Sunday, November 30, 2014

No Bake Chocolate Mousse Pie

Today is National Mousse Day. I love chocolate mousse, and it's easy to make, simple to enjoy! I came across this recipe for No Bake Chocolate Mousse Pie a few months ago and tried it. Thought I should share in case you missed it. What a great way to enhance chocolate mousse -- add more chocolate! The cookie crust made with Italian wafer sandwich cookies is fab and adds some zip, but you can also make a regular chocolate cookie crust if you don't have any Italian sandwich cookies! This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking, a great resource for recipes.

NO BAKE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE PIE

Ingredients
1 ounce sweet butter, melted; more for the pan
8 ounces Italian chocolate wafer sandwich cookies (Quadratini) (if you don't have these you can use Famous Chocolate Wafers)
9 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (about 1-1/2 cups); more for garnish
1-1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
Pinch kosher salt
3-3/4 cups heavy cream

Directions
Butter a 9-inch springform pan.
Grind cookies in food processor until they resemble wet sand, 20 to 30 seconds; you will have about 1-3/4 cups. Transfer to a small bowl and mix in butter. Spread crumbs in the pan, cover with plastic wrap, and press evenly into bottom. Refrigerate.

Combine chocolate, 1/2 tsp of vanilla, and salt in large bowl. In small saucepan, bring 3/4 cup of cream to bare simmer. Pour cream over chocolate, let sit for 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to cool.

Beat 1-1/2 cups of cream in medium bowl with electric mixer on medium-high speed to stiff peaks, about 2 minutes. Whisk chocolate mixture to loosen, and fold into whipped cream with large silicone spatula until no streaks remain.

Carefully peel plastic wrap off crust and scrape mousse into pan, gently spreading to edges. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

Just before serving, beat remaining 1-1/2 cups cream and 1 tsp vanilla in medium bowl to medium-stiff peaks. Run knife around pie to loosen edges and then remove side of pan. Slidespatula under crust and transfer pie to serving plate. Mound whipped cream over mousse and top with chocolate curls, shards, or shavings. To serve, dip knife into hot water and dry before slicing.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Candy Cane Truffles

Today is National Chocolates Day, and there are wonderful chocolatiers out there, so be sure to stop by your favorite when you're out and about on this blustery day (well, its damp and blustery here!). Given that Christmas is coming up, I thought you might want to get into gift giving mode, and what's better than homemade truffles? Here's an easy recipe for Candy Cane Truffles to celebrate Chocolates Day! FYI: You can always keep these for yourself.

1. CANDY CANE TRUFFLES 

Ingredients
4 ounces soft cream cheese
2 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar
1 cup chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1/3 cup crushed candy canes

Directions
Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar together until smooth.
Melt chopped chocolate in top of doubleboiler or saucepan over a saucepan over simmering water.
Add chocolate and peppermint extract to cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth and combined. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Scoop chocolate with melon baller or two spoons and roll into balls.
Roll bowls in crushed candy canes.

And, here's a second Candy Cane Truffles recipe that I really love. It's from Hungry Girl por Vida. What's cool about it, besides the fact  that the Truffles are delicious, is that it's made into little cubes rather than balls. Perfect for dropping into a hot cup of milk or cocoa! 

2. CANDY CANE TRUFFLES
 
Ingredients
4 ounces heavy cream
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
3 candy canes, crushed

Directions
Line small loaf pan with parchment, set aside.
Put chocolate in medium bowl and set aside.
Heat cream in small saucepan over medium-low heat to scald (just before it boils, there will be little bubbles around the edges of the pan).
Pour hot cream over chocolate and cover for about 5 minutes.
Remove cover and stir vuntil smooth.
Stir in vanilla and peppermint extracts until combined.
Tip from Hungry Girl: If not all of the chocolate pieces are smooth and melted, fashion a double boiler out of a saucepan of simmering water and a heatproof bowl, gently heat chocolate mixture until smooth. 
Pour chocolate mixture into loaf pan and smooth top. Sprinkle with candy cane pieces and allow to cool to room temperature.
Chill in refrigerator until firm, 30-60 minutes.
Remove from pan and cut into cubes.

Cubes can be added to hot milk to make Cocoa or eat as you would truffles..or add to a cup of hot coffee or Cocoa for added goodness or gift to friends!

Friday, November 28, 2014

BLACK FRIDAY CHOCOLATE CAKE

Today is National Cake Day, and as Black Friday sales have already begun--in the stores and online, I thought I'd post this great recipe for Black Friday Cake. You'll be the first in line! It's easy to make and delicious to eat. Don't be put off by the thin batter.. it will work!

Black Friday is traditionally the Friday after Thanksgiving when millions of people in the U.S. start their holiday shopping! There are many stories about the origins of the term Black Friday. In the 1950s, some factory managers referred to the day after Thanksgiving as "Black Friday" because so many workers called in sick. The day, noted one industrial magazine, was "a disease second only to the bubonic plague" in its effects on employees. In the 1960s, police in Philadelphia complained about the congested streets, clogged with motorists and pedestrians out shopping, calling it “Black Friday.” By the mid 1970s, newspapers in and around Philadelphia used it to refer to the start of holiday shopping. But its usage also has negative associations. In the1980s, some enterprising merchants turned it around. They pointed out that there was a "black ink" that showed up on balance sheets as a result of the day. “Black” refers to stores moving from the “red” to the “black,” back when accounting records were kept by hand, and red ink indicated a loss, and black a profit--a short hop to the idea that Black Friday was the day when retailers came out of the red and went into the black by beginning to turn a profit.

As retailers began to realize they could draw big crowds by discounting prices, Black Friday became the day to shop, with lots of bargains. Black Friday is a long day, with stores opening at 9 p.m. the night before or 3 am. in the morning on the actual Friday. It's just amazing to me that hordes of people stand in line for items they may or may not need, just because it's a bargain. For those of you who don't want to stand in an actual line, there are plenty of Black Friday sales online.

Planning to be at the stores today? Bring some chocolate to give you energy throughout the day. At home in your jammies shopping online? You'll have plenty of time to make and enjoy this delicious Black Friday Cake! This is an adaptation of the original Hershey's Black Magic Cake.

BLACK FRIDAY CAKE

Ingredients 
1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups DARK cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup strong black coffee, cooled
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract

CHOCOLATE FROSTING
1/2 cup sweet butter, softened
2 oz melted very dark or unsweetened chocolate, cooled
3 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp milk
2 tsp Madagascar vanilla

Directions
Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in large mixing bowl or stand mixer.
Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.
Beat at medium speed for two minutes. Batter is thin.
Pour batter into greased and floured 9x13 pan or two 9 inch cake pans.
Bake at 350 degrees 35-40 minutes for 9x13, or 30-35 minutes for layer pans.
Combine frosting ingredients and mix with hand or stand mixer.
Spread frosting on cooled cakes.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Chocolate: A Real Cause for Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving Leftovers: Mashed Potato Chocolate Cake

If you're like me, you'll have a lot of Thanksgiving Leftovers. I posted a recipe last year for Turkey Mole to use up the leftover turkey, but here's another great recipe for those delicious leftover mashed potatoes. This Mashed Potato Chocolate Cake recipe is easy and absolutely delicious. WARNING: This recipe won't work if you seasoned your potatoes with herbs or garlic. Mashed potatoes with butter or cream or cream cheese will work perfectly.

In case you want to make this as its own dish (not using leftovers), try the recipe I posted for White Chocolate Mashed Potatoes.

I've never met a potato I didn't like!

MASHED POTATO CHOCOLATE CAKE

Ingredients
4 ounces dark chocolate (65-75% cacao)
1 cup sweet butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup mashed potatoes
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp Madagascar or Mexican vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 ounces dark chocolate chopped into chunks (or chocolate chips)

Directions
Melt chocolate with vanilla; cool slightly.
Sift together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.
In another bowl, cream together butter and sugar and beat in eggs, one by one.
Add chocolate and mashed potatoes.
Beat in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk.
Fold in dark chocolate chips or chunks.
Pour into greased 13x9 x 2 inch pan (or Bundt Pan) and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 40 minutes. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Chocolate Pumpkin Trifle: Perfect for Thanksgiving

Holidays are the perfect time for Trifles. I make a wicked (and easy) Trifle for the Fourth of July with sponge cake, strawberries, blueberries & kirsh. So for Thanksgiving, I thought I'd post this easy and sweet trifle recipe for Chocolate Pumpkin Trifle that combines pumpkin and chocolate.

What's a TRIFLE? The dictionary defines 'Trifle' as something insignificant, but you'll find that this dessert is anything but. I'm not trifling with you. This is a fabulous dessert!

Trifles are traditionally made in a large clear deep bowl so you can see all the layers. I have the perfect bowl! The assembled trifle is covered and placed in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours so the flavors can mingle. This Chocolate and Pumpkin Trifle is perfect for Thanksgiving since it can feed upwards of 8 guests.

There are many variations, and you can add different things in different layers--and you can vary the size of your layers. You can follow the recipe below with cookies but stack as you please: ex, layer of pumpkin cream, layer of cookies, layer of chocolate cream, etc. This is not a science. Instead of Chocolate Wafers, you can use Chocolate Cake or Brownies or try using left over Chocolate Pumpkin Marble Bundt Cake (as if there is any left over!) or Pumpkin Bread.
Waterford Trifle Bowl

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN TRIFLE

Ingredients
4 ounces dark chocolate (70% cacao), chopped
4 cups heavy cream
2 tsp Madagascar vanilla
1 cup natural pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp pumpkin spice
1- 7.5-ounce jar of Marshmallow Fluff
6 small Heath bars (toffee), chopped (still have any left over from Halloween?)
1 1/2- 9-ounce boxes chocolate wafer cookies (or chocolate cake)

Directions (but when it comes to layering, that's up to you!):
1. In small pot over another pot, melt chocolate with 1/2 cup cream over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth. Let cool.
2. Using electric mixer, whip 2 cups cream with 1 tsp vanilla until stiff.
3. In medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, pumpkin spice and marshmallow cream. Fold in whipped cream in 2 parts; refrigerate.
3. Add remaining 1-1/2 cups heavy cream to mixer bowl and whip until thickened. With machine on, slowly add chocolate mixture and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla and beat until stiff but not dry.
4. Spread one-third of chocolate cream in a 4-quart clear glass trifle bowl.
5. Layer with one-third of toffee (Heath bars).
6. Make a cookie (or cake) layer--be sure and stand up some cookies along side of bowl (it will look pretty)*
7. Make pumpkin cream layer
8. Repeat with remaining cookies and more pumpkin cream (depending on how thick you make layers).
9. Add chocolate cream layer.
10. Sprinkle with chopped toffee and cover with chocolate cream.
11. Cover and refrigerate for 4-24 hours.
To serve, sprinkle with the remaining toffee (or not).

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN MARBLE BUNDT CAKE

Photo: Sunset Magazine
With Thanksgiving so late this year, we've run into another food holiday -- National Cake Day! Why not celebrate Thanksgiving with this fabulous Pumpkin Chocolate Bundt Cake!

According to Nordic Ware, the original makers of the Bundt Pan, "If there is a kitchen in the home, there is a Bundt pan." Even if there's not, I think my kitchen makes up the difference. I have all kinds of bundt pans. I find the shapes so versatile and fun. Bundt cakes always look so special. I'm always buying unique bundt pans at the flea market or White Elephant Sale.

Here are some Nordic Ware Pumpkin Bundt Pans for Thanksgiving:


Nordic Ware: Great Pumpkin Bundt Pan
Love this go-to recipe from Sunset Magazine (Charity Ferreira: 2003) for Chocolate Pumpkin Marble Bundt Cake. This marbled bundt cake features two separate batters: chocolate and pumpkin. The original recipe calls for a chocolate glaze, but that's optional. The cake is rich enough as it is.

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN MARBLE BUNDT CAKE

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups (3/4 lb) sweet butter, room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
2 tsp Madagascar vanilla
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin (I use an all natural canned pumpkin)
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
3/4 cup Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa
2/3 cup buttermilk

Directions
1. In large bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs, one at time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Scrape half mixture into another bowl.
2. To make pumpkin batter: Beat pumpkin into half butter mixture until well blended. In another bowl, stir together 1 3/4 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and beat on low speed or fold in with flexible spatula just until blended.
3. To make chocolate batter: In another bowl, mix remaining 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cocoa. Add flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk to the other half of the butter mixture (starting and ending with flour mixture), beating after each addition just until blended.
4. Spoon half pumpkin batter into buttered and floured 12-cup bundt-cake pan. Drop half chocolate batter by spoonfuls over (but not entirely covering) pumpkin batter. Repeat to spoon remaining pumpkin and chocolate batters into pan. Gently run blade of butter knife around center of pan several times, then draw knife across width of pan in 10 to 12 places to swirl batters.
5. Bake in 350° regular or 325° convection oven until wood skewer inserted into center of cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 55 to 60 minutes. Let cake cool 10 minutes in pan, then invert onto rack, lift off pan, and cool cake completely.
Nordic Ware: Turkey Bundt Pan

Thanksgiving Side Dish: White Chocolate Mashed Potatoes

What's Thanksgiving without Mashed Potatoes? Here's my go-to recipe for a Chocolate Side Dish -- White Chocolate Mashed Potatoes. These potatoes are not sweet because white chocolate --real white chocolate -- is not really chocolate. White chocolate has a lot of cocoa butter in it, so these potatoes will be rich. The white chocolate takes the place of butter in a 'normal' recipe. I use regular milk, because let's face it.. I love the fat. You can even use cream! Make sure you use pure white chocolate made from cocoa butter and not those fake white chocolate disks or you'll have a tasteless mess. Want to make these a bit spicy? Add a few dashes of hot sauce when you add the salt.

Happy Thanksgiving!

White Chocolate Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients
3 lbs yellow-fleshed potatoes, peeled
1-1/2 ounces white chocolate, chopped (make sure it's pure white chocolate made from cocoa butter and not just a hydrogenated shortening)
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup milk

Directions
Cook potatoes in large pot. Cover with cold water and bring to simmer over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until tender (25 minutes). Drain in colander set in sink (completely.. the less starch, the flufflier the potatoes) and return potatoes to pot.
Add white chocolate to hot potatoes; stir until white chocolate starts to melt. Stir in salt.
Use electric mixer at medium-low speed to mash potatoes slightly. Pour in milk (or cream) and continue mixing until smooth, about 1 minute.
Serve hot.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Chocolate Turkey Rubs: Thanksgiving Barbecued Turkey

I live in Northern California, and we barbecue turkey all year long, so it's not surprising that we barbecue the turkey for Thanksgiving. I love the smokiness and flavor that the barbecue brings to the bird. Barbecuing the turkey also leaves the ovens free for all those side dishes and pies.

Four years ago we started barbecuing our turkeys with spicy chocolate rubs. Here are two great recipes. We've made some adaptations, but the first recipe for Spicy Chocolate Rub Recipe is adapted from  The BBQ Report. Just combine everything in the Cuisinart until finely ground and pat on turkey. Very easy!

This recipe is for chicken, so if you're planning a 20 lb. turkey, you'll need to increase the amounts.

SPICY CHOCOLATE RUB

Ingredients
1 cup natural unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 tsp dried red pepper flakes, chopped fine
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 Tbsp granulated sugar

**
Want to get a little more sophisticated with the Rub? Kunde Family Estates (great wines to accompany your turkey) has a recipe for BBQ Turkey with Ancho Chile/Chocolate Rub. This recipe includes brining the turkey first. If you buy a kosher turkey it will already be brined. This recipe is for a 12-16 pound turkey, so if yours is bigger than that, you'll need to adjust the measurements.

ANCHO CHILE CHOCOLATE RUB

Ingredients
3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp chile powder
1 Tbsp unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp chipotle chile powder
2 tbsp softened butter

Directions

In small bowl, combine all dry rub ingredients. Mix well. In another small bowl, mash butter together with 2 Tbsp rub – set aside.

Place turkey in large roasting pan. With fingers, gently loosen the skin over breast meat and insert butter/rub under skin; gently rub over breast meat. Rub the outside of bird well with olive oil; then sprinkle generously inside and out with rub. Loosely pack  cavity with lemon and orange slices. Tie drumsticks together with kitchen string. Place in refrigerator and let sit; uncovered, 5 – 6 hours, or until ready to cook.

When ready to cook, prepare grill. If using charcoal grill, prepare for indirect cooking. For gas grills, heat to medium high. Put turkey in roasting pan on grill; add 2 cups water; cover. Turn all gas setting to low. Grill-roast turkey, basting with pan juices and rotating pan 180 degrees every hour, for 3 hours. (If using charcoal grill, add briquettes or mesquite every hour to maintain an even temperature). After 3 hours, insert instant-read thermometer in fleshy part of inner thigh to check for doneness. Thigh meat should register 175° F and the juices should run clear when thigh is pierced. If not done, cover and continue to cook; checking every 20 minutes for doneness.

When done, transfer turkey to a heated platter, cover loosely with foil and allow to sit for 20 minutes before carving.

Does Chocolate have a place at your Thanksgiving Table this year?

Gabriella's Biscotti: Guest post by Kristi Belcamino

I love when my world's of mystery and chocolate collide. Today's guest post is by Kristi Belcamino, a writer, artist, and crime reporter who also bakes a tasty biscotti. I know this first hand, as she just sent me a box full of biscotti last weekend! I think biscotti are perfect for Thanksgiving brunch or the day after...or just about any time. 

Kristi Belcamino's first novel, Blessed are the Dead (HarperCollins 2014), is inspired by her dealings with a serial killer during her life as a Bay Area crime reporter. As an award-winning crime reporter at newspapers in California, she flew over Big Sur in an FA-18 jet with the Blue Angels, raced a Dodge Viper at Laguna Seca, and watched autopsies. Find out more at www.kristibelcamino.com or on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/kristibelcaminowriter

Kristi Belcamino:
Gabriella’s Biscotti 

I’m not a big baker. I love to cook, but find baking very challenging. What I’ve decided after years of failed, flattened, burned experiments, is that as far as baking goes, it is best to stick with the three things I can bake and perfect them. I can bake amazing homemade bread, scrumptious oatmeal cookies, and biscotti.

I gave my character, Gabriella Giovanni, this ability as well. She’s a newspaper reporter and sometimes bakes biscotti for her cop sources. Usually she bakes the plain biscotti, but if it is for a special occasion, such as something she is bringing to a holiday party, she will whip out these chocolate dipped ones.

Ingredients: 

1 ½ sticks of butter, softened, but not melted
3 eggs
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped walnuts or almonds
18 ounces of chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Not too much, though. Add eggs and extracts. Beat well.

 2. In another bowl, mix dry ingredients together and then add to the butter mixture, blending well. (You will get a feel for what the dough should be like in your hands. You don’t want it too dry or too sticky, so you can add a tiny bit of water or flour to adjust. If you deal with bread baking at all, you’ll already have an instinctive feel for what the dough should be like, otherwise, you’ll have to experiment a little)

3. Shape dough into two long loaves on greased baking sheet.

4. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes (could vary, but until lightly browned)

5. When slightly cool, slice the loaves at a gentle angle.

6. Bake on their side for 5 to 15 more minutes.

7. Set aside until completely cool.

8. Put chocolate in a bowl that fits over a pan of boiling water, but does not touch the water. Stir until chocolate is melted and there are no more lumps.

 9. Remove from heat. Dip one end of each biscotti (about halfway) into the chocolate and set on a wire rack (with wax or parchment paper underneath) until chocolate sets. (You can also place rack on a flat baking sheet and refrigerate to speed up hardening process.

Note: If chocolate seems lumpy on biscotti when you first dip it, you can smooth it with a rubber spatula.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Truffles: Pumpkin Truffles

Socola Pumpkin Burnt Caramel Truffles
With Thanksgiving coming up this week, I thought I'd post about Pumpkin Pie Truffles for the Thanksgiving feast or as a hostess gift (how retro is that?) or for yourself. Luckily you have the choice of buying them or making them. They're easy to make, but I am also quite fond of  See's Candies Pumpkin Pie Truffle. Other Pumpkin Truffles are delicate with a combination of burnt caramel (Socola Chocolates Pumpkin Burnt Caramel Chocolate Truffles) or smooth 'unrobed' Pumpkin Spice Milk Chocolate Truffles from Neo Cocoa. Check out your local chocolatier for seasonal Pumpkin Truffles or scroll down for some favorites at the end of this post. Get your order in before they run out.

***

I always have 'natural' pumpkin in the cupboard. Besides using it for pies, truffles and cakes, it's great for doggie upset stomachs. I also have Libby's pumpkin puree because I grew up with it, and sometimes it's just what I want. I'm not much for making my own pumpkin puree.

Truffles are simple to make. The following recipe is from FoodNetwork for Easy Pumpkin Truffles. They are just that--easy and delicious. But in case you want to experiment, I've added  links to other Pumpkin Truffle and Pumpkin Pie Truffle recipes.

Easy Pumpkin Truffles

Ingredients
1 cup pumpkin puree
See's Pumpkin Pie Truffles
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground gloves
2 cups cream
1 pound dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 ounce sweet butter, room temperature
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
6 ounces melted dark chocolate
3 ounces cocoa powder

Directions
In medium saucepan over low heat, combine pumpkin, brown sugar and spices. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until mixture reduces by half and pumpkin looks dry. Set aside.
In medium saucepan over high heat, add cream. When cream boils, take off heat.
In heatproof medium bowl, add chocolate and hot cream. Let mixture sit for minute, then slowly begin to stir, starting in center of bowl and working outwards.
Once chocolate and cream are evenly mixed, add pumpkin mixture and whisk to combine.
Add butter and liqueur, if using.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.
On parchment lined cookie sheet, scoop mixture into small balls using melon baller.
Place in refrigerator for 1 hour, or until chilled.
Remove truffles from refrigerator and dip each in melted chocolate.
Roll in cocoa powder and serve. 

Other fun Pumpkin Truffle Recipes to check out:

Pumpkin Pie Truffles from Cake, Batter, and Bowl: Robed in orange white chocolate with insides of dark chocolate pumpkin ganache. Love the walnut half as a pumpkin stem.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Truffles from The Yummy Mummy: White chocolate, gingersnaps, cream cheese and more. What's not to love?

Pumpkin Pie Truffles from Shugarysweets: Pumpkin-y centers robed in white chocolate.

Pumpkin Truffles from Cara's Cravings. Yum!

No time to make Truffles? Try these fabulous Pumpkin Truffles:

Socola: Pumpkin Burnt Caramel Chocolate Truffles: A rich blend of pumpkin pie spices, burnt caramel, Hawaiian sea salt and a splash of brandy.

Neo Cocoa: Pumpkin Spice Milk Chocolate Truffles. Infused with classic blend of spices traditionally used in making pumpkin pie. I love these smooth ganache shell-less truffles.

Coco Delice Pumpkin Spice Chocolates: Made with a ganache of white chocolate, pumpkin puree, and seasonal spices, enrobed in dark chocolate.

Godiva: Pumpkin Patch Truffles filled with creamy pumpkin-spice ganache and enrobed in milk chocolate.

See's Pumpkin Pie Truffles: Sweet spicy flavors of cinnamon and allspice combine with the rich mellowness of real pumpkin in these one-of-a-kind Truffles. Enrobed in See's traditional milk chocolate.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans: National Espresso Day

Today is National Espresso Day! Maybe you already celebrated with an espresso this morning. Maybe not? 

Espresso is a great ingredient to add to lots of chocolate food: truffles, brownies, cookies, cakes. It enhances the flavor of the chocolate. But I also adore Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans... the rich sweetness of the dark chocolate and the crunchiness of the espresso bean. Of course, depending on how many you eat, you could be wired up for days! I usually have some of these in my purse. Never know when you might need them!

FYI: You can use either coffee or espresso beans. The taste will change with the type of chocolate and the type of bean. Experiment with chocolate from different areas and different amounts of cacao, as well as coffee from different parts of the world! However, I'm a big fan of Espresso Beans! I like the contrast and the espresso beans are already very roasted.

CHOCOLATE COVERED ESPRESSO BEANS

Ingredients
1/3 cup roasted espresso beans
1/2 cup dark chocolate, 70%-85 % cacao, organic, fair trade

Directions
Melt chocolate until smooth in double boiler or saucepan over saucepan over simmering water. Remove from heat. Drop in a handful of beans and stir around. Lift out with two salad forks (letting extra chocolate drip a little back into the mixture), and put beans on wax paper (or silpat mat). Keep beans separated. Continue until all beans are covered and on paper or mat. Let beans dry completely. They will harden overnight, but you can freeze them for about half an hour, if you can't wait! Once hard, the beans won't stick together. Store in air-tight container.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Chocolate Cashew Butter

Today is National Cashew Day. Now contrary to what you might think, Cashews are not nuts. They're really seeds of the cashew drupe, a member of the poison ivy family! The cashew’s seed lining contains a powerful irritant called anacardic acid (which is why they are never served or sold in their skins). The botanical name Anacardium refers to the shape of the fruit, which looks like an inverted heart.

So to celebrate National Cashew Day, I'm posting a recipe for Chocolate Cashew Butter. Don't get confused. This is nothing like Nutella, the popular chocolate hazelnut spread. However, it can be used in the same way. It's fabulous on toast! Making your own nut spread is easy. And, since you're in charge of the ingredients, you can play around with the ingredients until you're satisfied (less sugar or honey//roasted or raw cashews, etc). The texture of Chocolate Cashew Butter is grittier than you'd expect, but that's what makes it so good! You don't want to refrigerate this nut butter, as the oil will separate. Nothing perishable in the ingredients, so don't worry. This Chocolate Cashew Butter also makes a great gift! This recipe is adapted from TheDabblist.com.


CHOCOLATE CASHEW BUTTER

Ingredients
1-3/4 cup cashews (roasted or raw)
1/2 tablespoon oil (mild-flavored oil is preferred--but I've tried coconut oil) If you use coconut oil, don't put it in the fridge.. well, this nut butter doesn't need to refrigerated, anyway.
2 Tbsp unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
2 Tbsp sugar (or honey)
Dash Madagascar vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt

Directions
In food processor, puree cashews with oil until mixture becomes creamy.
Add remaining ingredients and pulse together until totally combined.
Store in airtight container at room temperature.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Gingerbread Truffles: National Gingerbread Day!

Today is National Gingerbread Day! Now, I will be posting lots of gingerbread recipes as we get closer to Christmas, but in honor of today's holiday, here are three very different recipes for Gingerbread Truffles. All three are terrific. As always, adapt the recipes to your needs or to what you have on hand. I always have different types and brands of chocolate at the ready. The secret--well, it's not really a secret--is to use the very best ingredients.

These three recipes for Gingerbread Truffles will reproduce the taste of Gingerbread Dough enrobed in chocolate! Be creative in your decorations--from sprinkles to sugars to candied ginger... it's up to you! Perfect for Thanksgiving and all the upcoming holidays!

The First Recipe for White Chocolate Gingerbread Truffles is from Elizabeth LaBau at About.com 
The Second Recipe for Dark Chocolate Gingerbread Recipe is from Epicurious.
The Third Recipe is for White Chocolate Gingerbread Truffles from Organic Authority.

Do you have a favorite?

WHITE CHOCOLATE GINGERBREAD TRUFFLES

Ingredients:
1 cup white chocolate chips (or Green & Black White Chocolate Bar broken up)
3 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup finely chopped nuts
2.5 cups gingersnap crumbs (about one 12-oz box)
1/2 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

Directions:
1. Place white chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, stirring after every 45 seconds to prevent overheating.
2. Once white chocolate is melted, add corn syrup, evaporated milk, and vanilla extract. If it seems to be separating, stir gently with whisk until it comes back together. Stir in gingersnap crumbs, powdered sugar, all spices, salt, and chopped nuts. Place mixture in refrigerator until firm enough to shape, about 1 hour.
3. Using teaspoon or small scoop, make balls by rolling between palms.
4. Place granulated sugar in small bowl, and roll balls in the sugar--or roll in powdered sugar.
Want to get fancy? Roll the balls in colored sugars (red or green or gold?) or dip them in dark chocolate!
Keep them in refrigerator until you're ready to serve them, and then let them warm bit to room temperature.

DARK CHOCOLATE GINGERBREAD TRUFFLES

Ingredients
3/4 cup whipping cream
10 whole allspice
10 whole cloves
1 Tbsp mild-flavored (light) molasses
1 1/2 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
7 ounces plus 12 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
7 ounces plus 12 ounces high-quality white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger plus additional for garnish

Preparation
1. Bring first 7 ingredients just to boil in heavy medium saucepan; remove from heat and let steep 1 hour.
2. Combine 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate and 7 ounces white chocolate in large metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water; stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Strain cream mixture into chocolate; stir to blend. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger. Chill filling until firm, at least 3 hours.
3. Line baking sheet with parchment. Using melon baller or small scoop, scoop filling and roll between palms to form balls. Place on parchment. Chill truffles at least 2 hours.
4. Line another sheet with parchment. Place 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate in medium metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water; stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Cool until thermometer inserted into chocolate registers 115°F. Quickly submerge 1 truffle in chocolate. Using fork, lift out truffle and tap fork against side of bowl so excess coating drips off. Using knife, slide truffle off fork and onto prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining truffles. Chill until set.
5. Line another baking sheet with parchment. Place 12 ounces white chocolate in another medium metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water; stir until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Cool until thermometer inserted into chocolate registers 100°F. Hold 1 truffle between thumb and index finger; dip halfway into white chocolate. Place on prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining truffles. If desired, press small pieces of crystallized ginger atop truffles. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
You can also dip in colored sprinkles!

WHITE CHOCOLATE GINGERBREAD TRUFFLES

Ingredients
3/4 cup organic whipping cream
10 whole allspice
10 whole cloves
1 Tbsp organic light molasses
1 1/2 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
18 to 20 ounces chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (choose organic and fair trade)
14 to 16 ounces organic, fair trade white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger, plus extra for garnish

Preparation:
1. In heavy medium-sized saucepan, bring first seven ingredients to a boil. Remove pan from heat and let steep for an hour.
2. Chop 7 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and 7 ounces of white chocolate into large metal bowl. Place bowl in saucepan of simmering water and stir  chocolate unti melted and smooth. Strain cream mixture into chocolate and stir in 1/2 cup of crystallized ginger (make sure it is minced fine). Chill filling at least 3 hours; it should be firm but not hard.
3. Line baking sheet with parchment. Take small spoonful of filling and roll quickly between hands until it forms a ball of one inch or less. If filling gets too sticky, return it to bowl and take another spoonful. Place each truffle on parchment. It's okay if they're imperfect! They're not finished. Chill truffles another 2 hours.
4. Line another sheet with parchment. Chop remaining bittersweet chocolate into another metal bowl and melt as before. Remove bowl from water and let cool to 115 degrees. Drop one truffle in chocolate and immediately lift it out with fork. Tap fork gently against side of bowl to remove excess chocolate, then use a knife to slide the truffle off the fork and onto parchment. Repeat. Chill your truffles until chocolate sets.
5. Line another sheet with parchment, and melt white chocolate in another bowl. Let cool to 100 degrees. Hold truffle in your fingers and dip top half into white chocolate. Place it on the parchment and press a bit of crystallized ginger into the top. Repeat. Chill again, at least 30 minutes.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Extra Nutty Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies

Today is National Peanut Butter Fudge Day! I've posted recipes for Peanut Butter Fudge, but today I'd like to change it up a bit with this easy recipe for Extra Nutty Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies adapted from a Pillsbury recipe. I don't usually use boxed mixes, but this is a good recipe. Of course you can make your own brownies and just add the layer of peanut butter fudge and 1/2 cup chopped peanuts. I really like the clean salty taste of plain roasted peanuts, rather than the recommended honey-roasted peanuts in the original recipe. I also add chocolate chips to the recipe and cut down on the peanut butter chips. You can never have enough chocolate!

Have a Peanut Buttery Day!

EXTRA NUTTY PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE BROWNIES!

Ingredients
2 (15.8 oz) pkg. fudge brownie mix with chocolate syrup
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup water
 2 eggs
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
7 ounces peanut butter chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F. Spray with nonstick cooking spray or grease bottom only of 13x9-inch pan.
In large bowl, combine brownie mixes, chocolate pouches from mixes, oil, water and eggs; beat 50 strokes with spoon. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour about half of batter into sprayed pan.
In large saucepan, combine condensed milk, peanut butter chips and peanut butter; cook over low heat for 5 minutes or until chips and peanut butter are melted, stirring constantly.
Spoon and spread peanut butter mixture over batter. Drop remaining half of batter over peanut butter layer.
Sprinkle with chopped peanuts.
Bake at 350°F. for 35 to 40 minutes or until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan.
DO NOT OVERBAKE. 
Cool 2 hours.
Refrigerate 1-1/2 hours or until completely cooled before serving.
Cut into bars.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Vintage Cocoa Advertisement

Love this Vintage Cocoa ad from Good Housekeeping 1941. Just saw it and made myself a cup of cocoa.

What's your favorite cocoa?








Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Retro Hellmann's Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

I just love Retro Ads and recipes! So much fun. Here's an ad for Hellmann's Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake (and variations/scroll down).

HELLMANN'S CHOCOLATE CAKE

Ingredients
1 box (18 oz.) chocolate cake mix
1 cup Hellmann's® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise
1 cup water
3 eggs
1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and lightly flour two 9-inch round cake pans*; set aside.
Beat cake mix, Hellmann's® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise, water, eggs and cinnamon 30 seconds in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed. Beat on medium speed, scraping sides occasionally, 2 minutes.
Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.
Cool 10 minutes on wire rack; remove from pans and cool completely.
Sprinkle with confectioners sugar or fill and frost.

*Or, prepare cake mix as above in 13 x 9-inch baking pan and bake 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

VARIATIONS: For A PECAN COCONUT TOPPED CAKE...combine 1 cup flaked coconut, 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar and 1/2 cup chopped pecans, then sprinkle over cake batter in 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

For A BLACK FOREST CHOCOLATE CAKE...do not flour baking pan. Evenly spread 2 cans (21 oz. ea.) cherry pie filling over bottom of 13 x 9-inch baking pan, top with prepared cake batter and bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely, then turn upside down onto serving platter.

For A DECADENT CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKE...combine 2 packages (3.4 ounces each) instant pudding, 2 cups water, 2 cups milk and 1/3 cup sugar until blended, then pour over cake batter in 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted along edge comes out clean and serve warm.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Chocolate Truffle Cookies with Sea Salt

Photo: Ghirardelli Chocolate
I'm from the San Francisco Bay Area, so anything Ghirardelli works for me. I found this recipe on the Ghirardelli website, and it's my go-to chocolate cookie recipe now. The salt brings out the flavor of the chocolate.

CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE COOKIES WITH SEA SALT

Ingredients
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Baking Chips, for melting into the cookie dough
2 Tbsp sweet butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Baking Chips, for mixing into the prepared cookie dough 2 to 3 tablespoons coarse sea salt

Directions
In heatproof bowl over double boiler, melt chocolate and butter until smooth. Turn off stove and let chocolate sit over warm water.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt and mix to combine.
In another bowl, mix together sugar and eggs, combine thoroughly with whisk and slowly add warm chocolate mixture. Stir to combine. Add vanilla extract and mix. Stir in flour mixture. Cool for a few minutes (if batter is warm, chocolate chips will melt). Stir in chocolate chips.
Chill for 10-15 minutes.
 Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
Scoop rounded tablespoons of batter and place on baking tray.
Sprinkle each cookie lightly with a pinch of sea salt.
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 7-8 minutes until outside looks slightly cracked.
DO NOT OVERBAKE cookies as they will continue to bake as they cool when removed from oven. Cookies should be soft and gooey in the center.

For a chunky and different twist add one of the following:
3/4 cup toasted pecans or pistachios
1/4 cup chopped candied ginger
1/3 cup sweetened coconut Read more at http://www.ghirardelli.com/recipes-tips/recipes/chocolate-truffle-cookies-sea-salt#0CxX8s7YWeqej5yJ.99

Friday, November 14, 2014

Quick Double Chocolate Chiquita Banana Shake

I often go to 'brand' websites where I find wonderful recipes. Well, I love bananas and chocolate, and there's nothing quite like Chiquita Bananas for brand! So here's a slightly adapted recipe from their website for a Quick Double Chocolate Banana Shake!

Quick Double Chocolate Chiquita Banana Shake

Ingredients 
2 whole Chiquita Bananas, frozen*, peeled and chopped
1 cup Chocolate ice cream or frozen yogurt
2/3 cup low-fat Milk
1/2 cup 60% cacao chocolate, chopped

Directions
Combine bananas, ice cream and milk in a blender and puree until smooth. With the blender on the "chop" setting, add in chocolate and blend until chocolate is in small flakes and evenly blended into the drink. Serve immediately.

*Note: this shake may also be made using Chiquita bananas that are not frozen. The result will not be quite as thick or cold, but equally as delicious!  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

War Time Chocolate Cake: Veterans Day

Remembering our Veterans today. My father was a decorated Veteran of WWII, so I thought I would post a recipe from that era. Times were hard during the War, on the battlefield, and on the Homefront. This recipe is for War Time Chocolate Cake. I think it was slightly easier to get sugar and cocoa here in the U.S. although I've seen several versions of War Time Chocolate Cake in various British war time cookbooks. Milk and eggs were rationed, so this cake, which is quite spongy, does without. 

During the Second World War, you couldn't just walk into a store and buy as much sugar or butter as you wanted. Because these items were rationed, you were only allowed to buy a small amount (even if you could afford more). The government introduced rationing because certain items were in short supply.

Some things were scarce because they were needed to supply the military - gas, oil, metal, meat and other foods. Some things were scarce because they normally were imported from countries with whom we were at war or because they had to be brought in by ship from foreign places. Sugar and coffee were very scarce. Coca-Cola even stopped production during the war because sugar in great quantities was not available.

Everyone was given a ration book that contained ration stamps for different items. Grocers and other business people would post what your ration stamps could buy that week, but it was up to the individual to decide how to spend the stamps and possibly save up the items for a cake like this.

Support our Veterans!

WAR TIME CHOCOLATE CAKE

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon white vinegar
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup cold water

Directions:
In large mixing bowl, mix flour, sugar, cocoa, soda and salt.
Make three wells in the flour mixture. In one put vanilla; in another the vinegar, and in the third the oil. Pour the cold water over the mixture and stir until moistened.
Pour into 8 x 8-inch pan.
Bake at 350°F. oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it springs back when touched lightly.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Toll House Cookies Vintage Ad for Veteran's Day

Here's a Vintage Ad from Good Housekeeping 1943 seems appropriate for Veteran's Day. Toll House cookies are still great for the Veteran in your life, as well as our men and women still in the fight. Recipe below.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Seattle Chocolates Gives Back! Help Fight Hunger in America

Seattle Chocolate Company is making it easy to do good this holiday season with the debut of #chocolategives. Combining the company’s passion for chocolate and belief that no American should go hungry, the national #chocolategives campaign began November 1, and will run through December 31, 2014, donating a fresh serving of food to those in need for each chocolate purchase made online (www.chocolategives.com) or in the company’s flagship Seattle store. A donation will also be made to local American food banks for each use of #chocolategives during the same time period. 

All current Seattle Chocolate Company products will be part of the #chocolategives campaign, including the new Kris Kringle Crackle Bar (which combines dark chocolate with Halfpops popcorn and a dash of sea salt) and this year’s full line of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” holiday offerings.

Each and every purchase of truffle bars, truffle bags or holiday gift items will help provide donations to local food banks during their busiest time of the year: buy three chocolate gift boxes, donate three servings; buy a vibrant 10-bar stack of Seattle Chocolate truffle bars, donate 10 servings.

It’s one of the easiest – and most delicious – ways to give back to your local community this holiday season! “Chocolate is one of the most universally celebrated foods,” says Jean Thompson, Seattle Chocolate Company owner and CEO. “It’s one of the few foods we enjoy without needing utensils or plates or napkins. We can truly ‘break bread’ with loved ones with chocolate. And now you can not only share those moments with friends and family, you can share in the holiday spirit and help those in need.”

Seattle Chocolate Company has always been dedicated to the community and doing the right thing. The company has standing relationships with a network of food banks including Food Bank For New York City, Greater Boston Food Bank, SF-Marin Food Bank and Northwest Harvest, and continues to add partners wherever its products are distributed.

 “The holiday season is always one of our busiest as families come together to share a holiday meal,” said Margarette Purvis, President and CEO of Food Bank For New York City. “This donation could not come at a more opportune time. Even now, five years after the end of the recession, the need for emergency food is greater than ever with shortages at soup kitchens and food pantries across the five boroughs. We depend greatly on generous partners like Seattle Chocolate Company and are excited to collaborate with them on their #chocolategives campaign!”

To learn more about the campaign, visit www.chocolategives.com, or join in the #chocolategives conversation by following Seattle Chocolate Company:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SeattleChocolates
Twitter: @seattlechoc Instagram: @seattlechoc
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/seachoco/ -

See more at: http://www.seattlechocolates.com/news/Enjoying-Chocolate-This-Holiday-Will-Help-Fight-Hunger-in-America#sthash.QbCjnRu1.dpuf

Friday, November 7, 2014

Bittersweet Chocolate Almond Bark

As I've said many times before, every day is Chocolate Day for me, but today is National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day. In this age of high end organic, fair trade chocolate, single origin chocolate, bittersweet seems to cover a broad range of chocolate. So bittersweet as defined below leaves one open to enjoying all kinds of chocolate today--along with almonds.

According to Wikipedia, bittersweet chocolate is chocolate liquor (unsweetened chocolate) to which some sugar (typically a third), more cocoa butter, vanilla and sometimes lecithin has been added. It has less sugar and more liquor than semisweet chocolate, but the two are interchangeable in baking. Bittersweet and semisweet chocolates are sometimes referred to as 'couverture' (chocolate that contains at least 32 percent cocoa butter); many brands now print on the package the percentage of cocoa (as chocolate liquor and added cocoa butter) contained. The rule is that the higher the percentage of cocoa, the less sweet the chocolate will be. The American FDA classifies chocolate as either "bittersweet" or "semisweet" that contain at least 35% cacao (either cacao solids or butter from the cacao beans).

In honor of Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day, I'm going to have a bittersweet chocolate bar with almonds. So many great bars out there including Green & Black, Dandelion, Seattle Chocolates, Valor, Ghirardelli, Alter Eco --and even Hershey's.

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE ALMOND BARK

Ingredients
12 ounces dark chocolate (65-75% cacao)
1 cup toasted almonds (in the oven), coarsely chopped  (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. 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 6 hours or until firm.
Break into pieces.
Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

How easy is that?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

San Francisco Fall CHOCOLATE SALON: November 22

I love the Chocolate Salons organized by TasteTV, and this 5th Annual Fall Chocolate Salon is going to be sensational!

Saturday, November 22, Fort Mason Center, Conference Building A, San Francisco!

Buy tickets in advance. Limited availability at the door

I'll be there. I'm a Judge! I know, I know, it's a hard job, but someone's got to do it!

Check out some of the chocolatiers and others who will be there.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Cinderella Pink Fairy-Tale Fudge: Christine DeSmet

Today is National Candy Day, so this guest post for "Cinderella Pink Fairy-Tale Fudge"  from Christine DeSmet is perfect! I just love when my mystery and chocolate worlds collide. Christine DeSmet writes the Fudge Shop Mystery Series (Penguin Random House/NAL/Obsidian). She says she is always eager to hear about new fudge recipes from readers. Christine is also the author of a romantic suspense novel, Spirit Lake, and several romantic mystery short stories and screenplays. She teaches writing at University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies. www.ChristineDeSmet.com

Christine DeSmet, author of the Fudge Shop Mystery Series 
 “Cinderella Pink Fairy-Tale Fudge”

As a Belgian who loves chocolate, I’m thrilled to be a guest at this chocolate-lovers blog. Belgian chocolate fudge is at the heart of my Fudge Shop Mystery series.

Belgium produces 220,000 tons of chocolate each year. I try my best to turn a good portion of that into fudge.

In my new cozy mystery series, Belgian American Ava Oosterling and her Grandpa Gil operate Oosterlings’ Live Bait, Bobbers & Belgian Fudge & Beer in fictional Fishers’ Harbor, which is in the real Door County, Wisconsin.

Ava specializes in a Fairy Tale line of flavors, starting with “Cinderella Pink Fudge,” a yummy cherry-vanilla flavor. Door County is a leading producer of cherries in the United States.

Each book adds new original recipes and flavors to the Fairy Tale Fudge line. The latest book, Hot Fudge Frame-Up, includes a recipe for Rapunzel Raspberry Rapture Fudge.

I created the series to celebrate fudge—with a bit of felonious, fun activity with each luscious bite.

Door County is a great place to find fudge. It’s that thumb of land in Lake Michigan surrounded by almost 300 miles of coastline, and with 11 lighthouses—the most of any county in the United States. The county is known as the Cape Cod of the Midwest because of its natural beauty and artistic bent. It’s a quaint place that has banned fast food chain restaurants in its upper half and keeps the roads there to two lanes wind through breathtaking scenery.

The lower half of the county is where you’ll find the concentration of Belgians and the best pies and chocolate desserts ever. And fudge. I just attended a fall kermis—a Belgian harvest festival—and the array of pies was amazing. In the “old country,” Belgian pie plates are 12 inches or more in diameter. They don’t mess around when it comes to pie!

The Belgian heritage—with their delicious chocolate desserts—is strong in Door County because our government courted the Belgians in the 1850s with land for sale at $1.25 an acre. As a result, over 15,000 Belgians came to the area that includes the counties of Door, Kewaunee, and Brown (home of the Green Bay Packers, started by a Belgian). The area is said to have the largest rural population of Belgians in the United States.

I bring fudge to all my book signings. Join me at the Author Slam, Sat., Nov. 8, and a holiday giveaway event, Sun., Dec. 7, both held at the Mystery to Me bookstore in Madison, Wis. I’m also teaching at the “Weekend with Your Novel” event in Madison Nov. 14-16.

The following recipe is from the debut book in my series, First-Degree Fudge. I hope you enjoy this pretty pink fudge.

Cinderella Pink Fairy Tale Fudge (with Diamonds) Recipe 

This easy, microwave recipe for a cherry-vanilla fudge is a favorite with my friends and coworkers. They like the “diamonds” they find in the fudge. (Leave out the diamonds if you don’t like the crunchy texture.)

This recipe can be made on the stovetop in a heavy pan if you prefer. Medium heat.

Before you cook:
Prepare an 8x8-inch pan by lining it with wax paper so that the wax paper comes over the edges. Spray the paper lightly with nonstick vegetable cooking spray.

Ingredients
3 cups white chocolate chips (Use 2 cups if you like softer fudge.)
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dried cherries (or can used canned whole tart cherries, chopped)
Red food coloring
½ cup edible white or clear glitter (large size) for “diamonds” (optional)
Pink or white luster dust (optional, too, but I always add it on top)

Microwave method:

Mix the chips and milk together and melt at medium power in the microwave for about 5 minutes. Stir and return to the microwave until fully melted. Stir in the vanilla and four or five (or more) drops of red food coloring to turn it pink. Just before pouring it into the pan, blend in ¼ cup of the glitter if you want diamonds inside the fudge. Then pour it into the pan. Sprinkle the top of the fudge with the rest of the “diamond” glitter.

Optional: Before you sprinkle on the diamond glitter, first brush on luster dust, which is a very fine glittery edible powder you can buy in various colors. It’s best to apply luster dust with a small artist’s brush so that you don’t waste it; don’t try to shake it directly from its container onto your fudge or use your fingers. Sprinkle the rest of the “diamond” glitter on top of the luster dust.

Let your fudge sit for a few hours or overnight. When ready to cut, transfer it from its pan to a cutting board. Peel off the wax paper completely. Use a knife with a smooth blade or a fudge cutter. Cut into one-inch squares or any size you prefer.

Fudge photo credit: Laura Kahl

Monday, November 3, 2014

Blondie's Cookbook: Dagwood's Chocolate Sandwich

What is more fitting than Dagwood's Chocolate Sandwich for National Sandwich Day. I believe that Dagwood probably would have added lots of other ingredients such as bananas and peanut butter, and that would be great, but how can you go wrong with chocolate, butter and good bread?

I've posted several Chocolate Sandwiches over the years,  so today I turn to my "Tie-In" Cookbook collection and specifically Blondie's Cook Book for today's recipe. Dagwood is the iconic King of Sandwiches. My Dad used to make Dagwood Sandwiches... those were the sandwiches that contained every thing but the kitchen sink. FYI: My father never added chocolate.

Dagwood Bumstead, in case you don't know, is one of the main characters in comic artist Chic Young's long-running comic strip Blondie. He first appeared in the U.S. sometime prior to February 1933.

What's Cooking America defines the Dagwood Sandwich as a multi-layered sandwich with a variety of fillings. The term is used to denote a sandwich put together so as to attain such a tremendous size and infinite variety of contents as to stun the imagination, sight, and stomach of all but the original maker. Dagwood sandwiches is a term so well-known that it's in the Webster's New World Dictionary.

According to the creator of the comic strip, Murat Bernard “Chic” Young (1901-1973), the only thing that Dagwood could prepare in the kitchen was a mountainous pile of dissimilar leftovers precariously arranged between two slices of bread. Dagwood became known for his huge sandwiches he created on evening forays to the refrigerator. The comic strip is produced today under the direction of the creator's son, Dean Young, the strip has continued to keep up with the times.

Blondie's Cook Book: Chic Young's Classic Cook Book with New Comic Art Selections by His Son Dean Young (Gramercy Books, New York 1947, 1996)

This Comic says it all:


CHOCOLATE SANDWICHES RECIPE: Not sure how many sandwiches (or layers) this is supposed to make, but that's a lot of sugar. I've never made this recipe, so I'm thinking it might be a mistake.



Sunday, November 2, 2014

Day of the Dead: Chocolate Recipes

Day of the Dead focuses on gatherings of family and friends who pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd in connection with the Catholic holiday of All Saints Day which occurs on November 1st and All Souls Day which occurs on November 2nd. Traditions include building private altars honoring the deceased, making sugar and chocolate skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts.

Many cultures and countries celebrate Day of the Dead, but in Mexico and parts of the U.S and Canada it's tied to an historic Meso-American holiday that originated with the Aztecs 3000 years ago or earlier. When the Spanish Conquistadors landed in what is now Mexico 500 years ago, they found the natives practicing this ritual that seemed to mock death. It was a ritual the Spaniards tried unsuccessfully to eradicate. Although the ceremony has since merged with Catholic theology, it still maintains the basic principles the Aztecs intended, a view that death is the continuation of life. Life was a dream and only in death does one become truly awake.

Many people believe that during the Day of the Dead, it's easier for the souls of the departed to visit the living. People go to cemeteries to communicate with the souls of the departed, and build private altars, containing the favorite foods and beverages, as well as photos and memorabilia, of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so that the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.

Skulls are a major symbol of the cycle of death and rebirth. The Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations kept skulls as trophies and displayed them during the ritual to honor the dead and exalt the sphere of death and rebirth.

Although sugar skulls are more common, chocolate skulls and coffins have become de rigueur. Celebrate Dia de los Muertos with three solid chocolate skulls sparkling with black salt eyes, in 3 chocolate flavors: Barcelona, Red Fire & Blanca. Day of the Dead Chocolate Skulls from Vosges.

Want to make your own? Mexican Chocolate Skulls sells skull molds. Their chocolate molds can be made with tempered chocolate, candy coating wafers, or melted chocolate chips. Their mold designs were inspired by the Mexican woodcut artist, Jose Guadalupe Posada (1852 -1913). Here's a link to recipes using candy coating wafers, chocolate chips, or tempered chocolate with these molds.

Mexican hot chocolate is one of my favorites. In Oaxaca during the Day of the Dead (and other times), the many chocolate shops serve hot chocolate that is a mix of cocoa beans, cinnamon sticks, almond and sugar ground together into a paste, then grated down and mixed with steaming milk. You can make a similar version easily at home. As always use the very best chocolate.

Day of the Dead Hot Chocolate

Ingredients
2 tsp good-quality ground cocoa
1 tsp sugar, plus extra to taste
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground almonds. You can add more if you want a thicker texture
1 cup whole milk

Directions
Mix all ingredients, except milk, together in an empty, clean glass jar. Shake until completely combined.
Heat milk in pan and add chocolate mix. Bring to boil and reduce heat.
Simmer for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly; use small whisk to froth milk. Serve hot.

And, for the Bakers out there, Sunset Magazine has a wonderful Pasilla Chile Chocolate Cake recipe for The Day of the Dead.

Day of the Dead Pasilla Chile Chocolate Cake

Ingredients
2 1/2 ounces dried pasilla chiles (chile negro) or 2 1/2 ounces dried ancho chiles plus 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (see notes)
1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup sweet butter, room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
5 large eggs, separated
2 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar or finely crushed piloncillo sugar (see notes)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Powdered sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp Mexican vanilla or 1 Tbsp coffee-flavored liqueur such as Kahlúa

1. Lay chiles in single layer on 12- by 15-inch baking sheet. Bake in 400° oven just until pliable, about 2 minutes. Wearing rubber gloves, break off stems, shake out seeds, and break chiles into small pieces, dropping into small bowl; discard stems and seeds. Cover chiles with warm water and let soak until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain chiles and put inblender with 1/3 cup water; whirl until smooth, adding 1 more tablespoon water as needed to make thick paste. Push purée through a fine strainer; discard residue. You need 1/3 cup chile purée. If using ancho chiles, stir cayenne into the chile purée.

2. Line bottom of 9-inch cake pan (sides at least 1 1/2 inches tall) with parchment.

3. In large bowl over saucepan of simmering water (water shouldn't touch bottom of bowl), combine chocolate and butter. Stir occasionally just until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, about 8 minutes. Remove from over water and whisk in 1/3 cup chile purée, the egg yolks, vanilla, and flour until mixture is blended.

4. Pour brown sugar into small bowl and stir or whisk to break up lumps and loosen. In large bowl, with electric mixer on high speed, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until very frothy and foamy. Gradually add brown sugar to whites, beating until stiff, moist peaks form. With whisk, fold third of beaten whites into chocolate mixture until well incorporated. Then fold in remaining whites just until blended. Scrape batter into prepared pan.

5. Bake cake in 425° regular or 400° convection oven until set and center barely jiggles when pan is gently shaken, about 15 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack for about 15 minutes. Run a knife between cake and pan rim, then invert onto  serving platter. Lift off pan and peel off parchment. Let cake cool about 30 minutes, then chill until firm and cold, at least 4 hours; cover cake once completely chilled.

6. For best texture, let cake come to room temperature before serving, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Sift powdered sugar lightly over cake (for pattern, lay  stencil on cake before sifting sugar, then carefully lift off).

7. In bowl, beat whipping cream until soft peaks form. Stir in vanilla. Cut cake into wedges and serve each with dollop of whipped cream.

NOTES: Dried long, dark, skinny chiles labeled pasilla or chile negro give this dark chocolate cake a subtle fruit flavor with a hot finish. If these are not available, use dark, blocky chiles labeled ancho, which are sweet and fruity with little heat, and add cayenne to boost spiciness. Both pasilla and ancho chiles are available in Hispanic markets. To use piloncillo sugar (also available in Hispanic markets), put it in a heavy zip-lock plastic bag, cover it with a towel, and pound it with a mallet or hammer until finely crushed. You can make this cake up to 2 days ahead; chill airtight.

No time to bake? 
Want a quick chocolate Day of the Dead fix? 
Try a Seattle Chocolates Dead Sea Salt Truffle Bar! 

Watch for my post on Seattle Chocolates' philanthropy tomorrow!