4 cup of chocolate chips to sprinkle on top of torte.
Fold remaining chocolate chips and coconut into batter.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle with reserved chocolate chips.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until torte is puffed and golden, and  edges are starting to shrink from the sides of pan.
Cool on  rack.
To serve, whip cream with vanilla and sugar.
Remove sides of the pan and transfer torte to serving platter. Serve torte slices with whipped cream.

Monday, March 11, 2013

GUINNESS CHOCOLATE SILK PIE

St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner, so I'm posting some daily Chocolate St. Patrick's Day Recipes. Of course, I'm starting with Guinness. I'll be posting recipes that use Irish Whiskey, too. And, there will be several non-alcoholic St. Patrick's Day Chocolate recipes. Stay tuned.

Here's an easy favorite -- Guinness Chocolate Silk Pie. You can use any stout, of course, but Guinness is easily available and so very Irish! I make a chocolate cookie crust, but you can use a graham cracker crust or a vanilla wafer crust.

So many great ways to use Guinness with Chocolate. I think the stout brings out the chocolate.

GUINNESS CHOCOLATE SILK PIE

Chocolate Cookie Crust
 
Ingredients
30 chocolate wafers (Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers)
5 tablespoons sweet butter, melted and slightly cooled
Dash of Salt
1/2 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla extract 

Directions
1. Whirl cookies in food processor until finely ground.
2. Put crumbs in mixing bowl; combine crumbs, butter, salt, and vanilla; stir until crumbs are moistened.
3. Press mixture evenly across the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate and all the way up the sides of the pan; pack tightly so crust is even and compacted.
4. Bake in a 350° oven for 6 minutes until crisp.
5. Cool before filling. 

Filling

Ingredients
12 ounces dark chocolate (70-75% cacao), chopped
24 large marshmallows
Pinch of salt
2/3 cups Guinness
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla
1 tablespoon Kahlua 

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Make the crust (see above)

1. Place chocolate, marshmallows and salt in blender or food processor. Blend until well mixed and chocolate is finely ground.
2. In two separate pans, heat Guinness and evaporated milk until very hot, but not boiling.
3. Slowly pour hot Guinness over marshmallows and chocolate in blender. Add hot evaporated milk. Cover and blend for one minute.
4. Add vanilla and Kahlua. Blend for one minute.
5. Pour into the cooled crust and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Top with Whipped Cream or Guinness Ice Cream

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Magic Truffles: Borden's Retro Ad & Recipe

I'm a big fan of Elsie the Cow! She certainly had her hoof in a lot of pots! Here's her recipe for "Magic Truffles" using Borden's Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk. Truffles are great with morning coffee--or tea!


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Wellesley Fudge Cake: Retro Ad & 2 Recipes

This Wellesley Fudge Cake Recipe from an Ad in a 1941 Life Magazine makes a great Double Chocolate Cake! Yes, the name of this cake does come from Wellesley College. This recipe purports to go back 100 years ago when the founder of Wellesley College said "Pies, lies, and doughnuts should never have a place in Wellesley College." The college was not going to be known for house wifely skills, but rather a place of 'higher' learning for women. However, the women who attended Wellesley did make secret fudge. The thick fudge frosting is terrific.

Since I'm posting a 1941 recipe, feel free to update with different chocolate or try my favorite recipe for Wellesley Fudge Cake from Cook's Country (scroll down).



II. WELLESLEY FUDGE CAKE
from CooksCountry.com

CAKE
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder (see note)
16 tablespoons sweet butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

FROSTING 
8 tablespoons sweet butter, cut in half, and softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup evaporated milk
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

1. MAKE BATTER
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch-square cake pans. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in bowl; set aside. In small bowl, whisk hot water with cocoa powder until smooth; set aside. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and mix until incorporated. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of buttermilk, until combined. Reduce speed to low and slowly add cocoa mixture and vanilla until incorporated.

2. BAKE CAKES 
Scrape equal amounts of batter into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

3. MAKE FROSTING 
Heat 4 tablespoons butter, brown sugar, salt, and ½ cup evaporated milk in large saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles appear around perimeter of pan, 4 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has thickened and turned deep golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Slice remaining butter into 4 pieces and stir in with remaining evaporated milk until mixture is slightly cool. Add chocolate and vanilla and stir until smooth. Whisk in confectioners’ sugar until incorporated. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.

4. ASSEMBLE CAKE 
Place 1 cake square on serving platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over cake, then top with second cake square. Generously spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate cake until frosting is set, about 1 hour. Serve.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Hershey Bar Chocolate Cake

Growing up in Philadelphia, my family often visited the Hershey Factory in near-by Hershey, PA. What an amazing Family outing. It truly was a Willy Wonka experience. At the end of the factory tour, each child was given a Hershey's Bar! I'm not talking mini, either, these were the 'regular' sized bars. Since I was used to buying penny candy (remember that?), this was a huge treat. Visiting the Hershey factory was an experience I'll never forget, and even though I might now opt for more refined single origin organic dark chocolate, I'll never turn down a Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar.

So here's another Classic Chocolate Cake recipe. You'll find this in many of the older Hershey Cookbooks. And, yes, you can make it with high end dark chocolate and syrup, but try it first with Hershey chocolate bars and Hershey's syrup. This easy to make cake will satisfy any chocoholic!

HERSHEY BAR CHOCOLATE CAKE

Ingredients
1 cup buttermilk
2-1/2 cups flour
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sweet butter, softened
2/3 cup Hershey's chocolate syrup
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 Hershey's Milk Chocolate bars, melted and cooled

Directions
Heat oven to 350. Butter either a 12 cup Bundt Pan or 10" tube pan. 
In medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside. 
Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla with electric mixer. Add syrup and melted chocolate and mix completely. Blend in buttermilk. Gradually add flour mixture until well combined. 
Pour into prepared pans.
Bake in Tube or Bundt pan for 45 minutes to an hour -- or until done.
Cover with foil immediately to steam and make cake moister.
Keep covered until cake is completely cool.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Chocolate and Dogs: A Dangerous Combination

Happy Birthday, Topper! Topper is 6 today! Now you might be wondering why I am highlighting Topper, my golden retriever, on a Chocolate Blog, but there's a good reason. I've mentioned this before that chocolate is not good for dogs. I'm careful when I cook and bake with chocolate, because golden retrievers -- well, most dogs -- will eat anything that drops on the floor. I only bake with good dark chocolate and that's exactly what can make Topper sick or worse.

Last week, Hills Pet Company had a very good article on Chocolate and Dogs that I want to share. I'm also reposting a Chocolate and Dogs Q&A about Halloween Candy. It's all good information for Dog Owners (Guardians) who also happen to be Chocoholics. Be safe!

Being that today is Topper's 6th Birthday today, here's a link to a "Puppalicious" Doggie Birthday cake (and more photos of Topper) that I posted last year on Topper's 5th birthday on my Mystery Fanfare blog!

Is Chocolate Bad for Dogs?

Chocolate is poisonous to dogs; however, the hazard of chocolate to your dog depends on the chocolate type, the amount consumed and the dog's size. In large enough amounts, chocolate and cocoa products can kill your dog.

Why not chocolate?
  • The toxic component of chocolate is theobromine. Humans easily metabolize theobromine, but dogs process it much more slowly, allowing it to build up toxic levels in their system.
  • A large dog can consume more chocolate than a small dog before it suffers ill effects.
  • A small amount of chocolate will probably only give your dog an upset stomach with vomiting or diarrhea.
  • With large amounts, theobromine can produce muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding or a heart attack. The onset of theobromine poisoning is usually marked by severe hyperactivity.
A single piece of chocolate should not be a problem. A single piece doesn't contain a large enough theobromine dosage to harm your dog; however, if you have a small dog that has eaten a box of chocolates, you need to go to the veterinarian immediately.

Different chocolate types have different theobromine levels. Cocoa, cooking chocolate and dark chocolate contain the highest levels, while milk chocolate and white chocolate have the lowest. If you’re dealing with any quantity of dark or bitter chocolate, err on the side of caution. The high level of theobromine in dark chocolate means it takes only a very small amount to poison a dog. Less than an ounce of dark chocolate may be enough to poison a 44-pound dog.

The usual treatment for theobromine poisoning is to induce vomiting within two hours of ingestion. If you are worried that your dog may have eaten a large quantity of chocolate, call your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Of course, never consider chocolate as a reward.

And here's another article on Chocolate and Dogs that I posted around Halloween: 

It's a Q &A between Neenda Pellegrini and Dr. Sheppard Thorpe, an emergency veterinarian at Puget Sound Veterinary Referral Center in Tacoma about Halloween and Pets that appeared in the Seattle Times.  Read the entire article HERE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question: What harm can one little candy bar do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Topper at the Beach