Sunday, May 30, 2010

Double Chocolate Fresh Cherry Brownies

Continuing on the fresh cherry theme, here's a brownie recipe for fresh cherries. Most recipes call for dried cherries, and they would be fabulous in almost any brownie recipe, but since I have fresh cherries, I wanted to use them. You'll want to play around with this recipe until you have what you like. I added more chopped chocolate because I like chocolate. Big surprise? But you don't need to do that.

Double Chocolate Fresh Cherry Brownies
3.5 oz dark chocolate (I used Valhrohona 71% cacao), chopped (for the batter)
1/2 cup sweet butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
dash of salt
1/2 cup all-purposed flour
about a cup of fresh cherries (pitted)
about a 1/3-1/2 cup dark chocolate chopped (to be added as chips)

Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8 x 8 pan (or whatever you use for brownies.. note this is not a double recipe)
2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler or saucepan over saucepan with simmering water.
3. In a bowl, mix together the melted chocolate/butter with the sugar. Add a pinch of salt, eggs and vanilla. Add flour and mix. Fold in Cherries and chopped chocolate.
4. Pour the brownie batter into greased pan and bake for 25-30 min.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Life is just a Bowl of Chocolate Covered Cherries

I had a flat of strawberries, so last night I made Chocolate Covered Strawberries. They were delicious. Because I had a few cherries left over from my Chocolate Cherry Pancakes, I decided to dip a few of those, too. This time I used Valrhona Noir 71% cacao (dark bittersweet) chocolate. Since the cherries had stems, this worked perfectly. Guess I'll be making more of these this weekend.

Life is just a Bowl of Chocolate Covered Cherries!

One caveat: I did not pit the cherries. You might want to warn people.

Easy Chocolate Covered Cherries

7 oz dark chocolate (I used Valhrona 71%) chopped
1/2 lb .. about 30 large fresh cherries with stems

Line a baking sheet or plate with waxed paper.
Place chocolate in top of double boiler or a saucepan over another saucepan with simmering water.
Stir chocolate until melted and smooth. Remove chocolate from heat.
Holding cherry by the stem, dip 1 cherry halfway into the chocolate, swirl so about 3/4 of cherry is covered, then place on the cookie sheet chocolate side down.
Repeat with the remaining cherries and chocolate.
Chill cherries (on sheet or plate) in refrigerator until the chocolate is firm-at least 15 minutes.
Refrigerate longer if you don't plan to eat them right away.

How easy is this? Perfect for a Memorial Day Barbecue.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cherries, cherries everywhere: Chocolate Cherry Pancakes

California is filled with cherries this time of year, and the crop seems to get sweeter each day, if that's possible. This is the perfect time to make Chocolate Cherry Pancakes.

One of my favorite recipes for Chocolate Cherry Pancakes is found on one of my favorite blogs: Macheesmo (Cook something), and last year Nick had a super Recipe for Chocolate Cherry Pancakes. He developed the recipe based on his love of Cherry Garcia ice-cream. I share his passion for Cherry Garcia ice-cream.. and for Jerry, too. How many concerts did I attend? More than you probably need to know.

Chocolate Cherry Pancakes are a great way to start the weekend. All you just have to do is follow Nick's instructions for this beautiful and delicious breakfast treat. I use dark chocolate, of course, and I'm so thankful for his clear directions, notes and photos. Here's the link again. I like breakfast for dinner, so give 'em a try then, too!

I mentioned the other day that I'm into Mixes in a Jar (Fabulous Chocolate Brownies in a Jar), so here's a recipe for Chocolate Cherry Pancakes in a Jar. This recipe calls for dried cherries, and you can do that if you're giving this as a gift (it will look pretty), but you can also omit the dried cherries and write "add fresh quartered cherries" to your instruction label.

Chocolate Cherry Pancakes in a Jar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cherries
2/3 cup dark chocolate, broken into pieces

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Put flour mixture into a 1-quart jar. Add cherries, then add chocolate. Seal Jar. Add some fabric and/or rafia and attach tag with instructions--or you can make your own personalized instruction label. That's what I do.

Chocolate Cherry Pancakes 
Makes 25 pancakes
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sweet butter, melted
Contents of Jar of "Chocolate Cherry Pancakes"
1 1/2 to 2 cups whole milk

Mix eggs and melted butter in large bowl. Add contents of jar. Stir until well blended. Add 1-1/2 cups milk. Stir until dry ingredients are moistened.

Heat griddle or skillet. Pour batter onto hot griddle 1/4 cup at a time. Cook pancakes until golden on both sides.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies

So last weekend I bought lots cherries at a farmstand in Sonoma County. I wasn't sure what I would do with them, but I didn't have to think very long since they disappeared quickly. I intend to get more at the Farmer's Market this week, but in the meantime I'm planning on making these Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies. I always have dried cherries on hand (they keep very well in the refrigerator), and the following recipe is fabulous. What could be better than chocolate, cherries and wine! This is a recipe adapted from one I found on the Foodnetwork.com. It will be a huge hit at your Memorial Day BBQ or any time. As always, use the very best chocolate!

Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies
 
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup good quality dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick sweet butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla extract
1/2 cup dry red wine, Zinfandel (I've used Cabernet and Merlot)
10 ounces dark chocolate (85% cacao--the best you can find), broken into chunks
1- 1/4 cup dried tart cherries (unsweetened are more tart but use what you have)

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

1. Combine flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda in a bowl.
2. In a bowl of an electric mixer, or with a handheld mixer, combine butter and sugars until fluffy.
3. Add egg, vanilla, and wine and combine.
4. Slowly in batches add the flour mixture until just combined.
5. Fold in the chocolate and cherries.
6. On a nonstick cookie sheet, place a heaping tablespoon of dough for each cookie about 2 inches apart from each other.
7. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until tops are still soft looking but edges look firm.
8. Let cool on sheet for 5-8 minutes.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chocolate Barbecue Sauce: Memorial Day

Planning a Memorial Day barbecue? Why not a Chocolate Barbecue Sauce? The following barbecue sauce is great on chicken. I usually dredge the chicken in dark cocoa (unsweetened) first. You can also make your own dark chocolate syrup using organic premium chocolate. The taste will vary with the chocolate. Experiment. You can triple this recipe depending on how many people are coming to your barbecue!

To add more chocolate to your Holiday Barbecue, make Smores on the Grill or Banana Boats
Have a great holiday!

EASY CHOCOLATE BARBECUE SAUCE

1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup Guittard dark chocolate syrup  (or make your own dark chocolate syrup)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp Hungarian paprika
1 tbsp prepared mustard
1/2 tsp hot sauce (use the very best; experiment with degrees of heat of the hot sauce)

Instructions:

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil, until tender. Stir in lemon juice, salt, pepper, paprika and hot sauce. Simmer for 5 to 6 minutes and reduce heat. Stir in ketchup, vinegar and Chocolate Syrup. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dark Chocolate Orange Cake: Under 250 calories per slice

So many people think that chocolate means lots of calories, and it certainly can if you combine it with lots of sugar and eat a lot of it at one sitting. Cooking Light offers several chocolate recipes that are under 250 calories. Remember that's per serving, and your idea of a serving may be different. How big a slice do you cut? The following recipe will divide into 6 servings, each serving about 250 calories.

Here's a recipe at myrecipes from Cooking Light for Dark Chocolate Orange Cake. Use an eight-inch springform pan for this rich and fudgy dessert. Dark chocolate and orange are a classic flavor combination. 

DARK CHOCOLATE ORANGE CAKE

Ingredients
Cooking spray
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon Triple Sec (orange-flavored liqueur)
1 tablespoon hot water
Dash of salt
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Powdered sugar (optional)
Orange rind strips (optional)

Method
Preheat oven to 350°
1. Coat an 8-inch springform pan with cooking spray; line bottom of pan with parchment or wax paper. Wrap outside of pan with aluminum foil.
2. Place 3/4 cup sugar and eggs in a bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed 7 minutes.
3. Combine cornstarch and cocoa in a small bowl; set aside. Place juice, liqueur, water, salt, and chocolate in a small glass bowl; microwave at high 1 minute or until almost melted, stirring every 20 seconds until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture; whisk until smooth.
4. Gently stir one-fourth of egg mixture into chocolate mixture; gently fold into remaining egg mixture. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Place pan in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan; add hot water to larger pan to a depth of 1 inch. Bake at 350º for 20 minutes or until top is set. Remove cake pan from water; cool 5 minutes on a wire rack. Loosen cake from sides of pan using a narrow metal spatula; cool to room temperature. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
Garnish with powdered sugar and rind just before serving, if desired.

Photo: MyRecipes

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Oreo Cookie Bundt Cake

I often find that Dairy Councils have wonderful recipes. This one is adapted from the Dairy Farmers of Utah for Oreo Cookie Bundt Cake. Easy and delicious.

Oreo Cookie Bundt Cake

Ingredients:
1 cup coarsely crushed Oreo cookies (about 12)
1/4 cup sugar
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
5 eggs, divided
1 package (18.25 oz) Duncan Heinz Devil's Food cake mix
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup water
About 12 oz 60-75% chopped dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
Powdered sugar, optional garnish

Method:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Spray a non-stick 12-cup Bundt pan with non-stick spray. Sprinkle bottom and partially up sides of pan with 1/2 the crushed cookies, set aside.
2. Soften cream cheese, add sugar and 1 egg; beat until well mixed. Set aside.
3. Combine cake mix, sour cream, 4 eggs, and water; beat for ten minutes.
4. Stir in chips and remaining crushed cookies.
5. Spoon approximately 1/2 the cake batter into bottom of prepared Bundt pan.
6. Using the back of a spoon, create a hollow in the center of batter to hold cream cheese.
7. Spoon cream cheese mixture into hollow, being careful cream cheese does not touch sides of pan.
8. Spread remaining batter over cream cheese, carefully sealing cream cheese away from the sides of the pan.
9. Bake 55-65 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean (do not stick toothpick into cream filling).
10. Allow cake to cool 5-10 minutes, then invert on serving plate.
11. Sprinkle lightly with powder sugar and serve slightly warm.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Chocolate Black Gold Cookies

Although I've posted lots of recipes for Chocolate Chip Cookies, I really haven't had very many Chocolate Chocolate Cookies. Here to make up for that deficiency :-) is a fabulous recipe from
Marcel Desaulniers, chef of The Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg, VA, and cookbook author. Black Gold Cookies' recipe is from Desaulniers cookbook Death By Chocolate Cookies. I've used different types of chocolate, and you may want to experiment, too.

Chocolate Black Gold Cookies

6 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
10 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
6 tbsp unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325°F.
In a sifter combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
Sift onto a large piece of wax paper (or bowl) and set aside until needed.

Heat 1 inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. With the heat on, place 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, the unsweetened chocolate, and butter in the top half of the double boiler. Use a rubber spatula to stir the chocolate and butter until completely melted and smooth, about 6 minutes. Transfer the melted chocolate mixture to a 1-quart bowl and set aside until needed. (You’re not a true chocophile if you haven’t swiped at least one finger of melted chocolate.)

Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Beat on medium 4 minutes until soft. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl, then continue to beat on medium for 2 more minutes. Stop the mixer, then add the melted chocolate and beat on medium for 1 minute until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl. Add the sifted dry ingredients and the remaining 4 ounces semisweet chocolate and mix on low speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the dough until thoroughly combined.

Using a heaping tablespoon (or a small icecream scoop) of dough for each cookie (approximately 3/4 oz.), portion 12 cookies, evenly spaced, onto each of 3 nonstick baking sheets (or parchment lined baking sheets). Place the baking sheets on the top and center racks of the preheated oven and bake for 9 to 10 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to center about halfway through the baking time (at this time also turn each sheet 180°F.).

Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature on the baking sheets, about 30 minutes. Store the cooled cookies in a tightly sealed plastic container until ready to serve.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fabulous Chocolate Brownies in a Jar

Sometimes I want to take a gift rather than bake one.
Here's a great 'recipe' for Chocolate Brownies in a Jar. It's a real pleaser.

Chocolate Brownies in a Jar! the perfect gift.

1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts/but they don't keep as well)
3/4 cup dark organic fair-trade chocolate (broken up) or chocolate chips

Mix flour, baking powder and salt together. Layer ingredients in order listed in 1-quart jar. Sugar on bottom, then cocoa, then flour mixture (flour, baking powder, salt), then pecans, then broken chocolate bits or chocolate chips. Press firmly after each ingredient, and be sure and wipe out the inside of the jar with paper towel after each layer. Seal jar and add fabric and ribbon or raffia.

Attach these baking instructions to the jar: Fabulous Brownies in a Jar from x (you!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray 13 x 9 inch pan. Pour contents of jar into large mixing bowl and stir well. Add 3/4 cup butter, 3 large eggs, 2 tbsp water & 2 tsp vanilla. Mix well. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until wooden pick comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares. Makes 2 dozen fabulous brownies.

Follow Baking Instructions before Eating!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

National Devil's Food Cake Day

Today is National Devil's Food Cake Day. I posted a Devil's Food Cake recipe on National Angel Food Cake DayI like that recipe a lot, but my favorite Devil's Food Cake recipe comes from David Lebovitz. It's fabulous!

Want to make cupcakes instead? Here's a great recipe adapted from Martin Howard (The Cupcake Challenge) on the FoodNetwork site.

Chocolate Devil's Food Cupcakes

Ingredients
3/4 cup boiling water
3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
6 ounces sweet European butter
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla extract
3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
* Ganache, recipe follows
* Violet Buttercream, recipe follows

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Whisk together boiling water and cocoa. Cover and set aside. With a mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue creaming until light and fluffy. Sift together the flour, baking soda and baking powder and add this mixture, alternately with the buttermilk. Add cocoa and water mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. Scoop into cupcake pans (lined or not) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Let cool completely before decorating. Dip tops of cooled cupcakes in the warm ganache and let set. Pipe more ganache on top for decoration.
4. To fill, put buttercream in a pastry bag with a small round tip. Stick tip into the center of each cupcake and pipe in filling. Be careful not to pipe too much or you will break the cupcake. Serve.

Ganache:

8 ounces chocolate
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter

Chop chocolate and place in a stainless steel or glass bowl. Bring cream and sugar just to a boil in a small saucepan and then pour over chocolate. Whisk together and then stir in butter until melted.

Violet Buttercream:  (I haven't tried this yet, so I'd love to hear what you think)
4 ounces egg whites
6 ounces sugar
8 ounces butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon violet essence
Violet food coloring

Whisk together the egg whites and sugar in a stainless steel bowl. Place bowl in a water bath set over low heat. Whisk occasionally until sugar is dissolved and mixture is very warm, about 150 degrees F. Remove from water bath and whip with a hand-held mixer on high speed until stiff peaks. Lower speed and add the butter in small pieces. Add vanilla and violet essence and mix until smooth. Add violet color, 1 drop at a time, until desired shade is reached. Use to fill cupcakes as directed above.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Richard LaMotta, creator of the Chipwich: R.I.P, Chipwich Recipe

Richard LaMotta, who turned his childhood passion for dunking cookies in milk into the Chipwich — two chocolate chip cookies embracing a chunk of vanilla ice cream dotted with chocolate chips — died Tuesday at his home in Chappaqua, N.Y. He was 67.

On May 1, 1982, Mr. LaMotta dispatched 60 street-cart vendors, each wearing pith helmets and khakis, to the streets of Manhattan to begin selling his 4 1/2-ounce concoction (including 3 1/2 ounces of ice cream) for what at the time was a pricey $1 each. A few hours later, all 25,000 Chipwiches had been gobbled — the start of something big. Within two weeks, Mr. LaMotta was selling 40,000 a day, and by the middle of that summer, the Chipwich plants in Queens, N.Y., and Lodi, N.J., were turning out 200,000 a day.

Read the rest of the New York Times Obit HERE.

Want to make your own Chipwich at Home? Here's a simple recipe:
Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwich

Chocolate Chip Cookies I use the big Pepperidge Farm Chocolate Chip Cookies
Vanilla Ice Cream I like Dreyer's
Mini-chocolate chips I use Guittard Semisweet Chocolate Mini Chips

Soften ice cream for 10 minutes before making sandwiches.
Place a scoop of ice cream on the flat side of 1 cookie.
Place second cookie flat side down and carefully press together until ice cream reaches the edge of the cookies.
Roll edges in Mini-Chocolate Chips.
Freeze for 15 minutes and serve.

Lots of variations, of course, but this is fairly close to the original Chipwich. I need to take a photo next time I make these. Photo above is 'official' Chipwich!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Shitake Pots de Creme from Michael Recchiuti

I'm a big fan of Recchiuti Chocolate. I often include their Ferry Building Shop (San Francisco) in our Scavenger Hunts and Chocolate Tours. The staff is so friendly, and the chocolate, well, it's just fabulous. Michael Recchiuti, owner and chocolatier, has been involved with chocolate for years.

I was very pleased to see the latest Recipe post on the Recchiuti website. Michael Recchiuti came up with this unusual chocolate dessert from his 2009 Fungi & Chocolate Taste Project with Far West Fungi. Talk about unique! His advice is that since these custards are very rich, bake them in small espresso cups and serve for dessert. A little bit goes a long way. You can make them a day ahead and refrigerate, but be sure to allow them to come to room temperature.

Haven't made these yet, so let me know when and if you do. Wish I could have one right now. They're not sold, alas, at the store, so looks like making this is on my agenda in the coming weeks! Photograph: Recchiuti

SHITAKE POTS DE CREME
Makes 12 individual pots


Ingredients:
¾ cup (5 ¼ ounces) granulated sugar cane
2 Tbsp (1 ounce) water
2 ounces dried Shiitake mushrooms
1 cup (8 ounces) whole milk**
2 cups ( 16 ounces) heavy whipping cream
5 (3 ¾ ounces) extra-large egg yolks
2 ½ ounces 41% milk chocolate, finely chopped

METHOD
• Combine the milk and shiitake mushrooms in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, cover plastic wrap and steep mixture for at least 4 hours.

• Taste the milk mixture to ensure it has absorbed a good, strong shiitake flavor. Then re-heat mixture and pour it through a fine-meshed strainer. Discard the mushrooms. Re-measure the milk and adjust it to equal ¾ cup (6 ounces).

• Combine cream with mushroom-infused milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.

• While cream is heating, put the sugar and water in a medium heavy-bottomed pot. Use an unlined copper pan if you have one. Stir to mix the water and sugar. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the sugar turns dark amber, 4 to 5 minutes. To check the color, dab a small amount of the syrup on a white plate. If any crystals form on the sides of the pan as the sugar darkens, wash them down with a wet pastry brush.

• When the sugar is the correct shade, remove the pan from the heat and put a sieve or spatter guard over it. Wearing an oven mitt, slowly pour the hot cream into the sugar syrup a little at a time. The mixture will splutter and foam. Be careful, as it is very hot. When the mixture stops bubbling, whisk it to incorporate any caramel stuck to the bottom.

• Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl, and whisk by hand until blended. Whisk about ½ cup of the caramel mixture into the yolks to warm them gradually. Whisk in another 1 cup, and then whisk in the rest. Add the chocolate and whisk until it melts.

• Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.spoon the custard into twelve 2 ½ ounce espresso cups (or small, 3 ounce ramekins) filling them three-fourths full. Let the custard cool to room temperature.

• Preheat the oven to 300°F. Bring a large teakettle of water to a simmer.

• Put the cups in a large baking pan. Pour the hot water into the baking pan to reach halfway up the sides of the cups. Cover the pan with aluminum foil.

• Bake on the middle shelf of the oven until the tops are set but the entire custard jiggles when a cup is moved, about 25 minutes. Immediately remove the cups from the hot water. Let cool to room temperature.

• Cover the cups and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

Today is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!  Chocolate Chip Cookies are just about as all American as Apple Pie. I've posted lots of chocolate chip cookie recipes over the past few years, because I really think you can't have enough chocolate chip cookie recipes or chocolate chip cookies. I'm always up for tasting something new, especially if it's chocolate!

I blogged about Chocolate Chip Cookies last year on May 15 with several different recipes including one for Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies and with links to other Chocolate Chip cookie recipes on other blogs. National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day 2009

So this year, I thought I'd post a new recipe for one of my favorite variations:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup European sweet butter, softened
3/4 cup chunky or smooth peanut butter (I like chunky organic stone ground for texture)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
1  cup King Arthur flour or all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup chocolate chips (Guittard)-the darker the better

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375°.
1. Cream the butter, sugars until light. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until fluffy.
2. Add peanut butter and beat until combined.
3. Blend the flour, baking powder, soda and salt together well.
4. Add these dry ingredients to the butter mixture.
5. Add the chocolate chips and stir a bit to combine.
6. Drop cookie dough by teaspoonfuls onto lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheets.
7. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 375°.

What's your favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Guest Blogger Mystery Author Cleo Coyle: Little Chocolate Clouds

Mystery Author Cleo Coyle Guest blogs today. I know you'll find her blog, recipe and photos fabulous! I love when my two worlds of Mystery and Chocolate cross. Wonder if I should also post this on Mystery Fanfare, too? Thanks, Cleo, for Guest Blogging. Delicious!


A former journalist, Cleo Coyle is the pseudonym for a multi-published author and New York Times bestselling media tie-in writer. In collaboration with her husband, Cleo pens two popular mystery series for Penguin. The Coffeehouse Mysteries are a series of light, amateur sleuth culinary mysteries set in a Greenwich Village coffeehouse, the first of which, On What Grounds, is now in its fifteenth printing. The ninth book in the series, Roast Mortem, will be out this summer. Under the name Alice Kimberly, Cleo also writes the Haunted Bookshop Mysteries. The series’ sixth title, The Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller, will be published next year. You can find out more at Cleo’s virtual coffeehouse: www.CoffeehouseMystery.com

Little Chocolate Clouds by Cleo Coyle

Chocolate and coffee are a classic pairing, aren’t they? As a couple, they have so much in common, too—both are grown in tropical climes; both are harvested from seeds; both need to be roasted and processed with culinary care. Then, of course, there’s that addiction thing.

Am I a chocoholic? Check. (That’s why I follow Janet’s blog :-)) Am I a coffee freak? Oh, yeah. Given the setting of my Coffeehouse Mysteries that’s pretty much a given. In fact, “I had a dream there were clouds in my coffee…”

One of songwriter Carly Simon’s many inspired line was my inspiration for a recent chocolate-and-coffee recipe post at Mystery Lovers Kitchen, where I blog once a week with five of my fellow culinary mystery writers.

My simple cocoa meringues are easy to whip up and bake. They are bursting with chocolate flavor, yet they’re still light, with the added bonus of protein (from the egg whites). You can even float one in a fresh cup of joe or espresso, where it will melt right into the hot liquid, mimicking a mocha drink.

If you’re looking for a recommendation on a good coffee to sip with these little cocoa clouds, I have many at my official website www.CoffeehouseMystery.com but the coffee that is closest to my heart is Kafe Lespwa, which means “Coffee of Hope” in Creole.

Grown by the subsistence farmers of Beredères, Haiti, this low-acid coffee is velvety smooth, yet lively, rich, and complex with a full-bodied mouthfeel. It even has noticeable hints of chocolate in its flavor profile.

Why is it close to my heart? The rural area where this coffee is grown has seen a large influx of refugees from the catastrophic earthquake that struck near Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince earlier this year, leaving tens of thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. To help these coffee farmers, who are helping and housing the displaced earthquake victims, I am absolutely delighted to feature this coffee on my website all summer long. Believe me, it’s no sacrifice. Kafe Lespwa is delicious.


I am also running a weekly free coffee drawing all summer. Every Monday, I will give a 12-ounce package of Kafe Lespwa to a random subscriber of my e-newsletter. The newsletter is free and my next one will include a tasty recipe for grilling season and an exclusive excerpt for my latest Coffeehouse Mystery, Roast Mortem, publishing this summer.

To sign up for the weekly drawings and newsletter, simply send a “Sign me up” e-mail to VillageBlend@aol.com

Finally, thank you to Janet for her very kind offer to visit with you today. I hope you will enjoy the “Coffee of Hope”…and my Little Chocolate Clouds.

Little Chocolate Clouds by Cleo Coyle

Makes about 36 meringues
For a printable version of this recipe (PDF format) click HERE.

Ingredients:
4 egg whites (room temperature)
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar (to stabilize egg whites)
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
Optional toppings: chocolate sprinkles, chocolate chips, toasted coconut, finely chopped nuts

Method:

Step 1 – Before You Begin: First preheat the oven to 300° F. Some tips to help you get the best results here: Start with a mixing bowl that is glass, metal, or ceramic. The bowl must be free of grease for your egg whites to whip up properly. (Grease clings to plastic bowls, which is why you should not use plastic.) Also, for best results, your egg whites should be room temperature. I simply set my cold eggs in a bowl of warm tap water for 2 to 3 minutes before cracking.

Step 2 – Whip Egg Whites: Place egg whites, cream of tartar, vanilla, and salt into bowl. Using an electric mixer or handheld whisk, start to whip the whites. When you see soft peaks begin to form (see photo), continue beating while slowly sprinkling in the sugar. When egg whites have become stiff and glossy (see photo), stop whipping. Sift the cocoa over the egg whites and gently fold into the mix. The whites will deflate a little, but that’s okay.


Step 3 – Form Little Chocolate Clouds: Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Make rustic little chocolate clouds by dropping batter in heaping teaspoons onto the paper. As a fun option, try topping some with chocolate sprinkles and others with finely chopped nuts, toasted coconut, or a few chocolate chips.
 Step 4 – Bake in your preheated (300° F.) oven for 25 to 35 minutes. Meringues should be dry and somewhat firm on the outside (not hard just firm) and still gooey in the center. Remove from oven and carefully slide the parchment paper off the hot pan and onto a rack to cool. Note: Warm meringues will stick to the parchment paper. But as they cool, they will harden. Then you can easily lift them free. After they are completely cooled, store them as you would cookies, in an airtight container.



For more recipe ideas or to find out more about the books in my Coffeehouse Mystery series, drop by my virtual coffeehouse at www.CoffeehouseMystery.com and…

Eat with joy!

Cleo

Kafe Lepswa photo courtesy of www.justhaiti.org

All other photos copyright © Alice Alfonsi who writes as Cleo Coyle in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

National Apple Pie Day: Chocolate Apple Pie

National Apple Pie Day: Nothing says comfort like apple pie and chocolate! Who wouldn't want to celebrate the day with this easy Chocolate Apple Pie?

CHOCOLATE APPLE PIE

Ingredients
Pastry for a double-crust 9-inch pie, unbaked (either plain or chocolate)
6-8 tart medium sized apples (peeled, cored and sliced thinly)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup 70% dark chocolate fair-trade organic, broken into smallish pieces

Directions
1. Apples: peel, core, and slice thinly.
2. Combine the cinnamon & sugar = cinnamon sugar. (you may need a tiny bit more).
2. Place 1 layer of apple slices on the bottom crust. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar. Repeat twice.
3 Spread broken chocolate pieces over top.
4. Using remaining apples, make 3 more apple/cinnamon sugar layers.
5. Top with 2nd crust and seal edges. Make a cut on the top--or prick with fork in a few places.
6. Bake in preheated 450 F oven for 15 minutes (until golden).
7. Lower heat to 350F and continue baking for another 25-30 minutes, or until apples are tender.


Want to make a Chocolate Apple Pie that takes a bit more time bit is absolutely outrageous? Try this recipe for Chocolate Apple Pie from KayoticKitchen. This recipe has a chocolate pie crust plus delicious chocolate apple filling! And, not too Sweet! Wonderful step by step photos!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Apple iPad Cake

I was surfing the Internet and came across a wonderful website: Toxel.com. This site is about Design, Inspiration and Tech, and you'll find lots of great photos on lots of subjects. 

I found this on the Unique and Creative Birthday Cakes blog.
Real iPad on the left and the edible iPad birthday cake on the right. [link]


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

National Nutty Fudge Day: Vanilla-Macadamia Nut Fudge

May 12 is National Nutty Fudge Day, and I'm sure you'll want a headstart on making all this great fudge.

On January 26, National Pistachio Day, I posted Nigella's Chocolate Pistachio Fudge recipe. It's definitely an option for National Nutty Fudge Day and one of my favorites. It's easy and fabulous.

From the Nestle Toll House site comes a recipe for Vanilla-Macadamia Nut Fudge. I have made this recipe as is, and I've adapted it using Madagascar vanilla and Ghirardelli's White Chocolate Baking Bar, but you can also use Nestle's white chocolate chips. Read to the end.

A very EASY Nutty Fudge recipe is available at Chocolate AddictionChocolate-Addiction.com's White Chocolate Pecan Fudge recipe.

Vanilla Macadamia Nutty Fudge

Ingredients
Butter
 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup butter
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) White Chocolate chips or 2 cups chopped white chocolate
1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow crème
3/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped (must be fresh)*
1 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla (or vanilla extract that you might have in your cupboard)
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract

Directions
LINE 9-inch-square baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Grease foil with butter. Butter sides of 3-quart heavy-duty saucepan.

COMBINE sugar, coconut milk and 1/2 cup butter in prepared saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture boils. Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan, making sure the bottom of the thermometer does not touch bottom of pan. Reduce heat to medium-low. Continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate without stirring, until thermometer registers 238° F., softball stage (about 15 minutes). Adjust heat as necessary to maintain a steady boil. Remove from heat.

STIR in morsels until melted and smooth. Stir in marshmallow crème, nuts, vanilla and coconut extracts until well combined. Transfer mixture to prepared baking pan; cool for 3 to 4 hours or until firm.

LIFT from pan; remove foil. Cut into 48 pieces. Store tightly covered.

***
Want an even easier recipe for White Chocolate Fudge with pecans? 
Check out www.chocolate-addiction.com's recipe. Simple and fabulous!!! White Chocolate Fudge with Pecans!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ricotta & Chocolate

As I've mentioned many times, I'm a big fan of chocolate and cheese. Katrina Markoff blogs at Peace Love & Chocolate at the Vosges website. Recently she posted a great and simple recipe for Ricotta & Chocolate. I tried it, and I must agree, it's just fabulous! Adaptations might be in the chocolate and olive oil used. Experiment.

Ricotta is a mild cheese that pairs well with dark chocolate. Unlike cottage cheese, ricotta has a rich, slightly sweet flavor and is used in both savory and sweet dishes. Katrina warns: You must use FRESH ricotta for this recipe! Actually everything should be fresh, including the chocolate. Chocolate does have a shelf-life.

Katrina suggests that this Ricotta be served as an hors d’oeuvre, but you'll find lots of other uses.

Fresh Ricotta Cheese with Olive Oil and Dark Chocolate

2 cups (or lbs.) Fresh Ricotta Cheese
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A pinch Pink salt  or you can try some gray sea salt
A pinch White Pepper
1 1/2 ounces Dark Chocolate (65% dark, Venezuelan)

Place Ricotta in a dish. Stir in salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Chop dark chocolate into fine slivers and sprinkle atop. Serve with crackers.

One comment on the Peace, Love & Chocolate blog was to use this as a topping on Flourless Chocolate Cake. What a fabulous idea! Here are four recipes posted on DyingforChocolate.com for  Flourless Chocolate Cake HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.
**
If you love chocolate and cheese, you might also want to try Vosges' Rooster Truffle. It's a dark chocolate truffle combined with taleggio cheese with organic walnuts--part of the Collezione Italiano.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Chocolate Calculator

This email has been making the "Chocolate Rounds." Enjoy!


YOUR AGE BY CHOCOLATE MATH

 
Don't tell me your age; you'd probably lie anyway-but the Hershey Man will know!

YOUR AGE BY CHOCOLATE MATH


DON'T CHEAT BY SCROLLING DOWN FIRST!
It takes less than a minute.
Work this out as you read.
Be sure you don't read the bottom until you've worked it out!


1. First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to have chocolate (more than once but less than 10)


2. Multiply this number by 2 (just to be bold)


3. Add 5


4. Multiply it by 50 -- I'll wait while you get the calculator


5. If you have already had your birthday this year add 1760 ..
If you haven't, add 1759..


6... Now subtract the four digit year that you were born.



You should have a three digit number



The first digit of this was your original number
(i.e., how many times you want to have chocolate each week).



The next two numbers are



YOUR AGE! (Oh YES, it is!!!!!)

2010 IS THE ONLY YEAR IT WILL EVER WORK,
SO SPREAD IT AROUND WHILE IT LASTS.
Chocolate Calculator.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day Chocolate & Roses: Vosges Le Chocolat en Rose

Mother's Day can be a lot like Valentine's Day with Roses, Chocolate and Champagne. Now Vosges, noted for its great chocolates and famous Mo's Bacon Bar, offers up Roses, Chocolate and Champagne in one delicious truffle, Le Chococolat en Rose. Perfect for Spring, perfect for Mother's Day.

Le Chocolat en Rose truffle is composed of Piper Heidsieck brut rose Champagne in 65% cacao dark chocolate, rolled in fragrant rose bud poudre. (powder). Specific ingredients: Dark Chocolate (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, lecithin (soy)-an emulsifier, vanilla), organic cream, Champagne, sugar (powdered), rose blossoms, rose water.

I must admit I was skeptical. I'd already blogged about Champagne Truffles, but a champagne truffle rolled in rose bud powder? Surprisingly I found it enchanting. Certainly unique, with a long aftertaste, but in a good way. These truffles have a very concentrated flavor. They're very rich. Anyway, this was my initial reaction. However, the Chocolate en Rose Truffle box included directions on the best way to consume these truffles. Since I had overlooked them in my hurry to taste these unique truffles (with a limited shelf life as with most good chocolate truffles),  I felt I should at least give the instructions a try:

Remove a truffle carefully from the box, taking care to preserve the coveted rose bud-layered surface. Close your eyes, take three deep breaths and center your mind. Bring your nose to the facade of the truffle as you inhale. Do you sense the lush aromatics of the rose masking rich cacao? Take a small bite, let the texture of rose buds coat your tongue. A touch of pink Champagne appears, with notes of cherry and plum. Take another breath, allowing the scent to permeate your palate through the back of your throat. Let the quiet seduction of the rose guide your sensory experience.

A bit flowery, but it works. As I've said about chocolate tasting, it's all about the experience. Chocolate Tasting is a lot like wine tasting, only better---it's all about chocolate!


Each Vosges haut Chocolat box also contains a story, and I'm always a sucker for a good story. Le Chocolat en Rose Truffle story:

Throughout the Balkans, Peria and India, the rose is cherished for its delicate parfum. The mystique of the rose can be traced to one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, built by the Chaldean King Nebuchadnezzar II around 600 BC.  He was reported to have constructed the gardens to please his sick wife, Amytis of Media, who longed for the botanicals and fragrant roses of her homeland Persia. Persians, Greeks and Romans used roses as currency, toting them as they traveled, and spawning the popularity of the rose throughout the Mediterranean. Roses enjoyed a second renaissance in the early 1800s, when Empress Josephine (wife of Napoleon I) endeavored to grow every known variety of rose in her garden. This seed led to France emerging as the current leading grower and exporter of roses. 


I have over 120 rose bushes in my garden, so, of course, I needed to taste Le Chocolat en Rose. I usually dry some of my roses, usually for the petals. Wonder if I can create a truffle like this? Probably not. I'll leave it to the experts--Vosges!

Want another rose experience for Mother's Day? Check out Laura's Best Recipes for Candied Roses for Mother's Day & Dark Chocolate Sorbet. They're both great recipes.

We've all seen Chocolate Roses for sale, and that's always an option, but you can also make your own Chocolate Roses. Here's a link to a Recipe and instructions with video from Elizabeth LaBau on About.com. But, if you plan to make these to give on Mother's Day, you better get started! As always, use the very best chocolate.

As for me, I'll just buy a box of Vosges' Le Chocolate en Rose Truffles. They're the perfect gift because they include my favorite things--Great Chocolate, Champagne and Roses!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mother's Day Brunch

Sunday is Mother's Day, and although you can buy chocolates, truffles, and croissants, it might be fun to make something for Mother. Over the past years or so, I've posted various chocolate brunch recipes. So here's a round-up of some of those chocolate brunch recipes with links. Look them over and decide what works for you! As always use the very best chocolate. It makes such a difference!

Chocolate French Toast

Chocolate Chip Bacon Pancakes

Chocolate Waffles

Chocolate Chocolate Crepes

Grilled Chocolate Sandwich

Still looking for a gift for Mom? Does she read mysteries? Check out Mystery Fanfare for a list of Crime Fiction set on Mother's Day.  
 
Have a great day!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Parmigiano Reggiano Crisps Dipped in Chocolate and Sea Salt

I'm a big believer in combining savory with sweet, cheese with chocolate, and this recipe by Barbara Estabrook of Rhinelander, WI on the Whole Foods Market recipe site is absolutely fabulous. Whole Foods had a contest for recipes featuring aged Parmigiano Reggiano, and this was the Grand Prize Winner! Well you'll see why. Once you've tried it, you'll be making this all the time. It tastes fabulous, looks great, and is easy to make. Basically it's grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese with chopped almonds baked into rounds and then dipped in melted chocolate and topped with a little sea salt. Appetizer? Dessert? with a glass of wine? As always I recommend using fair trade, organic dark chocolate available at Whole Foods and elsewhere. 

Parmigiano Reggiano Crisps with Chocolate and Sea Salt

Ingredients
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Parmigiano Reggiano
6 tablespoons finely chopped dry roasted whole almonds (skins on)
4 ounces good quality dark organic fair trade chocolate, finely chopped (I used Amano Jembrana)
1 scant teaspoon vegetable oil
Sea salt for sprinkling (I used pink sea salt)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Toss cheese and almonds together in a bowl. Form 12 mounds of cheese mixture on each lined baking sheet, spacing them 3 inches apart. Using the back of a spoon, press down on each mound to form a 1/4-inch thick circle. Place one baking sheet at a time on middle oven rack. Bake rounds 6 to 8 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and let crisps cool on baking sheets.

Once crisps are cooled completely, line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Toss chocolate with vegetable oil in a small bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Dip about one-third to one-half of each crisp into melted chocolate, hold a few seconds above chocolate, then place on the lined baking sheet. Immediately scatter a tiny bit of sea salt over chocolate. Let chocolate set before serving. You can put crisps in refrigerator or freezer to speed setting.

Makes about 24 crisps

Photo: Whole Foods

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

iPhone App Chocolate

The Ultimate Chocolate App for the iPhone: iPhone App Chocolates($46) from etsy seller iChocolates.  

"iChocolates presents a 20-piece gourmet chocolate assortment resembling iPhone and iPad app icons, boxed in a luxury iPhone-like package. Including 4 different flavors."


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cinco de Mayo: Chocolate Brownie, Truffle, Cookie Recipes

Last year I did a full Cinco de Mayo menu from snacks to dessert over a two day period.  You can check out the first Day HERE for reviews and recipes for Chocolate Tortilla Chips, Chicken Mole, Chocolate Tamales, and Chocolate Tequila. The next day I posted Chocolate Desserts. Go HERE for recipes for Cinco de Mayo Chipotle Brownies (different from today's recipe), reviews of Spicy Chocolate to buy for Cinco de Mayo, and a recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate.

So, today, I thought I'd post a few other chocolate dessert recipes. To celebrate this Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) we pay homage to the Mayans and the original, authentic taste of chocolate. Pairing chocolate and cinnamon in desserts is classic Mexican. Many Mexican dishes also use chiles, both dried and fresh. Besides chocolate and cinnamon, there are lots of brownie recipes that use chipotle chile powder. Don’t use chili powder in the following recipes: Chile powder is composed of dried chile peppers. Chili powder is a mixture of chile powder and other spices such as garlic, oregano, coriander, cumin and cloves. Definitely not for the brownies.  

Mexican Spicy Brownies
Adapted from Karen Hancock on BellaOnline

1 cup butter
4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons New Mexican chile powder
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups chopped walnut(s)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon New Mexican chile powder
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking dish or grease and flour.
  3. Heat the butter and chocolate in a microwaveable container on high for about 2 minutes; stir until melted. I use a double boiler (saucepan on top of saucepan)
  4. Meanwhile, mix the sugar, salt, flour, chile powder, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add the chocolate/butter mixture, vanilla, and eggs.
  6. Mix well, then stir in the walnuts.
  7. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking dish.
  8. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted halfway between the edge and the center comes out clean.
  9. Mix the powdered sugar and chile powder.
  10. Sprinkle over the brownies.
  11. Cut into 32 squares

For Ganache ice cream topping: Place 1 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate in a microwaveable container. Cover with 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream. Microwave on high power for 3 minutes. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth and slightly thickened. If the mixture is too thick, add warmed heavy cream until the right consistency is reached. (This can be used in all sorts of recipes)

Mexican Chocolate Truffles from Elizabeth LaBau on About.com

Although it doesn’t use actual Mexican chocolate (although you could), this easy chocolate truffle recipe features cinnamon, almonds, and coffee for a sweetly spiced Mexican chocolate taste. Unlike most truffle recipes, the chocolate is not melted but remains in small chunks. For this reason, it’s important to chop the chocolate very finely so that it’s evenly incorporated throughout the candy. This recipe yields about 12-16 truffles.

Ingredients:
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, very finely chopped
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup almond paste
1 tbsp strong coffee
1/2 tbsp melted butter
1/4 c cocoa powder
1.5 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:
1. In a large bowl, combine the chopped chocolate, sugar, almond paste, coffee and melted butter. Stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together and forms a smooth paste.
2. Combine the cocoa powder and cinnamon in a shallow bowl or pie tin.
3. Using a teaspoon, scoop up small balls of the truffle mixture and roll it into a ball in between your hands. Roll the truffle in the cocoa-cinnamon mixture, and place it on a baking sheet or plate.
4. Repeat with remaining truffle mixture and cocoa powder. Refrigerate the truffles for 2 hours before serving. If you are making these ahead of time, transfer the chilled truffles to an airtight container in the refrigerator so they don’t get too dry or absorb other odors. Allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.


Mexican Chocolate Icebox Cookies from Jenny Lewis on Food.gearlive.com
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 t cayenne
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg

Instructions:
1. Sift together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in vanilla extract and egg. Gradually add flour mixture until dough is uniform in color and no unmixed flour remains.
3. Shape into two 9” logs and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Make sure the wrap is airtight. Freeze overnight. The dough will keep up to six weeks in the freezer.
4. When ready to use, preheat oven to 375F and bake for 8-10 minutes. Cookies should feel a bit firm at the edges. Store in an airtight container when cool.

Monday, May 3, 2010

National Chocolate Custard Day: No Bake Chocolate Custard

There is some debate on whether National Chocolate Custard Day is May 3 or May 5. Last year on May 5, also Cinco de Mayo, I posted a recipe for Mexican Chocolate Bread Pudding, as well as links to Chocolate Sponge Custard, Triple-Chocolate Custard and Chocolate Custard Corn Pone. That Mexican Chocolate Bread Pudding is awesome.

So today, I thought I'd post a different Chocolate Custard recipe in case today is the 'real' National Chocolate Custard Day. The following recipe is from Stuart Brioza and Nicole Karsinski and appeared in Food & Wine. It's served at Rubicon in San Francisco. You can make this at home. It's a No-Bake Chocolate Custard. Simple and fabulous!

No-Bake Chocolate Custard for Two

Ingredients
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg yolk
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, plus shaved chocolate, for serving (Amano or Green & Black)
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted European butter, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream
Pinch of ground cinnamon

Directions
1. In a small saucepan, combine the milk and 2 tablespoons of the sugar and heat until steaming and the sugar is dissolved. Put the egg yolk in a small bowl and gradually whisk in the hot milk. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
2. Off the heat, add the chopped chocolate and salt and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the butter. Pour the custard into 2 shallow bowls and refrigerate briefly, about 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the heavy cream with the cinnamon and the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar until softly whipped. Dollop the cream on the custards, sprinkle the chocolate shavings on the cream and serve.


Make Ahead
The chocolate custard can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight. Serve the custards chilled or at room temperature.

The whipped cream is optional. I like it 'straight-up.'

Photo: Amy Sims

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Neil Plakcy Guest Blogger: Helen's Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Today in the continuing series of 'cross-over' 'chocolate' mystery writers, I welcome Guest Blogger Neil Plakcy.

A native of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Neil Plakcy has brought murder and canine mayhem back to his home town with In Dog We Trust.  Neil Plakcy is the author of Mahu, Mahu Surfer, Mahu Fire and Mahu Vice (August 2009), mystery novels which take place in Hawaii, as well as the collection Mahu Men: Mysterious and Erotic Stories. His M/M romance novels are GayLife.com (MLR Press, 2009), Three Wrong Turns in the Desert (Loose Id, 2009) and Dancing with the Tide (Loose Id, 2010).  He is co-editor of Paws & Reflect: A Special Bond Between Man and Dog (Alyson Books, 2006) and editor of the gay erotica anthologies Hard Hats (Cleis Press, 2008), Surfer Boys (Cleis Press, 2009) and Skater Boys (Cleis Press, 2010).

Plakcy is a journalist and book reviewer as well as an assistant professor of English at Broward College's south campus in Pembroke Pines. He is a member of Sisters in Crime, vice president of the Florida chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and a frequent contributor to gay anthologies.
Plakcy is also a Chocoholic!
*** 

Neil Plakcy's In Dog We Trust and the Chocolate Ear Café

I grew up in a small town in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, about a forty-five minute drive from Philadelphia. I was fascinated, as a kid, by a square stone building in the center of town, which at the time was a ladies’ clothing shop.

When I started writing my mystery novel, In Dog We Trust, I was doing a lot of freelance food writing, including a couple of pieces for Saveur, and I was particularly obsessed with chocolate. So I gave that obsession to a pastry chef from New York named Gail Dukowski, one of the book’s supporting characters, and put her in that old stone building on Main Street, in a town very much like the one I grew up in, along the Delaware River. Her café is called The Chocolate Ear, a pun on the word chocolatier.

“Gail painted the interior a pale yellow, which made the room seem sunny even in winter, and decorated the walls with vintage posters advertising chocolate products, many of them in French. The white wire tables and matching chairs seemed like they’d come direct from Paris, though they’d been padded with cushions more comfortable to American bottoms.

“The café always smelled of something delicious—lemon tarts, strawberry shortcake, or hot chocolate topped with cinnamon. The glass-fronted case was filled with exquisitely decorated pastries—petit fours covered in white fondant with tiny sugar flowers, individual key lime tarts scalloped with whipped cream, fudge brownies studded with walnuts and chocolate chips. The signature cookie was a chocolate version of the elephant ear, a curly pastry with a rich cocoa flavor. An industrial-quality Italian coffee machine churned out mochas, lattes and cappuccinos, filling the room with the sound of drips and foams.”

My hero, an adjunct college professor, spends a lot of time at Gail’s café. “On my way home from teaching, I often stopped at my favorite spot in town, The Chocolate Ear café, for a raspberry mocha—a reward for reading and grading my students’ ungrammatical papers. The owner, used the best quality beans, Guittard chocolate syrup, and home-made whipped cream, and despite my coffee snobbery I’d been seduced by the sweet drink.”

One of the challenges I faced was finding a way to get Rochester, the golden retriever my hero adopts, to the café. I solved that by putting a couple of tables and chairs out on Main Street, and making Gail a dog lover who always has a couple of fresh-baked dog biscuits on hand for Rochester—though not chocolate, of course. All the characters in In Dog We Trust, good and bad, know that dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate. (Cue the ominous music. Though squeamish readers should know that no dogs were harmed in the writing of this book.)

One of Gail’s specialties is chocolate-chip cheesecake, and though her recipe is probably fancier than mine, I think mine is pretty good. I got it from our cleaning lady, Helen Wielninski, who first made it for me when I was a teenager. I’ve tweaked it since then, but in her honor I still call it Helen’s Cheesecake.

Helen’s Cheesecake
1 cup chocolate wafer crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
5 eight ounce cream cheese packages
8 eggs
3 tablespoons flour
dash salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups sugar
8 ounces chocolate mini-chips

Leave the cheese out to soften. Combine crumbs and butter and press into the bottom of a 9” springform pan.

Cream the cheese with a wooden spoon, and then, using an electric beater, add in the eggs, one at a time. Then mix in the flour, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until there are no more lumps, then add in the chocolate mini-chips. Regular chocolate chips are too heavy for the batter and will sink to the bottom—though you can always add some if you like, to enhance the chocolate flavor of the crust.

Pour into the springform pan. If you prefer your cheesecakes without a crack down the center, you can place in the pan in a tray of water. I don’t mind the crack, because it lets me see into the creamy heart of the cake, with those little chocolate bits of deliciousness smiling back at me.

Bake at 500 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 250 degrees and bake for an additional 40 minutes. Then turn the oven off and let the cake cool in the oven for one hour.

In Dog We Trust is available at Smashwords and for the Kindle.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Kentucky Derby

Today is the Kentucky Derby, an event since 1875, this is the first jewel in the Triple Crown of Thoroughbread Horseracing. The Run for the Roses is held annually the first Saturday of May at Churchill Downs. Watching the race live has not been my experience, but I've often given and attended Derby parties.

Last year here on DyingforChocolate.com I gave several recipes for Derby Pie, the traditional chocolate, nut, bourbon pie served at Derby parties.  You'll want to check these out ASAP, if you plan to make them for today's race. Kentucky Derby Bourbon Chocolate Pie and Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie. And, I also provided a recipe for Dolly Appel's Bourbon Balls since Chocolate Candy was a contender last year.

And, if you're a mystery fan, you'll want to read my list of Kentucky Derby Mysteries because we all know there's a always some murder and mayhem related to horse races.

There are so many variations of Derby Pie, and I thought I'd add one more. This one comes from Donna Diegel for the Providence Food Examiner.  I like all the recipes.

Kentucky Derby Chocolate Pecan Pie

Ingredients
1 pie crust (homemade or store bought)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup light corn syrup
4 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup bourbon
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, shelled and chopped in half if desired

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Roll crust out.
3. In a large mixing bowl, on medium speed with whisk attachment, whip butter, sugars, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla and bourbon together until frothy.
4. Remove bowl from mixer, and fold in chocolate chips and pecans or walnuts. Blend well.
5. Pour into prepared pie crust and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until set.
6. Serve warm or cool completely before serving with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Love to hear about your favorite Kentucky Derby Pie. Do you use Pecans or Walnuts? How much chocolate? What kind? How much bourbon? What kind?