Monday, April 30, 2018

OATMEAL RAISIN WALNUT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: Oatmeal Cookie Day/ Raisin Day!

Today celebrates two holidays: Oatmeal Cookie Day and Raisin Day. Put the two holidays together, add chocolate Chips, and make these delicious Oatmeal Raisin Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies.

OATMEAL RAISIN WALNUT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup ground walnuts (can grind in blender)
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup raisins

Directions
In small bowl mix flour, baking soda, and cinnamon.
In large mixing bowl beat butter, and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.
At low speed, beat in flour mixture until blended.
Fold in ground walnuts, oats, chocolate chips (or pieces) and raisins.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350.
Grease 2 baking sheets.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Flatten each cookie slightly
Bake cookies until lightly browned around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes.
Transfer to flattened brown paper bags or wire racks to cool.

Tip: Dough also freezes well. Freeze dough balls on a cookie sheet and then put them in a ziploc bag in the freezer until ready to bake!

CHOCOLATE RAISIN BUNDT CAKE: National Raisin Day!

Here's an easy and delicious recipe for Chocolate Raisin Bundt Cake. This cake is perfect for National Raisin Day, today's food holiday. I adapted this recipe from Cooks.com, but you'll find variations on the Internet. As always, experiment. The following recipe uses a German Chocolate cake mix, but you can always use your own recipe and add raisins.

Chocolate Raisin Bundt Cake

Ingredients
1 package German Chocolate basic bundt cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup raisins

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease bottom only of 9 x 13 inch pan.
In large bowl, blend Packet 1 (cake mix) and next 4 ingredients until moistened. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed (portable mixer use highest speed). Fold in raisins. Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on cooling rack.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

CHOCOLATE BLUEBERRY PIE: National Blueberry Day



Today is National Blueberry Pie Day! My market always has fresh blueberries, but if yours doesn't, you can always substitute fresh frozen wild blueberries. I love the ones from Trader Joe's. Or you can save this recipe for the summertime when there are fresh local blueberries in your market!

You're probably used to strawberries and chocolate and raspberries with chocolate. I've posted plenty of blueberry and chocolate recipes for scones and muffins and chocolate covered blueberries. This recipe for Chocolate Blueberry Pie is so easy, especially if you use pre-made pie crusts! Don't use the ones in the shells. I like pie crusts from Trader Joe's. I keep them in the freezer, so I'm always ready!

Illustrations for this post are from the 1959 children's classic The Blueberry Pie Elf by Jane Thayre, illustrated by Seymour Fleishman.

CHOCOLATE BLUEBERRY PIE

Ingredients
6 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
3 1/2 ounces DARK chocolate, chopped
Juice of half a lemon  (I use Meyer lemons from my tree)
2 pre-made pie dough crusts (I use Trader Joe's pie crusts--but you can always make your own)
Butter

Directions 
Preheat oven to 350.
Line 9 inch pie plate with one of crusts.
In large bowl, smash some of blueberries with fork (leave most whole).
Sprinkle sugar and lemon juice over blueberries. Let sit 10 minutes.
If mixture is too watery remove some of liquid.
Mix in chocolate and pour mixture into prepared pie pan.
Top with remaining crust and pinch crusts together, make a few slits.
Brush top crust with butter.
Bake 60 - 65 minutes or until golden.
Let sit 15+ minutes before serving.

Friday, April 27, 2018

THE CHOCOLATE GARDEN

Chocolate Cosmos
A little diversion today from Chocolate recipes, Chocolate food holidays, and Chocolate reviews. I'm an avid gardener, mainly roses (including Hot Cocoa), and I am lucky to have several different garden areas on my property.

I've always wanted a dedicated 'chocolate-scented' garden. Since I'm in a fairly temperate zone of California, it's certainly possible. I've always used cocoa bean hulls as mulch, and there's nothing that smells more like chocolate than this mulch, but if you have dogs, you'll want to skip the mulch which is dangerous to dogs.

But as for real chocolate smelling plants, I've been given Cosmos atrosanguineus. This is a lovely maroon cosmos that actually has a heavy chocolate scent. Originally from Mexico, this plant reblooms in the San Francisco Bay Area Mediterranean climate.

I have Chocolate mint, a very hardy perennial, well it's mint, after all. Warning: it will take over the garden. Plant in containers or monitor its spread. It doesn't taste like chocolate, but definitely smells like it.

What could be more delightful than a chocolate garden? Be sure and check that these plants will grow and flourish in your zone. Be sure and check before planting.

Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata) Looks like a daisy with yellow petals and a dark chocolate center. The aroma from the flower can be detected as far as 30 feet away. This is a night-bloomer, so the garden will smell like cocoa in the morning.

Nicotania Chocolate Smoke
Nicotiana 'Chocolate Smoke' This is a Chocolate Flower Farm exclusive and replaced Nicotiana 'Hot Chocolate.' It has a very dark flower.

Decidious (to semi-evergreen) twining Chocolate Vine (Akebia Quinata): climbing plant with purple-red flowers that smell of milk chocolate. Warning: Can be invasive. Keep it trimmed.

Chocolate Mint (Mentha piperita): Some people think this tastes like a combo of chocolate and peppermint. Nice bronze-green leaves.. and as I mentioned, it can be used as a tea and as one of the main ingredients in Chocolate Mint Pots de Creme.

Delphinium "Kissed by Chocolate"

Dahlia 'Karma Choc': Not certain of the scent on this but it has a very dark color like chocolate.

Gilia tricolor (Bird's Eyes): annual California wildflower with wonderful fragrance. Meadow plantings. Grows to 3' (not for a small garden patch)

Columbine chocolate soldiers
Columbine comes in a chocolate-scented variety (Aquilegia 'Chocolate Soldiers')

Foxglove (Digitalis 'chocolate') now this is literally a Dying for Chocolate plant as foxglove is a poisonous plant  also: Digitalis Lanata 'Cafe Creme'; Digitalis parviflora 'Milk Chocolate'

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum 'Chocolate')

Rudbeckia (R. 'Chocolate Drop')

Sweet William (Diantush 'Bittersweet William')

Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus): Deciduous shrub with maroon brown flowers (cinnamon-spiced, bittersweet chocolate fragrance)

Himalayan Honeysuckle: (Leycesteria formosa) is a large shrub. Dark maroon to brown flowers followed by berries with a chocolate-caramel flavor. Can be invasive.

Cosmos Astroganguineus: Plants form a medium-sized clump of dark green leaves, with deep maroon blooms that smell of dark chocolate.

Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes
Chocolate Geranium (Pelargonium 'Chocolate Joy')

Penstemon 'Chocolate Drop' How can you go wrong with penstemon?

Hot Cocoa Rose: This is not chocolate scented, but I want to include it, as I'm a rose grower. The Blooms are burgundy with brown undertones.

One mustn't forget edible plants in the garden that smell (and sometimes taste) like chocolate:

Chocolate Corn, Chocolate Cherry Tomato, Chocolate Mini Bell Pepper, 'Velour Frosted Chocolate' Viola, Chocolate Nasturtium, and Milk Chocolate Calendula.

Cacoa Pod - UC Botanical Garden
If your local nursery does not offer the seeds or plants, contact Chocolate Flower Farm.They also have other chocolate scented products such as candles, bath and body products, chocolate teas, sachets and other gifts.

Love to add to this list, so please comment on your favorite "chocolate" plants. Plants or seeds welcome.

And, here's a photo from one of the University of California Botanical Garden greenhouses of a chocolate pod. I do not have a tropical greenhouse on my property.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

CHOCOLATE COVERED PRETZELS: National Pretzel Day!

Today is National Pretzel Day. How better to celebrate than with Chocolate Covered Pretzels!

I'm from Philadelphia, the home of the soft pretzel. When I was growing up, there were pretzel carts on almost every corner downtown. Usually we smeared our pretzels with mustard. The soft pretzels were very doughy on the inside but crunchy on the outside and dipped in rock (kosher?) salt. Since I always enjoyed baking bread, I used to make my own pretzels.

I did a little research on pretzels, and it wasn't surprising to find that the first commercial pretzel bakery in the U.S. was established in 1861 in Lancaster County, PA. In 1935, the Reading Pretzel Machinery Company introduced the automatic pretzel twisting machine. For a history of the pretzel, go here and here.

So when did chocolate covered pretzels come into the picture? It doesn't matter. These are delicious. Chocolate covered pretzels are usually made with hard pretzels. I love the salt/sweet thing.

Here's an easy recipe. As always use the very best chocolate for the very best flavor.

CHOCOLATE COVERED PRETZELS

Ingredients
1 1/2 good dark chocolate bars broken into pieces (6-8 oz?)
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
Pretzels (until your chocolate runs out)

Directions
Melt chocolate with butter in metal bowl over saucepan over simmering water. Remove from heat.
One at a time immerse pretzels into chocolate. Lift out with fork, tapping fork against side of bowl to let excess chocolate drip back into bowl.
Put pretzels on wire rack (over wax paper). Dry until chocolate hardens.

How easy is that?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BREAD WITH PISTACHIOS: National Zucchini Bread Day

Oddly, today is National Zucchini Bread Day. That doesn't really make any sense since it's only April 25 and my zucchini hasn't even started to bloom. Maybe this holiday refers to zucchini growing Down Under? Of course you can buy zucchini in the market all year round, but it's a summer crop in the Northern Hemisphere. By mid-summer here if you're growing zucchini (even one plant!), you've probably run out of friends to hand zukes off to, and you're thinking of wrapping your zucchini up in a blanket, putting them in a basket and leaving them on the church steps, so you might want to save this recipe for the summer.

Unfortunately Zucchini Bread doesn't use up a lot of zucchini, but it's a tasty way of serving up your courgettes! Add chocolate and you're calling my name!

When I first started baking 'vegetable' breads, I used old coffee tins for baking pans, but that was a long time ago, and my beans now come in recyclable paper bags. I usually make my zucchini breads in Bundt pans. Of course conventional loaf pans work, too, since this is a quick bread.

Most recipes say to let the zucchini bread cool before serving. I don't follow that advice since by the time the aroma has filled my kitchen for an hour, I'm ready to devour this Chocolate Zucchini Bread and often do! Since you, too, may make short shrift of this Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread with Pistachios, you'll want to make two, so double the recipe, if you plan to share.

A few comments on zucchini. Depending on where you live, zucchini may be called courgettes or marrows (remember Hercule Poirot throwing the marrow over the fence in the opening of Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd) and sometimes summer squash (although in my neck of the woods summer squash is a totally different squash and a different color).

For your recipe pleasure, here's a link to recipes for different, but equally tasty Chocolate Zucchini Bread: Geeky Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread and Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Bread. As you know, you can never have too many recipes for Chocolate Zucchini Bread!

This Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread tastes great toasted with a little cream cheese or mascarpone! And, the secret ingredient --  Pistachios!

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BREAD with Pistachios!

Ingredients
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp Madagascar Vanilla
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
6 Tbsp DARK Cocoa
2 cups zucchini, grated
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
dash of salt
1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped chocolate or dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pistachios
2 tsp flour

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°.
In large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Mix until well blended.
In small saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp butter, add 6 Tbsp cocoa and blend until smooth. Set aside to cool.
Peel and grate zucchini. Add zucchini and cooled cocoa mixture to the large mixing bowl and blend well.
In separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to the batter. Stir only enough to blend in all the dry ingredients.
In another bowl, coat broken up chocolate chunks (or chips) with 2 tsp flour.
Fold in flour-coated chocolate chunks and chopped pistachios to the batter.
Spoon batter into two greased and floured 9x5x3 loaf pans or into a greased bundt pan.
Bake 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
Cool in pans for 5-10 minutes.
Remove from pans and continue to cool on wire rack.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

CROCK POT CHOCOLATE CAKE


I know everyone is in love with their InstaPot, but some people are still enamoured with their Retro Crock Pots. Crockpots use moist heat to cook food over a long period of time. It's easy to put the ingredients in the crock-pot in the morning, set the timer, and come back to an incredibly delicious moist rich chocolate cake. 

CROCK POT CHOCOLATE CAKE

Ingredients
1 pkg dark chocolate cake mix
8 ounces sour cream
1 package chocolate pudding (instant or cooked)
1 cup or 8 ounces chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate/I put in more, but I'm a chocoholic)
4 eggs
3/4 cup oil
1 cup water

Directions
Mix all ingredients together. Pour into lightly greased 5 quart crock pot. Cover.
Cook 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.
Serve with whipped cream or ice-cream!


Monday, April 23, 2018

CHOCOLATE PICNIC CAKE: National Picnic Day!

Today is International Picnic Day! This Chocolate Picnic Cake is great any time. As you know if you read this blog, I don't usually add icing to my cakes, and this recipe is no exception, especially for a picnic. Well I always take the least messy foods. This recipe is slightly adapted from Epicurious, and it's so easy. It will become your go-to picnic cake!

CHOCOLATE PICNIC CAKE

Ingredients 

Dry ingredients
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup cocoa
1 3/4 cups sugar

Moist ingredients
1 cup oil
1 cup hot coffee
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Directions
Sift dry ingredients together. Add oil, coffee, and milk. Mix at mediyn speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat 2 minutes more.
Bake at 350 degrees in greased and floured Bundt pan for 45 minutes or a 9 x 13" pan for 40 minutes. Let sit 25 minutes before taking out of pan.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

EARTH DAY BROWNIES

One more recipe to celebrate Earth Day. These Earth Day Mint Brownies are delicious, and with the green center, they're great for Earth Day!

EARTH DAY BROWNIES

Ingredients 

Brownies
3 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1 cup DARK cocoa
1 1/2 tsp salt
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups oil
3/4 cup milk

Mint Layer
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
2 Tbsp milk
Dash of salt
Natural green coloring

Chocolate Glaze Layer
2 cups chopped dark chocolate
6 Tbsp unsalted butter

Directions

Brownies
Combine all ingredients in an large bowl and beat or whisk till smooth.
Pour batter into well greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350° for about 20-25 minutes. Cool completely.

Mint Layer
Beat till smooth and spread evenly over cooled brownies. Chill in refrigerator while you make the chocolate glaze layer.

Chocolate Glaze Layer
Melt butter and chocolate in saucepan over saucepan filled with water on simmer until combined. Let cool for 5 minutes. Spread over mint layer, smoothing as you go. Return to refrigerate for at least an hour.

Allow to come to room temperature before cutting into squares.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

CASHEW CARAMEL BROWNIES: National Chocolate Covered Cashew Day

You can never have too many Brownie recipes. Since today is National Chocolate Covered Cashew Day, I thought I'd pot this easy recipe from Betty Crocker for Cashew Caramel Brownies. As always, use the very best ingredients. You can use a box mix or you can make your own brownie recipe and follow the directions for the cashews and caramel. If you're making brownies from scratch, be sure to add dark chocolate chips.

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL BROWNIES

Ingredients
1 box Betty Crocker triple chunk Premium brownie mix
Water, vegetable oil, and egg called for on brownie mix box Save
2/3 cup salted dry roasted cashews, chopped
2 candy bars (1.76 oz each) dark chocolate-covered nougat and caramel candy, each cut lengthwise in half, then chopped (about 2/3 cup)

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Line bottom and sides of 9-inch square pan with foil, leaving foil overhanging on 2 opposite sides of pan. Spray foil with cooking spray.
In medium bowl, stir brownie mix, oil, water, and eggs until well blended. Stir in 1/3 cup of the chopped cashews and 1/3 cup of the chopped candy bars. Spread evenly in pan.
Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup cashews and 1/3 cup candy bars evenly over batter.
Bake 35 to 38 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out almost clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
Remove brownies from pan, using foil to lift.
Cut into squares.

Friday, April 20, 2018

CRACKED EARTH FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE for EARTH DAY

Earth Day! As many of you know, I blog about mystery/crime fiction at Mystery Fanfare, as well as about Chocolate. I'm also the Editor of the thematic review Mystery Readers Journal. A few years ago, we had an issue (Volume 29:1) that focused on Environmental Crime Fiction/Mysteries. In addition I compose lists of themed crime fiction. Have a look at my Environmental/Ecological Crime Fiction list on Mystery Fanfare.

I don’t know of a good crime novel that involves the chocolate trade. That’s a theme ripe for a good mystery. Something to think about while you enjoy “Cracked Earth Flourless Chocolate Cake” from the recipe below.

I've posted many flourless chocolate cake recipes, but this cake, adapted from Tyler Florence of the Food Network, is one of my favorites. Cracked Earth Flourless Chocolate Cake.

Cracked Earth Flourless Chocolate Cake

Ingredients
1 pound organic fair-trade dark chocolate (65-85% cacao), chopped into small pieces
8 Tbsp unsalted butter
9 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
2 cups heavy cream, cold 

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter 9-inch springform pan.
Put chocolate and butter in top of double boiler over simmering water until melted.
Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks with sugar in mixing bowl until light yellow in color.
Whisk a little of chocolate mixture into egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs - this will keep eggs from scrambling from heat of the chocolate; then whisk in rest of chocolate mixture.
Beat egg whites in mixing bowl until stiff peaks form and fold into chocolate mixture.
Pour into prepared pan (spray bottom with nonstick spray) and bake until cake is set, top starts to crack, and toothpick inserted into cake comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it, 20 to 25 minutes (and then check every five minutes after that--don't overbake).
Let stand 10 minutes, then unmold.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

AMARETTO TRUFFLES: National Amaretto Day

Today is National Amaretto Day. Amaretto is a sweet, almond-flavored Italian liqueur. Interestingly enough it isn't always made from almonds. It's primarily made from apricot pits and spices. The original version was made in Saronno, Italy. Amaretto is Italian for "a little bitter." Here's a link to Homemade Amaretto at Chow.com.

AMARETTO TRUFFLES

Ingredients
10 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup Amaretto
1 cup blanched almonds
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

Directions 
In food processor with knife blade attached, blend both kinds of chocolate until finely ground. In 1-quart saucepan, heat cream to boiling on medium-high. With food processor running, add hot cream, butter, and liqueur to chocolate, and blend until chocolate mixture is smooth.
Grease 8" by 8" metal baking pan; line with plastic wrap. Pour chocolate mixture into pan; spread evenly. Refrigerate chocolate mixture until cool and firm enough to handle, at least 3 hours, or freeze 1 hour.
Place chopped almonds in small bowl; place cocoa in another small bowl. Invert chocolate block onto cutting board; remove and discard plastic wrap. Cut chocolate block into 8 strips, then cut each strip crosswise into 8 squares. (To cut chocolate block neatly and easily, occasionally dip knife in hot water and wipe dry.)
One at a time, roll half the chocolate squares in chopped almonds to coat; roll remaining squares in cocoa.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

ANIMAL CRACKERS & CHOCOLATE: National Animal Crackers Day!

Happy National Animal Crackers Day! The original animal crackers of my childhood didn't have a lot of flavor, but even now when I think of them I remember their unique taste during zoo and circus visits. These trips were always exciting, and animal crackers were an important part of the experience. I remember the red cardboard boxes with pictures of animals in cages (sad now, but I didn't think about that then) and little flat strings to carry your box.

Today there are many different brands of animal crackers--vegan, chocolate, chocolate covered, covered with icing and sprinkles, and so many more. There are the original Barnum's Animal Crackers, and I really like Barbara's (all natural) Snackimals Double Chocolate and Snackimals Chocolate Chip.

Want to dress up your store bought Animal Crackers today to celebrate National Animal Cracker Day? Dip the animal crackers in Chocolate:

Chocolate Dipped Animal Crackers

Melt a good dark chocolate in top of double boiler over simmering water or in the microwave.
Dip animals and let cool on waxed paper.
You can either dip most of the animal (and use forks or special dipping tools) or just dip the feet as I did with the Walker Scottie Dogs with Muddy Boots. I like Trader Joe's Animal Crackers for chocolate dipping.

Want to get fancier? Healthy Happy Life (Lunchboxbunch.com) has a Chocolate-Covered Vegan Animal Cookies post with great photos and recipes.

There's even a Website devoted to Animal Crackers: www.animalcrackers.net/  Here you'll find a variety of recipes for animal crackers  such as Homemade Animal Crackers, Oatmeal Animal Crackers, Classic Animal Crackers, Cheese Animal Crackers, Chocolate Animal Crackers, and many others. Animal Crackers have been a snack since the mid nineteenth century. Today they are made by numerous well known companies, such as Keebler, Nabisco, or the Stauffer Biscuit Company. Although store bought varieties can be great, you might want to try some homemade animal crackers.

COCOA ANIMAL CRACKERS
Recipe adapted from AnimalCrackers.net


Ingredients
1/3 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Cup Organic Toasted Rolled Quick Oats
1/2 Cup Softened Unsalted Butter
1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Baking Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
3/4 Cup of Cold Whole Milk

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In Blender, mix organic toasted rolled quick oats, with flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and kosher salt.
Pulse until base mixture is completely ground up into delicate powder, and color and texture are even and consistent.
Pour this mixture into mixing bowl, and stir in cold whole milk and softened real butter. Stir until dough becomes stiff, adding any extra milk if you need to.
Roll animal cracker dough into ball on clean flat surface, then flatten out into quarter inch thickness.
Using animal cracker or other cookie cutters, make as many shapes as you can with dough.
Place your finished shapes on lightly greased baking sheet. Cook for ten to fifteen minutes, or until crackers are crisp.
Cool on wire rack for half an hour.

Waiter, there's an Animal Cracker in my soup! Animal Crackers make a great starch for soups and stews.  I've posted a recipe for a great Chicken Mole Polano made with Animal Crackers.  Or try this recipe for White Chocolate Mole with Animal Crackers.

Want a sweet chocolate soup with Animal Crackers? O. K., this is more of a dessert. This recipe was originally found on the Hershey's Cocoa Box.

CHOCOLATE SOUP WITH ANIMAL CRACKERS

Ingredients
3/4 cups half-and-half
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
2 tsp cocoa
1 egg yolk

Directions:
Heat half-and-half. Pour into bowl, leaving about 1/4 cup in saucepan or cup.
Add sugar, vanilla, cocoa to pan and mix until it is a syrup. Add egg yolk and stir over low heat. Gradually stir in preheated half-and-half. Stir until blended and thick. Pour into bowl.
Top with animal crackers.

Here's a link to several other Cocoa Soup recipes. All go well with Animal Crackers!

Enjoy this video clip of Shirley Temple singing Animal Crackers in my Soup!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

THE GREAT NEAPOLITAN BUNDT CAKE: Retro Ad & Recipe

I love these Retro Ads, and this 1974 Betty Crocker Ad for The Great Neapolitan Bundt Cake is really fun. It's inspired by Neapolitan ice cream (strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate). This recipe is also retro because it includes cake mixes and food coloring. You can always adapt it with your own favorite cake recipe, and Wilton makes some natural red colorings. Also, remember to use real chocolate syrup (I also add some cocoa to the 'chocolate' portion). I don't make a chocolate glaze. I sprinkle this Bundt cake with confectioners' sugar.



THE GREAT NEAPOLITAN BUNDT CAKE
Adapted recipe

Ingredients
1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist™ white cake mix (or yellow cake mix)
1 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 egg whites
10 drops red food color
1 tsp strawberry extract
1/4 cup chocolate syrup
1 Tbsp cocoa

Directions
Heat oven to 325°F. Grease and lightly flour 12-cup fluted Bundt pan, or spray with baking spray with flour.
In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, oil, and egg whites with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour about 1 2/3 cups batter into pan.
Into small bowl, pour 1 1/3 cups batter; stir in food color and strawberry extract. Carefully pour pink batter over white batter in pan.
Stir chocolate syrup and cocoa into remaining batter. Carefully pour chocolate batter over pink batter.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted 1 1/2 inches from side of cake comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes.
Turn pan upside down onto cooling rack or heatproof serving plate; remove pan. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
When cool, dust with powdered sugar or with chocolate glaze (original recipe)

Cartoon of the Day: Fromage


Monday, April 16, 2018

MAGIC COOKIE BARS: Retro Ad & Recipe

If you follow this blog, you know that I love Retro Ads, especially those with chocolate recipes. Here's a great recipe from Borden Eagle Brand (Elsie the Cow) for Magic Cookie Bars -- "Munchible Magic in Minutes." Be sure to scroll down for the recipe--and for variations. This is such a versatile recipe!


MAGIC COOKIE BARS

Ingredients 
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup chopped nuts

Directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees for glass dish). Coat 13 x 9-inch baking pan with no-stick cooking spray.
Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press into bottom of prepared pan.
Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture.
Layer evenly with chocolate chips, coconut, and nuts.
Press down firmly with a fork.
Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned.
Cool.
Cut into bars or diamonds.
Store covered at room temperature.

Variations 

7-Layer Magic Cookie Bars:
Substitute 1 cup (6-ounces) butterscotch flavored chips for 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and proceed as directed above. Peanut butter flavored chips or white chocolate chips can be substituted for butterscotch flavored chips.

Magic Peanut Cookie Bars:
Substitute 2 cups (about 3/4 pound) chocolate-covered peanuts for semi-sweet chocolate chips and chopped nuts.

Magic Rainbow Cookie Bars: 
Substitute 2 cups plain candy-coated chocolate candies for semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

LAST DINNER ON THE TITANIC: CHOCOLATE ECLAIRS: Titanic Remembrance Day!

In 2012 for the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic's maiden voyage, many restaurants and special venues held 'memorial' dinners. Many of them replicating the final meal. In terms of Chocolate, the First Class Service that "last" night included Painted Chocolate Eclairs with French Vanilla Ice Cream aka Chocolate Eclairs with Creme Patissiere.  Since today is Titanic Remembrance Day, I thought I'd post the recipe.

At the end of this post, I've included the recipe from the cookbook Last Dinner on the Titanic. This great cookbook includes recipes and facts and Titanic trivia. Originally published for the 85th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic, Rick Archbold and Chef Dana McCauley's Last Dinner On the Titanic: Menus and Recipes from the Great Liner is one part social history, one part recipe book, and one part guide to recreating one of the most famous - and most elegant - dinner parties in recent history. As one critic wrote, it's "A cookbook designed to recreate the atmosphere of dining on the famous, doomed luxury liner serves up such recipes as Lobster Thermidor, Quail's Eggs in Aspic with Caviar, and Poached Salmon with Dilled Mousseline Sauce and Cucumber."

In case you've been living completely off the grid, you will know that in the early hours of the morning, April 15, 1912, the great steamship RMS Titanic met its tragic fate. At 11:30pm on April 14, the state-of-the-art cruise ship that was on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic hit an iceberg, resulting in a 300-foot-wide rip below the waterline. The damage caused the ship to plunge two miles down to the ocean floor, leading to the deaths of more than 1500 passengers and crew members. But without knowledge of the events to come, on the evening of April 14th, the first-class passengers enjoyed what would be their final meal on the ship. And it was an extravagant and decadent meal.

TITANIC FIRST CLASS MENU
As served in the first-class dining saloon of the R.M.S. Titanic on April 14, 1912

First Course
Hors D'Oeuvres
Oysters

Second Course
Consommé Olga
Cream of Barley

Third Course
Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce, Cucumbers

Fourth Course
Filet Mignons Lili
Saute of Chicken, Lyonnaise
Vegetable Marrow Farci

Fifth Course
Lamb, Mint Sauce
Roast Duckling, Apple Sauce
Sirloin of Beef, Chateau Potatoes
Green Pea
Creamed Carrots
Boiled Rice
Parmentier & Boiled New Potatoes

Sixth Course
Punch Romaine

Seventh Course
Roast Squab & Cress

Eighth Course
Cold Asparagus Vinaigrette

Ninth Course
Pate de Foie Gras
Celery

Tenth Course
Waldorf Pudding
Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly
Chocolate & Vanilla Eclairs
French Ice Cream

The meal was served with a different wine for each course. Following the tenth course, fresh fruits and cheeses were available, followed by coffee and cigars accompanied by port and, if desired, distilled spirits.

Chocolate and Vanilla Eclairs 
with French Vanilla Ice Cream 
From The Last Dinner on the Titanic Cookbook

Both the pastry and the filling (standard French pastry cream) date back to the Renaissance, when the Arab art of pastry making invaded Europe by way of Italy. Making perfect choux pastry is a skill acquired through practice. Don’t be alarmed if your first attempt tastes better than it looks.
(You can always buy a nice high quality ice cream if you don't have time to make your own)*

PASTRY CREAM

Ingredients
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup whipping cream

Directions
In bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 1/4 cup of sugar for 2 minutes or until pale yellow. Adding flour in 3 additions, stir until well mixed.
In saucepan, heat milk, remaining sugar, and vanilla bean over medium heat, stirring often, for 8 to 10 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and small bubbles are beginning to form around edges of pot. Stirring constantly, pour about one-third of the milk mixture into egg mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.
Pour egg mixture into remaining milk and cook, stirring for 3 to 4 minutes or until mixture begins to bubble. Continue to cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture begins to mound and hold its shape; remove from heat. Stir in butter and remove vanilla bean.
Transfer to bowl, cover with plastic wrap touching surface of custard, and cool to room temperature.
Beat whipping cream until stiff; add a large dollop of cream to cooled pastry cream and fold in; add remaining whipped cream and fold in until almost combined.
Transfer to pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch star tube. Place in refrigerator until completely chilled.

CHOUX PASTRY

Ingredients
1 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
5 eggs, room temperature
1 Tbsp water
3 oz. bitter sweet chocolate
Icing sugar or edible gold flakes

Directions
Meanwhile, in heavy-bottomed saucepan set over high heat, bring water, butter, and salt just to boil. Remove from heat and add flour all at once, stirring vigorously with wooden spoon until mixture comes away from sides of pan, making a smooth ball.
Reduce heat to medium-low and cook flour mixture, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until coating begins to form on bottom of pan. Turn into large bowl; stir for 30 seconds.
Make well in middle of dough and, using electric mixer, beat in 4 of the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until mixture is smooth and shiny and holds its shape when lifted.
Place dough into piping bag fitted with 3/4-inch wide tip. On parchment-lined baking sheets, pipe fingers of dough about 4 inches long and 1 wide. In bowl beat together remaining egg and 1 tbsp water; brush each bun lightly, being careful not to drip down sides.
Bake in 425?F oven for 12 minutes; reduce heat to 375 F and bake for 5 minutes longer or until golden brown. With sharp knife, pierce side of each éclair twice. Turn oven off and let éclairs stand for 5 minutes, then remove and cool on rack.
Melt chocolate over barely simmering water. Brush top of each cooled éclair with enough chocolate to coat well. Cool in refrigerator for 5 minutes to harden chocolate.
Halve éclairs lengthwise. Pull out any sticky dough in center; discard. Pipe pastry cream into bottom of each éclair. Replace chocolate-covered tops.
Dust with icing sugar or edible gold flakes just before serving.
Makes 25 to 30 small éclairs.

And the Band Played On....

Saturday, April 14, 2018

CHOCOLATE PECAN BOURBON BUNDT CAKE: National Pecan Day!

I love Bundt cakes because they always look so pretty. I have lots of bundt pans, and almost anyone would be perfect for this cake. Given that today is National Pecan Day, I thought I'd post a recipe for Chocolate Pecan Bourbon Bundt Cake. It's slightly adapted from an older Betty Crocker recipe. As always, use the very best ingredients for the best cake. You can glaze or not... I prefer my bundt cakes plain, but the chocolate glaze is great--just add some chopped pecans on top!

CHOCOLATE PECAN BOURBON BUNDT CAKE

Ingredients 

Cake 
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup bourbon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
4 oz unsweetened chocolate (or 90% cacao chopped, melted, and cooled
1 cup chopped pecans

Chocolate Glaze 
1 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
1 teaspoon butter
1 cup powdered sugar
5 to 6 teaspoons boiling water
chopped pecans

Directions 

Cake
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan
In large bowl, beat all Cake ingredients except pecans with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in pecans. Pour into pan.
Bake 60 to 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

Glaze:
In 2-quart saucepan, melt 1 ounce chocolate and 1 teaspoon butter over low heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in powdered sugar and water until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle cooled cake with Chocolate Glaze. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Photo: Betty Crocker

Friday, April 13, 2018

EASY CHOCOLATE PEACH COBBLER: National Peach Cobbler Day

Peaches aren't in season yet, and although I can get peaches at my market, I prefer local peaches when making peach pies and cobblers. That being said, today is National Peach Cobbler Day! What to do? Use canned peaches! There are some wonderful organic canned peaches, so look for them. They will enhance the flavor of this cobbler. And, of course, since this is a chocolate blog, I've added chocolate to the recipe. Make this Easy Chocolate Peach Cobbler today!

EASY CHOCOLATE PEACH COBBLER

Ingredients
1 cup Chocolate
3/4 cup Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
3 Eggs
3/4 cup canned peaches
1 Tbsp unsalted butter

Directions
Mix flour, sugar and eggs with electric mixer.
Melt chocolate in small pan in microwave (melt chocolate in 10 second intervals to make sure it doesn't harden in the microwave).
Arrange canned peaches evenly on bottom of buttered baking dish (8 x 8 x 2).
Top with flour mixture, and then melted chocolate.
Bake at 275 degrees, for 10-15 minutes.
Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Grilled Cheese

Happy Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day!


DARK CHOCOLATE, PARMESAN, & RICOTTA GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH: National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day

I'm a big fan of Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, so I really wanted to post a great recipe today for Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. As always use the very best ingredients for the best taste! Please don't use Parmesan from a can--either grate your own or buy it at a specialty shop where it's just been grated. Recently I've been favoring a Wisconsin Parmesan--not too salty and fabulous flavor. And, of course a good Parmesan/Reggiano would be great in this Grilled Cheese Sandwich! This is a chocolate blog, so this is a recipe for a Dark Chocolate Grilled Parmesan Cheese Sandwich

Dark Chocolate, Parmesan, and Ricotta Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients
4 slices brioche or sweet sourdough
Butter, for bread
2 Tbsp ricotta cheese
1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
Lightly spread one side of each bread slice with butter. Evenly divide ricotta between two bread slices and then evenly sprinkle the Chocolate and Parmesan over the ricotta. Top with remaining bread slices.
Heat skillet over medium-low heat. Place sandwiches in warm skillet and cook on one side until golden brown and cheese begins to melt, 2 to 4 minutes.
Flip sandwich over and cook until golden brown and cheese is completely melted, 2 to 4 additional minutes.
Let cool 2 minutes before cutting in half.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

MILK CHOCOLATE QUEEN'S CAKE: Retro Ad & Recipe

I love Retro Ads with Recipes, and here's a really good one for Milk Chocolate Queen's Cake from Pillsbury's Best Flour. I'm a dark chocolate afficiando, but this a great cake! The recipe was a Grand National Pillsbury Bake-Off Favorite.



Tuesday, April 10, 2018

BAKING WITH HONEY: Tuesday Tips

My roses are starting to bloom, and I've seen a lot of bees! Yay! So, I thought I'd re-post some honey tips, particularly when substituting honey for sugar. Of course, you can just find a recipe that uses honey, so you don't need to think about it. But, sometimes, you just want to try a recipe and you prefer using honey. I know I do.

Baking with Honey

1. Generally you can substitute 2/3 cup honey for each cup of sugar in a recipe, but you'll probably want to reduce the amount of liquid by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey.

2. If you're baking, you'll want to reduce the heat by about 25 degrees to prevent burning.

3. And, here's one you might not know. If you're substituting honey in baking, add 1/2 tsp baking soda for each cup honey used.

From the Empire State Honey Producers comes this recipe (slightly adapted) for Honey Chocolate Chip Cookies

Honey Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Ingredients
1/2 cup local honey
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla
1-1/2 C flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped or ground walnuts (optional)

Directions
Cream honey and butter together. Add egg and vanilla.
In bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. Add to wet honey mixture. Mix.
Fold in nuts and chocolate chips. Stir slightly.
Drop onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Cartoon of the Day: Chocolate


Monday, April 9, 2018

Pie Quest & Old Fashioned Chocolate Pie: Guest Post by Kirsten Weiss

I love when my mystery and chocolate worlds cross. Today I welcome a guest post from Kirsten Weiss, author of Bleeding Tarts, the second in the Pie Town Mystery Series! I love Pie! Kirsten also gives a great recipe for Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pie. Thanks, Kirsten.

Kirsten Weiss:
Pie Quest 

The research for Bleeding Tarts, a cozy mystery set in and around a small-town pie shop, was… delicious. Sure, I did plenty of research online, but nothing beats first-person research. That’s especially true when it comes to food.

I’m fortunate to live near some wonderful local pie shops, including Heidi’s Pies in my hometown of San Mateo, in California’s Silicon Valley, and the further afield Petaluma Pie Company and Pie Ranch on the coast. A manager at Heidi’s was kind enough to demonstrate their giant pie oven, with racks that rotate to give each pie a perfectly baked crust. He expertly whisked pies in and out of the oven with a long, wooden paddle, without bothering to stop the rotating racks.

There are no slow movers in pie kitchens.

And fun Silicon Valley fact? National Pie Day, on January 23rd (1-2-3, easy as pie), is a snooze at the local pie shops. But on pi day, March 14th (3.14), the shops are slammed with takeaway orders. Boxes of pies overflow from the counters and onto the diner tables.

Engineers. Go figure.

But what really bulleted my research forward was not taste-testing at the local pie shops (that just increased my waist line). It was sheer luck.

I discovered that an acquaintance of mine had spent decades working in bakeries big and small. She had great tales to tell – of dropping ten-pound blocks of chocolate from the roof to break it into pieces, of flooding and near electrocutions. More importantly, she was a whiz with pies. She gave me all sorts of insider tips on what a pie shop kitchen would look like – from the recipes stored in plastic envelopes inside three-ring binders, to the black fatigue mats on the floors.

I’m sure I didn’t get every detail right in Pie Town, my imaginary pie shop in mythical San Nicholas, California. But she got me a lot closer. She also gave me some of her favorite pie recipes, which are included in the back of Bleeding Tarts.

Here’s a chocolate pie recipe that’s not included in the book, but it tastes fantastic!

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pie 

Ingredients: 
Pie crust
½ C cocoa
¼ cup cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1 ½ C sugar
¼ tsp. salt
2 C milk
1 tsp vanilla
Whipped Cream (for garnish)

Directions:
Pre-bake your pie crust according to directions.
Using a kitchen whisk beat egg yolks in a pot. Mix in cocoa, cornstarch, sugar, salt and vanilla. Set pot on stove at medium-high heat and stir mixture, adding the milk gradually. Continue stirring until thick and smooth.
Pour into your pre-baked pie shell. Set the pie in the fridge to chill for at least 120 minutes.
Serve slices garnished with whipped cream, if desired.

Bleeding Tarts 

Val's new pies are foolproof—but not bulletproof. 

Old West ghost towns are as American as apple pie. So what better place to sponsor a pie-eating contest than the Bar X, a fake ghost town available for exclusive private events on the edge of Silicon Valley? Valentine Harris is providing the pies, hoping to boost business for her struggling Pie Town shop and become a regular supplier for the Bar X.

But no sooner does she arrive in town than a stray bullet explodes the cherry pie in her hands. And the delicious dessert is not the only victim. Val finds the Bar X bartender shot dead in an alley. Egged on by her flaky friend and pie crust specialist, Charlene, Val aims to draw out the shooter. But solving a real murder in a fake ghost town won't be easy as pie. And if Val doesn't watch her back, her pies won't be the only thing filled full of lead . . .

Coming April 24th from Kensington Books. 

Kirsten Weiss worked overseas for nearly twenty years in the fringes of the former USSR, Africa, and deep in the Afghan war zone. Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darkness and light of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives. Now based in San Mateo, CA, she write genre-blending novels: urban fantasy/mystery, steampunk/suspense, and cozy mysteries. The mix just makes things more fun! Kirsten has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching "Ghost Whisperer" reruns and drinking red wine.

In May 2018, genre-blending author Kirsten Weiss returns with a brand new culinary cozy mystery to delight dessert-loving readers, BLEEDING TARTS. The second book in her delectable Pie Town Mystery series, BLEEDING TARTS is a light-hearted romp through the fictional Northern California beach town of San Nicholas, CA, which is based on Half Moon Bay, CA. The series sleuth is a small-town pie-shop owner with a penchant for tracking down perps who teams up with her amateur sleuthing club to find a killer after she stumbles across a body. Mix murder with a handful of suspects and a pinch of possible motives, and you have the perfect recipe for a delicious culinary cozy mystery! 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Chocolate Dessert Charcuterie Board: Shari's Berries Guest Post

One of the best ways to satisfy your guests and introduce them to some of your favorite treats is with a dessert charcuterie board! Whether you prefer a traditional mix of flavors or bits based on a certain theme, build your board with a variety of sweets. Opt for candy such as chocolates or gummy bears or go big with brownie bites and cupcakes.

If you’re looking for a few fun ideas to put together a sweet surprise for your next party, check out this guide from Shari’s Berries on Dessert Charcuterie Board ideas.

Shari's Berries:

Before you create your dessert charcuterie board, you need to choose a theme! Your favorite flavor combinations or a certain ingredient like a specific candy or fruit can help inspire your board’s theme. Once you’ve chosen a theme, consider what ingredients will add visual interest and texture to your dessert platter. If you’re not sure what to include, these dessert charcuterie board recipes will give you a place to start!

Fruit Lover 
Enjoy fresh fruit paired with creamy melted chocolate for a sweet surprise! An assortment of dried fruits and berry kabobs are perfect to dip into a melted mound of chocolate. A side of brie and fruit crackers are perfect for pairing with tangy and bold fruit flavors. Add in a handful of hand-dipped cherries to top off this candied board.

Sweet and Salty 
Satisfy both of your cravings at the same time with this dessert charcuterie board. Compile savory snacks like crunchy bacon and salted nuts to pair with a mixed hazelnut and chocolate spread. Dark chocolate with sea salt and chocolate potato chips are also great options to wake up your tastebuds!

Charcuterie Board Styling Tips 
Using the right size boards and utensils will make assembling and serving that much easier! Before you begin, choose the right size board to display your treats on. Place the necessary bowls and utensils on before adding food to assess how much space is left over and then add in your other ingredients around this. If space allows, place extra ingredients such as sauces and dips on the outside of the board. Last but not least, make sure to add in some color! A mix of bright shades will attract the eyes of your guests, but it will be the fun flavor combinations that keep them coming back!

Experiment! Enjoy!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

CHOCOLATE RUM COOKIES

Damp and overcast today. It's the perfect day to bake cookies. Here's an easy and delicious recipe from Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum for Chocolate Rum Cookies! I use chocolate wafers and chocolate pound cake in the recipe, so feel free to substitute. More Chocolate! Enjoy!


Cartoon of the Day: Coffee Cake

Happy Coffee Cake Day! 


Friday, April 6, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Wrong Turn at Candyland


CHOCOLATE MARBLE COFFEE CAKE: National Coffee Cake Day

Today is National Coffee Cake Day, and it's the perfect day for Coffee Cake. There are so many wonderful recipes for Chocolate Coffee Cake, Chocolate Marble Coffee Cake, and hey, lots of pound and bundt cakes are coffee cakes. Coffee cakes are sweet cakes usually meant to accompany coffee. They are usually single layer cakes, baked in loaf or bundt pans, but other shapes are fine. I have a square chiffon cake pan that works with the following recipe.

This recipe for Chocolate Marble Coffee Cake produces a cake with a dense texture that will appeal to both chocolate and white cake lovers--and it has coffee in it, so it's a perfect"Coffee Cake." This recipe is adapted from Stephanie Jaworski's - Joy of Baking. If you're not familiar with her website, you should get acquainted. Lots of great recipes.

Chocolate Marble Coffee Cake

Ingredients
2 1/2 ounces 65-75% organic, fair-trade dark chocolate, chopped
1 Tbsp brewed coffee or espresso
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup milk

Directions: 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Butter 10 inch bundt or tube pan.
In stainless steel bowl, over saucepan of simmering water, melt chocolate with coffee. Remove from heat and set aside.
In separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon. Set aside.
In bowl of electric mixer (or with hand mixer), beat butter until smooth and creamy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until mixture is light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add beaten eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract and sour cream.
With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour mixture and milk to the batter, in three additions, beginning and ending with flour.
After preparing batter, pour half of batter into separate bowl. Stir melted chocolate into one half of batter, mixing well. Place batter into prepared pan by alternating spoons of vanilla batter and chocolate batter. Then, with flat knife almost to bottom of pan, gently draw swirls (up, over and down) through batter as you rotate pan (if you're using round bundt) to marbleize it. Don't over mix. Smooth top of batter.
Bake for about 50 - 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes before removing cake from pan to cool completely. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I think this cake is fine the way it is (not too sweet), but you can dust with powdered sugar, drip with a chocolate glaze, or frost with chocolate ganache.

This cake will keep for a couple of days at room temperature or it can be frozen.


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Tupperware


CHOCOLATE CARAMEL POKE CAKE: National Caramel Day!

I love Chocolate and Caramel and since today is National Caramel Day, here's an easy recipe for Chocolate Caramel Poke Cake adapted from my good friend Elsie the Cow!

There are all kinds of Poke Cake recipes, but basically a Poke Cake is a cake that's been poked with the bottom of a wooden spoon as soon as it's hot out of the oven. Then liquid--in this case caramel sauce--is poured over it, and the cake absorbs it in varying areas. Yum! O.K. this is a real retro recipe, but if you make it, you're going to love it!

Chocolate Caramel Poke Cake

Ingredients 
1 box chocolate cake mix (Duncan Hines)
1-14 oz. can of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
1-14 oz. jar of caramel topping (Rechiutti Caramel sauce)
Container of Cool Whip  (or update this recipe with real whipped cream)
Bag of Toffee Bits or crumbled Heath Bars

Directions
Mix Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk and caramel together (warm up, if you need to).
Prepare cake as instructed on box. Bake in rectangular pan.
Remove cake from oven when done and poke holes in top of cake (I use the bottom of a wooden spoon) and pour caramel mixture evenly over cake while cake is still hot.
Refrigerate for at least two hours.
Spread with Cool Whip (or whipped cream)
Sprinkle with Toffee Bits or crumbled Heath Bars.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

CHOCOLATE CREAM-FILLED BUNDT CAKE

I was looking for a new and easy Bundt Cake recipe when I came across this recipe on the Land O'Lakes website. I often go to brand name food sites and food associations for recipes. Let's face it, they have the foods we love and they develop recipes to utilize them. Land O'Lakes is more than just butter. Be sure and check out their website for information about Land O'Lakes.

So while I was checking out their recipes, I found this one for Chocolate Cream-Filled Bundt Cake. I've adapted the recipe a little. For original recipe, go Here.

CHOCOLATE CREAM-FILLED BUNDT CAKE

Ingredients

Filling
1/4 cup sugar
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Glaze
2 ounces real white chocolate
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup real semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan; set aside.
Combine all filling ingredients in bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until smooth; set aside.
Combine all cake ingredients in another bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until all ingredients are moistened. Beat at high speed, scraping bowl often, until smooth. Pour 3 cups batter into prepared pan. Spoon filling over batter without touching sides of pan; cover with remaining batter.
Bake 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 30 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely.
Melt white chocolate and 1 teaspoon shortening in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, 1-2 minutes or until melted. Drizzle over cooled cake. Let stand until firm.
Repeat with remaining shortening and chocolate chips.
Store refrigerated.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Restraining Order


CHOCOLATE AVOCADO MOUSSE: 2 Recipes for National Chocolate Mousse Day!

Today is National Chocolate Mousse Day. Well, actually there are two Chocolate Mousse Days during the year. That's o.k. because Chocolate Mousse is something to celebrate more than once. And, in honor of the day, I'm posting 2 'healthy' chocolate mousse recipes for Avocado Chocolate Mousse. It's really delicious and simple to make! You've had guacamole, and you've had avocado toast. Now try Chocolate Avocado Mousse! You're going to love it!

1. Chocolate Avocado Mousse
Recipe adapted from The 10 Things You Need to Eat: And More Than 100 Easy and Delicious Ways to Prepare Them

Ingredients
12 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder
1 large, ripe Haas avocado, pitted and peeled
3/4 cup light brown sugar
6 egg whites

Directions
Melt the chocolate with cinnamon and chili powder in double boiler over hot water and set aside. Purée avocado and brown sugar in food processor until smooth. With machine running, pour in  chocolate mixture. Using stand mixer or whisk, beat egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold chocolate mixture into egg whites. Pour tmousse into 6 small serving bowls or wineglasses and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or covered overnight.

2.  Chocolate Avocado Mousse
Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
4 very ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1/2 cup agave
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine salt

Directions
Place chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate) in small bowl. Place over small saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth, about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. Place melted chocolate, avocados, agave, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt in food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Spoon into glasses and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (can be prepared 1 day in advance).

Monday, April 2, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Cookie Monster


PEANUT BUTTER & JELLY TRUFFLES: National P&J Day!

When I was growing up, if a child didn't eat the school or camp lunch, out came the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. No one considered gluten or peanut allergies being considered at that time. But, I was a finicky eater as a child and didn't like peanut butter and jelly. I often went without lunch, although I never said anything. I just gave the sandwiches away. Even now, although I love jelly, and I love peanut butter, I don't like the combination. Unless, of course, there's chocolate!

So for today's food holiday, National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day, here's a simple recipe for Peanut Butter & Jelly Truffles. There are other recipes out there, but I love this one!

PEANUT BUTTER & JELLY TRUFFLES

Ingredients
8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1 cup dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup grape jelly
Chopped peanuts

Directions
Put cream cheese in bowl.
Melt chocolate and stir into bowl of cream cheese.
Add peanut butter.
Mix together on low speed.
Put mixture into square 8" dish. Spread evenly and chil in fridge for an hour.
Using melon baller or spoon, scoop out and then roll with hands into a ball.
Make a deep depression with thumb in each ball and fill with 1/4 tsp jelly.
Smooth over to seal jelly in ball.
Roll truffles in chopped peanuts.
Place on waxed paper and chill.
Keep in refrigerator until ready to eat.