Monday, June 18, 2018

CHOCOLATE CHERRY TART: National Cherry Tart Day

Fresh Cherries are everywhere right now, so National Cherry Tart Day couldn't have come at a better time!

One of the most useful gadgets in my kitchen is my cherry pitter, especially for doing anything with fresh cherries in a large batch. I've had a cherry pitter for over 30 years. I originally got my cherry pitter for pitting small plums for jam.

But back to the cherries. Since today is National Cherry Tart Day, I'm posting a recipe for Chocolate Cherry Tart that was "blended and adapted" from recipes from Desperationdinners.com and Dianasaurdishes.com. These two blogs have morphed, but I still had the recipe. DesperationDinners' tart uses a 'plain' tart dough, but I can never have enough Chocolate! Dianasaurdishes has a wonderful chocolate tart recipe that's pretty fool-proof. Have a look at Eating Richly (Dianasaurdishes') Raspberry Chocolate Tart Recipe. No time to make the tart shell? Feel free to substitute a prepared pie crust that's not chocolate. I often use Trader Joe's frozen pie crusts.

CHOCOLATE CHERRY TART

Chocolate Pie Crust:
 
Ingredients
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 Tbsp unsweetened DARK cocoa powder

Directions
Beat butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Scrape down bowl and beat another minute so there are no lumps. Add egg yolk, beat well, and scrape downsides again.
Add flour and cocoa powder, beat on lowest speed until dough has just come together (but still has small to medium clumps) and looks moist with dark uniform color. Scrape down bowl and use spatula to incorporate anything that isn’t mixed in.
Put chocolate crust in 11- to 12-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Use heel of hand to press dough and spread along bottom of pan and up sides  if you’re having trouble, refrigerate dough 15 minutes before pressing)
Cut off any dough above top of tart pan. Save dough for repairs. Place dough filled pan in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pan on cookie sheet and bake in lower third of oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and use leftover dough to repair cracks. Bake another 8 minutes.
Remove tart pan to cooling rack and use rounded side of a spoon to press center down and make more room for filling. Let cool completely (you can do this in refrigerator for faster results).

While the crust is baking, prepare filling!

Cherry Filling:

Ingredients
12 ounce 65-75% dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 1/2 pounds fresh sweet cherries, rinsed and dried (any cherries will work)
3 Tbsp Bonne Maman Cherry preserves (or strawberry jelly)

Directions
Put chocolate and cream in double boiler or saucepan on top of another saucepan with simmering water. Melt together, stirring, until smooth. Set aside.
Remove cherry stems, remove pits with cherry pitter. Set aside.
When crust is cool, pour chocolate into crust and smooth evenly with back of spoon. Place cherries into chocolate in concentric circles, stem side up, pressing into chocolate to hold in place.
Put jelly in small measuring cup and microwave on High until spreadable, about 15 seconds.
Using pastry brush, lightly brush tops of cherries with jelly just to glaze.
Place tart in refrigerator, uncovered, to cool until chocolate is set, about 25 to 30 minutes.
To serve, remove sides of  tart pan. (Love this trick for removing the tart from the outside ring of the pan: Place bottom of  pan over a small bowl that's smaller than tart pan. The pan ring will fall away if sides have shrunk enough, or you can jiggle gently and pull down on the pan ring to remove.)
Slice into wedges, and serve cold.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Chocolates for Men: The Whitman's Savory Sampler

From the amazing Hilary Price at RhymeswithOrange:


Father's Day Chocolate Gifts



What to give Dad for Father's Day? What a dilemma. There are so many cool chocolate items available that Dad will love. Of course, you can always get out the mixer and bake a chocolate cake!

Several different companies make molded novelty chocolate. Chocolate Vault offers a 6 piece tool set that is fun and creative! They also offer some nice looking chocolate ties. Does your father still wear ties? In addition there are Beer Mug chocolate lollies and lots of individual bars that say World's Greatest Dad, etc. If Dad has a hobby, you have more choices such as fishing, tools, computers, and money! Dad can't have enough money, can he, or enough chocolate?

Totally Chocolate has lots of fabulous molded chocolates. I've tasted their delicious Belgian milk and dark chocolate. Their chocolates are exquisitely engraved and molded and very reasonable. I love their package of chocolate golf balls--white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Located in Blaine, WA, they ship all over the U.S. I especially enjoyed their Bite Back at the IRS chocolate bars. They have ready to ship favorite designs, and they'll do custom designs, as well.

And, of course, you can always give Dad a great box of truffles! So many wonderful chocolatiers out there.

My father wasn't much of a chocolate lover, but I loved him all the same. He passed away 15 years ago, but it seems like only yesterday. He encouraged and supported me throughout my varying careers and educational pursuits, and he always told me I could accomplish anything and succeed in whatever I tried.

One thing we shared in common was our love of mysteries. I'm the Editor of the Mystery Readers Journal and I also blog at Mystery Fanfare. Over the years my taste in mysteries has changed. I read more hardboiled, dark mysteries now like my father always did. You can't imagine how many times I finish a book, and I say to myself, "I have to send this to Dad. He'll love it." My father engendered a love of mysteries in me through his collection of mystery novels and Ellery Queen Magazines.

So if Chocolate is not on Dad's Menu this Father's Day, how about giving him a mystery set during Father's Day--or a crime fiction novel about Fathers and Sons or Fathers and Daughters? Here's a list: 
Father's Day Mysteries.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

MARSHMALLOW FLUFF FUDGE: National Fudge Day

Today is National Fudge Day, and I can never have too many Fudge recipes. Yes, I have my favorites, but sometimes you just want to experiment. So, you can see why I really like these two Retro Ads & Recipes, both of which use Marshmallow Fluff as a major ingredient.

Marshmallow Fluff you ask? You may know this product as Marshmallow Creme. You can make it at home or you can buy a jar. Can't find it at your market? Try Amazon or another online store. I usually have a jar in the pantry. O.K. not the healthiest of ingredients, but it really adds to the flavor in these Fudge recipes!"P.S. It's so easy!"

So here are two Retro Ads and Recipes for Marshmallow Fluff Fudge!




Friday, June 15, 2018

FATHER'S DAY CHOCOLATE CAKE: Retro Ad & Recipe

Father's Day is this Sunday. What are you making? Here's another great Father's Day Retro Ad that recommends baking him a cake! I'm posting below an easy one bowl chocolate cake recipe -- better than a mix. Dad will love it, and you will, too! Recipe adapted from Baker's Chocolate One Bowl Chocolate Cake.


FATHER'S DAY CHOCOLATE CAKE

Ingredients
7 ounces Dark Chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2-1/2 cups flour, divided
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups water

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH for 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted (I usually melt my chocolate in a double boiler or a saucepan over another saucepan over simmering water--if you do this--remove from heat before you add the rest of the ingredients). Stir in sugar. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating with electric mixer on low speed after each addition until well blended. Add vanilla; mix well.

Add 1/2 cup of the flour, the baking soda, and salt; beat until well blended. Add remaining 2 cups flour alternately with water, beating until well blended after each addition.

Pour evenly into 2 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Bake 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 min.; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire racks.

For the Father's Day version of this cake as mentioned in the Ad:

Frosting: Use your favorite chocolate frosting. Add 1/4 cup chopped nuts to 1/2 cup of the frosting. Spread between layers. Frost top and sides with remaining frosting, sprinkle top with nuts. (I use chopped walnuts)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Today is National Bourbon Day! Here's an easy recipe for Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Chunk Cookies to Celebrate! These cookies contain all the food groups! How can you go wrong with bourbon, bacon and chocolate? These would be perfect for Father's Day, too!

Maker’s Mark has a website that gives fans more of the content and information highlighting the culinary versatility of Maker’s Mark. The site features a section of recipes, selected by chef, Lee Anne Wong. She explains, “My goal in compiling this recipe collection for Maker's Mark was to show the versatility of their handcrafted whisky behind the bar and inspire people to incorporate bourbon into food in ways they may have never thought to. From soups and appetizers to entrees and desserts, I've included it all.” The collection includes appetizers, desserts, entrees, sides and soups, all created by a variety of world renowned chefs and restaurants. Contributors include David Mechlowicz, Director of Food and Beverage at Food Network; Daniel Holzman, Chef & Owner of The Meatball Shop; Antonia Lofaso, Executive Chef and Top Chef Masters Finalist and many more.

Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Chunk Cookies
by Lee Anne Wong, Editor and Culinary Director, Maker's Mark® Virtual Recipe Cookbook

This is one of my signature recipes, with two of my favorite things, bacon and bourbon, accented by chunks of rich, dark chocolate. The smoky, saltiness of the bacon pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the bourbon, chocolate and vanilla flavors. Honestly, these cookies will win you friends and admirers. No joke.

Ingredients
3 Tbsp Maker's Mark® Bourbon
3/4 pound bacon, 1/4-inch dice*
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup reserved bacon fat, chilled
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
2 large eggs
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces**

Directions
In large sauté pan, cook out diced bacon until bacon pieces are golden and crisp. Remove bacon pieces from fat and drain on paper towel. Strain fat through fine sieve and measure out 1/2 cup of bacon fat and chill bacon fat until it congeals and sets.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, chilled bacon fat, granulated sugar, light and dark brown sugars, vanilla and Maker's Mark® Bourbon in large mixer bowl until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in cooked bacon pieces and chopped chocolate bits.

Drop by rounded tablespoon onto parchment-lined baking sheets at least 3 inches apart.
Bake in oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.
Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Keep in dry, airtight container for up to 5 days.

* A fattier sliced bacon is preferred, as lean bacon and turkey bacon will not work for this recipe. ** Use a dark chocolate with 65% cocoa or higher. Anything from a 65%-85% chocolate will work well.

CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE: History & Recipe for National Strawberry Shortcake Day

Today is National Strawberry Shortcake Day. There's something about strawberries and whipped cream with a little shortcake that says Summer and America!

There are several different types of shortcake, or pastries known as shortcake. First there are scones and biscuits -- perfect for Strawberry Shortcake. And, then there are sponge cakes like those little spongy cups you get at the supermarket, also good, just different. And, of course, there's just plain cake which can be chocolate! All these 'cakes' are quick to make and taste great with strawberries and whipping cream. Of course, for me, the shortcake should always be chocolate. As always, your cakes are only as good as the chocolate you use!

No one really knows  exactly when the first strawberry shortcake was made. Shortcake, itself, is a European invention that goes back at least to the late 1500s. Strawberries have been around for over 2000 years. But putting strawberries and shortcake together is an American tradition. Strawberry Shortcake parties became popular in the United States around 1850 with the earliest recipe in 1847. Strawberries were so popular that people talked about strawberry fever. Advertisements and articles about strawberry shortcake, caused more and more demand. Harpers Magazine in 1893 said, "They give you good eating, strawberries and short-cake-- Ohh My!"

Several years ago on National Strawberry Shortcake Day I posted a recipe for Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake. This recipe is a combination of individual chocolate biscuits, fresh strawberries and sweet whipping cream. I also linked to Annmarie Kostyk's Double Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake. Fabulous!

Here's another recipe for Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake because you can't have enough of a good thing. Recipe adapted from Rhoda Peacher at Hobbyfarms.com

A tip from Lynda King at Hobbyfarms: one of the best ways to prepare berries for shortcake is to bruise them with a potato masher. You don’t want all the berries mashed, but you want most of them bruised sufficiently to yield their juice into the mixture. If needed, add sugar or honey to taste, depending on your preference, and chill for a few hours before serving.

CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE

Ingredients

Shortcake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unalted butter
1 cup + up to 2 Tbsp milk

Filling
4 to 5 cups fresh strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream, whipped

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Grease two 8-inch round cake pans.
In large bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
Using pastry blender, cut butter into mixture until consistency resembles coarse crumbs.
Stir in 1 cup milk with fork until mixture is just moistened (you may need to add extra milk for the mixture to blend evenly).
Using your fingers, spread into prepared pans.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, or until cake begins to pull away from sides of pans.
Cool 15 minutes; remove cakes from pans. Cool completely.
Reserve five whole strawberries for garnish.
Wash, hull, and halve remaining strawberries.
In large bowl, combine halved strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar.
Place 1 shortcake bottom-side up on serving plate.
Top with half of strawberries and half of whipped cream.
Drizzle with a few tablespoons of chocolate sauce, to taste.
Place the other shortcake on top of this, right-side up.
Top with remaining prepared strawberries and whipped cream.
Garnish with reserved whole strawberries.

So there you have it: Three fabulous recipes for Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake!
***

Want to drink your Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake?

CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE COCKTAIL


1 shot amaretto
1 shot creme de cacao
2 double shots of fresh strawberry puree
2 double shots of cream

Add several ice cubes, 2 double shots of fresh strawberry puree, 2 double shots of cream, add one shot of amaretto and one shot of creme de cacao. Blend for 1 min until mixture is thick. Pour into a martini glass.

Garnish with a whole strawberry or rim the glass with crushed chocolate--or both!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

FATHER'S DAY BUTTER CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE FROSTING

A special cake 
a special way 
To reach his heart 
on Father's Day...

Love this Retro Father's Day Ad for Buttercake. I don't think I've ever posted a Butter Cake recipe before. You've got to love a good Butter Cake, especially with chocolate butter frosting! As always use the very best butter and chocolate!

The following recipe for Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting is from Betty Crocker, tweaked slightly. This cake is perfect for Father's Day!

FATHER'S DAY BUTTER CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE FROSTING

Ingredients

Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream

Frosting 
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cake:
Heat oven to 350°F.
Grease bottom and sides of 2 (8-inch) round cake pans with shortening; lightly flour.
In small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In large bowl, beat 3/4 cup butter and the granulated sugar with electric mixer on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, about 2 minutes or until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, just until smooth. Stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla. On low speed, beat flour mixture into sugar mixture alternately with 3/4 cup milk, beating after each addition, until smooth. Scrape side of bowl occasionally. Beat in sour cream. Pour evenly into pans. Tap pans on counter 2 to 3 times to eliminate air bubbles from batter.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

Frosting:
In medium bowl, beat frosting ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and spreadable. Place first cake layer on plate, and spread 1 cup frosting over top. Place second cake layer on top of first. Frost side and top of cake with remaining frosting. Store loosely covered at room temperature.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

TOFFEE PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES: National Peanut Butter Cookie Day

Today is National Peanut Butter Cookie Day! Here's a great recipe to celebrate: Toffee Peanut Butter Cookies! I love English Toffee, and I'm a Toffee Judge for TasteTV. I know, I know. Someone has to do it.

Having all this toffee around made me want to bake some cookies. Here's a great recipe that combines my love of Peanut Butter Cookies with English Toffee. I have a toffee hammer (well, I have three of them) for breaking up toffee. Clearly this is something I like to do! The small hammers used to come with the toffee tins. Very cool. As always, use the very best peanut butter and the very best toffee. Mix up a batch and take them to the ball game. These Toffee Peanut Butter Cookies are a grand slam!

Toffee Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
10 ounces Toffee Bits

Directions
Preheat oven to 350.
Whip butter with peanut butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugars until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In another bowl, sift together dry dry ingredients, then mix into batter. Fold in Toffee bits.
Scoop cookies onto un-greased baking sheet.
Lightly flatten each cookie with fork or back of hand.
Bake for 10 minutes for chewy cookies or 13 minutes for crunchy ones.
These cookies will fast become favorites!

Monday, June 11, 2018

GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE: National German Chocolate Cake Day!

Today is National German Chocolate Cake Day. It may sound odd that's there's an American National Holiday for German Chocolate Cake, but German Chocolate Cake is not German. German Chocolate Cake is an American creation that contains the key ingredients of sweet baking chocolate, coconut, and pecans.

In 1852, Sam German created a dark baking chocolate bar for Baker's Chocolate Company, and in his honor, the company named it "Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate."

The story goes that the first published recipe for German's chocolate cake showed up in a Dallas newspaper in 1957 and supposedly came from a Texas homemaker. The cake quickly gained in popularity and the recipe together with photos spread all over the country. America fell in love with German Chocolate Cake, and food editors were swamped with requests for information on where to buy the chocolate. In one year, there was a 73% sales jump in German's Baker Sweet Chocolate sales (then owned by General Mills). 

However, the cake most likely didn't originate from the Dallas housewife. Buttermilk chocolate cakes were popular in the South for over 70 years, and pecans were plentiful, also, to make the frosting. Point of fact: German's chocolate is similar to a milk chocolate and sweeter than regular baking chocolate.

Here's the "Original Recipe." I found this specific recipe in many places on the Internet, and I daresay no one can claim it as their own. So even if you think you're making Grandmom's recipe--and it might be with a few changes over the years- the following is a basic one that millions use. That's not to say I didn't find several unique recipes for German Chocolate Cake that peaked my interest. But those are for another time.

GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE

For the Cake
1 pkg. Baker's German’s sweet chocolate (4 oz.)
1/2 cup water, boiling
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cup sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour, all-purpose
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup buttermilk
Coconut-pecan frosting

Directions
Approx. Cook Time: 30 min
Melt chocolate in water and cool.
Cream butter and Sugar.
Beat in egg yolks.
Stir in vanilla and chocolate.
Mix flour, soda, and salt. Beat in flour mixture, alternately with buttermilk.
Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter. Pour batter into three 9-inch layer pans, lined on bottoms with waxed paper.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly pressed in
center.
Cool 15 minutes; remove and cool on rack.

For the Filling & Topping:
1--14 oz. can of condensed milk such as Eagle Brand
1/2 cup water
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup butte
1 1/3 cup pecans; chopped reserve
10 whole pecan halves for garnish.
1 3/4 cups angel flake coconut

Directions
Cook milk, eggs, and water over double boiler until thickened.
Cook it over direct heat if you use complete concentration.
Then add vanilla and butter and whisk in until melted and smooth.
Add chopped pecans and coconut.

CHOCOLATE FROSTING
1/2 cup butter, softened
9 squares Baker's German's chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 Tbsp milk
for a richer chocolate flavor, add cocoa powder- or use more German's chocolate

Directions
Mix butter and chocolate in mixing bowl. Stir in powdered sugar.
Beat vanilla and milk until smooth and of spreading consistency.

Assembly:
Divide filling evenly between 3 cakes putting 1st layer down, then spread filling evenly. Repeat with  other layer.
Frost side or top of the cake only. (Maybe--but make more, and you can frost everything)
For garnish, place pecan halves around top edge.

My late friend Iris used to make the best German Chocolate Cake. She said it was an African American traditional cake that was made and served at New Year's. I can't find any information on that tradition in the African American community, so I think it was only a tradition in her family. Sadly, Iris never shared her recipe. Some people keep family recipes within the family. The photo in this post is Iris's German Chocolate Cake. It was always fabulous!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

CHOCOLATE ICE TEA: Recipes, Info, & Brands

I'm a tea drinker, and I love Ice Tea. Since it's National Ice Tea Day, and I'm always Dying for Chocolate, here are several recipes and brands and information about Chocolate Ice Tea.

Just an FYI: The following teas will not have the full bodied chocolate taste of an iced cocoa. They're more subtle, but definitely worth trying. They're essentially different types of teas infused with cacoa nibs or cocoa with some other ingredients. Some even use carob pods. You might prefer some of them more as hot teas. Experiment.

At the end of this post, I have a recipe for Chocolate Mint Ice Tea... that's the herb Chocolate Mint that grows in the garden (it is not a chocolate --cacao-- plant!). Chocolate mint makes a lovely ice tea.

History of Ice Tea: The story goes that at the St. Louis World's Fair, Englishman Richard Blechynden was introducing Americans to the new India and Ceylon black tea. There was a heat wave at the time and lines were not forming to try his steamy hot beverage. After a few days of frustration, he tried adding ice to the tea in order to entice people in. It was the hit of the fair and a new way of drinking tea had instantly taken hold!

How to Brew Ice Tea:
To brew a quart, place either 4 to 5 bags or teaspoons of loose tea in a pitcher. Bring 2 cups of cold, tap water or filtered water to a boil. Pour the boiling water directly over the tea and steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove tea bags or strain and then add 2 more cups of cold water. Serve over ice.

Sun Brewed Iced Tea
Fill a container with 4 cups of cold water, preferably filtered. Place 6 bags or 6 teaspoons of tea and cover or cap lightly. Place in direct sunlight for 2 to 4 hours (depending on desired strength). Remove bags or strain and serve over ice.

Cold Water Method
Fill a container with 4 cups of filtered cold water. Put 6 bags or 6 teaspoons of tea and cover or cap lightly. Place in refrigerator for 8 hours. Remove bags or strain and serve over ice.

There are so many Chocolate Teas available now, some with black tea, some with rooibos or other herbs. The following is a random list. Let me know your favorites, and, especially, if you like chocolate teas better hot or cold!

Republic of Tea
Peppermint Cuppa Chocolate Tea Bags:  peppermint, rich chocolate and smooth, caffeine-free rooibos
Cocoanut Cocoa Cuppa Chocolate Tea Bags:  coconut, chocolate and caramel malted barley
Double Dark Chocolate Mate: roasted Yerba Maté blended with organic dark cocoa powder
Red Velvet Cuppa Chocolate Tea Bags: Rooibos blended with chocolate and beet root bits
Strawberry Cuppa Chocolate Tea Bags: chocolate paired with a hint of strawberry. Rooibos (red tea) provides the base.

Mighty Leaf Tea
Mayan Chocolate Truffle
Masala Chocolate Truffle
Chocolate Chip Truffle
Chocolate Mint Truffle Rooibos
Chocolate Orange Truffle
Mocha Truffle Pu-erh

Kalahari: Choco Latte: Red Tea Raspberry Truffle

Stash Tea: Chocolate Mint Wuyi Oolong Tea

Teavana: Haute Chocolate Rooibos Tea, Cacao Mint Black Tea

TeaFrog: Chocolate and Cream

Harney & Sons:   (one of my favorite sources for black tea): Chocolate tea

Tea Forte:  Coco Truffle
  
American Tea Room: Choco Late, CocoLoco
  
Tea Guys:  Chocolate Delight

Here's a tea for the Spring & Summer, and yes, I do have Chocolate Mint growing in my "Chocolate Garden."

CHOCOLATE MINT ICE TEA

Ingredients
4 cups fresh chocolate mint, chopped
16 cups water
1 cup local honey

Directions
Boil water, add chopped mint leaves, and simmer in covered stockpot with tight-fitting lid for 10 mins.
Add honey or simple syrup, stirring until dissolved.
Remove from heat.
Cover and let steep 3-4 hours or longer.
Refrigerate overnight.
Strain before serving.


Saturday, June 9, 2018

STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE: National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day

Today is National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day. Strawberry and Rhubarb go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly. Here's my favorite Strawberry Rhubarb Pie recipe! Strawberry Fields Forever! Of course I make this pie with a Chocolate Cookie Crust.

A little info on rhubarb: In culinary use, fresh raw petioles (leaf stalks) are crisp (similar to celery) with a strong, tart taste. Most commonly, the plant's leaf stalks are cooked with sugar and used in pies and other desserts. Rhubarb is usually considered a vegetable. In the United States, however, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit, it counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties. And, a warning: Do not eat or use the leaves.

The following recipe is easy and great. Most people do a two crust pie.. the top crust being a lattice; however, I don't think this works with a chocolate crust. You can always do a regular crumble on top! Or make a traditional pie crust and add a lattice crust on top. As always, it's your choice! Enjoy and celebrate the day!

STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE 
with CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUST

Chocolate Cookie Crust

Ingredients 
2 cups chocolate wafers
6 Tbsp unsalted butter (or salted if you're inclined), melted

Directions 
Melt butter. Put chocolate wafers in plastic bag and crush with spoon or rolling pin. Should be pea-size. Combine melted butter and ground chocolate wafers. Press ingredients into 9 inch buttered pie pan--bottom and up sides. Bake for 10 minutes at 325. Let cool.  

Filling
3-1/2 cups rhubarb stalks, in 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp orange zest
1/4 cup cornstarch
Dash of salt
3 1/2 cups strawberries, cleaned, hulled, quartered  (or thinly sliced)

Directions
Combine filling ingredients in bowl and toss well.
Spread into prepared crust and bake for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees or until rhubarb is tender and filling is bubbly.

So easy! Make this today!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Thursday, June 7, 2018

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM PIE: National Chocolate Ice Cream Day!

Today is National Chocolate Ice Cream Day, so I plan to make Triple Chocolate Ice Cream Pie! I have two recipes: One Retro and One Modern.

The first recipe is a Retro Jell-O Chocolate Ice Cream Pie Ad & Recipe from Good Housekeeping, 1959. O.K. this is not how I would make it. Why not just use some chocolate ice cream? Scroll down for an easy recipe for a more 'modern' Triple Chocolate Ice Cream Pie!



'Modern' Triple Chocolate Ice Cream Pie

Since I'm all about Chocolate, the pie shell can be made with chocolate wafers or oreos.. either works well.

To make the crust, crumb up the wafers or oreos either by putting them in a plastic bag and running a rolling pin over them or by whirling them in your food processor. Add 1/2 stick of melted butter (or a bit more) and press into a 9" pie plate, going up the side. Bake for 5-10 minutes at 350 -- or not. Since this is an ice-cream pie, it's not really going to matter if you bake it or not!

After the pie shell is cooled (if you bake it), spoon in the softened chocolate ice cream. Now here's where you can get creative--either a chocolate or a chocolate brownie ice cream such as Haagen Daz Chocolate or Ben & Jerry's Chocolate or Chocolate Fudge Brownie would be perfect! Then freeze!  
Helpful hint: make sure to position the pie flat in your freezer.

And finally, top with Hot Fudge Sauce!

Want to make your own Chocolate Ice Cream for this Chocolate Ice Cream Pie?

Epicurious has a wonderful recipe for Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream by Fergus and Margot Henderson that appeared in Bon Appetit. For the recipe, go HERE.

Or make Alton Brown's Chocolate Ice Cream.

What's your favorite chocolate ice cream? What's your favorite recipe? Add a comment and/or link below! 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

CHOCOLATE APPLESAUCE BUNDT CAKE: National Applesauce Cake Day

Today is Applesauce Cake Day, and my favorite recipe for Chocolate Applesauce Cake is from Kristin Donnelly in Food and Wine in 2007. I love it because it's a one bowl cake, and when it's made in a bundt pan, it's pretty as well as easy. Applesauce cakes are usually spice cakes, so this recipe may remind you of the holidays. Nevertheless, it's great all year round, and today on Applesauce Day, you can make it to celebrate!

I used to make my own applesauce from my Gravenstein apple trees, but over the last few seasons my golden retriever 'retrieved' the apples before they were quite ripe. Some years, I've picked up a flat or bushel along the road in Sebastopol in Sonoma county, famous for its Gravenstein Apples. But lately I've been buying my applesauce from Trader Joe's. They sell First Press Gravenstein applesauce. How great is that?

In this recipe I use chocolate chunks instead of chocolate chips, but use what you have and what you like. I always have good chocolate around, so I tend to chop it up and use it in cakes and cookies. It changes things up in terms of taste! Also, always make sure your spices are fresh.

CHOCOLATE APPLESAUCE BUNDT CAKE

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 cups unsweetened applesauce  (applesauce from Gravenstein apples - my favorite!)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
10 ounces dark chocolate, chopped, or a 12-ounces semisweet chocolate chips
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Optional: Crème fraîche or whipped cream, for serving

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour 12-cup Bundt pan.
In large bowl, whisk flour with granulated sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, cloves, and pepper. Whisk in applesauce, eggs, oil, and melted butter. Fold in chocolate chunks or chips.
Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs attached.
Transfer pan to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto rack and cool completely, about 20 minutes. Sift powdered sugar over cake, slice and serve with crème fraîche or whipped cream--or plain.
This cake also tastes great toasted for breakfast with unsalted butter or cream cheese!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

NO CHURN COFFEE ICE CREAM WITH CHOCOLATE CHIPS!

I'm not really a coffee drinker, but I do like Coffee Ice Cream. And what could be better than Coffee Ice Cream with Chocolate Chips? Don't have an ice cream maker? No worries. Here's another of those Retro Recipes for ice cream without churning. 

No Churn Coffee Ice Cream with Chocolate Chips!

Ingredients
1 can (14 ounce) sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup strong cold coffee
2 cups cold heavy cream
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Directions
In medium bowl, stir together condensed milk, vanilla, coffee, and chocolate chips.
In separate bowl of standing mixer, whip cream until soft peaks form.
Whisk one third of whipped cream into coffee mixture.
Fold remaining whipped cream into coffee mixture until incorporated.
Pour into 9 × 5-inch loaf pan, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze until firm -- about 6 hours or overnight.

How easy is that?

CHOCOLATE CURLS & GRATED CHOCOLATE: Tuesday Tips

Sometimes you want grated chocolate or chocolate curls to decorate a cake or cupcakes or pancakes or other foods. Today's Tuesday Tip: Chocolate Curls and Grated Chocolate

Lots of people have different techniques. Let me know which you use or if you have some other advice. The following is in no particular order :-)

Some people swear that you should put the chocolate in the freezer for about 10 minutes before you use any of the following techniques. Others say to melt the chocolate in a pan and then refrigerator but soften slightly before working with it. So here are 8 different tips!

1. Grating: Cut chocolate into a chunk that fits comfortably in your hand. Grate the chocolate using a microplane grater, handheld grater, or the smallest holes on a box grater.

2. Curls: use a cheese slicer. Depending on what type of curls you want--thick or then.. depends on pressure you use.

3. I've been known to use a vegetable peeler.

4. And, I've also used a drum grater (Mouli Grater). Friction doesn't melt the chocolate, and there's no heat from your hands.

5. And here's a good way to make Chocolate Curls with softer chocolate: Let milk chocolate or white baking bar come to room temperature, then carefully draw a vegetable peeler across the bar. For small curls, use the thin side of the chocolate piece; for large curls, use the broad surface.

6. More info on Chocolate Curls, especially if you're going to be making a lot of them. Take a block of chocolate-1 lb. (if you don't have one, melt chocolate and put in cake pan to harden. Run knife around edges to loosen and invert). Place on heavy or sturdy surface and use a clean cheese slicer.

7. An alternative would be to melt the chocolate and put it on a cooking sheet.. use spatula to spread. Put in refrigerator, and test that it's not too soft. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a metal spatula.. curls!

8. Once curls are made, I usually put them on parchment paper until ready to use.. and sometimes store them in the fridge or a cool area if I'm not ready.

Designs: Curls, Fans and other shapes.

And whatever you do, be sure and practice.

Monday, June 4, 2018

COGNAC TRUFFLES: 3 Easy Recipes for National Cognac Day

Today is National Cognac Day! Cognac is a brandy that comes from the Cognac region in France. Distilled for a long time, it's this aging process that gives Cognac a very distinctive taste. Only brandy that is produced in Cognac can be labeled Cognac. 

Cognac goes so well with Chocolate, especially in Cognac Truffles. I always opt for easy truffle recipes. I've posted two of these great recipes in the past, but I've added a third which includes orange zest! The second recipe includes raw eggs (although they heat up a bit in the chocolate), so if that's a problem for you, make the first or third recipe. I have tried many different types of chocolate (brands and amounts of cacao), and as always the flavors will change with the chocolate. These recipes are basically ganache truffles, so no tempering needed. You can roll them in cocoa or chopped nuts.

1. COGNAC TRUFFLES

Ingredients
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp Cognac
unsweetened cocoa or chopped nuts

Directions
Put chopped chocolate in bowl. On low heat warm cream and butter until nearly boiling. Pour cream and butter over chocolate and mix gently and thoroughly until chocolate is melted. You can always just melt all ingredients together in the top of a double boiler, if you're careful.
Cool and add cognac, mixing into chocolate mixture.
Cover and refrigerate 3 hours or more.
Using a melon baller or spoon, scoop chocolate into balls. Then roll in hands to smooth out the ball.
Roll balls in cocoa or nuts and refrigerate until ready to serve.

2. COGNAC TRUFFLES

Ingredients
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1-1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter
3 egg yolks
2 Tbsp cognac
cocoa or chopped nuts

Directions
Melt chocolate.
Combine sugar and butter in bowl then cream together.
Add egg yolks 1 at a time then stir in melted chocolate and cognac.
Chill mixture at least one hour then scoop out and form into balls.
Roll in coating of your choice and dry for 1 hour.

3. COGNAC TRUFFLES

Ingredients 
6 ounces DARK chocolate, chopped
3 ounces heavy cream
1 Tbsp cognac
1-1/2 Tbsp grated orange zest
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions
Bring cream to simmer in saucepan over medium-high heat. Set aside. Add chocolate and stir until smooth. Add cognac and orange zest and stir well. Cover and chill it refrigerator for 4 hours until stiff.
With scoop or teaspoon, make small balls.
Put cocoa powder in bowl and roll truffles in it.
Chill for half an hour and serve.

No time to make these today? Coco Delice has great Cognac Truffles!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

CORONATION CAKE: 65 years on the throne!

Yesterday was the 65th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's coronation. What a long reign. In honor of the Coronation, I found this Vintage Ad from Betty Crocker for Coronation Cake. You can always make a chocolate cake. It's  the Regal Icing decoration makes this cake so special.



Saturday, June 2, 2018

ROCKY ROAD FUDGE: Retro Recipe for National Rocky Road Day!

I found this Retro Advertising Card for Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate at the Flea Market a few years ago. I'm not sure if it was included in a packet of Chocolate or just an advertising piece. The quantity says 14 ounce net wt., so I'm thinking with a large Baking Bar? I love that the card says "Gear-Ar-Delly"... always good to pronounce this San Francisco landmark correctly. No indication of date, but 'table cream' is a clue. I would think 1930s, based on other recipes from that period. Recipes include Rocky Road Fudge, although it just says Rocky Road. This is perfect for Rocky Road Day!




Friday, June 1, 2018

Gluten-Free Chocolate Hazelnut Cake: National Hazelnut Cake Day!

Some times you feel like a nut! Well today's the day! It's Hazelnut Cake Day, so it's time to get a bit nutty.

Did you know that a hazelnut is also known as a cob nut or filbert nut according to species? O.K. I don't know from cobs, but I do know about filberts. A filbert is a little more elongated.

I've always thought that hazelnuts reminded me of acorns, and I know you can't eat acorns, or at least I've been told that. Let the squirrels have them. But hazelnuts are fabulous, and they add texture and taste to many dishes and cakes.

I'm always looking for a Gluten-free cakes, and the following two cakes fit the bill. Ground nuts or nut flour give these cakes texture and a lot of taste. Well, since today is National Hazelnut Cake Day, I thought I'd add chocolate and celebrate the day with not one but two easy recipes. Both cakes are dense and decadent.

The first Flourless Hazelnut Chocolate Cake recipe is adapted from Jill Wilcox (appeared in the Toronto Sun), who adapted the original recipe from Gourmet Magazine. Flourless Chocolate Cakes are terrific! I've posted recipes HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE. So in this recipe, you'll love the additional unique hazelnut flavor.

Want to make these cakes even more delicious? Splash some Fra Angelico in the sweetened whipped cream topping before serving!

I. Flourless (Gluten-free) Hazelnut Chocolate Cake

Ingredients
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1/3 cup finely roasted hazelnuts, finely chopped
sweetened whipped cream
Fra Angelico

Directions
Preheat oven to 375F. Grease 8-inch round cake pan. Line bottom with round of parchment paper.
Place chocolate in double boiler (or saucepan over saucepan with simmering water) along with butter. Stir until butter and chocolate is melted and smooth.
Remove from heat.
Whisk in eggs one at a time until smooth.
Sift cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined.
Fold in hazelnuts.
Spoon into pan and bake for 25 minutes or until top has formed crust.
Cool cake on rack for 10 minutes. Run knife around the edge and invert onto plate.
9. Optional: Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream that has been flavored with a spoonful of Fra Angelico

If one recipe is good, two are even better. Here's another recipe for Flourless Hazelnut Chocolate Cake-- this time the Fra Angelico is in the batter! Adapted from Bon Appetit!

II. Flourless (Gluten-Free) Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Ingredients:
6 large eggs
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup hazelnut liqueur such as Frangelico, divided
12 oz bittersweet chocolate, at least 60 per cent cacao--75% is even better!
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup finely ground hazelnuts (aka filberts)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup chilled whipping cream

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter 9-inch springform pan, line bottom with parchment paper and wrap outside with three layers of heavy foil.
Whisk eggs, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup liqueur in large bowl to blend.
Combine chocolate and butter in metal bowl over simmering water. Whisk until smooth, about 3 minutes.
Add to egg mixture and whisk. Add ground nuts and salt.
Transfer batter to pan. Place in large roasting pan (water bath) and pour in enough hot water to reach halfway up side of spring form pan. Tent loosely with foil. Bake until center is set and top is dry to touch, about 1-1/2 hours.
Remove from pan; remove foil. Cool cake in pan on rack. Chill at least 3 hours or overnight, covered.
7. Using electric mixer, beat cream and remaining 1/4 cup liqueur until soft peaks form, 6 to 8 minutes.
Run knife around pan to loosen, release and cut into wedges. Serve with whipped cream.