Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Brandy Alexander Brownies & Drinks: Brandy Alexander Day!

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

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

So with this exciting alcoholic Food Holiday, break out the Brandy and Creme de Cacao!

Brandy Alexander

1 1/2 oz brandy
1 oz dark creme de cacao
1 oz half-and-half
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

In a shaker half-filled with ice cubes, combine the brandy, creme de cacao, and half-and-half. Shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the nutmeg

I'm not sure where I found the original recipe for Brandy Alexander Brownies, but I found a similar recipe at The Pioneer Woman that includes a recipe for Brandy Alexander Icing. My original recipe below includes optional walnuts, and I don't usually frost brownies. They're plenty rich the way they are, but I do use more chocolate, but then I'm always Dying for Chocolate.

Brandy Alexander Brownies

Ingredients
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
2 Tbsp creme de cacao
2 Tbsp brandy
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Dark chocolate chips (optional)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions
In mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar till fluffy.
Add eggs; beat well.
Blend in cooled chocolate, creme de cacao, and brandy.
Stir together flour, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Stir into creamed mixture.
Stir in chocolate chips and chopped nuts (optional)
Spread in a greased 9x9x2 inch baking pan.
Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool. Cut into bars.

Optional: Frost with Brandy Alexander Frosting before cutting into bars!

Brandy Alexander Frosting
2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, Softened
1 cup Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Creme De Cacao
1 Tbsp Brandy

Mix all together!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Trader Joe's Chocolate Croissants: National Croissant Day

Today is National Croissant Day. There's nothing quite like waking up to a flaky buttery croissant. I have my favorite sources for croissants. I love the ones at La Fournee Bakery in Berkeley (close to my home), and, of course, the many cafes and bakeries in Paris.

But maybe you just want to wake up to fresh croissants without leaving home. Trader Joe's Chocolate Croissants to the rescue. These are some of the best frozen croissants you'll ever taste. The 'proof' is in the pudding, as they say, and these croissants are proofed (allowed to rise) overnight before they're baked for 20 minutes the following morning. The heavenly smell will take over your kitchen. Perfect for the weekend or National Croissant Day.

And, the price can't be beat--$4.99 for 4! In the San Francisco Bay Area, Chef Jean-Yves Charon from Galaxy Bakery is the genius behind Trader Joe's Chocolate Croissants. Rumor has it that Williams Sonoma gets their frozen croissants from the same source. So, Trader Joe's represents a huge savings in cost.

O.K., these "Croissants" are really Pain au Chocolat, as anyone can see by the shape, so feel free to imagine yourself at a sidewalk cafe in Paris when eating these! The croissants are incredibly flaky and buttery, so light and airy, and the Callebaut chocolate is rich and delicious. Since there are four to a box, and each croissant contains 18 grams of fat, you might want to offer a few to family or friends. If you don't care what they'll do to your waistline or thighs, indulge. They're terrific!

This is one product that outshines most home baked croissants. Yes, you can make your own Chocolate Croissants, but these are so good, why bother?

You'll find TJ's Chocolate Croissants in the freezer section.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: The Charcoal Gourmet

From Rhymes with Orange:


Chocolate Dutch Baby: Guest Post by Judie Siddall

My sister Judie Siddall and I share many things, one of which is that for many years we both made Dutch Babies on a weekly basis. So when I saw her post about a Chocolate Dutch Baby on Facebook, I knew she should do a guest post for DyingforChocolate. Chocolate Dutch Baby! What a terrific idea! Thank you, SunsetThank you, Smitten Kitchen. Thank you, Judie.

Judie Siddall owns a small antiques business, Merlin Antiques, that specializes in British transferware. She's collected transferware since her teens. She is the founder of the Transferware Collectors Club, an editor of the TCC Database of Patterns and Sources, and had served as the TCC president, vice president, and membership secretary. She is also a wife, mother of three, and grandmother of seven.

Judie Siddall:
DUTCH BABY

Three things were new to me in January 1977: a husband, a kitchen, and a Dutch Baby. Not a human baby, he came later, but a buttery, fluffy, huge pancake that was gorgeous to look at (for a minute before it deflated) and delicious to eat. The recipe arrived by mail in the January 1977 issue of Sunset Magazine. I liked the Dutch Baby so much that I think made it nearly every week for 10 years, and then I didn't. My kitchen grew old and my children complained. They wanted meat!

Recently, two things happened. I remodeled my kitchen! I had an oven the was reliable! And, a recipe for a Chocolate Dutch Baby arrived by email from the superb blog, Smitten Kitchen. I had never thought of adding chocolate to a Dutch Baby. It seemed perfect without it. But I tried it and loved it, so I thought I'd share the recipe.

Smitten Kitchen's Chocolate Dutch Baby 
January 17, 2017. You'll get more information from the link, but I added some of my own ideas here. 

Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

Ingredients
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
6 tablespoons (50 grams) all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons (15 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder, any variety, sifted if lumpy. (I used Peet's unsweetened Dutch Cocoa)
1/2 cup (120ml) milk (I used 1%, but use whole milk if you have it)
4 tablespoons (60 grams) unsalted butter
Shaved dark chocolate and powdered sugar (to finish). I skipped the extra chocolate, but I did use the powdered sugar.
Fresh berries and syrup (to serve, if desired) I used blueberries and strawberries, but no syrup.

Directions
Whisk (I haven't used my circa 1960s whisk in years) eggs, sugar, and salt in the bottom of a medium bowl. I used the largest of my 1970s Pyrex bowls because I am a messy mixer. Add flour and cocoa, whisking until mostly smooth (some tiny lumps are okay, but whisk out what you can). Drizzle in milk, whisking the whole time.
Heat a 12-inch ovenproof skillet on the stove over high heat. Add butter and melt, tipping the pan around so it butters the sides too. Turn heat off and scrape batter into the pan. Transfer skillet to the oven and bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until pancake is billowy.

Fluffy in the Oven
Just like my old Dutch Babies, the pancake delates quickly.

Deflating

Deflated


Here are some of my Chocolate Dutch Baby thoughts. Despite its sweet sounding name, it is not that sweet. I suggest using the shaved chocolate and the syrup if you have sweet tooth. If you want a light chocolate pancake to enhance you fruit experience (I did), than leave out the extra sweets.

***

One more thing. Here is the original Dutch Baby recipe from 1977. I always tore out my favorite Sunset recipes and put them in a folder. I am so glad I saved them!


Sunset Magazine Dutch Baby

I know it's too small to read, so below I present the recipe for the large version. I always made the largest Dutch Baby (there are different sizes).

Heat oven to 425 degrees 

Pan Size: 4-1/2 - 5 quarts - I used a large paella pan.

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
6 eggs
1-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 cups milk

Directions
Put the butter in the pan and set in the oven. Mix the batter quickly while the butter melts (I always had the mixture ready before I did this).
Put eggs in a blender, and whirl at high speed for about 1 minute.
With motor running, gradually pour in milk, then slowly add flour, and continue to whirl for about 30 seconds more. It is so easy to do in a blender!
This is when I put the pan in the oven and melt the butter. When butter is melted, remove the pan from the oven and pour the batter into the hot melted butter.
Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Use your favorite topping. Perhaps chocolate?

Saturday, January 28, 2017

CHINESE FIVE-SPICE TRUFFLES: Happy Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year! A few years ago I tasted fabulous Chinese 5-Spice Truffles at a special event. The chef wouldn't part with his recipe, so I did a bit of sleuthing. I found several recipes on the Internet, and experimented. As always the final outcome depends on the quality of chocolate and, additionally in this case, the spices. I found some locally produced Chinese Five-Spice, and I prefer it to the 'regular' Chinese 5-spice you can get at the local market. In case you want to make your own Chinese 5 Spice, scroll down for a recipe for Chinese Five Spice. It's easy to make, and that way you get to control the quality and freshness.

CHINESE FIVE-SPICE TRUFFLES

Ingredients
1 lb dark chocolate, preferably 70%
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (you can mix in a bit of sparkling sugar if you want to be festive)

Directions
Melt chocolate in metal bowl over saucepan of simmering water (or in a double boiler). Take off stove and pour cream with spices over it. Let stand 2-3 minutes and then whisk together until smooth. Refrigerate for an hour. Take out of refrigerator and scoop or spoon into balls and put on parchment-lined baking sheet.
Put baking sheets in refrigerator for a few hours to firm up.
When balls are cold and solid, roll in cocoa powder, shaking off excess.

Chinese Five Spice
Recipe from Food.com

Ingredients
3 Tbsp cinnamon
6 star anise or 2 teaspoons anise seeds
1 1⁄2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 1⁄2 teaspoons szechuan peppercorns
3⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions
Combine all ingredients in blender or coffee grinder. Blend until finely ground. Store in airtight container. Keeps up to 2 months.

Tip: You can "roast" the whole spices a bit for more intense flavor -- in a dry frying pan, but watch closely, so spices don't burn

Friday, January 27, 2017

Hershey Bar Chocolate Cake: National Chocolate Cake Day

Today is National Chocolate Cake Day! It's no secret that I love chocolate cake.. in any form or variation! Well, this ultimate chocolate cake known as the Hershey Bar Chocolate Cake is a favorite and perfect for National Chocolate Cake Day!

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

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

HERSHEY BAR CHOCOLATE CAKE

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

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

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Gluten-Free No-Bake Pistachio Chocolate Truffle Cake

Photo: American Pistachio Growers
Today is National Pistachio Day and what better way to celebrate than with this Gluten-free No-Bake Pistachio Chocolate Truffle Cake. Recipe is from the American Pistachio Growers. There are many other great recipes on this site. When you have a particular food in mind, as I do on 'food 'holidays', be sure to check Growers and Producers websites for recipes and info!

GLUTEN-FREE NO-BAKE PISTACHIO CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE CAKE

Ingredients:
Gluten free, non-stick cooking spray or melted butter
12 ounces dark chocolate
8 ounces heavy cream or full fat coconut milk (shake can before measuring)
3 Tbsp Kahlua
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup roasted, salted and shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped

Instructions: 
Spray 8 by 4 inch loaf pan with cooking spray or brush with butter.
Line pan with piece of parchment paper (to remove the cake from pan)
Chop chocolate into small pieces.
Place chocolate in mixing bowl. Bring cream and Kahlua (if using) just to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir vanilla into hot cream and pour over chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes. Stir until chocolate and cream are fully combined and mixture is smooth and glossy.
Pour into prepared pan, smooth out top, and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours or until firm.
Using parchment to help, remove cake from pan and slice with thin, hot knife (run knife under hot water then dry with towel.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

IRISH COFFEE TRUFFLES: Irish Coffee Day!

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

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

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


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

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


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

IRISH COFFEE TRUFFLES

Ingredients
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
1 pound plus 14 ounces bittersweet chocolate, (65-72%), finely chopped
1/2 cup sweet butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup plus1Tbsp packed dark-brown sugar
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup Irish whiskey
2 Tbsp coffee extract
1/4 tsp coarse salt
Good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder, for rolling  (or ground chocolate covered espresso beans!)

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

No time or ingredients to make your own? You can buy Irish Coffee Truffles. I'm very fond of the Coeur d'Alene Irish Coffee Truffle. Maybe easier to find if you have to celebrate today would be the Lindt Irish Coffee Bar. They're both great and use real Irish whisky. Or, you can check with your local chocolatier. They might make a great Irish Coffee Truffle. If you find one you like, let me know! Make a comment below and win chocolate!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles: National Peanut Butter Day

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

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

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

Ingredients
8 ounces 60-75% dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup smooth Organic peanut butter
1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup finely chopped peanuts

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

What's your favorite Peanut Butter and Chocolate recipe?

Cartoon of the Day: Pie Crust


Monday, January 23, 2017

Snow Ghost Pie for National Pie Day!

Today is National Pie Day, and this pie is just right for today. It's a Snow Ghost Pie aka Snow Ghost Cocoa Cream Pie. It's pretty chilly out there, so I like the name of this pie. This Snow Ghost Pie is easy and really good.

This Retro Ad from Hershey says "Snow Ghost Pie tastes as good today as it did when Granma baked in back in '33." I wasn't around in 33, and I doubt my grandmother would have baked this, but I've made it since. This recipe appeared in the original 1934 Hershey's Cookbook (and the facsimile). There's a story in the Advertisement that you'll want to read. Not sure if Hershey was doing this as a take-off of the Baker's Chocolate Story Ads & Recipes, or not.

So celebrate today with Snow Ghost Pie!


Snow Ghost Cocoa Cream Pie 

Ingredients
1 9-inch baked pastry shell or crumb crust
1/2 cup Hershey’s Cocoa
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Sweetened whipped cream

Directions
Combine cocoa, sugar, salt, and cornstarch in medium saucepan. Gradually blend milk into dry ingredients, stirring until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until filling boils; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat; blend in butter and vanilla. Pour into pie crust. Carefully press plastic wrap directly onto pie filling. Cool; chill 3 to 4 hours.
Garnish with whipped cream.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Home-Made Almond Roca: National Buttercrunch Day

Yesterday was National Buttercrunch Day. Buttercrunch and English Toffee are the same, and I've posted lots of recipes for English Toffee over the years, including this one for Chocolate Almond Buttercrunch Toffee.  

Almond Roca is also known as Almond Buttercrunch. I first had Almond Roca as a young girl. A neighbor who drove us to school always had Almond Roca on the coffee table in the recreation room. This neighbor didn't have the same rules as in my household (No Candy until after dinner--not to mention before school!). So I always had Almond Roca when these neighbors were driving. So for yesterday's holiday--Buttercrunch Day, I suggest you make the following recipe for Home Made Almond Roca. No time to cook? Pick up a bar of Almond Roca. It's not too late. We all need something sweet this weekend! This recipe for Home-made Almond Roca is adapted from Elizabeth LaBau on AboutFood.com

Home-Made Almond Roca

Ingredients 
4 ounces butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups toasted whole almonds, coarsely chopped
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

Directions
Prepare 8x4 loaf pan by lining with aluminum foil and spraying foil with nonstick cooking spray.
In small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt, and stir until brown sugar dissolves.
Once brown sugar melts, start timer and cook candy for exactly 6 minutes, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. If you use a candy thermometer, stir and boil toffee until it reaches 290 degrees.
After six minutes, take toffee pan off heat and stir in 1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds. Scrape toffee into prepared loaf pan—it should be in a layer about 1/2-inch thick.
Let toffee set for about 3 minutes, then use pizza cutter or paring knife to cut toffee into thin bars about 1/2-inch by 2 -1/2 inches. They will look small, but once they're dipped in chocolate and rolled in nuts, they'll be bigger. After another 2 minutes, go over your cuts again as toffee continues to harden.
As you wait for toffee to set, chop remaining 1 cup of toasted almonds very finely, or put them in food processor and pulse for several seconds until they are in very small pieces. Pour finely chopped almonds into shallow bowl.
Once toffee is completely cool and set, break into pieces along lines you made, and trim off any jagged edges with knife.
Melt chocolate. Dip each piece of Almond Buttercrunch in melted chocolate, then place in the bowl of nuts.  Roll it around until coated with nuts on all sides, then take it out of nuts with fork and place on baking sheet. Repeat until all toffee pieces are coated with chocolate and nuts.
Optional: To make it 'really' look like Almond Roca, wrap individual pieces in gold foil.
Refrigerate tray to set chocolate (about 10 minutes).
Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to two weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Balls: National Popcorn Day

Today is National Popcorn Day! I usually post popcorn recipes around the time of Academy Awards, but I came across this recipe last year on the Taza Chocolate website. You may recall that I always have a bar of Taza Mexicano chocolate in my desk. It's a favorite. I love the stone ground texture.  So, I've saved this slightly adapted recipe for Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Balls to post today. As I've mentioned before on this blog, you can find some great recipes at food and food association sites. I love the crunchy salty-sweet taste of these Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Balls, and they're so easy to eat. Great for parties for both kids and adults!

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL POPCORN BALLS
Makes 15 popcorn balls

Ingredients
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
pinch of salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
8 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup Taza Roasted Cacao Nibs
2 bars Taza Dominican 70% Dark Stone Ground Chocolate, chopped
Wood skewers or popsicle sticks
Sprinkles, to garnish

Directions
Grease large mixing bowl with oil or kitchen spray. In large lidded pot with lid on, heat vegetable oil, popcorn, and pinch of salt over high heat while continuously shaking pot and listening for popping. Remove from heat when popping is less frequent than every 3 seconds and pour into greased bowl.

In saucepan combine sugar, brown sugar, honey, and butter over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until temperature reaches 300 degrees measured on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and carefully add baking soda (be careful, the sugar will bubble and expand!), then pour over popcorn carefully using a spatula to toss and coat the popcorn. Add cacao nibs.

When popcorn is cool enough to handle, but still warm, wet hands and form popcorn into balls, sticking each one with skewers or popsicle sticks.

Place chocolate in heat proof bowl, then place on top of bowl of simmering water until chocolate is warm and melted then drizzle over popcorn balls. Top with sprinkles if desired. Allow to cool before serving.

Photo: Taza Chocolate

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Honey Chocolate Pie: Winnie the Pooh Day

Today is Winnie the Pooh Day. Yes, there's a holiday for everything! Here's a recipe for Honey Chocolate Pie from The Pooh Cook Book by Virginia H. Ellison, illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard (1969: Dell Publishing). This Cook Book (yes, two words) is inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne.

One of my favorite stuffed animals as a child was Tigger, and I have always been a big honey fan, probably because of the Winnie the Pooh stories. I have honey every day, and perhaps Winnie had allergies, too, and needed his "Hunny."I have found that a teaspoon of local honey every day has alleviated my Spring allergies.


From the Introduction to The Pooh Cook Book:

As a cook you should know that honey is almost twice as sweet as sugar, and yet when you eat it, it doesn't make you want to go on eating sweets. Honey is also healthful, and very good for active people. When used in cooking it keeps food moist and adds a flavor all its won, as you will see when you've made some of the dishes in The Pooh Cook Book. Clover honey is the best all-purpose honey but there are as many flavors, or kinds of honey as there are blossoms on flowers and bushes and trees."

HONEY CHOCOLATE PIE

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hot Buttered Rum Cocoa: Hot Buttered Rum Day!

Today is National Hot Buttered Rum Day. It's pretty blustery and cold here, so this is the perfect drink to celebrate the day!

This recipe for Hot Buttered Rum Cocoa is from the Wisconsin Cheese Board. So many Food associations have great recipes. Be sure and check them out.

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

Hot Buttered Rum Cocoa

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

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

Monday, January 16, 2017

Buttermilk Mexican Chocolate Chile Bundt Cake

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

Buttermilk Mexican Chocolate Chile Bundt Cake

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

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

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Chocolate Strawberry Ice Cream Heart Sandwiches

Photo: MarthaStewart.com
Today is Strawberry Ice Cream Day. This is a little odd coming in the middle of a cold January, but ice cream is available all year round, so why not?

I chose a recipe for today's holiday that will also be great for Valentine's Day, so be sure and bookmark it. Recipe is from Martha Stewart. Her recipe calls for homemade vanilla, which is really lovely, but if you don't have time for that, you can always use whatever vanilla you have. I will be doing a post on vanilla in the near future. I have lots of heart shaped cookie cutters, but you can use and cookie-cutter shape you'd like for these ice cream sandwiches. I especially like strawberry ice cream that has bits of strawberry in it. Much richer and luscious.

CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM HEART SANDWICHES

Ingredients 
2 - 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 -1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp milk
2 to 2 1/2 pints strawberry ice cream, softened

Directions
In medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.
In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter, vanilla, and sugar. Add eggs and milk, and mix until combined. Add reserved flour mixture, and mix on low speed until incorporated, scraping sides of bowl at least once.
Divide dough in half, and shape each half into flat disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap, and chill until firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out on floured surface, sliding offset spatula under the dough to release every few turns of rolling pin. Roll dough to 1/8 inch thick.
Cut dough using variety of heart-shape cookie cutters 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter, making sure each cookie has a match to make a sandwich.
Place hearts on parchment-lined baking sheet; chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
Remove from refrigerator; use fork to prick the cookies all over with holes. Bake until just firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet; transfer to a wire rack.
With underside of half cookies face up, spoon softened strawberry ice cream about 1/2 inch thick to cover one side. Place matching cookie on top of ice cream, top side facing out. Transfer immediately to freezer to harden; repeat with remaining cookies and ice cream. Serve directly from freezer.
Sandwiches can be kept stored in an airtight container in the freezer for 3 to 4 days.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Hot Toddy Day: Make it a Chocolate Hot Toddy

I've been laid low with a massive cold this week, and I can attest that a Hot Toddy does the trick in curing what ails you--a traditional Hot Toddy, that is. See the Retro Ad on this page. But I missed the Hot Toddy Holiday on January 11. But it's never too late to have a hot toddy.

Hot Toddy might be an old fashioned name, but the Hot Toddy has served for centuries as a therapeutic drink. If you add chocolate, you get all those chocolate benefits, too. Alcohol and chocolate: a great combination.

Sunset had a recipe for Brandied Hot Chocolate a few years ago. I've adapted it just a bit.

Chocolate Hot Toddy!

Ingredients
1- 1/2 cups grated dark chocolate (65-75% organic, your favorite)
1/2 cup dry milk powder (not something I have on hand except for this)
4 cups whole milk
4 Tbsp Armagnac
Whipped cream or marshmallows, for garnish

Directions
In medium bowl, mix grated chocolate and dry milk powder.
In medium saucepan, heat whole milk over medium heat. Once heated, stir in chocolate mixture and whisk until chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and hot.
Pour 1 Tbsp Armagnac into each mug (four mugs total), then fill each mug with smooth, hot chocolate mixture.
Serve hot, garnished with fresh whipped cream or fresh marshmallows.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Ghirardelli Gluten-Free Brownies

Photo: Ghirardelli Chocolate
Today is Gluten-Free Day. So many of my friends are Gluten-Free, so I try to post several chocolate recipes that are Gluten Free. It's been a few years since I posted one of my favorite gluten-free recipes: Ghirardelli Gluten-free Brownies. 

I've often mentioned that product websites are great places to find terrific recipes. Ghirardelli Chocolate has many Gluten-Free Ghirardelli Chocolate Recipes on their website, including this fabulous recipe for Gluten-Free Brownies. Only thing I'd add to this recipe would be more chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate chunks) when you add the walnuts or pecans, but then I'm big on extra chocolate. There's also a great recipe for a Gluten-Free Walnut Torte. Be sure to check them all out.

GHIRARDELLI GLUTEN-FREE BROWNIES

Ingredients
1 cup 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips (or chunks)
1/2 cup whole almonds (or 2/3 cup almond flour)
1/3 cup brown rice flour
6 Tbsp sweet butter, cut into chunks
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

Directions
Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in lower third of oven.
Line pan across bottom and up two sides with parchment paper.
If using whole almonds, add them to food processor with rice flour and pulse until nuts are finely ground. If using almond flour, mix with rice flour. Set aside.
Place chocolate, butter, and salt in top of large double boiler over barely simmering water. Stir frequently until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove bowl and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Stir in eggs, one at a time. Add almond and rice flour mixture and stir until moistened, and then mix briskly, about 40 strokes. Stir in walnuts or pecans if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until brownies are slightly puffed all over and toothpick inserted into center comes out moist but clean.
Cool pan on rack. Run knife along unlined sides of pan to detach brownies. Lift edges of tparchment paper to remove brownies. Cut into squares

You can substitute Ghirardelli Bittersweet 60% Chocolate Chips with 1-1/2 bar of Ghirardelli Bittersweet 60% chocolate, broken into small pieces.

You will love this recipe--even if you're not gluten-free. 

Cartoon of the Day: Let Them Eat Cake

Cartoon of the Day: Let Them Eat Cake


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie

Yesterday was National Milk Day, and according to "Anonymous" who comments frequently on this blog, there's nothing quite like a tall glass of milk with chocolate brownies, cookies or cakes!

It's never too late to celebrate National Milk Day. Here's a very simple recipe that includes a cup of milk: Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie. Great combination of healthy foods to give you a boost in the morning or mid afternoon!

CHOCOLATE BANANA PEANUT BUTTER SMOOTHIE

1 cup Milk
1 ripe Banana (or frozen banana)
1 cup Ice
2 Tbsp Vanilla Greek Style Yogurt
3 Tbsp Chocolate Syrup
2 Tbsp Creamy Peanut Butter

In a blender, combine milk, banana, yogurt, ice, chocolate syrup, peanut butter, and blend until smooth.
Pour into glass and drink.

How did you celebrate National Milk Day?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Chocolate Chip Cranberry Scones

The other day I posted a recipe for White Chocolate Apricot Scones. I'm a big fan of scones. They're not biscuits, and they're not cupcakes... they're something in-between. It's all about the batter. And, American scones add more butter than British scones. Just an FYI.  I tend to make them less sweet. So for today's post here's a recipe for Chocolate Chip Cranberry Scones. I'm pretty sure I adapted this recipe from one on the Recchiuti blog, but can't seem to find a link. I've made these a few times, and they're easy and delicious. You can also substitute dried cherries in this recipe, just leave out the orange zest. I usually serve my scones with clotted cream or sweet butter..and sometimes a little jam. Enjoy!

CHOCOLATE CHIP CRANBERRY SCONES


Ingredients:
1 cup buttermilk
1 extra large egg
1Tbsp pure Madegascar vanilla extract
3 1/2 Tbsp granulated cane sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp orange zest, about 2 oranges
1 cup unsalted butter, very cold and cubed
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 cup heavy whipping cream (used for brushing tops of scones)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line the bottoms of two 12-by-18-inch sheet pans with parchment paper.
Combine buttermilk, egg, and vanilla extract in medium bowl and whisk by hand until well mixed.
Sift flour, baking powder, and baking soda into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add sugar, salt, and orange zest. Beat on low speed until combined.
Carefully add cold butter and beat on medium speed until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Switch mixer to low speed. Add liquid mixture and beat until just combined.
Turn mixer off. Add cranberries and chocolate chips. Pulse until just incorporated. Do not over-mix.
Turn out onto lightly floured work surface, and press into flat square about 1 inch thick. Cut into 2-inch squares and place on prepared pans, spacing about 2 inches apart.
Brush surface with heavy whipping cream. Bake on middle shelves of oven until tops are golden and have some spring when pressed with finger, about 20 minutes.
Serve warm or let cool on pans on wire racks.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Bittersweet Chocolate Cake: Retro Ad & Recipe

Today is National Bittersweet Chocolate Day. So many recipes call for Bittersweet Chocolate or Semi-sweet chocolate in Baking, but what exactly is it? Just an FYI: Bittersweet and semi-sweet are pretty meaningless terms and hard to define. Generally both have at least 50% cacao. Manufacturers use these terms differently, so the best thing to do is check the cacao percentage. One manufacturer's bittersweet is another's semisweet. I've read (and agree) that 50% and 72% can be used interchangeably when using chocolate for candy making or cut into chunks in lieu of chips. Once you start melting the chocolate and using it in baking, or in mousses and ganaches, the formulas can change. A higher percentage chocolate will bake drier, as it has less sugar, and will require more liquid to emulsify properly for a a mousse or ganache. Alice Medrich's book Bittersweet contains formulas for working with different percentages. Older recipes are likely to use something closer to 50 - 55%, and newer recipes are more likely to state a percentage. Something important to know in making the following recipe if you're substituting sweetened chocolate for the unsweetened chocolate in this Retro Recipe. So watch your ratios.

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE CAKE



Monday, January 9, 2017

White Chocolate Apricot Scones for Apricot Day

Scones right out of the oven are perfect for this cold rainy weather (or maybe it's snowing where you are?). I've posted lots of scone recipes, but since today is National Apricot Day, I thought I'd post this simple recipe for White Chocolate Apricot Scones. No fresh apricots this time of year, at least not growing in the local area, so this recipe works since it calls for dried apricots. I always have dried apricots in the refrigerator or pantry. I serve these scones with clotted cream (or sweet butter) and a nice pot of tea!

WHITE CHOCOLATE APRICOT SCONES

Ingredients
2/3 cup butter
3 1⁄2 cups flour
1⁄4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2⁄3 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1 cup white chocolate chips (make sure they're 'real' white chocolate!)
2 eggs
2⁄3 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla
Optional (sugar for sprinkling)

Directions 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In large bowl cut together butter, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt using pastry blender (or use 2 table knives crisscrossing ingredients in opposite directions)until mixture is crumbly.
Stir in apricots and white chocolate chips.
Add eggs, half & half and vanilla so dough separates from side of bowl and forms a ball.
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead lightly 10 times (don't overwork).
Divide dough into two equal portions.
On greased baking sheets pat each portion of dough into an 8" circle, and cut each circle into 8 wedges.
Optional: Sprinkle with sugar
Bake about 15 minutes, until golden. Serve warm.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

English Toffee Truffles: National English Toffee Day!

Today is English Toffee Day, and if you're a frequent reader of this blog, you know I love Toffee. I've been a judge of Toffee two years running now for the International Chocolate Salon. And although I've posted Toffee recipes over the years, I don't think I've ever posted one for English Toffee Truffles. This recipe adapted from myrecipes.com is so easy. As always, the flavor will change with your ingredients, so use the best!

English Toffee Truffles

Ingredients
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/3 cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp whipping cream
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
5 small English Toffee-flavored candy bars, crushed (i.e. Heath Bars or Chopped Toffee)

Directions
Heat chocolate squares and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until melted. Remove from heat; stir in cream. Let cool 5 minutes. Stir in pecans.
Cover and chill 2 hours or until mixture is firm.
Shape chocolate mixture into 1" balls; roll in crushed toffee candy.
Store truffles in refrigerator up to one week.

Tips: Crush toffee bars easily by sealing them in a heavy-duty, zip-top plastic bag, crush with a rolling pin. Use a 1 1/4" metal scoop to shape into truffles. It streamlines the process.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

No Bake Chocolate Coconut Snowballs

Brrr..it's cold outside. It's not snowing here, but it is in lots of places all over the U.S. It reminded me that I meant to do a post on No Bake Chocolate Coconut Snowballs. These are wonderful, easy, and Gluten-Free truffles. As always, the quality of your Chocolate Coconut Snowballs will depend on your ingredients. This might be fun to make with the kids during a snowstorm...or just about any time.

No Bake Chocolate Coconut Snowballs

Ingredients
4 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
2 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil
6 Tbsp pure maple syrup
4 Tbsp unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup organic dark chocolate, melted with 1 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil
Additional coconut for dusting if desired.

Directions
Place shredded coconut and coconut oil into food processor. Process on high speed, scraping down sides occasionally, until reaches almost buttery consistency. Add maple syrup, coconut milk, vanilla extract, and salt and process on high speed until ingredients are combined.
Shape coconut mixture into 1” balls.
Place on wax paper, and refrigerate for at last an hour, or set in freezer for 30 minutes.
Once coconut balls are very firm, melt dark chocolate and coconut oil in  small saucepan over medium heat for just a minute or two, stirring constantly. Once chocolate is melted, carefully dip coconut balls into melted chocolate and sprinkle with small amount of shredded coconut.
Put coconut balls back into refrigerator for 5-10 minutes to harden.
Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer, for up to a week.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Chocolate Shortbread Fingers: National Shortbread Day

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

CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD FINGERS

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

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


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

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Whipped Cream: Milk, Dark, & White for Whipped Cream Day

Another day, another food holiday. Today is National Whipped Cream Day. I've posted many recipes that call for whipped cream including chocolate whipped cream for National Cream Puff Day. Today I have three recipes for Chocolate Whipped Cream--milk, dark, and white.

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

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

The second Chocolate Whipped Cream Recipe uses a lot more chocolate, and it's dark chocolate. Which chocolate you choose depends on what you like and what you need!

The third chocolate whipped cream is from the Queen of Chocolate, Alice Medrich. It's for White Chocolate Whipped Cream. Of course, she has great recipes for Dark and Milk chocolate, so check out her recipes online and in her many chocolate cookbooks.

The Retro Advertisement is for Reddi Wip! Don't use a can if you have the ingredients and time to make your own. It's so much better!
Photo: Martha Stewart

1. CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM (from Martha Stewart)

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

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

How easy is that?

2. DARK CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM (from Sherry Yard)

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

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

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

3. White Chocolate Whipped Cream from Alice Medrich

Ingredients
4 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp water
A pinch or two of salt (optional)

Directions
Put chocolate in medium bowl.
Bring cream and water to simmer in saucepan and pour over chocolate. Let stand for 30 seconds, then stir well.
Let stand for 15 minutes to finish melting chocolate, then stir again until every last bit of chocolate is melted into cream. Let cool. Taste and add salt, if desired.
Cover and refrigerate for at least several hours, or until completely chilled.
To serve, whip the cream with electric mixer until it holds a shape.
Use immediately or refrigerate until needed.

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



Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

I love Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate at Starbucks, but it's not always an easy drink to find. It's 'seasonal'. So I went on line a few years ago to find the perfect copycat recipe. I found a great one at Bright Green Door. As always, I made a few adjustments. Here's a recipe for Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate that's perfect for winter weather. And, you'll save $5 by not going to Starbucks--and you'll stay out of the cold and the rain! Also, you can make this Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate any time of the year!

For this recipe, you can use what ever hot chocolate recipe you like. Make the hot chocolate/cocoa in a pot on the stove. When finished, add about 2 Tbsp Caramel Sauce (I use Recchiuti) and 2 Tbsp English Toffee or Hazelnut Syrup (or Toffee Nut from Starbucks-they'll sell it to you) right into the pot and stir. Pour into your mug and top with real whipped cream (or Redi-Whip), Caramel Drizzle, and sprinkle of Sea Salt. This recipe makes enough for 4 regular size mugs or 2 "Grandes.'

You can also make a variation on this recipe to make a Salted Caramel Mocha.

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Dark Cocoa (I like Ghiradelli)
1/3 cup water
1 tsp Madagascar Vanilla
2 tsp Sea Salt
2 Tbsp Hazelnut Syrup (or Toffee Nut from Starbucks)
2 Tbsp Caramel Sauce, Caramel Drizzle
Whipped Cream (or Reddi Whip)

Directions
Mix Sugar, Cocoa, and 1 tsp Salt. Add water and boil for 1 minute. Add milk and heat until warm. Mix in Vanilla, Hazelnut Syrup and Caramel Sauce. Pour into coffee cup and top with whipped cream, caramel drizzle, and sea salt.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Chocolate Covered Cherries Day: 4 Easy Recipes

Life is just a Bowl of Chocolate Covered Cherries! Because there's nothing quite like a chocolate covered cherry, I thought I'd repost a few recipes from last year's Chocolate Covered Cherry Day blog in celebration of National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day. I've added another recipe, too, for Chocolate Covered Dry Cherries. That's 4 recipes for Chocolate Covered Cherries. Still don't have any time to make these? Buy your favorite chocolate covered cherries to celebrate!

When I was growing up, I always wanted the chocolate covered cherry in the Whitman Sampler Box. As I remember they were usually covered with milk chocolate, but I'm a dark chocolate fan. Here are several simple and easy recipes for Chocolate Covered Cherries to celebrate the day.

I can buy fresh cherries at Berkeley Bowl, but if you're a locavore, you may not want to buy Chilean Cherries today. I've also provided recipes for dried or maraschino cherries. If you decide to use maraschino cherries, be sure and dry them thoroughly or your chocolate will seize. And, if you're using maraschino cherries, save the juice from the jar to make the Chocolate Covered Cherry Cocktail in this post! I also love Chukar Cherries. So many varieties. Any of these recipes would be great for Valentine's Day, so bookmark this page!

Chocolate Covered Fresh Cherries

Personally I like dark chocolate with cherries, but if you're a milk chocolate fan, go for it! As always, use the very best quality, organic, fair trade chocolate!  Hint: If the melted chocolate starts to harden  before you’re done dipping, put it back on the stove for a few minutes and give it a good stir.

Ingredients
8 ounces of fair-trade chocolate (I used Guittard 65%)
1/2 pound fresh, sweet cherries

Directions
Wash and dry cherries.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler or in saucepan over saucepan over simmering water.
Stir chocolate until completely melted and smooth.
Remove chocolate from heat.
Grab each cherry by stem and dip into chocolate. Swirl cherry clockwise, coating bottom 3/4. It's always nice to see the cherry showing at the top.
Place cherry on parchment paper covered baking sheet.
Repeat with remaining cherries.
Place in refrigerator until chocolate hardens.
If not eating right away, put chocolate covered cherries in covered container and keep in refrigerator for a few days.

Chocolate Covered Marschino Cherries

Use the above recipe with maraschino cherries. Just be sure and dry cherries thoroughly before dipping.

Chocolate Covered Dried Cherries

Ingredients
8 ounces Dark or Milk Chocolate
1 cup dried Cherries (Chukar or Trader Joe's)

Directions
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate in double boiler as above or glass bowl in microwave. Once melted, remove from heat.
Add cherries to chocolate. Stir until coated.
Remove clumps of coated dried cherries with two forks or slotted spoon (this works very well), shaking off excess chocolate on side of bowl. Transfer to lined baking sheet.
Put baking sheet in refrigerator until chocolate hardens, about 20 minutes.
Store in refrigerator.

Feel like something alcoholic to celebrate National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day? Want to drink your Chocolate Covered Cherries?

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cocktail

Fill a tall glass with ice.
Add 1/2 ounce Bailey's, 1/2 ounce Kahlua.
Add a few drops maraschino cherry juice.
Shake.
Strain into another glass with ice.
Add a Chocolate Covered Maraschino Cherry for garnish!


And for your listening enjoyment! 
"Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries" 1931.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Retro Ginger Cream Devil's Food Cake

You know I love these Retro Ads with recipes. So fun! This is a particularly interesting recipe. It's an Ad with recipe for Ginger Cream Devil's Food Cake from Magic Baking Powder. Love that "Magic costs less than 1¢ per average baking!" Probably not today. This is a from-scratch Devil's Food Layer Cake with a Ginger-Cream Filling. No need to ice the sides, and it calls for whipped cream instead of icing on top!