Friday, January 31, 2014

BRANDY ALEXANDER PIE: National Brandy Alexander Day

January 31 is National Brandy Alexander Day. A Brandy Alexander is a sweet, brandy-based cocktail that became very popular in the early 20th century. It was supposedly created for the wedding of Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood and Viscount Lascelles, in London, in 1922.  The Brandy Alexander is based on an earlier, gin-based cocktail called simply an “Alexander”.

From the Brandyalexander website comes the history that Movie Stars have consumed Brandy Alexanders on sets of movies and TV shows and during celebratory events throughout  the last century.  Among the famous drink calls are by Jack Lemon in Days of Wine and Roses. In one scene Lee Remick receives a Brandy Alexander and is impressed with the chocolate flavor, yet smooth taste of the drink. In the pilot of the Mary Tyler Moore show, Mary asks for a Brandy Alexander when asked if she would like a drink at her job interview, and Peggy on a blind date in an episode of Mad Men, Indian Summer orders a Brandy Alexander

So for this exciting alcoholic Food Holiday today, break out the Brandy and Creme de Cacao

Check out my 2011 post for a recipe for the Brandy Alexander and for Brandy Alexander Brownies.

Brandy Alexander Pie
from the New York Times Magazine, January 18, 1970

Ingredients
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup cognac
1/4 cup creme de cacao
2 cups heavy cream, whipped
I substitute a 10 inch chocolate wafer crust for the graham cracker crust in the original recipe
Chocolate curls for garnish

Directions
1. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in saucepan. Add 1/3 cup of sugar, salt and egg yolks. Stir to blend.
2. Heat over low heat while stirring until gelatin dissolves and mixture thickens. Do not boil.
3. Remove from heat, and stir in cognac and creme de cacao. Chill until mixture starts to mound slightly.
4. Beat egg whites until stiff. Gradually beat in remaining sugar and fold into thickened mixture. Fold in 1 cup of whipped cream. Turn into crust. Chill several hours or over night.
5. Garnish with remaining cream and chocolate curls.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

CROISSANT DARK CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING

Today is National Croissant Day, and you know I'm having croissants! Our weather is lovely today--it's raining, and we need the rain, so I'll be able to pop down to my favorite Berkeley bakery for some buttery croissants. I also have some Trader Joe's Chocolate Croissants on hand. They're technically pain au chocolate, but who cares? TJ's croissants are simple to make and delicious to eat! Keep them in the freezer, but take them out the night before so they can rise. You'll love them! Exactly like the more expensive Williams Sonoma Croissant at a drastically reduced cost. I've added some other links to Croissant posts.

Trader Joe's Chocolate Croissants review

Julia Child's Croissant Episode from The French Chef

Make Your Own Chocolate Croissants

And, in case you have some extra croissants around (I never do.. I eat them all), here's a recipe adapted from RealSimple for Croissant and Chocolate Bread Pudding. Heavenly!

Croissant and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding
from RealSimple, January 2009

Ingredients
Sweet Butter (for the baking dish)
6 large egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
6 croissants, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 pound)
4 ounces dark chocolate (65-85 % cacoa/fair trade), cut into chunks

Directions
Heat oven to 375° F.
Butter 8-inch square or other shallow 2-quart baking dish.
In large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, salt, & nutmeg. Add croissants and chocolate and mix to combine.
Transfer mixture to tprepared baking dish and bake until set and knife inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

EAT YOUR VEGGIES: Spinach Carrot Brownies

How to get the kids to eat their veggies? Spinach Carrot Brownies! I've made Beet Brownies, and that makes sense because beets are full of sugar, but recently I came across a recipe for Spinach Brownies in Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious cookbook. I just had to try these. I don't think you really taste the spinach or the carrots, specifically, but there definitely is 'another' taste in these. Of course you won't be like Popeye and get your spinach from a can! I changed a few ingredients in the original recipe, because I like real butter, white sugar and whole eggs. These brownies are full of anti-oxidants!

Hint: These Brownies taste better when they're eaten at room temperature! Let me know what you think. Eat Your Veggies!



SPINACH CARROT BROWNIES
Adapted from Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious Brownies

Ingredients
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup sweet butter, softened
3 ounces dark chocolate, melted
1/2 cup carrot puree (steam and puree in food processor)
1 cup steamed and pureed spinach
2 tsp Madegascar vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 8 x 8 baking pan with cooking spray.
Melt chocolate in double boiler or saucepan over another saucepan with simmering water.
In large bowl, combine melted chocolate, vegetable purees, sugar, cocoa powder, butter, and vanilla, and whisk until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes.
Whisk in egg.
Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt with wooden spoon.
Pour the batter into pan and bake 35 to 40 minutes.
Cool completely in pan before cutting into bars.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

DARK CHOCOLATE POMEGRANATE GINGER BARK

Here's an easy dessert you can make quickly (10 minutes plus chilling) if you need a dessert in a hurry. I always have chocolate on hand, of course, and pomegranate seeds. I use the seeds in salad every day. Great source of anti-oxidants. Crystallized ginger is also easy to keep. So think of this Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Ginger Bark as a 'healthy' dessert! This would make a great Valentine's Day dessert or take it to the office to share with friends!

DARK CHOCOLATE POMEGRANATE GINGER BARK

Ingredients
6 ounces dark chocolate (65-70% cacao), chopped
2 Tbsp crystallized ginger
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1 tsp sea salt

Directions
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler or saucepan over saucepan of simmering water.
Remove saucepan with melted chocolate from stove and stir in crystallized ginger and half of pomegranate seeds.
Line baking sheet with parchment. Pour melted chocolate mixture onto sheet.Using a spatula smooth chocolate into even layer about 1/4 inch thick.
Sprinkle with remaining pomegranate seeds and sea salt.
Chill 20-30 minutes (until firm).
Break into pieces and store in airtight container, separating layers with waxed paper.
Serve same day, if possible.

Monday, January 27, 2014

HERSHEY BAR CHOCOLATE CAKE

Today is National Chocolate Cake Day! I may have celebrated a day early with the posting for National Pistachio Day with a Chocolate Pistachio Bundt Cake! I love chocolate cake.. in any form or variation! But it's no secret that this cake--the ultimate chocolate cake known as the Hershey Bar Chocolate Cake is a favorite and perfect for National Chocolate Cake Day!

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

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

HERSHEY BAR CHOCOLATE CAKE

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

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

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Chocolate Pistachio Bundt Cake: National Pistachio Day

Today is National Pistachio Day. I love pistachios--the color, the textire, the taste! Here's a simple recipe for Chocolate Pistachio Bundt Cake. I like the two-tone quality of this cake, and the extra chopped pistachios and chocolate chunks on top really make it special!

CHOCOLATE PISTACHIO BUNDT CAKE

Ingredients
Vegetable oil, spray for misting pan
Flour, for dusting the pan

1/2 cup roughly chopped pistachios
1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped into chip size (or use dark chocolate chips)

1 package yellow or white cake mix (Duncan Hines)
2 packages pistachio pudding mix (don't prepare it)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
5 large eggs
1/3 cup chocolate syrup
1/3 cup cocoa powder

Directions 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly mist 12-cup Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray and then dust with flour. Shake out excess flour.
Sprinkle chopped pistachios and chocolate chunks evenly in bottom of pan. Set pan aside.
In large bowl, blend together cake mix, pudding mixes, milk, water, oil and eggs in large mixing bowl. Mix with electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop machine and scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 more minutes. Batter should look thick and smooth.
Divide batter evenly into two bowls. To one of bowls, add chocolate syrup and cocoa and mix well. 
Pour "white" batter into prepared pan. Pour chocolate batter on top.
Swirl chocolate batter into 'white' batter using dinner knife.
Place pan in oven.
Bake cake until golden brown -- 50-55 minutes (finger or toothpick test)
Remove pan from oven and place on wire rack to cool for 20 minute.
Run long, sharp knife around edge of the cake and invert onto rack to cool completely.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

IRISH COFFEE TRUFFLES: National Irish Coffee Day

Today is National Irish Coffee Day, and it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood! I'm going to try to stop by the Buena Vista Cafe for a glass of Irish Coffee. Irish Coffee was invented at the Buena Vista Cafe, right here in San Francisco.

On my first day in California I was lucky to hitch a ride with a visiting dignitary. The day's tour of San Francisco included the hills of San Francisco, Sonoma County, the Renaissance Fair, Sausalito, Fisherman's Wharf, the Palace of Fine Arts, Cliff House, the Golden Gate Bridge and a stop at the Buena Vista Cafe for an Irish Coffee. I saw more of the San Francisco Bay Area on that one day than I did over the next ten years.

Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista is a very San Francisco drink invented in 1952 at The Buena Vista Cafe. The recipe was a collaborative effort between Jack Koeppler, the Buena Vista’s owner, and Stanton Delaplane, a well-known international travel writer and Chronicle columnist. Here's the original recipe. Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista is still made the same way.


The official story of Irish Coffee tells of the perseverance and repeated attempts of Koeppler & Delaplane and even a trip to Shannon Airport, where a forerunner of Koeppler’s vision was served. The whipped cream posed a problem, but the input of a prominent dairy farmer turned Mayor of San Francisco, solved the problem: Age the cream for 48 hours and froth it to a precise consistency so it would float on top of the hot coffee, to Koeppler’s specifications.

So if you're in San Francisco today, it's a big day at the Buena Vista. Stop by and raise a glass!


Since I love alcohol infused truffles, I decided to post a recipe for Irish Coffee Truffles. You'll love this easy recipe from Martha Stewart Weddings. I use darker chocolate than in the origial recipe, but otherwise, it's just about the same. I also often roll the truffles in ground chocolate espresso beans! This recipe is pretty much no fail, and that's what I like!

IRISH COFFEE TRUFFLES

Ingredients
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
1 pound plus 14 ounces bittersweet chocolate, (65-72%), finely chopped
1/2 cup sweet butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon packed dark-brown sugar
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup Irish whiskey
2 tablespoons coffee extract
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder, for rolling  (or ground chocolate covered espresso beans!)

Directions
1. Coat 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray; line with plastic wrap, allowing a 2-inch overhang; set aside.
2. Put chocolate and butter into medium heatproof bowl set over pan of simmering water; stir until chocolate and butter have melted. Remove from heat.
3. In separate saucepan, bring cream, corn syrup, and brown sugar to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Immediately pour over chocolate mixture; whisk until smooth.
4. Whisk in yolks, whiskey, coffee extract, and salt.
5. Pour into prepared pan.
6. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly on surface to prevent a skin from forming.
7. Refrigerate until firm enough to roll into balls, about 4 hours (or more).
8. Using a1-inch ice cream scoop or medium melon baller, scoop chocolate into balls, immersing scoop completely, then rotating it; transfer to rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
Coeur d'Alene Irish Coffee Truffles
9. Put cocoa powder into shallow dish. Remove truffles from refrigerator. Roll each ball in your palms until completely smooth, then roll in cocoa powder (or crushed chocolate covered espresso beans) to coat (if truffles become too soft to roll, return to refrigerator until firm); transfer to rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (up to 3 days).

No time or ingredients to make your own? You can buy Irish Coffee Truffles. I'm very fond of the Coeur d'Alene Irish Coffee Truffle. Maybe easier to find if you have to celebrate today would be the Lindt Irish Coffee Bar. They're both great and use real Irish whisky.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles: National Peanut Butter Day!

January 24 is National Peanut Butter Day. Chocolate and Peanut Butter: What could be better? I'm also paying homage today to Mr. Peanut. I grew up with Planter's Peanuts. Mr. Peanut, shaking hands with everyone, would walk the boardwalk in Atlantic City! What a treat. I also loved those hot salty peanuts, roasted right onsite. The original company was called Planters Nut and Chocolate Company, so what's not to love? Planters did make peanut butter, but I'm not sure for how long.

I've posted lots of recipes for Chocolate and Peanut Butter, but here's an easy Peanut Butter Truffle recipe to try!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles
This is a simple recipe for a peanut butter ganache truffle rolled in chopped peanuts adapted from a recipe in  CountryLiving.

8 ounces 75-85% dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup smooth Organic peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup finely chopped peanuts

Directions
1. Place bittersweet chocolate, chopped, in medium heat-safe bowl. Set aside.
2. In medium saucepan over low heat, cook heavy cream until it just begins to boil; then immediately pour over chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is thick and smooth. Stir in smooth peanut butter, vanilla extract, and salt. Pour into shallow baking pan and refrigerate until set, 4 to 6 hours.
3. Spoon chocolate–peanut butter mixture, by tablespoon, into your hand and roll into balls. Place on parchment-lined baking pan and return to refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes.
4. Place finely chopped peanuts in shallow dish. Roll truffles in peanuts,  shaping each ball as you work. Keep refrigerated until serving.

What's your favorite Peanut Butter and Chocolate recipe?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE with CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUST

January 23 is National Pie Day.. but it's also National Rhubarb Pie Day. I love Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (actually celebrated on June 9), but I usually make it in the summer. However, here in Northern California, we grow strawberries and rhubarb all year round -- Strawberry Fields Forever! Of course I make this pie with my Chocolate Cookie Crust.

A little info on rhubarb: In culinary use, fresh raw petioles (leaf stalks) are crisp (similar to celery) with a strong, tart taste. Most commonly, the plant's leaf stalks are cooked with sugar and used in pies and other desserts. Rhubarb is usually considered a vegetable. In the United States, however, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit, it counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties. And, a warning: Do not eat or use the leaves.

The following recipe is easy and great. Most people do a two crust pie.. the top crust being a lattice; however, I don't think that works with a chocolate crust.  As always, it's your choice! Enjoy and celebrate the day!

STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE WITH CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUST

Chocolate Cookie Crust
Ingredients 
2 cups chocolate wafers
6 Tbsp sweet butter (or salted if you're inclined), melted

Directions 
Melt butter. Put chocolate wafers in plastic bag and crush with spoon or rolling pin. Should be pea-size. Combine melted butter and ground chocolate wafers. Press ingredients into 9 inch buttered pie pan--bottom and up the sides. Bake for 10 minutes-325. Let cool.  

Filling
2 cups rhubarb stalks, chopped into cubes (or thinly sliced
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp orange zest
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup flour
3 cups strawberries, cleaned, hulled, quartered  (or thinly sliced)

Directions
Combine rhubarb, sugar, orange zest, nutmeg, cinnamon, flour, and strawberries in a bowl and toss well. Spread into prepared crust and bake for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees or until rhubarb is tender and filling is bubbly.

Cartoon of the Day: Cookie


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Midwinter Carnival Marble Cake: Retro Ad & Recipe

I'm such a fan of these Retro Ads & Recipes. This one is form Betty Crocker with a nod to Gold Medal Flour (General Mills). Love this Midwinter Carnival Marble Cake" made by Betty Crocker using her "Double-Quick new method!"

"Betty Crocker celebrates her Silver Anniversary and the return of Gold Medal Flour with this country-wide Midwinter Carnival"



Monday, January 20, 2014

Chocolate Almond Buttercrunch

Today is National Buttercrunch Day. I take that to mean Chocolate Almond Buttercrunch Toffee. According to the Nibble, American-Style Toffee is Buttercrunch. It's also called Almond Buttercrunch. You may be familiar with Almond Roca which was launched in 1923 by Brown & Hale. Many chocolatiers and other producers of buttercrunch call their products toffee or almond toffee or English toffee. So no wonder you may be confused.

Food & Wine has the easiest recipe by Grace Parisi, and one you'll want to make it. It does involve a candy thermometer, but it's still easy and worth it!

No time to cook? Grab a piece of Toffee from one of your favorite chocolatiers. I love Toffee Talk Almond Toffee.

CHOCOLATE ALMOND BUTTERCRUNCH

Ingredients
2 sticks sweet butter 
1 1/2 cups sugar  
2 Tbsp water 
1 cup salted roasted almonds—3/4 cup coarsely chopped, 1/4 cup finely chopped  
1 Tbsp Madagascar vanilla extract 
1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt, crumbled  
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (Of course use the very best chocolate!)

Directions
Line 8-by-11-inch baking pan with foil. Spray foil with vegetable oil.

In heavy saucepan, melt butter. Stir in sugar and water and bring to boil. Wash down side of the pan with moistened pastry brush. Cook over moderate heat, stirring with wooden spoon, until deeply golden caramel forms and temperature reaches 300° on candy thermometer, 15 minutes; if sugar and butter separate, stir vigorously to blend. Remove from heat and add the coarsely chopped almonds, vanilla and salt. Scrape toffee into prepared pan; let cool for 10 minutes. 

Sprinkle half of chocolate over the toffee and let stand until melted. Spread chocolate over toffee and sprinkle with half of finely chopped almonds. Freeze toffee for 10 minutes.  

Invert toffee onto foil-lined baking sheet and peel off foil backing. In microwave safe bowl, melt remaining chocolate. Spread melted chocolate over top of toffee and sprinkle with remaining finely chopped almonds. Let toffee cool, then break into shards. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

CHOCOLATE COVERED POPCORN

Today is National Popcorn Day. Add Chocolate! Chocolate Covered Popcorn is so easy to make. You can use dark or white chocolate--or both. Just drizzle some great melted chocolate over your air-popped Popcorn. Drizzle sparingly.  Want to add an extra pop? Drizzle with melted caramel sauce, too!

CHOCOLATE COVERED POPCORN

1. Make a bag of popcorn (buttered or plain) and pop it according to the directions. (airpopping!)

2. Put popped popcorn into large bowl or flat baking pan (for more even distribution).

3. Melt dark or white chocolate or both (in separate bowls) in top of double boiler (or in microwave).

4. Drizzle chocolate on popcorn.

You can always add more chocolate, but you can't remove it, so use sparingly. 

!! HAPPY POPCORN DAY !!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

FROZEN CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE

Today I welcome back Emily Stashower, a friend who shares my love of gardening, photography and chocolate! Emily is an amateur nature enthusiast, blogger and mother of twins. After a career in healthcare and numerous community organizations, her current endeavor, her blog www.rootsinreality.com, was started on a lark to combine a love of gardening, writing, photography, nature and an inability to meet deadlines. The blog notes that "sometimes an empty nest is just a nest without a bird. Other times, it's a middle aged suburban woman rediscovering interests and cultivating passions."

Emily Stashower:

This chocolate pecan pie dates back to when I was young and just married (1985). I loved having one or two in the freezer for the friends who stopped by so we could easily make an "on the spot" dinner.  It keeps for months.

FROZEN CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE

Crust:
2 Cups finely chopped pecans - toasted
5 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon firmly packed brown sugar
5 Tablespoons butter chilled, cut into small pieces 
2 teaspoons dark rum (or any other preferred liquor)

Make crust by blending all crust ingredients until mixture holds together. Press into the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie plate - freeze one hour before filling

Filling:
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
4 eggs at room temperature
1 Tablespoon dark rum
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 & 1/2 Cups whipping cream
Shaved chocolate for top

Make filling by melting the chocolate with coffee over double boiler. Remove from heat and whisk in eggs, rum and vanilla until smooth. Cool 5 minutes. Whip 1 Cup of the cream until stiff. Gently fold into chocolate mixture, blending completely. Pour into the crust and freeze.

About an hour before serving transfer the pie from freezer to refrigerator. Whip remaining 1/2 Cup cream and dollop over pie. Sprinkle with shave chocolate.

Incredibly easy, delicious pecan pie.

Friday, January 17, 2014

HOT BUTTERED RUM COCOA

Today is National Hot Buttered Rum Day. Where I live we're experiencing some really strange dry winter weather with the temperature going upwards to 78 today, but if you're in a normally cold climate, this is the perfect drink to celebrate the day!

The recipe for Hot Buttered Rum Cocoa is from the Wisconsin Cheese Board. So many Food associations have great recipes.

If you don't feel like making Hot Buttered Rum Cocoa, you can always celebrate this food holiday with Seattle Chocolates Hot Buttered Rum Milk Chocolate Truffle Bar. Fabulous! This bar is buttery, smooth with a light hint of rum and toffee crunch in milk chocolate.

Hot Buttered Rum Cocoa

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
4 cups milk

Combine butter, brown sugar and seasonings in small bowl, mixing until well-blended. Drop six spoonfuls onto plastic wrap-lined plate; chill while preparing beverage, then form into balls.
Combine rum, sugar and cocoa in 2 quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils, stirring constantly. Simmer 1 minute; add milk. Cook until heated through; do not boil.
Pour into six coffee cups; place one butter ball in each cup.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Buttermilk Mexican Chocolate Chile Bundt Cake

Today is National Hot and Spicy Day! Add chocolate and chiles and you've got a celebration! I adapted this recipe for Buttermilk Mexican Chocolate Chile Bundt Cake from Southern Living. I've added ground chiles and used Taza Mexican Chocolate with Chiles for a little more kick. I also like the Vosges Red Fire Exotic Chocolate Bar or the Chuao Firecracker Bar. I usually bake this pound cake in a bundt pan. This is quick and easy and delicious.

Buttermilk Mexican Chocolate Chile Bundt Cake

Ingredients
8 oz chopped dark (65-75% cacao) organic fair-trade chocolate (I use either Taza Chipotle Chili Chocolate Mexicano or Guajillo Chili Chocolate Mexicano, but you can use any dark chocolate or the two chocolate bars I mention above)
1 cup sweet butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup chocolate syrup
2 tsp Mexican vanilla
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ancho chiles
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk 
Optional: Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions
1. Melt chocolate in saucepan over saucepan of simmering water.
2. Beat butter at medium speed with electric mixer 2 minutes or until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating 5 to 7 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears after each addition. Stir in melted chocolate, chocolate syrup, and vanilla until smooth.
3. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients; add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Pour batter into a greased and floured 12-cup Bundt pan.
4. Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and let cool for another hour. Dust with powdered sugar (optional)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

BABY RUTH COOKIES: Retro Ad & Recipe

Love this 1942 War Time Ad and Recipe for Baby Ruth Cookies! This simple recipe will work with other candy bars, too, but why not try it with the original!

Baby Ruth: The Curtiss Candy Company claimed that the Baby Ruth candy bar was named after President Grover Cleveland's daughter, Ruth Cleveland. However,  Ruth Cleveland died 16 years before the introduction of the Baby Ruth bar.

The company had originally negotiated a failed endorsement deal with baseball player Babe Ruth. People have suggested that secretly naming the candy bar after Ruth was a way to tie him to their product without paying any royalties. Talk about shrewd advertising, company founder Otto Schnering chartered a plane in 1923 to drop thousands of Baby Ruth bars over the city of Pittsburgh -- each with its own mini parachute. His marketing plan must have worked -- Baby Ruth went on to become a top brand. Today, the Baby Ruth bar is owned by Nestlé.

BABY RUTH COOKIES

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, or other shortening
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1-1/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Baby Ruth candy bars, cut in small pieces

Directions
Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg. Stir in other ingredients. Chill and drop by half teaspoonful on greased cookie sheet. Bake in a moderately hot oven (375˚F) for 10-12 minutes. Makes 75 cookies.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Five Minute Dark Chocolate Coffee Fudge

This Five Minute Dark Chocolate Coffee Fudge is ridiculously easy to make.

This Fudge take 5 minutes to make and includes only three ingredients that are probably already in your pantry.  Coffee really brings out the chocolate in this old fashioned silky smooth fudge. Soooo rich. You can always substitute different chocolate for different flavor. Gluten-free, too!

FIVE MINUTE DARK CHOCOLATE COFFEE FUDGE

Ingredients
1-14-oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 Tbsp espresso granules (or instant coffee)
1/2 Tbsp water
12 ounces dark chocolate (65-70% cacao), chopped

Directions
1. Heat condensed milk in saucepan over medium heat.
2. Dissolve espresso granules in water. Stir into condensed milk.
3. Add chopped dark chocolate, lower heat to simmer (be careful not to burn). Stir just until until melted and smooth.
4. Pour into oiled 8x8 inch pan. Chill in fridge until set (about 2 hours).
5. Cut into squares.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

SACRAMENTO CHOCOLATE SALON: January 25

The premium and artisan chocolate show for the Sacramento Area takes place at the First Annual Sacramento CHOCOLATE SALON. Discover, taste and savor the finest in artisan, gourmet and premium chocolates & confections. Saturday, January 25, 11 a.m - 5 p.m.  Chocolate aficionados, fanatics, lovers and addicts can taste & experience the finest in artisan, gourmet & premium chocolate in one of California's most central regions.

The Sacramento CHOCOLATE SALON participants include over 20 chocolatiers, confectioners, wineries and other culinary artisans, such as Amano Artisan Chocolate, Amella Caramels, Oscura Chocolate, Feve artisan chocolatier, The Tea Room Chocolate Company, Quail Point Chocolate, 24K Chocolate Cafe at Ancient Future, Marich Confectionery, Fera'wyn's Artisan Chocolates, CocoTutti, About a Bite Bakery, Rosa d'Oro Vineyards, and more.

Salon highlights include chocolate tasting, chef & author talks, wine tasting and ongoing interviews by TasteTV's Chocolate Television program. (Salon Entry includes all chocolate & confection tastings, demos, etc.).

Advance Tickets Required.

Limited Availability. Limited TICKETS AT THE DOOR.

The Citizen Hotel, 926 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95819.

Buy Tickets HERE.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

CHOCOLATE MILK and CHOCOLATE MILK COCKTAIL RECIPES

Today is National Milk Day. Make it Chocolate Milk! 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. As always, remember it's the quality of the chocolate  that will make a big difference. That goes for the milk, too: 2%, whole, skim, soy, almond milk, etc.

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

***
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

A few years ago, I paid homage to one of my favorite TV sitcoms, Modern Family. In the premier episode 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 Gloria 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 milk in bottom, pour liqueur on top and add dash of amaretto. Do not mix.
Serve in tumbler. 

 

Friday, January 10, 2014

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE

Today is Bittersweet Chocolate Day, not to be confused with Bittersweet Chocolate Almond Day on November 7.

Since I eat and review chocolate, the word bittersweet isn't really part of my lexicon. I certainly have purchased chocolate that is labeled bittersweet, but usually I buy chocolate based on its origins, fair-trade and amount of cacao. Bittersweet is just too vague a term for me.

According to Wikipedia, Bittersweet chocolate is chocolate liquor (unsweetened chocolate not liqueur) to which some sugar (typically a third), more cocoa butter, vanilla and sometimes lecithin has been added. It has less sugar and more liquor than semisweet chocolate, but the two are interchangeable in baking. Bittersweet and semisweet chocolates are sometimes referred to as 'couverture' (chocolate that contains at least 32 percent cocoa butter); many brands (the ones I like) print on the package the percentage of cocoa (as chocolate liquor and added cocoa butter) contained. The rule is that the higher the percentage of cocoa, the less sweet the chocolate will be. The American FDA classifies chocolate as either "bittersweet" or "semisweet" that contain at least 35% cacao (either cacao solids or butter from the cacao beans).

So using this definition, almost any of my recipes will work since I use mostly very dark chocolate.

Here's a recipe for Bittersweet Chocolate Bundt Cake adapted from Nestle Toll House's Chocolate Pound Cake recipe. It's easy and delicious. If you use a Nestle Toll House Unsweetened Chocolate Baking Bar be sure and add more sugar to the recipe.

I don't always use the glaze. Sometimes I sprinkle this cake with powdered sugar, as in the photo. This cake goes well with ice cream or whipped cream, too!

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 cups water
2 Tbsp Instant Coffee Granules (something you'll only use for this)*
8 ounces dark chocolate (75%-90%), chopped, divided (save 2 oz for glaze if you're making one)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup sweet butter, softened
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
3 large eggs

CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
3 Tbsp sweet butter
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract

FOR CAKE:
1. PREHEAT oven to 325 degrees F. Grease 10-inch Bundt pan.
2. COMBINE flour, baking soda and baking powder in small bowl. Bring water and coffee granules to a boil in small saucepan; remove from heat. Add 6 ounces chocolate; stir until smooth.
3. BEAT sugar, butter and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs; beat on high speed for 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture alternately with chocolate mixture. Pour into prepared Bundt pan.
4. BAKE for 50 to 60 minutes or until long wooden pick inserted in cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 30 minutes. Invert onto wire rack to cool completely. Place on plate.
Optional: Drizzle with Chocolate Glaze

** Sometimes I pour the glaze over the bundt cake while it's still a bit warm. The cake absorbs the glaze, and it's yummy!

FOR CHOCOLATE GLAZE: Melt remaining 2 ounces of chocolate with butter in small, saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar alternately with water. Stir in vanilla extract. Drizzle over cake.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Chocolate Chunk Apricot Cookies: National Apricot Day

Today is National Apricot Day! I love Apricots, but this isn't the season for fresh ones. No problem, dried apricots are wonderful and  can be used in lots of way. You can just dip them in dark chocolate or you can dip them in dark chocolate and roll them in pistachios. You can chop them up and add them to a nice chocolate nut loaf. So many choices.

Here's an easy recipe for Chocolate Chunk Apricot Cookies. I use 70% dark chocolate, but use what you have available or what you like. You can always add some dried cherries to the mix! This is a very versatile recipe.

CHOCOLATE CHUNK APRICOT COOKIES

Ingredients
1/2 cup sweet butter, room temperature (refer to cookie making tips)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped into quarters or 1/2" pieces
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped into biggish chunks (1/2")

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°.
Cream butter & brown sugar in medium-size mixing bowl until blended.
Beat in egg and vanilla.
Add flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring mixture into smooth dough.
Fold in apricots, nuts and chopped dark chocolate, making sure to distribute evenly.
Drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 10 minutes, until edges are lightly browned.
Cool cookies on sheet for 2 minutes before transferring with spatula to wire racks to cool.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

English Toffee Hot Chocolate: 2 Recipes

Tomorrow is English Toffee Day, and I'm quite the toffee-holic. I've even judged Toffee at the San Francisco Chocolate Salons. Toffee Talk is one of my favorite toffees--they use different nuts in their toffees and the very best chocolate. Read this post by Toffee Talk.

So in honor of the day.. .and the weather, here are two recipes for a novel way of using English Toffee--English Toffee Hot Chocolate.  

Although I sometimes make my own Toffee, I prefer using Toffee Talk Crumble Mumble in these recipes! It comes in a jar and is perfect. I leave the bigger pieces of Toffee in my desk to nibble on at my leisure.

1. English Toffee Hot Chocolate

Ingredients
4 cups milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
8 ounces dark chocolate (70% cacao), chopped
1 tsp Madegascar vanilla extract
1/4 cup English toffee, crushed (I use Toffee Talk Crumble Mumble)
Whipped cream
Unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions
Combine milk, water, and sugar in saucepan and sttir over medium heat until just boiling.
Remove from heat, and stir in chocolate and vanilla.
Beat with whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is frothy.
Pour hot chocolate into 2 big mugs.
Top with whipped cream and crushed English toffee. Sprinkle with cocoa powder.


2. English Toffee Hot Chocolate

Ingredients 
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
6 ounces dark chocolate (70% cacao), chopped
2 ounces butterscotch chips
Whipped cream
1/4 cup English Toffee, crushed (or Toffee Talk Crumble Mumble)

Directions
Heat milk, water, sugar to boil.
Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate and butterscotch chips until they combine with milk.
Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream and crushed toffee.

TOFFEE TALK CRUMBLE MUMBLE. You can order it directly from their website!

http://cjstoffeetalk.com/toffee-talk-shop/

 Disclaimer: I have not been influenced in any way by the makers of Toffee Talk. I just love it..

Monday, January 6, 2014

Chocolate Shorbread Fingers: National Shortbread Day

Who doesn't like butter? One thing about shortbread is that it contains a lot of butter! A few years ago on National Shortbread Day I posted Michael Recchiuti's recipe for Chocolate Shortbread Cookies. They're absolutely delicious and worth the time and effort. This year for National Shortbread Day, I'm more about easy and quick, so here's my favorite recipe for Chocolate Shortbread. The recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. You can also make cookies using this recipe, but that's for another day. I use sweet butter in this recipe, but then I use sweet butter in just about every recipe!

CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD FINGERS

Ingredients
1-1/2 cups plus two Tbsp all-purpose flour
4-1/2 Tbsp Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 cups sweet butter, softened  (this is really key.. butter should be room temperature)
1 cup superfine sugar (ok, I have this on hand, but if you don't, put granulated sugar in the blender. Be sure and measure again)
Granulated sugar (for sprinkling)

Directions
Preheat oven to 325F. 
1. Butter 12 by 8 inch pan. Line with parchment paper.
2. In bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda until combined
3. Place butter and superfine sugar in mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy – three to four minutes (use the paddle attachment). Scrape down sides of bowl and add flour mixture. Beat on medium until just combined.
4. Spread dough in pan, using spatula or your fingers to even out the surface. Freeze dough until firm – approximately 15 minutes. Prick dough all over with tines of a fork, and place in oven. Bake 20 (to 30) minutes. Dough should be just firm to the touch.
5. Place pan on wire rack to cool. While still hot, cut dough into strips, and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Dough should cool completely in pan. 

For a twist: Sprinkle sea salt on top instead of sugar--or a mixture of both.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

National Chocolate Whipped Cream Day! 2 recipes

Photo: Martha Stewart
Another day, another food holiday. Today is National Whipped Cream Day. I've posted lots of recipes that call for whipped cream including chocolate whipped cream for National Cream Puff Day. So today, I wanted to post two more recipes for Chocolate Whipped Cream.

Chocolate Whip Cream is terrific to add to desserts. It's easy to make and delicious. You can use it as an icing or filling (tarts, pies, etc). You can use it with just about anything you would use regular whipped cream for, including Strawberry Short Cake!

The first recipe for Chocolate Whipped Cream is from Martha Stewart.   Martha uses chocolate whipped cream for the filling of chocolate sandwich cookies. Fabulous! This first recipe uses Milk Chocolate. You can always switch and use dark chocolate. I love these Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Chocolate Whipped Cream, and you can use any chocolate cookie recipe!

Before you make either of the following two recipes, check them both out. The second Chocolate Whipped Cream Recipe uses a lot more chocolate, and it's dark chocolate. Which you choose depends on what you like and what you need!

1. CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM (from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients
4 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups heavy cream
3 Tbsp sugar

Directions
1. Place chocolate in medium bowl; set aside.
2. Heat sugar and 1 cup cream in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until sugar has dissolved.
3. Pour cream mixture over chocolate; stir until chocolate has melted. Let cool.
4. Transfer chocolate mixture to electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Add remaining cup heavy cream and beat on medium speed until thick and fluffy.

How easy is that?

2. CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM (from Sherry Yard)

I really love this recipe from Sherry Yard for Chocolate Whipped Cream. It's definitely more of a rich whipped ganache, but then isn't that what it's all about? Sherry Yard was the executive pastry chef at Wolfgang Puck's Spago in Beverly Hills and shared this recipe on Cookin' with Good Morning America (December 25, 2003). It's also in in her book Secrets of Baking: Simple Techniques for Sophisticated Desserts.

Ingredients
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp sugar

Directions
1. Using serrated knife, finely chop the chocolate into 1/4 inch pieces and place in medium heatproof bowl.
2. Bring cream and sugar to boil in small saucepan over medium heat. Immediately pour hot cream over chopped chocolate. Tap bowl on counter to settle  chocolate into cream, then let sit for 1 minute.
Using rubber spatula, slowly stir in circular motion, starting from center of bowl and working out to sides. Stir until all chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes.
3. Pour ganache into medium container, cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. It should be consistency of peanut butter.
4. Once ganache has chilled, transfer to large bowl. Using balloon whisk, whip ganache by hand until it just reaches soft peaks, about 2 minutes. Be sure to lift whisk out of cream with each pass to bring in as much air as possible. Do not overwhip. Don't worry if cream doesn't seem firm enough. It will have consistency of mustard but will solidify more after it sets in the refrigerator. You can also use a hand mixer.
5. Use this cream immediately to fill pastries, tarts, and cakes. After dessert is filled, refrigerate for about 1 hour to set the Chocolate Whipped Cream.

And, as always, your final product will only be as good as your ingredients. Use the best. Here's my favorite whipping cream!



Saturday, January 4, 2014

BRANDIED HOT CHOCOLATE

This recipe for Hot Brandied Chocolate is for all my friends who are caught in freezing weather and blizzard conditions. Stay warm!

BRANDIED HOT CHOCOLATE

Ingredients
4 cups milk
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp chili powder
5 Tbsp brandy
6 Tbsp whipped cream
4 tsp unsweetened  DARK cocoa powder, sifted

Directions
In saucepan, bring milk just to boil. Remove from heat.
Put chocolate in small saucepan and add 2 Tbsp hot milk. Stir over low heat until chocolate has melted, then stir chocolate mixture back into hot milk. Add and stir in sugar.
Stir in brandy and pour into four heatproof glasses.
Top each with whipped cream and sprinkle with sifted cocoa.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Chocolate Covered Cherries Day

Today is Chocolate Covered Cherry Day, but since it's January 3, there are not a lot of fresh cherries to be had at the market, so dried cherries would be best! Here's a simple recipe for Chocolate Cherry Truffles. No time to cook? Buy some fabulous Chukar Cherries. Scroll down for a link and varieties. I loved them!!

Chocolate Cherry Truffles

Ingredients
13 ounces dark (65-75% cacao) chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Dash of salt
1/2 cup DARK cocoa powder

Directions
In saucepan over another saucepan with simmering water, combine chocolate and cream. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.
Stir in chopped dried cherries, balsamic vinegar, and salt.
Pour into small baking pan (8 x 8) and refrigerate until set (about 2 hours).
Put cocoa in a bowl.
Using melon baller, scoop out small ball of chocolate mixture.
Place each ganache ball on silpat mat or parchment lined cookie sheet until all chocolate is used up. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Take out of refrigerator and roll into balls with your hands.
Roll balls in cocoa powder until coated.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

***

And here's another way to celebrate the day.  Buy one of Chukar Cherries, dipped in Chocolate: Classic Dark Cherries, Cherry Bings, Cabernet Cherries, Tangerine Cherries, Black Forest Cherries, Chipotle Dark Cherries, Pinot Noir Cherries, Chocolate Cherry Truffles, and more! Wow!!!

Chukar Cherries: Fresh flavors of the Northwest! Everything they sell is 100% natural and most are certified KOF-K kosher. They dry their fruits without sulfites or preservatives. They partner with local growers and orchardists in their region. Freshness is of critical importance to them. Most everything they sell is made at their factory in Prosser, WA. Their manufacturing practices ensure that everything is made just in time to be delivered fresh. In the Chukar Kitchen they never use preservatives or ship chocolate that has languished on a warehouse shelf.

And to add to the day, a Retro Chocolate Cherry Ad from Brach's:


Thursday, January 2, 2014

National Cream Puff Day: Chocolate and Cream Puffs

Today is National Cream Puff Day. Cream puffs are actually one of the easiest pastries to make, and incredibly versatile. You can stuff them, top them, add flavoring to the choux and really change them up! For example, during the holidays, you can make a Croquembuche, a pyramid of cream puffs drizzled with chocolate or spun sugar. You can stuff Cream Puffs with all manner of sweet and savory fillings.

A Cream Puff is a baked puffed shell of choux pastry. In spite of the Betty Crocker Vintage Ads from the 1950s for Cream Puff mixes displayed on this page, they're really simple to make from scratch.  Following is an easy basic recipe for Cream Puffs and Chocolate Cream, as well as a non-traditional recipe for Chocolate Cream Puffs. I posted a different Chocolate Cream Puff recipe on the Croquembuche post last year, and you might want to try that recipe, too.

CREAM PUFFS

Ingredients
1/2 cup sweet butter
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour (some people use bread flour and that will really give these a different taste and texture, but you can always give it a try)
4 eggs

Directions
Preheat Oven to 425
1. In large pot, bring water and butter to rolling boil.
2. Stir in flour and salt until mixture forms a ball. Transfer dough to large mixing bowl.
3. Using wooden spoon or mixer, beat in eggs one at ta ime, mixing well after each.
4. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet.
5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in preheated oven, until golden brown. Centers should be dry.
6. When shells are cool,  split and fill.
How easy is that!


Chocolate Cream Filling

Ingredients 
14 ounces dark chocolate (65-85% cacao), finely chopped
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar

Instructions

1. Place chocolate in top part of double boiler over simmering water in lower pot (or in a saucepan over a saucepan with the water in lower part). Stir just until chocolate melts, then remove from heat.
2. Pour cream into bowl. Using electric mixer set on high speed, beat until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form, about 20 seconds.
3. Pour all of melted chocolate into whipped cream quickly, and continue to mix on high speed until evenly combined -- about 1 minute.
4. Place chocolate cream in clean pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe into bottoms of cooled cream puffs. Replace tops on filled bottoms and serve immediately. Alternatively, spoon cream onto bottoms being careful not to put too much. Of course, it looks pretty when it's piped!

And, you can dip them in melted chocolate!

***
Or you can make Chocolate Cream Puffs. The following recipe adds cocoa to a traditional cream puff recipe. Stuff with sweetened whipped cream. You don't need to add the sugar in the cream puff recipe, but I find the chocolate cream puffs taste a little better since there's no sugar in the cocoa. Of course, you could try this recipe with sweetened cocoa. Let me know what you think if you do that.

CHOCOLATE CREAM PUFFS

Ingredients
1 cup water
1/2 cup sweet butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons sugar
4 eggs

Instructions
Preheat Oven to 400
1. Combine flour, cocoa and sugar in small bowl.
2. In heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring water, butter and salt to a boil.
3. Stir in flour, cocoa, sugar mixture, until smooth ball forms. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until smooth and shiny.
5. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls (golf ball size) 3 inches apart onto greased (or parchment lined) baking sheets.
6. Bake (in middle of oven) at 400 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until set and browned.
7. Remove to wire racks. Let cool before splitting. Cool puffs completely before filling with whipped Cream, Ice Cream, or whatever!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Retro Ad & Recipe for Deep South Peanut Pie

O.K. this is a very weird Retro 1940s Karo Syrup Advertisement, but since it features the Karo Kid as a New Year's baby,  I thought I'd post it. I love Peanut Pies. Add a Chocolate Cookie Crust, and I'm in heaven. Peanuts and Chocolate -- great way to start the New Year.


DE LUXE PEANUT PIE

Ingredients
2 eggs beaten
1 cup Karo Syrup, Blue Label (dark syrup)
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp. melted butter or margarine 
1 cup shelled, roasted peanuts

Directions
Roll pastry 1/8-inch thick. Line a 9-inch pie pan. Mix remaining ingredients together, adding peanuts last. Pour into pastry shell. Bake in hot oven (400˚F) 40 minutes or until a silver knife inserted in center of filling comes out clean.

To make Peanut Tarts:
Follow above recipe for De Luxe Peanut Pie using 1 recipe pastry. Line 6 to 8 individual tart shells. Pour in filling. Bake in hot oven (400˚F) 20 to 25 minutes.