Friday, August 31, 2018

CHOCOLATE CHIP ORANGE SCONES: AFTERNOON TEA

Summer Afternoon (Tea in the Garden): Theo van Rysselberghe, 1901
There are few hours in life more agreeable
Than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.
--Henry James

As a tea drinker, I can definitely confirm that I love a cuppa and a scone around 4  p.m. So for today's post, I want to celebrate the Birthday of Anna Bedford, Creator of Afternoon Tea. Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford and lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria, who inadvertently invented Afternoon Tea in 1840. At that time, the main meal of the day shifted from midday (luncheon) to evening. English high society didn’t dine until 8 p.m. Anna needed something to tide her over, so she ordered tea with brown bread to be brought to her room around 4 p.m. Initially this meal was brought surreptiously, but after awhile she began to invite her friends, and “afternoon tea” expanded, both in what was served and the number of friends who partook. When Anna Bedford returned to London, she continued her afternoon teas, and soon Afternoon Tea became the rage of the elite. In addition to brown bread and small sandwiches, there were sweets and special “tea cakes.” The custom spread and tea rooms and tea gardens opened to serve tea to all classes. 

Afternoon Tea is not the same as high tea. Afternoon Tea is a lighter meal, and scones are almost always served. I love clotted cream with my scones, and luckily, fresh clotted cream is readily available at my market. I enjoy 'plain' scones, but these Orange Scones with Chocolate Chips are yummy! Make some for your afternoon tea today!

Chocolate Chip Orange Scones

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
Victorian postcard: Afternoon Tea
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and grated (keep cold until ready)
1 -1/3 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup miniature dark chocolate chips
3 tablespoons orange juice (1 large orange and zest from 2 oranges)

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or smear with butter.
In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
With pastry blender or large fork, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. You can also do this with your hands.
Put in freezer for 5 minutes.
Take out of freezer and add cream, chocolate chips, orange juice and orange zest.
Mix together.
Turn out dough on floured surface. Pat or roll into 9 inch circle about 3/4 inch thick.
With 2 1/2 inch fluted biscuit cutter, cut out about 12 scones, pushing dough scraps together for last few, if necessary.
Transfer scones to baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven until golden-brown, about 10-12 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

Serve with clotted cream and jam.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

TOASTED MARSHMALLOW FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE: National Toasted Marshmallow Day

Today is National Toasted Marshmallow Day, and, of course, you can make S'mores--and all the variations thereof. Here's a link to a S'mores Round-up on National S'mores Day that I posted a few years ago. I've added lots of other Smores recipes since then.. but it's a start.

But how about something other than Smores? Something easy and great for the Gluten-Free Folks? The following Flourless Chocolate Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Topping is fabulous!

You can use your favorite flourless chocolate cake recipe or try this easy Flourless Chocolate Cake recipe. For the Marshmallows, I recommend using high quality marshmallows or making your own. If you only have 'regular' marshmallows, that will work, too.

Toasted Marshmallow Flourless Chocolate Cake

Ingredients 
8 ounces dark chocolate 70-75% cacoa
1 cup unsalted butter
1-1/2 cup sugar
6 large eggs (room temperature)
3/4 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa
25 marshmallows 

Directions
Preheat oven to 375°F
Butter 10-inch spring form round baking pan. Line bottom with buttered wax paper.
Break chocolate into pieces.
In double boiler or metal bowl over saucepan of simmering water, melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth.
Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture.
Add eggs and whisk well.
Sift cocoa over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined.
Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven 35-40 minutes, or until top has formed thin crust and toothpick comes out moist but not wet.
Cool cake in pan on a rack 10 minutes.
Remove springform sides. Leave cake on bottom of pan.
Put cake (still on springform base) on cookie sheet.
Top with marshmallows while still warm (leave an inch free around edge - they spread).
Put cake back in oven at 375 for 5 minutes--until marshmallows are 'toasted'
Remove from oven.
If they're not toasted enough, use mini-torch (one of my favorite kitchen tools) to toast.
Cool on rack.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

LEMON CURD BROWNIES: National Lemon Juice Day

Today is National Lemon Juice Day. I have several lemon trees, including three prolific Meyer lemon trees that are perfect for making lemon curd. I love this recipe for Lemon Curd to use in Lemon Curd Brownies and other great recipes.

A few years ago after my Mother passed away, while going through her correspondence, I came across a note and recipe from an English friend of hers who wrote, "As promised here's the recipe and a little supply of my lemon curd for you." Unfortunately, the lemon curd was not in the cupboard or refrigerator. My mother loved lemon, and I do, too, especially with chocolate.

Since then I've been making Lemon Curd Brownies using "Elaine's Lemon Curd" recipe. Here's the recipe from "Elaine's" note. Be sure and scroll down for the Lemon Curd Brownie Recipe! Of course, you can always use store bought Lemon Curd, but try making your own. It's easy and delicious, and you can adjust the recipe as you see fit!

LEMON CURD


LEMON CURD BROWNIES

This recipe is very loosely adapted from Coffee & Quinoa. Go there for fabulous photos!

Ingredients 
4 ounces dark chocolate
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups dark chocolate, chopped into chunks  (or chocolate chips)
1 cup lemon curd

Directions
Preheat oven to 350.
Line 9 x 9 baking pan with parchment and grease with cooking spray or butter.
Melt chocolate and butter in top of double boiler, or in saucepan over another saucepan over simmering water. Take off stove. Stir in sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt. Fold in chocolate chunks.
Spread 2/3 of batter into baking pan. Spread lemon curd on top. Put remaining batter on top, spreading to cover lemon curd completely.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with crumbs.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

BANANA LOVERS DAY: Chiquita Banana, Banana Bread Recipes, Carmen Miranda & More!

I've always loved Chiquita Bananas, especially the logo with Chiquita and her Fruit Hat that was popularized by Carmen Miranda. There was something so foreign and exotic about Chiquita -- and Carmen Miranda.  I was so taken by all the Carmen Miranda Hollywood productions that when I was in Rio several years ago, I made a pilgrimage to Carmen Miranda's home on Avendida Rui Barbosa. Very fun! Loved the memorabilia.

So in honor of Carmen Miranda and to celebrate yesterday's food holiday, National Banana Lovers Day, I'm reposting two recipes for Banana Bread. These are from Chiquita Bananas. I added chocolate chips to both of the following recipes because I love chocolate and bananas. You can also add nuts. And, the second recipe is gluten free! Be sure to scroll down to see the video of Carmen Miranda in the "Tutti Frutti Hat." Here's the 1940s "Chiquita Banana" song!

THE CHIQUITA BANANA SONG



Best Chiquita Banana Bread
adapted from Chiquita Bananas

Ingredients
4 whole Chiquita Bananas
1 cup All-purpose flour
1 cup Unprocessed wheat bran
1 1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Brown sugar
3/4 cup Chocolate chips
1 cup unsalted Butter, soft
2 whole Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/2 cup Walnuts
1 Tbsp Local Honey

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease large 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
Whip 2 Chiquita Bananas and sugars until mix is creamy (about 3 minutes).
Add butter, eggs, and vanilla and whip until smooth.
Mix in all dry ingredients until blended.
Fold in walnuts and Chocolate Chips.
Slice two Chiquita Bananas and toss with honey until Chiquita Bananas are well coated.
Pour mix in loaf pan and place honey coated bananas on top.
Bake in oven for 60 minutes.
Let cool for 5 minutes then place plate on top of pan and flip pan upside down so loaf falls onto plate.

Gluten Free Banana Bread 
with Chocolate Chips
adapted from Chiquita Banana Bread, recipe idea Alisa Bennett

Ingredients
3 large Chiquita bananas
3 large Eggs
1/4 cup Coconut oil (melted)
1 Tbsp Vanilla extract
2 cups Almond meal
2 Tbsp Coconut flour
1 tsp Baking soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 cup chopped Walnuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions
Puree egg, oil, vanilla, and bananas in blender.
In separate bowl, blend dry ingredients.
Add banana and egg mixture to dry ingredients and mix well.
Fold in chopped walnuts and chocolate chips.
Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 50-55 minutes.

"THE LADY IN THE TUTTI-FRUTTI HAT" from Busby Berkeley's Welcome to Banana Island

Monday, August 27, 2018

CHOCOLATE MINT POTS DE CREME: National Pots de Creme Day

Today is National Pots de Creme Day! Pots de Creme is a lot like pudding, only much more intense. I love Chocolate Pots de Creme, but this recipe is even more fun because it's made with chocolate mint. I grow Chocolate Mint in my garden. It's very easy to grow, although it can become invasive, as with most mints. Keep it in a pot by the kitchen door, and you'll be a happy camper. There are so many uses.

A few years ago Sunset Magazine (July 2011), one of my favorite magazines for design, food and gardening, had an entire article on Chocolate Mint. Be sure and read the article in Sunset with recipes for Grilled Lamb with chocolate mint salsa, and Moroccan Chocolate Mint Tea. Don't expect the mint to taste as intense as a piece of chocolate. The chocolate part is very, very subtle, but the mint is strong and different from the usual mint, and if you're not growing it in your garden, you might find it at the market.

So for Pots de Creme Day, here's Sunset's Recipe for Chocolate Mint Pots de Creme. You can make this ahead.

CHOCOLATE MINT POTS DE CREME

One of the hints from Sunset is to add all cream instead of half milk and half cream. It definitely makes it so much richer! I've adapted the recipe below. If you really love chocolate (you're reading this blog, so you must!), add a bit more chocolate on top!

Ingredients
4 cups heavy cream
3 ounces (3 big handfuls) chocolate mint sprigs, plus leaves for garnish
1 cup sugar
8 large egg yolks
Sweetened whipped cream
3/4 cup dark chocolate shavings

Directions
Heat together cream and mint in a medium pot over medium heat until mixture starts to simmer. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 300°. Set 8 ramekins (4 oz. each) in large roasting pan or baking dish.
Reheat cream mixture to a simmer; strain into medium bowl. Whisk together sugar and yolks in large bowl. Slowly add cream to yolk mixture, whisking constantly.
Pour mixture into ramekins, dividing evenly. Fill pan with hot water until it reaches halfway up sides of ramekins.
Cover pan with foil and bake until custards are set and jiggle only slightly in center, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit in hot water 30 minutes. Transfer ramekins to baking sheet, cover, and chill at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
Serve with whipped cream, fresh mint leaves, and chocolate shavings.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

TRIPLE BANANA SPLIT: History, Recipe, Hot Dark Chocolate Sauce

Today is National Banana Split Day, and everyone knows a good banana split needs a good Hot Dark Chocolate Sauce. Following is a great recipe for an easy Dark Chocolate Sauce.

The Birth of the Banana Split like so many food creations does not have a clear  invention history. Latrobe, PA claims that the banana split was invented by Dr. David Strickler, who in 1904 was a 23 year-old working at Tassell Pharmacy. This sundae originally cost 10 cents, twice the cost of other sundaes. Dave Strickler became a pharmacist and optician, and purchased the pharmacy which was renamed "Stricklers." His banana splits were a big hit with the students from nearby Saint Vincent College and the word spread. According to his daughter, her dad "was always the great experimenter," and he even originated the first banana split dish: "There were no dishes for such a concoction, so he drew up his own," and a company in nearby Grapeville produced it.

The banana split was also showcased at the Boston convention of the National Association of Retail Druggists in 1905. Stinson Thomas, chief dispenser at Butler's Department Store in Boston promoted the banana split there. According to an article about the convention in The Soda Fountain magazine, "among all the beverages dispensed here, none was more novel with the ladies than the banana split." The magazine also quotes Mr. Thomas: "My trade here is always looking for something new and so, one day it occurred to me that I might prepare a popular fountain beverage with a banana. I sent my boy out to buy half a dozen bananas, and when he returned I cut off the ends of a banana, split it open, put a portion of ice cream on top and a spoonful of crushed strawberries. It certainly looked swell and I believed that the public would like it." As with most new creations though, there was some trial and error. "At first we left the peel on the banana in the plate, but some time ago we began removing it altogether. We found that the ladies preferred to have the peel removed."

Banana Split

"Split" Bananas (with peel on) lengthwise. Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on the cut sides of bananas. Let sit for several minutes. Grill bananas cut side down on direct heat for 2 minutes. Turn (with tongs) and cook 5 more minutes. Remove skins. Put bananas in bowl. Add vanilla ice cream. Pour Hot Dark Chocolate Sauce over. Sprinkle with nuts and add whipped cream--with a cherry on top?

Hot Dark Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
8 ounces Dark chocolate -65-75% cacao, chopped
2 Tbsp superfine sugar
1/8 cup Kahlua
1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla

Directions
Heat cream in small saucepan until almost boiling.
Add butter and sugar. Stir to combine.
Remove from heat and pour over chocolate.
Whisk until melted and combined.
Add Kahlua and vanilla. Stir until cool to touch.
Cover with plastic wrap and set aside or refrigerate.

Illustration: Triple Banana Split Boy, written by my friend Lucha Corpi. Illustrated by Lisa Fields. (Arte Publico Press)

Friday, August 24, 2018

PEACH PIE WITH CHOCOLATE CRUST: National Peach Pie Day

The other day was National Eat a Peach Day, this month is Peach Month, and today is National Peach Pie Day. Lucky for me there are many varieties of fresh peaches at the Farmers Market.

So today in honor of the holiday, I'm making a Chocolate Peach Pie. I've found that adding chocolate to the peach filling is way too sweet and gooey, so I'm keeping it simple. The chocolate in the following recipe is a traditional chocolate cookie crust made with chocolate wafers. The peach filling is also simple, but feel free to substitute your favorite peach pie filling.

Since peaches are in season (here in California), and there are so many different varieties to choose from, I'll be able to make a fabulous pie! This peach pie is best served chilled, but there are plenty of other recipes out there for a warm peach pie, if you prefer.

PEACH PIE WITH CHOCOLATE CRUST

CHOCOLATE CRUST

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

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 the sides.
Bake for 10 minutes at 325. Let cool.

FRESH PEACH FILLING

Ingredients
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
Peeled Fresh Peach halves (pitted)
1/2 pint heavy cream

Directions
Mix sugar and cornstarch.
Cover inside of chocolate cookie crust with 3/4 of mixture. Go out to sides.
Arrange peeled peach halves around outside edge (insides of peaches up).
Fill in with other peaches until full.
Sprinkle rest of mixture over peaches.
Put cream inside each peach center.
Bake at 325 for about 30-40 minutes.
Chill and serve.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

CHOCOLATE SPONGE CAKE: National Sponge Cake Day

Today is National Sponge Cake Day, and you know what that means -- Chocolate Sponge Cake. I have several recipes for Chocolate Sponge Cake  that I post for Passover, but this Chocolate Sponge Cake is fabulous all year round. It's gluten-free! It's made with almond flour.

Want to dress it up? Add some whipped cream and fresh berries, cut it in half and fill with a light chocolate buttercream, or cut it up and put it in a trifle. Easy to make and delicious.

A few hints. Fresh Almond flour is readily available where I live, but you can always grind your own. Use a hand grinder (a clean coffee grinder) or blender --not a food processor which could result in oil rather than flour. I've used a blender, and just did this in smaller increments, about 1/2 cup at a time. Almond and chocolate go very well together. Try using different types of chocolate to achieve the flavor you like best. Enjoy!

Because there are so many eggs to separate in this recipe, I use the 'egg trick'. Break all eggs into bowl (yes yolks and whites). Then take an empty water bottle and place the neck near a yolk and squeeze the water bottle. The yolk pops up into the bottle. Then place the water bottle over another bowl and release. So cool! Try with one egg first, just to master this simple task!

CHOCOLATE SPONGE CAKE

Ingredients
7 ounces dark chocolate (60-75% cacao), chopped
10 eggs, separated
3/4 cup white sugar
2 cups ground almonds
Almond Flour

Directions
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler or saucepan over another saucepan of simmering water. Set aside.
Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon colored. Gradually beat in sugar. Blend in chocolate and ground almonds.
Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold whites into chocolate batter.
Spoon batter into ungreased 10 inch Bundt pan or tall springform pan.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour, or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Remove from oven, invert pan, and cool about 40 minutes before removing from pan.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

GRILLED PEACHES WITH DARK CHOCOLATE: National Peach Month!

Everything is just PEACHY today! It's both National Eat a Peach Day and National Peach Month! In honor of the day and month, throw some peaches on the grill and add dark chocolate in the cavities. Peaches and chocolate -- a great combination of flavors.

Want to experiment? Choose different varieties of peaches and chocolate from different chocolate makers and with different amounts of cacao.

Here's a simple recipe for Grilled Peaches with Dark Chocolate adapted from an Epicurious recipe for Grilled Brown-Sugar Peaches with White Chocolate. That's a great recipe, too, and I love it with the toasted pistachios and WHITE chocolate. I don't like pistachios with the dark chocolate and peaches, though, but let me know what you think if you add the pistachios. It's a matter of taste. I stocked up on peaches at the Farmers Market this past weekend. Love all the varieties.

Grilled Peaches with Dark Chocolate

Ingredients
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
4 unpeeled peaches, halved, pitted
1/3 cup finely chopped dark chocolate (I like 70% cacao)

Directions
Get barbecue to medium-high heat. We use a Weber, so judge accordingly when you think it's hot. Make sure the grates are clean. Brush the grate with a tiny bit of oil right before the peaches go on.
Blend butter and sugar in large bowl. Add peach halves; toss to coat.
Place peaches, cut side down, on grill. Grill about a minute until slightly charred.
Turn peaches over (use tongs).
Divide chopped dark chocolate among peach cavities.
Drizzle remaining butter/sugar mixture from bowl over chocolate.
Grill until chocolate just begins to melt and peaches are charred, about 2 minutes.
Remove carefully from grill, plate, and serve.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

SPUMONI BUNDT CAKE: National Spumoni Day

Today is National Spumoni Day! Spumoni, not to be confused with zamboni, is a multicolored Italian ice cream. When I was growing up, it was usually a flavorless ice cream served in Italian restaurants at the end of a meal. It wasn't until I visited Italian friends that I had really good Spumoni.

By definition, Spumoni is a special Italian dessert made of layers of ice cream, whipped cream, candied fruit, and nuts. Each layer contains different flavors and ingredients. In traditional dessert kitchens, spumoni is often made of three layers of flavor: chocolate, pistachio, and cherry. Each layer of Spumoni ice cream may include more than flavored ice cream. The chocolate layer, for example, may include chocolate shavings or chunks. Sometimes the chocolate layer has crushed hazelnuts inside. Not only does the hazelnut add a lovely flavor to the chocolate, but it also compliments the pistachio layer. The pistachio layer, of course, almost always includes crushed pistachio nuts. Finally, the fruit layer of spumoni is usually made with candied fruit. The cherry layer is the most traditional fruit component to the dessert.
 
Edy's and Dreyer's make Spumoni ice-cream available all year round. Yum!

You can make your own spumoni ice cream today, but if you can't find any and you don't want to make your own, you can always make Spumoni Cake. 

The trick to making beautiful Spumoni Cake is to have layers! This can be done by baking different layers or just layering a bundt cake in the bundt pan (no swirling).

Because this is such a special holiday, I'm posting an easy Spumoni Cake recipe and linking several others for those of you who are more adventurous or have more time!

Easy Spumoni Bundt Cake
Recipe on the Duncan Hines Baker's Club Forum: Source: Our Favorite Recipes St. John Neumann Catholic Church-recipe: Emile Bernard

You can add chopped up maraschino cherries to the Red Layer, chocolate chips, or grated chocolate to the chocolate layer, and crushed or chopped pistachios to the green layer. Also, you can put pistachio pudding in the green layer for flavor!

Ingredients
1 (18.25 oz.) pkg. white or yellow cake mix
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 (8 oz.) container sour cream
1 (4 serving size) pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (melted)
green coloring drops
marachino cherries
red food coloring
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Directions
Pre-heat Coven to 350. Grease bundt pan.
Combine cake mix, eggs, oil, sour cream, and pudding mix; beat until well blended.
Divide batter into 3 bowls.
To bowl #1, add and mix in 1/2 cup chopped nuts, 5-6 drops green food coloring, 1/2 tsp. almond extract.
To bowl #2, add and mix in 1 (4 oz.) jar cut up and well drained maraschino cherries, 5-6 drops red food coloring.
To bowl #3, add and mix in 2 (1 oz. each) squares melted unsweetened chocolate.
Pour green batter into pan first, then the red (pink) batter, and over this the chocolate batter. Be sure NOT to swirl or mix batters.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes until cake tests done. Cool in pan for 30 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely.

Here are three more recipes for very different Spumoni Cakes:

Margie Slivnske (San Jose Easy Meals Examiner)  Easy, and my personal favorite.

Bette Ubaldini's Spumoni Cake  This is another easy recipe, and it's delicious.

Celebration Generation  A little more complicated, but worth it.

Monday, August 20, 2018

BETTER BACON BROWNIES: National Bacon Lovers Day

Today is National Bacon Lovers Day! I've posted many chocolate bacon recipes over the years because bacon provides a great saltiness that complements chocolate. I've even posted two Bacon Brownie recipes. But if two recipes aren't enough, here's a third. Recipe adapted from AllRecipes.com.  Of course, you can add more bacon if you'd like. I love that you caramelize the bacon in this brownie recipe.

Better Bacon Brownies

Ingredients
1/4 pound bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup DARK cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease 8-inch square baking dish.
Fry bacon in skillet over medium-high heat until nearly crisp, about 5 minutes. Add honey and stir until foaming subsides. Remove bacon with slotted spoon to plate to cool.
Mix melted butter, brown sugar, white sugar, and vanilla extract in a large bowl; mix in eggs.
Sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt together in bowl; add to egg mixture.
Fold bacon and chocolate chips into mixture; pour into prepared baking dish.
Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes.
Allow brownies to cool for 20 minutes before cutting into squares.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

PINOT NOIR CHOCOLATE CAKE: National Pinot Noir Day

Yesterday was Pinot Noir Day, and it's never too late to celebrate! I often pair wine with chocolate, so it's not surprising that I'm posting a recipe for Pinot Noir Chocolate Cake.

Pinot Noir is one of my favorite red wines. Did you know that Pinot Noir is the 10th most planted grape variety in the world? So, for this recipe, choose your favorite Pinot Noir!

PINOT NOIR CHOCOLATE CAKE

Ingredients
1 Chocolate Cake Mix
1/3 Cup Oil
1 Cup of your favorite Pinot Noir
3 Eggs
Powdered Sugar
Raspberries

Directions
Mix cake mix, oil, and Pinot Noir together in a stand mixer
Add eggs one at a time
Pourcake mix into a well-greased bundt pan
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until  tooth pick inserted comes out clean
After cake cools, turn upside down onto plate and remove from pan
Dust with powdered sugar and fill middle with raspberries.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHUNK ICE CREAM PIE: Retro Ad & Recipe

Today is National Ice Cream Pie Day. Here's a great Retro Ad & Recipe for Double Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream Pie to celebrate. As always, you can use upgraded 2018 ingredients for a richer flavor.



Friday, August 17, 2018

BIRD'S CUSTARD: National Vanilla Custard Day

Today is National Vanilla Custard Day. You're probably thinking that Vanilla Custard has nothing to do with a chocolate blog, and you'd be right. But since it's a food holiday, I wanted to share one of my favorite feel-good Retro Foods: Bird's Custard.

Bird's Custard is an artificially-flavored commercial custard powder, that is not really a true custard as it is not thickened with eggs. Rather it uses cornstarch. Bird's Custard was invented by Alfred Bird and Sons Ltd. of Birmingham, England, in 1837. Bird created it because his wife was allergic to eggs, the key ingredient used to thicken traditional custard. O.K. we all have our secrets, and this is mine. I love the way it tastes.

And just an FYI, until 2009 many Bird's products, such as its instant custard powder, contained hydrogenated vegetable oil, a product now banned in some countries due to health concerns relating to heart disease. Since 2009 all Bird's custards have moved to non-hydrogenated vegetable oil.

So for your viewing pleasure today, here are some fun Vintage and Retro Ads for Bird's Custard.













Thursday, August 16, 2018

MOCHA RUM CAKE: National Rum Day

Today is National Rum Day! I love this holiday. Feel free to celebrate with your favorite Rum Drink or have a piece of Bacardi Rum Cake. But, since this is a Chocolate Blog, make this easy and terrific Mocha Rum Cake. Argh, Matey!

Mocha Rum Cake!

Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1⁄2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3⁄4 lb bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1⁄2 cups unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1⁄3 cup dark rum
2 cups strong brewed full-bodied coffee
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 1⁄2 tsp vanilla extract
confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Sweetened whipped cream
Cocoa powder, for dusting 

Directions 
Preheat oven to 300°F
Butter 12-cup bundt pan. Dust with cocoa powder, knocking out excess.
In bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
In large metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water, melt chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth.
Remove chocolate from heat and stir in rum, coffee, and granulated sugar.
With electric mixer, beat in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down sides, and beat in eggs and vanilla until batter is combined well.
Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake cake in middle of oven until tester comes out clean, about 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Let cake cool completely in pan on rack, then turn out onto rack.
Dust cake with confectioners' sugar and serve with whipped cream.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JULIA! Julia's Child's Chocolate Mousse

Happy Birthday, Julia Child!  

Julia Child was born on August 15, 1912. She has inspired millions of amateur cooks and professional chefs with her skills, easy kitchen spirit (how can we forget the chicken?), and passion for learning, since her first cooking program aired on public television in 1963.

Julia Child revolutionized American cuisine through her French cooking school, award-winning cookbooks, and world-renowned television programs by presenting an approachable version of sophisticated French cooking to her eager audience for four decades.

Child began with a sincere passion for good food and the pleasures of cooking, studying in France in the '50s with chef/friend Simone Beck. With the help of Louisette Bertolle, another dedicated food lover, they created a cooking school called L'Ecole des Trois Gourmandes and later, in 1961, completed their groundbreaking cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Her book and television show that followed made the mysteries of fancy French cuisine approachable, introducing gourmet ingredients, demonstrating culinary techniques, and most importantly, encouraging everyday "home chefs" to practice cooking as art, not to dread it as a chore.

Julia Child passed away on August 12, 2004. Today would have been her 106st birthday. So in honor of the day, here's her recipe for Chocolate Mousse or Mousse a la Chocolate! Be sure and scroll to watch the video at the end from her TV series The French Cook.

Julia Child's Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients 
6 ounces (170g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 ounces (170g) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup (60ml) dark-brewed coffee
4 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup (170g), plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons (30ml) dark rum
1 tablespoon (15ml) water pinch of salt

Directions
1. Heat a saucepan one-third full with hot water, and in a bowl set on top, melt together the chocolate, butter and coffee, stirring over the barely simmering water, until smooth. Remove from heat.
2. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside.
3. In a bowl large enough to nest securely on the saucepan of simmering water, whisk the yolks of the eggs with the 2/3 cup of sugar, rum, and water for about 3 minutes until the mixture is thick, like runny mayonnaise. (You can also use a handheld electric mixer.)
3. Remove from heat and place the bowl of whipped egg yolks within the bowl of ice water and beat until cool and thick, as shown in the photo above. Then fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks.
4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until frothy. Continue to beat until they start to hold their shape. Whip in the tablespoon of sugar and continue to beat until thick and shiny, but not completely stiff, then the vanilla.
5. Fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remainder of the whites just until incorporated, but don't overdo it or the mousse will lose volume.
6. Transfer the mousse to a serving bowl or divide into serving dishes, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until firm.

Not clear enough? Watch Julia Child make this on The French Chef

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

ORANGE CREAMSICLE TRUFFLES: National Creamsicle Day

Today is National Creamsicle Day.

What exactly is a Creamsicle? Well a Creamsicle is a frozen dessert with a vanilla ice cream core and a fruit sherbet coating. The classic Creamsicle flavor combination is orange and vanilla. Officially, the term “Creamsicle” is a registered brand name owned by Unilever, and similar products cannot be labeled as Creamsicles. However, the original Creamsicle® is such a perennial best-seller that the term is often used generically, and the branding rights may eventually be lost due to trademark dilution. 

So to honor the holiday--and to add chocolate-- make these Orange Creamsicle Truffles. Love this easy recipe.

FYI: You can also substitute lemon juice and zest, and you have another winner--but it won't be a Creamsicle!

ORANGE CREAMSICLE TRUFFLES

Ingredients 
1/4 cup unsalted butter
Zest of 1/2 orange
3 Tbsp heavy cream
1 cup 'real' white chocolate chopped (Guittard) or white chocolate chips
1/2 tsp orange extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Directions 
Put white chocolate in mixing bowl, set aside.
Melt butter with orange zest in small saucepan. Stir in cream and scald mixture.
Pour hot cream mixture through mesh sieve over white chocolate and using rubber spatula press zest against sieve to release orange oils into mixture. Allow mixture to rest 1 minute, add orange extract to white chocolate mixture then stir until smooth.
Cover mixture and refrigerate 2 hours or until firm enough to handle.
Scoop mixture out with small cookie scoop or teaspoon and form into balls.
Roll balls in powdered sugar.
Freeze truffles 20 minutes before eating.

Monday, August 13, 2018

S'mores Apples: Gravenstein Apples

I'm a big fan of Gravenstein Apples. We have nine trees, but this year our abundant fruit was harvested methodically by a squirrel. Luckily, we were able to buy a flat in Sebastopol this past weekend.

Gravenstein Apples have been a large part of the history of Sonoma County since the late 1800s when Nathaniel Griffith with the advice of Luther Burbank cultivated the Gravenstein Apple for commercial use. Nathaniel Griffith was born in Iowa in 1850 and at 24 moved West. He came to California in 1883 and bought 78 acres on Laguna Road. Griffith experimented with many kinds of apples but settled on the Gravenstein. The Gravenstein reportedly originated in Germany in the gardens of the Duke Augustenberg, Castle Graefenstein, Schleswig-Holstein.

Gravenstein apple trees once covered acres of Sonoma County, but much of it has been replaced with grape vineyards. The fruit has been declared a Heritage food, giving the apples a much needed boost in the marketplace. The trees were discovered in 1797 but didn’t really become popular until the late 1800s when Nathaniel Griffith began to cultivate them for commercial use. Over time, the variety’s use spread in the western U.S., but it was also a favorite in Nova Scotia, Canada and other cool-temperate areas.

Gravensteins are a late summer treat not to be missed. 

S'mores Gravenstein Apples

Ingredients 
6 large Gravenstein Apples (don't have Gravensteins in your area? Use Granny Smith apples)
6 strong pointed bamboo sticks (or Wilton Caramel Apple Branch sticks)
1 (10.5-oz) bag miniature marshmallows
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces chocolate, chopped  (or chocolate chips)
1 cup ground graham crackers

Directions
Wash and dry apples. Remove stems and skewer each apple with stick; set aside.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Melt butter in saucepan and cook over low heat until melted. Add marshmallows and stir until melted.
Dip each apple in melted marshmallows mixture and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Place in fridge.
In meantime, melt chocolate. Put chocolate in saucepan over saucepan over simmering water. Stir until smooth.
Put ground graham crackers in bowl. Remove apples from fridge and dip apple into melted chocolate (about 2/3 way up) rotating to coat evenly.
Immediately dip chocolate-covered apple into ground graham crackers, and coat on all sides.
Repeat for all apples.
Put apples back on lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.

Tip: Twist off apple stem. If skewer is blunt, sharpen with kitchen knife on on end (make diagonal cut). Push firmly into apple.  If juice leaks out, blot with paper towel before dipping.

Want to get fancy? Serve on a bed of chocolate chips, crushed grahams, and mini-marshmallows.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY TART: National Raspberry Tart Day

Today is Raspberry Tart Day, not to be confused with Raspberry Cream Pie Day! For that holiday I posted a recipe for Black Bottom Raspberry Cream Pie! I favor Driscoll's Berries, especially since I can find them in the market year round. I live in California, so that's pretty easy. Driscoll's Berries are always sweet and fresh. I love raspberries!

So in honor of the day, here's a recipe for a Chocolate Raspberry Tarte (or Tart)! This recipe is adapted from the Art and Soul of Baking cookbook. Of course, I make a chocolate crust! The crust in this recipe is not the usual one I make from chocolate cookie wafers. This one is made using cocoa powder, and you'll taste the difference. Of course, use only the best ingredients -- the very best cocoa. The original recipe calls for making 15 tiny tartlettes, but you can also make one big tart (or a pie, if you only have a pie pan). A tart is usually made in a shallow fluted pan, usually with a removal bottom -- a tart pan. Tarts rarely have an upper crust.

For the jam at the end, I use Bonne Maman Raspberry Preserves, one of my favorites. Of course, if you make your own raspberry or strawberry jam, you'll wan to use that!

CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY TART!

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
3/4 cup raspberry jam (or strawberry)
4 ounces dark chocolate (65-75% cacao), chopped
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
6 ounces fresh raspberries
1/2 tsp water
powdered sugar

Directions
Beat butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Use spatula to scrape down bowl and beat another minute if there are lumps of butter. Add egg yolk, beat well, and scrape down sides.
Add flour and cocoa powder. Beat on low speed until dough comes together (but still has small to medium clumps) and looks moist with dark uniform color. Scrape down bowl. Use spatula to incorporate anything not mixed in.
Put dough in tart pan with removable bottom (or pie pan, if that's all you have). Press dough evenly along bottom and up sides of pan. (as with any pie dough, if it isn't working for you, stick it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes)
Use knife to cut off dough that is above top of pan (save left over dough for repairs). Put dough filled tart pan in fridge for 30 minutes. 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in lower third. Place dough filled pan on cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and use any 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 (in fridge, if you have to).
Put aside Tbsp of jam in small bowl. Spoon rest of jam to cover bottom of tart crust.
Put chocolate in heatproof bowl. Put heavy cream in small saucepan. Heat cream until it just starts to boil, then pour over chocolate. Begin whisking to blend completely and melt all chocolate. Pour ganache into crust.
Refrigerate tart for 1 hour or until filling is firm. Remove from fridge and arrange raspberries on top of tart.
Mix reserved Tbsp of jam with 1/2 tsp of water and heat in microwave for about 15 seconds. Brush jam mixture onto tops of arranged raspberries (just a little to make them shiny).
Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Optional: Sift with powdered sugar before serving.

Friday, August 10, 2018

S'MORES ICE CREAM PIE: National S'mores Day

Today is National S'mores Day. Frozen chocolate ice cream is always great, but this recipe, my favorite by far for S'mores Ice Cream Pie, uses Rocky Road ice-cream, but you can always use chocolate. I originally found this recipe on the Taste of Home website. I've tried other S'mores Ice Cream Pie Recipes, but this is really the best one! It's easy and delicious.

S'mores Ice Cream Pie

Ingredients
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2-1/2 cups Rocky Road ice cream (or Chocolate), softened 
2/3 cup marshmallow creme
3/4 cup miniature marshmallows

Directions
In small bowl, combine cracker crumbs and sugar; stir in butter. Press onto bottom and up sides of 7-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake at 325° for 7-9 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
Carefully spread ice cream into crust; freeze until firm. Spread marshmallow creme over ice cream. Top with marshmallows; gently press into creme. Cover and freeze for 4 hours or overnight.
Just before serving, use a mini-torch and flash-burn a bit--or broil 6 in. from the heat for 1-2 minutes or until marshmallows are golden brown.

Photo: Taste of Home

Thursday, August 9, 2018

S'MORES TRUFFLES: National S'mores Day


Summer is S'mores time, and as much as I love S'mores on the Grill, sometimes I like to plan ahead and make a different version of S'mores. So here's a very easy recipe for S'mores Truffles for tomorrow's National S'mores Day. I found this recipe on food.allwomenstalk.com. Original recipe from CenterCutCook. There were lots of other recipes, but this is so easy and delicious. As always, the quality of your chocolate will make a difference. I use dark chocolate from different purveyors, but then I always have extra chocolate around. I love to change it  up.

S'mores Truffles

Ingredients
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 to 1 - 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
30-35 mini marshmallows

Directions
Pour heavy cream into sauce pan over medium heat. Heat heavy cream until scalded. Remove heavy cream from stove right before it starts to boil. Pour it into large bowl. To bowl of heavy cream, add chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate) and allow to sit for a few minutes, so the warm cream can melt the chocolate.
Use whisk to combine chocolate into heavy cream. Whisk until well combined. Place mixture in refrigerator for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Pour graham cracker crumbs into shallow dish.
When chocolate mixture has thickened to pudding consistency, begin forming truffles. Use 1 tablespoon scoop (cookie dough scoop or melon baller) to create each truffle. Press mini marshmallow into center of each truffle, then use hands to cover marshmallow with chocolate. This is a messy process.
Drop truffle into pan of graham cracker crumbs, and completely coat truffle. After you’ve coated all truffles, repeat process so each truffle has been coated twice with graham cracker crumbs.
Put truffles on parchment covered tray.
Put truffle tray in refrigerator for about 30 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

FROZEN CUSTARD DAY: History, Retro Signs & Ads, Recipe

Today is National Frozen Custard Day. Frozen custard has always meant soft serve ice cream to me -- the kind that comes swirling out of a metal dispenser. Frozen Custard was never a substitute for ice cream, though, it was just different.

So today, in honor of the holiday, I thought I'd post some Retro Ads and Signs for Tastee Freez & Dairy Queen. And, if you scroll down there's a recipe for Cheater Chocolate Frozen Custard.

The big question is what's the difference between ice cream and frozen custard? Ice cream is made from milk, cream, or a combination of the two, while frozen custard is made from milk, cream, and egg yolks. Also, while the machine used to make ice cream churns air into it to make it have a light mouthfeel, frozen custard is produced in a machine that barely incorporates air into it, which makes it denser.

History of Frozen Custard

From eHow:

The Dairy Queen Story 
According to the book The Cone with the Curl on Top, a history of Dairy Queen, J.F. McCullough and his son, Alex, opened an ice cream shop in 1927 in Davenport, Illinois. In the early 1930s, they moved to an ice cream factory in Green River, Illinois, and decided to find out if customers preferred ice cream before it was completely frozen, which was how they liked it best. The colder ice cream had less flavor than the softer version, they felt. After an experimental, all-you-can-eat sale in Kankanee, Illinois, where they found the softer ice cream was a success, they bought a machine from a street vendor in Chicago in 1939, had a machine company tweak the design, and sold their frozen custard exclusively to a store run by Sherb Noble in Joliet, Illinois, in 1940. They nicknamed the store Dairy Queen. They bought a second store in 1941, and a third that spring.


Carvel's Story 
According to National Geographic and The Nibble magazine, Carvel's sold ice cream on the street in New York. After a flat tire in Hartsdale, New York, caused his ice cream to begin to melt, he sold the partially melted product as a new treat---and his customers loved it. He opened Carvel Frozen Custard in Hartsdale in 1934 and began to build a series of frozen custard shops along highways. He built a soft-serve machine in 1939.

The McCulloughs continued to improve the design of their soft-serve machine and expand their business. Carvel continued to expand its chain aggressively, too, as did another competitor, Tastee-Freez. By 1956, soft-serve ice cream consumption was increasing 25 percent every year, according to the U.S. Department of agriculture.


That same year, Tastee-Freez had 1500 stores, and Carvel had 500.

Carvel was a true innovator: he was the first to offer “buy one, get one free”; the first to franchise an ice cream store; and his patented glass building was copied by McDonald’s. Dairy Queen opened its first soft-serve ice cream store in Joliet, Illinois in 1940. Carvel’s Flying Saucer sandwich was introduced in 1951. 

CHEATER CHOCOLATE FROZEN CUSTARD
technique adapted from John T. Edge's The Truck Food via Oprah 
Makes one quart

Ingredients 
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups chocolate ice cream, softened

Directions
Using a handheld electric mixer, whisk cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla and continue whisking to make stiff peaks, about 30 seconds more.
Using a rubber spatula, stir in ice cream until well combined.
Transfer mixture to a large, resealable freezer bag and freeze until semi-firm (like frozen custard), 4 to 6 hours.
When ready to serve, remove ice cream from freezer and, if needed, knead bag until uniformly soft, about 30 seconds. (Cover bag with a towel to protect your hands from the cold.)
Snip off a corner of the bag to pipe ice cream into a cone, or simply scoop and serve.

Dairy Queen Cones