Monday, September 30, 2013

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Real Coffee Truffles: National Coffee Day!

Today is National Coffee Day, and although I posted a Chocolate Swirl Coffee Cake recipe for the holiday, I thought I'd post a 'pure' coffee recipe today. These chocolate truffles are fabulous, and unlike other espresso and coffee truffle recipes I've posted in the past, these do not use brewed coffee or instant--this recipe uses fresh ground coffee beans! You can also use different coatings for these truffles, such as chopped nuts or powdered sugar, but I prefer my truffles covered in unsweetened cocoa!



Ingredients: 
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces DARK chocolate, 70% cacao
2 Tbsp finely ground coffee beans
2 Tbsp sweet butter, room temperature
2 Tbsp Kahlua, room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder

Directions
In double boiler or a saucepan over a saucepan, bring cream to a simmer.
Add chopped chocolate slowly, whisking constantly until mixture is thick and smooth.
Whisk in coffee.
Whisk in butter until melted.
Slowly whisk in Kahlua.
Remove mixture from heat and pour into shallow baking dish.
Put baking dish in refrigerator overnight or infreezer until the chocolate has hardened.
Scoop chocolate from the baking dish, roll into ball with hands and roll in cocoa powder.
Set on parchment paper on baking sheet.
Repeat.
Cover and refrigerate the truffles until firm.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Chocolate Swirl Coffee Cake: National Coffee Day

September 29 is National Coffee Day. I use coffee and espresso in lots of chocolate recipes, but to celebrate Coffee Day here's a 'coffee cake' to die for. It's slightly adapted from the Godiva website. As always, use the very best chocolate and cocoa. So grab a cup of joe and have a piece of this fabulous coffee cake to celebrate!

CHOCOLATE SWIRL COFFEE CAKE

Chocolate Streusel Filling and Topping 

Ingredients
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup pecans
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 ounces Dark Chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup cake flour
1/4 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
4 tablespoons sweet butter

Directions
Place sugar, pecans and cinnamon in food processor. Cover and pulse until nuts are coarsely chopped. Transfer 3/4 cup of mixture to small bowl and stir in chocolate for filling. To remaining mixture in food processor add flour, cocoa powder and butter and pulse until mixture is crumbly for topping.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Ingredients
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sweet butter, softened
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
3-large eggs
1-large egg yolk
1-1/2 teaspoons Madagascar vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
Confectioners' sugar (for dusting)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan. Dust pan with flour, tapping out excess.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into medium bowl; whisk to combine and set aside.
3. Beat butter at medium-high speed in mixing bowl for 1 minute or until creamy, using electric mixer at medium-high speed. Gradually add sugar and beat at high speed until well blended and light, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and yolk, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Beat in vanilla extract. Reduce speed to low and alternately add dry ingredients and sour cream, beginning and ending with dry ingredients and mixing just until combined.
4. Scrape half of batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Sprinkle with filling. Scrape remaining batter over filling and smooth top. Sprinkle with topping.
5. Bake 65 to 75 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean and cake pulls away from edge of pan. Let cake cool in pan set on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove side of pan and cool completely.
6. Dust cake lightly with confectioners’ sugar before serving.
 

Friday, September 27, 2013

CHOCOLATE MILK and CHOCOLATE MILK COCKTAIL RECIPES

Today is National Chocolate Milk Day. Everyone knows that chocolate milk is a sweetened, cocoa-flavored milk drink that can be purchased pre-mixed or made at home. But there are lots of ways to make chocolate milk, and lots of different ingredients can be added to give it a special flavor. And, as always, remember it's the quality of the chocolate  that will make a big difference  and the milk: 2%, whole, etc.

So to celebrate the day, I have Three Chocolate Milk recipes and two Chocolate Milk Cocktail Recipes! Take your choice!

***
As always, use the very best chocolate. Basically you make a chocolate syrup first, then add the milk.

1. Chocolate Milk

11 ounces milk
1 ounce water
1-1/2 teaspoons cocoa
2 tablespoons sugar

Put sugar, cocoa, and water in microwavable 12 oz glass.
Microwave for 30 seconds or until sugar and cocoa dissolve.
Add cold milk and stir.

***
Want something a little more unusual? Sunset (1994) had a wonderful Ultimate Chocolate Milk Recipe (Nicaraguan Chocolate Milk). This is not a classic, but it might soon be for you. Preparation takes some time, so you won't be drinking this today.

2. Nicaraguan Chocolate Milk (Orchata de cacao)

1-1/2 cups long-grain white rice
2 cups (about 2/3 lb) cocoa beans
4 cups water
3 cinnamon sticks (each about 3 in.), broken into 1-inch pieces
8 cups whole, low-fat, or nonfat milk
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
1 cup sugar
Ice (optional)

Place rice in bowl, cover with cool water, and let stand to soften somewhat, up to 24 hours; drain.
Place cocoa beans in 9-inch metal baking dish. Bake in 500 degree oven 5 minutes. Shake beans. Continue to bake until beans smoke and some skins have split, 5 to 8 minutes longer.
In blender, place half rice, cocoa beans, water, and cinnamon. Whirl until ingredients are very finely pureed. Place large, fine strainer over a bowl; pour cocoa mixture into strainer and stir to extract liquid. Discard residue. Repeat with remaining rice, cocoa, water, and cinnamon.

Rinse strainer, then line with a double thickness of damp cheesecloth. Pour cocoa liquid through strainer into bowl, stirring to extract all liquid; discard residue.

To cocoa liquid, add milk, vanilla, and sugar; stir until sugar dissolves. Serve plain or over ice. If making ahead, chill, covered, up to 3 days. Stir to serve Makes about 10 1/2 cups, 10 servings.

3. Salted Chocolate Milk

Two years ago, I paid homage to one of my favorite TV sitcoms, Modern Family. I'm so glad they were honored again at the Emmys. In the premier episode two years ago, Manny is studying with a girl he has a crush on. She comes to his house where Manny's doting Columbian Mama Gloria (Sofia Vergara) makes the kids chocolate milk. The young girl with whom Manny is smitten says that they always add salt to chocolate milk at her home. Gloria, threatened by another 'woman' in Manny's life,  says she doesn't like it that way.  Of course, when she tries it without the two in the room, she really loves it.

I've posted lots of reviews and recipes that call for salt and chocolate. Salt gives chocolate a certain pop, and I think you'll find it very refreshing in chocolate milk. Just don't add too much. A pinch will do.

The Modern Family Chocolate Milk with Salt Showdown:
Gloria: So how is it going?
Manny: Great, Kelly's moving her stuff into my notebook.
Gloria: This is sudden.
Kelly: It just felt right. Oh, you know what you should do, put a pinch of salt in the chocolate milk, it really brings out the flavor.
Gloria: Salt is for the popcorn.
Manny: Sounds good.
Gloria: You wouldn't like it.
Kelly: Maybe we should let Manny decide.
Gloria: Okay, here's the salt. We'll see what he likes.
Manny tries both:
Manny: Wow! It's great! Try it, Mom.
Gloria: I don't care for it.

Her best line of the episode, defeated and with her accent, she tells the camera and the viewers, "It was delicious."

So moving from the youngsters to the oldsters, here are two very easy cocktail recipes for Adult Chocolate Milk Cocktails!

1. Chocolate Milk Cocktail

Glass of Chocolate Milk
Couple Splashes Kahlua
2 or 3 ice cubes

Add Kahlua to chocolate milk and add ice

2. Chocolate Milk Cocktail

1/2 shot Kahlua
1/2 shot milk
Dash of Amaretto

Put the milk in the bottom, pour the liqueur on top and add dash of amaretto. Do not mix.
Serve in a tumbler. 

 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

National Pancake Day: Chocolate Banana Pancakes

Today is National Pancake Day! There are actually a few pancake days, but I celebrate them all! This recipe for Chocolate Banana Pancakes is adapted slightly from TheComfortofCooking, a really great site for terrific recipes. This recipe is special because these pancakes can be frozen. Just put a few pieces of waxpaper between each pancake, throw them in a plastic bag and freeze! Take them out of the freezer, and you have pancakes on a school or work day! How cool is that. I love bananas and chocolate, and I know you will, too. Add some sliced bananas and syrup, and you have a great meal! You'll love the texture of these, too!

CHOCOLATE BANANA PANCAKES

Ingredients
1 cup flour
4 Tbsp DARK cocoa powder (I like Scharffen Berger)
3 Tbsp sugar
1-1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
2 large ripe bananas (mushy is best)
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
 Banana slices and syrup to add after...

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in large bowl.
In another bowl, mash banana. Mix in buttermilk, egg, vanilla and vegetable oil until well combined. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until just combined (should be lumpy).
Spray large pan with nonstick cooking spray and set to medium heat.
Cook pancakes until bubbles form on surface and edges are just cooked, about 2 minutes.
Flip and cook for an additional minute.
Serve with sliced banana and syrup.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

CHOCOLATE RED WINE BUNDT CAKE

September is California Wine Month. So many of my California Wine friends are hard at work with the wine harvest right now. So in honor of California Wine Month, here's the perfect Chocolate Red Wine Bundt Cake!

The taste will improve with good quality dry red wines (I like Zinfandels) and the quality of the cocoa!

CHOCOLATE RED WINE BUNDT CAKE

Ingredients
2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1-1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sweet butter, softened
1-3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1-1/4 cup dry red wine
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions 
Preheat oven to 350°
Butter and flour 12-cup bundt pan.
In bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In large bowl, using hand-held electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 4 minutes.
Add eggs, one at time, and beat until incorporated. Add vanilla and beat about 2 more minutes.
Work in two batches, alternately fold in dry ingredients and wine, until just incorporated.
Scrape batter into prepared pan, and bake for 45 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Let cake cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack; let cool completely.
Dust cake with confectioner's sugar.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

White Chocolate Lemon Truffles

Yesterday was White Chocolate Day.  I like white chocolate, and I always have. The two special treats we used to buy at a favorite candy shop on the boardwalk in Atlantic City were Toffee (English toffee) and White Chocolate. They were grown-up candies that were fresh and put into small individual boxes. As a child of 8 or 9, this was so different from penny candy or a 5 cent candy bar.

Officially white chocolate is not chocolate because it doesn't contain chocolate liquor. However, it does contain cocoa butter (along with sugar, milk solids, vanilla and lecithin). The most important thing to remember when buying white chocolate is that it must contain cocoa butter. Some brands on the market, and many of those little disks you see, are really just vegetable fat. Real cocoa butter should be an ivory color. The 'fake' white chocolate is 'white'. Why bother with that. Go for the real thing. You'll be rewarded by flavor!

One other hint: White chocolate scorches easily, so always use a low heat. In the truffle recipe below, be very careful when combining the white chocolate with the cream (see note).

There are several white chocolate brands on the market. I like Askinosie White Chocolate. Their White Chocolate Bar is 34% Cocoa Butter made from Davao Philippine beans. The main ingredient in their white chocolate is the non-deodorized cocoa butter which is then pressed in their factory. Askinoise combines this with goat's milk powder and organic cane juice and then crafts it for days in their 85-year old German melanguer.

Guittard also makes a fabulous white chocolate. They actually have two. My favorite is only available for professional bakers, and sadly I didn't need 100 pounds of white chocolate. I seem to remember it was about 44% cacao, so that's pretty close to 'chocolate'...

I sometimes use Lindt, too. Depends what I have when I decide to cook or bake with white chocolate.

It's funny but just this past weekend, I was talking chocolate .. well, we were talking dark chocolate.. and I mentioned I really like chocolate and citrus.  So now for White Chocolate Day, what could be better than White Chocolate Lemon Truffles? This is a simple and delicious recipe!

WHITE CHOCOLATE LEMON TRUFFLES

Ingredients 
1/4 cup sweet butter
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
3 Tbsp heavy cream
1 cup quality white chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp lemon extract or pure lemon oil
1/4 cup powdered sparkling sugar (sanding sugar) for coating

Directions
Put white chocolate in bowl, set aside.
Melt butter along with lemon zest in small saucepan. Stir in cream and heat until bubbles just start to form at edges (do not boil).
Pour hot cream mixture over white chocolate. Add lemon extract and stir until smooth.
Cover mixture and refrigerate 2 hours or until firm enough to handle.
Scoop mixture out by heaping teaspoon fulls and form into balls.
Roll in sparkling sugar.
Freeze truffles 20 minutes or refrigerate one hour.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Chocolate Prices Soar In Dark Turn

Horrors!!  From the Wall Street Journal, written by Leslie Josephs and Neena Rai

Consumers from California to Switzerland are developing a taste for dark chocolate, taking a bite out of global cocoa supplies and driving up candy prices in both high-end boutiques and mass-market drugstores.

The cost of one kilogram of chocolate in the U.S. is expected to hit a record $12.25 this year, a 45% increase from 2007, according to market-research firm Euromonitor International.

Prices are on the rise due to a shortage of cocoa beans, which are roasted and ground to make chocolate. Market experts estimate that supplies will fall short of demand this year for the first time since 2010 and dry weather is expected to hurt the next harvest in West Africa, where 70% of cocoa beans are produced.

Consumers from California to Switzerland are developing a taste for dark chocolate, taking a bite out of global cocoa supplies and driving up candy prices in both high-end boutiques and mass-market drugstores.

The cost of one kilogram of chocolate in the U.S. is expected to hit a record $12.25 this year, a 45% increase from 2007, according to market-research firm Euromonitor International.
Prices are on the rise due to a shortage of cocoa beans, which are roasted and ground to make chocolate. Market experts estimate that supplies will fall short of demand this year for the first time since 2010 and dry weather is expected to hurt the next harvest in West Africa, where 70% of cocoa beans are produced.

Read more here.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

BOURBON BACON CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES

Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Chunk Cookies
These cookies contain all the food groups! How can you go wrong with bourbon, bacon and chocolate?

Maker’s Mark recently announced the launch of their brand new website design that gives fans more of the content and highlights highlighting the culinary versatility of Maker’s Mark. There's a section devoted entirely to recipes. The site features terrific recipes selected by chef, Lee Anne Wong. She explains, “My goal in compiling this recipe collection for Maker's Mark was to show the versatility of their handcrafted whisky behind the bar and inspire people to incorporate bourbon into food in ways they may have never thought to. From soups and appetizers to entrees and desserts, I've included it all.” The collection includes appetizers, desserts, entrees, sides and soups, all created by a variety of world renowned chefs and restaurants. Contributors include David Mechlowicz, Director of Food and Beverage at Food Network; Daniel Holzman, Chef & Owner of The Meatball Shop; Antonia Lofaso, Executive Chef and Top Chef Masters Finalist and many more.

Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Chunk Cookies
by Lee Anne Wong, Editor and Culinary Director, Maker's Mark® Virtual Recipe Cookbook

This is one of my signature recipes, with two of my favorite things, bacon and bourbon, accented by chunks of rich, dark chocolate. The smoky, saltiness of the bacon pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the bourbon, chocolate and vanilla flavors. Honestly, these cookies will win you friends and admirers. No joke. 

Prep Time: 1 hour Cook Time: 20 minutes. Makes 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients
3 tablespoons Maker's Mark® Bourbon
3/4 pound bacon, 1/4-inch dice*
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sweet butter, softened
1/2 cup reserved bacon fat, chilled
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces**

Directions
In a large sauté pan, cook out the diced bacon until the bacon pieces are golden and crisp. Remove the bacon pieces from the fat and drain on a paper towel. Strain the fat through a fine sieve and measure out a 1/2 cup of bacon fat and chill the bacon fat until it congeals and is set.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, chilled bacon fat, granulated sugar, light and dark brown sugars, vanilla and Maker's Mark® Bourbon in large mixer bowl until it is well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; gradually beat in the flour mixture. Stir in the cooked bacon pieces and chopped chocolate bits.

Drop by rounded tablespoon onto parchment-lined baking sheets at least 3 inches apart.
Bake in oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.
Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Keep in dry, airtight container for up to 5 days.

* A fattier sliced bacon is preferred, as lean bacon and turkey bacon will not work for this recipe. ** Use a dark chocolate with 65% cocoa or higher. Anything from a 65%-85% chocolate will work well.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mallomars Redux

Dru Ann Love, the Mallomars Queen
Sorry that I haven't been posting. I've been excessively busy at Bouchercon, the World Mystery convention. But don't fear, there's chocolate here.

I blogged about Mallomars the other day after my friend Dru Ann Love mentioned that she had already spied (and purchased) Mallomars, the seasonal fabulous cookie treat, in New York. I didn't find them in the San Francisco Bay Area. Saw Dru Ann yesterday. Oh yes, she had Mallomars. They were everything I remembered. Real chocolate, crisp but crumbly (oxymoron?) cookie and delicious marshmallow.

Read more about Mallomars here!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Peppermint Patties: Guest Post by Abigail R. Gehring

Today I welcome Abigail R. Gehring, author of Classic Candy: Old-Style Fudge, Taffy, Caramel Corn, and Dozens of Other Treats for the Modern Kitchen. You're going to love these recipes for Halloween, other holidays and all year round! Abigail’s book includes dozens of recipes that don’t require special molds, pans, or new kitchen appliances. She also offers sugar-free and corn syrup–free alternatives for health-conscious confectioners. 

ABIGAIL R. GEHRING:

Just as we New Yorkers were starting to embrace sweaters and hot lattes, summer has decided it's not quite ready to say goodbye. With temperatures rising into the 90s, it seems appropriate to focus on a candy that's refreshingly cool to the palate—not to mention refreshingly easy to make. Peppermint patties are one of the simplest recipes in my book, Classic Candy, and they're often a bigger hit than some of the more time-intensive candies. Creamy centers, crisp chocolate shells, and that sweet, spunky peppermint flavor that sends a shiver to your taste buds . . .  perfect for a late summer treat. I'll admit that I wasn't much of a peppermint patty fan before I started making my own, but I find the homemade variety—with quality chocolate, pure peppermint extract, and none of the extra additive junk—pretty addictive.

The recipe only includes four ingredients, so make them quality ones. Be sure to use real peppermint extract rather than any kind of flavoring that has added sugars, dyes, or artificial flavoring. The chocolate chips can be any kind, but I’m partial to Trader Joe’s semi-sweet chocolate chips—they have the best flavor and consistency of any I’ve found so far. You can also find organic sweetened condensed milk at Trader Joe’s, which was a very exciting discovery for me! Or, if you have the time and motivation, you can make your own by combining 1½ cups whole milk, ½ cup sugar, 3 tablespoons butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a saucepan and simmering until reduced by half (about 2 hours).

My husband put together this little video demonstration of me making peppermint patties: http://youtu.be/1YT4snLkzQ4. The recipe is below. Enjoy!

Peppermint Patties

Makes about 24 patties.

Ingredients
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
5 cups confectioners’ sugar
6 cups (about 24 ounces) chocolate chips

Directions
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine condensed milk and peppermint extract. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar while beating.
3. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto the parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Press each one down to form flat circles. Place pan in freezer for at least 10 minutes.
4. Melt the chocolate chips in the double boiler. Dip each peppermint patty and return to the baking sheet. Place baking sheet in the refrigerator or freezer until chocolate hardens. Store in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Chocolate Bytes: 350 year old recipe for Chilled Chocolate

What's new is old again:

A researcher in the United Kingdom has discovered a 350-year-old recipe from the Earl of Sandwich for a chilled chocolate dessert that would have been similar to the frozen drinks sold at coffee houses today.

The Earl's own recipe reads: "Prepare the chocolatti [to make a drink]… and Then Putt the vessell that hath the Chocolatti in it, into a Jaraffa [i.e. a carafe] of snow stirred together with some salt, & shaike the snow together sometyme & it will putt the Chocolatti into tender Curdled Ice & soe eate it with spoons."

"It's not chocolate ice cream, but more like a very solid and very dark version of the iced chocolate drinks you get in coffee shops today," researcher Kate Loveman, of the University of Leicester, said in a statement.

"Freezing food required cutting-edge technology in 17th-century England, so these ices were seen as great luxuries."

"Chocolate was first advertised in England around 1640 as an exotic drink made from cacao beans. In the 1660s, when the Earl of Sandwich collected his recipes, chocolate often came with advice about safe consumption.

One physician cautioned that the ingredients in hot chocolate could cause insomnia, excess mucus, or haemorrhoids. People worried that iced chocolate in particular was 'unwholesome' and could damage the stomach, heart, and lungs. "There were ways round this, however. Sandwich thought the best way to ward off the dangers of eating frozen chocolate was to 'Drinke Hott chocolatti ¼ of an houre after' it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Triple Chocolate Honey Fudge

September is Honey Month, and I've already posted several Chocolate and Honey recipes this month, including Honey Chocolate Chip Cookies and Chocolate Honey Truffles.

As I've mentioned before, it's fun to search out food collectives, associations and brand sites. This recipe for Triple Chocolate Honey Fudge is slightly adapted from the Dupage Beekeepers Association from the cookbook Home is Where Your Honey Is.

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE HONEY FUDGE

Ingredients
1-1/3 cups sugar
1 Jar (8oz.) marshmallow cream
2/3 Cup evaporated milk
1/4 Cup local honey
1/4 Cup sweetbutter
1/4 Teaspoon salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 Cup milk chocolate chips
1-1/2 Teaspoons Madagascar vanilla extract
1/2 Cup toasted nuts chopped
1/2 Cup white chocolate chips

Directions
Spray an 8 x8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. 
In  medium saucepan, combine sugar, marshmallow cream, milk, honey, butter and salt.  Bring to a boil; stir occasionally. Boil for 5 minutes; stir constantly. Remove from heat and stir in semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips until melted. Stir in nuts and vanilla; pour into pan. Sprinkle white chocolate chips over top and allow to melt.  Using small spatula swirl white chocolate. 
Cool. Cut into 1-inch pieces. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mallomars: A Seasonal Sensation

My friend Dru Ann Love spotted Mallomars on the super market shelves in New York. It's early. They don't usually come out until October. I need to check my own market. Perhaps they're early because this the 100th anniversary of Mallomars, and for some reason this wonderful cookie (is it really a cookie? I don't think so.. they're scrumptious chocolate/marshmallow/graham cracker cookie taste treats--kind of candy/kind of cookie). They were a favorite childhood treat, only available  from October through March. Why? Something to do with the chocolate melting, but that doesn't seem to make sense anymore when chocolate products are manufactured in the desert. 

Mallomars have been made by Nabisco Since 1913. They have a thick layer of round smooth marshmallow on a circular Graham cracker base and covered in chocolate. Yes... somewhat like Smores, you're thinking. The chocolate is real chocolate! Love the crispy crumbly graham cracker, too. What's so cool about these treats is the initial bite when the chocolate 'cracks'... but maybe that's because I love these frozen.

And, here's a great fact. Mallomars have only 110 calories a serving - and a serving of Mallomars, according to the "nutrition facts" box on the carton, is not one but two cookies. Forty-five of those calories are from fat, 5 grams' worth. Two Mallomars have 12 grams of sugar and 35 milligrams of sodium. The good news is  they have no cholesterol.

Mallomars have a problem, though, especially for the grammar police: What is the singular of Mallomars? 

Mallomars are also part of our literary and media culture. Mallomars are one of the basic food groups in the 1992 novel She's Come Undone. Mallomars also made an appearance in When Harry Met Sally. They've also appeared in episodes of The Gilmore Girls, Seinfeld and The Simpsons. And, then there's the scend in The Sopranos when Tony Soprano accuses Paulie of stealing his box of Mallomars. Heavens!

Some people like to stockpile Mallomars, and since I like them frozen, it's a possibility!

Want to make Mallomars at home?  
Check out this great recipe from TheKitchn.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Happy Birthday, Agatha Christie!

Happy Birthday, Agatha Christie! The Queen of Crime wrote her last Hercule Poirot novel, Curtain, many, many years ago and put it in the vault. When it was finally published in 1975, it was to be the final Poirot. Now, Random House and the Estate of Agatha Christie have struck a new note! Psychological thriller writer Sophie Hannah will be writing a new Hercule Poirot. Read an interview with Sophie here.

So this year, I thought I'd revisit my original post about Agatha Christie's 120th birthday from 2010 I also posted an article at that time on my other blog, Mystery Fanfare. Be sure and check it out. It includes a link to a 1955 BBC interview with the Queen of Crime.

As many of you know, I collect 'literary' cookbooks, tie-in cookbooks and the like. There is sadly no Agatha Christie cookbook, and if there were, I doubt there would be a lot of chocolate cakes in the cookbooks. Lots of scones and finger sandwiches, perhaps, an omelet or two, but not many that I would consider deliciously chocolate, although certainly for Poirot there might be some Belgian chocolate.

However, in honor of Agatha Christie's 120th birthday celebration, Jane Asher created a chocolate cake she calls Delicious Death.  Jane Asher, a long-time fan of Agatha Christie and actor in many Christie productions, was asked by Christie's grandson, Mathew Prichard, to create a recipe for the celebration.

"There is nothing more indulgent than afternoon tea. I have particularly fond memories of the lazy afternoons spent with my grandmother at Greenway as she tried out her latest ideas on us over a pot of tea and delicious cakes," said Prichard, calling Asher's invention "truly decadent".

Asher's cake was inspired by a passage in Christie's Miss Marple novel A Murder is Announced in which émigré housekeeper Mitzi bakes it for Dora Bunner's birthday tea. "'Impossible to make such a cake. I need for it chocolate and much butter, and sugar and raisins,'" she tells her employer, Miss Blacklock, who suggests using a tin of butter sent from America and raisins that were being kept for Christmas, along with a "slab of chocolate and a pound of sugar".

Mitzi is delighted. "'It will be rich, rich, of a melting richness! And on top I will put the icing – chocolate icing – I make him so nice – and write on it Good Wishes. These English people with their cakes that tastes of sand, never never, will they have tasted such a cake. Delicious, they will say – delicious'" - but is not so impressed with the name which is dubbed Delicious Death because it's so rich. It becomes an apt name though when Dora Bunner is found dead from poisoning after her birthday tea.

Basing her recipe on the ingredients mentioned in the 1950 novel, Jane Asher created her own version of Delicious Death. From the Guardian: "It has an intense, forbidding dark Belgian chocolate centre which is lifted by the unexpected sharp zing of its brandy-soaked cherry and ginger filling," she said. "The glorious assault on the senses doesn't end there: the cake is decorated with flecks of pure gold, sprinklings of crystallised rose and violet petals, and swirls of ganache piping. This paragon of a cake is as beautiful to look at as it is delicious – and deadly? – to eat."

This cake was served at Greenway in Devon throughout Agatha Christie Week  in 2010, as well as available at Greenway and the opening of the Torquay festival. It was also on the menu at Brown's Hotel in Mayfair, said to be the inspiration for At Bertram's Hotel.

Agatha Christie's Delicious Death by Jane Asher

Ingredients
175g dark chocolate drops (50-55% cocoa solids)
100g softened or spreadable butter
100g golden caster sugar
5 large eggs
½ tsp vanilla extract

100g ground almonds
½ tsp baking powder

For the filling:
150ml rum, brandy or orange juice
150g raisins
55g soft dark brown sugar
6-8 glacé cherries
4-6 pieces crystallised ginger
1 tsp lemon juice

For the decoration:

175g dark chocolate drops (50-55% cocoa solids)
150ml double cream
2 tsps apricot jam
10g crystallized violet petals
10g crystallized rose petals
A small quantity of gold leaf

Method
Pre-heat the oven to 150C, (300F, 135C fan-assisted). 
Grease an 8" deep cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment or silicone.

Prepare the filling: in a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients and stir over heat until the mixture is bubbling. Allow to simmer gently, while stirring, for at least two minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thickened. Allow to cool.

In a small heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate drops over simmering water or in a microwave, being careful not to let it overheat. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until very pale and fluffy. Separate the eggs, setting aside the whites in a large mixing bowl, and, one by one, add 4 of the yolks to the butter/sugar mix, beating well between each one.

Add the melted chocolate and fold in carefully, then stir in the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, mix together the ground almonds and baking powder, then stir them into the cake mix.

Whisk the egg whites until peaked and stiff, then fold gently into the chocolate cake mix.

Spoon the mix into the prepared cake tin, leveling the top, and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 55-65 minutes, or until firm and well risen. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out on to a rack to cool completely.

Using a serrated knife, slice the cake in half horizontally. Spread the cooled fruit filling onto one half and sandwich the two halves back together.

To decorate: put the chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl and melt them together over simmering water or in a microwave. Spread the cake all over with warmed apricot jam and place on a rack over a baking tray. Keeping back a couple of tablespoonfuls, pour the icing over the whole cake, making sure it covers the top and the sides completely, scooping up the excess from the tray with a palette knife as necessary. Add any surplus to the kept back icing. Carefully transfer the cake to a 10" cake board or pretty plate.

Once the reserved icing is firm enough to pipe, place it in a piping bag with no. 8 star nozzle and pipe a scrolling line around the top and bottom edges of the cake. Leave for two to three hours to set.

Place the violet and rose petals into a plastic bag and crush them into small flakes. Sprinkle these liberally around the chocolate scrolls. Finally, with a cocktail stick, pull off some small flakes of gold leaf and gently add them to the top of the cake.

Retro Photo of the Day: Behind the Scenes in Julia's Kitchen

Love, love this photo from behind the scenes in Julia's Kitchen.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Honey Chocolate Chip Cookies: Baking with Honey Tips

September is National Honey Month, and I've posted several chocolate honey recipes, but I thought it might be good to post some honey tips, particularly when substituting honey for sugar. Of course, you can just find a recipe that uses honey, so you don't need to think about it. But, sometimes, you just want to try a recipe and you prefer using honey. I know I do.

HONEY TIPS

1. Generally you can substitute 2/3 cup honey for each cup of sugar in a recipe, but you'll probably want to reduce the amount of liquid by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey.
2. If you're baking, you'll want to reduce the heat by about 25 degrees to prevent burning.
3. And, here's one you might not know. If you're substituting honey in baking, add 1/2 tsp baking soda for each cup honey used.

From the Empire State Honey Producers comes this recipe (slightly adapted) for Honey Chocolate Chip Cookies

Honey Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Ingredients
1/2 cup local honey
1/2 cup sweet butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla
1-1/2 C flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup chocolate chips or dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup chopped or ground walnuts (optional)

Directions
Cream honey and butter together. Add egg and vanilla.
In bowl, sift flour, soda, powder and salt together. Add to wet honey mixture. Mix.
Fold in nuts and chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate). Stir slightly.
Drop onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Today is National Peanut Day! For today's holiday I thought I'd go to the source: The National Peanut Board! As I've mentioned on this blog, there are lots of fabulous recipes to be found at association, farm, and product sites.

I've been on a Gluten-Free roll for awhile, given that so many people are now glutenfree or try to be. You're going to love this recipe-- I've adapted only slightly. I've added chocolate chunks to the recipe, of course. Make sure the chocolate is gluten-free if you add the chocolate chunks. These Gluten Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies are great packed in lunchboxes or for after school snacks. You can always cut down a little on the sugar.

You can find Peanut Flour at King Arthur Flour, natural food stores, and Whole Foods and lots of other places online. Trader Joe's used to sell peanut flour, but they discontinued it. Time to bring it back.

GLUTEN FREE PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES

Ingredients:
12 Tbsp sweet butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, well packed
3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 cups (7 ounces) peanut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
4 ounces gluten-free dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in center of oven.
Cream together butter and brown sugar in mixing bowl with paddle attachment -- about two minutes on medium speed. Scrape sides of bowl often. Add peanut butter and mix well. Add eggs one at time, mixing until well incorporated. Add vanilla. In bowl, whisk together peanut flour, which may be lumpy, baking soda and salt. Add to peanut butter mixture and mix until smooth dough. Fold in chopped chocolate chunks.

Use 2-3 tablespoon scoop to form balls of dough. Use fork to flatten  and create crosshatch pattern. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 8-10 minutes. They will puff up slightly and the tops will be golden, but they should still be slightly soft in the middle. If you prefer crunchy peanut butter cookies, bake another couple of minutes. Serves 24.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

National Chocolate Milkshake Day

Today is National Chocolate Milk Shake Day!

The easiest way to celebrate is to mix a little Milk with Chocolate Ice cream and Chocolate syrup and mix it up in the blender. Or you can mix Milk with Vanilla Ice cream and Chocolate syrup and blend. Measurements are up to you, but I have a few quasi-measurements below for Special Chocolate Milkshakes. 

If you're absolutely Dying for Chocolate, use 1 cup chocolate ice cream, 1/4 cup chocolate syrup and 1/2 cup chocolate milk. Mix in Blender.

A Chocolate Malted Milk Shake is a variation on your traditional chocolate milkshake. Add a Tbsp of malted milk powder to milk, syrup and chocolate ice cream and blend.

Like bananas? Make a Chocolate Banana Milk Shake: 1 cup milk, 1 scoop banana ice-cream, 1 scoop chocolate ice cream, 1/2 ripened banana and some chocolate syrup, and blend.

Jumping ahead to tomorrow's food holiday:  September 13: International Chocolate Day and National Peanut Day, celebrate all three holidays with a Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake. Blend 1 cup creamy peanut butter, 1/2 cup chocolate syrup, 1/4 cup milk, 12 cubes ice. Blend until smooth. (Ice cubes instead of ice-cream).

Have a great day!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Gluten Free Dutch Cocoa Cookies: Laura K. Curtis

Once again my mystery and chocolate worlds collide! Today Laura K. Curtis is guest posting a fabulous recipe for Gluten-Free Dutch Cocoa Cookies! Laura K. Curtis is a chocoholic and writer. She lives in Westchester county, New York, with her husband and two wild Irish Terriers, who have taught her how easily love can coexist with the desire to kill. Her first novel, Twisted, comes out in November from Penguin/InterMix.

LAURA K. CURTIS:

I used to eat a full package of Archway’s Dutch Cocoa Cookies in a single sitting. This is not something I am proud of, it’s simply fact. In the terminology of the old Weight Watchers, they were “red light” foods. Once I took a bite, I just couldn’t stop eating until they were all gone.

Eventually, I had to stop buying them. Even walking down the cookie aisle was dangerous. I mean, all things come to an end, right? And when I had to give up gluten, it seemed there would be no going back. Of course, once I got over my period of mourning for all the glutinous foods I could no longer eat, I began experimenting with making gluten free versions of all my favorite foods.

Recently, I developed this Archway-like recipe. I hope you enjoy it!

Gluten Free Dutch Cocoa Cookies

Ingredients: 
2 1/8 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (buy it from King Arthur or Jules Gluten Free, or use Jeanne Sauvage’s recipe to make your own if you have time!)
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa (I like to mix it with black cocoa for extra depth)
1 teaspoon baking soda (fresh!)
1 teaspoon salt (preferably sea salt)
1 ¼ cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Decorator’s sugar, sanding sugar, or just extra granulated sugar for rolling (I used Demerara sugar, but I think it might be slightly too crunchy--you want something that’s a bit smaller)

Directions
In a small bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together on medium-high until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat to combine. Scrape down bowl so dough is in center and add about 1/3 of the flour mixture. Beat to combine, then slowly add the rest of the flour mixture until thoroughly combined.

Scrape dough from sides again and cover and refrigerate for two hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment. Using your fingers and/or a cookie scoop (I love my cookie scoop!) shape cold dough into balls approximately 1.25” in diameter. Roll each ball in decorator’s sugar and place on sheet. (I recommend 10 balls to a sheet in a pattern of three, two, three, two, so that there is about 1.5 inches of space between each.)

Bake approximately 10-12 minutes. Cool on sheet until cookies can be safely lifted to wire racks to finish cooling. Makes approximately 40 cookies.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Home-made Tootsie Rolls

It's officially Fall here.. hot and breezy with high fire danger. This is very different from where I grew up when Fall meant a sharp change in the weather to cool and even cold. Fall back East was all about Football Games, new clothes and new teachers, and Halloween.

This Vintage Tootsie Roll Advertisement reminded me of those days, so for today's post I thought I'd post a recipe for Home-made Tootsie Rolls. I've tried several different recipes, and you might want to search the web for others. Paula Deen has one that has orange extract in it, but this recipe is my favorite. These are perfect for Halloween! You can wrap them individually in orange wrappers!

Notes:
This recipe makes 80 -100 tootsie rolls, but you can roll them out bigger and cut them longer. Remember the 5 cent Tootsie Roll?

As always the brand of chocolate will make a difference. You also might want to substitute 1/2 cup DARK cocoa powder for the unsweetened chocolate. In that case, sift with the dry milk.

Powdered milk, by the way, is not instant milk powder, it's dehydrated milk. Hope you can find it.

I also sift the flour. Not sure if it's necessary, but old habits die hard.

HOME-MADE TOOTSIE ROLLS
This recipe is adapted slightly from Elizabeth LaBau at About.com

Ingredients:
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 tbsp softened butter
3/4 cup powdered milk (not instant.. see note above)
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
2-3 cups powdered sugar (sifted)

Preparation:
1. Melt chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl or in a double boiler over simmering water.
2. Once chocolate is melted and smooth, stir in corn syrup and butter, stirring until butter is melted. Stir in powdered milk and vanilla extract.
3. Add cup of powdered sugar and stir until incorporated. Once that sugar is mixed in, add second cup of powdered sugar and stir to mix. Dough will be getting stiff and might be difficult to stir more powdered sugar into candy.
 4. Dust work surface with powdered sugar and knead the candy until smooth. If still very soft, knead in more powdered sugar until firm but not dry or crumbly. You might need up to 3 cups of powdered sugar total.
5. Once Tootsie Roll candy is smooth and firm but supple texture, break off palm-sized piece and roll into long, thin rope. Using sharp knife, cut it into small pieces and place on baking sheet. Repeat until you have formed all of Tootsie Roll dough into small pieces. Depending on size of rolls, you should get 80-100 pieces.
6. Refrigerate tray of Tootsie Rolls until they firm up, about 1 hour.

Store Tootsie Rolls in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to two weeks.
You can wrap them individually in waxed paper if they start to stick together because of condensation from refrigerator. Bring Tootsie Rolls to room temperature before serving.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Chocolate Bacon Panini: BBC

International Bacon Day was September 5. Better late than never! Chocolate and Bacon go so well. It's the salty fatty thing of the bacon with the sweetness of the chocolate. What a great pairing!

I've posted several chocolate panini recipes over the years, but this recipe from Vosges is terrific and easy if you're hankering for a BBC: Butter Bacon Chocolate Sandwich! Butter, Bread, Bacon and Chocolate! All the food groups!

Mo’s Milk or Dark Bacon Bar Panini 
from Katrina Markoff's Peace and Love Blog (Vosges)
Yields One Sandwich

Equipment needed: Panini press or waffle iron

Ingredients
2 Italian country bread slices about 4-5 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick
2 tbsp Sea salted butter, French brand, Isigny Ste Mere, or make your own by mixing 1/2 tsp Maldon salt and 2 tbsp of a fabulous butter
Pinch Maldon salt
2 squares Vosges‘ Mo’s Milk or Dark Bacon Bar (dark is better!)
2 strips of crispy bacon (this is optional, but I think you should put it in)

Directions
Spread butter on all sides of the bread.
Place bacon bar squares on one piece of bread, followed by strips of bacon if you are using them and a sprinkle of salt.
Place other piece of buttered bread on top and press with Panini press until golden brown.

Tips:
Make sure your bread doesn’t have many gaping holes or your fillings may seep through and burn.
If you don’t have a Panini press substitute with a waffle iron.
Make sure the bread you use isn’t overly crusty or it may cut your mouth a bit when pressed. At the same time don’t choose a overly soft bread not a good quality sign either and it won’t have the rigidity. Try a crusty ciabatta or italian peasant bread.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Happy Honey Month! Cartoon of the Day

September is National Honey Month. Here's a great cartoon from my favorite cartoonist:
Hilary Price at Rhymes with Orange. What's your favorite honey?


Friday, September 6, 2013

Coffee Chocolate Ice Cream Pie

Here's a really easy Ice Cream Pie to celebrate Coffee Ice Cream Day! This recipe is adapted from an old recipe in Bon Appetit. You can actually use any ice cream, but since it's National Coffee Ice Cream Day, why not use coffee ice cream?

COFFEE CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM PIE

Ingredients
1 cup whipping cream
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon instant coffee crystals
1/2 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla extract
1 pint coffee ice cream, softened
1- 9 inch chocolate cookie crust*
10 Oreos, crushed coarsely (about 1 cup)
1 pint chocolate ice cream, softened

Directions
Bring whipping cream to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolate chunks; whisk until chocolate is melted. 
Whisk in coffee and vanilla. Let cool.
Spread softened ice cream evenly in crust. 
Pour 3/4 cup chocolate sauce over ice cream; sprinkle with crushed Oreos. 
Freeze until ice cream is firm (20 minutes). 
Drizzle 1/3 cup sauce over pie. 
Spread softened chocolate ice cream (gently) on top. Sprinkle with crushed Oreos.
Freeze pie until firm, 2 hours at least.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Chocolate Honey Truffles

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, started last night. Honey is often eaten for a Sweet New Year, and yesterday I posted a recipe for Chocolate Honey Cake, one of my favorites! Honey Truffles are also a pretty sweet way to start the New year.

Want to make Chocolate Honey Truffles? Follow the easy recipe below. You can always add other 'flavors' including liqueurs, coconut, nuts, etc. These Chocolate Honey Truffles will also change their taste depending on the type of honey you use, as well as the brand of chocolate.

Chocolate Honey Truffles

Ingredients
4 ounces 70% dark chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon local Honey
1/3 cup of heavy whipping cream
Some unsweetened Dark cocoa powder
A pinch of salt

Directions
1. Melt chopped dark chocolate with whipping cream in top of double-boiler or saucepan on top of saucepan of simmering water.
2. Continue to whisk mixture until chocolate is fully blended with cream.
3. Continue stirring as you add honey and salt.
4. Transfer chocolate mixture to bowl or put pot you're using in the refrigerator for few hours (or freezer for a shorter time if you're in a hurry). Be sure and cover with aluminum foil.
5. Take out when chocolate starts to harden but is still soft enough to shape into balls.
6. Have shallow bowl or plate ready with cocoa.
7. Using melon baller, shape chocolate into small balls.
8. Drop chocolate balls into powder and roll around until well coated.

Now make them again with a different type of honey and a different type of chocolate!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Chocolate Honey Cake for Rosh Hashana

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, starts tonight, so I wanted to post one of my favorite recipes for Chocolate Honey Cake. This is a great and easy honey cake to make for a Sweet New Year! Recipe is from Molly Katzen's The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. I've been making this Chocolate Honey Cake for years.

The flavor will change with the honey and chocolate you use. I use local honey that is gathered from Claremont Canyon, right near my house, but any honey will work! Molly Katzen has a hint about baking with honey. Because baking cakes with honey can be tricky (it is much heavier and wetter than sugar), you have to take extra care that the texture of the finished product be light enough and has "enough crumb." To accomplish this, whip the honey separately at high speed with an electric mixer, until it is opaque (about two minutes). This incorporates air into the honey, increasing its volume, and drying it out some, so it can make a good cake. Please don't skip or skimp on this step.

CHOCOLATE HONEY CAKE

Ingredients
Nonstick spray for the pan
1/2 cup canola oil or softened butter
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup light-colored honey
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips 

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F (325°F for glass pan). Spray medium-sized loaf pan with nonstick spray. Melt butter and chocolate together over simmering water (double boiler or a saucepan over a saucepan). If using oil, melt chocolate alone, then remove from heat and stir in oil.
Place honey in medium-sized bowl, and beat at high speed with electric mixer for 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in vanilla.
Sift together dry ingredients in separate medium-small bowl. Beat melted chocolate mixture into honey-egg mixture. Fold in dry ingredients and chocolate chips, and stir until well combined. Spread into prepared pan.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean.
Cool before slicing.

Chocolate Honey Cake for a Sweet New Year!

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, starts tonight, so I wanted to post one of my favorite recipes for Chocolate Honey Cake. This is a great and easy honey cake to make for a Sweet New Year! Recipe is from Molly Katzen's The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. I've been making this Chocolate Honey Cake for years.

The flavor will change with the honey and chocolate you use. I use local honey that is gathered from Claremont Canyon, right near my house, but any honey will work! Molly Katzen has a hint about baking with honey. Because baking cakes with honey can be tricky (it is much heavier and wetter than sugar), you have to take extra care that the texture of the finished product be light enough and has "enough crumb." To accomplish this, whip the honey separately at high speed with an electric mixer, until it is opaque (about two minutes). This incorporates air into the honey, increasing its volume, and drying it out some, so it can make a good cake. Please don't skip or skimp on this step.

CHOCOLATE HONEY CAKE

Ingredients
Nonstick spray for the pan
1/2 cup canola oil or softened butter
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup light-colored honey
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips 

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F (325°F for glass pan). Spray medium-sized loaf pan with nonstick spray. Melt butter and chocolate together over simmering water (double boiler or a saucepan over a saucepan). If using oil, melt chocolate alone, then remove from heat and stir in oil.
Place honey in medium-sized bowl, and beat at high speed with electric mixer for 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in vanilla.
Sift together dry ingredients in separate medium-small bowl. Beat melted chocolate mixture into honey-egg mixture. Fold in dry ingredients and chocolate chips, and stir until well combined. Spread into prepared pan.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean.
Cool before slicing.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Afternoon Tea: Chocolate Orange Scones

Summer Afternoon (Tea in the Garden): Theo van Rysselberghe, 1901
There are few hours in life more agreeable
Than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.
--Henry James

As a tea drinker, I can definitely confirm that. I love a cuppa and a scone around 5 p.m. So for today's post, I want to celebrate the Birthday of Anna Bedford, Creator of Afternoon Tea. Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford and lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria, inadvertently invented Afternoon Tea in 1840. At that time, the main meal of the day shifted from midday (luncheon) to evening. English high society didn’t dine until 8 p.m. Anna needed something to tide her over, so she ordered tea with brown bread to be brought to her room around 4 p.m. Initially this meal was brought surreptiously, but after awhile she began to invite her friends, and “afternoon tea” expanded, both in what was served and the number of friends who partook. When Anna Bedford returned to London, she continued her afternoon teas, and soon Afternoon Tea became the rage of the elite. In addition to brown bread and small sandwiches, there were sweets and special “tea cakes.” The custom spread and tea rooms and tea gardens opened to serve tea to all classes. 

Afternoon Tea is not the same as high tea. Afternoon Tea is a lighter meal, and scones are almost always served. I love clotted cream with my scones, and luckily, fresh clotted cream is readily available at my market. I enjoy 'plain' scones, but these Orange Scones with Chocolate Chips are yummy! Make some for your afternoon tea today!

Chocolate Orange Scones

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
Victorian postcard: Afternoon Tea
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons sweet butter, chilled and grated (keep cold until ready)
1 -1/3 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup miniature dark chocolate chips
3 tablespoons orange juice (1 large orange and zest from 2 oranges)

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or smear with butter.
In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
With pastry blender or large fork, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. You can also do this with your hands.
Put in freezer for 5 minutes.
Take out of freezer and add cream, chocolate chips, orange juice and orange zest.
Mix together.
Turn out dough on floured surface. Pat or roll into 9 inch circle about 3/4 inch thick.
With 2 1/2 inch fluted biscuit cutter, cut out about 12 scones, pushing dough scraps together for last few, if necessary.
Transfer scones to baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven until golden-brown, about 10-12 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

Serve with clotted cream and jam.