Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Costco All American Chocolate Cake: Perfect Birthday Cake

So today's my sister's birthday, and you'd think I would have baked a cake. No, and "I knew she was coming, but..."

Two years ago, the clan gathered in Bodega Bay, and I had way too many things to do to get ready for the onslaught, so I bought my favorite Chocolate Cake that would feed the crowd. This year we're having a smaller group. Although I opted for this cake, some of the non-chocolate folks wanted lemon? Really?? Now, I do like Lemon Cake, but what's a birthday without chocolate cake?  So I thought I'd revisit this chocolate cake virtually in this post. Costco All American Chocolate Cake. It's my cake of choice for large parties.

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's ever tasted the fabulous Costco All American Chocolate Cake. It's huge! It's delicious! It's a deep dark chocolate four layer cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. 7 pounds of heaven! Yes, it really is 7 pounds  (the mystery: if you eat it all, you'll gain 20!). This cake also freezes very well, in case you have room in your freezer for this gigantic cake--for emergency parties. Actually I've been told that many restaurants buy the Costco All American Chocolate Cake, slice it thin, and serve it with raspberry or strawberry sauce. Really. Of course these restaurants don't employ any of my pastry chef friends. The restaurants probably charge a fortune, too, per slice. The Costco All American Chocolate Cake is a real deal at $16.99.

If you want to get fancy (or fancier) with the cake (it's already decorated with beautiful frosting with chocolate curls down the sides) freeze or chill the cake in order to cut the slices really thin. Makes it easier to cut. Then drizzle with raspberry sauce! But if you're like me, fresh is the way to go. Use a good cake slicer. As I said this is a mile high cake. Add candles, and it's the perfect birthday cake!

Happy Birthday, Judie!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sarah Steding: LOW-CARB CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

My mystery and chocolate worlds collide again. Today I welcome mystery author Sarah Steding. Sarah is the author of A Diet to Die For, the first book in the Skinny Mystery series. Sarah Steding has cut carbs, calories, white foods, yellow foods, packaged foods, and fatty foods (not all at the same time, or any for more than a few well-intentioned days). She’s tried grapefruit, cayenne-spiced lemonade, macrobiotics, and even gummy bears. While crusading against thunder thighs, she has developed quite a sense of humor about the whole ordeal. She hails from Denver, Colorado and lives in Brooklyn, New York with three little boys and a husband who has learned to say she looks quite slender in those jeans.

SARAH STEDING:

I grew up reading mysteries, especially Agatha Christie. I loved the way she spun the stories, directed the readers, and dropped little clues like breadcrumbs along the way. I also grew up loving breadcrumbs, cake, croissants, and basically all carbs—but not loving the spare tire that began accumulating around my middle. So, I combined the two ideas—obsessions, really—in the novel A Diet to Die For. Writing my first mystery novel was so much fun. Dropping the clues into the chapters, and writing the action-sequence ending felt truly electric!

The truth is the main character, Jen Stevens, and I have a lot in common. We can’t resist a juicy mystery and we both ask a lot of questions when people would prefer we just stay out of it. We’re also both totally into cupcakes…. and go back and forth between trying desperately to lose twenty pounds yesterday and convincing ourselves that we should fully enjoy the multitude of pleasurable flavors the world. Life’s too short to count calories right? No, wait, life’s too short to be overweight and unhealthy. One thing’s for sure—life’s too short not to laugh at it!

I'm getting so much exciting, positive feedback from people who relate to Jen Stevens, as she struggles to solve the murder mystery and get her weight under control. I'm so happy and proud to have written a character that people feel like they know when they read the book. In fact, a lot of people have emailed or texted me exactly what they were eating as they read my novel—I've gotten cellphone photos of pound cake, miniature cupcakes, and jars of candies from my readers! (If you read A Diet to Die For and want to send me a picture of your reading snack, email me through my site at sarahsteding.com and I'll post it online!) If you need a reading snack suggestion, here's the low-carb chocolate mousse recipe that's included in the book is below. 
Enjoy! 

A DIET TO DIE FOR: Low-Carb Chocolate Mousse
Servings: 4
Total carbs for serving: 7.3 grams


Ingredients
2 tbsp cold water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
4 tbsp boiling water
1 cup granulated zero-calorie sugar substitute-try Truvia
1/2 cup unsweetened powdered cocoa
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp whipped cream

Directions
Put a large mixing bowl into the refrigerator a half hour before begining the recipe.

Place cold water in a medium bowl. Sprinkle in the envelope of gelatin. Add the boiling water and stir until all of the gelatin is dissolved.

Take the bowl that's been chilled out of the refrigerator. Combine sugar substitute, cocoa powder, salt, cream, and the almond and vanilla extracts. Use a mixer on medium speed to beat the mixture until still peaks form. Beat in the gelatin mixture.

Serve in parfait glasses with a dollop of whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder.




 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Triple Chocolate Amish Friendship Bread: National Friendship Day

Today is National Friendship Day, so in honor of the holiday, I think a loaf of Triple Chocolate Friendship Bread is in order. Although this seems like a quick bread, it uses a yeast starter, so you'll need Amish Friendship Bread Starter. See recipe below. The Triple Chocolate Friendship Bread recipe is from Carroll Pellegrinelli at About.com and appeared in 2010. I like that it adds cocoa and cinnamon and dark chocolate chips to a 'normal' Chocolate Friendship Bread. You'll love it!

If you don't already have an Amish Friendship Bread Starter, the recipe below will make enough for three. Then you'll be able to give the starter to two other friends, and have some for yourself. And, isn't that what friendship is all about? Yes, it takes a lot of time since the starter needs to ferment, but it's fun. It's also a great project with kids!

Tip: Do not use any metal bowls or utensils with the starter.

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE AMISH FRIENDSHIP BREAD 

Ingredients
2 cups flour 
1-1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp salt 
1 Tbsp DARK cocoa 
2 tsp cinnamon 
1 cup sugar 
1 (5 ounce) instant Chocolate pudding mix 
1 portion (approximately 1 cup) Friendship Bread Starter 
1 cup vegetable oil 
1/2 cup whole milk 
3 eggs 
1 cup chocolate chips (or dark chocolate, chopped) 
Turbinado sugar, optional
Preparation 
Preheat  oven to 325 degrees F.  
Grease and flour two 8x4-inch loaf pans. Optional, sprinkle entire pans with turbinado sugar after greasing and flouring.  (yummy)
Combine first set of ingredients in large bowl with wire whisk. 
In medium bowl, combine second set of ingredients. Mix well. 
To dry ingredients, add wet ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips (or the chopped chocolate chunks). 
Carefully, divide batter between the prepared pans. 
Optionally, sprinkle tops of batter with more turbinado sugar. 
Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until done.

AMISH FRIENDSHIP BREAD STARTER (from AllRecipes.com)
Original recipe makes 4 cups of starter

Ingredients
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3 cups white sugar, divided 3 cups milk

Directions
In small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand 10 minutes.
In 2 quart container glass, plastic or ceramic container (never metal!--and no metal spoons), combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly or flour will lump when milk is added. Slowly stir in 1 cup milk and dissolved yeast mixture.
Cover loosely and let stand until bubbly.
Consider this day 1 of the 10 day cycle. Leave loosely covered at room temperature.
On days 2 through 4; stir starter with a spoon.
Day 5; stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk.
Days 6 through 9; stir only.
Day 10; stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk.
Remove 1 cup to make your Triple Chocolate Amish Friendship Bread, give 2 cups (either in a small crock or Ziploc Bag!) to friends along with this recipe, and the Triple Chocolate Amish Bread recipe.
Store the remaining 1 cup starter in a container in the refrigerator, or begin the 10 day process over again (beginning with step 2).
If you used a ziploc bag, your friends can either keep it in the bag and 'perform' all the rituals or they can put it in a small crock or other non-metal container.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Milk Chocolate Day: S'mores Pops/S'mores on a Stick

Last summer I posted a recipe for S'mores on a Stick or S'mores Pops. I used Guittard Milk Chocolate (38%) and it was fabulous. Last weekend I made some S'mores pops with some left over dark chocolate, and I just want to say they didn't taste as good to me. I also used some "natural' graham crackers. Nope! I like the old fashioned supermarket grahams for my Smores. So here's the original recipe I posted for S'mores PopsS'mores Pops are perfect for a picnic or barbecue. Less mess, no grilling, and oh so tasty.  Perfect way to end the meal.

S'MORES POPS

Ingredients:
Marshmallows (didn't have time to make my own)
Chocolate ( I used several squares of Guittard Milk Chocolate 38%- Fab!)
Graham Crackers (again, not home-made) crumbs  (Crumb the graham crackers by putting them in a plastic bag and using a rolling pin. Don't make them too fine)
Lollipop sticks (I use blunt sticks. Safer than skewers)

Directions:
Melt chocolate in top of double-boiler. (I added a tiny bit of oil to keep it the right consistency. Also since I made a lot of pops, I had to reheat and re-whip.)
Put marshmallow on stick and dip (swirl) in chocolate, coating almost all of marshmallow.
Put graham cracker crumbs in bowl and spoon crumbs over chocolate covered marshmallow. (I found that easier than dipping.)
Place S'mores Pop on cookie tray covered with wax paper.
Repeat.
Put S'mores Pops in refrigerator for a few hours to harden.

Because I used more chocolate than I needed, I made a few dozen. I placed them in several low clear jars, tied a ribbon, and they were good to go. If it's hot where you are, stick them back in the refrigerator until ready to serve. But you will want to bring them to room temperature before serving, if possible.

Extra: You can always brush any exposed marshmallow with a flame for more 'authenticity'. I didn't do that fearing the milk chocolate would melt.

Remember you can always experiment with different chocolate. Everyone has a different palette. Experiment.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I was talking about chocolate last night--no big surprise there--with a few chocoholic friends, and I realized I hadn't posted a Chocolate Cookie recipe in quite some time. These Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies are great!

As in any of the recipes I post, the quality of the ingredients will make a difference in the taste. I often have left-over chocolate (I know, who has left-over chocolate?), and I like to combine different brands of chocolate and amounts of cacao in this recipe--both in the melted chocolate part of the recipe and in the chunks that are folded in later. If you're a purist, use one brand with the same amount of cacao. If not, mix it up! You can also substitute brown sugar for white, but you'll have a different cookie!

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, & salt. Set aside.
Melt together butter & 8 ounces of chocolate in top of double boiler or saucepan over another saucepan. Remove from heat.
In a bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, & vanilla.
Whisk in small amount of melted chocolate, slowly add rest of chocolate, continuing to whisk.
Stir in flour mixture.
Fold in chocolate chunks & nuts.
Drop cookies 2 inches apart in heaping teaspoon onto prepared baking sheet.
Bake 12-14 minutes.
Cool on wire rack.

Enjoy the Weekend!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

1-2-3 Hot Fudge Sauce: National Hot Fudge Sundae Day

Today is National Hot Fudge Sundae Day! I really like Hot Fudge Sauce on cold ice cream.

This Retro Ad & Recipe for 1-2-3 Fudge Sauce is from Carnation Evaporated Milk, September 7, 1953. You can follow the recipe, or you can make your own. I just love these vintage ads, don't you? So here's a way to beat the heat! I would use 4 squares, of course.. and probably substitute some excellent artisan chocolate!




Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Chocolate Full Moon: National Tequila Day

Yesterday was the Full Moon (7/22), and tomorrow is National Tequila Day (7/24). Since these two dates are so close together this year, it must be in the stars...or over the moon, so  I decided to post a recipe for a Chocolate Full Moon. This is a great cocktail! Tequila and Chocolate (Creme de Cacao, both dark and clear) go so well in this simple drink. Don't let it fool you, though. You'll be howling at the moon, if you drink too many. :-)

Chocolate Full Moon

1 oz Cream
1/2 oz Creme de Cacao
2 oz Tequila
1/2 oz Dark Creme de Cacao

Pour all ingredients into cocktail shaker with ice and shake.
Strain into cocktail glass.
Garnish with chocolate curls.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Celebration Chocolate Potato Cake: Robin Berry

Today I welcome Robin Berry with her family recipe for Celebration Chocolate Potato Cake. Robin Berry is a 3rd generation Californian and native San Franciscan. When not arbitrating securities and banking cases, you can usually find her reenacting various centuries; embroidering or cooking her way through time.

Robin Berry:
This recipe has been used to celebrate birthdays and special events for 3 generations and possibly longer. The original recipe lacks some information like quantities of ingredients, but over the years here is what was finally written down.

Chocolate Potato Cake

Ingredients
2 cubes butter (unsalted)
2 cups sugar 4 eggs – see further instructions
1 cup mashed potatoes (as in peel, cut into chunks, boil until soft, drain, usually Russets)
1/2 cup cocoa (Ghiradelli’s semi sweet ground)
1 teaspoon cinnamon ground
1/2 teaspoon cloves ground
1/2 teaspoon allspice ground
2 cups cake flour (measure before sifting)
2 teaspoons baking powder ½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup broken nut meats (walnut usually)

Directions
Sift dry ingredients together.
Cream butter & sugar. Add egg yolks 1 at a time. Add potatoes.
Add sifted dry ingredients alternating with milk.
Add in vanilla and nuts. Fold in beaten egg whites.

Bake in a large (10”) funnel pan that has been greased and floured.
Bake 1 hour 15 - 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Toothpick test for doneness.
Turn out onto rack to cool. Ice when cool.

Icing
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate squares
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar sifted
2 Tablespoons hot water or coffee
1 whole egg
2 Tablespoons butter (scant)
dash of salt (if using unsalted butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt chocolate with butter. Add hot water, sugar (1/2 c. at a time) and whole egg.
Beat by hand until smooth. Add vanilla. If too thick add a little coffee to thin. If too thick add powdered sugar. You want it to want to drip from the spreader but not too easily. Use immediately!

I like to ice as follows using a rounded end table knife since you want to add the icing about 2-3 T at a time. Top first, smoothing as you go to about ¼”. Then sides from top down. Then the center hole. Lastly use the remaining icing to add another layer to the top. This icing is very smooth and shiny. Swirls may or may not stay as the icing sets.

This cake is very rich and slices well. I usually serve slices that are 1-1/4” thick. Serves about 20. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Chocolate Ice Cream Soda: National Ice Cream Soda Day

Today is National Ice Cream Soda Day! Celebrate with a great Chocolate Ice Cream Soda. Remember, your ice cream soda is only as good as the quality of chocolate syrup and ice cream....but maybe you're all about nostalgia.. Hershey's syrup and Breyer's ice-cream. That's what I grew up with. When I was a little kid in Philadelphia, we mostly made them at home, but every once in awhile we had a treat and went to Barson's for ice cream sodas. It was an old fashioned ice cream parlour complete with counter and stools. Today, my favorite ice cream soda place is Fenton's in Oakland! It's an institution and worth a visit!

CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM SODA

Ingredients
A tall glass or mug
 
Chocolate syrup ( Hershey's or a chocolate sauce of your choice) 
Milk 
Chilled tonic water (with bubbles) or club soda
Chocolate ice cream 
Optional: Whipped cream, jimmies (sprinkles), cherries
 
Directions:
Mix together about 1-1/2 to 2 Tbsp chocolate syrup and milk to fill 1/3 of glass.
Add tonic water  (or club soda) to fill glass half way and stir.
Add a few scoops of chocolate ice cream to reach top of glass, but don't "pack" it in.
Pour some chocolate syrup over it.
Wait and then add more tonic water. Leave an inch at top.
Add another scoop of ice cream, anchoring last one to edge of glass.
Optional: Top with whipped cream, jimmies, and a cherry!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Russian Tea Room Raspberry Vodka Truffles

I grew up in Philadelphia, and one of our favorite family outings was to take the train to New York. We'd visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art or MOMA or take in a matinee. Whatever we did, the Russian Tea Room was a 'must stop' on our trips. My memory: two little girls in white gloves in their Spring 'toppers'.. very 'vintage' dining in the elegant tea room. The Russian Tea Room had the most wonderful exotic food, well to me as an inexperienced omnivore at that time. So I was thrilled when I recentlycame across a copy of the Russian Tea Room Cookbook.

If you follow my blog, you know I collect cookbooks, usually theme cookbooks, but also cookbooks of famous places and restaurants. So here's a chocolate recipe from the Russian Tea Room Cookbook (by Faith Stewart-Gordon with Starla Smith; illustrations by Paul Cox) for Raspberry Vodka Truffles. Since there's vodka in the recipe, a disclaimer: we never had these at the Russian Tea Room. We were too young. We usually had blinis... my favorites!  But since this is a Chocolate Blog, I thought I'd share this recipe. I've made them, and they're really fabulous.. and easy! And, it's Berry Month, so these are perfect!



 

Smell of Chocolate is Merchandising Key

How many times have you looked at a home for sale and lingered because of the wonderful smell of chocolate chip cookies? It's an old real-estate ploy. Now this news in from Belgium. No surprise to Chocoholics, but good marketing for bookstores.

Researchers in Belgium discovered "the enticing aroma of chocolate inspired bookstore shoppers to stick around longer." Pacific Standard noted that shoppers "are more likely to engage in leisurely browsing--and ultimately purchase books in certain popular genres, including romance novels--if the store is infused with the scent of chocolate."

According to an article in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, the research team conducted a 10-day experiment in a Belgian general-interest bookstore and discovered that retailers "can make use of pleasant ambient scents to improve the store environment, leading consumers to explore the store.... customers were 2.22 times more likely to closely examine multiple books when the chocolate scent was present in the store, compared with the control condition."

The chocolate-fueled study prompted the researchers advise retailers that they "can make use of pleasant ambient scents to improve the store environment, leading consumers to explore the store."


Hat Tip: ShelfAwarness

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Blueberry Chocolate Chunk Scones: National Blueberry Month

Since July is National Blueberry Month, I thought I'd post another Chocolate Blueberry recipe, this time for Blueberry Chocolate Chunk Scones. Scones are great for breakfast and tea!

I love blueberries and as a child I often thought I'd turn blue from eating so many. In the summers we used to pick wild blueberries in the New Jersey Woods or up in Maine. So delicious. I probably ate as many as I picked.

For this Blueberry Chocolate Chunk Scone recipe, you can substitute frozen blueberries and chocolate chips, but I love fresh blueberries and dark chocolate chunks!

Some Blueberry tips:
How to store Fresh Blueberries: Put them in the refrigerator unwashed. Rinse with cold water just before use.
Baking with Fresh Blueberries (or other berries): Toss them in flour before adding to batter. This prevents them from sinking to the bottom during baking!
Baking with frozen Blueberries: Keep them frozen when adding to batter so color won't bleed (or won't bleed too much).

BLUEBERRY CHOCOLATE CHUNK SCONES

Ingredients
3 cups flour
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar, divided
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold sweet butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp milk, divided
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
1 cup blueberries
7 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Mix flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl.
Cut in butter using pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Add 3/4 cup milk, egg and lemon peel; stir just until mixture forms dough.
Fold in floured fresh blueberries and chocolate chunks.
Divide dough in half. On lightly floured surface, pat each half into a round, 9 inches in diameter & 1 inch thick.
Cut each round into 8 wedges.
Place wedges on ungreased baking sheet.
Brush tops with remaining 2 Tbsp. milk; sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp sugar.
Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Chocolate Bytes: Askinosie Chocolate Kosher Certified

This just in: Askinosie Chocolate Is Now Kosher Certified! L'chaim! So glad to pass along this information. I love their chocolate .. and packaging!!

After many years of aiming for certification, Askinosie Chocolate announced that 98% of their products* are now Kosher Certified! Askinosie is a family business, with a family name, and a family heritage. They are elated!

Visit their shopping cart for more details on the particular certifications for each product. Or call  417-862-9900 or email info@askinosie.com!

*Excludes Licorice CollaBARation Bar and Chocolate Hazelnut Spread.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

CHOCOLATE COVERED BLUEBERRIES: National Blueberry Month

July is Blueberry Month! Chocolate goes so well with blueberries--wild, cultivated--even frozen! I've posted different blueberry recipes, but thought the easiest to start a series of blueberry recipes would be Chocolate Covered Blueberries. I make them pretty much the same way I make chocolate covered raisins--in clumps, but you can also dip fat blueberries individually into dark chocolate.. sort of like having blueberry candy.

FYI: Until 1911, blueberries were picked from the wild, or bushes were dug from the wild that might or might not survive when planted elsewhere. But true domestication—reproduction at the will of a grower and breeding to improve desirable traits—was beyond reach. This makes blueberries among the most recently domesticated crops and one of the few that originated in North America, although they are now grown all over the world.

U.S. Department of Agriculture botanist Frederick Coville set the stage for commercial production by solving the mystery of why blueberries could not be cultivated well when he showed, in 1910, that the plants must be grown in moist, very acidic soil. Soon after, he made the first successful crosses designed to improve important traits, such as berry size and flavor. The blueberry was tamed. Coville's records which are at the National Agricultural Library provide a fascinating look at the USDA research effort that took blueberries from a crop picked from the wild and sold for 14 cents a quart in 1912 to a commercially grown crop worth more than $530 million today.

Dark chocolate and blueberries are great anti-oxidants,  and coconut oil is great to fight inflammation, so think of this recipe as very healthy! I do. :-)

CHOCOLATE COVERED BLUEBERRIES

Ingredients
Pint of fresh Blueberries
2 cups dark chocolate, chopped
1 tsp coconut oil

Directions
Wash blueberries and dry well (at least an hour before you dip them in chocolate or the chocolate will seize). Pat them dry.
Line a baking sheet with wax paper.
Combine Chocolate and Coconut Oil in the top of a double boiler -- or a saucepan or stainless steel bowl over another saucepan of simmering water. Stir until just smooth. Remove from heat.
Dip berries (about 3-6 at a time-to make clumps) into chocolate to coat  (you can also use a special tool for dipping.. or two forks or two slotted spoons). Take berries out of chocolate with a spoon and put on baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the blueberries. You can always add a bit more coconut oil to the chocolate if it starts to thicken up.
Put baking sheet in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes to set.
Eat!


Monday, July 15, 2013

Chocolate Hazelnut Goat Cheese Spread

Last year on the Months of Edible Celebrations Picnic Game, I posted a recipe for a Green Salad with Goat Cheese, Cocoa Nibs with a Chocolate Hazelnut Vinaigrette. At the end of the post I also added a Chocolate Hazelnut Goat Cheese Spread that would be great on a baguette to accompany the salad. Several people didn't scroll that far, so I thought I'd repost the recipe as a separate entry--a year later! This Chocolate Hazelnut Goat Cheese spread is perfect on crackers, too! And, it's so easy!

Chocolate Hazelnut Goat Cheese Spread

Ingredients
2 1/2  ounces dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
4  Tbsp chopped hazelnuts, toasted
1   8 ounce goat cheese log

Directions
Combine chocolate and hazelnuts in food processor and pulse until chocolate and nuts are finely ground. Don't over process. It's nice to have some texture!
Roll goat cheese log in mixture, pressing to coat all sides. 
(Moisten cheese with damp hands if mixture doesn't stick)

Add a knife to your picnic basket and use as a 'cheese' spread at the picnic!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

CREPES A LA BASTILLE

Just as the bricks came tumbling down when the French stormed the Bastille, ice cream and chocolate will tumble from your fork when you cut into these fabulous Triple Chocolate Crepes for the Bastille Day Holiday today. Crepes a la Bastille! Crepes are so French, after all.

CREPES A LA BASTILLE

Crepes
Ingredients
2 cups whole milk
2 eggs
2-1/2 Tbsp sweet butter, melted
1 oz. dark chocolate (65-75% cacao), melted
1-1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup high quality DARK cocoa 

1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt


Making the Crepes
Melt butter & chocolate together, mixing to combine and smooth out chocolate. 

In large bowl, combine milk and eggs. 
In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients.
Whisk together milk and eggs with dry ingredients, continue whisking incorporating butter and chocolate mixture.
Cover and refrigerate at least an hour, or overnight. 

Be sure to re-whisk batter before cooking the crepes.

Cooking the Crepes
Butter a hot frying pan (small or medium) or crepe pan, then wipe out excess butter with paper towel so it is sort of dry

Pour in small amount of crepe batter and tilt pan as needed so batter spreads and covers bottom of pan. As edges begin to turn up, flip crepe with spatula for few seconds to cook other side.

Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp honey
3 ounces Dark chocolate (65-75% cacao), chopped

Directions
Combine cream and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook 3 minutes or until tiny bubbles form around edge of pan, stirring frequently (do not boil).
Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate until smooth.

Fill Crepes with Dark Chocolate Ice Cream or Chocolate Ganache and Drizzle with Chocolate Sauce.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Marshmallow Frosting S'mores Cake: Variation on Retro Ad & Recipe

Here's one of those odd but really Tasty Retro Recipe Ads. This one is for Kraft Miniature Marshmallows. Here's how I would change it up. Make a Chocolate Cake in a 9" square pan. Add the marshmallow frosting made from this recipe... only substitute butter (not margarine!) and instead of the walnuts, add crushed graham crackers. You'll have a S'mores Cake!



Friday, July 12, 2013

Tea-Infused Truffles: Kathy Wiley, Poco Dolce

It's no secret that Kathy Wiley is one of the most creative chocolatiers around. She created Poco Dolce Confections in 2003 as a small San Francisco baking company specializing in regional Italian pastries. Within a year, she discovered a passion for creating hand-made chocolates with unique and exciting flavors. Having a predilection for more savory foods, Kathy experimented by finishing a piece of bittersweet chocolate with a sprinkling of Grey Sea Salt (also known as Sel Gris.) Poco Dolce's bittersweet chocolate "Tiles" were born.

I love, love, love her Tiles, especially the Aztec Chile. I've reviewed the tiles in the past. Since then, Poco Dolce has added so many different fabulous chocolate confections--more Tiles, of course, but also Toffee, Bars, Caramels, Brittle and Drinking Chocolate. Can you say, "Died and gone to Heaven?" The name Poco Dolce literally translates from Italian as "not too sweet" or "just a little sweet." Applying this idea to their products, Poco Dolce's ongoing mission is to stay on the "savory side of sweet."

So I'm thrilled to post this wonderful recipe and video from Kathy. No time to make your own (but it doesn't take very long!)? Buy chocolate confections at Poco Dolce and other fine chocolate specialty shops.

Dark Chocolate Tea Truffles

Ingredients: 
5 oz heavy cream
10 oz finely chopped Poco Dolce bittersweet chocolate
1 heaping tbsp of your favorite tea leaves
4 oz bittersweet chocolate (to melt for coating)
2 cups cocoa powder (for coating your truffles)

Directions:
1. Place the 10 oz of finely chopped Poco Dolce chocolate (or other bittersweet chocolate) in a heatproof bowl.
2. Heat the cream until just beginning to simmer. Remove cream from heat.
3. Add 1 heaping teaspoon tea leaves to the cream.
4. Allow to tea and cream to steep covered for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Strain the cream through a sieve over the finely chopped chocolate.
6. Whisk the cream into the chocolate until all visible lumps are gone and mixture is glossy.
7. Pour the mixture into an 8x8 pan lined with parchment paper.
8. Let set in a cool place for 4 hours or overnight (if overnight cover the pan.)
9. Once cooled, cut the mixture into 1" squares or scoop and roll into 1" balls. Put the 2 cups cocoa powder in a separate bowl.
10. Melt the 4 oz chocolate for coating in the microwave, stopping to stir every 10-15 seconds.
11. Using a fork, dip and completely cover one truffle at a time in the chocolate and roll & coat in the cocoa powder.
12. Leave in the cocoa powder a few minutes until the chocolate has set.
13. Repeat with the remaining truffles.
14. Keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Chocolate Mojito Truffles: National Mojito Day

Mojito Truffles
Today is National Mojito Day! I love a good Mojito! So why not a Chocolate Mojito Truffle?

Here's a great video for Bacardi & Chocolate Mojito Truffles from Samantha Laura Kaye. Her ingredient measurements are for UK cooks, but you can convert them. Here's a link to Samantha's recipe. I love that she rolls her truffles in different toppings!

Like Mysteries? Want to read a "Mojito" mystery? Read Richard Helms' The Mojito Coast. Just published. Set in Cuba in the 1950s!



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Clouds: Daryl Wood Gerber

Photo: Daryl Wood Gerber aka Avery Aames
You know I love when my Mystery and Chocolate worlds collide. Today I welcome back Daryl Wood Gerber aka Avery Aames. Daryl Wood Gerber/Avery Aames pens the Agatha Award-winning, nationally bestselling Cheese Shop Mystery series. As DARYL, she writes A Cookbook Nook Mystery series, featuring a culinary bookshop and cafĂ© owner. Daryl’s short stories have been nominated for the Agatha, Anthony, and other awards. As an actress, Daryl has appeared in “Murder, She Wrote” and more. Visit Daryl & Avery at www.darylwoodgerber.com. Check out her recipes on her blog www.mysteryloverskitchen.com And friend her on Facebook.

DARRYL WOOD GERBER AKA AVERY AAMES

I think most of you know that my books feature food. I savor food, and I adore cookies, don’t you? In FINAL SENTENCE, the first in A Cookbook Nook series, I feature cookie recipes. Look for the Mexican Wedding cookie recipe. Delish! In the meantime, try this one. I found it in a charming cookbook called Art of the Cookie. The cookbook has fabulous recipes and gorgeous pictures!! The chocolate base of this lighter-than-light macaroon is divine. The cookie is perfect for weddings and all sorts of events.

Please note: the recipe is not as hard as the recipe “reads” by the directions. In fact, it’s really easy!! It’s just specific as to each step. Enjoy!

CHOCOLATE-DIPPED COCONUT CLOUDS 

(inspired by the Art of the Cookie by Shelly Kaldunski)
(makes about 24 cookies)

Ingredients: 
3 large egg whites at room temp
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar pinch of salt
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ½ cups shredded coconut

Chocolate Glaze:
½ cup cream
1 ½ tablespoons butter
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions: 
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 to 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray.

In a bowl, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar. Mix on medium-high speed until the whites form a dense foam, about 1 minute. Add the salt. Beat continuously, adding the sugar, until stiff peaks form, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Using a spatula, stir in the vanilla. Then add the coconut, in batches, gently folding into the whites (do not use a blender), just until the coconut is moist.

Place rounded tablespoonsful of the dough (no more, the smaller the better), on the prepared sheets about an inch apart. They do not spread.

Bake until the edges turn lightly golden brown. About 12-14 minutes. (The cookbook suggests 19-22 but mine turned brown fast so keep an eye out!! It might have been because I cooked something earlier in the day and the oven stayed extra warm.) Let cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Next, dip the bottom of each cookie in the chocolate glaze and return to the parchment paper. Refrigerate the tray for about 10 minutes to set the chocolate.

 Store cookies, in a single layer, in an airtight container at room temp for up to 4 days.

Glaze Directions: 

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream and butter to a boil. Remove from heat. Add the chocolate and salt and stir to cover the chocolate with the cream. Let it stand for about a minute. Slowly stir the mixture until it is smooth and satiny. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and let it cool, stirring often until the glaze is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 40-45 minutes). Tip: if the glaze gets thick, either set over simmering water and stir until it “melt” again, or add a tablespoon of milk and heat “gently” in microwave for about 15 seconds.

Another Note: I was totally surprised, but this cookie freezes well! Delicious right out of the freezer. Also, for those who are not fond of chocolate, these cookies were delicious without the “dip.”

Monday, July 8, 2013

Hand-Crafted Candy Bars: Guest Post by Susie Norris and Susan Heeger

Who wouldn't want to make their own Hand-Crafted Candy Bars? Friends Susan Heeger and Susie Norris collaborated on a great new cookbook, Hand-Crafted Candy Bars: From-Scratch, All-Natural, Gloriously Grown-Up Confections (Chonicle Books) that incorporates their love of candy, natural ingredients and other confections with terrific recipes for the home cook. You can even create your own signature candy bar (look for their suggestions in the mix-and-match flavor chart to get started). Scroll down for more about Susan Heeger and Susie Norris, authors of Hand-Crafted Candy Bars  below, plus a recipe for Soft Chocolate Nougat. Thanks, Susan and Susie, for the guest post!

SUSIE NORRIS and SUSAN HEEGER:
Our Favorite Bar of All Time

Nothing sweetens a friendship more than discovering you share a vice. We’re not talking about the dangerous or criminal, but something you feel just complicated enough about to sneak off and do alone, before your roommates or children come home.

In our case, the evidence was tucked into our purses, slipped behind headboards, buried deep in our trash: candy wrappers!

The day our bond became clear—probably through a casually dropped remark about some piece of caramel-rich, nut-laden, chocolate-covered manna in a wrapper (“You--? No! You too??”)—we each felt understood, justified, legitimized in ways we hadn’t before. We shared our tastes and preferences, which were remarkably similar, and Susie, a veteran pastry chef and chocolatier, began to test her creations on me. I appreciated her even more!

Then one night, at a dinner party, the subject of candy came up, and it turned out that everyone at the table—our husbands, neighbors, friends—were all dedicated consumers of Hersheys, Mars, and Cadbury. Each person had specific passions for certain bars—Snickers or Baby Ruths, Butterfingers or Milky Ways. They had strict preferences for dark or milk chocolate, mint, caramel, or peanut butter as companion flavors, as well as fixed beliefs as to the permissible number of different elements in a bar. Some liked them simple, smooth; others, complex and crunchy. Many of these people were also accomplished cooks, comfortably familiar with Valrhona chocolate, Maldon sea salt, Plugra butter.

It suddenly seemed plain to us that our secret passion—which was, of course, shared by so many others—could be taken to another level of perfection if we made candy bars ourselves, using the best ingredients we could find. We are, after all, living in a wonderful moment for hand-crafted food, with home cooks everywhere re-discovering the pleasures of canning and jarring tomatoes and peppers, putting up jam, making pickles, and baking bread, hand-pies, crackers. Inventive chefs are pushing the frontiers of contemporary cuisine with unexpected pairings of food textures and flavors that are broadening our palates to new worlds of possibility. And we are finding the fresh potential for building community through shared culinary passions—via old-fashioned recipe-swapping, cooking together with friends, coming together over inspired, home-cooked food.

In the wake of that dinner party, Susie very quickly came up with an artisanal version of our favorite chocolate-dipped, caramel-nougat-peanut bar and then a number of other variations on bars we have eaten and loved since childhood. The two of us began cooking like mad, boiling caramel, whipping up nougat and fondant, roasting nuts, tempering great vats of dark and milk chocolate. As we worked, layering these elements into bars that were enthusiastically received by other friends, and our husbands and children, we cooked up the idea for our book: Hand-Crafted Candy Bars: From-Scratch, All-Natural, Gloriously Grown-Up Confections.

Thinking about that experience—all the happy hours we spent in each other’s kitchens—moves me to amend my earlier statement. Honestly? Nothing sweetens a friendship more than making candy bars together.

Soft Chocolate Nougat
From: Hand-Crafted Candy Bars
Makes about 4 cups (795 G)
Time needed: 20 min

3 cups/355 g ice
3 egg whites
3⁄4 cup/150 g sugar
1⁄2 cup/120 ml corn syrup
1⁄4 cup/60 ml water
1⁄2 cup/80 g melted high-quality dark chocolate
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1⁄2 tsp salt

1. Put the ice in a medium bowl and set aside. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Put the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and set aside.
3. Stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and continue to boil without stirring until the mixture reaches 225°F/110°C on a candy thermometer.
4. Begin whipping the egg whites on low speed. Continue cooking the sugar syrup until it reaches 245°F/118°C. (If your temperature goes higher, shock the syrup by setting the pan in the bowl of ice.) Pour a splash of the syrup into the egg whites, aiming for the space between the rim of the bowl and the whisk attachment. Continue whisking as you slowly add the rest of the hot sugar syrup. Increase the mixer speed to high and whip until the nougat reaches a full, frothy foam, about 2 minutes.
5. Allow the nougat to cool for about 20 minutes. (It should be close to room temperature and the bottom of the mixing bowl should no longer feel hot.) Turn the mixer on again and add the melted chocolate, butter, vanilla, and salt. Continue mixing until smooth. Use a big nonstick spatula or wooden spoon to scoop the nougat onto the prepared baking sheet. Allow the nougat to come to room temperature before using in candy-bar production.

***
Susie Norris is an author, artisan chocolatier, pastry chef, and culinary school instructor. Her award-winning chocolate business, Happy Chocolates, has been featured on Food Network and in More magazine. She recently taught baking and pastry arts at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and Sur La Table in Los Angeles. Her favorite commercial candy bars are Snickers and Twix. Susan Heeger is a longtime book, magazine, and newspaper feature writer with a specialty in food, garden, design, home, and lifestyle stories. She co-authored From Seed to Skillet, an edible gardening primer and cookbook (also published by Chronicle Books), and is a contributing editor for Garden Design magazine. Her favorite commercial candy bars are Milky Way and Snickers.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

CHOCOLATE BLUEBERRY PANCAKES: Two Ways

July is Blueberry Month! I love blueberries, and as a child I often thought I'd turn blue from eating so many. We used to pick them wild near the the New Jersey woods or up in Maine. So delicious. We probably ate as many as we picked. There are lots of ways to use blueberries in recipes, and since it's Sunday, I thought I'd post two Blueberry Pancake recipes--with Chocolate, of course.

The first recipe is from Cooking Light for Perfect Buttermilk Pancakes. I've added blueberries and chocolate to tweak the recipe to fit this blog. I usually have fresh blueberries around, but if you don't, you can use frozen blueberries.

BUTTERMILK BLUEBERRY CHOCOLATE PANCAKES

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

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

***

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

CHOCOLATE BLUEBERRY PANCAKES IN A JAR

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

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

Attach gift tag with the following instructions:

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

Mix eggs and melted butter in large bowl. Add contents of jar. Stir until well blended. Add 1-1/2 cups milk. Stir until dry ingredients are moistened.
Heat griddle or skillet. Pour batter onto hot griddle 1/4 cup at a time. Cook pancakes until golden on both sides.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Championship Fudge Cake: Fluffo Retro Ad & Recipe

I love Vintage Ads with Recipes, and this one "Takes the Cake." This is a recipe for Mrs. Vik's Championship Fudge Cake. Grammatically incorrect (.. a new kind of cakes),  and really? Golden Fluffo!


Be sure and Scroll down for the 1955 TV commercial with a very young Mike WallaceFluffo. The label says "Pure shortening. Artificially colored."

Fluffo All-Vegetable Shortening is ideal for baking and frying. If you want your baked goods to have a buttery flavour use Fluffo. For frying Fluffo is ideal as it doesn't burn or scorch. Fluffo is cholesterol-free, gluten-free and designated Kosher.

CHAMPIONSHIP FUDGE CAKE

Ingredients
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup FLUFFO (solid vegetable shortening)
1/2 tsp. double-acting baking powder
2 squares melted unsweetened chocolate (you can use a good dark chocolate and reduce sugar)
1 1/2 cup milk (add 2/3 cup twice)
3 eggs (2/3 cup)
1 tsp. vanilla

Directions
Combine flour, sugar, salt, soda and baking powder in mixing bowl. Add shortening, melted chocolate and 2/3 cup milk. Beat vigorously by hand or mixer (medium speed) for 2 minutes, scraping bowl often.
Add eggs, 2/3 cup milk and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes.
Pour into two 9" cake pans 1 1/2" deep, rubbed with shortening or lined with paper.
Bake 35 - 40 minutes at 350˚.
Cool 10 - 15 minutes, remove from pans and cool on wire cake rack.

Luscious Fudge Frosting:
Mix 1/3 cup shortening, 1 egg, 3 cups sifted confectioners' sugar and 1/4 tsp. salt.
Add 2 1/2 squares melted unsweetened chocolate and beat thoroughly.
Add 5 Tbsp cream or top milk, one at a time while beating, beat until smooth and good spreading consistency.

Mocha Icing:
Add 1 tbsp. instant coffee, dissolved in cream.
Mint Icing: Add 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. mint flavoring during final beating.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Star Spangled Cocoa Bundt Cake: Fourth of July


I always say you should check out recipes on food product sites that you like, and for me, the Hershey's Kitchens site is a regular stop.

I grew up in Philadelphia. My Aunt lived in Harrisburg, so Hershey's, being on the way, was a frequent stop. I remember the Hershey Factory tour that took us on catwalks over rooms filled with chocolate vats, without barriers. I always thought you could fall into the vats. This was pre-Willy Wonka. I'm sure my memory is impaired, but it was a child's paradise and fantasy. I know Hershey Park had lots of amusement rides, a roller coaster, possibly a pool, but our family never availed ourselves of those 'amusements'. We always went on the eductional tour. We did have chocolate, though, so I'm grateful.

Hershey, PA is a very different place now with an enormous hotel, amusement park, spa, first class restaurants, kitchens and more. Hershey's always seems so American to me! Patriotic, even. So I'm not surprised that this Hershey's Kitchens' Cocoa Bundt Cake has become of my favorite recipes, and here it is, all dressed up for the Fourth of July. I've adapted the recipe slightly.

Star Spangled Cocoa Bundt Cake

Ingredients

3/4 cup  sweet butter, softened
1-2/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk*
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup DARK Cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
Powdered sugar
Fresh blueberries and strawberries
Sweetened whipped cream

Directions
1 Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 12-cup bundt pan (with a hole in the middle)*
2 Beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in large bowl until fluffy; beat in sour cream. Stir baking soda into buttermilk; set aside. Stir together flour, cocoa and salt; add alternately with buttermilk mixture to butter mixture. Beat 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Pour batter into prepared pan.
3 Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until wooden pick inserted comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Place cake on serving plate. Sift powdered sugar on top and sides of cake. Top with blueberries, strawberries. Serve with whipped cream.

* If you don't have buttermilk, here's how to sour milk: Mix 1 Tbsp white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup.

Photo: Hershey's Kitchens

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

FOURTH OF JULY STRAWBERRY PIE

For me, Fourth of July is all about Strawberries and Whipped Cream. I used to make an awesome Fourth of July Trifle with Strawberries, Berries, Whipped Cream and Chocolate Pound Cake. Come to think of it, I might make one this year. In the meantime, I decided to make an Easy Fourth of July Strawberry Pie, but of course I want chocolate with that, so I'm making a Chocolate Cookie Crust. 

EASY FOURTH OF JULY STRAWBERRY PIE

Chocolate Cookie Crust

25-30 chocolate cookie wafers (I use Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers), 4 Tbsp sweet butter, melted and cooled. Heat oven to 350°F.  Whirl cookies in food processor until crumbs are fine. Put in medium bowl, add melted butter, and mix until combined. Put crumb mixture in 9-inch pie plate and press evenly and firmly on bottom and up sides. Bake at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool (on wire rack) before filling.

Filling & Topping

Mash 2 cups of strawberries (chunky not macerated). Put in small saucepan. Add sugar (to taste-depends on strawberries-about 1/2 cup?), 1/4 cup corn starch, dash of salt, 1 tsp vanilla or 1 Tbsp  lemon juice (or both) Bring to simmer until thickened. Cool completely. Add rest of strawberries (cut up or sliced) and put in baked cooled Chocolate Cookie Crust. Put in fridge for 2 hours to set. Top with whipped cream, big whole strawberries and blueberries!

Happy Independence Day!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Chocolate Gingersnaps: National Ginger Snap Day

Today is National Gingersnap Day! I love Gingersnaps--or Ginger Snaps, as some spell it! Although they're usually associated with the holidays, they're fabulous all year round. They're also a very versatile cookie, and I often crush them up, add a bit of melted butter and use them as a crust for various pies, especially chocolate silk pie. If you end up making these gingersnaps bigger, you can also use them for the cookies in a Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwich!

So here's a great easy Chocolate Gingersnap Cookie Recipe  (adapted from Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet Cookbook via About.com Home Cooking) that uses both fresh and ground ginger and cocoa and chopped dark chocolate! How can you go wrong?

Tip: If you haven't used these dried spices since the holidays, you might want to check their freshness. They do have a shelf-life, and it would be sad to ruin these delicious cookies with 'stale' ingredients.

CHOCOLATE GINGERSNAPS

Ingredients
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sweet butter
1/4 cup molasses
1 Tbsp water
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1-1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp Dark cocoa
1-1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
7 ounces high quality dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup sugar

Directions
In large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses, water and minced fresh ginger.
Combine flour, cocoa, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or until easy to handle.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on greased (or parchment-lined) baking sheets.
Bake cookies at 350 F. for 10 to 12 minutes or until tops begin to crack. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks.