Thursday, April 28, 2016

Chocolate Blueberry Pie: Blueberry Pie Day

From The Blueberry Pie Elf by Jane Thayre
Today is National Blueberry Pie Day! My market always has fresh blueberries, but 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 in your market!

You're probably used to strawberries and chocolate and raspberries with chocolate. I've posted plenty of blueberry and chocolate recipes for scones and muffins and chocolate covered blueberries. This recipe for Chocolate Blueberry Pie 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.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Chocolate Chip Macaroons: Retro Ad & Recipe

Have a birthday in April? Here's a Retro Ad from Baker's Chocolate for an April Birthday Party. Snowdrop Birthday Cake, Animal Cracker Place Cards, Chocolate Chip Macaroons and more! Happy Birthday to my April Birthday Friends.

Baker's has a one bowl Chocolate Chip Macaroon recipe in this ad. Simple and delicious. There are even some substitute ideas for the macaroons. Of course, you can use any fabulous ingredients you'd like, but I've copied the recipe as it was printed in April 1962. Recipe below.


Chocolate Chip Macaroons 

Ingredients
1 cup Semi-Sweet Baker's Chocolate Chips
2 cups Baker's Angel Flake Cocoanut
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp salt
*1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

Directions
Combine chocolate chips, coconut, baking powder, and salt. Add vanilla and condensed milk and mix well. Drop from teaspoon on lightly greased baking sheet and bake in slow oven (325 F) 12 minutes, or until "deliciously" browned. Makes about 26 macaroons.
* One teaspoon grated orange rind may be added with vanilla. Or 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract may be substituted for vanilla.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Chocolate Covered Pretzels: National Pretzel Day

National Pretzel Day is April 26. How better to celebrate than with Chocolate Covered Pretzels!

I'm from Philadelphia, the home of the soft pretzel. When I was growing up, there were pretzel carts on almost every corner downtown. Usually we smeared our pretzels with mustard. The soft pretzels were very doughy on the inside but crunchy on the outside and dipped in rock (kosher?) salt. Since I always enjoyed baking bread, I used to make my own pretzels.

I did a little research on pretzels, and it wasn't surprising to find that the first commercial pretzel bakery in the U.S. was established in 1861 in Lancaster County, PA. In 1935, the Reading Pretzel Machinery Company introduced the automatic pretzel twisting machine. For a history of the pretzel, go here and here.

So when did chocolate covered pretzels come into the picture? It doesn't matter. These are delicious. Chocolate covered pretzels are usually made with hard pretzels. I love the salt/sweet thing.

Here's an easy recipe. As always use the very best chocolate for the very best flavor.

CHOCOLATE COVERED PRETZELS

Ingredients
1 1/2 good dark chocolate bars broken into pieces (6-8 oz?)
1 Tbsp butter
Pretzels (until your chocolate runs out)

Directions
Melt chocolate with butter in bowl over simmering water. Remove from heat, but keep over water.
One at a time drop pretzels into chocolate. Lift out with fork, tapping fork against side of bowl to let excess chocolate drip back into bowl.
Put pretzels on wire rack (over wax paper). Dry until chocolate hardens.

How easy is that?

Cartoon of the Day: Death by Chocolate


Monday, April 25, 2016

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread with Pistachios: Zucchini Bread Day

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 now come in recyclable paper bags. So 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 with Pistachios, 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 Ackroyd?) 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.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

QUEEN ELIZABETH II'S BIRTHDAY CHOCOLATE CAKE

Happy Birthday, Queen Elizabeth! This is the cake that the Queen favors for her birthday celebrations! It's a pip. Recipe from former Royal Chef Darren McGrady. Technically this is called a Chocolate Ganache Sponge..but that's British parlance for cake.. This is not a sponge cake as we know it in the U.S.

QUEEN ELIZABETH II BIRTHDAY CHOCOLATE CAKE

Cake
6 egg yolks
2 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/8 cup dutch cocoa powder
1/4 cup melted butter

Topping and Filling 
2 cups (1 pt) heavy cream
1 lb Ghirardelli dark chocolate

Directions:
At least six hours before baking the cake, prepare the filling:
Melt half chocolate (227g). Bring to boil 1 cup of the cream. Pour cream onto chocolate and whisk until smooth, then refrigerate until set.
Turn on oven to 350.
Line an 8 inch cake tin with parchment paper and grease.
Set pan (large enough to hold mixing bowl) half full of hot water on stove; bring water to boil.
In mixing bowl, add eggs, yolks, and sugar and whisk together. Place over bowl of hot water to allow mixture to heat up. Sieve flour and cocoa and set aside. Whisk egg mixture until it doubles in volume and then fold in butter and flour mixture. Spoon mix into cake pan; bake about 20 minutes, or until cake springs back when pressed. Remove from oven onto cooling wire and make topping while cake cools. Melt remaining chocolate. Bring to boil remaining cream. Pour cream onto chocolate and whisk it until smooth and then set aside off the heat. Slice cake into three discs and spread filling onto bottom two discs and reassemble. Add remaining chocolate mix to hot topping and whisk in. Place cake back onto cooling wire and ladle topping over cake allowing it to run down the sides. Cool cake for at least two hours before decorating and serving.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies: Cherry Cheesecake Day

Today is National Cherry Cheesecake Day. You can make a Cherry Cheesecake with a Chocolate Cookie Crust.. or you can make Kerrian's Creamy Chocolate Cheesecake and add a Cherry topping.

But I thought I'd repost a terrific recipe for Cherry Cheesecake Brownies adapted from Deb Wise's recipe in Cooking Light, September 2011.

The matzo cake meal in the cheesecake thickens the batter and allows for a creamy texture to the cheesecake, but you can substitute regular all-purpose flour for the cake meal.

CHERRY CHEESCAKE BROWNIES

Cheesecake: 
1/2 cup chopped dried tart cherries  (I use Trader Joe's or Chukar's)
1 Tbsp Kirsch or another cherry liqueur
1/4 cup sugar
6 ounces cream cheese (low fat or not)
1 Tbsp matzo cake meal
1/4 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Brownies:
Cooking spray
1 1/2 tsp unsweetened DARK cocoa
4 ounces dark chocolate (70-85% cacao, fair trade), finely chopped
6 Tbsp sweet butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 325°.

2. For cheesecake: Place cherries and Kirsch in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH 45 seconds or until boiling; let stand 20 minutes.
Place 1/4 cup sugar and cream cheese in large bowl; beat with mixer at medium speed 1 minute or until smooth. Add matzo meal, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 egg; beat just until blended. Stir in cherry mixture.

3. For brownies: Coat 9-inch square metal baking pan with cooking spray; dust with cocoa.
Combine chocolate and butter in microwave-safe dish; microwave at HIGH for 1 minute, stirring every 20 seconds. Let stand for 5 minutes--or combine in double boiler over simmering water, then let stand for 5 minutes.
Stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, egg whites, and 1 egg.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with knife. Combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Stir chocolate mixture into flour mixture.

4. Scrape half brownie batter into prepared pan.
Dot half of cheesecake batter on top.
Top with remaining brownie batter.
Dot with remaining cheesecake batter.
Swirl batters using tip ofknife.
Bake at 325° for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging.
Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
Cut into squares.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Cracked Earth Flourless Chocolate Cake: Earth Day & Passover

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. A few years ago, we had an issue (Volume 29:1) that focused on Environmental Crime Fiction/Mysteries. In addition I compose lists of themed crime fiction. Have a look at my Environmental Crime Fiction list on Mystery Fanfare.

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.

And, since tonight is the first night of Passover, this fabulous Flourless Chocolate Cake is perfect for the Seder and the rest of the week!

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

Cracked Earth Flourless Chocolate 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.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Chocolate Truffle Pie with Chocolate Macaroon Crust for Passover or Any time!

A surprising number of "regular" recipes are perfect for Passover. I'll bet if you go through your recipes, you'll find some gems that will work! A Macaroon Pie Crust goes great with Chocolate filling! You can use it in lots of other recipes. And, it's Gluten-Free.

Here's an easy Kosher for Passover Chocolate Truffle Pie with Chocolate Macaroon Crust. You can make your own crust or buy a Manischewitz Macaroon Pie Crust (either plain or chocolate). You might want to make your own chocolate macaroon pie crust and use chocolate macaroons as in the following recipe. You can make this pie anytime. It's not just for Passover. One caveat. If you're taking this to a seder, check with your host. There's a lot of butter and cream in this recipe, and they may be serving meat.

CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE PIE WITH CHOCOLATE MACAROON CRUST 
This recipe is adapted from allrecipes.com

Chocolate Macaroon Pie Crust
1/2 cup crumbled chocolate macaroons
1/4 stick sweet butter, softened


Filling
1-1/3 cups dark chocolate, broken
1/2 cup sweet butter, at room temperature
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup dark chocolate, 65-75% cacao, fair trade.. (Earth Day is coming up)
1 Tbsp amaretto

Directions

Chocolate Macaroon Pie Crust
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Crush macaroons in food processor. Remove to medium sized bowl. Add softened butter and mix well. Press mixture into bottom and up sides of 9 inch tart or pie pan. Bake at 350 for 7 minutes. Cool on rack.

Filling
In metal bowl over simmering water (or in double boiler), combine 1-1/3 cups dark chocolate and 1/2 cup sweet butter, stirring occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
In separate bowl, using electric mixer, beat egg yolks with 1/4 cup sugar until thick and pale, at least 3 minutes. Stir into melted chocolate and set back over pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until thick, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour into cooled crust and smooth top.
Heat heavy cream in small saucepan. When warm, stir in remaining chocolate until melted. Remove from heat and stir in amaretto. Pour over truffle filling.
Refrigerate for several hours to set before serving. Be sure and take out of refrigerator for 1/2 hour before serving.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Passover Chocolate Pecan Flourless Brownie Fudge Cake

This recipe for Chocolate Pecan Flourless Brownie Fudge Cake is one of my absolute favorites. It's Gluten-free and Kosher for Passover (with a few tweaks) and just plain fabulous. The original recipe first appeared in the L.A. Times on April 14, 2011 and again in August 2012 with a photo by Glenn Koenig (which will make your drool), so be sure and check out what the finished cake looks like.

Instead of flour, the recipe calls for ground blanched almonds. Almond and chocolate go very well together. The almond flour gives the following cake a nutty flavor that is complemented by the Pecans! Try using different types of chocolate to achieve the flavor you like best.This cake is simple to make and easy to enjoy! Add some fresh whipped cream if you need to. I particularly like the crunchy top of this cake and the fudge-y insides.

Notes on special ingredients:

Almond Flour: Almond flour is readily available where I live, as well as online, but you can grind your own. Use a hand grinder (a clean coffee grinder) or blender. Don't use a food processor or you might end up making oil. If you use a blender, do it in small increments, about 1/2 cup at a time.

Turbinado Sugar: Turbinado sugar is a sugar cane-based, minimally refined sugar. It's medium brown in color and has large crystals. It's often mistaken for traditional brown sugar because of its light brown color, but it's made in a different way. It contains more moisture than regular white or brown sugar, so get some for your pantry. If you don't have it, and you want to make this cake today, you can substitute granulated sugar.

Potato Starch: No you don't have to make your own! Potato starch is available from Bob's Red Mill, King Arthur Flour, and many other sources. It is not the same product as potato flour.

CHOCOLATE PECAN FLOURLESS BROWNIE FUDGE CAKE

Ingredients
1/3 cup potato starch (see my note above)
1/2 cup finely ground blanched almonds (see note above)
1 cup turbinado sugar (in a pinch you can use granulated sugar)
Pinch salt
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (the very best quality!), melted
1 cup chopped pecans

Directions
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 9-inch round or square baking pan and line with parchment paper so paper extends 2 inches beyond the pan. (Always good to ease the cake out of the pan)
In medium bowl, whisk together potato starch, ground almonds, sugar, and salt.
In small bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, and vanilla. Pour oil mixture over dry ingredients and stir together with wooden spoon until thoroughly combined and smooth. Stir in melted chocolate and chopped pecans. Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Level with frosting spatula dipped in cold water, if necessary.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out slightly moist but without crumbs.
While still warm, cut into 8 equal pieces, leaving cake in pan. Set aside cake to cool completely, then chill.
Bring cake back to room temperature before lifting out of pan (using parchment 'handles'), and gently separate into portions.
Top with fresh whipped cream and serve!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

18 Layer No Bake Matzo S'mores Cake for Passover

I posted this a few years ago, but I just had to re-post. I often find recipes in odd places such as the back of a carton or box. And, that's exactly where this one was -- on the back of the Manischewitz Matzo Box. What's really funny is that this is a recipe for a No Bake Matzo S'mores Cake. Right up my alley, with a few tweaks! Nothing you can do about replacing the matzo with graham crackers if you're serving this during Passover. However, you can replace the non-dairy whipped topping with marshmallow creme. There are several kosher varieties, including at least one that's kosher for Passover.

Here are some tips, too! 
First, you can half this recipe. How many people are you feeding, after all?
Second, it's easier to prepare each layer separately before stacking.

18-Layer No Bake Matzo S'more Cake  
Recipe from Back of Manischewitz Matzo Box 

Ingredients:
21 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted in the microwave
2 tsp ground espresso
16-ounce container frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed (or substitute Passover Marshmallow Creme-yes, it does exist!)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1 box (16 oz) Manischewitz Matzo
1/2 cup chopped almonds
White chocolate and fresh berries for garnish (optional)
 
Preparation:
Add the ground espresso to the melted chocolate; mix well. Set aside.
Using the beater attachment of your mixer, whip the topping as you slowly add the sugar and almond extract and form soft peaks.
Separate half the whipped topping into another bowl. Add about 1/2 cup of the cooled, melted chocolate into one of the whipped topping bowls. Gently fold the chocolate into the topping using a rubber spatula.

To Assemble Cake:
Using a pastry brush or a knife, shmear a layer of the melted chocolate onto the top of each matzo square.
Layer each chocolate covered matzo with whipped topping, alternating between the white topping and the chocolate topping. Sprinkle chopped almonds over each layer before adding the next chocolate covered matzo.
Repeat until you have come to the last piece of matzo.
Garnish the top of the cake with shaved white chocolate, fresh berries and any leftover chopped almonds.

Refrigerate for up to two hours before serving.

Monday, April 18, 2016

White Chocolate Molé: Animal Crackers in my Molé!

Today is National Animal Crackers Day, so this recipe for White Chocolate Molé with Animal Crackers is perfect! Animal Crackers are often used in Molé recipes for thickening.

I posted a more traditional Molé Poblano Recipe with Animal Crackers before.. but this one is for White Chocolate Molé with Animal Crackers. Definitely worth making. Recipe from Judy Walker in the Arizona Republic several years ago.

White Chocolate Molé with Animal Crackers

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup sliced blanched almonds
1/4 cup walnuts
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
2 whole cloves
1 fresh poblano chile, seeded and chopped
2 fresh serrano chiles, seeded and chopped
1 small clove garlic
1/2 white Spanish onion, cut into chunks
6 animal crackers, toasted
1/4 cup sweet butter
1/2 cup chopped white chocolate
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground white pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread peanuts, almonds, and walnuts on a jelly-roll pan. Toast in oven, shaking the pan occasionally, until the nuts are slightly colored and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes.

In blender, combine nuts, water, cinnamon stick, and cloves; blend until nuts are very finely ground. Strain through medium-mesh sieve over bowl, pressing on solids with back of ladle or rubber spatula to release liquid. Reserve liquid and discard solids.

In blender, combine chiles, garlic, onion, and nut liquid. Add animal crackers; puree until smooth. Strain through medium-mesh sieve over bowl, pressing on solids with back of ladle or rubber spatula to release liquid. Discard solids.

In large saucepan, heat butter. Stir in nut-chile liquid. Simmer, uncovered, over medium heat, scraping bottom of pan occasionally with  rubber spatula, until mixture is consistency of thick pea soup, about 15 minutes.

Stir in chocolate, salt, and pepper until chocolate is melted. Use immediately.

Note: The Molé without the chocolate can be made ahead and refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to a week. To serve, heat in a saucepan and stir in the chocolate.

Easy Passover Chocolate Macaroons

Here's an easy recipe for Passover Chocolate Macaroons. You can make these a few days ahead. This no-fail recipe has been around for years. Sometimes I fold in mini-chocolate chips during the final step. As always, the quality of your ingredients will make the difference in the flavor of these macaroons. And, of course, these are gluten-free.

EASY PASSOVER CHOCOLATE MACAROONS

Ingredients
2 cups high quality dark chocolate, chopped or chocolate chips
4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
2 tsp Madagascar vanilla
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 cups sweetened flaked or shredded coconut

Directions 
Melt chocolate in double boiler set over simmering water. Remove pan from heat; set aside to cool. Move oven rack to center position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or grease lightly.
With electric mixer on medium-high speed beat egg whites until foamy, about 30 seconds. Add  pinch of salt and beat until soft peaks form. Add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating for 10 seconds after each addition, until stiff peaks form, about 6 minutes total. Beat in vanilla and lemon juice. Fold in coconut and melted chocolate. (This is where I sometimes add mini-chocolate chips). Drop batter by the teaspoon, 1 inch apart, on prepared baking sheet (batter will stiffen as it stands). Bake until macaroons puff, 10 to 13 minutes. (Do not allow edges to brown.)
Cool on baking sheet on wire rack, 1 to 2 minutes.
Transfer macaroons to rack to cool completely.
Repeat with remaining macaroon batter. Serve immediately. Makes about 60 macaroons.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies for Passover: Gluten-free

Here's a recipe I posted a few years ago. Perfect for Passover--or for anyone who's looking for a great Gluten-Free cookie.

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, and these cookies are Gluten-free. 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 Tbsp Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
Pinch of salt
2 3/4 cups walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

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

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

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

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

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

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. PAYARD DESSERTS, was released on October 29th, 2013.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Chocolate Sponge Cake for Passover: Gluten-free

I have several recipes for chocolate sponge cake for Passover, but this specific Chocolate Sponge Cake is fabulous all year round. And it's gluten-free! It's made with almond flour.

Want to dress it up? Add some whipped cream and fresh berries, cut it in half and fill with a light chocolate buttercream, or cut it up and put it in a trifle. Easy to make and delicious.

A few hints. Fresh Almond flour is readily available where I live, but you can always grind your own. Use a hand grinder (a clean coffee grinder) or blender --not a food processor which could result in oil rather than flour. I've used a blender, and just did this in smaller increments, about 1/2 cup at a time. Almond and chocolate go very well together. Try using different types of chocolate to achieve the flavor you like best. Enjoy!

Because there are so many eggs to separate in this recipe, I use the 'egg trick'. Break all eggs into bowl (yes yolks and whites). Then take an empty water bottle and place the neck near a yolk and squeeze the water bottle. The yolk pops up into the bottle. Then place the water bottle over another bowl and release. So cool! Try with one egg first, just to master this simple task!

CHOCOLATE SPONGE CAKE

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

Directions
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler or saucepan over another saucepan of simmering water. Set aside.
Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon colored. Gradually beat in sugar. Blend in chocolate and ground almonds.
Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold whites into chocolate batter.
Spoon batter into ungreased 10 inch Bundt pan or tall springform pan.
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 15, 2016

Chocolate Matzo Toffee for Passover

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

This 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




Thursday, April 14, 2016

Salted Caramel Chocolate Pecan Tarts: Gluten-free

Today is National Pecan Day! I always search specific food company sites and associations for good recipes about their products. I found this recipe on the Diamond Nuts website. These Salted Caramel Chocolate Pecan Tarts are Gluten-free and perfect for Passover, too.

SALTED CARAMEL CHOCOLATE PECAN TARTS

Tarts 
3/4 cup Diamond of California® chopped pecans
1 cup almond flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon gluten-free baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp coconut oil or cold butter
3 Tbsp 100% pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp flax meal
3 Tbsp water or 1 egg

Caramel Sauce 
3 Tbsp coconut sugar
2 Tbsp coconut cream
1/8 tsp sea salt

Chocolate Sauce
2 Tbsp coconut cream
3 Tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F.
Spray mini muffin tin with organic cooking spray.
Place pecans in food processor and process until you have coarse flour.
Add almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, coconut oil, maple syrup, flax, water or egg, and vanilla and pulse until a ball of dough forms. Press dough into mini muffin tin. Press down to make sure of an even layer. Bake for 12-15 minutes until middle is set.
While these are baking, prepare caramel sauce. Place coconut sugar and coconut cream in small saucepan. Continue to stir until melted and completely smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat and add salt. Stir again. Set aside.
Prepare chocolate sauce by placing coconut cream in small saucepan. Continue to stir until melted. Add chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate) and stir until completely smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat.
Once tarts are finished baking, take spoon and press down center to form indent. Gently spoon caramel sauce into center of each tart, then spoon chocolate sauce on top of caramel sauce. Top with  tiny bit of extra sea salt and finely chopped pecans.
Place in refrigerator for at least an hour until set.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Passover Chocolate Brownies: 4 Recipes. Gluten-free

Passover begins Friday, April 22, and if you observe the Passover holiday (8 days) you won't be eating any leavened food products. So in terms of chocolate baking you need to tweak some things, starting with not using flour. This doesn't mean you can't have Chocolate Cake, Brownies or Cookies.. just an adjustment. And, if you're gluten-free, you'll love these recipes. Baking without flour shouldn't be a problem, and these recipes are great any time, not just for Passover.

Because you might be baking dessert for a Seder, whether you're Jewish or not, you'll want to be sensitive and bring a Kosher for Passover dessert. That means not using flour and probably using margarine (or oil as in one of the following recipes) in lieu of butter unless you know the seder meal won't contain meat. I prefer using butter in most of my baking, so this is a hard one. However, if you plan to have sweets around at home during the Passover holidays or just want to make some new Brownie recipes, you'll love these. Use butter.

So I'm starting off this Passover Season with 4 different recipes for Passover Brownies. Think of them as Flourless Brownies! You love Flourless Chocolate Cake, right? Try all the recipes and let me know which you like best. Or do you have your own recipe for Passover Brownies? Be sure and link below.

These first two recipes I adapted from recipes I found on Chowhound in 2008.

Passover Chocolate Brownies #1

Ingredients
1 stick sweet butter, softened
1 cup sugar
5 eggs, separated
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (not chocolate chips)
8 ounces finely chopped or ground almonds
Pinch of salt

Directions
Cream butter and sugar together. Mix in egg yolks.
Melt Chocolate over double boiler (or over saucepan over saucepan with simmering water). Cool and add to butter mixture. Add finely ground almonds.
Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold into batter.
Pour into 9" square greased baking tin.
Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 45-50 min.
Cool and cut into squares.

Passover Chocolate Brownies #2

Ingredients
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup of matzo cake meal
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup DARK cocoa
3 large eggs
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Directions
Mix oil and sugar.
Add eggs and mix again.
Sift matzo cake meal and cocoa together and add to mixture.
Fold in nuts and mix thoroughly.
Grease 8x8 pan and pour in batter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
Cool and cut in squares.

This third recipe is originally from Gourmet 2000 ( Epicurious). It calls for a Chocolate-Wine Glaze, and you might want to try that. I like my brownies unadulterated, but I've tried the chocolate-wine glaze, and it's yummy. Nothing quite like chocolate and Manischevitz!

Passover Chocolate Brownies #3

Ingredients
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted margarine (if keeping brownies pareve) or butter, cut into pieces
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
Pinch of Salt
2 tsp finely grated fresh orange zest
3/4 cup matzo cake meal
3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with wax paper or greased foil.
Melt chocolate and margarine (or butter) in metal bowl over saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.
Beat eggs, sugar, and salt in large bowl with electric mixer on high until pale and thick. Beat in chocolate in 3 batches on low speed. Stir in zest, matzo meal, and nuts just until blended.
Spread batter in baking pan and bake in middle of oven until firm and tester comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
Cool in pan on rack, then invert onto a platter and remove paper or foil.
Cut into Squares.

Passover Chocolate Brownies #4

Ingredients
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or dark chocolate, chopped)
1/2 cup sweet butter or margarine
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup matzoh cake meal
2 Tbsp unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
2 Tbsp potato starch
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions
Preheat oven to 350. Grease 8-inch square baking dish.
Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler or in saucepan on top of another saucepan with simmering water. Set aside to cool slightly.
In mixing bowl, stir together cake meal, cocoa powder, and potato starch.
Combine eggs, granulated sugar, and vanilla in large bowl. Beat with electric mixer until light and creamy – about 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture until smooth, then add cake meal mixture, beating on low speed just until combined. Batter is thick.
Fold in chopped nuts and spread in prepared baking dish.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or just until entire surface has puffed slightly. Brownies will still be moist in center.
Remove from oven and cool before cutting into squares.

I especially love Passover Brownies #4--very, very fudgy!!! Of course, I use very good chocolate! It really makes a difference!!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Chocolate and Brie Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, and I have an old trusted recipe for the best Chocolate and Brie Grilled Cheese Sandwich you will ever taste. The original recipe is for Giada de Laurentis's recipe for a Chocolate & Brie Panini, but since it's Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, make this on top of the stove.
Today is

Yum Sugar, one of my favorite food sites, modified this recipe, and I totally agree. Less chocolate is better as in the recipe below, so the chocolate doesn't overpower the cheese. As in all of the recipes, I recommend using the very best of all products. It really makes a difference--from the olive oil to the bread to the brie and chocolate.

A few other possibilities: try using ciabatta instead of sourdough. Don't have a panini press? You can make this as you would a grilled cheese sandwich. In a dorm?  Use your iron as the press (you will need to clean it afterwards).

Chocolate and Brie Grilled Cheese Sandwich
this is for a crowd, but you can modify it, or serve it as an appetizer at your next party--cut in squares

Ingredients
12 slices sourdough bread (try ciabatta if you want a change)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces Brie cheese, thinly sliced
10 ounces dark chocolate squares, chopped
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves

Directions
Preheat panini grill.
Brush both sides of bread with olive oil. Grill bread slices until they begin to turn golden, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove from panini grill and place 2 ounces of cheese on 1 slice of bread (the bottom half), top  cheese with 1/4 cup chopped chocolate, and a few leaves of basil. Top with another slice of bread. Continue with remaining sandwiches.
Return sandwiches to the panini grill until chocolate begins to melt, about another 2 minutes.
Cut sandwiches into 2-inch wide rectangles or small triangles and transfer to serving platter.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Dark Chocolate Grilled Parmesan Cheese Sandwich

I've posted many recipes for Chocolate Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, but I recently came across a new one, and it's fabulous. As always, experiment, but I had to share this recipe since tomorrow is Grilled Cheese Day. As always use the very best ingredients! Please don't use Parmesan from the can--either grate your own or buy it at a specialty shop where it's just been grated. Recently I've been favoring a Wisconsin Parmesan--not too salty and fabulous flavor. And, of course a good Parmesan/Reggiano would be great in this Grilled Cheese Sandwich!

Dark Chocolate Grilled Parmesan Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients
4 slices brioche or sweet sourdough
Butter, for bread
2 Tbsp ricotta cheese
1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
Lightly spread one side of each bread slice with butter. Evenly divide ricotta between two bread slices and then evenly sprinkle the Chocolate and Parmesan over the ricotta. Top with remaining bread slices.
Heat skillet over medium-low heat. Place sandwiches in warm skillet and cook on one side until golden brown and cheese begins to melt, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip sandwich over and cook until golden brown and cheese is completely melted, 2 to 4 additional minutes.
Let cool 2 minutes before cutting in half.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Cinnamon Chocolate Truffles: All about Cinnamon

Over the years I've posted some many recipes containing Cinnamon. However, I don't think I've ever discussed the different types of cinnamon. The cinnamon you choose will affect the flavor of your final product. So let's talk cinnamon. It's versatile in that it's sweet and spicy at the same time. And, of course, cinnamon pairs perfectly with chocolate.

Saigon Cinnamon is bright and spicy and adds a kick of flavor. I really like this cinnamon in the following truffle recipes. It will really complement and heighten the chocolate. This cinnamon comes from an evergreen tree found in Southeast Asia.

More commonly produced, Ceylon Cinnamon is  sweeter and milder in taste and lighter in color. Ceylon Cinnamon is delicate and subtly floral and is good to pairing with other spices. Ceylon Cinnamon is grown in Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Brazil, India, and the Caribbean. FYI: this cinnamon does not contain coumarin or just trace amounts (but that's another subject).

Cinnamon Sticks: If you're making the first recipe, be sure and use premium cinnamon sticks such as Ceylon Cinnamon Sticks. You can find them online or at a high end market. Since this cinnamon is flavoring your cream in the recipe, you'll want the best. Cinnamon sticks are the peeled, dried, and rolled bark of a cinnamon tree.

So if the cinnamon in your pantry is old or you just want to try something new, try one of the above. Buy it fresh from a reputable purveyor.

Here are two easy recipes for Chocolate Cinnamon Truffles.

1. CINNAMON CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

Ingredients
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 cinnamon sticks (be sure to use the very best Cinnamon Sticks--Ceylon sticks are the best)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Directions
Place chopped chocolate in large bowl and set aside.
Combine cinnamon sticks with cream in medium small saucepan over medium heat and bring cream to simmer. Once simmering, remove pan from heat and cover with lid. Let sit for 30 minutes to absorb flavors.
After 30 minutes, remove lid, return pan to heat and bring cream to simmer once more. Pour hot cream through fine mesh strainer into chocolate bowl, straining out cinnamon sticks.
Let hot cream and chocolate stand for one minute to soften chocolate, then whisk mixture gently until chocolate melts and mixture is entirely smooth. Add room temperature butter and salt, and whisk in. This is the ganache.
Cover ganache with plastic wrap, placing plastic wrap directly on top of ganache so that it is not exposed to air. Refrigerate ganache until firm enough to scoop but not solid, about 45-60 minutes.
Mix cocoa powder and cinnamon together in shallow bowl. Dust hands with cocoa powder. Scoop teaspoonfuls of ganache and roll  between hands to form small balls, adding more cocoa powder as necessary to keep them from sticking to palms.
Put truffles on a baking sheet covered with parchment or waxed paper.
Store Cinnamon Truffles in an airtight container for up to a week. Best served at room temperature.

2. Cinnamon Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients 
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp plus 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 Tbsp confectioners sugar

Directions
Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In heavy 2-quart saucepan, melt chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring constantly. Once smooth, remove from heat. Stir in whipping cream, vanilla, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
Refrigerate mixture for about an hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until firm enough to roll into balls.
Shape into balls - if mixture is too sticky, refrigerate until firm enough to shape.
Refrigerate balls again for 1 hour or until firm.
In small bowl, combine remaining 1 Tbsp of cinnamon, cocoa, and powdered sugar. Roll truffles in cocoa and cinnamon mixture.
Store in airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 week. Remove truffles from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Fluffo Retro Ad & Recipe: Championship Fudge Cake

I love Retro Ads with Recipes, and this one "Takes the Cake." This is a recipe for Mrs. Vik's Championship Fudge Cake. Grammatically incorrect -- "a new kind of cakes!" Really? It's made with Golden Fluffo!

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


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

CHAMPIONSHIP FUDGE CAKE

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

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

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

Mocha Icing:
Add 1 Tbsp instant coffee, dissolved in cream.

Mint Icing: 
Add 1/8 to 1/4 tsp mint flavoring during final beating.

Friday, April 8, 2016

OOEY GOOEY CHEWY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE BARS

On my other blog, Mystery Fanfare, I post mystery reviews, interviews, cartoons of the day, and TV shows  and movies. Murder, She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery, was shown last year on the Hallmark Station. Because amateur sleuth Hannah Swensen (based on Joanne Fluke's mystery series) has a bakery, Hallmark has posted several of Fluke's recipes on their site. Great marketing. Here's a recipe for Ooey Gooey Chewy Cookie Bars. They're really easy and delicious, so mix up a batch of these great chocolate chip bars this weekend.

OOEY GOOEY CHEWY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE BARS

Ingredients
1/2 cup white (granulated) sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (not sifted – pack it down in the cup when you measure it)
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa*** (Joanne uses Hershey’s -read note below)
1/2 stick salted butter, melted 1/4 cup, 2 ounces, 1/8 pound)
2 cups milk chocolate chips (Joanne uses 12-ounce package of Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips)
3 cups miniature marshmallows (pack down in cup)
1 -1/2 cups flaked coconut (pack down in cup when you measure )
1 cup chopped nuts (either pecans, or walnuts)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F., rack in middle position

Directions
  1. Mix white sugar, flour, salt, and cocoa together in a medium-sized bowl. Drizzle melted butter over top of the bowl and mix in with fork. When butter is incorporated, mixture will resemble small beads. (You can also do this in the bowl of a food processor, using chunks of chilled butter and the steel blade.)
  2. Spray 9 inch by 13 inch cake pan with Pam (or other nonstick cooking spray), and dump crust mixture in bottom. Gently shake pan to distribute mixture and press down with metal spatula.
  3. *** You can find unsweetened baking cocoa in the baking aisle of your grocery store. Make sure you get an American brand. Some of the others are Dutch process and they won’t work in this recipe. Also be careful not to get cocoa mix, the kind you’d use to make hot chocolate or chocolate milk.
  4. Sprinkle milk chocolate chips evenly over crust layer. Sprinkle marshmallows over that. Sprinkle flaked coconut on next, and then sprinkle on chopped nuts. Press everything down with back of metal spatula. Pour sweetened condensed milk over very top as evenly as you can.
  5. Bake Ooey Gooey Chewy Cookie Bars at 350 degrees F. for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bars are nicely browned on top.
  6. Let bars cool on wire rack or on cold stovetop burner. When cool, cut into brownie-sized pieces.
  7. WARNING: DON’T REFRIGERATE THESE COOKIE BARS WITHOUT CUTTING THEM FIRST – THEY’RE VERY DENSE AND SOLID WHEN CHILLED.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Chocolate Swirl Coffee Cake for Coffee Cake Day

Today is National Coffee Cake Day, so here's a great and easy recipe for Chocolate Swirl Coffee Cake. It's slightly adapted from the Godiva website. As always, use the very best chocolate and cocoa. So grab a cup of Joe and have a piece of this fabulous coffee cake to celebrate!

CHOCOLATE SWIRL COFFEE CAKE

Chocolate Streusel Filling and Topping 

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

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

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

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

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

Cartoon of the Day: The Coffee Cake

 Today is National Coffee Cake Day. Cartoon of the Day from Rhymes with Orange.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Chocolate Mousse Pie with Pecan Crust for Passover: Gluten-free

Vintage Barton's Passover Chocolates Tin
Passover is right around the corner, so I'll be posting recipes. Here's a recipe I found a few years ago on the Internet on About.com for a fabulous and easy Chocolate Mousse Pie with Pecan Crust. It's also Gluten-Free, so you can make and serve this any time.

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE PIE WITH PECAN CRUST

Ingredients
2 cups chopped pecans
1/4 cup sweet butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup superfine sugar
3/4 cup dark chocolate, melted
2 tsp Madagascar vanilla
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
2 Tbsp superfine sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In medium bowl, combine pecans, brown sugar, and melted butter. Mix well. Press into 9" pie pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for 8-9 minutes until just set. Cool on wire rack until completely cooled.
In large bowl, combine cream cheese, cocoa powder, and 1 cup superfine sugar. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Add melted chocolate and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
In medium bowl, combine heavy cream and 2 Tbsp superfine sugar until stiff peaks form. Beat spoonful of mixture into chocolate mixture to lighten. Fold remaining whipped cream into chocolate mixture to combine.
Pour into cooled pie shell.
Cover and chill until firm, about 4-6 hours.
Serve plain or with whipped cream (if you're having a dairy Passover seder)

How easy is this? 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Salted Caramel Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake in a Jar

Photo: Driscoll's
Today is Caramel Day, and there are so many ways to celebrate -- Caramel sauce on ice cream or cake, Caramel Hot Chocolate, and more. I often say that product sites have great recipes, and Driscoll's Berries certainly does. I'm partial to Driscolls because their berries are always good! Today I'm posting their recipe for Salted Caramel Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake in a Jar. Wow! This is a great recipe for Spring when berries are at the finest! Terrific presentation, too, in half-pint mason jars.

For Caramel Sauces, I love Fat Toad Farm (Goat Caramel Sauce) and Recchiuti (Burnt Caramel Sauce), but there are many more that are fabulous. Here's a chance to try out a few. As always, use the very best ingredients in the following recipe for the best flavor!

SALTED CARAMEL CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE IN A JAR

Salted Chocolate Biscuits 
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa
1 1/4 tsp baking powder 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces plus 1Tbsp melted
1/2 cup dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons cold buttermilk
1/4 tsp coarse salt or more to taste

Caramel Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp prepared caramel sauce
1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract

Additional Ingredients
1 package (16 ounces) Driscoll's Strawberries, hulled and quartered plus 4 Driscoll's Strawberries, each cut in half for garnish
8 wide-mouth 1/2-pint mason jars
Salted Chocolate Biscuits

Directions
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl or blend in bowl of a food processor. Cut in butter with pastry cutter or pulse in food processor until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Stir in chocolate chips and buttermilk until dough just comes together. The dough will be wet.
On floured surface, with floured hands, pat dough into circle 3/4-inch thick. Cut out 8 biscuits with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter and place each on ungreased cookie sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Bake about 15 minutes or until firm. Let cool on a wire rack.

Caramel Whipped Cream
Meanwhile, place cream, caramel sauce, and vanilla in large mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer until stiff peaks form, making sure all caramel dissolves into cream. Keep chilled until ready to use.

Assembly
Split each biscuit lengthwise in half. Place each biscuit base in mason jar and evenly divide quartered strawberries among jars. Reserve 1/2 cup caramel whipped cream for garnish and divide remaining cream among jars, spreading on top of strawberries. Place biscuit top over whipped cream in each jar. Dollop 1 tablespoon whipped cream on each biscuit top and finish with halved strawberries.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Nutella 2 Ingredient Flourless Cake

I'm all about easy, and this two ingredient Nutella Flourless Chocolate Cake is perfect for my Gluten-Free friends, as well as for the upcoming Passover holiday.  It's truly just eggs and Nutella. The following recipe is only slightly adapted from a recipe by Kirbie's Cravings in 2012. You'll want to check out all of her Nutella recipes..Fab!

Hints from Kirbie about this Two-Ingredient Flourless Nutella Cake: Please take note

* The key to the texture of the cake and to not end up with something “eggy” is the whipped eggs which are whipped until triple the volume. This creates the cake texture and it should not end up just tasting like sweetened eggs because the eggs have so much air whipped into them. So it’s important to whip the eggs long enough with a stand mixer.  

* In addition, when you fold in the eggs and Nutella together, it needs to be done in small batches and not all at once or you risk deflating most of the egg meringue you’ve made. 

* Make sure to weigh out the Nutella, and make sure you get all that Nutella into the actual cake as I know it can be sticky and often people leave a lot of the Nutella behind in their measuring cup. 

* Finally, give the cake sufficient time to cool and rest. This will allow the flavors to full develop, otherwise the chocolate flavor is a little light and the egg flavor a little strong if you eat it right out of the oven. Let the cake cool for at least 1 hour or longer. 

NUTELLA 2 INGREDIENT FLOURLESS CAKE

Ingredients
4 large or extra large eggs
8 1/2 ounces Nutella (weighted, please remember 8 1/2 oz weighted is not the same as liquid ounces)

Directions
Grease 8 inch round springform pan, lined with parchment paper on sides and bottom. (Spray with oil first, so parchment paper sticks)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Beat eggs on highest speed with stand mixer until triple in volume, about 6 minutes. Egg consistency is key to making recipe work, so don't save time on this step. Eggs must be beaten until triple in volume as that is what creates the cake.
Measure out Nutella into glass bowl. Microwave Nutella for 20 seconds to soften. Add in 1/3 of egg mixture. Gently stir with spatula in same clockwise direction until all of egg is mixed in and no streaks remain. Then add another 1/3 of egg mixture and fold again until no egg streaks remain. Pour in remaining third and make sure to scrape foam that sticks to mixing bowl into batter and stir until no streaks remain. Make sure to do this in 3 batches because otherwise the whipped eggs may lose too much of air that has been whipped into them if you try to do it all at once.
3. Pour batter into springfoam pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until knife inserted comes out clean. Let cake cool completely before removing from pan and cutting and serving. This will allow chocolate flavor to fully develop.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Chocolate Chocolate Mousse Trifle

Happy Chocolate Mousse Day! Here's a recipe from Allrecipes for Chocolate Chocolate Mousse Trifle. The original recipe below calls for brownie mix, instant chocolate pudding, and whipped topping.. That makes it super easy and fast, but you can always make your own brownies and pudding and whipped cream from scratch. You can also add chocolate chips into the pudding layer for more chocolate! And, I add fresh raspberries to the top--you can also add them on top of the whipped cream layers.

Chocolate Chocolate Mousse Trifle

Ingredients
1 (19.8 ounce) package brownie mix  (or your own brownie recipe)
1 (3.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix (or your own chocolate pudding recipe)
1/2 cup water
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed (or real whipped cream)
1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping (or real whipped cream)
1 (1.5 ounce) bar chocolate candy

Directions  
(if you're using a glass trifle bowl, you might want to do 3 layers instead of 2)

Prepare brownie mix according to package directions and cool completely. Cut into 1 inch squares.
In large bowl, combine pudding mix, water, and sweetened condensed milk. Mix until smooth, then fold in 8 ounces whipped topping until no streaks remain.
In trifle bowl or glass serving dish, place half of brownies, half of pudding mixture and half of 12 ounce container of whipped topping.
Repeat layers.
Shave chocolate on top layer for garnish. (I add raspberries on top)
Refrigerate 8 hours before serving.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Peanut Butter & Jelly Truffles: National P&J Day

When I was growing up, if a child didn't eat the school or camp lunch, out came the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. There were no gluten or peanut allergies being considered. at that time But, I didn't like peanut butter and jelly, and I was a finicky eater as a child. So I often went without lunch, although I didn't say anything. Just gave the sandwiches away. Even now, although I love jelly, and I love peanut butter, I don't like the combination. Unless, of course, there's chocolate!

So for today's food holiday, National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day, here's a simple recipe for Peanut Butter & Jelly Truffles. There are other recipes out there, but I love this one!

PEANUT BUTTER & JELLY TRUFFLES

Ingredients
8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1 cup dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup grape jelly
Chopped peanuts

Directions
Put cream cheese in bowl.
Melt chocolate and stir into bowl of cream cheese.
Add peanut butter.
Mix together on low speed.
Put mixture into square 8" dish. Spread evenly and chil in fridge for an hour.
Using melon baller or spoon, scoop out and then roll with hands into a ball.
Make a deep depression with thumb in each ball and fill with 1/4 tsp jelly.
Smooth over to seal jelly in ball.
Roll truffles in chopped peanuts.
Place on waxed paper and chill.
Keep in refrigerator until ready to eat.




Friday, April 1, 2016

Chocolate Sourdough Cake: National Sourdough Day!

I used to bake a lot of bread, and I have my own starter in the refrigerator. Some of the bread companies in the San Francisco Bay Area have sourdough starter that goes back well over a hundred and fifty years. There was a time when these bakeries kept their sourdough starter under lock and key. Well, I imagine they still might be doing that. Read Julie Smith's Sourdough Wars. This mystery might be fiction, but there's some real history behind it.  I've had my starter for about 30 years or more. Every baker should have sourdough starter in the fridge!

To learn about a good starter, go to www.sourdoughhome.com. Lots of great information on techniques, maintaining a starter, using a starter, storing a starter and even reviving a starter. Sourdough starter is a living thing, and it needs care.

One thing's for sure, it's easier and better to start with a good starter. Since I'm posting a recipe from King Arthur Flour today, let me suggest you purchase your starter from them. You have two options from King Arthur Flour: Classic Fresh Sourdough Starter or French Sourdough Starter.  The second is expensive, but might be easier for the novice who doesn't want to take care of a live starter culture. Always good to have an option.

A few years ago I posted a recipe for Chocolate Cherry Sourdough Bread. It's wonderful, but if it's too much fuss for you, Zingermann's makes a great Chocolate Sourdough Bread that's available via mail order.

But since today is National Sourdough Day, I thought I'd repost King Arthur Flour's Chocolate Sourdough Cake recipe. It's virtually foolproof. Just make sure you feed your starter the night before.. don't just pull it out of the fridge. It won't work that way! And, don't worry, this cake isn't tangy.. it's just right!

CHOCOLATE SOURDOUGH CAKE
  • 1 cup "fed" sourdough starter
  • 1 cup milk (whole milk or 2% preferred) or evaporated milk
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa (not Dutch process)
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
  • 2 large eggs

Icing

  • 6 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
Drizzle
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup

Directions

1. Combine "fed" starter, milk, and flour in large mixing bowl. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours. It won't necessarily bubble, but it may have expanded a bit.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan.
3. In separate bowl, beat together sugar, oil, vanilla, salt, baking soda, cocoa and espresso powder. Mixture will be grainy.
4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. Gently combine chocolate mixture with starter-flour-milk mixture, stirring till smooth. This will be a gloppy process at first, but batter will smooth out as you continue to beat gently.
6. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
7. Bake cake for 30 to 40 minutes, until it springs back when lightly pressed in the center, and cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
8. Remove cake from oven, and set it on rack to cool while you make the icing. OPTIONAL FOR ME... I'M NOT SURE IT NEEDS IT.. IT'S SUCH A GOOD CAKE BY ITSELF.
9. Sift confectioners' sugar into large mixing bowl, and set aside.
10. In small saucepan set over medium heat, melt butter and add buttermilk or yogurt. Dissolve espresso powder in hot water, add to pan, and bring mixture just to a boil.
11. Immediately pour simmering liquid over confectioners' sugar in the bowl, and beat till smooth. 12.  Pour warm frosting over cake. If you wait too long and frosting stiffens up, spread it over the cake.
13. Combine chocolate chips, milk, and corn syrup in microwave-safe cup. Microwave until chips soften, then stir till smooth.
14. Drizzle/drip chocolate over icing. You can do this while the icing is still warm, or wait till it's cooled.