Monday, July 16, 2018

NO-BAKE DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHERRY TART: National Cherry Day


This No-Bake Double Chocolate Cherry Tart is an all-time showstopper! It's easy and delicious. I usually make it for Valentine's Day, but since today is National Cherry Day, it's perfect! Recipe is from Taza, my go-to chocolate (Taza 70% Mexicano is always in my desk). Cherries are in the markets right now, but if there aren't any fresh ones in your area, you can substitute fresh raspberries or strawberries.

NO-BAKE DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHERRY TART

Ingredients
30 Oreos or other sandwich cookies
3 Tbsp unsalted 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?

Photo: Taza Chocolate

Sunday, July 15, 2018

HOMEMADE MAGIC CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM: Retro Ad & Recipe for National Ice Cream Day

Today is National Ice Cream Day. In order to celebrate, I dug into my retro advertising files and found this wonderful Borden's Eagle Brand recipe from August 8, 1941 for Magic Chocolate Ice Cream. I love Elsie the Cow, and I would definitely take her advice to bring "homemade ice cream to the social." Luckily, I have an automatic refrigerator! Gotta love these 'story' ads. "If it's Borden's, it's got to be good." No need for an ice cream machine.






10 ICE CREAM TRICKS FROM BEN & JERRY'S: National Ice Cream Day

Today is Ice Cream Day, but if you're like me, every day is Ice Cream Day. Check out your local ice cream shop for specials and freebies!

Here are some 10 Ice Cream Tricks from Ben & Jerry's, starting with an easy way of making ice cream sandwiches without all the mess:

1. Grab a pint, get a hold of a giant knife, and cut the pint into circular slices. Because you’re obviously a dessert pro, you already have some delicious cookies ready to go. 


2. Have a half pint left in the freezer? You COULD dig in and methodically and dutifully deposit an equal number of scoops in each of your bowls. OR you could take a sturdy knife and cut that pint right down the middle lengthwise. Instant gratification.

Read on for 8 more fabulous Ice Cream Tricks.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

GRAND MARNIER TRUFFLES: Grand Marnier Day

Today is Bastille Day, but it's also Grand Marnier Day, so here's an easy recipe for Grand Marnier Truffles to celebrate both.

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

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

GRAND MARNIER TRUFFLES

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

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

This recipe can be doubled.

Experiment with different chocolate -- brands and amount of cacao -- for different flavor.

Friday, July 13, 2018

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE CREPES for Bastille Day

Tomorrow is Bastille Day, and you might want to be ready to make something "French." I have lots of 'French' recipes, but what could be more French than Crepes for Bastille Day? Just as the bricks came tumbling down when the French stormed the Bastille, ice cream and chocolate will tumble from your fork when you cut into these fabulous Triple Chocolate Crepes for the Bastille Day Holiday. Crepes a la Bastille!

CREPES A LA BASTILLE

Crepes
Ingredients
2 cups whole milk
2 eggs
2-1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 ounce dark chocolate (65-75% cacao), melted
1-1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup high quality DARK cocoa 

1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt


Making the Crepes
Melt butter & chocolate together, mixing to combine and smooth out chocolate. 

In large bowl, combine milk and eggs. 
In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients.
Whisk together milk and eggs with dry ingredients, continue whisking incorporating butter and chocolate mixture.
Cover and refrigerate at least an hour, or overnight. 

Be sure to re-whisk batter before cooking the crepes.

Cooking the Crepes
Butter a hot frying pan (small or medium) or crepe pan, then wipe out excess butter with paper towel so it is sort of dry

Pour in small amount of crepe batter and tilt pan as needed so batter spreads and covers bottom of pan. As edges begin to turn up, flip crepe with spatula for few seconds to cook other side.

Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp honey
3 ounces Dark chocolate (65-75% cacao), chopped

Directions
Combine cream and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook 3 minutes or until tiny bubbles form around edge of pan, stirring frequently (do not boil).
Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate until smooth.

Fill Crepes with Dark Chocolate Ice Cream or Chocolate Ganache and Drizzle with Chocolate Sauce.
Viva La France!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

PALEO ESPRESSO BROWNIES: Guest post by Libby Klein

If you follow my blog, you know I love when my mystery and chocolate worlds collide. Well, here's another instance. Today I welcome Libby Klein, author of the Poppy McAlister Mysteries, with a recipe for Paleo Espresso Brownies! The second in her series, Midnight Snacks are Murder, will be out July 31.

Libby Klein:

I have had a long love affair with chocolate. I know the experts say a true chocolate aficionado goes for very dark chocolate, but I love a creamy melty milk chocolate. My favorite form of chocolate is the truffle. Add some boozy filling or praline and I want to swoon. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease where I can’t have gluten or dairy. Well holy mackerel! Just cut off my hand instead! I’ve made a lot of adjustments to my diet, and I was so happy to discover that chocolate is one of the easiest ingredients to work with when going Paleo or Gluten Free. Cocoa powder can magically replace much of the flour in a recipe, and brownies and flourless chocolate cake can be built on the foundation of sugar and eggs. And there are plenty of dairy free chocolate ingredients to work with.

In my Poppy McAllister Mysteries, Poppy also has an autoimmune disease and can’t have gluten or dairy (What a coincidence!) When she’s not wrangling Aunt Ginny or Figaro to keep them out of trouble, she’s baking up Paleo and Gluten Free yummies. This is a gluten free chocolate recipe from Poppy’s kitchen in Midnight Snacks Are Murder, release date July 31 2018. It would be very easy to modify this for cheesecake brownies (if you can have dairy) or Peanut butter Brownies (if you can have peanuts.) Poppy likes to add a shot of espresso to deepen the chocolate flavor. Even though she has her own espresso machine, it still gives her an excuse to go see Gia at La Dolce Vida.

Paleo Espresso Brownies 

 Ingredients:
4 large eggs
1 cup coconut sugar
1 cup honey
*8 ounces melted butter or coconut oil
1 ¼ cups cocoa, sifted
1 scraped vanilla bean
½ cup tapioca starch
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 shot espresso (use 1 teaspoon of coffee extract or ¼ cup coffee if you don’t have espresso)
pinch cayenne
1 pkg allergy friendly chocolate chips (or 1 ½ cups of chopped dark chocolate)

*Use coconut oil if you are a Paleo purist. Refined coconut oil has no taste and won’t influence the flavor of the brownies.

Directions: 
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Butter and flour (or PAM) an 8-inch square pan. (or line the pan with parchment paper)
In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs at medium speed until fluffy and light yellow. Add sugars and honey. Beat until well combined.
Add remaining ingredients and mix to combine.
Pour the batter into a prepared 8-inch square pan and bake for 45 minutes.
Check for doneness with the tried-and-true toothpick method: a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan should come out clean. When it's done, remove to a rack to cool. Resist the temptation to cut into it until it's mostly cool.

***

Libby Klein graduated Lower Cape May Regional High School sometime in the ’80s. Her classes revolved mostly around the culinary sciences and theater, with the occasional nap in Chemistry. She has worked as a stay at home mom, climbing the ladder up the ranks to the coveted position of Grandma. She also dabbles in the position of Vice President of a technology company which mostly involves bossing other people around, making spreadsheets and taking out the trash. She writes from her Northern Virginia office while trying to keep her cat Figaro off her keyboard Most of her hobbies revolve around eating, and travel, and eating while traveling.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

BLUEBERRY CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS: National Blueberry Muffin Day!

Today is Blueberry Muffin Day, and this month is Blueberry Month, so celebrate! I'm a major blueberry person from way back, even before I knew they were healthy with antioxidants and flavonoids and vitamins. I grew up back East, and when we went to the 'country,' my Aunt Annie used to take us blueberry hunting in the woods. It was great fun. We'd all come back with blue-stained hands and mouths. Those blueberries were small and juicy and sweet as wild blueberries should be. I still crave blueberries. Local blueberries are at the farmers' market right now, and for frozen blueberries, I usually freeze my own, but in a pinch the wild blueberries from Maine at Trader Joe's are very tasty.

For National Blueberry Muffin Day, use fresh blueberries in these muffin recipes. I am partial to plain muffins with blueberries and chocolate chips, so the first recipe is the one I use. But since this is a chocolate blog, I found a recipe for chocolate blueberry muffins, too. I haven't made that one, so let me know what you think if you do.

Here's my recipe for Blueberry Chocolate Chip Muffins. I like my muffins firm with a crusty top and soft inside--and not too sweet. I think you'll like these. I use a 1/2 cup of sugar, but if you want them a little sweeter use 3/4 cup. Don't want your blueberries to sink to the bottom? Dust them with flour before putting them in the batter.

Blueberry Chocolate Chunk Muffins


Ingredients
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup white sugar
pinch of salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1/3 cup whole milk
fresh blueberries (maybe a cup?)
dark chocolate, chopped into chunks (or chocolate chips)

Directions
Preheat oven to 400. Grease your muffin tin or use liners.
Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Make a well in the center.
Put oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg (already whipped), and enough milk to fill cup to brim. Pour into the well and mix with flour mixture. Do not overmix.
Stir in blueberries and as many of the chocolate chips as you'd like. I like a lot, but you want to also be able to taste the blueberries--and the muffin, itself.
Fill muffin cups right to top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes in preheated oven-- or until done.

So that's my favorite, but for those who want a chocolate muffin with blueberries, here's a recipe from Yankee Magazine. As I mentioned, I haven't tried this yet, but it looks easy and good.

Chocolate Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 ounces unsweetened or very dark chocolate
1 cup sugar (I'd probably use less)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In medium saucepan, melt butter and unsweetened chocolate over medium heat until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Stir in sugar, egg, buttermilk, and vanilla. In small bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Gently combine with liquid ingredients. Fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into well-greased muffin cups, filling to top. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer muffins to wire rack to cool. Drizzle cooled muffins with semisweet chocolate.

Have a great Blueberry Muffin Day--make it Chocolate!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

PINA COLADA FUDGE: National Pina Colada Day!

Today is National Piña Colada Day! Definitely a holiday I can get behind. So how to add Chocolate? Easy... Piña Colada Fudge! Here's a simple recipe for Pina Colada Fudge that includes one of my sweet favorites--marshmallow creme (marshmallow fluff). As always, use the very best white chocolate--not the artificial white chocolate disks.

PINA COLADA FUDGE

Ingredients
1 pound chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips
3/4 cup marshmallow crème or fluff
1 cup shredded coconut, (unsweetened)
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon rum (or rum extract)
3/4 teaspoon coconut extract
7 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped dried pineapple

Directions
Line 8-by-8-inch pan with aluminum foil, and spray foil with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
In large microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate in microwave, stirring after every 30 seconds to prevent overheating. Stir until chocolate is smooth and completely free of lumps. Add marshmallow crème, coconut, butter, extracts, sweetened condensed milk, and salt; stir until butter melts and everything is combined. Add chopped pineapple at the end and stir to combine evenly.
Pour fudge into prepared pan, and smooth into even layer.
Allow fudge to set at room temperature overnight, or in refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours.
Once set, lift fudge from pan using foil as handles.
Use sharp knife to cut fudge into 1-inch squares to serve.

***
And to sing along while you make the fudge!

 

Monday, July 9, 2018

CHOCOLATE SUGAR COOKIES: 3 recipes for National Sugar Cookie Day

For me there's nothing quite like a Sugar Cookie, and, if you add Chocolate it's even better! Of course, one can never have too many recipes for this perfect cookie. So today for National Sugar Cookie Day, here are three recipes for Chocolate Sugar Cookies.

1. CHOCOLATE SUGAR COOKIES

Ingredients
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp flour
3/4 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
14 Tbsp unsalted butter
1-3/4 cups dark brown sugar (packed)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In shallow bowl, put granulated sugar on plate. Set aside.
In bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder.
In large bowl, melt 10 Tbsp butter in microwave. Do not overheat; microwave butter until just melted. Stir in remaining 4 Tbsp butter until melted. Allow butter to cool for 10-15 minutes.
Whisk brown sugar, vanilla and salt into melted butter until smooth. Whisk in egg and egg yolk until smooth. Stir in flour mixture until just combined.
Roll dough into balls -- 2 Tbsp for each cookie. Roll balls in white sugar and place on lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets.
Flatten cookies to 1/4-inch thick.
Sprinkle cookies with more white sugar.
Bake 12-14 minutes. Don't overbake.
Transfer to wire rack to cool.

2. CHOCOLATE SUGAR COOKIES

Ingredients
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
5 ounces unsweetened or very dark Chocolate, chopped
1 cup unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions
Mix flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Melt chocolate and butter together in a stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or in a double boiler).
Add 1 cup sugar, egg, and vanilla; mix well.
Stir in flour mixture until well blended.
Refrigerate 15 minutes or until dough is easy to handle.
Heat oven to 375°F.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in remaining sugar.
Place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 min. or until centers are set.
Cool on baking sheets 1 minute.
Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

This third cookie recipe is for Chocolate Caramel Sugar Cookies! This easy recipe is adapted from Kraft. Feel free to use Kraft products such as the caramels and Planters Pecans-- or use your favorite caramels and nuts.

3. CHOCOLATE CARAMEL SUGAR COOKIES

Ingredients
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
4 ounces very dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cups sugar, divided
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped Planter Pecans
14 ounces KRAFT caramels
2 Tbsp milk

Directions
Mix flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on High for 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Add 1 cup sugar, egg, and vanilla; mix well. Stir in flour mixture until well blended.
Refrigerate 15 minutes or until dough is easy to handle.
Heat oven to 375°F.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in 1/2 cup chopped Pecans.
Place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets. Make indentation in each ball.
Bake 8 to 10 min. or until centers are set.
Microwave 1 package Kraft Caramels with 2 Tbsp milk in microwaveable bowl on High for 3 minutes or until caramels are melted..stirring after 2 minutes.
Spoon into centers of cookies.
(Drizzle with extra melted chocolate, if you feel inclined)
Cool on baking sheets 1 minute.
Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Velvet Almond Fudge Pie: Retro Ad & Recipe

Today is National Chocolate with Almonds Day, and this Retro Ad and Recipe from Jell-O and Blue Diamond Almonds for Velvet Almond Fudge Pie is the perfect way to celebrate!

Velvet Almond Fudge Pie

"This is an extraordinary pie — incredibly chocolatey, incredibly rich, with the delectable crunch of almonds. What makes this pie so deliciously chocolatey and so extraordinarily rich is the delicious chocolate flavor you bake in with Jell-O brand chocolate fudge flavor pudding and pie filling and chocolate chips. And you bake in the delicious crunch of Blue Diamond almonds, too." 


Ingredients 
1 cup almonds
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 unbaked 8″ pie shell
1 pkg. Jello brand chocolate fudge chocolate pudding pie filling
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted

Directions
Chop almonds and toast at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Set aside. Blend together until smooth; pie filling mix, corn syrup, milk, egg and chips. Add almonds and pour into pie shell. Bake at 375 degrees about 45 minutes or until top is firm and begins to crack. Cool at least 4 hours. Garnish with whipped topping, if desired.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

GUITTARD'S BEST BROWNIES: World Chocolate Day

Today is World Chocolate Day. There is great chocolate from all over the world, but I thought I'd feature my favorite baking chocolate--Guittard--which is close to home.

The Guittard Chocolate Company, based in Burlingame, CA, is celebrating 150 years, so it's not surprising that they have developed some fabulous chocolate. They've been crafting chocolate for five generations, using a combination of a time-tested craft, innovative techniques, long-standing relationships and a complete obsession with making a premium chocolate that delivers a spectrum of flavor for a variety of applications.

I often use their cocoa, bars, chips, and wafers, and I really love their Collection Etienne Chocolate. Their 100 precent cacao bars are amazing, but they also make 64 and 70% bars--all fair trade-certified, non-GMO, kosher and whatever else you want on the label. These are also available as wafers. I love this company! So here are two recipes from Guittard for incredible Collection Etienne Brownies. You will marvel at the intense chocolate flavor in both. The first recipe is my favorite, since it's fudgy. The second recipe is more cake-like, but equally fab...just different. Let me know which you prefer.

Incredible Collection Etienne Best Brownies Ever!

Ingredients
6 ounces Guittard Collection Etienne unsweetened chocolate (100-percent cacao), broken into pieces
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9-by-9-inch pan with foil, covering bottom and extending up sides.
In double boiler set over hot, not boiling water, melt chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Set aside.
Using electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt at high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until light and creamy. Blend in melted chocolate at low speed, stopping to scrape sides as needed. Add flour just until incorporated.
Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until top is puffed and cracked, and toothpick inserted in center test moist. Brownies will set as they cool. Cool before cutting.

Best Cake-Like Collection Etienne Brownies

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups (8 oz) Collection Etienne 74% Cacoa Organic Bittersweet Chocolate Wafers
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups evaporated cane sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temp
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour.

Directions
Preheat oven to 350. Line 8-inch square pan with foil
Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler until smooth and melted.
Transfer to large bowl of electric mixer. Mix in sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, blending until smooth and glossy, stopping to scrape sides as needed. Add flour until just incorporated.
Spread into prepared pan. Bake 25-30 minutes or until puffed around edges and cater tests most. Do not overtake. Cool before cutting.

Friday, July 6, 2018

CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE with BRANDY SAUCE: Guest Post by Daryl Wood Gerber

My chocolate and mystery worlds collide again! Today I welcome back mystery author Daryl Wood Gerber. Agatha Award-winning Daryl Wood Gerber writes the French Bistro Mysteries as well as the nationally bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries. As Avery Aames, she pens the popular Cheese Shop Mysteries. Daryl also writes stand-alone suspense, which include the titles DAY OF SECRETS and GIRL ON THE RUN. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to cook, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line! 

DARYL WOOD GERBER:

Hello, Janet’s fans. Thank you for letting me share a bit about my upcoming book as well as a delicious chocolate soufflé recipe. For those who don’t know me, I’m known for my culinary mysteries—currently, the French Bistro Mysteries. The first, A Deadly Éclair, came out in trade paperback in June. (It debuted in November 2017 in hardcover, e-book and audio). The second in the series, A Soufflé of Suspicion, will be on the shelves July 10.

Here’s a bit about A Soufflé of Suspicion:

The buoyant mood at Bistro Rousseau deflates when Chef Camille’s sister, Renee, turns up dead in the chef’s kitchen, and Mimi Rousseau must tease the real killer out of a mélange of menacing characters. 

Crush Week in Nouvelle Vie is a madhouse—in a good way. Tourists pour into town for the pressing of the Napa Valley’s world-renowned grapes and all the town’s businesses get a nice lift, including Bistro Rousseau and Maison Rousseau. Mimi is raising the ante this year with a Sweet Treats Festival, a wonderland of croissants, cakes, tarts, and soufflés crafted with expert care by the area’s top talents. Chef Camille’s sister Renee is managing the festival with a cast-iron fist, upsetting everyone, including her sister, which is bad for Camille when Renee turns up dead in the chef’s kitchen. Mimi is still building her business, so her first course of action is to whip up answers and catch the unsavory perpetrator before Camille takes a dusting and gets burned.

*

Of course, when I write the recipes for my books (oh, yes, there are recipes included), I do a lot of research. Over the years, I’ve become quite adept at making spinach soufflé and cheese soufflé, but I hadn’t tried my hand at many dessert soufflés. Well, let me tell you, I had a blast cooking and taste testing for this novel. The orange soufflés were quick favorites with my young grandsons. Personally, I’m partial to the salted caramel and chocolate soufflés. There’s something about dessert that makes me smile. I hope this recipe will make you smile, too. Don’t be upset if the soufflé deflates quickly. That’s to be expected. No matter what, the flavor will still be great. Enjoy.

CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE 
Serves 4

Ingredients
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened (for buttering soufflé dishes)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar (for dusting soufflé dishes)
3 1/2 ounces of semi-sweet baking chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons strong coffee
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup milk
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 egg yolks
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar

Directions
Gather and measure out all ingredients. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Set a rack at the lower level of the oven.

Coat four 8-ounce soufflé dishes with butter. Dust with sugar and dump out excess sugar. Set aside.

Place the chocolate and coffee in the small pan over the pot of simmering water. Cover and remove from heat, allowing the chocolate to melt while continuing with the recipe.

Measure the cornstarch into a 2-quart saucepan. Whisk in the milk to make a smooth cream. Continue whisking until all milk is added. Add the butter and stir over medium heat until boiling. Boil the mixture, stirring for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and beat for another minute to cool slightly.

Now, one by one, whisk the egg yolks into the hot milk sauce. Then add the melted chocolate mixture. Then mix in the vanilla.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and salt in a mixer until soft peaks are formed. Sprinkle in the 1/4 cup of sugar and continue beating until stiff shiny peaks are formed.

Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the egg whites. Pour the soufflé mixture into the prepared soufflé dishes and set on the rack in the lower level of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 375 degrees F.

Bake for 24-28 minutes WITHOUT opening the oven door. Soufflé is still creamy in the center when a skewer comes out slightly coated. It is fully done and will stand up well when the skewer comes out clean. Either way is fine and is merely a matter of preference. (I prefer mine almost, but not quite completely done.)

When you first take the soufflé out of the oven, it will be VERY tall. It will deflate quickly. Don’t take offense. Let cool 10-15 minutes.

If desired, serve with brandy sauce.

BRANDY SAUCE 

Ingredients
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons brandy

Combine the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cream in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir the mixture over low heat until the sugar dissolves, then increase the heat to medium and bring the sauce to a gentle boil. Stir often. Cook 5 more minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the brandy.

Serve immediately, or cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until needed. To rewarm, microwave the uncovered sauce on low for about 1 minute. 

FOLLOW DARYL ON: 

http://www.mysteryloverskitchen.com
http://facebook.com/darylwoodgerber
http://twitter.com/darylwoodgerber
http://youtube.com/woodgerb1
http://instagram.com/darylwoodgerber
http://pinterest.com/darylwoodgerber
http://goodreads.com/darylwoodgerber
https://www.bookbub.com/authors/daryl-wood-gerber

Thursday, July 5, 2018

CHOCOLATE BANANA CAKE: Retro Ad & Recipe

I adore Chocolate and Bananas, so I was very pleased to find this Retro Ad & Recipe for Chocolate Banana Cake. You can use a chocolate cake mix or make from scratch.. Follow the rest of the directions for the delicious Chocolate Banana Cake with Chocolate Banana Icing!



Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Chocolate Graham Crackers: National Graham Cracker Day!

Tomorrow is National Graham Cracker Day, but I had to post this today on the Fourth of July because of this great WWII Ad with Uncle Sam that features all the 'recommended' National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) crackers, cookies, and biscuits.

I've made chocolate graham cracker crusts, and I've used graham crackers in most of my S'mores recipes, but I've never posted a recipe for Chocolate Graham Crackers. They're easy to make and delicious. My next S'mores will use these. I've seen lots of recipes, but this one from King Arthur Flour is one of the best.

CHOCOLATE GRAHAM CRACKERS

Ingredients
1/2 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour, Traditional or White Whole Wheat
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar or glazing sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons cold milk

Directions
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Have two baking sheets and parchment paper to line them at the ready.
In medium-sized bowl, whisk together flours, salt, cocoa, sugar, and baking powder. With pastry blender, two knives, or your fingertips, cut the butter into flour mixture until evenly crumbly.
In separate bowl, combine honey and milk, stirring until honey dissolves. Add liquid to dry ingredients and toss lightly with fork until dough comes together. Add additional milk, if necessary.
Turn dough out onto well-floured surface and fold over gently 10 to 12 times, until smooth.
Divide dough in half.
Work half the dough at a time, keeping remaining dough covered. Transfer one piece of dough to  piece of parchment. Roll into a rectangle a bit larger than 10" x 14"; dough will be about 1/16" thick. Trim edges and prick dough evenly with a dough docker or fork.
Repeat with  remaining dough and parchment. Place rolled-out dough pieces, on their parchment, onto baking sheets. Bake crackers for 15 minutes, or until you begin to smell chocolate. Remove them from the oven, and immediately cut them into rectangles with pizza wheel knife.
Transfer to rack to cool.
Store cooled crackers tightly wrapped for up to a week, or freeze for up to one month.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

FOURTH OF JULY CHOCOLATE COCA COLA CAKE

Last week I posted a recipe for a 7-Up Chocolate Cake. For the Fourth of July, I thought I'd post another 'soda' recipe. This time for Chocolate Coca Cola Cake. Love this Retro Ad for Coke. So, get out your 'Pyrex' dish and bake a Retro Chocolate Coca Cola Cake!

CHOCOLATE COCA-COLA CAKE

Ingredients
2 cups unsifted cake flour
2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter
2 Tbsp cocoa
1 cup Coca-Cola
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Directions
Sift together flour and sugar. Heat to boiling point the butter, cocoam and Coca-Cola. Add to flour and sugar mixture. Stir to blend. Add buttermilk, soda, eggs, salt, and vanilla. Stir with spoon until well blended. Pour into greased and floured oblong pan (Pyrex dish). Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Batter will be thin. Ice while hot.

COCA-COLA ICING

1/2 cup butter
6 Tbsp Coca-Cola
1 box confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp cocoa

Heat to boiling point--butter, cocoa and Cola-Cola. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla; stir to blend. Using a fork, make holes in hot cake and pour hot icing over it.

CHOCOLATE-BERRY MERINGUE: Fourth of July!

Love this Chocolate-Berry Meringue from Better Homes & Gardens for Fourth of July. It's light and healthy, and all Red, White, & Blue! Choose your favorite berries or have a medley. The chocolate curls are the finishing touch and look like fireworks!

Chocolate-Berry Meringue 

Ingredients
1 recipe Chocolate Meringue
1 recipe Raspberry Puree
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups fresh blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and/or sliced strawberries
Bittersweet chocolate curls

Directions 
Prepare Meringue and Raspberry Puree.
In chilled bowl beat cream, sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form; spread onto meringue. Top with berries and chocolate. Drizzle raspberry puree onto plates. Serve meringue wedges atop puree.

Chocolate Meringue 

Ingredients 
6 egg whites
1 cup sugar
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely shredded
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Directions
Allow egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover a very large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Draw a 10-inch diameter circle on paper, leaving a 1- to 2-inch margin outside the circle; set aside.
In large mixing bowl beat egg whites with electric mixer on medium to high speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight) and sugar is dissolved. Gently fold in bittersweet chocolate, unsweetened cocoa powder, and balsamic vinegar. Spread meringue on circle on prepared baking sheet.
Place in oven. Immediately reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Bake for 1 hour.
Remove from oven; cool completely on baking sheet on rack. Carefully remove meringue from parchment; transfer to a serving platter.

Raspberry Puree 

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon sugar

Directions 
In blender place fresh raspberries. Cover and blend until pureed; sieve, if desired. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in sugar.

Photo: Better Homes and Gardens

Monday, July 2, 2018

Fourth of July Strawberry Pie

For me, Fourth of July is all about Strawberries and Whipped Cream.  Here's an easy Fourth of July Strawberry Pie, but of course I want chocolate with that, so I'm making a Chocolate Cookie Crust. Add blueberries to the whipped cream topping, and you'll have stars!

FOURTH OF JULY STRAWBERRY PIE

Chocolate Cookie Crust

25-30 chocolate cookie wafers (I use Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers), 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled. Heat oven to 350°F.  Whirl cookies in food processor until crumbs are fine. Put in medium bowl, add melted butter, and mix until combined. Press crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate evenly and firmly on bottom and up sides. Bake at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool (on wire rack) before filling.

Filling & Topping

Mash 2 cups of strawberries (chunky not macerated) (put aside a cup of sliced strawberries). Place strawberries in small saucepan. Add sugar (to taste-depends on strawberries-about 1/4-1/2 cup), 1/4 cup corn starch, dash of salt, 1 tsp vanilla or 1 Tbsp  lemon juice (or both). Bring to simmer until thickened. Cool completely. Add rest of strawberries (cut up or sliced) and put in baked cooled Chocolate Cookie Crust. Put in fridge for 2 hours to set. Top with whipped cream, big whole strawberries, and blueberries!

Happy Fourth of July!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

CHOCOLATE SANDWICH COOKIES WITH RED, WHITE, & BLUE SPRINKLES for Fourth of July!

I always say you find recipes in the most unusual places. The Old Farmer's Almanac, founded in 1792, is one of those sites. The Farmer's Almanac is no longer just about when to plant and harvest your crops. The site is filled with weather, astronomy, gardening, advice and food tips and recipes. Here's one of my favorites for the Fourth of July. As always use the very best cocoa and butter for the best flavor.

CHOCOLATE SANDWICH COOKIES WITH RED, WHITE, & BLUE SPRINKLES

COOKIES 

Ingredients 
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions
In bowl of stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg. Turn off machine and add flour, cocoa, and salt. Beat at low speed until the dough comes together. Turn out onto work surface and knead 2 or 3 times. Flatten into 2 disks, wrap in plastic, and chill at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350F°. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out first portion of dough to a ⅛-inch thickness. Use 2-inch round biscuit cutter or cookie cutter to cut dough into circles, gathering and rerolling as needed; then transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake until firm, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove cookies from oven and place on cooling rack.

FILLING

Ingredients 
2-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 3 tablespoons water
red, white, and blue sprinkles

Directions
In bowl of stand mixer, combine sugar, shortening, salt, and vanilla. Beat on low speed, then increase to medium. Add water, tablespoon at time, and beat until desired consistency is reached. Frost bottom of one cookie and top with another cookie. Repeat. Roll cookies in sprinkles.

Photo: Farmer's Almanac

Saturday, June 30, 2018

BEAT THE HEAT 7-UP CHOCOLATE CAKE: Retro Ad & Recipe

It's a scorcher out there this weekend. This Beat the Heat! "fresh up" with Seven-Up! Ad from July 5, 1948! family days at the Beach is perfect! Mom packs the picnic basket; Dad drives; and the kids fill the cooler with 7-Up. Seems like a lot of 7-Up from the photo. But they all look like they're having fun at the Beach--with 7-Up.

Another way of enjoying 7-Up, a very Retro carbonated beverage, is to use it as a leavening agent in a chocolate bundt cake. I posted 7-Up Chocolate Cake recipes for my Mad Men Marathon several years ago, but this is an easy 'from scratch" recipe. As I mentioned, the 7-Up is the leavening agent. Enjoy! Try to beat the heat this holiday weekend! This cake travels well!


7-Up Chocolate Cake

Ingredients
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp Madagascar vanilla
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup DARK cocoa
1 cup 7-Up
1 cup dark chocolate chips  (or a cup of dark chocolate broken into chunks)
 
Directions
Cream butter.
Add sugar and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, beating well after each one.
Stir in salt, flour and cocoa. Blend thoroughly.
Add 7-UP.
Fold in chocolate chips or chunks.
Bake in greased and floured Bundt pan for 60 minutes (or until tester comes clean).
Cool on wire rack. 

Optional: Glaze when cooled with dark chocolate Dobash Frosting. 

Dobash Frosting
1 1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup Ghirardelli cocoa
pinch of salt

Combine all in saucepan and bring to a boil.
Add 1/2 cup water to make a paste. Stir into cocoa mixture with whisk over heat until it thickens. Pour while hot over cake and spread.

Friday, June 29, 2018

PEEPS PATRIOTIC S'MORES for Fourth of July!

Photo: PEEPS®
I love S'MORES, and these seasonal  PEEPS® Patriotic Vanilla Creme Marshallow Chicks are so cute! This photo and recipe are from my friends at PEEPS®.  Here's something fun for everyone at the Fourth of July barbecue or campfire: PEEPS Patriotic S'mores!

PEEPS PATRIOTIC SMORES!

Ingredients
PEEPS Patriotic Vanilla Creme Marshmallow Chicks
Graham crackers
Chocolate bars
Sprinkles (Red, White and Blue)

Directions
Break graham crackers in half, so you have two squares.
Melt PEEP over fire or low heat.
Layer melted PEEP over square of chocolate, with graham cracker square on bottom
Top S’more with second graham cracker square and drizzle melted chocolate on top
Add patriotic sprinkles, and top off with PEEPS Patriotic Vanilla Creme Marshmallow Chick.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

STRAWBERRY MOON CHOCOLATE PIE

Last night was the June Full Moon. It's called the Strawberry Moon. Yes, all the full moons have names. This Full Moon got its name from the Algonquin tribes who used it as a signal to gather the ripening wild strawberries. To celebrate, make this easy Strawberry Moon Chocolate Pie! It will also be perfect for Fourth of July!

STRAWBERRY MOON CHOCOLATE PIE

Ingredients
1 box (9 oounces) thin chocolate wafer cookies, crushed
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
4 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups milk
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
Fresh strawberries

Directions
In medium bowl, mix cookie crumbs and butter. Press mixture firmly and evenly in bottom and up side of ungreased 9 1/2-inch glass deep-dish pie plate. Freeze 30 minutes.

In another medium bowl, beat egg yolks with fork; set aside. In 3-quart heavy saucepan, mix 2/3 cup sugar and the cornstarch. Gradually stir in milk. Heat to simmering over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Slowly stir half of hot milk mixture into egg yolks; return mixture to pan. Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Remove from heat. Immediately stir in chocolate and vanilla until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Spoon filling into crust. Press plastic wrap on filling. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or until set.

In chilled small bowl, beat whipping cream and 2 tablespoons sugar with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Spread whipped cream over filling to within 1 inch of crust.

Top with ripe strawberries, point side up to fill whole whipping cream surface.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

ICE CREAM CAKE ROLL: Ice Cream Cake Day

Today is Ice Cream Cake Day! I love ice cream cake. When I was growing up we didn't have Baskin & Robbins Ice Cream Cakes, but we did have Ice Cream Cake Rolls. I loved the spongy chocolate cake that contrasted with the cold solid vanilla ice cream. Make this easy recipe today or any day. The following recipe for this Classic Retro Recipe for Ice Cream Cake Roll -- "a Double Treat" is adapted from Family Circle Magazine.

ICE CREAM CAKE ROLL 

Ingredients
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
4 eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
3 cups vanilla ice cream, softened

Directions 
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 15 x 10 x 1-inch jelly-roll pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment or waxed paper. Spray paper.
Stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. In large bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed for 5 minutes, until very light yellow. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until smooth. Beat in vanilla extract.
Fold flour mixture into egg mixture until no lumps remain. Pour into prepared pan, spreading level. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.
Dust a clean kitchen towel with confectioners sugar. Turn cake out onto towel. Roll up towel and cake from short end; cool completely.
Unroll; spread with softened ice cream to within 1 inch of edges.
Re-roll cake without towel; wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze at least 4 hours or overnight.
If frozen overnight, let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving.
To serve, carefully remove plastic wrap.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

DARK CHOCOLATE PUDDING WITH STRAWBERRY ROSES: National Pudding Day


Today is National Chocolate Pudding Day, and what could be better than Chocolate Pudding with Strawberry Roses. Here's a recipe from Driscoll's, my favorite berry people for Dark Chocolate Pudding with Strawberry Roses. Being a rose afficiando (I have over 100 rose bushes in my garden), I meant to re-post this earlier. The technique for creating strawberry roses is awesome and easy. It really elevates the chocolate pudding both in beauty and taste.

These Strawberry Roses are beautiful to put on top of Strawberry Short Cake, too. There are all kinds of uses. Here's the recipe and instructions for Dark Chocolate Pudding with Strawberry Roses.

DARK CHOCOLATE PUDDING WITH STRAWBERRY ROSES

Pudding 
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Topping
1 package Driscoll's Strawberries (16 ounces)
8 fresh mint leaves

Directions

Pudding
Melt Chocolate.
Whisk together 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch.
Bring remaining 1- 1/2 cups milk, sugar, cocoa, and salt just to a simmer over medium heat. Stir cornstarch mixture then add to milk mixture in saucepan and bring to boil, whisking constantly. Cook 1 minute.
Remove from heat and stir in melted chocolate and vanilla.
Spoon into 4 glasses.
Cover surface directly with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming. Chill.

Topping 
Before serving, hull 16 strawberries by removing the green calyx.
Take 4 strawberries and cut top off of strawberries. These strawberries will be used as the center for the roses.
For the remaining strawberries, slice into 1/8: sections to use for the rose petals.
Begin arranging sliced strawberries around pudding making sure ends of slices are facing out and extend slightly beyond rim of glass.
After first circle of strawberries is placed, begin making second circle of strawberries but position slightly more forward toward the center of glass.
Continue with third layer.
Once finished add cut strawberry to center and garnish with mint leaves.
Serve immediately.

Photo: Driscoll's

Monday, June 25, 2018

CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY PARFAITS: National Strawberry Parfait Day

Today is Strawberry Parfait Day. I always add chocolate to my parfaits, if I can. The following recipe can be made with ice cream, of course, but give it a try with some vanilla yogurt for a healthier alternative (or not!).

A parfait is a dessert that alternates layers of ice cream, fruit, sometimes gelatin, and/or liqueur, and is topped with whipped cream. It is usually served in a stemmed glass. Parfait in French means "perfect," and this is certainly a perfect dessert. The following recipe has a lot of baking and making from scratch, but if you're in a hurry substitute a store-bought chocolate pound cake and some strawberry sauce. The fact that it adds cake makes it a bit more of a trifle, but it still qualifies.

Chocolate Strawberry Parfaits
Use clear containers. Small mason jars are 'perfect' and look great!

Ingredients 
Chocolate Pound Cake  *this can be made in a rectangular pan rather than in a Bundt Pan
2 cups vanilla yogurt
1 cup fresh strawberries
optional: Whipped Cream

Strawberry Sauce 
1 pint strawberries, divided
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Strawberry Sauce 
Wash and chop strawberries. Add honey, vanilla, and 2/3 of the chopped strawberries to medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until juices are released and slightly thickened (about 15 minutes). Sauce thickens more while cooling. Stir in remaining strawberries and remove from heat. Cool completely.

To Assemble:
Layer 1/4 cup fresh strawberries in bottom of each container.
Cut chocolate pound cake into cubes. Make a pound cake layer over the strawberries.
Top with 1/4 cup yogurt and 2 tablespoons strawberry sauce.
Repeat layers.
Optional: Top with whipped cream.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

CHOCOLATE PRALINES: National Praline Day!

Today is National Praline Day! I love Pralines, and I always buy them when I'm in New Orleans. Friends who know me bring them back from New Orleans, too. But I've also made them. They're fabulous!

There are so many variations of Pralines, so I'm posting several recipes, for you to make at home. Of course, if you're in the Big Easy, you'll want to sample, as I do, and buy a few different kinds. Each of the following recipes has its virtues, and none has any vices. I, of course, add Chocolate to my Pralines. No big surprise there! So all three recipes feature chocolate and nuts!
PRALINE:
1) a confection of nuts and sugar: as in almonds cooked in boiling sugar until brown and crisp
2) a patty of creamy brown sugar and pecan meats

If you associate Pralines with the South, you'd be right! The original praline was a sweet confection made of almonds and some sort of creamy sugary caramelized coating. Lots of stories about how the Praline came to New Orleans and the South. One is that Pralines were first concocted in the home of 17th century French diplomat Cesar du Plessis Praslin by one of his chefs. The name "Praslin" eventually evolved into "praline." I don't buy that story since they were already popular in Europe in a slightly different version. Another story is that pralines were brought over from France by the Ursuline nuns, who settled in New Orleans in 1727. This makes sense since Pralines were already in the French tradition. Almonds were in short supply, so cooks began substituting the nuts of the native Louisiana pecan trees, thus the modern pecan pralines were born. Praline pecans were known as individual pecans covered in the sugary coating. The new pecan pralines quickly spread throughout New Orleans and became a common confection in the area.

Pralinières were women who used to sell pralines on the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans during the mid-to-late 19th century, providing a unique entrepreneurial opportunity to les gens de couleur libres (free people of color). Not only was being a pralinière a source of income, it was a means of providing for oneself without any strings attached. This was a rare situation for economically less-fortunate, but resourceful women of that time period, who were often employed as indentured servants or forced by need and without choice into plaçage, as kept-women of wealthy businessmen. (Read more about Praline Sellers of Old New Orleans here)

Because New Orleans was a thriving port, people from all over the world came through, and the praline spread with them. Many people are unaware of the candy’s historical origin, and the praline is thought of as a southern confection not necessarily specific to New Orleans. Some believe the pecan praline is a Texan candy, whereas others assume it came from Savannah. The pronunciation of the candy is a bit of a point of contention as well. In New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, where there are many communities settled by the French, the pronunciation is prah-leen, with the long aaah sound, which is closer to that of the candy’s namesake du Plessis-Praslin. Other regions of the country, including parts of Texas, Georgia, and New England have anglicized the term and pronounce it pray-leen. Other terms for pralines include pecan pralines, pecan candy, plarines and pecan patties.

Whatever you call it, you're going to love these recipes for Chocolate Pralines. They're simple to make. The first recipe doesn't call for a candy thermometer, but get one ready for the next two recipes. Candy thermometers are easy to use, and if for some reason you don't have one, you can always use the water test.

This first recipe is adapted from Sunset Magazine.

1. CHOCOLATE PRALINES I

Ingredients
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp milk
1 1/2 tsp unsweetened DARK cocoa

Directions
Place almonds in 9-inch pie pan. Bake in 300° regular or convection oven, shaking pan once, until nuts are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Coat 12-inch square of foil lightly with vegetable oil (about 1 teaspoon).
In 8- to 10-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, combine sugar, butter, corn syrup, and milk. Stir occasionally until mixture is bubbly and golden, about 5 minutes. Add cocoa and stir until smooth, then stir in toasted almonds. Pour mixture onto oiled foil and spread about 1/4 inch thick. Let cool until solid, about 10 minutes. Break praline into 6 to 8 large chunks.

2. CHOCOLATE PRALINES II

Ingredients
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate (50-65% cacao)
1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed firmly
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup pecan pieces

Directions
In heavy saucepan combine the sugar and cream.
Heat to 240 degrees (115 C) on candy thermometer (stirring constantly).
Remove from heat, stir in butter and chocolate.
Cool mixture to 110 degrees F (43 C).
Stir in pecans.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper and allow to cool and harden.

Want a kick with your Chocolate Pralines?  Homesick Texan has a terrific recipe for Mexican Chocolate Pralines.  Here's her recipe, but be sure and read her post about her first attempts.. and to see her sensational photos. Yes, bacon can become an ingredient!

3. Mexican Chocolate Pralines 
(adapted from Aprovecho)

Ingredients:
1 disc of Mexican hot chocolate (Ibarra)
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
2 cups pecans, 1 cup chopped and 1 cup whole
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp fresh orange zest or 1 tsp dried orange zest
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions
Set oven at 350 degrees, roast pecans for 10 minutes.
In large pot, melt together on medium heat - chocolates, sugars, pecans, milk, butter, cinnamon, orange zest, Cayenne, and sea salt, stirring occasionally. Place candy thermometer in pot to monitor heat. When it reaches 235 degrees, remove from fire and add vanilla and stir pot for two minutes. There should be bit of shine to the candy but candy will be a bit more thick.
Scoop pralines onto parchment paper. (If too stiff, add warm water to mixture.) Let cool for an hour and remove. They will still be a bit shiny but will lose that shine after a few hours. 

Note from Homesick Texan: If you want to add bacon to these, fry up four slices, crumble them and stir into praline when you add the vanilla.

These are unbelievably fabulous!!!!

Friday, June 22, 2018

MINI CHOCOLATE ECLAIRS: National Chocolate Eclair Day

Today is National Chocolate Eclair Day. My favorite eclairs are not the long thin "traditional" hotdog shaped eclairs (although I like them), but rather, the mini-eclairs. They're easy to make using a basic Pâte à choux.. puff pastry. I've been making them for years.

I've posted this recipe before, but it's always worthy of a re-post. These eclairs are so easy and yet look so beautiful and taste fabulous! Hope you enjoy making these as much as I do!

I've adapted this recipe for Mini Chocolate Eclairs from Paula Deen. This is one of my favorite recipes because it's simple and delicious! I never use margarine, so I've dropped that alternative from the original recipe. Real butter is always best. As always, I use the very best dark chocolate for the topping. I've changed a few measurements and directions in the recipe for the Novice Eclair Chef. If you're a purist, just click on Paula Deen's recipe above.

Because these eclairs are so small, feel free to have 3 or 4. :-) Yield depends on how small you make them, but I usually get about 40 small eclairs from this recipe. They're great for a crowd!

Want to make these even more chocolate-y? Add a handful of chocolate chips to the egg cream filling or fill with chocolate cream instead: just add 1/4 cup dark cocoa to the dry ingredients. To fill the eclairs, I use a pastry bag, but if you don't have one, you can always fill a Ziploc bag and cut the tip off to pipe the filling into the eclair.

You will probably have some extra icing. Half the recipe if you ice sparingly. I'm for more chocolate, so there's never much left.

MINI CHOCOLATE ECLAIRS

Pastry:
1 cup water
8 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup sifted flour
3 eggs

Filling:
3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla

Icing:
3 ounces unsweetened dark chocolate, chopped
2 cups sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions
Preheat oven to 400F.
Heat water and butter to boiling point. Add flour and stir constantly until mixture is smooth and forms a ball when tested in cold water. Remove from heat and let cool. Beat in 3 eggs, one at a time. Drop dough from teaspoon, elongate slightly to form small eclairs (or drop in 'puffs'), onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until light brown. Set aside to cool.
Prepare filling by mixing all dry ingredients. Very slowly add milk over low heat and cook until mixture thickens (don't let heat get too high), so you don't have any lumps. Then pour this custard  into beaten eggs, stirring quickly (so eggs don't cook). Cool and add vanilla.
With serrated knife, slice pastry puffs lengthwise (or if you have puffs make a hole), but not all the way through. Pipe custard mixture into center.
Melt chocolate for icing, add sugar, and cream. Cook over medium heat until soft ball stage. Let cool and beat until smooth. Ice tops of eclairs.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

KLADDKAKA: Swedish Sticky Chocolate Cake for MIDSUMMER


I love Midsummer aka the Summer Solstice! June 21 is the longest day of the year, and I love those extra hours of sunshine. I can only imagine what it's like in Sweden, Land of the Midnight Sun. Here is a traditional Swedish recipe to celebrate Midsummer (Midsommar). Chocolate may not be native to Sweden, but this chocolate treat is celebrated there. Chocolate is global!

Kladdkaka: Swedish Sticky Chocolate Cake

Kladdkaka is a gooey Swedish chocolate cake, and it's simple and quick to make. You'll love it. Add some whipped cream and raspberries or strawberries (wild strawberries? channeling Ingmar Bergman?) or other summer berries, and you're good to go! Be sure not to overbake the cake and cool before cutting. This recipe is adapted from several different recipes. Kladdkaka is similar to Mudcake or Lava Cake...do not overbake.

Ingredients 
14 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup bittersweet chocolate
4 large eggs
1 cup caster sugar (if you don't have any, whirl some granulated sugar in the blender and remeasure)
2  cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
Whipped cream
Fresh berries

Directions
Preheat oven to 425°F and grease 9-inch springform pan.
In small saucepan, melt butter. Once melted, remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until smooth. Set aside to cool.
In large bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until foamy. Check that chocolate is cool, then whisk into egg mixture.
Fold in flour and baking powder until incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 12 minutes (don't overbake).
Cool completely before serving.
Top with whipped cream and berries!

Photo: All Recipes

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

MIDSUMMER MAGIC CHOCOLATE COCA COLA ICE CREAM SODA

I love Midsummer, and how perfect is it that today is also Ice Cream Soda Day. Here's an easy way to celebrate Midsummer with this Mid-Century Midsummer recipe for Chocolate Coca Cola Ice Cream Soda.

MIDSUMMER MAGIC CHOCOLATE COCA COLA ICE CREAM SODA

For each Chocolate Coke Ice Cream Soda, you'll need a tall glass, 3 Tbsp chocolate syrup, 2 Tbsp half & half, coca cola, chocolate ice cream, whipped cream.

Chill glass in freezer.

Pour chocolate syrup into bottom of glass. Add half & half and blend together. Add coca cola to 3/4 of glass.

Add 2-3 scoops of chocolate ice cream. Stir.

Top Ice Cream Soda with whipped cream and maraschino cherry.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

S'MORES MARTINI: National Martini Day

Today is National Martini Day, and since it's summer, it's the perfect time for a S'mores Martini. Three Olives makes a S'mores Vodka. You can drink it straight up, or here are two recipes for S'mores Martinis from Three Olives. What a great way to drink your S'mores!


Inspired by the classic vodka martini served with a garnish of olives, Three Olives launched as a non-flavored vodka brand in 1998 and became a pioneer of the flavored-vodka market when it introduced the first-ever cherry and grape varieties in 2001. The super-premium vodka brand now offers over 20 different flavors that have fueled a three-fold increase in sales to nearly 1.5 million cases from half a million. As implied by the brand’s popular flavors - Cake, Bubble, Dude and S’mores - Three Olives delivers one-of-a-kind drinks that appeal to polished individuals who revel in their uniqueness; they are clever, witty, and loath to take themselves too seriously. 

Thanks to Three Olives for the following recipes and photos!

Campfire Martini
3 parts Three Olives S'mores Vodka
Crushed graham crackers, chocolate syrup, marshmallows

Dip rim of martini glass in chocolate syrup and coat with crushed graham crackers.
Pour Three Olives S'mores into martini shaker filled with ice.
Shake and strain into martini glass.
Garnish with a skewer of three toasted marshmallows!

S'mores Sea Salt Martini
2 parts Three Olives S'mores Vodka
2 parts half & half
Sea salt
Chocolate syrup

Dip rim of martini glass in chocolate syrup and coat with sea salt.
Drizzle chocolate syrup inside martini glass.
Pour Three Olives S'mores and half & half into martini shaker filled with ice.
Shake and strain into martini glass!