Thursday, March 31, 2016

Black Forest Chocolate Truffles

The Black Forest
Black Forest Cake Day (March 28) came and went, and I was so caught up in other holidays that I totally forgot to post this recipe for Black Forest Truffles.

Black Forest cake is the English name for the German dessert Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte or “Black Forest cherry torte.” Black Forest cake is made of several layers of chocolate cake with whipped cream and cherries between each layer. The cake is then decorated with whipped cream, maraschino cherries, and chocolate shavings. In some traditional recipes, sour cherries are used between the layers and a Kirschwasser (a clear liquor distilled from tart cherries) is added to the cake. In the U.S., alcohol is usually not used. However, in Germany the liqueur is a mandatory ingredient otherwise, the cake can not legally be sold under the Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte name.

The following is a great recipe for a variation of Black Forest Cake--Black Forest Truffles! These are really good, and as always the flavor will depend on the chocolate --and in this case, also the cherries--that you use.

BLACK FOREST CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES 

Ingredients
3 cups dark chocolate, chopped
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup chopped dried bing cherries
2 tsp almond extract
Cocoa powder

Directions
In saucepan over another saucepan over simmering water, melt chocolate with condensed milk. Remove from heat, and add cherries and almond extract.
Chill in refrigerator for two hours.
When firm, shape with hands into one-inch balls and coat with cocoa (roll the balls in the cocoa).
Chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.
Remove truffles from refrigerator for 1/2 hour before serving.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Happy Birthday to ME!

Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to Me! It's my Birthday, so I'm posting Retro Birthday Cake Ads! Enjoy!










Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Chocolate Chiffon Cake for Passover: Gluten-Free

Today is Chiffon Cake Day, and, of course, that means Chocolate Chiffon Cake to me. These two recipes for Chocolate Chiffon Cake are perfect for today's holiday and for the upcoming Passover holiday, so be sure and bookmark these for next month's holiday. These Chiffon Cakes are also Gluten-free if you use Gluten Free cake meal (Manischewitz, Yehuda or Bob's Red Mill). The first recipe is adapted from Manischewitz. The second recipe appeared in JewishBoston in 2011.

Chocolate Chiffon Cake #1

Ingredients
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Manischewitz® Cake Meal
2 Tbsp Manischewitz® Potato Starch
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
6 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
9 inch two piece tube pan

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In bowl add sugar, Manischewitz Cake Meal, Manischewitz Potato Starch, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. With electric mixer or hand mixer, mix until well blended. Make a well in chocolate chiffon mixture and add oil, egg yolks, water, and vanilla. Mix for 2 minutes on medium speed.
In separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks are formed. Fold egg whites into batter gently.
Pour batter into ungreased 9 inch tube pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Remove cake from oven and invert pan on a heat resistant bottle until cool.
Remove from pan after cake has cooled.

Chocolate Chiffon Cake #2

This recipe is from David Levy and appeared in 2011 in JewishBoston. It will remind you slightly, but only slightly of charoset. So it's perfect for Passover.

Ingredients
8 eggs separated (bring eggs to room temperature first)
3/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup cake meal
   sift potato starch and cake meal together
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 rounded tsp cocoa
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sweet red wine
10 walnuts coarsely chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat egg whites until stiff; gradually add half of sugar. Beat yolks with remaining sugar and salt; when yolks are thick and light in color add oil, a little at a time. Then add wine and cocoa, beating at low level. Gently fold cake meal/starch mixture into whites, then fold in yolk mixture, mixing nuts in at same time.
Bake in ungreased tube pan for 50 minutes. Turn over and hang from two-liter bottle until cooled.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Ben & Jerry's New Belgium Salted Caramel Brown-ie Ale

I've posted about chocolate beers before, but here's a great new Ben & Jerry's flavor for ice cream and beer aficionados. Ben & Jerry’s and New Belgium Brewing have come together in a sweet partnership to help fight climate change.

While pleasing beer and ice cream lovers, each pint of Salted Caramel Brown-ie Ale ice cream, and each bottle of Salted Caramel Brownie Ale Beer will benefit Protect Our Winters (POW), a group that is engaging the snow sports community to fight climate change.


Ways to Use Leftover Easter Chocolate


Today both high end and low end Easter Chocolate is on sale at 50% off. This is the perfect time to scoop up the bargains. But maybe you still have some leftover chocolate at home? Perhaps not the ears of the bunny, but body parts and decimated eggs? Put all this chocolate to tasty use!

If it's still in its wrapping, donate leftover chocolate to homeless shelters -- or if it won't melt, ship overseas to military personnel.

But if your chocolate is in pieces and chunks, here are a few ideas. Leftover chocolate goes great on ice cream or added to brownies and cookies. So many creative ways to re-purpose and re-savor Easter Candy. Feel free to add your own leftover Easter chocolate ideas!

Freeze for Later: Chop up chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs. Freeze the pieces and use instead of chocolate chips in cookies and other goodies. 

Ice Cream: Melt Easter bunny parts and pour over ice cream. Add some nuts. Or just chop it up and sprinkle on ice cream. Add berries and whipped cream for a great sundae.


Milk Shake: Use any chopped chocolate with two scoops of ice cream and some milk. Blend!

S'Mores: Well they're a natural with Peeps, especially the chocolate covered ones.. but in a pinch add some chocolate bunny, a peep, a graham cracker, and put in the oven or microwave. Add another graham cracker and you're good to go!

Trail Mix: Well, duh... chop up the chocolate and add some dried fruit and nuts. I think a chopped up chocolate coconut egg would be a great addition, too! Put in a small baggie and go for a hike!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries: Instead of dipping (unless you have a lot of chocolate), drizzle melted chocolate over fresh strawberries.

Candy from Candy: Melt Chocolate Bunnies or Easter eggs in double boiler or microwave. Once  chocolate is hot and smooth, pour into candy molds.

Chocolate Fondue: see my fondue recipes. The Bunny has never tasted so good... Retro treat with Retro Chocolate. Dip leftover PEEPS and fruit.

Hot Chocolate: Melt some chocolate. Add water or milk and heat until perfect. Add some whipped cream (or a PEEP)!

Brownies: I always add some extra chopped chocolate to my brownies, so why not some chocolate Easter eggs? Chop and fold into batter. 

Pancakes: Make a batch of pancakes and drop some chocolate in (do it toward the end or the chocolate or chocolate will scorch) or melt some chocolate and use in place of syrup.

Muffins and Waffles: Chop up Chocolate and add to muffins or waffles.

Trifle: Layer chopped Bunnies with leftover cake or brownies, whipped cream, cookie crumbs and anything else that seems yummy to you. I like to make trifles in clear glass containers to see all the layers of delicious chocolate goodness!

Cookies: Do I really need to tell you how to do this? Chop and Drop in your favorite batter!

Cupcakes: Any way you'd use chocolate -- or use an apple corer and fill the centers.

Rice Krispies Treats: Melt chocolate, then stir in Rice Krispies. Spread on a tray. Put in Refrigerator. Cut.

Any other ideas for left-over Easter Chocolate?



Sunday, March 27, 2016

Hoppin' Down the Bunny Trail: Chocolate Easter Bunnies

A 'Tail' of Peter Rabbit...

I love the Easter Bunny. If you've been to my home you know I have a giant wooden Easter Bunny. He should be holding a basket with Easter eggs, but that function has come and gone. I got him at the Oakland Museum White Elephant sale, and although he's not chocolate, he reminds me of other Easter Bunnies I've known and loved.

Some Chocolate Bunnies are filled and some are hollow. Today I give you a random tour through hollow and solid Chocolate Easter Bunnies. Love to hear about your favorites. Perhaps the most famous of U.S. Hollow Easter Bunnies are those manufactured by R. M. Palmer. Back in 1948, Richard M. Palmer, Sr., designed and patented the technology that is still used today in their West Reading (PA) production facilities. Palmer's vision was to give the old, tired chocolate bunnies of the day some new and interesting characteristics and names. The early bunnies named Flopsy, Peter Candytail, and Busy Bigby were not just "sitting" rabbits. Today, the list of their different styles of hollow chocolate bunnies is endless. They come in all shapes and sizes. And, if you're thinking the output of these hopping rabbits is slim, think again. Each year the R.M. Palmer Company produces 25 million hollow rabbits that range in size from 1/75 oz/4 inch high to a 20 oz foot tall Grandbunny Heffelflopper.


In South Africa,  the traditional Chocolate Bunny rabbit reached gigantic height and weight. Duracel built a 3 ton-4 meter tall Chocolate Bunny (Duracel symbol: Energizer Bunny) in Johannesburg. So much chocolate.What to do? Duracel put the edible giant Bunny to good use. It was chopped up and distributed to orphans. South Africa, where the AIDS virus is widespread, sadly, has a huge number of orphans because of the AIDS epidemic which has taken many of their parents.  

Watch a video of the Giant Chocolate Bunny HERE.

Some local bunnies at the Drugstores and Supermarkets: Lindt Gold Bunny (in photo at top). I like the looks of this one and captured a few at Cost Plus, Safeway and CVS. Others: Cadbury Solid Milk Chocolate Bunny. Being a dark chocolate fan, this is not my favorite. Dove Bunny: tiny little thing but tasty.

More High End Sophisticated Rabbits...are more to my taste. Anything from Jacques Torres. I love their chocolate. Sometimes their Easter Bunny is a bit frightening in appearance. It's hand-painted with white chocolate features, bows, ear tips hands and tail. At $17, you've got to like the chocolate. The 10 inch hollow rabbit comes in Milk and Dark Chocolate. I think the $9 Large Sitting Rabbit is more my style..a classic.

Speaking of retro, Christopher Norman Chocolates has a Racer Bunny. It's a hand-painted molded chocolate hollow bunny sitting in a woven convertible. Sooo cute. Who can eat this?


Martine's Chocolates has all kinds of lovely Bunnies, both sitting  (solid and hollow), Bunny Cartoon (solid), Bunny standing with Baskets and colored chocolate. Martine's chocolates, plus special artisan chocolate bunnies.

Vosges Rabbits: These are fabulous and this year they come in exotic flavors. These are molded with waving rabbit ears. Barcelona Bunny (Hickory smoked almonds  with grey sea salt (45% milk chocolate). Amalfi Bunny (Lemon zest and pink peppercorns and white chocolate) The Orchid Vanilla Bunny is really Tahitian vanilla bean with 62% dark chocolate. Toffee Bunny is one after my heart. He's the Vosges sweet butter toffee with pink Himalayan salt and deep milk chocolate. I've never met a toffee I didn't like, and bunny shape? Well, of course.

But I fell in love with Vosges' Mad Hare Orchestra. All five members of the Mad Hare Orchestra arrive together in solid 62% dark chocolate infused with Tahitian vanilla Bean. Each is individually wrapped in its own bag and tied with ribbon. The Mad Hare Orchestra also comes in Solid 42% Milk Chocolate with a touch of pink Himalayan salt. Problem: They're so cute, I want to put them on the shelf.. I might just need to bite off an ear now and again.
 
Locally, I'm a big fan of Charles Chocolates. A few years ago, I bought a box of their darling seated chocolate rabbits. Small individual rabbits placed in candy wrappers and boxed. I didn't find any this year. Maybe I didn't look hard enough. I did see their Bunny Collection Edible Chocolate Box. Painted chocolate collection of their Fleur de Sel and Bittersweet Chocolate Fleur de Sel Caramels. I'm sure they're excellent, but I'm into the whole Bunny shape, as well as the taste. 

See's Milk Chocolate Rabbit. A hollow, foil-covered Chocolate Bunny with a basket. 10 oz. There's also a small milk chocolate bunny in colored foil. These are a tradition, and they taste great.

I haven't really mentioned the filled Easter Bunnies: marshmallow, coconut and more exotics fillings. And, apologies to all my chocolatier friends who provide fabulous chocolate bunnies at Easter. Couldn't get to them all, but welcome comments. Nice thing about a Blog is that I can add at any time.

And, the age-old question of what part of the Bunny do you eat first?
With all the new Bunny shapes and molds, it's not an easy answer.  
Which part do YOU eat first?

Love to hear about your favorite Chocolate Bunnies. I bet there's a chocolatier near you that does some outstanding work.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Easy Chocolate Peanut Rolled Eggs

Today I welcome my Facebook Friend Susan Frank who has a delicious and easy recipe for Chocolate Peanut Rolled Eggs. Perfect for Easter! Thanks, Susan!

SUSAN FRANK:

Ahhh... Easter, bunnies, colored eggs, and my favorite candy, but who can afford sixteen dollars a pound and up and then feel guilty unless you eat it all. This Easter after watching all my favorite authors post delicious recipes on Facebook, I decided to experiment by making candy. My mother actually had a candy and gift shop when my twin sister and I were young. My twin sister is a great cook. I'm 2 minutes younger, so I need to be better at something! So, chocolate covered pretzels? Too easy. Strawberries? Too Easy. Peanut rolled eggs? Yep! I remember them. How hard could it be?.........not hard at all, my kind of candy!

I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of Duffy Browns book Braking for Bodies before release, so while I made the wonderful butter cream inside, I decided to read instead of doing the candy all at once. It actually made it easier, as the cooler the "buttercream" gets, the easier it is to manipulate. So find a good book and let the buttercream cool as long as you want and then play with the dipping when you're done.

P.S. If you have goldens or any kind of dog - beware they will love these, but they should not eat these--or anything with chocolate, specifically dark chocolate.

CHOCOLATE PEANUT ROLLED EGGS

Ingredients
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 10-ounce bag dark chocolate candy melts (I use the Ghiardelli ones)
2 cups chopped peanuts (I used the sea salt ones)

Directions
Whisk together milk, butter, and vanilla (make sure the butter is soft or you will have lumps).
Gradually stir in 2 1/2 of the 3 cups of powdered sugar. Coat your hands with powdered sugar and knead dough until it reaches the desired consistency. Your dough should be firm but not crumbly (sort of like pizza dough). Add more sugar if needed. Dough will be sticky. Form dough into a log and dust with powdered sugar, then roll up in parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least an hour until firm enough to handle. I actually left mine overnight. You can keep it for awhile, if you double the recipe and don't use it all.

When ready, melt chocolate in  double boiler or microwave, (if you are using Ghiardelli the directions are on the back of the back. You need to use the melting discs though as it doesn't work with the chips) stirring until smooth. Spread crushed peanuts in a dish with high sides or you'll have peanuts all over. You have to put them in a processor to make them small and fine.

While chocolate melts, get your chilled "dough" out and cut off pieces into desired size. Remember that your finished candy will be a bit larger with the candy coating and added peanuts. Form the piece of dough into an egg shape.

Dip the candy into the melted chocolate to coat on all sides. I used a fork so that the chocolate could drip off when I scooped them out of the chocolate. Lay coated candy in peanuts and roll around to coat. Let set a minute or until chocolate starts to set up, then place on parchment (so it doesn't stick).

Voila! Peanut rolled eggs that don't cost $16.00 a pound!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Homemade Cadbury Eggs

Do you love Cadbury Eggs? Are they a part of your Easter tradition? Want to make your own?

Instructables has a great recipe for Homemade Cadbury Creme Eggs. I think they're really good. They're easy to make, although a bit time consuming. Even if they don't come out egg shaped, or the shell breaks, they're yummy! And, you can use good quality dark chocolate for even better flavor!

HOMEMADE CADBURY CREME EGGS

Ingredients
1/2 cup Lyle’s golden syrup or light corn syrup
6 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 cup powdered sugar
yellow food coloring
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (or a bag of bittersweet chocolate chips)

The Filling:
Cream together corn syrup, butter, and vanilla. Sift in confectioner's powdered sugar and beat until incorporated. Separate filling into whites and yolks! Take out about third of filling and stir in some yellow food coloring. Put the two bowls in the fridge to set up a little.

Shaping the Yolks:
This step is sticky! Keep your hands clean and cold. Make little yolk balls out of yellow mixture. Place them on parchment. Put them back in the fridge or freezer to firm up.
When yolks are set up, start embedding them in whites. Scoop an amount of white filling out and flatten it into circle. Place yolk ball inside, and wrap white around it. Put them in fridge.

Hint from Instructables: 
If you decide to use egg molds instead of dipping method, pipe  whites and yolks into chocolate molds with a pastry bag. This would save a LOT of time. 

Filling the Molds 
Melt chocolate in double boiler or short bursts in the microwave. Fill tmolds with  chocolate and swirl to coat  sides.  Once molds are set, put filling ball into half of each mold. Using more melted chocolate, join two halves of egg together. Let set and unmold. Use the freezer to help set this up.

Alternative Method: If you aren't using molds, try this:
Melt chocolate + 2 teaspoons of butter in microwave in short bursts until just melted. Either dip fillings into  chocolate with a fork and let set on parchment, or skewer fillings and dip them --kind of like cake pops! Once  chocolate is set, dip them again for a thick chocolate shell!

Want to see another recipe -- similar...but always good to have two to compare! Check out Ashley Rodriguez's (Not Without Salt) adaptation of this recipe on Food52.

No time to make these?Buy yourself some Cadbury Creme Eggs!

Cinnamon Rolls Shaped Like a Lamb: Easter Brunch

I used to do a lot of bread baking when I was younger. Not so much anymore. However, this recipe is one of my all time favorites to make for Easter BrunchCinnamon Lamb Curls. They're a fun variation on traditional Cinnamon Rolls. They not only taste great but look terrific for the holiday!

This "Cinnamon Lamb Curls" recipe is from Bread Sculpture: The Edible Art by Ann Wiseman (101 Productions, 1975). And, yes, the stains on the page are mine. The book is a wonderful source for bread baking, as well. All kinds of tips on dough, bread making, tools and sculpting bread. If you do an Internet search, you'll probably find a copy of this out of print book. It's a great asset on my shelf. Scroll down for a Chocolate/Cinnamon Alternative to the filling!




And, since this is a chocolate blog, here's a chocolate/cinnamon alternative to the filling in the recipe.

CHOCOLATE CINNAMON 'FILLING' VARIATION

Spread this on the dough before cutting and baking.
Where the recipe says "Spread with butter & brown sugar and cinnamon".. you can substitute:
Sweet butter, room temp (as in recipe)
Then sprinkle with a mix of:
Granulated white sugar
Dark chocolate, chopped fine
Ground cinnamon

Cartoon of the Day: Easter Bunny


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Chocolate Orange Hot Cross Buns for Easter

A few years ago Jo Pratt posted this Easter Recipe on the Mailonline. It's a great recipe for Chocolate Orange Hot Cross Buns. If you want to make hot cross buns and add chocolate without making a chocolate bun, you can make regular hot cross buns and add chocolate chips instead of raisins. But give this one a try. This recipe for Chocolate Orange Hot Cross Buns, a yeast bread, is great. I've converted the measurements from the U.K. to the U.S. They're not totally exact, but very close. If you want to check out the original recipe with UK measurements, go HERE. Makes 12 buns.

CHOCOLATE ORANGE HOT CROSS BUNS

Ingredients
1/2 cup milk
4 Tbsp superfine sugar (castor sugar)
5 Tbsp sweet butter
3 1/2 cups white flour
4 tsp dark cocoa powder
1 tsp mixed spice  (combo of allspice, cinnamon, clove, coriander, ginger and nutmeg)
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 Tbsp chopped mixed peel (candied citrus peel)*
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 3/4 fast action dried yeast
1/2 cup or 4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped, or chocolate chips
1 egg, beaten
Flour for dusting

For the crosses and glaze
1/4 cup white flour
1 Tbsp sunflower oil
 2-3 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp orange juice
2 Tbsp caster sugar

METHOD
Place milk in saucepan over low heat. Just before it boils, remove from heat and stir in sugar and butter, until dissolved. Add 1/4 cold water and leave to cool down until you can comfortably hold your finger in it for a few seconds.

Sift together flour, cocoa, mixed spice (if you're using it) and salt in large bowl and stir in  mixed peel, orange zest, and yeast. Make a well in center and pour in warm milk mixture and beaten egg. Mix together until you have a sticky dough. Add chocolate chips or chopped chocolate, and knead on a floured surface for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

Place dough in large, lightly oiled bowl, cover with damp tea towel and leave to rise in  warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in volume. Punch dough and knead for a couple of minutes. Divide into 12 pieces and shape into buns.

Place on greased baking sheets, leaving enough space between each for rising. Cover with tea towel and leave to rise again until doubled in size – about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 F.

For glaze, mix flour and oil with 2-3 Tbsp water until smooth.

Lightly cut cross in center of each of buns with knife to mark out your crosses. Using  piping bag (or a plastic bag with a corner snipped off), pipe on crosses. Cook buns for 15-18 minutes until golden and sound hollow when tapped underneath.

Place orange juice and sugar in small pan, and gently heat until sugar dissolves. As soon as  buns are out of oven, brush with glaze and leave to cool slightly on wire rack before serving warm.

Photo: Mailonline

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

EASTER EGG BROWNIES & BROWNIE EASTER EGG NESTS

Photo: Kraft Recipes
Here are two adorable ideas for Easter Brownies. The first recipe for Easter Egg Brownies is adapted from a recipe I found on Kraft Recipes. You can always use your favorite brownie recipe with your preferred chocolate. Whatever works for you. In a pinch for time? Use a great brownie mix, although there's not that much more work in making brownies from scratch. The second recipe is from Babble for Brownie Easter Egg Nests with Cadbury or Robins Eggs. So cute!  It will work with jelly beans, too, but the eggs are perfect! Do you have a special

EASTER EGG BROWNIES

Ingredients
4 ounces unsweetened Chocolate  (or very dark chocolate and reduce the sugar)
3/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup chopped Walnuts
assorted decorating gels
assorted candies

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F.
Line 13x9-inch pan with foil, with ends extending over sides. Grease foil; set aside. Melt chocolate and butter in saucepan over another saucepan over simmering water. Stir until chocolate is completely melted (but don't burn).
Add sugar; mix well. Blend in eggs and vanilla.
Stir in flour and nuts until well blended; spread into prepared pan.
Bake 30 to 35 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.)
Cool completely.
Use foil handles to lift brownies from pan. Cut into egg shapes with 3-inch oval cookie cutter.
Decorate with decorating gels and candies to resemble Easter eggs (as in photo or get creative!) Serve in an Easter basket! How fun!
Photo: Babble

BROWNIE EASTER EGG NESTS

For this recipe from Babble, make a batch of brownies in mini-muffin tins. Fill half full with brownie batter. Bake 30 minutes until set and toothpick comes out clean. Cool ten minutes. Remove from muffin tins and cool. They will deflate, and you can drop in Cadbury Mini-Eggs or Robins Eggs. Very cool! If you're using these as a centerpiece, but them on some branches (flowering cherry? plum?)..

Chocolate Easter Bunny Cakes

Photo: Chocolate Bunny Cake-William Sonoma
This Chocolate Bunny Cake is the ultimate Easter Bunny Centerpiece.  I've mentioned before that there are so many great places to find recipes. This Chocolate Easter Bunny Cake recipe is from the Williams Sonoma Kitchen. They no longer sell this specific pan that accompanied the recipe, but you can find it or the one I use on eBay and other sites. Williams Sonoma does sell the Nordic Ware Standing Bunny with basket that is available most places. It is a great alternative (see below). You can add PEEPS in the basket! Just bake the two halves of the cake and press together with icing. Chocolate, of course! Any of these 3-D Bunny Cakes would make a great Easter Centerpiece!

I actually have a totally different Easter Bunny 3-D cake pan for this cake, and there are lots of other bunny cake pans you can find.

Double sided cakes aren't very difficult, and they're fun to make. The Wilton Cake Pan with the Eggs is the one in the recipe (first cake pan photo). You don't need to make the cake egg. You can make your own chocolate eggs or decorate with Jellybeans or Cadbury chocolate eggs. And, then there's the standup Bunny with basket. So many choices!

Other alternatives: Bake a chocolate cake, cut into shapes, and cover with a buttercream 'fur' frosting and coconut! See the recipe and directions below to shape your Bunny Cake. Recipe and directions from Betty Crocker's Party Book (1960).

Wilton Cake Pan used in Recipe
CHOCOLATE BUNNY CAKE

Ingredients

For the cake
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
20 Tbsp sweet butter, room temp
2 cups sugar
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk

For the chocolate ganache
1 lb dark chocolate (65-70%), chopped into small pieces
6 Tbsp sweet butter, at room temperature
2 cups heavy cream
1 jelly bean

Directions
Have all ingredients at room temperature.

To make cake, position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 325°F. Grease and flour bunny cake pan; tap out excess flour.

Over sheet of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Williams Sonoma Bunny Cake Pan
In bowl of electric mixer fitted with flat beater, beat butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 30 seconds. Add sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping mixer occasionally to scrape down sides of the bowl. Add eggs a little at time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla just until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with milk and beginning and ending with flour. Beat each addition just until incorporated, stopping mixer occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl.

Spoon batter into prepared bunny pan, spreading batter so  sides are higher than center. Bake until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 35 to 38 minutes.

Transfer pan to wire rack and let cake cool upright in pan for 15 minutes. Invert pan onto rack and lift off pan. Let cake cool completely, at least 2 hours, before serving or decorating.

To make chocolate ganache: In metal bowl, combine chocolate and butter. In small saucepan over medium heat, bring cream just to boil. Immediately pour  cream over chocolate and butter. Whisk until melted and mixture is smooth.

Transfer 2/3 cup of ganache to small bowl and let cool to room temperature. Keep remaining ganache warm and fluid by placing the bowl over but not touching barely simmering water in small saucepan.

To assemble and decorate cake:  wash and thoroughly dry pan, then return both halves of cooled bunny cake to pan. Level cake by using serrated knife to gently saw off part of each cake half that rose above the edge of pan.

Line baking sheet with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, making sure it covers edges of pan, and set  wire cooling rack on sheet. Place both cake halves, cut side down, on rack. Remove any crumbs that fall off cake onto baking sheet. Slowly pour warm ganache over halves, coating completely. Tap baking sheet to allow excess ganache to drip off. Place rack on another baking sheet or piece of parchment paper. Using rubber spatula, scrape excess ganache from lined baking sheet back into bowl. Reheat over simmering water if not fluid. Set rack on lined baking sheet again and place egg cake halves on  rack alongside bunny (If you made these). Pour warm ganache over eggs.

Cut jelly bean in half and attach halves to bunny to create eyes. Place baking sheet, with rack still on top, in refrigerator until ganache has set and cake halves are firm enough to handle, at least 30 minutes.

Place one Bunny cake half, cut side up, in center of large piece of aluminum foil. Ganache on this side of bunny may smudge a little. Using small offset spatula, spread 1/2 to 2/3 cup of room-temperature ganache over  cut side. Slide  metal spatula under other cake half and carefully place cake half on top of other one. Press down on jelly bean eye to help secure halves. Use foil to help turn bunny upright, then squeeze bunny on jelly bean eyes, feet and tail to secure the halves. If there are any gaps in seam, place some warm ganache on small offset spatula and fill in gaps. Dab warm ganache on areas where you squeezed the cake and on any other exposed areas. Soften any smudged areas by heating gently with culinary torch.

Carefully slide large metal spatula under base of bunny and transfer to platter. Using spatula, transfer the egg halves to platter (if using)

***
This recipe and directions for a 3-D Bunny Cake from the Betty Crocker Party Cookbook (1960). This was before there were all the very creative cake pans available! Although the recipe says to use a yellow or white cake mix, you can make your own Chocolate Cake (recipe above) or use a Chocolate Cake Mix. Love chocolate and coconut.. This is a simple and great cake.. and will make a lovely centerpiece!

CHOCOLATE BUNNY CAKE!




Tuesday, March 22, 2016

PEEPS EASTER GARDEN CAKE

Photo: PEEPS
Yesterday I posted about PEEPS! PEEPS are the candy of my childhood, especially around Easter. So today I thought I'd post this darling (and easy) PEEPS Easter Garden Cake. It's a lovely centerpiece for Easter lunch, dinner, or brunch. Recipe is from the PEEPS recipe site. The recipe calls for a Betty Crocker cake mix (since it's originally a Betty Crocker/General Mills Recipe), but you can use your favorite cake mix or your favorite chocolate cake recipe and icing recipe from scratch.

PEEPS EASTER GARDEN CAKE

Ingredients
1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist Devil's Food cake mix.
Water, oil, and eggs called for on cake mix box
1 container Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy chocolate frosting
1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs  (I use Famous chocolate wafers)
1 can (6.4 oz) Betty Crocker green decorating cake icing
8 to 12 PEEPS® marshmallow bunnies
1 can (6.4 oz) Betty Crocker orange decorating cake icing

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray. Make cake as directed on box for 13x9-inch pan. Cool in pan on cooling rack until completely cooled, about 30 minutes. Spread chocolate frosting on top of cake; sprinkle with chocolate cookie crumbs. Use green icing to make garden rows, using photo as guide. Insert toothpick halfway into base of each PEEPS® marshmallow bunny. Insert bunnies, toothpick side down, into cake. Use orange and green icings to make carrots on cake, using photo as a guide. Cut into 4 rows by 3 rows to serve.

Monday, March 21, 2016

PEEPS for Easter: Chicks & Bunnies & Chocolate, oh my!

"Are You My Mother?"
Of all my childhood Spring Confection memories, PEEPS stand out. My sister and I still buy each other PEEPS around Easter, although she rarely eats the sugary marshmallow-y creatures any more. She buys me purple rabbits; I buy her classic yellow chicks --the original PEEPS. You see where this is going? I'm a purist, but since this is a Chocolate Blog, I've made room in my Easter PEEPS inventory for Chocolate PEEPS.

So, PEEPS--you either love them or hate them. People do all sorts of things with PEEPS only some of which involve giving them to kids at Easter or eating them straight from the box. For me, it's the elastic quality of the "old" peeps that's fun for me--pulling them apart.
Chocolate PEEPS Bunnies off to work in the fields

Chocolate: The ultimate in the ever improving PEEPS. Chocolate-Covered PEEPS are available from the original company in both Dark and Milk chocolate. These are not the small peeps packed together in rows. No, these Chocolate Peeps come in individually wrapped packages, as well as in a three pack. Sadly, in the big ones, the cool sparkly coating of sugar is missing, and I think it would have been a nice buffer between the chocolate and marshmallow to make it stand out from the rest of the chocolate marshmallow candy.

However, the Chocolate Dipped PEEPS do have the sugar. I love the three pack of PEEPS Chocolate Dipped Chicks (both dark and milk chocolate), as well as the Dark and Milk Chocolate PEEPS Chocolate Dipped Mousse Flavored Marshmallow Chicks!

I'm a fan of Chocolate Eggs, and PEEPS has a very fun individually boxed hollow milk chocolate egg with a PEEP chick inside. Maybe it's been around for awhile, but I missed it. LOL!

And, just as an aside, Jacques Torres makes fabulous chocolate, and they sell Chocolate-Covered PEEPS. Their name: Chirp'N'Dales. They are adorable. Also, Asher's Chocolates makes Milk and Dark Chocolate Dipped PEEPS.

Other great uses for PEEPS:

1. Make PEEPS S'Mores, especially with the chocolate covered ones.
2. Plop a Chocolate Covered PEEPS down in your Hot Chocolate or Coffee.
3. Decorate cakes or cupcakes with PEEPS.
4. Create Your Own PEEPS Diorama.
5. Bake PEEPS in your brownies!

Want to make your own Chocolate Covered PEEPS using the original PEEPS?

1. Melt some good dark chocolate or milk chocolate (about 16 oz/depending on how many you plan to make)
2. Remove Peeps from package. I would use Chicks since they're the original, but the other shapes (rabbits, etc) work well.
3. Insert a lollipop stick into the Peep. If you're using the chicks, do it the widest way (maybe this is why they're sideways standing up in the packaged ones--and why bunnies work better). 
4. Dip the Peep into the melted chocolate. Two chocies: Either cover the entire Peep or just dip one end as you would strawberries. Be sure and let any excess drip off.
5. Put on wax paper covered plate or cookie sheet and freeze for 20 minutes. 

Question? When is a PEEP, not a PEEP? When it's Chocolate Covered.

Chocolate Dipped Peeps complete the flock!
 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate: Chocolate Caramel Day!

I love Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate at Starbucks, but it's not always an easy drink to find. It's 'seasonal'... so I went on line a few years ago to find the perfect copycat recipe. I found a great one at Bright Green Door. As always, I made a few adjustments. So for today's 'food holiday'-- Chocolate Caramel Day, here's a recipe for Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. And, you'll save $5 by not going to Starbucks.


For this recipe, you can use whichever hot chocolate recipe you like. Make the hot chocolate/cocoa in a pot on the stove. When finished, add about 2 Tbsp Caramel Sauce (I use Recchiuti) and 2 Tbsp English Toffee Syrup (or Toffee Nut from Starbucks-they'll sell it to you) right into the pot and stir. Pour into mug and top with real whipped cream (or Redi-Whip), Caramel Drizzle, and sprinkle of Sea Salt. This recipe makes enough for 4 regular size mugs or 2 "Grandes.'

You can also make a variation on this recipe to make a Salted Caramel Mocha.

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Dark Cocoa (I like Ghiradelli)
1/3 cup water
1 tsp Madagascar Vanilla
2 tsp Sea Salt
2 Tbsp Hazelnut Syrup (or Toffee Nut from Starbucks)
2 Tbsp Caramel Sauce, Caramel Drizzle
Whipped Cream (or Reddi Whip)

Directions
Mix Sugar, Cocoa, and 1 tsp Salt. Add water and boil for 1 minute. Add milk and heat until warm. Mix in Vanilla, Hazelnut Syrup and Caramel Sauce Pour into coffee cup and top with whipped cream, caramel drizzle, and sea salt

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Bailey's Irish Cream Truffles for St Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Here's an easy recipe for Bailey's Irish Cream Truffles.

As I've mentioned, great recipes are sometimes found in unusual places.  This recipe for Bailey's Irish Cream Truffles has been adapted from Fantasy-Ireland.com, a travel website.

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


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

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

BAILEY'S IRISH CREAM TRUFFLES

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

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

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Guinness Stout Brownies for St Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day! It's the perfect day for Guinness! I've already posted recipes for Guinness Chocolate Cake and Guinness Chocolate Cherry Bread. Here's an easy and delicious recipe for Guinness Stout Brownies, adapted from About.com. The texture of these brownies is great: mousse, candy, fudge, cake. You won't actually taste the beer (although it will make these brownies moist), so have a pitcher or mug on hand to drink.

GUINNESS STOUT BROWNIES

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I like Scharffen Berger)
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp sweet Irish butter, cut into cubes
8 ounces dark 60-75% organic free trade chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup white chocolate (make sure it's real cocoa butter white chocolate), chopped
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup superfine or granulated sugar
1-1/4 cups (10 ounces) Guinness Extra Stout beer (see Note below)
1 cup 60 % chocolate, chopped into small pieces (or chocolate chips)
optional: 1/8 cup confectioners' sugar for dusting

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line 9 x13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil.
In medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt until evenly combined. Set aside.
Melt butter, dark chocolate, and white chocolate in double-boiler over simmering water, stirring constantly until melted. Remove from heat.
In large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add melted chocolate mixture, beating until combined.
Beat reserved flour mixture into melted chocolate mixture.
Whisk in Guinness stout beer. Batter will seem thin.
Drop chocolate smaller bits  (or chips) evenly on top of batter (some will sink in).
Pour into prepared baking pan.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes on center rack in the oven, until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean.
Let brownies cool, uncovered, to room temperature.
Optional: Frost with Guinness Buttercream Frosting (I like mine plain)

Note: Guinness should be at room temperature. This recipe uses a little less than a standard 12-ounce bottle of Guinness stout beer. Do not include foam in the measurement. Spoon off foam or let rest until foam subsides. 

Guinness Buttercream Frosting 

Ingredients
1 cup sweet butter (room temperature)
2 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 whole scraped vanilla bean
1/2 Tbsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 cup Guinness extra stout

Directions
In saucepan, simmer Guinness on low heat for 10-15 min, until stout becomes reduced and thicker in consistency--similar to syrup. *Tip: keep your eye on the store, so stout does not over cook. Let cool.
In stand mixer, cream butter 1 minute.
Slowly add powdered sugar in thirds, alternating with some milk each time till mixture is creamy.
Add scraped vanilla bean and vanilla extract.
Slowly add reduced Guinness a little at a time. Taste test to desired flavor. You may not use all the Guinness reduction.
Spread on cooled brownies.

Pour yourself a big mug of Guinness and drink while making ... or drink with Brownies!