Monday, June 30, 2014

The Picnic Game: Food Bloggers A-Z Picnic Basket!

This month I'm playing the Picnic Game organized by that fabulous blogger Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations! Each letter of the alphabet is taken by a different food blogger who posts what they're bringing to the Perfect Virtual Picnic A-Z! Want to find out about the history of the picnic game? Be sure and read the story at Months of Edible Celebrations.

I've been going to this picnic for 5 years! This year I chose the letter "K." I posted "K" is for Kahlua Zucchini Chocolate Chunk Bread last week. Very portable for the picnic. Thanks, Louise, for organizing this virtual feast!

So here's the line-up for the Picnic Game this year! Lots of wonderful recipes and foods from all my favorite food bloggers to enjoy in 'real' time and at your 'real' picnic.

A is for Angel Food Cake

B is for Basil Leaves in Caramelized Prawns 

C is for Chicken Piccata

D is for Darned Easy Potato Salad

E is for Eccles Cakes filled with Leeks, Spinach and Blue Cheese

F is for Fourth of July Picnic S'more Tartlets 

G is for Gluten-free & Eggless Chocolate Steamed Cake

H is for Ham Cheesy Patties

I is for Italian Frittata with Vegetables.

J is for Jelly Roll

K is for Kahlua Zucchini Chocolate Chunk Bread

L is for Lemon Lavender Cupcakes

M is for Meringue Roulade with Raspberries

N is for Nutella Rice Pudding

O is for Old-Time Favorite Iced Red Bean Popsicles

P is for Pickles

Q is for Quinoa Blueberry Mango Salad

R is for Raspberry & Fig Cobbler

S is for Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream (Helado de frutillas y cheescake)

T is for Two-Ingredient Ice Cream Bread 

U is for Uninvited (no one took this letter, but "you" can feast on everything here!)

V is for Vegan Mango Salsa

W is for Watermelon Salad

X is for “Xmas Coconut Wreath Cake”

Y is for Yellow Squash Crustless Quiche

 Z is for Zucchini Cake-Double Chocolate









Sunday, June 29, 2014

Chocolate Almond Buttercrunch Toffee

Today is Almond Buttercrunch Day. For me that means Chocolate Almond Buttercrunch Toffee. Food & Wine has the easiest recipe from Grace Parisi, and one you'll want to make. It does involve a candy thermometer, but it's  worth it!

No time to cook? Grab a bar of Almond Roca or check out your local chocolatier for Almond Toffee.

CHOCOLATE ALMOND BUTTERCRUNCH TOFFEE

Ingredients
2 cups sweet butter 
1 1/2 cups sugar  
2 Tbsp water 
1 cup salted roasted almonds—3/4 cup coarsely chopped, 1/4 cup finely chopped  
1 Tbsp Madagascar vanilla extract 
1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt, crumbled  
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (Of course use the very best chocolate!)

Directions
Line 8-by-11-inch baking pan with foil. Spray foil with vegetable oil.

In heavy saucepan, melt butter. Stir in sugar and water and bring to boil. Wash down side of pan with moistened pastry brush. Cook over moderate heat, stirring with wooden spoon, until deeply golden caramel forms and temperature reaches 300° on candy thermometer, 15 minutes; if sugar and butter separate, stir vigorously to blend. Remove from heat and add coarsely chopped almonds, vanilla and salt. Scrape toffee into prepared pan; let cool for 10 minutes. 

Sprinkle half of chocolate over toffee and let stand until melted. Spread chocolate over toffee and sprinkle with half of finely chopped almonds. Freeze toffee for 10 minutes.  

Invert toffee onto foil-lined baking sheet and peel off foil backing. In microwave safe bowl, melt remaining chocolate. Spread melted chocolate over top of toffee and sprinkle with remaining finely chopped almonds. Let toffee cool, then break into shards. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Chocolate Tapioca Pudding

Tapioca, along with junket and pudding, were standard desserts when I was growing up. I knew what pudding was, but never junket or tapioca. As a child that was fine, but as an adult interested in food and food derivations, this holiday--National Tapioca Day--got my attention.

According to Ask.Yahoo, tapioca is a root starch derived from the cassava, or yuca plant. It's often used to thicken soups and sweeten the flavor of baked goods, and it makes a great pudding. The cassava plant is native to South America and the West Indies, where its thick, fibrous roots are used in a variety of forms: bread flour, laundry starch, an alcoholic brew, and of course, tapioca pudding.

From Wikipedia: The pudding can be made from scratch using tapioca in a variety of forms: flakes, coarse meal, sticks, and pearls. Many commercial packaged mixes are also available. British schoolchildren have traditionally nicknamed the dish frog spawn, due to its appearance. American children often call it fish eyes and glue.

And the reason not to make tapioca at home, cassava roots have traces of cyanide in them! The ever-resourceful Mayans, the first known to use tapioca, figured out how to extract this poison for their blow darts, leaving the uncontaminated roots free for eating. Perhaps this information would be better served on my other blog, Mystery Fanfare.

So a processed tapioca should be used in the following recipes. The first recipe for Dark Chocolate Tapioca Pudding recipe is adapted from Kraft recipes and uses instant tapioca. The second recipe uses tapioca that needs to be soaked overnight. I think the flavor is much better, but really for me, it's all about the chocolate.

1. Easy Dark Chocolate Tapioca Pudding 

Ingredients
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. MINUTE Tapioca
3-1/2 cups whole milk
3 ounces dark chocolate (60-75% cacao)
1 tsp. Madagascar vanilla

Directions
Beat egg lightly in medium saucepan with wire whisk.
Add sugar and tapioca; mix well.
Gradually add milk, beating well after each addition.
Let stand 5 minutes. Add chocolate.
Bring to boil on medium heat, stirring constantly.
Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until chocolate is completely melted, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat.
Stir in vanilla.
Cool 20 minutes; stir. (Pudding thickens as it cools.)
SERVE warm or chilled.

2. Longer to make but worth it -- Dark Chocolate Tapioca Pudding
adapted only slightly from JamHands (a great site)  

Ingredients
1/2 cup Tapioca Pearls
2-1/2 cups Whole Milk
Pinch of Salt
2 Eggs, Separated
1/2 cup Sugar
1 Tbsp Madagascar Vanilla
4-6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

Directions
Soak tapioca in 2 cups of room temperature water overnight. Drain water in morning.
Heat milk over medium low heat in top of double boiler (for just a very short time, do not boil). Add salt and tapioca. Continue to heat until small bubbles appear. Cover, turn heat to very low and cook for one hour. Make sure the milk mixture does not simmer or boil.
Separate egg whites from yolks.
Beat egg yolks and sugar together until light yellow in color. Add a little of hot milk mixture to egg yolks and blend thoroughly.
Add egg yolk mixture into hot milk mixture, stirring constantly.
Place double boiler over medium heat and cook until tapioca mixture is very thick, from 15 – 30 minutes.
Beat egg whites until stiff.
Slowly fold hot tapioca mixture into egg whites.
Stir in vanilla and chopped chocolate and combine thoroughly until smooth.
Serve warm or chilled.

HAPPY TAPIOCA DAY!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chunks

I have several recipes for Banana Bread, and every time I make banana bread, I change it up a bit. It usually depends on what's in the pantry, and mostly it doesn't matter. Two musts: baking soda and over ripe bananas--black and squishy, if possible!

The other day I was out of whole milk, so I used 1/2 half and half and 1/2 two percent. I actually prefer buttermilk, but you use what you have. Oil or butter? Well, I used butter this last time, but oil works just as well, and I think I might even prefer it, but my canola oil was a bit rank, so I threw it out. I did think about olive oil, but opted for Irish butter! As always, I added chocolate chunks. Oh, and this is a one bowl recipe! How easy is that!!!


BANANA BREAD WITH CHOCOLATE CHUNKS
Makes 1 loaf--easily doubled!

Ingredients
1/2 cup sweet butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3 medium-sized bananas (I used 4 smaller ones), very ripe
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 dark chocolate, chopped

Directions
Preheat  oven to 350°F. Line 8 x 5 loaf pan with parchment, letting excess hang over the sides. Spray  inside with nonstick cooking spray. (this last time I buttered the pan and then used some flour)
1. Whisk together melted butter and sugar in mixing bowl until combined. (If you cream the sugar and butter, you'll have a more cake-like banana bread--always a choice!)
2. Add eggs and whisk until combined and mixture is smooth.
3. Whisk milk and vanilla into batter.
4. Peel bananas and add to bowl. Using a fork, mash them into the batter. Leave bananas as chunky or as smooth as you prefer.
5. Add flour, baking soda, and salt to bowl. Switch to spatula and stir until ingredients are just barely combined and no more dry flour is visible. (Don't overstir)
6. Fold in nuts and chocolate.
7. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Smooth top of batter.
8. Bake 55 to 65 minutes: Bake until top of banana bread is dark brown with some yellow insides showing (there's usually a crack down the top) and toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean. Baking time varies, so start checking around 50 minutes or so.
9. Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes.
10. Lift loaf out of pan and set on cooling rack to cool for another 10 minutes before slicing.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chocolate Pudding Day: Retro Chocolate Pudding Ads & Recipes

Today is 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 upper part of 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 in charge of 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 Retro 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.

Cartoon of the Day: Chocolate


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

K is for Kahlua: Kahlua Zucchini Chocolate Chunk Bread

"I'm going on a picnic,"and I have the letter "K".  I'm not sure how many years I've been playing the Picnic Game organized by that fabulous blogger Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations! Each letter of the alphabet is taken by a different food blogger who will post what they're bringing to the Perfect Picnic A-Z! Want to find out about the history of the picnic? Be sure and read the story at Months of Edible Celebrations. I'll be posting all the recipes from the different blogs on June 30, so you can have your own Virtual Picnic... or Real Picnic!

So this year I chose the letter "K" because I love Kahlua! This Kahlua Zucchini Chocolate Chunk Bread is great to take on a picnic because it travels well, but a heads-up. Because this recipe includes a hefty amount of Kahlua, you might want to reserve it for adults!

So while I decided to bring something with Kahlua on the 'picnic', I remembered that I should have made some homemade Kahlua.. too late to have it ready for the picnic this year, but if you start now,  you'll have some for your next picnic..to drink or use in baked goods or other drinks and sweets!

Homemade Kahlua

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

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

Kahlua Zucchini Chocolate Chunk Bread
This recipe makes one loaf, but it can easily be doubled. You can also substitute oil for the butter.  I love quick breads. They're fast and easy, and you only use one bowl! And, they're great to take on a picnic. Because this Zucchini Bread with Chocolate Chunks has Kahlua in it, you might want to take it on an 'adult' picnic only.

Ingredients
2 cups flour (all-purpose, but you can use 1 cup whole wheat and 1 cup all purpose)
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (8 Tbsp) sweet butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup Kahlua
1 cup shredded zucchini
3 ounces good quality dark chocolate, chopped into smallish chunks

Directions
In medium bowl, sift flour with soda and salt. Set aside.
In large bowl of electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then Kahlua. (Don't worry if it seems curdled). Add dry ingredients and mix on low speed until blended. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chunks to distribute evenly.
Pour into greased and floured 8-1/2 × 4 inch loaf pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F, about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until wood pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool in pan 10 minutes.
Turn out onto wire rack and cool completely.

Have fun at the Virtual Picnic! Here are the Letters A-J. Be sure and come back on June 30 for the entire alphabet!

A is for Angel Cake

B is for Basil Leaves in Caramelized Prawns

C is for Chicken Piccata

D to come

E is for Eccles Cakes filles with Leeks, Spinach and Blue Cheese

F is for Fourth of July Picnic S'more Tartlets

G to come

H is for Ham Cheesy Patties

I to come

J to come

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Chocolate Praline Cake: National Praline Day

Today is National Praline DayA few years ago I posted several chocolate praline recipes. You can actually eat pralines in several different incarnations--or even drink your pralines, as in Praline Pecan Liqueur.

Another easy way to get your praline fix today (with chocolate) would be to eat some Praline or Butter Pecan Ice Cream with a covering of chocolate syrup. Hence the Vintage Ad from 1951 for Borden's Praline Pecan Ice Cream. But another variation on Pralines would be Chocolate Praline Cake. See below for two recipes.. one  is a traditional three tier chocolate cake with Ganache Filling and Praline Frosting, and the other a Chocolate Bundt Cake with Praline Frosting. With both cakes, it's all about the Praline frosting. 

So what is 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

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 made 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.

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.

Go here for Praline Candy Recipes.

So my motto today is "Let Them Eat Cake" since I'm more of a baker than candy maker.

This first recipe is one of my go-to Chocolate Bundt Cakes, but any good chocolate bundt cake will work. It's all in the frosting. As a matter of fact a good sour cream or yogurt chocolate bundt cake would be great, too.

CHOCOLATE PRALINE BUNDT CAKE 

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups water
2 Tbsp Instant Coffee Granules (I use Starbucks instant espresso packs)
7 ounces dark chocolate (65-75% Cacao), chopped
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup sweet butter, softened
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
3 large eggs

FOR CAKE:
Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease 10-inch Bundt pan.
Combine flour, baking soda and baking powder in small bowl. Bring water and coffee granules to boil in small saucepan; remove from heat. Add chocolate; stir until smooth.
Beat sugar, butter and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs; beat on high speed for 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture alternately with chocolate mixture.
Pour into prepared Bundt pan.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until long wooden pick inserted in cake comes out clean.
Cool in pan on wire rack for 30 minutes. Invert onto wire rack to cool completely.
Place on plate.
Pour Praline Frosting over the top of the cake letting it drip down the sides.

PRALINE FROSTING  (from Southern Living, see below for link)

 Ingredients
1/4 cup sweet butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preparation 
Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, and boil 1 minute.
Remove from heat, and whisk in 1 cup powdered sugar and vanilla extract until smooth.
Stir in toasted pecans, stirring gently 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thicken slightly.
Pour immediately over cake.
Photo: Southern Living Chocolate Praline Cake. Beautiful!

CHOCOLATE PRALINE CAKE

This is my favorite "real" Chocolate Praline Cake. It's from Southern Living, November 2001, and I'm so glad I found it again on the Internet, my copy having been stashed inside a cookbook, somewhere. This recipe is all about the praline candy frosting!

Ingredients
1 cup butter
1/4 cup DARK cocoa
1 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
Chocolate Ganache
Praline Frosting
Garnish: pecan halves  

Preparation
Cook first 3 ingredients in small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until butter melts and mixture is smooth; remove butter mixture from heat.
Beat buttermilk, 2 eggs, baking soda, and vanilla at medium speed with electric mixer until smooth. Add butter mixture to buttermilk mixture, beating until well blended.
Combine sugar, flour, and salt; gradually add to buttermilk mixture, beating until blended.
Coat 3 (9-inch) round cakepans with cooking spray, and line pans with wax paper. Pour cake batter evenly into pans.
Bake at 350° for 18 to 22 minutes or until cake is set. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes.
Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
Spread about 1/2 cup Chocolate Ganache between cake layers, and spread remaining ganache on sides of cake.
Pour Praline Frosting slowly over the center of cake, gently spreading to edges, allowing some frosting to run over sides.
Garnish with pecan halves

Chocolate Ganache 
Ingredients 
1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces

Preparation 
Microwave chocolate morsels and whipping cream in a glass bowl at MEDIUM (50% power) 2 to 3 minutes or until morsels are melted. Whisk until smooth.
Gradually add butter, whisking until smooth.
Cool, whisking often, 15 minutes or until spreading consistency.

Praline Frosting 
Ingredients
1/4 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preparation 
Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, and boil 1 minute.
Remove from heat, and whisk in 1 cup powdered sugar and vanilla extract until smooth.
Stir in toasted pecans, stirring gently 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thicken slightly.
Pour immediately over cake (or over the bundt cake--recipe above).


Monday, June 23, 2014

Chocolate Pecan Sandies: National Pecan Sandies Day

Today is National Pecan Sandies Day. Pecan sandies are great cookies, and all I've done is add chocolate to make them all that much better. If you're a purist, check out the BrownEyedBaker's recipe for "non-chocolate" pecan sandies. It's great.

Pecan Sandies: A shortbread cookie with ground pecans added to the flour. The cookies are easy to make -- flour, butter, sugar salt, and vanilla--and the pecans. The name Sandie might have something to do with the color--or not. Urban myth? I have two suggestions for Chocolate Pecan Sandies. The first is the full recipe for  Chocolate Pecan Sandie Cookies. The second would be to use a 'regular' pecan sandie recipe and add chocolate chips.

Pecan Sandies are simple to make and taste delicious. Not too sweet.  Some people like to chop the pecans coursely, and that works, but you can also pulverize them. To form the cookies, I use the drop method, but some people like to make logs and then slice them. Either way, they'll taste great!

Chocolate Pecan Sandies

Ingredients
1 cup sweet butter, room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) ground pecans, divided use
1/2 cup unsweetened good quality DARK cocoa powder
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease cookie sheet or line with parchment.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and rum until well blended.
Mix together flour, 1 cup ground pecans, and cocoa powder, then beat flour mixture into butter mixture.
Chill dough for 30 minutes.
Combine remaining 1/2 cup ground pecans and 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar in a bowl.
Form dough into 1-inch balls.
Roll in pecan sugar mixture (reserve any leftover sugar mix) and place on baking sheets.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool, then dip pecan sandy cookie tops in any remaining pecan sugar.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Easy Mini Chocolate Eclairs: National Eclair Day!

Today is National Eclair Day. My favorite eclairs are not the long thin "traditional" hotdog shaped eclairs (although I like those), but rather, the mini-eclairs. They're easy to make using Pâte à choux.. little puff pastry. I've been making them for years.

I've posted about this recipe before, but it's always worthy of a repost. These eclairs are so easy and yet look so beautiful and taste fabulous! Hope you enjoy making these as much as I do!

I've adapted this recipe for Mini Chocolate Eclairs from Paula Deen, the controversy about her personal indiscretion not withstanding. This 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 40 small eclairs from this recipe. 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 cup 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. 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 flour
3 eggs

Filling:
3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 tsp Madagascar vanilla

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

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
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 heat get too high), so you don't have any lumps. Then pour this custard  into beaten eggs, stirring quickly (so eggs don't cook). Cool and add vanilla.
4. With serrated knife, slice pastry puffs lengthwise (or if you have puffs make a hole), but not all the way through. Pipe custard mixture into 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 eclairs.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Red Velvet Cake the Natural Way: Beets!

Recently BEETS came up in a discussion about chocolate. Of course, Red Velvet Cake that is made with Beets came to mind. Most red velvet cakes use red dye. You need to use red food dye, the kind in the little bottles, if you want to get that really red color (even the Wilton's doesn't quite do it), but for fabulous flavor, Beets will do the trick! They're full of great natural sugar. The first cake uses lots of real beet juice and the color comes very close to a true red. The cake is yummy. The second is a delicious Red Velvet Cake, too, although not quite as red. Most red velvet cakes I've made call for buttermilk and/or vinegar in them, so that one is perfect in taste. The first two recipes come as close as it comes to a 'natural' Red Velvet Cake.  The third recipe is more of a 'vegetable' cake...as in zucchini or carrot cake. Still delicious, but not really red. As always, the quality of the chocolate or cocoa will really make the difference!

1. RED VELVET BEET CAKE

Ingredients
2 large beets, fresh, (enough to make 1-1/2 cups of beet purée)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 cup sweet butter, room temperature
24 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2  1/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs
2-1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla
2 cup  flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup natural cocoa powder, unsweetened (not dark or Dutch processed)

Icing
4 cups confections sugar
2 Tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp almond extract

Directions
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line bottom of 3 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper. Use vegetable spray on sides and bottom of pans.
In small baking dish, roast 2 fresh large beets, fresh (enough to make 1 1/2 cups of beet purée) use 1/2 cup water. Cover with parchment paper and foil, and roast until tender, about 60-90 minutes. When beets have cooled completely, peel and cut into small chunks. Place beets in food processor and pulse until smooth with: 1/4 cup lemon juice. There should be 1-1/2 cups of purée. Stir in: 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar.
In mixer with paddle attachment, cream together 1/2 cup butter, 8 ounces cream cheese. Mix until smooth and fluffy: Add 2-1/3 cup sugar.  Mix in, one at time: 4 eggs.  Mix until incorporated: 1-1/2 tsp vanilla.
In separate bowl, whisk out lumps of 2 cup flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1-1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1/4 cup natural cocoa powder. In batches, mix flour mixture into wet ingredients. Measure out 1-1/2 cups of the beet puree mixture, and fold into cake batter. Divide batter evenly between 3 cake pans.
Bake at 350ºF for 20-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of  cakes comes out clean. Invert cakes onto cooling racks, and allow to cool completely.

Icing
In electric mixer fitted with  paddle attachment, combine 16 oz cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter, 4 cups confectioners sugar, 2 Tbsp heavy cream, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp almond extract. Switch to whisk attachment, and mix until smooth and slightly fluffy. Frost cake.

***

I found the following recipe posted on the chowhound.com site in a discussion about 'natural' Red Velvet Cake. I love the story that goes with it. It's close to a 'real' Red Velvet Cake because there's buttermilk and vinegar and/or beet juice (but not as red). I make a cream cheese frosting (see above) because that's what goes with Red Velvet Cake, in my opinion. But it's up to you.

2. Chocolate Red Velvet Cake with Chocolate Icing
Since Red Velvet Cake probably came from the South, the original 'red velvet beet cake' probably had a 'boiled frosting' rather than a cream cheese or butter cream frosting.

"When I was growing up, I always wanted a simple chocolate cake for my birthday. I still do. This velvety chocolate cake gets its name from its smooth texture and reddish hue. The original recipe called for red beet juice—in some parts of the country it is called beet cake—but was altered by manufacturers who added red food coloring to the cake. "Red coloring is evil and dangerous for children and other living things," Carole Greenwood, a chef in Washington, D.C. told me. She refuses to use food coloring but loves this buttermilk-based velvety chocolate cake, and uses red wine vinegar or beet juice for the color. She also makes her version less sweet, using both good-quality cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate."


For the cake:
1 cup sweet butter
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup good-quality cocoa powder
2 extra-large eggs
1 Tbsp Madagascar pure vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp pickled beet juice or red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

For icing
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 Tbsp sweet butter
2 Tbsp sugar
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease two 9-inch round cake pans.
2. Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat. Remove pan from the heat, stir in water and cocoa powder, and allow mixture to cool.
3. Beat eggs in bowl of electric mixer, then add vanilla, buttermilk, baking soda, and beet juice or red wine vinegar and stir well.
4. Sift together all-purpose flour, cake flour, cornstarch, salt, and sugar into bowl. Pour in butter and then egg mixture and blend thoroughly on low.
5. Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until cake pulls away from sides of pan and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
6. Cool cakes for a few minutes, then turn out onto wire racks, and frost and fill the center with chocolate icing.

Directions for Chocolate Icing
1. Place cream, butter, and sugar in  small saucepan and stir over medium heat until hot and bubbly.
2. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, stirring slowly until smooth and silky. Add  vanilla and  salt. Taste and adjust sweetness to your taste. Cool for about 15 minutes before frosting the cake.

***
3. Chocolate Beet Cake 
This third recipe is closer to a vegetable cake just like a carrot cake or zucchini cake. 
(Adapted from Diana Rattray --Southern Food at About.com)

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 - 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1- 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder (use regular not Dutch Process)
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp vegetable oil, Canola or corn oil
1-1/2 cups grated cooked beets
2 teaspoons vanilla
powdered sugar, optional

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°
Combine flour, soda, salt, sugar and cocoa in bowl; set aside.
In mixing bowl, combine eggs and oil. Beat in vanilla and continue beating until well blended. Slowly beat in dry ingredients until well mixed; stir in beets.
Pour into greased and floured 9x13-inch baking pan. Bake at 350° for 25 to 35 minutes, or until cake bounces back when touched lightly with finger.
Cool in pan on a rack. Frost cooled cake or dust with powdered sugar.




Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cherry Tart Ice Cream: Vintage Ad & New Recipe

Elsie the Cow is a favorite..well, all cows are favorites, but she's special. And, here to celebrate Cherry Tart Day is this Retro Ad for Cherry Tart Ice Cream from Borden's.  
"Steal a heart with new Borden's Cherry Tart Ice Cream!"


 Add Chocolate Sauce to keep with the theme of this blog! :-)

Want to make your own "Tart" Cherry Ice Cream? Try this recipe from King Arthur's Flour. Fab!



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Banana Cake with Chocolate Chunks

Everyone is familiar with banana bread, and I love banana bread as much as the next person, but my favorite banana recipe growing up was for Banana 'Cake'. Yes, it's not bread.. totally different texture and sweeter. The recipe is from The Settlement Cookbook which was my mother's main cookbook. Of course when I make the Banana Cake, I add chocolate chunks!


BANANA CAKE with CHOCOLATE CHUNKS

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 Tbsp sour cream
1/2 cup sweet butter
2 eggs
1-1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup banana pulp  (Bananas need to be black and mushy -- almost rotten. Mash up well)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
4 ounces chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips!)

Directions
Cream butter and sugar, add eggs (beaten very lightly) and the baking soda dissolved in the sour cream. Beat well, then add the bananas, flour, salt and vanilla. Mix well. Fold in chocolate chunks.
Bake in well buttered pan in moderate oven (350) for 40-45 minutes. (I usually use a square pan, but last time I used a bundt pan.)

You can frost this cake with coffee, chocolate or cream cheese frosting, but the cake is so moist and good it really doesn't need any frosting! I never frost it.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Fudge Recipe Round-Up: National Fudge Day!

National Fudge Day: What a great day to celebrate! My Aunt Annie made the best Fudge in the world, but now that I know more about candy nomenclature, I think she really made truffles. They were dark chocolate balls rolled in cocoa. I'll always remember her truffles as fudge.

However, I had my first taste of 'real' fudge down the shore in Atlantic City. Fudge was sold along with Salt Water Taffy at many of the Boardwalk candy shops.

History of Fudge: Fudge was supposedly invented in the U.S. in the late 1880s. Historians believe the first batch of fudge resulted from a bungled batch of caramels, as in "Oh, Fudge." I don't think so... According to Wikipedia, the main component of Fudge was similar to the traditional recipe for Scots Tablet found in The Household Book of the Lady Grisell Baillie (1692-1733).

One of the first documented examples of American fudge (containing chocolate!) was found in a letter written by Emelyn Batersby Hartridge, a Vassar College student, who wrote that a friend's cousin made fudge in Baltimore in 1886 and sold it for 40 cents a pound. Hartridge asked for the fudge recipe, and in 1888 made 30 pounds of the fudge for the Vassar Senior Auction. In The Candy Book (Alice Bradley, 1929) an entire chapter is devoted to fudge.

Fudge is a crystalline candy, which means that, unlike lollipops, caramels, and taffy, crystal formation is the key to making great fudge. Tiny microcrystals of sugar in fudge give fudge its firm but smooth texture. The secret to successful fudge is getting these crystals to form at just the right time. Fudge is one of the rare exceptions to the rule that sugar crystals are not desirable in candy. Tiny microcrystals in fudge are what give it its firm texture. When the crystals are small enough, they don’t feel grainy on your tongue, but smooth.

While you ultimately want crystals to form, it's important that they don't form too early. Now this is where it gets tricky! The key to successful, non-grainy fudge is in the cooling, not the cooking. If you disturb the cooling fudge during this cooling phase, you increase the potential for larger crystals (seed crystals) of sugar to form too early and thus a grainy fudge results.

O.K. this is too much for me to take in, not being a candy maker. So how to make fudge relatively easy?

I've posted many fudge recipes over the past five years, so today I'm doing a round-up of some of those fudge recipes. I've also re-posted the recipe below for Philly Fudge! I'm from Philly, and I grew up with Philadelphia Cream Cheese. The Philly Fudge recipe is an adaptation of the famous uncooked fudge recipe developed by Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese.  It became popular right after World War II. It really is foolproof.

FUDGE RECIPE LINKS 

Bailey's Irish Cream Fudge

Granny Hollin's Peanut Butter Fudge

Layered Mint Chocolate Fudge

Five Minute Dark Chocolate Coffee Fudge

Candy Cane Fudge

Fanny Farmer Fudge

Triple Chocolate Honey Fudge

Ronrico Rum Fudge

Peanut Butter Fudge

Double Layer Fudge

Nutty Fudge (3 recipes)

Goldie's Fudge

Vanilla Macadamia Nut Fudge

Nigella's Chocolate Pistachio Fudge

Creamy Chocolate Fudge

Chocolate Coffee Fudge

Ruth Jordan's Busy Lady Fudge

Foolproof Dark Chocolate Fudge

Easy Million Dollar Fudge


PHILLY FUDGE

Ingredients
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 - 8 ounce package Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
2 Tbsp milk or cream
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Dash of salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
  
Directions
Butter 8 inch baking pan well; set aside.
Melt chocolate in double boiler over hot, not boiling water.
Mix cream cheese and milk (or cream), beating on high speed until smooth.
Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at time, and beat at low speed until creamy.
Blend in melted chocolate, vanilla, and salt. Beat until smooth.
Stir in pecans or walnuts, but not both.
Press mixture into pan, cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight or until firm.
Cut into 1 1/4-inch squares.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

Today is National Strawberry Shortcake Day.  There's something about strawberries and whipped cream with a little shortcake that says Summer and America!

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. And, of course, there's just plain cake which can be chocolate! All these 'cakes' are quick to make and taste great with strawberries and whipping cream. Of course, for me, the shortcake should always 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!"

Several years ago 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 another 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 Tbsp milk

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

Directions
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 pastry blender, cut butter into mixture until 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!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Caipirinha Truffles: National Cachaça Day

Today is National Cachaca Day, and it couldn't be more timely. All eyes are on Brazil, host of the World Cup, and Brazil is in the opening game today. I'll bet there will be a lot of cachaca drinking going on! Cachaca, a Brazilian white rum made from sugar cane, is the main ingredient in the Caipirinha, the national cocktail! How can you go wrong with sugar, cachaca, and lime? You can enjoy a caipirinha at home, and if you add chocolate, you can make Caipirinha Truffles! Perfect to celebrate National Cachaca Day and the World Cup!


CAIPIRINHA TRUFFLES

Ingredients
14 ounces white chocolate, chopped
Grated zest of one lime
1/4 cup whipping cream
3 Tbsp Cachaca
cocoa powder

Directions
Place chocolate, lime zest, and cream in metal bowl; place it over saucepan over simmering water. Stir until chocolate is melted.
Remove from heat, add cachaca, and stir until smooth.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2-3 hours --or until firm enough to form balls.
Using a scoop or teaspoon, scoop out chocolate mixture (while cold and firm) and form balls. They don't need to be perfectly round.
Roll balls in cocoa powder.
Keep refrigerated.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

German Chocolate Cheesecake

Today is National German Chocolate Day. Oxymoron? Not really. 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. 

Check out last year's post with the "Original Recipe for German Chocolate Cake."  As you know by now, I like variations on a theme. Here's a great and easy recipe for German Chocolate Cheesecake. Cheesecakes are very easy to make, and they always turn out fantastic! Don't overbake, of course.

There are other German Chocolate Cheesecake recipes out there, but I really like this one. It's a great chocolate cheesecake as is, but the topping really gives it that German Chocolate Cake twist. I've mentioned before, that it's best to use the very best quality ingredients. That goes for the cocoa and cream cheese--and butter! I use Madagascar vanilla, too. Recipe adapted from Catherine Rentz, Columbia, South Carolina, Southern Living, OCTOBER 2000.

GERMAN CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE

Ingredients 

Crust
1 cup chocolate wafer crumbs
1/4 cup ground pecans
3 Tbsp sweet butter, melted

Cheesecake
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa  (or 3 ounces dark chocolate cooled)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs

Topping
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup sweet butter
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans
1/2 cup toasted flaked coconut

Preparation 
Stir together first 3 ingredients; press into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.
Bake at 325° for 10 minutes. Cool.
Beat cream cheese and next 3 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended.
Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
Pour into prepared crust.
Bake at 350° for 35 minutes.
Loosen cake from pan; cool. Chill 8 hours.

Stir together evaporated milk and next 4 ingredients in a saucepan.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 7 minutes.
Stir in pecans and coconut; spread over cheesecake.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Almond Joy Cookies: Guest post by Mystery Writer Holly West

My worlds of Mystery and Chocolate cross again! My friend Holly West posted this recipe for Almond Joy Cookies on her blog yesterday and graciously agreed to let me repost here on DyingforChocolate.com.

Holly West is a crime fiction writer based in Los Angeles. Her short fiction has been featured in several anthologies and her debut novel, Mistress of Fortune, was published in 2014. Its sequel, Mistress of Lies, will be available in Fall 2014. Check out Holly's website at: www.hollywest.com

Holly West:

There is only one reason why I don’t do a lot of baking: calories. Most of the things I’d bake have lots of calories and I find it’s just best not to have those things around the house if I can help it. But recently, I bought a bag of shredded coconut for another recipe that I never ended up making and after a few weeks of it sitting around in my pantry next to a big bag of chocolate chips, I decided to do something about it. The result? Almond Joy Cookies.

ALMOND JOY COOKIES

Ingredients
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Directions
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2) Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray or grease them
3) Measure all ingredients except for the chocolate chips, coconut, and almonds in a large bowl and mix well.
4) Add the remaining ingredients and stir in well.
5) Drop rounds (I used a tablespoon) onto greased sheets about 2 inches apart.
6) Bake about 10 minutes, until cookies are lightly browned.
7) Cool on a wire rack.
8) EAT!

This recipe makes about 2 1/2 to 3 dozen cookies, depending on how much dough you eat before you bake them. Yes, I know it’s dangerous to eat anything with raw egg in it, but I can’t resist cookie dough. Yet another reason why I don’t bake very often.

Enjoy!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crust

Today is National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day. Strawberry and Rhubarb go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly. Here's my favorite Strawberry Rhubarb Pie recipe! Strawberry Fields Forever! Of course I make this pie with a Chocolate Cookie Crust.

A little info on rhubarb: In culinary use, fresh raw petioles (leaf stalks) are crisp (similar to celery) with a strong, tart taste. Most commonly, the plant's leaf stalks are cooked with sugar and used in pies and other desserts. Rhubarb is usually considered a vegetable. In the United States, however, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit, it counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties. And, a warning: Do not eat or use the leaves.

The following recipe is easy and great. Most people do a two crust pie.. the top crust being a lattice; however, I don't think this works with a chocolate crust. You can always do a crumble on top! Or make a traditional pie crust and add a lattice crust on top. As always, it's your choice! Enjoy and celebrate the day!

STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE WITH CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUST

Chocolate Cookie Crust
Ingredients 
2 cups chocolate wafers
6 Tbsp sweet butter (or salted if you're inclined), melted

Directions 
Melt butter. Put chocolate wafers in plastic bag and crush with spoon or rolling pin. Should be pea-size. Combine melted butter and ground chocolate wafers. Press ingredients into 9 inch buttered pie pan--bottom and up the sides. Bake for 10 minutes at 325. Let cool.  

Filling
3-1/2 cups rhubarb stalks, in 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp orange zest
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups strawberries, cleaned, hulled, quartered  (or thinly sliced)

Directions
Combine filling ingredients in bowl and toss well. Spread into prepared crust and bake for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees or until rhubarb is tender and filling is bubbly.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Chocolate Ice Cream Pie: Retro & Modern

Today is National Chocolate Ice Cream Day! Here's a Retro Jell-O Chocolate Ice Cream Pie Ad & Recipe from Good Housekeeping, 1959. O.K. this is not how I would make it. Why not just use some chocolate ice cream? Scroll down for an easy recipe for a more 'modern' Triple Chocolate Ice Cream Pie!



'Modern' Triple Chocolate Ice Cream Pie

Since I'm all about Chocolate, the 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 Chocolate 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.

Or make Alton Brown's Chocolate Ice Cream.

What's your favorite chocolate ice cream? What's your favorite recipe? Add a comment and/or link below! 

Happy Chocolate Ice Cream Day!!!

Friday, June 6, 2014

National Doughnut Day: Free Donuts, History, & Recipe

National Doughnut (Donut) Day falls on the first Friday in June. That's today! Doughnut Day was created by The Salvation Army in 1938 to honor the women who served doughnuts to soldiers during World War I.

Many American doughnut shops offer free doughnuts on National Doughnut Day. Check out the list below--or check with your local donut shop!


National Doughnut Day started as a fund raiser for Chicago's The Salvation Army. Their goal was to help the needy during the Great Depression, and to honor The Salvation Army "Lassies" of World War I, who served doughnuts to soldiers.

National Doughnut Day celebrates the doughnut, an edible, ring shaped piece of dough which is deep-fried and sweetened. This holiday event began in 1938 as a Chicago Salvation Army fundraiser for much needed funds during the depression. The day also recognized special women known as "Doughnut Lassies" who made and served doughnuts to homesick WWI soldiers in France, since doughnuts were thought to be the quintessential American food. Here's a song from a 1918 songbook celebrating doughnuts in WWI.

A doughnut’s just a doughnut, boys, ’til you are “over there,”
And day and night you’re in a trench away in France somewhere;

You get a fresh-made doughnut, seems it comes from heaven above,

That doughnut, boys, reminds you of a slice of mother’s love.”


Doughnuts are popular in many countries and prepared in various forms as a sweet snack that can be homemade or purchased in bakeries, supermarkets, food stalls, and franchised specialty outlets. They are usually deep-fried from flour dough, and shaped in rings or flattened spheres that sometimes contain fillings. Other types of batters can also be used, and various toppings and flavorings are used for different types.

For a wonderful entry on Doughnut Day, go to Months of Edible Celebrations for a great discussion of the history and a recipe from Entenmann's Big Book of Baking for Chocolate Cake Donuts, as well as information about The Donut Book by Sally Levitt Steinberg, granddaughter of Adolph Levitt, the inventor of the first doughnut machine (1920). As Louise says in her entry, "Sally brings the doughnut to life." You've got to read this.

And, there are a lot of free doughnuts today!

Krispie Kreme is giving out one free doughnut of any kind, no purchase necessary. (at participating stores)

LaMar's Donuts in Colorado and the Midwest is offering one free doughnut per customer (at participating stores).

Dunkin' Donuts: Buy any drink and they'll throw in a complimentary doughnut (while supplies last)

Shipley Do-Nuts is giving each customer one free do-nut (that's how they spell it!) and a free small coffee.

Tim Horton's is celebrating National Donut Day by handing out one free donut with any purchase mad (one per customer).

Cumberland Farms is giving out one free donut per customer buying a coffee or a "Chill Zone" beverage, all day today!

Honey Dew Donuts will be giving away a free Oreo donut to any customer who buys a medium drink.

Doughnut Plant NYC is giving out a free mini cake donut (one per order while supplies last).

Winn Dixie locations in AL, FL, GA, LA & MS are giving away one free "jumbo" donut hole to customers--one free per guest, per store visit, while supplies last.

Entenmann's Bakery will have a truck and tent in Madison Square Park (NYC) where you can get a free doughnut and coffee, and enter to win free doughnuts for a year.

Look for other free donuts and celebrations in your town!
 

Here's the original  SALVATION ARMY LASSIES’ DOUGHNUT RECIPE . Not sure about the lard, but it's the original recipe, after all, so historical.


SALVATION ARMY LASSIES' DOUGHNUT RECIPE
Yield: 4 doz. doughnuts

Ingredients
5 cups flour
2 cups sugar
5 tsp baking powder
1 ‘saltspoon’ salt
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup milk
1 Tub lard (!!)

DIRECTIONS
Combine all ingredients (except for lard) to make dough.
Thoroughly knead dough, roll smooth, and cut into rings that are less than 1/4 inch thick. (When finding items to cut out doughnut circles, be creative! Salvation Army doughnut girls used whatever they could find, from baking powder cans to coffee percolator tubes.)
Drop the rings into the lard, making sure the fat is hot enough to brown the doughnuts gradually.
Turn the doughnuts slowly several times.
When browned, remove doughnuts and allow excess fat to drip off.
Dust with powdered sugar. Let cool and enjoy.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

COGNAC TRUFFLES: Cognac Day!

Yesterday was National Cognac Day, and I forgot to post! Cognac goes so well with Chocolate, especially in Cognac Truffles.

Cognac is a brandy that comes from the Cognac region in France. It is distilled for a long time, and it's this aging process that gives it a very distinctive taste. Only brandy that is produced in Cognac can be labeled Cognac. 

I always opt for easy truffle recipes. I've posted two of these great recipes in the past, but I've added a third which includes orange zest! Yum. The second recipe includes raw eggs (although they heat up a bit in the chocolate),  so if that's a problem for you, make the first or third recipe.  I have tried many different types of chocolate (brands and amounts of cacao), and as always the flavors will change with the chocolate. These recipes are basically ganache truffles, so no tempering needed. You can roll them in cocoa or chopped nuts. How easy is that?

COGNAC TRUFFLES I

Ingredients
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp sweet butter. softened
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp Cognac
unsweetened cocoa or chopped nuts

Directions
Put chopped chocolate in bowl. On low heat warm cream and butter until nearly boiling. Pour cream and butter 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 smooth out the ball.
Roll 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

Directions
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 scoop out and form into balls.
Roll in coating of your choice and dry for 1 hour.

COGNAC TRUFFLES III

Ingredients 
6 ounces DARK chocolate, chopped
3 ounces heavy cream
1 Tbsp cognac
1-1/2 Tbsp grated orange zest
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions
Bring cream to simmer in saucepan over medium-high heat. Set aside. Add chocolate and stir until smooth. Add cognac and orange zest and stir well. Cover and chill it refrigerator for 4 hours until stiff.
With scoop or teaspoon, make small balls.
Put cocoa powder in bowl and roll truffles in it.  Chill for half an hour and serve.

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