Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Day Chocolate Donuts: Traditions and Recipes

Leap Day, February 29, comes every four years and is the day that keeps our calendar in alignment with the Earth's revolutions around the Sun. Julius Caesar implemented the first leap day into his Julian Calendar in 45 BCE. At that time the leap day was February 24, and February was the last month of the year. In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian Calendar which we use today. This calendar has a more precise formula for calculation of leap years.

Leap Day is also a holiday of folklore and traditions. On February 29, according to Irish legend, it was a day when women could propose to men. This balanced things out in the same way that the leap day balanced the calendar. And if a man who refused the marriage proposal on Leap Day, he was subject to a fine.

Leap Year Chocolate Cake Donuts
Recipe from allrecipes

Ingredients
1/2 cups white sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp butter
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 egg white
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 quart vegetable oil for frying

Directions
All ingredients should be room temperature (70 degrees F).
Beat sugar and eggs together until creamy and lemon colored.
Melt butter and chocolate together in small saucepan over low heat.
Beat into sugar and egg mixture.
In separate bowl combine vanilla and buttermilk. Stir into sugar mixture.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Stir into liquid mixture.
Chill dough slightly to make easier to handle. Roll out half dough on lightly floured board to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into doughnuts. Allow the cut doughnuts to dry for 10 minutes.
Heat 2 inches of oil to 370 degrees F in large skillet. Dough should be at room temperature before frying. Dip metal pancake turner into hot oil each time before using to move or turn a doughnut. Transfer doughnuts to skillet, one every 15 seconds.
Fry each doughnut about 90 seconds per side. Remove doughnuts and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining dough.
To make icing:
Beat sugar, egg white, and vanilla together until smooth.
Drizzle onto the doughnuts after they have cooled.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

A NIGHT AT THE OSCARS: RED VELVET POPCORN

Last year I posted a recipe for Chocolate Covered Popcorn--perfect to snack on while watching the Academy Awards.  

Want to take it up a notch?

Here are recipes for: 


Red Carpet Red Velvet Popcorn 

and 

Red Carpet Red Velvet Popcorn Balls

Roll out the Red Carpet!

I. RED CARPET RED VELVET POPCORN

Ingredients
1 cup red velvet cake crumbs  (make your own cake or buy one at the bakery - a few unfrosted cupcakes will do)
2 Tbsp sweet butter
2 Tbsp Madagascar vanilla extract
2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
8 cups popcorn, popped
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Directions 
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Spread cake crumbs on baking sheet. Bake 8 - 10 minutes until toasted. Cool.
3. Melt butter, vanilla, sugar, salt and mix.
4. Toss popcorn with butter mixture.
5. Microwave white chocolate chips or melt in double boiler; stir until smooth.
6. Drizzle over popcorn until evenly coated.
7. Toss in cake crumbs.

II. RED CARPET RED VELVET POPCORN
Recipe adapted from CassieCraves, adapted from Cookies and Cups

Ingredients
8 cups popped popcorn (1/2 cup unpopped kernels or 2 bags)
3 cups red velvet cake crumbs
12 ounces white chocolate chips
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions
1. Pour popcorn into large bowl. Melt white chocolate in microwave or double boiler.
2. Pour melted chocolate over popcorn and stir gently to coat completely.
3. Pour popcorn onto waxed paper lined cookie sheets and sprinkle with red velvet crumbs.
4. Melt dark chocolate chips in microwave or double boiler. Using fork, drizzle over popcorn.
5. Let popcorn set completely before eating.

Want to make Red Carpet Red Velvet Popcorn Balls? Here's a recipe adapted from IcyViolet's Kitchen. It's quite heavenly--and very rich.

III. RED CARPET RED VELVET POPCORN BALLS

Ingredients
12 ounces white chocolate 
1/4 cup cream cheese
1-1/4 cup
white cake mix

1/4 cup DARK cocoa powder
2 tsp red food coloring (or 1/4 tsp red food gel)
1/4 cup corn kernels

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt

Directions: 
1. Put 1/4 cup corn kernels in large pot with Tbsp olive oil over medium to medium high heat...they will heat up and start popping. When popping lessens and stops. it's done. Measure out six cups and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
2. Melt white chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Add cream cheese to chocolate and stir until melted.
3. Add cake mix, cocoa, and red food coloring to chocolate mixture and stir.
4. Pour coating onto popcorn and coat evenly.
5. Pour popcorn onto cookie sheets to cool/harden and shape into popcorn balls

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Chocolate Kahlua Cheesecake: National Kahlua Day

Today is Kahlua Day! Now who doesn't like a shot of Kahlua in their coffee or hot chocolate? Kahlua is a coffee liqueur that was first produced in Veracruz in 1926 when a distiller added coffee beans to his rum. In 1964, Kahlua started exporting its product to the United States. Today, Kahlua is one of the most popular liqueurs in the world and for good reason.

If you like cheesecake, you'll love this easy recipe for Chocolate Kahlua Cheesecake!

EASY CHOCOLATE KAHLUA CHEESECAKE

Crust Ingredients
1 1⁄3 cups chocolate wafer crumbs 
1/4 cup sweet butter, softened
1 Tbsp sugar

Alternate Oreo Crust -- yum! just crush the oreos (or pulse in the Cuisinart), add a little sweet butter, and press into the springform pan

Cheesecake Ingredients
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate, chopped (60-70% cacao)
1/4 cup Kahlua
2 Tbsp sweet butter
2 eggs, beaten
1⁄3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
16 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into pieces

Directions
Prepare chocolate crumb crust by mixing together the crumbs, butter & sugar, and press firmly into a nine-inch springform pan.
Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
In small saucepan over another saucepan with simmering water, melt chocolate with Kahlua and butter. Stir until smooth. Set aside. Let cool a bit.
In bowl, combine eggs, sugar and salt. Add sour cream and blend well.
Add cream cheese to egg mixture. Beat until smooth.
Gradually blend in chocolate mixture.
Fold mixture into prepared crust and bake for 35 minutes or until filling is barely set in center.
Turn off heat and let stand in oven for 15 minutes with door open.
Take out of oven and let stand at room temperature for one hour.
Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Chocolate Pistachio Fudge: National Pistachio Day


Today is National Pistachio Day. Pistachio Day is also January 26.  I posted all kinds of fun Pistachio Facts on that date, as well as a recipe for Pistachio Brownies. So many days and ways to celebrate this green nut! I love the combination of chocolate and pistachios for texture, color and taste. One of the easiest and most delicious recipes comes from Nigella Lawson. Here's a link to her short video (3 minutes): Nigella Lawson makes Chocolate Pistachio Fudge. This fudge recipe is simple to prepare and looks and tastes great! Don't want to watch the video? I've adapted her recipe. It's a snap!


Chocolate Pistachio Fudge

Ingredients

12 ounces 70 percent dark chocolate, chopped or 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
Pinch salt
1 cup shelled pistachios (I use about 1/2 cup)

Directions
Melt chopped chocolate, condensed milk, and salt in heavy saucepan on low heat.
Put nuts into freezer bag and bash with rolling pin, until broken up into both big and small pieces.
Add nuts to melted chocolate and condensed milk and stir well to mix.
Pour mixture into 9-inch square pan, smoothing top. (I butter the pan slightly)
Let fudge cool and then refrigerate until set. You can then cut into small pieces approximately 3/4 by 1 3/4 inches or cutting 8 by 8 lines in the pan to give 64 pieces.
Once cut you can keep fudge in the freezer. No need to thaw just eat straight away.

Of course this recipe also works with other nuts. Pecans, Walnuts--I've tried them all.

Variations:
Don't add pistachios to chocolate mixture. Just crush pistachios and sprinkle on top for more crunch.
Make truffles from semi-set chocolate fudge. Make into balls and roll in cocoa or more chopped pistachios! Yum. Chocolate Pistachio Truffles.

Celebrate Pistachios today!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Walnut Know-How: Chocolate Walnut Mounds

Today is National Chocolate Covered Nut Day! I love Walnuts, and I was lucky to find a small cookbook entitled Diamond Walnut Recipe Gems at the Flea Market. There's no date on the cookbook, but from the lack of zipcode, and the type of illustrations and recipes, I figured it was published anywhere from 1955 to 1965. Diamond Walnuts still has some great recipes on their website.

What I love most about this cookbook (well, pamphlet, really) are the first two pages on Walnut Know-How! Be sure to scroll down. Lots of good information!

Here's an easy recipe from the Diamond Walnut Recipe Gems Cookbook or Chocolate Walnut Mounds. Make this to celebrate the day!

CHOCOLATE WALNUT MOUNDS

Melt one 6-ounce package (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate pieces over hot, not boiling water, stirring constantly. Beat till cool. Stir in 1 1/2 cups Diamond Walnut halves and large pieces. Drop in clusters on waxed paper. 

From the Cookbook:




Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Crisco Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I grew up using Crisco as shortening in baking. I've posted about this white goopy stuff which is a pure vegetable shortening. As a girl, I made lots of pie crusts with Crisco. Butter was always my choice, and lard was not an alternative in my childhood home. Actually all these shortenings make great pie crusts.. just different.

According to Wikipedia, Crisco is a brand of shortening produced by the J. M. Smucker Co. popular in the United States. Introduced in June 1911 by Procter & Gamble, it was the first shortening to be made entirely of vegetable oil. While the term Crisco is commonly used as a synonym for all shortening, Procter and Gamble markets olive, cooking, and baking oil and a cooking spray under that trademark.

Over the years, there were lots of Crisco pamphlets and cookbooks distributed as marketing incentives. So, today I'm posting this retro recipe for "Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies" from Crisco. The recipe calls for "Butter Flavor Crisco all-vegetable shortening." Of course you can always substitute real butter.

CRISCO ULTIMATE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients
3/4 cup Butter Flavor Crisco all-vegetable shortening
1-1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 egg
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)*

*If nuts are omitted, add an additional 1/4 cup chocolate chips.

Directions
Heat oven to 375°F. Place sheets of foil on counter top for cooling cookies.
Combine shortening, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Beat egg into creamed mixture.
Combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix into creamed mixture just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and pecan pieces.
Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough 3 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet.
Bake one baking sheet at a time at 375°F for 8 to 10 minutes for chewy cookies, or 11 to 13 minutes for crisp cookies. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove cookies to foil to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread: Banana Bread Day

Cartoon of the Day: Banana Bread
Today is Banana Bread Day! Who doesn't love a great slice of banana bread? Add chocolate chips, and I'm in heaven! Love this old postcard. Good banana bread is all about ripe bananas.

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

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


CHOCOLATE CHIP BANANA BREAD
Makes 1 loaf--easily doubled!

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

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 8 x 5 loaf pan with parchment, letting excess hang over the sides. Spray inside with nonstick cooking spray. (this last time I buttered the pan and then used some flour)

Whisk together melted butter and sugar in mixing bowl until combined. (If you cream the sugar and butter, you'll have a more cake-like banana bread--always a choice!)
Add eggs and whisk until combined and mixture is smooth.
Whisk milk and vanilla into batter.
Peel bananas and add to bowl. Using fork, mash them into batter. Leave bananas as chunky or as smooth as you prefer.
Add flour, baking soda, and salt to bowl. Switch to spatula and stir until ingredients are just barely combined and no more dry flour is visible. (Don't overstir)
Fold in nuts and chocolate chips.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Smooth top of batter.
Bake 55 to 65 minutes: Bake until top of banana bread is dark brown with some yellow insides showing (there's usually a crack down the top) and toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean. Baking time varies, so start checking around 50 minutes or so.
Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes.
Lift loaf out of pan and set on cooling rack to cool for another 10 minutes before slicing.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Chocolate Margaritas: National Margarita Day

Today is National Margarita Day, a holiday easy to celebrate. Of course, this being DyingforChocolate.com, it has to be a Chocolate Margarita. Following are two recipes. Let me know which you like best! 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.

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

I. CHOCOLATE MARGARITA

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

Use shaker, not blender: Throw ingredients into shaker for a few quick shakes and pour into margarita glass with crushed oreos lining rim!

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

II. CHOCOLATE MARGARITA

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 (recommended: Godiva)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup orange liqueur
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Ice

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

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

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Bomb Shelter Chocolate-Cherry Delight Cake

The other day we were talking about Disaster Drills we were subject to as children. When the alarm went off at school, we were instructed to get under our desks with our hands over our heads. Some schools had the children go into the halls, because there was more protection there. What a time. We were kids, and we believed it would help, but what were the adults thinking? I lived in the suburbs where houses came with a bit of land, and some of my classmates had bomb shelters built in their back yards. One of my favorite movies, Blast from the Past, parodies the situation. So for today's post, I thought I'd repost a recipe for Bomb Shelter Chocolate-Cherry Delight Cake which my friend BV Lawson found in Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads (University of Chicago Press).

Food for a Nuclear Winter:
"Not all the instant food being served up carried fancy French names. This “party-pretty dessert” could be made ahead (weeks probably) to save “hostessing time,” according to the Better Homes and Gardens Guide to Entertaining."

Bomb Shelter Chocolate-Cherry Delight Cake

Ingredients
1 (18 1/4-ounce) package devil’s food cake mix
1 (20-ounce) can cherry pie filling, undrained
1 (3.9-ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 package dessert topping mix (or use Cool Whip), enough to make 2 cups whipped topping
Maraschino cherries for garnish

Directions
Prepare and bake two 8- or 9-inch layers from the cake mix according to the package directions; cool. Whirl the pie filling in a blender for a few seconds, just until the cherries are chopped. Stir the pudding mix and cocoa into the pie filling. Prepare the dessert topping according to the package directions; fold into the cherry mixture. Spread about 1/2 cup of the cherry mixture on the bottom cake layer; top with the second layer. Spread the rest of the cherry mixture on the top and sides of the cake. Garnish with maraschino cherries. Chill until serving time.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Chocolate Cherry Pie: National Cherry Pie Day

So today is National Cherry Pie Day, but since it's winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, I'm not sure why this food holiday shows up in February. Many markets carry cherries from Mexico and countries in South America, so check around. All of my markets have fresh cherries. Or, you can wait and bookmark this recipe to make in the summer.

But, if you can get fresh cherries, I suggest you make Chocolate Cherry Pie today. This recipe is from Allison Arevalo who posted this on Local Lemons several years ago.

This Chocolate Cherry Pie is indeed one of the most decadent chocolate cherry combinations ever. Using fresh ripe deep purple cherries, sweet agave nectar and rich dark chocolate with a butter pie crust, this is positively sinful. The directions and photos on Local Lemons are outstanding.

Allison Arevalo is no longer blogging at Local Lemons, but you can try some of her unbelievable Mac + Cheese at Homeroom in Oakland. She's the co-owner. Can't make it to Homeroom? Get a copy of The Mac + Cheese Cookbook by Allison Arevalo and Erin Wade.

I use premade pie crusts from Trader Joe's, but check the link if you want to make an outstanding pie crust that includes graham cracker crumbs as well as a good flour.

CHOCOLATE CHERRY PIE

Ingredients
2 pre-made deep dish pie crusts
2 1/2 pounds fresh cherries (about 2 pounds pitted)
1/2 cup agave nectar
4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shredded chocolate. (Mostly dark, with some milk chocolate mixed in, also chopped in food processor)

Filling: Pit cherries using cherry-pitter and put in large bowl. Add chopped chocolate, 4 Tbsp flour and agave nectar. Gently toss until cherries are well coated.
Preheat oven to 400F.
With pre-made pie dough that's been rolled out. Fit into 9 inch pie dish. Carefully pick up and place in dish, cutting off overhang. Fill dough with cherry mixture. Roll out second piecrust and place on top of pie. Pinch sides closed with thumb and forefinger, and use sharp knife to cut three vents into top of crust. Brush with egg wash.
Bake for 25 minutes in middle of oven. Lower heat to 350F and bake for 25 more minutes.  

Photo: Local Lemons with permission

Friday, February 19, 2016

Chocolate Mint Recipe Round-Up: Chocolate Mint Day!

I love the taste of Chocolate and Mint. So refreshing! There are so many different types of mint, and I grow many different mints in my garden: spearmint, chocolate mint, peppermint, catmint, and many more. Mint oil and mint flavorings go well in truffles, cakes, cookies and brownies--not to mention pies and ice cream!

So in honor of Chocolate Mint Day, here's a Chocolate Mint Recipe Round-Up. Have a Chocolatey Minty Day!

Grasshopper Pie: Recipes, Cocktails, History & Vintage Cookbooks

Peppermint Patty Cake: National Peppermint Patty Day, Vintage Recipe & Ad

Chocolate Peppermint Trifle 

Candy Cane Truffles 

Mint Julep Truffles

Chocolate Mint Truffles 

Peppermint Chocolate Cake! Happy Anniversary! 

Chocolate Mint Bars: Guest post by Bobbi Mumm

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies: 2 Recipes

Layered Mint Chocolate Fudge: Guest Post by Lesa Holstine

Chocolate Peppermint Pie with Peppermint Oreo Pie Crust

Thin Mint Cookies from Pattie Tierney

Peppermint Patties from Pattie Tierney

Chocolate Mint Ice Tea

Mint Chocolate Cookie S'mores

Chocolate 'n Mint: Retro Ad & Recipe

Peppermint Patties from Abigail R. Gehring 

Chocolate Mint Pots de Creme 

Grasshopper Pie 

Creme de Menthe Brownies

Snow White's Mint Frosted Chocolate Cookies 

Junior Mints Cheesecake
Peppermint

Chocolate Mint Herbs and Mint Geraniums in The Chocolate Garden

Crushed Peppermint Cheesecake from Sunset

Peppermint Cake: Vintage Ad & Recipe

Chocolate Peppermint Bark 

Peppermint Bark Brownies

Peppermint Patty Drinks:
Peppermint Patty Hot Chocolate Cocktail
Chocolate Peppermintini
Peppermint Patty on the Rocks

Chocolate Cheesecake Candy Cane Bars

Chocolate Peppermint Ganache

Peppermint Patty Ice Cream Sandwiches

Peppermint Cookie Recipes
Chocolate Peppermint Patty Cookies
Peppermint Bark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Peppermint Trifle

Kahlua Peppermint Mocha Hot Chocolate & Peppermint Whipped Cream


Chocolate Peppermint Creams: Vintage Ad & Recipe

Chocolate Peppermint Pie with Peppermint Oreo Pie Crust

Candy Cane Fudge

Peppermint Ice Cream Pie

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Downton Abbey Chocolate Sticky Buns

Downton Abbey. So many different foods have been served over the course of the show to royalty, the family, and the staff. I saw this photo of Thomas the other day, and I immediately thought of Chocolate Sticky Buns. They're probably not, but let's go with it. This recipe for Chocolate Sticky Buns is from Pillsbury. Easy and Delicious. We know, however, that Mrs Patmore would have made these from scratch.

Downton Abbey Chocolate Sticky Buns

Ingredients
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted Butter, softened
1/2 cup Chopped Pecans
2 Tbsp sugar
1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls or 1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated Crescent Dough Sheet
1 Tbsp Butter, melted
1/2 cup milk chocolate baking chips

Directions
Heat oven to 375°F.
In small bowl, mix brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/4 cup butter. Spread mixture in bottom and up sides of 8 (2 3/4x1 1/4-inch) nonstick muffin cups. Sprinkle each cup with 1 tablespoon pecans.
In another small bowl, mix sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; set aside.
Unroll dough. If using crescent dough, firmly press perforations to seal. Press to form 12x8-inch rectangle. Brush dough with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Sprinkle with sugar mixture and chocolate chips.
Starting with one short side, roll up tightly; pinch edge to seal. With serrated knife, cut into 8 (1-inch) slices. Place each slice, cut side down, over pecans in muffin cup.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until deep golden brown.
Immediately turn rolls upside down onto serving platter. Cool 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Café au Lait Coffee Cake for National Café au Lait Day

February 17 is National Café au Lait Day! Café au lait is French for "coffee with milk" and refers to a specific French coffee drink, although like most things there are multiple varieties. Don't confuse it, though, with a Caffe latte. Did you know that in the 1600s A French doctor suggested Cafe Au Lait for patients, inspiring people to add milk to their coffee. Cafe au Lait is often served in a small bowl. Very French! There are several cafe au lait cups on the market.

To celebrate today, go to your local cafe or brew a cup at home, or you can make this sensational Café au Lait Coffee Cake from Nicole at MadebyNicole. Her recipe is fool-proof, and it's filled with Chocolate Chips. As always, you can use any good quality chocolate, chopped into small chunks in place of chocolate chips.

For those of you lucky enough to live in New Orleans, pop on over to the Café du Monde today for a Café Au Lait. They make it with chicory, which gives it a strong, bitter taste. The bitterness of the chicory offsets the sweetness of the powdered-sugar-covered beignets which of course you'll want to have. O.K., getting ahead of myself.

Café Au Lait Coffee Cake 
Recipe by Nicole Maki

Crumb Topping:
1 tsp instant coffee
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 Tbsp cold butter
1 cup chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup pecans

Cake:
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp instant coffee
2 Tbsp warm water
2 3/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk

Glaze:
1/2 cup icing sugar
milk or cream to desired consistency
vanilla (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9x13 pan
Make crumb topping: Stir together dry ingredients, cut in butter, add chocolate chips and nuts.
In a large bowl beat sugar and butter until light. Add eggs, then sour cream and then coffee dissolved in water.
In a small bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Gradually stir into moist ingredients starting with 1/3 of dry mixture, 1/2 of milk, 1/3 dry, 1/2 milk, and final 1/3 dry mixture.
Spread half of batter into pan. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups of topping. Cover with remaining batter and finish with crumb topping.
Bake for 60 – 65 minutes

(Optional) Cool and drizzle glaze off a fork onto the top of the cake.

San Francisco International Chocolate Salon: March 5

10th Annual SAN FRANCISCO CHOCOLATE SALON

March 5, 2016
Fort Mason Center, Herbst Pavilion
1 Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA 94123
10am-6pm
www.SFChocolateSalon.com
  
Advance Purchase Tickets are now available
($20 Advance, $30 Door)

The ORIGINAL & PREMIER Artisan Chocolate Salon event on the West Coast!
Chocolate aficionados, fanatics, buyers, and journalists can experience the finest in artisan, gourmet & premium chocolate in one of the world's great culinary metropolitan areas.

Over 30,000 square feet of Chocolate, Wine and Confections.

Curated participants include
Amano Artisan Chocolate
Fera'wyn's Artisan Chocolates
Alter Eco
Kindred Cooks
William Dean Chocolates
flying noir
Starchild Chocolate
CACOCO
Firefly Chocolate
Verde Vivo Tea
Socola Chocolatier
Jade Chocolates
Hot Chocolat
CocoTutti
DAVIDsTEA
Prager Winery & Port Works/SFWA
Be a Gourmet
Heavenly Taste Toffee
Degroot Desserts
Sweet Milalani
The TeaRoom Chocolate Company
Endorfin
Sonoma County Distilling Company
Cowboy Toffee Company
R & J Toffees
David Bacco Chocolatier
BASEL B INC
NeoCocoa
Dove Chocolate Discoveries
Farm Fresh To You
San Francisco Chronicle
Spicy Vines
Be a Gourmet
Soleil Communications/Welk Resorts
Sam's Chowdermobile
TasteTV
...and more


SALON SPEAKERS AND PRESENTERS
Presentations on Chocolate and Your Modern Lifestyle, including by scheduled speakers:
Art Pollard, Amano Chocolate, ranked by the New York Times as the #1 Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Maker in the United States
Sacramento Food & Lifestyle Author Joey Garcia
Jen Cooper of Ben and Max Snacks talking about Starting Your own Food Business
Kristen Wynn, Marich Confections, on Chocolate & Wine Pairings
Michael Poole, Hot Chocolat Cacoco drinking chocolate
Frank Price & Janet Rudolph and more!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

FROZEN CHOCOLATE ALMOND BANANA POPS

Photo: California Almonds
Today is National Almond Day, and, of course, for me, that means almonds and chocolate. Here's a classic take on chocolate covered frozen bananas with toasted almonds. Make these tonight, or save the recipe for the summer. You'll love them. Frozen Bananas are said to have originated by Don Phillips who owned and operated Bananaland in Balboa, CA where he originated The Original Frozen Bananas.  Here's the back of a Bananaland postcard.


FROZEN CHOCOLATE ALMOND BANANA POPS  

Recipe adapted from California Almonds, the Almond Board of California. This site has a whole lot of other great recipes, so be sure and check it out.  

Ingredients
1 cup dark (65-70%) chocolate, chopped
4 bananas, peeled
8 popsicle sticks
3/4 cup chopped toasted almonds*

Directions
In top of double boiler over simmering water, melt chopped chocolate; stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.
Peel bananas; Cut each banana in half, crosswise. Insert popsicle stick into cut end of each banana half.
Line baking sheet with wax paper. Dip each banana half into melted chocolate, rolling to coat evenly.
Remove from chocolate and sprinkle each evenly with almonds; lay on wax paper.
Freeze 4 to 5 hours or until bananas are firm. Chocolate coating will not harden completely.

* To toast almonds, spread in an ungreased baking pan. Place in 350-degree oven and bake 5 to 10 minutes or until almonds are light brown; stir once or twice to assure even browning. Note that almonds will continue to brown slightly after removing from oven.

Monday, February 15, 2016

First Ladies' Chocolate Recipes for Presidents Day

Today is Presidents' Day. It's not any 'real' president's birthday. I find this odd. When I was growing up we celebrated both Lincoln's Birthday and Washington's Birthday on separate days. And, that also meant two days off from school, not just one. But times have changed, so  to go with the flow, for this year's Presidents' Day, I'm featuring recipes by the women behind the men (maybe next year a man behind the woman?) Here are several Chocolate Recipes from a few first ladies. The recipes are found in the individual Presidential Archives, as well as newspapers and individual cookbooks. Make any of these great recipes and celebrate Presidents Day.

From Mamie Eisenhower (Dwight D. Eisenhower) 
Mamie Eisenhower’s Million Dollar Fudge 
**This recipe makes 4 pounds of Fudge**

Ingredients
4 1/2 cups sugar
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp butter
1 tall can evaporated milk
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate bits
12 ounces German-sweet chocolate
1 pint marshmallow cream
2 cups nutmeats

Directions
Boil sugar, salt, butter, evaporated milk together for six minutes.
Put chocolate bits and German chocolate, marshmallow cream, and nutmeats in bowl.
Pour boiling syrup over ingredients.
Beat until chocolate is all melted, then pour into pan.
Let stand a few hours before cutting.
Remember it is better the second day. Store in tin box.

From Betty Ford (Gerald Ford)
Betty Ford's Chocolate Icebox Dessert

Ingredients
6 eggs
1 Angel food cake
12 oz chocolate chips
4 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp water
2 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp salt
2 cup whipping cream

Directions
Line flat 9x9″ cake pan with wax paper.
Slice angel food cake and place a layer of cake in pan. (Slices easier if frozen). Separate eggs, beat yolks.
Melt chocolate in double boiler over water.
When melted, add sugar and water. Mix well. Make sure sugar melts.
Remove from heat and stir gradually into beaten egg yolks. Beat until smooth. Cool this mixture. Add vanilla and salt. Mix well.
Beat egg whites until stiff.
Whip the cream.
Fold egg whites into chocolate mix, then the whipped cream.
Place a layer of chocolate on the angel food slices, than another layer of cake, then a layer of chocolate.
Place in refrigerator overnight.
This can be frozen and used later. Be sure to chill overnight before freezing.

From Lady Bird Johnson (LBJ) 
Lady Bird’s Chocolate Nut Drop Cookies



From Hillary Clinton (Bill Clinton)
Hillary Clinton's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
Vegetable oil, for baking sheets
1 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup (firmly packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 package (12-ounce) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease baking sheets with vegetable oil.
Combine flour, salt, and baking soda on waxed paper.
Beat together shortening, sugars, and vanilla in large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, beating until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture and rolled oats. Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop batter by well-rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden.

***
From Michelle Obama (Barak Obama)
Mama Kaye’s White and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 5 dozen cookies Prep: 15 minutesBake at 375° for 12 minutes per batch

Ingredients
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 stick Crisco butter-flavored solid vegetable shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup each white chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips and mint chocolate chips (or Andes mint pieces)
2 cups chopped walnuts

Directions
Heat oven to 375°.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. In large bowl with electric mixer, cream butter, vegetable shortening, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract.
Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
On low speed, beat in flour mixture. By hand, stir in white and milk chocolate chips, mint chips and walnuts.
Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto un-greased baking sheets.
Bake at 375° for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Retro Valentine's Day Chocolate Ads

Valentine's Day is all about Chocolate. I just love these Retro Valentine's Day Chocolate Ads! Say it with Chocolate!






Saturday, February 13, 2016

Vintage Chocolate Molds for Valentine's Day

Vintage Valentine Chocolate Molds

I love Vintage Chocolate Molds, and I thought you'd enjoy seeing these Vintage Chocolate Heart Molds for Valentine's Day! Be sure to scroll down to see a vintage chocolate mold for machine guns--perfect for the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.




Chocolate Soufflés for Valentine's Day

There's nothing more romantic and delicious than a Chocolate Souffle right out of the oven. Many years ago a friend and I made a Valentine's Day dinner for our significant others. The four of us were not dining together. My friend and I each made two dishes for four and swapped. I made Coquille St Jacques and Chocolate Soufflés in small ramekins. She made the salad and roasted vegetables. I think she got the easier of the deal. Nevertheless, it was one of my first forays into souffle making, and luckily I chose a recipe that couldn't fail. Both of us compared notes the next day and declared it was one of the best meals we had ever had.

I posted a recipe for Chocolate Soufflé for Bastille Day a few years ago. It's my go-to recipe, adapted from Bon Appetit. It's easy and delicious. But I'm always looking for other souffle recipes. My source for these Valentine's Day individual Chocolate Soufflés is Sunset Magazine. Sunset's been creating great recipes for years.

Valentine's Day Chocolate Soufflés
Makes 6 individual soufflés

Prep and Cook Time: 25 minutes. You can fill the soufflé dishes up to 1 day before baking and chill them (allow up to 5 extra minutes to bake). Here's a helpful hint from Sunset: increase or decrease the number of soufflés with this simple formula: For each soufflé, use 1/2 tsp butter, 1 Tbsp sugar, 1 oz. chocolate, 1 Tbsp milk, 1/2 egg yolk, 1 egg white, and a small pinch of both salt and cream of tartar.

Ingredients
1 Tbsp sweet butter, plus more for dishes
6 Tbsp  sugar, plus more for dishes
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (use the very best quality)*
6 Tbsp milk
3 egg yolks
6 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

The Sunset recipe tops the soufflés with Vanilla Bean Cream, but I use fresh whipped cream or just eat as is. I like to keep it easy.

Directions
Preheat oven to 375°. Generously butter six 8-oz. soufflé dishes. Sprinkle butter with sugar to coat. Put dishes on baking sheet and set aside.
Bring 1 inch of water to boil in medium frying pan. Put chocolate, milk, and 1 Tbsp butter in small metal bowl. Put bowl in water and take pan off heat. Stir occasionally until chocolate melts. Remove bowl from water, mix in egg yolks, and set aside. (you can melt chocolate in a different way, if you'd like, but this is an interesting technique and controls the heat well.)
In large clean bowl, beat egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Sprinkle in 6 Tbsp sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
Whisk 1/4 of beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture. Fold chocolate mixture into remaining egg whites. Divide mixture evenly among prepared soufflé dishes and bake until set but still soft in center, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately, with whipped cream.
Serve with demitasse spoons to savor every bite.

Remember, you can fill the soufflé dishes up to 1 day before baking and chill them (allow up to 5 extra minutes to bake). 

Photo: Leo Gong, Sunset Magazine

Friday, February 12, 2016

Red Velvet Heart-Shaped Pancakes for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is on Sunday, so you have plenty of time to make these Red Velvet Heart-Shaped Pancakes for your sweetheart! You can make Red Velvet Pancakes from scratch or use a mix. Add a little extra love by using a heart-shaped pancake mold or go freehand, as in the last recipe! Hint: If you use a mold, use several and spray the molds, so the pancakes don't stick.

There are many Red Velvet Pancake Mixes. My favorite Red Velvet Pancake Mix is from The Griddle Cafe. My second choice which is still fab would be the Red Velvet Pancake Mix from Cost Plus World Market which is on sale today 2/11).

Want to make Red Velvet Pancakes from Scratch? Here are three awesome recipes. Let me know which you like best!

1. RED VELVET PANCAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE GLAZE 
(Adapted from About.com)

Pancakes:
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp Dark cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
8 ounces buttermilk
4 Tbsp sweet butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 tsp white vinegar
2 tsp red liquid food coloring
3/4 cup chocolate chips or dark chocolate chopped into chunks

Extra butter or nonstick cooking spray

Cream Cheese Glaze:
4 ounces light cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 Tbsp milk

Directions
Preheat griddle to medium-high heat. In bowl, whisk to combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
In separate bowl, whisk eggs, then add milk, buttermilk, butter, vanilla extract, white vinegar and food coloring, whisking to combine completely. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients, stirring just until combined. Do not overmix.
Brush some butter or spray nonstick cooking spray on hot griddle, and spoon batter into desired sized pancakes. Cook until bubbles form in batter, the edges are dry and underside is lightly brown, about 5 minutes, then flip over and cook other side 1 to 2 minutes more. Repeat as needed until all batter is used.

As pancakes cook, make cream cheese glaze: 
In small bowl, use fork to stir together cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Add a little milk if needed to make glaze that has thin enough consistency to drizzle.

To serve, stack three pancakes on a plate and drizzle cream cheese glaze over them.

2. BISQUICK RED VELVET PANCAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE GLAZE
(recipe from Betty Crocker)


Cream Cheese Topping
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sweet butter, softened
3 Tbsp milk
2 cups powdered sugar

Pancakes 
2 cups Original Bisquick™ mix
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 cup milk
1 to 1 1/2 tsp red paste food color**
2 eggs
Powdered sugar, if desired

Directions 
In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and 3 Tbsp milk with electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Gradually beat in 2 cups powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, on low speed until topping is smooth. Cover; set aside.
In large bowl, stir all pancake ingredients except powdered sugar with wire whisk until well blended.
Heat griddle or skillet over medium-high heat (375°F). (To test griddle, sprinkle with a few drops of water. If bubbles jump around, heat is just right.) Brush with vegetable oil if necessary or spray with cooking spray before heating.
For each pancake, pour slightly less than 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until bubbles form on top and edges are dry. Turn; cook other side until golden brown.
Spoon cream cheese topping into resealable food-storage plastic bag; seal bag. Cut off tiny corner of bag; squeeze bag to drizzle topping over pancakes.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar.


** Do not use liquid red food coloring in this recipe**

3. RED VELVET HEART SHAPED PANCAKES
(recipe from Food Network Kitchen)

Ingredients
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
3 Tbsp whole milk
2 Tbsp confectioners' sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
Fine salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup melted and cooled butter, plus more for griddle
2 tsp red food coloring
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tspapple cider vinegar

Directions
Whisk cream cheese, sour cream, milk, and confectioners' sugar until smooth in medium bowl; set aside. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt into large bowl.
Beat eggs and granulated sugar in another large bowl until pale yellow; beat in buttermilk, melted butter, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and fold just until incorporated. Transfer some of batter to squeeze bottle with 1/4-inch opening.
Heat griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Lightly coat hot skillet with melted butter and squeeze some of batter onto it in outline of heart or hearts of desired size. Fill in each outline with more batter; use spatula to spread to edges of heart. Cook each pancake until bubbles begin to pop on the surface, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip and cook until bottom is set and pancake is cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Repeat with  remaining batter. Drizzle cream cheese mixture and maple syrup on top of pancakes and sprinkle with toasted pecans.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Valentine's Day Chocolate Heart-Shaped Truffles: Vintage chocolate molds

Valentine's Day is all about Chocolate. I love heart-shaped truffles, and they're easy to make... if you have the right molds. There are silicon heart shaped molds to make these chocolates, but I'm lucky enough to have a few vintage heart-shaped chocolate molds I've found over the years. Scroll down for photos of Vintage Heart-Shaped Chocolate Molds.

So here's yet another recipe for truffles--this time for Valentine Heart-shaped Chocolate Truffles. Of course, you can use any basic truffle recipe and just press into the mold. I usually melt my chocolate and butter in a double boiler, but the microwave works, too.

And, if you have no time to make your own heart shaped truffles, buy Coeurs de truffes from Guyaux! Guyaux was founded in 1931. They produce traditional French-style truffles-in heart shape this time of year--covered with cocoa powder. Guyaux is a family run company, headed by second and third generation chocolate makers in Paris. It's now run by the grand-daughter of the founder. And, if you want to give a really special gift, buy Guyaux truffles in the traditional French Truffle Box! The basket is a replica of the one used historically to store Perigord truffles… which explains the open-weave lid. Ooo-la-la! I will have a post on all their products in the near future. For now, they're available in lots of specialty markets--I picked up a box at my local Pasta Shop! These are definitely my new favorites! So rich and decadent!

Valentine Chocolate Truffle Recipe
Makes 24 chocolate truffles

Ingredients
2 Tbsp sweet butter, chopped coarsely
9 oz Fair-trade organic dark chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 tsp corn syrup
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted for dusting the finished chocolate truffles
You are only limited by your imagination or heart on decorating ideas!

Directions
1. Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler or in saucepan on top of saucepan over simmering water.
2. Remove from heat and add cream and corn syrup. Mix until combined and smooth. If you are adding flavorings add them with the cream (kirsch, bourbon, kahlua, etc???).
3. Pour chocolate truffle filling into heart shaped chocolate mold. Level top with scraper. Put in refrigerator to set.
4. Once firm place in freezer for 5 minutes then push out of mold. Dust with sifted cocoa powder.
5. Store in cool dry place until ready to eat or give as a Valentine's Day gift.

Vintage Valentine Chocolate Molds