Saturday, March 31, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Peeps


Chocolate Orange Hot Cross Buns for Easter!

A few years ago Jo Pratt posted this recipe for Chocolate Orange Hot Cross Buns - an Easter Recipe -- on the Mailonline. If you want to make hot cross buns and add chocolate without making a chocolate bun, you can make regular hot cross buns and add chocolate chips instead of raisins. But give this one a try. I've converted the measurements from the U.K. to the U.S. If you want to check out the original recipe with UK measurements, go HERE. Makes 12 buns.


CHOCOLATE ORANGE HOT CROSS BUNS

Ingredients
1/2 cup milk
4 Tbsp superfine sugar (castor sugar)
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups white flour
4 tsp dark cocoa powder
1 tsp mixed spice  (combo of allspice, cinnamon, clove, coriander, ginger and nutmeg)
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 Tbsp chopped mixed peel (candied citrus peel)*
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 3/4 fast action dried yeast
1/2 cup or 4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped, or chocolate chips
1 egg, beaten
Flour for dusting

For the crosses and glaze
1/4 cup white flour
1 Tbsp sunflower oil
2-3 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp orange juice
2 Tbsp caster sugar

Directions
Place milk in saucepan over low heat. Just before it boils, remove from heat and stir in sugar and butter, until dissolved. Add 1/4 cold water and leave to cool down until you can comfortably hold your finger in it for a few seconds.

Sift together flour, cocoa, mixed spice (if you're using it), and salt in large bowl and stir in mixed peel, orange zest, and yeast. Make a well in center and pour in warm milk mixture and beaten egg. Mix together until you have a sticky dough. Add chocolate chips or chopped chocolate, and knead on a floured surface for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

Place dough in large, lightly oiled bowl, cover with damp tea towel and leave to rise in  warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in volume. Punch dough and knead for a couple of minutes. Divide into 12 pieces and shape into buns.

Place on greased baking sheets, leaving enough space between each for rising. Cover with tea towel and leave to rise again until doubled in size – about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 F.

For glaze, mix flour and oil with 2-3 Tbsp water until smooth.

Lightly cut cross in center of each of buns with knife to mark out your crosses. Using piping bag (or  plastic bag with corner snipped off), pipe on crosses. Cook buns for 15-18 minutes until golden and sound hollow when tapped underneath.

Place orange juice and sugar in small pan, and gently heat until sugar dissolves. As soon as  buns are out of oven, brush with glaze and leave to cool slightly on wire rack before serving warm.


Friday, March 30, 2018

Chocolate Covered Strawberry 'Carrots' in Chocolate Dirt: Perfect Easter Centerpiece

Photo Credit: Driscoll's
Searching for the Perfect Edible Easter Centerpiece? You've found it! These Chocolate Covered Strawberry 'Carrots' in Chocolate Dirt are adorable and easy to make. Thanks once again to Driscoll's Strawberries for the recipe and for their always perfect strawberries! These Chocolate Covered Strawberry Carrots in Chocolate Dirt are also great for a Spring Table!

This has to be the best presentation I've seen in awhile. I actually use these little tin buckets for my succulents, so I have plenty. Don't have tin buckets? You can use small mason jars.

CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRY 'CARROTS' IN CHOCOLATE DIRT

Pudding 
1 cup sugar
4 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 cups whole milk, divided
6 Tbsp cornstarch

Dirt Topping
2 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about 40 cookies)

Strawberry Carrots 
1 package (16 ounces) Driscoll's Strawberries (the 8 largest from the package for dipping)
11 ounces white chocolate (make sure it's 'real' white chocolate--made with cocoa butter)
Gel food coloring (red and yellow)

Directions

Pudding 
In double boiler melt bittersweet chocolate. Set aside.
Whisk together 1 cup milk and cornstarch.
Bring remaining 3 cups milk, sugar, cocoa and salt just to simmer over medium heat. Stir cornstarch mixture then add to milk mixture in saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in melted chocolate and vanilla. Divide pudding between 8 food safe 6 oz stainless steel mini pail buckets or small 6 - 8 oz jars or glasses. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming. Chill.

Preparing strawberries
Rinse and dry strawberries. You do not want water on the berries when you dip them in chocolate. For best results berries should be at room temperature for dipping to ensure that the chocolate will adhere to berry.

Melting the Chocolate 
To melt chocolate on stovetop, put white chocolate in double boiler (or saucepan over saucepan) over simmering water.

Dipping and Decorating
Line baking sheet with wax paper or parchment paper. Once chocolate has melted, add 4 drops of yellow gel food color and 4 drops of red food gel color and stir well until thoroughly blended into chocolate.
Holding strawberry by green leaves, dip it into chocolate swirling the strawberry until coated. Coat about 3/4 of the way up the strawberry leaving some strawberry showing. Shake off excess chocolate and place on prepared baking sheet to set.

After dipping strawberries, take remaining chocolate and gently reheat until fully melted again. Prepare pastry bag fitted with piping tip and fill bag with remaining chocolate. With berries lying on baking sheet, start at tip of each berry and pipe lines half way across strawberry, alternating starting from left, then right until up to chocolate line below the calyx (strawberry stem). Repeat with remaining berries. If you don't have a pastry bag, you can dip  fork into the melted chocolate and drizzle the lines on--or you can use a ziploc with corner cut out.
Place decorated strawberries in refrigerator until chocolate is firm.
Before serving, remove plastic wrap from pudding and sprinkle tops of each pudding with cookie crumbs.
Once finished, add chocolate covered strawberry to center. Serve immediately.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Chocolate Chiffon Cake for Passover & National Chiffon Cake Day!

Today is Chiffon Cake Day, and, of course, that means Chocolate Chiffon Cake to me. These two recipes for Chocolate Chiffon Cake are perfect for today's holiday and for the upcoming Passover holiday. The first recipe is adapted from Manischewitz. The second recipe appeared in Jewish Boston in 2011.

Chocolate Chiffon Cake #1

Ingredients
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Manischewitz® Cake Meal
2 Tbsp Manischewitz® Potato Starch
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
6 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
9 inch two piece tube pan

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In bowl add sugar, Manischewitz Cake Meal, Manischewitz Potato Starch, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. With electric mixer or hand mixer, mix until well blended. Make a well in chocolate chiffon mixture and add oil, egg yolks, water, and vanilla. Mix for 2 minutes on medium speed.
In separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks are formed. Fold egg whites into batter gently.
Pour batter into ungreased 9 inch tube pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Remove cake from oven and invert pan on a heat resistant bottle until cool.
Remove from pan after cake has cooled.

Chocolate Chiffon Cake #2

This recipe is from David Levy and appeared in 2011 in JewishBoston. It will remind you slightly, but only slightly of charoset. So it's perfect for Passover.

Ingredients
8 eggs separated (bring eggs to room temperature first)
3/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup matzo cake meal
   sift potato starch and cake meal together
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 rounded tsp cocoa
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sweet red wine
10 walnuts coarsely chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat egg whites until stiff; gradually add half of sugar. Beat yolks with remaining sugar and salt; when yolks are thick and light in color add oil, a little at a time. Then add wine and cocoa, beating at low level. Gently fold cake meal/starch mixture into whites, then fold in yolk mixture, mixing nuts in at same time.
Bake in ungreased tube pan for 50 minutes. Turn over and hang from two-liter bottle until cooled.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Chocolate Easter Bunny


Chocolate Bunny Cakes for Easter

Photo: Chocolate Bunny Cake-William Sonoma
This Chocolate Bunny Cake is the ultimate Easter Bunny Centerpiece. I've mentioned before that there are so many great places to find recipes. This Chocolate Easter Bunny Cake recipe is from the Williams Sonoma Kitchen. They no longer sell this specific pan that accompanied the recipe, but you can find it or the one I use on eBay and other sites. Williams Sonoma does sell the Nordic Ware Standing bunny with basket that is available most places. It is a great alternative (see below). You can add PEEPS in the basket! Just bake the two halves of the cake and press together with icing. Chocolate, of course! Any of these 3-D Bunny Cakes would make a great Easter Centerpiece!

I actually have a totally different Easter Bunny 3-D cake pan for this cake, and there are lots of other bunny cake pans you can find. Here's a link to many different ones.

Double sided cakes aren't very difficult, and they're fun to make. The Wilton Cake Pan with the Eggs is the one in the recipe (first cake pan photo). You don't need to make the cake egg. You can make your own chocolate eggs or decorate with Jellybeans or Cadbury chocolate eggs instead. And, then there's the standup Bunny with basket. So many choices!

Alternatives: Bake a chocolate cake, cut into shapes, and cover with a buttercream 'fur' frosting and coconut! See the recipe and directions below to shape your Bunny Cake. Recipe and directions from Betty Crocker's Party Book (1960).

Wilton Cake Pan used in Recipe
CHOCOLATE BUNNY CAKE

Ingredients:

For the cake:
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
20 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
2 cups sugar
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk

For the chocolate ganache:
1 lb dark chocolate (65-70%), chopped into small pieces
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups heavy cream
1 jelly bean

Directions:
Have all ingredients at room temperature.

To make cake, position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 325°F. Grease and flour bunny cake pan; tap out excess flour.

Over sheet of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Williams Sonoma Bunny Cake Pan
In bowl of electric mixer fitted with flat beater, beat butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 30 seconds. Add sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping mixer occasionally to scrape down sides of the bowl. Add eggs a little at time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla just until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with milk and beginning and ending with flour. Beat each addition just until incorporated, stopping mixer occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl.

Spoon batter into prepared bunny pan, spreading batter so  sides are higher than center. Bake until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 35 to 38 minutes.

Transfer pan to wire rack and let cake cool upright in pan for 15 minutes. Invert pan onto rack and lift off pan. Let cake cool completely, at least 2 hours, before serving or decorating.

To make chocolate ganache: In metal bowl, combine chocolate and butter. In small saucepan over medium heat, bring cream just to boil. Immediately pour  cream over chocolate and butter. Whisk until melted and mixture is smooth.

Transfer 2/3 cup of ganache to small bowl and let cool to room temperature. Keep remaining ganache warm and fluid by placing the bowl over but not touching barely simmering water in small saucepan.

To assemble and decorate cake:  wash and thoroughly dry pan, then return both halves of cooled bunny cake to pan. Level cake by using serrated knife to gently saw off part of each cake half that rose above the edge of pan.

Line baking sheet with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, making sure it covers edges of pan, and set  wire cooling rack on sheet. Place both cake halves, cut side down, on rack. Remove any crumbs that fall off cake onto baking sheet. Slowly pour warm ganache over halves, coating completely. Tap baking sheet to allow excess ganache to drip off. Place rack on another baking sheet or piece of parchment paper. Using rubber spatula, scrape excess ganache from lined baking sheet back into bowl. Reheat over simmering water if not fluid. Set rack on lined baking sheet again and place egg cake halves on  rack alongside bunny (If you made these). Pour warm ganache over eggs.

Cut jelly bean in half and attach halves to bunny to create eyes. Place baking sheet, with rack still on top, in refrigerator until ganache has set and cake halves are firm enough to handle, at least 30 minutes.

Place one Bunny cake half, cut side up, in center of large piece of aluminum foil. Ganache on this side of bunny may smudge a little. Using small offset spatula, spread 1/2 to 2/3 cup of room-temperature ganache over  cut side. Slide  metal spatula under other cake half and carefully place cake half on top of other one. Press down on jelly bean eye to help secure halves. Use foil to help turn bunny upright, then squeeze bunny on jelly bean eyes, feet and tail to secure the halves. If there are any gaps in seam, place some warm ganache on small offset spatula and fill in gaps. Dab warm ganache on areas where you squeezed the cake and on any other exposed areas. Soften any smudged areas by heating gently with culinary torch.

Carefully slide large metal spatula under base of bunny and transfer to platter. Using spatula, transfer the egg halves to platter (if using)

***
This recipe and directions for a 3-D Bunny Cake from the Betty Crocker Party Cookbook (1960). This was before all the very creative cake pans out there! Although the recipe says to use a yellow or white cake mix, you can make your own Chocolate Cake (recipe above) or use a Chocolate Cake Mix. Love chocolate and coconut.. This is a simple and great cake.. and will make a lovely centerpiece!

CHOCOLATE BUNNY CAKE!




Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Chocolate Brownies: 4 Recipes for Passover

Passover begins Friday night, March 30, and if you observe the Passover holiday (8 days) you won't be eating any leavened food products. So in terms of chocolate baking you need to tweak some things, starting with not using flour. This doesn't mean you can't have Chocolate Cake, Brownies, or Cookies.. just an adjustment. And, if you're gluten-free, you'll love the first recipe. Baking without flour shouldn't be a problem, and these recipes are great any time, not just for Passover.

Because you might be baking dessert for a Seder, whether you're Jewish or not, you'll want to be sensitive and bring a Kosher for Passover dessert. That means not using flour and probably using margarine (or oil as in one of the following recipes) in lieu of butter unless you know the seder meal won't contain meat. I prefer using butter in most of my baking, so this is a hard one. However, if you plan to have sweets around at home during the Passover holidays or just want to make some new Brownie recipes, you'll love these. Use butter.

So for Passover week, here are 4 different recipes for Passover Brownies. Think of them as Flourless Brownies! You love Flourless Chocolate Cake, right? Try all the recipes and let me know which you like best. Do you have your own favorite recipe for Passover Brownies? Be sure and share by linking below.

These first two recipes I adapted from recipes I found on Chowhound in 2008.

Passover Chocolate Brownies #1

Ingredients
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
5 eggs, separated
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (not chocolate chips)
8 ounces finely chopped or ground almonds
Pinch of salt

Directions
Cream butter and sugar together. Mix in egg yolks.
Melt chocolate over double boiler (or over saucepan over saucepan with simmering water). Cool and add to butter mixture. Add finely ground almonds.
Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold into batter.
Pour into 9" square greased baking tin.
Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 45-50 min.
Cool and cut into squares.

Passover Chocolate Brownies #2

Ingredients
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup of matzo cake meal
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup DARK cocoa
3 large eggs
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Directions
Mix oil and sugar.
Add eggs and mix again.
Sift matzo cake meal and cocoa together and add to mixture.
Fold in nuts and mix thoroughly.
Grease 8x8 pan and pour in batter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
Cool and cut in squares.

This third recipe is originally from Gourmet 2000 ( Epicurious). It calls for a Chocolate-Wine Glaze, and you might want to try that. I like my brownies unadulterated, but I've tried the chocolate-wine glaze, and it's delicious. Nothing quite like chocolate and Manischewitz!

Passover Chocolate Brownies #3

Ingredients
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted margarine (if keeping brownies pareve) or butter, cut into pieces
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
Pinch of Salt
2 tsp finely grated fresh orange zest
3/4 cup matzo cake meal
3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with wax paper or greased foil.
Melt chocolate and margarine (or butter) in metal bowl over saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.
Beat eggs, sugar, and salt in large bowl with electric mixer on high until pale and thick. Beat in chocolate in 3 batches on low speed. Stir in zest, matzo meal, and nuts just until blended.
Spread batter in baking pan and bake in middle of oven until firm and tester comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
Cool in pan on rack, then invert onto a platter and remove paper or foil.
Cut into Squares.

Passover Chocolate Brownies #4

Ingredients
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or dark chocolate, chopped)
1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup matzoh cake meal
2 Tbsp unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
2 Tbsp potato starch
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions
Preheat oven to 350. Grease 8-inch square baking dish.
Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler or in saucepan on top of another saucepan with simmering water. Set aside to cool slightly.
In mixing bowl, stir together cake meal, cocoa powder, and potato starch.
Combine eggs, granulated sugar, and vanilla in large bowl. Beat with electric mixer until light and creamy – about 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture until smooth, then add cake meal mixture, beating on low speed just until combined. Batter is thick.
Fold in chopped nuts and spread in prepared baking dish.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or just until entire surface has puffed slightly. Brownies will still be moist in center.
Remove from oven and cool before cutting into squares.

I especially love Passover Brownies #4--very, very fudgy!!! Of course, I use very good chocolate! It really makes a difference!!!

Monday, March 26, 2018

PEEPS GARDEN CAKE for Easter or Spring


PEEPS are the candy of my childhood, especially around Easter. So today I thought I'd re-post this darling (and easy) PEEPS Garden Cake. It's a lovely centerpiece for Easter lunch, dinner, or brunch or for any Spring celebration. Recipe is from the PEEPS recipe site. The recipe calls for a Betty Crocker cake mix (since it's originally a Betty Crocker/General Mills Recipe), but you can use your favorite cake mix or your favorite chocolate cake recipe and icing recipe from scratch.

PEEPS EASTER GARDEN CAKE

Ingredients
1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist Devil's Food cake mix
Water, oil, and eggs called for on cake mix box
1 container Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy chocolate frosting
1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs  (I use Famous chocolate wafers)
1 can (6.4 oz) Betty Crocker green decorating cake icing
8 to 12 PEEPS® marshmallow bunnies (different colored bunny peeps are fun!)
1 can (6.4 oz) Betty Crocker orange decorating cake icing

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray.
Make cake as directed on box for 13x9-inch pan. Cool in pan on cooling rack until completely cooled, about 30 minutes.
Spread chocolate frosting on top of cake; sprinkle with chocolate cookie crumbs.
Use green icing to make garden rows, using photo as guide.
Insert toothpick halfway into base of each PEEPS® marshmallow bunny. Insert bunnies, toothpick side down, into cake.
Use orange and green icings to make carrots on cake, using photo as a guide.
Cut into 4 rows by 3 rows to serve.

How easy is this?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Easter Peeps: Bunnies & Chicks, Oh My!

"Are You My Mother?"
Of all my childhood Spring Confection memories, PEEPS stand out. My sister and I still buy each other PEEPS around Easter, although she rarely eats the sugary marshmallow-y creatures any more. She buys me purple rabbits; I buy her classic yellow chicks --the original PEEPS. You see where this is going? I'm a purist, but since this is a Chocolate Blog, I've made room in my Easter PEEPS inventory for Chocolate PEEPS.

So, PEEPS--you either love them or hate them. People do all sorts of things with PEEPS only some of which involve giving them to kids at Easter or eating them straight from the box. For me, it's the elastic quality of the "old" peeps that's fun for me--pulling them apart.
Chocolate PEEPS Bunnies off to work in the fields

Chocolate: The ultimate in the ever improving PEEPS. Chocolate-Covered PEEPS are available from the original company in both Dark and Milk chocolate. These are not the small peeps packed together in rows. No, these Chocolate Peeps come in individually wrapped packages, as well as in a three pack. Sadly, in the big ones, the cool sparkly coating of sugar is missing, and I think it would have been a nice buffer between the chocolate and marshmallow to make it stand out from the rest of the chocolate marshmallow candy.

However, the Chocolate Dipped PEEPS do have the sugar. I love the three pack of PEEPS Chocolate Dipped Chicks (both dark and milk chocolate), as well as the Dark and Milk Chocolate PEEPS Chocolate Dipped Mousse Flavored Marshmallow Chicks!

I'm a fan of Chocolate Eggs, and PEEPS has a very fun individually boxed hollow milk chocolate egg with a PEEP chick inside. Maybe it's been around for awhile, but I missed it. LOL!

And, just as an aside, Jacques Torres makes fabulous chocolate, and they sell Chocolate-Covered PEEPS. Their name: Chirp'N'Dales. They are adorable. Also, Asher's Chocolates makes Milk and Dark Chocolate Dipped PEEPS.

Other great uses for PEEPS:

1. Make PEEPS S'Mores, especially with the chocolate covered ones.
2. Plop a Chocolate Covered PEEPS down in your Hot Chocolate or Coffee.
3. Decorate cakes or cupcakes with PEEPS.
4. Create Your Own PEEPS Diorama.
5. Bake PEEPS in your brownies!

Want to make your own Chocolate Covered PEEPS using the original PEEPS?

1. Melt some good dark chocolate or milk chocolate (about 16 oz/depending on how many you plan to make)
2. Remove Peeps from package. I would use Chicks since they're the original, but the other shapes (rabbits, etc) work well.
3. Insert a lollipop stick into the Peep. If you're using the chicks, do it the widest way (maybe this is why they're sideways standing up in the packaged ones--and why bunnies work better). 
4. Dip the Peep into the melted chocolate. Two choices: Either cover the entire Peep or just dip one end as you would strawberries. Be sure and let any excess drip off.
5. Put on wax paper covered plate or cookie sheet and freeze for 20 minutes. 

Question? When is a PEEP, not a PEEP? When it's Chocolate-Covered.

Chocolate Dipped Peeps complete the flock!
 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Chocolate Pecan Brownie Fudge Cake for Passover

Here's a great recipe that's Gluten-free, perfect for Passover and just plain fabulous. This adapted recipe first appeared in the L.A. Times on April 14, 2011 and again in August 2012 with a photo by Glenn Koenig (which will make your drool), so be sure and check out what the finished cake looks like.

Instead of flour, the recipe calls for ground blanched almonds. Almond and chocolate go very well together. The almond flour gives the following cake a nutty flavor that is complemented by the Pecans! Try using different types of chocolate to achieve the flavor you like best.This cake is simple to make and easy to enjoy! Add some fresh whipped cream if you need to. I particularly like the crunchy top of this cake and the fudge-y insides.

Notes on special ingredients:

Almond Flour: Almond flour is readily available where I live, as well as online, but you can grind your own. Use a hand grinder (a clean coffee grinder) or blender. Don't use a food processor or you might end up making oil. If you use a blender, do it in small increments, about 1/2 cup at a time.

Turbinado Sugar: Turbinado sugar is a sugar cane-based, minimally refined sugar. It's medium brown in color and has large crystals. It's often mistaken for traditional brown sugar because of its light brown color, but it's made in a different way. It contains more moisture than regular white or brown sugar, so get some for your pantry. If you don't have it, and you want to make this cake today, you can substitute granulated sugar.

Potato Starch: No you don't have to make your own! Potato starch is available from Bob's Red Mill, King Arthur Flour, and many other sources. FYI: It is not the same product as potato flour.

CHOCOLATE PECAN BROWNIE FUDGE CAKE

Ingredients
1/3 cup potato starch (see my note above)
1/2 cup finely ground blanched almonds (almond flour-see note above)
1 cup turbinado sugar (in a pinch you can use granulated sugar)
Pinch salt
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate (the very best quality!), melted
1 cup chopped pecans

Directions
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 9-inch round or square baking pan and line with parchment paper so paper extends 2 inches beyond the pan. (Always good to ease the cake out of the pan)
In medium bowl, whisk together potato starch, ground almonds, sugar, and salt.
In small bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, and vanilla. Pour oil mixture over dry ingredients and stir together with wooden spoon until thoroughly combined and smooth. Stir in melted chocolate and chopped pecans. Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Level with frosting spatula dipped in cold water, if necessary.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out slightly moist but without crumbs.
While still warm, cut into 8 equal pieces, leaving cake in pan. Set aside cake to cool completely, then chill.
Bring cake back to room temperature before lifting out of pan (using parchment 'handles'), and gently separate into portions.
Top with fresh whipped cream and serve!!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

HOME-MADE CADBURY CREME EGGS for Easter

Do you love Cadbury Eggs? Are they a part of your Easter tradition? Want to make your own?

Instructables has a great recipe for Homemade Cadbury Creme Eggs. I think they're really good. They're easy to make, although a bit time consuming. Even if they don't come out egg shaped, or the shell breaks, they're yummy! And, you can use good quality dark chocolate for even better flavor!

HOMEMADE CADBURY CREME EGGS

Ingredients
1/2 cup Lyle’s golden syrup or light corn syrup
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 cup powdered sugar
yellow food coloring
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (or a bag of bittersweet chocolate chips)

The Filling:
Cream together corn syrup, butter, and vanilla. Sift in confectioner's powdered sugar and beat until incorporated. Separate filling into whites and yolks! Take out about third of filling and stir in some yellow food coloring. Put the two bowls in fridge to set up a little.

Shaping the Yolks:
This step is sticky! Keep your hands clean and cold. Make little yolk balls out of yellow mixture. Place them on parchment. Put them back in the fridge or freezer to firm up.
When yolks are set up, start embedding them in whites. Scoop an amount of white filling out and flatten it into circle. Place yolk ball inside, and wrap white around it. Put them in fridge.

Hint from Instructables: 
If you decide to use egg molds instead of dipping method, pipe whites and yolks into chocolate molds with  pastry bag. This would save a LOT of time. 

Filling the Molds 
Melt chocolate in double boiler or short bursts in the microwave. Fill molds with  chocolate and swirl to coat  sides. Once molds are set, put filling ball into half of each mold. Using more melted chocolate, join two halves of egg together. Let set and unmold. Use freezer to help set this up.

Alternative Method: If you aren't using molds, try this:
Melt chocolate + 2 teaspoons of butter in microwave in short bursts until just melted. Either dip fillings into chocolate with fork and let set on parchment, or skewer fillings and dip them --kind of like cake pops! Once chocolate is set, dip them again for a thick chocolate shell!

Want to see another recipe -- similar...but always good to have two to compare! Check out Ashley Rodriguez's (Not Without Salt) adaptation of this recipe on Food52.

No time to make these? Buy yourself some Cadbury Creme Eggs!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies for Passover

Here's a recipe I posted a few years ago. Perfect for Passover--or for anyone who's looking for a great Gluten-Free cookie.

Top pastry chef Francois Payard makes keeping kosher for Passover look easy, offering a range of non-leavened, grain-free desserts for the holiday. This is a fabulous and simple recipe for Passover or any time, and these cookies are Gluten-free. As always the quality depends on the cocoa! Thanks, Chef Francois, for the recipe and photo!

Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies

Makes about twelve 4-inch cookies

Ingredients
1/2 cup plus 3 Tbsp Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
Pinch of salt
2-3/4 cups walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions
Place racks in upper and bottom thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Combine cocoa powder, confectioners’ sugar, salt, and walnuts in bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 1 minute.

With mixer running, slowly add egg whites and vanilla. Mix on medium speed for 3 minutes, until mixture has slightly thickened. Do not overmix or egg whites will thicken too much.

With  2-ounce cookie or ice cream scoop or generous tablespoon, scoop batter onto prepared baking sheet, to make cookies that are 4 inches in diameter. Scoop 5 cookies on each pan, about 3 inches apart so they don’t stick when they spread. If you have extra batter, wait until first batch of cookies is baked before scooping next batch.

Put cookies in oven, and immediately lower temperature to 320°F. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, or until small thin cracks appear on surface of cookies. Switch pans halfway through baking. Pull  parchment paper with cookies onto wire cooling rack, and let cool completely before removing cookies from paper. Store in airtight container up to 2 days.

****

François Payard is a third generation pastry chef, who, after honing his skills by his family’s side and in the finest pastry kitchens in France, moved to New York where he was named “Pastry Chef of the Year” by the James Beard Foundation. Francois Payard has won numerous awards, such as the “Ordre du Mérite Agricole” by the French Government in 2004, he became a member of Relais Desserts International in 2006, an association of the 85 best pastry chefs in the world and in 2010 received the Dom Perignon Award of Excellence. 

Not just a chef, François is also the author of the popular cookbooks Bite Size: Elegant Recipes for Entertaining, Simply Sensational Desserts and Chocolate Epiphany: Exceptional Cookies, Cakes, and Confections for Everyone and PAYARD DESSERTS.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

CHOCOLATE CHIP COCOA MERINGUES for Passover!

Here's a staple to make during Passover. These Chocolate Chip Meringues are easy and tasty and fun to make with children. I always think of Meringues as a little bit of heaven--Light, Airy, and Sweet. You can serve them on a bed of chocolate chips to dress them up for dessert--or just stack them on a platter. Recipe from Allrecipes.com with a few tweaks.

Chocolate Chip Cocoa Meringues

Ingredients
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened DARK premium cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
3 egg whites
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 300. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sift 1/4 cup sugar, cocoa, and salt into small bowl.
In large bowl, beat egg whites with electric mixer until soft peaks begin to form. Mix in remaining 1/4 cup of sugar gradually, and beat until medium-firm peaks form. Sprinkle in cocoa mixture gradually, and continue beating until egg whites are stiff. Fold in mini-chocolate chips.
Drop mixture onto baking sheets by rounded teaspoonfuls, spacing about 1 inch apart.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes for crispy cookies. Cool cookies on baking sheets.

Tip: The parchment paper reduces risk of burning bottoms.

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

Ingredients
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

Directions
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


















VANISHING OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: National Oatmeal Cookie Day

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.

VANISHING OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients
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 

Directions
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!

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

Directions
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 

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

Directions 
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



BAILEY'S IRISH CREAM CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE: St Patrick's Day!

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 allrecipes.com. 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

Ingredients
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

Directions
Crust:
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.

Cheesecake:
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

Ingredients
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp Baileys Irish Cream

Directions
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!


GUINNESS CHOCOLATE MOUSSE: 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!

 

GUINNESS CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
Serves 6

Ingredients
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 DyingforChocolate.com.

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

Ingredients
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
from cooks.com

Ingredients
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

Directions
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

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

Filling:
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

Directions 
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!