Monday, February 27, 2017

Black Russian Bundt Cake & Homemade Kahlua

Today is National Kahlua Day. Kahlua is such a versatile liqueur. It is a Mexican coffee-flavored rum-based liqueur that's dense and sweet, with the taste of coffee. Kahlúa also contains sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla bean, so you see why it's often matched with chocolate in drinks, cakes, pies and candy. 

To celebrate today's Kahlua holiday, scroll down for a recipe for Black Russian Bundt Cake. A Black Russian is a classic cocktail made with 1 part Kahlua, 2 parts Vodka. Fill glass with ice. Add alcohol and mix!  

Want to make your own Kahlua? Here's a recipe. The Kahlua won't be ready for a month, but it will be great!

Homemade Kahlua

Ingredients
4 cups water
4 cups sugar
2 ounces instant coffee
1 vanilla bean
Fifth of vodka or bourbon

Directions
Bring 4 cups water to boil. Add 4 cups sugar and cook until dissolved. Add instant coffee. Simmer slowly - do not boil!
Add vanilla bean and 1/5 vodka or bourbon.
Bottle and cap. Leave for a month or more!
 
Black Russian Bundt Cake 

Ingredients
1 box yellow cake mix (without pudding)
1/2 cup sugar
1 pkg (6 ounces) chocolate instant pudding
1 cup oil
4 eggs
1/4 cup Vodka
1/4 cup Kahlua
3/4 cup water

Directions
Combine all ingredients and beat on low for one minute and then on medium for 4 minutes.
Pour into greased and floured 10-inch bundt pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes.
Let cool in pan for 10 minutes.
Invert onto plate and pour on glaze.

Glaze 
1/4 cup Kahlua
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Combine and have ready when cake comes from oven.
Poke holes in cake and pour glaze over cake. 

Dust with sifted powdered sugar.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Chewy Pistachio Brownies: National Pistachio Day

Today is Pistachio Day! I love pistachios.

We used to eat lots of red-dyed pistachios when I was a kid. Our mouths and teeth would be stained red for awhile. Red Dye #1? We didn't worry about how it might effect us, nor did our parents. However, I did a bit of searching, and you can still find them at Oh Nuts. I also found out why they were dyed red. Most pistachios when I was young were imported from the Middle East where traditional methods of harvesting left stains on the shells. The producers would dye the shell red or green to cover up the stains. Today, about 98% of pistachios sold in the U.S. are grown in California, where they use a mechanized harvesting process that means that the nuts are picked, hulled and dried before the shell has a chance to become stained. No need to dye them! Luckily, all natural pistachios are readily available. Of course, if you want red dyed pistachios, Oh Nuts sells them. They are Californa Red Colored Roasted Salted Pistachios. If you're into nostalgia. And, FYI: Pistachios are very nutritional. One serving provides more fiber than a 1/2 cup of spinach or broccoli. 

I've posted many brownie recipes over the years, but thought I'd post this one for Chewy Pistachio Brownies that's slightly adapted from the American Pistachio Growers website.

Chewy Pistachio Brownies

Ingredients: 
1/2 cup DARK cocoa
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup shelled natural American pistachios, chopped
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
Chocolate Glaze (recipe follows)

Chocolate Glaze:
Combine 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir to blend, adding 1 Tbsp powdered sugar.

Directions
In mixing bowl, combine cocoa, sugar, flour, baking powder, chocolate chips, and 1/2 cup chopped pistachios. Add melted butter, egg, and milk; mix just until ingredients are blended.
Scrape batter into oiled 9-inch square baking pan.
Bake in preheated 350° F. oven, 23 to 25 minutes or until center is baked. Do not overbake.
Cool slightly; spread with Chocolate Glaze.
Sprinkle with remaining pistachios.

And, for your nostalgic viewing pleasure:

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Chocolate Bacon Peanut Bark: National Chocolate Covered Peanut Day!

Today is National Chocolate Covered Peanuts Day! Nuts to You!  

Chocolate and Bacon was the food chocolate trend several years ago, and I don't really think it's gone out of fashion. What a great pairing! Salty bacon with dark sweet chocolate is terrific. Add Peanuts, and you're good to go! Barks are so easy to make, too.

Susan Russo on NPR had a great article in 2010 on different pairings of bacon with different foods, but this was my favorite. It's simple to make.

Chocolate Bacon Peanut Bark  
adapted from Susan Russo's recipe

Ingredients
8 strips bacon
16 ounces fair-trade organic chocolate 60-75 % cacao (chunks or chips are fine)
1 cup unsalted peanuts

Directions
In large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon, turning several times, until browned and done, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate to drain. Chop finely.
Line large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Add chocolate to double boiler (or saucepan on top of another saucepan). Once water begins to boil, add chocolate. Using spatula, stir continuously, until smooth and creamy.
Stir in bacon and peanuts. Pour onto prepared baking sheet and spread to 3/8-inch thickness. Refrigerate for minimum of one hour. Bark should be hard and chilled.
Place bark on cutting board and cut  (or crack) into pieces — any size or shape you'd like.
Serve at room temperature.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Chocolate: A Night at the Movies

Sunday night I'll be watching the Academy Awards, and I started to think about all the great movies that involve Chocolate. No time for a detailed post, but thought I'd do a short list. There are a lot of movies with Chocolate in the title that have nothing or little to do with chocolate, so I've skipped those. Enjoy! Make some Chocolate Covered Popcorn to watch! Recipe at the end of this post.

Chocolat.  2000. A woman and her daughter open a chocolate shop in a small French village that shakes up the rigid morality of the community. Based on the book by Joanne Harris with Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and Alfred Molina.

Like Water for Chocolate. Como agua para chocolate. 1992. Based on the novel by Mexican author Laura Esquivel.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. 1971 with Gene Wilder. Based on the book by Roald Dahl. The Best of the Willy Wonka movies.

Consuming Passions. Cioccolato Bollente. 1988 in Italian, made in the UK. Black Comedy about a young executive who tries to modernize a chocolate factory.

Bread and Chocolate Pane e cioccolata. 1973 Italian film about an Italian immigrant in Switzerland trying to make a better life for himself while dealing with increasing bigotry and bad luck.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 2005. Johnny Depp. Based on the Roald Dahl book, but no where as good as the first movie.

Milton Hershey: The Chocolate King (documentary). 1995

Kings of Pastry.  (documentary) 2009. Sixteen French pastry chefs gathered in Lyon for three intense days of mixing, piping and sculpting everything from delicate chocolates to six-foot sugar sculptures in hopes of being declared one of the best. Prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France competition. Not just chocolate, but there's a lot of chocolate!

EASY CHOCOLATE COVERED POPCORN

1. Make a bag of popcorn (buttered or plain) and pop it according to the directions.
2. Put the popped popcorn into large bowl or flat baking pan (for more even distribution).
3. Melt dark or white chocolate or both (in separate bowls) in top of double boiler (or in microwave).
4. Drizzle chocolate on popcorn. You can always add more chocolate, but you can't remove it, so use sparingly.