Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Resolution Cake: Chocolate Clock Cake

Have you made your New Year's Resolutions? This Retro advertisement from 1952 begins, "Here's a resolution you can make from this minute on..." This Ad is 60 years old.. but the recipe, if not the Dexo, is still fun and easy. This Chocolate Clock Cake is perfect for the New Year!

Dexo was a brand of hydrogenated vegetable shortening similar to Crisco: "Blendable, dependable and thrifty."






Friday, December 30, 2016

Champagne Chocolate Cake for New Year's Eve

Chocolate Champagne Cake is the perfect addition to your New Year's Eve CelebrationNeiman Marcus sells an amazing 4 pound Chocolate Champagne Cake, but unfortunately this year's cakes are sold out. But you can make your own. Here's a great and easy copycat recipe.

Chocolate Champagne Cake

Ingredients
2 cups sifted cake flour
1/4 cup DARK cocoa
1 1/2 cups sugar (superfine is best, regular is ok), divided
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup champagne
5 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
7 large egg yolks
7 large egg whites, at room temperature

Directions
Preheat oven to 325F. Use an ungreased 10" Bundt Pan.
In large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar (reserving 2 Tbsp), baking powder, and salt.
In medium bowl, whisk together champagne, vegetable oil, vanilla, and egg yolks, then pour into dry ingredients and whisk until just smooth.
In another large bowl, using electric mixer, beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Add remaining 2 Tbsp of sugar gradually, starting when whites begin to get foamy.
Once egg whites have reached stiff peaks (do not overheat), gently whisk 1/4 of egg whites into champagne batter. Gently, working in two additions, fold remaining beaten whites into champagne batter until no streaks of egg white foam remain visible and batter is uniform color. Be sure to scrape sides and bottom of bowl well.
Pour into ungreased bundt pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until top of cake springs back when gently touched and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Invert onto wire rack and let cool completely.
Once cooled, run knife around the edges and turn cake out onto a serving platter.
Dust with powdered sugar or cocoa.

Optional: Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Champagne Truffles: Ring in the New Year!

Ring in the New Year with Champagne Truffles. Several great Chocolate Companies make Champagne Truffles. The following list is not definitive, but will get you started. Comment below with your favorites. Love to add to the list. Scroll down for an awesome video from Vosges Haute-Chocolate on the making of Champagne Truffles!

Recchiuti Chocolate Champagne Truffles
A version of a classic favorite. Dark chocolate truffle with Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs from Napa Valley and confectioner's sugar.

Seattle Chocolate Company Champagne Truffles. A bubbly truffle featuring a blended milk and dark chocolate center with natural popping candy and a bit of bite. Enrobed in dark chocolate.

Choclatique Bubbly Champagne Truffles. I love these. Have tried them several times. They're light and creamy and bubbly! 

Teuscher Chocolate of Switzerland
House specialty, the famous Champagne Truffle, a blend of cream, butter and chocolate: champagne cream center surrounded by a dark chocolate ganache, covered in milk chocolate and dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Originally created by Adolf Teuscher, Sr. in 1947. Available also in an all dark version which I like even more!

Jacques Torres
Jacques' Taittinger Champagne Truffles are a combination of milk chocolate, fresh cream and Taittinger Brut La Francaise. I love the cork shape of these truffles.

Williams-Sonoma
La Maison du Chocolat selects and roasts its own cacao beans, and all of the chocolate is made from special house blends. Their collection of chocolate truffles are hand made at the La Maison du Chocolat workshop in Paris. Other truffles but includes Champagne truffles: dark chocolate truffles infused with Fine Champagne Cognac, covered with dark chocolate and dusted with cocoa powder.

Hotel Chocolate 
Luxuriously light and creamy truffles made with real champagne and cream for beautifully delicate flavours and a touch of elegant hedonism.

Payard Truffles
Champagne Truffles

Friars
White Chocolate Champagne Truffles

Neuhaus Champagne Truffles
Dark chocolate dusted with a frosting of powdered sugar with soft centers of champagne butter. Not for the superstitious. Neuhaus Champagne Truffles are sold in boxes of 13.

Godiva makes a champagne truffle, but I haven't had one in awhile. I remember it was beautiful and very smooth, but there was more chocolate taste than champagne. Still Godiva truffles are great.

Charbonnel & Walker Milk Chocolate Marc de Champagne Truffles.  Milk Chocolate with Marc de Champagne center. Also try Charbonnel & Walker Chocolate Pink Champagne Truffles. Tangy & Sweet with a strawberry dusting and Marc de Champagne truffle center. Tangy & sweet. (I saw them at Sur Le Table, but they're also at Harrod's!)

Paul A. Young Champagne Truffles.
Made with real Champagne.

MarieBelle
Soft rich hand-shaped dark chocolate truffles flavored with champagne and rolled in pure cacao.

Demarquette Champagne Truffles. These are made with vintage Dom Perignon Champagne. U.K. Brut Champagne (Dom Perignon) blended with our very own recipe of single estate and single origin cocoas from around the world and Cornish and Hampshire creams for the ultimate in pure taste. Each truffle is hand dipped in 71.1% couverture chocolate before being dusted with pure cocoa powder.

Nuubia French Champagne Truffles. Silken white ganache infused with Cognac, piped into dark chocolate shell, covered in chocolate and finished with icing sugar.

Vosges Krug Champagne Truffle. Watch this video on making Champagne Truffles.



Making of Krug® Champagne Truffles from Vosges Haut-Chocolat® on Vimeo.
SaveSave

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Home Made Tootsie Rolls: National Candy Day

Today is yet another National Candy Day. O.K., every day is Candy Day, but to celebrate, have a truffle, candy bar, or your favorite 'penny' candy. For me that means Tootsie Rolls. They've changed their shape and cost over the years, but they still taste the same. I've tried several different recipes for Home Made Tootsie Rolls, but this recipe is my favorite.

Notes:
This recipe makes 80 -100 tootsie rolls, but you can roll them out bigger and cut them longer. Remember the 5 cent Tootsie Roll?

As always the brand of chocolate will make a difference. You also might want to substitute 1/2 cup DARK cocoa powder for the unsweetened chocolate. In that case, sift with the dry milk.

Powdered milk, by the way, is not instant milk powder, it's dehydrated milk. Hope you can find it.

I also sift the flour. Not sure if it's necessary, but old habits die hard.

HOME-MADE TOOTSIE ROLLS
This recipe is adapted slightly from Elizabeth LaBau at About.com

Ingredients:
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 Tbsp softened butter
3/4 cup powdered milk (not instant.. see note above)
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
2-3 cups powdered sugar (sifted)

Preparation:
Melt chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl or in double boiler over simmering water.
Once chocolate is melted and smooth, stir in corn syrup and butter, stirring until butter is melted. Stir in powdered milk and vanilla extract.
Add cup of powdered sugar and stir until incorporated. Once that sugar is mixed in, add second cup of powdered sugar and stir to mix. Dough will be getting stiff and might be difficult to stir more powdered sugar into candy.
Dust work surface with powdered sugar and knead the candy until smooth. If still very soft, knead in more powdered sugar until firm but not dry or crumbly. You might need up to 3 cups of powdered sugar total.
Once Tootsie Roll candy is smooth and firm but supple texture, break off palm-sized piece and roll into long, thin rope. Using sharp knife, cut it into small pieces and place on baking sheet. Repeat until you have formed all of Tootsie Roll dough into small pieces.
Depending on size of rolls, you should get 80-100 pieces.
Refrigerate tray of Tootsie Rolls until they firm up, about 1 hour.

Store Tootsie Rolls in airtight container in refrigerator for up to two weeks.
You can wrap them individually in waxed paper if they start to stick together because of condensation from refrigerator. 
Bring Tootsie Rolls to room temperature before serving.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Dark Chocolate Cake with Red Wine Glaze

I love this recipe from Epicurious for Dark Chocolate Cake with Red Wine Glaze. It's perfect for an elegant New Year's Eve dinner. The plummy-berry notes of red wine are highlighted when mixed with chocolate and butter into a glaze the drips over the edges of this decadent dark chocolate cake. You might want to bookmark this cake for Valentine's Day, too!

FYI:  Epicurious, one of the most trusted voices in food, has recently launched of a new collection of custom designed winesEpicurious Wine - for people who love to cook, use great ingredients, and want to make sure their wine works just as well in their wine glass as it does in their pan sauce. Carefully blended in Sonoma, CA by award-winning winemaker Linda Trotta and Epicurious staff, the signature varietals include a robust Cabernet Sauvignon as well as a delicate Chardonnay.

DARK CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH RED WINE GLAZE

Ingredients

Cake:
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for pan
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 70% cacao), chopped
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
3/4 tsp kosher salt

Glaze and assembly:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 70% cacao), finely chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup Epicurious Cabernet Sauvignon

PREPARATION

For cake:

Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly butter and flour 9" cake pan. Heat chocolate, sugar, and 1 cup butter in heatproof bowl set over saucepan of simmering water (bowl should not touch water), stirring, until chocolate is almost completely melted, about 3 minutes; remove from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is completely melted. Let cool completely.

Using electric mixer on medium speed, add eggs to chocolate mixture 1 at a time, beating to blend after each addition. Beat until mixture has a mousse-like consistency. Reduce speed to low and add salt and 1/3 cup flour; mix until smooth. Scrape batter into prepared pan; smooth top.

Bake cake until top is firm and edges are slightly darkened, 55–65 minutes (rely on visual cues; a tester inserted into cake's center will come out clean before cake is truly done). Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool completely in pan before turning out.        

For Glaze and Assembly:

Heat chocolate, butter, and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (bowl should not touch water), stirring, until chocolate and butter are melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk in powdered sugar.

Meanwhile, bring wine just to a boil in a small saucepan.

Remove chocolate mixture from heat and whisk in wine; let cool until slightly thickened and rubber spatula leaves a trail in mixture when stirring, 8–10 minutes.

Set cake on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Pour glaze over cake and spread it across the top and over the edges with an offset spatula. Let cake stand at room temperature until glaze is set, 2–3 hours.

DO AHEAD: Cake can be made and glazed 2 days ahead. Chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Candy Cane Truffles: National Candy Cane Day

Today is Candy Cane Day! Candy Canes shout Holidays to me, and these Candy Cane Truffles just elevate that flavor of the chocolate! What's better than homemade truffles? Here are two recipes for Candy Cane Truffles! Hope you have some candy canes on the tree or lying about from the holiday.

History of the Candy Cane from About.com:

During the 17th century, Europeans adopted Christmas trees as part of Christmas celebrations, and they often made cookies and sugar stick candy as decorations. 

The first historical reference to the familiar cane shape goes back to 1670, when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, bent the sugar sticks into canes to represent a shepherd's staff. The all white candy canes were given out to children during the nativity services. This tradition of handing out candy canes during Christmas services spread throughout Europe and later to America. 

The first historical reference to the candy cane being in America goes back to 1847, when German immigrant August Imgard decorated the Christmas tree in his Wooster, Ohio home with candy canes. About fifty years later the first red-and-white striped candy canes appeared. No one knows who exactly invented the stripes, but Christmas cards prior to the year 1900 showed only all white candy canes. Christmas cards after 1900 showed illustrations of striped candy canes. Around the same time, candy-makers added peppermint and wintergreen flavors to their candy canes and those flavors then became the traditional favorites. 

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 double boiler 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 20-30 minutes.
Scoop chocolate with melon baller or two spoons and hand roll into balls.
Roll balls 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 until smooth.
Stir in vanilla and peppermint extracts until combined.
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 give as a gift to friends!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Red Wine Hot Chocolate

Red Wine Hot Chocolate is the hit of the season. Martha Stewart called it 'spectacular'. Cosmo said 'the best of both worlds' and The Kitchn (recipe below) called it "the answer to your cold-weather blues."

I love cocoa aka hot chocolate, so adding my favorite Zinfandel or Merlot only elevates the cocoa. I've seen so many recipes this month, but really it's a matter of making your favorite hot chocolate, adding a bit of sugar and cinnamon, removing from the heat, and adding some wine! I usually add whipped cream or marshmallows, but that's optional! How easy is this? As always, use the very best chocolate and cocoa.

Here's an 'actual' recipe, in case you need it. This one is from TheKitchn, one of my go-to recipe sites. You can always cut the ingredients for fewer servings. This recipe is for 8.

Red Wine Hot Chocolate 

Serves 8

Ingredients
5 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 quart (4 cups) whole milk
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups fruity red wine, such as Merlot, Shiraz, or Zinfandel
Cinnamon sticks and additional cocoa powder, for serving (optional)

Directions
Whisk chocolate, cocoa powder, sugar, and cinnamon together in large saucepan. Add milk and bring to simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until hot and smooth, about 5 minutes. Stir in salt.
Remove from heat and add wine. Divide among 8 small glasses or mugs, garnish with cinnamon stick and dusting of cocoa powder, if desired, and serve.

Chocolate Cockroaches-19th Century Christmas Treat

I was searching the Internet for a specific Chocolate Christmas Custom when I found this story about chocolate cockroaches. They're really chocolates molded to look like cockroaches, so you can feel free to read on. Fascinating Victorian custom!


‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…
The children were nestled, all snug in their beds
While visions of cockroaches danced in their heads…

This riff on Moore’s ode refers to an "Addams-like Christmas tradition" practiced by late 19th-century Victorians. They didn’t eat real roaches, they ate chocolates molded to look like them.

“The chocolate cockroaches are a real window into the Victorian sensibility and soul, what they thought was wonderful was so different. If we looked back at some of that stuff, we’d go ‘Ewwww!’” says Marcia Young, site manager of the David Davis Mansion, a state historic site in Bloomington, IL where chocolate cockroaches are a must for Christmas."

The chocolate cockroaches tradition stemmed from two Victorian beliefs: that children should receive special treats for the holiday and that nature was wonderful.

“Candy was a big deal to kids. Getting candy only happened on very special occasions,” says Young. For Christmas, Victorians gave them lots of candy in stockings or as gifts.

Some of that candy was made to look like items in nature. “This was a time in which a lot of exploration is occurring all over the globe,” Young says. “Victorians are very excited about what they’re finding. They’re fascinated by the natural world, even the smallest parts, like insects.” That fascination inspired their candy-making, so they created chocolates that looked like carrots, lobsters, rabbits, beetles, spiders, and even cockroaches.

The David Davis Mansion has chocolate cockroaches at Christmas because we’re trying to tell the story of how all these Christmas customs evolved,” Young adds. “Christmas traditions we think were from time immemorial were not. Christmas as we know it today started in the 19th century…We show Christmas as it was celebrated after the Industrial Revolution.”

“We like to do odd orders,” says Doug Anderson, vice president of Pease's, who oversees the production of its candy. (It made chocolate coffins for the gift shop in Springfield’s former Museum of Funeral Customs.) Anderson ordered chocolate moulds in the shape of cockroaches to fill the Davis Mansion’s request. “If people are looking for something, we want to help them out. You can always have a chocolate mould made.” Currently, Pease's only makes cockroaches for the Davis Mansion; it’s had no other requests for them.

The Mansion includes the cockroaches in its decorations and sells them for 95 cents apiece in its gift shop. “They sell very, very well,” Young says. “They’ve become known as something you can get here. We’ve had people come here from other towns just to buy the cockroaches.”
--from the Illinois Times 

Fascinating custom, but one I'll forgo!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Chocolate Eggnog: History & Three Recipes

Today is National Eggnog Day. How perfect? Eggnog evokes the holiday spirit, and Chocolate Eggnog... well how delicious can you get? There are so many variations... Following are three great recipes. FYI: this wonderful rich drink can be spelled as one word or two: egg nog or eggnog, so I'm going to change it up in the recipes below.

The History of Eggnog From Wikipedia:

The origins, etymology, and the ingredients used to make the original eggnog drink are debated. Eggnog may have originated in East Anglia, England; or it may have simply developed from posset, a medieval European beverage made with hot milk.

The "nog" part of its name may come from the word noggin, a Middle English term for a small, carved wooden mug used to serve alcohol. However, the British drink was also called an Egg Flip (from the practice of "flipping" (rapidly pouring) the mixture between two pitchers to mix it).

Another story is that the term derived from egg and grog, a common Colonial term used for the drink made with rum. Eventually, that term was shortened to egg'n'grog, then eggnog. One very early example: Isaac Weld, Junior, in his book Travels Through the States of North America and the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, during the years 1795, 1796, and 1797 (published in 1800) wrote: "The American travellers, before they pursued their journey, took a hearty draught each, according to custom, of egg-nog, a mixture composed of new milk, eggs, rum, and sugar, beat up together;..."

In Britain, the drink was popular mainly among the aristocracy. Those who could get milk and eggs mixed it with brandy, Madeira or sherry to make a drink similar to modern alcoholic egg nog. The drink is described in Cold Comfort Farm as a Hell's Angel, made with an egg, two ounces of brandy, a teaspoonful of cream, and some chips of ice, where it is served as breakfast.

Eggnog crossed the Atlantic to the English colonies during the 18th century. Since brandy and wine were heavily taxed, rum from the Triangular Trade with the Caribbean was a cost-effective substitute. The inexpensive liquor, coupled with plentiful farm and dairy products, helped the drink become very popular in America. When the supply of rum to the newly-founded United States was reduced as a consequence of the American Revolutionary War, Americans turned to domestic whiskey, and eventually bourbon in particular, as a substitute.

The Eggnog Riot occurred at the United States Military Academy on 23–25 December 1826. Whiskey was smuggled into the barracks to make eggnog for a Christmas Day party. The incident resulted in the court-martialing of twenty cadets and one enlisted soldier.

Chocolate Eggnog
 from Woodhouse Chocolate via The Nibble

Ingredients
6 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
Dash of salt
3 cups whole milk
6 ounces of quality dark chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup cold heavy cream
2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 Tbsp freshly-ground nutmeg
1/2 cup Bourbon
Whipped cream
Fresh-grated nutmeg for garnish

Directions
Place chopped chocolate in medium mixing bowl and set aside. Also have at the ready the heavy cream in measuring cup or pitcher.
In second medium-size bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar and salt. Whisk in milk, then pour mixture into saucepan.
Heat egg mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until it reaches 160°F. Be careful to heat gently and remove from heat as soon as the mixture reaches 160°, or eggs will curdle.
Pour about 1/2 cup of hot egg/milk mixture over chocolate and pour rest back into bowl in which you whisked it in. Immediately, stir cold cream into the egg/milk mixture in bowl (not chocolate bowl). With small whisk, start whisking in center of chocolate mixture, working in small, circular motions to emulsify chocolate.
When you have smooth, homogenous mixture, gradually add rest of egg/milk mixture.
Whisk in vanilla, nutmeg, and Bourbon.
Chill for several hours, preferably overnight, to mellow flavors.
Serve cold, with dollop of whipped cream and sprinkling of grated nutmeg.

Spicy Mexican Chocolate Eggnog 
from Martha Stewart

Ingredients
2 quarts whole milk, plus more if needed
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and pod reserved
4 cinnamon sticks
12 egg yolks
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
3 ounces milk chocolate, melted
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups brandy
Whole nutmeg, for garnish
Cayenne pepper, for sprinkling

Directions
Heat 2 quarts milk, sugar, salt, vanilla seeds and pod, and cinnamon sticks inlarge pot over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and mixture is heated through. Remove from heat. Let stand for 30 minutes.
Prepare ice-water bath. Whisk yolks in medium bowl until pale, about 2 minutes. Whisk 1 cup of milk mixture into yolks in slow, steady stream. Whisk yolk mixture into remaining milk mixture. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture registers 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 6 minutes. (Do not boil.)
Remove pot from heat, add melted bittersweet and milk chocolates, and stir until incorporated. Discard vanilla pod and cinnamon sticks.
Pour mixture into a large bowl set in ice-water bath, and let cool, stirring often.
Whisk cream until soft peaks form. Pour cooled eggnog into large serving bowl, and add brandy (Add more milk to eggnog if necessary to reach desired consistency.)
Top with whipped cream. Grate nutmeg over top, and sprinkle sparingly with cayenne.
Serve immediately

Easy White Chocolate Egg Nog 
from Sandra Lee, Food Network

Ingredients 
1 quart egg nog
1/2 cup white rum
1/2 cup white chocolate liqueur
1 cup whipped topping
Grated white chocolate, for garnish
Pumpkin pie spice, for garnish

Directions
In punch bowl, combine eggnog, rum, and white chocolate liqueur.
When ready to serve, whisk egg nog to make it frothy and pour mixture into cups.
Place 1 heaping tablespoon of whipped topping into each cup.
Garnish each with grated white chocolate and sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Chocolate Marshmallow Dreidels for Chanukah

You don't have to be Jewish to make these fabulous Chocolate Marshmallow Dreidels.

A Dreidel is a four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side. During Chanukah (Hanukah, Hanukkah), children play a game that involves spinning the dreidel and betting on which Hebrew letter will show when the dreidel stops spinning. Children usually play for a pot of 'gelt' -- chocolate coins covered in gold colored foil.

You won't be spinning these tops unless you want chocolate all over the floor, but making these Chocolate Marshmallow Dreidels is a fun activity to do with children.

This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart's recipe for Chocolate Marshmallow Dreidels. If you want to take it up a notch, make your own marshmallows or buy some high end marshmallows made with natural ingredients such as those from Recchiuti. I usually use whatever dark chocolate I have, but you can use any great dark chocolate. For the white chocolate I used Green & Black's White Chocolate that's made with Madagascar vanilla. I also used Paul Newman's Own Organic pretzel sticks. They are a little long, so I snap them in half.

Apologies for the poor caligraphy. Practice makes perfect, and I'm very out of practice. :-)

CHOCOLATE COVERED MARSHMALLOW DREIDELS

Ingredients
12 chocolate kisses (I use Hershey's Kisses)
8 ounces melted dark chocolate
12 marshmallows (homemade or whatever you have)
12 thin pretzel sticks (I use Newman's Own)
2 ounces melted white chocolate (I use Green & Black)

Directions 
Dip bottom of chocolate kiss in melted semisweet chocolate. Press onto marshmallow; transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat to make 12 dreidels. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Cut small slit in bottom of each marshmallow or just one thin pretzel stick into the marshmallow. Dip dreidels in dark chocolate, and return to baking sheet. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes.

Fill plastic bag or pastry bag with melted white chocolate; cut a tiny opening in corner, and pipe Hebrew letters onto 3 sides of each dreidel. I used a pastry bag with a tip, but I should have practiced a bit first so I wouldn't have any drips.

Refrigerate at least 5 minutes or up to 8 hours before serving.

Dark Chocolate Eggnog Truffles

Eggnog is definitely a beverage of the season, so if you have some around, here's a great recipe! You can never have enough truffles during the holidays! Buy the best eggnog you can--or make your own! I love Dark Chocolate Eggnog Truffles!

Dark Chocolate Eggnog Truffles

Ingredients
3/4 cup eggnog
11 ounces dark chocolate 65%+ cacao, chopped
3 Tbsp sweet butter, cut into small cubes
2 Tbsp superfine sugar
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions
Heat eggnog over medium heat almost to boiling point, whisking constantly. Do not boil.
Immediately remove pan from heat, turn heat to low. Add chocolate and butter to eggnog. Stir until chocolate is completely melted, returning to low heat if necessary.
Pour mixture into mixing bowl and beat with electric mixer at high speed for 5 minutes. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until mixture is firm but pliable.
In small bowl, mix superfine sugar with nutmeg and cinnamon; set aside. (you can also add cocoa)
Take 1 teaspoon of chocolate mixture and roll into ball, then roll in sugar mixture.
Place truffle in foil cup or on waxed paper tray (I don't use cups but they look festive if you do). Repeat.
Store truffles in airtight container in refrigerator.

Don't have time to make Eggnog Truffles? 
Starbucks sells Eggnog Latte Truffles. 
Godiva has them in their 12 piece Truffle Holiday Box.
Check with your local chocolatier!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Guinness Chocolate Truffles for Christmas

I love Guinness Chocolate Truffles. How great to have some of these Guinness Truffles around for the holidays. Make a lot. There won't be any left over! These really do taste like Guinness, and Guinness goes so well with Chocolate! They also make a great gift.

GUINNESS CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

Ingredients
3/4 cup Guinness
1 pound dark chocolate  (65-75% cacao), chopped
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Cocoa

Directions
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler or saucepan over another saucepan with simmering water.
Gradually stir in cream.
Gradually add Guinness, stirring gently to blend.
Cover and chill overnight.
Shape mixture into 3/4 inch balls, using about a tablespoon for each.
Roll in cocoa (optional: then also roll in red and green decorating sugar for Christmas)

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Ice Cream Yule Log aka Bûche de Noël for the Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice is upon us, and what could be more fitting that a Yule Log aka Bûche de Noël. And yes, it can also be served for Christmas. We all know about these cross-over traditions of winter holidays.

The tradition of the Yule Log spans millennia and actually precedes Christianity. Peasants used to burn a yule log on the Winter Solstice in December to keep evil spirits away, which they presumed might come because of the prolonged darkness at the Winter Solstice.

As Christianity grew, the yule log became more commonly associated with Christmas celebrations and Christianity adopted the Yule log tradition. For centuries, Christians cut their own yule logs at Christmas time or they would try to find a yule log to burn. During the 1700s and 1800s, it was a regular Christmas tradition for men to go out in search of a yule log. Many European countries had traditions surrounding the Yule log, but a Yule log was burned either in the days preceding Christmas or on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

For the purposes of this blog, the expression "Yule log" has also come to refer to a log-shaped Christmas cake or"Bûche de Noël." Yesterday, I posted a list of bakeries and patisseries in the San Francisco Bay Area where you can purchase a Bûche de Noël for your holiday celebration.

Here's a simple recipe adapted from the Breyers Ice cream site for a Buche de Noel aka Yule Log Ice Cream Cake. You can always change the ice cream to a flavor you like best. Personally I think chocolate looks the best! How easy is this?

ICE CREAM YULE LOG aka BUCHE DE NOEL

1 box (16 oz.) angel food cake mix or Duncan Hines Chocolate Cake mix (guess which one I use?)
1 Tbsp confectioners sugar PLUS extra for garnish
1 container (1.5 qt.) Chocolate or Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (original recipe uses strawberry)
3 large marshmallows
6 mini marshmallows
Unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1 can (16 ounces) chocolate frosting
Fresh mint sprigs
Cranberries
Ground cocoa nibs

Directions
Preheat oven to 350° Line 15-1/2 x 10-1/2-inch jelly-roll pan with parchment paper; set aside.
Prepare cake mix according to package; pour into prepared pan. Bake 22 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. On wire rack, cool 15 minutes.
Run metal spatula around edges of cake to loosen; sift 1 Tbsp sugar onto cake. Invert onto clean kitchen towel; remove parchment paper.
Starting at short end of cake, roll up tightly, jelly-roll style, folding towel into cake; refrigerate 30 minutes or until chilled.
On cutting board, unroll cake. With scissors, cut carton from softened (leave out for 10 minutes) Ice Cream (or if you're using another brand of ice-cream, let it soften until you can spread it). Arrange Ice Cream on its side, then cut crosswise into 8 slices. Arrange slices on cake leaving 1-1/2-inch border at one end of cake; pressing to form an even layer. Roll cake up tightly, using towel to help roll cake; freeze 3 hours or overnight. Freeze serving platter 30 minutes before serving.
Meanwhile, for ''mushrooms'', with scissors, snip large marshmallows in half crosswise; press mini marshmallows onto sticky side of large marshmallows. Sift cocoa powder over mushrooms; set aside.
On cutting board, remove towel from cake. With serrated knife, slice 1-1/2-inch diagonal piece off one end of cake. On chilled serving platter, arrange large ''log.'' Place diagonal slice against side of ''log'' to form ''branch.''
Frost "log" and "branch" with chocolate frosting, leaving ends unfrosted. Drag fork across frosting to create "bark"; press on "mushrooms." Return to freezer to firm up.
To serve, garnish with cranberries and mint and sprinkle with additional confectioners sugar. Serve on a bed of ground up cocoa nibs!

TIP: The frosting will cover any cracks you may get in the cake when rolling.

Don't have time to do this? Baskin & Robbins has Ice Cream Buches de Noel for sale. You get to pick the ice cream flavor you like. They're ready for take-out or they'll customize it for you.

Photo: Breyer's with strawberry ice cream

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Chocolate Sufganiyot for Hanukah: B.K. Stevens

Chanukah (Hannukah, Hanukah) starts Saturday night. Chanukkah is the Jewish Holiday of Lights that celebrates the rededication of the Temple after the Maccabees defeated the Syrian army in 165 BC and forced them out of Jerusalem. There was only enough oil for one day to rededicate the eternal flame, but the oil burned for eight days and nights. A miracle! So Hanukkah is celebrated for 8 days.

One of the special foods at Chanukah time is Sufganiyot (singular: sufganiyah): deep fried donut balls stuffed with jelly, or custard (for this blog that would be chocolate custard) and topped with sugar. Of course, you can also stuff them with dark chocolate! I didn't grow up with this tradition, but any food that's fried and stuffed is good in my book. Sufganiyot are really an Israeli tradition, but they've gained popularity in the U.S. 

I've posted recipes in the past for Sufganiyot, but here's a new recipe  from B.K. Stevens where the actual donut is chocolate! B.K. Stevens is a mystery author, so once again my worlds of chocolate and mystery cross. Thanks, Bonnie!


B.K. Stevens:

I know you've posted chocolate sufganiyot recipes before; I don't know if you've posted this one. It's very simple (no yeast), and the sufganiyot themselves are chocolate, rather than the filling. Unfortunately, I don't remember where I found the recipe--we've had it in our family cookbook for many years. I served these at a holiday party the other day, and people really seemed to enjoy them.

Sufganiyot 
(Israeli Jelly Doughnuts—for Hanukkah) 

Ingredients
vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for coating sufganiyot after frying
2 eggs plus
1 egg yolk
3 1/2 cups flour (recipe says unbleached, but we’ve used regular)
1/4 cup cocoa
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk strawberry jelly (not jam or preserves) •

Directions
Combine 1/4 cup oil, 1 cup sugar, eggs, and egg yolk in bowl and mix with an electric mixer until fluffy.
Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Stir into oil mixture alternately with buttermilk. Heat 2 to 3 inches oil in heavy, deep skillet to 340 degrees.
Drop batter by tablespoons (we use a small cookie scoop) into hot oil and cook in batches until doughnuts are evenly fried, about 2 or 3 minutes per side. Do not crowd pan.
Drain on paper towels. Roll in remaining sugar.
Fill with strawberry jelly. (We use an inexpensive plastic condiment container, with the tip cut off halfway down to make it easier to get the jelly out.)
Makes about 24 sufganiyot.

Bûche de Noël aka Yule Log: Where to Buy a Buche de Noel in the San Francisco Bay Area

Not everyone has the time or skills to make a Bûche de Noël (aka Yule Log) for the holidays, but there are lots of places you can buy a Bûche de Noël. Of course, you'll want to get your order in soon.

If I were in Paris, I would probably have an impossible decision to make if I were to buy only one Bûche de Noël since almost every patisserie makes a Buche de Noel. Sadly, I won't be in Paris, but if you are, here are two outstanding places.

There are beautiful Bûches de Noël by Pierre Herme (Paris). One of the Bûche de Noël is a Chuao Chocolate Buche with Cherry Accents and another is a Buche with chocolate and caramel. Alexis Mabille has created a couture Bûche de Noël for Chocolaterie Angelina. Mabille put his stamp on the traditional yule log with the pastry chef Sebastian Bauer, opting for a heart of creamy chestnuts, candied apple and a confit of yuzu and lime surrounded by milk-chocolate ganache and crisp pecans. Mabille’s bûche is not a log, but a "Cocoa" Chanel bag: quilted and studded with edible silver buttons, topped with Mabille’s signature silver bow. And, almost every patisserie has its own version.

But, since I'm located in the San Francisco Bay Area, I thought I'd post several (but definitely not all) bakeries in the area that make Buches de Noel. Get your orders in now.

Buche de Noel: San Francisco Bay Area:
 
Tartine (SF) (Genoise filled with espresso buttercream, meringue mushrooms, pistachio moss, Valrhona chocolate Glaze)
La Farine, (Rockridge, Piedmont, Fruitvale)
b. patisserie, (SF): 4: Chocolate Coffee Caramel, Coconut/Passion Fruit//Pineapple//Mango, Smore and Vanilla with Red fruits.
Bi-Rite (SF): TCHO Chocolate Buche de Noel
Miette (SF, Marin, East Bay): Traditional
Craftsman and Wolves (SF- 2 locations): Coffee, Hazelnut, Yogurt & Caramel
La Boulangerie de San Francisco (multiple locations)
Bouchon (Napa). Two sizes of traditional Buche
La Bedaine (Berkeley): Three flavors
Sweet Things (Tiburon & SF)
Fleur de Cocoa (Los Gatos)
Douce France (Palo Alto)
Tout Sweet Patisserie (San Francisco and Palo Alto)
Cafe Madeleine (San Francisco)
Arizmendi Bakery (Oakland, San Francisco)
Masse's Pastries (Berkeley)
Sweet Bar Bakery (Oakland)
Fournee Bakery (Berkeley)
Sweet Adeline Bakeshop (Berkeley)
Gerhard Michler Fine European Desserts (San Francisco)
Moonside Bakery (Half Moon Bay)

Most fine bakeries and patisseries make Bûche de Noël for the holidays. Check out your local.

And lastly, if you don't want a whole Bûche de Noël, several restaurants have Bûche de Noël by the slice on their dessert menus.  Check with your favorite French restaurant or bistro.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Red & Green M&Ms "Chocolate Chip" Cookies

I love M&Ms in my chocolate chip cookies, so for the holidays why not use the Red & Green Holiday M&Ms? This is such an easy cookie to make -- and so festive. Be sure to scroll down and check out the fun M&Ms holiday commercial! 


RED & GREEN M&Ms "Chocolate Chip" COOKIES

Ingredients
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup sweet butter (room temperature)
2 eggs (room temperature)
1-1/2 teaspoons Madagascar vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt  (or regular if you don't have any!)
1-1/2 cups red & green holiday M&Ms

Directions 
In large bowl, mix sugar, eggs, shortening, and vanilla thoroughly. Add flour, salt, and baking soda to creamed mixture. Blend well. Stir in 3/4 cup of M&Ms.
Drop dough by teaspoons onto cookie sheet.
Slightly push a few candies on top of each dough ball with remaining candies.
Bake at 350 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Peppermint-Fudge Thumbprint Cookies: Lesa Holstine

So last week my 'mystery' friend Lesa Holstine posted this photo of these Peppermint-Fudge Thumbprint Cookies she made for a Library holiday party. Oh my, they looked delicious and my favorite combination--chocolate and peppermint! So I asked for the recipe. Lesa told me that it is a Betty Crocker Recipe. I always say there are some wonderful recipes on 'food' websites, and this is one of them. You can always tweak the recipe to make this your own. As always use the very best ingredients. These cookies are perfect for the holidays, don't you think? Thanks, Lesa!

Peppermint-Fudge Thumbprint Cookies 
(Lesa Holstine, per Betty Crocker)

Ingredients 

Cookies
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
crushed hard peppermint candies

Fudge Filling 
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup milk chocolate chips.

Directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
In large bowl, beat sugar, butter, vanilla, and egg with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon, until well blended. Stir in flour, cocoa and salt until dough forms.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. On ungreased cookie sheets, place balls about 2 inches apart. Press thumb or end of wood spoon into center of each cookie, but do not press all the way through.

Bake 7 to 11 minutes or until edges are firm. If necessary, quickly remake indentations with end of wooden spoon. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in 1-quart saucepan, heat whipping cream over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until steaming. Remove from heat; stir in chocolate chips until melted. Cool about 10 minutes or until thickened.

Spoon filling into indentation (about ½ teaspoon) in each cookie. Top with crushed peppermints.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Candy Cane Fudge


Nothing say the Holidays quite like Candy Canes, so why not combine Candy Canes with another holiday favorite--Fudge. I love Candy Cane Fudge.This recipe is so easy.

CANDY CANE FUDGE

Ingredients
18 ounces dark chocolate  (60-75% cacao), chopped
1-14 ounce can  sweetened condensed milk
Dash of salt
1 tsp peppermint extract
4 peppermint candy canes, crushed

Directions
1. Line 9" pan with wax paper.
2. Melt chocolate with sweetened condensed milk and salt in heavy saucepan over another saucepan with simmering water (or in top of double boiler). Stir until melted.
3. Remove from heat; stir in peppermint extract, and half the crushed candy canes.
4. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Top with the rest of candy cane crumbs.
5. Chill 2 hours or until firm.
6. Remove from pan by lifting edges of wax paper.
7. Cut into squares.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Grand Marnier Truffles for Grand Marnier Day!

Today is Grand Marnier Day, and this easy recipe for Grand Marnier Truffles is perfect for today and to give as gifts or to have on hand during the holidays! They're great any time!

Grand Marnier, an orange flavored brandy, has been an icon of authentic French "joie de vivre" for over 150 years. Still owned by the Marnier Lapostolle Family, this acclaimed liqueur has a luxurious taste and still uses the same secret recipe. Grand Marnier is a blend of Cognac, distilled essence of bitter orange, and sugar.

One of the most important ingredients in Grand Marnier is Citrus Bigaradia Oranges. This variety of tropical orange stands apart from the sweet oranges we usually eat as it is bitter and has an intense aroma. Though the Citrus bigaradia is not a particularly rare orange, the way in which the oranges are harvested and then distilled to obtain the orange essence that goes into Grand Marnier® liqueur is very specific. The oranges are handpicked while they are still green -- when they are at their most aromatic. In order to preserve optimal concentration of the aroma of the peels, they are left to dry naturally under the Caribbean sun for several weeks on the Marnier Lapostolle family plantation. Their slow distillation extracts an orange essence that is particularly aromatic.

GRAND MARNIER TRUFFLES

Ingredients
2/3 cup heavy cream
1tsp fresh orange zest
12 ounces dark chocolate (65-75% cacao), chopped
1 Tbsp plus 1-1/2 tsp Grand Marnier
1/3 cup DARK cocoa

Directions
In saucepan over medium heat, bring the heavy cream and orange zest just to a boil.
Remove from heat.
Add chopped chocolate and Grand Marnier and stir until smooth.
Chill chocolate mixture (ganache) until hard enough to roll into balls.
Using two spoons or melon baller, extricate chocolate and roll into ball.
Roll ball in cocoa powder and chill.

This recipe can be doubled. Experiment with different chocolate -- brands and amount of cacao -- for different flavor.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Holiday Chocolate Barks for Santa and Friends

Just a week until Christmas, and you might still need to make a gift or have treats ready for Santa. I can't think of anything easier or more versatile than Chocolate Bark. What do you have in your pantry? Well, chocolate, of course, and you can add anything to the chocolate, and voila! instant candy! Package your bark nicely in a tin, and you have a gift for Aunt Em! Put it on the table for Santa, along with cookies and milk, and he'll love it!

So here are recipes for a variety of Holiday Barks!

One of the traditional tastes of Christmas is Peppermint! I love Peppermint Bark, and I wish it were available all year, but you can always make your own. Following are three recipes for Peppermint Bark. Do you prefer white, dark, or milk chocolate? Peppermint Bark is easy to make and great to give. As always, use the very best chocolate, and in the case of this first recipe, be sure and use 'real' white chocolate.

1. White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Ingredients
1 pound white chocolate
candy canes, crushed to make 1/2 cup

Directions
Heat white chocolate in double boiler over low heat until melted.
Add crushed candy cane to white chocolate. Make sure white chocolate stays warm.
Pour mixture onto wax paper-lined cookie sheet, spreading very thinly with spatula.
Place cookie sheet in freezer until  mixture has hardened.
Take out of freezer and crack bark into small pieces.
Remove from wax paper and store at room temperature.

2. Microwave White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Ingredients
1 pound white chocolate
1/2 cup crushed candy canes

Directions
Place chocolate in microwave-safe dish. Microwave on 50% power, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and of creamy consistency.
Stir in crushed candy canes.
Spread on cookie sheet and place in the freezer until set (about 20 minutes).
Break into pieces.

3. Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Ingredients
12 ounces high quality dark chocolate
1/2 cup crushed candy canes
1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Directions
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler (or saucepan on top of saucepan of simmering water).
Remove from heat, add peppermint extract and stir.
Pour melted chocolate onto cookie sheet lined with wax paper and spread out with spatula or wooden spoon.
Sprinkle peppermint candy chunks on chocolate and gently press in with hands.
Put in freezer until hardened (5 minutes).
Break into pieces. Store in fridge in an airtight container.

And, here are two recipes for festive holiday barks that feature red --and red and green--in the bark.

4. Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Ginger Bark

Ingredients
6 ounces dark chocolate (65-70% cacao), chopped
2 Tbsp crystallized ginger
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1 tsp sea salt

Directions
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler or saucepan over saucepan of simmering water.
Remove saucepan with melted chocolate from stove and stir in crystallized ginger and half of pomegranate seeds.
Line baking sheet with parchment. Pour melted chocolate mixture onto sheet. Using a spatula smooth chocolate into even layer about 1/4 inch thick.
Sprinkle with remaining pomegranate seeds and sea salt.
Chill 20-30 minutes (until firm).
Break into pieces and store in airtight container, separating layers with waxed paper.
Serve same day, if possible.

The following recipe is from the King Arthur Flour website. I love the innovative recipes on the website and blog, and, of course, King Arthur Flour's great products! This recipe is very festive with red cranberries and crunchy pecans...and it uses both white and dark chocolate layers. Let's face it, you can never have enough bark! Woof!

5. Cranberry Nut Chocolate Bark
from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients
1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup toasted diced pecans
2- 2/3 cups chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted
2- 2/3 cups chopped white chocolate, melted

Directions
Toss cranberries and pecans together. Set them aside.
Melt dark chocolate (in the top of a double boiler--see above), and spread into 8" x 12" oval on parchment paper.
Allow chocolate to set, but not harden completely.
Melt white chocolate (in the top of a double boiler-see above) and mix with about 3/4 cup of cranberries and pecans. Spread this over dark chocolate.
Sprinkle rest of nuts and fruit on top, pressing them in gently.
Refrigerate for about 10 minutes--no more than 20-- until hardened, then break into chunks.

Happy Holidays!

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Holiday Cookie Time. There's nothing quite like Chocolate and Peppermint to evoke the holidays. Here are two wonderful recipes for totally different Chocolate Peppermint Patty Cookies. Make one or both recipes! You'll love these.

This first recipe is adapted from Sunset Magazine and uses their Chocolate Decadence Cookie recipe.

1. Chocolate Peppermint Patty Sandwich Cookies

COOKIES
Ingredients
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup sweet butter, cut into chunk
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Directions
Put chocolates and butter in medium metal bowl set over pan filled with simmering water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until melted, then remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Whisk in eggs and sugar, mixing until combined.
Whisk in flour, baking powder, and salt.
Chill dough, covered, until firm, about 2 hours.
Let dough sit at room temperature 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Scoop 1 Tbsp portions of dough, rolling each into a ball, flatten into 1/4 inch thick rounds with palm of hand and put on sheets 1 inch apart.
Bake cookies until they no longer look wet on top, about 8 minutes.
Let cool on baking sheets.

FILLING
In bowl, mix 3 cups powdered sugar, 4 tbsp. milk, and 3/4 tsp. peppermint extract.
Spread 1 heaping tsp. peppermint icing onto flat side of 1 cookie.
Top with flat side of second cookie to form sandwich, pressing together to squeeze filling to edge. Roll edge of cookie in crushed and sifted candy canes.
***

I've also made this amazing recipe for Peppermint Bark Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe by Garrett McCord on Simply Recipes. To make these cookies, you can purchase peppermint bark or make your own.

2. CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT PATTY COOKIES

Ingredients
1 cup of butter
3/4 cupbrown sugar
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tps baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup peppermint bark, broken into little chip size pieces

Directions
1 Preheat oven to 350°F.
2 Creambutter and sugars together for about two minutes at medium speed or until well incorporated and light in color.
3 Add egg and vanilla extract until well incorporated, about minute. Be sure to scrape down sides and bottom of bowl halfway through.
4 Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Add to butter mixture slowly, and beating at medium speed, stopping once all is incorporated (do not overmix).
5 Fold in peppermint bark chips.
6 Take small spoonfuls of dough and roll into one inch sized balls and place onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for -12 minutes. Let cool on pan for a few minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Trader Joe's Chocolate Passport: The Perfect Chocolate Stocking Stuffer

I posted last year about Trader Joe's Chocolate Passport. I was so pleased to see it's back at Trader Joe's this season. The Chocolate Passport makes a great stocking stuffer or hostess gift or even the basis of your own "chocolate tasting" during the holidays. Trader Joe's Chocolate Passport is beautifully packaged, as well as containing terrific chocolate from beans sourced from all over the world. Different amounts of cacao, too.

Each chocolate is sourced from eight original locations each with its own terroir. Trader Joe's Chocolate Passport takes you on a journey through the cacao-growing world: Peru, Ecuador, Venazuela, The Dominican Republic, Ghana, Papua New Guinea, Sao Tome, and Tanzania. The cacao ranges form 60-73%. Take a trip around the chocolate world!

At $9.99, this is a great bargain!



Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Chocolate Sign of the Day

Love this Chocolate Sign of the Day


Candy Cane Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Pops

I love chocolate covered marshmallows, and these Candy Cane Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Pops are easy and delicious and always a hit during the holidays. Everyone loves food on a stick! I used to use small candy cane for the handles, but I find the sticks are so much more manageable on many levels.

This holiday treat is a variation on S'mores on a Stick. All you do differently is use crushed candy cane pieces in place of the graham cracker crumbs. You can also use homemade marshmallows or good quality marshmallows, but I used packaged Puff Marshmallows, as they always hit the spot for me!

CANDY CANE CHOCOLATE COVERED MARSHMALLOW POPS

Directions
Melt good quality dark chocolate in saucepan on top of another saucepan over simmering water. Remove from stove.
Crush candy canes and put in shallow bowl.
Put lollipop stick in marshmallow and dip and swirl marshmallow in melted chocolate.
Sprinkle chocolate (using spoon) with crushed candy cane bits.
If chocolate gets thick while dipping, put back on stove, heat a bit, and whisk.
Put finished Candy Cane Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Pops on parchment lined cookie sheet.
Repeat.
When you've dipped them all, put them in the refrigerator to firm up.
Bring them to room temperature before serving.
I put the Marshmallow Pops in Bonne Maman jam jars wrapped in a bit of red and white twine. Mason jars would be great, too!

History of the Candy Cane from About.com:

During the 17th century, Europeans adopted Christmas trees as part of Christmas celebrations, and they often made cookies and sugar stick candy as decorations. The first historical reference to the familiar cane shape goes back to 1670, when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, bent the sugar sticks into canes to represent a shepherd's staff. The all white candy canes were given out to children during the nativity services. This tradition of handing out candy canes during Christmas services spread throughout Europe and later to America.

The first historical reference to the candy cane being in America goes back to 1847, when German immigrant August Imgard decorated the Christmas tree in his Wooster, Ohio home with candy canes.

About fifty years later the first red-and-white striped candy canes appeared. No one knows who exactly invented the stripes, but Christmas cards prior to the year 1900 showed only all white candy canes. Christmas cards after 1900 showed illustrations of striped candy canes. Around the same time, candy-makers added peppermint and wintergreen flavors to their candy canes and those flavors then became the traditional favorites.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Chocolate Peppermint Trifle

I love a good trifle, and I have posted several recipes for trifle before, but since you're  probably planning your holiday dessert, I thought a  Chocolate Peppermint Trifle would be great-- a very English Christmas dessert.  Trifle is easy and quick to make. I'm posting two great recipes. One is easy and fast, the other a bit longer but very good. Both recipes call for chocolate cake, but brownies work well, too. A true trifle includes alcohol, but you can eliminate if you must. Just an FYI: You can assemble mini-trifles in glass mugs or mason jars for individual servings. Stick a candy cane into the mug.

#1 Chocolate Peppermint Trifle

This one is fast and easy to make, and you can use the Peppermint Bark you've made or purchased.

Ingredients
1 chocolate cake cut up into cubes
1 large box of chocolate pudding (add a couple of drops of Peppermint Schnapps to the pudding). Make the pudding.
Ghirardelli (or another--Trader Joe's--or your own) Peppermint Bark, chopped into chunks
Whipped Cream (I always whip my own with a little sugar)

Directions
Layering: Cake on the bottom, then add a layer of pudding, then a layer of the chopped up Peppermint Bark, then a layer of whipped cream. Then repeat. Top it off with finely crushed candy canes or a bit more chopped up Peppermint Bark.

O.K. I'm not much for proportions, but most trifles aren't. Use what you have, and I'm sure you won't go wrong.

#2 Chocolate Peppermint Trifle

This is the longer of the two recipes, but absolutely delicious. I've adapted Martha Stewart's recipe for Triple-Chocolate Peppermint Trifle. She has a chocolate cake recipe, but you can skip it and make a good chocolate cake from a mix, then follow the rest of this recipe.

You can make the trifle components the day before you assemble the trifle. Be sure and refrigerate everything in separate airtight containers.

Ingredients

FOR THE SYRUP
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup chocolate flavored liqueur, such as Godiva

FOR THE MOUSSE
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
12 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped (the highest quality)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped peppermint candies or candy canes

FOR THE PUDDING
8 ounces chocolate 40-65% cacao, finely chopped
2 cups heavy cream
3 large egg yolks, room temperature

FOR SERVING
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup chopped peppermint candies or candy canes

Make the syrup: Bring sugar and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Let cool completely. Stir in liqueur.

Make the mousse: Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. Bring 1 cup cream just to a boil in a small saucepan. Place white chocolate in a food processor; with machine running, pour in hot cream in a slow, steady stream, and process until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl set in ice-water bath. Let cool, stirring occasionally, until thick enough to hold ribbons on surface, about 15 minutes.

Beat remaining 1 1/2 cups cream to nearly stiff peaks. Fold into chocolate mixture, then fold in candies. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until thickened and almost firm, 4 to 6 hours.

Make the pudding: Put chocolate into a large bowl; set aside. Bring cream almost to a boil in a small saucepan. Whisk yolks in a bowl. Pour in hot cream in a slow, steady stream, whisking.

Pour mixture back into pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 1 minute. Pour through a fine sieve over chocolate; whisk until smooth. Set bowl in ice-water bath. Let cool, stirring occasionally, until thick enough to hold ribbons on surface, about 15 minutes. Place plastic wrap directly on surface; refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.

To assemble: Spread one-third of the mousse into bottom of a glass trifle bowl that is 8 to 10 inches in diameter. Top with a cake layer, and brush with half the syrup.

Top with half the pudding, then another third of mousse. Place remaining cake layer on top; brush with remaining syrup. Top with remaining pudding, then mousse. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 12 hours.

Beat cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Top trifle with the whipped cream, and sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy or crushed candy canes.

This recipe is divine.

**
As with most recipes, you don't have to add alcohol, but a true trifle would have it.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Vintage Holiday Fudge Recipes: Holiday Candies Cookbook

I have two of these "Holiday"Vintage Cookbooks. One is for Cookies and one is for Candies. One of my readers said she always thought these cookbooks were Swedish because her family had them (she is of Swedish heritage) .. and because of the illustrations. Anyone know? These books and recipes are perfect for the Holidays. Today I'm posting Fudge Recipes from Holiday Candies, published by Peter Pauper Press (1954). Be sure and try all the Fudge recipes. Perfect to make, take, or mail!




Saturday, December 10, 2016

National Cocoa Day: 15 Unique Cocoa Recipes

Tomorrow is National Cocoa Day,  but it's blustery here, so I thought I'd post today. You'll one to try one or all of these recipes to warm you up! I always post on National Cocoa Day, and this is an updated post with some new recipes. Cocoa or Hot Chocolate, whatever you call it, it's great--all year round!

A few years ago,  I posted several brands of cocoa that I enjoy, plus links and recipes. You'll definitely want to take a look. And, remember, using the best ingredients will result in the best cocoa/hot chocolate!

Want to know the difference between Natural and Dutch Process Cocoa? Click HERE.

Following are variations on classic Cocoa/Hot Chocolate. Some recipes are for one, some for four, and some for a crowd. Some use cocoa powder, others use chocolate bars, some have a mix, but all are delicious. If you have a favorite cocoa recipe, comment below with a link!


Peppermint Hot Cocoa

Ingredients
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
1 Tbsp Madagascar vanilla
3/4 cup granulated sugar
8 ounces 70-80% cacao chocolate, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp peppermint oil

Directions: Add milk, cream, vanilla, and sugar to pot and place over medium heat. When milk mixture is hot, add chopped chocolate and stir constantly. Continue stirring, adding remaining ingredients. When mixture is starting to simmer, take off heat and serve.

Eggnog Hot Cocoa
What would the holidays be without eggnog? Try this and let me know what you think!

Ingredients:
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp unsweetened Dark Cocoa powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Directions: In blender or processor,  combine egg, milk, water, cocoa, and nutmeg, blend until well mixed. Transfer mixture to top of  double boiler. Hear stirring occasionally, until mixture is steaming. Do not boil.

Argentinian Hot Cocoa

Ingredients:
4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp Madagascar or Mexican Vanilla
4 ounces good quality dark chocolate, broken into 1 ounce pieces

Directions: Heat milk, sugar, and vanilla in pan until almost boiled. Remove from heat and divide  into 4 mugs. Immediately, put piece of chocolate in each mug. It will melt and have a fabulous taste.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:
2 tsp good-quality ground DARK cocoa
1 tsp sugar, plus extra to taste
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground almonds. You can add more if you want a thicker texture.
1 cup milk

Directions: Mix all ingredients, except milk, together in empty, clean glass jar. Shake until completely combined. Heat  milk in a 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.

Mexican Hot Chocolate II

Ingredients
5  ounces dark Mexican Chocolate
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup hot water
Pinch of salt
1 tsp instant coffee
2 cups whole milk
1 egg (optional)
1/4 tsp Mexican vanilla extract
1 dried red chile pepper, smashed
Ground cinnamon for sprinkling

Directions: In saucepan over medium-low heat, add Mexican chocolate, honey, hot water, salt, coffee, and chile pepper. Heat, stirring constantly, until mixture just begins to boil; reduce heat to low and let simmer, stirring constantly, for another minute. Carefully stir in milk and let sit over low heat until chocolate is too warm to touch. In bowl, beat egg until frothy. Add vanilla extract and beat in well. Pour hot chocolate mixture over the frothed egg and beat for about 15 seconds. (until you have about foam on top) Pour into mugs. Sprinkle mugs with ground cinnamon and shaved chocolate.

Honey Hot Cocoa  

The flavor of your cocoa will change with the variety of honey. Try lavender honey, sage, wildflower.

Ingredients
4 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
4 Tbsp honey
4 cups milk

Directions: Combine ingredients in medium-size sauce pan. Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally until hot.

Hot Cocoa with Brown Sugar

Ingredients:
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/3 cup water
4 cups hot milk
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
dash of salt

Preparation: In double boiler (or saucepan over a saucepan), melt chocolate and water together. Slowly mix in milk, sugar, and salt. Whisk until chocolate is smooth and blended.

Parisian Warm Chocolate
I'm not sure where I found this recipe, but it works! Anything French works! Lots of varieties on this. Experiment!

Ingredients:
1 cup whole milk
1/3 heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
6 oz chocolate- 65-75% cacao, chopped

Directions: Simmer milk, cream, and sugar together until just boiling. Stir in chocolate until melted. Don't let it boil. Serve warm in mugs.

Spicy White Hot Cocoa

Ingredients
4 cups milk
7 ounces good white chocolate (Guittard, Ghirardelli, Green & Black), chopped
1 egg, beaten
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions: Put white chocolate in medium metal bowl or saucepan over another saucepan of  simmering water, or in top part of double boiler. Melt chocolate, stirring occasionally until smooth. Stir in cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Whisk in egg until smooth. Gradually whisk in one cup of milk until completely incorporated (2-3 minutes). Gradually whisk in remaining milk, and heat until hot, but not simmering. Put in mugs and sprinkle with cinnamon or chocolate.

Peppermint White Chocolate Cocoa 
(is that redundant?)

Ingredients:
8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
3 1/2 cups whole milk
6 hard peppermint candies, crushed fine
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
2/3 cup whipping cream

Directions: Beat chilled cream with crushed mints until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate for about 1 hour. Heat milk to simmer, them mix in chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add mint extract and stir through. Pour into mugs and top with minty whipped cream.

Candy Cane Cocoa   
variation on recipe from Sean Paajanen at About.com

Ingredients:
4 cups whole milk
3 ounces 60-85% cacao chocolate, chopped
4 red and white striped peppermint candies crushed
4 small red and white striped candy canes
whipped cream

Directions: In sauce pan bring milk to simmer. Add chocolate and crushed candies. Whisk until smooth. Divide hot cocoa between mugs and garnish with whipped cream and serve with candy cane stirring stick.

Brandied Hot Cocoa

Ingredients 
4 cups milk
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp chili powder
5 Tbsp brandy
6 Tbsp whipped cream
4 tsp unsweetened DARK cocoa powder, sifted

Directions 
In saucepan, bring milk just to boil. Remove from heat.
Put chocolate in small saucepan and add 2 Tbsp hot milk. Stir over low heat until chocolate has melted, then stir chocolate mixture back into hot milk.
Add and stir in sugar. Stir in brandy and pour into four heatproof glasses.
Top each with whipped cream and sprinkle with sifted cocoa.

Kahlua Hot Cocoa

Ingredients
1/2 ounce semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup coffee
2 TBSP cocoa
1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp Kahlua

Directions
Melt chocolate in saucepan over another saucepan over simmering water.
Once melted, add all other ingredients except Kahlua.
Raise heat to medium high, whisking constantly, until mixture is smooth and just starting to bubble (2-3 minutes).
Remove from heat, stir in Kahlua.
Pour into mug and serve.
Add marshmallows or whipped cream as you see fit.

English Toffee Cocoa

Ingredients
4 cups milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
8 ounces dark chocolate (70% cacao), chopped
1 tsp Madegascar vanilla extract
1/4 cup English toffee, crushed
Whipped cream
Unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions
Combine milk, water, and sugar in saucepan and sttir over medium heat until just boiling.
Remove from heat, and stir in chocolate and vanilla.
Beat with whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is frothy.
Pour hot chocolate into 2 big mugs.
Top with whipped cream and crushed English toffee. Sprinkle with cocoa powder.

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  

About the photo: This Vintage Advertisement for Cadbury Cocoa is special to me. My sister, Judie Siddall, is the President of the Transferware Collectors Club and sells antique blue and white transferware (pottery), similar to what is pictured in this advertisement, although, her wares are much older. She can be found at Merlin Antiques. She also blogs at Dishy News.