Tuesday, March 20, 2018


Here's a staple to make during Passover. These Chocolate Chip Meringues are easy and tasty and fun to make with children. I always think of Meringues as a little bit of heaven--Light, Airy, and Sweet. You can serve them on a bed of chocolate chips to dress them up for dessert--or just stack them on a platter. Recipe from Allrecipes.com with a few tweaks.

Chocolate Chip Cocoa Meringues

1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened DARK premium cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
3 egg whites
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sift 1/4 cup sugar, cocoa, and salt into small bowl.
In large bowl, beat egg whites with electric mixer until soft peaks begin to form. Mix in remaining 1/4 cup of sugar gradually, and beat until medium-firm peaks form. Sprinkle in cocoa mixture gradually, and continue beating until egg whites are stiff. Fold in mini-chocolate chips.
Drop mixture onto baking sheets by rounded teaspoonfuls, spacing about 1 inch apart.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes for crispy cookies. Cool cookies on baking sheets.

Tip: The parchment paper reduces risk of burning bottoms.

Monday, March 19, 2018

THE CHOCOLATE EASTER BUNNY: History & Culture & Where to Find Them

A "Tail" of the Easter Bunny!

I love the Easter Bunny. If you've been to my home you know I have a giant wooden Easter Bunny in my living room. He should be holding a basket with Easter eggs, but that function has come and gone. I got him at the Oakland Museum White Elephant sale, and although he's not chocolate, he reminds me of other Easter Bunnies I've known and loved. I also have several cement bunnies in the garden...they're all filled with flowers. They are definitely Easter Bunnies, not just rabbits.

But back to Chocolate Easter Bunnies! Some Chocolate Bunnies are filled and some are hollow. Today I'm posting a random tour through hollow and solid Chocolate Easter Bunnies. Perhaps the most famous of U.S. Hollow Easter Bunnies are those manufactured by R. M. Palmer. Back in 1948, Richard M. Palmer, Sr., designed and patented the technology that is still used today in their West Reading (PA) production facilities. Palmer's vision was to give the old, tired chocolate bunnies of the day some new and interesting characteristics and names. The early bunnies named Flopsy, Peter Candytail, and Busy Bigby were not just "sitting" rabbits. Today, the list of their different styles of hollow chocolate bunnies is endless. They come in all shapes and sizes. And, if you're thinking the output of these hopping rabbits is slim, think again. Each year the R.M. Palmer Company produces 25 million hollow rabbits that range in size from 1/75 oz/4 inch high to  a 20 oz foot tall Grandbunny Heffelflopper.

In South Africa, the traditional Chocolate Bunny rabbit reached gigantic height and weight. Duracel built a 3 ton-4 meter tall Chocolate Bunny (Duracel symbol: Energizer Bunny) in Johannesburg. So much chocolate.What to do? Duracel put the edible giant Bunny to good use. It was chopped up and distributed to orphans. South Africa, sadly, has a huge number of orphans because of the AIDS epidemic which has taken many of their parents.  

Watch a video of the Giant Chocolate Bunny HERE.

Some local bunnies at the Drugstores and Supermarkets: Lindt Gold Bunny (in photo at top). I like the looks of this one and captured a few at Cost Plus, Safeway, and CVS. Others: Cadbury Solid Milk Chocolate Bunny. Being a dark chocolate fan, this is not my favorite. Dove Bunny: tiny little thing but tasty.

More High End Sophisticated Rabbits...are more to my taste. Anything from Jacques Torres. I love their chocolate. This year's Easter Bunny is a bit frightening in appearance. It's hand-painted with white chocolate features, bows, ear tips hands and tail. At $17, you've got to like the chocolate--and their chocolate is great. The 10 inch hollow rabbit comes in Milk and Dark Chocolate. I think the $9 Large Sitting Rabbit is more my style..a classic.

Speaking of retro, Christopher Norman Chocolates has a Racer Bunny. It's a hand-painted molded chocolate hollow bunny sitting in a woven convertible. Sooo cute. Who can eat this?

Martine's Chocolates has all kinds of lovely Bunnies, both sitting  (solid and hollow), Bunny Cartoon (solid), Bunny standing with Baskets and colored chocolate. Martine's chocolates, plus special artisan chocolate bunnies.

Vosges Rabbits: These are fabulous and they come in exotic flavors. These are molded with waving rabbit ears. Barcelona Bunny (Hickory smoked almonds  with grey sea salt (45% milk chocolate). Amalfi Bunny (Lemon zest and pink peppercorns and white chocolate) The Orchid Vanilla Bunny is really Tahitian vanilla bean with 62% dark chocolate. Toffee Bunny is the one after my heart. He's the Vosges sweet butter toffee with pink Himalayan salt and deep milk chocolate. I've never met a toffee I didn't like, and bunny shape? Well, of course.

But I fell in love with Vosges' Mad Hare Orchestra. All five members of the Mad Hare Orchestra arrive together in solid 62% dark chocolate infused with Tahitian vanilla Bean. Each is individually wrapped in its own bag and tied with ribbon. The Mad Hare Orchestra also comes in Solid 42% Milk Chocolate with a touch of pink Himalayan salt. Problem: They're so cute, I want to put them on the shelf.. I might just need to bite off an ear now and again.

Li-Lac Chocolates in New York has two giant Easter Bunnies--a Father Bunny and a Mother Bunny (unavailable as of this writing). The Father Bunny is 24" tall and weighs 10 pounds and serves 80 people. It's also $195!! It ships within 24 hours.

Moonstruck Chocolate Company has a Milk Chocolate Hand-Painted Calico Bunny. Love floppy-eared bunnies.. 

Bay Area Chocolate Bunnies!
Poco Dolce has several Chocolate Bunnies: An Olive Oil Bunny, an eight piece box of Raspberry Bunnies and a Bittersweet & White Chocolate Rabbit. They're all delicious!

Charles Chocolates sells a collection of Honey Bunnies, avaiable in a small and large size box. Within the box are many individual Honey bunnies with each bunny filled with a rich bittersweet Chocolate ganache with black button sage honey.

See's Tall Milk Chocolate Rabbit. A hollow, foil-covered Chocolate Bunny with a basket. 10 oz. There's also a small milk chocolate bunny in colored foil. These are a tradition, and they taste great. I'm a sucker for See's Candies. See's also has smaller Milk Chocolate Bunnies and Mini Milk Chocolate Bunnies (24 pack)

I haven't really mentioned the filled Easter Bunnies: marshmallow, coconut and more exotics fillings. And, Apologies to all my chocolatier friends who provide fabulous chocolate bunnies at Easter. Couldn't get to them all, but welcome comments. Nice thing about a Blog is that I can add at any time.

And, the age-old question of what part of the Bunny do you eat first? With all the new Bunny shapes and molds, it's not an easy answer. Which part do YOU eat first?

Love to hear about your favorite Chocolate Bunnies. I bet there's a chocolatier near you that does some outstanding work.

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL COOKIE BARS: National Chocolate Caramel Day

Photo: Martha Stewart Living
Today is National Chocolate Caramel Day. My favorite Chocolate Caramels are from Recchiuti Confections and EHChocolatier. But in case you want to make something to celebrate the day, here's and easy delicious recipe from Martha Stewart for Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars. And, since I've posted several chocolate caramel recipes, I thought I'd do a Mini-Round-Up of a few other Chocolate Caramel recipes! Be sure to scroll down.

If you don't want to bake, pick up a Chocolate Caramel at your local chocolate shop... or in a pinch have some Milk Duds.

Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars
adapted from Martha Stewart Living, November 2009

For the Crust
4 1/2 ounces (9 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for parchment
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt

For the Chocolate Caramel
10 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon sea salt, preferably fleur de sel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make crust: Line 9-inch square baking pan with parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides; butter parchment, excluding overhang. Beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add flour and table salt, and beat until just combined.
Press dough evenly into pan, and bake until lightly browned, about 30 minutes.
Make chocolate caramel: Place chocolate in medium bowl. Heat granulated sugar and water in small saucepan over medium-high heat, washing sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming, until amber, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter, cream, and table salt. Bring to boil, stirring until smooth. Pour over chocolate. Let stand for 2 minutes. Stir to combine, and let stand until cool, about 10 minutes.
Pour mixture over crust. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight. Run knife around edges; lift parchment to remove whole bar from pan. Sprinkle with sea salt. Trim edges, and cut into 16 bars. Bars can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Caramel Recipe Round-Up

Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Balls
Sea Salt Caramel Brownies
Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate
Chocolate Caramel Trifle with Raspberries
Hazelnut Caramel Toffee Bon Bon
Warm Chocolate Caramel Cakes
Caramel Filled Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate Caramel Apples
Nutty Chocolate Chip Caramel Squares 
Salted Caramel Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake in a Jar