Thursday, March 5, 2015

Absinthe Day! Chocolate Absinthe Truffles, Bars & Cocktails!

Today is National Absinthe Day. Absinthe is a strong herbal liqueur distilled with a large number of herbs like anise, licorice, hyssop, veronica, fennel, lemon balm, angelica and wormwood (the flavor of anise and/or licorice, at least in contemporary forms of the liquor, tends to predominate). I love absinthe and chocolate!

Wormwood, the one that's gained the most notoriety, is Artemisia absinthum, an herb that grows wild in Europe and has been cultivated in the United States as well. Much of the liquor's legendary effect is due to its extremely high alcohol content, ranging from 50% to 75% (usually around 60%), plus the contribution of the various herbs. It has been assumed by  that the so-called "active ingredient"in absinthe is wormwood, although that is apparently not really the case.

The drink was referred to in France as "La Fée Verte" or The Green Fairy which is a reference to its green color (depending on the brand). The color usually came from the chlorophyll content of the herbs used in the distillation process; however, some disreputable manufacturers added toxic chemicals to produce both the green color and the louche (or clouding) effect that in reputable brands was caused by the precipitation of the essential oils of the herbs. It is quite probable that the bad reputation absinthe developed was due to these low-grade and perhaps quite poisonous version of the real thing.

Absinthe was very popular in fin-de-siècle Paris, with Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Verlaine, Alfred Jarry and Oscar Wilde among its most famous imbibers. 

Two good websites about Absinthe: La Fee Verte  & The Wormwood Society


ABSINTHE GREEN FAIRY TRUFFLES
Recipe adapted from The Marine Room, San Diego

Ingredients
3/4 heavy cream
3 tablespoons sweet butter
12 ounces chopped dark chocolate
1/4 cup absinthe liquor

Directions
Add cream and butter to saucepan over medium heat. Bring to simmer. Turn off heat. Add chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Stir in absinthe.
Transfer to 9 x9-inch baking dish.
Refrigerate 1 hour or until set.
Using melon baller, scoop mixture onto parchment or waxed paper lined baking sheet. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
Form balls in palm of hand. Return to parchment or waxed paper. Cover. Refrigerate 2 hours.

At this point you can just roll in cocoa--- or you can make this easy coating!

Coating
1-1/2 pounds finely chopped dark chocolate
1-1/2 cups cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Add chocolate to mixing bowl set over pot of simmering water. Melt, stirring often.
Sift cocoa powder and cayenne pepper into deep baking dish. Set aside.
Quickly dip chocolate balls in melted chocolate one at a time for 3 seconds. Retrieve with fork, tapping stem of fork on side of bowl to remove excess chocolate.
Transfer to cocoa powder. Roll to coat.
Let sit 2 minutes.
 
No time to make your own? Several chocolatiers make absinthe truffles and bars, so check with your local. Here are a few.

Endorfin Chocolat has a great Absinthe Bar. Crafted according to the original recipes from European historical literature, with Grand Wormwood, Star Anise, Sweet Fennel, Melissa (Lemon Balm), Angelica, Tarragon, Mugwort, Basil, and Hyssop. Love, love, love this bar! (Check out this great new company!)

Artemisia Collection makes a Chocolate Absinthe which is cocoa mixed with the aroma of Sicilian oranges and red hot peppers from Calabria blended with Wormwood. This Hot Spicy Chocolate Artemisia Absinthe gives the drinker a sweet and unique sensation.

Nunu Chocolates' Absinthe Delight is one of the most popular flavors from Nunu Chocolates. The anise flavor holds its own with the dark chocolate! A very 'addictive' treat!

Vosges also makes an Absinthe Truffle as part of its Exotic Truffle Collection. It contains Chinese star anise, fennel, absinthe, dark chocolate and cocoa powder.

Absinthe Chocolate Cocktails! 
1. Spicy Absinthe Chocolate Martini
1 part habanera-infused reposado tequila
1 part Chocolate Absinthe Liqueur

Combine in shake with ice. Shake. Strain into martini glass rimmed with Mexican chocolate (mixed with a dash of chipotle powder).

2. Absinthe Chocolate Cocktail
1/4 ounce Absinthe
1/4 ounce Creme de Cacao
1/4 ounce Frangelico
1/2 ounce Godiva Liqueur

Mix all ingredients in shake with ice. Strain into Martini glass rimmed with grated dark chocolate.

3. Pillow Talk Cocktail from Emperor Norton Absinthe


 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Double Chocolate Pound Cake

Today is National Pound Cake Day. Pound Cake is a dense cake, and I usually make my pound cakes in bundt pans, but a normal loaf pan will work, too. Of course, I prefer chocolate pound cake. This is a chocolate blog, after all. I have lots of recipes for pound cake, but this is an easy favorite. And, I'm all about easy.Y ou can make this is a regular sized loaf pan, but I love bundt pans.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE POUND CAKE
Recipe fits 6 cup bundt pan

Ingredients
6 ounces sweet butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp water, room temperature
2 tsp espresso powder
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsifted dark Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup whole milk (or buttermilk), room temperature
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Powdered sugar (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Spray bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Cream butter and sugar in bowl of stand mixer on medium-high until light – almost white - in color, 7-8 minutes. Scrape down sides of the bowl with spatula.
In small bowl, stir together water and espresso powder until smooth. Add eggs into bowl and whisk to blend. With mixer running on medium, add eggs to butter mixture a few Tbsp at time, allowing each addition to completely blend in before adding next.
About halfway through, turn off mixer and scrape down sides of bowl, then continue adding eggs. Scrape down bowl again.
With fine-mesh strainer, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl and whisk to blend. With mixer running on low, add flour mixture and milk or buttermilk alternately, beginning with one-third of flour mixture and half of the buttermilk; repeat, then finish with flour mixture. Scrape down bowl and finish blending batter by hand if necessary.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Put batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until firm to touch and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Transfer to rack to cool completely.
Optional: Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

San Francisco International Chocolate Salon

CELEBRATING ARTISAN CHOCOLATE & CONFECTIONS SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL CHOCOLATE SALON 

Chocolate lovers, get ready for a world of premium chocolate!

The Original and Premier Artisan Chocolate Show on the West Coast takes place this Spring at the 9th Annual San Francisco International CHOCOLATE SALON, March 15th, 2015 at  Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. 

EXPERIENCE CHOCOLATE AND OTHER TASTES 

Chocolate aficionados, fanatics, lovers and addicts can taste & experience the finest in artisan, gourmet & premium chocolate in one of the world's great culinary metropolitan areas.

55,000 square feet of Chocolate, Wine and Confections 

10:00am-6:00pm | The Fort Mason Center Festival Pavilion 

Salon highlights feature chocolate tasting, demonstrations, new product launches and flavor combinations, fair trade & organic offerings, celebrity chef & author talks, wine pairings, Chocolate Art Gallery, games, ongoing interviews by TasteTV's Chocolate Television program, and book signings.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Double Chocolate Banana Cream Pie: Banana Creme Pie Day!

Another day, another food holiday! Today is National Banana Creme Pie Day, and I thought a Double Chocolate Banana Cream Pie would be a great way of celebrating. I'm using creme and cream as synonymous--just as long as there's no pie in the face!

The first recipe is easy and uses natural ingredients, but don't forget to scroll down for an even easier Rachael Ray recipe.

The first recipe uses a chocolate cookie crust, so it's doubly chocolate.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE BANANA CREAM PIE

CHOCOLATE CRUMB CRUST
2 cups chocolate cookie wafer crumbs (whirl a bunch of chocolate wafer cookies in the blender)
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp melted sweet butter

BANANA CREAM FILLING
3/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped
1 pint heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
2 eggs
4 Tbsp sweet butter
2 bananas

For crust:
Combine crumbs, sugar and melted butter.
Press into 9-inch pie pan, evenly coating bottom and up sides of pie pan.
Chill at least 10 minutes.

For filling:
Whip heavy cream with vanilla and powdered sugar until thick and creamy. Refrigerate.
Heat oven to 350.
In saucepan, melt 1/2 cup chopped chocolate over low heat.
Remove from heat and whip in 1 cup of whipped topping you previously made and refrigerated.
Beat eggs and add to mixture. Combine.
Pour into pie shell and bake for 30 minutes.
Cool 15 minutes.
Slice bananas (cut in 1/4 inch slices) and layer on pie.
Top with remaining whipped cream.
Sprinkle with remaining chopped chocolate and banana slices.
Chill.

TIP: To prevent skin forming on filling as it cools, cover with plastic wrap. 

Want to make something even easier?
Rachael Ray has a quick and easy Chocolate Banana Cream Pie.

II. CHOCOLATE BANANA CREME PIE  

Ingredients 
1 frozen pie shell, pricked several times with tines of a fork
1 package instant chocolate pudding, prepared to package directions
2 ripe bananas, sliced thin on an angle
1 can spray whipped cream
1 dark chocolate candy bar

Directions
Pre-heat oven to 425ºF. Bake pie shell 10-12 minutes, until golden. Remove from oven and let cool.
Line baked and cooled pie shell with layer of chocolate pudding, about half of prepared amount.
Add layer of bananas.
Top with remaining prepared instant chocolate pudding and remaining bananas.
Cover top with giant swirl of whip cream from spray can, starting at center and working out.
Shave chocolate bar with vegetable peeler and top pie with shavings.
Serve immediately.

Your choice: The first recipe takes a little longer, and you'll be sure of the quality of the ingredients, but the other is as Easy as Pie!

I'm linking to this month's ingredien--Bananas-- at Little Thumbs Up!

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