Wednesday, January 17, 2018

HOT BUTTERED RUM COCOA: National Hot Buttered Rum Day

Today is National Hot Buttered Rum Day. It's pretty blustery and cold here, so this is the perfect drink to celebrate the day!

This recipe for Hot Buttered Rum Cocoa is from the Wisconsin Cheese Board (one of my favorite recipe sites!) So many Food associations have great recipes. Be sure and check them out.

If you don't have time to make Hot Buttered Rum Cocoa, you can always celebrate this food holiday with Seattle Chocolates' Hot Buttered Rum Milk Chocolate Truffle Bar. Fabulous! This bar is buttery, smooth with a light hint of rum and toffee crunch in milk chocolate.

Hot Buttered Rum Cocoa

Ingredients
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
4 cups milk

Directions
Combine butter, brown sugar, and seasonings in small bowl, mixing until well-blended.
Drop six spoonfuls onto plastic wrap-lined plate; chill while preparing beverage, then form into balls.
Combine rum, sugar and cocoa in 2 quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils, stirring constantly. Simmer 1 minute; add milk. Cook until heated through; do not boil.
Pour into six mugs; place one butter ball in each cup.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

CHOCOLATE COVERED DRIED FIGS: National Fig Newton Day

January 16 is Fig Newton Day! My Dad was a huge Fig Newtons fan. Me, not so much. However, I love figs, and I'm using this food holiday as a jumping off point for Chocolate Covered Figs. Before I embark on recipes for Chocolate Covered Dried Figs, just wanted to let you know that Vice Chocolates' Dark Chocolate Bar with Fig &Anise is one of my favorite chocolate fig combinations!

Following are two recipes for Chocolate Covered Dried Figs (not Fig Newtons!). The first is alcoholic, because who doesn't love a drunken fig? The second recipe calls for stuffing the dried figs with walnuts, but contains no alcohol. Actually you can mix and match these recipes to come up with whatever you think is perfect for you! As always, use the very best chocolate and figs! Different chocolate, different figs, different tastes!

And if you want a recipe for Chocolate Covered Fig Newtons, check out Cakespy's post for Chocolate Covered Fig Newtons on a Stick.

Want to make your own Fig Newtons? Try this recipe for Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Figgy Newtons.

And, just as an FYI. The original Fig Newtons are now called just Newtons.

Chocolate Covered Dried Figs

Ingredients
20 dried figs
Rum
10 ounces 70-85% dark chocolate, chopped fine
1/4 cup unsalted butter
pinch of sea salt

Directions
Put figs in bowl and cover with rum. Let soak, covered, overnight in refrigerator.
Next day, drain well and pat dry.
Put chopped chocolate into top of double boiler, stirring. Add butter, stirring until smooth. 
Take figs by stems and dip in chocolate several times, covering completely.
Put figs on rack over cookie sheet to catch drips.
When finished dipping, chill figs in refrigerator.

Non-Alcoholic Chocolate Covered Figs Stuffed with Walnuts

Ingredients
9 figs, dried
9 walnut halves
5  Tbsp dark chocolate (60-75%), chopped

Directions
Make small incisions in bottoms of 9 dried figs and stuff each with a walnut half.
Melt chocolate in double boiler until smooth.
Holding the stem, dip stuffed figs into chocolate.
Let them drip from rack over cookie sheet, or place on plate or wax paper.
Put chocolate covered figs on plate or waxed paper in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or more until chocolate hardens.

Monday, January 15, 2018

EASY STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM SANDWICHES: Strawberry Ice Cream Day!

Today is Strawberry Ice Cream Day. Now this may seem like January 15 is an odd day for it--at least in the Northern hemisphere, but everyone now eats ice cream all year round. Here's an easy recipe for Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches with Chocolate Cookies.

Easy Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwich with Chocolate Cookies

Freeze 12 Big Chocolate chunky cookies (I use Pepperidge Farm Brownie cookies) that you've frozen at least a day ahead of time or some of your own chocolate fudgy cookies.
Lay out 6 of the cookies, flat side up.
Scoop softened strawberry ice cream (use the very best) onto the cookies.
Using a butter knife gently spread ice cream to the edge.
Layer fresh strawberries cut into small pieces onto the ice cream
Cover with another cookie, flat side down.
Press down lightly. Repeat with other cookies.
Spread chocolate chips or small pieces of broken chocolate on a plate.
Roll the sides of the sandwich in the chocolate chips until covered.
Wrap each sandwich and freeze.

So none of this is really home-made, although you always have that option. These taste treats are fast, easy and delicious. The chocolate 'chips' I add are premium high end dark chocolate from the best chocolate makers! Really adds to the taste.

Yum!!!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

English Toffee Hot Chocolate

The other day was English Toffee Day. I'm quite the toffee-holic. I've even judged Toffee at the San Francisco and International Chocolate Salons. Toffee is great by itself, but sometimes it's great to pair it with Hot Chocolate! And, today is the perfect day for it! It's so blustery here at the Beach. The waves are high, too, and I suspect the Mavericks surfing competition will take place tomorrow. Always exciting. But too cold for me. Here are two ways to keep warm. English Toffee: English Toffee Hot Chocolate.

Although you can make your own Toffee, you can just use your favorite store-bought English toffee in these recipes! Just be sure to chop it up!

1. English Toffee Hot Chocolate

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

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

2. English Toffee Hot Chocolate

Ingredients 
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
6 ounces dark chocolate (70% cacao), chopped
2 ounces butterscotch chips
Whipped cream
1/4 cup English Toffee, crushed

Directions
Heat milk, water, sugar to boil.
Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate and butterscotch chips until they combine with milk.
Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream and crushed toffee.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Brownies

Today is National Gluten-Free Day! I'm always looking for Gluten Free Recipes for my friends, and this recipe for Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Brownies is a winner. Recipe adapted from Reese's. You can use Reese's Pieces, if you chop them up, but the Reese's peanut butter chips are easier.

GLUTEN-FREE CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CHIP BROWNIES

Ingredients
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs
3/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose baking mix (King Arthur Flour or your favorite)
1/2 cup unsweetened HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) REESE'S Peanut Butter Chips (or chopped Reese's pieces)

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F.
Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
Combine butter, sugar, and vanilla in large bowl. Add eggs; beat well with spoon.
Stir together baking mix and cocoa; gradually add to egg mixture, beating until well blended.
Stir in peanut butter chips (or chopped Reese's Pieces).
Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan.
Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
Cut into bars.

NOTE: Always read labels of each ingredient to ensure that it is gluten-free prior to use. Some ingredients will surprise you.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Police Artist II


TOLL HOUSE COOKIE PIE: Retro Ad & Recipe!

I love cookie dough. Who doesn't? I used to eat chocolate chip cookie dough all the time. O.K. I know that wasn't always the safest thing to do (raw eggs), but we didn't know that then. But now there are shops that sell cookie dough scoops in cones, complete with sprinkles (no melting!)! Be still my heart.

If you don't want to mix up a batch of cookie dough (without raw eggs) yourself and serve in cones, here's a Toll House Cookie Pie recipe (baked, so no worries) that you'll love! This Retro Nestle Recipe Advertisement is from the 1980s. Are the 80s really retro? This is an easy delicious Toll House Pie!



In case that's not very clear, here's the recipe!

Toll House Cookie Pie

Ingredients:
1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 cup (6 ounces) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped walnuts
Whipped cream or ice cream (optional)

Directions 
Preheat oven to 325° F.
In large bowl, beat eggs until foamy.
Add flour, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat until well blended.
Blend in melted butter. 
Stir in chocolate chip morsels and walnuts.
Pour into prepared pie shell.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean. Remove from oven. Cool on wire rack.
Serve warm with whipped cream, if desired.

Recipe can be doubled. Bake two pies, freeze one for later!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

CHOCOLATE HOT TODDY: Hot Toddy Day

This season is seeing the worst cases of flu in years. There is no real cures for flu or colds, but I can attest that a Hot Toddy does the trick in making you feel better, even if only temporarily--a traditional Hot Toddy, that is. See the Retro Ad on this page. So because today is Hot Toddy Day, I'm offering up a recipe with a chocolate spin.

Hot Toddy might be an old fashioned name, but the Hot Toddy has served for centuries as a therapeutic drink. If you add chocolate, you get all those chocolate benefits, too. Alcohol and chocolate: a great combination.

What exactly is a Hot Toddy?
A toddy is a drink made typically with a spirit base, water, some type of sugar, and spices. A hot toddy is usually a mixture of whiskey, cinnamon, hot water, honey, and lemon. A Hot Toddy may have tea as the spice (or in addition to the spice). 

Where did it come from?
The word “toddy” itself stretches back to the British colonial era and is taken from the Hindi word tārī, which was a drink made from the fermented sap of toddy palm, hence the name. The British Toddy was served cool and, for awhile this was the tradition. The toddy eventually made its way across the ocean to the American South where plantation owners would drink their own version of a toddy with rum, spices, and locally-available sugar. This mixture was cooked, then cooled and consumed. While derived from the British colonial toddy, this drink was called a bombo or bimbo. That’s great and all, but you said you’d be talking about hot toddies. 

The hot toddy that we know now found its roots in Scottish tradition. No surprise there. This Hot Toddy was made with whisky, hot water, honey, and spices such as nutmeg or clove, and was touted as a cold cure. The Scots claim that the name toddy came from the origin of the water used for the drink: Tod’s Well in Edinburgh. Legend states that during the Revolutionary War, colonists would use toddies as liquid courage, drinking round after round to get up the nerve to fight. The biggest difference in the American toddy from the Scottish was the use of rum or brandy in comparison to whiskey. The colonists were working with what they had — which was more often the brandy they were making at home or the rum that was being imported from the Caribbean. The presentation of the toddy was also different. The drink was typically made in a punch bowl in large amounts to accommodate the crowds that would gather at local taverns and then served in a specific type of stemmed glassware, which was itself at some point named a toddy. So there you have it, the hot toddy, which wasn’t all that hot at first.

But this is a Chocolate Blog, so here's a recipe from Sunset for Brandied Hot Chocolate, a great Hot Toddy to drink today!

Chocolate Hot Toddy!

Ingredients
1- 1/2 cups grated dark chocolate (65-75% organic, your favorite)
1/2 cup dry milk powder (not something I have on hand except for this)
4 cups whole milk
4 Tbsp Armagnac
Whipped cream or marshmallows, for garnish

Directions
In medium bowl, mix grated chocolate and dry milk powder.
In medium saucepan, heat whole milk over medium heat. Once heated, stir in chocolate mixture and whisk until chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and hot.
Pour 1 Tbsp Armagnac into each mug (four mugs total), then fill each mug with smooth, hot chocolate mixture.
Serve hot, garnished with fresh whipped cream or fresh marshmallows.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE LAYER CAKE: Retro Ad & Recipe

Today is National Bittersweet Chocolate Day. So many recipes call for Bittersweet Chocolate or Semi-sweet chocolate in Baking, but what exactly is it? Just an FYI: Bittersweet and semi-sweet are pretty meaningless terms and hard to define.

Generally both bittersweet and semi-sweet have at least 50% cacao. Manufacturers use these terms differently, so the best thing to do is check the cacao percentage. One manufacturer's bittersweet is another's semisweet. I've read (and agree) that 50% and 72% can be used interchangeably when using chocolate for candy making or cut into chunks in lieu of chips. Once you start melting the chocolate and using it in baking, or in mousses and ganaches, the formulas can change. A higher percentage chocolate will bake drier, as it has less sugar, and will require more liquid to emulsify properly for a a mousse or ganache.

Alice Medrich's book Seriously Bittersweet contains formulas for working with different percentages. Older recipes are likely to use something closer to 50 - 55%, and newer recipes are more likely to state a percentage. Something important to know in making the following recipe, if you're substituting sweetened chocolate for the unsweetened chocolate in this Retro Recipe. So watch your ratios.

The Advertisement on the right is a Retro Ad with Recipe from Baker's Chocolate for Bittersweet Chocolate Layer Cake.



Tuesday, January 9, 2018

APRICOT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: National Apricot Day

Today is National Apricot Day. And, since this is a chocolate blog, what could be better than making Apricot Chocolate Chip Cookies. This recipe calls for dried apricots, a staple in our house. I use dark chocolate chips, but you can also use milk chocolate or white chocolate chips. Not into apricots? You can substitute dried cherries or cranberries or blueberries. This is a very versatile recipe.

APRICOT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (refer to Tips for Making the Very Best Cookies)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped into quarters or 1/4" pieces
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
4 ounces dark chocolate chips (or as many as you'd like)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°.
Cream butter & brown sugar in medium-size mixing bowl until blended.
Beat in egg and vanilla.
Add flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring mixture into smooth dough.
Fold in apricots, nuts, and chocolate chips, making sure to distribute evenly.
Drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto un-greased cookie sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 10 minutes, until edges are lightly browned.
Cool cookies on sheet for 2 minutes before transferring with spatula to wire racks to cool.

Monday, January 8, 2018

English Toffee Recipe: English Toffee Day!

January 8 is a world-wide holiday: English Toffee Day. I absolutely adore English Toffee, and I'm even a Toffee Judge at the International and San Francisco Chocolate Salons.

I first had English Toffee on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. Don't ask! Yes, there was salt water taffy, but I was drawn to the English Toffee and White Chocolate. Both were rarities in our household, so they were special treats!

English Toffee has several definitions, but for me it's any confection made by boiling sugar with butter or milk, surrounded by chocolate and nuts. What's your definition? Some people call this brittle. Whatever it is, you have the hard, soft and chewy all in one.

The preparation for making English Toffee is much like that for making candy barks. English Toffee can be made with dark chocolate of varying amounts or even milk chocolate or a mixture of both. Nuts can range from almonds to peanuts to filberts to hazelnuts. Such range. Every time you make English Toffee, you can vary the ingredients to come up with a completely different taste. How fun! One thing, though, be sure and use real butter!!! European butter is divine, but any good quality unsalted butter will work.

I've adapted this easy recipe from Epicurean. You will need a candy thermometer.

ENGLISH TOFFEE

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter (best quality)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla (Madagascar)
6 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao or higher)
2 oz milk chocolate (40-55% cacao)
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans,walnuts, filberts, or hazelnuts (you choose)

Directions:
Combine butter, sugar, water, and salt in a heavy 2- 1/2 qt pan. Cook over medium-high to high heat, stirring often, until candy thermometer reads 305 degrees. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Immediately pour into heavily buttered 9-inch square pan, spreading to fill pan. Cool completely.

Melt semisweet and milk chocolate in top of double boiler stirring until smooth. Spread half of chocolate over 1 side of toffee and sprinkle with half of nuts Refrigerate until chocolate is firm.

Reheat remaining chocolate until flowing. Turn toffee over and spread other side with chocolate and sprinkle with remaining nuts. Refrigerate until firm. When chocolate is set, break toffee into pieces. Store in airtight container in a cool place.

Cooking for Engineers has another great and similar recipe with photos.

I'll be at the Fancy Food Show in two weeks, and I'll bet there's a lot of English Toffee. There was last year. I'll be sure and report back which brands I like best!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Icicle Cake: Retro Ad & Recipe!

Brr... it's cold outside. Time to make an Icicle Cake! This Retro Advertisement and Recipe is for Dexo, an all purpose hydrogenized vegetable shortening similar to Crisco. "So Blendable. So Dependable."



Saturday, January 6, 2018

Walkers Shortbread Scottie Dogs with Muddy Boots

Today is National Shortbread Day! I love Walkers Shortbread Scottie Dogs. They combine two of my favorite things--pure butter shortbread and dogs. These scotties are definitely BEST IN SHOW!

Since it's raining in California, and my own pups came in with 'muddy boots', I thought it would be fun to dip these Scottie dogs in Chocolate. I decided on milk chocolate to be more 'mud-like'.  Apologies for the photo.. I didn't shake the cookies off after I dipped them. That would have shown the shape better, but they still taste wonderful! And, these Scottie Dogs don't need to be walked in the rain!


Walkers Shortbread Scottie Dogs with Muddy Boots

Ingredients
4 squares of Guittard baking milk chocolate
a bit of unsalted butter

Directions
Melt chocolate and butter together in the top of a double boiler or saucepan over saucepan with simmering water. Stir so it doesn't seize.
Dip Shortbread Scottie dogs in 'mud'. Remember that Scotties are low to the ground, so dip as low as you like.  Be more professional than I was, and shake the excess chocolate from the shortbread cookie.
Put chocolate covered Scotties on parchment and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to harden.

You can also dip in chocolate and roll in chopped nuts. You know dogs-- they pick up 'debris.'

No time to dip? Walkers also makes Shortbread Chocolate Scottie Dogs.


I also noticed that Cost Plus World Market has all Walkers shortbread products 20% off today in honor of National Shortbread Day!

Michelangelo Grocery List

It's always good to have a list!

Here's The Grocery List as sketched by Michelangelo 500 years ago (1518) on the back of a letter. Vegetables, fish, rolls, and more!  Read more here.


Friday, January 5, 2018

Chocolate Whipped Cream: Milk, Dark, & White

Today is National Whipped Cream Day. I've posted many recipes that call for whipped cream including chocolate whipped cream for National Cream Puff Day. Today I have three recipes for Chocolate Whipped Cream--milk, dark, and white.

Chocolate Whipped Cream is terrific to add to desserts, fill cream puffs, and many other creative uses. It's easy to make, and it's delicious. You can use it as an icing or filling (tarts, pies, etc). You can use it with just about anything you would use regular whipped cream for, including Strawberry Short Cake!

The first recipe for Milk Chocolate Whipped Cream is from Martha Stewart. Martha uses chocolate whipped cream for the filling of chocolate sandwich cookies. Fabulous!  I love these Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Chocolate Whipped Cream, and you can use any chocolate cookie recipe!

The second Chocolate Whipped Cream Recipe uses a lot more chocolate, and it's dark chocolate. Which chocolate you choose depends on what you like and what you need!

The third chocolate whipped cream is from the Queen of Chocolate, Alice Medrich. It's for White Chocolate Whipped Cream. Of course, she has great recipes for Dark and Milk chocolate, so check out her recipes online and in her many chocolate cookbooks.

The Retro Advertisement is for Reddi-Wip! Don't use a can if you have the ingredients and time to make your own. It's so much better!
Photo: Martha Stewart

1. CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM (from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients
4 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups heavy cream
3 Tbsp sugar

Directions
Place chocolate in medium bowl; set aside.
Heat sugar and 1 cup cream in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until sugar has dissolved.
Pour cream mixture over chocolate; stir until chocolate has melted. Let cool.
Transfer chocolate mixture to electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Add remaining cup heavy cream and beat on medium speed until thick and fluffy.

How easy is that?

2. DARK CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM (from Sherry Yard)

I really love this recipe from Sherry Yard for Chocolate Whipped Cream. It's definitely more of a rich whipped ganache, but then isn't that what it's all about? Sherry Yard was the executive pastry chef at Wolfgang Puck's Spago in Beverly Hills and shared this recipe on Cookin' with Good Morning America (December 25, 2003). It's also in in her book Secrets of Baking: Simple Techniques for Sophisticated Desserts.

Ingredients
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp sugar

Directions
Using serrated knife, finely chop the chocolate into 1/4 inch pieces and place in medium heatproof bowl.
Bring cream and sugar to boil in small saucepan over medium heat. Immediately pour hot cream over chopped chocolate. Tap bowl on counter to settle chocolate into cream, then let sit for 1 minute.
Using rubber spatula, slowly stir in circular motion, starting from center of bowl and working out to sides. Stir until all chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes.
Pour ganache into medium container, cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. It should be consistency of peanut butter.
4Once ganache has chilled, transfer to large bowl. Using balloon whisk, whip ganache by hand until it just reaches soft peaks, about 2 minutes. Be sure to lift whisk out of cream with each pass to bring in as much air as possible. Do not overwhip. Don't worry if cream doesn't seem firm enough. It will have consistency of mustard but will solidify more after it sets in the refrigerator. You can also use a hand mixer.
Use this cream immediately to fill pastries, tarts, and cakes. After dessert is filled, refrigerate for about 1 hour to set the Chocolate Whipped Cream.

3. White Chocolate Whipped Cream from Alice Medrich

Ingredients
4 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp water
A pinch or two of salt (optional)

Directions
Put chocolate in medium bowl.
Bring cream and water to simmer in saucepan and pour over chocolate. Let stand for 30 seconds, then stir well.
Let stand for 15 minutes to finish melting chocolate, then stir again until every last bit of chocolate is melted into cream. Let cool. Taste and add salt, if desired.
Cover and refrigerate for at least several hours, or until completely chilled.
To serve, whip the cream with electric mixer until it holds a shape.
Use immediately or refrigerate until needed.

And, as always, your final product will only be as good as your ingredients. Use the best. Here's one of my favorite whipping creams!



Thursday, January 4, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Organic


The Big Bad Wolf's Brownies

The other night we had a full moon that will be the biggest and brightest of 2018. It's called the Wolf Moon, named after howling wolves on the coldest night of the year. It got me thinking about wolves in stories, and I remembered the Big Bad Wolf's Brownies from the Walt Disney Mickey Mouse Cookbook. This is a great and easy recipe--no huffing and puffing. Celebrate the Wolf Moon with these Big Bad Wolf Brownies.

The Big Bad Wolf's Brownies
This recipe for The Big Bad Wolf's Brownies appeared in Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Cookbook.

Ingredients
Shortening for buttering pan
1/2 cup butter
2 squares (2 ounces) unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour, unsifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup pecans or walnut pieces, raisins or salted pecans
2 eggs

Directions
Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9x9x2 pan with shortening.
Melt butter and chocolate in large saucepan over low heat. Remove sauce pan from heat.
Stir in sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla, and nuts. Add eggs and beat well with egg beater.
Pour batter into baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove pan from oven and place on rack.
When brownies are cool, cut into squares.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRIES DAY: 4 Easy Recipes

Life is just a Bowl of Chocolate Covered Cherries! Because there's nothing quite like a chocolate covered cherry, I thought I'd repost a few recipes to celebrate Chocolate Covered Cherries Day. So here are 4 easy recipes for Chocolate Covered Cherries. Still don't have any time to make these? Buy your favorite chocolate covered cherries to celebrate!

When I was growing up, I always wanted the chocolate covered cherry in the Whitman Sampler Box. Here are several simple and easy recipes for Chocolate Covered Cherries to celebrate the day.

I can buy fresh cherries at Berkeley Bowl, but if you're a locavore, you may not want to buy Chilean Cherries today. I've also provided recipes for dried or maraschino cherries. If you decide to use maraschino cherries, be sure and dry them thoroughly or your chocolate will seize. And, if you're using maraschino cherries, save the juice from the jar to make the Chocolate Covered Cherry Cocktail in this post! I also love Chukar Cherries. So many varieties. Any of these recipes would be great for Valentine's Day, so bookmark this page!

Chocolate Covered Fresh Cherries

Personally I like dark chocolate with cherries, but if you're a milk chocolate fan, go for it! As always, use the very best quality, organic, fair trade chocolate!  Hint: If the melted chocolate starts to harden  before you’re done dipping, put it back on the stove for a few minutes and give it a good stir.

Ingredients
8 ounces of fair-trade chocolate (I used Guittard 65%)
1/2 pound fresh, sweet cherries

Directions
Wash and dry cherries.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler or in saucepan over saucepan over simmering water.
Stir chocolate until completely melted and smooth.
Remove chocolate from heat.
Grab each cherry by stem and dip into chocolate. Swirl cherry clockwise, coating bottom 3/4. It's always nice to see the cherry showing at the top.
Place cherry on parchment paper covered baking sheet.
Repeat with remaining cherries.
Place in refrigerator until chocolate hardens.
If not eating right away, put chocolate covered cherries in covered container and keep in refrigerator for a few days.

Chocolate Covered Marschino Cherries
Use the above recipe with maraschino cherries. Just be sure and dry cherries thoroughly before dipping or your chocolate will seize.

Chocolate Covered Dried Cherries

Ingredients
8 ounces Dark or Milk Chocolate
1 cup dried Cherries (Chukar or Trader Joe's)

Directions
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate in double boiler as above or glass bowl in microwave. Once melted, remove from heat.
Add cherries to chocolate. Stir until coated.
Remove clumps of coated dried cherries with two forks or slotted spoon (this works very well), shaking off excess chocolate on side of bowl. Transfer to lined baking sheet.
Put baking sheet in refrigerator until chocolate hardens, about 20 minutes.
Store in refrigerator.

Feel like something alcoholic to celebrate National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day? Want to drink your Chocolate Covered Cherries?

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cocktail

Fill a tall glass with ice.
Add 1/2 ounce Bailey's, 1/2 ounce Kahlua.
Add a few drops maraschino cherry juice.
Shake.
Strain into another glass with ice.
Add a Chocolate Covered Maraschino Cherry for garnish!


And for your listening enjoyment! 
"Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries" 1931.

Cartoon of the Day: New Year Commitment


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Chocolate Cream Puffs & More: National Cream Puff Day

Today is National Cream Puff Day. Cream Puffs are one of the easiest pastries to make, and incredibly versatile. You can stuff them, top them, add flavoring to the choux, and really change them up! For example, during the holidays, you can make a Croquembuche, a pyramid of cream puffs drizzled with chocolate or spun sugar. You can stuff Cream Puffs with all manner of sweet and savory fillings.

A Cream Puff is just a baked puffed shell of choux pastry. In spite of the Betty Crocker Vintage Ads from the 1950s for Cream Puff mixes displayed below, they're really simple to make from scratch. Following is an easy basic recipe for Cream Puffs and Chocolate Cream, as well as a recipe for non-traditional Chocolate Cream Puffs.

CREAM PUFFS

Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour (some people use bread flour and that will really give these a different taste and texture, give it a try)
4 eggs

Directions
Preheat Oven to 425.
In large pot, bring water and butter to rolling boil.
Stir in flour and salt until mixture forms a ball. Transfer dough to large mixing bowl.
Using wooden spoon or mixer, beat in eggs one at time, mixing well after each.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in preheated oven, until golden brown. Centers should be dry.
When the shells are cool, split and fill.
How easy is that!

Chocolate Cream Filling

Ingredients 
14 ounces dark chocolate (65-85% cacao), finely chopped
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar

Directions

Place chocolate in top pot of double boiler over simmering water in lower pot (or in a saucepan over another saucepan that has simmering water). Stir just until chocolate melts, then remove from heat.
Pour cream into bowl. Using electric mixer set on high speed, beat until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form, about 20 seconds.
Pour all of melted chocolate into whipped cream quickly, continue to mix on high speed until evenly combined, about 1 minute.
Place chocolate cream in clean pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe into bottoms of cooled cream puffs. Replace tops on filled bottoms and serve immediately. Alternatively, spoon cream onto bottoms being careful not to put too much. Of course, it looks pretty when it's piped!
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Or you can make Chocolate Cream Puffs. The following recipe adds cocoa to a traditional cream puff (choux) recipe. Stuff with sweetened whipped cream. You don't need to add the sugar in the cream puff recipe, but I find the chocolate cream puffs taste a little better since there's no sugar in the cocoa. Of course, you could try this recipe with sweetened cocoa. Let me know what you think if you do that.

CHOCOLATE CREAM PUFFS

Ingredients
1 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp cocoa
2 Tbsp sugar
4 eggs

Directions
Preheat Oven to 400.
Combine flour, cocoa, and sugar in small bowl.
In heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring water, butter, and salt to a boil.
Stir in flour, cocoa, sugar mixture, until smooth ball forms. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until smooth and shiny.
Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls (golf ball size), 3 inches apart onto greased (or parchment lined) baking sheets.
Bake (in middle of oven) at 400 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until set and browned.
Remove to wire racks. Let cool before splitting.
Cool puffs completely before filling with Whipped Cream, Ice Cream, or whatever!