Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Chocolate Turkey Rubs: Thanksgiving Barbecued Turkey

I live in Northern California, and we barbecue turkey all year long, so it's not surprising that we barbecue the turkey for Thanksgiving. I love the smokiness and flavor that the barbecue brings to the bird. Barbecuing the turkey also leaves the ovens free for all those side dishes and pies.

Four years ago we started barbecuing our turkeys with spicy chocolate rubs. Here are two great recipes. We've made some adaptations, but the first recipe for Spicy Chocolate Rub Recipe is adapted from  The BBQ Report. Just combine everything in the Cuisinart until finely ground and pat on turkey. Very easy!

This recipe is for chicken, so if you're planning a 20 lb. turkey, you'll need to increase the amounts.

SPICY CHOCOLATE RUB

Ingredients
1 cup natural unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 tsp dried red pepper flakes, chopped fine
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 Tbsp granulated sugar

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Want to get a little more sophisticated with the Rub? Kunde Family Estates (great wines to accompany your turkey) has a recipe for BBQ Turkey with Ancho Chile/Chocolate Rub. This recipe includes brining the turkey first. If you buy a kosher turkey it will already be brined. This recipe is for a 12-16 pound turkey, so if yours is bigger than that, you'll need to adjust the measurements.

ANCHO CHILE CHOCOLATE RUB

Ingredients
3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp chile powder
1 Tbsp unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp chipotle chile powder
2 tbsp softened butter

Directions

In small bowl, combine all dry rub ingredients. Mix well. In another small bowl, mash butter together with 2 Tbsp rub – set aside.

Place turkey in large roasting pan. With fingers, gently loosen the skin over breast meat and insert butter/rub under skin; gently rub over breast meat. Rub the outside of bird well with olive oil; then sprinkle generously inside and out with rub. Loosely pack  cavity with lemon and orange slices. Tie drumsticks together with kitchen string. Place in refrigerator and let sit; uncovered, 5 – 6 hours, or until ready to cook.

When ready to cook, prepare grill. If using charcoal grill, prepare for indirect cooking. For gas grills, heat to medium high. Put turkey in roasting pan on grill; add 2 cups water; cover. Turn all gas setting to low. Grill-roast turkey, basting with pan juices and rotating pan 180 degrees every hour, for 3 hours. (If using charcoal grill, add briquettes or mesquite every hour to maintain an even temperature). After 3 hours, insert instant-read thermometer in fleshy part of inner thigh to check for doneness. Thigh meat should register 175° F and the juices should run clear when thigh is pierced. If not done, cover and continue to cook; checking every 20 minutes for doneness.

When done, transfer turkey to a heated platter, cover loosely with foil and allow to sit for 20 minutes before carving.

Does Chocolate have a place at your Thanksgiving Table this year?

Gabriella's Biscotti: Guest post by Kristi Belcamino

I love when my world's of mystery and chocolate collide. Today's guest post is by Kristi Belcamino, a writer, artist, and crime reporter who also bakes a tasty biscotti. I know this first hand, as she just sent me a box full of biscotti last weekend! I think biscotti are perfect for Thanksgiving brunch or the day after...or just about any time. 

Kristi Belcamino's first novel, Blessed are the Dead (HarperCollins 2014), is inspired by her dealings with a serial killer during her life as a Bay Area crime reporter. As an award-winning crime reporter at newspapers in California, she flew over Big Sur in an FA-18 jet with the Blue Angels, raced a Dodge Viper at Laguna Seca, and watched autopsies. Find out more at www.kristibelcamino.com or on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/kristibelcaminowriter

Kristi Belcamino:
Gabriella’s Biscotti 

I’m not a big baker. I love to cook, but find baking very challenging. What I’ve decided after years of failed, flattened, burned experiments, is that as far as baking goes, it is best to stick with the three things I can bake and perfect them. I can bake amazing homemade bread, scrumptious oatmeal cookies, and biscotti.

I gave my character, Gabriella Giovanni, this ability as well. She’s a newspaper reporter and sometimes bakes biscotti for her cop sources. Usually she bakes the plain biscotti, but if it is for a special occasion, such as something she is bringing to a holiday party, she will whip out these chocolate dipped ones.

Ingredients: 

1 ½ sticks of butter, softened, but not melted
3 eggs
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped walnuts or almonds
18 ounces of chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Not too much, though. Add eggs and extracts. Beat well.

 2. In another bowl, mix dry ingredients together and then add to the butter mixture, blending well. (You will get a feel for what the dough should be like in your hands. You don’t want it too dry or too sticky, so you can add a tiny bit of water or flour to adjust. If you deal with bread baking at all, you’ll already have an instinctive feel for what the dough should be like, otherwise, you’ll have to experiment a little)

3. Shape dough into two long loaves on greased baking sheet.

4. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes (could vary, but until lightly browned)

5. When slightly cool, slice the loaves at a gentle angle.

6. Bake on their side for 5 to 15 more minutes.

7. Set aside until completely cool.

8. Put chocolate in a bowl that fits over a pan of boiling water, but does not touch the water. Stir until chocolate is melted and there are no more lumps.

 9. Remove from heat. Dip one end of each biscotti (about halfway) into the chocolate and set on a wire rack (with wax or parchment paper underneath) until chocolate sets. (You can also place rack on a flat baking sheet and refrigerate to speed up hardening process.

Note: If chocolate seems lumpy on biscotti when you first dip it, you can smooth it with a rubber spatula.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Truffles: Pumpkin Truffles

Socola Pumpkin Burnt Caramel Truffles
With Thanksgiving coming up this week, I thought I'd post about Pumpkin Pie Truffles for the Thanksgiving feast or as a hostess gift (how retro is that?) or for yourself. Luckily you have the choice of buying them or making them. They're easy to make, but I am also quite fond of  See's Candies Pumpkin Pie Truffle. Other Pumpkin Truffles are delicate with a combination of burnt caramel (Socola Chocolates Pumpkin Burnt Caramel Chocolate Truffles) or smooth 'unrobed' Pumpkin Spice Milk Chocolate Truffles from Neo Cocoa. Check out your local chocolatier for seasonal Pumpkin Truffles or scroll down for some favorites at the end of this post. Get your order in before they run out.

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I always have 'natural' pumpkin in the cupboard. Besides using it for pies, truffles and cakes, it's great for doggie upset stomachs. I also have Libby's pumpkin puree because I grew up with it, and sometimes it's just what I want. I'm not much for making my own pumpkin puree.

Truffles are simple to make. The following recipe is from FoodNetwork for Easy Pumpkin Truffles. They are just that--easy and delicious. But in case you want to experiment, I've added  links to other Pumpkin Truffle and Pumpkin Pie Truffle recipes.

Easy Pumpkin Truffles

Ingredients
1 cup pumpkin puree
See's Pumpkin Pie Truffles
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground gloves
2 cups cream
1 pound dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 ounce sweet butter, room temperature
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
6 ounces melted dark chocolate
3 ounces cocoa powder

Directions
In medium saucepan over low heat, combine pumpkin, brown sugar and spices. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until mixture reduces by half and pumpkin looks dry. Set aside.
In medium saucepan over high heat, add cream. When cream boils, take off heat.
In heatproof medium bowl, add chocolate and hot cream. Let mixture sit for minute, then slowly begin to stir, starting in center of bowl and working outwards.
Once chocolate and cream are evenly mixed, add pumpkin mixture and whisk to combine.
Add butter and liqueur, if using.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.
On parchment lined cookie sheet, scoop mixture into small balls using melon baller.
Place in refrigerator for 1 hour, or until chilled.
Remove truffles from refrigerator and dip each in melted chocolate.
Roll in cocoa powder and serve. 

Other fun Pumpkin Truffle Recipes to check out:

Pumpkin Pie Truffles from Cake, Batter, and Bowl: Robed in orange white chocolate with insides of dark chocolate pumpkin ganache. Love the walnut half as a pumpkin stem.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Truffles from The Yummy Mummy: White chocolate, gingersnaps, cream cheese and more. What's not to love?

Pumpkin Pie Truffles from Shugarysweets: Pumpkin-y centers robed in white chocolate.

Pumpkin Truffles from Cara's Cravings. Yum!

No time to make Truffles? Try these fabulous Pumpkin Truffles:

Socola: Pumpkin Burnt Caramel Chocolate Truffles: A rich blend of pumpkin pie spices, burnt caramel, Hawaiian sea salt and a splash of brandy.

Neo Cocoa: Pumpkin Spice Milk Chocolate Truffles. Infused with classic blend of spices traditionally used in making pumpkin pie. I love these smooth ganache shell-less truffles.

Coco Delice Pumpkin Spice Chocolates: Made with a ganache of white chocolate, pumpkin puree, and seasonal spices, enrobed in dark chocolate.

Godiva: Pumpkin Patch Truffles filled with creamy pumpkin-spice ganache and enrobed in milk chocolate.

See's Pumpkin Pie Truffles: Sweet spicy flavors of cinnamon and allspice combine with the rich mellowness of real pumpkin in these one-of-a-kind Truffles. Enrobed in See's traditional milk chocolate.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans: National Espresso Day

Today is National Espresso Day! Maybe you already celebrated with an espresso this morning. Maybe not? 

Espresso is a great ingredient to add to lots of chocolate food: truffles, brownies, cookies, cakes. It enhances the flavor of the chocolate. But I also adore Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans... the rich sweetness of the dark chocolate and the crunchiness of the espresso bean. Of course, depending on how many you eat, you could be wired up for days! I usually have some of these in my purse. Never know when you might need them!

FYI: You can use either coffee or espresso beans. The taste will change with the type of chocolate and the type of bean. Experiment with chocolate from different areas and different amounts of cacao, as well as coffee from different parts of the world! However, I'm a big fan of Espresso Beans! I like the contrast and the espresso beans are already very roasted.

CHOCOLATE COVERED ESPRESSO BEANS

Ingredients
1/3 cup roasted espresso beans
1/2 cup dark chocolate, 70%-85 % cacao, organic, fair trade

Directions
Melt chocolate until smooth in double boiler or saucepan over saucepan over simmering water. Remove from heat. Drop in a handful of beans and stir around. Lift out with two salad forks (letting extra chocolate drip a little back into the mixture), and put beans on wax paper (or silpat mat). Keep beans separated. Continue until all beans are covered and on paper or mat. Let beans dry completely. They will harden overnight, but you can freeze them for about half an hour, if you can't wait! Once hard, the beans won't stick together. Store in air-tight container.