Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Dogs, Chocolate, and Halloween: A Deadly Combination

It's Halloween, and if you're like me, there is a lot of chocolate in the house. Now you might be wondering why I am highlighting Topper, my golden retriever, on a Chocolate Blog, but there's a good reason. I've posted before that chocolate is dangerous for dogs. I'm careful when I cook and bake with chocolate, because golden retrievers -- well, most dogs -- will eat anything that drops on the floor. I only bake with good dark chocolate and that's exactly what can make Topper sick or worse.

Hills Pet Company has a very good article on Chocolate and Dogs that I want to share. I'm also reposting a Chocolate and Dogs Question &Answer about Halloween Candy. It's all good information for Dog Owners (Guardians) who also happen to be Chocoholics. Be safe!

Is Chocolate Bad for Dogs?

Chocolate is poisonous to dogs; however, the hazard of chocolate to your dog depends on the chocolate type, the amount consumed and the dog's size. In large enough amounts, chocolate and cocoa products can kill your dog.

Why not chocolate?
  • The toxic component of chocolate is theobromine. Humans easily metabolize theobromine, but dogs process it much more slowly, allowing it to build up toxic levels in their system.
  • A large dog can consume more chocolate than a small dog before it suffers ill effects.
  • A small amount of chocolate will probably only give your dog an upset stomach with vomiting or diarrhea.
  • With large amounts, theobromine can produce muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding or a heart attack. The onset of theobromine poisoning is usually marked by severe hyperactivity.
A single piece of chocolate should not be a problem. A single piece doesn't contain a large enough theobromine dosage to harm your dog; however, if you have a small dog that has eaten a box of chocolates, you need to go to the veterinarian immediately.

Different chocolate types have different theobromine levels. Cocoa, cooking chocolate and dark chocolate contain the highest levels, while milk chocolate and white chocolate have the lowest. If you’re dealing with any quantity of dark or bitter chocolate, err on the side of caution. The high level of theobromine in dark chocolate means it takes only a very small amount to poison a dog. Less than an ounce of dark chocolate may be enough to poison a 44-pound dog.

The usual treatment for theobromine poisoning is to induce vomiting within two hours of ingestion. If you are worried that your dog may have eaten a large quantity of chocolate, call your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Of course, never consider chocolate as a reward.

And here's another article on Chocolate and Dogs and Halloween: 

It's a Q &A between Neenda Pellegrini and Dr. Sheppard Thorpe, an emergency veterinarian at Puget Sound Veterinary Referral Center in Tacoma about Halloween and Pets that appeared in the Seattle Times.  Read the entire article HERE.

Pet ingestion of Halloween treats can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, pancreatitis, heart arrhythmias, seizures, liver disease, kidney disease, gastrointestinal obstruction and even death.

Dangerous or even fatal chocolate toxicity is rare because knowledgeable owners usually get their chocolate-eating pets into the clinic within a few hours of ingestion. Once the pet arrives, we do what is called "decontamination" -- vomiting is induced and then activated charcoal is administered.

We also see pets with general vomiting and diarrhea from gastrointestinal upset after they've eaten candy, wrappers and holiday decorations. This can be very serious if the pet develops pancreatitis or if the pet becomes very dehydrated.

A quick and timely response makes the treatment much easier on your pet and your wallet.

Question: Why is chocolate dangerous? Is some chocolate -- dark or bittersweet chocolate -- worse than others, such as milk or white chocolate?

Answer: Chocolate contains an active ingredient called theobromine, which is toxic to pets. Theobromine is a stimulant that pets are more sensitive to than people and can cause hyperactivity, elevated heart rate, twitching and tremoring, vomiting and diarrhea and, worst of all, seizures.

Dark chocolate is more potent, having a higher concentration of theobromine, and, therefore, is more toxic. All chocolate (cakes or brownies, milk chocolate, white chocolate, chocolate syrup, cocoa powder) is considered "rich." Although not as serious as theobromine toxicity, foods with high sugar and fat contents can cause serious stomach and bowel problems. Decontamination and quick treatment is key.

Question: What harm can one little candy bar do?

Answer: It depends on the size of your pet, the presence of any underlying conditions and the amount of chocolate your pet has ingested.

A Hershey's Kiss is safe for a 70-pound Labrador retriever to eat but harmful to a 3-pound Chihuahua.

Another problem with "just one little treat" is that dogs can develop a liking to chocolate and soon may be climbing on the table to help themselves to that whole bowl of Halloween candy.

The power of the dog nose can also help them find that wrapped box of chocolates under the Christmas tree or hidden away for Valentine's Day. I know one Beagle who learned to open the pantry, and he loved to eat the brownie mix.

Question: What should I do if my pet accidentally eats chocolate? What symptoms should I watch for?

Answer: Call your regular veterinarian or local emergency/referral veterinary hospital for recommendations.

It helps to have the candy wrapper with the list of ingredients and percentage of cacao or cocoa in the product.

Monitor your pet for hyperactivity, elevated heart rate, vomiting/diarrhea, tremors, twitches and seizures although preventive treatment long before any of these symptoms is the best approach.

Check out www.veterinarypartner.com and look up chocolate toxicity. This website has an excellent chart comparing the number of ounces of chocolate a pet would need to ingest for toxicity. READ MORE HERE.  



RETRO HALLOWEEN CHOCOLATE CANDY ADS!

Every year I post Retro Halloween Chocolate Ads. Enjoy! Trick or Treat!









HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Pumpkin Spice


CANDY CORN History & Recipe for Candy Corn Truffles

Today is Candy Corn Day! I love candy corn. O.K. it's very sweet, but I only have it a few times a year. Candy Corn is an American Halloween Tradition!  Shaped like real pieces of corn, candy corn is as fun as it is tasty.  In addition to the original candy corn or yellow, orange and white, there are different varieties, including Indian candy corn which is brown where the original candy corn is yellow, adding a hint of chocolate (it's only a hint and a bit waxy, and it's not real chocolate, but I don't care at Halloween).

The National Confectioners Association estimates that 20 million pounds (9,000 tons) of candy corn are sold annually. The top branded retailer of candy corn, Brach's, sells enough candy corn each year to circle the earth 4.25 times if the kernels were laid end to end. Too much information?

Candy corn was created in the 1880s by the Philadelphia based Wunderlee Candy Company and, by 1900, was being produced by the Goelitz Candy Company (now Jelly Belly), which has continuously produced it for more than a century. Candy corn is shaped like a kernel of corn, a design that made it popular with farmers when it first came out, but it was the fact that it had three colors - a really innovative idea at the time - that made it popular.

Originally, candy corn was made of sugar, corn syrup, fondant and marshmallow, among other things, and the hot mixture was poured into cornstarch molds, where it set up. The recipe changed slightly over time and there are probably a few variations in recipes between candy companies, but the use of a mixture of sugar, corn syrup, gelatin and vanilla (as well as honey, in some brands) is the standard.

Candy makers use a process called corn starch molding. Corn starch is used to fill a tray, creating candy corn shaped indentations. Candy corns are built from the top to the bottom in three waves of color. First, the indentation is partially filled with white syrup. Next, when the white is partially set, they add the the orange syrup. The creation is then finished up by adding the yellow syrup and then cooled. The candy starts fusing together while it cools. After cooling the candies, the trays are dumped out, the corn starch is sifted away, and the candy corn is ready.

Here's a way to elevate Candy Corn for your discerning friends and family!

CANDY CORN TRUFFLES

Ingredients
18 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 Tbsp Grand Marnier (orange juice if you don't do alcohol
1/4 cup Scottish or dark orange marmalade
1/4 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
64 candy corns (about 3 ounces)

Directions
Line 8x 8-inch baking pan with 12 x17-inch sheet of waxed or parchment paper.
In large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of hot water, use heatproof spatula or wooden spoon to stir together chocolate, cream, Grand Marnier, and marmalade, until chocolate is melted. Scrape chocolate mixture into prepared pan, smoothing top.
Chill until firm, at least 2 1/2 hours or (covered with plastic wrap) up to 1 week.
Put cocoa powder in shallow bowl. Remove chocolate mixture from pan. With long, sharp knife, cut chocolate mixture into 64 squares, each about 3/4 in. wide. Roll squares in cocoa powder to coat; place 1 square in each paper cup.
Gently press candy corn into top of each truffle.
Store between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Halloween Brownies


VINTAGE HALLOWEEN CHOCOLATE MOLDS

I love Vintage Chocolate Molds. Here are some very cool Halloween Chocolate Molds. After all, Halloween is all about chocolate! These are not my molds. I only have two! But I love these vintage metal chocolate molds and wonder about the chocolatiers, the children, and everyone else who enjoyed the chocolate that was shaped in them.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

WITCH CHOCOLATE MOLDS



PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE MOLDS





BLACK CAT CHOCOLATE MOLD



Saturday, October 28, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Chocolate


Happy Chocolate Day!

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE CAKE: National Chocolate Day!

Today is National Chocolate Day. To be honest there are several National Chocolate Days throughout the year, and, of course, every day is Chocolate Day at DyingforChocolate.com. So to celebrate, you can take a spin back over the past seven years of daily chocolate recipes on this site, or you can make this Triple Chocolate Cake (recipe from Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar). And, if you're in Midtown Manhattan, you can stop by Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar and have a slice without having to make it.

Triple Chocolate Cake

Ingredients: 
6 oz E. Guittard Cocoa Rouge cocoa powder
24 fl oz water
1 lb and 12 oz all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp iodized salt
2 1/2 Tbsp baking soda
2 1/2 lbs sugar
24 fl oz buttermilk
18 fl oz vegetable oil
7 whole eggs
1 Tbsp and 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
Chocolate Ganache Frosting (see recipe below)
Chocolate Whipped Cream (see recipe below)

Directions: 
Bring water to boil, turn off heat, add cocoa powder and stir until thick. Set aside to cool.
Mix dry ingredients in mixer with whip attachment on low-medium speed for 3 minutes. Mix all liquids at once, except the chocolate mixture, with the remaining dry ingredients for 2 minutes at medium speed. Scrape well. Add chocolate mixture and mix for about 1 minute on medium speed. Set the batter aside for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease two 10” cake pans. Cut two circles, approximately 10” in diameter, out of parchment paper. Place them into greased pans. Spray parchment circles evenly with cooking spray. Pour half batter into each of the two pans. Bake for 1 hour. (Insert toothpick into each cake after 1 hour; if comes out clean, cakes are done.) Cool cakes on wire rack.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE FROSTING 
Makes: 60 ounces

Ingredients: 
4.8 oz E. Guittard 61% Lever du Soleil semisweet chocolate wafers
28.8 oz powdered sugar
19.2 oz sour cream
19.2 oz butter, cubed
9.6 oz E. Guittard® Oban unsweetened chocolate wafers

Directions: 
In double boiler, melt chocolate at 110-112°F until there are no lumps.
Slowly add butter.
In small mixer with whip attachment, add all of powdered sugar and sour cream at once. Whip on high speed until incorporated for about 2 minutes.
Add chocolate mixture to sour cream mixture and whip until the color turns light brown (like the color of milk chocolate) for about 3-4 minutes.
Refrigerate frosting for 20-30 minutes while cutting layers of cake so it firms up.
The temperature of the frosting should remain around 60°F while building the cakes.

CAKE ASSEMBLY 

Ingredients:
2 chocolate cakes, each sliced into two layers 3/4” thick (for four total layers), top and sides trimmed 60 oz Chocolate Ganache frosting
3 cups chocolate cake crumbs

Directions: 
Take cooled cakes out of the pans. Invert them on cutting board, with the tops facing up.
With cake cutter, slice each cake into two layers, each ¾” thick. Be very gentle when handling, as the cakes are very moist.
Trim all layers until they are same size.
Place all cake trimmings in food processor and pulse until coarse. Place the cake crumbs on a sheet pan and put into an oven to dry out. Reserve for later.
Evenly spread 12 oz of frosting across the top side of the bottom layer.
Repeat previous step with each remaining cake layers, stacking them as you go.
Evenly spread 12 oz of frosting over sides. Make sure frosting is smooth all over.
Remove dried-out cake crumbs from oven and sprinkle over top and sides.
Place entire cake in refrigerator.

CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM

Ingredients: 
1 qt heavy cream
2 Tbsp E. Guittard Cocoa Rouge cocoa powder
8 oz Swiss Chalet white chocolate mousse powder

Directions: 
Whisk all ingredients in mixing bowl.
Transfer mixture to mixer with whip attachment and whip until cream has stiff peaks.

PLATING 

Instructions: Cut cake into 8 large pieces.
***

Thanks to Tommy Bahama for this recipe!

Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar – New York
551 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10176
Open 11:30am Daily
Island Time Happy Hour: 4-6pm Daily

For reservations, please call 212.537.0960 or visit TommyBahama.com  

Friday, October 27, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Mixmaster


GRAVEYARD CAKE & GRAVEYARD ICE CREAM PIE: Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween! There are a lot of recipes for Graveyard Ice Cream Pie and Graveyard Cake. For Halloween this year, I'm posting a recipe for each. Of course, you can always substitute your favorite recipes. The recipe for Graveyard Ice Cream Pie is adapted from Martha Stewart. She calls it "I Scream" Graveyard Pie.  I use  PEEPS' Marshmallow Tombstones instead of the Milano Cookies and candy skulls Martha uses in the original recipe. Want to make this even more chocolatey? Make a chocolate Cookie Crust instead of graham cracker crust. The second recipe is for Graveyard Cake, and the recipe from Betty Crocker. It uses a cake mix, so if you're a purist, make your own favorite chocolate cake. Once again, I'm going to use the PEEPS' Marshmallow Tombstones...and Ghosts. Gotta love PEEPS.

GRAVEYARD ICE CREAM PIE

Ingredients
16 graham crackers, broken into large pieces
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 pint vanilla ice cream, softened
1 cup roughly chopped chocolate flaky-crisp candy bars, such as Butterfinger "fun size" (about 8)
1 pint chocolate ice cream, softened
1 cup roughly chopped chocolate-coconut candy bars, such as Mounds "snack size" (about 8)
2 tablespoons chocolate chips, melted and cooled
20 chocolate wafers, such as Famous

Directions 
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In food processor, process graham crackers until finely ground (you should have about 2 cups). With motor running, add butter in slow, steady stream and pulse until combined. Firmly press crumb mixture into bottom and up side of a 9 1/2-inch pie plate. Bake until crust is dry and set, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely in plate on a wire rack, 45 minutes.

In medium bowl, stir vanilla ice cream with wooden spoon until smooth. Fold in flaky-crisp candy bars. With small offset spatula, spread ice cream mixture evenly in crust. Freeze until firm, 1 hour 20 minutes.

Stir chocolate ice cream until smooth. Fold in coconut candy bars and spread evenly on top of vanilla ice cream layer. Freeze until firm, 1 hour.

In clean food processor, pulse wafers until finely ground (you should have about 1 1/4 cups). Spread crumbs on top of pie. With a knife, cut slits for "tombstones" and insert PEEPS Marshmallow Tombstones. 

GRAVEYARD CAKE
(recipe from Betty Crocker)

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
4 PEEPS® brand marshmallow ghosts
4 PEEPS® brand marshmallow tombstones
1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs (10 cookies)

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 1 hour.
Spread chocolate frosting on top of cake; place marshmallows around edges of cake.
Sprinkle cake cookie crumbs to look like dirt.
Cut into 5 rows by 4 rows.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN COCKTAILS: National Pumpkin Day

Today is National Pumpkin Day. I've been posting a lot of pumpkin recipes for Halloween, mostly for baked goods. But since there are so many pumpkin liqueurs on the market at this time of year, I thought I'd post three recipes for Chocolate Pumpkin Cocktails. Check out DrinkoftheWeek.com for a review of pumpkin liqueurs. 

It's my opinion that pumpkin needs chocolate, so I put together three recipes for Chocolate Pumpkin Cocktail recipes for Halloween. These can be served all through the Fall. But you knew that, right? The first two recipes call for Pumpkin Liqueur, but the last one uses other liqueurs and some pumpkin spice.

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN COCKTAIL

3 ounces Pumpkin Liqueur
Chocolate (melted)

Shake pumpkin liqueur with ice in cocktail shaker.
Strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Slowly add melted chocolate to glass.

WHITE CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN MARTINI

Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur
2 ounces Vanilla Vodka
1/2 ounces Pumpkin Liqueur
1 tsp whipped cream

Pour white chocolate liqueur, vodka, and pumpkin liqueur into shaker filled with ice.
Shake. Pour into martini glass. Optional: Add whipped cream.

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN MARTINI

3/4 ounce Vanilla Vodka
1/2 ounce Bailey's
1/2 ounce Kahlua
1/2 ounce Crème de Cacao
1/4 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
Pinch cayenne pepper
Ice cubes

In cocktail shaker, combine Vanilla Vodka, Bailey's, Kahlua & Crème de Cacao, Pumpkin Pie Spice, and cayenne pepper. Add ice; cover and shake until very cold. Strain into chilled martini glass.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Nutrition Labels


Chocolate Anniversary Cake: Happy Anniversary!

Today is my Anniversary. I have been married to Frank for many wonderful years. I often post Birthday Chocolate Cakes or Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake (Frank's favorite) for our special days, but this year I went looking for a special Anniversary Chocolate Cake! And, to my surprise there were multiple recipes. How to choose just one? I decided that the MidwestLiving recipe was the best. It's easy to make (40 minutes) and delicious. It's also a towering cake, so visually it's lovely. I tweaked the recipe just a bit. As always use the very best ingredients.

Chocolate Anniversary Cake

Ingredients 
4 eggs
1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces dark chocolate (use the best!)
1/2 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (see note)
Fudge Frosting
Ganache
Chocolate Curls

Directions
Separate eggs. Allow egg whites, egg yolks, and butter to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Grease and flour three 8 x 1-1/2-inch or 9 x1-1/2-inch round cake pans and two 6 x 1-1/2-inch cake pans; set pans aside.
In medium bowl stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In small saucepan heat chocolate and water over medium-low heat until chocolate is melted, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool.
In very large mixing bowl beat butter with electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar; beat until well combined. Add  egg yolks, one at time, beating well after each addition. Beat in melted chocolate and vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.
Thoroughly wash and dry beaters.
In medium mixing bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Fold about one-third of egg whites into cake batter to lighten. Fold in remaining whites.
Spoon 2 cups of batter into each of the 8- or 9-inch cake pans; spread batter evenly. Divide remaining batter between the two 6-inch cake pans, spreading batter evenly.
Bake in 350 degree F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean.
Cool cake layers in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.
Remove cake layers from pans. Cool thoroughly on wire racks.

Prepare Fudge Frosting
Place one 8 - or 9-inch cake layer on serving plate. Spread top with about 3/4 cup of Fudge Frosting. Top with second 8 - or 9-inch cake layer. Spread top with about 3/4 cup more frosting. Top with remaining 8 - or 9 - inch cake layer. Spread top and sides of cake with about 1-1/2 cups of remaining frosting. Place one 6-inch cake layer in center of stacked cake. Spread top with about 1/2 cup of frosting.
Top with remaining 6-inch cake layer. Spread top and sides of 6-inch cakes with remaining frosting. Prepare Ganache. Spoon over top of cake, letting it drip down sides. Top with chocolate curls, if you like.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Vampire Halloween


White Chocolate Candy Corn Blondies

Halloween just screams Candy Corn! I love it. Candy Corn is pretty much pure sugar, but if you're not going to go all out at Halloween, when are you? According to the National Confectioners Association, 20 million pounds (9000 tons) of candy corn are sold annually.

I love putting M&Ms and other candy in brownies, so why not candy corn? This is a great recipe for White Chocolate Candy Corn Blondies. It's simple and delicious.

This recipe was sent to me by Davidson's Safest Choice Eggs. Their eggs feature a special pasteurization process that submerges the eggs in large warm water baths. Unfortunately their eggs are not available in my area. The recipe is from Laura of Pies and Plots. If the recipe is too sweet for you, adjust the sugar as needed (or wanted). And, of course, you can put Candy Corn in your 'regular" chocolate brownies.

White Chocolate Candy Corn Blondies

Ingredients
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup white chocolate, chopped (be sure it's 'real' white chocolate and not the disks that are made of vegetable oil)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 eggs
2 cup flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup candy corn

Directions
Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter 9x13 baking pan and line with parchment, going up sides of pan. Do not butter parchment.
In medium microwave-safe bowl, melt butter and white chocolate in microwave in 30-second increments, stirring in between to help with melting. Be sure mixture is fully melted. It will separate. That's okay. Set aside to cool for about 5 minutes.
In large bowl, mix together sugars, vanilla, and eggs with spoon or spatula. Add melted butter and white chip mixture, mixing until fully incorporated and mixture has lightened in color slightly. Add flour and salt and stir until just combined. Stir in candy corn.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center of Blondies comes out with only a few moist crumbs. Cool completely in pan before cutting into bars and serving.
 

Monday, October 23, 2017

BOSTON CREAM PIE CHEESECAKE: National Boston Cream Pie Day!

Today is Boston Cream Pie Day. This pudding/cake combination is compromised of two layers of sponge cake filled with vanilla custard or crème pâtissière. The cake is topped with a chocolate glaze.

So to celebrate this year's holiday, here's a twist on the classic Boston Cream Pie: Boston Cream Pie Cheesecake. The vanilla custard layer is replaced with cheesecake. I've tried several different recipes for Boston Cream Pie Cheesecake, but this recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens is one of my favorites. It's easy and delicious. You can always make your own yellow cake.

BOSTON CREAM PIE CHEESECAKE

Ingredients 
1 package 1-layer-size yellow cake mix  (probably using half the package for a two layer cake--or make your own yellow cake)
2 Tbsp cooking oil
3-8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
3 eggs
8 ounces real dairy sour cream
3/4 cup whipping cream
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (use the very best chocolate)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

Directions 
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Grease bottom of 9-inch springform pan; set aside. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, except add cooking oil. Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake for 25 minutes.

Filling: 
In large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in sour cream. Carefully pour cream cheese mixture over cake layer.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a 2-inch area around outside edge appears set and center appears nearly set when gently shaken. Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes. Using small sharp knife, loosen edge of cheesecake from side of pan. Cool completely (about 1 3/4 hours). Remove side of pan; transfer cheesecake to serving plate. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours.

Before serving, in small saucepan, bring whipping cream to simmering. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in butter. Chill about 15 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened, stirring once. Spoon chocolate mixture onto cheesecake, spreading to cover top.

Cartoon of the Day: A Tempted Murder


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Tombstone Cookies for Halloween

I like the nutty taste and crunchy texture of cocoa nibs, and I'm always looking for new uses for them -- in salads, sauces, and baking. Here's a great recipe that's perfect for Halloween (or any time) for Tombstone Cookies that includes cocoa nibs in the recipe. You can use theses cookies in Graveyard Chocolate Pots de Creme or just serve them on a plate.  Recipe from Sunset. And, here's a link to the Dark Chocolate Graveyard Pots de Creme.

Tombstone Cookies

Ingredients 
2 Tbsp cocoa (or cacao) nibs*
6 Tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling cookies
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Melted semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

Directions
Preheat oven to 400°. In blender, whirl cocoa nibs until each is about the size of a grain of rice.
In large bowl of electric mixer, beat butter and 1/2 cup sugar until creamy; beat in egg and vanilla.
In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa nibs; gradually add to butter mixture, blending thoroughly, to form a soft dough.
Divide dough into thirds, cover each portion tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm (at least 1 hour), or up to 3 days.
On floured board, roll out dough, portion at a time, to 1/8 inch thickness (keep dough refrigerated when not in use). With sharp knife, cut out free-form tombstone shapes (about 1 1/2 by 3 in.; cut bottom edges at an angle to make them easier to poke into the pots de crème), and place slightly apart on ungreased baking sheets. Sprinkle generously with sugar.
Bake cookies until edges are lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and let cool completely before handling. Using pastry bag with very fine tip, pipe letters "RIP" in chocolate on at least 8 of the cookies. Stick these cookies into Dark Chocolate Graveyard Pots de Crème and serve the rest of the cookies alongside.

** Cocoa nibs, also called "cacao nibs," give these cookies a mottled look that resembles stone. You can use chocolate-covered nibs made by Scharffen Berger or plain nibs from Dagoba Organic Chocolate.  Don't have any cocoa nibs? Substitute 2 tbsp. finely chopped bittersweet chocolate if you prefer. 

No time to make this great recipe? Use pudding packages and Milano Cookies for a similar graveyard effect!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Pumpkin Cheesecake Day: Chocolate Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake


Today is National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day! Love this Fall Holiday, and this Chocolate Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake is the best way to celebrate! Easy and delicious!

I always think that alcohol escalates chocolate, so I was thrilled when I found this recipe a few years ago in People Magazine. The original recipe for this Chocolate Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake is from Betty Crocker. The recipe is a triple threat: chocolate, bourbon, cheesecake. Wow! Perfect for Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Chocolate Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake 

Crust
2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (35 to 40 cookies)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake 
4 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs
4 Tbsp bourbon
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 1/2 tsp aromatic bitters
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted  (or chopped dark chocolate)

Toppings  (I consider topping optional..it's great without, but if you want to)

1/2 cup caramel topping (I have used Recchiuti)
2 tsp bourbon 
Dash aromatic bitters 
Toasted pecans (optional) 

Directions
Heat oven to 300ºF. Grease 9-inch springform pan with shortening or cooking spray. Wrap outside bottom and side of pan with foil to prevent leaking. In small bowl, mix crust ingredients. Press mixture into bottom and one inch up side of pan. Bake eight to 10 minutes or until set. Cool for five minutes.

In large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy; do not overbeat. On low speed, gradually beat in sugar, then flour, and then eggs (one at a time), just until blended. Remove half of cream cheese mixture (about 3 cups) into another large bowl; reserve.

Into remaining cream cheese mixture, stir 2 Tbsp bourbon, pumpkin, 1 1/2 tsp bitters, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg; whisk until smooth. Spoon over crust into pan. Into reserved 3 cups of filling, stir 2 Tbsp bourbon, vanilla, and melted chocolate. Pour mixture over pumpkin layer directly in middle of pan. (This will create layers so that each slice includes some of each flavor.)

To minimize cracking, place shallow pan half-full of hot water on lower oven rack. Bake cheesecake 80 to 90 minutes minutes, or until edges are set but center of cheesecake still jiggles slightly when moved.

Turn oven off, and open oven door at least four inches. Leave cheesecake in oven 30 minutes longer. Remove from oven; place on cooling rack. Without releasing side of pan, run your knife around edge of the pan to loosen cheesecake. Cool in pan on cooling rack for 30 minutes. Cover loosely; refrigerate at least six hours but no longer than 24 hours.

To release: Run knife around side of pan to loosen cheesecake again; carefully remove side of pan. Put cheesecake on serving plate.

I consider adding a rich topping optional, and I don't top this already rich cheesecake, but here's the original recipe in case you want it. Stir together caramel topping, 2 tsp bourbon and dash of bitters. To serve, drizzle with caramel and sprinkle with pecans. Cover and refrigerate any remaining cheesecake. 

Photo: Betty Crocker

Friday, October 20, 2017

Haunted Skull Dark Chocolate Cakes

I love Nordicware pans. So creative in shapes and sizes. Not surprisingly the Skull Cakepans are favorites. I particularly like the Skull Cakelette Pan...and Nordicware has a great recipe for Haunted Skull Dark Chocolate Cakes on its website that works well with this pan! Dark Chocolate Skull Cakes are perfect for Halloween!

HAUNTED SKULL DARK CHOCOLATE CAKES

Ingredients 

For cakeletes: 
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 cup extra-dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon Fiori di Sicila
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon black food color, if desired

Chocolate Glaze:
3.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream

Directions
Preheat oven to 325°F. 
Prepare Skull Cakelet pan with baking spray or brush with butter and dust with cocoa.
Whisk flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together.
In separate bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix butter and sugars together until creamy and lightened, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add extracts. Put mixer on low speed and add buttermilk alternately with  dry ingredients in 4 additions. Mix until smooth. Add black food color to desired shade if using.
Fill pan no more than 3/4 full in each well. Tap pan on top of a cutting board covered with heavy kitchen towel to evenly distribute batter and eliminate air bubbles from batter.
Bake for 30-35 minutes.
Allow cakelets to cool in pan 5-8 minutes before inverting onto cooling rack. Repeat with remaining batter.
***

I went to the Nordicware site to get a photo of the cakelette pan. It's out of stock today, but back in next week...or perhaps you can find it locally or on another site. Enjoy!

Prepare glaze by adding chocolate to heat-proof bowl. Warm cream until just beginning to steam and pour over chocolate, stirring with spatula to incorporate while chocolate melts. When all chocolate has melted, pour over cooled cakeletes.
Garnish as desired with candy decorations or decorating sprinkles.
Makes 12 cakes.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Top Chef


Fig Fudge Balls: Guest Post by Nancy J. Para aka Nancy Coco

I love when my mystery and chocolate worlds collide. Today I have a guest post from Nancy J Parra aka Nancy Coco aka Nell Hampton. Nancy J Parra is the author of over 25 published novels which include five mystery series. Her writing has been called witty and her protagonists plucky by reviewers around the world. Nancy is a member of Sisters in Crime and writes for the Killer Character Blog on the 8th of every month. Nancy loves to hear from readers. 

Nancy Coco 
Allie McMurphy, Mackinac Island, and Fudge!  

I enjoy writing the Mackinac Island Fudge Shop stories in the Candy-coated Mystery series. There is something so lovely about an island that does not allow any cars. It is filled with quaint Victorian cottages thee size of modern day mansions and shops filled with fudge and old-time photos. There are multiple state parks and bicycle rentals where you can drive along an eight-mile shore line.

Allie McMurphy runs the Historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop. She is something of an amateur sleuth getting into all kinds of mischief with her puppy Mal and her Kitty Carmella. The latest in the series, Oh, Fudge, takes place toward the end of Allie’s first tourist season as owner of her family business. Always working hard to fit into the tight-knit, Island society, Allie has volunteered to help at the Mackinac Island Butterfly House. Unfortunately, she and her dog, Mal, arrive in time to witness Allie’s cousin, Tori Andrews, kneeling over a dead woman and Tori’s hands are around the murder weapon.

Allie makes it her mission to clear her cousins good name and find the killer, but it isn’t easy. Especially when Allie learns that her boyfriend, Trent Jessop once dated Tori. And worse, Allie discovers Tori kissing Trent. There is much intrigue as Allie struggles to outsmart a killer and keep her boyfriend.

The best part of writing the series is getting to create new fudge recipes. One of my favorites from this book is Fig Fudge Balls. I’ll share it with you here:

Fig Fudge Balls 

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup cashews
2 cups figs with stems removed
3 Tbsp shredded coconut
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp honey
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp coarse sea salt

Directions
Mix figs and cashews in food processor on high until you make a paste. Add remaining ingredients and process on high until well mixed. Roll into small balls. Sprinkle sea salt on top and enjoy! Bio:

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

HOMEMADE HOSTESS CUPCAKES: National Chocolate Cupcake Day!

Today is National Chocolate Cupcake Day, so I thought I'd post a homemade recipe for a nostalgia chocolate cupcake: Hostess CupCakes. FYI: Hostess CupCakes are back on the shelves after a short hiatus, so you can also buy them today. But-- they'll taste so much better if you make your own.   

Hostess CupCakes were produced and distributed by Hostess Brands. The basic Hostess CupCake is a chocolate cupcake with chocolate icing and vanilla creme filling (Marshmallow Fluff flavor), with distinctive squiggles across the top. Hostess claims that it was the first commercially produced cupcake. Maybe. I grew up with TastyCake cakes and pies, and the Chocolate Cupcakes were my favorites. TastyCake makes the same claim about first produced.

From Wikipedia:
The Hostess CupCake was first sold on May 11, 1919. According to author Andrew F. Smith, it was the first commercially produced cupcake, originally produced by the Taggart Bakery as the Chocolate Cup Cake. Hostess has also claimed that it was "the first snack cake ever introduced to the market. In 2004, rival Tastykake disputed this claim, claiming that Tastykake introduced the first snack cake.
Originally, two cupcakes were sold for five cents. Until 1950, the Hostess CupCake did not have any filling or the white squiggly line across the top.
 
In 1947, D.R. "Doc" Rice, who started his career at Hostess in 1938 with a job that entailed dumping baked cakes on a table, was given the task of developing the Hostess CupCake further. These developments culminated in an updated cupcake in 1950. A white line consisting of squiggles was added to the top in order to distinguish the Hostess CupCake from other brands. The vanilla creme filling was also added. Rice got the idea for using a creme filling when a new machine for injecting filling into Hostess Twinkies became available. Improvements were also made to the cake mix and the chocolate icing in 1950.

HOME-MADE HOSTESS CUPCAKES

Ingredients

2 sticks salted butter, softened  (8 Tbsp in a stick)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup natural cocoa powder, (Hershey's Baking Cocoa )
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup Marshmallow Fluff
1/3 cup salted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar

For Frosting and Decoration 
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp salted butter, softened
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line a 6- and 12-muffin tin with paper liners.

Cupcake Batter:
In bowl of heavy-duty stand mixer, cream 2 sticks of butter and granulated sugar together at medium speed, just until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add eggs, one at time, and mix just until combined. In measuring cup, stir 1/2 the cup of hot water and cocoa together until smooth. Add cocoa mixture to butter mixture and mix on low speed for additional 10 seconds.
In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture in batches alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour and beating after each addition until ingredients are just blended.
Fill each prepared muffin cup half full with chocolate batter.
Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Let cool completely on wire rack.

Filling: 
Using clean bowl and stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat marshmallow fluff, 1/3 cup butter, and 1/3 cup powdered sugar together until combined and fluffy, about 1 minute. Using handle of small fork or spoon, make hole in the top center of each cake. Gently rotate the utensil in each hole to create a small cavity at each opening. Transfer the filling to a piping bag and pipe in just enough marshmallow mixture to fill each hole.
Make sure it doesn't explode; once you feel it growing in size, stop infusing. Use wet fingertip or  back of spoon to tamp down marshmallow peaks, ensuring filling is even with top of cupcake.

Frosting:
In small saucepan, heat cream over medium heat until bubbles form at edges. Add chocolate and remove pan from heat, stirring until chocolate melts. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and continue to stir until smooth. Let cool for three minutes.
Transfer chocolate to large deep glass bowl. Dip top of each cupcake into chocolate to coat, letting the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
Let the cupcakes rest on a wire rack set over paper until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

Frosting decoration:
In small bowl, beat 1/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar together until smooth, about two minutes. Transfer frosting to piping bag and decorate top of each cupcake with squiggles. Serve immediately. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.