Monday, March 19, 2018

THE CHOCOLATE EASTER BUNNY: History & Culture & Where to Find Them

A "Tail" of the Easter Bunny!

I love the Easter Bunny. If you've been to my home you know I have a giant wooden Easter Bunny in my living room. He should be holding a basket with Easter eggs, but that function has come and gone. I got him at the Oakland Museum White Elephant sale, and although he's not chocolate, he reminds me of other Easter Bunnies I've known and loved. I also have several cement bunnies in the garden...they're all filled with flowers. They are definitely Easter Bunnies, not just rabbits.

But back to Chocolate Easter Bunnies! Some Chocolate Bunnies are filled and some are hollow. Today I'm posting a random tour through hollow and solid Chocolate Easter Bunnies. Perhaps the most famous of U.S. Hollow Easter Bunnies are those manufactured by R. M. Palmer. Back in 1948, Richard M. Palmer, Sr., designed and patented the technology that is still used today in their West Reading (PA) production facilities. Palmer's vision was to give the old, tired chocolate bunnies of the day some new and interesting characteristics and names. The early bunnies named Flopsy, Peter Candytail, and Busy Bigby were not just "sitting" rabbits. Today, the list of their different styles of hollow chocolate bunnies is endless. They come in all shapes and sizes. And, if you're thinking the output of these hopping rabbits is slim, think again. Each year the R.M. Palmer Company produces 25 million hollow rabbits that range in size from 1/75 oz/4 inch high to  a 20 oz foot tall Grandbunny Heffelflopper.

In South Africa, the traditional Chocolate Bunny rabbit reached gigantic height and weight. Duracel built a 3 ton-4 meter tall Chocolate Bunny (Duracel symbol: Energizer Bunny) in Johannesburg. So much chocolate.What to do? Duracel put the edible giant Bunny to good use. It was chopped up and distributed to orphans. South Africa, sadly, has a huge number of orphans because of the AIDS epidemic which has taken many of their parents.  

Watch a video of the Giant Chocolate Bunny HERE.

Some local bunnies at the Drugstores and Supermarkets: Lindt Gold Bunny (in photo at top). I like the looks of this one and captured a few at Cost Plus, Safeway, and CVS. Others: Cadbury Solid Milk Chocolate Bunny. Being a dark chocolate fan, this is not my favorite. Dove Bunny: tiny little thing but tasty.

More High End Sophisticated Rabbits...are more to my taste. Anything from Jacques Torres. I love their chocolate. This year's Easter Bunny is a bit frightening in appearance. It's hand-painted with white chocolate features, bows, ear tips hands and tail. At $17, you've got to like the chocolate--and their chocolate is great. The 10 inch hollow rabbit comes in Milk and Dark Chocolate. I think the $9 Large Sitting Rabbit is more my style..a classic.

Speaking of retro, Christopher Norman Chocolates has a Racer Bunny. It's a hand-painted molded chocolate hollow bunny sitting in a woven convertible. Sooo cute. Who can eat this?

Martine's Chocolates has all kinds of lovely Bunnies, both sitting  (solid and hollow), Bunny Cartoon (solid), Bunny standing with Baskets and colored chocolate. Martine's chocolates, plus special artisan chocolate bunnies.

Vosges Rabbits: These are fabulous and they come in exotic flavors. These are molded with waving rabbit ears. Barcelona Bunny (Hickory smoked almonds  with grey sea salt (45% milk chocolate). Amalfi Bunny (Lemon zest and pink peppercorns and white chocolate) The Orchid Vanilla Bunny is really Tahitian vanilla bean with 62% dark chocolate. Toffee Bunny is the one after my heart. He's the Vosges sweet butter toffee with pink Himalayan salt and deep milk chocolate. I've never met a toffee I didn't like, and bunny shape? Well, of course.

But I fell in love with Vosges' Mad Hare Orchestra. All five members of the Mad Hare Orchestra arrive together in solid 62% dark chocolate infused with Tahitian vanilla Bean. Each is individually wrapped in its own bag and tied with ribbon. The Mad Hare Orchestra also comes in Solid 42% Milk Chocolate with a touch of pink Himalayan salt. Problem: They're so cute, I want to put them on the shelf.. I might just need to bite off an ear now and again.

Li-Lac Chocolates in New York has two giant Easter Bunnies--a Father Bunny and a Mother Bunny (unavailable as of this writing). The Father Bunny is 24" tall and weighs 10 pounds and serves 80 people. It's also $195!! It ships within 24 hours.

Moonstruck Chocolate Company has a Milk Chocolate Hand-Painted Calico Bunny. Love floppy-eared bunnies.. 

Bay Area Chocolate Bunnies!
Poco Dolce has several Chocolate Bunnies: An Olive Oil Bunny, an eight piece box of Raspberry Bunnies and a Bittersweet & White Chocolate Rabbit. They're all delicious!

Charles Chocolates sells a collection of Honey Bunnies, avaiable in a small and large size box. Within the box are many individual Honey bunnies with each bunny filled with a rich bittersweet Chocolate ganache with black button sage honey.

See's Tall Milk Chocolate Rabbit. A hollow, foil-covered Chocolate Bunny with a basket. 10 oz. There's also a small milk chocolate bunny in colored foil. These are a tradition, and they taste great. I'm a sucker for See's Candies. See's also has smaller Milk Chocolate Bunnies and Mini Milk Chocolate Bunnies (24 pack)

I haven't really mentioned the filled Easter Bunnies: marshmallow, coconut and more exotics fillings. And, Apologies to all my chocolatier friends who provide fabulous chocolate bunnies at Easter. Couldn't get to them all, but welcome comments. Nice thing about a Blog is that I can add at any time.

And, the age-old question of what part of the Bunny do you eat first? With all the new Bunny shapes and molds, it's not an easy answer. Which part do YOU eat first?

Love to hear about your favorite Chocolate Bunnies. I bet there's a chocolatier near you that does some outstanding work.

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL COOKIE BARS: National Chocolate Caramel Day

Photo: Martha Stewart Living
Today is National Chocolate Caramel Day. My favorite Chocolate Caramels are from Recchiuti Confections and EHChocolatier. But in case you want to make something to celebrate the day, here's and easy delicious recipe from Martha Stewart for Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars. And, since I've posted several chocolate caramel recipes, I thought I'd do a Mini-Round-Up of a few other Chocolate Caramel recipes! Be sure to scroll down.

If you don't want to bake, pick up a Chocolate Caramel at your local chocolate shop... or in a pinch have some Milk Duds.

Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars
adapted from Martha Stewart Living, November 2009

For the Crust
4 1/2 ounces (9 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for parchment
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt

For the Chocolate Caramel
10 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon sea salt, preferably fleur de sel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make crust: Line 9-inch square baking pan with parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides; butter parchment, excluding overhang. Beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add flour and table salt, and beat until just combined.
Press dough evenly into pan, and bake until lightly browned, about 30 minutes.
Make chocolate caramel: Place chocolate in medium bowl. Heat granulated sugar and water in small saucepan over medium-high heat, washing sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming, until amber, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter, cream, and table salt. Bring to boil, stirring until smooth. Pour over chocolate. Let stand for 2 minutes. Stir to combine, and let stand until cool, about 10 minutes.
Pour mixture over crust. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight. Run knife around edges; lift parchment to remove whole bar from pan. Sprinkle with sea salt. Trim edges, and cut into 16 bars. Bars can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Caramel Recipe Round-Up

Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Balls
Sea Salt Caramel Brownies
Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate
Chocolate Caramel Trifle with Raspberries
Hazelnut Caramel Toffee Bon Bon
Warm Chocolate Caramel Cakes
Caramel Filled Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate Caramel Apples
Nutty Chocolate Chip Caramel Squares 
Salted Caramel Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake in a Jar 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: The Cake

Bay Area Book Festival: Mystery Programs

The Bay Area Book Festival has moved its date but kept its exceptional programming. Over the weekend of April 28th and 29th, 2018, the fourth annual Bay Area Book Festival will fill downtown Berkeley (CA) with a literary extravaganza that offers pleasure to anyone who has ever loved a book.
Whether you’re a fan of science fiction, mystery, or history, of fiction or memoir, of poetry or food writing, of children’s literature or science, come experience one of the best book festivals on the planet! Tickets for the Festival and/or individual panels and talks are now available. Get tickets here.
In addition to panels and talks, there will be booths. Mystery Writers of America, NorCal chapter will have a booth with author signings. Be sure and check the booth when you arrive for times and signings.

Here are some panels of interest to mystery readers. Several of the panels are sponsored by Mystery Writers of America, Northern California Chapter.

Murder She Writes: 
Catherine Coulter Talks with Laurie R. King
Catherine Coulter interviewed by Laurie R. King
Saturday, April 28
10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Catherine Coulter, No.1 New York Times best-selling suspense writer and author of 82 novels (almost all of them New York Times bestsellers!), is interviewed by Mystery Writers of America NorCal president Laurie R. King, herself a bestselling author of 25 novels. These two remarkable writers will talk about Coulter’s journey from Regency romances to FBI thrillers, the research she does for her widely varied stories, and her craft, art, and life of writing.
Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Crystal Ballroom

Insider, Outsider: Do PIs or Cops Do It Better?
Cara Black,Candice Fox, Matt Goldman, Rachel Howzell Hall, moderated by Bill Petrocelli
Saturday, April 28
11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

At the center of every good crime novel is a hero sniffing out the truth, whether a veteran police officer hardened and informed by years on the force, or a plucky private eye who takes on the case with little to no resources. Four accomplished crime writers battle it out to determine once and for all who does it better, cops or PIs? Vouching for private investigators, Cara Black (Aimée Leduc, PI) and Matt Goldman (Private detective Nils Shapiro) will go head to head with Candice Fox (Detective Harriet Blue) and Rachel Howzell Hall (Detective Elouise Norton). Mystery author Bill Petrocelli moderates.
Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Crystal Ballroom

Viet Thanh Nguyen on Art and Politics
Viet Thanh Nguyen interviewed by Karen Tei Yamashita
Saturday, April 28
1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2016 for his novel “The Sympathizer,” Viet Thanh Nguyen—fiction writer, essayist, activist, and UC Berkeley doctoral alum—has become an outspoken voice for refugee rights and justice for immigrants. In 2017 he received a MacArthur Genius Grant, and while he was commended for “challenging popular depictions of the Vietnam War and exploring the myriad ways that war lives on for those it has displaced,” his latest efforts move outward to the plight of refugees across the world. His lauded story collection “The Refugees” explores immigration, identity, love, and family. His latest project, “The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives,” brings together a host of prominent writers. He joins us to today to talk with Karen Tei Yamashita, novelist and essayist on the immigrant experience, about the role of the writer in society, the importance of art to politics, and the power of the written word.
Freight & Salvage

Women Plot the Crime
Sara Blaedel, Anne Holt, and Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, moderated by Cara Black
Saturday, April 28
1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

The plot for the perfect crime may very well reside in the minds of these three cunning women. This panel of authors will discuss what it takes—and what it takes out of you—to write a complex, compelling, and believable (but un-guessable) crime story. Come plumb the minds of Sara Blaedel (Denmark’s “queen of crime”), Anne Holt (Norway’s best-selling female crime writer), and Icelandic best-selling author Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, as they talk with fellow crime writer Cara Black.
Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Crystal Ballroom

Utter Fascination: The Art of the Exceptionally Complex Character
Åsa Avdic, Therese Bohman, Carl Frode Tiller, Laleh Khadivi
Saturday, April 28
1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

How do writers create complex characters? These three authors discuss how they dream up, and then capture on the page, entirely new people who are exceptionally complicated. What narrative strategies do they use to create them? How did the characters develop in the authors’ minds? Don’t miss the complex characters on this panel: Asa Avdic, a journalist and breakout novelist whose debut, “The Dying Game,” is a chilling version of an Agatha Christie ensemble (characters trapped and slowly disappearing) in a futuristic Sweden; Therese Bohman, whose scintillating novel “Eventide” about a middle-aged woman’s life “explores complex inner worlds with great sensitivity and insight” (Kirkus); and Carl Frode Tiller with the “Encircling” trilogy, which endeavors to reconstruct a man’s mind piece by piece after he loses his memory.
The Brower Center - Tamalpais Room

Noir at the Bar: A Flight of Mystery! Sampling Bay Area Writers of Murder and Mayhem, with Drinks
Lillian Bell, Cara Black, Ellison Cooper, Reece Hirsh, Beth McMullen, Eileen Rendahl, Kelli Stanley, Domenic Stansberry, emceed by Sheldon Siegel
Saturday, April 28
5:00 PM - 6:15 PM

A Festival favorite returns! There’s no better way to celebrate the Bay Area’s love of noir than to toast mystery writers who have mastered the form. Feel like a bonafide gumshoe listening in on riveting short readings by these modern masters of noir. And while you’re at it, order your cocktail (or whiskey) of choice.
The Marsh - Cabaret

Know Thyself: The Ultimate Mystery
Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, Mark Sarvas, Carl Frove Tiller
Saturday, April 28
5:00 PM - 6:15 PM

It’s high literary tide mark on Saturday afternoon. Three of the smartest novelists working today discuss how fiction explodes the question of how we know ourselves. In “Call Me Zebra,” partly set in Spain, Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi depicts a heroine on a Quixotic quest; the Wall Street Journal said, “Hearken ye fellow misfits, migrants, outcasts, squint-eyed bibliophiles, library-haunters and book stall-stalkers: Here is a novel for you.” Mark Sarvas’ “Memento Park,” partly set in Hungary, was praised by Salman Rushdie as “a gripping mystery novel about art that is also a powerful meditation on fathers and sons.” Norwegian writer Carl Frove Tiller has written a trilogy whodunit about a man who’s lost his memory and reconstitutes himself via letters from friends telling him who he is; you can imagine how that turns out. Said Kirkus, “A wholly satisfying story about how unreliable narrators tell tales not just about events, but about our core emotions.” Who are you? Come explore how we know ourselves.
The Marsh - Theater

Nordic Noir: The Enduring Genre of Cold Climate Thrillers
Sara Blaedel, Anne Holt, Karo Hämäläinen, Steffen Jacobsen, Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, moderated by Randal Brandt
Sunday, April 29
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

One of the most popular sessions at the Festival returns for its fourth year. Traveling all the way from Scandinavia and Iceland to join us today, these authors will illuminate why their books—which situate grisly stories of murder and chaos in frigid regions—have the enduring power to captivate audiences worldwide. From Denmark, Sara Blaedel will discuss her internationally best-selling and female-led Louise Rick and Ilka Jensen series. Norway’s best-selling female crime writer Anne Holt will consider how her years working for police departments and as a lawyer have influenced her work. Finnish crime savant Karo Hämäläinen will let us in on how he became “a wicked and controlled writer who rarely allows his readers a moment of peace” (Toronto Sun). Hear from Icelandic best-selling author Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, who The Times UK said “is ensconced at or near the summit of Nordic crime writing.” And learn how Danish physician and thrill-master Steffen Jacobsen uses his talent for the macabre to create gripping reads.
Magnes Museum


Today is National Oatmeal Cookie Day! You could make traditional Oatmeal Cookies with raisins, but where's the chocolate? A food holiday without chocolate is not a holiday to celebrate! So, here's an adapted recipe from Quaker Oats for their Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies with Chocolate Chips (or Chocolate Chunks) instead of raisins. The original recipe is found on most Quaker Oats boxes...and on the website.


1/2 Cup plus 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3/4 Cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 Cup Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 Cup Chocolate Chips or Chocolate Chunks
 (optional) 3/4 cup chopped walnuts 

Heat oven to 350°F.
In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy.
Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.
Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; mix well.
Add oats and Chocolate Chips (or Chocolate Chunks) and chopped walnuts (optional); mix well.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown.
Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely.

Alternative: Bar Cookies
Press dough onto bottom of ungreased 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until light golden brown.
Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
Cut into bars.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Bailey's Irish Cream S'mores: St Patrick's Day!

Happy St Patrick's Day! Here's a great and easy way to celebrate the day. As always, it includes Chocolate! Who doesn't love S'mores? And, these S'mores Indoors are filled with Bailey's Irish Cream! Erin Go Bragh!

Bailey's Irish Cream S'mores!

3 ounces Baileys® Original Irish Cream
Crushed graham crackers
Mini marshmallows
Chocolate sauce (see below or use your favorite!)
Large marshmallows

Crush and then layer graham crackers at the bottom of a mason jar.
Add a layer of mini marshmallows and chocolate sauce (proportion and layer to your taste).
Top with a few large marshmallows.
Drizzle 3 oz. of Baileys Original Irish Cream on top for a sweet finish.
Brown marshmallows with a kitchen torch.

Easy Chocolate Hot Fudge Sauce 

1/2 cup unsweentened butter
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

In medium sized saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Once butter is melted, add sweetened condensed milk. Use whisk to combine. Add chocolate, and stir continuously with whisk until melted and smooth. Immediately remove from heat.
Store in glass jar for up to 2 weeks in refrigerator.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: St Patrick's Day Beer


I've been posting recipes for St Patrick's Day all week, and here's one more. This recipe for Bailey's Irish Cream Chocolate Cheesecake is adapted from Perfect for tomorrow's St Paddy's Day celebration! Easy to make and decidedly Irish. Be sure and check out the Bailey's Irish Cream Whipped Cream recipe at the end. It's great on this cheesecake and in your coffee on St Patrick's Day!

Bailey's Irish Cream Chocolate Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (whirl them in a food processor)
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened Ghirardelli or Scharffen Berger cocoa powder
1/4 cup unsalted butter (I used Kerrygold)
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened Ghirardelli or Scharffen Berger Cocoa powder
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup Bailey's Irish Cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, mix together cookie crumbs, confectioners' sugar, and 1/3 cup cocoa. Add melted butter and stir until well mixed. Pat into bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes; set aside. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F.

In large bowl, combine cream cheese, white sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa, and flour. Beat at medium speed until well blended and smooth. Add eggs one at time, mixing well after each addition. Blend in sour cream and Bailey's; mixing on low speed. Pour filling over baked crust.
Bake at 450 for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees F, and continue baking for 60 minutes.
With knife, loosen cake from rim of pan. Let cool, then remove rim of pan. Chill before serving.

Tip: If your cake cracks, dampen spatula and smooth top, then sprinkle with some chocolate wafer crumbs.

You can also top this Cheesecake with Bailey's Whipped Cream (or make some and add to your coffee!)

Bailey's Whipped Cream

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp Baileys Irish Cream

Whip heavy cream to soft peaks.
Add Baileys Irish Cream and whisk until combined.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sign of the Day: 7 Course Irish Meal

Happy St Patrick's Day!


Looking for one more recipe for St Patrick's Day?

I love cooking with Guinness, so I went to the Guinness website to see what's new.

Check out this recipe and video for Guinness Chocolate Mousse. Recipe below.

The recipe does call for raw eggs, so if you're worried, you might want to use a substitute. Definitely watch the video for tips! Thanks, Guinness!


Serves 6

10 egg yolks 10 egg whites, whisked
350g dark chocolate, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 lb unsalted butter
100g caster sugar  (icing sugar or superfine sugar)  100g = 1/2 cups
GUINNESS® draught

Directions  (watch video for more specifics)*
Melt dark chocolate and butter in metal bowl or pan over saucepan of simmering water, add inGUINNESS® draught.
Beat egg yolks and caster sugar until light and fluffy.
Mix in melted chocolate mixture with egg yolks and slowly folding in the whisked egg whites until everything is smooth.
Transfer mousse to serving glasses and chill.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Recipe for the Pot of Gold

Pi(e) Day: Grasshopper Pie for Pi Day & St Patrick's Day!

Today is National Pi Day. Since St. Patrick's Day is March 17, I thought I'd post a 'Green Pie' to celebrate both holidays.

Pi Day is an annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant Pi. Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern. Pi Day is observed on March 14 (or 3/14), since 3, 1 and 4 are the three most significant digits of Pi in the decimal form. In 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives supported the designation of Pi Day.

Grasshopper Pie is named because for its green color, although modern recipes may omit coloring the pie green. That would be a shame, though, since it's what makes it a classic. This pie was most likely invented in the 1950s in the U.S, and may have been inspired by the "Grasshopper Cocktail" invented at about the same time. Grasshopper Pie is a chiffon pie usually made with a Chocolate Cookie Crust, so you see why it's perfect for

Chiffon pies in the 1950s were often a combination of whipping cream, gelatin, sugar, eggs, and flavoring (see vintage recipe at the end of this post). In the case of the Grasshopper Pie, common flavoring used was alcohol in the form of crème de menthe, and sometimes other alcohol like crème de cacao. For non-alcoholic pie, mint flavoring was achieved by using mint extracts instead, though these might still contain a tiny amount of alcohol. Green food coloring gave the pie a light green color.

There are huge differences between classic recipes for Grasshopper Pie and modern ones. Since gelatin can be annoying to work with, many people now prepare the pie by melting marshmallows and blending them with milk or whipping cream, and sometimes cream cheese. Several recipes advocate the use of specific cookies like Oreos in the crust, but I use chocolate wafers.

In the US, Grasshopper Pie tends to be most popular in the South, but other parts of the country enjoy it too. The pie rose in popularity especially up until the 1970s. Many ice cream stores capitalized on the flavor of this pie by producing their own version with mint or mint chocolate chip ice cream and a cookie crust. Some ice cream stores are particularly known for their grasshopper ice-cream pies.

Following are several different recipes for Grasshopper Pie. As I said, this is perfect for Pi Day and St. Patrick's Day! Let me know if you have a special family recipe. Grasshopper Pie is so Retro!

Simple Grasshopper Mallow Pie  
 from Kraft

1/4 cup green creme de menthe
1 jar (7 oz.) JET-PUFFED Marshmallow Creme
1 pt. (2 cups) whipping cream, whipped
1 OREO Pie Crust (6 oz.)

ADD creme de menthe gradually to marshmallow creme in large bowl, beating with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gently stir in whipped cream.
POUR into crust.
REFRIGERATE 4 to 6 hours or until chilled. Store leftover pie in refrigerator.

Frozen Grasshopper Pie

1/4 cup butter, melted
2 rows Oreo cookies (lg. pkg.) crushed (you can also use chocolate wafers)

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup creme de menthe
1/4 cup white creme de cacao
2 cup (1 pt.) whipping cream, whipped

Combine crushed Oreos and butter and press in bottom of 9 x 13 inch pan.
In large bowl combine sweetened milk, creme de menthe and creme de cacao.
Fold in whipped cream.
Pour over crust. Cover.
Freeze 6 hours or until firm. Garnish with chocolate curls. Return leftovers to freezer.

Expert Grasshopper Pie  
From Bon Appétit

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
22 chocolate wafer cookies
3 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 cup whole milk
Pinch of salt
3 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp cornstarch
6 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Baker’s or Lindt), chopped
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp green crème de menthe
2 Tbsp light crème de cacao
3/4 cup chilled whipping cream
Shaved white and dark chocolates

For crust: Spray 9-inch-diameter glass or ceramic pie dish with nonstick spray. Finely grind chocolate cookies and sugar in processor. Blend in butter. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up sides of prepared dish. Freeze. 

For filling: Combine milk and salt in heavy small saucepan. Bring to simmer. Whisk egg yolks and cornstarch in medium bowl to blend well. Gradually whisk in hot milk mixture. Return mixture to same saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until mixture thickens, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Add white chocolate and butter; whisk until smooth. Transfer custard to large bowl. Whisk in crème de menthe and crème de cacao. Set custard over another large bowl of ice water until cold and thick but not set, stirring often, about 30 minutes.
Whip cream in medium bowl until stiff peaks form. Stir 1/3 of whipped cream into custard. Fold in remaining whipped cream. Pour filling into crust. Freeze at least 5 hours or up to 2 days. Garnish with shaved chocolates.

And one more,  
Vintage Cookbook Recipe for Grasshopper Pie that includes gelatin!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner, so I thought I'd re-post this easy recipe for Bailey's Irish Cream Fudge. This recipe is adapted from As I've mentioned, you can find some great recipes in some unusual places: Food Associations, Travel Sites, and other product sites.

Bailey's comes in different 'flavors', and your fudge can change flavor, too, when you use Mint Bailey's Irish Cream or Coffee Irish Cream or Creme Caramel Irish Cream. Try them all.


2-12 oz milk chocolate (35-45% cacao), chopped, or 2-12 oz packages of milk chocolate chips
12 oz dark chocolate (65-85% cacao), chopped or a 12 oz. package semisweet chocolate chips
2-7 oz jars of marshmallow creme
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cups of Bailey's Irish Cream
2 cups of chopped nuts (optional)
4 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
1-12 oz can of evaporated milk
1/2 pound of sweet Irish butter (KerryGold?), softened

In very large bowl, combine milk chocolate chips, semisweet chocolate chips, marshmallow cream, vanilla extract, Irish Cream, and nuts (if you are adding them). Set this mixture aside.
Line 10 x 15 baking pan with foil and spread lightly with butter.
In medium saucepan, combine granulated sugar, evaporated milk, and butter. Bring to gentle boil over medium heat and cook slowly, stirring constantly for about 10 minutes.
Pour milk mixture into chocolate chip mixture. Stir slowly by hand to combine. It is very important to do this by hand and NOT use any kind of mixer.
Pour fudge into prepared pan and chill until set.

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Cartoon of the Day: Pot of Gold

Monday, March 12, 2018

MILKY WAY BROWNIES: National Milky Way Day!

Although I've posted Milky Way recipes in the past, I didn't know there was a Milky Way Day until last year! Milky Way Bars have been around for almost a 100 years, so I shouldn't be surprised. Lots of Milky Way Ads from WWII, but I chose to post this ad for Milky Way Bars from 1930. Very cool!

My friend Donna always had Milky Way bars in her freezer, and I'd stop by her house on the way to school and have one. BTW, it wasn't really on the way, but worth the walk in the wrong direction through the park. I love frozen Milky Way Bars. When we were older, Donna and I got a ride to high school with a neighbor. While we waited for him, we availed ourselves of the Milky Way bars on his family's coffee table! Maybe this wasn't particularly healthy, but it was a delicious way to start the day!

Now, I buy miniature Milky Way bars to give out at Halloween. We don't get many kids where I live, so I put the 'extras' (that would be all of them) in the freezer. How to use them up? In Brownies, of course. And, these two recipes for Milky Way Brownies are great! One's for home, and the other's for a crowd!


Make your favorite Brownie Mix (I like Ghirardelli), following directions by adding the 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1 egg, and 1/3 cup water. At 20 minutes into baking (350F), put about 7 ounces of chopped up miniature Milky Way Bars or Milky Way Bites on top. Bake another 20 minutes. Oh yum!


Have a crowd coming over? Want to make a batch of Milky Way Brownies from scratch? This recipe is the Bees Knees! Love the Vintage Ad above!

1 pound unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 pound dark chocolate (70% cacao), chopped
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate (or very dark - 90%), chopped
2 Tbsp instant espresso powder
7 large eggs
2 Tbsp Madagascar vanilla
2 1/4 cups granulated white sugar
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
12 ounces miniature Milky Way bars, chopped
2 Milky Way Bars, sliced

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 12x18x1-inch pan. Line with foil that hangs over sides (butter the parchment). This makes it easier to get brownies out.
In metal bowl or saucepan over saucepan of simmering water, heat butter and chocolate until melted and smooth; cool slightly.
In large bowl, whisk together eggs, espresso powder, vanilla, and sugar. Stir egg mixture into slightly cooled chocolate mixture. Cool to room temperature.
In medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt, then add to batter. Stir chopped mini Milky Way bars into chocolate mixture. Then pour into prepared baking pan and smooth top with rubber spatula.
Place slices of full-size Milky Way Bar on top of brownie batter.
Bake 25 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Do not overbake!
Let cool completely, then cover tightly and chill overnight. These are very gooey, so be sure to chill if you want to cut them!

Sunday, March 11, 2018


Here's one of my favorite St Patrick's Day Chocolate Candies! Not sure how many people associate St Patrick's Day and Ireland with the Great Potato Famine anymore, but some must because See's Candies always makes Irish Potatoes for the holiday! This candy might not look great --well it looks like potatoes and that's part of the charm-- but it tastes great! These potato candies are hand-shaped and robed in milk chocolate. The filling is the same fluffy nougat that is inside See's Divinity Truffle. Yum!! They're only available for a short time, so be sure and buy some early this week.

Want to make your own Irish Potato Candy for St Patrick's Day? This Potato Candy is made with 'real' potatoes! It's a Philadelphia tradition. I've adapted this recipe from Food52. I use cocoa for rolling, but the cinnamon will work too.. or better yet, what about a blend? I also add toasted pine nuts for eyes!


1 potato (medium)
4 cups confectioners sugar
2 -1/2 cups shredded coconut
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
cinnamon or cocoa powder for rolling
Optional: Toasted pine nuts for eyes

Bring medium pot of water to boil and add potato. Lower heat and cook for 30-45 minutes or until potato is fork tender. When cool enough to handle (but still warm), peel potato and mash along with coconut oil, making sure to get it as smooth as possible. Stir in sugar, coconut and vanilla extract until everything is evenly distributed and well combined. Mixture will be soft, but at this point it should be able to hold it's shape, if not add a bit more coconut and/or sugar.
Using small scoop or teaspoon, portion mixture into balls and let them chill for about an hour.
Once candies are firm, pour about 1/4 cup of cinnamon and/or cocoa into medium bowl.
Form chilled balls into potato-like shapes and roll each in cinnamon and/or cocoa, adding more cinnamon or cocoa to the bowl if necessary.
Want to have some 'eyes' on your potatoes? Add some toasted pine nuts
Serve immediately or store well wrapped at room temperature or in the fridge.

Makes about 24-30 'potatoes'.

Cartoon of the Holidays: Holiday Icons

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Guinness Chocolate Cake for St Patrick's Day: 3 recipes

1938 Guinness Poster
For St. Patrick's Day every year, I post a lot of Guinness recipes. No big surprise because when I think of Ireland, I think of shamrocks and leprechauns...and Guinness.

Guinness Beer was founded in 1759 when Arthur Guinness signed a 9000 (!) year lease on a brewery in Dublin. That brewery is still the center of Guinness operations, and all the Guinness sold in the UK, Ireland, and North America is brewed there! FYI for those of you in the U.K., Guinness is served chilled in Ireland and the bottles read "Serve Extra Cold."

St. Patrick's Day calls for a Chocolate Guinness Cake! I've put together three recipes. One of my favorite Chocolate Guinness Cake Recipes is from the New York Times (12/8/04). There are several other recipes I like, including an "Easy" Chocolate Guinness Cake made from a cake mix--and a whole bottle of Guinness. The final one on today's post is from Chef Brian Leth of Vinegar Hill House and appeared in People Magazine in 2012 (see below). My friend Loanne Heavey Slapar swears by it (see photo below). It's pretty similar to the one from the NYT, but I'll bet it all comes down to the cocoa .. and a bit of technique.

Recipe from NYT (see above)

Butter for pan
1 cup Guinness stout
10 Tbsp unsalted butter
3/8 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa
2 cups superfine sugar
3/8 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp Madagascar vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper.
In large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter. Place over medium-low heat until butter melts, then remove from heat. Add cocoa and superfine sugar. Whisk to blend.
In small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, and vanilla; mix well. Add to Guinness mixture. Add flour and baking soda, and whisk again until smooth. Pour into buttered pan, and bake until risen and firm, 45 minutes to one hour. Place pan on wire rack and cool completely in pan.
Remove cake from pan and place on platter or cake stand.
Ice the top with cream cheese icing.

The NYT recipe uses a white cream cheese icing. If you use a white cream cheese icing, you can ice the top of cake only, so that it resembles a frothy pint of Guinness. If you use chocolate, well.... you'll be eating more chocolate!

Don't have the time or inclination to make a cake from scratch? This Chocolate Guinness Cake is even easier and calls for more Guinness!!! This recipe is from Canela and CominoDon't worry about the taste or smell of the Guinness because you're using the whole bottle. You'll only have a tang from the Guinness and no yeasty smell, just great chocolate aroma!


1 box of dark chocolate cake mix (one with pudding in the mix)
1 bottle of Guinness Stout
1/2 cup of Canola oil
3 eggs
4 ounces Bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.
Loanne Heavey Slapar with her Chocolate Guinness Cake
Combine cake mix, Stout, oil, and eggs in mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed just until combined. Add bittersweet chocolate and gently stir in. Divide between two 8” cake pans, coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when stuck in middle.
Remove from oven and cool in pans for about 15 minutes, then transfer to  cooling rack. Once cooled, frost with a rich Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.  (see recipe above or use canned)

From People Magazine/Vinegar Hill House:

Sign of the Day

Friday, March 9, 2018

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

CHOCOLATE CEREAL: National Cereal Day!

Today is National Cereal Day! There weren't that many (if any) chocolate cereals when I was a kid, and I doubt my parents (my Dad was a pediatrician) would have allowed them at the breakfast table. But over the years since my youth, there have been many chocolate cereals on the market. I'm not going to say that Chocolate Cereal is healthy, but since you'll probably add some milk, you'll be getting your calcium. It beats grabbing a candy bar for breakfast, but probably not by much. Nevertheless, since today is National Cereal Day, I thought I'd list some of the Chocolate Cereals that have hit the supermarket shelves over the years. None of these were in the cereal snack packs I had as a kid. Have any favorites? Leave a comment.

So for National Cereal Day, here are some Retro Chocolate Cereals! Be sure and scroll down for a Vintage Recipe for Cocoa Peanut Logs using Kellogg's Cocoa Krispies!

Also, check out my recipe for Chocolate Granola. There are also some healthy chocolate granolas on the market. Or you can make Chocolate Oatmeal with Chocolate Chips.

And a retro recipe for Cocoa Peanut Logs from the back of the cereal box!