Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies

Libby's Pumpkin Ad, November 14, 1949
Fall for me is always all about pumpkins, and over the years I've posted many Chocolate Pumpkin Recipes.

Here's an easy recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies adapted from a recipe from Libby's Pumpkin. My mother's name is Libby, so I always love using Libby Pumpkin in recipes. "Libby, Libby, Libby, on the Label, Label, Label." You can always substitute 'real' pumpkin puree that you make yourself. 

FYI: These brownies are more cakelike than chewy. With that in mind, enjoy!


Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon DARK unsweetened Cocoa
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup broken dark chocolate chunks (or chocolate chips)

1. PREHEAT - 350° F. Spray 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. COMBINE pumpkin, sugar, egg, egg whites, and oil in large mixer bowl. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until blended. Add flour, baking powder, cocoa, cinnamon, allspice, salt, and nutmeg.
3. BEAT on low speed until batter is smooth. Stir in chocolate chips (or chunks). Spread evenly into prepared pan.
4. BAKE for 25 to 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into 2-inch squares.

Do you have a favorite Chocolate Pumpkin Brownie recipe? Leave a comment and link!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Brandied Cherry Chocolate Cake: Brandied Fruit Day

Tomorrow is Brandied Fruit Day, so I thought I'd post my favorite recipe for Brandied Cherry Chocolate Cake. This recipe appeared in the Washington Post several years ago. You can buy brandied cherries -- or you can make your own. It's so easy, and soooo good!!!

Brandied Cherries

1 1/2 pounds dark, sweet cherries, pitted
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 small cinnamon stick
1/4 cup good brandy

Combine sugar, water, lemon juice, and cinnamon stick in medium saucepan. Bring to boil and reduce heat to medium. Add cherries and simmer for five minutes.
Remove from heat, remove cinnamon stick. Stir in brandy.
Cool completely before placing in jar.


Tip: When processing nuts and chocolate, be careful not to make chocolate almond butter. Chill both ingredients -- and even the flour, if you want to be careful.

6 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate, chilled (about 1-1/3 cups)
6 ounces (1-1/2 cups) chopped almonds, chilled
6 1/2 Tbsp flour
12 Tbsp sweet butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated into yolks and whites
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
16 ounces drained brandied cherries
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 9-inch cake pan with nonstick oil-and-flour spray and line bottom with circle of parchment paper.
Pulse chocolate, almonds, and flour in a food processor to grind them into fine meal, being careful not to turn them into a paste.
Beat butter and sugar together at high speed in bowl of stand mixer or held-held electric mixer until mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolks, then vanilla and almond extracts, and beat well to combine. Add chocolate-nut mixture and beat until incorporated.
Beat egg whites in separate, clean bowl of stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer until they form soft peaks. Use flexible spatula to fold them into chocolate-sugar mixture.
Spread half of batter in bottom of prepared pan. Top with brandied cherries, which should fit evenly in 1 layer. Spread remaining batter over cherries, using flexible spatula to lightly level top.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until cake is puffed and set.
Cool on rack and turn out of pan.
Dust top generously with confectioners' sugar.
Serve warm or cool.

Original recipe adapted from Peter Brett, pastry chef at Blue Duck Tavern, Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes: National Chocolate Cupcake Day

Today is National Chocolate Cupcake Day. I could stop by the bakery or Cara's Cupcakes and pick up a cupcake or two, but I'll probably make some Triple Chocolate Cupcakes. I like to fill my cupcakes with chocolate ganache. If you find it too thick, just thin a bit with some cream. I also use the ganache for the icing. Saves a step.



1/2 cup sweet butter, room temperature
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
3/4 cup Dark cocoa powder  (Read about Natural vs. Dutch Process cocoa)
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
2/3 cup mini dark chocolate chips

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.
In small bowl, place flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder, and combine.
Add milk and vanilla and stir.
Add 1/3 dry ingredients to butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
Add half milk/vanilla mixture and beat to combine.
Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with dry ingredients.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Scoop batter into cupcake cups between 1/2 & 3/4 full.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

To make cupcakes flat on top: Bake in paper cups and flip onto flat surface when finished baking.  Leave pan sitting on top to make them flat. Allow to cool.
Freeze cupcakes and then use an apple corer to make the hole for the filling.

Of course, you might have some leftover ganache in the freezer. 
Read Things to Do With Leftover Ganache.

12 ounces good quality chocolate, chopped
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp sweet butter

Place chocolate in medium sized bowl. 
Heat cream over medium low heat until barely begins to boil. Remove from heat immediately. Do not over-heat! 
Pour hot cream over chocolate and let sit for minute. 
Stir mixture (gently) until chocolate is melted and blended with cream. 
Add butter and combine. 
Do not beat the mixture.
Cool before filling or spreading. (use pastry bag to fill and frost) 

Sprinkle with chocolate curls, sprinkles, or other decorations.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fruit & Nut Chocolate Chunks for Sukkoth

Sukkoth (Sukkot), the Jewish harvest festival, is upon us. I love this holiday where families gather and eat meals in a sukkoh. The word Sukkot means 'booths'--and refers to temporary dwellings. The sukkah (variations on the spelling) is great fun for children, as it is reminiscent of forts with an open top usually covered with vines or loose branches, cornstalks, or reeds--something that grew from the earth but was cut off. These are laid sparsely, so you can see the sky and stars. A sukkah has at least 2 1/2 walls covered with a material that will not blow away.

When I was very young, our neighbor and friend "Uncle Clyde" and his family always had a sukkoh in their small backyard. I would watch from our back porch...they were across the alley (a very wide alley through which horses and cars could pass--garages were on the alley) as he constructed the sukkah. Then we'd go there for food and drink and songs and fun. The sukkah was there for a full week. What an exciting time for a child. It was as close to camping as I came before I was 9.

Sukkoth is a Jewish harvest festival--the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles) that begins on the 15th day of the month of Tishri and is celebrated for 9 days (8 if you're in Israel). Actually Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah that follow the festival are separate holidays but related to Sukkot so are commonly thought of as part of Sukkoth. Sukkoth celebrates the harvest, and it's a very joyous occasion. It is as historical as it is agricultural. Sukkoth commemorates the 40-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters.

Since Sukkoth is primarily a harvest festival, though, I thought today's post would reflect fruits and nuts...and, of course, chocolate. Here's a great recipe adapted slightly from Epicurious. I've substituted a few different fruits and nuts, and you may want to experiment with some others. These Fruit and Nut Chocolate Chunks are perfect to eat in a Sukkoh.

Fruit & Nut Chocolate Chunks

1 1/4 lb fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
Vegetable oil for greasing pan
2/3 cup dried cherries (or cranberries)
2/3 cup raisins
2/3 cup salted roasted shelled pistachios (3 oz
2/3 cup salted roasted cashews or walnuts (3 oz)

Melt chocolate in top of double boiler or metal bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.
While chocolate is melting, line bottom and sides of 8-inch square baking pan with foil, leaving  2-inch overhang, then lightly oil foil.
Remove chocolate from heat and stir in fruit and nuts, then spread evenly in baking pan. Freeze until firm, about 20 minutes. Lift candy in foil from pan using overhang and transfer to a cutting board. Peel off foil and cut candy with a long heavy knife into 36 pieces.
Tip: If you have more time, chill  candy in refrigerator (instead of freezer) until firm, about 1 hour.