Thursday, July 31, 2014

Black Bottom Raspberry Cream Pie

Tomorrow is National Raspberry Cream Pie Day, but I thought I'd get a jump on the holiday! What's a raspberry cream pie without chocolate? So for this recipe, the cream portion of the pie is Chocolate Pudding!

This recipe is from Bon Appetit (July 2004) aka Epicurious for Black Bottom Raspberry Cream Pie. The "black bottom" is a layer of chocolate pudding.. and as a bonus there's a chocolate cookie crust. I'm all about chocolate. Be sure and chill the pie overnight before adding the topping.

As far as berries go, any great organic raspberry works. I love Driscoll's raspberries because they're always good. This is raspberry season, so pick up a few pints today and make this incredible pie to celebrate. No time to make this delicious pie? Dance the Black Bottom! See video below.

FYI: This recipe is also a great black bottom 'anything' recipe: bananas and other fruit go very well with it, too.

Black Bottom Raspberry Cream Pie 

Crust
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 3/4 cups crushed chocolate wafer cookies (about 30 cookies from one 9-ounce package)
1/2 cup sweet butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

Filling
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
4 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 Tbsp sweet butter

Topping
3 1/2-pint containers raspberries
1 cup chilled whipping cream
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For crust:
Spray 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish with nonstick spray. 
Blend cookie crumbs, butter, and sugar in medium bowl. 
Press mixture evenly over bottom and up sides (not on rim) of prepared dish.
Chill crust 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake crust until set, about 10 minutes, then cool.

For filling:
Combine sugar, cocoa, and cornstarch in heavy medium saucepan; whisk to blend well. 
Gradually add 1/4 cup milk, whisking until cornstarch dissolves. 
Whisk in remaining 2 1/4 cups milk, then egg yolks and egg. 
Stir over medium-high heat until pudding thickens and boils, about 8 minutes. 
Remove from heat. 
Add chocolate and butter; whisk until melted and smooth. 
Spread pudding in prepared crust. Press plastic wrap onto pudding to cover and chill pie overnight.

For topping:
Peel plastic wrap off pie. 
Cover chocolate layer with raspberries, pointed side up, pressing lightly into chocolate to adhere (some berries will be left over). 
Beat cream, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl until peaks form; spread over berries on pie. 
Arrange remaining berries atop cream. 
Chill pie at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

And, the dance sensation that started it all: The Black Bottom.  In this video, the Varsity Drag title is in error. The Black Bottom replaced "The Charleston" as the next most popular dance of the 1920's. Released June 28, 1926. Written by Buddy De Sylva, Lew Brown and Ray Henderson.  Black bottom dancing was for the young and energetic. This song and style of dancing were popular in the1920's.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

MEYER LEMON CHEESECAKE WITH CHOCOLATE CRUST

Meyer Lemon Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust! This is one of my favorite recipes, and how perfect for National Cheesecake Day! I have three Meyer lemon trees in my garden, and they're all workhorses, producing lemons all year round. Meyer lemons have a unique tangy/sweet lemon flavor. I use them in just about everything, from salads to fish to the secret ingredient in chocolate chip cookies! Of course, if you don't have Meyer lemons, other lemons will do.

The recipe for the Cheesecake is adapted from Epicurious. I've changed it up in several ways, using Meyer lemons and making a Chocolate Crust. No big surprise there! This cheesecake is great just about any time!

MEYER LEMON CHEESECAKE WITH CHOCOLATE CRUST

Chocolate Cookie Crust
2 cups chocolate wafer cookies (grind in food processor)
6 Tbsp butter, melted
Filling
5 8-ounce packages (Philadelphia brand) cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
7 large eggs
3 cups (24 ounces) sour cream
2 Tbsp (packed) finely grated Meyer lemon peel
2 Tbsp fresh Meyer lemon juice

Directions

For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Stir cookie crumbs and butter in medium bowl until evenly moistened.
Press mixture onto bottom of 9-inch-diameter removable-bottom cheesecake pan with 
3-inch-high sides.
Bake crust about 10-12 minutes. Cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

Stack 3 large  sheets of foil on work surface. Put cheescake pan in center. Gather foil around pan bottom and up sides (to waterproof it)

For filling:
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until smooth and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar, then salt. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in sour cream, grated lemon peel, and lemon juice. Pour filling into cheese cake pan.
Place wrapped cake pan in large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cake pan. Bake cake until filling is slightly puffed and moves only slightly when pan is shaken gently, about 1 hour 25 minutes. Remove cake pan from water bath; remove foil. Cool cake in pan on rack 2 hours. Chill uncovered until cold; cover and keep chilled at least 1 day and up to 2 days.
Cut around pan sides; carefully loosen pan bottom from sides and push up pan bottom to release cake. Place cake (still on pan bottom) on platter.

Tip:
The pan: It must be three inches high to hold all the filling. If your nine-inch springform pan is that high, it can be used instead.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Chocolate Margarita Recipes

Yesterday was my friend Ingrid's birthday. She's a huge fan of Margaritas, so in her honor, I thought I'd post two recipes for Chocolate Margaritas. As always use the best ingredients for the best flavor! Both recipes suggest chocolate rims. How about adding a little salt to the rim mixture? Salt will bring out the chocolate and make this a bit more similar (ok, not all that similar) to a traditional margarita.

I. CHOCOLATE MARGARITA
A simple recipe from Blenderking.com:  (Per serving)

Ingredients
1 1/2 ounces Tequila
1 ounce Godiva liquor
3/4 ounce cream or half & half
1 Tbsp Hershey’s syrup
2 ounces orange juice
Ice

Directions
Shaker, not blender: Throw the ingredients into your shaker for a few quick shakes and pour into a margarita glass with crushed oreos lining the rim! Enjoy!

II. CHOCOLATE MARGARITA
And, from Marcela Valladolid at Foodnetwork.com. This recipe is for a crowd:

To rim the glasses:
Chocolate syrup
Finely chopped Mexican or bittersweet chocolate

Margarita:
1/2 cup chocolate syrup
1 cup (8 ounces) tequila
1/2 cup (4 ounces) chocolate liqueur
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup orange liqueur
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Ice

Directions

To rim the glasses: Put the syrup and chopped chocolate into 2 small dishes. Moisten the rims of 4 margarita or martini glasses with the chocolate syrup. Dip them in the Mexican chocolate until coated. Set aside.

Margarita: Combine all of the ingredients, except ice, in a pitcher. Working in batches, transfer the mixture to a shaker full of ice. Shake and pour into the prepared glasses. Serve cold.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, INGRID!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Milk Chocolate Truffles: Milk Chocolate Day!

Photo: Ghirardelli Chocolate!
Today is National Milk Chocolate Day. If you've been reading my blog, you know I'm more of a dark chocolate fan, but I have to be fair to those lovers of Milk Chocolate, especially today!

I love this easy truffle recipe from Ghirardelli Chocolate. Ghirardelli makes a great Luxe Milk Chocolate bar. As always, use what you have or like!

MILK CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES


Ingredients
1 pound Milk Chocolate, chopped (I use Ghirardelli Luxe Milk Chocolate)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp sweet butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder -Ghirardelli (or chopped nuts)

Directions
Melt milk chocolate, heavy cream and butter in top of double boiler or in saucepan over another saucepan over simmering water. As soon as mixture is smooth, remove from heat and transfer into bowl or baking dish. Cover chocolate mixture with plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator up to 2 hours.
Spread cocoa powder (or chopped nuts) in shallow plate.
Using melonballer, scoop chocolate and roll into balls between your hands. Then roll ball of chocolate in cocoa (or chopped nuts) until well coated. Place truffles on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat until you finish making all truffles. Allow truffles to set for about an hour.
Store in airtight container in refrigerator. Truffles are best served at room temperature.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Scotch Brownies for National Scotch Day!


You can never have too many Brownie recipes. Being that today is Scotch Day, I thought I'd repost this recipe for Brownies with 'Scotch' as the 'secret' ingredient,  recipe adapted from DrinkoftheWeek.com's Whiskey Brownies. This recipe, of course, can be made without the Scotch — but why would you want to do that? As always, use the very best ingredients--great Scotch, great chocolate!

Scotch Brownies

Ingredients
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup sweet butter
2 Tbsp water
2 eggs
6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (60-75% cacao)
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup Scotch (yeah, these are pretty boozy!)

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9" square pan.
In bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In saucepan combine sugar, butter, and water; cook over low heat to light boil.
Take off heat and add chocolate and vanilla; stir until smooth. Add in egg (one at time), beating well after each addition.
Add flour mixture and nuts (optional); stir well.
Pour mixture into prepared baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Cool in pan on rack. After cooled, sprinkle with Scotch. Really let it soak in.
When cooled completely remove from pan and top with Chocolate Glaze.

The recipe at Drink of the Week has an excellent rich chocolate icing, but I think you might as well go all the way with the "Scotch" Brownie theme, so here's a chocolate icing for these brownies that is made with Scotch.

Scotch infused Icing

Ingredients
1-1/2 ounces unsweetened or very dark (85%-up) chocolate
1/4 cup sweet butter
2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp half-and-half
1 Tbsp good Scotch
1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract

Directions
In top of double boiler, melt chocolate with  butter. Combine rest of ingredients in bowl and with electric mixer, beat in melted chocolate and butter. Beat until smooth. Mixture is runny, but stiffens as it cools. Ice cooled brownies.

or... have a glass of Scotch today!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Chocolate Coffee Zucchini Bread

I  know it's not National Zucchini Day ... or Zucchini Bread Day, for that matter, but with the abundance of zucchini in the garden, I decided to post yet another recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Bread. The 'secret' ingredient  of this particular chocolate zucchini bread is 'Coffee'. If you've been following my daily posts, you know that coffee often enhances the flavor of chocolate, and you'll find that in this recipe! As always, your final results will only be as good as your ingredients. Use the very best cocoa, fresh oil, and good coffee.

Chocolate Coffee Zucchini Bread 

ingredients
1-1/2 cups shredded fresh zucchini (approximately 1 zucchini)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup brewed coffee, cold
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg + 1 egg white
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup Flour
1/2 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup Walnuts,  chopped (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350° F
Lightly oil 9×5 bread pan.
Shred zucchini using fine shredding disc on food processor or hand shredder. I usually wrap the shredded zucchini in a paper towel and squeeze after shredding to get out excess moisture. Do this before measuring.
Measure 1-1/2 cups and set aside.
Beat together oil, brewed coffee, sugar, egg and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients until incorporated, then beat together until smooth. Fold in shredded zucchini and walnuts (optional). Once zucchini incorporated, pour into prepared pan and bake 55 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out dry. Remove  from oven and cool on wire rack. Remove from pan after cooling for 15 minutes.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Hot Fudge Sauce: Hot Fudge Sauce Day!

Who doesn't want to celebrate Hot Fudge Sauce Day? Hot Fudge sauce is so versatile.. spoon it over ice cream, brownies,  or just eat it from the jar! I love Recchiuti Fudge Sauce.. just heat and serve... but if you want to make your own, here's a really simple recipe--or you can make the Carnation 1-2-3 Fudge Sauce Recipe from the Retro Ad! Bet you have all the ingredients in your pantry. I do!

I. EASY HOT FUDGE SAUCE

Ingredients
1/2 cup sweet butter, softened
1 cup dark chocolate, chopped
1 can (14 ounches) Sweetened Condensed Milk

Directions
Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat.
Stir in dark chocolate chunks.
Add sweetened condense milk.
Stir well (until smooth).
Use immediately or store in Refrigerator.

II. CARNATION 1-2-3 FUDGE SAUCE


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tequila Brownies for Tequila Day!

Tomorrow (June 24) is National Tequila Day! Celebrate! Have a shot of Tequila... but better still, make these fabulous rich Tequila Brownies. I'm posting in advance of the 'holiday," so you'll be able to make these!


I use Reposado Tequila in this recipe. Reposado, or "rested," Tequila is aged in wood tanks or casks for a minimum of 2 months. The higher-quality Reposados are aged from 3-9 months. Reposado tequila has a robust flavor and is the best-selling in Mexico and can be either 100% agave or mixto. Of course, you can use whatever type of Tequila you have on hand in the following recipe.

TEQUILA BROWNIES

Ingredients
1/2 cup sweet butter
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
!/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1- 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp Reposado tequila
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease 8x8x2" square pan.  (I've used a 9x13")
Heat butter and chocolate in saucepan over saucepan over simmering flame. Stir until melted.
In bowl, combine cocoa, sugar, flour, tequila, baking powder, salt and eggs.
Pour in chocolate/butter mixture, mixing just until combined.
Stir in walnuts.
Spread mixture in pan.
Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Cool before cutting.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Penuche, Brown Sugar, Creamy Praline, or New England Fudge!

Today is Penuche Fudge Day. This tasty fudge is sometimes called Penuche Fudge, sometimes Brown Sugar Fudge, Creamy Praline Fudge, New England Fudge or even Sucre a la Creme (in Canada)! Whatever you call it, it's fabulous. One caveat. There's no chocolate in it. So if you want Chocolate Fudge, check out my National Fudge Day Recipe Round-Up!

Penuche Fudge

Ingredients
4 cups brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp sweet butter
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
1-2/3 cups chopped pecans

Directions
Combine brown sugar, cream and butter in medium saucepan. Stir until dissolved. Heat to between 234 and 240 degrees F.
Remove from heat and stir until mixture loses its gloss (or process in food processor 30 seconds) Quickly stir in vanilla and nuts and spread into a 9x9 inch dish.
Chill before cutting into squares.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chocolate Tootsie Roll Pops: National Lollipop Day

Today is National Lollipop Day. It should come as no surprise that my favorite lollipop when I was growing up was a Chocolate Tootsie Roll Pop.

I loved licking the hard outside to get to the chewy center. At some point, I used to chomp on the lollipop to make that crunchy hard candy shell combine in my mouth with the chewy tootsie roll center.

The Tootsie Roll Pop official website says that the Tootsie Roll Pop was the first lollipop providing an embedded candy "prize." That's exactly what it was...a prize! I can still taste it. Of course I only wanted a chocolate tootsie roll pop because what goes better with chocolate than more chocolate. And, don't forget the sticks. They were always great to chew on even after all traces of 'chocolate' were gone.

The history of the Tootsie Roll Pop: Tootsie Roll Pops were invented in 1930 by Brandon Perry, an employee of The Sweets Company of America or in another history, by an employee named Luke Weisgram who was experimenting with new products, or in another story an employee named Tom Medric. Doesn't matter! The Chocolate Tootsie Roll Pop was made from putting company's famous Tootsie Rolls into hard candy, and it quickly became one of the best selling lollipops in the world. 

For people with more time on their hands than they should have: A student study at the University of Cambridge concluded that it takes 3481 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. Another study by Purdue University concluded that it takes an average of 364 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop using a "licking machine", while it takes an average of 252 licks when tried by 20 volunteers. Yet another study by the University of Michigan concluded that it takes 411 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. A study by junior high students in Swarthmore School concluded that it takes 144 licks to get to the centre of a Tootsie Pop. As I mentioned before, I chomp near the end, so I would certainly alter the statistics.

For those who love a mystery, read the history of Leo Hirschfeld: Tootsie Roll Tragedy- and the murky Tootsie Roll history HERE.

And, for those of you who prefer their Tootsie Pops in a Glass, here's a recipe to celebrate the day.

Tootsie Pop Cocktail Recipe 
You'll be amazed at how much this tastes like a tootsie roll!

1 part Kahlua
1 part Root beer
2 drops chocolate syrup

In a Highball Glass, add Kahlua, then root beer. Stir. Then let chocolate syrup drop. Add tootsie pop (unwrapped) to garnish.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Chocolate Daiquiri Recipes: National Daiquiri Day!

Today is National Daiquiri Day, and how better to celebrate than with Chocolate Daquiris! And, instead of one recipe...here are three with different fruits and flavors. Perfect for this summer holiday.

FYI; A Daiquiri is a cocktail that usually combines rum, citrus (usually lime) and sugar or another sweetener. Add Chocolate, and it's my drink of choice!

Chocolate Daiquiri 

4 parts Light Rum
2 Parts Dark Cacao Liqueur
2 parts lime juice
1 part simple syrup

Fill shaker with ice cubes. Add all ingredients. Shake and strain into chilled daquiri glass.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Daiquiri

3 ounces chocolate vodka
1 cup fresh strawberries

Combine ingredients in blender. Blend well. Pour into chilled daiquiri glass. Garnish with chocolate covered strawberry!

Chocolate Banana Daiquiri

2 cups ice
1 banana, chopped in pieces
2 ounces golden (or white) rum
2 ounces creme de banane (this should be on your bar shelf!)
juice of 2 limes
2 Tbsp chocolate syrup

Blend ice and banana and blend on high speed. Then add all other ingredients to blender. Pulse until everything evens out and then blend on high until smooth. Serve in daiquiri or high ball glasses.
OMG.. this is fabulous!!

In honor of the day, my friend Cindy Sample's mystery novel Dying for a Daiquiri is only 99¢.



Thursday, July 17, 2014

Spicy Chocolate Mustard Cookies!

I know the first Saturday in August is Mustard Day, but I couldn't wait to post this Spicy Chocolate Cookie recipe. Make these and ask your guests to identify the 'surprise' ingredient! How fun! Let's face it--you can never have too many chocolate cookie recipes! Thanks to Colman's Mustard for providing this great recipe!

Spicy Chocolate Mustard Cookies

Ingredients                            
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate  
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour       
1 tsp baking powder          
1/2 tsp cinnamon                 
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp Colman’s Original Prepared Mustard

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt chocolate in small heavy saucepan over low heat and set aside. Sift together flour, baking powder, and cinnamon, and set aside. In electric mixer, cream together butter and 2/3 cup sugar. Add melted chocolate and egg and beat well.  Dissolve Colman’s Mustard in heavy cream and add to chocolate mixture. On lowest speed, fold in sifted flour mixture. Divide dough in half. Place each half on sheet of waxed paper and form into 10-inch strip. Using waxed paper to help, lift and roll each strip into 10-inch cylinder. Wrap each cylinder in waxed paper, twisting the ends secure. Chill for two hours. Slice in 3/4 inch rounds. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool and enjoy!



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Kicked Up Chocolate Tapioca Pudding

Today is National Chocolate Tapioca Pudding Day...not to be confused with National Tapioca Day (June 28) when I posted two Chocolate Tapioca Recipes. This recipe is 'kicked' up because it has the addition of Rum! Now you're talking. Recipe from Emeril Lagasse. It's easy, fast and delicious!

KICKED UP CHOCOLATE TAPIOCA PUDDING

Ingredients
1/2 cup sugar
3 TBSP quick cooking tapioca
3 cups whole milk
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 ounces DARK chocolate
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
2 tsp dark rum

Directions 
In medium saucepan, combine sugar, tapioca, milk and egg. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Add cinnamon and chocolate to saucepan and cook over medium heat until pudding comes to full boil, stirring continually to prevent burning.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and rum.
Cool for 20 minutes. Stir for creamy texture.
Serve warm or chilled. R

Monday, July 14, 2014

Crepes a la Bastille: Bastille Day!

Today is Bastille Day! And what could be more french than Crepes!
Just as the bricks came tumbling down when the French stormed the Bastille, ice cream and chocolate will tumble from your fork when you cut into these fabulous Triple Chocolate Crepes for the Bastille Day Holiday. Crepes a la Bastille! If you didn't get to make these this morning, you can always make them for dinner!

CREPES A LA BASTILLE

Crepes
Ingredients
2 cups whole milk
2 eggs
2-1/2 Tbsp sweet butter, melted
1 ounce dark chocolate (65-75% cacao), melted
1-1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup high quality DARK cocoa 

1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt


Making the Crepes
Melt butter & chocolate together, mixing to combine and smooth out chocolate. 

In large bowl, combine milk and eggs. 
In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients.
Whisk together milk and eggs with dry ingredients, continue whisking incorporating butter and chocolate mixture.
Cover and refrigerate at least an hour, or overnight. 

Be sure to re-whisk batter before cooking the crepes.

Cooking the Crepes
Butter a hot frying pan (small or medium) or crepe pan, then wipe out excess butter with paper towel so it is sort of dry

Pour in small amount of crepe batter and tilt pan as needed so batter spreads and covers bottom of pan. As edges begin to turn up, flip crepe with spatula for few seconds to cook other side.

Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp honey
3 ounces Dark chocolate (65-75% cacao), chopped

Directions
Combine cream and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook 3 minutes or until tiny bubbles form around edge of pan, stirring frequently (do not boil).
Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate until smooth.

Fill Crepes with Dark Chocolate Ice Cream or Chocolate Ganache and Drizzle with Chocolate Sauce.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Blueberry Chocolate Muffins: National Blueberry Muffin Day

I'm a major blueberry person from way back, even before I knew they were healthy with antioxidants and flavonoids and vitamins. I grew up back East, and when we went to the 'country', my Aunt Annie used to take us blueberry hunting in the woods. It was great fun. We'd all come back with blue-stained hands and mouths. Those blueberries were small and juicy and sweet as wild blueberries should be. I still crave blueberries, and I can't wait until they're in season. Local blueberries at the farmers' markets are in right now. I usually freeze my own blueberries, but in a pinch the wild blueberries from Trader Joe's are very tasty. Of course, I can get fresh blueberries all year round from other countries, but local is the way to go.

For National Blueberry Muffin Day, use fresh blueberries in these muffin recipes. I am partial to plain muffins with blueberries and chocolate chunks, so the first recipe is the one I use. But since this is a chocolate blog, I found a recipe for chocolate blueberry muffins. I haven't made that one, so let me know what you think if you do. It comes from a very reputable source.

Here's my recipe for Blueberry Chocolate Chunk Muffins. I like my muffins firm with a crusty top and soft inside--and not too sweet. I think you'll like these. I use a 1/2 cup of sugar, but if you want them a little sweeter use 3/4 cup.

Blueberry Chocolate Chunk Muffins


Ingredients
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup white sugar
pinch of salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1/3 cup whole milk
fresh blueberries (maybe a cup?)
dark chocolate, chopped into chunks

Directions
Preheat oven to 400. Grease your muffin cups or use liners.
Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Make a well in center.
Put oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg (already whipped) and enough milk to fill cup to brim. Pour into the well and mix with flour mixture. Do not overmix.
Fold in blueberries and as much of the dark chocolate chunks as you'd like. I like a lot, but you want to be able to taste the blueberries.
Fill muffin cups right to top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes in preheated oven-- or until done.

So that's my favorite, but for those who want a chocolate muffin with blueberries, here's a recipe from Yankee Magazine. As I mentioned, I haven't tried it, but it looks easy and good.

Chocolate Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
3 ounces unsweetened or very dark chocolate
1 cup sugar (I'd probably use less)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp Madagascar vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In medium saucepan, melt butter and unsweetened chocolate over medium heat until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Stir in sugar, egg, buttermilk, and vanilla. In small bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Gently combine with liquid ingredients. Fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into well-greased muffin cups, filling to top. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or untiltoothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer muffins to wire rack to cool. Drizzle cooled muffins with the semisweet chocolate.

Have a great Blueberry Muffin Day--make it Chocolate!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

For me there's nothing quite like a sugar cookie, and if you add chocolate it's even better! The following recipe is terrific. Perfect every time! The resulting Chocolate Sugar Cookie is perfect for today's holiday: National Sugar Cookie Day! FYI; this is a chewy cookie.

CHOCOLATE SUGAR COOKIES

Ingredients
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp flour
3/4 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
14 Tbsp sweet butter
1-3/4 cups dark brown sugar (packed)
1 Tbsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In shallow bowl, put granulated sugar on a plate. Set aside.
In bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder.
In large bowl, melt 10 Tbsp butter in microwave. Do not overheat; microwave butter until just melted. Stir in remaining 4 Tbsp butter until melted. Allow butter to cool for 10-15 minutes.
Whisk brown sugar, vanilla and salt into melted butter until  smooth. Whisk in egg and egg yolk until smooth. Stir in flour mixture until just combined.
Roll dough into balls -- 2 Tbsp for each cookie. Roll balls in white sugar and place on lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets.
Flatten cookies to 1/4-inch thick.
Sprinkle cookies with more white sugar.
Bake 12-14 minutes. Don't overbake.
Transfer to wire rack to cool.

http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2013/04/chewy-chocolate-sugar-cookies.html

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Milk Chocolate Almond Bark

Today is Milk Chocolate with Almonds Day, and what could be easier and better than  Milk Chocolate Almond Bark. You can make this with dark chocolate, too, but to celebrate this particular holiday, I'm using milk chocolate! Here's a simple go-to recipe. Remember, the final product is only as good as the ingredients. Use the very best.

MILK CHOCOLATE ALMOND BARK

Ingredients
12 ounces milk chocolate
1 cup toasted almonds (in the oven), chopped coarsely  (some people like them whole/your choice)
Sea salt

Directions
Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate until smooth in top of double boiler or saucepan placed over another saucepan with simmering water.
Set aside 6 Tbsp almonds
Stir remaining almonds into melted chocolate.
Pour mixture onto cookie sheet lined with parchment. Spread to 1/2-inch thickness.
Sprinkle remaining almond pieces over mixture. Sprinkle sparingly with sea salt.
Tap pan on the counter until bark is desired thickness.
Refrigerate for about 6 hours or until firm.
Break into pieces.
Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

How easy is that?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Chocolate Pecan Bars: Retro Ad & Recipe

Here's a Retro Recipe for Chocolate Pecan Bars. This is so easy to make, and I always have the ingredients in the pantry. Given that it's retro, I would upgrade with the very best Cocoa, real butter, and Madagascar vanilla.


CHOCOLATE PECAN BARS
(Makes 24 to 36 bars)

Ingredients:
1-1/4 cups unsifted flour
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup DARK Cocoa
1 cup cold butter
1 (14-ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk)
1 egg
2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans

Directions
Preheat oven to 350° (325° for glass dish). In large bowl, combine flour, sugar and cocoa; cut in butter until crumbly (mixture will be dry). Press firmly on bottom of 13×9-inch baking pan. Bake 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, beat sweetened condensed milk, egg and vanilla; mix well. Stir in nuts. Spread evenly over crust. Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Cut into bars. Store covered in refrigerator.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Red Velvet Blueberry Whoopie Pies

Photo: US Highbush Blueberry Council
I always say you should check out food sites and associations for creative recipes! This recipe  for Red Velvet Blueberry Whoopie Pies from the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council is perfect for Fourth of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day...or just about any time. And, you can always change it up by using a chocolate cakemix instead of red velvet. The recipe calls for a mix--very easy--but if you're a purist, you can always use your favorite red velvet cake recipe.

RED VELVET BLUEBERRY WHOOPIE PIES

Ingredients 
1 red velvet cake mix (18.25 ounces)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup water
1⁄3 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1-1/2 cups marshmallow crème from a jar
1 cup fresh blueberries

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In large bowl combine cake mix, flour, water, oil and eggs With electric mixer, beat at medium speed until smooth, 2-3 minutes
Scoop batter by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart, to make 24 cookies Bake until puffed, 8-10 minutes
Let cool 2 minutes on baking sheets With spatula, remove to wire racks to cool completely
With small spatula or knife, spread 1-1/2 teaspoons marshmallow crème onto flat side of each cookie. Divide blueberries onto 12 of the cookies
Top with remaining cookies to make sandwiches
Serve immediately or store chilled in an airtight container layered between sheets of waxed paper

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Easy Fourth of July Strawberry Pie

For me, Fourth of July is all about Strawberries and Whipped Cream.  Here's an Easy Fourth of July Strawberry Pie, but of course I want chocolate with that, so I'm making a Chocolate Cookie Crust. Add blueberries to the whipped cream topping, and you'll have stars!

EASY FOURTH OF JULY STRAWBERRY PIE

Chocolate Cookie Crust

25-30 chocolate cookie wafers (I use Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers), 4 Tbsp sweet butter, melted and cooled. Heat oven to 350°F.  Whirl cookies in food processor until crumbs are fine. Put in medium bowl, add melted butter, and mix until combined. Press crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate evenly and firmly on bottom and up sides. Bake at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool (on wire rack) before filling.

Filling & Topping

Mash 2 cups of strawberries (chunky not macerated) (put aside a cup of sliced strawberries). Place strawberries in small saucepan. Add sugar (to taste-depends on strawberries-about 1/2 cup?), 1/4 cup corn starch, dash of salt, 1 tsp vanilla or 1 Tbsp  lemon juice (or both). Bring to simmer until thickened. Cool completely. Add rest of strawberries (cut up or sliced) and put in baked cooled Chocolate Cookie Crust. Put in fridge for 2 hours to set. Top with whipped cream, big whole strawberries, and blueberries!

Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

PEEPS PATRIOTIC S'MORES for Fourth of July!

Photo: PEEPS®
I love S'MORES, and I was taken by the seasonal  PEEPS® Patriotic Vanilla Creme Marshallow Chicks. So cute! I had planned to make these in advance and take a cool shot, but the PEEPS folks beat me to the punch. I think their photo is very cool, don't you? So here's something fun for everyone at the Fourth of July barbecue or campfire: PEEPS Patriotic S'mores!

PEEPS PATRIOTIC SMORES!

Ingredients
PEEPS Patriotic Vanilla Creme Marshmallow Chicks
Graham crackers
Chocolate bars
Sprinkles (Red, White and Blue)

Directions
Break graham crackers in half, so you have two squares.
Melt PEEP over fire or low heat.
Layer melted PEEP over square of chocolate, with graham cracker square on bottom
Top S’more with second graham cracker square and drizzle melted chocolate on top
Add patriotic sprinkles, and top off with PEEPS Patriotic Vanilla Creme Marshmallow Chick

Have a great Fourth of July!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Canada Day: Chocolate Maple Cashew Pie

Today is Canada Day, so as a toast to my friends to the North, here's a recipe for Chocolate Maple Pie. Canada Day is the anniversary of Canada's confederation. Canadians commemorate the day with parades, fireworks, cookouts, and concerts. Formerly known as "Dominion Day," Canada Day marks the anniversary of the Constitution Act of 1867, joining Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Canada province (now Ontario and Quebec) into a single country. The Constitution Act granted Canada a substantial amount of independence from England, although complete independence was not given until 1982. The first official celebration was held in 1917 to honor Canada's 50th birthday. It was not until 1946 that Phileas Cote, a member of the Quebec House of Commons, sent a private member's bill to rename Dominion Day as Canada Day. The Senate responded by recommending the holiday be named the "National Holiday of Canada." Since no one could agree on the name, the bill was defeated. The government first recognized Canada Day in 1958 by holding a trooping of the color on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Canada's centennial marked the first widespread celebration in 1967. The event promoted nationalism and Canadian pride. In the 1980s, the government began funding Canada Day activities in smaller communities. The holiday was finally made official by a unanimous vote on October 27, 1982; the same year that the Canada Act was passed, removing any remaining dependence of Canada on the United Kingdom.

So in celebration of Canada Day, here's a recipe for Chocolate Maple Cashew Pie! It's a great twist on Pecan Pie since it's made with cashews instead of pecans, brandy instead of bourbon, and creme fraiche instead of whipped cream! This recipe is from Melissa Clark in Epicurious, November 2007. I've changed it ever so slightly. If you're celebrating Canada Day, be sure and make this with Canadian Maple Syrup.

Check out Epicurious's recipe for a 9" pie crust or make your favorite--or you could even use a frozen pie crust from Trader Joe's! Bake pie crust before filling!

CHOCOLATE MAPLE CASHEW PIE

For filling:
1 1/4 cups pure maple syrup
6 Tbsp butter, melted
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3 large eggs
2 Tbsp brandy (riff on bourbon in pecan pie)
3 ounces DARK (62%+ cacao) chocolate, finely chopped
1-1/4 cups unsalted roasted cashews (a riff on pecan pie)
Creme fraiche for topping (another riff on the traditional Pecan Pie which uses whipped cream)
 
Directions
Make pie shell, bake, and let cool.

In medium saucepan over moderately high heat, simmer maple syrup, uncovered, until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Carefully whisk in butter (mixture may splatter), then sugar and salt. Remove from heat and let cool to warm room temperature.

In medium bowl, whisk together eggs and brandy. Whisk egg mixture into cooled maple syrup mixture.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spread chopped chocolate in even layer over bottom of prepared crust.

Sprinkle nuts in second even layer, then pour filling over nuts.

Bake until filling is puffed and center is just set, 45 to 60 minutes. Cool in pan on rack.