Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Vanishing Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Today is National Oatmeal Cookie Day, and it's also National Raisin Day! Well, you could make Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, but where's the chocolate? A food holiday without chocolate is not a holiday to celebrate! So, here's an adapted recipe from Quaker Oats for their Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies with Chocolate chips (or Chocolate Chunks) instead of raisins. The original recipe is found on most Quaker Oats boxes...and definitely on the website.

VANISHING OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients
1/2 Cup plus 6 Tbsp sweet butter, softened
3/4 Cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
1-1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 Cup Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 Cup Chocolate Chips or Chocolate Chunks
 (optional) 3/4 cup chopped walnuts 

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F.
In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy.
Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.
Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well.
Add oats and Chocolate Chips (or Chocolate Chunks) and chopped walnuts (optional); mix well.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown.
Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely.

Alternative: Bar Cookies
Press dough onto bottom of ungreased 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until light golden brown.
Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
Cut into bars.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Devil's Food Cake vs. Chocolate Cake

People always ask what's the difference between Devil's Food Cake and Chocolate Cake. It's a good question, and there are many different interpretations. Some recipes use cocoa, some melted chocolate, some add coffee or hot liquid, and some increase the baking soda.

According to Wikipedia:

Because of differing recipes and changing ingredient availability over the course of the twentieth century, it is difficult to precisely qualify what distinguishes Devil's food from the more standard chocolate cake. The traditional Devil's food cake is made with shredded beets much the way a carrot cake is made with carrots. The beets add moisture and sweetness to the cake, helping it to be very rich. The red of the beets slightly colors the cake red and due to the richness of the cake it became known as the Devil's food. 

O.k. That's a beet cake or a 'natural' red velvet cake, and I make a good one, but it's not a Devil's Food Cake in my opinion.


Devil's food cake is generally more moist and airy than other chocolate cakes, and often uses cocoa as opposed to chocolate for the flavor as well as coffee. The lack of melted chocolate and the addition of coffee is typically what distinguishes a Devil's food cake from a chocolate cake, though some recipes call for all, resulting in an even richer chocolate flavor. The use of hot, or boiling water as the cake's main liquid, rather than milk, is also a common difference. 

Devil's food cake is sometimes distinguished from other chocolate cakes by the use of additional baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) which raises the pH level and makes the cake a deeper and darker mahogany color. Devil's food cake incorporates butter (or a substitute), egg whites, flour (while some chocolate cakes are flourless) and less egg than other chocolate cakes. Devil's food cake was introduced in the United States in the early 20th century with the recipe in print as early as 1905. 

A similar cake, the red velvet cake, is closely linked to a Devil's food cake, and in some turn of the century cookbooks the two names may have been interchangeable. Most red velvet cakes today use red food coloring, but even without it, the reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk tends to better reveal the red anthocyanin in the cocoa. When used in cakes, acid causes reddening of cocoa powder when baked, and before more alkaline "Dutch Processed" cocoa was widely available, the red color would have been more pronounced. This natural tinting may have been the source for the name "Red Velvet" as well as "Devil's Food" and a long list of similar names for chocolate cakes.

I'm partial to Devil's Food Cake.

Here are several mid-century recipes. Sorry about the light print on the first cookbook.

I've posted many Devil's Food Cake recipes in the past, but today I have four mid-century recipes. The first recipe is for Cocoa Devil's Food Cake from How To Get the Most Out of Your Sunbeam Mixmaster (1950). I posted a "Mix-Easy" Devil's Food Cake for Mother's Day, and you might want to look at that one, too. It's pretty much the same as the following recipe. This is a good page for this post since there's a Chocolate Cake recipe next to the Devil's Food Cake recipe.


This same cookbook has a recipe for Black Devil's Food Cake, so now we have Cocoa Devil's Food Cake, Black Devil's Food Cake, and below a Red Devil's Food Cake. As you see, the following Black Devil's Food cake is made with cocoa and with the addition of strong hot coffee or boiling water.

The Red Devil's Food Cake is a variation on the Chocolate Fudge Cake on the same page, and to save space, they didn't reprint the entire recipe! It's a very small pamphlet. The baking soda is increased, but otherwise it's the same cake. This recipe is from the Recipes for your Hamilton Beach Mixer-17 Delicious New Cakes (1947). Don't you just love that someone wrote good next to the recipe? It's the same recipe I posted (but from a different pamphlet) on Devil's Food Cake Day for Mother's Day. 


And one more Red Devil's Food Cake from the same mid-century period. This one is from Kate Smith Chooses her 55 Favorite Ann Pillsbury CAKE RECIPES.


Enough Devil's Food Cake recipes? Never! Have a look at Martha Washington's Devil's Food Cake which is from Capitol Hill Cooks: Recipes from the White House by Linda Bauer. This is a great Buttermilk Devil's Food Cake!

So what's the difference between Devil's Food Cake and Chocolate Cake? You decide.

Monday, April 28, 2014

CHOCOLATE BLUEBERRY PIE

From The Blueberry Pie Elf by Jane Thayre
Today is National Blueberry Pie Day! Again, a holiday at the wrong time of year for fresh blueberries. My market always has fresh blueberries, but yours may not. You can always use fresh frozen wild blueberries from Trader Joe's. Love them! Or you can save this recipe for the summertime when there are fresh local blueberries everywhere!

You're probably used to strawberries and chocolate and raspberries and chocolate. I've posted plenty of blueberry and chocolate recipes for scones and muffins and chocolate covered blueberries, but I don't think I've posted a pie recipe before. This one is so easy, especially if you use pre-made pie crusts! Don't use the ones in the shells. I like pie crusts from Trader Joe's. I keep them in the freezer, so I'm always ready!

Illustrations for this post are from the 1959 children's classic The Blueberry Pie Elf by Jane Thayre, illustrated by Seymour Fleishman.

CHOCOLATE BLUEBERRY PIE

Ingredients
6 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
3 1/2 ounces DARK chocolate, chopped
Juice of half a lemon  (I use Meyer lemons from my tree)
2 pre-made pie dough crusts (I use Trader Joe's pie crusts--but you can always make your own)
Butter

Directions 
Preheat oven to 350.
Line 9 inch pie plate with one of crusts.
In large bowl, smash some of blueberries with fork (leave most whole).
Sprinkle sugar and lemon juice over blueberries. Let sit 10 minutes.
If mixture is too watery remove some of liquid.
Mix in chocolate and pour mixture into prepared pie pan.
Top with remaining crust and pinch crusts together, make a few slits.
Brush top crust with butter.
Bake 60 - 65 minutes or until golden.
Let sit 15+ minutes before serving.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

National Pretzel Day: Guinness Pretzel Truffles

Today is National Pretzel Day. I love salty and sweet, and crushed pretzels make the perfect coating for these Guinness Ganache Truffles!

CHOCOLATE GUINNESS PRETZEL TRUFFLES

Ingredients
3/4 cup Guinness
1 pound dark chocolate (65-75% cacao), chopped
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Crushed salted pretzels

Directions
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler or saucepan over saucepan over simmering water.
Stir in cream.
Slowly add Guinness, stirring to blend.
Cover and chill overnight.
Shape mixture into 3/4 inch balls using small scoop or melon baller or your hands - using about a tablespoon of ganache for each.
Roll in crushed Salted Pretzels

Happy Pretzel Day!

Friday, April 25, 2014

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BREAD

Oddly, today is National Zucchini Bread Day. That doesn't really make any sense since it's only April 25. Maybe this refers to zucchini growing Down Under? Of course you can buy zucchini all year round, but it's a summer crop in the Northern Hemisphere. So, by mid-summer if you're growing zucchini (even one plant!), you've probably run out of friends to hand zukes off to, and you're thinking of wrapping your zucchini up in a blanket, putting them in a basket and leaving them on the church steps. Consequently, you might want to save this recipe for the summer.

Unfortunately Zucchini Bread doesn't use up a lot of zucchini, but it's a tasty way of serving up your courgettes! Add chocolate and you're calling my name!

When I first started baking 'vegetable' breads, I used old coffee tins for baking pans, but that was a long time ago, and my beans come in recyclable paper bags. So now, I usually make my zucchini breads in bundt pans. Of course conventional loaf pans work, too, since this is a quick bread.

Most recipes say to let the zucchini bread cool before serving. I don't follow that advice since by the time the aroma has filled my kitchen for an hour, I'm ready to devour this Chocolate Zucchini Bread and often do! Since you, too, might make short shrift of this Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread, you'll want to make two, so double the recipe, if you plan to share.

A few comments on zucchini. Depending on where you live, zucchini may be called courgettes or marrows (remember Hercule Poirot throwing the marrow over the fence in the opening of Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Acroyd?) and sometimes summer squash (although in my neck of the woods summer squash is a totally different squash and a different color).

For your recipe pleasure, here are two links to recipes for different, but equally tasty Chocolate Zucchini Bread: Geeky Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread and Chcocolate Chunk Zucchini Bread. As you know, you can never have too many recipes for Chocolate Zucchini Bread to enjoy!

This Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread tastes great toasted with a little cream cheese or mascarpone! And, the secret ingredient: Pistachios!

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BREAD with Pistachios!

Ingredients
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp Madagascar Vanilla
2 Tbsp sweet butter
6 Tbsp DARK Cocoa
2 cups zucchini, grated
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
dash of salt
1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped chocolate chunks or dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pistachios
2 tsp flour

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°.
In large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Mix until well blended.
In small saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp butter, add 6 Tbsp cocoa and blend tuntil smooth. Set aside to cool.
Peel and grate zucchini. Add zucchini and cooled cocoa mixture to the large mixing bowl and blend well.
In separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to the batter. Stir only enough to blend in all the dry ingredients.
In another bowl, coat broken up chocolate chunks (or chips) with 2 tsp. flour.
Fold in flour-coated chocolate chunks and chopped pistachios to the batter.
Spoon batter into two greased and floured 9x5x3 loaf pans or into a greased bundt pan.
Bake 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
Cool in pans for 5-10 minutes.
Remove from pans and continue to cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Gluten-Free Better Than Almost Anything Cake

Photo: Betty Crocker
Recently a friend sent me this recipe for Gluten-Free Better than Almost Anything Cake from Betty Crocker, It's basically a Chocolate Caramel Poke Cake made with a Flourless Chocolate Cake. Whatever you call it, it's delicious! As I always say it's all about the ingredients. Always use the best caramel, the best chocolate, and if you're using dairy--the best whipped cream!

The original recipe uses Betty Crocker's Gluten Free Devil's Food Cake Mix. I've tried the mix by itself, and it's o.k., but the caramel really takes it up a notch. You might also want to make your own Flourless Chocolate Cake. If you don't have a recipe, try one of these:

Cracked Earth Flourless Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Flourless Cake for Passover (or any time!)

For the Caramel sauce, I use FatToad Farm Goat's Milk Caramel... oh my.. it's sooo good. I also use Recchiuti Burnt Caramel Sauce. So rich and good. Both are good to have in the pantry!

For the Toffee bits, I use toffee from ToffeeTalk, my favorite toffee.

And, I don't usually use whipped topping. This cake is just fine without a topping, but if you have to have one, use real whipped cream!

GLUTEN-FREE BETTER THAN ALMOST ANYTHING CAKE

Ingredients
Box Betty Crocker Gluten Free Devil's food cake mix  (or make your own Flourless Chocolate Cake!) Water, butter and eggs called for on cake mix box
1 jar (12 or so ounces) Fat Toad Goat's Milk caramel topping (or sometimes I use Recchiuti Caramel Sauce!)
1 cup whipped cream  (the original recipe calls for frozen (thawed) whipped topping)
1/2 cup toffee bits

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F (or 325°F for dark or nonstick pan).
Make a flourless chocolate cake (recipes above) or make and bake cake mix as directed on box, using water, butter, eggs and any of the pan choices.
With handle of wooden spoon, poke top of warm cake every 1/2 inch.
Drizzle caramel topping evenly over top of cake; let stand until absorbed into cake.
Cover; refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled.
Spread whipped cream over top of cake. Sprinkle with toffee bits.
Store covered in refrigerator.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easy Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake!

Photo: Pillsbury (I leave off the chocolate on top)
In celebration of National Cherry Cheesecake Day, I thought I'd repost an easy delicious recipe for Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake adapted from Pillsbury. Of course I make my own tried and true Chocolate Cookie Crust!

About the crust. Sometimes I bake it first, and sometimes I don't. It won't matter in this recipe, but I like it to be a bit more crunchy for texture, so I posted with baking it before adding filling.

CHOCOLATE CHERRY CHEESECAKE

Chocolate Cookie Crust
About 40 chocolate wafers (Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers-2 cups crumbs)
6 Tbsp sweet butter, melted and slightly cooled
Pinch of salt

Directions
1. Process cookies in food processor until finely ground.
2. Transfer crumbs to mixing bowl & combine crumbs, butter, salt. Stir until crumbs are moistened.
3. Press mixture evenly across bottom of 10-inch springform pan and all the way up sides of pan. Pack tightly so crust is even.
4. Bake in 350° oven for 6-8 minutes or until crisp.
5. Let cool completely before filling. You can put it in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

Filling 
4 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1/2 cup whipping cream
20 ounces cherry pie filling  (I use Chukars Sour Cherry Pie Filling!)

(Optional) Glaze 
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup (or about 6 ounces) dark chocolate, chopped

Directions
1.  Make crust as above.
2.  In large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium until smooth. Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. Add 1/2 cup whipping cream; blend well.
3.  Spoon 3 -1/2 cups cream cheese mixture into crust-lined pan, spreading evenly. Carefully spoon 1 cup pie filling evenly over cream cheese layer (reserve remaining pie filling for topping). Spoon remaining cream cheese mixture evenly over pie filling.
4.  Bake 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes or until center is set. Cool in pan on wire rack 1 hour.
Serve topped with remaining cherry pie filling.

Optional: I don't think you need to add this, but if you want more chocolate!
5.  In 1-quart saucepan, heat 1/2 cup whipping cream to boiling over medium-high heat. Remove from heat. Stir in chopped chocolate until melted.
6.  Line cookie sheet with waxed paper. Remove side of pan. Place cheesecake on paper-lined cookie sheet. Before adding the extra cherry pie filling-- Spread chocolate glaze over cooled cheesecake, allowing some to flow down side. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day: Cracked Earth Flourless Chocolate Cake

Earth Day! As many of you know, I blog about mystery/crime fiction at Mystery Fanfare, as well as about Chocolate. I'm also the Editor of the thematic review Mystery Readers Journal. Last year (Volume 29:1) focused on Environmental Crime Fiction/Mysteries.

Today on Mystery Fanfare, I blog about Reservoir Noir: Books that deal with intentional flooding of towns and villages because of building dams and reservoirs for water supply, irrigation, power and other reasons--a sad addition to the environmental crime fiction list.

I don’t know of a good crime novel that involves the chocolate trade. That’s a theme ripe for a good mystery. Something to think about while you enjoy “Cracked Earth Flourless Chocolate Cake” from the recipe below.

I've posted many flourless chocolate cake recipes, but this cake is adapted from Tyler Florence of the Food Network. It's his Cracked Chocolate Earth Flourless Chocolate Cake. And, it's Gluten-Free.

Cracked Earth Chocolate Flourless Cake

Ingredients
1 pound organic fair-trade dark chocolate (65-85% cacao), chopped into small pieces
1 stick sweet butter
9 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
2 cups heavy cream, cold 

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter 9-inch springform pan.
Put chocolate and butter in top of double boiler over simmering water until melted.
Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks with sugar in mixing bowl until light yellow in color.
Whisk a little of chocolate mixture into egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs - this will keep eggs from scrambling from heat of the chocolate; then whisk in rest of chocolate mixture.
Beat egg whites in mixing bowl until stiff peaks form and fold into chocolate mixture.
Pour into prepared pan (spray bottom with nonstick spray) and bake until cake is set, top starts to crack, and toothpick inserted into cake comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it, 20 to 25 minutes (and then check every five minutes after that--don't overbake).
Let stand 10 minutes, then unmold.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ways to use Leftover Easter Chocolate

Right now both low end and high end Easter Chocolate is a bargain at 50% off. Maybe you still have a lot of leftover chocolate at home? Perhaps not the ears of the bunny, but body parts and decimated eggs? Put them to tasty use!

If it's still in its wrapping, donate leftover chocolate to homeless shelters or if it won't melt, ship overseas to military personnel.

But if it's in pieces and chunks, here are a few ideas. Leftover chocolate goes great on ice cream or added to brownies and cookies. So many creative ways to re-purpose and re-savor Easter Candy. Feel free to add your own leftover Easter chocolate ideas!

Freeze for Later: Chop up chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs. Freeze the pieces and use instead of chocolate chips in cookies and other goodies. 

Ice Cream: Melt Easter bunny parts and pour over ice cream. Add some nuts. Or just chop it up and sprinkle on ice cream. Add berries and whipped cream for a great sundae.

Milk Shake: Use any chopped chocolate with two scoops of ice cream and some milk. Blend!

PEEPS S'Mores: Well they're a natural with Peeps, especially the chocolate covered ones.. but in a pinch add some chocolate bunny, a peep, a graham cracker, and put in the oven or microwave.  Add another graham cracker and you're good to go!

Trail Mix: Well, duh... chop up the chocolate and add some dried fruit and nuts. I think a chopped up chocolate coconut egg would be a great addition, too! Put in a small baggie and go for a hike!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries. Instead of dipping (unless you have a lot of chocolate), drizzle melted chocolate over fresh strawberries.

Candy from Candy: Melt Chocolate Bunnies or Easter eggs in double boiler or microwave. Once  chocolate is hot and smooth, pour into candy molds.

Chocolate Fondue: see my fondue recipes. The Bunny has never tasted so good... Retro treat with Retro Chocolate. Dip leftover PEEPS and fruit.

Hot Chocolate: Melt some chocolate. Add water or milk and heat until perfect. Add some whipped cream (or a PEEP)!

Brownies: I always add some extra chopped chocolate to my brownies, so why not some chocolate Easter eggs? Chop and fold into batter. 

Pancakes: Make a batch of pancakes and drop some chocolate in (do it toward the end or the chocolate or chocolate will scorch) or melt some chocolate and use in place of syrup.

Muffins and Waffles: Chop up Chocolate and add to muffins or waffles.

Trifle: Layer chopped Bunnies with leftover cake or brownies, whipped cream, cookie crumbs and anything else that seems yummy to you. I like to make trifles in clear glass containers!

Cookies: Do I really need to tell you how to do this? Chop and Drop in your favorite batter!

Cupcakes: Any way you'd use other chocolate -- or use an apple corer and fill the centers.

Rice Krispies Treats: Melt chocolate then stir in Rice Krispies. Spread on a tray. Put in Refrigerator. Cut.

Any other ideas for left-over Easter Chocolate?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Chocolate Orange Hot Cross Buns for Easter

I've mentioned saving holiday recipes from the newspaper, blogs and articles on-line. A few years ago Jo Pratt posted this Easter Recipe on the Mailonline. It's a great recipe for Chocolate Orange Hot Cross Buns.

If you want to make hot cross buns and add chocolate without making a chocolate bun, you can make regular hot cross buns and add chocolate chips instead of raisins. But give this one a try. This recipe for Chocolate Orange Hot Cross Buns, a yeast bread, is great. I've converted the measurements from the U.K. to the U.S. They're not totally exact, but very close. If you want to check out the original recipe with UK measurements, go HERE. Makes 12 buns.

CHOCOLATE ORANGE HOT CROSS BUNS

Ingredients
1/2 cup milk
4 tbsp superfine sugar (castor sugar--I sift regular sugar if I don't have any)
5 Tbsp sweet butter
3 1/2 cups white flour
4 tsp dark cocoa powder
1tsp mixed spice  (combo of allspice, cinnamon, clove, coriander, ginger and nutmeg)
1tsp salt
2 1/2 Tbsp chopped mixed peel (candied citrus peel)*
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 3/4 fast action dried yeast
1/2 cup or 4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped, or chocolate chips
1 egg, beaten
Flour for dusting

For the crosses and glaze
1/4 cup white flour
1Tbsp sunflower oil
2-3 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp orange juice
2 Tbsp caster sugar

Directions
Put milk in saucepan over low heat. Just before it boils, remove from heat and stir in sugar and butter, until they have dissolved. Add 1/4 cold water and leave to cool down until you can comfortably hold your finger in it for a few seconds.

Sift together flour, cocoa, mixed spice (if you're using it) and salt into large bowl and stir in mixed peel, orange zest and yeast. Make well in center and pour in warm milk mixture and beaten egg. Mix together until you have a sticky dough. Add  chocolate chips or chopped chocolate, and knead on floured surface for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

Place dough in large, lightly oiled bowl, cover with damp tea towel and leave to rise in warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in volume. Punch  dough and knead for a couple of minutes. Divide into 12 pieces and shape into buns.

Place on greased baking sheets, leaving enough space between each for rising. Cover with tea towel and leave to rise again until doubled in size – about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 F.

For glaze, mix flour and oil with 2-3tbsp water until smooth.

Lightly cut cross in center of each of buns with knife to mark out your crosses. Using piping bag (or use a plastic bag with a corner snipped off), pipe on crosses. Cook  buns for 15-18 minutes until they are golden and sound hollow when tapped underneath.

Place orange juice and sugar in small pan, and gently heat until sugar dissolves. As soon as buns are out of oven, brush with  glaze and leave to cool slightly on wire rack before serving warm.

Photo: Mailonline

Retro Chocolate Ads: Happy Easter!

Put on your Easter Bonnet and bite into some Chocolate Eggs, Bunnies and candy! Have a wonderful Chocolate Easter! Enjoy these Vintage Chocolate Easter Ads from the 1940s, 50s and 60s.






Saturday, April 19, 2014

See's for Easter: Rocky Road Eggs!

I love all the special chocolate eggs and bunnies that proliferate at Easter Time from well known and lesser known chocolatiers. One of my all time favorite traditional chocolate companies is local See's Candies. I've mentioned them before, but this year I was lucky enough to find a Chocolate Rocky Road Egg in my basket! Rocky Road is a mixture of chocolate, marshmallows and walnuts mixed together. Check out the history of Rocky Road Ice Cream HERE.

This See's Rocky Road Egg isn't ice cream, but it's delicious!!!  It contains honey marshmallow, crunchy California Walnuts and See's signature milk chocolate all hand-decoraded with a candy bouquet. It's 3.7 ounces,.dwarfed only by the huge chicken in my yard! There are other great Easter selections at See's, but this one is my favorite!

Yum!


Easter Brunch Cinnamon Rolls Shaped like a Lamb!

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

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




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

CHOCOLATE CINNAMON 'FILLING' VARIATION

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

Friday, April 18, 2014

National Animal Crackers Day!

Today is National Animal Crackers Day. I remember the unique taste of Animal Crackers during zoo and circus visits. These trips were always exciting, and animal crackers were an important part of the experience, as that was the only time I ate them. I remember the red cardboard boxes with exotic animals and the little flat strings to carry your box.

Today there are many different brands and styles of animal crackers--vegan, chocolate, chocolate covered, covered with icing and sprinkles, and even gluten-free. There's the original Barnum's Animal Crackers, and I really like Barbara's (all natural) Snackimals Double Chocolate and Snackimals Chocolate Chip.

Want to dress up your store-bought Animal Crackers today to celebrate National Animal Cracker Day? Dip the animal crackers in Chocolate:

Chocolate Dipped Animal Crackers

Melt a good dark chocolate in the top of a double boiler over simmering water or in the microwave.
Dip animals and let cool on waxed paper.
You can either dip most of the animal (and use forks or special dipping tools) or just dip the feet as I did with the Walker Scottie Dogs with Muddy Boots. I like Trader Joe's Animal Crackers for chocolate dipping.

Want to get fancier? Healthy Happy Life (Lunchboxbunch.com) has a Chocolate-Covered Vegan Animal Cookies post with great photos and recipes.

There's even a Website devoted to Animal Crackers: www.animalcrackers.net/  There you'll find a variety of recipes for animal crackers such as Homemade Animal Crackers, Oatmeal Animal Crackers, Classic Animal Crackers, Cheese Animal Crackers, Chocolate Animal Crackers, and many others.

COCOA ANIMAL CRACKERS
Recipe adapted from AnimalCrackers.net


Ingredients:
1/3 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Cup Organic Toasted Rolled Quick Oats
1/2 Cup Real Butter, softened
1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Baking Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
3/4 Cup of Cold Whole Milk

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In Blender, mix organic toasted rolled quick oats, with flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and kosher salt.
Pulse until base mixture is completely ground up into delicate powder, and color and texture are even and consistent.
Pour mixture into mixing bowl and vigorously stir in cold whole milk and softened real butter. Stir until dough becomes stiff, adding any extra milk if you need to.
Roll animal cracker dough into ball on clean flat surface, then flatten it out into quarter inch thickness.
Using animal cracker or cookie cutters, make as many shapes as you can with the dough.
Place your finished shapes on lightly greased baking sheet. Cook for ten to fifteen minutes, or until crackers are crisp.
Cool on wire wrack for half an hour.

Want to make your own Gluten-Free Animal Crackers? Gluten free on a Shoestring has a wonderful recipe that's actually close in taste to the Barnum's Animal Crackers. Vanilla paste is the great ingredient. Which reminds me I need to do a post on vanilla!.. soon...

Waiter, there's an Animal Cracker in my soup!
Animal Crackers make a great starch for soups and stews. A few years ago, I posted a recipe for a great Chicken Mole Polano made with Animal Crackers.  Or try this recipe for White Chocolate Mole with Animal Crackers.

Want a sweet chocolate soup with Animal Crackers? O. K., this is more of a dessert. This recipe was originally found on the Hershey's Cocoa Box.

CHOCOLATE SOUP WITH ANIMAL CRACKERS

Ingredients
3/4 cups half-and-half
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
2 tsp cocoa
1 egg yolk

Directions:
Heat half-and-half. Pour into bowl, leaving about 1/4 cup in saucepan or cup.
Add sugar, vanilla, cocoa to pan and mix until it is a syrup. Add egg yolk and stir over low heat. Gradually stir in preheated half-and-half. Stir until blended and thick. Pour into bowl.
Top with animal crackers.

Here's a link to several other Cocoa Soup recipes. All go well with Animal Crackers!

Enjoy this video clip of Shirley Temple singing Animal Crackers in my Soup!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

PEEPS S'MORES!

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

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

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

Ingredients
PEEPS
Graham Crackers
Dark chocolate squares

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

II. PEEPS S'MORES in the Microwave

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

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

And here's a photo of PEEPS vacationing in Bodega Bay! Rabbits beware. The Chicks might join The Birds!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

PEEPS: A comfort Easter Confection Collection

"Are You My Mother?"
Of all my childhood Spring Confection memories, PEEPS stand out. My sister and I still buy each other PEEPS around Easter, although she rarely eats the sugary marshmallow-y creatures any more. She buys me purple rabbits; I buy her classic yellow chicks --the original PEEPS. You see where this is going? I'm a purist, but since this is a Chocolate Blog, I've made room in my Easter PEEPS inventory for Chocolate PEEPS.

Peeps are an American phenomena and an industry.  Besides online and having stores, PEEPS is featured in the Washington Post, Smithsonian Magazine and many local papers with special PEEPS diorama contests. Certainly a good use for this national favorite.  I usually do a few PEEPS set ups myself every year.. Funny how the chicks and bunnies disappear after each shot!


So, PEEPS--you either love them or hate them. People do all sorts of things with Peeps, only some of which involve giving them to kids at Easter or eating them straight from the box. For me, it's the elastic quality of the "old" peeps that's fun for me--pulling them apart.
Chocolate PEEPS Bunnies off to work in the fields

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

However, the Chocolate Dipped PEEPS do have the sugar. I love the three pack of PEEPS Chocolate Dipped Chicks (both dark and milk chocolate), as well as the Dark and Milk Chocolate PEEPS Chocolate Dipped Mousse Flavored Marshmallow Chicks!
I'm a fan of Chocolate Eggs, and PEEPS this year has a very funn individually boxed hollow milk chocolate egg with a PEEP chick inside. Maybe it's been around for awhile, but I missed it. LOL!

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

Other great uses for PEEPS:

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

Want to make your own Chocolate Covered PEEPS using the original PEEPS?

1. Melt some good dark chocolate or milk chocolate (about 16 oz/depending on how many you plan to make)
2. Remove Peeps from package. I would use Chicks since they're the original, but the other shapes (rabbits, etc) work well.
3. Insert a lollipop stick into the Peep. If you're using the chicks, do it the widest way (maybe this is why they're sideways standing up in the packaged ones--and why bunnies work better). 
4. Dip the Peep into the melted chocolate. Two chocies: Either cover the entire Peep or just dip one end as you would strawberries. Be sure and let any excess drip off.
5. Put on wax paper covered plate or cookie sheet and freeze for 20 minutes. 

Question? When is a Peep, not a Peep? When it's Chocolate Covered.

Chocolate Dipped Peeps complete the flock!
 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Easter Egg Cake: Retro Ad & Recipe

Love this Retro Advertisement and recipe from 3/30/53. "Quick Like a Bunny Make this Gay Easter Egg Cake."

This is a "Golden Yellow" Cake with Chocolate Icing. Easy and pretty. You can, of course, update the recipe to make your own yellow cake and your own icing, but the idea is there. Most kitchen and craft stores will have special pans to create an egg shape, but if you want to go retro, follow this recipe and cut the egg into shape!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Chocolate Matzo Toffee for Passover

My sister made this fabulous Chocolate Matzo Toffee for the Passover Sseder this year. It's an easy recipe, but it does take time.. lots of waiting. But if you're doing other things, it's a snap! Photo by  Judie Siddall.

Recipe for Passover Toffee is from Celebrate Passover by Deborah Heiligman (National Geographic Holidays Around the World) No date. In the acknowledgements of the book the author thanks "Vivian Phillips who gave me the toffee recipe years ago." This book is for children, but the directions for this recipe say, "You will need an adult to help you."  To eat it, for sure!

PASSOVER CHOCOLATE MATZO TOFFEE




Rabbit Redux: Chocolate Bunny Cakes for Easter

Photo: Chocolate Bunny Cake-William Sonoma
This Chocolate Bunny Cake is the ultimate Easter Bunny Centerpiece.  I've mentioned before that there are so many great places to find recipes. This Chocolate Easter Bunny Cake recipe is from the Williams Sonoma Kitchen. They no longer sell this specific pan that accompanied the recipe, but you can find it or the one I use on eBay and other sites. Williams Sonoma does sell the Nordic Ware Standing bunny with basket that is available most places. It is a great alternative (see below). You can add PEEPS in the basket! Just bake the two halves of the cake and press together with icing. Chocolate, of course!  Any of these 3-D Bunny Cakes would make a great Easter Centerpiece!

I actually have a totally different Easter Bunny 3-D cake pan for this cake, and there are lots of other bunny cake pans you can find.

Double sided cakes aren't very difficuly, and they're fun to make. The Wilton Cake Pan with the Eggs is the one in the recipe (first cake pan photo). You don't need to make the cake egg. You can make your own chocolate eggs or decorate with Jellybeans or Cadbury chocolate eggs. And, then there's the standup Bunny with basket. So many choices!

Other alternatives: Bake a chocolate cake, cut into shapes, and cover with a buttercream 'fur' frosting and coconut! See the recipe and directions below to shape your Bunny Cake. Recipe and directions from Betty Crocker's Party Book (1960).

Wilton Cake Pan used in Recipe
CHOCOLATE BUNNY CAKE

Ingredients:

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

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

Directions:
Have all ingredients at room temperature.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***
This recipe and directions for a 3-D Bunny Cake from the Betty Crocker Party Cookbook (1960). This was before all the very creative cake pans out there! Although the recipe says to use a yellow or white cake mix, you can make your own Chocolate Cake (recipe above) or use a Chocolate Cake Mix. Love chocolate and coconut.. This is a simple and great cake.. and will make a lovely centerpiece!

CHOCOLATE BUNNY CAKE!




Saturday, April 12, 2014

Chocolate Sponge Cake

Sponge Cake is a staple for Passover, but have you ever made a Passover Chocolate Sponge Cake? This recipe is easy and really good. Great with morning tea or coffee, and certainly replaces matzo. Just one more chocolate option for the Passover holiday--or any time! And, it's Gluten-free! You can dress this cake up with sliced fresh strawberries and whipped cream or cut in half and fill with a light chocolate buttercream.

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

CHOCOLATE SPONGE CAKE

Ingredients
7 ounces dark chocolate (60-75% cacao), chopped
10 eggs, separated
3/4 cup white sugar
2 cups ground almonds

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

Friday, April 11, 2014

Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies: Chef Francois Payard

Top pastry chef Francois Payard makes keeping kosher for Passover look easy, offering a range of non-leavened, grain-free desserts for the holiday. This is a fabulous and easy recipe for Passover or any time. As always the quality depends on the cocoa! Thanks,  Chef Francois, for the recipe and photo!

Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies

Makes about twelve 4-inch cookies

Ingredients
1/2 cup  plus 3 tablespoons (68 grams) Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 cups (350 grams) confectioners’ sugar
Pinch of salt
2 3/4 cups (272 grams) walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tsp(15 grams) pure vanilla extract

Directions
Place a rack each in the upper and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Combine the cocoa powder, confectioners’ sugar, salt, and walnuts in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 1 minute.

With the mixer running, slowly add the egg whites and vanilla. Mix on medium speed for 3 minutes, until the mixture has slightly thickened. Do not overmix it, or the egg whites will thicken too much.

With a 2-ounce cookie or ice cream scoop or a generous tablespoon, scoop the batter onto the prepared baking sheet, to make cookies that are 4 inches in diameter. Scoop 5 cookies on each pan, about 3 inches apart so that they don’t stick when they spread. If you have extra batter, wait until the first batch of cookies is baked before scooping the next batch.

Put the cookies in the oven, and immediately lower the temperature to 320°F. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, or until small thin cracks appear on the surface of the cookies. Switch the pans halfway through baking. Pull the parchment paper with the cookies onto a wire cooling rack, and let cool completely before removing the cookies from the paper. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

****

François Payard is a third generation pastry chef, who, after honing his skills by his family’s side and in the finest pastry kitchens in France, moved to New York where he was named “Pastry Chef of the Year” by the James Beard Foundation. Francois Payard has won numerous awards, such as the “Ordre du Mérite Agricole” by the French Government in 2004, he became a member of Relais Desserts International in 2006, an association of the 85 best pastry chefs in the world and in 2010 received the Dom Perignon Award of Excellence. 

Branches of Payard have opened at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Japan and Korea. In November 2009, the François Chocolate Bar opened in New York City. Described as “a chocolate jewelry shop,” this shop was devoted to Chef Payard’s chocolate creations. In September 2010, François opened FPB, a casual bakery on West Houston Street in downtown New York City. FPB is the first of several collaborative projects from François and restaurateur Marlon Abela of Marlon Abela Restaurant Corporation (MARC), whose portfolio also includes the A Voce restaurants in New York City, as well as other restaurants in the U.S. and London. A second location of FPB opened in Battery Park City in October 2012 and a third location opened in May 2012 at Columbus Circle. Francois opened his first FP Patisserie at the Plaza Hotel in the Todd English Food Hall in the spring of 2012. In October 2012, he opened his flagship location of FP Patisserie on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. FP Patisserie features an elegant bar, pastry shop and salon de thé. 

Not just a chef, François is also the author of the popular cookbooks Bite Size: Elegant Recipes for Entertaining, Simply Sensational Desserts and Chocolate Epiphany: Exceptional Cookies, Cakes, and Confections for Everyone. His most recent cookbook, PAYARD DESSERTS, was released on October 29th, 2013.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Chocolate Flourless Cake for Passover (Gluten-free)

This is one of my favorite Flourless Chocolate Cake recipes for Passover (A Cake to Die For). It's richer and higher (more eggs) than most. Nadine Rosenthal of YouLittleTarte shared this with DyingforChocolate several years ago, and I'm reposting this amazing recipe again in time for this year's holiday. Be sure and visit the rest of the wonderful recipes and stories at YouLittleTarte! Posted with permission from Nadine.. why mess with perfection!

I now make this dense delicious flourless chocolate cake every year for the Seder. Last year people were so full by the end of the Seder meal, that very few actually ate any of this wonderful cake that evening. The host insisted that I take half home with me. All I can say is I gained about 5 pounds that week, as I nibbled away. You will absolutely love this cake -- Passover, Easter, or any time!

NADINE ROSENTHAL:

I am a self taught cook and baker. With the exception of a couple of classes many years ago, everything I have learned to do in a kitchen has come by trial and error. And believe me, there's been a lot of error. But, as with anything, practice makes perfect, and while I'm not perfect I can read a recipe. Being able to read a recipe and follow directions is a key component in being able to cook.

Do you know how some people think they are destined to write the "great American novel"? Well, on You Little Tarte, I'll give you a great couple of paragraphs. Every recipe has a story, and I'll tell you mine.

A CAKE TO DIE FOR

I have to start by saying that I look at Passover, which begins at sundown on April 14th, as a low-carb holiday. I'm not a matzo eater so I just do without the bread and pasta. It's a meat and veggie time for me. The only exception I make to the Adkins/South Beach approach to Passover is for macaroons, which I love year round, and this really decadent chocolate cake.

This cake has a good story. Back when I first got married and had absolutely no culinary skills, I decided to take a cooking class. Never mind learning how to roast a chicken, I took a baking class taught by Donald Wressell. Donald, who was then the pastry chef at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles, was just at the beginning of his career and is now a HUGE deal in the pastry world. He's won zillions of awards. Nothing like over reaching one's skill level. There were all these professional pastry chefs in the class and me. Needless to say, I was outclassed in every culinary way possible.

I recognized my situation very quickly, when on the first day of class everyone went around and gave a brief bio of themselves. "Hi, I'm Joe Pastry Chef and I work at (name your fancy restaurant or hotel)." I was in real trouble. When it was my turn, I did what any self respecting Santa Monica newlywed would do. I went to the bathroom, thus avoiding the "Hi, I'm Nadine and I have no idea what I'm doing here" speech.

The good news in all this was that it was a demonstration class so I never actually had to do anything besides watch and learn. And I did. I came out of that class armed with a bunch of fancy schmancy recipes that I have only mastered in more recent years. Hey, you live and learn.

One of the recipes Donald demonstrated was this one for flourless chocolate cake. It takes flourless chocolate cake to a whole new level. Do not be put off by the 18 egg yolks. Yes, you heard me right. There are 18 egg yolks in this cake. The cake is amazing and really spruces up the dessert offerings at a sedar. I'm not saying the Passover brownies aren't tasty but this cake is better. Really. It's worth the calories and the cholesterol. Have a small piece and you'll avoid the emergency room and an angioplasty.

And, if you're not a Passover person, make the cake anyway. It's not actually a Passover cake. I just adopted it as such because it's sans flour. I'm probably breaking some other kosher rules with it anyway.

Recipe: Flourless Chocolate Cake (Donald Wressell)
Note: You can use the whites of the eggs for your macaroons.

Ingredients:
1 pound 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
12 ounces unsalted butter
18 egg yolks
4 ounces granulated sugar
3 ounces cocoa powder

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325F. Butter and flour a 10 inch round baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a double boiler over simmering water, melt the chocolate with the butter. Let cool slightly.
In a stand mixer, whip the egg yolks with the sugar until very light, about 5 minutes. Fold the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg sugar mixture. Sift in the cocoa powder. On medium speed, beat the mixture just to combine. Mixture will appear fudgy and heavy.
Transfer to prepared pan and bake in a water bath for 25 minutes.
Sift more cocoa powder or confectioner's sugar on top of cake to serve, if desired.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Flourless Chocolate-Orange Cake for Passover

Today I welcome a Facebook friend who shares my love of gardening, photography and baking, among other things. I 'met' Emily Stashhower on Facebook through another garden lover. Little did I know at the time that we would have so much in common -- both friends and relatives, as well as interests. What a small world! I just love the Internet!

This recipe is great for Passover since it's Flourless. It may be described as a pudding in the original recipe, but it's definitely a cake. Yummy!

Emily Stashower 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:

In September, 1990, the New York Times (in some section or another) published many recipes for “puddings.” 

Foolishly, I tried one out – Chocolate-Orange Pudding. I figured it would be something eaten with a spoon and in texture, resemble other puddings; one of my favorite desserts. The combination of flavors drew me to this particular selection but, in the decades since that first attempt, I’ve learned a great deal about this specific “pudding.”

First of all, it’s not what I consider a pudding. It’s a dense, flourless cake that could be eaten with a spoon but truth is, a fork will take care of the job just fine.

Second, though many puddings are cooked, few are cooked and then taken out of the “form” so it stands on its own (don’t let your mind wander to flans . . .).

Last, even if it is a “real” pudding, it’s best served as a dense, moist cake accompanied by ice cream or a whipped topping (or another decadent drizzling of taste across the slab of chocolate orange goo).

The recipe has a lot of advantages; once you have the ingredients, all you need is a food processor, a microwave safe dish and microwave. The “pudding” can be partially cooked, then frozen, and reheated in the microwave to warm it up and finish the cooking time. The dessert can be served hot or cold (I prefer hot) and is appropriate for any time of the year. However, I notice a flurry of requests for this recipe when it is Passover because it’s made without flour (but it is dairy, and I’ve not played around with it to make it parve).

The recipe below can be doubled – just make it in a soufflé dish with a larger diameter. The pudding will rise and make a mess of your microwave but when the chocolate settles, I can guarantee you – you’ll be thrilled and in a chocolate orange frenzy.

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE-ORANGE CAKE aka Pudding (which it's not)

Ingredients
Vegetable oil for greasing bowl
1 cup slivered almonds
Zest of 1 medium orange
1 cup packed light brown sugar
16 ounces semi sweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
1 teaspoon baking soda
16 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
6 eggs
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tsp Triple Sec (I use vanilla & orange extract)

Steps
• Grease a 3 quart soufflé dish or non metal bowl with vegetable oil
• Place almonds in food processor and process until finely chopped. Add orange zest & sugar, processing until finely chopped. Then add the chocolate, baking soda and butter – process until smooth.
• Add eggs, cream and Triple Sec and process until combined. Pour into the prepared dish and cover tightly with plastic wrap. All microwaves are different so the rule of thumb is to cook until it slightly pulls away from the sides of the dish but it will be jiggly. Instructions say “cook at 100% power in a 650-700 watt oven for 12 minutes. Prick the plastic to release steam.
• Uncover and allow to stand, covered with a plate for 10 – 20 minutes
• Unmold and serve.

The recipe does qualitfy the pudding as a “rich cake” but personally I don’t think the reverse could ever be true. A pudding it is not.

A thin slice is plenty but the recipe as above serves at least 12.

Hope you try it out and enjoy!

Happy Passover!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

MONTEREY CHOCOLATE SALON 4/12

TasteTV and the International Chocolate Salon are pleased to announce the coming to Monterey Bay of the Premium and Artisan Chocolate event on the California Coast, the 1st Annual
MONTEREY CHOCOLATE SALON
April 12, 2014


PARTICIPANTS:
Featuring a delicious selection chosen and curated by the Organizers, participants include 20 chocolatiers, confectioners, wineries and other culinary artisans, such as Amano Artisan Chocolate, Lula's Chocolates, Pieces of Heaven Fine Chocolate, Monterey Chocolate Co., The Tea Room Chocolate Company, Marich Confectionery, Fera'wyn's Artisan Chocolates, CocoTutti, Plumeria Flours - cookies & confections, Amella Caramels, West Coast Toffee, Goose's Goodies, Kindred Cooks, Twisted Roots Wine, H-G Vineyards, Spicy Vines, En Voyage Perfumes, and more.

Advance Tickets and more information available at www.MontereyChocolateSalon.com