Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Champagne Truffles Recipe: New Year's Eve

December 31 is National Champagne Day. A Perfect Food Holiday for New Year's Eve. I do a lot of wine/champagne chocolate pairing events with my company TeamBuilding Unlimited, and we often have trivia quizzes. How many bubbles in a bottle of champagne? 49 million to 250 million! Now, that's a lot of bubbles.

You won't have any bubbles in these Champagne Truffles for New Year's Eve, but you will taste the Champagne.. and the Cognac. I post this recipe every year for New Year's Eve because it's my favorite easy Champagne Truffle recipe. This recipe uses more champagne than most Champagne Truffle recipes, and the Cognac adds zip. If you're in a pinch, you can use a different type of sugar or cocoa to coat the truffles. The sanding sugar, though, gives it a festive New Year's Eve look!

No time to make these? Here's a link to Champagne Truffles you can buy to bring in the new year!

Martha Stewart's Champagne Truffles
Makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon Champagne
1 tablespoon Cognac
Coarse sanding sugar, for rolling

Directions
1. Bring cream to boil in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Immediately pour hot cream over chocolate in medium bowl; stir until smooth. Stir in Champagne and Cognac. Refrigerate until chocolate mixture is firm enough to roll into balls, about 1 hour. (or more!!)
2. Using small melon baller or ice-cream scoop, form 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in coarse sanding sugar and transfer to rimmed baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate truffles at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days before serving.

You can also use unsweetened cocoa or confectioner's sugar if you don't have sanding sugar. This recipe was in Martha Stewart's wedding section, so the sparkly white sugar looks great for weddings and holidays, but cocoa tastes just as good.. just different.

What Is Sanding Sugar?
Sanding sugar is large crystal sugar used as edible decoration that will not dissolve when subjected to heat. Also called pearl sugar or decorating sugar, sanding sugar adds "sparkle" to cookies, baked goods and candies. The sparkling affect is achieved because the sugar crystal grains are large and reflect light. You can order Sanding Sugar online or buy it in cake decorating departments. I get mine at Michael's, but I saw it at Williams Sonoma, too.

Photo: Martha Stewart website

Monday, December 30, 2013

Champagne Truffles for New Year's Eve

Ring in the New Year with Champagne Truffles. Several great Chocolate Companies make Champagne Truffles. The following list is not definitive, but will get you started. Comment below with your favorites. Love to add to the list. Scroll down for an awesome video from Vosges Haute-Chocolate on the making of Champagne Truffles!

Recchiuti Chocolate Champagne Truffles
A version of a classic favorite. Dark chocolate truffle with Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs from Napa Valley and confectioner's sugar.

Seattle Chocolate Company Champagne Truffles. A bubbly truffle featuring a blended milk and dark chocolate center with natural popping candy and a bit of bite. Enrobed in dark chocolate.

Choclatique Bubbly Champagne Truffles. I love these. Have tried them several times. They're light and cream and bubbly! 

Teuscher Chocolate of Switzerland
House specialty, the famous Champagne Truffle, a blend of cream, butter and chocolate: champagne cream center surrounded by a dark chocolate ganache, covered in milk chocolate and dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Originally created by Adolf Teuscher, Sr. in 1947. Available also in an all dark version which I like even more!

Jacques Torres
Jacques' Taittinger Champagne Truffles are a combination of milk chocolate, fresh cream and Taittinger Brut La Francaise. I love the cork shape of these truffles.

Williams-Sonoma
La Maison du Chocolat selects and roasts its own cacao beans, and all of the chocolate is made from special house blends. Their collection of chocolate truffles are hand made at the La Maison du Chocolat workshop in Paris. Other truffles but includes Champagne truffles: dark chocolate truffles infused with Fine Champagne Cognac, covered with dark chocolate and dusted with cocoa powder.

Payard Truffles
Champagne Truffles

Neuhaus Champagne Truffles
Dark chocolate dusted with a frosting of powdered sugar with soft centers of champagne butter. Not for the superstitious. Neuhaus Champagne Truffles are sold in boxes of 13.

Godiva makes a champagne truffle, but I haven't had one in awhile. I remember it was beautiful and very smooth, but there was more chocolate taste than champagne. Still Godiva truffles are great.

Charbonnel & Walker Milk Chocolate Marc de Champagne Truffles.  Milk Chocolate with Marc de Champagne center.  Also try Charbonnel & Walker Chocolate Pink Champagne Truffles. Tangy & Sweet with a strawberry dusting and Marc de Champagne truffle center. Tangy & sweet.

Paul A. Young Champagne Truffles. Made with real Champagne.

Demarquette Champagne Truffles. These are made with vintage Dom Perignon Champagne. U.K. Brut Champagne (Dom Perignon) blended with our very own recipe of single estate and single origin cocoas from around the world and Cornish and Hampshire creams for the ultimate in pure taste. Each truffle is hand dipped in 71.1% couverture chocolate before being dusted with pure cocoa powder.

Vosges Krug Champagne Truffle. Watch this awesome video on making Champagne Truffles.



Making of Krug® Champagne Truffles from Vosges Haut-Chocolat® on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Amaretto Truffles: National Chocolate Candy Day

Today is National Chocolate Candy Day! During WWII, the U.S. Government commissioned Milton Hershey to create a candy bar to include in the soldiers' rations. The recipe his company created is now the famous Hershey Milk Chocolate Bar. Today, chocolate is still an American favorite treat, and over 2.8 billion pounds are consumed annually in the U.S. On average each person consumes over eleven pounds per year--I think I account for much more, and if you're reading this blog, you probably do, too!

To celebrate National Chocolate Candy Day, enjoy these fabulous and easy Amaretto Truffles.

AMARETTO TRUFFLES

Ingredients
10 ounces dark chocolate (70-75% cacao, fair-trade), finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sweet butter
1/4 cup Amaretto
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup crushed amaretto cookies

Directions
Simmer cream in saucepan. Stir in butter.
Remove from stove and add chocolate, place pot over ice water.
Blend in liquor and nuts, whip lightly as mixture thickens, do not beat.
Cover and refrigerate until hardened.
With teaspoon, rolls into balls and place on cookie sheet, refrigerate again until hardened.
Dip truffles in crushed amaretto cookies.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Chocolate Fruitcake: National Fruitcake Day

December 27 might seem a little late for National Fruitcake Day, but as they say, better late than never.  If you're like me, you're saying Fruitcake? That over-inebriated rock hard cake with artificial fruits that gets passed around the family kind of like a white elephant gift? Well, it doesn't have to be. There are actually some wonderful recipes for Chocolate Fruitcake. Aha, your eyes and tastebuds have already picked up.

Of course, I'm all about easy, so here's an easy recipe for Chocolate Fruitcake. One caveat, you won't be able to eat this today. Fruitcake really does need to ferment a bit. Following is a recipe for Chocolate Fruitcake adapted froom Diana Rattray at Southern Food. This recipe originally called for candied red and green cherries, but I really don't like those. Try using dried cranberries or dried cherries or dried apricots, lots of nuts and your choice of alcohol. It's quite a versatile recipe. The original recipe didn't use booze, but what's a fruitcake without alcohol? Another recipe for Chocolate Fruitcake that I really like is David Lebovitz's Chocolate-Cherry Fruitcake.

Either way, if you like chocolate, you'll find this chocolate twist on an old holiday standard quite to your liking!

Chocolate Fruitcake

Ingredients:
1 cup sweet butter
6 ounces dark chocolate (65-75% cacao, fair-trade), chopped
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cherries, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1-1/2 cups combination of walnuts and pecans, chopped
1/2 cup rum, whiskey, or amaretto.. (or whatever you like)

Directions:
1. A day ahead, plump the dried fruits by tossing in 1/2 cup of amaretto,  rum or whiskey (or whatever alcohol you like!), cover for later use in the cake.

To Make Cake:
1. Melt butter and chocolate in large heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring often. Remove from heat, and cool for 15 minutes.
2. Stir in sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add flour and salt, stirring until blended. Stir in chopped boozy fruits and chopped nuts. Spoon mixture into 4 greased and floured 5 x 3 x 2-inch loaf pans.
3. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes
4. Poke lots of small holes in cakes with skewer. Pour 3 Tbsp liquor (see above) onto each cake. Let cool for another 10-15 minutes or so.
5. Remove from pans, and cool on wire racks.
6. Wrap in plastic and store for up to 7 days.

If you're making these Fruitcakes ahead, you can brush with more liquor every day. Don't freeze if you're adding alcohol.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Candy Cane Fudge: National Candy Cane Day

Today is National Candy Cane Day, and since I have a lot of chocolate and candy canes left over, I decided to make more fudge -- Candy Cane Fudge.

CANDY CANE FUDGE

Ingredients
18 oz. dark chocolate  (60-75% cacao), chopped
1-14 oz. can  sweetened condensed milk
Dash of salt
1 tsp peppermint extract
4 peppermint candy canes, crushed

Directions
1. Line 9" pan with wax paper.
2. Melt chocolate with sweetened condensed milk and salt in heavy saucepan over another saucepan with simmering water (or in top of double boiler). Stir until melted.
3. Remove from heat; stir in peppermint extract, and half the crushed candy canes.
4. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Top with the rest of candy cane crumbs.
5. Chill 2 hours or until firm.
6. Remove from pan by lifting edges of wax paper.
7. Cut into squares.

Boxing Day: Pear and Chocolate Trifle

Photo: BBC GoodFood
Being an Anglophile, I often came across references to Boxing Day in books I was reading. What exactly was Boxing Day? When I was younger, without any 'real' boxing day experience, I took it to mean the day after Christmas when you boxed up all your ornaments and returned them to the attic. I also thought Boxing Day was the day that you boxed up your presents and returned them to the stores where they were purchased. I was so wrong.

According to Wikipedia, Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas when wealthy people and homeowners in the United Kingdom would give a box containing a gift to their servants. It's now a National Bank Holiday.

Here's a lovely British recipe I found a few years ago to celebrate Boxing Day: Pear and Chocolate Trifle. What could be better for Boxing Day than a trifle? This recipe is from John Torode in BBC Good Food Magazine. I've adjusted the measurements for American Cooking. If you're just too tired to bake another thing after the holidays, a shortcut would be to use leftover Chocolate Cake in the trifle.

BOXING DAY PEAR AND CHOCOLATE TRIFLE

Ingredients

FOR THE CHOCOLATE CAKE LAYER
7 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup sweet butter
2 cups superfine (if you don't have golden caster) sugar
5 large eggs, separated

FOR THE POACHED PEARS
6 firm pears, peeled
1 vanilla pod, split

FOR THE MASCARPONE LAYER
2 large egg yolks
4 tbsp golden caster sugar (superfine)
5 ounces marsala
2 - 9 ounce tubs mascarpone

TO FINISH
3.5 ounces dark chocolate, grated
5 tbsp very strong coffee (or espresso)

Directions

1. For the cake: Melt chocolate and butter together, then cool. Meanwhile, heat oven to 300F. Butter and line the base and sides of a 9"springform pan with parchment paper.

2. Whisk sugar and egg yolks until very pale and thick, about 5 mins. Fold in chocolate mix using large metal spoon. Put egg whites and pinch of salt into another bowl and, with clean beaters, whisk until you have medium peaks. Fold this gently but thoroughly into chocolate mix with metal spoon, then spoon into pan and bake for 1½ hrs until risen all over. Insert skewer into middle of tin to test; it should come out with just a few damp crumbs but no wet mix. The cake will sink once it cools.

3. While cake cooks, put pears, vanilla pod and 4 cups water into saucepan. Weigh pears down under surface with small plate, then simmer for 20 mins, covered, until tender. Leave to cool in liquid if you have time. Cut each pear into 6 long slices, then remove stalk and core.

4. For tmascarpone layer, half-fill medium saucepan with water, then bring to simmer. Put yolks, sugar and 6 tbsp of the Marsala into large bowl, sit it over just-simmering water, then whisk for 5 mins until mixture is thick and holds trail for few secs. Put mascarpone into bowl, beat with 2 tbsp more Marsala to loosen, then whisk in egg mix in 2 batches, until smooth, thick and light.

5. You're now ready to assemble the trifle. Cut cake in half - it will be squidgy, so don't worry if it breaks up. Spoon some of mascarpone layer into bottom of  dish, then top with a few pears and a sprinkling of grated chocolate. Put half of cake on top, then sprinkle with some of remaining Marsala and coffee. Spoon more of mascarpone over, then top with more pears and more chocolate. Top this with next piece of cake, spoon over more Marsala and coffee, then spoon remaining mascarpone mix over top. Finish with remaining pears. Chill for at least 2 hrs, or up to 2 days. When ready to serve, cover with last of grated chocolate.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Chocolate Figgy Pudding: Vintage Cat and Figgy Pudding Christmas Cards

"Now! Bring us some figgy pudding and bring some out here!"

How long have you been singing this Christmas Carol? Have you ever had Figgy Pudding aka Christmas Pudding? And what, exactly is it?

Happy Christmas. Today I address Figgy Pudding. One  question, can you add chocolate? Yes! Scroll down for Ghirardelli's recipe for Chocolate Figgy Pudding.

Figgy Pudding is pretty much exactly what it sounds like -- a pudding/cake with figs in it. The reason that it's in such high demand, though, has more to do with its inedible ingredients. Coins, rings and other trinkets were often hidden in the Christmas pudding and each supposedly predicted the recipient's fortune for the coming year. For example, if you found a coin, you would become wealthy. If you found a ring, you'd get married ... and so on. Think of it as an Old English fortune cookie.

From WiseGeek.com:

It's amazing what a brief mention in one Victorian-era Christmas carol can do for an obscure little dessert called figgy pudding. Every year, thousands of people around the world become curious about the dessert mentioned in the secular English carol "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." Apparently, the party-goers mentioned in the lyrics refuse to leave until they get some of this pudding from their host. This must be some seriously good pudding.


In actuality, figgy pudding is more of a cake than a pudding. There have been recipes for it since the 15th century, although its popularity as a Christmas dessert probably reached its peak during the late 19th century. Several factors have significantly hampered the wholesale expansion of the figgy pudding industry, including an interminably long cooking time, an exotic ingredients list and a cringe-inducing dependency on saturated fats for texture.
There are numerous recipes for this pudding, from a traditional steamed version similar to modern bread pudding to a pastry-covered blend of figs, dates, fruits and spices. Nearly all recipes call for three or four hours of steaming. This is accomplished by placing a metal bowl with the pudding mixture into a larger bowl partially filled with boiling water. The indirect heat generated by the boiling water cooks the dessert evenly and slowly. This is equivalent to using a bain marie water bath for individual ramekins filled with batter.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Figgy Pudding

Ingredients
3 eggs
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
4 cups soft bread crumbs
1 cup finely chopped suet
2 tablespoons flour
1-1/2 cups chopped dried figs
3/4 cup Ghirardelli's Ground Chocolate
1/2 cup hot milk
3/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Beat eggs, add sugar, bread crumbs, suet, figs (dredged with flour), chocolate mixed with hot milk, and salt, stir thoroughly.
Steam three hours in a greased mold.
Serve hot with a hard sauce.

Hard sauce:  Great recipe at The Pioneer Woman

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

CHOCOLATE CRINKLE COOKIES

If you're in cookie making mode, here's an easy but fabulous recipe for Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. I've posted others. They're all good, but I always like to try something new.

CHOCOLATE CRINKLE COOKIES

Ingredients
Nonstick Vegetable spray
1-1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (about 9 ounces), divided
3 large egg whites, room temperature
2-1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
1/2 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt

Directions
Preheat oven to 400. Spray 2 large baking sheets with nonstick vegetable oil spray
Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in glass bowl in microwave, stirring twice (about 2 minutes).. or in saucepan over saucepan of simmering water. Cool slightly.
Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl to soft peaks. Gradually beat in 1 cup sugar. Continue beating until mixture resembles soft marshmallow creme.
Whisk 1 cup sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in medicum bowl to blend.
On low speed, beat dry ingredients into meringue.
Stir in lukewarm chocolate and 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Dough will become very stiff.
Place 1/2 cup sugar in separate bowl. Roll 2 rounded tablespoon dough into ball. Roll in sugar, coating thickly. Place on prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing 2 inches apart.
Bake until puffed and tops crack. 8-10 minutes.
Cool on sheets on rack 10 minutes.
Transfer cookies to rack to cool.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Crisco Christmas Cake/Crisco Chocolate Cake: Retro Ads & Recipe

Crisco was standard in our pantry when I was growing up, and I've posted about Crisco several times on this blog, most recently with a Crisco Christmas Cookies ad from 1952. So with Christmas right around the corner, I thought I'd post this Retro Crisco Christmas Cake Ad --but since this is a chocolate blog, I'm also posting the 'same' ad for a Crisco Chocolate Cake. Everything's the same, except the color and frosting. Even the hand's the same in the ad. Why hire someone new to pose? This is straight out of Mad Men! LOL!





RECIPE FOR CHOCOLATE CRISCO CAKE

STEP 1 — Measure (all measurements level): 2 cups sifted cake flour, 1-2/3 cups sugar, 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1-1/2 teaspoons soda, 1 teaspoon salt. Add 1/2 cup Crisco, 3 squares melted chocolate, 2/3 cup milk. Mix thoroughly by hand (300 strokes) or by mixer (medium speed) for 2 minutes.

STEP 2 — Add 2/3 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 3 eggs (2/3 cup). Mix thoroughly another 2 minutes. Pour batter into two 9″ layer pans (1-1/2″ deep) which have been “Criscoed” or lined with paper. (For smaller pans, fill half full, bake remaining batter in cup cakes.)

Bake in moderate oven 350°F. about 35-40 minutes.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Chocolate Kahlua Date Nut Bread

Today is National Date Nut Bread Day! What a great day and time of year to make a couple of these fabulous Chocolate Kahlua Date Nut Bread. Perfect for holiday giving!

I love nut breads of all kinds, and I think you'll enjoy this spin on a traditional Date Nut Bread. The Kahlua Date Nut Bread recipe was making the rounds a few years ago, but I adapted it a bit to add chocolate chunks (or chocolate chips, if you're so inclined). How can you go wrong with Kahlua and Chocolate and Dates and Nuts? And, this is so easy and quick! It's a Quick Bread!

Chocolate Kahlua Date Nut Bread

Ingredients
1 cup chopped, pitted dates
1/2 cup Kahlua
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons sweet butter, softened
1 large egg
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup dark chocolate (65-75% cacao), chopped into small chunks (or use dark chocolate chips)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°
1. Combine Dates and Kahlua. Set aside and let dates absorb the Kahlua.Yum!
2. Beat sugar, butter, and egg together until creamy.
3. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
4. Alternate adding flour mixture and date mixture to sugar mixture.
5. Stir in pecans and dark chocolate chunks.
6. Put batter in sprayed/greased loaf pan (s).
7. Let batter stand in pan(s) for about 5 minutes.

Bake until done. For regular loaf pan, bake 60 to 70 minutes. For medium loaf pans, bake 50 to 60 minutes. For small loaf pans, bake 45 to 50 minutes.

CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT COOKIES: 2 Recipes


So keeping with the Chocolate and Peppermint theme for the holidays, I'm posting two great recipes for Chocolate Peppermint Cookies.

The first is a fabulous recipe in an old issue of Sunset Magazine (recipe available online). This recipe uses their Chocolate Decadence Cookie recipe that you follow through step 1. Continue with step 2, using your palm to press dough balls into 1/4-in.-thick rounds. Bake as directed and let cool. (of course you could use your favorite chocolate cookie recipe--or store bought cookies)

1. Chocolate Peppermint Patty Cookies


In bowl, mix 3 cups powdered sugar, 4 Tbsp. milk, and 3/4 tsp peppermint extract.
Spread 1 heaping tsp peppermint icing onto the flat side of 1 cookie.
Top with flat side of a second cookie to form a sandwich, pressing together to squeeze filling to the edge. Roll edge of cookie in crushed and sifted candy canes.

I also found an amazing recipe for Peppermint Bark Chocolate Chip Cookies posted by Garrett McCord on Simply Recipes. For this recipe, you can purchase peppermint bark or make your own.  I love this recipe!!

2. 'Peppermint Bark' Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup sweet butter
3/4 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup peppermint bark, broken into little chip size pieces

Directions
1 Preheat oven to 350°F.
2 Cream butter and sugars together for about two minutes at medium speed or until well incorporated and light in color.
3 Add egg and vanilla extract until well incorporated, about a minute. Be sure to scrape down sides and bottom of bowl halfway through.
4 Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Add to butter mixture slowly, and beating at medium speed, stopping once all is incorporated (do not overmix).
5 Fold in peppermint bark chips.
6 Take small spoonfuls of dough and roll into one inch sized balls and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for -12 minutes. Let cool in pan for few minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Photo: Leigh Beisch; food styling by Dan Becker

Saturday, December 21, 2013

FANNY FARMER FUDGE: Guest Post by Kathleen Taylor

As I've said before, my worlds of mystery and chocolate collide, more than a few times. I'm a member of a small group of Facebook 'friends' who post a photo a day, each day a different theme. Over the past few years that I've been a member, I've really come to know these women. One of them is Kathleen Taylor whose Tory Bauer mysteries I read years ago. I loved them.. and I love her. She does so much and is always funny and witty! I follow her adventures in knitting (she's a knitting expert!), too, although this is a skill that has alluded me. We do share a common love of chocolate!. Kathleen Taylor is the author of 6 Tory Bauer mysteries, 5 knitting books, a bookazine (Hand Knit Socks, on the stands now) and one mainstream novel, teaches knitting classes around the country, and talks about whatever occurs to her at Kathleen Taylor's Dakota Dreams (http://kathleen-dakotadreams.blogspot.com/ ). She loves fudge. Enjoy this recipe! Perfect for the holidays!

KATHLEEN TAYLOR: 
CHAR FORD'S 1979 FANNY FARMER FUDGE 

In the '70s, we lived in a housing development called Shar-Winn Estates. There were maybe fifteen houses in the development, and mostly families with young children lived in them. Every December, the ladies would get together for a cookie and candy exchange (no wine, just cookies and candy. I wonder why there was no wine). We made dozens of each and traded them out, along with the recipes. Most of those recipes have fallen by the wayside, but one from 1979, has become a perennial favorite in my house: Char Ford's Fanny Farmer Fudge.

Over the years, I tinkered with the recipe a bit because it seemed a little dry and crumbly. I increased the butter from 1/4 cup to 3/4 cup. The fudge now comes out fail-safe creamy and wonderful.


See? Butter? Lots of butter. Don't worry that the butter is added last, (as opposed to most fudge recipes), it works and I don't question it.

Char Ford's 1979 Fanny Farmer Fudge Recipe 
makes 5 lbs

Ingredients
4 cups sugar
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
18 ozs semi-sweet chocolate chips
¾ cup butter
1 tbsp vanilla
2 cups chopped walnuts (optional)

Generously butter 9" x 13" pan

In a large sauce pan, bring the sugar and evaporated milk to a boil. On medium heat, boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add the vanilla and the chips and stir until they're mostly melted. Then add the butter and stir until melted and everything is smooth and well mixed. Pour in the pan and allow to set. Scrape the pan out and lick the spatula (after it cools for a moment).

Variations: 
Mocha Fudge: add 2 tbsp instant coffee crystals to the milk and stir until dissolved, cook as directed Vanilla Fudge: substitute white chocolate chips for the dark chocolate chips
Sea Salt Fudge: sprinkle Fleur de Sel crystals on top of the warm fudge and press down to embed the crystals. Don't add too much- you want just a hint of saltiness

Cartoon of the Day: Gluten-Free


Friday, December 20, 2013

Cocoa Ripple Bundt Cake

I've been posting lots of very sweet recipes for the holidays, but sometimes you want something a little 'plainer'... This Cocoa Ripple Bundt Cake is the answer. This recipe was sent to me by my friend Evelyn David. It's perfect with my morning tea. Not too sweet and still filled with chocolate. No need to ice this coffee cake, but you can dust with powdered sugar if you'd like. It also tastes great toasted. But then I'm a fan of toasted coffee and bundt cakes-- with lots of butter!

According to the recipe I adapted from Cooking Stuff, May 6, 2009,  the original recipe was from Better Homes and Gardens. I didn't find that recipe, but I found similar ones, and some added vanilla, so you might want to try that. This recipe can be halved if you have a smaller bundt pan.

Cocoa Ripple Bundt Cake

Ingredients
1- 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup sweet butter, softened
4 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1-1/3 cups milk
3/4 cup DARK unsweetened cocoa mixed with 2 Tbsp sugar

Directions
Cream sugar and butter. Add eggs and beat well.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture and milk, alternately, mixing until smooth.
Layer batter in thirds, alternating with cocoa mixture, into well greased 12 cup Bundt pan.
Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes, till toothpick comes out clean.
Cool for 5 minutes in pan then turn out onto a plate.

Once cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar --optional

iPhone Cases for the Chocoholic

If you haven't completed your gift list yet or you just want something cool for yourself, take a look at these cool Chocolate iPhone cases. I ordered the ice cream sandwich case because I love the way it mimics the actual shape.You can purchase these cases from SealedwithaCase on Etsy. And, right now there's a last minute Holiday 20% off. I'm only posting the chocolate-related cases, but check out the matzo, sushi, waffle, TV dinner, mixed tape and other iPhone cases.










Thursday, December 19, 2013

Chocolate Brigadeiros: Perfect for the Holidays

There's something to be said for celebrating Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere. We in the Northern hemisphere think Santa and snow and icicles.. sleighbells and reindeer. And these same images persist in countries such as Brazil, although it's summer there. No snow in Rio. Go to the end of the post for some holiday sand sculptures. I thought for today, I'd honor a favorite Brazilian candy that's perfect for the holidays: the chocolate fudgy Brigadeiro.

My Facebook friend Jane Vana Bishop sent me a great and easy recipe. These definitely have a place on the Christmas candy/cookie tray. This recipe istraditional and non-alcoholic. Always good if the kids are around.


But if you want to add some kick to your Brigadeiros, try this 'adult' recipe that uses cacacha, the Brazilian national drink! Cacacha, a liquor made from fermented sugarcane. This recipe is from Luxury Experience using Leblon Cachaca. The Leblon distillery is in Patos de Minas in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The area has a great microclimate and high altitude and produces taller and juicier sugar cane. What makes Leblon Cachaca different from other cachacas is that Leblon uses XO Cognac casks to 'rest' the liquor for up to six months to smooth and round out the flavors. Leblon Cachaca is 40% alcohol. The following recipe is easy--and delicious. Of course you can use any brand of Cachaca you have!

CACHACA CHOCOLATE BRIGADEIROS

Ingredients 
1 14 oz. Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2/3 Can Milk (use Sweetened Condensed Milk can as measure)
1/3 Can Leblon Cachaça (use Sweetened Condensed Milk can as measure)
2 Tablespoons Dark Cocoa
1 Tablespoon sweet Butter
1 Jar Chocolate Sprinkles (Jimmies)

Directions 
In medium pan, add sweetened condensed milk, butter, cocoa and milk, and stir well to combine. Cook over medium heat stirring with a long handled wooden spoon until mixture starts to thicken approximately 10 minutes, and then add Leblon Cachaça.
Continue stirring while cooking until chocolate mixture comes away from sides of pan and starts to look dry-- approximately 13 minutes.
Pour into bowl and let cool.
When completely cool, butter your hands, use teaspoon amount of chocolate and roll into ball, and then roll ball in chocolate sprinkles.
Complete process until all of chocolate is used.
Put candy in paper cups (or on parchment paper), and set in refrigerator until ready to eat.

***
Copacabana Beach, Rio, Brazil

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chocolate Thought of the Day


CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT BARK: To Make or Buy!

I love Peppermint Bark, and I wish it were available all year, but you can always make your own. So today, I'm posting three recipes for Peppermint Bark plus a round-up of some of my favorite Peppermint Barks that you can purchase. Let me know your favorites. Do you prefer white, dark, or milk chocolate?

Peppermint Bark is easy to make and great to give. As always, use the very best chocolate, and in the case of this first recipe, be sure and use 'real' white chocolate and not the 'phony' stuff.


1. White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Ingredients
1 pound white chocolate
candy canes, crushed to make 1/2 cup

Directions
Heat white chocolate in double boiler over low heat until melted.
Add crushed candy cane to white chocolate. Make sure white chocolate stays warm.
Pour mixture onto wax paper-lined cookie sheet, spreading very thinly with spatula.
Place cookie sheet in freezer until  mixture has hardened.
Take out of freezer and crack bark into small pieces.
Remove from wax paper and store at room temperature.

2. Microwave White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Ingredients
1 lb. white chocolate
1/2 cup crushed candy canes

Directions
Place chocolate in microwave-safe dish. Microwave on 50% power, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and of creamy consistency.
Stir in crushed candy canes.
Spread on cookie sheet and place in the freezer until set (about 20 minutes).
Break into pieces.

3. Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Ingredients
12 ounces high quality dark chocolate
1/2 cup crushed candy canes
1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract

Directions
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler (or saucepan on top of saucepan of simmering water).
Remove from heat, add peppermint extract and stir.
Pour melted chocolate onto cookie sheet lined with wax paper and spread out with spatula or wooden spoon.
Sprinkle peppermint candy chunks on chocolate and gently press in with hands.
Put in freezer until hardened (5 minutes).
Break into pieces. Store in fridge in an airtight container.

The recipes above are super easy.  Nevertheless, you might just want to buy some Chocolate Peppermint Bark to give as gifts. Here are a few of my favorites!

Williams Sonoma Peppermint Bark is made with custom-blended Guittard premium chocolate and natural oil of peppermint. There's a layer of semisweet chocolate, and a layer of white chocolate. The Bark is finished with handmade peppermint candy bits. What I love about this is the great reusable red tin with barking Dalmatians.


Trader Joe's makes an excellent Peppermint Bark. Their candy is chunky and all natural. High quality ingredients and great packaging, and less expensive than Williams Sonoma.

Dove has Peppermint Bark Promises. The candy comes in a bag easily available at your local drugstore or Target store. Each piece is individually wrapped in a holiday foil wrapper with fun holiday tips on the wrappers from Martha Stewart. This is a variation on Peppermint Bark. There's a chocolate base with white chocolate top with bits of red and white peppermint candies mixed in the white chocolate. This is also available in traditional Bark.

Ghirardelli Chocolate has Limited Edition Ghirardelli Holiday Squares. I love these Peppermint Bark Squares and have a few stashed in my desk this time of year. Basically a milk chocolate base covered with minty white chocolate filled with crunchies. I'm not convinced the crunchies are pieces of candy cane, but they add great texture to this candy treat.

Vermont Nut Free Chocolates has a fabulous Peppermint Crunch Bark. Thanks to Bobbi Mumm in Canada for sharing her favorite a few years ago. This one is high on my list! If you have a nut allergy, you'll want to check out the rest of their chocolate line, too! Fab!!!

What's your favorite?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Chocolate Maple Syrup: National Maple Syrup Day

When I was young, we traveled to Canada, Maine, and Vermont for fishing trips (my father was a fresh water fisherman). One of my fond memories was seeing the taps in the maple trees in the woods.  So magical for me.. a city kid. They were just like beer taps (or for me, they probably looked like soda fountain taps). Tapping the trees for maple syrup was always the highlight of these trips. This experience broadened the school history lesson about the early settlers and Maple Syrup. Of course the indigenous people tapped the trees first, but that wasn't part of our lesson. 

An individual maple tree can be tapped one to three times per year (depending on how big the diameter of its trunk is), producing up to 13 gallons of sap per one to two month harvesting season. Maple trees keep the starch inside  their roots and trunk before winter sets in which is then later converted to sugar that appears in the tree's sap in  winter and early spring.

It is the starchy sugar that makes maple syrup so characteristically sweet. In order to turn sap into sugar, it's heated and boiled to evaporate the excess water, with the concentrated syrup remaining. Sugar shacks were set up for this process, and those were also available for viewing in small Vermont and Canadian towns. I imagine they still are.

Want to know more about the history of Maple Syrup? Read "Tapping into the history of maple syrup" at Chronically Vintage.

What to do with maple syrup? Well, growing up, maple syrup at our house came in a little crock and was only used to pour over waffles and pancakes. But Maple Syrup is actually a great item to have in your pantry and can be used in lots of ways. Maple syrup is a healthy alternative to sugar in baked goods and desserts.

Conversion tips:
Substitute an equal amount of maple syrup for sugar.
For each cup of syrup, reduce the quantity of liquid ingredients in the recipe (water, milk, juice) by about a quarter of a cup.
Maple syrup can also serve as a one-to-one substitution for other liquid sweeteners, such as honey, molasses and corn syrup.

And, with the holidays coming up, here's a great recipe for Chocolate Maple Syrup.. for yourself or to give as a gift.

CHOCOLATE MAPLE SYRUP

Ingredients
1-1/2 cups pure maple syrup
4 Tbsp unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1/4 cup sweet butter, chopped
Pinch of salt

Directions
Heat maple syrup in small sturdy saucepan over moderate heat until hot.
Whisk in cocoa powder, butter, and pinch of salt. Turn down to simmer and whisk for a minute.
Serve syrup warm.
Syrup keeps, covered and chilled, 1 week.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Chocolate Gingerbread Men: Recipe and Cookie Cutters

Christmas is a great time to bring out the Cookie Cutters, and I'll be posting about some of my favorites later this week. In the meantime, I thought I'd post some of my favorite Gingerbread Cookie Cutters. Be sure to scroll down. 

But what's a cookie cutter without a good recipe? Here's my favorite Chocolate Gingerbread Cookie Recipe.

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookie Recipe
This awesome recipe is from Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito - Food & Wine Magazine

Cookies

3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/3 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons sweet butter, softened
1/3 cup solid vegetable shortening (Crisco)
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup molasses
2 ounces dark chocolate (65-70% cacao), melted and cooled

1. In medium bowl, whisk flour with cocoa powder, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In bowl of standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat softened butter with shortening at medium speed until mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds. Add brown sugar and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
2. Add egg to cookie batter and beat until incorporated. Beat in molasses and then melted chocolate. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, beating between additions. Divide dough into 3 equal parts. Shape each part into a disk, then wrap each one in plastic wrap and refrigerate cookie dough until chilled, about 2 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. On lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 disk of dough 1/4 inch thick. Using 4- to 5-inch cookie cutters, cut dough into shapes and transfer to prepared baking sheets. Reroll dough scraps and cut out more cookies.
4. Bake cookies for about 7 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking until tops are dry. Let cookies cool in pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining dough.

Gingerbread Cookie Icing Tips!!

You can make Royal Icing or try this Recipe for Mascarpone Filling that doubles as Decorating Icing. Put it in a bag and pipe! Or use Wilton Decorating Icing in the squeeze bottles.

Decorate your cookies. Let stand until icing dries, about 30 minutes.

Make Ahead: Chocolate gingerbread cookies can be kept in an airtight container for up to 5 days. 

*** 

GINGERBREAD MEN COOKIE CUTTERS
 
Yoga Cookie Cutters Set 1: Lotus Group from Patti Paige Baked Ideas

Yoga Cookie Cutters Set 2: Down Dog from Patti Paige Baked Ideas

GingerDead Men Cookie Cutters:

NinjaBread Men:

Fred ABC Cookies Cutters: Which part do you eat first?


And for some vintage Cutters:




Sunday, December 15, 2013

PEPPERMINT ICE CREAM PIE

When I was little, we went on long turnpike rides to visit family at the holidays. We always stopped at Howard Johnson's, the roadside retreat, on the way, and my treat was Peppermint Stick ice cream. It didn't matter what the weather was like outside, that Peppermint Ice Cream was delicious--rich and creamy filled with lots of crunchy peppermint pieces. It was served in simple cones then, but this recipe for Peppermint Ice Cream Pie takes it one step further.

It's cold outside but  that shouldn't keep you from making this simple delicious Peppermint Ice Cream Pie. As a matter of fact, now's the time to make this when the Limited Edition flavors hit the frozen dairy case.  Dreyer's Ice Cream (Edy's in the Midwest and on the East Coast) has a very good Peppermint Ice Cream. Fenton's, a local favorite, has terrific Peppermint Ice Cream.

So here's another Peppermint and Chocolate recipe that's simple to make and great to serve and eat! This is a simple alternative to the Chocolate Peppermint Pie recipe I posted on Friday. And, of course, you can use any Peppermint Ice Cream you like! You can even make your own!

I've changed the Peppermint Oreo Pie Crust recipe a bit. Put it into the freezer rather than refrigerator for an hour before filling, so it doesn't get soggy.

Peppermint Ice Cream Pie

Peppermint Oreo Pie Crust
2 1/4 cups of crushed Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe Joes (oreo-like with peppermint filling), finely crushed (whirl in a blender or put in plastic bag and use rolling pin)
2 1/2 ounces of melted sweet butter

1. Combine cookie crumbs with melted butter in a bowl
2. Pour mixture into 9 inch pie pan and press into the bottom and up the sides evenly
3. Smooth surface with the back of a spoon
4. Freeze pie crust for at least an hour

Filling:
1 carton (1.5 quarts) Peppermint Ice Cream  (leave out for 10-15 minutes to soften)
2 candy canes, crushed

Directions:
Spread softened ice cream evenly on frozen crust.
Sprinkle with crushed candy canes.
Freeze for several hours until firm.
Cut into wedges to serve.

Crisco Christmas Cookies: Retro Ad & Recipes

I've mentioned the virtues and history of Crisco with a recipe for Retro Crisco Chocolate Chip Cookies. This unique product had a real impact on baking.

Being that it's the holiday season, I'm posting this fun Vintage Ad with recipes from December 1952 for several different holiday treats that use Crisco. Get Baking!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Chocolate Eggnog Swirl Pie: National Eggnog Month

It should come as no surprise that December is National Eggnog Month. What a perfect month for Chocolate Eggnog Swirl Pie. This recipe is adapted from Better Homes and Gardens. As Always, use the best chocolate...and the best eggnog. Here's a link to Cooking with Amy's recent Eggnog Product Taste Test!

Chocolate Eggnog Swirl Pie

Ingredients 
1 cup flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 ounces dark chocolate, grated
1/3 cup sweet butter melted
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups quality eggnog
1-1/2 ounces of dark semisweet chocolate, melted
2 tablespoons of rum or 1/2 teaspoon rum extract
1 cup of whipping cream, whipped
Grated fresh Nutmeg

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.

In medium bowl, combine flour, nuts, brown sugar, and grated chocolate. Stir in melted butter. Press mixture onto bottom and up sides of deep-dish 9 or 10 inch pie plate. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

In small bowl, stir gelatin into cold water; set aside. In medium saucepan, combine granulated sugar and cornstarch. Stir in eggnog. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved.

Divide filling into two equal portions. To one portion, add melted chocolate; mix well. To other portion, add rum; mix well. Cover surfaces of both fillings with plastic wrap; cool for 2 hours.

Fold whipped cream into rum filling; spoon into crust. Top with chocolate filling. Using table knife or narrow metal spatula, gently swirl chocolate filling into rum filling to marble. Chill for 4 to 24 hours. Sprinkle lightly with grated nutmeg.

Friday, December 13, 2013

CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT PIE WITH PEPPERMINT OREO PIE CRUST

Here's a fabulous recipe for Chocolate Peppermint Pie. Since the original recipe is adapted from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, you realize there's going to be lots of butter, cream cheese and whipping cream. This is a perfect treat for the holidays!

I dressed this up even more by adding a Chocolate Peppermint Oreo Crust using Holiday Oreos--Candy Cane Joe Joes from Trader Joe's. It's a great crust for lots of holiday desserts.

Chocolate Peppermint Pie with Peppermint Oreo Pie Crust

Peppermint Oreo Pie Crust


Ingredients
2-1/4 cups of crushed Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe Joe's (oreo-like with peppermint filling), finely ground
2-1/2 ounces of melted sweet butter

Directions
Combine cookie crumbs with melted butter in bowl
Pour mixture into 9 inch pie pan and press into bottom and up sides evenly
Smooth surface with back of spoon
Refrigerate pie crust for at least an hour

Chocolate Peppermint Pie Filling 

Ingredients
1/2 cup sweet butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup pasteurized egg product* (egg beaters or similar product to avoid the raw egg controversy)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup white chocolate chips or white chocolate bar, chopped, melted and cooled
1/2 cup (20) peppermint candies, crushed
1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped, or 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled
crushed peppermints

Directions
In bowl, beat butter, cream cheese and sugar together.
Combine egg product and whipping cream, and gradually add to butter mixture while beating, scraping bowl often. Beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reserve half of mixture in small bowl.
Add cooled white chocolate to remaining half of mixture; beat well. Stir in crushed candy. Spread in pie crust; chill 10 minutes.
Return reserved butter mixture to bowl, add cooled dark chocolate; beat well. Spread over white chocolate layer.
Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

National Cocoa Day: Recipe Round-Up

Today is National Cocoa Day, and it's blustery out there, so be sure and try one of these recipes to warm you up! I always post on National Cocoa Day, and this is an updated post with some new recipes. Cocoa or Hot Chocolate, whatever you call it, it's great!

A few years ago,  I posted several brands of cocoa that I enjoy, plus links and recipes. You'll definitely want to take a look. And, remember, using the best ingredients will result in the best cocoa/hot chocolate!

Want to know the difference between Natural and Dutch Process Cocoa? Click HERE.

Following are variations on classic Cocoa/Hot Chocolate. Some recipes are for one, some for four, and some for a crowd. Some use cocoa powder, others use chocolate bars, but all are delicious. If you have a favorite cocoa recipe, comment below with a link!

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Ingredients
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
1 tablespoon Madegascar vanilla
3/4 cup granulated sugar
8 ounces 75-85% cacao chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon peppermint oil

Directions: Add milk, cream, vanilla and sugar to pot and place over medium heat. When milk mixture is hot, add chopped chocolate and stir constantly. Continue stirring, adding remaining ingredients. When mixture is starting to simmer, take off heat and serve.

Eggnog Hot Chocolate
What would the holidays be without eggnog? Try this and let me know what you think!

Ingredients:
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons Unsweetened Dark Cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions: In blender or processor,  combine egg, milk, water, cocoa and nutmeg, blend until well mixed. Transfer mixture to top of  double boiler. Hear stirring occasionally, until mixture is steaming. Do not boil.

Argentinian Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:
4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp Madegascar or Mexican Vanilla
4 ounces good quality dark chocolate, broken into 1 ounce pieces

Directions: Heat milk, sugar and vanilla in pan until almost boiled. Remove from heat and divide  into 4 mugs. Immediately, put piece of chocolate in each mug. It will melt and have a fabulous taste.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons good-quality ground DARK cocoa
1 teaspoon sugar, plus extra to taste
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground almonds. You can add more if you want a thicker texture
1 cup milk

Directions: Mix all ingredients, except milk, together in empty, clean glass jar. Shake until completely combined. Heat  milk in a pan and add chocolate mix. Bring to boil and reduce  heat. Simmer for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly; use small whisk to froth milk. Serve hot.

Mexican Hot Chocolate II

Ingredients
5  ounces dark Mexican Chocolate
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup hot water
Pinch of salt
1 tsp instant coffee
2 cups whole milk
1 egg (optional)
1/4 tsp Mexican vanilla extract
1 dried red chile pepper, smashed
Ground cinnamon for sprinkling

Directions: In saucepan over medium-low heat, add Mexican chocolate, honey, hot water, salt, coffee, and chile pepper. Heat, stirring constantly, until mixture just begins to boil; reduce heat to low and let simmer, stirring constantly, for another minute. Carefully stir in milk and let sit over low heat until chocolate is too warm to touch. In bowl, beat egg until frothy. Add vanilla extract and beat in well. Pour hot chocolate mixture over the frothed egg and beat for about 15 seconds. (until you have about foam on top) Pour into mugs. Sprinkle mugs with ground cinnamon and shaved chocolate.

Honey Hot Chocolate   
The flavor of your cocoa will change with the variety of honey. Try lavender honey, sage, wildflower.

Ingredients
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons honey
4 cups milk

Directions: Combine ingredients in medium-size sauce pan. Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally until hot.

Hot Chocolate with Brown Sugar

Ingredients:
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/3 cup water
4 cups hot milk
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
dash of salt

Preparation: In double boiler (or saucepan over a saucepan), melt chocolate and water together. Slowly mix in milk, sugar and salt. Whisk until chocolate is smooth and blended.

Parisian Warm Chocolate
I'm not sure where I found this recipe, but it works! Anything French works! Lots of varieties on this. Experiment!

Ingredients:
1 cup whole milk
1/3 heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
6 oz chocolate- 65-75% cacao chocolate, chopped

Directions: Simmer milk, cream and sugar together until just boiling. Stir in chocolate until melted. Don't let it boil. Serve warm in mugs.

Spicy White Hot Chocolate

Ingredients
4 cups milk
7 oz. good white chocolate (Guittard, Ghirardelli, Green & Black), chopped
1 egg, beaten
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground cinnamon

Directions: Put white chocolate in medium metal bowl or saucepan over another saucepan of  simmering water, or in top part of double boiler. Melt chocolate, stirring occasionally until smooth. Stir in cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Whisk in egg until smooth. Gradually whisk in one cup of milk until completely incorporated (2-3 minutes). Gradually whisk in remaining milk, and heat until hot, but not simmering. Put in mugs and sprinkle with cinnamon or chocolate.

Peppermint White Chocolate Cocoa (is that redundant?)

Ingredients:
8 oz white chocolate, chopped
3 1/2 cups whole milk
6 hard peppermint candies, crushed fine
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
2/3 cup whipping cream

Directions: Beat chilled cream with crushed mints until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate for about 1 hour. Heat milk to simmer, them mix in chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add mint extract and stir through. Pour into mugs and top with minty whipped cream.

Candy Cane Cocoa   
variation on recipe from Sean Paajanen at About.com

Ingredients:
4 cups whole milk
3 ounces 60-85% cacao chocolate, chopped
4 red and white striped peppermint candies crushed
4 small red and white striped candy canes
whipped cream

Directions: In sauce pan bring milk tosimmer. Add chocolate and crushed candies. Whisk until smooth. Divide hot cocoa between mugs and garnish with whipped cream and serve with candycane stirring stick. 

Pumpkin Pie Cocoa from Pattie Tierney

Cocoa in a Jar: Great for gifts or just to have on hand -- and so many variations!

About the photo: This Vintage Advertisement for Cadbury Cocoa is special to me. First, my niece-in-law is a descendent of the founders of Cadbury Chocolate company. Second, my sister, Judie Siddall, is the President of the Transferware Collectors Club and sells antique blue and white transferware (pottery), similar to what is pictured in this advertisement, although, her wares are much older. She can be found at Merlin Antiques. She also blogs at Dishy News. And, we all like chocolate, so it's all in the Family!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Candy Cane Chocolate Covered Marshmallows

I go to a holiday dessert party every year. These Candy Cane Chocolate Covered Marshmallows are easy and delicious and are always a big hit. Here's what I took last year.. and what I'll probably take this year, too.

I like food on a stick, and these Candy Cane Chocolate Covered Marshmallows--the stick, of course, is a candy cane--are great! This is just a variation on Smores on a Stick. All you do differently is substitute a small candy cane for the plain stick and use crushed candy cane pieces in place of the graham cracker crumbs. These, didn't turn out very pretty, but they're incredibly tasty! I have learned a few things.. trial and error. You can also use homemade marshmallows or good quality marshmallows, but those packaged Puff Marshmallows hit the spot, too!

CANDY CANE CHOCOLATE COVERED MARSHMALLOWS

Directions
Melt good quality dark chocolate in a saucepan on top of another saucepan with simmering water.
Crush candy canes.. Here's the rub.. I should have left the candy cane pieces chunkier.. I kind of pulverized them.
Put a small curled candy cane in center of marshmallow.
Holding candy cane, dip marshmallow in melted chocolate.
Immediately swirl the marshmallow in crushed candy cane bits (or spoon candy cane bits over chocolate).
Put finished Candy Cane Chocolate Marshmallow on parchment lined cookie sheet. I recommend putting them flat with the candy cane straight up. I didn't do that, and as you can see, they were wobbly.
Repeat.
When you've dipped them all, put them in the refrigerator to firm up.


History of the Candy Cane from About.com:   

During the 17th century, Europeans adopted Christmas trees as part of Christmas celebrations, and they often made cookies and sugar stick candy as decorations. The first historical reference to the familiar cane shape goes back to 1670, when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, bent the sugar sticks into canes to represent a shepherd's staff. The all white candy canes were given out to children during the nativity services. This tradition of handing out candy canes during Christmas services spread throughout Europe and later to America.

The first historical reference to the candy cane being in America goes back to 1847, when German immigrant August Imgard decorated the Christmas tree in his Wooster, Ohio home with candy canes.

About fifty years later the first red-and-white striped candy canes appeared. No one knows who exactly invented the stripes, but Christmas cards prior to the year 1900 showed only all white candy canes. Christmas cards after 1900 showed illustrations of striped candy canes. Around the same time, candy-makers added peppermint and wintergreen flavors to their candy canes and those flavors then became the traditional favorites.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Food of the Gods: Annamaria Alfieri

My chocolate and mystery worlds collide again! Today I welcome international mystery author Annamaria Alfieri. She is a big fan of chocolate. No surprise! This post originally appeared on the blog Murder in Everywhere, one of my favorite crime fiction sites! Reprinted with permission.

Annamaria Alfieri's latest novel is Blood Tango; set against the most dramatic period of Argentine history, it imagines the murder of an Evita Perón lookalike. It was chosen as one of ten must-read thrillers by The Christian Science Monitor. She has has also written Invisible Country and City of Silver. Writing as Patricia King, she is the author of the short story “Baggage Claim,” in the anthology Queens Noir. Her five books on business subjects include Never Work for a Jerk, which was featured on the Oprah Winfrey show. She blogs at Murder in Everywhere. A world traveler, Annamaria takes a keen interest in the history of the places she visits. She lives in New York City and is President of the New York Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

ANNAMARIA ALFIERI:
FOOD OF THE GODS

My subject today is inspired by a comment on last Monday’s post by our reader—Kathy D. She and I share a love for “the sacred food.” For many years now, I have called chocolate my drug of choice. When asked to take sides in discussions of religion, I claim to worship IxCacao, the Mayan goddess of chocolate. With the holidays coming and the opportunities for chocolate consumption—not to say worship—increasing, it seems the right time to take up this subject. The beginnings of the human race’s relationship with chocolate are shrouded in prerecorded history. There is evidence that our love affair with it began in Mesoamerica as early as 1900 B.C. Mayan legend offers a prayer to the goddess: “O IxCacao, see my tears and come to my aid.” Now that I know it, I am going to repeat it in times of need. And then eat some of her favorite food as part of my rite. Why not? As we say in New York, it couldn’t hurt.
The beginnings of the human race’s relationship with chocolate are shrouded in prerecorded history. There is evidence that our love affair with it began in Mesoamerica as early as 1900 B.C. Mayan legend offers a prayer to the goddess: “O IxCacao, see my tears and come to my aid.” Now that I know it, I am going to repeat it in times of need. And then eat some of her favorite food as part of my rite. Why not? As we say in New York, it couldn’t hurt.

The ancients in Central America believed that chocolate has mystical and healing powers. They drank it. An Aztec myth says Questzalcoatl, their god of agriculture, brought them the cocoa tree from Paradise to give them wisdom and power. They called it “bitter water” and evidently were also the first to combine it with honey and vanilla. Both the Maya and the Aztecs used the drink as part of religious ceremonies. The Maya prescribed chocolate for fevers, coughs, and discomfort during pregnancy.

The cacao bean grows on a tree that started out, in prehistoric times, growing wild in the forests, not only of Central America but also in South America, Africa, and parts of Asia. Its botanical name, Theobroma cacao means “food of the gods.”


Chocolate is big business now, but so it also was in Mayan times. Their cosmology included a god—Ychaua—who was the patron of the cocoa merchants. The Aztecs used two precious forms of currency: gold and cocoa beans. Columbus brought the first beans to Europe, but he experienced them only as a medium of exchange. Funny money! No Europeans knew what to do with them until Moctezuma gave the sacred drink to Cortes. The explorer brought back to Spain everything needed to prepare the drink, but the monks there thought the substance too powerful for the common person. They kept it a secret in their monasteries and served it only to the nobility.


It took an Italian, Antonio Carletti, in the early 1600’s, to bring the drink to the common folk. A century later, chocolate houses were the rage all over Europe, but then in 17th century England and 18th Century France, the places were condemned as hotbeds of sedition and the drink called a dangerous drug.

We owe its ubiquitous availability today to a Dutch chemist named Johannes Van Houten, who figured out how to use a hydraulic press to make cocoa powder, and to a Brit named John Cadbury who emulsified the powder into the first chocolate bars. I love those guys! Chocolate is now world wide. These days, it is also grown outside Central America. In fact, almost half of the current supply comes from Africa, from the Cote D’Ivoire.

I commune with the goddess by taking my chocolate in almost any form available, but I prefer creamy bittersweet bars.  I try to never run out, because I never know when the need for a “fix” might hit me.  Chocolate satisfaction can come in many forms.  For a short time, I found on sale a Haagen Dazs flavor called Mayan Chocolate, bitter-sweet with cinnamon.  I loved it.  But I never find it anymore.  I guess there were not enough of my coreligionists in the neighborhood to make it worth the while of nearby stores to stock it.  The chocolate truffles from our local Li-Lac Chocolates are a huge favorite.  On a recent trip to Philadelphia, my daughter and her husband brought me a box of chocolate figs—sweet dried figs stuffed with truffle cream and coated with dark, dark chocolate.  Taken in very small doses, they lifted my spirits for weeks!  I wonder if they are sold by mail order.  Having described them, I want some NOW!