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

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

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!


1/2 ounce Vodka
1/2 ounce Chocolate Liqueur
3/4 ounce cream or half and half
Chocolate syrup
Graham cracker crumbs

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 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.


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)

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

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

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

8 ounces dark chocolate
16 ounces gumdrop hearts

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


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.


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)

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!


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.

Makes 1 – 11 inch tart 

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


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

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

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.


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.

Serious Eats

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Valentine's Day Sale


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


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

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

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!

(Adapted from

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

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.

(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

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

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


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.


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

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.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

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

CHOCOLATE CHERRY TRUFFLES: 2 Easy Recipes for Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day is all about Chocolate and for me anything red, and that includes cherries. Remember your first Valentine's Day card? I bet it had a red heart on it. I used to love Chocolate Covered Cherries on Valentine's Day.

Here are two recipes for Chocolate Cherry Truffles. One has alcohol (Kirsch - cherry liqueur) and one is non-alcoholic. They're both easy to make which is what this blog is all about. These are my go-to Valentine's Day gifts!

Chocolate Kirsch Truffles
adapted from Martha Stewart

1 pound DARK chocolate (65-75% cacao),  chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature
4 Tbsp KIRSCH (cherry liqueur)
3 cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Melt chocolate with cream in heatproof bowl or saucepan set over another saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Add butter and Kirsch; stir until smooth.
Transfer to 8-inch square baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm but still maleable (about 2 hours)
Using melon baller, drop balls of chocolate mixture onto rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate 10 minutes.
Put cocoa powder into large bowl.
Using cocoa-dusted hands and working one at a time, roll balls between your palms until smooth.
Roll in cocoa to coat. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Easy Chocolate Cherry Truffles

13 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Dash of salt
1/2 cup DARK cocoa powder

In saucepan over another saucepan with simmering water, combine chocolate and cream. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.
Stir in chopped dried cherries, balsamic vinegar and salt.
Pour into small baking pan (8 x 8) and refrigerate until set (about 2 hours).
Put cocoa in bowl.
Using melon baller, scoop out about a small ball of chocolate mixture.
Place each ganache ball on parchment lined cookie sheet until all chocolate is used up. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Take out of refrigerator and roll into balls with your hands.
Roll balls in cocoa powder until coated.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018


Here's a great recipe for Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies. Perfect for Valentine's Day! Anything red and chocolate works for me! Who doesn't need another brownie recipe? This recipe is an adaptation of Sunny Anderson's from the Foodnetwork, and it's delicious. The recipe contains red food coloring, but there are some nice Wilton natural red colorings you can use. It's an easy recipe -- and oh so yummy! I use chopped chocolate rather than cocoa, but either will work in this recipe.


1 tablespoon sweet butter, for pan
Parchment paper

Red Velvet Brownie Layer
8 Tbsp (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1/4 cup high grade cocoa powder  (or 2 ounces dark chocolate, melted)
Dash of salt
1 Tbsp red food coloring (or Wilton natural red)
1 tsp vinegar
2 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Cream Cheese Layer
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/8 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter 8 by 8 inch baking pan.
Put long piece of parchment paper in bottom of pan, extending up two side--overhanging slightly on both ends (easy to remove brownies after baked)

Brownie layer: 
In saucepan, melt butter on medium heat. Put butter in large bowl and add sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder (or melted chocolate), salt, food coloring, and vinegar, in that order, mixing between additions.
Whisk eggs in small bowl and stir into cocoa mix. Fold in flour until lightly combined. Stir in walnuts and pour batter into prepared baking pan, saving 1/4 cup of batter for the top.

Cream cheese layer: 
Blend together cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla in medium bowl. Gently spread cream cheese layer on top of brownie batter in pan. Drop remaining brownie batter over cream cheese layer. Using skewer or tip of knife, drag tip through cream cheese mixture to create swirl pattern.
Bake brownies for 30 minutes.
Remove to cooling rack and cool completely before cutting.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: The Dessert Menu


Today is World Nutella Day! Nutella is a hazelnut chocolate spread that is praised the world over. In January, Nutella riots broke out in Intermarche supermarkets across France when the supermarket chain discounted Nutella by 70%. Police were called when people began fighting and pushing one another. All of the supermarket stock was snapped up with 15 minutes with several customers injured. This is hopefully an anomoly, but it's true that Nutella is a world phenomena.

The history of Nutella:
About 400 million kilos of Nutella are consumed in 175 countries around the world. Pietro Ferrero invented  Nutella after WWII. When Pietro had his vision, the Piedmont region of Italy, and its capital Turin, was already famed for its chocolate industry. It was the birthplace of Gianduja, a creamy combination of chocolate and hazelnuts. But only the rich could think of buying it.
Chocolate was very expensive, and the common people could not afford it. So in 1946 Pietro Ferrero launched Giandujot, or Pasta Gianduja. Produced as loaves wrapped in aluminium foil, it was a sort of solidified Nutella that had to be cut with a knife. The first spreadable version - Supercrema - came a few years later. Spreadability meant that a small amount went a long way, helping to break down the perception that chocolate was only for very special occasions and celebrations like Christmas and Easter. It could also be eaten with bread, which formed a big part of the diet at the time. People who never ate chocolate got the Supercrema habit. But it was Pietro's son, Michele Ferrero, who turned it into Nutella, relaunching it with its now famously secret recipe and iconic glass jar. Nutella was born in 1964. and it was not just an Italian success but a European success.
If you search the Internet today you will find hundreds of recipes honoring World Nutella Day! I post several Nutella recipes every year, but for today's holiday, I'm posting an easy recipe for Nutella Swirl Banana Bread! Wow!


3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1/1/2 cups Flour
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup Nutella

Preheat Oven to 350. Spray 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan with cooking spray & dust with flour.
Peel and mash bananas.
Combine sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.
Add oil, eggs, and banana and mix well.
Pour half mixture into separate bowl. Combine with 1/2 cup Nutella and mix. (If necessary, soften in microwave safe bowl for 10 to 15 seconds to make it easier to pour)
Alternate batters in prepared loaf pan. Swirl batters with knife (not too much)
Bake at 350º for 55-65 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool in pans for 15 minutes before inverting on rack.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Super Bowl Chocolate Beer Pretzel Truffles

Here's a great recipe for Super Bowl Sunday. These Truffles contain all the Football Food Groups: Chocolate, Beer & Pretzels (or nuts). These Chocolate Beer Pretzel Truffles are rolled in Crushed Pretzels, but you can use Crushed Peanuts or Crushed Beer Nuts. If you're a purist, you can always roll them in cocoa!


3/4 cup Beer (Guinness or another Beer you favor)
1 pound dark chocolate (65-75% cacao)--I really like to use Guittard Chocolate in my truffles
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Crushed salted pretzels

Melt chocolate in top of double boiler or saucepan over saucepan with simmering water.
Stir in cream.
Slowly add Guinness, stirring to blend.
Cover and chill overnight.
Shape mixture into 3/4 inch balls using small scoop or melon baller or your hands - using about tablespoon of ganache for each.
Roll in crushed Salted Pretzels (or crushed peanuts or beer nuts).

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Carrot Cake - Happy Carrot Cake Day!


TODAY is National Carrot Cake Day! I've always loved carrots, and growing up I was called Rabbit by some family members. Following is a great 1928 Vintage ad with recipe from the Ladies' Home Journal,  for a Coconut Carrot Cake. Of course, for my recipe I had to add chocolate: Cocoa and Chocolate Chips. All the great food groups in this one, especially with the cream cheese frosting! I also baked this in one pan. "Men-folks certainly like Coconut," and so do women!


1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
2 Tbsp DARK cocoa
1/2 cup water
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
2 cups shredded carrots
3/4 cups chopped nuts
1/3 cup coconut
3/4 cup chocolate chips

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

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

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

Friday, February 2, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Kitchen Island


I love to decorate cupcakes and cakes for special occasions. February 2 is the day when Punxsutawney Phil peaks his head out, and, if he sees his shadow and returns to his hole, it means there will be another 6 weeks of winter. If he doesn't see his shadow and comes out, there will be 6 more weeks of winter. Today he saw his shadow, so Spring is a long time away! This holiday was brought to international attention by the film Groundhog Day with Bill Murray.

Here's an adorable decorating suggestion for "Cupcakes for Young and Old" to enjoy. This is from (not my photo, alas, but Marg on She did a great job, don't you think? For this holiday, you can make your own cupcakes or buy rich chocolate-y ones at your favorite bakery!

Groundhog Day Chocolate Cupcakes (decorating)

12 baked chocolate cupcakes
6 Almond Joy candy bars
10 white jelly beans
3 watermelon slice candy
48 brown miniature M&Ms
4 chocolate cookies
white frosting
black decorating gel

Remove a piece of cake the width of an Almond Joy candy from the center of a baked cupcake.
Set candy bar upright in hole, then spread a layer of white frosting on the cupcake.
For groundhog's eyes, trim ends from a white jelly bean, stick them in place with frosting, then dot them with black decorators' gel.
Add a tiny triangle cut from a watermelon slice candy for a nose, brown M&Ms Minis for ears and cheeks, and a tiny rectangular piece of white jelly bean for teeth.
Sprinkle chocolate cookie crumbs around the partially emerged groundhog, for dirt!

Photo: Marg (Cayman Designs)

Thursday, February 1, 2018


Looking for a Savory Chocolate Super Bowl Recipe? You'll love these Chocolate Coca Cola Chicken Wings--fabulous for SuperBowl Sunday! This recipe is adapted from Michael Siry of Duke's Original Roadhouse and Big Daddy's Restaurant and appeared on the Today Show a few years ago along with two other chicken wing recipes.


4 cans Coca Cola
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce
1 habanera, minced
1-1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup aged balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chocolate sauce
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. orange zest
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup white vinegar

Brined chicken wings
2 cups flour
1/4 cup salt
2 Tbsp ground black pepper

Brined chicken wings
2 cups flour
1/4 cup salt
2 Tbsp ground black pepper
Vegetable cooking spray

1. Add all ingredients (except butter and white vinegar) into 2-quart saucepan.
2. Bring to boil and simmer until 3/4 reduced.
3. Add butter and vinegar.
4. Keep sauce warm and toss with wings.

Frying recipe:
1. Drain wings from brine, toss chicken wings in flour and place on racked sheet pan.
2. Let stand for 5 minutes; during that time preheat fryer to 325 degrees.
3. Fry wings in batches for 10-13 minutes until wings start to float.
4. Place on racked sheet pan to cool.
5. Toss in sauce.

Baking recipe:
1. Drain wings from brine and toss chicken wings in flour and place on racked sheet pan.
2. Let stand for 5 minutes; during that time preheat oven to 325 degrees.
3. Spray wings with vegetable oil spray.
4. Bake wings for 20 minutes (wings should reach internal temp of 150).
5. Place on racked sheet pan to cool.
6. Toss in sauce.