Monday, February 27, 2017

Black Russian Bundt Cake & Homemade Kahlua

Today is National Kahlua Day. Kahlua is such a versatile liqueur. It is a Mexican coffee-flavored rum-based liqueur that's dense and sweet, with the taste of coffee. Kahlúa also contains sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla bean, so you see why it's often matched with chocolate in drinks, cakes, pies and candy. 

To celebrate today's Kahlua holiday, scroll down for a recipe for Black Russian Bundt Cake. A Black Russian is a classic cocktail made with 1 part Kahlua, 2 parts Vodka. Fill glass with ice. Add alcohol and mix!  

Want to make your own Kahlua? Here's a recipe. The Kahlua won't be ready for a month, but it will be great!

Homemade Kahlua

Ingredients
4 cups water
4 cups sugar
2 ounces instant coffee
1 vanilla bean
Fifth of vodka or bourbon

Directions
Bring 4 cups water to boil. Add 4 cups sugar and cook until dissolved. Add instant coffee. Simmer slowly - do not boil!
Add vanilla bean and 1/5 vodka or bourbon.
Bottle and cap. Leave for a month or more!
 
Black Russian Bundt Cake 

Ingredients
1 box yellow cake mix (without pudding)
1/2 cup sugar
1 pkg (6 ounces) chocolate instant pudding
1 cup oil
4 eggs
1/4 cup Vodka
1/4 cup Kahlua
3/4 cup water

Directions
Combine all ingredients and beat on low for one minute and then on medium for 4 minutes.
Pour into greased and floured 10-inch bundt pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes.
Let cool in pan for 10 minutes.
Invert onto plate and pour on glaze.

Glaze 
1/4 cup Kahlua
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Combine and have ready when cake comes from oven.
Poke holes in cake and pour glaze over cake. 

Dust with sifted powdered sugar.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Chewy Pistachio Brownies: National Pistachio Day

Today is Pistachio Day! I love pistachios.

We used to eat lots of red-dyed pistachios when I was a kid. Our mouths and teeth would be stained red for awhile. Red Dye #1? We didn't worry about how it might effect us, nor did our parents. However, I did a bit of searching, and you can still find them at Oh Nuts. I also found out why they were dyed red. Most pistachios when I was young were imported from the Middle East where traditional methods of harvesting left stains on the shells. The producers would dye the shell red or green to cover up the stains. Today, about 98% of pistachios sold in the U.S. are grown in California, where they use a mechanized harvesting process that means that the nuts are picked, hulled and dried before the shell has a chance to become stained. No need to dye them! Luckily, all natural pistachios are readily available. Of course, if you want red dyed pistachios, Oh Nuts sells them. They are Californa Red Colored Roasted Salted Pistachios. If you're into nostalgia. And, FYI: Pistachios are very nutritional. One serving provides more fiber than a 1/2 cup of spinach or broccoli. 

I've posted many brownie recipes over the years, but thought I'd post this one for Chewy Pistachio Brownies that's slightly adapted from the American Pistachio Growers website.

Chewy Pistachio Brownies

Ingredients: 
1/2 cup DARK cocoa
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup shelled natural American pistachios, chopped
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
Chocolate Glaze (recipe follows)

Chocolate Glaze:
Combine 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir to blend, adding 1 Tbsp powdered sugar.

Directions
In mixing bowl, combine cocoa, sugar, flour, baking powder, chocolate chips, and 1/2 cup chopped pistachios. Add melted butter, egg, and milk; mix just until ingredients are blended.
Scrape batter into oiled 9-inch square baking pan.
Bake in preheated 350° F. oven, 23 to 25 minutes or until center is baked. Do not overbake.
Cool slightly; spread with Chocolate Glaze.
Sprinkle with remaining pistachios.

And, for your nostalgic viewing pleasure:

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Chocolate Bacon Peanut Bark: National Chocolate Covered Peanut Day!

Today is National Chocolate Covered Peanuts Day! Nuts to You!  

Chocolate and Bacon was the food chocolate trend several years ago, and I don't really think it's gone out of fashion. What a great pairing! Salty bacon with dark sweet chocolate is terrific. Add Peanuts, and you're good to go! Barks are so easy to make, too.

Susan Russo on NPR had a great article in 2010 on different pairings of bacon with different foods, but this was my favorite. It's simple to make.

Chocolate Bacon Peanut Bark  
adapted from Susan Russo's recipe

Ingredients
8 strips bacon
16 ounces fair-trade organic chocolate 60-75 % cacao (chunks or chips are fine)
1 cup unsalted peanuts

Directions
In large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon, turning several times, until browned and done, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate to drain. Chop finely.
Line large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Add chocolate to double boiler (or saucepan on top of another saucepan). Once water begins to boil, add chocolate. Using spatula, stir continuously, until smooth and creamy.
Stir in bacon and peanuts. Pour onto prepared baking sheet and spread to 3/8-inch thickness. Refrigerate for minimum of one hour. Bark should be hard and chilled.
Place bark on cutting board and cut  (or crack) into pieces — any size or shape you'd like.
Serve at room temperature.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Chocolate: A Night at the Movies

Sunday night I'll be watching the Academy Awards, and I started to think about all the great movies that involve Chocolate. No time for a detailed post, but thought I'd do a short list. There are a lot of movies with Chocolate in the title that have nothing or little to do with chocolate, so I've skipped those. Enjoy! Make some Chocolate Covered Popcorn to watch! Recipe at the end of this post.

Chocolat.  2000. A woman and her daughter open a chocolate shop in a small French village that shakes up the rigid morality of the community. Based on the book by Joanne Harris with Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and Alfred Molina.

Like Water for Chocolate. Como agua para chocolate. 1992. Based on the novel by Mexican author Laura Esquivel.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. 1971 with Gene Wilder. Based on the book by Roald Dahl. The Best of the Willy Wonka movies.

Consuming Passions. Cioccolato Bollente. 1988 in Italian, made in the UK. Black Comedy about a young executive who tries to modernize a chocolate factory.

Bread and Chocolate Pane e cioccolata. 1973 Italian film about an Italian immigrant in Switzerland trying to make a better life for himself while dealing with increasing bigotry and bad luck.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 2005. Johnny Depp. Based on the Roald Dahl book, but no where as good as the first movie.

Milton Hershey: The Chocolate King (documentary). 1995

Kings of Pastry.  (documentary) 2009. Sixteen French pastry chefs gathered in Lyon for three intense days of mixing, piping and sculpting everything from delicate chocolates to six-foot sugar sculptures in hopes of being declared one of the best. Prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France competition. Not just chocolate, but there's a lot of chocolate!

EASY CHOCOLATE COVERED POPCORN

1. Make a bag of popcorn (buttered or plain) and pop it according to the directions.
2. Put the popped popcorn into large bowl or flat baking pan (for more even distribution).
3. Melt dark or white chocolate or both (in separate bowls) in top of double boiler (or in microwave).
4. Drizzle chocolate on popcorn. You can always add more chocolate, but you can't remove it, so use sparingly.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Chiquita Banana, Carmen Miranda, & Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I've always loved Chiquita Bananas, especially the logo with Chiquita and her Fruit Hat that was popularized by Carmen Miranda. There was something so foreign and exotic about Chiquita -- and Carmen Miranda.  I was so taken by all the Carmen Miranda Hollywood productions that when I was in Rio several years ago, I made a pilgrimage to Carmen Miranda's home on Avendida Rui Barbosa. Very fun!

So in honor of Carmen Miranda and for National Banana Brad Day, I'm reposting two  recipes for Banana Bread. These are from Chiquita Bananas. I added chocolate chips to both of the following recipes because I love chocolate and bananas. You can also add nuts. And, the second recipe is gluten free! Be sure to scroll down to Carmen Miranda in the" Tutti Frutti Hat." Here's the 1940s "Chiquita Banana" song!

THE CHIQUITA BANANA SONG



Best Chiquita Banana Bread
adapted from Chiquita Bananas

Ingredients
4 whole Chiquita Bananas
1 cup All-purpose flour
1 cup Unprocessed wheat bran
1 1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Brown sugar
3/4 cup Chocolate chips
1 cup unsalted Butter, soft
2 whole Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/2 cup Walnuts
1 Tbsp Local Honey

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease large 9x5 inch loaf pan.
Whip 2 Chiquita Bananas and sugars until mix is creamy (about 3 minutes).
Add butter, eggs, and vanilla and whip until smooth.
Mix in all dry ingredients until blended.
Fold in walnuts and Chocolate Chips.
Slice two Chiquita Bananas and toss with honey until Chiquita Bananas are well coated.
Pour mix in loaf pan and place honey coated bananas on top.
Bake in oven for 60 minutes.
Let cool for 5 minutes then place plate on top of pan and flip pan upside down so loaf falls onto plate.

Gluten Free Banana Bread 
with Chocolate Chips
adapted from Chiquita Banana Bread, recipe idea Alisa Bennett

Ingredients
3 large Chiquita bananas
3 large Eggs
1/4 cup Coconut oil (melted)
1 Tbsp Vanilla extract
2 cups Almond meal
2 Tbsp Coconut flour
1 tsp Baking soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 cup chopped Walnuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions
Puree egg, oil, vanilla, and bananas in blender.
In separate bowl, blend dry ingredients.
Add banana and egg mixture to dry ingredients and mix well.
Fold in chopped walnuts and chocolate chips.
Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 50-55 minutes.

"THE LADY IN THE TUTTI-FRUTTI HAT" from Busby Berkeley's Welcome to Banana Island

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Flourless Chocolate Margarita Cake

Today is National Margarita Day, and I like to eat my drinks! You're going to love this Flourless Chocolate Margarita Cake! It's a great Gluten-Free chocolate cake recipe--aka a Flourless Chocolate Lime Cake with Margarita Cream. I originally found this recipe at the Nigella site, but then again on the BHG site. Very similar. As always, use the very best ingredients. I have easy access to almond flour, but you can always make your own. I do love chocolate and citrus, and this recipe "takes the cake!"It's great for Passover, too, so be sure and bookmark this page!

Flourless Chocolate Lime Cake

Ingredients
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
6 eggs
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar*
1 cup almond meal/flour
4 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 lime, zest and juice
Confectioner's sugar to dust (optional)

1 recipe Margarita Cream (recipe below)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, line bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper, and butter sides of pan.
Melt chocolate and butter together either in a heatproof bowl suspended over a saucepan of simmering water or in a microwave 30 seconds at a time until melted. Set aside to cool slightly.
With electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar together until about tripled in volume, pale, and mousse-like. Mix almond meal with the cocoa powder. Gently fold into egg mixture, followed by the slightly cooled chocolate mixture. Fold in lime zest and juice.
Pour and scrape into prepared pan.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes.
Cake will be just firm on top but still have a bit of a shake below.
Remove from oven.
Cool cake in pan on a wire rack.
Once slightly cool, drape clean kitchen towel over cake to stop it from getting too crusty, though a cracked and cratered surface is to be expected.
When completely cool, loosen cake edges from pan using a metal spatula or knife.
Unmold and dust with confectioner's sugar.
Serve with Margarita Cream.

Margarita Cream 

Ingredients
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon tequila
1 tablespoon Triple sec or Cointreau
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup heavy cream

Directions 
Whip heavy cream in separate bowl until it holds its shape. Whisk in margarita mixture and keep whisking until mixture is light and aerated.
Stir lime juice, tequila, and triple sec or Cointreau together in large bowl. Whisk in confectioner's sugar and let it dissolve in the liquid.

*Superfine sugar is not powdered sugar. It's granulated sugar that is ground even finer than regular sugar. It's also known as castor sugar. To make your own, put the amount of granulated white sugar called for, plus 2 extra tsp, in the recipe and put in food processor. Process for 1-2 minutes until it feels like fine sand. Be sure and let it rest before opening your food processor.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Chocolate Chip Blueberry Pancakes

Today is Pancake Day. There are actually two or three pancake days on the calendar, but let's celebrate today! Enjoy Chocolate CHIP Blueberry Pancakes--two ways-- to celebrate this fun food holiday.

This first recipe is from Cooking Light for Perfect Buttermilk pancakes. I've added blueberries and chocolate to tweak the recipe! I usually have fresh blueberries around, but if you don't, you can use frozen blueberries. Trader Joe's has great wild blueberries that go great in this recipe. The second recipe is for Blueberry Chocolate Chip Pancakes in a Jar.

BUTTERMILK BLUEBERRY CHOCOLATE CHIP PANCAKES

Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1 cup Blueberries (less if frozen.. I like the frozen Wild Blueberries from Trader Joe's)
1/2 cup Dark Chocolate chips

Directions
Spoon flour into dry measuring cup; level with knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (flour through salt) in large bowl, and make well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk, oil, and egg; add to flour mixture, stirring until smooth.
Spoon about 1/4 cup batter onto hot nonstick griddle or nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray.
Fold in Blueberries and Chocolate Chips. Turn pancakes when tops are covered with bubbles and edges seem cooked.
***

So that's what you'll make fresh today! I'm also fond of Mixes in a Jar. Here's a quick and delicious recipe for Chocolate Blueberry Pancakes in a Jar. You can have this on hand or to give as a gift. One helpful hint, when making mixes in a jar, really pack the ingredients in. Use a tamper, if you have one...except for the dried blueberries and chocolate that you'll put on top.

CHOCOLATE CHIP BLUEBERRY PANCAKES IN A JAR

Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup dried Blueberries
2/3 cup mini dark chocolate chips

Layer flour, then sugar, then baking powder mixed with baking soda and salt in 1-quart wide-mouth jar.
Add blueberries, then chocolate chips.
Seal Jar.
Cover jar with burlap or other fabric and tie with raffia or a bow.

Attach gift tag with the following instructions:

Chocolate Blueberry Pancakes 
Makes 25 pancakes
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1-1/2 to 2 cups whole milk (or buttermilk)

Mix eggs and melted butter in large bowl. Add contents of jar. Stir until well blended. Add 1-1/2 cups milk. Stir until dry ingredients are moistened.
Heat griddle or skillet.
Pour batter onto hot griddle 1/4 cup at a time.
Cook pancakes until golden on both sides.

Monday, February 20, 2017

First Ladies' Chocolate Recipes for Presidents Day

Today is Presidents' Day. It's not any 'real' president's birthday. I find this odd. When I was growing up we celebrated both Lincoln's Birthday and Washington's Birthday on separate days. And, that also meant two days off from school, not just one. But times have changed, so to go with the flow, for this year's Presidents' Day, I'm featuring recipes by First Ladies. I had hoped there would be a First Husband this year. Oh well, hope springs eternal. Here are several Chocolate Recipes from several few first ladies. The recipes are found in the individual Presidential Archives, as well as newspapers and individual cookbooks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

***
From Michelle Obama (Barak Obama)
Michelle Obama's White and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 5 dozen cookies Bake at 375° for 12 minutes per batch

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

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

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Junior Mints Cheesecake: National Chocolate Mint Day!

Today is National Chocolate Mint Day... the perfect food holiday to write about one of my all time favorite candies -- Junior Mints.

Definition: Junior Mints are a candy consisting of small rounds of mint filling (with a dimple on one side) inside a dark chocolate coating. They are currently produced by Tootsie Roll Industries.

History: Junior Mints were introduced in 1949 by the James O. Welch Company, manufacturers of candies and candy bars such as Sugar Babies, Welch's Fudge, and Pom Poms. The name of the product is a pun on Sally Benson's Junior Miss, a collection of her stories from The New Yorker, which were adapted by Jerome Chodorov and Joseph Fields into a successful play, directed by Moss Hart. Junior Miss ran on Broadway from 1941 to 1943. In 1945, the play was adapted to film, with George Seaton directing Peggy Ann Garner in the lead role. The Junior Miss radio series, starring Barbara Whiting, was being broadcast weekly on CBS at the time Junior Mints were first marketed in 1949. Welch created a product sold at movie theater concession stands and identified with a specific movie and radio series and displaying a name that sounded almost exactly like that property–yet different enough that it avoided any fees for licensing and merchandising. Junior Mints quickly became a popular candy, and one product in the line is the three oz. box marketed as the "Theater Size Junior Mints Concession Candy."

And, of course, who can forget the Junior Mints episode of Seinfeld?

In case you want to smell like Junior Mints, not just eat them, here's a Link to the Scent.

If you want to make something close to Junior Mints in taste, I suggest these Peppermint Patties by my friend Pattie Tierney. They're not small, but they're wonderful.

And, here's a recipe that includes actual Junior Mints:

JUNIOR MINTS CHEESECAKE 

Ingredients
6 ounces. Junior Mint (two 3 ounce packages)
3 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate crumb crust for a 9 inch springform pan  (see below)

Directions
Put Junior Mints in freezer.
In electric mixer, combine cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Stir in vanilla.
Pour into crust.
Chop cold Junior Mints and sprinkle on cheesecake.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until just set.
Cool on wire rack, then chill several hours or overnight. Makes 8 servings.

Chocolate Crust: 
Combine 2 cups crushed chocolate wafers (I whirl them in the blender) with 6 Tbsp melted butter.
Press into bottom and up sides of pan.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Boozy Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

I've posted several Chocolate Cheesecake Recipes over the years from Chocolate to Double Chocolate to Triple Chocolate Cheesecake, but here's yet another -- Boozy Triple Chocolate Cheesecake. This recipe is adapted from CookingLight. The original recipe calls for reduced fat cheeses and sour cream and less sugar than my adaptation. The recipe also calls for a chocolate graham cracker crust (included below), but if you don't care about the calories or the fat, I would make a chocolate cookie crust. So here's the recipe!

Boozy Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

Ingredients
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp egg white
1 1/3 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs (about 16 crackers)
Vegetable cooking spray
3 Tbsp dark rum
3 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup chocolate syrup
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa
Raspberries or Strawberries for decoration

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°.

Crust:
Place first 3 ingredients in bowl; beat on medium speed until blended. Add crumbs; stir well. Firmly press mixture into bottom and 1 inch up sides of an 8-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes; let cool on wire rack.  (I make a chocolate cookie crust...but this one is good, too)

Filling:
Combine rum and chocolate in top of double boiler (or saucepan over saucepan over simmering water). Cook over simmering water 2 minutes or until chocolate melts, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; add chocolate syrup, stirring until smooth.
Preheat oven to 300°.
Place cream cheese in large bowl; beat at medium speed of a mixer until smooth. Add 1 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa, vanilla, and salt; beat until smooth. Add rum/chocolate mixture; beat at low speed until well-blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
Pour cheese mixture into prepared pan; bake at 300° for 40 minutes or until almost set.
Combine sour cream, 1 Tbsp, and 2 teaspoons cocoa; stir well. Turn oven off, and spread sour cream mixture over cheesecake. Let cheesecake stand for 45 minutes in oven with door closed.
Remove cheesecake from oven, and let cool to room temperature. Cover and chill at least 8 hours.
Garnish with raspberries or strawberries.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Café au Lait Coffee Cake: Café au Lait Day!

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

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

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

Café Au Lait Coffee Cake 
Recipe by Nicole Maki


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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Toasted Almond Truffles: National Almond Day

This Retro 1985 Carnation/Nestle Advertisement is for Toasted Almond Truffles. They're so easy to make. Of course, you can substitute any good chocolate in the recipe. Personally I prefer dark chocolate in these truffles.


TOASTED ALMOND TRUFFLES

Ingredients
1/2 cup undiluted CARNATION Evaporated Milk
1/4 cup sugar
One 11 1/2 oz. pkg. (2 cups) NESTLE Milk Chocolate Morsels
1/2 to 1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup finely chopped almonds, toasted

Directions
Combine evaporated milk and sugar in small heavy-gauge saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a full rolling boil. Boil 3 minutes; stir constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in morsels and almond extract until morsels melt and mixture is smooth. Chill 45 minutes. Shape into 1-inch balls. Roll in almonds. Chill until ready to serve. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen truffles.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Thin Mint Brownies: Girl Scout Cookie Time!

You can't miss them. Every street corner, every park, every office is filled with girls in green uniforms and/or mothers and fathers hawking the taste of the season: Girl Scout Cookies.

Girl Scout Cookies are hard for me to pass up. I was a Brownie and a Girl Scout, and I used to pound the pavement selling and then delivering. I was on a mission, and I went door to door alone. Those were different times, but not the cookies. I still love them. Anyway, by this time of year,  I have a cupboard filled with Samoas, Tagalongs and Thin Mints.. well, not the cupboard for the Thin Mints. I put them in the freezer. I've been freezing my Thin Mints for more years than you can imagine. Not that they're being frozen for future times. I just think they taste better that way. It's no secret that my favorite cookies are Thin Mints.

Here's a fun recipe for Thin Mints--Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies Brownies.  Plenty of other ways to use Girl Scout Cookies. Be sure and scroll down for more tips!

Thin Mint Brownies

Ingredients
3/4 cup sweet butter
3/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1/2 Box Thin Mints Girl Scout Cookies, crushed into small pieces

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter 9”x9” square baking pan.
In double boiler over low heat, melt butter and chocolate together and remove from heat.
In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients.
When chocolate/butter mixture has cooled a little, whisk in eggs and vanilla.
Note: it is important to cool chocolate/butter mixture or eggs will cook.
Add rest of dry ingredients and whisk to combine.
Pour batter into prepared baking pan.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted into center comes out clean.

Other things to do with Thin Mints:
Crush them up and use them as ice cream toppings or in cakes and cookies, truffles, and brownies.
Girl Scout Cookies are also great to use as pie crusts, in the same way you'd make a chocolate wafer cookie crust or graham cracker crust. Yum.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Red Velvet Cupcakes for Valentine's Day

Nothing says Valentine's Day quite like Red Velvet Cake. It combines that nice deep red Valentine color with Chocolate.

I've posted "Natural Red Velvet Cake Recipes" that don't use red food dye, but real Southern Red Velvet Cake cries out for the artificial red dye! One of my favorite no fail recipes (make it in a bundt pan or mini-bundt pans) is Marge's Red Velvet Cake which does use red food coloring.

Some people don't think of Red Velvet Cake as a chocolate cake but you use cocoa, so it's a cake deserving of this blog. Red Velvet Cake is made with cocoa, white vinegar, baking soda, and buttermilk, and it gets its deep color from red food dye. For some very 'Southern' tips and things about Red Velvet Cake that will surprise you, read Adrian Velez's post for CafeMom at The Stir.

So for another recipe, because variety is the spice of life, here's a slightly adapted Paula Deen recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting! I added more cocoa, because I do like them to taste a bit more chocolate-y. These are perfect for your Sweetie this Valentine's Day, and you can make ahead. Be sure and scroll down for a link to a very special Red Velvet Cake Surprise from CakeSpy!

RED VELVET CUPCAKES

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp DARK cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 Tbsp red food coloring
1 tsp white distilled vinegar
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers (or use mini-cupcake pans and double).
In medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In large bowl gently beat together oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with handheld electric mixer. Add sifted dry ingredients to wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
Divide batter evenly among cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning pans once, half way through. Test cupcakes with  toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

For Cream Cheese Frosting:
In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together until smooth. Add sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

Paula Deen tops her cupcakes with nuts, but I suggest sprinkling with Red Velvet Cake Crumbs!

Want to try something really wacky and delicious? CakeSpy has a fabulous recipe for a Red Velvet Shake! Forget about your arteries. Ice-cream, milk, and a big piece of red velvet cake! Heaven. Now you know what to do with that last cupcake or piece of cake!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Valentine's Day Chocolate Cherry Layer Cake: Retro Ad & Recipe

I love this Retro Ad & Recipe for Valentine's Day Cake for Catch-a-Valentine Cake. So pretty and yummy. But it's not chocolate! So I decided to post the photo and original recipe (scroll down), but I've also added a link to a wonderful recipe for Chocolate Cherry Layer Cake for Valentine's Day from Serious Eats. So plan your Valentine's Day celebration and make one or both of these delicious Valentine's Day Cakes.

Catch a Valentine Cake! 


Chocolate Cherry Layer Cake

I love this recipe for Chocolate Cherry Layer Cake from Serious Eats. Tart Cherry Juice is a new ingredient in chocolate cake for me, but maybe it shouldn't be. The tart cherries bring out the earthy chocolate. I drink tart cherry juice, so it's a staple in my fridge. You won't really taste the cherry in the cake, but it's there, and it does subtly change the chocolate flavor. This recipe also calls for natural cocoa powder. Serious Eats suggests Valrhona Cocoa or Cacao Barry Extra Brute, but you can use Guittard or Ghirardelli...or whatever you have. Of course, the better your ingredients, the better the cake.

For the Serious Eats recipe, tips, and step by step directions, go HERE.


Chocolate Fondue with a Twist

Fondue is so retro! How fun this would be for your romantic Valentine's Day dinner! I know there's cheese fondue, but my favorite is, of course, Chocolate Fondue. Who doesn't like to dip things in chocolate? So pull up a chair at your mid-century table you found at the Flea Market, and enjoy!

A few tips: You can make everything ahead of time: cut up the fruit, put out the marshmallows, and other dippers. Be sure and have lots of napkins on hand, it can get messy. Fondue pots are readily available at most kitchen stores and many hardware stores, and online, of course. Or.. search the attic or ask your mother. You're bound to find one -- maybe even one that's never been used!

Here are two easy Chocolate Fondue Recipes--with a Twist!

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL FONDUE

Ingredients
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 jar Recchiuti burnt caramel sauce (I'm partial to this sauce)*
 3 ounces extra dark chocolate (75% cacao), chopped
Assorted fresh fruit

Directions
Combine condensed milk, caramel sauce and chocolate in saucepan. Cook over low heat until chocolate is melted.
Put in fondue pot and keep warm.

Serve fresh fruit--strawberries, bananas, pineapple, oranges for dipping!

More suggested dippers: marshmallows, pound cake, pretzels, biscotti

EASY CHOCOLATE BOOZY FONDUE
Adapted from Rachael Ray

Ingredients
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
12-15 ounces dark chocolate bars, chopped
2 Tbsp Amaretto or Kirsch
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

Directions
Heat 1/2 cup cream in heavy saucepan over moderate heat until cream comes to low boil.
Remove pan from heat and add chocolate.
Let chocolate stand in hot cream 3 to 5 minutes to soften, then whisk chocolate together with cream. Stir in liqueur and chopped nuts and transfer to fondue pot.

Dip fruit and other goodies as above. Use fondue forks, skewers, or seafood forks

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Valentine's Day - No Comment

Cartoon of the Day: Valentine's Day - No Comment


Dark Chocolate Biscotti: Three Recipes

Today is National Biscotti Day.  Biscotti are twice baked Italian cookies, primarily almond cookies. After the dough is baked in a loaf, it is sliced and the slices (biscotti) are baked again. Biscotto means Biscuit or Cookie to us in the U.K. & U.S., so Chocolate Biscotti are the best way to celebrate today's Almond Cookie Day! The root words "bis" and "cotto" literally mean "twice" and "baked." When Italians first created biscotti in Tuscany centuries ago, they were careful to bake the cookies twice, in order to form their unique shape and allow the cookies to develop their signature crisp texture.

Here are three great Dark Chocolate Biscotti recipes. Enjoy!

1. DARK CHOCOLATE BISCOTTI

Ingredients
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup sweet butter, softened
about 12 ounces of good dark chocolate, melted
3 eggs
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup finely chopped almonds

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F
Combine sugar and butter in large bowl; beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed; Add 2 cups melted dark chocolate, eggs, and vanilla; continue beating until well mixed.
Reduce speed to low; add flour, baking powder and salt; beat until well mixed; stir in nuts by hand.
Divide dough into three equal pieces. Shape each 1/3 into a 12 " long roll.
Place rolls 5 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet (you'll probably need 2 cookie sheets); flatten each roll to 2-inch width; bake for 25 minutes or until set.
Cool on cookie sheet 15 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 300°F; Cut rolls diagonally into 1/2-inch slices with serrated knife.
Place on cookie sheet, cut-side down; bake for 10 minutes; turn slices; continue baking for 12 to 15 minutes or until dry and crisp; cool completely.

I also found a recipe on Eggs on Sunday that is an adaptation of Dorie Greenspan's Baking from My Home to Yours biscotti recipe. Amy gives some tips for making these biscotti that also work with the recipe above. She whisks all the dry ingredients together rather than sifting to break up lumps. She then creams together the butter and sugar for 2 minutes. (Butter should be room temperature).

Check out her Step-by-Step: My Favorite Chocolate Biscotti for helpful tips and great photos.

Tip from Amy: Since you're going to bake the logs whole and then cut them into individual biscotti, score the logs about halfway down before putting them in to bake! It makes it a lot easier and with much less cracking. Use this tip with the biscotti recipe above, too!

I've changed a few things in this recipe, too

2. DARK CHOCOLATE BISCOTTI

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (use a high grade dark cocoa)
2 Tbsp instant coffee or instant espresso powder (I keep some in the pantry for just this type of recipe)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 Tbsp sweet butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped almonds
4 oz dark chocolate (70% organic/fair trade), coarsely chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment or use silicone baking mat.
Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, coffee powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
With stand mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium speed about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and add eggs and vanilla; beat for another 2 minutes. Decrease speed to low and mix in dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until dough forms. Scrape down sides of the bowl and mix in chopped nuts and chocolate.
Turn dough out onto work surface and knead few times to pull dough together into ball. Divide into two portions; shape each portion into 12 x 2 inch log. Place each log on baking sheet. At this point, score log with knife where you plan to cut it into biscotti-- this helps to cut it later without it cracking. Bake for 25 minutes.
Remove sheet from oven and let cool on rack for 20 minutes. Then, slice logs diagonally into 3/4-inch thick slices and leave slices standing up on baking sheet. Return to oven for another 15 minutes of baking. (notice this is a different technique than the recipe above. If the slices are thinner, they won't stand up)
Transfer biscotti to a rack to cool.

3. TRIPLE CHOCOLATE BISCOTTI
This is Paula Shoyer's Triple Chocolate Biscotti recipe from The New Passover Menu cookbook. Paula wrote a guest post for DyingforChocolate on March 21, 2015. Be sure and read the entire post--and buy the Cookbook. Great recipes for Passover or any time!

Ingredients
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp vanilla sugar (see cookbook)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 Tbsp potato starch
1 1/2 cups ground almonds (see cookbook)
1/4 tsp salt 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate. Remove chocolate from heat source, add sugar and oil, and whisk well. Add eggs and mix. Add vanilla sugar, cocoa, potato starch, ground almonds, and salt and mix well. Add chocolate chips and mix to distribute them.
Divide dough in half and shape into two loaves, each about 9 x 3 inches (23 x 7.5cm). Place both loaves on lined jelly roll pan and bake for 30 minutes. Let loaves cool for 10 minutes (do not turn off oven). Cut each loaf crosswise into 3/4 - to 1-inch-thick slices. Place cookies, cut side up, on  parchment-covered cookie sheet (or jelly roll pan again). Bake for another 14 minutes, or until  cookies are firm to touch on outside but still feel soft on the inside. Check  after 10 to 12 minutes so that you don’t overbake.
Read more about technique and ingredients HERE.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Valentine's Day Chocolates for Cats


Red Velvet Pancakes for Valentine's Day

Red Velvet Pancakes are perfect for Valentine's Day --either for brunch or breakfast for dinner! You can make Red Velvet Pancakes from scratch or use a mix. Add a little extra love by using a heart-shaped pancake mold! Hint: If you use a mold, use several and spray the molds, so the pancakes don't stick.

There are many Red Velvet Pancake Mixes. My favorite Red Velvet Pancake Mix is from The Griddle Cafe, but they're sold out right now. My second choice which is still fab would be the Red Velvet Pancake Mix from Cost Plus World Market which is on sale today 2/11).

Want to make Red Velvet Pancakes from Scratch? Here are two awesome recipes. The first recipe is my favorite, but the second is great, too. Let me know which you like best!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Friday, February 10, 2017

Mickey & Minnie Valentine's Day Chocolate Cookies

There's nothing quite like a good Chocolate Cookie for Valentine's Day. I make a lot of Heart shaped Chocolate Cookies for Valentine's Day. I always think it's fun to use different Heart Cookie Cutters, so you have different sizes and different shaped hearts. What says Valentine's Day more than the ultimate couple -- Mickey & Minnie Mouse! Love these Mickey and Minnie cookie cutters!

Here's a great easy Chocolate Cookie Recipe. Use whatever cookie cutters you have.. I'm using Mickey & Minnie!

This great Chocolate Cut Out Cookie Recipe is slightly adapted from Bake @ 350. These cookies hold their shape and are delicious!

CHOCOLATE COOKIES

Ingredients
2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dark cocoa powder (Dutch Process)
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt (I use course seasalt)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Directions
Preheat oven to 350.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cream together butter and sugar until light & fluffy (1-2 full minutes). Beat in egg and vanilla until well combined.
Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, espresso, and salt and slowly add to butter mixture with mixer on low. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl as needed.
Roll dough about 1/4 inch thick on surface lightly dusted with cocoa powder. Hint: roll soft dough in between sheets of parchment and put in refrigerator for 15 minutes until firm.
Cut out shapes and put on baking sheets.
Freeze for 5 minutes (optional) 
Bake for 8-10 minutes, until set.
Let cookies cool for 2-3 minutes and using spatula put on cooling rack.

I don't frost my chocolate cookies, but these cutters would guide the way. I know you'll love the great chocolate taste in these cookies!

What cookie cutters are you planning to use for Valentine's Day?

Ode to Chocolate Stouts: Happy Valentine's Day!

With Valentine's Day coming up next week, I was happy to receive this Ode to Chocolate Stout from Rogue Ales & Spirits. Photo and Poem shared with permission. So grab a bottle of Rogue Chocolate Stout or Double Chocolate Stout and Celebrate!


An Ode To Chocolate Stouts

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the honey, malts and oat
That in a pint my nose and tongue can note
On these cold and dark February days.
I love thee to the level of my thirst
Upon sitting at the bar after work.
I love thee freely, as joyful men do toast;
I love purely, as your taste we praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In the big old brewery on the bay.
I love thy rich, indulgent chocolate pour
And thy dark and decadent velvet foam
Which in this snowy winter keeps me warm
And makes the perfect dessert treat at home.


Celebrate your love for Rogue's Chocolate Stout and Double Chocolate Stout this Valentine’s Day.

Bourbon Cream Cheese Brownies: National Cream Cheese Brownies Day

Today is National Cream Cheese Brownies Day. I've posted several different recipes for Cream Cheese Brownies including ones from scratch, ones using box brownie mixes, and a one-bowl recipe.

This recipe, adapted from Southern Living December 2011, is for Bourbon Cream Cheese Brownies. Delicious and easy! I've changed some of the measurements, and I've added pecans, but feel free to adapt what you'd like!

Bourbon Cream Cheese Brownies

Ingredients
5 ounces dark chocolate (60% cacao or higher)
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 - 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 large eggs, divided
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 cup bourbon
1 cup chopped pecans

Directions
Preheat oven to 350° Line bottom and sides of 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil, allowing 2 to 3 inches to extend over sides; lightly grease foil.
Melt chocolate and butter in top of double boiler or saucepan on top of saucepan with simmering water. Whisk in brown sugar and 1 cup granulated sugar. Add 3 eggs, 1 at time, whisking just until blended after each addition. Whisk in vanilla, salt, and 1 cup flour. Fold in pecans. Spread half of batter in prepared pan.
Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth; add 2 Tbsp flour and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, beating until blended. Add bourbon and remaining 1 egg, beating until blended.
Pour cream cheese mixture over brownie batter in pan; top with remaining brownie batter, and swirl together. Once through-- don't overswirl.
Bake at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs.
Cool completely in pan on wire rack (about 1 hour). Lift brownies from pan, using foil sides as handles. Remove foil; cut into squares.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Chocolate Covered Stuffed Strawberries: Marscapone, Cookie Dough, Cheesecake, & More

With Valentine's Day less than a week away, I thought I'd re-post one of my favorite recipes. I love Strawberries, and I think you can't get more romantic than Chocolate Covered Strawberries. This year, I'm suggesting you get even more imaginative and stuff the strawberries with something wonderful such as cheesecake filling, marscapone, tiramasu, or cookie dough! Yes, cookie dough!

I'm not offering any real directions on how to do this, but I have a few hints. Pick lovely whole plump strawberries. Wash them and pat dry with paper towels. Melt the chocolate (good quality) with a little cream or butter..or just chocolate.. see past recipes. Dip in the chocolate (3/4 way up) before stuffing and put chocolate covered strawberries on wax paper covered cookie sheet. Put in  refrigerator for a few hours before cutting and stuffing. Of course, you don't have to dip them in chocolate. They're perfectly wonderful stuffed without.

Now for stuffing: Cut off the stem of strawberry and hollow out the inside. Take pastry bag or plastic bag with a corner cut out and pipe in the filling.

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries: You can make regular cheesecake filling and add some crushed graham crackers for authenticity, or not. Straight Cheesecake filling is great, too!  Make it easy on yourself, and buy something like Ready to Eat Cheesecake Filling or whip some cream cheese with a little vanilla and cream and sugar and sprinkle in some crushed grahams. No exact measurements. Tasting is the best judge! Be sure and leave enough time to chill the Cheesecake Filling before stuffing the finished Chocolate Covered Strawberries.

For the Cookie Dough Strawberries, follow the same procedure. You might want to dip these strawberries in milk chocolate and sprinkle with mini chocolate chips. I'm a dark chocolate fan, no matter what, but it's a suggestion!

Get Creative: For the Marscapone or Tiramasu fillings, follow the same directions as for Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries. Recently I used Bellweather Farms Ricotta... yum!

What fillings will you use?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Chocolate Valentine's Day PEEPS!

I know you can buy all kinds of fabulous chocolates for Valentine's Day. I have a whole lot of favorites, but just thought I'd lighten it up with Valentine's Day 'chocolate' offerings from PEEPS®. 

I've blogged about PEEPS before, and I love that they've expanded their line to include many holidays besides Easter. The Valentine's Day PEEPS are great.

A few ways to enjoy PEEPS for Valentine's Day!

Eat them the way they are.
Put them in your cocoa or coffee.
Decorate your Valentine's Day presents with them.
Skewer a few Raspberry Hearts and tie it to a gift of Cocoa in a Jar!
Create a diorama using PEEPS!
Stuff a Chocolate Raspberry Heart between two graham crackers, and you have Valentine's Day PEEPS S'mores.
And, you can Place a Valentine's Day Peep in a cellophane bag, tie with a ribbon, and have the kids give these as Valentine's Day cards.
PEEPS are so versatile.

This season there are Valentine's Day fluffy, cherry flavored marshmallow hearts dipped in and drizzled with chocolate, Strawberry Creme flavored Chicks sitting on a bed of chocolate, and there's even a Chocolate-covered Raspberry Heart. Of course there are other non-chocolate PEEPS' hearts that you can dip yourself in some great dark or milk chocolate.

The PEEPS® pictured here:

Milk Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Crème Flavored Chicks
Milk Chocolate Covered Raspberry Heart
Chocolate Dipped Marshmallow Cherries Drizzled in Chocolate. .



Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

No-Bake Double Chocolate Cherry Tart

Photo: Taza Chocolate
This No-Bake Double Chocolate Cherry Tart is an all-time showstopper! It's easy and delicious. Make it for Valentine's Day or any time! Recipe is from Taza, my go-to chocolate (Taza 70% Mexicano is always in my desk). My local market has fresh cherries all year round, but if you're a locavore, you can substitute fresh raspberries or strawberries.

NO-BAKE CHOCOLATE CHERRY TART
Makes 1 – 11 inch tart 

Ingredients
30 Oreos or other sandwich cookies
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 1/2 pints heavy cream
Taza 60% Dominican Stone Ground Chocolate bars, chopped (plus additional to melt for drizzling if desired)
1 pound cherries, pitted

Directions

Crust:
Process cookies in food processor until fine crumb.
Place in bowl and drizzle melted butter over them, and stir to combine.
Press into 11 inch tart pan and put in refrigerator to cool.

Tart Filling:
Combine heavy cream and chocolate in small saucepan over medium-low heat and stir occasionally until fully incorporated. Allow to cool slightly then pour into crust.
Place pitted cherries on top of tart and let sit for 2 hours, or overnight.
Drizzle with additional melted chocolate if desired.

How easy is that?

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Cherry Port Heart-Shaped Brownies for Valentine's Day

Here's a great brownie recipe for Valentine's Day--Cherry Port Brownies. Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens. Want to make these special? Use a 3" heart-shaped cookie cutter to make Brownie Hearts. The photo is from Betty Crocker, and their recipe uses the Betty Crocker Brownie Mix. That's a big shortcut. It's up to you. You can always use the mix and add some dried cherries soaked in port. Another festive touch is to sprinkle with powdered cocoa or red crystallized sugar or drizzle with red icing after the brownies have cooled.

CHERRY PORT HEART-SHAPED BROWNIES

Ingredients
2 Tbsp port
1/2 cup dried cherries
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, cold
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (about 3/4 cup)

Directions 
Position oven rack in center of oven; preheat to 325 degrees F.
Line 8x8x2-inch pan with foil. Butter foil; set aside.
In small saucepan, bring port and water to boiling. Add dried cherries; cook and stir over low heat until fruit is soft and plump and liquid evaporates. Using spatula, scrape cherries into bowl; set aside to cool.
Set heatproof bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water (be sure water doesn't touch bottom of bowl). Place butter in bowl; scatter 6 ounces chocolate over butter. Heat until chocolate is almost melted (you do not want to heat the mixture so much that the butter and chocolate separate). Remove bowl from heat. Stir until butter and chocolate are smooth. Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated. Add eggs one at a time, stirring until batter is smooth and glossy. Whisk in salt. Gently whisk in flour, stirring only until it disappears into the batter.
Using spatula, stir in port-soaked cherries (and any liquid that accumulated) and remaining 4 1/2 oz. chopped chocolate.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top as much as possible.
Bake 35 minutes.
Transfer pan to wire rack; cool to room temperature.
Invert brownies onto cutting board; gently peel away foil
Turn brownies over. Cut into squares or use 3" heart shaped cookie cutter. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Easy Any Time Nutella Cookies: World Nutella Day

Today is World Nutella Day. Nutella is a hazelnut-chocolate spread with the consistency of smooth peanut butter. FYI: Nutella has no artificial colors or preservatives. I think of nutella as goodness in a jar! Nutella is more than just a “chocolaty hazelnut spread,” it is a way of life.

Want to know more about Nutella and today's celebration? Check out these links!
I'm a fan of Cost Plus World Market, so I signed up for their emails. A few years ago, this recipe popped up in my inbox for Easy Anytime Nutella Cookies from Chef Katie Chin of the Sweet and Sour Chonicles for World Market. As I've mentioned, exciting and delicious recipes are everywhere! You just have to find them. 


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Chocolate Chip Coconut Carrot Cake

Yesterday was National Carrot Cake Day! I've always loved carrots, and growing up I was called Rabbit by some family members. This is a great 1928 vintage ad from the Ladies' Home Journal,  for a Coconut Carrot Cake. Of course, for my recipe I had to add chocolate: cocoa and chocolate chips. All the great food groups in this one, especially with the cream cheese frosting! I also baked it in one large pan rather than in tiers.


CHOCOLATE CHIP COCONUT CARROT CAKE

Ingredients
1 cup sweet butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
2 tbsp DARK cocoa
1/2 cup water
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
2 c. shredded carrots
3/4 cups chopped nuts
1/3 cup coconut
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sweet butter, room temperature
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time; beating well after each addition.
Sift dry ingredients together; add to creamed mixture alternately with water and vanilla.
Fold in carrots, nuts, coconut, and chocolate chips.
Pour into 9"x13" baking pan. Bake for 45 minutes. 
Cool and frost with cream cheese frosting.

For Frosting
Combine cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and mix until blended.
Scrape down bowl and add sifted powdered sugar.
Mix until smooth.