Sunday, February 18, 2018

RED WINE BROWNIES: National Drink Wine Day

Of course you can drink a glass of wine on National Drink Wine Day, but why not accompany that wine with Red Wine Brownies. I've posted lots of wine and port and liqueur brownies, but this is an easy recipe! You can always make Brownies from Scratch. Here's a recipe for Merlot Brownies. But if you don't have time or the ingredients, here's a great easy recipe:

Red Wine Brownies

1 box Ghirardelli dark chocolate brownie Mix
1/4 cup bold Red Wine
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Grease 8″ x 8″ baking dish.
In large bowl, combine wine, oil, and egg. Mix well. Stir in brownie mix.
Spread batter in prepared pan.
Bake for 45 minutes. Cool completely.
Serve with red wine.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

S'MORES SHOTS: Glamping!

A few weeks ago I attended a great event for the San Francisco Bay Area hospitality industry: Camp Pier 35! It was a great event with the entire Pier 35 transformed into a "Camp" with areas of the pier divided into food stations, bars, and entertainment. This event was put on by Metro Events, and Pier 35 was really tricked out to feel like the great (glam) outdoors. I had a fabulous time. Favorites bites were waffles with smoked butter and candied bacon, the Bacon Bar, Lobster Mac 'n Cheese, Hot Toddies, and S'mores in every conceivable variety. This was a true Glamping experience. Loved all the Airstreams and Florals and comfortable 'rustic' seating.

The S'mores Shots at the Glamping event were outstanding. They were served in tiny tins ... fab! So I thought I'd make my own variation on S'mores Shots. No need to wait until my next camping trip. Serve S'mores Shots in tins for that fun glamping experience or in shot glasses! This is not the only recipe for S'mores Shots, but it's easy and delicious. As always, experiment. Change it up as it pleases you!


1/2 ounce Vodka
1/2 ounce Chocolate Liqueur
3/4 ounce cream or half and half
Chocolate syrup
Graham cracker crumbs

Pour 1/4 chocolate syrup into bottom of glass.
Combine vodka, half and half, and chocolate liqueur in shaker with ice and shake for 15 seconds. Pour into glass. Add graham cracker crumbs and mini-marshmallows.

Optional: You can also do marshmallow/graham cracker rim (dip in marshmallow creme and roll in graham cracker crumbs) You can also add a skewered marshmallow over the top (take a torch to the marshmallows for authenticity!)

Friday, February 16, 2018


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. Five-Spice encompasses all five flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty. 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.


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)

Melt chocolate in metal bowl over saucepan of simmering water (or in a double boiler).
Remove from 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

3 Tbsp cinnamon (I use Vietnamese cinnamon)
6 star anise or 2 teaspoons anise seeds
1 1⁄2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 1⁄2 teaspoons Szechuan peppercorns (If you don't have any, you can substitute black peppercorns)
3⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves

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.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Chocolate Covered Gum Drop Hearts

O.K. it's the day after Valentine's Day, but because today is National Gum Drop Day I thought I'd post a recipe for Chocolate Covered Gum Drop Hearts! Make them today, this weekend, or save this recipe for next Valentine's Day. You can cover just about anything with Chocolate, and I know you'll love these. As always, the quality of the chocolate--and, in this case, the gum drop hearts is important! Want to make your own Gum Drop Hearts? Here's a link to a recipe from Hoosier Homemade.

Chocolate Covered Gum Drop Hearts

8 ounces dark chocolate
16 ounces gumdrop hearts

Melt chocolate in saucepan over another saucepan over simmering water.
With a fork, dip gum drop hearts, one at a time.
Let excess chocolate drip off fork. Carefully shake off any excess chocolate.
Slide gum drop off fork onto waxed paper.

How easy is that? Have a great Gum Drop Day!