Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Firecracker Dessert Cups: The Chocolate Addict

My chocoholic friend, Katreece Montgomery aka the Chocolate Addict, is the Queen of Chocolate Decorating and Creativity! A professional videographer/editor and a lover of chocolate, she makes instructional chocolate decorating DVDs for the home chef, conducts workshops, and so much more!

Her Fourth of July Chocolate Dessert: Firecracker Dessert Cups made with Transfer Sheets is a Star-Spangled dessert!  These firecracker chocolate dessert cups are easy to make and even easier to eat! You can fill them with chocolate mousse, fruit, ice cream or confections. I like stuffing them with whipped cream and blueberries and raspberries for the full Fourth of July effect!

Enjoy the Chocolate Addicts following videos and then buy her DVDs: The Chocolate Garden and Chocolate Decorating with Transfer Sheets.

Firecracker Dessert Cups from The Chocolate Addict
  
Part One: Make the Chocolate Dessert Cup

Part Two: Make the Chocolate Flames

Part Three: Make the Chocolate Confetti Curls

The Chocolate Addict: Simply Spectacular Chocolate Projects to Swank up your Soiree







Tuesday, June 28, 2011

T is for Tequila Truffles

T is for Tequila Truffles. Months of Edible Celebrations is going on a Picnic, and I have the letter "T".  Remember the picnic game? A is for Apple, etc... Since I'm a chocoholic and last year I took Chocolate Picnic Cake (I had the letter "C") to the virtual picnic, this year I decided to take Truffles, and since I have "T" --Tequila Truffles are Totally Terrific! Be sure to check out the links to all the other letters (24 different bloggers participating) of all the other food posts at the virtual picnic at the end of this post!

Now you might say that taking Chocolate Truffles to a picnic is a bit daft. Surely the chocolate will melt? Well, not really, if you're prepared to do a little bit of prep. Depending on how many people you'll be serving, I suggest transporting the truffles in a small insulated lunch bag. Put the truffles in a container and put the container in the Insulated Lunch Bag. Yes, truffles can go in the cooler, but they might absorb other odors, get smashed, get too cold or worse. The insulated container shouldn't be freezing--no ice or ice packs. Truffles are best served at room temperature, but if 'you're going on a picnic', you don't want a gooey mess, either.

The truffles in my photo are Tequila Truffles, and I dunked them in more chocolate to form a hard coating. I sometimes roll Tequila Truffles (the ganache part) in cocoa, but you can also dip them in dark chocolate and sprinkle with course sea salt. Talk about the perfect Tequila Truffle!

This recipe is adapted from Divine Chocolate. I probably didn't need 100 or more truffles as in the original recipe :-) I must admit that I'm a bit haphard in measurements when I make them. I adhere to my grandmothers's a pinch of this, a pinch of that method. I daresay, though, that my grandmother would never have made Tequila Truffles.

TEQUILA TRUFFLES

INGREDIENTS
14 oz. white chocolate, chopped into small chunks
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tsp. white tequila
1 tsp. grated lime zest
Drop of fresh lemon juice and drop of fresh lime juice or 1/4 tsp each of lime and lemon oil (natural) 

Coating
1 - 1 1/4 lbs. dark chocolate (70% cacao) for dipping, chopped into small chunks
Coarse sea salt

Directions for the Ganache:
1. Line a shallow baking pan with saran wrap or any plastic wrap, overlapping 2 or more sheets as needed, and leaving a generous overhang on two sides (enough to cover the ganache once it is in the pan).
2. Place the white chocolate in a food processor and process to a crumb consistency. Add the tequila, zest, and juice or oils.
3. Bring the cream to a boil in a small pan. With the food processor on, pour the cream through the feed tube, processing for a total of 20-30 seconds, until the mixture is perfectly smooth. Scrape the ganache into the plastic wrap-lined pan and let cool at room temperature, without stirring it.
4. Once the ganache is cool, fold the plastic wrap over it and let sit at room temperature for several hours, preferably overnight, until firm enough to scoop. You can always refrigerate, but the texture of the truffles won’t be quite as silky. Once the ganache has set, chilling won’t hurt it.
5. To shape the truffles, use a melon baller to form balls of ganache. If needed, smooth the surface with hands. (I do both)
6. Place the centers (ganache balls) slightly apart on a tray lined with parchment or wax paper. Let stand at room temperature, uncovered, until the surface is dry and slightly crusted, at least 2 hours, preferably longer.

Directions for the Coating:
1. Temper the dark chocolate by melting about 75% of the chocolate either in a double boiler or in the microwave until it reaches about 100°F. Add the remaining 25% of solid chocolate to the bowl and mix until it all melts and the temperature reaches about 90°F. Dip truffles one at a time (I use the two fork method I've posted before) in melted chocolate, let excess drip off and place on a tray lined with parchment or wax paper.
2. Sprinkle with a little bit of sea salt before chocolate begins to harden. Continue with remaining truffles, but if the dark chocolate becomes to cool, reheat a bit until it gets back up to about 90°F.
3. Let sit at room temperature. Store the truffles in a covered container at cool room temperature for up to 10 days, or refrigerate for up to a month. I don't freeze chocolate, but you can.

***

Enjoy the Picnic! What are the other "letters" bringing? Here's the list. Be sure and click on everyone. What a feast! Thanks, Months of Edible Celebrations, for putting this all together!

A is for Apricot Cobbler

B is for Banana Cream Pie

C is for Cherry Bars in a Jar

D is for Diva Doggie Bites
 

E is for Emeril's Strawberry Lemonade

F-Fingerling Potato Salad w/ Honey-Thyme Vinaigrette

G is for Gugelhopf Twister

H is for Honey Graham Roll-ups

I is for Incredible "Rabbit" Pineapple Tarts
 

J- 

K-Kirschmichel

L is for Lime Cranberry Fizz

M is for Mint Sundae Brownie Squares

N is for Nice Mini Biscuit Sandwiches

O is for Orange Nut Ring

P is for Pan-Bagnat Provencal

Q is for Quick Lemon Bread

R is for Rhubarb Rugah-Love

S is for Salmon Salad

T- Well, that's this post for Tequila Truffles!

More to come...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Chocolate Orange Blossom Cake: National Orange Blossom Day

I have a lot of citrus trees on my property, and they do well because I live in a Mediterranean climate. Most of my trees are in pots, but some are in the ground, and I have oranges and lemons most of the year. There's nothing quite like the smell of orange blossom...except maybe if it's combined with the smell of chocolate!

Today being National Orange Blossom Day, I'm posting the following recipe for Chocolate Orange Blossom Cake, adapted slightly from Woman's Day Magazine (April 2007). It's a combination of both orange and chocolate. The recipe calls for a devil's food cake mix, but you can always make your own devil's food cake and add similar ingredients: the orange extract and extra chocolate. The frosting is a marshmallow cream with orange juice and orange zest. Of course you can make a chocolate orange frosting if you're all about the chocolate.

CHOCOLATE ORANGE BLOSSOM CAKE

Ingredients

Cake
1 box (18.25 oz) devil’s food cake mix
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup oil
3 large eggs
3 Tbsp orange liqueur or 1 Tbsp orange extract
1 cup mini–semisweet chocolate chips  (or chopped chocolate)

Frosting
2 cups sweet butter, softened
2 jars (7 or 7 1/2 oz) or 1 tub (16 oz) marshmallow cream (such as Marshmallow Fluff or Crème)
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1/4 cup grated orange zest (from 3 to 4 oranges)
2 Tbsp orange juice
Garnish: orange slices

Directions
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Coat 2: 9 x 2-in. round cake pans with nonstick spray.
2. Cake: Beat cake mix, buttermilk, oil, eggs and liqueur in a large bowl with mixer on low speed 30 seconds or until blended. Scrape down sides of bowl; beat on medium speed 2 minutes. Stir in chocolate chips or chopped chocolate. Pour into prepared pans.
3. Bake 28 to 32 minutes until a wooden pick inserted in centers of cakes comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes, invert on rack, turn right side up and cool completely.
4. Frosting: Beat butter in a large bowl with mixer on medium speed until creamy. Beat in marshmallow cream. When well blended, beat in confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, orange zest and juice. Increase speed to high and beat 3 to 4 minutes until fluffy (makes 5 cups).
5. Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate. Spread with 1 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread top and sides with remaining frosting. Decorate with cut orange slices.

Photo: Deborah Ory, Woman's Day

Sunday, June 26, 2011

National Chocolate Pudding Day: Vintage Chocolate Pudding Ads & Recipe

Today is National Chocolate Pudding Day! Jell-O brand chocolate pudding was a staple at our house when I was growing up--not the instant (in these ads), but the longer cooking pudding (5 minutes or so) that we made with whole milk. Funny. I can remember the special 'pudding' pot we used. Not quite a flat bottom, don't ask why, and it had little handles on both sides. I think it must have been the top from an ancient doubleboiler. In any case, it was a dairy pot, used only for pudding. You had to stir the pudding constantly to prevent a 'skin' forming on top. I personally liked the texture of that skin, and when I was making the pudding, I allowed it to coagulate.

Today I make pudding from scratch with high quality ingredients--always the best chocolate. If you'd like to do that, check out this Creme de la Creme Chocolate Pudding recipe from mystery author Bobbi Mumm.

Enjoy these Vintage Jell-O Pudding Ads. Be sure to scroll down through these Ads for the "official" Jell-O Chocolate Pudding Pie recipe.  If you want to make a sensational Silk Pie from scratch, try this recipe for Gone to Heaven Chocolate Pie. Add 'real' whipped cream.




Jell-O Chocolate Pudding Pie
from the Jell-O Website

1 pkg. (3.9 oz.) JELL-O Chocolate Instant Pudding
1-1/2 cups cold milk
1 OREO Pie Crust (6 oz.)
2 cups thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, divided
Make It

BEAT pudding mix and milk with whisk 2 min.; spoon half into crust.
STIR 1 cup COOL WHIP into remaining pudding; spoon over pudding layer in crust.
TOP with remaining COOL WHIP. Refrigerate 3 hours.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Chocolate Mint Pots de Creme

The other day I did a post on The Chocolate Garden that included Chocolate Mint. Who wouldn't want a garden that looks and smells like chocolate? I also did a post a few weeks ago on Chocolate Ice Tea that included chocolate mint (peppermint). Chocolate Mint is very easy to grow, although it can become invasive, as most mints. Keep it in a pot by the kitchen door, and you'll be a happy camper. Lots of uses.

So naturally I was excited when I picked up the latest issue of Sunset Magazine (July 2011), one of my favorite magazines for design, food and gardening, and there was an entire article on Chocolate MintBe sure and read the entire article in Sunset with recipes for Chocolate Mint Pots de CremeGrilled Lamb with chocolate mint salsa, and Moroccan Chocolate Mint Tea. Don't expect the mint to taste as intense as a piece of chocolate. The chocolate part is very, very subtle, but the mint is strong and different from the usual mint you might find at the market.

So here's the Sunset Recipe for Chocolate Mint Pots de Creme. You can make this ahead, so you have time to relax before your 'garden' party! And, since tomorrow is National Pudding Day, and Pots de Creme is really just a version of pudding, you should consider making Chocolate Mint Pots de Creme. YUM!

CHOCOLATE MINT POTS DE CREME

One of the hints from Sunset is to add all cream instead of half milk and half cream. Yes, it makes it so much richer! I've changed the recipe below. If you really love chocolate (you're reading this blog, so you must!), add a bit more chocolate on top!

Ingredients
4 cups heavy cream
3 ounces (3 big handfuls) chocolate mint sprigs, plus leaves for garnish
1 cup sugar
8 large egg yolks
Sweetened whipped cream
3/4 cup dark chocolate shavings

Preparation
1. Heat together cream and mint in a medium pot over medium heat until mixture starts to simmer. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep about 2 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 300°. Set 8 ramekins (4 oz. each) in a large roasting pan or baking dish.
3. Reheat cream mixture to a simmer; strain into a medium bowl. Whisk together sugar and yolks in a large bowl. Slowly add cream to yolk mixture, whisking constantly.
4. Pour mixture into ramekins, dividing evenly. Fill pan with hot water until it reaches halfway up sides of ramekins.
5. Cover pan with foil and bake until custards are set and jiggle only slightly in the center, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit in hot water 30 minutes. Transfer ramekins to a baking sheet, cover, and chill at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
6. Serve with whipped cream, fresh mint leaves, and chocolate shavings.

Photo: Thomas J. Story, Sunset

Friday, June 24, 2011

Chocolate Pralines: National Praline Day

Today is National Praline Day. There are so many variations of Pralines, that wonderful 'candy' that I thought I'd post several recipes. Each one has its virtues, and none has any vices. I, of course, add Chocolate to my Pralines. No big surprise there! So all three recipes feature chocolate and nuts!

PRALINE:
1) a confection of nuts and sugar: as in almonds cooked in boiling sugar until brown and crisp
2) a patty of creamy brown sugar and pecan meats

If you associate Pralines with the South, you'd be right! The original praline was a sweet confection made of almonds and some sort of creamy sugary caramelized coating. Lots of stories about how the Praline came to New Orleans and the South. One is that Pralines were first concocted in the home of 17th century French diplomat Cesar du Plessis Praslin by one of his chefs. The name "Praslin" eventually evolved into "praline." I don't buy that story since they were already popular in Europe in a slightly different version. Another story is that pralines were brought over from France by the Ursuline nuns, who settled in New Orleans in 1727. This makes sense since Pralines were already in the French tradition. Almonds were in short supply, so cooks began substituting the nuts of the native Louisiana pecan trees, thus the modern pecan pralines were born. Praline pecans were known as individual pecans covered in the sugary coating. The new pecan pralines quickly spread throughout New Orleans and became a common confection in the area.

Pralinières were women who used to sell pralines on the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans during the mid-to-late 19th century, providing a unique entrepreneurial opportunity to les gens de couleur libres (free people of color). Not only was being a pralinière a source of income, it was a means of providing for oneself without any strings attached. This was a rare situation for economically less-fortunate, but resourceful women of that time period, who were often employed as indentured servants or forced by need and without choice into plaçage, as kept-women of wealthy businessmen. (Read more about Praline Sellers of Old New Orleans here)

Because New Orleans was a thriving port, people from all over the world came through, and the praline spread with them. Many people are unaware of the candy’s historical origin, and the praline is thought of as a southern confection not necessarily specific to New Orleans. Some believe the pecan praline is a Texan candy, whereas others assume it came from Savannah. The pronunciation of the candy is a bit of a point of contention as well. In New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, where there are many communities settled by the French, the pronunciation is prah-leen, with the long aaah sound, which is closer to that of the candy’s namesake du Plessis-Praslin. Other regions of the country, including parts of Texas, Georgia, and New England have anglicized the term and pronounce it pray-leen. Other terms for pralines include pecan pralines, pecan candy, plarines and pecan patties.

Whatever you call it, you're going to love these recipes for Chocolate Pralines. They're simple to make. The first recipe doesn't call for a candy thermometer, but get one ready for the next two recipes. Candy thermometers are easy to work with, and if for some reason you don't have one, you can always use the water test.

This first recipe is adapted from a Sunset Magazine recipe.

CHOCOLATE PRALINES I

Ingredients

1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened DARK cocoa

Preparation

1. Place almonds in a 9-inch pie pan. Bake in a 300° regular or convection oven, shaking pan once, until nuts are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Coat a 12-inch square of foil lightly with vegetable oil (about 1 teaspoon).
2. In an 8- to 10-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, combine sugar, butter, corn syrup, and milk. Stir occasionally until mixture is bubbly and golden, about 5 minutes. Add cocoa and stir until smooth, then stir in toasted almonds. Pour mixture onto oiled foil and spread about 1/4 inch thick. Let cool until solid, about 10 minutes. Break praline into 6 to 8 large chunks.

CHOCOLATE PRALINES II

Ingredients
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate (50-65% cacao)
1 1/2 c dark brown sugar, packed firmly
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sweet butter
1 cup pecan pieces

Directions
In a heavy saucepan combine the sugar and the cream.
Heat to 240 degrees (115 C) on a candy thermometer (stirring constantly).
Remove from heat, stir in the butter and chocolate.
Cool mixture to 110 degrees F (43 C).
Stir in the pecans.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper and allow to cool and harden.

Want a kick with your Chocolate Pralines?  Homesick Texan has a terrific recipe for Mexican Chocolate Pralines.  Here's her recipe, but be sure and read her post about her first attempts.. and to see her sensational photos. Yes, bacon can become an ingredient!

Mexican Chocolate Pralines 
(adapted from Aprovecho)

Ingredients:
1 disc of Mexican hot chocolate (Ibarra)
2 oz. of unsweetened baking chocolate
2 cups of pecans, 1 cup chopped and 1 cup whole
1 1/2 cups of sugar
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of milk
6 tablespoons of butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons fresh orange zest or 1 teaspoon dried orange zest
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
In an oven set at 350 degrees, roast the pecans for 10 minutes.

In a large pot, melt together on medium heat the chocolates, sugars, pecans, milk, butter, cinnamon, orange zest, Cayenne and sea salt, stirring occasionally. Place a candy thermometer in the pot to monitor the heat. When it reaches 235 degrees, remove from fire and add the vanilla and stir the pot for two minutes. There should be a bit of shine to the candy but the candy will be a bit more thick.

Scoop pralines onto parchment paper. (If it’s too stiff, add warm water to mixture.) Let cool for an hour and remove. They will still be a bit shiny but will lose that shine after a few hours. 

Note from Homesick Texan: If you want to add bacon to these, fry up four slices, crumble them and stir into praline when you add the vanilla.

These are unbelievably fabulous!!!!

Happy National Praline Day!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chocolate Eclairs: National Chocolate Eclair Day

Knowing that National Eclair Day was right around the corner, I started thinking about my "holiday" post. My favorite eclairs are not the long thin "traditional" hotdog shaped eclairs (although I like those), but rather, the mini-eclairs. Pâte à choux.. little puff pastry.. that I've been making for years that  are simple to make and easy to fill. Well, I checked my blog, and lo and behold, I already posted about these eclairs last year on Chocolate Eclair Day. I think this is worthy of reposting.  Hope you enjoy making these as much as I do!

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

Because these eclairs are so small, feel free to have 3 or 4. :-) Yield depends on how small you make them, but I usually get about 50 small eclairs. They're great for a crowd!

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

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

MINI CHOCOLATE ECLAIRS

Pastry:
1 cup water
8 tbsp butter
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
3 eggs

Filling:
3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla

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

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

And, a Vintage Ad.. I don't use pudding for my filling... but thought you'd like to see this Ad:




Photo Eclairs: Food Network

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Vintage Ad: Baker's Cocoa Cool Chocolate Drinks

Since today is the first 'official' day of summer, and the temperature looks like it's going to hit 101 in San Francisco--Yikes!!-- I think this Baker's Chocolate Vintage Ad is perfect! So mix up some cool cocoa today! Nothing beats Chocolate!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Chocolate Garden

A little diversion today from chocolate recipes, chocolate holidays and chocolate reviews. Summer is finally here in the San Francisco Bay Area (we had no Spring), so I thought today would be timely for this post!

I am lucky to have several different garden areas on my property, but I've always longed for a dedicated 'chocolate-scented' garden. Since I'm in a fairly temperate zone of California, it's certainly possible. I've always used cocoa bean hulls as mulch, and there's nothing that smells more like chocolate than this mulch. There's a problem using the mulch, though, because dogs can become sick from eating the hulls. I've been lucky. None of my dogs have ever been even mildly interested in this great mulch.

But as for real chocolate smelling plants, I've been given (and time to get more) Cosmos atrosanguineus. This is a lovely maroon cosmos that actually has a heavy chocolate scent. Originally from Mexico, this plant reblooms in our Mediterranean climate.

I usually have Chocolate mint, a very hardy perennial, well it's mint, after all. Warning: it will take over the garden. Plant in containers or monitor its spread. I posted a link to Chocolate Mint Tea last week. It doesn't taste like chocolate, but definitely smells like it.

There's a wonderful article online: Growing a Chocolate-Scented Garden by Deb Babcok in Steamboat Today. Her climate in Steamboat Springs is harsher than mine and the growing season is shorter, but she has a great list of chocolate scented plants. I decided to add to this list, so here are several plants that smell like chocolate. What could be more delightful than a chocolate garden! Be sure and check that these plants will grow and flourish in your zone. I've also added to this list this year with plants that are 'chocolate' in color. So be sure and check before planting.

Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata) Looks like a daisy with yellow petals and a dark chocolate center. The aroma from the flower can be detected as far as 30 feet away. This is a night-bloomer, so the garden will smell like cocoa in the morning.

Nicotania Chocolate Smoke
Nicotiana 'Chocolate Smoke' This is a Chocolate Flower Farm exclusive and replaced Nicotiana 'Hot Chocolate'. It has a very dark flower.

Decidious (to semi-evergreen) twining Chocolate Vine (Akebia Quinata): climbing plant with purple-red flowers that smell of milk chocolate. Warning: Can be invasive. Keep it trimmed.

Chocolate Mint (Mentha piperita): Some people think this tastes like a combo of chocolate and peppermint. Nice bronze-green leaves.. and as I mentioned, it can be used as a tea.

Delphinium "Kissed by Chocolate"

Dahlia 'Karma Choc': Not certain of the odor on this but it has a very dark color like chocolate.

Gilia tricolor (Bird's Eyes): annual California wildflower with wonderful fragrance. Meadow plantings. Grows to 3'

Columbine chocolate soldiers
Columbine comes in a chocolate-scented variety (Aquilegia 'Chocolate Soldiers')

Foxglove (Digitalis 'chocolate') now this is literally a Dying for Chocolate plant as foxglove is a poisonous plant  also: Digitalis Lanata 'Cafe Creme'; Digitalis parviflora 'Milk Chocolate'

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum 'Chocolate')

Rudbeckia (R. 'Chocolate Drop')

Sweet William (Diantush 'Bittersweet William')

Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus): Deciduous shrub with maroon brown flowers (cinnamon-spiced, bittersweet chocolate fragrance)

Cosmos Astroganguineus: Plants form a medium-sized clump of dark green leaves, with deep maroon blooms that smell of dark chocolate.

Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes
Chocolate Geranium (Pelargonium 'Chocolate Joy')

Penstemon 'Chocolate Drop' How can you go wrong with penstemon?

One mustn't forget edible plants in the garden that smell (and sometimes taste) like chocolate:
Chocolate Corn, Chocolate Cherry Tomato, Chocolate Mini Bell Pepper, 'Velour Frosted Chocolate' Viola, Chocolate Nasturtium, and Milk Chocolate Calendula.

If your local nursery does not offer the seeds or plants, contact Chocolate Flower Farm.They also have other chocolate scented products such as candles, bath and body products, chocolate teas, sachets and other gifts. They're located in Langley, WA.

Love to add to this list, so please comment on your favorite "chocolate" plants. Plants or seeds welcome.

And, here's a photo from the UC Botanical Garden (not my greenhouse!) of a chocolate pod. Took the photo a month ago.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bourbon Ball Martini

Today is National Martini Day! And, its' Father's Day. Well Bourbon is always a good gift for Dad. Why not make a Bourbon Ball Martini and celebrate both holidays? Better than a necktie!

BOURBON BALL MARTINI

2 oz. Maker's Mark Bourbon
2 oz. DeKuyper Crème de Cacao
1 oz. hazelnut liqueur

Fill shaker with cracked ice and blend bourbon, creme de cacao & hazelnut liqueur.
Strain into a martini glass.
Garnish with two Bourbon balls on a mini-skewer.

DOLLY APPEL’S BOURBON BALLS

1 ½ pounds pecans
8 oz of Maker’s Mark Bourbon
2 oz water
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar
3 pounds semisweet chocolate
3 oz paraffin

Break and combine pecans with bourbon, cover and set aside for 4 hours or more. Sift confectioners’ sugar and add pecans, adding sugar gradually to a working consistency until a small ball can be made ½ to ¾ inch in diameter. Water is to be used only to bring mixture to desired consistency. Add water only to prevent ball from falling apart. Mixture should be semi-dry. Prepare balls and place on a waxed papered cookie sheet. Place in freezer to cool. (Approx. 2 hours)

Melt chocolate and paraffin and mix well. Chocolate should not be too hot, just warm enough to work up. The warmer the mix, the thinner coating the bourbon balls will have.

Remove formed balls from the freezer when ready to coat with chocolate. With fingers dip each ball to cover half of ball and return to cookie sheet. After this step return to refrigerator to harden chocolate. (Approx. 1 hour)

To coat top half of ball when ready insert toothpick in the bottom that has already been coated and dip top in chocolate. Remove toothpick and return ball to cookie sheet. Refrigerate again to harden chocolate.

Store bourbon balls in refrigerator until ready to eat!

Want a classic Vodka Martini? Check out my post on Mystery Fanfare. James Bond and the Vesper Martini: Shaken not Stirred

Friday, June 17, 2011

Chocolate Cherry Tart: National Cherry Tart Day

Fresh Cherries are everywhere, so National Cherry Tart day couldn't have come at a better time! Let me begin by saying that one of the most useful kitchen gadgets is the cherry pitter, especially for doing anything with fresh cherries in a large batch. I've had a cherry pitter for over 30 years. Maybe it's time for an upgrade, but I tend to keep things forever. I originally got my cherry pitter for pitting small plums for jam. The house I lived in at the time was surrounded by plum trees. Canning mania!

But back to the cherries. Since today is National Cherry Tart day, I'm posting a recipe for Chocolate Cherry Tart that was "blended and adapted" from recipes from Beverly Mills of Desperationdinners.com and  Dianasaurdishes.com. Beverly's tart uses a 'plain' tart dough, but I can never have enough Chocolate! Diana has a wonderful chocolate tart recipe that's pretty fool-proof. Have a look at Dianasaurdishes' Raspberry Chocolate Tart Recipe. No time to make the tart shell? Feel free to substitute a prepared pie crust that's not chocolate. I like Trader Joe's frozen pie crusts.

CHOCOLATE CHERRY TART

Chocolate Pie Crust:
 
4 oz sweet butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 tbsp unsweetened DARK cocoa powder

1. Beat butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the bowl and beat another minute so there are no lumps. Add egg yolk, beat well, and scrape downsides again.
2. Add flour and cocoa powder, beat on lowest speed until dough has just come together (but still has small to medium clumps) and looks moist with a dark uniform color. Scrape down bowl and use the spatula to incorporate anything that isn’t mixed in.
3. Put chocolate crust in an 11- to 12-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Use the heel of your hand to  press dough and spread along the bottom of the pan and up the sides ( if you’re having trouble, refrigerate  dough 15 minutes before pressing)
4. Cut off any dough above the top of the tart pan. Save dough for repairs. Place dough filled pan in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pan on cookie sheet and bake in lower third of oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and use leftover dough to repair any cracks. Bake another 8 minutes.
6. Remove tart pan to cooling rack and use rounded side of a spoon to press the center down and make more room for filling. Let cool completely (you can do this in refrigerator for faster results).

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling!

Filling:

12 ounce 65-75% dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 1/2 pounds fresh sweet cherries, rinsed and dried (any cherries will work)
3 tablespoons Bonne Mamam Cherry preserves (or strawberry jelly)

1. Put chocolate and cream in a doubleboiler or a metal bowl on top of another bowl with simmering water. Melt together, stirring, until smooth. Set aside

2. Remove cherry stems, remove pits with cherry pitter. Set aside.
3. When crust is cool, pour chocolate into the crust and smooth evenly with the back of a spoon. Place cherries into the chocolate in concentric circles, stem side up, pressing into chocolate a bit to hold in place.
4. Put jelly in a small measuring cup and microwave on High until spreadable, about 15 seconds.
5. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of the cherries with jelly just to glaze.
6. Place the tart in refrigerator, uncovered, to cool until chocolate is set, about 25 to 30 minutes.
7. To serve, remove sides of the tart pan. (Love this trick for removing the tart from the outside ring of the pan: Place the bottom of the pan over a small bowl that's smaller than the tart pan. The pan ring will fall away if sides have shrunk enough, or you can jiggle gently and pull down on the pan ring to remove.)
8. Slice into wedges, and serve cold.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

National Fudge Day: Fudge Recipe Round-up & S'mores Fudge

Today is National Fudge Day. I love fudge, and I've posted lots of fudge recipes over the past year or so. I thought I'd do a round-up of some of those fudge recipes and add a new one for S'mores Fudge. I know what I'll be making today.

Goldie's Fudge
Foolproof Dark Chocolate Fudge
Peanut Butter Fudge
Vanilla Macadamia Nut Fudge
Nigella's Chocolate Pistachio Fudge
Walnut Fudge
Triple Chocolate Sour Cherry Fudge
Bailey's Irish Cream Fudge
Creamy Chocolate Fudge
Chocolate Coffee Fudge
Philly Fudge

Here's a new recipe for National Fudge Day! Add it to the S'mores recipes from National S'mores Day!

S'mores Fudge

There are lots of recipes out there, but I'm not good with a candy thermometer, so I was more than happy with the results from this recipe adapted (only slightly) from nosetotailathome.com.  If you're looking for organic marshmallow creme, try Toonie Moonie or Ricemellow Creme... or go for the old American Marshmallow Fluff.

Ingredients
2 & a 1/2 cups sugar
1-7 oz jar marshmallow creme
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup sweet butter
12 ounces dark (65-75% dark chocolate, broken) or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 small bag mini-marshmallows (rough measurement/experiment!)
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tbsp sweet butter, melted

Start with these directions, and you'll think you're at the campfire making s'mores:
The night before you make the fudge, spread the bag of mini- marshmallows out on a fireproof surface  take a kitchen torch to them. Make sure you get a toasty color all over to maximize the smokey taste. Cool for a few minutes and then put in a bowl, cover with saran wrap and put in freezer overnight.

Here's where it gets even more interesting:
The next day preheat  oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter, and mix together with the crumbs in a 11 x 7 inch pan. Press mixture onto the bottom and up the side of your pan, using your hand or the back of a spoon. Bake crust for 8 minutes and then let cool.

In a very large glass bowl, combine sugar, marshmallow creme, evaporated milk and butter. Put the bowl in  microwave for two minutes. Take bowl out and whisk mixture until even. Put  bowl back in microwave and do another two minutes. After four microwave/whisks, beat in chocolate and vanilla until well blended. Pour over your graham cracker crust, and then remove your frozen toasted marshmallows and carefully press into the setting fudge. Set, cut and serve.

It's like being at the campfire, especially with the smokey marshmallows!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Aunt Adeline's Texas Sheet Cake: Roberta Isleib Guest Post

My mystery and chocolate worlds collide again. This time with mystery author Roberta Isleib.  Photos by Roberta Isleib.

Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib) is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries, debuting in January 2012 with AN APPETITE FOR MURDER. No victims were harmed with chocolate cake during the writing of this book. Follow Lucy at her website www.lucyburdette.com or on facebook www.facebook.com/lucyburdette or twitter www.twitter.com/lucyburdette


ROBERTA ISLEIB aka LUCY BURDETTE:

Nineteen years ago, I married into a family of chocoholics. A tradition developed that on each person’s birthday, the honoree got to choose the cake that I would bake. Early on, I happened upon a feathery fudge cake (made with chocolate sour cream icing) from a Betty Crocker cookbook and haven’t been allowed to deviate far from it since. Here Yoda the cat watches over it, and here it is in full birthday glory.

Still, I like to keep an eye out for other chocolate cakes—who knows what might be out there? My friend Peggy has brought Aunt Adeline’s Texas Sheet Cake to our past two choir potluck dinners. Let me just tell you, people fight for a square. Baked in a jelly roll pan, it doesn’t look like much, but it tastes delicious and feeds a crowd. Peggy lightened it up with applesauce and low-fat yogurt, so it’s not as caloric as it could be:)

AUNT ADELINE'S TEXAS SHEET CAKE
  
Cake
1 stick of butter
1 cup water
4 heaping TBSP cocoa powder
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp soda
2 eggs beaten
½ cup applesauce
½ cup plain no-fat yogurt
1 tsp vanilla

Heat in a saucepan, melting butter & add water and cocoa powder.
Bring to a boil on stove and remove from heat.
Sift dry ingredients in a bowl
Beat all these ingredients and then blend with dry above and add in cooled chocolate liquid from saucepan
Pour into a greased & floured (or Pam sprayed) 15 x 10 x 2 “jelly roll” pan.
Bake at 375 for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
Make frosting five minutes before cake is done and spread on cake while still hot and then let cool.

Frosting
1 stick of butter
4 TBSP (or more for darker chocolate) cocoa powder
6 TBSP milk
1 pound box powdered Sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup chopped peanuts or pecans (nuts optional)
Heat & melt butter in saucepan with cocoa & milk but do not boil. Remove from heat and beat into powdered sugar and vanilla. Spread on hot cake.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake: National Strawberry Shortcake Day

Today is National Strawberry Shortcake Day.  There's something about strawberries and cream with a little shortcake that says Spring! There are several different types of shortcake, or pastries known as shortcake. First there are scones and biscuits--perfect for Strawberry Shortcake. And, then there are sponge cakes like those little spongy cups you get at the supermarket, also good, just different. Both these 'cakes' are quick to make and taste great with strawberries and whipping cream. Of course, for me, the shortcake should be chocolate. As always, your cakes are only as good as the chocolate you use!

No one really knows  exactly when the first strawberry shortcake was made. Shortcake, itself, is a European invention that goes back at least to the late 1500's. Strawberries have been around for over 2000 years. But putting strawberries and shortcake together is an American tradition. Strawberry shortcake parties became popular in the United States around 1850 with the earliest recipe in 1847. Strawberries were so popular that people talked about strawberry fever. Advertisements and articles about strawberry shortcake, caused more and more demand. Harpers Magazine in 1893 said, "They give you good eating, strawberries and short-cake-- Ohh My!"

Last year on National Strawberry Shortcake Day I posted a recipe for Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake. This recipe is a combination of individual chocolate biscuits, fresh strawberries and sweet whipping cream. I also linked to Annmarie Kostyk's Double Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake. Fabulous!

Here's a third recipe for Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake because you can't have enough of a good thing. Recipe adapted from Rhoda Peacher at Hobbyfarms.com

A tip from Lynda King at Hobbyfarms: one of the best ways to prepare berries for shortcake is to bruise them with a potato masher.You don’t want all the berries mashed, but you want most of them bruised sufficiently to yield their juice into the mixture. If needed, add sugar or honey to taste, depending on your preference, and chill for a few hours before serving.

CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE

Ingredients

Shortcake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sweet butter
1 cup + up to 2 T. milk

Filling
4 to 5 cups fresh strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream, whipped

Preparation
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Grease two, 8-inch round cake pans.
In large bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
Using a pastry blender, cut butter into the mixture until the consistency resembles coarse crumbs.
Stir in 1 cup milk with fork until mixture is just moistened (you may need to add extra milk for the mixture to blend evenly).
Using your fingers, spread into prepared pans.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, or until cake begins to pull away from sides of pans.
Cool 15 minutes; remove cakes from pans. Cool completely.

Reserve five whole strawberries for garnish.
Wash, hull and halve remaining strawberries.
In large bowl, combine halved strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar.
Place 1 shortcake bottom-side up on serving plate.
Top with half of strawberries and half of whipped cream.
Drizzle with a few tablespoons of chocolate sauce, to taste.
Place the other shortcake on top of this, right-side up.
Top with remaining prepared strawberries and whipped cream.
Garnish with reserved whole strawberries.

So there you have it: Three fabulous recipes for Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake!
***

Want to drink your Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake?

CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE COCKTAIL

1 shot amaretto
1 shot creme de cacao
2 double shots of fresh strawberry puree
2 double shots of cream

Add several ice cubes, 2 double shots of fresh strawberry puree, 2 double shots of cream, add one shot of amaretto and one shot of creme de cacao. Blend for 1 min until mixture is thick. Pour into a martini glass.

Garnish with a whole strawberry or rim the glass with crushed chocolate--or both!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

German Chocolate Cake Cocktail

So yesterday was National German Chocolate Cake Day. Yes, it's an American holiday and German Chocolate Cake has nothing to do with Germany. The chocolate part was invented by Sam German at Baker's... to learn more go to my post HERE.

But maybe you're not a Baker. Maybe it's just all too much for you. Want that cake in a cocktail? You're in luck. There are several recipes..with and without cream..with lemon.. rimming the glass with chocolate, adding chocolate curls. Invent your own, but here's a start!

German Chocolate Cake Cocktail 

 1 oz. Malibu coconut rum
1 oz. Dark Creme de Cacao
1.5 oz Cream
Splash Frangelico

Serve with ice in a cocktail glass. You can also half the recipe and serve over ice in a shooter glass.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

German Chocolate Cake: National German Chocolate Cake Day

Today is National German Chocolate Cake Day. It may sound odd that's there's a national holiday for German Chocolate Cake, but this cake is not German. German Chocolate Cake is an American creation that contains the key ingredients of sweet baking chocolate, coconut, and pecans.

In 1852, Sam German created a dark baking chocolate bar for Baker's Chocolate Company, and in his honor, the company named it "Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate."  In 1957, probably the first published recipe for German's chocolate cake showed up in a Dallas newspaper and supposedly came from a Texas homemaker. The cake quickly gained in popularity and the recipe together with photos spread all over the country. America fell in love with German Chocolate Cake, and food editors were swamped with requests for information on where to buy the chocolate. In one year, there was a 73% sales jump in German's Baker Sweet chocolate sales (then owned by General Mills). I grew up with Baker's chocolate as the baking chocolate we used for brownies and other chocolate recipes.

However, the cake most likely didn't originate from the Dallas housewife. Buttermilk chocolate cakes were popular in the South for over 70 years, and pecans were plentiful, also, to make the frosting. Point of fact: German's chocolate is similar to a milk chocolate and sweeter than regular baking chocolate.

Here's the "Original Recipe." I found this specific recipe in many places on the Internet, and I daresay no one can claim it as its own. So even if you think you're making Grandmom's recipe--and it might be with a few changes over the years- the following is a basic one that millions use. That's not to say I didn't find several unique recipes for German Chocolate Cake that peaked my interest. But those are for another time.

GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE

THE CAKE
1 pkg. Baker's German’s sweet chocolate (4 oz.)
1/2 cup Water, boiling
1 cup Butter or margarine
2 cup Sugar
4 Eggs, separated
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
2 cups Flour, all-purpose
1 teaspoon Baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Buttermilk
Coconut-pecan frosting

Directions
Approx. Cook Time: 30min
1. Melt chocolate in water and cool.
2. Cream butter and Sugar.
3. Beat in egg yolks.
4. Stir in vanilla and chocolate.
5. Mix flour, soda and salt. beat in flour mixture, alternately with buttermilk.
6. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter. Pour batter into three 9-inch layer pans, lined on bottoms with waxed paper.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly pressed in
center Cool 15 minutes; remove and cool on rack.

THE FILLING AND TOPPING
1-14 oz. can of condensed milk such as Eagle Brand
½ Cup water
3 egg yolks
1 t vanilla
1/2 C butter (1 stick)
1 1/3 c Pecans; chopped reserve 10 whole pecan halves for garnish.
1 ¾ c Angel flake coconut

Directions:
Cook the milk, eggs, and water over a double boiler until thickened.
Cook it over direct heat if you use complete concentration.
Then add the vanilla and butter and whisk in until it is melted and smooth.
Add the chopped pecans and coconut.

CHOCOLATE FROSTING
1 stick or 1/2 Cup butter, softened
9 squares Baker's German's chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 TBS milk
for a richer chocolate flavor, add cocoa powder- or use more German's chocolate

Mix butter and chocolate in mixing bowl. Stir in powdered sugar.
Beat vanilla and milk until smooth and of spreading consistency.

Assembly:
Divide the filling evenly between the 3 cakes putting the 1st layer down, then spread the filling evenly. Repeat with the other layer.
Frost the side or top of the cake only. (Maybe--but make more, and you can frost everything)
For garnish you can place pecan halves around the top edge.

My friend Iris makes the best German Chocolate Cake ever. She says it's an African American traditional cake made and served at New Year's. I can't find any information on that tradition in the African American community, so I think it's only a tradition in her family. Iris hasn't shared her recipe. Some people keep family recipes within the family. The photo, though, is of Iris's German Chocolate Cake. It's always fabulous!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chocolate Ice Tea: National Ice Tea Day

I'm a tea drinker, and in the Summer, I'm an ice tea drinker, so I can really get behind Ice Tea Month (June) and National Iced Tea Day (June 10). Of course, since I'm always Dying for Chocolate, I like Chocolate Ice Tea. The following teas will not have the full bodied chocolate taste of an iced cocoa. They're more subtle, but definitely worth trying. They're essentially different types of teas infused with cacoa nibs or cocoa with some other ingredients. Some even use carob pods. You might prefer some of them more as hot teas. Experiment. At the end of this post, I also have a recipe for Chocolate Mint Tea... that's the herb Chocolate Mint that grows in the garden (it is not a chocolate plant!). Chocolate mint makes a lovely ice tea.

History of Ice Tea: The story goes that at the St. Louis World's Fair, the Englishman Richard Blechynden was introducing Americans to the new India and Ceylon black tea.There was a heat wave at the time and lines were not forming to try his steamy hot beverage. After a few days of frustration, he tried adding ice to the tea in order to entice people in. It was the hit of the fair and a new way of drinking tea had instantly taken hold!

How to Brew Ice Tea:
To brew a quart, place either 4 to 5 bags or teaspoons of loose tea in a pitcher. Bring 2 cups of cold, tap water or filtered water to a boil. Pour the boiling water directly over the tea and steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove tea bags or strain and then add 2 more cups of cold water. Serve over ice.

Sun Brewed Iced Tea
Fill a container with 4 cups of cold water, preferably filtered. Place 6 bags or 6 teaspoons of tea and cover or cap lightly. Place in direct sunlight for 2 to 4 hours (depending on desired strength). Remove bags or strain and serve over ice.

Cold Water Method
Fill a container with 4 cups of filtered cold water. Put 6 bags or 6 teaspoons of tea and cover or cap lightly. Place in refrigerator for 8 hours. Remove bags or strain and serve over ice.

There are so many Chocolate Teas available now, some with black tea, some with rooibos or other herbs. The following is a random list. Let me know your favorites, and, especially, if you like the teas better hot or cold!

Republic of Tea:
Peppermint Cuppa Chocolate Tea Bags:  peppermint, rich chocolate and smooth, caffeine-free rooibos
Cocoanut Cocoa Cuppa Chocolate Tea Bags:  coconut, chocolate and caramel malted barley
Double Dark Chocolate Mate: roasted Yerba Maté blended with organic dark cocoa powder
Red Velvet Cuppa Chocolate Tea Bags: Rooibos blended with chocolate and beet root bits
Strawberry Cuppa Chocolate Tea Bags: chocolate paired with a hint of strawberry. Rooibos (red tea) provides the base.

Mighty Leaf Tea
Mayan Chocolate Truffle
Masala Chocolate Truffle
Chocolate Chip Truffle
Chocolate Mint Truffle Rooibos
Chocolate Orange Truffle
Mocha Truffle Pu-erh

Kalahari: Choco Latte: Red Tea Raspberry Truffle

Stash Tea: Chocolate Mint Wuyi Oolong Tea

Teavana
Haute Chocolate Rooibos Tea
Cacao Mint Black Tea

TeaFrog: Chocolate and Cream

Harney & Sons  (one of my favorite sources for black tea): Chocolate tea

Tea Forte:  Coco Truffle
  
American Tea Room:
Choco Late
CocoLoco
  
Tea Guys:  Chocolate Delight

Here's a tea for the Spring & Summer, and yes, I do have Chocolate Mint growing in my yard.

CHOCOLATE MINT ICE TEA
4 cups fresh chocolate mint, chopped
16 cups water
1 cup local honey

Boil water, add chopped mint leaves and simmer in a covered stockpot with tight-fitting lid for 10 mins. Add honey, stirring until dissolved. Remove from heat. Cover and let steep 3-4 hours or longer.
Refrigerate overnight. Strain before serving.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Grandma's Chocolate Bread Pudding: Vintage Ad & Recipe

The other day I posted a Chocolate Bread Pudding recipe that uses Hawaiian bread. It's certainly unique, easy to make and delicious. Of course I've posted recipes for  Chocolate Irish Soda Bread Pudding and Mystery Author Katherine Hall Page's Chocolate Bread Pudding.  Well, thought it might be time to post a "Vintage" Chocolate Bread Pudding recipe. I just love these vintage ads and recipes. You can always update the recipes, but the ads are "priceless."


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Triple Chocolate Ice Cream Pie: National Chocolate Ice Cream Day

Today is National Chocolate Ice Cream Day, and since I blogged about Rocky Road Ice Cream Pie on Rocky Road Day last Thursday, I thought it only fitting to blog about another of my favorite pies.

Triple Chocolate Ice Cream Pie

Since I'm all about Chocolate, this pie shell can be made with chocolate wafers or oreos.. either works well.

To make the crust, crumb up the wafers or oreos either by putting them in a plastic bag and running a rolling pin over them or by whirling them in your food processor. Add 1/2 stick of melted butter (or a bit more) and press into a 9" pie plate, going up the side. Bake for 5-10 minutes at 350 -- or not. Since this is an ice-cream pie, it's not really going to matter if you bake it or not!

Next, spoon in the softened chocolate ice cream. Now here's where you can get creative--either a chocolate or a chocolate brownie ice cream such as Haagen Daz Chocolate or Ben & Jerry's Chocolate or Chocolate Fudge Brownie would be perfect! Then freeze! Helpful hint: make sure to position the pie flat in your freezer.

And finally, top with Hot Fudge Sauce!

Want to make your own Chocolate Ice Cream for this ice cream pie? Epicurious has a wonderful recipe for Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream by Fergus and Margot Henderson that appeared in Bon Appetit. For the recipe, go HERE.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding


I've always cut out recipes from newspapers and magazines, stuffing them into books or drawers or just about everywhere. Organization on the recipe front was not always my forte, unless it was a tried and true recipe, but even then it sometimes disappeared, only to surface well pass the holiday I wanted it for. That's why I'm so happy to see some of my favorite recipes on the Internet.

This recipe (and photo) is from Cooking Light (2003), a hardcopy magazine I used to subscribe to. I found the recipe for Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding again when it appeared in an ad on Facebook. I saw Chocolate, and I clicked! This recipe for Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding is so easy, and so delicious. I'm a big fan of Hawaiian bread, and I practically live on it in when I'm in Hawaii. It's a sweet soft bread, not exactly the healthy grain bread I usually eat, but it's perfect in this recipe. You can find Hawaiian bread in the bakery section in most grocery stores.

In this recipe, chop the chocolate coarsely for good texture. You'll be biting into chocolate chunks which really adds to this unique bread pudding experience. The recipe, as I mentioned, is from Cooking Light, but if you don't want to "cook light" you can use real cream or whole milk instead of the 2%, and you can top it off with real whipping cream. I do.

CHOCOLATE CHUNK BREAD PUDDING

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups (1/2-inch) cubed Hawaiian sweet bread
2/3 cup 2% reduced-fat milk (or whole milk or cream)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons DARK unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon Kahlúa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1 ounce semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (2-3 ounces if you're not cooking light)
2 tablespoons frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed  (or lots of real whipped cream)

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350°.
Arrange bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 5 minutes or until toasted. Remove bread from oven; decrease oven temperature to 325°.
Combine milk and next 5 ingredients (milk through egg) in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add bread, tossing gently to coat. Cover and chill 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
Divide half of bread mixture evenly between 2 (6-ounce) ramekins or custard cups coated with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with half of chocolate. Divide remaining bread mixture between ramekins; top with remaining chocolate.

Place ramekins in an 8-inch square baking pan; add hot water to pan to a depth of 1 inch. Bake at 325° for 35 minutes or until set. Serve each pudding warm with 1 tablespoon whipped topping (or whipped cream).

Photo: Cooking Light

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Chocolate Gingerbread Cake: National Gingerbread Day II

According to The Nibble today is National Gingerbread Day, but November 21 is also designated as National Gingerbread Day, and I think that's more in keeping with Gingerbread. Just an FYI, December 12 is Gingerbread House Day.

I associate Gingerbread with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Fall/Winter season in general. That being said, I hate to miss posting a chocolate holiday recipe. So here's a recipe for Chocolate Gingerbread Cake. This is more of a coffee cake, and I've made it in both a loafpan and bundt pan. Recipe is adapted from McCormick's, the spice people. Gingerbread is, after all, a spice cake. As I've said before, the food product and association sites have some awesome recipes. You can always substitute your own spices and chocolate for taste variations. And If you're looking for Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies, have a look at last November's National Gingebread Day post.

A little Gingerbread History from Gone-ta-pott.com: The town of Market Drayton in Shropshire, UK is known as the "home of gingerbread," The first recorded mention of gingerbread being baked in the town dates back to 1793; however, it was probably made earlier as ginger was stocked in high street businesses from the 1640s. Gingerbread became widely available in the 1700s. 
  
CHOCOLATE GINGERBREAD CAKE

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground Ginger
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/2 cup sweet butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup molasses
1 egg
1 cup boiling water

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix flour, cocoa powder, ginger, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in medium bowl. Set aside.
2. Beat butter, sugar and molasses in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Mix in egg. Add flour mixture alternately with water, stirring just until mixed. Pour into greased 9-inch square baking pan (or bundt pan)*
3. Bake 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Invert cake onto wire rack to cool completely.

Photo: McCormick's

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Cognac Truffles: National Cognac Day

Today is National Cognac Day! Cognac goes very well with Chocolate, especially in Cognac Truffles. I always opt for easy truffle recipes. Here are two great recipes. The second recipe includes raw eggs (although they heat up a bit in the chocolate),  so if that's a problem for you, try the first.  I actually used 80% Cashet Uganda chocolate when I last made the second recipe since I didn't have any unsweetened chocolate. Both of these recipes are basically ganache truffles, so no tempering needed. You can roll them in cocoa or chopped nuts.

COGNAC TRUFFLES I
Ingredients
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons softened sweet butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp Cognac
unsweetened cocoa or chopped nuts

Put chopped chocolate in bowl. On low heat warm cream and butter until nearly boiling. Pour over chocolate and mix gently and thoroughly until chocolate is melted. You can always just melt all ingredients together in the top of a double boiler, if you're careful.
Cool and add cognac, mixing into chocolate mixture.
Cover and refrigerate 3 hours or more.
Using a melon baller or spoon, scoop chocolate into balls. Then roll in hands to make a ball.
Roll the balls in cocoa or nuts and refrigerate until ready to serve.

COGNAC TRUFFLES II
Ingredients
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1-1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/3 cup sweet butter
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cognac
cocoa or chopped nuts

Melt chocolate.
Combine sugar and butter in bowl then cream together.
Add egg yolks 1 at a time then stir in melted chocolate and cognac.
Chill mixture at least one hour then break off pieces and form into balls.
Roll in coating of your choice and dry for 1 hour.

No time to make these? Coco Delice has fabulous Cognac Truffles!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Ben & Jerry's Bonnaroo Buzz

New Flavor over at Ben & Jerry's: Bonnaroo Buzz.

FAIR TRADE COFFEE ROCKS!
The chunkiest ice cream in the world is now caffeinated with fair trade ingredients -- coffee harvested at Fair Trade farms Huatusco co-op in Mexico. Coffee ice cream, mixed with malt ice cream, whiskey and English toffee, jams each pint with the fun buzz of the world famous Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. Ben & Jerry's works to make the best possible ice cream in the best way possible.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rocky Road Ice Cream Pie: National Rocky Road Ice Cream Day

Today is National Rocky Road Ice Cream Day.  Rocky Road ice cream was 'invented' in Oakland,  CA, which makes it pretty special to me, since I live in the Oakland/Berkeley area. One story goes that the Rocky Road ice cream flavor was created in March 1929 by William Dreyer in Oakland, CA. He cut up walnuts and marshmallows with his wife's sewing scissors and added them to his chocolate ice cream that reflected his partner Joseph Edy's chocolate candy that used walnuts and marshmallow pieces. Later the walnuts were replaced by toasted almonds. Fenton's Creamery in Oakland claims that William Dreyer based his recipe on a Rocky-Road style ice cream flavor invented by his friend, Fentons' George Farren, who blended his own Rocky Road-style candy bar into ice cream. I still love going to Fenton's Creamery. It's an old fashioned ice-cream parlor. So however it came into existence, be sure and have a scoop of Rocky Road Ice Cream today... or make a Rocky Road Ice Cream Pie! Here's an easy recipe.

ROCKY ROAD ICE CREAM PIE

Ingredients
2 cups vanilla fudge swirl ice cream, softened
2 cups chocolate ice cream, softened
2/3 cup miniature marshmallows
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate, chopped and divided
1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped (or lightly salted peanuts)
*Chocolate Pie Crust (see recipe below) Prepare first**

Directions
1. In large bowl stir together ice cream, marshmallows, 1/2 cup chopped chocolate and toasted almonds or peanuts. Spoon into crust. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup chopped chocolate.
2. Cover and freeze at least 2 hours or until firm.
3. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting.

*Chocolate Pie Crust
(good for lots of pies)
2 cups chocolate wafers (in a pinch use Oreos)
6 tbsp butter
Melt the butter.
Put the chocolate wafers in a plastic bag. Close bag and crush with spoon or rolling pin until you have tiny pea-sized chocolate bits.
Combine melted butter with chocolate bits.
Press ingredients into 9-inch buttered pie pan. Be sure and go up the sides.
Bake 10 minutes at 325°F.
Cool completely before adding ice-cream.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Flourless Hazelnut Chocolate Cake: National Hazelnut Cake Day

Some times you feel like a nut! Well today's the day. It's Hazelnut Cake Day, so it's time to get a bit nutty. Did you know that a hazelnut is also known as a cob nut or filbert nut according to species? O.K. I don't know from cobs, but I do know about filberts. A filbert is a little more elongated. I've always thought that hazel nuts reminded me of acorns, and I know you can't eat acorns, or at least we don't. Let the squirrels have them. But hazelnuts are fabulous, and they add texture and taste to many dishes and cakes.

I'm always looking for a gluten free cakes, and the following two cakes fit the bill. Ground nuts or nut flour give these cakes a bit of texture and a lot of taste. Well, since today is National Hazelnut  Cake Day, I thought I'd add chocolate and celebrate the day with not one but two easy recipes. Both cakes are dense and decadent.

The first Flourless Hazelnut Chocolate Cake recipe is adapted from Jill Wilcox (appeared in the Toronto Sun), who adapted the original recipe from Gourmet Magazine. Flourless chocolate cake is my go to recipe (I've posted recipes HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE), and you'll love the additional hazelnut flavor. Want to make it even more delicious. Splash some Fra Angelico in the sweentened whipped cream topping before serving!

I. Flourless Hazelnut Chocolate Cake

Ingredients
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup sweet butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1/3 cup finely roasted hazelnuts, finely chopped
sweetened whipped cream
Fra Angelico

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.
2. Place the chocolate in a double boiler along with the butter. Stir until the butter and chocolate is melted and smooth.
3. Remove from the heat.
4. Whisk in the eggs one at a time until smooth.
5. Sift the cocoa powder over the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined.
6. Fold in the hazelnuts
7. Spoon into the pan and bake for 25 minutes or until the top has formed a crust
8. Cool the cake on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge and invert onto a plate.
9. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream that has been flavored with a spoonful of Fra Angelico

If one recipe is good, two are even better. Here's another recipe for Flourless Hazelnut Chocolate Cake-- this time the Fra Angelico is in the batter! Adapted from Bon Appetit!

II. Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Ingredients:
6 large eggs
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup hazelnut liqueur such as Frangelico, divided
12 oz bittersweet chocolate, at least 60 per cent cacao--75% is even better!
3/4 cup sweet butter, cut into chunks
1 cup finely ground hazelnuts (aka filberts)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup chilled whipping cream

Chopped toasted hazelnuts

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter 9-inch springform pan, line bottom with parchment paper and wrap outside with three layers of heavy foil.
2. Whisk eggs, brown sugar and 1/4 cup liqueur in large bowl to blend.
3. Combine chocolate and butter in metal bowl over simmering water. Whisk until smooth, about 3 minutes.
4. Add to egg mixture and whisk. Add ground nuts and salt.
5. Transfer batter to pan. Place in large roasting pan (water bath) and pour in enough hot water to reach halfway up side of springform pan. Tent loosely with foil. Bake until center is set and top is dry to touch, about 1-1/2 hours.
6. Remove from pan; remove foil. Cool cake in pan on rack. Chill at least 3 hours or overnight, covered.
7. Using electric mixer, beat cream and remaining 1/4 cup liqueur until soft peaks form, 6 to 8 minutes.
8. Run knife around pan to loosen, release and cut into wedges. Serve with whipped cream.