Friday, June 23, 2017

Chocolate Pecan Sandies: National Pecan Sandies Day

Today is National Pecan Sandies Day. Pecan sandies are special shortbread cookies, and I've added chocolate to make them all that much better. If you're a purist, check out the BrownEyedBaker's recipe for "non-chocolate" pecan sandies. It's great.

Pecan Sandies: A shortbread cookie with ground pecans added to the flour. The cookies are easy to make -- flour, butter, sugar salt, and vanilla--and the pecans. The name Sandie might have something to do with the color--or not. Urban myth?

I have two suggestions for Chocolate Pecan Sandies. The first is the full recipe for  Chocolate Pecan Sandie Cookies. The second would be to use a 'regular' pecan sandie recipe and add chocolate chips.

Pecan Sandies are simple to make and taste delicious. They're not too sweet. Some people like to chop the pecans coursely, and that works, but you can also pulverize the pecans. To form the cookies, I use the drop method, but some people like to make logs and then slice them. Either way, they'll taste great!

Chocolate Pecan Sandies

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) ground pecans, divided use
1/2 cup unsweetened good quality DARK cocoa powder
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease cookie sheet or line with parchment.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla until well blended.
Mix together flour, 1 cup ground pecans, and cocoa powder, then beat flour mixture into butter mixture.
Chill dough for 30 minutes.
Combine remaining 1/2 cup ground pecans and 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar in a bowl.
Form dough into 1-inch balls.
Roll in pecan sugar mixture (reserve any leftover sugar mix) and place on baking sheets.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool, then dip pecan sandy cookie tops in any remaining pecan sugar.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mini Chocolate Eclairs: National Eclair Day!

Today is National Eclair Day. My favorite eclairs are not the long thin "traditional" hotdog shaped eclairs (although I like them), but rather, the mini-eclairs. They're easy to make using a basic Pâte à choux.. puff pastry. I've been making them for years.

I've posted this recipe before, but it's always worthy of a re-post. These eclairs are so easy and yet look so beautiful and taste fabulous! Hope you enjoy making these as much as I do!

I've adapted this recipe for Mini Chocolate Eclairs from Paula Deen. This is one of my favorite recipes because it's simple and delicious! I never use margarine, so I've dropped that alternative from the recipe. Real butter is always best. As always, I use the very best dark chocolate for the topping. I've changed a few measurements and directions in the recipe for the Novice Eclair Chef. If you're a purist, just click on Paula Deen's recipe above.

Because these eclairs are so small, feel free to have 3 or 4. :-) Yield depends on how small you make them, but I usually get about 40 small eclairs from this recipe. They're great for a crowd!

Want to make these even more chocolate-y? Add a handful of chocolate chips to the egg cream filling or fill with chocolate cream instead: just add 1/4 cup dark cocoa to the dry ingredients. To fill the eclairs, I use a pastry bag, but if you don't have one, you can always fill a Ziploc bag and cut the tip off to pipe the filling into the eclair.

You will probably have some extra icing. Half the recipe if you ice sparingly. I'm for more chocolate, so there's never much left.

MINI CHOCOLATE ECLAIRS

Pastry:
1 cup water
8 Tbsp butter
1 cup sifted flour
3 eggs

Filling:
3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 tsp Madagascar vanilla

Icing:
3 ounces unsweetened dark chocolate, chopped
2 cups sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions
Preheat oven to 400F.
Heat water and butter to boiling point. Add flour and stir constantly until mixture is smooth and forms a ball when tested in cold water. Remove from heat and let cool. Beat in 3 eggs, one at a time. Drop dough from teaspoon, elongate slightly to form small eclairs (or drop in 'puffs'), onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until light brown. Set aside to cool.
Prepare filling by mixing all dry ingredients. Very slowly add milk over low heat and cook until mixture thickens (don't let heat get too high), so you don't have any lumps. Then pour this custard  into beaten eggs, stirring quickly (so eggs don't cook). Cool and add vanilla.
With serrated knife, slice pastry puffs lengthwise (or if you have puffs make a hole), but not all the way through. Pipe custard mixture into center.
Melt chocolate for icing, add sugar, and cream. Cook over medium heat until soft ball stage. Let cool and beat until smooth. Ice tops of eclairs.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Peaches and Cream

Today is National Peaches and Cream Day. Perfect for this time of year when there are so many peaches in the market. Who doesn't love a bowl of peaches with cream? Of course since this is a Chocolate Blog, this is a recipe for Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Peaches and Cream. Recipe is from The Green Card Gardener via Food 52.  And, it's Gluten-Free!! You'll love it.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Peaches and Cream

Ingredients
7 ounces whole hazelnuts with skins
5 eggs
2/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
4 1/2 ounces dark chocolate (75-80%)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-5 ripe peaches
1/2 cup apricot preserves

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Line bottom of 10-inch cake pan with parchment paper and grease sides.
Chop hazelnuts coarsely in food processor using pulse. Set aside. Separate eggs. Beat yolks with 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy.
In separate bowl beat egg whites until they stand in stiff peaks.
Melt the chocolate over very low heat on stove. Add to egg yolk mixture in slow steady stream and mix well.
Fold in chopped nuts, then fold in egg whites.
Pour batter into prepared pan and even out with a spatula.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Loosen sides and unmold upside down onto cake rack and let cool slightly. Carefully remove parchment.
Let cool completely.
Whip cream until it stands in stiff peaks adding 2 teapoons sugar and vanilla extract.
Place cake with the flat side up on cake plate. Evenly spread whipped cream over cake.
If peaches are very ripe, remove peel with small pointy knife. Otherwise, make "X" on bottom of each peach and blanch for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove skin.
Cut peaches into thick even slices.
Strain apricot preserves and warm them over very low heat in small saucepan.
Dip each peach slice in the preserves, then arrange slices on cake.
Refrigerate until serving.

Summer Solstice Retro Cool Chocolate Drink Ad

Since today is the Summer Solstice, the first 'official' day of summer, and the temperatures are soaring in the San Francisco Bay Area. This Retro Baker's Ad for Cooling, frosted Chocolate Drinks "whenever you like--at home" is perfect!

So mix up some cool cocoa today! Nothing beats Chocolate!