Sunday, April 23, 2017

Teddy Bears' Picnic Triple Chocolate Scones

Today is National Picnic Day. So in honor of the Day, I'm reposting a recipe I posted on National Teddy Bear Day. When I was little I always had teddy bear tea parties, and I always served them scones. My grandparents were married in London, and I got my love of tea with milk and sugar -- and tea with scones and clotted cream from them. So for today's Picnic Day, here's a recipe for Triple Chocolate Scones. Of course you might want to add some honey on your scones. Bears love honey!

Teddy Bears' Picnic Triple Chocolate Scones 

Ingredients 
1-3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
6 Tbsp butter (cold)
7-8 Tbsp whole milk (cold)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3 Tbsp chopped dark chocolate
Sugar Crystals

Directions 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Sift together dry ingredients in large bowl (not the chocolate chips or chocolate). Add chocolate chips and dark chocolate.
Cut butter into dry ingredients until size of peas.
Put vanilla into small bowl and add milk.
Pour most of milk mixture into dry mix and stir to moisten. Dough should be moist enough to form a soft ball, but not sticky.
If needed, additional milk can be added 1-2 teaspoons at time.
Turn dough onto lightly floured cutting board and press out with hand to approximately 1/2 inch thickness. (makes 10-12 scones or 8-12 wedges)
Do not over-knead dough. Use as little flour as possible to keep dough from sticking to board.
Cut into desired shapes and place on lightly greased baking sheet.
Lightly brush tops with milk (or not).
Sprinkle with sugar crystals (you can get this at King Arthur Flour or in the baking section of the market). (If using a biscuit cutter or glass, dip the cutting edge in flour first)
Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on size. Start checking at 9 minutes. Do not overbake!
Sprinkle again with large sugar crystals while scones are still hot for visual appeal.

Tip: Scones are like biscuits. To get a tender, flaky scone, dough should be handled as little as possible, and you should always use cold butter and cold milk.

Chocolate Lime Swirl Pie: Retro Ad & Recipe

I love all these Retro Ads & Recipes. Some are better than others. Visually they don't always match our 2017 sensibilities, but taste-wise they often do. As always, you can substitute higher quality ingredients to create the very best dessert. Jelly powder, by the way, is jello..you can actually use green jello in this recipe, and not add the food coloring. Here's a blast from the past from Carnation for Chocolate Lime Swirl. As the ad reads: No cooking, No baking. How easy is this? Don't want to make this? Just enjoy the Retro Ad!




Saturday, April 22, 2017

National Jelly Bean Day!

Today is National Jelly Bean Day, and my favorite jelly beans are Jelly Bellies! I love all the flavors, especially the Jelly Belly chocolate covered jelly beans. The Jelly Belly Chocolate Dips are gourmet jelly beans covered in dark chocolate. Flavors include Very Cherry, Raspberry, Strawberry, Coconut, and Orange. Jelly Belly Chocolate Dips are gluten-free, gelatin-free and certified OU Dairy Kosher. My favorite is the Very Cherry. Just an FYI, there is no hard candy shell on the actual jelly bean center, so the chocolate covered jelly beans are the same size as regular jelly beans. This chocolate jelly bean has a real chocolate aroma and a nice mouth-feel.

If you want more of a 'plain' chocolate Jelly Bean, try the Chocolate Pudding jelly belly.

I love to take young out-of-towners to the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield, CA. There you can see jelly bellies being made, tour the art exhibit, stop by the soda fountain, buy jelly bellies and much more. When I first went to the factory, it was more open and low key. Now it's a bit more sterile and everything is behind glass walls. I'm sure that's better for production, safety and quality, but I preferred the old way. Kind of like the Hershey Factory tours when I was little. I was sure someone would fall in a vat, and maybe they did. That was pre-Willy Wonka.

I don't bake with jelly beans, and, if truth be told, they're not in my pantry. But there's always a time and a place for them, especially today on National Jelly Bean Day. So here are some 'recipes' from the Jelly Belly website for combining flavors. Great Fun!

Jelly Belly California Grizzly Painting


Friday, April 21, 2017

Chocolate Chip Orange Scones: Tea Day!

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

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

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

Chocolate Chip Orange Scones

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

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

Serve with clotted cream and jam.

Earth Day Potted Chocolate Dirt Pudding

Earth Day! Celebrate with this simple and fun recipe. Make some home-made chocolate pudding or pudding from a box, crush some oreos on top, and stick in a sprig of mint! I use either clay pots (make sure they're clean) or glass mason jars. Use paper cups if that's all you have. Talk about easy! And cute, too! You can swap out mint extract for vanilla if you want chocolate mint pudding! Very versatile.

Celebrate Earth Day! It's the only Earth we have!

Want to make your own chocolate pudding?

Potted Chocolate Dirt Pudding

Ingredients
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-1/4 cups whole milk
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract  (or mint extract)
Oreos
Mint sprigs

Directions
Stir together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in medium saucepan; gradually stir in milk.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils; boil and stir 1 minute.
Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into individual pots or jars.
Let cool or refrigerate.
Top with crushed Oreos.
Stick spring of mint into each individual pot.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Easy Chocolate Brownie Pie aka Chocolate Chee-Chee Cake: Retro Ad & Recipe

I love these Retro Baker Chocolate Ads with Recipes. This one is for Chee-Chee Cake using Baker chocolate. This is really a Chocolate Brownie Pie. You can substitute any good chocolate for Unsweetened Chocolate. Just cut down on the sugar. Enjoy!



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake

Today is National Amaretto Day. Amaretto is a sweet, almond-flavored Italian liqueur. Interestingly enough it isn't always made from almonds. It's primarily made from apricot pits and spices. The original version was made in Saronno, Italy. Amaretto is Italian for "a little bitter." Here's a link to a Homemade Amaretto recipe from Chow.com.

I love this recipe for Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake. I've adapted this recipe from Cooking Light, but I've added 'less' light ingredients. My feeling, if you're going to do it, go all the way.

Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake

Ingredients
6-10 chocolate wafers
Cooking spray
1 cup sugar
1 cup cottage cheese
12 ounces cream cheese
6 Tbsp DARK unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 cup Amaretto
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
2 Tbsp dark chocolate chopped fine (or mini-chocolate chips)

Directions
Preheat oven to 300°

Crust
Place wafers in food processor, and pulse until coarse crumbs. Sprinkle crumbs into bottom of  8-inch spring form pan coated with cooking spray.

Cheesecake
Place sugar and next 8 ingredients (sugar through salt) in food processor, and process until smooth.
Add egg, and process until blended.
Pour cheese mixture into prepared pan, and sprinkle with finely chopped dark chocolate.
Bake at 300° for 55 minutes or until cheesecake center barely moves when pan is touched.
Remove cheesecake from oven, and run knife around outside edge.
Cool to room temperature.
Cover and chill at least 8 hours.

Topping Ideas
Fresh Fruit (strawberries or raspberries)
Cherries soak in Rum
Whipped Cream (or Amaretto Whipped Cream)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Animal Crackers & Chocolate: National Animal Crackers Day

Happy National Animal Crackers Day! The original animal crackers of my childhood didn't have a lot of flavor, but even now when I think of them I remember their unique taste 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 pictures of animals in cages (sad now, but I didn't think about that then) and little flat strings to carry your box.

Today there are many different brands of animal crackers--vegan, chocolate, chocolate covered, covered with icing and sprinkles, and so many more. 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 top of 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/  Here 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. Animal Crackers have been a snack since the mid nineteenth century. Today they are made by numerous well known companies, such as Keebler, Nabisco, or the Stauffer Biscuit Company. Although store bought varieties can be great, you might want to try some homemade animal crackers.

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 Softened Real Butter
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 this mixture into mixing bowl, and 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 out into quarter inch thickness.
Using animal cracker or other cookie cutters, make as many shapes as you can with dough.
Place your finished shapes on lightly greased baking sheet. Cook for ten to fifteen minutes, or until crackers are crisp.
Cool on wire rack for half an hour.

Waiter, there's an Animal Cracker in my soup! Animal Crackers make a great starch for soups and stews.  I've 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!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Ways to Use Leftover Easter Chocolate


Today both high end and low end Easter Chocolate is on sale at 50% off. This is the perfect time to scoop up the bargains. But maybe you still have some leftover chocolate at home? Perhaps not the ears of the bunny, but body parts and decimated eggs? Put all this chocolate 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 your chocolate is 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!

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 it 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 to see all the layers of delicious chocolate goodness!

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 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?


Chocolate Caramel Poke Cake

I love Chocolate and Caramel. Here's an easy recipe for Chocolate Caramel Poke Cake adapted from my good friend Elsie the Cow!

There are all kinds of Poke Cake recipes, but basically a Poke Cake is a cake that's been poked with the bottom of a wooden spoon as soon as it's hot out of the oven. Then liquid--in this case caramel sauce--is poured over it, and the cake absorbs it in varying areas. Yum! O.K. this is a real retro recipe, but if you make it, you're going to love it!

Chocolate Caramel Poke Cake

Ingredients 
1 box chocolate cake mix (Duncan Hines)
1-14 oz. can of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
1-14 oz. jar of caramel topping (Rechiutti Caramel sauce)
Container of Cool Whip  (or update this recipe with real whipped cream)
Bag of Toffee Bits or crumbled Heath Bars

Directions
Mix Eagle Brand milk and caramel together (warm up, if you need to).
Prepare cake as instructed on box. Bake in rectangular pan.
Remove cake from oven when done and poke holes in top of cake (I use the bottom of a wooden spoon) and pour caramel mixture evenly over cake while cake is still hot.
Refrigerate for at least two hours.
Spread with Cool Whip (or whipped cream)
Sprinkle with Toffee Bits or crumbled Heath Bars.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Retro Easter Chocolate Ads

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 15, 2017

Vintage Easter Chocolate Molds, Bunnies, Eggs, Chicks, Oh My!

I adore Chocolate Molds, particularly the vintage metal ones. Here are a few great Chocolate Molds for Easter.  Bunnies, Eggs, and Chicks, oh My!




Cinnamon Lamb Curls (Cinnamon Buns) for Easter Brunch

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:
Unsalted butter, room temp (as in recipe)
Then sprinkle with a mix of:
Granulated white sugar
Dark chocolate, chopped fine
Ground cinnamon

Friday, April 14, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Easter Bunny


More Easter Chocolate Bunny Cakes!

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 difficult, 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 unsalted butter, room temp
2 cups sugar
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk

For the chocolate ganache:
1 lb dark chocolate (65-70%), chopped into small pieces
6 Tbsp unsalted 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 on areas 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!




Salted Chocolate Pecan Toffee: National Pecan Day!

I love Pecans. They're filled with anti-oxidants, and they taste great. Add chocolate and toffee, and you have a winner. So since today is National Pecan Day (as opposed to Pecan Pie Day or Pecan Sandie Day), celebrate.

Several years ago I found a fabulous recipe in Sunset Magazine, December 2007, for Salted Chocolate Pecan Toffee. I've been a subscriber to Sunset for more years than some of you have been around, and they really test their recipes. This is a no-fail recipe that I've tweaked only slightly, and you'll love the results. Remember to buy the freshest pecans and the best chocolate. If you have a pecan tree, that's even better! And, as always, experiment with different chocolate.

Too much work? Make Margaret Maron's Chocolate Covered Fried Pecans.

SALTED CHOCOLATE PECAN TOFFEE

Ingredients
2 cups pecan halves
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
12 ounces DARK chocolate (65-75% cacao, fair-trade, organic)
2 tso fleur de sel or coarse sea salt

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°. Place pecans on rimmed baking sheet and cook, stirring occasionally, until toasted, about 8 minutes. When cool enough to handle, chop roughly. Divide into 2 batches; chop 1 batch finely. Set both batches aside.

Put sugar, butter, salt, and 3/4 cup water in 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. When butter and sugar are melted, increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is deep golden brown and measures 310° on a candy thermometer, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully stir in vanilla (mixture bubbles up) and finely chopped pecans. Pour into a 10x15 rimmed baking sheet. Let toffee cool until set, at least 30 minutes.

Chop chocolate and put in medium metal bowl. Fill  8x10 frying pan with 1/2 inches water and bring to boil. Take off heat and put bowl of chocolate in water. Let sit about 5 minutes. Stir chocolate until melted. Pour over toffee, and with knife or spatula, spread evenly. Sprinkle chocolate with roughly chopped pecans. Let sit 20 minutes, or until chocolate is cool but still a bit soft. Sprinkle with fleur de sel. Chill until set, about 1 hour.
To remove, gently twist pan to release toffee, then chop or break into chunks.
Store in airtight container.

A warning from Sunset, and it's true.. be careful!
Use caution when working with sugar syrup, as it can cause severe burns. Set out your baking sheet so it's ready to use, and keep ice water nearby to cool any burns.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Retro Easter Egg Cake

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!


How to Deep-Fry a Cadbury Egg! Perfect for Easter!

Photo: Foodbeast
I live in America, the land of the deep fryer! State and County Fairs are abundant in deep fried goodies like Deep-Fried Candy Bars, Deep-Fried Oreos, Deep-Fried Ice Cream, and wackier deep-fried foods such as Deep Fried Fried Chicken in a Waffle Cone, Deep-fried Cheesecake and Deep-fried Lattes.

Being that Easter is right around the corner, I just had to post this link to Deep Fried Cadbury Eggs from Foodbeast! For the original recipe and others such as PEEPS & Nutella Shortbread S'mores, go to Oh, Bite It!

Want to make your own Cadbury Creme Eggs? Go here.

HOW TO DEEP-FRY A CADBURY EGG!
from Foodbeast

Ingredients
Cadbury eggs
Large Egg-roll wrapers
Canola Oil
Powdered Sugar
Optional: Chocolate syrup

Directions
Put unwrapped Cadbury Egg in egg-roll wrapper, brush edges of wraper with water, fold tight, put in 350 degree oil until crisp and golden.
Optional: Top with powdered sugar and chocolate sauce!

HT: Bill Crider

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Peeps Easter Garden Cake!

Photo: PEEPS
PEEPS are the candy of my childhood, especially around Easter. So today I thought I'd re-post this darling (and easy) PEEPS Easter Garden Cake. It's a lovely centerpiece for Easter lunch, dinner, or brunch. Recipe is from the PEEPS recipe site. The recipe calls for a Betty Crocker cake mix (since it's originally a Betty Crocker/General Mills Recipe), but you can use your favorite cake mix or your favorite chocolate cake recipe and icing recipe from scratch.

PEEPS EASTER GARDEN CAKE

Ingredients
1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist Devil's Food cake mix
Water, oil, and eggs called for on cake mix box
1 container Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy chocolate frosting
1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs  (I use Famous chocolate wafers)
1 can (6.4 oz) Betty Crocker green decorating cake icing
8 to 12 PEEPS® marshmallow bunnies (different colored bunny peeps are fun!)
1 can (6.4 oz) Betty Crocker orange decorating cake icing

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray.
Make cake as directed on box for 13x9-inch pan. Cool in pan on cooling rack until completely cooled, about 30 minutes.
Spread chocolate frosting on top of cake; sprinkle with chocolate cookie crumbs.
Use green icing to make garden rows, using photo as guide.
Insert toothpick halfway into base of each PEEPS® marshmallow bunny. Insert bunnies, toothpick side down, into cake.
Use orange and green icings to make carrots on cake, using photo as a guide.
Cut into 4 rows by 3 rows to serve.

How easy is this?

Sweet Chocolate Orange Marmalade Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Today is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, and, of course, I've posted many different variations on Chocolate Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. Who doesn't like Grilled Bread, Butter, Cheese --and with the added bonus of Chocolate and Orange Marmalade--What could be better?

I love my Panini Press, but this Grilled Cheese Sandwich should be made on the stove in an iron skillet. My mother used to make her fabulous grilled cheese sandwiches in an old iron skillet with the top of a smaller iron lid pressing down on the sandwiches. Both were inherited from my grandmother. I have the lid (with a1940s era blue enamel handle), but not the original skillet. Interesting what we hold on to.

This recipe is great for Sunday Brunch. It's sweet, so if you'd like another version, just add a bar of chocolate, some goat or brie cheese--and place in between buttered challah or another bread. This recipe is too creamy (and oozing) for the panini press, so make it in a big skillet. Reduce amounts if it's only two of you. Try this recipe to celebrate National Grilled Cheese Day.. or save it for brunch another time.

Sweet Chocolate Orange Marmalade Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients
6 ounces Mascarpone
2 Tbsp Orange Marmalade
2 Tbsp unsalted Butter (room temperature)
8 slices Challah or Brioche (sandwich size)
8 ounces Brie (sliced 1/4 inch thick)
14 ounces Dark Chocolate (65-75% cacao, fair-trade, organic), chopped

Directions
Combine orange marmalade and mascarpone.
Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices, buttered side down on work surface. Spread mascarpone on bread. Place brie slices over mascarpone mixture and sprinkle with chocolate chunks.
Top with remaining slices of bread, buttered side up.
Heat large skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Put sandwiches in pan, cover, and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Watch carefully.
Turn sandwiches, pressing each firmly with spatula or heavy pot lid (smaller than the skillet).
Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until undersides are browned.
Remove cover, turn sandwiches over and press firmly with spatula or pot lid again.
Cook until cheese has melted completely.
Remove from pan and let cool 2-3 minutes.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Chocolate Rabbits?


Chocolate Easter Bunny Cake!

Love this easy Betty Crocker recipe for A Chocolate Easter Bunny Cake. You can always make your own chocolate bundt cake from scratch or use a mix. Love the Chocolate Bunnies in the photo, but if you can't find them, have a look at some of these Chocolate bunnies. This is so adorable. Great Easter centerpiece! And, you can always elaborate on the decorations.

Easy Chocolate Easter Bunny Cake!

Ingredients 

CAKE 
2 Tbsp cocoa
1 Betty Crocker™ SuperMoist™ dark chocolate or devil’s food cake mix
 3 eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup water
1 cup good quality dark chocolate, chopped

ICING 
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 to 3 tablespoons milk

DÉCOR 
Bunch fresh mint sprigs
2 large chocolate bunnies, unwrapped
10-12 pastel malted candy eggs

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F. (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Generously spray 12-cup fluted tube or bundt pan with baking spray. Sprinkle with cocoa to coat pans; tap to remove excess cocoa.

In large bowl, beat cake mix, eggs, butter, and water with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in chocolate.

Spoon batter into pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Place cooling rack or heatproof serving plate upside down over pan; turn rack and pan over. Remove pan. Cool completely, about 2 hours.

In medium bowl, beat powdered sugar, corn syrup, cream, and peppermint extract on low speed until blended. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add just enough milk to the icing to make it thin enough to stick to a spoon, dripping off of the spoon slowly when tipped down toward bowl.

Spread icing onto cooled cake. Place a bunch of mint sprigs in the center of cake. Add a chocolate bunny in center of the mint sprigs. Press malted eggs around the top and sides of the cake. Press second chocolate bunny onto the side of the cake. Garnish with additional mint sprigs, as desired.

So easy! Happy Easter!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Peeps for Easter, Chocolate Covered Peeps, & More!

"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.

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 has a very fun 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 PEEPS 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 choices: 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!