Sunday, February 28, 2010

National Chocolate Soufflé Day

Today is National Chocolate Soufflé Day. I adapted the Bon Appetit recipe for Chocolate Soufflé for Bastille Day this past year. Lovely recipe and very easy.

Here's a Link to Dying for Chocolate Bastille Day: Chocolate Souffle´ made in ramekins.

Last year Mark Bittman had a Valentine's Day Almost Fool-Proof Chocolate Soufflé. Here's the recipe and a link to the video follows.

INGREDIENTS

About 1 tablespoon butter for the dish
1/3 cup sugar, plus some for the dish
2 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, melted
3 eggs, separated
Pinch salt
• 1/4 teaspoon tartar

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 2-cup or one 4-cup soufflé or other deep baking dish(es). Sprinkle each with sugar, invert it, and tap to remove excess sugar.

2. Whisk the egg yolks with the all but 1 tablespoon of sugar until very light and very thick; the mixture will fall in a ribbon from the ends of the beaters when it is ready. Mix in the melted chocolate until well combined; set aside.

3. Beat the egg whites with the salt and tartar until they hold soft peaks; continue to beat, gradually adding the remaining tablespoon of sugar, until they are very stiff and glossy. Stir a good spoonful of the whites thoroughly into the egg yolk mixture to lighten it; then fold in the remaining whites, using a rubber spatula. Transfer to the prepared soufflé dishes (at this point you can cover and refrigerate the soufflés until you're ready to bake them).

4. Bake until the center is nearly set, 20 minutes for individual soufflés and 25 to 35 for a single large soufflé. Serve immediately.

Watch the  video of Mark Bittman's almost-foolproof Chocolate Soufflé

Have a great Chocolate Soufflé Day Today!

Friday, February 26, 2010

National Kahlua Day: Chocolate Kahlua Cake

February 27 is National Kahlua Day. I always loved Auntie Helen's Chocolate Kahlua Cake. She wasn't really my aunt, but she had lots of nephews and nieces whenever she made her Kahlua soaked dark Chocolate Cake. Unbelievably moist! I don't have her recipe, but I've recreated something similar over the years. Never really wrote it down, though. I'm pretty sure she used a box mix like Duncan Hines Chocolate Cake. As you may know from this blog, my recipes aren't always precise (a bit of this, a bit of that). So I went in search of a more accurate recipe!

I was thrilled to find, then, Mary Kennedy's Easy Chocolate Kahlua Cake on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen on Valentine's Day! How special is that!!  If you're not familiar with Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, get acquainted. It's a great site for mystery/foodie cross-over.  The tagline on the site is "Mystery writers cookin up crime.. and recipes.

I know Mary's recipes are terrific. She Guest Blogged here on Dying for Chocolate with her Killer Kahlua Brownie recipe. Mary must really love Kahlua. Well, no suprise. It goes so well with chocolate! Mary Kennedy is the author of Dead Air, the first book in the mystery series featuring clinical psychologist Dr. Maggie Walsh. Mary has a dynamite Chocolate Kahlua Cake recipe. And, this one tastes just like Auntie Helen's!

Mary Kennedy’s Easy Chocolate Kahlua Cake

1 package dark chocolate cake mix (I've used Duncan Hines)

1 small package chocolate instant pudding mix

4 eggs

3/4 cup oil

1/2 C. Kahlua  (or a little more)

1 (16 oz.) container sour cream

1 (12 oz.) package semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350° F. Mix all ingredients together. Pour into a well-greased, floured (or sprayed) Bundt pan. Bake 65 to 75 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool at least 30 minutes. Invert to remove. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to give a finished look.

You can also bake this cake in a 9 x 13-inch pan but reduce the cooking time. (Check the cake in about 40 to 45 minutes, if still liquid in the center, continue baking and checking until done).


Have a great Kahlua Day!!

Photo by Cleo Coyle

Thursday, February 25, 2010

National Chocolate Covered Nuts Day

Today is National Chocolate Covered Nuts Day. I don't think I've ever met a chocolate covered nut I haven't liked, especially chocolate covered macadamia nuts. However, I got to thinking about the whole chocolate covered nut thing, and I realized that my love of chocolate covered nuts goes back to Goobers at the Movies! I always bought Goobers or Raisinets from the concession stand. My favorites. Goobers, though, were the best: fresh roasted peanuts covered in milk chocolate. Goobers are still made, but I miss the original box, the smell of the box, as much as the product. I just love the crunch of these small covered peanuts. The candy is made of just peanuts and chocolate. Nothing else.

Goobers were introduced in the United States in 1925 by the Blumenthal Chocolate Company. Nestlé acquired the brand in 1984. A large number of other brands exist, but Goobers are the original, at least for me. Peanut M&M's, came much later, and when they were introduced, I liked them, too, but not at the movies. I was a traditionalist. Peanut M&M's are nothing like Goobers. Peanut M&M's have larger peanuts, and the hardy candy shell covers the chocolate and the peanut. Goobers are inconsistent in size which I consider part of their charm and enjoyment. Often you'll just get chocolate without the nut. Occasionally you'll even get a raisinet. Whether or not that's a quality control issue, I don't care. It's always a surprise and a good one.

I'd like to say I've moved on from Goobers, but I really haven't. Oh yes, I love dark chocolate more than milk, and, especially in chocolate covered nuts. Also, the quality of the chocolate as well as the freshness of the nut is very important. As a Judge at this year's San Francisco International Chocolate Salon, I'll be taking all this into consideration when I judge the toffees and chocolate covered nut truffles, but I'll always have a place in my heart for Goobers.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

National Tortilla Day

Today is National Tortilla Day, and I certainly want to celebrate. A very easy and delicious dessert is to stack tortillas with melted chocolate blended with sour cream. I use flour tortillas but corn would take it up a notch. Might depend on your tastebuds. Maybe use the corn tortillas with the variation (see below)

Tortilla Chocolate Stack


10-12 large fresh flour tortilla
About 2 ounces bag of dark chocolate, broken up
16 ounces sour cream (low fat works, but you're already up there with the sugar and chocolate)
1/4 cup sugar


Melt chocolate with sugar
Take off heat and add sour cream and sugar to the melted chocolate. Blend well.
Spread the first tortilla (on a plate you plan to use) with some of the chocolate mixture.
Start layering the tortillas and chocolate with the chocolate ending up on top.
Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Mexican Spicy Tortilla Chocolate Stack

Add some cinnamon and ground ancho and chipotle chiles to the chocolate/sourcream mixture.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Winter Olympic Winners: Nanaimo Bars

With the Vancouver Winter Olympics in full swing, I can't help thinking about Nanaimo Bars, one of my favorite "Canadian" chocolate treats. Bill Critchfield, one of the members of my mystery bookgroup, used to make them on special occasions. Bill passed on, and unfortunately his safely guarded recipe passed on with him. Since then, I've tried to create his version of Nanaimo Bars (there are so many variations). This has involved trying different recipes and really exploring the whole Canadian Nanaimo history. Months of Edible Celebrations had a special post devoted to Nanaimo Bars in conjunction with Pecans last year. Interesting that the recipe for Nanaimo Bars in The Pecan Cookbook also calls for baking. I don't think Bill used pecans, and I'm sure he didn't bake.

The City of Nanaimo website says: "According to local legend about 35 years ago, a Nanaimo housewife entered her recipe for chocolate squares in a magazine contest. In a burst of civic pride, she chose to dub the entry not "Daphne's Delights" or "Mary's Munchies", but "Nanaimo Bars". The entry won a prize, thereby promoting the town as much as her cooking. Some American tourists claim sovereignty over the dessert, referred to as "New York Slice" which is sold in many other places in the world. Nanaimo residents refuse to accept this theory, however, believing that once you set foot on Vancouver Island, there are no other places in the world. The official Nanaimo Bar recipe was available as a handout as well as on quality tea towel and apron souvenirs."

Here's a recipe that will take first place at the Nanaimo Olympics from the Official City of Nanaimo Website:   
  
Nanaimo Bar Recipe

Bottom Layer
½ cup unsalted butter (European style cultured)
¼ cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ c. finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.

Second Layer
½ cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder  (I use Bird's)
2 cups icing sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Third Layer
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Melt chocolate and butter overlow heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.

The really nice thing about this 'refrigerator bar' is that you can adapt it in so many ways by adding different ingredients or substituting different nuts. Very fun! and always good! Perfect to eat while watching the Olympics.

Links to other Nanaimo Bar Recipes:

Cookie Madness 
My Baking Addiction (Valentine's Day Nanaimo Bars)
Barbara Bakes
Life's Ambrosia
Playing House (Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars)

Monday, February 22, 2010

National Banana Bread Day: Add Chocolate Chunks

Tomorrow is National Banana Bread Day, and I just love Banana Bread. Truly it's one of my favorite foods. What could be better than a great Banana Bread with Chocolate Chunks. What a way to celebrate National Banana Bread Day! Giving you a day's heads up, so you can make sure you have all the ingredients!

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chunks

2 eggs lightly beaten
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4-5 ounces dark chocolate (70-85% cacoa, organic, Fair trade) very coarsely chopped (I like them big)

Heat oven to 350ºF. Stir eggs, bananas, oil and milk until blended. Add flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; stir until just moistened. Stir in chocolate.

Pour into greased 9x5 inch loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cook in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan to cool on wire rack.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

San Francisco Chocolate Salon

Maybe I'm biased since I'm a judge, but the San Francisco International Chocolate Salon is a fabulous chocolate experience! This will be the 4th Annual San Francisco International Chocolate Salon.

When: Saturday, March 20: 10 am. to 6 p.m.
Where: Fort Mason Center, Festival Pavilion

With 50,000 sq ft of Chocolate, Wine & Confections--that's 66% more floor space than in 2009, this premier chocolate show on the West Coast is for chocolate afficiandos, fanatics, buyers and journalists. You'll be able to experience and taste soooo much chocolate. You can wash it down with vodka and wine!

Some of the chocolatiers and confectioners:
Amano Artisan Chocolate, Sacred Chocolate, Guittard Chocolate Company, Saratoga Chocolates, The Tea Room chocolate, Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, TCHO, Neo Cocoa, Kikas Treats, CJ's Bitz, Socola Chocolatier, Divine Chocolate, Drexelius Chocolates, Alter Eco Fair Trade Chocolate, Chocolate, Amella Caramels, Jade Chocolates, Ococoa, Malie Kai Chocolates, Happy Chocolates, Choclatique, Coco Delice Fine Chocolates, Clarine's Florentines, Napa Valley Fudge Company, Nicobella vegan organic truffles, Robyn's Chocolates, Vice Chocolates, Dolce Bella Chocolates, William Dean Chocolates, Edible Love Chocolates, Marti Chocolatt, Coco-luxe Confections, Sterling Confections, Christopher Michael Chocolates, Posh Chocolat, Gateau et Ganache, Poco Dolce, XOX Truffles, Schoggi Swiss Chocolates, Divine Organics by Transition Nutrition, Her Coconess Confections, Snake & Butterfly, Truffles in Paradise, Cacao Atlanta, Barlovento Chocolates, AF2 Chocolatiers, Beaux Gateaux, The San Francisco Chocolate Factory, Plush Puffs Gourmet Marshmallows, Vermeer Dutch Chocolate Cream Liqueur, Quady Winery, Blue Angel Vodka,

New 2010 Chocolate Salon Additions include the Chocolate Chef Competition and the TasteTV Wine Competition. Other Salon highlights feature chocolate tasting, demonstrations, new product launches and flavor combinations, fair trade & organic offerings, chef & author talks, wine pairings, a live chocolate body frosting demonstration, ongoing interviews by TasteTV's Chocolate Television program, and book signings.

To purchase tickets in advance, go HERE. $25 in advance. $30 at the door.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

National Cherry Pie Day: Chocolate Cherry Pie

So today is National Cherry Pie Day, but since it's winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, I'm not sure why it's in February at all. Can't get local fresh cherries. My markets carry cherries from Mexico and countries in South America, so I could make something fresh. This doesn't sit quite right with me, since I like to buy local to reduce the carbon footprint.

However, if you have fresh cherries, I suggest you make Chocolate Cherry Pie today. This recipe is from Local Lemons, one of my favorite websites.

Recipe for Chocolate Cherry Pie.

Photo: Local Lemons with permission

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Chocolate Chip Bacon Pancakes: Pancake Week


My friend Louise over at Months of Edible Celebrations reminded me that this is National Pancake Week, not to be confused with National Pancake Day which was September 26. On Pancake day I posted a recipe for Chocolate Chip Pancakes. Last year during Pancake Week I posted links to Double Chocolate Pancakes, Viennese Chocolate Pancakes and others.

So since this is the beginning of Lent and Pancake Week, I thought I'd recommend Chocolate Chip Bacon Pancakes, unless, of course, you've given up chocolate for Lent as one of my friends always does. You can always bookmark this page.

Vosges
has a great batter mix that's simple to use and that I think is really delicious. It's a riff on their Mo Bacon Bar that I really like. There are two ways you can make these. You can buy Vosges’s Bacon Chocolate Chip buttermilk pancake mix that is dotted with chunks of Mo’s Bacon Bar. Or, you buy the candy bar directly and chop it up and put it into your own pancake recipe.

Mo's Bacon Chocolate Chip Pancake Mix is one of the newest members of the bacon + chocolate Vosges family. It combines the Mo's Bacon Bar with fluffy flapjacks. The buttermilk pancakes are spotted with chunks of their Mo's Bacon Bar Candy Bar, that combines applewood smoked bacon and Alder sea salt with deep milk chocolate. The instructions give two methods for incorporating the bacon chocolate chunks: you can either sprinkle them on top of each pancake before flipping them in the pan, or layer them between the finished pancakes before serving. Layering the chunks between the pancakes worked best for me. And, here's a heads-up. The batter itself is excellent.

Want to make Chocolate Chip Bacon Pancakes on your own? First make some chocolate covered bacon and consider that your chocolate chips. Cook and cool your bacon, then crumble it. Use a good smoked bacon, not bacon from a package. Melt semi-sweet chocolate in a double boiler and mix the bacon in, spread it on a cookie sheet to cool then use it. Then use your favorite pancake recipe.

Or, you can use both chopped bacon and chocolate chips. The main difference between these two types is the mixing. The bacon should be mixed into the buttermilk batter and the chocolate chips should be dropped on top of the pancake while it is cooking on one side. Otherwise the chocolate might leak onto the grill. Very messy. Also the chocolate might burn if it is left on the heat. The worst that can happen to the bacon is that it will become more crisp, and that's great! Following the Mo's Bacon Pancake advise, you can always add the chocolate chips when you stack, but for this recipe, you can always include them right after you flip.

Buttermilk Pancakes with Bacon and Chocolate Chips

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
about 1/2 cup smoked good quality bacon, cooked until crisp, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I like dark Ghirardelli or Guittard)

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into flour mixture along with the bacon and stir until combined but a bit lumpy to avoid over mixing.
Heat a lightly greased skillet over medium-high heat. When a drop of water sizzles on the surface, drop heaping spoonfuls of batter onto the skillet, making 3-inch pancakes. Cook until golden brown on each side, add chocolate chips after flipping the first and only time --or when stacking.

So you have lots of options:

1) Buy the delicious Mo's Bacon Chocolate Chip Pancake Mix
2) Make your own Pancakes and chop up a Mo's Bacon Bar and add it to the batter or the 1/2 cooked pancakes or when you stack.
3) Make your own chocolate covered bacon and add to batter or stacked pancakes
4) Make your own pancakes with cooked chopped bacon and add chocolate chips

Whatever you choose, you're going to have some great pancakes to celebrate Pancake Week.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Guest Blogger Penny Warner: How to Host a Killer Party!

I asked Party Planner Extraordinaire Penny Warner to Guest Blog today on DyingforChocolate. Let's face it, what's a party without chocolate..even if that chocolate is a killer!

Penny Warner is the author of the new mystery series, HOW TO HOST A KILLER PARTY, (Obsidian/NAL/Penguin). She can be reached at www.pennywarner.com Thanks, Penny, for this enlightened look into your new series!

GUEST BLOG FOR DYING FOR CHOCOLATE Penny Warner, Author of HOW TO HOST A KILLER PARTY

Like most readers of Janet Rudolph’s Dying for Chocolate Blog—aw let’s face it, like most women on the planet—I’m a Choc-addict. That’s like being a crack addict but more fattening. Currently I’m in trouble with my daughter. I just introduced the drug to my two-year-old grandson—I gave him a Hersey’s Kiss—and now all he talks about is getting more “shock-lit.” He’s already a Choc-addict like his grandmother.

Naturally both protagonists in my two mystery series have my disorder. Connor Westphal (DEAD BODY LANGUAGE) keeps chocolates hidden in her desk, while Presley Parker (HOW TO HOST A KILLER PARTY) deals them to unsuspecting crowds at her parties. But when she’s not sharing them, she uses chocolates for medicinal purposes. She has ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and the caffeine in chocolate and coffee are similar to drugs like Ritalin and Adderall, which calm her down instead of revving her up.
So she self-medicates. Often.

Unfortunately for Presley, her chocolates are sometimes lethal. As a party planner, she always includes some form of chocolate on the party menu. But after hiring local TV chef Rocco Ghirenghelli to create chocolate Maltese Falcons for Mayor Davin Green’s Alcatraz Wedding Party, she soon realizes a couple of the brown birds have been injected with cyanide. She discover this when the bride-to-be is found floating in the San Francisco Bay, a victim of poisoning. And dead guests of honor aren’t really good for the party business.

So how did Presley get herself into this chocolate mess? That’s the way I wrote her. After all, it’s a murder mystery. And while I haven’t had much experience injecting chocolates with cyanide (see the Internet for instructions), I have had a lot of experience with chocolate, as well as party planning, writing party books for kids and adults, and creating mysteries. Since “they” often say, “Write what you know,” I decided to make my new sleuth a party planner (she prefers “event planner”), put her on Treasure Island where she lives and works, and have her solve mysteries all around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Presley, recently downsized from her teaching job at San Francisco State University, agrees to the career change after being encouraged by her mother, once a popular party girl and member of the City’s café society. But after developing early stage Alzheimer’s, Mother has retired to a care facility, leaving Presley to fill her party slippers.

After that it’s just one party foul after another…

Although the book doesn’t include recipes, HOW TO HOST A KILLER PARTY is like having three books in one. 1. It’s a mystery, 2. there’s a complete party plan at the end of the book, and 3. Presley offers party tips throughout the mystery.

Tips like:
  • Party Planning Tip #2: "Like MacGyver, a good event planner can fix any party mishap with a toothpick, duct tape, or crepe paper.”
  • Party Planning Tip # 3: “Don’t drink while hosting an event. Especially when the police want to question you about a murder.”
  • Party Planning Tip #13: “Choose your event caterer carefully. Nothing ruins a party faster than a bunch of toilet-hugging guests who’ve been poisoned by bad sushi or tampered chocolates.”
I’ll leave you with one last Presley Parker tip that’s guaranteed to make your party a success:

“When your dessert soufflé falls flat, dump the disaster into the disposal and bring out your backup stash of gourmet chocolates. One bite of a Christopher Norman, Marie Belle or Lake Champlain chocolate and your guests will be eating out of your hands.”

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mardi Gras Chocolate II: Chocolate Cupped Cakes with Coffee & Chicory


Nothing says Mardi Gras to me quite like New Orleans Coffee with Chicory. David Guas and Raquel Pelzel have a fabulous recipe in DamGoodSweet: Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth, New Orleans Style for Chocolate Cupped Cakes with Coffee and Chicory... lots of c's there.. including chocolate. This recipe was posted at Epicurious. Can't you just taste it?

"This coffee and chicory cupped cake is made with a stiff, eggless cake batter that gets topped with a cocoa crumble and then covered with coffee. Baked in actual coffee cups, the cake soufflés up and makes its own built-in lava sauce on the bottom. It's fantastic eaten within an hour or two of baking while the cake is still warm, soft, and molten."
Ingredients:
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup brewed New Orleans–style chicory coffee

Read More

Heat the oven to 350°F. Spray the insides of 6 large oven-safe coffee cups or six 6-ounce ramekins with nonstick cooking spray and place on a rimmed baking sheet.

To make the cocoa sprinkle, whisk 1/4 cup of the sugar, the light brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of the cocoa powder in a small bowl until most of the brown sugar lumps are broken up, and set aside.

Using a stand mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand mixer), blend the butter and remaining sugar together on medium speed until the sugar looks like wet sand, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the cream and vanilla, mixing until well blended, using a rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Whisk the flour, the remaining cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl and then add it to the butter mixture. Mix on low speed until a stiff dough comes together, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 15 seconds.

Divide the batter between the coffee cups, filling each one about half full, using the back of a spoon to press the batter into the cup. Top each with 2 tablespoons of the reserved cocoa sprinkle and then pour 21/2 tablespoons of coffee over the cocoa. Bake until the cakes soufflé up and the top of each cake is crusty and dry on top with no visible wet spots, about 55 to 60 minutes. Cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Tip: If you don't have oven-safe coffee cups, make this cake in a 9-inch-square baking dish and serve it casserole style, scooped into dessert bowls (it may need an extra 5 to 10 minutes in the oven).

Photo: Ellen Silverman

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mardi Gras: Chocolate Chunk Pecan Pie

So many holidays in such a short time. Tomorrow is Mardi Gras and what could represent the Big Easy more than this Chocolate Chunk Pecan Pie Recipe adapted from Taste of Home.

Ingredients
3 eggs
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pecan halves, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup Organic fair-trade 70% + Chocolate, broken up into chunks
* 1 unbaked deep-dish pastry shell (9 inches)-or make your own.

Directions
In a bowl, whisk eggs, corn syrup, sugar, butter and vanilla; stir in pecans. Spread chocolate chunks evenly in pastry shell. Pour pecan mixture into pastry shell.

Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a knife inserted 2 in. from center comes out with little bits of filling attached. Cover loosely with foil if top browns too quickly. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours; refrigerate until serving time. Yield: 8 servings.

How will you celebrate Mardi Gras?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chocolate Sampler: News, Reviews & More

The Chocolate Sampler is an occasional post with news and reviews for the Chocoholic.

So many holidays at once, and so much news in the Chocolate World. First, Happy Valentine's Day & Gung Hay Fat Choy. I've posted various recipes for both holidays, so be sure and check those out if you haven't decided on your chocolate celebration yet. Valentine's Day: HERE and HERE and HERE. Chinese New Year: HERE.

Valentine's Day Chocolate (and any time) in some leading places
:
  • Los Angeles: article reviews Compartes, Valerie Confections, Teuscher Confections in Beverly Hills (hi, Lola!), Happy Ending Chocolate, & Littlejohns. Go HERE.
  • Philadelphia and environs: go HERE.
  • Portland: Includes Alma Chocolates, Moonstruck, Cacao and others. (sweet shops/bakeries). Go HERE.
  • Dallas. Includes Sublime Chocolate, Cocoa Andre, The Cultured Cup and others. Read two articles HERE and HERE.
  • Tuscany: Chocolate Tours & Chocolatiers. Read HERE.
Review of 5 leading Organic Fair Trade Chocolate. Includes Taza, Seth Ellis, Askinosie, Theo Chocolate, Alter Eco Chocolate.
Read the review HERE.

More interested in old time candy bars and what has happened to them? The Wall Street Journal had a great article. Go HERE

More Chocolate Less Stress. But you knew that! Read Dr. Weil's Blog HERE.

Finally, for the Chocoholic who has it all: Chocolate Weapons.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chocolate & Chinese New Year

This year Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day fall on the same date. It got me thinking about how Chocolate fits into Chinese food.

I read an article last month about the Great Wall of Chocolate: Chinese Chocolatiers Build a Replica of the Great Wall of China out of Chocolate. This edible wall is totally out of chocolate and is 80 tons of chocolate spans 10 meters (not 4000 miles) and includes 'terra cotta' chocolate warriors on a layer of chocolate flakes. It's built from solid dark chocolate bricks mortared with white chocolate and is part of the World Chocolate Wonderland exhibition and trade show in Beijing. Read the full article HERE.

O.K. as interesting as the Great Wall of Chocolate is, it wasn't really related to Chinese New Year or eating chocolate. Since this is the Year of the Tiger, you'll be able to buy Chocolate Tigers at The Chocolate Vault or at local chocolatiers.

Lora Brody had a recipe for Chinese Noodle Nut Clusters at Epicurious a few years ago, and I've made this. It certainly looks like ChowMein, but tastes sweet and salty. Chinese candy bring joy. Of course, I'm not sure this is the candy, but I'm always joyful eating these!

Hint: Using chocolate chips here instead of bar or block chocolate makes a more viscous "batter," which makes the clusters easier to form. This chocolate does not have to be tempered. You can find cans of Chinese chow-mein noodles in the Asian food section of the supermarket. The ones you want are cooked and ready to eat like crackers.

2 cups (10 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups (about 4 ounces) Chinese chow-mein noodles, broken into 1/2-inch to 1-inch pieces (vary the sizes)
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) dry-roasted salted peanuts, shaken in a sieve to remove excess salt

Line a baking sheet with wax paper, parchment paper, or aluminum foil. Set aside.

Melt the chocolate chips and butter together in a metal bowl set over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water, or in a microwave-safe bowl in a microwave oven. Stir the mixture until it is smooth. In a large mixing bowl, toss the noodles and peanuts together. Pour the melted chocolate mixture over them. Working quickly before the chocolate hardens, use a rubber spatula to mix and coat the noodles and nuts with chocolate.

Use 2 soup spoons (or teaspoons, depending on how large you want your clusters) to scoop up portions of the mixture. Set the clusters on the prepared sheet. Set the baking sheet in a cool place (not in the refrigerator) until the chocolate hardens.

The clusters can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.

Pichet Ong and Genevieve Ko
had a recipe for Chocolate Kumquat Spring Rolls at Epicurious. Haven't made these yet, but you might want to try them on Sunday.

Want to bake? Chronicle Books Blog has a recipe for Chinese Five-Spice Chocolate Chiffon Cake. It's made with cinnamon, aniseed, cloves, ginger and fennelseed. Don't let that put you off, though, this recipe from the book Chocolate Cakes looks fabulous.
O.K. You know I'm always looking for the easy way out. You can always dip fortune cookies in chocolate? How easy is that? Want to be more festive. Dip the chocolate covered fortune cookies in sprinkles or colored sugar near the end)

Chocolate Covered Fortune Cookies

15 to 20 fortune cookies
1/2 cup dark chocolate, broken into pieces

Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. Place the chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler or in a saucepan on top of another saucepan with simmering water on the bottom. Heat until melted.

Holding the fortune cookie by its end, dipping the rounded bottom of the cookie into the chocolate. Let the excess chocolate drip off (then roll lightly in sprinkles if you want). Place the chocolate covered fortune cookie on the wax or parchment paper. Continue with the remainder of the cookies.

Put the cookies in the refrigerator to cool. Store in an airtight container or eat. I would eat them right away, really... Candy brings joy, and maybe your fortune will be good. :-)

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

More Valentine's Day Favorites: Chocolate Covered Strawberries


Thanks to all my Blogger Friends for the lovely links to your Valentine's Day Chocolate recipes. Be sure and check the last few days of Valentine's Day Chocolate recipes HERE and HERE.

Cherrapeno has an incredible Chocolate Ginger Biscuits/Cookies recipe you'll want to try immediately..or at least in time for Valentine's Day... and they're heart shaped! Thanks for sending. Yesterday there was another wonderful post on Cherrapeno: Chilli Chocolate Love Macarons. They're filled with chilli chocolate ganache and dusted with edible fairy hearts.

The Cherrapeno blog led me to Zorra from Kochtopf who hosted A Heart for Your Valentine a few years ago. Bloggers all over the world wrote blogs that showcased edible heart shaped treats. Check out the fabulous roundup. They're not all chocolate recipes, but they're definitely fun to roll through. Round-up One HERE. Round-up Two HERE.

Here's a link to a Chocolate Highlight from this Blog-a-Thon that is sooo easy! My Heart Melts for You from Hannah at BitterSweet (Chocolate ice-cream squished in a mold: Quick and Easy). I'm definitely making this one!

And, my own favorite Valentine's Day treat (or any day!): Chocolate Covered Strawberries. The red strawberries remind me of hearts, and they're dipped in chocolate! What's not to like? Want to give them a kick? Add 1/8 tsp ancho chile powder to the mix.

CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRIES TO DIE FOR!

INGREDIENTS:
1 quart fresh large strawberries, with tops
1 cup semi-sweet chips or 60-70% cacao, broken
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips or 75-85% cacao, broken
1/8 tsp ancho chile powder (optional)
3 Tbsp. heavy cream

DIRECTIONS:
Quickly rinse strawberries and dry thoroughly, keeping tops on. In small microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate chips and heavy cream. Microwave on medium power for 2 minutes, stir. Continue microwaving in 30-second intervals if necessary, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. You can also do this in a saucepan over another saucepan with simmering water (or a true doubleboiler).

Dip strawberries in chocolate mixture and place on waxpaper or parchment lined cookie sheet to allow chocolate to harden.

HINTS:

Wash the strawberries and pat dry with paper towels; set aside. Make sure the strawberries are completely dry. Even a drop of water in melted chocolate can cause it to "seize" and turn the entire mixture into a mess.

How to dip: Grasp the stem of the strawberry and dip into the chocolate, swirling to partially cover with chocolate. Give the strawberry a small shake as you withdraw it from the chocolate. When the strawberry is completely withdrawn from the chocolate, swirl it in a quick, clockwise motion to let the excess chocolate drip off. Place on cookie sheet lined with waxed paper or parchment. Repeat with the rest of the strawberries.

Either put strawberries in the refrigerator or set aside to allow the chocolate to harden (about 30 minutes). Transfer fruit onto a serving platter to serve.

As I mentioned, you can add 1/8 tsp ground ancho chile powder into the chocolate/cream mixture. Gives it a little kick!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

National Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownie Day


February 10 is National Cream Cheese Brownie Day, and Betty Crocker has a great standby recipe I'm going to make to celebrate. 15 minutes to make; an hour to bake, or there abouts. I'm not a purist. I've always loved Betty Crocker brownies, and this recipe is divine. Of course, it will work with homemade brownies, too. Here's a link to my Aunt Sylvia's brownies.

Betty Crocker® Cream Cheese Brownies

1 box (1 lb 6.5 oz) Betty Crocker® Original Supreme brownie mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
2 eggs or 3 eggs
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened *
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease bottom only of 13x9-inch pan with shortening or cooking spray.
2. In medium bowl, stir brownie mix, pouch of chocolate syrup, oil, water and 2 eggs for fudgelike brownies (or 3 eggs for cakelike brownies), using spoon, until well blended. Spread in pan.
3. In another medium bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually beat in sugar. Beat in vanilla and 1 egg just until blended.
4. Pour cream cheese mixture over brownie batter in pan; cut through mixture with knife several times for marbled design. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.
5. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until cream cheese mixture begins to brown and toothpick inserted in brownie 2 inches from side of pan comes out clean or almost clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour. For 24 brownies, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Store tightly covered and, if desired, in refrigerator.

* to soften cream cheese, microwave in bowl on high for 15 seconds.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Valentine's Day: More Fabulous Chocolate Links, Pots au Chocolat

Valentine's Day is a great time to make special chocolate treats for the one you love. Lots of possibilities out there. Following are several links to chocolate cupcakes, cookies, mousse. I've also included an easy recipe for Petits Pots au Chocolat. Easy, delicious and make-ahead. Don't forget to check out yesterday's Valentine's Day recipe and links.

Cupcake Project has a fabulous recipe for the Ultimate Chocolate Truffle Cupcake, Cupcake Fondue, Chocolat Dulce de Leche Cupcakes and Root Beer Float Cupcakes. Go HERE for recipes. Don't forget to check out the rest of the links.

The Sensitive Pantry has a recipe for Heart-Shaped Chocolate-Peppermint Cookies that taste amazingly like Girl Scout Thin Mints. Bonus: These are dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free and Vegan. Go HERE for the recipe.

My Baking Addiction shares an incredible Chocolate Mousse. This is easy to make and can be prepared ahead. Perfect for your Valentine's dinner. Also posted for Valentine's Day is a Chocolate Cake layered with espresso buttercream and covered with chocolate ganache.

Jen at My Kitchen Addiction has a recipe for Spicy Cocoa Roasted Almonds. It's all about cocoa, red pepper, and almonds. Great combination.

***
And, here's an easy recipe from Xanthe Clay in the Telegraph U.K. for Petits Pots au Chocolat that will make a Grand impact. This adapted for the U.S. recipe will make two Ramekins or four tiny espresso or egg cups.

Petits Pots au Chocolat

5 oz cream
2oz dark chocolate (70% or higher, fair-trade, organic), chopped
1 egg yolk
1 tsp castor sugar (superfine sugar)*
1 tbsp brandy or a favorite liqueur – coffee, orange, almond and hazelnut

Heat the oven to 300F
Heat cream until almost boiling, then take off the heat.
Stir the chocolate into the cream until it melts.
Beat the egg yolk, sugar and brandy or liqueur in a jug, then pour over the chocolate cream, mixing well.
Divide the mixture between two small ramekins or four tiny espresso (or egg) cups. Put them in a deep ovenproof dish. Pour enough boiling water into the dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins or espresso cups.
Put the dish in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
Allow the water to cool before taking out the ramekins or cups. Cover them with saranwrap and chill for at least three hours, or up to two days.
Serve with a dab of whipped cream.

If you don’t have castor sugar at home, you can make your own by grinding granulated sugar for a couple of minutes in a food processor (this also produces sugar dust, so let it settle for a few moments before opening the food processor). You can also purchase castor sugar online.

Valentine's Day Recipes & Ideas: Heart-Shaped Truffles

Valentine's Day is all about Chocolate. I'll be reviewing all kinds of special Valentine's Day chocolate this week, leading up to Sunday, Valentine's Day. I was at the Flea Market yesterday, and I saw several heart shaped muffin and cake pans, so I thought it might be fun to Bake a Chocolate Cake or cupcakes in the shape of a heart or decorate with hearts. Nordic Ware makes a great Heartlette dessert pan.Williams Sonoma (and other vendors) sell Heart Shaped Cupcake Pans. I even have a Heart Shaped Bundt Pan. Marge's Red Velvet Cake would be great made in this bundt pan.

Along these lines, I discovered a great Chocolate Website from Down Under: Inspired-by-chocolate-and-cakes.com has some wonderful Valentine's Day Chocolate suggestions including cupcake decorating, Valentine Raspberry Brownies, Valentine Chocolate Strawberries, Valentine Berry Chocolate Cake, Valentine Chocolate Truffles, Valentine Double Chocolate Muffins and Valentine Chocolate Fudge. Go HERE for all these wonderful ideas!

I love the idea of heart-shaped truffles and there are silicon heart shapes molds to make these chocolates. Read all the information on Valentine Chocolate Truffles, here. This recipe is adapted from down under, so I have converted the ingredients and made a few changes. I think it's pretty true to form. Of course, you can use any basic truffle recipes and just press into the mold. I usually melt my chocolate and butter in a double boiler, but the microwave works.

Valentine Chocolate Truffle Recipe
Makes 24 chocolate truffles.

Ingredients
2 tbsp unsalted butter, chopped coarsely
9 oz Fair-trade organic dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup thickened cream
1 teaspoon glucose syrup or corn syrup
½ cup cocoa powder, sifted for dusting the finished chocolate truffles or heart shaped cake sprinkles. You are only limited by your imagination or heart on decorating ideas!

Directions:

1. Place the butter and chocolate in a medium sized microwave safe bowl.

2. Microwave on medium power for 1min. Stir then continue to microwave on medium power at 30 sec intervals. Continue until chocolate has just melted. This should not take any more than 2 minutes.

3. Add the cream and the glucose. Mix through until combined and smooth. If you are adding flavorings add them with the cream.

4. Pour the chocolate truffle filling into the heart shaped mold. Level the top with a scraper and if needed decorate with the heart sprinkles. Place in the refrigerator to set.

5. Once firm place in the freezer for 5 minutes then push out of the mold. Dust with sifted cocoa powder.

6. Store in a cool dry place until ready to eat or give as a Valentine's Day gift.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mystery & Chocolate: Katherine Hall Page: Chocolate Bread Pudding

Today Katherine Hall Page Guest Blogs as part of the continuing series of Mystery Authors & Chocolate. Be sure and check out Mary Kennedy's Guest Blog and her Killer Kahlua Brownies.

Katherine Hall Page is the author of the Faith Fairchild mysteries, the first of which received the Agatha Award for best first mystery. She has also won the Agatha Award for best novel with The Body in the Snowdrift and an Agatha Award for her short story, "The Would-Be Widower." Faith Fairchild is a caterer, so these recipes fit right in.

Make Mine Murder—And Chocolate! by Katherine Hall Page

It’s a conversation grabber—and sometimes stopper. “I write murder mysteries.”—the answer to the polite, “What do you do?” What follows has ranged from a perceptible move away to comments like, “You don’t look like you write about murder”—(and that would be what kind of face?)—and an enormous number of suggestions for killing without a trace, which continues to give me pause.

Chocolate, on the other hand, happily produces predictable responses. (The sure way to tell the villains in my books, which feature caterer Faith Fairchild, is to look for anyone not willing to drive a mile for a Hershey’s Kiss.) I’ve spent many happy hours debating the merits of Burdick’s cardamom dark chocolate salt caramels versus the blood orange ones Vosges makes. My books include original recipes at the end and there’s always something chocolate. To do otherwise would be sinful.

There was never any question that when I was given a gift of time—leaving my job during my husband’s sabbatical in another country—I would write the novel in my head as a mystery. Since childhood, I had read anything and everything, but it was mysteries that posed the wondrous challenge of trying to guess whodunit before the final page. And here I am so many years later trying to keep readers from doing just that.

Agatha Christie set the bar. As I write, it’s one I gaze upon from below with admiration, longing, and very occasionally a glimmer of recognition. I think of Jane Marple as a kind of Great Aunt to my own series character, Faith Fairchild. Jane Marple was—and remains—the quintessential female sleuth, relying on her own intuition and keen powers of observation as the basic tools for detection. She, and Dame Agatha, would scorn the current use of the Internet to ferret out information, having no need for Google. Instead, Miss Marple displays an uncanny ability to make connections between apparently disparate individuals and events, past and present. Human beings are much of a type, as are the situations in which they find themselves. The classic village mystery, of which Christie’s Murder at the Vicarage may be the best example, is the genre into which my series falls. However, I do not limit the locale to a place like St. Mary Mead or in my case, Aleford, Massachusetts, a fictitious Boston suburb. I’ve broadened the definition to include New York City; Lyon, France; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and locales in Maine, Vermont, and Norway. What motivates individuals to commit murder, knows no borders. And this also gives me an opportunity to explore many different cuisines!

Here are two of my favorite chocoholic recipes, which have been favorites with readers as well.. There are more on my web site and Have Faith in Your Kitchen, a Faith Fairchild Cookbook, will be out from Orchises Press in September.

Chocolate Bread Pudding
(From the current book, The Body in the Sleigh)

5 thick slices of chocolate bread, cubed
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups half and half or light cream
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
Butter to grease the pan
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Mix the eggs, milk, half and half, sugar, vanilla, and salt together. Faith likes to pulse this in a blender, which makes it easy to pour over the bread cubes.
Put the bread cubes in a large mixing bowl and pour the egg mixture over them. Use the palm of your hand to gently push the bread into the liquid to make sure it absorbs evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Butter a Pyrex-type baking pan, approximately 12”x8”. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Mix the cherries and chocolate chips together in a small bowl.
Put a layer of the bread mixture in the pan, sprinkle the cherry/chip mixture over it, and cover with the remaining bread mixture. Again, use the palm of your hand to press down, so the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Bake for 40 minutes.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.
This is a very rich dessert and this recipe will serve 12 easily.

Neither Faith nor I have ever met a bread pudding we didn’t like. It’s comfort food. Many bakeries make chocolate bread. When Pigs Fly, the bakery company mentioned in the text is based in Wells, Maine, but their breads—including the chocolate bread—are sold at many Whole Foods and other markets. They also sell the bread—you bake it in your own kitchen for the last 30 minutes—online at www.sendbread.com. They also sell a kit to make the chocolate bread.
A reader also recently wrote that he had used chocolate muffins from his local bakery and the result was fantastic.

Glad’s Brownies
(From The Body in the Snowdrift)

4 squares unsweetened chocolate, Valrhona is a good choice
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sifted flour
1 cup dried cherries
1 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chocolate chunks or chips (milk or semi-sweet)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease and lightly flour a 13”x 9” pan. Melt the chocolate squares together with the butter. Cool it slightly and beat in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in the flour. Mix well, then add the cherries, walnuts, and chocolate chunks or chips. Put the batter in the pan and bake for about 35 minutes. Be careful not to over bake. Cool in the pan and serve. Makes a very generous1 1/2 dozen.
You may vary this recipe by substituting dried cranberries, golden or dark raisins for the cherries and pecans for the walnuts. Attributed in the book to Faith as a child, it is actually the creation of the author’s dear friend, Gladys Boalt of Stormville, New York.

Friday, February 5, 2010

World Nutella Day: Stuffed Challah Nutella French Toast

World Nutella Day got its start in 2007, and today, February 5, is the 4th Annual World Nutella Day. Nutella is more than just a 'chocolaty hazelnut spread," it's a way of life. You absolutely must go to the World Nutella Day site to see over 500 recipes for Nutella. The 'organizers' of this holiday have spread the word, and bloggers all over the world have responded.

You, too, can participate...even if you just eat some Nutella straight from the jar. Here's how: Join the celebration!

* Check out the action at the World Nutella Day Fan Page on Facebook!
* Follow the Twitter stream @nutelladay for updates
* Follow live Tweets with the event Twitter hashtag: #nutelladay
* Get creative with more than 500 Nutella recipes
* Drool at Nutella food p*rn in the World Nutella Day Flickr Pool
* Some tips on how to Host a World Nutella Day party at home
* New to Nutella? Learn what the fuss is about

Stuffed Challah Nutella French Toast

Here's an easy Nutella French Toast Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated. I use Challah, but Brioche is great, too! Remember: Stale bread makes great French Toast.

Ingredients:
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 tbsp melted unsalted butter
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Salt
8 fat slices of challah (egg bread)
Nutella, a few tbsp
Powdered sugar

Whisk egg, milk, melted butter, salt, sugar and vanilla.
Spread Nutella (a few tbsp) on 4 of the challah slices and add second slice.
Add 2 tbsp butter to skillet over medium heat

In a flat-ish dish pour 1/2 batter and soak both sides of 2 'sandwiches'. (Hint: don't use all the batter at once or your first Stuffed French toasts will soak it all up and you won't have any batter left for the others). Remove and fry. Turning over, of course. Dip the second two French toast sandwiches, soak, and fry about 1-2 minutes on first side. Flip. They're done when they're golden brown and crisp. Remove from heat, dust with powdered sugar and eat. Fabulous!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

National Carrot Cake Day: Chocolate Carrot Cake


February 3 is National Carrot Cake Day, and I love carrots. I love carrot cake, and I used to make and bake them in coffee cans. Remember coffee cans? Now my beans come in bags or recyclable paper cans, so no baking in those. I usually make carrot cake in a bundt pan, but you can use a square 8" pan or loaf pan. You'll love this Chocolate Carrot Cake. This recipe is adapted from Southern Food. My adaptation makes it a bit more chocolatey.. no big surprise!

Chocolate Carrot Cake

1 1/2 cup Finely grated carrots
3/4 cup Granulated sugar
1/2 cup Canola oil
1 cup Boiling water
1 1/2 cup Wholewheat flour
1/2 cup Unsweetened cocoa powder (best quality, of course)
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 handfuls of broken up chocolate chunks: 60-75% cacao

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, combine carrots, sugar & oil. Pour water over the mixture. In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. Add to the carrot mixture & mix well. Pour 1/2 of the batter into a non-stick or lightly oiled 8" square pan or bundt pan or loaf pan. Throw in the broken chocolate pieces. Pour the rest of the batter over this. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes... if you can wait.

I don't frost this cake.

Check out Months of Edible Celebrations for Carrot information and Links today.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ground Hog Day: Punxsutawney Phil Hot Chocolate

As many of you know, I'm always posting about Holidays and the Chocolate Foods that accompany them. Ground Hog Day was always a favorite of mine since I grew up in Pennsylvania. For those of you outside the U.S. who may not know about this holiday on February 2 is the day when Punxsutawney Phil peaks his head out and if he sees his shadow and returns to his hole, it means there will be another 6 weeks of winter, but if he doesn't see his shadow and comes out, Spring is on its way. This holiday was brought to international attention by the film Ground Hog Day with Bill Murray.

So what Chocolate Treat should you have on Ground Hog Day? Gourmet Mom on the Go has the answer! "She's always "Cookin' up fun for kids of all ages!": Groundhog Day Hot Cocoa. To top it off, she has the cutest ground hog cookies to peek out of the mug! Don't miss her great step by step photos for attaching the ground hog to the cup. See the entire recipe and instructions HERE.

Update: Phil saw his shadow. Watch the video HERE.

Thanks, Mandy, for permission to link and use your adorable photo.

Monday, February 1, 2010

February is Chocolate Month: Chocolate-Covered February in Hershey

The fact that February is National Chocolate Month should come as no surprise to anyone reading this Blog. Valentine's Day is February 14, and that's probably the biggest Chocolate Day of the year. I'll be posting reviews of Valentine's Day for Chocolate candy and Chocolate Truffles in the next few days.

In the meantime, The Hershey Company has a month-long celebration to honor this national holiday. They call it Chocolate-Covered February in Hershey. Some of the events in Hershey, PA, include a Chocolate Dinner Extraordinaire at The Hotel Hershey, a Cuban-Inspired Caribbean Dinner inspired by the travels of Milton S. Hershey at the Hershey Lodge, a Guided interactive discussion of chocolate lore at a Chocolate Tasting Adventure at Hershey's Chocolate World, and Truffles for Couples at The Hershey Story Museum where you learn the art of truffle-making. And there's a new event, The Great Hershey Quest. Available February 1-28, 2010. You'll be given a chocolate-covered passport and journey around Hershey, encountering sweet cupcakes, admission to Hershey area attractions, and chocolate-themed adventures during your tour of Chocolate Town. On this Quest, you will have a chance to win the "Ultimate Chocolate Getaway!" Boy has Hershey changed since I was a child!

Hershey: The Sweetest Place on Earth.

Here's a savory recipe from Hershey's Chocolate-Covered February Recipes. This rub would also go nicely with other fish.

Cocoa Seared Scallops
Prepared by: Hershey Lodge Culinary Team from Hershey Lodge

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons Hershey's Cocoa Powder
1 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
12 scallops

Directions:
Dredge scallops in cocoa rub and sear on medium high heat for two minutes per
side.