Sunday, December 31, 2017

Champagne Truffles: The Perfect Truffles for New Year's Eve

December 31 is National Champagne Day -- a Perfect Food Holiday for New Year's Eve. I do a lot of wine/champagne chocolate pairing events with my company TeamBuilding Unlimited, and we often have trivia quizzes. How many bubbles in a bottle of champagne? 49 million to 250 million! Now, that's a lot of bubbles.

You won't have any bubbles in these Champagne Truffles for New Year's Eve, but you will taste the Champagne.. and the Cognac. This is my favorite easy Champagne Truffle recipe. This recipe uses more champagne than most Champagne Truffle recipes, and the Cognac adds zip. If you're in a pinch, you can use a different type of sugar or cocoa to coat the truffles. The sanding sugar, though, gives it a festive New Year's Eve look!

No time to make these? Here's a link to Champagne Truffles you can buy to bring in the new year!

Martha Stewart's Champagne Truffles
Makes about 3 dozen

1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon Champagne
1 tablespoon Cognac
Coarse sanding sugar, for rolling

 Bring cream to boil in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Immediately pour hot cream over chocolate in medium bowl; stir until smooth. Stir in Champagne and Cognac. Refrigerate until chocolate mixture is firm enough to roll into balls, about 1 hour. (or more!!)
Using small melon baller or ice-cream scoop, form 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in coarse sanding sugar and transfer to rimmed baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate truffles at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days before serving.

You can also use unsweetened cocoa or confectioner's sugar if you don't have sanding sugar. This recipe was in Martha Stewart's wedding section, so the sparkly white sugar looks great for weddings and holidays, but cocoa tastes just as good.. just different.

What Is Sanding Sugar?
Sanding sugar is large crystal sugar used as edible decoration that will not dissolve when subjected to heat. Also called pearl sugar or decorating sugar, sanding sugar adds "sparkle" to cookies, baked goods and candies. The sparkling affect is achieved because the sugar crystal grains are large and reflect light. You can order Sanding Sugar online or buy it in cake decorating departments.

Photo: Martha Stewart website

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Champagne Chocolate Cake for New Year's Eve!

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

Champagne Chocolate Cake

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

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.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Champagne Truffles to Buy: 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!  Dom Perignon champagne ganache piped into a 64% cacao dark chocolate shell with 24 kt gold leaf on top

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.

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

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.

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.

Thursday, December 28, 2017


Today is National Chocolate Candy Day. O.K., every day is Chocolate 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.

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.

This recipe is adapted slightly from Elizabeth LaBau at

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)

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.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Champagne Brownies: Ring in the New Year!

Happy New Year! What better way to ring in the New Year than with Champagne Brownies! 


16 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra for buttering pan
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup champagne

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter 9 x 9 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper (leave extra overhanging edges for easy removal).
Melt chocolate and butter in saucepan over saucepan over simmering water (or double boiler)
Beat salt, vanilla, eggs, and sugar into melted chocolate and beat thoroughly to incorporate.
Add flour and mix just until blended.
Add champagne and continue mixing batter until it becomes shiny and pulls away from sides of bowl. (2-3 minutes on high for a stand mixer.)
Turn into prepared pan and bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Want to be festive? Cut these brownies into stars or decorate with edible gold...

Serve with your favorite Champagne!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Candy Cane Day: What to do with Leftover Candy Canes

December 26 is Boxing Day, but it's also Candy Cane Day. Do you have a lot of candy canes left over? Are they still hanging on the tree? Grab a few and make one of these easy recipes! Chocolate and Candy Canes -- a great post-holiday treat!

History of the Candy Cane: 

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 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. Hot Chocolate with Candy Canes! Use the candy cane as a stirrer. It will eventually melt and flavor your hot chocolate, coffee, or tea. Of course, a chocolate dipped candy cane is even better!

2. Candy Cane Chocolate Marshmallows. Dip marshmallows in melted dark chocolate and roll in crushed Candy Canes.

3. Candy Cane Truffles

4. Candy Cane Fudge

5. Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

6. Chocolate Candy Cane Bark

7. Chocolate Covered Candy Canes

8. Chocolate Candy Cane Cheesecake

9. Chocolate Candy Cane Trifle

10. Peppermint Stick Cake:

Monday, December 25, 2017

CHOCOLATE FIGGY PUDDING: History, Recipe, & Vintage Cards with Cats and Figgy Pudding

"Now! Bring us some figgy pudding and bring some out here!"

How long have you been singing this Christmas Carol? Have you ever had Figgy Pudding aka Christmas Pudding? And what, exactly is it?

One other question, can you add chocolate? Yes! Scroll down for Ghirardelli's recipe for Chocolate Figgy Pudding.

Figgy Pudding is pretty much exactly what it sounds like -- a pudding/cake with figs in it. The reason that it's in such high demand, though, has more to do with its inedible ingredients. Coins, rings and other trinkets were often hidden in the Christmas pudding and each supposedly predicted the recipient's fortune for the coming year. For example, if you found a coin, you would become wealthy. If you found a ring, you'd get married ... and so on. Think of it as an Old English fortune cookie.


It's amazing what a brief mention in one Victorian-era Christmas carol can do for an obscure little dessert called figgy pudding. Every year, thousands of people around the world become curious about the dessert mentioned in the secular English carol "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." Apparently, the party-goers mentioned in the lyrics refuse to leave until they get some of this pudding from their host. This must be some seriously good pudding.

In actuality, figgy pudding is more of a cake than a pudding. There have been recipes for it since the 15th century, although its popularity as a Christmas dessert probably reached its peak during the late 19th century. Several factors have significantly hampered the wholesale expansion of the figgy pudding industry, including an interminably long cooking time, an exotic ingredients list and a cringe-inducing dependency on saturated fats for texture.
There are numerous recipes for this pudding, from a traditional steamed version similar to modern bread pudding to a pastry-covered blend of figs, dates, fruits and spices. Nearly all recipes call for three or four hours of steaming. This is accomplished by placing a metal bowl with the pudding mixture into a larger bowl partially filled with boiling water. The indirect heat generated by the boiling water cooks the dessert evenly and slowly. This is equivalent to using a bain marie water bath for individual ramekins filled with batter.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Figgy Pudding

3 eggs
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
4 cups soft bread crumbs
1 cup finely chopped suet (I use unsalted butter)
2 tablespoons flour
1-1/2 cups chopped dried figs
3/4 cup Ghirardelli's Ground Chocolate
1/2 cup hot milk
3/4 tsp salt

Beat eggs, add sugar, bread crumbs, suet, figs (dredged with flour), chocolate mixed with hot milk, and salt, stir thoroughly.
Steam three hours in a greased mold.
Serve hot with a hard sauce.

Hard sauce: Great recipe at The Pioneer Woman

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Chocolate Peppermint Trifle

Here's a great idea for your holiday dessert! Trifle!! I love a good trifle, and I have posted several recipes for trifle before, and in case you haven't planned your holiday dessert yet, 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 simple 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 it 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 for a festive touch.

#1 Chocolate Peppermint Trifle

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

1 chocolate cake (or brownies) 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)

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.


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

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

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

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 should have it.

Saturday, December 23, 2017


The Ghirardelli Chocolate site has two great recipes for one of my favorite holiday treats: Peppermint Bark Brownies. These are great to serve or make as gifts. I like to give gifts in unique containers, and old tins are my gift giving choice. I collect tins all year at the Flea Market, the White Elephant Sale.. and my own garage. You never know what you'll find where.

I'm not adverse to using mixes, and I like Ghirardelli chocolate, and the first recipe uses their packaged Double Chocolate Brownie mix. Of course, you can always use your own brownie recipe and different white chocolate and follow the same steps. The second recipe is a from scratch brownie-mix and uses Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark or Peppermint Bark squares. Both are great!

I. Peppermint Bark Brownies

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
1 egg
1- 20 oz package or 1 pouch Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix

Peppermint Topping:
2 cups (12 oz) Ghirardelli Classic White Chips
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup crushed peppermint candy (about 16 hard, round candies)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

For Brownie: 
In medium bowl, blend together oil, water, and egg.
Add brownie mix and stir until moistened.
Spoon batter into lightly greased 13x9x2-inch pan.
Bake 24-26 minutes.
Let brownies cool completely.

For Peppermint Topping: 
Place white chips and vegetable oil in small bowl.
Microwave at 50% power for approximately 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.
Spread melted white chocolate over cooled brownie.
Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy. Let topping set before cutting.

II. Peppermint Bark Brownies

Cooking spray
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup Ghirardelli 100% Unsweetened Ground Cocoa
1 2/3 cups Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Premium Baking Chips, divided
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 (3.5-ounce) Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark with Dark Chocolate bar, coarsely chopped, divided (or 16 Peppermint Bark Squares, coarsely chopped, divided)
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Line bottom and sides of 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, allowing about inch of paper to extend over opposite sides of pan; lightly coat with cooking spray.
In microwave-safe bowl, microwave butter and 1 1/3 cups chocolate baking chips on medium (50% power) for 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds , until melted and combined, about 2 minutes total. Whisk in sugar (mixture will look grainy). Whisk in eggs and vanilla, mixing until smooth.
In separate bowl whisk together cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir flour mixture into chocolate mixture until just combined. Fold in half of peppermint bark.
Pour mixture into prepared pan; smooth top.
Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs, 25 to 30 minutes.
Let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
Lift brownies from pan using parchment as handles and transfer brownies to rack to cool completely.
Place brownies on cooling rack set over rimmed baking sheet.
Place remaining 1/3 cup chocolate baking chips in medium glass bowl. Warm cream in small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until steaming, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate baking chips. Let stand for 2 minutes; whisk until smooth. Pour over brownies and spread to edges with a small offset spatula. Sprinkle evenly with remaining peppermint bark.
Before serving, let stand, or refrigerate, until glaze sets.

CHOCOLATE FRUITCAKE: National Fruitcake Day

December 27 is National Fruitcake Day, but it seems a bit late for a Fruitcake recipe, so I'm posting these recipes today, so you'll have time to make this for the holidays or for National Fruitcake Day!

If you're like me, you're saying Fruitcake? That over-inebriated rock hard cake with artificial fruits that gets passed around the family kind of like a white elephant gift? Well, it doesn't have to be. There are actually some wonderful recipes for Chocolate Fruitcake. Aha, your eyes and tastebuds have already picked up.

Of course, I'm all about easy, so here's an easy recipe for Chocolate Fruitcake. One caveat, you won't be able to eat this today. Fruitcake really does need to ferment a bit. Following is a recipe for Chocolate Fruitcake adapted froom Diana Rattray at Southern Food. This recipe originally called for candied red and green cherries, but I really don't like those. Try using dried cranberries or dried cherries or dried apricots, lots of nuts and your choice of alcohol. It's quite a versatile recipe. The original recipe didn't use booze, but what's a fruitcake without alcohol? Another recipe for Chocolate Fruitcake that I really like is David Lebovitz's Chocolate-Cherry Fruitcake.

Either way, if you like chocolate, you'll find this chocolate twist on an old holiday standard quite to your liking!

Chocolate Fruitcake

1 cup unsalted butter
6 ounces dark chocolate (65-75% cacao, fair-trade), chopped
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cherries, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1-1/2 cups combination of walnuts and pecans, chopped
1/2 cup rum, whiskey, or amaretto.. (or whatever you like)

1. A day ahead, plump the dried fruits by tossing them in 1/2 cup of amaretto,  rum or whiskey (or whatever alcohol you like!), cover for later use in the cake.

To Make Cake:
1. Melt butter and chocolate in large heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring often. Remove from heat, and cool for 15 minutes.
2. Stir in sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add flour and salt, stirring until blended. Stir in chopped boozy fruits and chopped nuts. Spoon mixture into 4 greased and floured 5 x 3 x 2-inch loaf pans.
3. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes
4. Poke lots of small holes in cakes with skewer. Pour 3 Tbsp liquor (see above) onto each cake. Let cool for another 10-15 minutes or so.
5. Remove from pans, and cool on wire racks.
6. Wrap in plastic and store for up to 7 days.

If you're making these Fruitcakes ahead, you can brush with more liquor every day. Don't freeze if you're adding alcohol.

Friday, December 22, 2017

EGGNOG BROWNIES: National Eggnog Month

It shouldn't come as a surprise, but December is Eggnog Month. When else do you drink or bake with Egg Nog? If you're like me, I have eggnog around this time of year, but Santa doesn't always partake. So how else to use it? Well you can make Eggnog Brownies. These are absolutely delicious! If you already have brandy in your eggnog, you don't need to add more... And, as always, use the very best chocolate and Eggnog!

Happy Holidays!

Eggnog Brownies

2 eggs
1 Tbsp brandy
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans

Grease shallow 11 x7 inch baking pan with butter, line bottom with parchment or waxed paper.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly beat eggs with brandy and vanilla; set aside.
Put butter and chocolate in a large saucepan, stir continuously over medium heat until melted.
Remove from heat.
Stir in sugars, flour, pecans, and egg mixture.
Pour into pan. Spread evenly.
Bake 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in middle comes out clean.
Allow brownies to cool. Cut into 24 squares.
Remove from pan. Store in airtight container.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Swedish Chocolate Balls: CHOKLADBOLLAR

The other night I went to a holiday party where my friend Sue Trowbridge was in attendance. It was a great party with wonderful food, of course, but to add to my chocolate experience, Sue brought her amazing Chokladbollar, a special Swedish holiday treat! I had posted her recipe several years ago, but there's nothing like tasting these Swedish Chocolate Balls again to remind me how great they are. Sue told me that she actually used a different recipe this year! Sue was born in Stockholm, Sweden, and grew up in the U.S. She has maintained her interest in Swedish culture, food, and traditions. This new recipe was enhanced due to the use of specific Swedish ingredients. You can buy them at Nordic House in Berkeley or online. Or use what you have...just not authentically Swedish.

Sue Trowbridge: Chokladbollar

This is a no-bake recipe, and it’s super easy and fun for kids.

You’ll need 10-1/2 tablespoons of softened butter and 1+ cups of sugar. Stir them together well — this step requires strong arms!

The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of strong coffee (liquid). I rarely make coffee at home — I’m mainly a tea gal — but luckily, my parents had left some in the freezer so I had some on hand. Of course, rum is an excellent alternative!

Add the coffee, a teaspoon of vanilla sugar, and 3 tablespoons of cocoa to the butter/sugar mixture.

Add 1 3/4 cups of rolled oats. Stir, stir, stir!

The result looks a little bit like my mom’s Swedish meatball mixture.

Using 1 teaspoon of mixture at a time, roll into small balls. Roll these in coconu or Swedish pearl sugar, coating well. It will make your hands extremely greasy and messy!

The result. You will want to eat them immediately, but don’t — stick ‘em in the fridge for an hour or two, or, in a pinch, the freezer for about half an hour.

I made these to bring to a holiday party, and they disappeared quickly, but then again, so did pretty much everything. Still, I like to imagine that the people who managed to get one enjoyed it.

Here is the recipe in full:

Chokladbollar: Swedish Chocolate Balls

150 g (10 1/2 tablespoons) butter, room temperature
1½ dl (1 cup plus two tablespoons) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar, or substitute vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cold, strong coffee or rum
4 dl (1 3/4 cup) rolled oats

Combine the butter and sugar. I used to do this by hand until I finally got a stand mixer, which makes it WAY easier.
Add the cocoa, vanilla, coffee or rum, and oats.
Form into round balls and roll them in coconut or Swedish pearl sugar (
Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Bûche de Noël aka Yule Log

With the Winter Solstice and Christmas holidays upon us, I thought I'd post a recipe for Bûche de Noël aka Yule Log. Recently I posted about where to buy a Bûche de Noël in San Francisco. One of my readers commented that he always makes his own. I've made various recipes for Bûche de Noël, but I really like the one below. Bûche de Noël is the traditional dessert served at the Solstice and during the Christmas holidays in many countries. Basically it looks like a log ready for the fire, hence the Yule Log.

The traditional Bûche de Noël is made from a Genoise (see recipe below) filled and frosted with buttercream. The Bûche de Noël is often iced to look like a piece of the branch has broken off. Sometimes there are fresh berries and meringue or marzipan mushrooms. The Bûche de Noël is one of my favorite holiday desserts. The log represents the hearth--the center of the house, and this yule log (Bûche de Noël) will be the center of your holiday table.

Bûche de Noël aka Yule Log
(recipe adapted from

2 cups heavy cream (cold)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 egg yolks (eggs at room temperature)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
 6 egg whites (room temp)
1/4 cup white sugar
Confectioners Sugar for Dusting
Meringue Mushrooms (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line 10x15 inch greased jellyroll pan with greased (sprayed) parchment paper. In large bowl, whip cream, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa, and 1 teaspoon vanilla until thick and stiff. Refrigerate.

In large bowl, use electric mixer to beat egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until thick and pale (about 5 minutes). Blend in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, and salt. In large glass bowl, using clean beaters, whip egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, and beat until whites form very stiff peaks. Immediately fold yolk mixture into whites. Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in preheated oven, or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Dust heavily clean dishtowel with lots of confectioners' sugar. Run a knife around the edge of pan, and turn warm cake out onto silicone baking mat (or towel, but the mat works better!). Remove and discard parchment paper. Let cool before rolling. Starting at short edge of cake, roll cake up with towel. Use the towel as the rolling agent. Cool for 30 minutes. Unroll cake, and spread filling to within 1 inch of the edge. Roll cake up with filling inside. Place seam side down onto serving plate. Ice with remaining filling. Run tines across to simulate bark. Refrigerate until serving. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.

Add meringue mushrooms before serving (do not refrigerate the mushrooms) or use some 'real' holly leaves with

(recipe-Southern Living-1999)

3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup (3 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels, melted
2 teaspoons cocoa

Combine first 5 ingredients; beat at high speed with electric mixer until foamy. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves (2 to 4 minutes).
Spoon mixture into decorating bag fitted with large round tip. Pipe 32 (1 1/4-inch-wide) mounds to resemble mushroom caps and 32 (1-inch-tall) columns to resemble stems onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake at 200° for 1 1/2 hours; turn oven off. Let meringues stand in closed oven 2 hours.
Spread thin layer of melted chocolate on flat side of caps. Trim rounded end of stems to make them flat; press stems against chocolate to attach them to caps. Sprinkle meringues lightly with cocoa.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


Just when I thought I was finished with Peppermint and Chocolate recipes, I remembered this Sunset recipe for Crushed Peppermint Cheesecake! Cheesecake is one of my favorite foods, and I have several spring pans.. even bought more last year at the White Elephant Sale. You can leave off the Crushed Peppermint and peppermint oil for a traditional cheesecake, too. This recipe is quite versatile. But I love peppermint and chocolate, especially during the holidays, and when you add butter, cream cheese, and sour cream..well what's not to like? This is a wonderful holiday dessert!


12 ounces creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookies, (Oreos or Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe Joes) broken into pieces
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1- 1/2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
4 eggs
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup coarsely crushed peppermint candy

Place cookies in heavy zip-lock plastic bag and crush with rolling pin. Pour into buttered 9-inch round springform pan and pour melted butter over crumbs; mix to coat, then press evenly over bottom and about 1/2 inch up sides of pan. Bake in 300° oven until crust is slightly darker and looks a bit dry, about 10 minutes (leave oven on).

Meanwhile, in bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until well blended. Beat in sour cream. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend after each addition. Beat in flour, vanilla, peppermint extract, and salt until smooth. Pour cream cheese mixture into pan over baked crust.

Bake until edges are just golden and center jiggles slightly when pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour. Run knife around edge of pan rim. Place pan on wire rack and cool cheesecake completely in pan. Cover and chill until cold, at least 4 hours or up to 2 days. Run knife around rim again, then release rim. If any liquid has pooled on surface of cheesecake, blot dry gently with paper towel.

Decorate top of cake with crushed peppermint candy, pressing it in gently with hands.

Photo: Christina Schmidhofer

Cartoon of the Day: The Holiday Tin

Monday, December 18, 2017


Here's a new to me cookie recipe for the holidays that I found at I'm a huge fan of Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, and these Cherry Chocolate Crinkles are festive and fab! So easy to make and so delicious. You'll want to whip up a batch for your cookie exchange or for Santa!


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup cherry jam or preserves
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 teaspoon red food coloring
1/2 cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate (about 3 ounces)
1/3 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar


Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in  medium bowl. Beat butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and brown sugar in large bowl with mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg, then beat in jam, both extracts, and food coloring. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in flour mixture until combined. Fold in chocolate and dried cherries with wooden spoon. Cover dough and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.

Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Put remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar in medium bowl and sift confectioners sugar into separate bowl. Roll heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into balls, then roll each ball in granulated sugar and then confectioners' sugar; shake off any excess. Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared pans.

Bake, switching pans halfway through, until cookies are cracked and dry on top, about 15 minutes. Let cool 3 minutes in pans, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I can never have too many cookie recipes. Can you? Cookies can be so versatile. Easy to make. Easy to eat. Here's a great recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. These cookies are easy to pack and ship, too! Great presents!


1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sweet creamy peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar or 1 cup light muscovado sugar, packed*
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cream butter until smooth. Add peanut butter and both sugars and beat until combined well. Add egg and beat well. Stir in flour and baking soda gradually until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Using cookie scooper, scoop out small portions of dough and drop onto parchment lined cookie sheets, leaving 2" gap between each cookie.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until cookies are just firm around the edges - don't overbake- if you wait until they are brown on top, they will be too hard.
Remove baked cookies from parchment and let cool completely on wire rack.

* Muscavado sugar is a very dark brown, moist sugar and it tastes slightly more of molasses/treacle than regular brown sugar.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: The New Neighbor


Today is National Maple Syrup Day. When I was young, we traveled to Canada, Maine, and Vermont for fishing trips (my father was a fresh water fisherman). One of my fond memories was seeing the taps in the maple trees in the woods. So magical to me.. a city kid. They were just like beer taps (or for me at that age, they probably looked like soda fountain taps). Tapping the trees for maple syrup was always the highlight of these trips. This experience broadened the school history lesson about the early settlers and Maple Syrup. Of course the indigenous people tapped the trees first, but that wasn't part of our lesson at that time. 

An individual maple tree can be tapped one to three times per year (depending on how big the diameter of its trunk is), producing up to 13 gallons of sap every one to two month harvesting season. Maple trees keep the starch inside their roots and trunk before winter sets in which is then later converted to sugar that appears in the tree's sap in winter and early spring.

It is the starchy sugar that makes maple syrup so characteristically sweet. In order to turn sap into sugar, it's heated and boiled to evaporate the excess water, with the concentrated syrup remaining. Sugar shacks were set up for this process, and those were also available for viewing in small Vermont and Canadian towns. I imagine they still are.

Want to know more about the history of Maple Syrup? Read "Tapping into the history of maple syrup" at Chronically Vintage.

What to do with maple syrup? Well, growing up, maple syrup at our house came in a little crock and was only used to pour over waffles and pancakes. But Maple Syrup is actually a great item to have in your pantry and can be used in lots of ways. Maple syrup is a healthy alternative to sugar in baked goods and desserts.

Conversion tips:
Substitute an equal amount of maple syrup for sugar.
For each cup of syrup, reduce the quantity of liquid ingredients in the recipe (water, milk, juice) by about a quarter of a cup.
Maple syrup can also serve as a one-to-one substitution for other liquid sweeteners, such as honey, molasses and corn syrup.

And, with the holidays coming up, here are two great recipes to make and give or serve: Chocolate Maple Syrup and Chocolate Maple Truffles.


1-1/2 cups pure maple syrup
4 Tbsp unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1/4 cup unsalted butter, chopped
Pinch of salt

Heat maple syrup in small sturdy saucepan over moderate heat until hot.
Whisk in cocoa powder, butter, and pinch of salt. Turn down to simmer and whisk for a minute.
Serve syrup warm.
Syrup keeps, covered and chilled, 1 week.

This recipe is from the Pure Canadian Maple Syrup site

Ingredients for Centers 
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 cups dates, pitted and chopped
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp orange juice, just squeezed
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier or other liqueur optional

Ingredients for Coating
8 ounces premium quality bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

To prepare the centers, melt 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate in double boiler over gently simmering water until completely melted, stirring only once or twice. Set aside.
Chop dates by hand, so they're not sticky (can become sticky if you use a food processor) If you are using food processor, place pecans in with the dates and pulse.
Add melted chocolate, Maple syrup, orange juice and liqueur; pulse until mixture just comes together. Alternatively, you can mix the ingredients together by hand in a medium mixing bowl.
To form and coat truffles, prepare coating:
Melt remaining 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate over double boiler of gently simmering water and cool to about 90°. While chocolate is cooling, form truffles. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Form truffles into small tiny bite sized balls. Place cookie sheet of truffles to left of you. Place melted chocolate in front of you and have sifted cocoa to right of you To far right have cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and or paper truffle cups ready to place coated truffles.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Guinness Chocolate Truffles: My Goodness, My Christmas GUINNESS

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. My Goodness, My Christmas GUINNESS.


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

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 (or roll in red and green decorating sugar for Christmas)

Happy Holidays!


Today is Chocolate Covered Anything Day! So with the holidays coming up, here's a recipe for festive Candy Cane Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Pops. These 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 Marshmallows, as they always hit the spot for me!


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.
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 are great, too!

History of the Candy Cane from

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.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Where to Buy a Bûche de Noël in the San Francisco Bay Area

A Bûche de Noël is the perfect centerpiece for any holiday meal--Christmas, Christmas Eve, or the Winter Solstice. Not everyone has the time, skills, or patience 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 of where 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. I decided not to list all the flavors, but check with the bakeries. Get your orders in now in time for the holidays.

Bûches de Noël: San Francisco Bay Area

Tartine (SF) (Genoise filled with espresso buttercream, meringue mushrooms, pistachio moss, Valrhona chocolate Glaze)
La Farine, (Rockridge, Dimond, 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 (San Francisco) 
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)
La Bedaine (Berkeley)
La Parisienne (Oakland)
Chantal Guillon (San Francisco-check locations)
PanotiQ (Bay Area)
Le Marais (San Francisco)
Thorough Bread & Pastry (San Francisco)
Marla Bakery (San Francisco)
Noe Valley Bakery (San Francisco)
Mademoiselle Colette (Menlo Park)
Fleur de Cocoa (Los Gatos)
Douce France (Palo Alto)

Ici (Berkeley) has an awesome ice cream Bûches de Noël

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

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.

Chocolate Barks for Santa and Friends

Just 10 days 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! Be sure and scroll down for links to other Chocolate Holiday Barks. Let's face it, you can never have enough bark! Woof!

1. White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

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

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

1 pound white chocolate
1/2 cup crushed candy canes

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

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

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

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

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.

5. Cranberry Nut Chocolate Bark
This recipe is from King Arthur Flour. 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.

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

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.

6. Whiskey Marshmallow and Caramel Bacon Bark from Bakers Royale

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Trader Joe's Chocolate Passport: The Perfect Stocking Stuffer

I've posted before about Trader Joe's Chocolate Passport, and I'm so pleased to see The Chocolate Passport 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! This is also available on several internet sites, but at double the price!

Eight Nights of Hanukkah Donuts: Guest Post by Miri Ariel

Miri Ariel:
Eight Nights of Hanukkah Donuts

At Hanukkah in Jerusalem, you can find an assortment of donuts in all different flavors. Why the Donut for Hanukkah? Think oil. Hanukkah is a holiday that celebrates the miracle of the oil that was used to light the menorah. When the Maccabees returned to Jerusalem, they found a vessel of oil but it was only enough for one night. However, instead of lasting for one night, it lasted for eight.

Of the recipes to try, these are the author of “The Mohel From Mars: A Hanukkah Story,” Miri Ariel’s favorites:

1) Fluffy Oreo Cake Donuts

2) Nutella Filled Donuts

3) Tumeric Chai Donuts

4) Baked Red Velvet Donut Holes

5) Reese’s Filled Chocolate Donuts

6) Maple Pumpkin Donuts with Cinnamon Cream Filling

7) Lemon Donuts with Rasberry Glaze

8) Baked Smores Donuts

Miri Ariel is the author of the #1 new release in Hanukkah books on Amazon, The Mohel from Mars. 

It follows Motti, a mohel, who discovers that he has another calling in life. In a modern retelling of the Hanukkah story, Motti lives a double life, by day as a mohel and by night as a Maccabee fighting the Greek space monsters known as Seleucids. 

Miri wanted to create an action packed story for Hanukkah that was both contemporary and fun. In a family of lawyers and doctors, Miri chose to be a writer and to follow her own path, just like Motti must choose to follow his in this unique and engaging Hanukkah story.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Homemade Chanukah Gelt: Coins & Truffles

The Jewish holiday of Chanukah lasts 8 days, so there's plenty of time to make more chocolate treats! Perhaps the most familiar form of Chanukah Gelt is a chocolate coin covered in gold foil. This tradition probably dates from the late 18th and early 19th century in Europe, when Jews figured prominently in chocolate manufacturing.

There are many chocolatiers who sell Chanukah Gelt, and some of it is very tasty, but if you want the very best, make your own!

The first recipe for Homemade Chanukah Gelt is from Oh Nuts! Sweet & Crunchy blog and is pretty traditional in appearance. This Chanukah Chocolate Gelt is fun to make with kids. Easy and quick. Perfect for the Holiday!

The second recipe is for Chocolate Truffle Gelt. The truffles can't really be flattened like a coin, but you can individually wrap them in gold foil to mimic the gold coins. Each truffle contains less than 1/8th teaspoon alcohol, that helps to "cook" the yolks in the mixture. One Tablespoon of orange juice can be substituted, but it will slightly alter the taste and consistency.

And, you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy any of this Chanukah Gelt!


8 oz (about 1-1/3 cups) melting chocolate wafers (or dark or milk chocolate)
2 mini muffin tins
Gold luster dust
Clean food-safe paintbrush

Put chocolate wafers in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave wafers in 30-second increments, stirring after every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a pot over a pot over simmering water.
Drop a spoonful of melted chocolate into 24 mini muffin cavities. Don't use a lot if you want them to look like coins.
Hit muffin pans against counter to level out chocolate and reduce “peaks” on top of chocolate. Refrigerate pans until chocolate is completely set, about 20 minutes.
Turn pans upside-down over clean surface, and flex to release the coins. If some stick in pan, knock on bottom of tin to dislodge the coins.
Use clean, dry food-safe brush and brush luster dust over the surface of coins. Luster dust and water do not mix, so don’t get any fancy ideas about mixing them together to make gold paint–you’ll just end up with a mess. Dry brushing works better.

If you don't want to use the luster dust, you can wrap the coins in gold foil and press a coin pattern (or not) into the foil (preferably while still a bit soft).


6 ounces dark or milk chocolate
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp coffee liqueur, cognac, or Grand Marnier
Dried sweetened cherries
Gold foil paper

Put chocolate in one quart bowl and place in saucepan filled halfway with hot but not boiling water. Over low heat, melt chocolate and stir to remove any lumps. Remove bowl of chocolate from hot water bath.
Cut butter into 4 pieces and whisk in, one piece at a time, until smooth.
Whisk in yolks until thoroughly combined. (Mixture might look grainy and separated. Don't worry about using raw yolks; the yolks will essentially be "cooked" by alcohol in liqueur.) Then whisk in the cognac or other flavoring.
Cover and refrigerate for hour, or until mixture is firm but not rock hard.
Working quickly, place heaping teaspoon of chocolate in hand. Press dried cherry into center of chocolate and shape into ball, about an inch in diameter, covering the fruit.
Roll truffle in cocoa. Place on plastic wrap-lined plate, cover with additional wrap, and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes for dark chocolate and 15 minutes longer for milk).
To create "coins," wrap truffles in gold foil.