Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Marriage Counseling


CHOCOLATE COCONUT SOUFFLE´: National Souffle Day

Today is National Chocolate Souffle´ Day. If you've been reading this blog, you know that I love souffles, and I've posted many different recipes over the years. How could I have a Chocolate Blog without at least 5 Souffle Recipes?

Here's a new old recipe from Baker's Famous Chocolate Recipes (1936) for a twist on the souffle: Chocolate Coconut Souffle.

You might not have Minute Tapioca in your pantry, but let me tell you it's worth searching out for this recipe. Check out my post on Tapioca. As far as Baker's Southern Coconut Flakes go, I wasn't sure exactly what that is, so I used Baker's Angel Flake Coconut which is slightly sweetened. After all, it was 1936.. maybe it's the same, maybe it's another product all together. If you know, leave a comment or contact me. I'm sure there's a Food Historian out there who knows!

For Chocolate, I use high quality very dark chocolate. It might vary the taste, but I like fair trade natural chocolate.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

KAHLUA MEXICAN CHOCOLATE CAKE: National Kahlua Day!

Today is National Kahlua Day! I love Kahlua. It's such a versatile liqueur. Kahlúa is dense and sweet, with the taste of coffee, from which it is made. Kahlúa also contains sugar, corn syrup and vanilla bean, so you see why it's often matched with chocolate in drinks, cakes, pies and candy.

I have a great Kahlua promotional cookbook/pamphlet: The Best of Kahlua: A Guide to Food and Entertaining. (1970). There are some really great recipes in this book, but for National Kahlua Day, I think this recipe for Mexican Chocolate Kahlua Cake is perfect! Make it today or save the recipe and make if for Cinco de Mayo. You can also add a pinch of cayenne powder to give it a kick!




Monday, February 26, 2018

Double Chocolate Pistachio Brownies: National Pistachio Day!

Today is Pistachio Day! I love pistachios.

We used to eat lots of red-dyed pistachios when I was a kid. Our mouths and teeth would be stained red for awhile. Red Dye #5? We didn't worry about how it might effect us, nor did our parents. Here's why they were dyed red. Most pistachios when I was young were imported from the Middle East where traditional methods of harvesting left stains on the shells. The producers would dye the shell red or green to cover up the stains. Today, about 98% of pistachios sold in the U.S. are grown in California, where they use a mechanized harvesting process that means that the nuts are picked, hulled and dried before the shell has a chance to become stained. No need to dye them! Luckily, all-natural pistachios are readily available. Of course, if you want red dyed pistachios, Oh Nuts sells them. They are California Red Colored Roasted Salted Pistachios. If you're into nostalgia. And, FYI: Pistachios are very nutritional. One serving provides more fiber than a 1/2 cup of spinach or broccoli. 

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

Double Chocolate Pistachio Brownies

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

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

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

And, for your nostalgic viewing pleasure:

Sunday, February 25, 2018

HOMEMADE OH HENRY BARS: Chocolate Covered Peanut Day

Today is National Chocolate Covered Peanut Day, and one of my all time favorite chocolate covered candy bars is an Oh Henry! Bar. Of course you can buy one to celebrate the day, but why not make your own?

So what exactly is an Oh Henry! Bar?  

From Wikipedia:

Oh Henry! is a chocolate bar containing peanuts, caramel, and fudge coated in chocolate. It was first introduced in 1920, by the Williamson Candy Company of Chicago, Illinois. According to legend, Oh Henry! was originally named after a boy who frequented the Williamson company, flirting with the girls who made the candy. The name is also said to be a homage to American writer, O. Henry. However, there is no definitive explanation as to the exact origin of the name.

Another theory is that the candy bar was invented by a man named Tom Henry of Arkansas City, Kansas. Tom Henry ran a candy company called the Peerless candy factory, and in 1919 he started making the Tom Henry candy bar. He sold the candy bar to Williamson Candy Company in 1920 where they later changed the name to "Oh Henry!". Henry's family now runs a candy factory in Dexter, Kansas that sells "momma henry" bars, which are nearly identical to the original candy bar.

In 1923, an employee of Williamson, John Glossinger, announced that he was going to make the Oh Henry! bar a national best seller. Company officials said it was impossible and denied him the funds for an advertising campaign. Glossinger went into the streets and pasted stickers saying merely "Oh Henry!" on automobile bumpers. People became curious as to what an Oh Henry! was and sales for the bar rose quickly.

1926 Oh Henry! Advertisement
Nestlé acquired the United States rights to the brand in 1984, and continues to produce the bar. In Canada, the bar is currently sold by The Hershey Company and manufactured at their Smiths Falls, Ontario facilities. Because of Canada's different chocolate standards, the Canadian "Oh Henry!" is not considered a "chocolate bar" and is labelled instead as a "candy bar." In fact, unlike the American version, which labels the bar as "milk chocolate," the Canadian version makes no mention of chocolate on the front of the wrapper. Hershey sells Oh Henry! bars made in Canada on a very limited basis in the United States as Rally bars, using the trademark of a Hershey product introduced in the 1970s and later discontinued.

Want to make your own Oh Henry! Bars? Here are three different recipes. Funny, but several of them include oats. I'm partial to #III because it doesn't include oatmeal, but that's just me. The first two recipes do seem to really capture the flavor.

I. Oh Henry! Candy Bars

Ingredients
4 cups oatmeal
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup butter (melted)
1 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter

Directions
Mix together oatmeal, brown sugar, white sugar, and melted butter.
Press into greased 9 x 13 pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter.
Spread over baked bars.
Put in fridge so frosting hardens completely.

II. Oh Henry! Candy Bars 

Ingredients
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 cup white Karo syrup
2 cups oatmeal

Directions
Melt butter, sugar ,and syrup.
Add oatmeal.
Press in well buttered 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake 12 minutes at 350 degrees.

Melt:
1 c. crunchy peanut butter
1 (6 oz.) chocolate chips

Cool bottom layer and spread mixture over the top.
Refrigerate.
Cut in squares.

III. Oh Henry! Candy Bars (my favorite recipe)

Part One
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup water
3/4 cup peanut butter

Directions:
Combine over heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
Cook until it reaches the hard boil stage (265 degrees).
Let cool
Add peanut butter.
Stir, then shape into rolls 3/4 inch thick and 1 inch long.
Set aside.

Part Two
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 pounds peanuts, chopped fine
8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped

Directions:
Cook corn syrup and sugar together until it reaches the hard boil stage (265 degrees).
Dip candy from first mixture into second mixture, then roll in peanuts while still hot.
Melt dark chocolate and dip rolls into melted chocolate
Place on parchment paper.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies: Wine, Beer, Bourbon & Scotch Pairings

In my 'real' life  (www.teambuilding-unlimited.com),  I facilitate chocolate pairings--with wine or with beer..and sometimes with Scotch and other spirits. So because it's the weekend, I thought I'd do a mini-round-up of Girl Scout Cookie alcohol pairings and drinks, focusing on my favorite Girl Scout Cookie - Thin Mints.

Vivino is a wine app that allows users (over 13 million members) to snap a shot of a wine label or list and receive ratings and reviews. They've also put together a guide to pairing wine with Girl Scout cookies. How awesome is this? Since my favorite Girl Scout Cookies are Thin Mints, so I immediately checked that out. Be sure and look at the entire list or get the app. Quite fun! One of the Napa wineries is doing a Girl Scout Cookie and Wine Pairing next week to the tune of $125 per person. I'm sure it will be fun, but you can do this for much less at home! Invite friends.

So maybe you're not a wine drinker. You're more of a stout or ale type of person? Beer & Brewing has a great pairing for you, with a 2018 update. Once again, there are several pairings, but I'm sticking with Thin Mints. Recommendation from Beer & Brewing consists of several stouts and ales.
Perennial Artisan Ales 17
Alesmith Speedway Stout
Shipyard Mint Chocolate Stout
Epic Big Bad Baptist
Hardywood Sidamo Coffee Stout
I would add Speakeasy Chocolate Stout, and be sure and put the Thin Mints in the Freezer before your pairing. I think it enhances the tasting flavors. Check out all the other Girl Scout Cookie pairings here.

O.K.  So maybe you're a Bourbon drinker?  The Bourbon Review suggests Thin Mints & Basil Hayden's Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Be sure and go to Bourbon Review if you're partial to another cookie.

ScotchLagavulin goes well with Thin Mints.

In case you just want your cookies and alcohol blended into a cocktail, here are two recipes for Thin Mint Cocktails. Yes!

Thin Mint Martini

1 tsp chocolate syrup
1 ounce peppermint schnapps
2 ounces chocolate liqueur
2 ounces half & half

Drizzle chocolate syrup around and inside edge of martini glass. Put glass in freezer
Fill cocktail shaker with ice. Pour peppermint schnapps, chocolate liqueur, and 1/2 and 1/2 into shaker. cover, shake, and strain martini into prepared glass.

Thin Mint Cocktail
(recipe from Drinking in America)
In cocktail shaker, put 2 chopped springs of fresh mint and 1.5 ounces vodka. Add 1-12 ounces Baileys, 1 Tbsp chocolate syrup, and ice. Shake. Add more chocolate if needed. Add some chocolate syrup at bottom of cocktail glass.

Friday, February 23, 2018

CHOCOLATE BANANA BREAD: National Banana Bread Day

Today is National Banana Bread Day! I adore Chocolate and Bananas, so any recipe with these ingredients works for me. This is an easy delicious recipe for Chocolate Banana Bread. Since this recipe is from Godiva, I suggest using Godiva Dark Chocolate.

CHOCOLATE BANANA BREAD

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup alkalized unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
Pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
4 bars (1.5 ounces each) Godiva Dark Chocolate, finely chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter bottom and sides of 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.
In medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.
Beat butter and sugar in mixing bowl 2 minutes or until light, using electric mixer at medium-high speed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add bananas and vanilla extract at low speed, mixing until combined.
Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream. Add chopped chocolate and blend just for a few seconds.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake 55-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of bread comes out clean.
Cool in pan set on wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on rack.

Cartoon of the Day: Banana Bread

From Rhymes with Orange:


Thursday, February 22, 2018

MARGARITA TRUFFLES: National Margarita Day!

Happy National Margarita Day -- a great day to celebrate! Of course you can make a Chocolate Margarita... or... you can eat your Margarita! Try this easy recipe for Margarita Truffles! As with all recipes, use the very best ingredients -- the best white chocolate, the best Tequila, the best cream


MARGARITA TRUFFLES

Ingredients
1 cup heavy cream
12 ounces white chocolate, chopped  (I use Guittard white chocolate)
3 Tbsp Lime juice
1-1/2 Tbsp Tequila
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Coating
13 ounces White Chocolate, chopped
3 Tbsp Vegetable Shortening
Sea salt

Directions
In saucepan over medium heat, warm cream until small bubbles appear along edges.
Put white chocolate in food processor. Pour hot cream over white chocolate and allow to sit for 15 seconds. Process until smooth. Add Tequila and lime juice and mix briefly.
Pour mixture into shallow pan lined with plastic wrap, cover with plastic wrap, and chill until very firm, about 3 hours.
Put powdered sugar in shallow bowl.
Using plastic wrap, lift ganache mixture from pan.
With small melon baller or spoon take about an inch and roll into ball. Then roll ball in powdered sugar and place on wax paper lined cookie sheet. Freeze about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile melt white chocolate and shortening in top of double boiler (or sauce an over second saucepan over simmering water).
Remove truffles from freezer.
Dip each truffle in white chocolate and place on waxed paper lined cookie sheet.
Chill about 15 minutes.
Dip each truffle a second time in white chocolate.
Sprinkle top of each with tiny bit of sea salt. 
Chill until firm.
Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Cookies


CHOCOLATE CINNAMON BUNS: National Sticky Bun Day!

Today is National Sticky Bun Day! I love Cinnamon Buns, and what could be better than Chocolate Sticky Buns! Here's a great Retro Betty Crocker Gold Medal Flour Advertisement and Recipe for Chocolate Cinnamon Buns.

Chocolate Cinnamon Buns

Ingredients
3/4 cup warm water (not hot - 110 to 115 degrees)
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup cocoa  (use DARK cocoa for richness)
2 and 1/4 cups sifted flour
1 Tablespoon soft unsalted butter
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 Tablespoons sugar
chopped pistachio nuts (or almonds or pecans)

Directions
In mixer bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add shortening, salt, sugar, egg, cocoa, and 1 cup flour. Beat 2 minutes, medium speed on mixer or 300 vigorous strokes by hand. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Stir in remaining flour; blend well. Scrape sides of bowl.
Cover with cloth; let rise in warm place (85 degrees) until double in bulk, about 1 hour. (If kitchen is cool, place dough on rack over bowl of hot water; cover completely with towel.)
Stir down by beating 25 strokes. Turn soft dough out on well floured cloth-covered board.
Roll into rectangle, 12 x 9". Spread with butter; sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Roll up, beginning at wide side. Pinch edge into roll. Cut 12 pieces.
Place in greased 9" square pan. Let rise in warm place (85 degrees) until double, about 40 minutes.
Heat oven to 375 degrees (quick mod.). Bake 25 minutes.
Remove from pan, frost top immediately with icing (3/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugar moistened with cream or milk to spreading consistency.) Sprinkle with chopped nuts.
Serve warm.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

CHOCOLATE CHERRY PIE: National Cherry Pie Day

So today is National Cherry Pie Day, but since it's winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, I'm not sure why this food holiday shows up in February. Many markets carry cherries from Mexico and countries in South America, so check around. All of my markets have fresh cherries. Or, you can wait and bookmark this recipe to make in the summer.

But, if you can get fresh cherries, I suggest you make Chocolate Cherry Pie today. This recipe is from Allison Arevalo who posted this on Local Lemons several years ago.

This Chocolate Cherry Pie is indeed one of the most decade, and rich dark chocolate with a butter pie crust, this is positively sinful. The directions and photos on Local Lemons are outstanding.

I use pre-made pie crusts from Trader Joe's, but check the link if you want to make an outstanding pie crust that includes graham cracker crumbs as well as a good flour.

CHOCOLATE CHERRY PIE

Ingredients
2 pre-made deep dish pie crusts
2 1/2 pounds fresh cherries (about 2 pounds pitted)
1/2 cup agave nectar
4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shredded chocolate. (Mostly dark, with some milk chocolate mixed in, also chopped in food processor)

Directions
Filling
Pit cherries using cherry-pitter and put in large bowl. Add chopped chocolate, 4 Tbsp flour, and agave nectar. Gently toss until cherries are well coated.
Preheat oven to 400F.
With pre-made pie dough that's been rolled out. Fit into 9 inch pie dish. Carefully pick up and place in dish, cutting off overhang. Fill dough with cherry mixture. Roll out second piecrust and place on top of pie. Pinch sides closed with thumb and forefinger, and use sharp knife to cut three vents into top of crust. Brush with egg wash.
Bake for 25 minutes in middle of oven. Lower heat to 350F and bake for 25 more minutes.  

Photo: Local Lemons with permission

Cartoon of the Day: Flour


Monday, February 19, 2018

MARTHA WASHINGTON'S DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE: Presidents Day!

Martha Washington was known for entertaining, and who better than to put forth a recipe for Devil's Food Cake than the First First Lady. Her Devil's Food Cake is a classic chocolate-buttermilk cake that has been handed down through the generations, republished (with variations) by baking chocolate companies and appearing on thousands of websites. Presidents Day is a celebration of Presidential Birthdays, and this is the perfect Birthday Cake.

This recipe is from Capitol Hill Cooks: Recipes from the White House, Congress and All of the Past Presidents by Linda Bauer (Taylor). The collection of appetizers, entrees, sides and desserts, from two centuries worth of politicos, is a benefit for Homes for Our Troops, which helps injured veterans build or adapt their homes for handicapped accessibility.

Martha Washington's Devil's Food Cake

Ingredients
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, divided
2 -1/2 cup cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-by-15-inch pan or two 9-inch cake pans.
Melt chocolate in double boiler. Add 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup buttermilk, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Cool.
 Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder, baking soda, and salt and sift together three times.
Cream butter thoroughly. Add 3/4 cup sugar gradually, and cream together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat well. Add about quarter of the flour mixture, mix thoroughly. Add chocolate mixture and blend. Add remaining flour, alternately with buttermilk, a small amount at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add vanilla.
Pour batter into greased pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until done. Let cool. When completely cooled, trim edges and cut rectangular cake in half crosswise to make a two-layer cake. Fill and frost with icing of your choice.


Illustration: San Jose Mercury News Staff

Sunday, February 18, 2018

RED WINE BROWNIES: National Drink Wine Day

Of course you can drink a glass of wine on National Drink Wine Day, but why not accompany that wine with Red Wine Brownies. I've posted lots of wine and port and liqueur brownies, but this is an easy recipe! You can always make Brownies from Scratch. Here's a recipe for Merlot Brownies. But if you don't have time or the ingredients, here's a great easy recipe:

Red Wine Brownies

Ingredients
1 box Ghirardelli dark chocolate brownie Mix
1/4 cup bold Red Wine
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg

Directons
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Grease 8″ x 8″ baking dish.
In large bowl, combine wine, oil, and egg. Mix well. Stir in brownie mix.
Spread batter in prepared pan.
Bake for 45 minutes. Cool completely.
Serve with red wine.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

S'MORES SHOTS: Glamping!

A few weeks ago I attended a great event for the San Francisco Bay Area hospitality industry: Camp Pier 35! It was a great event with the entire Pier 35 transformed into a "Camp" with areas of the pier divided into food stations, bars, and entertainment. This event was put on by Metro Events, and Pier 35 was really tricked out to feel like the great (glam) outdoors. I had a fabulous time. Favorites bites were waffles with smoked butter and candied bacon, the Bacon Bar, Lobster Mac 'n Cheese, Hot Toddies, and S'mores in every conceivable variety. This was a true Glamping experience. Loved all the Airstreams and Florals and comfortable 'rustic' seating.

The S'mores Shots at the Glamping event were outstanding. They were served in tiny tins ... fab! So I thought I'd make my own variation on S'mores Shots. No need to wait until my next camping trip. Serve S'mores Shots in tins for that fun glamping experience or in shot glasses! This is not the only recipe for S'mores Shots, but it's easy and delicious. As always, experiment. Change it up as it pleases you!

S'MORES SHOTS!

Ingredients:
1/2 ounce Vodka
1/2 ounce Chocolate Liqueur
3/4 ounce cream or half and half
Chocolate syrup
Graham cracker crumbs
Mini-marshmallows

Directions:
Pour 1/4 chocolate syrup into bottom of glass.
Combine vodka, half and half, and chocolate liqueur in shaker with ice and shake for 15 seconds. Pour into glass. Add graham cracker crumbs and mini-marshmallows.

Optional: You can also do marshmallow/graham cracker rim (dip in marshmallow creme and roll in graham cracker crumbs) You can also add a skewered marshmallow over the top (take a torch to the marshmallows for authenticity!)

Friday, February 16, 2018

CHINESE FIVE-SPICE TRUFFLES: Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year! A few years ago I tasted fabulous Chinese 5-Spice Truffles at a special event. The chef wouldn't part with his recipe, so I did a bit of sleuthing. I found several recipes on the Internet, and experimented. As always the final outcome depends on the quality of chocolate and, additionally in this case, the spices. I found some locally produced Chinese Five-Spice, and I prefer it to the 'regular' Chinese 5-spice you can get at the local market. Five-Spice encompasses all five flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty. In case you want to make your own Chinese 5 Spice, scroll down for a recipe for Chinese Five Spice. It's easy to make, and that way you get to control the quality and freshness.

CHINESE FIVE-SPICE TRUFFLES

Ingredients
1 lb dark chocolate, preferably 70%
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (you can mix in a bit of sparkling sugar if you want to be festive)

Directions
Melt chocolate in metal bowl over saucepan of simmering water (or in a double boiler).
Remove from stove and pour cream with spices over it.
Let stand 2-3 minutes and then whisk together until smooth.
Refrigerate for an hour.
Take out of refrigerator and scoop or spoon into balls and put on parchment-lined baking sheet.
Put baking sheets in refrigerator for a few hours to firm up.
When balls are cold and solid, roll in cocoa powder, shaking off excess.

Chinese Five Spice
Recipe from Food.com

Ingredients
3 Tbsp cinnamon (I use Vietnamese cinnamon)
6 star anise or 2 teaspoons anise seeds
1 1⁄2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 1⁄2 teaspoons Szechuan peppercorns (If you don't have any, you can substitute black peppercorns)
3⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions
Combine all ingredients in blender or coffee grinder. Blend until finely ground. Store in airtight container. Keeps up to 2 months.

Tip: You can "roast" the whole spices a bit for more intense flavor -- in a dry frying pan, but watch closely, so spices don't burn.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Chocolate Covered Gum Drop Hearts

O.K. it's the day after Valentine's Day, but because today is National Gum Drop Day I thought I'd post a recipe for Chocolate Covered Gum Drop Hearts! Make them today, this weekend, or save this recipe for next Valentine's Day. You can cover just about anything with Chocolate, and I know you'll love these. As always, the quality of the chocolate--and, in this case, the gum drop hearts is important! Want to make your own Gum Drop Hearts? Here's a link to a recipe from Hoosier Homemade.

Chocolate Covered Gum Drop Hearts

Ingredients
8 ounces dark chocolate
16 ounces gumdrop hearts

Directions 
Melt chocolate in saucepan over another saucepan over simmering water.
With a fork, dip gum drop hearts, one at a time.
Let excess chocolate drip off fork. Carefully shake off any excess chocolate.
Slide gum drop off fork onto waxed paper.

How easy is that? Have a great Gum Drop Day!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

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


CHERRY PORT HEART-SHAPED BROWNIES: Valentine's Day!

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

CHERRY PORT HEART-SHAPED BROWNIES

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

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

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Valentine's Day Trial!


NO BAKE CHOCOLATE CHERRY TART for Valenine's Day

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

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

Ingredients
30 Oreos or other sandwich cookies
3 Tbsp 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?

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Monday, February 12, 2018

SHROVE TUESDAY: Pancake Day & History & Recipes for Chocolate Chip Pancakes!

Tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake Day! Shrove Tuesday marks the last day before Lent which is traditionally a period of abstinence, associated with clearing your cupboards of goods such as sugar, fats, and eggs. It's commonly known as Pancake Day because it represents a good opportunity to use such ingredients ahead of the fasting period.  

Pancake Day takes place 47 days before Easter Sunday. Because the date of Easter Sunday is tied to the cycle of the moon, Pancake Day can occur anytime between February 3 and March 9. Today it falls on February 28! In many countries, Shove Tuesday is celebrated with pancake throwing contests and races. Not so much in the U.S.

From Wikipedia: 
Like many other European holidays, the pancake day was originally a pagan holiday. Before the Christian era, the Slavs believed that the change of seasons was a struggle between Jarilo, the god of vegetation, fertility and springtime, and the evil spirits of cold and darkness. People believed that they had to help Jarilo fight against winter and bring in the spring. The most important part of Shrovetide week (the whole celebration of the arrival of spring lasted one week) was making and eating pancakes. The hot, round pancakes symbolized the sun.   

So to celebrate Shrove Tuesday and Pancake Day, you'll want to make pancakes, and I suggest one or both of the following recipes for Chocolate Chip Pancakes. I've listed two easy recipes for Chocolate Chip Pancakes, but you can also make Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes and add chocolate syrup or a dollop of chocolate ice cream...if you're in a chocolate mood. And, if you're giving up Chocolate for Lent, this will be your last chocolate treat until Easter!

1. Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Pancake batter
Chocolate chips

Make a batch of your favorite pancake batter. For every cup of dry pancake mix, add 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Mix batter. Stir in chips. Lightly grease and heat griddle or skillet. Pour a little less than 2 tablespoons of batter for each pancake. When bubbles appear all over uncooked side of the pancake, it's time to turn over. Cook the second side until light brown.

Or, if you don't have your own pancake recipe:

2. Chocolate Chip Pancakes


Ingredients
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
3 eggs, separated
4 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 2/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions
Put dry ingredients in bowl. Combine well-beaten egg yolks with buttermilk and stir lightly into dry ingredients. Add chocolate chips. Stir in melted butter. Beat in stiffly beaten egg whites.
Cook on griddle or in skillet.
Makes 10-12 pancakes.


MARDI GRAS, MOON PIES, & MOBILE

Moon Pies are a very Southern snack food, and Moon Pies in their packaging are thrown from floats during Mardi Gras in Mobile, AL, and other towns along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. They might not have the allure or shine of purple (justice) green (faith) and gold (power) beads, but they are a tradition, and people covet them--and they're great to eat! Catching items from floats means good luck, but sometimes, as in this case, it means a tasty treat!

I have a friend from Mobile, Alabama, and Moon Pies are definitely a Mardi Gras throw there. The first group to throw these chocolate covered marshmallow treats were the Maids of Mirth in 1956. The Chattanooga MoonPie company supplied the MoonPies after crackerjack boxes were banned because of dangerous sharp corners, and the MoonPie became a traditional "throw" of Mardi Gras krewes in Mobile, Alabama. The westernmost outpost of the Moon Pie as an important Carnival throw is Slidell, Louisiana, which has a parade by "The Krewe of Mona Lisa and MoonPie." The Moon Pie Company actually now offers smaller bite size individually wrapped MoonPies for throwing off floats.

So what is a MoonPie? Although it's often mistaken for a Whoppie Pie, it's not the same thing at all! A moon pie is a sandwich composed of brittle soft crumbly graham crackers and thick soft spongy marshmallow and then covered with rich dark chocolate.

The Moon Pie Brand began in 1917 with its trademark registered on Jan 1, 1919 in Chattanooga. According to the MoonPie Company, the story goes that Earl Mitchell, Sr, a bakery salesman, visited a company store that catered to coal miners. The Miners wanted something solid and filling because they didn't get time to break for lunch. About how big? he asked. A miner held out his hands, framing the moon, and said, "About that big!" When Mitchell returned to the bakery, he notices some workers dipping graham cookies into marshmallow & laying them on the window sill to harden. The idea of adding another cookie and a generous coating of chocolate was tried, and samples of this new MoonPie were distributed. It had a great response and became a regular item for the bakery.

During the 1930s, the MoonPie found its place in Southern folklore as part of the 'workingman's lunch." Coal miners and laborers could enjoy the biggest snack on the rack, a MoonPie, and a 10 oz RC Cola, each for a nickle. This inspired the 1950s country music hit "Give me an RC and a MoonPie. Double Decker MoonPies with three cookies and two layers of marshmallow appeared during the 1960s, and they were easier for vending machines.

So if you're in Alabama or Louisiana for Mardi Gras, try to catch some MoonPies!

Want to make your own Moon Pies? Here are some recipe links.

BrownEyedBaker
TidyMom
Delish
Serious Eats

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Valentine's Day Sale


VALENTINE'S DAY PEEPS!

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

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

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

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

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

The PEEPS® pictured here:

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



Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CREAM CHEESE BROWNIES: National Cream Cheese Brownie Day!

Today is National Cream Cheese Brownie Day, and I have a great recipe for Double Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownies. Philadelphia Cream Cheese is usually my cream cheese of choice since I grew up in Philly, but I've been known to substitute local rich California Cream Cheese. The extra dark chocolate chips are a great addition to these Cream Cheese Brownies, and you can actually add more than 1/2 cup. I chop up high quality chocolate rather than chips, but either works! Celebrate! Make Double Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownies today or make some for Valentine's Day. You can never have too many brownie recipes!

Double Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownies

Brownies
1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 ounces 85-95% good quality chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks or dark chocolate chips

Cream Cheese Layer
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Line 9 x 9 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil across the bottom and up two opposite sides of the pan.
In stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt butter and chocolate.
Remove from heat and stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Use a spoon. Stir in flour and salt and beat, until batter is smooth and glossy and comes away from the sides of the pan (about a minute).
Remove 1/2 cup of the brownie batter and set aside.
Fold chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate) into remainder of brownie batter and then pour batter evenly onto bottom of prepared pan.
Using mixer or food processor, whip cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, vanilla, and egg and process just until smooth.
Spread cream cheese mix over brownie layer. Spoon small clumps of reserved brownie batter on top of cream cheese filling. Then with knife or wooden skewer, swirl two batters without mixing them.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until brownies start to pull away from sides of pan and edges just begin to brown.
Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.
Refrigerate brownies until firm enough to cut into squares (at least two hours).
Once chilled, remove brownies from pan by lifting with ends of foil and transfer to cutting board.
Cut into squares.

Want to try some variations on Cream Cheese Brownies?
Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies with Heath Bars from Recipe Girl
Nibby Cream Cheese Brownie Cupcakes from The Spice Life
Bailey's Cream Cheese Brownies from Tasting Spoons

Friday, February 9, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Valentine's Day Gift


RED VELVET PANCAKES for Valentine's Day!

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

There are many Red Velvet Pancake Mixes. My favorite Red Velvet Pancake Mix is from The Griddle Cafe. My second choice which is still fab would be the Red Velvet Pancake Mix from Cost Plus World Market.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 8, 2018

CRÈME FRAÎCHE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE for Valentine's Day!

Chocolate Mousse is so perfect for Valentine's Day. I've posted many Chocolate Mousse recipes, and they're all wonderful, but it's always good to try a new one and this one is fabulous--and so easy!

A few weeks ago at the San Francisco Fancy Food Show, I met Sadie Kendall of Kendall Farms. We had a delightful conversation. Sadie pioneered Crème Fraîche in the U.S., and I've been using it for years in baked goods, cream sauces, and lots of other ways. 

"Sadie Kendall is one of the leaders of the revolution that continues to energize the American food industry. Before most of us had even heard of the delicious and versatile French preparation called crème fraîche, she was carefully adapting its production methods to the American dairy. Kendall Farms Crème Fraîche has become a classic. It is one of the few American versions that remains faithful to the French original, made from cultured cream without added enzymes or thickeners that compromise flavor and functionality. Kendall Farms Crème Fraîche is the benchmark for genuine American Crème Fraîche." - Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking and The Curious Cook.

THE HISTORY of Crème Fraîche from the Kendall Farms Website:

The Larousse Gastronomique defines crème fraîche as "cream to which a lactic bacteria starter has been added which thickens the cream and gives it a slightly sharp, but not sour flavor."

Crème Fraîche originated in the dairy-producing regions of France such as Normandy, Alsace, Franche-Comté and the northern Loire. Fresh milk was left to settle overnight at cool ambient temperature to allow the cream to rise to the top and then be collected for making butter. The naturally occurring lactose-fermenting bacteria worked overnight to thicken and acidify the cream.

In France today, crème fraîche exists in varying consistency from liquid to thick; the liquid version is barely fermented while the thicker product undergoes up to twenty hours of fermentation. The fat content may vary from product to product. All of the cream sold as crème fraîche is traditionally pasteurized as opposed to ultra high -temperature pasteurized.

Commercially produced crème fraîche in the US is far from consistent from brand to brand. Some manufacturers use cream from Jersey or Guernsey cows which lends a buttery, cheesey flavor to the créme fraîche due to the high content of diacetyl in the milk of those breeds. Many producers use a shorter, hotter fermentation period or bacterial starters that result in a one-dimensional flavor profile. Some manufacturers may even use thickeners.

Not Kendall Farms... it's a wonderful consistent product that I always have in the refrigerator. Always there for culinary emergencies, as well as perfect for sauces and baking--and this fabulous Chocolate Mousse.

SALLY KENDALL'S CRÈME FRAÎCHE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

Ingredients
2 cups creme fraiche
4 tbs confectioner's sugar
2 tbs instant coffee
1 tbs hot water
4 oz unsweetened chocolate

Directions
Dissolve instant coffee in hot water.
Place chocolate and coffee solution in saucepan and melt chocolate on low heat (stir frequently).
Whip cold crème fraîche, adding sugar, 1 tablespoon at time, to taste. Whip until stiff. Taste for sweetness.
Add a few tablespoons of crème fraîche to chocolate to equalize their temperatures.
Add chocolate to crème fraîche.
Whip to blend in chocolate.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

For more of Sally Kendall's Creme Fraiche recipes, go HERE.