Saturday, September 24, 2016

Chocolate Cherries Jubilee

Today is Cherries Jubilee Day. There are so many variations on this very special dessert, but here's an easy Chocolate Cherries Jubilee recipe adapted only slightly from Epicurious. Of course, if you want to be showy with this dessert, add the Cognac to the sauce and heat without stirring it in. Light with a match and spoon the flaming sauce over the ice cream!

CHOCOLATE CHERRIES JUBILEE

Ingredients
1/2 cup cherry preserves (I use Bonne Maman Cherry Preserves)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons Cognac
1 pint chocolate chocolate chip ice cream
Toasted sliced almonds

Directions
Melt preserves in heavy small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently (alternatively, try with Chukar Cherries Jubilee Dessert Sauce).
Mix in cinnamon and Cognac.
Scoop ice cream into bowls.
Spoon sauce over.
Sprinkle with almonds.

Friday, September 23, 2016

White Chocolate Chunk Macadamia Nut Cookies

Today is White Chocolate Day. By definition, white chocolate is not actually chocolate.White chocolate doesn't contain any cocoa solids (chocolate liquor) and does not have 'chocolate' flavor. But I like the unique creamy flavor that good white chocolate does have -- of course it depends on the brand and that varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. (see below) 

White chocolate contains cocoa butter, a product of the cocoa bean used to make chocolate. White chocolate that's used in baking and candy making is a blend of milk, cocoa butter, sugar and often vanilla. The same ingredients you'll find in milk chocolate, except without the cocoa. If you are going to bake with white chocolate, make sure to buy the very best. Cheap white chocolate often has the cocoa butter replaced by vegetable fat. Check the ingredients on the package. It should have a cacao percentage just as good dark and milk chocolate bars do.

Examples of good white chocolate:
E. Guittard has 31% Cacao White Chocolate wafers. Great for baking (and eating).
Green & Black's White Chocolate uses cocoa butter, pressed directly from the crushed cocoa beans. They also use a blend of milk and Bourbon vanilla. Available in 3.5 oz bars.
Divine makes an awesome White Chocolate Bar. All natural without coloring or preservatives. 
Askinosie has a bean to bar white chocolate and uses goat's milk instead of cow's milk. The main ingredient in their white chocolate is 34% natural, non-deodorized cocoa butter. The cocoa butter is pressed in their factory, and they are the first small-batch chocolate maker to do this. After pressing the beans to create the cocoa butter, they combine them with goat's milk powder and organic cane juice, and then craft it for days in their 85-year old German melanguer, making their white chocolate one of the only single origin white chocolates in the world. It has a very unique buttery/nutty flavor, less sweet than many other white chocolate.
Merckens chocolate makes a great 2 pound bar, terrific for baking (or eating). Available through King Arthur Flour
Trader Joe's has good (and inexpensive) white chocolate for baking, as well as terrific white chocolate chips.

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Because it's comprised mainly of cocoa butter, white chocolate can be used in so many ways. Check past posts for White Chocolate Mashed Potatoes,  White Chocolate Coffee Cake, White Chocolate Truffles and a host of other white chocolate candies and baked goods.

WHITE CHOCOLATE CHUNK MACADAMIA NUT COOKIES

Ingredients
2 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1⁄4 tsp salt
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1⁄2 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sweet butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
1 1⁄2 cups white chocolate, chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In medium bowl combine flour, soda and salt. Mix well, set aside.
In large bowl with mixer blend sugars and salt at medium speed. Add butter and mix to until it forms grainy paste, scraping down sides of bowl. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat at medium speed until fully combined. Add flour mixture on low speed until just combined. Fold in macadamia nuts, and white chocolate chunks (chopped white chocolate). Do not overmix. 
Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges begin to brown.
Move immediately to cooling rack.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Chocolate Butterscotch Pudding Mug Cake

Today is National Butterscotch Pudding Day, and of course, it's even better with Chocolate. You can make Butterscotch Pudding from scratch or you can use a Box Mix. Add some chocolate chips.

Want to make something more fun to celebrate the day? Try this adaptation from Rachael Ray's Chocolate Butterscotch Pudding Mug Cake. It's a different Cake in a Mug recipe. Under five minutes in the microwave! Adapted from Stacey J. Miller's 101 Recipes for Microwave Mug Cakes!

Chocolate Butterscotch Pudding Mug Cake

Ingredients
1 egg
3 Tbsp milk
3 Tbsp Canola oil
1/8 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1/8 tsp baking powder
4 Tbsp light brown sugar
2 Tbsp instant butterscotch pudding powder
4 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 Tbsp dark bittersweet chocolate chips
  
Optional Frosting:
1 box of prepared butterscotch pudding mixed with store bought chocolate frosting

Directions
Prepare mug by coating inside lightly with cooking spray. Pour all dry ingredients into bowl.
Beat egg first with spoon and mix in other liquid ingredients.
Add dry ingredients and chocolate chips and mix until you’ve removed all lumps.
Pour batter into mug (don't fill more than halfway) and smooth top with spoon.
Thump mug firmly on tabletop six times to remove excess air bubbles.
Place mug on top of microwaveable small plate or saucer.
Bake for 3-4 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in middle of microwave mug cake and removing toothpick. If toothpick is dry, mug cake is done.
Wait two minutes then run butter knife along inside of mug and tip cake into plate.
Position mug cake so slightly rounded top is on top.  

Optional: Frost whole chocolate chip butterscotch microwave mug cake with prepared butterscotch pudding chocolate frosting. I prefer to dust with a little powdered sugar. The cake is already pretty rich!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Fall Equinox Chocolate Applesauce Bundt Cake

Photo: Judie Siddall
We're coming up on the Fall Equinox, and Fall is all about harvest, and, for me, apples. I've posted this recipe before, but it's perfect for Fall. It's my favorite recipe for Applesauce Cake. It's a Chocolate Applesauce Cake, of course. This recipe is adapted from Kristin Donnelly and was in Food and Wine in 2007. I love that it's a one bowl cake, and when you bake it in a bundt pan, it's pretty, as well as easy. Applesauce cakes are usually spice cakes, so this recipe may remind you of the holidays. Nevertheless, it's great all year round!

I used to make my own applesauce from my Gravenstein apple trees, but over the last few years, Topper and Rosie, my golden retrievers, have 'retrieved' the apples before they were quite ripe. Some years, I pick up a flat or bushel along the road in Sebastopol in Sonoma county, famous for its Gravenstein Apples. But I also buy my applesauce from Trader Joe's. They sell First Press Gravenstein applesauce. How great is that? Of course, you can always use your favorite applesauce in this recipe.

I add chocolate chunks instead of chocolate chips, but use what you have and what you like. I always have good chocolate around, so I tend to chop it up and use it in cakes and cookies. It changes things up in terms of taste! Also, always make sure your spices are fresh.

CHOCOLATE APPLESAUCE BUNDT CAKE

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 cups unsweetened applesauce  (applesauce from Gravenstein apples- my favorite!)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 stick sweet butter, melted
10 ounces dark chocolate, chopped, or a 12-ounce bag semisweet-chocolate chips
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Optional: Crème fraîche or whipped cream, for serving

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour 12-cup Bundt pan.
In large bowl, whisk flour with granulated sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, cloves, and pepper. Whisk in applesauce, eggs, oil and melted butter. Fold in chocolate chunks or chips.
Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs attached.
Transfer pan to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto rack and cool completely, about 20 minutes. Sift powdered sugar over cake, slice and serve with crème fraîche or whipped cream--or plain.
This cake also tastes great toasted for breakfast with sweet butter or cream cheese!