Thursday, May 31, 2018

CONGO SQUARES: Retro Ad & Recipe

Love this Retro Ad & Recipe for Congo Squares aka Blondies or Blond Brownies. As always, you can never have too many recipes!  

Congo Squares or Bars, by the way, have nothing to do with Africa. There's nothing like these sweet in any African country that I know of...and you can't even grow wheat in Central Africa. So why are they called Congo Squares? Who knows.. maybe because of the exotic ingredients (chocolate, cocoanut, nuts) which might come from Africa? I also read somewhere that these Congo Squares originated in the Southeast (US). There was a plaza in New Orleans called Congo Square which in the early 19th century was a gathering place for both free and enslaved African-Americans who met for marketing, music-making and dancing... probably not the connection, but a possibility. Whatever the origin, this is a great treat for the weekend! This Nestle ad is from 1949 and doesn't include the cocoanut, but throw some toasted cocoanut in.





Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Tuesday Tips: Retro Cake Baking Tips!

For today's Tuesday Tips, here's a page form the Carnation Easy-Does-It Cookbook by Mary Blake (1958): Baking a Cake is easy as Pie! Want to use these Cake Baking Tips to bake a fabulous chocolate cake?  Go here for a recipe for First-Prize Buttermilk Fudge Cake. I'll post Frosting Facts in another post. Get out there and Bake a Cake!


Monday, May 28, 2018

ANCHO CHILE CHOCOLATE RUB: Perfect for Your Memorial Day Barbecue

Planning a Memorial Day Barbecue? Here's an easy recipe for Ancho Chile Chocolate Rub. Use this on Brisket or Flank Steak--or whatever! Fabulous.

ANCHO CHILE CHOCOLATE RUB

Ingredients
1 Cup Cocoa Powder (Scharffen Berger)
1/2 Cup Ancho Chile, ground
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
1/4 Cup Black Pepper, freshly ground
1/4 Cup Cumin, ground

Directions
In medium size bowl, add all ingredients and mix with whisk, until you have uniform mixture.
Put in quart size jar and seal until ready to use on brisket (or other meats). Or take the jar to the barbecue as a gift for the chef!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Campfire Marshmallows


SAVORY CHOCOLATE BARBECUE SAUCES for Memorial Day!

When I was growing up barbecues at my house were mostly on holidays: Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. My Dad would don his Westinghouse apron and hat (that he got with our new indoor range) and fire up the grill. I still have my Dad's apron, but not the chef's hat. Very nostalgic--and retro. Wish he were still with us. I miss him every day. He'd love these barbecue sauces and this list of Barbecue Crime Fiction on my Mystery blog, MysteryFanfare.com.

If you're planning a Memorial Day barbecue tomorrow, you'll want to check your stock of dark chocolate. I've posted several chocolate barbecue sauces and chocolate rubs before, but here are two more. Both use Hershey's products-- #1 Hershey's Special Dark Syrup and #2 Scharffen Berger Dark Chocolate, but you can use what you have and enjoy best!

The first recipe is from The BBQ Report. I use a different Dark Chocolate Sauce from an artisan chocolate company, but you can always use Hershey's. The flavors will be different, but both would be good. Season your meat with some cocoa powder (unsweetened) for double chocolate goodness.

And, of course, book mark this post for other barbecue days!

#1 CHOCOLATE BARBECUE SAUCE

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Hershey’s Special Dark syrup (or another)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp prepared mustard
1/2 tsp hot sauce

Directions
In sauce pan saute onions and garlic in olive oil, cooking until tender.
Stir in lemon juice, salt, pepper, paprika, and hot sauce.
Simmer for 5 to 6 minutes and reduce heat.
Stir in ketchup, vinegar, and Hershey’s Syrup.
Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

#2 CHOCOLATE BARBECUE SAUCE

From the Hershey's Website comes this amazing and much more complex Chocolate Barbecue Sauce recipe, utilizing Scharffen Berger 82% dark chocolate (Scharffen Berger is owned by Hershey's). Recipe adapted from Chef Ken Gladysz at the Hotel Hershey.

Ingredients
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, soft
4 each garlic cloves, minced
1/2 Spanish onion, diced small
2 each Roma tomatoes, stem removed, diced small
1 1/2 ounces dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons ancho chili powder
4 ounces. apple cider vinegar
8 ounces barbeque sauce
14 ounces vegetable stock
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 oz. SCHARFFEN BERGER 82% dark chocolate
2 tablespoons cilantro, fresh, chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground

Directions
Melt butter in small sauce pan over medium heat.
Add garlic and onion, sauté 5 minutes until golden brown.
Add tomatoes, stir, and sauté an additional 5 minutes.
Add sugar and chili powder, mix well, and cook for 5 minutes.
Add vinegar, reduce for 5 minutes, mixture should have a paste consistency.
Add sauce, stock, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper. Mix well.
Bring to a boil and reduce to a slow simmer for 30 minutes.
Add SCHARFFEN BERGER chocolate and cilantro; allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove sauce from heat and let stand for 10 minutes.
Puree sauce, transfer to a clean container and cool.
For best results, refrigerate for 12 hours before using.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

ROSEMARY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: Memorial Day

"Rosemary is for Remembrance"-- so this recipe for Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies is perfect for Memorial Day. I grow a lot of rosemary in my garden that I use in baking and grilling. It's a very versatile herb. There are several varieties, and they flower, so it's also quite pretty -- and deer resistant. Rosemary is also very aromatic. And, a little goes a long way.

The phrase "Rosemary is for Remembrance" comes from Shakespeare's Hamlet. Ophelia says, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember.” 

Even before Shakespeare's era, many cultures assigned meaning to this herb. It was often used in funerals or in the care of the dead. But also, at one time, it was the fashion for brides to wear wreaths of rosemary. Rosemary was also thought to repel evil spirits and cure thievery. 15th and early 16th century statesman and writer, Sir Thomas More, tied rosemary to memory in his writing. He wrote fondly of it “running” about his garden without cultivation because: “it is the herb sacred to remembrance, and therefore, to friendship…” And for my mystery friends, an Agatha Christie novel, published as both Remembered Death and Sparkling Cyanide, uses the Shakespeare quotation.

ROSEMARY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients 
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup pecans, chopped
2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl.
Beat butter, both sugars, and vanilla in large mixer bowl until creamy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Gradually beat in flour mixture.
Stir in chocolate chips, chopped rosemary, and pecans.
Drop by rounded tablespoon onto un-greased cookie sheets.
Bake 9-10 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Double Chocolate Cherry Wine Cookies: National Wine Day

Today is National Wine Day, and tomorrow is National Cherry Dessert Day. Why not celebrate both of these food holidays this weekend by making these easy Double Chocolate Wine Cherry Cookies. I always have dried cherries on hand (they keep well in the refrigerator). What could be better than chocolate, cherries, and wine! This is a recipe adapted from one I found on the Foodnetwork.com. It will be a huge hit at your Memorial Day BBQ or any time. As always, use the very best chocolate!

Double Chocolate Cherry Wine Cookies
 
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup good quality dark cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dry red wine, Zinfandel (I've used Pinot and Merlot)
10 ounces dark chocolate (65-75% cacao--the best you can find), chopped in small chunks or dark chocolate chips
1 - 1/4 cup dried tart cherries (unsweetened are more tart but use what you have)

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda in bowl.
In bowl of electric mixer, or with a handheld mixer, combine butter and sugars until fluffy.
Add egg, vanilla, and wine, and combine.
Slowly in batches, add flour mixture until just combined.
Fold in chocolate and cherries.
On nonstick cookie sheet, place heaping tablespoon of dough for each cookie about 2 inches apart.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until tops are still soft looking but edges look firm.
Cool on sheet for 5-8 minutes.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

RED, WHITE & BLUE STAR BROWNIES: Memorial Day!


Here's another easy recipe to make ahead for your Memorial Day celebration. Love this recipe from Betty Crocker. I've made it a bunch of times. You can always substitute your own brownie recipe or another brand of brownie mix, but here's the original easy recipe.

If you don't have Betty Crocker Decorating Decors stars or icing (or you think it would be too sweet), use Red, White, & Blue Holiday M&Ms. Just press them gently into the batter before baking. These Brownies are perfect for Memorial Day!

Red White & Blue Star Brownies

Ingredients 
1 box (1 lb 2.4 oz) Betty Crocker™ Original Supreme Premium brownie mix
Water, vegetable oil and egg called for on brownie mix box
1/2 cup Betty Crocker™ Whipped fluffy white frosting (from 12-oz container)
Betty Crocker™ Decorating Decors stars

Directions 
Heat oven to 350°F. Line 9-inch square pan with foil so foil extends about 2 inches over sides of pan. Spray foil with cooking spray.
Make and bake brownies as directed on box. Cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.
Remove brownies from pan by lifting foil; peel foil from sides of brownies.
Using 2 1/2-inch star-shaped cookie cutter, cut brownies.
Squeeze frosting on star-shaped brownies.
Sprinkle with decors.

Photo: Betty Crocker

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

S'MORES ICE CREAM CAKE for Memorial Day!

I love Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, and I love S'mores. This recipe from Ben & Jerry's for S'mores Ice Cream Cake is a winner for your Memorial Day Celebration! It's an easy no bake make-ahead dessert that still reflects the first barbecue of the season, the holiday, camping out, or glamping!

Check the recipe below, and be sure and watch the video. This is a no-brainer and can be made at the drop of a hat. If you're like me, you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry and freezer! The finished cake looks and tastes amazing! I dropped the extra fudge sauce at the end, because I think the S'mores Ice Cream Cake is rich enough as is. Enjoy! Thanks, Ben & Jerry's!

 

BEN & JERRY'S S'MORES ICE CREAM CAKE

Directions
Prepare the crust (see below)
Prepare the filling (see below)
Top the crust with Ice Cream filling
Spread 2 cups of marshmallow fluff over the top of the ice cream (this can be done directly after filling with ice cream, or you can chill ice cream layer first)
Freeze cake for a minimum of two hours

To serve: Remove cake from freezer, let cake sit for 10 minutes, top with mini marshmallows and torch to golden brown
Run a knife around the edge of pan and remove side of spring-form
Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Crust: 
16 (8 oz.) whole graham crackers, crushed 1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 stick butter, melted
Combine graham crackers and sugar, add melted butter and stir to sandy, buttery consistency. Press mixture into bottom and up sides of 9” spring-form pan, using fingers or  flat bottomed measuring cup. Chill for 10 minutes while you prepare ice cream.

Filling:
3 Pints Ben & Jerry’s S’mores Ice Cream (or any Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Ice Cream).
Remove ice cream from containers and place in bowl to soften, about 10 minutes.
Stir to combine and top prepared and chilled graham crust with ice cream.

Follow directions above for marshmallow topping!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Wrong Turn at Candyland


K + M Extravirgin Chocolate: Exceptional Chocolate from Extraordinary People

At the four-way culinary intersection of Art, Passion, Experience, and Science, world renowned
Chef Thomas Keller in Napa, California and Armando Manni in Florence, Italy have created an award winning chocolate experience with K + M Extravirgin Chocolate. Recently Frank Price and I met with Chef Keller and Chi Bui, chocolatier/chef, at the Napa Factory. What a treat! The process was as fascinating and nuanced as the chocolate tasting itself.


Keller and Manni's passion for excellence, the art of combining ingredients, the decades of combined food and culinary experience and the science details and data of cooking have been combined by K + M to deliver a series of sensational chocolate bars that meets their strict standards in terms of flavor and taste--and have the added boost of providing remarkable health benefits. Together, Keller and Manni have spent the past five years on a unique mission: crafting the world’s finest chocolate and one that retains the significant antioxidant health benefits of cocoa beans. The result of their collaboration: K+M Extravirgin Chocolate. K + M Extravirgin Chocolate delivers a fabulous taste, a silky mouthfeel, and has built-in health benefits.

The story of K + M Extravirgin Chocolate is quite remarkable. Keller and Manni avoided the seemingly traditional methods of manufacturing dark chocolate that reduces the level of the antioxidants. At the University of Florence, their team researched the multifaceted manufacturing process to create a unique process that uses science to deliver to the consumer a delicious chocolate with many of the health benefits still intact.

Thomas Keller and Armando Manni worked for five years to find a proprietary process to reduce the typical flavonoid loss by their specific and scientific process of making a delicious chocolate bar while making a silky smooth bar. Their collaboration has resulted in a  Specialty Food Association (SFA) SoFi Award for Best New Product in the Dark Chocolate Category.

Chi Bui is the head chocolatier of Thomas Keller and Armando Manni’s K+M Extravirgin Chocolate. She oversees production, bean sourcing, product development and K+M’s ongoing research with the University of Florence. At a tour at their factory in Napa, Chi Bui, the Head Chocolatier/Chef described their reliable network of knowledgeable chocolate growers whose beans are already high in aroma and high in volatility. Sourcing their cacao beans has been a major priority.

From many single origin cocoa pods that are harvested, dried, and fermented, the beans are sent off to the laboratory in Florence where they are tested. Each step of drying and fermenting helps to build on the qualities of chocolate that are most desired among chocolatiers. These samples are tested to see which will ultimately deliver the desired aroma, special volatility, and high flavonoid content that Keller and Manni desire. The farmers of the selected beans are paid a fair market price and these farmers then become partners as growers and also as part of the supply chain.

The beans are then sent to the factory in Napa. The K + M team gives special attention to each stage of production. They start by sifting and sorting through the newly arrived beans by hand. The single origin beans are sourced from Ecuador, Nicaragua, Madagascar, and Peru. They may visually look the same to the untrained eye, but not to the sorters. The length of time for each process in the factory is determined by the type of bean that is harvested.

At a temperature deemed the optimum for each of the single origin beans, the beans are roasted, then winnowed, separating the nib from the shell to create the nibs. At this point the nibs don’t taste like a chocolate bar, but the chocolate aroma is quiet recognizable. Cacao is beginning to become chocolate. At each step in the process at the state of the art factory, the duration of time and the temperature or pressure is adjusted according to K + M scientific research. Science determines what is best for specific beans to insure that the desired aroma, volatility, and flavonoid level remains high. Single origin beans command respect and diligence from the K + M team.

There is an almost magical moment in the process. Most bar manufacturers re-add the cocoa butter that was squeezed out of the cocoa beans, cocoa butter being a byproduct of the process. But as Mr. Keller explained, reintroducing the cocoa butter later in the process, adds nothing to the flavor profile. Through research, K + M have discovered that the cocoa butter may inhibit the taste buds from fully sensing the variety of flavors. This is where the unique Tuscan extra virgin olive oil comes in.

It is widely recognized that Mr. Manni makes a direct contribution to the entire process. His organic extra virgin olive oil, made by using wine making technology, is added to the mixture. The addition of a silky single origin oil adds a light palate-pleasing and mouth-feel quality that enhances the chocolate. The Tuscan oil opens up the taste buds. The extra virgin olive oil also adds flavonoids to the chocolate. Olive oil is a tastidious ingredient to work with. It's sensitive  to light and oxygen and heat. K+M adds Manni extra virgin olive oil instead of extra cocoa butter, at the end of the process.

Other ingredients? Very little organic sugar is added. The conching time is determined by scientific research to again arrive at the optimum health and flavor benefits. The tempering stage is important to give the much desired cracking sound to the bar when it is snapped in half. The temperature is critical so that the chocolate crystals are lined up just right.

The flavor profiles of each bar are well defined, well balanced, yet filled with nuances that allows the consumer to enjoy a smooth and velvety texture. The tasting notes are rich and elegant. All the chocolates are great, but the dark chocolates are exceptional and intense in taste and flavor. For the milk and dark milk chocolate, organic non-fat  or whole milk powder and organic cane sugar create a fruity flavor forward bar. The extra virgin olive oil is added at the end of the process and is so important for the smooth mouth-feel.

The K + M brand set out to create a chocolate bar with exquisite taste and remarkable health qualities. The team strove without wavering on quality to maintain the high level of antioxidants found in the unprocessed bean while keeping the aromatic flavors and the volatility to allow the consumer to enjoy those flavors. The result: a remarkable chocolate bar from start to finish.

Stay tuned for a review of the sensational chocolate bars in a future installment.

***
This post was written in collaboration with chocolate expert Frank Price. Frank Price spent 3 years in Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), the world’s largest cacao-growing country. Frank gives seminars and tastings on chocolate to corporate and non-profits groups, as well as contributing articles to chocolate blogs and magazines. He has been a judge at the International Chocolate Salons for over 10 years. Frank is a member of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA).

Monday, May 21, 2018

STRAWBERRIES & CREAM ICE CREAM PIE: National Strawberry & Cream Day

Today is Strawberries & Cream Day! One way to celebrate would be to stuff strawberries with whipped cream and dip in chocolate. Yum! But here's another way to celebrate the day -- Strawberries & Cream Ice Cream Pie with Chocolate Crust. This would be perfect for your Memorial Day dessert.

Strawberries & Cream Ice Cream Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crust

Ingredients
1 Chocolate Crust
3 cups Strawberry ice cream or Ben & Jerry's Strawberries & Cream ice cream, softened

Whipped Cream
1 cup Sliced fresh Strawberries

Chocolate Cookie Crust
Ingredients
30 Chocolate wafers
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
Pinch of salt

Directions for Cookie Crust
Whirl cookies in food processor until finely ground.
Put crumbs in mixing bowl and add butter and salt until crumbs are moistened.
Press mixture across bottom of 8-inch pie plate and up sides. Pack tightly.
Bake in 350 degree oven for 6 minutes.
Cool before filling.

Directions for Pie
Be sure and cool crust before adding ice cream
Spread ice cream evenly over crust.
Smooth top.
Put pie in freezer until solid (or until ready to serve - for up to 3 days)
Before serving, top with whipped cream and fresh sliced strawberries.




Saturday, May 19, 2018

DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE vs CHOCOLATE CAKE: National Devil's Food Cake Day!

People always ask what's the difference between Devil's Food Cake and Chocolate Cake. It's a good question, and there are many different interpretations. Some recipes use cocoa, some melted chocolate, some add coffee or hot liquid, and some increase the baking soda. And, since it's National Devil's Food Cake Day, here are some answers.


According to Wikipedia:

Because of differing recipes and changing ingredient availability over the course of the twentieth century, it is difficult to precisely qualify what distinguishes Devil's food from the more standard chocolate cake. The traditional Devil's food cake is made with shredded beets much the way a carrot cake is made with carrots. The beets add moisture and sweetness to the cake, helping it to be very rich. The red of the beets slightly colors the cake red and due to the richness of the cake it became known as the Devil's food. 

O.k. That's a beet cake or a 'natural' red velvet cake, and I make a good one, but it's not a Devil's Food Cake in my opinion.  

Devil's food cake is generally more moist and airy than other chocolate cakes, and often uses cocoa as opposed to chocolate for the flavor as well as coffee. The lack of melted chocolate and the addition of coffee is typically what distinguishes a Devil's food cake from a chocolate cake, though some recipes call for all, resulting in an even richer chocolate flavor. The use of hot, or boiling water as the cake's main liquid, rather than milk, is also a common difference. 

Devil's food cake is sometimes distinguished from other chocolate cakes by the use of additional baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) which raises the pH level and makes the cake a deeper and darker mahogany color. Devil's food cake incorporates butter (or a substitute), egg whites, flour (while some chocolate cakes are flourless) and less egg than other chocolate cakes. Devil's food cake was introduced in the United States in the early 20th century with the recipe in print as early as 1905. 

A similar cake, the red velvet cake, is closely linked to a Devil's food cake, and in some turn of the century cookbooks the two names may have been interchangeable. Most red velvet cakes today use red food coloring, but even without it, the reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk tends to better reveal the red anthocyanin in the cocoa. When used in cakes, acid causes reddening of cocoa powder when baked, and before more alkaline "Dutch Processed" cocoa was widely available, the red color would have been more pronounced. This natural tinting may have been the source for the name "Red Velvet" as well as "Devil's Food" and a long list of similar names for chocolate cakes.

I'm partial to Devil's Food Cake.

Here are several mid-century recipes. Sorry about the light print on the first cookbook.

I've posted many Devil's Food Cake recipes in the past, but today I have four mid-century recipes.

The first recipe is for Cocoa Devil's Food Cake from How To Get the Most Out of Your Sunbeam Mixmaster (1950). I posted a "Mix-Easy" Devil's Food Cake for Mother's Day a few years ago, and you might want to look at that one, too. It's pretty much the same as the following recipe. The following page in the Sunbeam Mixmaster cookbook pamphlet is great for today's post since there's a Chocolate Cake recipe next to the Devil's Food Cake recipe.


This same cookbook has a recipe for Black Devil's Food Cake, so now we have Cocoa Devil's Food Cake, Black Devil's Food Cake, and a Red Devil's Food Cake. As you see, the following Black Devil's Food cake is made with cocoa and with the addition of strong hot coffee or boiling water.


The Red Devil's Food Cake is a variation on the Chocolate Fudge Cake on the same page, and to save space, they didn't reprint the entire recipe! It's a very small pamphlet. The baking soda is increased, but otherwise it's the same cake. This recipe is from the Recipes for your Hamilton Beach Mixer-17 Delicious New Cakes (1947). Don't you just love that someone wrote good next to the recipe? It's the same recipe I posted (but from a different pamphlet) on Devil's Food Cake Day for Mother's Day. 


And one more Red Devil's Food Cake from the same mid-century period. This one is from Kate Smith Chooses her 55 Favorite Ann Pillsbury CAKE RECIPES.


Enough Devil's Food Cake recipes? Never! Have a look at Martha Washington's Devil's Food Cake from Capitol Hill Cooks: Recipes from the White House by Linda Bauer. It's a great Buttermilk Devil's Food Cake!

So what's the difference between Devil's Food Cake and Chocolate Cake? You decide.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

ELDERFLOWER LEMON BUNDT CAKE for the Royal Wedding

Unless you're living in the back of beyond, you're aware of the Royal Wedding this weekend of Prince Harry and American Meghan Markle. The wedding couple are departing from tradition and not having a fruitcake for their wedding cake. Good for them. Alas, it's not chocolate either. Nevertheless, I'm all for lemon. They have chosen a lemon elderflower cake. I've seen recipes all over the Internet for this multi-layer cake. One of my friends has made it several times, tweaking it each time so she has it right for her wedding celebration here in the States. When Prince William got married, I posted his groom's cake which was a chocolate biscuit cake, a favorite of his grandmother, the Queen, too. Alas, I have not seen anything posted about Harry's groom's cake.

I'm not one for layer cakes, so after much searching I found great recipes on My Recipes and The Queen of Scones's blog for an Elderflower Lemon Bundt Cake. If you've never visited these sites, you must! I chose the Queen of Scone's adapted recipe. I love it because 1) it's a bundt cake and I love Bundts 2) it's easy! Two of my favorite things. You'll want to go to the original recipe site for photos and tips.

Just an FYI: I used Meyer lemons in this recipe. I have several Meyer Lemon trees in my yard, and I love the distinctive taste!

ELDERFLOWER LEMON BUNDT CAKE

Ingredients 

Bundt Cake
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sugar (or caster sugar if you have it)
5 large eggs room temperature
2 Tbsp elderflower syrup (or liqueur)
1 Tbsp Lemon zest from 2 lemons
3 cups all purpose flour

Lemon Elderflower Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar (more as needed)
2 Tbsp elderflower syrup
2 - 3 tsp lemon juice  (more if needed)

Elderflower Lemon Cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 Tbsp elderflower syrup  (more as desired)
1 teaspoon clear Vanilla (not vanilla bean)
3 - 4 tsp Lemon zest, freshly zested
1/2 cup powdered sugar  (more if desired)
Dried Elderflowers
1 or 2 lemons, freshly zested
(Add fresh lemon zest and dried Elderflowers just before serving)

Directions

Bundt Cake
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Prepare Bundt pan with oil and flour.
Beat butter on medium speed with stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, and beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
Stir in liqueur and zest. Add flour and Elderflower syrup alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour, beating on low speed just until blended after each addition.
Pour batter into a prepared 10-inch Bundt pan.
Bake for 60 minutes: Tent with non-stick aluminum foil after 45 - 50 minutes to prevent excessive browning, if necessary.
Cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; invert cake onto rack, and cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Lemon Elderflower Glaze
Add glaze ingredients together. Mix icing sugar, syrup, and lemon juice together in bowl until reaching desired consistency. If glaze is too thin, add more icing sugar. If too thick, add  few more drops of lemon juice or Syrup.
Spoon Lemon-Elderflower Glaze over cake.

Now to top it off, you must make Lemon Elderflower Cream!

Lemon Elderflower Cream
Add all ingredients but sugar to very clean, preferably chilled mixing bowl. Whisk with stand mixer {fitted with whisk attachment} or use handheld mixer until Cream starts to hold stiff peaks. Add sugar to taste and continue whisking to achieve desired peaks.

Before serving, sprinkle a bit of lemon zest and dried Elderflowers on top of Elderflower Cream. It's a wedding, after all!


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

CHOCOLATE CHERRY COBBLER: National Cherry Cobbler Day

Today is National Cherry Cobbler Day and fresh cherries are just starting to hit the market, so today I'm posting a recipe for a fresh cherry cobbler and a second recipe that uses natural cherry pie filling in case you don't have fresh cherries available in your area. I love Chukar Cherries Sour Cherry Fruit Filling--whole and tangy Montmorency cherries. Red and delicious!

You might be asking what exactly is a Cobbler? Cobblers traditionally have a biscuit topping on the fresh fruit. The biscuits are usually dropped onto the fruit in small rounds, giving it the appearance of a cobbled road and hence the name Cobbler.  

Happy National Cherry Cobbler Day... and as I always say, everything tastes better with Chocolate!

USING FRESH CHERRIES:

1. CHOCOLATE CHERRY COBBLER WITH FRESH CHERRIES

Ingredients
6 cups tart red cherries, pitted
1-1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
4 tsp cornstarch
3/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped

Topping:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons milk 

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In saucepan combine filling ingredients and cook, stirring until bubbling and thickened. Pour into an 8-inch square baking dish. Cool. After cooled, sprinkle chopped chocolate.
In bowl, stir together flour, sugars, baking powder, and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly.
Mix together egg and milk. Add to flour mixture and stir with fork just until combined.
Drop topping by tablespoonfuls onto filling.
Bake for 25 minutes until browned and bubbly.

USING PIE FILLING:

2. CHOCOLATE CHERRY COBBLER WITH CHERRY PIE FILLING

Ingredients
18 ounces Chukar's Sour Cherry Fruit Filling
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 Tbsp flour
1 cup dark chocolate (60-75% cacao), chopped

Topping
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (I use Kerrygold)

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Mix cherries, sugar and flour. Spread evenly in 11 x 7 baking dish.
Sprinkle chocolate over top.

For topping
Mix together flour, sugars and pinch of salt.
Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.
Sprinkle topping over cherry filling.
Bake cobbler until filling bubbles and topping is golden brown.
About 40 to 45 minutes.



Tuesday, May 15, 2018

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE PIE: Chocolate Chip Day

Today is National Chocolate Chip Day. Obviously I've blogged many different Chocolate Chip Recipes from cookies to ice cream to truffles to pound cake to cheesecake to pancakes...and a lot more. I usually throw chocolate chips in most of my recipes. It's almost always appropriate because you can never have enough chocolate!

My favorite cookies are Chocolate Chip. No surprise there! So for National Chocolate Chip Day, here's a very easy recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie! You can add a cup of walnuts if you're a walnut chocolate chip cookie person. This is a gooey pie, but if you want it to be firmer, just let it set for awhile. It's a one crust pie, but you'll love the way the 'cookie dough' makes its own 'crust' on top. I like ice cream or whipped cream with this pie.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

Ingredients
1 unbaked 9" pie shell (I use frozen Trader Joe's pie crust. Defrost first)
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 cup unsalted butter, melted but cooled
1 cup CHOCOLATE CHIPS  (Here's where you can get creative. What kind of chocolate chips do you like?)
1 cup chopped walnuts-optional

Directions
Preheat oven to 325.
In large bowl, beat eggs until foamy.
Beat in flour, sugar, and brown sugar until well blended.
Blend in melted butter.
Stir in chocolate chips (and nuts if you're using them).
Pour into pie shell.
Bake for 60 minutes.

You can serve this warm with ice cream or whipped cream... or just eat it plain!

Monday, May 14, 2018

CHOCOLATE BUTTERMILK BISCUITS: National Buttermilk Biscuit Day

Today is Buttermilk Biscuit Day. American biscuits are nothing like British Biscuits which are cookies. No, our biscuits are more like scones, only fluffier. Buttermilk Biscuits are great with breakfast and gravy and chicken or just about anytime. I love biscuits.

I couldn't pass up this great Retro Space Age Ad for Puffin Biscuits. I think Sterling Cooper (Mad Men) could easily have created this ad. I, of course, suggest you make your biscuits from scratch, and they truly will be "So Light they almost fly"...

Following is a recipe for Chocolate Buttermilk Biscuits (see below).

First, though, a few biscuit making tips from the Bisquick site. These apply if you use Bisquick or if you make your biscuits from scratch.

BISCUIT MAKING TIPS

1. Leave an inch or two space around the biscuits on the cookie sheet. They'll heat more evenly and cook better.
2. In a pinch, a straight-sided plastic glass can also substitute for a rolling pin.
3. For crunchy top, skip kneading and rolling and drop biscuit-sized spoonfuls directly onto baking sheet.
4. Loosen freshly baked biscuits from tray with spatula so they don't stick.
5. Count to ten; kneading biscuit dough too much can make biscuits tough.
6. If you don't have a biscuit cutter, either use a knife to cut squares or cut rounds with upside-down drinking glass. A little flour or extra Bisquick on the knife or glass will help keep things from sticking.

CHOCOLATE BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

This recipe is great served with whipped cream and strawberries! Or just grind some Trader Joe's Chocolate Coffee Bean Sugar --or some Cinnamon Sugar-- over them just after you brush with the melted butter. Yum! Another variation: add chocolate chips to the dough.

Ingredients
2 cups of Flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
5 Tbsp DARK cocoa powder
4 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp cold buttermilk (no buttermilk?add a tsp of vinegar to whole milk)
2 Tbsp melted butter for top of biscuits

Directions
Preheat oven to 450
In food processor: Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Pulse. Add cubed butter. Pulse until butter combines to create grainy mixture.
Put contents of food processor in bowl. Make well in center and pour in chilled buttermilk. Mix to form sticky dough. Place dough on well floured surface. Fold dough a few time. DO NOT OVERWORK.
Roll out dough with floured rolling pin to one inch thickness.
Using biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits in straight up and down motion. Do not twist when cutting out the biscuits. Hint: Twisting will seal sides of biscuits preventing biscuits from rising and consequently make for tough, flat biscuits.
Put cut out biscuits on parchment paper lined baking sheet so that they are close but not touching.
Once all of biscuits are on baking sheet, bake for 10-12 minutes in center of oven until golden brown. Brush with melted butter.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

MOM AND APPLE PIE: Chocolate Apple Pie for Mother's Day & National Apple Pie Day!

Today is National Apple Pie Day, and this is the perfect post for Mother's Day, too. It's all about "Mom and Apple Pie," and this Chocolate Apple Pie is "as American as Mom and Apple Pie." But what's the origin of these catch phrases? What's the meaning of as American as Mom and Apple Pie

From Wikipedia: 
Although apple pies have been eaten since long before the European colonization of the Americas, "as American as apple pie" is a saying in the United States, meaning "typically American". In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, apple pie became a symbol of American prosperity and national pride. A newspaper article published in 1902 declared that “No pie-eating people can be permanently vanquished.” The dish was also commemorated in the phrase "for Mom and apple pie" - supposedly the stock answer of American soldiers in World War II, whenever journalists asked why they were going to war.

My grandmother made an awesome Apple Pie. I've written about it before. It did not contain chocolate, and she made it in a huge rectangular pan that was big enough to feed a crowd since there were always lots of family at our house. She made Apple Pie because it was American, and when she came to these shores, she became an American! My Bubbe was born in Ukraine, married in London, and settled in Philadelphia, the cradle of liberty. She took her new citizenship to heart, and she baked her special apple pie for every Friday night dinner. She did it because she saw herself as a true American. So Celebrate Mom (and Grandmom) and Apple Pie with this easy Chocolate Apple Pie Recipe!

CHOCOLATE APPLE PIE

Ingredients
Pastry for a double-crust 9-inch pie, unbaked
8-10 tart apples (peeled, cored and sliced thinly--number of apples depends on their size)--Gravensteins aren't available this time of year, but they're my favorite, especially for pies!
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup 65-75% dark chocolate fair-trade organic, chopped into smallish pieces

Directions
Apples: peel, core, and slice thinly.
Combine cinnamon & sugar = cinnamon sugar. (you may need a tiny bit more). I've also used the chocolate cinnamon sugar from Trader Joe's
Place 1 layer apple slices on bottom crust. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar. Repeat twice.
Spread chopped chocolate pieces over top.
Using remaining apples, make 3 more apple/cinnamon sugar layers.
Top with 2nd crust and seal edges. Make cut on the top--or prick with fork in a few places.
Bake in preheated 450 F oven for 15 minutes (until golden).
Lower heat to 350F and continue baking for another 25-30 minutes, or until apples are tender.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

HISTORY & 3 RECIPES FOR NUTTY FUDGE: National Nutty Fudge Day


Another holiday, another recipe. Today is National Nutty Fudge Day. My Aunt Annie made the best fudge in the world, but now that I know more about candy nomenclature, I think she actually made truffles. They were dark chocolate balls rolled in cocoa. I'll always remember her truffles as fudge.

However, I had my first taste of the 'real' fudge down the shore in Atlantic City. Fudge was sold along with Salt Water Taffy at many of the Boardwalk candy shops. Yum!

History of Fudge: Fudge was supposedly invented in the U.S.in the late 1880s. Historians believe the first batch of fudge resulted from a bungled batch of caramels, as in "Oh, Fudge" I don't think so...

According to Wikipedia, the main component of Fudge was similar to the traditional recipe for Scots Tablet found in The Household Book of the Lady Grisell Baillie (1692-1733). The term 'fudge' is often used in the UK for a soft variant of the tablet recipe.

One of the first documented examples of American fudge (containing chocolate!) was found in a letter written by Emelyn Batersby Hartridge, a Vassar College student, who wrote that a friend's cousin made fudge in Baltimore in 1886 and sold it for 40 cents a pound. Hartridge asked for the fudge recipe, and in 1888 made 30 pounds of the fudge for the Vassar Senior Auction. In The Candy Book (Alice Bradley, 1929) an entire chapter is devoted to fudge.

Fudge is a crystalline candy, which means that, unlike lollipops, caramels, and taffy, crystal formation is the key to making great fudge. Tiny microcrystals of sugar in fudge give fudge its firm but smooth texture. The secret to successful fudge is getting these crystals to form at just the right time. Fudge is one of the rare exceptions to the rule that sugar crystals are not desirable in candy. Tiny microcrystals in fudge are what give it its firm texture. When the crystals are small enough, they don’t feel grainy on your tongue, but smooth.

While you ultimately want crystals to form, it's important that they don't form too early. Now it gets tricky! The key to successful, nongrainy fudge is in the cooling, not the cooking. If you disturb the cooling fudge during this cooling phase you increase the potential for larger crystals (seed crystals) of sugar to form too early and thus a grainy fudge results.

O.K. this is too much for me to take in, not being a candy maker. So how to make fudge relatively easy? Here are three recipes.

1. Easy Million Dollar Fudge 
Adapted from Stephanie in All Recipes

Ingredients
4 - 1/2 cups white sugar
1 pinch salt
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
2 cups chopped nuts
1 (12 ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips (or good quality dark chocolate, chopped)
12 (1 ounce) squares German sweet chocolate
2 cups marshmallow creme

Directions
Butter two 9 x 9 inch baking pans and set aside.
Place chocolate chips, German chocolate, marshmallow creme, and nuts into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
In 4 quart saucepan, combine sugar, salt, butter, and evaporated milk. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil, and cook for 6 minutes.
Pour boiling syrup over ingredients in bowl, beat until all chocolate is melted. Pour into prepared pans. Let stand a few hours before cutting.

2. Foolproof Dark Chocolate Fudge Recipe

Ingredients
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (or dark chocolate, chopped)
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
Pinch of salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
1-1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions
In heavy saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate chips with sweetened condensed milk and salt. Remove from heat; stir in walnuts and vanilla.
Spread evenly into aluminum foil lined 8 or 9 inch square pan.
Chill 2 hours or until firm.
Turn fudge onto cutting board; peel off foil and cut into squares.

3. Nutty Chocolate Fudge
Alton Brown had a great show on the Food Network on making fudge, so I thought I should include one of his recipes for nutty chocolate fudge (slightly adapted)

Ingredients
2- 3/4 cups sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 cup half-and-half
1 Tbsp corn syrup
1 Tbsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 cup chopped, roasted nuts

Directions
Grease 8 by 8-inch pan with butter.
In heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar, chocolate, 1-1/2 Tbsp  butter, half-and-half, and corn syrup. Over medium heat, stir with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved and chocolate is melted.
Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and boil for 3 minutes.
Remove cover and attach candy thermometer to pot. Cook until thermometer reads 234 degrees F.
Remove from heat and add remaining butter. Do not stir.
Let mixture cool for 10 minutes or until it drops to 130 degrees F.
Add vanilla and nuts and mix until well-blended and shiny texture becomes matte.
Pour into prepared pan.
Let sit in cool dry area until firm.
Cut into 1-inch pieces.

And, there are websites that are just devoted to fudge. Fudge-Recipes.net and Fudge-Recipes.com and Fudge Recipe Collection. In addition there are many, many other nutty chocolate fudge recipes on various food blogs, including this one!

Have a Nutty Fudge Day!

Friday, May 11, 2018

MOTHER'S DAY CHOCOLATE CAKE: Retro Ad & Recipe

I adore Retro Advertisements, and this one is particularly close to my heart. My mother had a Sunbeam Mixmaster. So many cookies, cakes, and brownies were made with that Mixmaster. I don't have my mother's Sunbeam Mixmaster, but I have my Mother-in-Law's -- the same model with all the attachments. I use my Kitchenaid Mixer mostly, but I love the functionality of that old Mixmaster War Horse. It still works, and I'll bet my mother-in-law got it in the early 50s.

So, for Mother's Day, here's a Sunbeam Mixmaster Mother's Day Advertisement from Life Magazine, May 1, 1950, complete with Chocolate Cake recipe. What are you making for Mother's Day?





Thursday, May 10, 2018

Retro Carnation's "Easy-Does-It" Cookbook: First-Prize Buttermilk Fudge Cake Recipe

I love old cookbooks. Last weekend at the Alameda Flea Market, I found a tiny cookbook,  Carnation's Easy-Does-It Cookbook, by Mary Blake (1958). It's filled with helpful tips and recipes. Some are a bit dated, and the assumption is that the "little woman's in the kitchen," but it's a real blast from the past. Be sure and scroll down for an easy recipe for First-Prize Buttermilk Fudge Cake!


And here's the recipe for First-Prize Buttermilk Fudge Cake.




Tuesday, May 8, 2018

DIY CHOCOLATE FACIALS: The Perfect Mother's Day Gift!

Here's a personal and unique Mother's Day Gift! A Chocolate Facial for Mom! Mix up one of these recipes -- the Perfect Mother's Day gift. Be sure to make a second batch for yourself!

We all know Chocolate is good for the heart, blood pressure, and a lot more. When I was growing up, we were told that chocolate was bad for the skin. That it actually caused acne. This is not true. Chocolate is full of antioxidants that actually give the skin extra protection against free radicals and can nourish the skin. The following masks can increase hydration, support skin's defense against UV damage, decrease roughness, and actually improve blood flow. Give one or all of them a try.

Pros of Chocolate Face Mask: The skin becomes glowing and soft. The skin becomes firm and smooth. Even if the mask goes into your mouth, no problem; it tastes yummy. The final Chocolate Face Mask even has an alternative fudge recipe.

So here are 5 D-I-Y Chocolate Face Mask Recipes! They're all simple to make. Let me know which is your favorite.

1. Chocolate Mask from Household Magic: Daily Tips

Mix together a heaping Tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder with heavy cream to form a paste.
Apply to clean, dry skin and leave paste on for 15 minutes.
Wipe off mask with washcloth.
Rinse face with lukewarm water and pat dry.

2. Chocolate Yogurt Honey Mask from Flavor Fiesta

Ingredients:
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp yogurt
1 tsp honey

Directions:
Blend cocoa powder with honey and yogurt. Cocoa powder can be difficult to blend, so be patient with this step. Keep mixing until mixture looks like melted chocolate.
Clean your face with lukewarm water. Dab dry and then apply the mask evenly all over your face except the eye and lip areas. Relax for 15-20 minutes and let the mask do it’s magic.
Wash off with lukewarm water and dab dry.
Apply moisturizer.

3. Chocolate Brown Sugar Sea Salt Mask from WikiHow

Ingredients
2 bars of dark chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup of milk
Sea salt
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar

Directions
Heat dark chocolate in double boiler for about 3 minutes.
Mix sea salt, brown sugar, and 2/3 of a cup milk in a bowl.
Remove melted chocolate from heat.
Mix melted chocolate with salt/milk mixture.
Allow to cool.
Apply to face while cool but not hardened.
Leave on until it hardens.
Wash or chip off with mild cleanser and warm water.
Add moisturizer when done.

4. Chocolate Oatmeal Honey Mask from Skin Care and Remedies

Ingredients
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup organic honey
2 Tbsp of heavy cream (or sour cream)
3 tsp oatmeal powder

Directions
Mix all ingredients until mass in consistent.
Apply to face, gently massaging so oatmeal can start exfoliating the dead skin cell layer.
Leave on for about 15-20 minutes
Rinse off with lukewarm water.

The following recipe is one of my favorites because it's so versatile.. with a tiny bit of tweaking, you can make fudge! How cool is that?

Chocolate Avocado, Honey, Oatmeal Face Mask (or Fudge)  
 from Meghan Telpner-Making Love in the Kitchen

Ingredients
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup organic honey
2 Tbsp smashed avocado
3 tsp oatmeal powder (leave this out if making soft fudge, leave in if you want a harder texture)

Directions: Face Mask
Mix all ingredients until mass is consistent.
Apply on face, gently massaging so oatmeal can start exfoliating the dead skin cell layer.
Leave on for 15-20 minutes.
Rinse off with lukewarm water.

Instructions: Fudge
Mix all ingredients (except oatmeal) until mass is consistent.
Spread in small pyrex dish or into individual ramikens.
Allow to set in refrigerator for at least two hours.



Monday, May 7, 2018

Cocoa Spiced Salmon for Mother's Day!

My Mother circa 1942
Confession: My mother was not a chocoholic. So for Mother's Day that always precluded giving her Truffles or Chocolates or baking anything chocolate specifically for her. However, my mother would have eaten salmon every day if she had had the opportunity. So here is an easy recipe adapted from Peggy Trowbridge Filippone on about.com for Cocoa Spiced Salmon.

I love cocoa/chocolate rubs, and this one helps seal in the flavor of the salmon. We do a lot of grilling at our house, and this is perfect for Mother's Day.. or any day! If you don't have a grill, you can broil. If you do, give it 10 minutes tops!

Here's a chocolate menu for you for Mother's Day: Cocoa Spiced Salmon with a green salad made with blueberries, cocoa nibs, blue cheese and spiced walnuts. I use a Strawberry vinaigrette. You can also make a Flourless Chocolate Cake for dessert and maybe some Chocolate Dipped Strawberries.

Mother's Day Cocoa Spiced Salmon

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil
1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp dry mustard
Dash of ground cinnamon
1 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 tsp DARK cocoa powder
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
1-1/2 pounds salmon filet

Mustard Sauce (optional)
1/4 cup dry mustard
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp hot water

Directions:

We cook on a Weber, but if you have a gas grill, fire to medium-high heat.
Pour and distribute 1 teaspoon olive oil over bottom of shallow aluminum pan. (Alternatively, you can  form a tray out of a double layer of heavy foil. Be sure to put it on a cookie sheet for stability.)

Whisk together sugar, dry mustard, cinnamon, paprika, cocoa powder, chili powder, cumin, pepper, and salt.

Coat both sides of the salmon filet with remaining olive oil.
Place in grill pan skin-side down.
Sprinkle generously with cocoa spice mixture and pat down.
(You may have some spice mix left over. Store in a glass jar in a cool, dark place up to 6 months.)

The recipe says to grill salmon about 10 minutes per inch of thickness, until salmon flakes easily with a fork. Do not overcook or it will become dry. We cook our salmon for a much shorter period of time, but then we don't have the same control on the heat on the Weber.

Mustard Sauce: Optional
Whisk together dry mustard, sugar, and hot water until smooth. 
Serve as a condiment with Cocoa Spiced Salmon.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

CHOCOLATE CREPES SUZETTE: Crepes Suzette Day!

Today is National Crepes Suzette Day. Ooh-la-la! What could be more French than Crepes Suzette?

To add a chocolate element, you can add chocolate sauce to your traditional crepes suzette, but even better, make Chocolate Crepes?

History of Crepes Suzette from What's Cooking America?

Probably the most famous crepe dish in the world. In a restaurant, a crepe suzette is often prepared in a chafing dish in full view of the guests. They are served hot with a sauce of sugar, orange juice, and liqueur (usually Grand Marnier). Brandy is poured over the crepes and then lit. The dish was created out of a mistake made by a fourteen year-old assistant waiter Henri Carpentier (1880-1961) in 1895 at the Maitre at Monte Carlo's Café de Paris. He was preparing a dessert for the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII (1841-1910) of England. 


According to Henri Charpentier, in own words from Life A La Henri – Being The Memories of Henri Charpentier:


“It was quite by accident as I worked in front of a chafing dish that the cordials caught fire. I thought I was ruined. The Prince and his friends were waiting. How could I begin all over? I tasted it. It was, I thought, the most delicious melody of sweet flavors I had every tasted. I still think so. That accident of the flame was precisely what was needed to bring all those various instruments into one harmony of taste . . . He ate the pancakes with a fork; but he used a spoon to capture the remaining syrup. He asked me the name of that which he had eaten with so much relish. I told him it was to be called Crepes Princesse. He recognized that the pancake controlled the gender and that this was a compliment designed for him; but he protested with mock ferocity that there was a lady present. She was alert and rose to her feet and holding her little shirt wide with her hands she made him a curtsey. ‘Will you,’ said His Majesty, ‘change Crepes Princesse to Crepes Suzette?’ Thus was born and baptized this confection, one taste of which, I really believe, would reform a cannibal into a civilized gentleman. The next day I received a present from the Prince, a jeweled ring, a panama hat and a cane.”

CHOCOLATE CREPES SUZETTE


For the Crepes: 

Ingredients
2 cups milk
2 eggs
2 1/2 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
2 ounces dark chocolate, melted
1-1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup DARK cocoa
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Melt butter and chocolate together, mixing to combine and smooth out  chocolate. 
In large bowl, combine milk and eggs. 
In separate, smaller bowl, combine dry ingredients.
Whisk together milk and eggs with dry ingredients, continue whisking as you incorporate butter and chocolate mixture.
Cover and refrigerate at least an hour, or overnight. Be sure to re-whisk batter before you cook  crepes.

To Cook Crepes:
Butter hot skillet (small or medium, not large) or crepe pan, then wipe out excess butter with paper towel so it's dry-ish. Pour in small amount of crepe batter and tilt pan as needed so batter spreads and covers bottom of pan. As edges begin to turn up, flip crepe with a spatula for few seconds to cook other side.


SAUCE & FINAL PREPARATION

Ingredients
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
Juice of 6 oranges (with zest from one)
3 Tbsp Cointreau
3 Tbsp Cognac
12 dark chocolate crepes
Grated chocolate for garnish

Directions
Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Stir in sugar, zest, juice, and liqueur. Stirring constantly, reduce sauce to 2/3 cup. Carefully add each cooked crepe to  pan—one at a time—and coat with sauce.
Fold each crepe into quarters, and arrange on plate (3 per plate if you're serving four)
Sprinkle crepes with orange zest and grated chocolate chocolate.

Only if you're really careful: flambé sauce: reserve two tablespoons and add three more tablespoons of Cognac. Stir together and remove the pan from heat. Ignite with match and pour flaming sauce over crepes.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

MINT JULEP TRUFFLES for the Kentucky Derby!

I have two recipes for Mint Julep Truffles to help you celebrate the Kentucky Derby. Too late to make these today? Well, they are perfect for the Triple Crown, too! The Mint Julep has been the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, since 1938. Why not step it up a notch and add chocolate? I'm all about easy, and the two recipes below are just that!

Mint Juleps are traditionally served in pewter or silver julep cups. I always love an opportunity to buy unique tableware. You can serve the truffles in mint julep cups!

Read more about the history of the Mint Julep at whatscooking america.

1. MINT JULEP TRUFFLES

Ingredients
7 ounces DARK (60-75% cacao) chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp minced fresh mint leaves
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 Tbsp good quality bourbon
Cocoa

Directions
Put chopped chocolate in bowl and set aside.
Heat heavy cream and mint leaves in small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Stir in butter and bourbon; whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth.
Cover chocolate mixture with plastic wrap (press wrap onto surface of chocolate) and chill for two hours, or until firm.

To Form Truffles:
Put cocoa in shallow bowl.
Using a melon baller or teaspoon, scoop out balls of chilled chocolate. Form into balls quickly between your palms.
Roll balls in cocoa to coat.

II. Mint Julep Truffles 
(recipe from Food Network)

Ingredients 
6 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate (not chocolate chips), coarsely chopped
2 ounces good-quality milk chocolate (not chocolate chips), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 to 4 tsp bourbon
1/2 tsp pure peppermint extract
1/3 cup sugar
2 packed Tbsp fresh mint leaves

Directions 
Put chopped semisweet and milk chocolate in medium bowl. Bring heavy cream and butter to  simmer in small saucepan. Pour cream mixture over chocolate, completely covering it, and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir with spatula until chocolate is completely melted, smooth and glossy. (If chocolate doesn't melt completely, microwave the mixture on high in 15-second increments, stirring in between, until fully melted.)
Fold in bourbon and peppermint extract until incorporated. Mixture will look separated at first, but keep stirring until uniform.
Set bowl over larger bowl of ice water, and let mixture chill for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until  thickened a bit and it's become homogeneous. Pour mixture into shallow 2-quart baking dish or 9-inch pie plate. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.
Meanwhile, process sugar mint in food processor for 1 minute until mint is finely chopped and dispersed, scraping down bowl with spatula halfway through. (The mint sugar can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.)
Scoop tablespoon-sized balls of chocolate mixture, and roll them between hands to shape them, working quickly-- balls melt fast.
Put them on plate or rimmed baking sheet, and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Put mint sugar in shallow dish, and drop balls in few at time, shaking dish to coat on all sides; transfer truffles to platter, shaking off excess, and refrigerate until ready to serve them.

(Once truffles have been coated, they must be served that day. Uncoated, they can be stored overnight in refrigerator in airtight container or covered with plastic wrap, then coated the day they're served.)

Friday, May 4, 2018

CINCO DE MAYO CHOCOLATE MENU: Molés & Tamales

Cinco de Mayo and Chocolate! So many great recipes and such a natural combination. Cinco de Mayo (The Fifth of May) is a Mexican holiday celebrating the victory of the Mexican army over the French at the Battle of Puebla, May 5, 1862. Puebla's signature dish is Molé Poblano--a Chocolate spicy stew--the national dish of Mexico. It's not sweet, even with the chocolate, since there are groundnuts, seeds, bitter chocolate and spices. There are so many varieties. Below are a few variations. Want to go the easiest route? Try Mole paste with Mexican Ibarra chocolate. You'll still want to add some chicken broth and tomato juice and maybe some peanut butter, but it's quick-- or you can try one of these recipes:

MOLES

Chicken Mole, my favorite Mexican chocolate main dish, can be very complicated to make. Here's an easy recipe adapted from Paula Deen for a quick Chicken Mole. o.k. it's not all that quick, but faster than the traditional recipes.

Quick Chicken Molé

Ingredients
2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 chipotle peppers, roughly chopped
1 (10-ounce) can chicken broth
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 ounces Taza Chocolate Mexicano, chopped
1 (5-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), for garnish
White rice, for serving

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat oil in saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add garlic and spices and continue to saute to toast and develop flavor. Add diced tomatoes, peppers, chipotles, broth, peanut butter, and chocolate. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and puree until smooth.
Sear the chicken in heavy bottomed hot saute pan over medium-high heat until browned on both sides. Add to casserole dish, cover with sauce and braise the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Garnish with pepitas and serve with white rice.

You can also use this mole dish with Enchiladas!

The following recipe is from Kendall Jackson. Pair a Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Malbec with this. 
 
Chicken Mole Poblano with Animal Crackers

Ingredients

For chicken:
1 whole chicken
3 quarts water
1/2 onion
3 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp oregano

Place all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 hour or until chicken is done. Strain and reserve the liquid and chicken.

For mole sauce:
4 Tbsp rice oil (or other neutral flavored oil)
8 dried mulato chilies, stems and seeds removed
4 dried pasilla chilies, stems and seeds removed
4 dried ancho chilies, stems and seeds removed
2 dried cascabel or chipotle chilies, stems and seeds removed
12 almonds
1/4 cup peanuts
3 garlic cloves
1/4 large onion
1/2 plantain, diced
12 animal crackers
5 raisins
3 whole black peppercorns
2 cloves
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
5 cups reserved chicken stock
2 slices bacon
1/2 bar (1-1/2 ounces) Mexican chocolate (Ibarra)

Directions
In large heavy bottomed pan over medium heat, add oil and sauté the chilies for approximately 3 minutes. Stir chilies constantly, being careful not to burn them. Using slotted spoon, remove chilies and reserve.

Add almonds and peanuts and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Add garlic, onions, and plantains and cook until golden brown, approximately 3 minutes. Add animal crackers and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown.

Add raisins, peppercorns, cloves, and cinnamon and cook until aromatic. Remove from heat and place in blender, add chilies, 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, and chicken stock. Purée until the sauce is smooth consistency.

In small pan, cook bacon until fat has rendered. Remove bacon and all but 1 tablespoon of fat from pan (bacon can be eaten or reserved for another use). Add chocolate to pan. Once chocolate has dissolved, cook for 2 minutes or until aromatic. Add bacon fat and chocolate mixture to purée and stir to combine.

To serve: Slice chicken onto platter and cover with mole sauce. Garnish with remaining sesame seeds. Serve with Mexican rice and tortillas on the side.

The extra mole sauce can be frozen for up to 2 months.
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Here's a completely different mole recipe--this time for WHITE Chocolate Mole with Animal Crackers. Recipe from Judy Walker in the Arizona Republic a few years ago.

White Chocolate Molé with Animal Crackers

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup sliced blanched almonds
1/4 cup walnuts
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
2 whole cloves
1 fresh poblano chile, seeded and chopped
2 fresh serrano chiles, seeded and chopped
1 small clove garlic
1/2 white Spanish onion, cut into chunks
5 animal crackers, toasted
1/4 cup sweet butter
1/2 cup chopped white chocolate
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread peanuts, almonds, and walnuts on a jelly-roll pan. Toast in oven, shaking pan occasionally, until nuts are slightly colored and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes.

In blender, combine nuts, water, cinnamon stick, and cloves; blend until nuts are very finely ground. Strain through medium-mesh sieve over bowl, pressing on solids with back of ladle or rubber spatula to release liquid. Reserve liquid and discard solids.

In blender, combine chiles, garlic, onion, and nut liquid. Add animal crackers; puree until smooth. Strain through medium-mesh sieve over bowl, pressing on solids with back of ladle or rubber spatula to release liquid. Discard solids.

In large saucepan, heat butter. Stir in nut-chile liquid. Simmer, uncovered, over medium heat, scraping bottom of pan occasionally with rubber spatula, until mixture is consistency of thick pea soup, about 15 minutes.

Stir in chocolate, salt, and pepper until chocolate is melted. Use immediately.

Note: The mole without the chocolate can be made ahead and refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to a week. To serve, heat in a saucepan and stir in the chocolate.

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Here’s another “Main Dish”—I know it’s really a dessert, but they’re tamales, after all, so I’m counting them as a main dish. This recipe for Chocolate Tamales for Cinco de Mayo is from Diana's Recipe Book. The tamales are easy to make and delicious.

CHOCOLATE TAMALES

Ingredients
1 cup milk
1 pound DARK chocolate, 70-85% cacao, chopped
1 pound butter
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 pounds corn flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
24 corn husks

Directions
Preheat oven to 350.
Boil milk and add chocolate. Stir constantly until chocolate is completely melted. Add butter and sugar. Mix until smooth. Set aside to cool.
Mix corn flour and baking powder together in bowl. Slowly add chocolate mixture and mix by hand for 10 minutes.
Grease 2 (12 cup) muffin pans and line with corn husks. Fill with chocolate tamale mixture and bake for 20 minutes.