Monday, March 31, 2014

Craig Faustus Buck's Chocolate Noir Short Ribs

I love when my mystery and chocolate worlds collide. Recently I was on a social media panel at a crime fiction conference, and although my "topic" was Facebook, I mentioned blogging and twitter. One of my twitter buddies (and Facebook friends) Craig Faustus Buck was in the first row, so when I mentioned that I'm always looking for recipes for Dying for Chocolate, he stepped up to the plate! Great cross-promotion on both DyingforChocolate.com and MysteryFanfare.com, not to mention Facebook and Twitter! Plenty of other platforms, too. O.K., social media aside, this is a great chocolate "noir' recipe!

Craig Faustus Buck has written six nonfiction books, two were #1 NYT bestsellers--one pop-psychology the other pop-gynecology.  His short film, Overnight Sensation, was nominated for an Academy Award.  He was one of the writers on the seminal miniseries V: The Final Battle and wrote the famous episode where The Incredible Hulk dropped acid.  His agent is currently shopping his first noir mystery novel, Go Down Hard,  First Runner Up for the Claymore Award at Killer Nashville.  His novella, Psycho Logic, is due out this month from Stark Raving Group. And his indie feature film, Smuggling for Gandhi, is currently in preproduction.

CRAIG FAUSTUS BUCK:

I cook as I write: noir. This sauce is dark and complex and morally ambivalent, by which I mean I once made a brisket this way for a Passover seder and it was so good no one complained about the pork. The chocolate disappears in this dish and becomes an amazing undercurrent of flavor.  It's nothing like the earthy flavor of Mexican mole Poblano. I think this dish appeals to a much broader palate. Even kids love it.

This is also a very forgiving dish. The first time I made it, I put chocolate/cocoa/rosemary in with broth instead of at the end. It worked out just fine. I added a little more chocolate/cocoa/rosemary at the end, but I don't think it made much difference.  ou can also use this sauce with any cut of beef that can be braised, though you may have to adjust cooking times, depending.  I'd wager this would also be fantastic with lamb or pork shanks, but I haven't tried that yet. For brisket, see my note below.

Craig Faustus Buck's Chocolate Noir Short Ribs

Ingredients

1/4 cup pancetta; diced
6 lb Short Ribs
1 1/2 cup onion; finely chopped
1/4 cup shallots; finely chopped
1/4 cup celery; finely chopped
1/4 cup carrot; peeled
3 clove garlic; minced
2 cup red wine
3 cup chicken broth
2 cup canned diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp parsley; chopped
1 large sprig fresh thyme sprig
1 bay leaf
3 Tbsp bittersweet chocolate; grated or shaved
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder; preferably Dutch process
1 tsp fresh rosemary; finely chopped

Directions

1. Heat heavy large pot over medium heat. Add pancetta and saute until crisp.  Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels to drain.

2. Salt and pepper ribs. Brown in batches in pancetta fat. Remove.

3. Add onions, shallots, celery, carrots and garlic. Reduce heat and cover until vegies are soft.

4. Add wine and boil down until liquid is reduced by half, scraping up brown bits.

5. Add broth, tomatoes, parsley, thyme, bay leaf and pancetta. Return ribs to pot, cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours.

6. Remove ribs. It's best to refrigerate ribs and liquid overnight to skim off all the fat, but if you're in a hurry simply allow to cool and skim.

Uncover and simmer until meat is tender, about another 1 1/2 hours.

Transfer meat to platter, discard bay leaf. Boil sauce until beginning to thicken. Reduce heat to medium and add chocolate, cocoa and rosemary. Stir until chocolate melts. Return ribs to pot to reheat and serve.

Brisket note: If you use brisket, you definitely want to cool overnight in the fridge (step 6).  The next day, skim the hardened fat off the top of the liquid, slice the cold brisket, and put it all together in an ovenproof serving dish, being sure to sauce between the slices.  Heat for 20 minutes at 350 and go to heaven.

Yield: about 8 servings

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lemon Chiffon Truffles

Today is National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day, and there's nothing so light and wonderful as a lemon chiffon cake made right! However, there really isn't a Chocolate Lemon Chiffon Cake, so instead to celebrate the day, I suggest making Lemon Chiffon Truffles. The truffle recipe below is simple to make. There's no coating.. so they're really easy. I always use Meyer lemons, maybe because I have a Meyer lemon tree that never stops producing lemons.. or maybe because Meyer Lemons have the best flavor.  For the white chocolate I use Guittard, but there is other good quality white chocolate out there.

Want to read a great book related to Lemon Cake? Read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender.

No time to make these? Godiva makes a great Lemon Chiffon Cake Truffle.

LEMON CHIFFON TRUFFLES

Ingredients 
1/4 cup sweet butter
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
3 Tbsp heavy cream
1 cup white chocolate, finely chopped (real white chocolate not disks-I use Guittard)
3/4 tsp lemon extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar or sparkling sugar for coating

Directions
Put white chocolate in mixing bowl, set aside. Melt butter with lemon zest in saucepan. Stir in cream and heat until bubbles form around edges but not boiling.
Pour hot cream mixture over white chocolate. Add extract then stir until smooth.
Cover mixture and refrigerate 2 hours (or overnight) -- until firm enough to handle.
Scoop mixture by heaping teaspoon fulls and form into balls. Roll in powdered sugar or sparkling sugar.
Freeze truffles 20 minutes or refrigerate for one hour then enjoy.
Keep truffles in refrigerator until ready to eat.

My Garden with Meyer Lemon Tree

Friday, March 28, 2014

Black Forest Cake

Today is Black Forest Cake Day! Yes, another fabulous food holiday.

Black Forest cake is the English name for the German dessert Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, literally "Black Forest cherry-torte".

When I think of cherries, especially at this time of year, I think of Chukar Cherries. Chukar is a great company with all natural products with great flavor.

Here's an easy recipe for Black Forest Cake from Alison at Chukar Cherries. Perfect to make to celebrate the Holiday! This recipe uses Chukar's Cherries Jubilee Dessert Sauce and Chukar's Black Forest Cherries. I use Chukar Cherries Jubilee Dessert Sauce in lots of chocolate confections and baked goods.

No time to bake? Pick up a bag of Chukar Black Forest Cherries at Pike's Place Market in Seattle or order online.

Don't want to make a cake from scratch? You can always substitute a Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker Devil's Food Cake Mix.

CHUKAR CHERRIES BLACK FOREST CAKE

Ingredients
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup milk
3 tsp pure Madagascar vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
1 pint heavy whipping cream
5 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 jar Chukar Cherries Jubilee Dessert Sauce
dark chocolate shavings
Chukar Black Forest Cherries 

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark pans).
Line two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.
Mix flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in one bowl. In separate bowl, mix  oil, sugar, eggs, milk and two teaspoons of vanilla together. Slowly fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Once mixed, add boiling water and stir together. Do not overmix. Divide batter between two cake pans and bake in middle rack of oven for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Allowcakes to cool completely in pans.

In meantime, make whipped cream filling and frosting. Whip tcream, powdered sugar and one teaspoon of vanilla until stiff peaks form.

Once cakes have cooled, remove from pans and parchment paper. Flip first cake over so top is now the bottom. Spread an even and thin layer of whipped cream over top of the cake. Next, spoon on jar of Cherries Jubilee Dessert Sauce. Then spread another thin layer of whipped cream over Cherries Jubilee Dessert Sauce. Finally, take  second cake and place on the stack, right side up. Take remaining whipped cream and cover entire cake. Decorate cake with chocolate shavings and top each slice with a Black Forest Cherry.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

International Whisky Day: Scotch Whisky Peanut Truffles

However you spell it--Whisky or Whiskey--today is International Whisky Day!

Whisky and chocolate go very well together, and I've been a judge at several Scotch and Chocolate pairings. It's a hard job, but someone has to do it.

It's often difficult to decide which chocolates pair best with which Scotch, but since today is National Whiskey Day, I thought I'd post a recipe for Single Malt Scotch Whisky Peanut Chocolate Truffles. It's the ultimate pairing of not two but three distinct flavors. You can decide on your own chocolate and your own Scotch. Keep the chocolate semi-sweet, so you have some sugar in there. I tend to go very dark, but not in this recipe. Recipe is adapted from one by Florence Fabricant that appeared in the New York Times in 2008.

I love truffles. They're easy to make and look and taste great!

Scotch Whisky Peanut Truffles

Ingredients
12 ounces dark chocolate (65-75% cacao-needs to be semisweet to offset the salted peanuts & Scotch)
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons honey (original recipe calls for floral honey)
3 Tbsp Single Malt Scotch Whisky
6 Tbsp salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp Madegascar vanilla extract

Directions
1. Break 8 ounces chocolate into small pieces and place in metal bowl. Heat cream to simmer and pour over chocolate. Stir until chocolate has melted and is smooth. If necessary, place bowl briefly over low heat to finish melting.
2. Stir in honey, Scotch, crushed peanuts and vanilla. Chill until firm, 2 hours.
3. Use  small ice cream scoop to scoop small amounts of chocolate mixture. Quickly roll into 1 inch balls. Place on platter or baking sheet lined with parchment. Put in freezer to firm up (about 30 minutes).
4. Break up remaining chocolate and place 16 ounces in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on full power 2 to 3 minutes, stirring a few times, until melted. Remove from oven. Stir in remaining chocolate until melted. With two forks hold truffles and gently dip in melted chocolate to coat. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet at room temperature 15 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies: 2 Recipes

I've posted many recipes for gluten-free baked goods, but I'm not sure I ever posted a good Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. Here are two of my favorites.

The first recipe for Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies is from King Arthur Flour. This is my favorite. I definitely want vanilla in my chocolate chip cookies! If you're not following King Arthur Flour on Twitter or Facebook, it's time. I get their emails, too. Their photos are enticing but even more, their products and recipes are fantastic! 

1. Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp gluten-free vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 1/3 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour
2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1 tso baking soda
2 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts, optional

Directions
Beat butter, sugars, vanilla and salt till fluffy.
Beat in eggs one at a time, being sure to scrape down sides and bottom of bowl midway through to make sure everything is well combined.
Whisk together flour or flour blend, xanthan gum, baking powder, and baking soda.
Beat dry ingredients into butter mixture, then blend in chocolate chips and nuts. Again, scrape  bottom and sides of bowl to be sure everything is well blended.
Cover bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour, or for up to 2 days.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a couple of baking sheets, or line with parchment.
Scoop tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto prepared baking sheets; a tablespoon cookie scoop works well here. Leave space betweencookies so they can spread.
Bake cookies for 9 to 11 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and let rest on baking sheets for 5 minutes, to set, before transferring to racks to cool completely. Or allow to cool right on baking sheets.

This second Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe is from Rachael Ray. It's quick and easy. As I've said before, you can never have anough recipes for Chocolate Chip Cookies, especially Gluten-Free. Try both recipes and see what you think!

2. Rachael Ray's Easy Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 egg
2 1/4 cups of gluten-free baking flour
1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup of crushed pecans

Directions
Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Grease baking sheet.
In medium sized bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg and stir until blended. Slowly add  gluten-free flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
Drop teaspoon sized cookies onto prepared baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for about 8 minutes or until slightly brown and not wet.
Let cookies cool for 5 minutes before taking them off sheet.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ghirardelli Chocolate Waffles: National Waffle Day!

Today is National Waffle Day, and I must admit my Waffle Maker doesn't come out as often as it should. I love waffles. There's something about all those edges that increases the flavor for me.

A few years ago I went to the The Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival. It was a lot of fun with great chocolate treats, but the highlight for me was watching Top Chef Casey Thompson prepare Chocolate Waffles.

I always love chef demos and this was even better since it had the added elements of being set in San Francisco: crowds, wind and noise. Top Chef Casey did a great job interacting with the audience while working with what looked like a temperamental waffle maker. She shared lots of good tips like giving the waffle maker a quick spritz of non-stick organic canola oil. The first batch did stick a little but that was o.k. Smooth sailing after that. All this took place while overlooking San Francisco Bay. Beautiful.

I found a wonderful spot to stand... oh yes, all the seats were taken early, but I was right up front on the side. Great for photos, easy to hear and see. The recipe (below) for the chocolate waffles was from The Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook. Surprisingly I didn't have this one in my collection. That was remedied when Casey started asking questions about Chocolate and Ghirardelli. First question: When was Ghirardelli chocolate started? Frank Price, native San Franciscan, who leads our TeamBuilding Unlimited Chocolate Tours and Tastings came closest to the correct answer, and he won a copy of the cookbook! (the right answer was 1852) Of course, he gave it to me for my collection, perhaps hoping I would make something for him from the cookbook!  A guy can dream...

Top Chef Casey also made the Chocolate Sauce. Delicious!

Chocolate Waffles (makes 6 servings)

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 Tbsp granulated white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups whole milk
4 large eggs, separated
4 Tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 cup Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat waffle iron according to the manufacturer's directions.

Directions
1. Sift flour, cocoa, and baking powder into bowl. Add sugar and salt and whisk to thoroughly mix. In another bowl, whisk together milk, egg yolks, and oil. Add to tflour and whisk gently until just combined.
2. In clean, dry bowl, beat tegg whites with electric beater at medium speed until they form soft peaks. Fold into batter and mix in chocolate chips.
3. Ladle one-third of the batter onto center of waffle iron. Close top and cook until waffle is crispy on both sides. Follow manufacturer's instructions for cooling time. Serve immediately.
4. Drizzle with chocolate sauce.

Chocolate Sauce (make this first)*

4 oz Ghirardelli 70% Cacao Extra Bittersweet Chocolate baking bar, broken or chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream

Combine chocolate and cream in double boiler or in heatproof bowl over barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until very smooth. Keep warm, or reheat before using.

What a great way to start the day!

Read an interview with Top Chef Casey Thompson on Serious Eats.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Chocolate Covered Raisins! National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day!

Today is National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day. If you read this blog, you know I've posted about Chocolate Covered Raisins before because I love them.  

What to do with Chocolate Covered Raisins: Throw some chocolate covered raisins in your oatmeal or use in cookies, bread, muffins or coffee cake--or just eat them as a snack!

Raisinets are one of my favorite 'movie' treats. Raisinets were first made in 1927 by the Blumenthal Chocolate Company. Nestlé acquired the brand in 1984 and added the motto "Taste the Sunshine." Raisinets are made with California Raisins and milk chocolate. There is now a dark chocolate version, as well.  Many confectioners make chocolate covered raisins, so check them out, along with your favorite chocolatier.

Raisinets are nostalgia food for me. The real cook in me says make your own if you want to get a higher end chocolate covered raisin. Here's a simple recipe, and you can change it up by using different types of chocolate.

Chocolate Covered Raisins

Ingredients
6 ounces Chocolate -- 60%-75% cacao fair trade organic chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla
2 cup organic raisins

Directions
Combine chocolate and corn syrup in saucepan on top of another saucepan (or double boiler). Bring water to boil. Reduce heat to low. Cook until chocolate melts, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and stir in powdered sugar, vanilla and raisins.
Drop by half teaspoons onto waxed paper; chill.
Store in refrigerator.

Celebrate Chocolate Covered Raisins Day! 
Love the California Raisins ads ... Enjoy!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Chocolate Chips Cookies: Secret Ingredient Lemon Juice

I have several lemon trees, mostly Meyer lemons, and so I thought I'd share a secret! Lemon Juice is the secret ingredient in making chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. So if you're given lemons, make Chocolate Chip Cookies. You're not going to taste the lemon juice, but it will make for a chewier cookie. And, the reality is that since you only use a teaspoon in the batter,  you can make lemonade with the rest of the juice to go with these cookies!

Chocolate Chip Cookies: 
Secret Ingredient Lemon Juice

Ingredients
1/2 cup rolled oats, ground to fine powder in blender or food processor
2-1/4 cups flour  (if you have bread flour, give it a try.. it will make an awesome cookie)
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened (do not microwave)**
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp Madegascar vanilla extract
1 tsp fresh lemon juice 
2 eggs
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or dark chocolate chopped into chunks

Directions
1. Grind rolled oats in blender or food processor until very fine.
2. Measure flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in blender jar and use blender to combine all the dry ingredients.
3. Cream together butter and both sugars. Add eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla. Stir after each addition. Beat until fluffy.
4. Combine dry ingredients with wet stuff, and mix until fully combined.
5. Add chocolate chips and stir by hand to fold in the chocolate.
6. Refrigerate dough for an hour--o.k. I usually skip this step.. but if you're a purist...
7. Drop dough by large spoonfuls or using an ice cream scoop, drop onto ungreased cookie sheet. Leave room for cookies to spread as they cook.
8. Bake in preheated over at 350° F for approximately 16 minutes, or until barely golden and still slightly raw.
9. Cool cookies in pan for five minutes, then transfer to rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies: Oatmeal Cookie Day!

Today is Oatmeal Cookie Day! Who doesn't love a good oatmeal cookie? I do! But I especially love them when they're filled with chocolate chips rather than raisins!

Here's a great simple recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, recipe adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook!

OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients
1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup sweet butter, softened
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
1 egg
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1-1/2 cups all-purpose or unbleached flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or 6 oz chopped chocolate)
1 cup chopped nuts, optional

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F.
In large bowl, stir brown sugar and butter until blended. Stir in vanilla and egg until light and fluffy. Stir in oats, flour, baking soda and salt; stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Enjoy the Day!!!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Irish Potato Candy for St Patrick's Day!

Happy St Patrick's Day! Not sure how many people associate St Patrick's Day and Ireland with the Great Potato Famine anymore, but some must because See's Candies always makes Irish Potatoes for the holiday! This candy might not look great --well they look like potatoes and that's part of the charm-- but they taste great! These potato candies are hand-shaped and robed in milk chocolate. The filling is the same fluffy nougat that is inside See's Divinity Truffle. Yum!! They're only available for a short time, so be sure and buy some today.

Want to make your own Irish Potato Candy for the holiday? This Potato Candy is made with 'real' potatoes! It's a Philadelphia tradition. I've adapted this recipe from Food52. I use cocoa for rolling, but the cinnamon will work too.. or better yet, what about a blend? I also add toasted pine nuts for eyes!

IRISH POTATO Candy

Ingredients
1 potato (medium)
4 cups confectioners sugar
2 -1/2 cups shredded coconut
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
cinnamon or cocoa powder for rolling
Optional: Toasted pine nuts for eyes

Directions
Bring medium pot of water to boil and add potato. Lower heat and cook for 30-45 minutes or until potato is fork tender. When cool enough to handle (but still warm), peel potato and mash along with coconut oil, making sure to get it as smooth as possible. Stir in sugar, coconut and vanilla extract until everything is evenly distributed and well combined. Mixture will be soft, but at this point it should be able to hold it's shape, if not add a bit more coconut and/or sugar.
Using small scoop or teaspoon, portion mixture into balls and let them chill for about an hour.
Once candies are firm, pour about 1/4 cup of cinnamon and/or cocoa into medium bowl.
Form chilled balls into potato-like shapes and roll each in cinnamon and/or cocoa, adding more cinnamon or cocoa to the bowl if necessary.
Want to have some 'eyes' on your potatoes?  Add some toasted pine nuts
Serve immediately or store well wrapped at room temperature or in the fridge.

Makes about 24-30 'potatoes'.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

GUINNESS CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

Looking for one more recipe for St Patrick's Day?

I love cooking with Guinness, so I went to the Guinness website to see what's new.

Check out this recipe and video for Guinness Chocolate Mousse. Recipe below.

The recipe does call for raw eggs, so if you're worried, you might want to use a substitute. Definitely watch the video for tips! Thanks, Guinness!

 

GUINNESS CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
Serves 6

Ingredients
10 egg yolks 10 egg whites, whisked
350g dark chocolate, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 lb sweet butter
100g caster sugar  (icing sugar or superfine sugar)  100g = 1/2 cups
GUINNESS® draught

Directions  (watch the video for more specifics)*
Melt dark chocolate and butter in a metal bowl or pan over a saucepan of simmering water, add in the GUINNESS® draught.
Beat egg yolks and caster sugar until light and fluffy.
Mix in the melted chocolate mixture with egg yolks and slowly folding in the whisked egg whites until everything is smooth.
Transfer mousse to serving glasses and chill.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

BAILEY'S IRISH CREAM TRUFFLES

With St. Patrick's Day approaching, here's a recipe for Bailey's Irish Cream Truffles. The other day I posted a recipe for Bailey's Irish Cream Fudge. Both recipes are good and easy.

As I mentioned, great recipes are sometimes found in unusual places. The Fudge recipe and the one below for Bailey's Irish Cream Truffles have been adapted from Fantasy-Ireland.com, a travel website.

I use Kerrygold sweet butter in much of my baking, so I thought I might mention this Irish butter here. It is imported from Ireland and can be found in many supermarkets and specialty stores throughout the U.S. The flavor is exceptional. There is a Kerrygold whipped butter out this Spring. Delicious, but not for baking. Use 'regular' butter, not whipped butter for baking.


Bailey's comes in different 'flavors', and using different ones in your truffle batches will give you a lot of variety: Mint Irish Cream; Coffee Irish Cream; or Creme Caramel Irish Cream.

These Bailey's Irish Cream Truffles are simple to make and great for St. Patrick's Day or any day! Just an FYI: Bailey's markets its own Truffles, so if you don't have time, pick up a box.

BAILEY'S IRISH CREAM TRUFFLES

Ingredients:
12 oz dark chocolate (65-85% cacao), chopped
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
1 Tbsp Kerrygold sweet butter
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup Bailey's Irish Cream liqueur

Directions:
1. Melt chocolate, Bailey's and heavy cream together over simmering water.
2. Whisk in yolks, one at a time; mixture will thicken. Whisk in butter.
3. Refrigerate overnight, or until firm.
4. With spoon (or small scoop) make small balls. Roll in cocoa.

Friday, March 14, 2014

National Pi Day! Malted Milk Ball Chocolate Pie "Whoppers Pie"

Today is International Pi Day. Pi Day is an annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant Pi. Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern. Pi Day is observed on March 14 (or 3/14), since 3, 1 and 4 are the three most significant digits of Pi in the decimal form. In 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives supported the designation of Pi Day.

I like to celebrate National "Pi" Day  with Pie! Don't you? Want to make these pies extra fun? Make your "Pie" in a "Pi" Plate.

Today for Pi Day, I'm posting a recipe (see below) for Malted Milk Ball Chocolate Pie, recipe adapted from Angie via Family Dollar. I love Whoppers, but any malted milk ball candy will work!

If you're like me, you've always wondered about Malted Milk Balls. What are they really?

MALTED MILK BALLS

Lots of companies make them now, but when I was growing up, I only remember one: Hershey's Whoppers Malted Milk Balls.  But there are other "old fashioned' brands such as Maltesers.  Maybe they weren't available at my candy store? Ghirardelli makes Milk Chocolate Malt Balls.  (There's also a Kittymalt Hairball remedy that I have, but I won't go there).

Malt balls (interchangeable with malted balls but not moth balls!) are also available in a variety of flavors: There are pumpkin spice malted milk balls, dark chocolate milk balls, mint malted milk balls, cookies and cream malted milk balls, peanut butter malted milk balls and yogurt malted milk balls, and many other varities. Want to just have the Malt Ball center:  Nuts on Line sells them for $3.99 a pound.  These malt ball center only candies can be enrobed in the very best chocolate. You can do it yourself in the same way you make chocolate covered nuts. Just melt some chocolate and dip. I use two forks to make it easy. Dry them on a parchment lined baking sheet.

But what is a malt ball? wiseGeek (clear answers for common questions) has the answer
Malted milk balls are chocolate-coated candies often sold in milk carton packaging to promote their association with flavored milk and malted milkshakes.

The flavor of malted milk balls is often described as nutty or distinctively hearty, much like a grain cereal. The reason for this unusual flavor is the use of a grain treatment known as malting. Barley grains are allowed to germinate after harvest, which changes the sugar composition of the grain, in the same sense that germinated corn becomes more suitable for distillation. The malted barley grain is carefully dried and ground into a powder for confectionery use.

Malted Milk Ball Chocolate Pie

Ingredients for Pie:
2 cups sugar
6 Tbsp unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1/4 cup flour
12 ounces evaporated milk
2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
4 egg yolks, whisked together
1/4 cup sweet butter
1 cup crushed malted milk balls (Whoppers)
1 pre-made graham cracker crust (or make your own.. it's so easy to do)

Ingredients for topping:
4 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped malted milk balls (Whoppers)

Directions 
Pre-heat oven to 350F.
In medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder and flour. Add in vanilla, egg yolks, and evaporated milk. Whisk together. Add in 1/4 cup butter and heat on medium heat. Whisk until tbutter melts, about 5 minutes. Add in crushed malted milk balls and whisk for 1-2 minutes. Pour into graham cracker crust. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes.

With electric mixer, mix egg whites until soft peaks form. Add in 1/4 cup of sugar and mix on high for 2-3 minutes until stiff peaks form. Spread over top of the pie and bake at 350F for about 8 minutes or until browned slightly. Let cool and add chopped malted milk balls (whoppers) to top of pie.

Let pie sit for about 30 minutes before cutting.

***
And here's a link to Thrillist's 16 greatest pies in the nation. Missing your favorite? Enter a comment below.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bailey's Irish Cream Fudge

St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner, so I thought I'd post an easy recipe for Bailey's Irish Cream Fudge. This recipe is adapted from Fantasy-Ireland.com. As I've mentioned, you can find some great recipes in some unusual places: Food Associations, Travel Sites, and other product sites.

Bailey's comes in different 'flavors', and your fudge will change flavor, too, when you use Mint Bailey's Irish Cream or Coffee Irish Cream or Creme Caramel Irish Cream. Try them all.


BAILEY'S IRISH CREAM FUDGE

Ingredients:
2-12 oz milk chocolate (35-45% cacao), chopped, or 2-12 oz packages of milk chocolate chips
12 oz dark chocolate (65-85% cacao), chopped or a 12 oz. package semisweet chocolate chips
2-7oz jars of marshmallow creme
2 teaspoons of Madagascar vanilla extract
2/3 cups of Bailey's Irish Cream
2 cups of chopped nuts (optional)
4 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
1-12 oz can of evaporated milk
1/2 pound of sweet Irish butter, softened

Directions:
1. In very large bowl, combine milk chocolate chips, semisweet chocolate chips, marshmallow cream, vanilla extract, Irish Cream, and nuts (if you are adding them). Set this mixture aside.
2. Line 10 X 15 baking pan with foil and spread lightly with butter.
3. In medium saucepan, combine granulated sugar, evaporated milk, and butter. Bring to gentle boil over medium heat and cook slowly, stirring constantly for about 10 minutes.
4. Pour milk mixture into chocolate chip mixture. Stir slowly by hand to combine. It is very important to do this by hand and NOT use any kind of mixer.
5. Pour fudge into prepared pan and chill until set.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

GUINNESS CHOCOLATE CHERRY BREAD & GUINNESS BROWN BREAD

St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner, so I thought I'd start posting some special St Patrick's Day Chocolate Recipes. Today's post is about bread! If you want to make your own Irish Soda Bread, try this recipe. But if you want to try something new, try one of these dark breads.

The first recipe is for Stout Chocolate Cherry Bread, a yeast bread. Because it has several rises, you'll want to get started early. Maybe you'll serve it for St. Patrick's Day breakfast?

Following that recipe, I move into classic Irish Brown Breads. You can use a Guinness Bread Mix or make your own from scratch. With the Brown Bread Guinness Mix, you usually would add raisins, but I think it works well with chopped dark chocolate (or dark chocolate chips). You add treacle (yes, you can substitute molasses, but you can find treacle online or at specialty food stores).

The Guinness Brown Bread from scratch recipe doesn't use chocolate chips, and I would spread Nutella on the bread to keep with the theme of this chocolate blog. Your choice. It's a lovely brown bread.

GUINNESS CHOCOLATE CHERRY BREAD

This recipe first appeared in Cooking Light in January 2003. Thanks to the Internet, it's still available to all. I've made it a few times, and it's really delicious. The Guinness adds a special flavor. Chocolate and dried cherries are staples here at my house!

Ingredients
4 1/4 cups bread flour, divided
1 (12-ounce) bottle Guinness Stout
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Cooking spray
1 tsp water
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Directions
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with knife. Combine 2 cups flour, beer, and yeast in large bowl, stirring with whisk. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
Remove mixture from refrigerator; let stand 1 hour.
Add 2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and salt; stir until soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky). Knead in cherries and chocolate.
Place dough in large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise inwarm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Shape dough into 9-inch round; place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly coat dough with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Uncover dough. Combine water and egg white, stirring with whisk, and brush over dough.  Make 1/4-inch-deep cut down center of dough using sharp knife.
Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bread is browned on bottom and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack.

GUINNESS BROWN BREAD MIX 

Thanks to The Nibble, I was alerted to Guinness Bread Mix. You have to add a few delicious ingredients, but it's worth it. As I mentioned above, I add chopped chocolate instead of raisins, but that's up to you. Since I add chocolate chunks to the bread, I suggest serving it with mascapone or goat cheese or plain. This mix is available in specialty food stores and online. There are 3 packets in each Bag so it's good value. The ingredients in the mix include Whole Meal Flour, Plain Flour, Oatmeal, Baking Soda, Brown Sugar and Salt. You need to add Butter, Black Treacle (or dark molasses), Chopped Dark Chocolate (instead of raisins), milk, and a 1/2 cup of Guinness.

No time to get the mix? Try this recipe from Jump into Ireland (Discover Ireland) for Guinness Brown Bread. It's not as sweet as the recipe above, so instead of adding chocolate chips or chunks, serve it with a Hazelnut (Nutella) spread.. just to keep it in the chocolate family! I've changed a few thingss in the recipe, but I know you'll like it.

GUINNESS BROWN BREAD from Scratch

Ingredients
4.5 cups Bread Flour
1.1 cups Steel Cut Oats
Pinch of salt
Pinch of sugar
3.5 ounces sweet butter
34 ounces buttermilk
12.3 ounces treacle (dark molasses as a substitute)
5 ounces Guinness Stout
1 level tsp of baking soda

Directions
Combine all of dry ingredients in large bowl and mix together well and set aside.
Melt butter in small saucepan, add buttermilk and heat until tepid.
Add treacle to saucepan and stir slowly until well combined through buttermilk.
Remove pot from the heat.
Add Guinness and stir.
Make well in middle of  dry ingredients, add liquid and stir gently to make moist paste.
Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare baking pan by brushing inside with butter and dusting with flour.
Pour mixture into pan and place in preheated oven for ten minutes, then reduce heat to 275°F and bake for 40 more minutes.
After removing bread from oven, allow to cool on rack for 10 minutes.
Serve with Nutella.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Toll House Cookies: Vintage Ad & Original Recipe

So in keeping with the food theme this week -- National Chocolate Chip Cookie Week--here's a recipe for the original Chocolate Chip Cookie: Toll House Cookies.

These are the Chocolate Chip Cookies I grew up with. Thought I'd post this Vintage Ad for Toll House Cookies! Guess I'm Vintage! Recipe for Toll House Cookies below!


Nestle Chocolate Chips Bag with Toll House Cookie recipe

Original Toll House Cookie Recipe

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (sweet)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts

Directions:
PREHEAT oven to 375° F.
COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

As promised, I'm posting a Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe every day this week in honor of National Chocolate Chip Cookies Week. As I always say, you can never have enough chocolate chip cookie recipes.

Today's recipe is for Double Chocolate Chip Cookies!

As in any of the recipes I post, the quality of the ingredients will make a difference in the taste. I often have left-over chocolate (I know, who has left-over chocolate?), and I like to combine different brands of chocolate and amounts of cacao in this recipe--both in the melted chocolate part of the recipe and in the chips (or chunks, if that's what you choose to do) that are folded in later. If you're a purist, use one brand with the same amount of cacao. If not, mix it up! You can also substitute brown sugar for white, but you'll have a different cookie!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
8 oz dark chocolate (65-85% cacao, organic, fair trade), chopped
2 tbsp sweet butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar (this can be brown sugar or white-it will change the taste of the cookie)
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
6-7 oz dark chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate chunks)
1.5 cups chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, & salt. Set aside.
Melt together butter & 8 ounces of chocolate in top of double boiler or saucepan over another saucepan. Remove from heat.
In a bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, & vanilla.
Whisk in small amount of melted chocolate, slowly add rest of chocolate, continuing to whisk.
Stir in flour mixture.
Fold in chocolate chips (or chunks) and nuts.
Drop cookies 2 inches apart in heaping teaspoon onto prepared baking sheet.
Bake 12-14 minutes.
Cool on wire rack.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Retro Chocolate Chip Cookies Ad & Recipe

This week is Chocolate Chip Cookie week, and you can never have too many chocolate chip cookie recipes. I plan to post a recipe a day, starting off with this Crisco Recipe from the 1990s. I will admit, though, that I would use butter in my recipe! Sorry, Crisco, I love you in pie crusts and other baked goods.  I do really like your Advertisement! Don't you feel you could 'almost take a bite out of this recipe'!

1990s Crisco Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
3/4 cup Butter Flavor Crisco 
1-1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 egg
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chocolate chips
1 cup pecan pieces

Directions
Heat oven 375˚F.
Cream Butter Flavor Crisco, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Blend in egg.
Combine flour, salt and baking soda.
Add to creamed mixture, gradually.
Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
Drop rounded tablespoons (about 2 measuring tablespoons) of dough 3 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake at 375˚F. 8 to 10 minutes for chewy cookies, 11 to 13 minutes for crisp cookies.
Cool on baking sheet 2 minutes. Remove to cooling rack.
Makes 3 dozen 3-inch cookies

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Clusters

Another day, another food holiday! Today is National Peanut Cluster Day, and it should come as no surprise since March is National Peanut Month. Peanuts are a nutrient rich super food that contains vitamins E, magnesium, and B6. Add heart healthy dark chocolate with antioxidants, and you have an incredibly healthy treat!

Here's a fast and easy recipe for Chocolate Peanut Clusters. Remember, your finished product (and taste) is only as good as your ingredients. Use the best chocolate and peanuts!

CHOCOLATE PEANUT CLUSTERS

Ingredients
12 ounces dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
12 ounces peanut butter chips
12 ounces roasted salted peanuts

Directions
Combine chocolate chips and peanut butter chips in top of double boiler (or saucepan over saucepan). Stir over medium heat until melted. Add peanuts and stir.
Drop by teaspoon full onto wax paper.
Cool.

How easy is that?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Oreo Rice Krispies Treats

Today is National Cereal Day! Who hasn't made Rice Krispies Treats? They were very special at my house when I was growing up. We didn't have them a lot, but I loved them. I like this recipe because it takes it up a notch and adds chopped Oreos (you can use other cookies, too, but this is a chocolate blog!). This is a quick and easy recipe from Kraft, the maker of Rice Krispies, and it only takes 10 minutes. O.K., this may not be the healthiest of treats, but they're certainly yummy! The following recipe is adapted from the Kraft website, but you can always substitute your own puffed rice cereal, sandwich cookies and marshmallows. Happy National Cereal Day!

As I've mentioned many time, food companies often have fun recipes on their sites! Enjoy!

OREO RICE KRISPIES TREATS

Ingredients
3 Tbsp sweet butter
1 pkg (10 oz.) JET-PUFFED Marshmallows
5 cups KELLOGG’S® RICE KRISPIES® cereal
16 OREO Cookies, coarsely chopped, divided

Directions
Microwave butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 45 seconds or until melted. Add marshmallows; toss to coat. Microwave 1-1/2 min. or until marshmallows are completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring after 45 sec.
Add cereal and 1 cup chopped cookies; mix well.
Press onto bottom of 13 x 9 inch pan sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining chopped cookies; press lightly into cereal mixture to secure. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

White Chocolate Cheesecake

Today is White Chocolate Cheesecake Day, and although I know white chocolate isn't really 'chocolate', I still love it, and you'll love this easy recipe for White Chocolate Cheesecake!

The recipe is adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook. I changed the original graham cracker crust to a Chocolate Cookie Crust (see below).. much better, I think, but then I like chocolate.

WHITE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE

Ingredients for Filling

1 cup broken white chocolate (make sure it's good white chocolate that's made with cocoa butter)
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 egg yolks
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream

1. Move oven rack to lowest position. Heat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease bottom and side of springform pan, 8x3 inches.
2. Prepare Chocolate Cookie Crust (see below). Baking 6-8 minutes and cooling.
3. Place white chopped chocolate in top of double boiler (or saucepan on top of another saucepan over simmering water). Heat over low heat, stirring frequently, until white chocolate is melted. Remove from saucepan.
4. Increase oven temperature to 475ºF.
5. Beat melted white chocolate, 3/4 cup sugar, and flour in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until blended. Beat in cream cheese and egg yolks until smooth. Continue beating, adding eggs one at a time, then add sour cream until blended. Pour batter carefully into crust. Cover pan with aluminum foil.
6. Bake 20 minutes; remove foil. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F. Bake 1 hour. (If cheesecake browns too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil during last 30 minutes of baking.)
7. Turn off oven and leave cheesecake in oven 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack 15 minutes. Run metal spatula along side of cheesecake to loosen before and after refrigerating. Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 8 hours, but no longer than 5 days. Run metal spatula along side of cheesecake to loosen; remove side of pan. Place cheesecake on serving plate. Refrigerate if you plan to serve later.

I like my cheesecake unadorned, but you can always add fruit or chocolate sauce. 

Chocolate Cookie Crust:

Ingredients
30 chocolate wafers (to yield about 1-1/2 cups crumbs)
5 Tbsp sweet butter, melted and slightly cooled
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract

Directions
1. Put cookies in container of a food processor; process until finely ground.
2. Transfer crumbs to mixing bowl; combine crumbs, butter, salt, and vanilla; stir until crumbs are moistened.
3. Press mixture evenly across bottom of 9-inch springform pan and all the way up sides of pan; pack tightly so crust is even and compacted.
4. Bake in 350° oven for 6-8 minutes or until crisp.
5. Let cool completely before filling.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Chocolate Absinthe Bundt Cake

Today is National Absinthe Day. Absinthe is a strong herbal liqueur distilled with a large number of herbs like anise, licorice, hyssop, veronica, fennel, lemon balm, angelica and wormwood (the flavor of anise and/or licorice, at least in contemporary forms of the liquor, tends to predominate).  

Wormwood, the one that's gained the most notoriety, is Artemisia absinthum, an herb that grows wild in Europe and has been cultivated in the United States as well. Much of the liquor's legendary effect is due to its extremely high alcohol content, ranging from 50% to 75% (usually around 60%), plus the contribution of the various herbs. It has been assumed by  that the so-called "active ingredient"in absinthe is wormwood, although that is apparently not really the case.

The drink was referred to in France as "La Fée Verte" or The Green Fairy which is a reference to its green color (depending on the brand). The color usually came from the chlorophyll content of the herbs used in the distillation process; however, some disreputable manufacturers added toxic chemicals to produce both the green color and the louche (or clouding) effect that in reputable brands was caused by the precipitation of the essential oils of the herbs. It is quite probable that the bad reputation absinthe developed was due to these low-grade and perhaps quite poisonous version of the real thing.

Absinthe was very popular in fin-de-siècle Paris, with Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Verlaine, Alfred Jarry and Oscar Wilde among its most famous imbibers. And, of course, there was Edgar Allan Poe.

Two good websites about Absinthe: La Fee Verte  & The Wormwood Society.

Last year I posted recipes for Chocolate Absinthe Truffles (Green Fairy Truffles) and Chocolate Absinthe Cocktails, but this year I thought I'd post an easy Chocolate Absinthe Bundt cake recipe. You have to like Absinthe to really enjoy this cake. Always use a name brand absinthe -- Absinthe is an acquired taste. What I like about this recipe is that the absinthe flavor is enhanced by the anise and fennel seed (you can actually use 1/8 tsp each for more flavor). Original recipe from Epicurious.

CHOCOLATE ABSINTHE BUNDT CAKE

Ingredients
1 cup sweet butter, room temp
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup absinthe
2 cups flour
1 cup unsweetened good cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground anise or fennel seed
1 cup hot water
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract

Directions
1. Beat butter at medium speed with electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add absinthe; beat until blended.
2. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients; add to sugar mixture alternately with hot water, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition; stir in flavorings.
3. Pour batter into greased and floured 9-inch bundt cakepan.
4. Bake at 300° for 60 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool completely on wire rack.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sugared Chocolate Beignets for Mardi Gras

Oh to be in the Big Easy for Mardi Gras! Unfortunately that's not happening for me, so the next best thing is to prepare a Mardi Gras feast. Rice and Beans, jumbalaya? gumbo? Maybe. But definitely something Chocolate!

Coffee with Chicory is so New Orleans, and you'll want to make David Guas & Raquel Pelzel's fabulous recipe for Chocolate Cupped Cakes with Coffee & Chicory.

What goes with Coffee with Chicory? Well, Beignets, of course, and they should definitely be Chocolate! Might not find these chocolate ones at Cafe du Monde, but they could be on your breakfast table. These Sugared Chocolate Beignets are easy to make, and so delicious. Beignets are usually fried in vegetable oil (cottonseed oil at Cafe du Monde), but this recipe calls for baking (healthier and easier).  Recipe is from Sunset's Best Recipes of 2010.


SUGARED CHOCOLATE BEIGNETS
Time: 1 hour, plus freezing time. These doughnuts can be prepared ahead, requiring only a quick baking once your guests arrive.

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp  corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
4 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate
2 sheets (17 oz. total) cold thawed puff pastry dough
1 large egg
1/2 cup sugar

Directions
1. Combine corn syrup and cream in microwave-safe container. Heat in 30-second intervals until boiling. Put chocolate in bowl and pour hot cream on top. Stir chocolate until smooth, then chill, stirring often, until firm, about 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. On lightly floured surface with lightly floured rolling pin, roll each pastry dough sheet into a 12-in. square. Cut each square into 16 smaller squares and transfer to baking sheet.

3. In bowl, lightly whisk egg and 1 tbsp. water to blend, then brush over pastry squares. Spoon about 1 tsp chocolate into the center of each square. Fold 1 corner of each square over to meet opposite corner, forming triangle. Press edges to seal. Use a 2 1/2-in. round cutter to trim corners of triangle and form shape that resembles three-quarter moon. Wrap trays with plastic wrap and freeze at least 1 hour and up to 1 week. (To save space, after 30 minutes of freezing, put pastries in resealable plastic bags in freezer.)

4. Preheat oven to 400°. Bake pastries, switching pan positions once, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes. Put sugar in a bowl and turn beignets in sugar to coat. Serve immediately.

Chocolate Chip Pancakes for Shrove Tuesday

Today is Shrove Tuesday, so you'll want to be making Chocolate Chip Pancakes. I've listed two easy recipes for Chocolate Chip Pancakes, but you can also make Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes and add chocolate syrup...if you're in a chocolate mood.

1. Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Pancake batter
Chocolate chips

Make a batch of your favorite pancake batter. For every cup of dry pancake mix, add 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Mixbatter. Stir in chips. Lightly grease and heat griddle or skillet. Pour a little less than 2 tablespoons of batter for each pancake. When bubbles appear all over uncooked side of the pancake, it's time to turn over. Cook the second side until light brown.

or, if you don't have your own pancake recipe:

2. Chocolate Chip Pancakes


Ingredients
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
3 eggs, separated
4 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 2/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Put dry ingredients in bowl. Combine well-beaten egg yolks with buttermilk and stir lightly into dry ingredients. Add chips. Stir in melted butter. Beat in stiffly beaten egg whites.
Cook on griddle or in skillet.
Makes 10-12 pancakes.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Chocolate Cinnamon Bread: National Cinnamon Day

Once again my mystery and chocolate worlds collide. Today is National Cinnamon Day! I love cinnamon, so I was a disturbed to hear about the cinnamon controversy in Denmark that attempted to limit the use and ingestion of cinnamon. The Cinnamon controversy actually led to a great discussion in our mystery book group. There was a segue. Too much cinnamon can kill you! But how? Cinnamon can work as a blood thinner. The EU tried to stop the amount of cinnamon in Danish cinnamon baking to limit human consumption. Read more:  The Danish Cinnamon controversy and HERE.

But back to Chocolate and Cinnamon. If you frequent Starbucks, you may remember the chocolate cinnamon bread, a seasonal baked good. Not sure why it's seasonal, but I haven't seen it in awhile. So I went searching for the recipe. Lo and behold, I found the recipe on the Starbucks website. Yay! So you can make your own. Warning, this really isn't a quick bread. It's more like a cake, but that's o.k. with me. I've adapted the recipe a little. And, remember, always use the best cocoa and cinnamon! Question about Dutch processed cocoa? Go HERE.

CHOCOLATE CINNAMON BREAD
(makes two loaves)

Ingredients

Chocolate Batter
3 sticks sweet butter, room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup water
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla

Cocoa Spice Topping 
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp Dutch processed cocoa
Pinch of ground ginger
Pinch of ground cloves
1/4 cup decorating (sparkle) sugar (for decorating)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease two 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pans and line bottom with parchment paper.

Chocolate Batter:
1. Cream together butter and sugar in electric mixer until light and creamy, around 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl a few times to get them fully mixed in.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, water and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, begin adding contents of each bowl to butter mixture, alternating between the two until mixture is fully blended, but not overly whipped. Split batter between the two pans. If batter is slightly uneven, you can lightly shake the pan to even out the tops.

Make your topping.
Combine sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, ginger and cloves. Then evenly layer decorating sugar over batter, followed by spice mixture.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss: Sneetch Treats!

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! March 2nd is not only Dr. Seuss's Birthday, but it's also National Read Across America Day, a national program to support and encourage children's reading. NEA's Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of beloved children's author Dr. Seuss. Having been a reading teacher in a former life, I know how important it is to get children reading when they're young. This is a fabulous day, and since this is a Chocolate Blog, you can enhance the day with chocolate, but that's my bias.

The more that you read, the more things you will know. 
The more you learn, the more places you'll go." 
— Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

Even though Green Eggs & Ham is the most popular of the 'food' Seuss books, and, by all means read it and make some green eggs and ham, but since it's Dr. Seuss's Birthday, read  Happy Birthday to You and bake a cake!  Check out a copy from your library or buy a copy and read it to or with a child. To enhance the experience, bake a few chocolate cakes, cupcakes or buy a chocolate Sheet Cake, and have the children decorate.


You could also read Thidwick, the Big-Hearted Moose and serve Chocolate Mousse sprinkled with red candy hearts.

Here's a classic recipe for Cat in the Hat Cookies:
Melt white chocolate in the microwave. Dip a round cracker or cookie in the white chocolate, place on wax paper and top with a marshmallow. Allow to cool. Pipe bright red icing as rings around the marshmallow and cover the top.

And from Parents Connect, here's a recipe for   
Dr. Seuss's Sneetch Treats.  
Perfect as a companion to reading The Sneetches.

Ingredients
8 ounces butter, melted
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups uncooked, 1-minute oatmeal
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup golden raisins
2 chocolate bars, broken into squares
6 large marshmallows
Wooden skewers soaked in water or BBQ forks

Directions
1 Preheat oven to 350°
2 Combine melted butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla in bowl. Mix well.
3 In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly add to butter mixture.
4 Add oatmeal, walnuts and raisins. Mix well.
5 Drop batter (1 Tbsp at a time) onto ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten each cookie slightly with back of a spatula.
6 Bake 12 minutes until golden and firm. Remove cookies to cake rack to cool.
7 Once cookies have cooled, put square of chocolate onto each cookie.
8 Heat up your grill (or smoker... or fire pit... or oven).
9 Place marshmallows on skewers or BBQ forks. Slowly roast marshmallows over grill until golden on each side.
10 Carefully slide marshmallows off forks and onto chocolate-covered cookies. Place another cookie on top of Marshmallow.

Theodor Seuss Geisel (March 2, 1904 – September 24, 1991) was an American writer and cartoonist  best known for his classic children's books under the pen name Dr. Seuss. With millions of books in print, and nearly all of his titles still available for sale, Dr. Seuss was, up until his death in 1991, one of the most prolific living writer behind Barbara Cartland. His Green Eggs and Ham is the third largest selling book in the English language. He wrote 44 children’s books. His best-sellers included: Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Horton Hatches the Egg, Horton Hears a Who!, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Seuss’s first book And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was published in 1937 after being rejected almost 30 times.

This was a Cat in the Hat Birthday Cake from Christine Guzman, owner of The Quaint Cake Co in Boca Raton, FL.  It was a chocolate cake, of course! They're no longer making cakes, but be sure and check out their gallery...site is still up for your enjoyment!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Granny Hollin's Peanut Butter Fudge: Janet & Marty Appel

Today is National Peanut Butter Lover's Day! O.K. this is a weird food holiday since there are several other peanut butter holidays, but I think it's a day to celebrate, especially since my friend Janet Appel sent me Granny Hollin's recipe for Peanut Butter Fudge. Janet and her husband Marty made Peanut Butter Fudge (and Chocolate Fantasy Fudge) during the holidays. So get out that jar of peanut butter and get started!

Janet Appel:

Below are photos of making fudge and the original handwritten recipe card. The typed version (below) has some of our notes on making the two types of fudge. Granny Holllin was my Papa Jack's mother. I first ate this fudge in the early 1960's when he joined our family, and we joined his family. Lucy Hollin was a great Southern cook. She always brought both types of fudge to the family reunions to go in the Hospitality Room. The Hollins have the best reunions ever: Friday through Sunday brunch at a hotel/motel. A different family organizes the reunion each year.

Peanut Butter Fudge from Granny Hollin 
Circa 1970 or earlier 
Yield ~5 pounds 




PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE

Ingredients:
5 Cups Sugar
2 sticks butter
1 large can Carnation Cream (Evaporated Milk)
1-12 oz jar Jif Peanut Butter (creamy)
1-7 oz jar Marshmallow Crème (Kraft)
1 Tbsp Vanilla
1 pinch salt

Directions: 
Combine sugar, cream, salt and butter in a heavy 6qt saucepan. Mixing thoroughly bring to a boil on high heat stirring constantly.

Continue to boil on medium heat stirring constantly (to prevent scorching) for 10 minutes or until a little dropped in cold water will form a soft ball.

Cut off heat; add peanut butter, marshmallow crème and vanilla. Beat vigorously with a large mixing spoon until peanut butter and marshmallow crème is blended. Doesn’t take but just a few minutes for it to be thick enough to pour. Pour it in a generously greased (with butter) broiler pan or cookie sheet 18x12x1.

Let cool and cut into squares. Keep in a covered metal container in refrigerator.

Recipe for Fantasy Fudge can be found on label of Marshmallow crème jars for chocolate fudge. I just substituted peanut butter using the same method. 

Note: In case the label has changed, for chocolate fudge use 12 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips. We add broken nuts to the chocolate fudge. We have made peanut butter fudge and added chocolate to it at the end: swirl the chocolate in, don’t melt all to one look. 

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From Janet Rudolph: Here's a photo of Marty Appel cutting fudge. So precise--with a straight-edge--it sure looks better than mine.