Tuesday, December 31, 2019

CHAMPAGNE TRUFFLES: Ring in the New Year!

It should be no surprise that December 31 is National Champagne Day, since it's the Perfect Food Holiday for New Year's Eve. I've done many wine/champagne chocolate pairing events with my company TeamBuilding Unlimited, and we often begin with a trivia quizz. How many bubbles in a bottle of champagne? 49 million to 250 million! Now, that's a lot of bubbles.

You won't have any bubbles in these Champagne Truffles for New Year's Eve, but you will taste the Champagne.. and the Cognac. This is my favorite Champagne Truffle recipe. This recipe uses more champagne than most Champagne Truffle recipes, and the Cognac adds zip. If you're in a pinch, you can use a different type of sugar or cocoa to coat the truffles. The sanding sugar, though, gives it a festive New Year's Eve appearance!

No time to make these? Here's a link to Champagne Truffles you can buy to ring in the new year!

Martha Stewart's Champagne Truffles
Makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon Champagne
1 Tablespoon Cognac
Coarse sanding sugar, for rolling

Directions
Bring cream to boil in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Immediately pour hot cream over chocolate in medium bowl; stir until smooth. Stir in Champagne and Cognac. Refrigerate until chocolate mixture is firm enough to roll into balls, about 1 hour. (or more!!)
Using small melon baller or ice-cream scoop, form 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in coarse sanding sugar and transfer to rimmed baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate truffles at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days before serving.

You can also use unsweetened cocoa or confectioner's sugar if you don't have sanding sugar. This recipe was in Martha Stewart's wedding section, so the sparkly white sugar looks great for weddings and holidays, but cocoa tastes just as good.. just different.

What Is Sanding Sugar?
Sanding sugar is large crystal sugar used as edible decoration that will not dissolve when subjected to heat. Also called pearl sugar or decorating sugar, sanding sugar adds "sparkle" to cookies, baked goods and candies. The sparkling affect is achieved because the sugar crystal grains are large and reflect light. You can order Sanding Sugar online or buy it in cake decorating departments.

Monday, December 30, 2019

BETTER BACON BROWNIES: National Bacon Day

Today is National Bacon Day! I've posted several 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. No time to caramelize or cook the bacon? Costco has a great deal on Bacon Crumbles made from real bacon! Just throw them into your favorite 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.

CHAMPAGNE BROWNIES: New Year's Eve

Here's a great recipe for Champagne Brownies for your New Year's Eve party! What better way to ring in the New Year  -- Champagne and Chocolate! 

CHAMPAGNE BROWNIES

Ingredients 
16 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra for buttering pan
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup champagne

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter 9 x 9 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper (leave extra overhanging edges for easy removal).
Melt chocolate and butter in saucepan over saucepan over simmering water (or double boiler).
Beat salt, vanilla, eggs, and sugar into melted chocolate and beat thoroughly to incorporate.
Add flour and mix just until blended.
Add champagne and continue mixing batter until it becomes shiny and pulls away from sides of bowl. (2-3 minutes on high for a stand mixer.)
Turn into prepared pan and bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Want to be festive? Cut these brownies into stars or decorate with edible gold...

Serve with your favorite Champagne!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

DEEP SOUTH PEANUT PIE: Retro New Year's Ad & Recipe

O.K. this is a very creepy Retro 1940s Karo Syrup Advertisement, but since it features the Karo Kid as a New Year's baby, I thought I'd post it. I love Peanut Pies. Add a Chocolate Cookie Crust, and I'm in heaven. Peanuts and Chocolate -- great way to start the New Year.


DE LUXE PEANUT PIE

Ingredients
2 eggs beaten
1 cup Karo Syrup, Blue Label (dark syrup)
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 cup shelled, roasted peanuts

Directions
Roll pastry 1/8-inch thick. Line 9-inch pie pan. Mix remaining ingredients together, adding peanuts last. Pour into pastry shell. Bake in hot oven (400˚F) 40 minutes or until a silver knife inserted in center of filling comes out clean.

To make Peanut Tarts:
Follow above recipe for De Luxe Peanut Pie using 1 recipe pastry. Line 6 to 8 individual tart shells. Pour in filling. Bake in hot oven (400˚F) 20 to 25 minutes.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

HOMEMADE TOOTSIE ROLLS: National Chocolate Candy Day

Today is National Chocolate Candy Day. O.K., every day is Chocolate Candy Day here on DyingforChocolate.com, but to celebrate, have a truffle, candy bar, or your favorite 'penny' candy. For me that means Tootsie Rolls. They've changed their shape and cost over the years, but they still taste the same. I've tried several different recipes for Home Made Tootsie Rolls, but this recipe is my favorite.

Notes:
This recipe makes 80 -100 tootsie rolls, but you can roll them out bigger and cut them longer. Remember the 5 cent Tootsie Roll?

As always the brand of chocolate will make a difference. You also might want to substitute 1/2 cup DARK cocoa powder for the unsweetened chocolate. In that case, sift with the dry milk.

Powdered milk, by the way, is not instant milk powder, it's dehydrated milk. Hope you can find it.

I also sift the flour. Not sure if it's necessary, but old habits die hard.

HOME-MADE TOOTSIE ROLLS
This recipe is adapted slightly from Elizabeth LaBau at About.com

Ingredients:
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 Tbsp softened butter
3/4 cup powdered milk (not instant.. see note above)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 cups powdered sugar (sifted)

Directions:
Melt chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl or in double boiler over simmering water.
Once chocolate is melted and smooth, stir in corn syrup and butter, stirring until butter is melted. Stir in powdered milk and vanilla extract.
Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and stir until incorporated. Once that sugar is mixed in, add second cup of powdered sugar and stir to mix. Dough will be getting stiff and might be difficult to stir more powdered sugar into candy.
Dust work surface with powdered sugar and knead the candy until smooth. If still very soft, knead in more powdered sugar until firm but not dry or crumbly. You might need up to 3 cups of powdered sugar total.
Once Tootsie Roll candy is smooth and firm but supple texture, break off palm-sized piece and roll into long, thin rope. Using sharp knife, cut it into small pieces and place on baking sheet. Repeat until you have formed all of Tootsie Roll dough into small pieces.
Depending on size of rolls, you should get 80-100 pieces.
Refrigerate tray of Tootsie Rolls until they firm up, about 1 hour.

Store Tootsie Rolls in airtight container in refrigerator for up to two weeks.
You can wrap them individually in waxed paper if they start to stick together because of condensation from refrigerator. 
Bring Tootsie Rolls to room temperature before serving.

Friday, December 27, 2019

CHAMPAGNE CHOCOLATE CAKE for New Year's Eve!

Champagne Chocolate Cake is the perfect addition to your New Year's Eve CelebrationNeiman Marcus sells an amazing 4 pound Chocolate Champagne Cake Unfortunately this year's cakes are sold out, but you can make your own. Here's a great and easy copycat recipe.

Champagne Chocolate Cake

Ingredients
2 cups sifted cake flour
1/4 cup DARK cocoa
1 1/2 cups sugar (superfine is best, regular is ok), divided
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup Champagne
5 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
7 large egg yolks
7 large egg whites, at room temperature

Directions
Preheat oven to 325F. Use an ungreased 10" Bundt Pan.
In large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar (reserving 2 Tbsp), baking powder, and salt.
In medium bowl, whisk together champagne, vegetable oil, vanilla, and egg yolks, then pour into dry ingredients and whisk until just smooth.
In another large bowl, using electric mixer, beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Add remaining 2 Tbsp of sugar gradually, starting when whites begin to get foamy.
Once egg whites have reached stiff peaks (do not overheat), gently whisk 1/4 of egg whites into champagne batter. Gently, working in two additions, fold remaining beaten whites into champagne batter until no streaks of egg white foam remain visible and batter is uniform color. Be sure to scrape sides and bottom of bowl well.
Pour into ungreased bundt pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until top of cake springs back when gently touched and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Invert onto wire rack and let cool completely.
Once cooled, run knife around the edges and turn cake out onto a serving platter.
Dust with powdered sugar or cocoa.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

What to do with Leftover Candy Canes: National Candy Cane Day!

December 26 is Boxing Day, but it's also Candy Cane Day. Do you have a lot of candy canes left over? Are they still hanging on the tree? Grab a few and make one of these easy recipes! Chocolate and Candy Canes -- a great post-holiday treat!

History of the Candy Cane: 

During the 17th century, Europeans adopted Christmas trees as part of Christmas celebrations, and they often made cookies and sugar stick candy as decorations. The first historical reference to the familiar cane shape goes back to 1670, when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, bent the sugar sticks into canes to represent a shepherd's staff. The all white candy canes were given out to children during the nativity services. This tradition of handing out candy canes during Christmas services spread throughout Europe and later to America.

The first historical reference to the candy cane in America goes back to 1847, when German immigrant August Imgard decorated the Christmas tree in his Wooster, Ohio home with candy canes.

About fifty years later the first red-and-white striped candy canes appeared. No one knows who exactly invented the stripes, but Christmas cards prior to the year 1900 showed only all white candy canes. Christmas cards after 1900 showed illustrations of striped candy canes. Around the same time, candy-makers added peppermint and wintergreen flavors to their candy canes and those flavors then became the traditional favorites.

1. Hot Chocolate with Candy Canes! Use the candy cane as a stirrer. It will eventually melt and flavor your hot chocolate, coffee, or tea. Of course, a chocolate dipped candy cane is even better!

2. Candy Cane Chocolate Marshmallows. Dip marshmallows in melted dark chocolate and roll in crushed Candy Canes.

3. Candy Cane Truffles

4. Candy Cane Fudge

5. Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

6. Chocolate Candy Cane Bark

7. Chocolate Covered Candy Canes

8. Chocolate Candy Cane Cheesecake

9. Chocolate Candy Cane Trifle

10. Peppermint Stick Cake:

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

CANDY CANE FUDGE: National Candy Cane Day!


Tomorrow is National Candy Cane Day. Don't think of it as a day late -- think of it as the perfect holiday to make Candy Cane Fudge and use all those extra candy canes that you have left-over. I love Candy Cane Fudge. This recipe is so easy.

CANDY CANE FUDGE

Ingredients
18 ounces dark chocolate  (60-75% cacao), chopped
1-14 ounce can  sweetened condensed milk
Dash of salt
1 tsp peppermint extract
4 peppermint candy canes, crushed

Directions
Line 9" pan with wax paper.
Melt chocolate with sweetened condensed milk and salt in heavy saucepan over another saucepan with simmering water (or in top of double boiler). Stir until melted.
Remove from heat; stir in peppermint extract, and half the crushed candy canes.
Spread evenly in prepared pan. Top with the rest of candy cane crumbs.
Chill 2 hours or until firm.
Remove from pan by lifting edges of wax paper.
Cut into squares.

RETRO TOASTER ADVERTISEMENTS FOR CHRISTMAS: No Comment

These ads would be way too funny..if they weren't totally sad. Way to please a lady? No toaster for me for Christmas.

















Tuesday, December 24, 2019

FIGGY PUDDING: History, Chocolate Figgy Pudding Recipe, & Vintage Figgy Pudding Cat Christmas Cards

"Now! Bring us some figgy pudding and bring some out here!"

How long have you been singing this Christmas Carol? Have you ever had Figgy Pudding aka Christmas Pudding? And what, exactly is it?

One other question, can you add chocolate? Yes! Scroll down for Ghirardelli's recipe for Chocolate Figgy Pudding.

Figgy Pudding is pretty much exactly what it sounds like -- a pudding/cake with figs in it. The reason that it's in such high demand, though, has more to do with its inedible ingredients. Coins, rings and other trinkets were often hidden in the Christmas pudding and each supposedly predicted the recipient's fortune for the coming year. For example, if you found a coin, you would become wealthy. If you found a ring, you'd get married ... and so on. Think of it as an Old English fortune cookie.

From WiseGeek.com:

It's amazing what a brief mention in one Victorian-era Christmas carol can do for an obscure little dessert called figgy pudding. Every year, thousands of people around the world become curious about the dessert mentioned in the secular English carol "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." Apparently, the party-goers mentioned in the lyrics refuse to leave until they get some of this pudding from their host. This must be some seriously good pudding.

In actuality, figgy pudding is more of a cake than a pudding. There have been recipes for it since the 15th century, although its popularity as a Christmas dessert probably reached its peak during the late 19th century. Several factors have significantly hampered the wholesale expansion of the figgy pudding industry, including an interminably long cooking time, an exotic ingredients list and a cringe-inducing dependency on saturated fats for texture.
There are numerous recipes for this pudding, from a traditional steamed version similar to modern bread pudding to a pastry-covered blend of figs, dates, fruits and spices. Nearly all recipes call for three or four hours of steaming. This is accomplished by placing a metal bowl with the pudding mixture into a larger bowl partially filled with boiling water. The indirect heat generated by the boiling water cooks the dessert evenly and slowly. This is equivalent to using a bain marie water bath for individual ramekins filled with batter.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Figgy Pudding


Ingredients
3 eggs
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
4 cups soft bread crumbs
1 cup finely chopped suet (I use unsalted butter)
2 Tablespoons flour
1-1/2 cups chopped dried figs
3/4 cup Ghirardelli's Ground Chocolate
1/2 cup hot milk
3/4 tsp salt

Directions:
Beat eggs, add sugar, bread crumbs, suet, figs (dredged with flour), chocolate mixed with hot milk, and salt, stir thoroughly.
Steam three hours in a greased mold.
Serve hot with a hard sauce.

Hard sauce: Great recipe at The Pioneer Woman

Merry Christmas!

MAKER'S MARK TOFFEE BUNDT CAKE

Maker’s Mark® partnered with Chef Ann Nolan and KitchenAid® on this amazing cake. Great to make any time, but why not make this for the Holiday Centerpiece? Chef Nolan designed a pound cake that delivers on the flavors of an Old Fashioned cocktail, accomplishing this with an array of spices, like clove and cinnamon, and orange zest. But to have an Old Fashioned, you need Maker’s Mark®. That’s where the bourbon toffee sauce comes in.

MAKER'S MARK TOFFEE BUNDT CAKE!

Ingredients

  • 2-1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 8 Tbsp unsaled butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • Zest from one orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1-1/4 cup of buttermilk
Maker's Mark Toffee Sauce
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of light corn syrup
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 3 Tbsp of Maker’s Mark Bourbon
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 convection bake. Spray or butter the inside of Bundt pan.
Sift together first 8 ingredients in large bowl.
Separately, add butter, sugar, and brown sugar to a KitchenAid Stand Mixer. Using flat beater, cream together ingredients for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
With mixer on medium, add eggs, one at time, and mix until incorporated. Add orange zest and vanilla.
Continue to mix ingredients and alternately add sifted flour mixture and buttermilk to creamed sugar and butter to create cake batter. Beat cake batter in mixing bowl for one minute until smooth.
Pour batter into the greased Bundt pan and place in preheated oven.
Bake for about 40–50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean from center of cake.
Remove pan from oven and let cool about 15–20 minutes.
Invert Bundt pan upside down onto serving platter. Cake should release from pan. You have to remove cake from pan while it is still warm. Let cake cool completely before adding toffee sauce.
For Toffee Sauce
Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat.
When butter is melted halfway, stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, sweet and condensed milk, and bourbon.
Cook and stir until sauce is no longer grainy and has thickened and is a light caramel color.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Pour Maker’s Mark Bourbon Toffee Sauce over top of cooled Bundt cake so toffee sauce waterfalls down cake.
Notes from Chef Newman
Save the sauce
Save any leftover bourbon toffee sauce. It will keep in the fridge for one month and works on ice cream and other desserts. Warm before using.
Flame out
CAUTION: When making the sauce, don’t pour bourbon over an open flame. To be extra safe, use a measuring cup. Fire can chase back to the bottle – and to your hand – if you pour bourbon straight from the bottle.
The pan plan
The Bundt pan turns out a great-looking cake. But not if it isn’t greased properly, including the tube. Be gentle when removing your cake from the pan. If it sticks, jiggle it and scrape the sides with an icing knife. If all else fails, let the cake sit in your cooling oven a little longer.

Monday, December 23, 2019

PEPPERMINT BARK BROWNIES: Christmas Treats!

Still looking for special treats for the Holidays? The Ghirardelli Chocolate site has two great recipes for one of my favorite holiday treats: Peppermint Bark Brownies. These are great to serve or make as gifts. I like to give gifts in unique containers, and old tins are my gift giving choice. I collect tins all year at the Flea Market, the White Elephant Sale.. and my own garage. You never know what you'll find where.

I'm not adverse to using mixes, and I like Ghirardelli Chocolate, and the first recipe uses their packaged Double Chocolate Brownie mix. Of course, you can always use your own brownie recipe and different white chocolate and follow the same steps. The second recipe is a from scratch brownie-mix and uses Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark or Peppermint Bark Squares. Both are great!

I. Peppermint Bark Brownies

Brownies:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
1 egg
1- 20 oz package or 1 pouch Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix

Peppermint Topping:
2 cups (12 oz) Ghirardelli Classic White Chips
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup crushed peppermint candy (about 16 hard, round candies)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.

For Brownie: 
In medium bowl, blend together oil, water, and egg.
Add brownie mix and stir until moistened.
Spoon batter into lightly greased 13x9x2-inch pan.
Bake 24-26 minutes.
Let brownies cool completely.

For Peppermint Topping: 
Place white chips and vegetable oil in small bowl.
Microwave at 50% power for approximately 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.
Spread melted white chocolate over cooled brownie.
Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy. Let topping set before cutting.

II. Peppermint Bark Brownies

Ingredients 
Cooking spray
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup Ghirardelli 100% Unsweetened Ground Cocoa
1 2/3 cups Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Premium Baking Chips, divided
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 (3.5-ounce) Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark with Dark Chocolate bar, coarsely chopped, divided (or 16 Peppermint Bark Squares, coarsely chopped, divided)
1/4 cup heavy cream

Directions
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Line bottom and sides of 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, allowing about inch of paper to extend over opposite sides of pan; lightly coat with cooking spray.
In microwave-safe bowl, microwave butter and 1-1/3 cups chocolate baking chips on medium (50% power) for 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds , until melted and combined, about 2 minutes total. Whisk in sugar (mixture will look grainy). Whisk in eggs and vanilla, mixing until smooth.
In separate bowl whisk together cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir flour mixture into chocolate mixture until just combined. Fold in half of peppermint bark.
Pour mixture into prepared pan; smooth top.
Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs, 25 to 30 minutes.
Let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
Lift brownies from pan using parchment as handles and transfer brownies to rack to cool completely.
Place brownies on cooling rack set over rimmed baking sheet.
Place remaining 1/3 cup chocolate baking chips in medium glass bowl. Warm cream in small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until steaming, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate baking chips. Let stand for 2 minutes; whisk until smooth. Pour over brownies and spread to edges with a small offset spatula. Sprinkle evenly with remaining peppermint bark.
Before serving, let stand, or refrigerate, until glaze sets.

CHOCOLATE EGGNOG: History & Recipes

Tomorow is National Eggnog Day. How perfect? Eggnog evokes the holiday spirit, and Chocolate Eggnog... well how delicious can you get? There are so many variations... Following are three great recipes. FYI: this wonderful rich drink can be spelled as one word or two: egg nog or eggnog, so I'm going to change it up in the recipes below.

The History of Eggnog From Wikipedia:

The origins, etymology, and the ingredients used to make the original eggnog drink are debated. Eggnog may have originated in East Anglia, England; or it may have simply developed from posset, a medieval European beverage made with hot milk.

The "nog" part of its name may come from the word noggin, a Middle English term for a small, carved wooden mug used to serve alcohol. However, the British drink was also called an Egg Flip (from the practice of "flipping" (rapidly pouring) the mixture between two pitchers to mix it).

Another story is that the term derived from egg and grog, a common Colonial term used for the drink made with rum. Eventually, that term was shortened to egg'n'grog, then eggnog. One very early example: Isaac Weld, Junior, in his book Travels Through the States of North America and the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, during the years 1795, 1796, and 1797 (published in 1800) wrote: "The American travellers, before they pursued their journey, took a hearty draught each, according to custom, of egg-nog, a mixture composed of new milk, eggs, rum, and sugar, beat up together;..."

In Britain, the drink was popular mainly among the aristocracy. Those who could get milk and eggs mixed it with brandy, Madeira or sherry to make a drink similar to modern alcoholic egg nog. The drink is described in Cold Comfort Farm as a Hell's Angel, made with an egg, two ounces of brandy, a teaspoonful of cream, and some chips of ice, where it is served as breakfast.

Eggnog crossed the Atlantic to the English colonies during the 18th century. Since brandy and wine were heavily taxed, rum from the Triangular Trade with the Caribbean was a cost-effective substitute. The inexpensive liquor, coupled with plentiful farm and dairy products, helped the drink become very popular in America. When the supply of rum to the newly-founded United States was reduced as a consequence of the American Revolutionary War, Americans turned to domestic whiskey, and eventually bourbon in particular, as a substitute.

The Eggnog Riot occurred at the United States Military Academy on 23–25 December 1826. Whiskey was smuggled into the barracks to make eggnog for a Christmas Day party. The incident resulted in the court-martialing of twenty cadets and one enlisted soldier.

Chocolate Eggnog
 from Woodhouse Chocolate via The Nibble

Ingredients
6 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
Dash of salt
3 cups whole milk
6 ounces of quality dark chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup cold heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp freshly-ground nutmeg
1/2 cup Bourbon
Whipped cream
Fresh-grated nutmeg for garnish

Directions
Place chopped chocolate in medium mixing bowl and set aside. Also have at the ready the heavy cream in measuring cup or pitcher.
In second medium-size bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar and salt. Whisk in milk, then pour mixture into saucepan.
Heat egg mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until it reaches 160°F. Be careful to heat gently and remove from heat as soon as the mixture reaches 160°, or eggs will curdle.
Pour about 1/2 cup of hot egg/milk mixture over chocolate and pour rest back into bowl in which you whisked it in. Immediately, stir cold cream into the egg/milk mixture in bowl (not chocolate bowl). With small whisk, start whisking in center of chocolate mixture, working in small, circular motions to emulsify chocolate.
When you have smooth, homogenous mixture, gradually add rest of egg/milk mixture.
Whisk in vanilla, nutmeg, and Bourbon.
Chill for several hours, preferably overnight, to mellow flavors.
Serve cold, with dollop of whipped cream and sprinkling of grated nutmeg.

Spicy Mexican Chocolate Eggnog 
from Martha Stewart

Ingredients
2 quarts whole milk, plus more if needed
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and pod reserved
4 cinnamon sticks
12 egg yolks
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
3 ounces milk chocolate, melted
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups brandy
Whole nutmeg, for garnish
Cayenne pepper, for sprinkling

Directions
Heat 2 quarts milk, sugar, salt, vanilla seeds and pod, and cinnamon sticks inlarge pot over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and mixture is heated through. Remove from heat. Let stand for 30 minutes.
Prepare ice-water bath. Whisk yolks in medium bowl until pale, about 2 minutes. Whisk 1 cup of milk mixture into yolks in slow, steady stream. Whisk yolk mixture into remaining milk mixture. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture registers 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 6 minutes. (Do not boil.)
Remove pot from heat, add melted bittersweet and milk chocolates, and stir until incorporated. Discard vanilla pod and cinnamon sticks.
Pour mixture into a large bowl set in ice-water bath, and let cool, stirring often.
Whisk cream until soft peaks form. Pour cooled eggnog into large serving bowl, and add brandy (Add more milk to eggnog if necessary to reach desired consistency.)
Top with whipped cream. Grate nutmeg over top, and sprinkle sparingly with cayenne.
Serve immediately

Easy White Chocolate Egg Nog 
from Sandra Lee, Food Network

Ingredients 
1 quart egg nog
1/2 cup white rum
1/2 cup white chocolate liqueur
1 cup whipped topping
Grated white chocolate, for garnish
Pumpkin pie spice, for garnish

Directions
In punch bowl, combine eggnog, rum, and white chocolate liqueur.
When ready to serve, whisk egg nog to make it frothy and pour mixture into cups.
Place 1 heaping tablespoon of whipped topping into each cup.
Garnish each with grated white chocolate and sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Cartoon of the Day: Gingerbread House


Chocolate Covered Christmas S'mores

S'mores are an excellent addition to your holiday sweet table, especially if you dip them totally in chocolate and add red & green sprinkles. How easy is this!

CHOCOLATE COVERED CHRISTMAS S'MORES

Ingredients:
Graham cracker squares
Marshmallows (roasted until toasted)
Chocolate Melted for Dipping

Directions
Assemble s'mores (marshmallows between 2 graham cracker squares)
Dip S'mores into melted chocolate and put on parchment lined tray
Cover with red and green sprinkles!
Repeat
Refrigerate 20 minutes or more before serving.


Saturday, December 21, 2019

BUTTERSCOTCH YULE LOG: Retro Ad & Recipe for the Winter Solstice

I posted a wonderful but more complicated recipe for a Yule Log aka Buche de Noel earlier this today, but I love this easy and delicious Yule Log for the Winter Solstice. "Almost as easy as falling off a you-know-what." It's a great Retro Ad and recipe!



Bûche de Noël aka Yule Log: Winter Solstice

With the Winter Solstice and Christmas holidays upon us, I'm posting a recipe for Bûche de Noël aka Yule Log. I've used various recipes for Bûche de Noël, but I really like the one. Bûche de Noël is the traditional dessert served at the Solstice and during the Christmas holidays in many countries. Basically it looks like a log ready for the fire, hence the Yule Log.

The traditional Bûche de Noël is made from a Genoise (see recipe below) filled and frosted with buttercream. The Bûche de Noël is often iced to look like a piece of the branch has broken off. Sometimes there are fresh berries and meringue or marzipan mushrooms. The Bûche de Noël is one of my favorite holiday desserts. The log represents the hearth -- the center of the house, and this yule log (Bûche de Noël) will be the center of your holiday table.

Bûche de Noël aka Yule Log
(recipe adapted from allrecipes.com)

Ingredients
2 cups heavy cream (cold)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 egg yolks (eggs at room temperature)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
 6 egg whites (room temp)
1/4 cup white sugar
Confectioners Sugar for Dusting
Meringue Mushrooms (see recipe below)

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 10x15 inch greased jellyroll pan with greased (sprayed) parchment paper. In large bowl, whip cream, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa, and 1 teaspoon vanilla until thick and stiff. Refrigerate.

In large bowl, use electric mixer to beat egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until thick and pale (about 5 minutes). Blend in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, and salt. In large glass bowl, using clean beaters, whip egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, and beat until whites form very stiff peaks. Immediately fold yolk mixture into whites. Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in preheated oven, or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Dust heavily clean dishtowel with lots of confectioners' sugar. Run a knife around the edge of pan, and turn warm cake out onto silicone baking mat (or towel, but the mat works better!). Remove and discard parchment paper. Let cool before rolling. Starting at short edge of cake, roll cake up with towel. Use the towel as the rolling agent. Cool for 30 minutes. Unroll cake, and spread filling to within 1 inch of the edge. Roll cake up with filling inside. Place seam side down onto serving plate. Ice with remaining filling. Run tines across to simulate bark. Refrigerate until serving. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.

Add meringue mushrooms before serving (do not refrigerate the mushrooms) or use some 'real' holly leaves with

MERINGUE MUSHROOMS
(recipe-Southern Living-1999)

Ingredients 
3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup (3 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels, melted
2 teaspoons cocoa

Directions
Combine first 5 ingredients; beat at high speed with electric mixer until foamy. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves (2 to 4 minutes).
Spoon mixture into decorating bag fitted with large round tip. Pipe 32 (1 1/4-inch-wide) mounds to resemble mushroom caps and 32 (1-inch-tall) columns to resemble stems onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake at 200° for 1 1/2 hours; turn oven off. Let meringues stand in closed oven 2 hours.
Spread thin layer of melted chocolate on flat side of caps. Trim rounded end of stems to make them flat; press stems against chocolate to attach them to caps. Sprinkle meringues lightly with cocoa.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Cartoon of the Day: Pest Control


CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT TRIFLE: A Very English Christmas Dessert

Here's a great idea for your holiday dessert! Trifle!! I love a good trifle, and I have posted several recipes for trifle before. In case you haven't planned your holiday dessert yet, I thought a  Chocolate Peppermint Trifle would be great-- a very English Christmas dessert.  Trifle is easy and quick to make. I'm posting two great recipes. One is simple and fast, the other a bit longer but very good. Both recipes call for chocolate cake, but brownies work well, too. A true trifle includes alcohol, but you can eliminate it if you must.

Just an FYI: You can assemble mini-trifles in glass mugs or mason jars for individual servings. Stick a candy cane into the mug for a festive touch.

#1 Chocolate Peppermint Trifle

This one is fast and easy to make, and you can use the Peppermint Bark you've made or purchased.

Ingredients
1 chocolate cake (or brownies) cut up into cubes
1 large box of chocolate pudding (add a couple of drops of Peppermint Schnapps to the pudding). Make the pudding.
Ghirardelli (or another--Trader Joe's--or your own) Peppermint Bark, chopped into chunks
Whipped Cream (I always whip my own with a little sugar)

Directions
Layering:
Cake on the bottom, then add a layer of pudding, then a layer of the chopped up Peppermint Bark, then a layer of whipped cream. Then repeat.
Top it off with finely crushed candy canes or a bit more chopped up Peppermint Bark.

O.K. I'm not much for proportions, but most trifles aren't. Use what you have, and I'm sure you won't go wrong.

#2 Chocolate Peppermint Trifle

This is the longer of the two recipes, but absolutely delicious. I've adapted Martha Stewart's recipe for Triple-Chocolate Peppermint Trifle. She has a chocolate cake recipe, but you can skip it and make a good chocolate cake from a mix, then follow the rest of this recipe.

You can make the trifle components the day before you assemble the trifle. Be sure and refrigerate everything in separate airtight containers.

Ingredients

FOR THE SYRUP
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup chocolate flavored liqueur, such as Godiva

FOR THE MOUSSE
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
12 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped (the highest quality)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped peppermint candies or candy canes

FOR THE PUDDING
8 ounces chocolate 40-65% cacao, finely chopped
2 cups heavy cream
3 large egg yolks, room temperature

FOR SERVING
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup chopped peppermint candies or candy canes

Make the syrup: Bring sugar and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Let cool completely. Stir in liqueur.

Make the mousse: Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. Bring 1 cup cream just to a boil in a small saucepan. Place white chocolate in a food processor; with machine running, pour in hot cream in a slow, steady stream, and process until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl set in ice-water bath. Let cool, stirring occasionally, until thick enough to hold ribbons on surface, about 15 minutes.

Beat remaining 1 1/2 cups cream to nearly stiff peaks. Fold into chocolate mixture, then fold in candies. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until thickened and almost firm, 4 to 6 hours.

Make the pudding: Put chocolate into a large bowl; set aside. Bring cream almost to a boil in a small saucepan. Whisk yolks in a bowl. Pour in hot cream in a slow, steady stream, whisking.

Pour mixture back into pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 1 minute. Pour through a fine sieve over chocolate; whisk until smooth. Set bowl in ice-water bath. Let cool, stirring occasionally, until thick enough to hold ribbons on surface, about 15 minutes. Place plastic wrap directly on surface; refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.

To assemble: Spread one-third of the mousse into bottom of a glass trifle bowl that is 8 to 10 inches in diameter. Top with a cake layer, and brush with half the syrup.

Top with half the pudding, then another third of mousse. Place remaining cake layer on top; brush with remaining syrup. Top with remaining pudding, then mousse. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 12 hours.

Beat cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Top trifle with the whipped cream, and sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy or crushed candy canes.

This recipe is divine.

**
As with most recipes, you don't have to add alcohol, but a true trifle should have it.

PEPPERMINT PATTY DRINKS FOR THE HOLIDAYS: Add Alcohol

Peppermint and Chocolate are a match made in heaven. Add alcohol and now you're talking! I love Alcoholic Peppermint Patty Drinks, especially around the holidays. Here are some great recipes. Santa will love them and so will your guests!

Peppermint Patty Hot Chocolate Cocktail

Ingredients
1 ounce Peppermint Schnapps
1/2 ounce Dark Crème de Cacao
1 tsp Crème de Menthe
Hot Chocolate (the best quality chocolate)
(fill the mug)
Whipped cream
Garnish with shaved chocolate or chocolate sprinkles and a candycane

Directions
Pour liqueurs into glass mug.
Fill with hot chocolate.
Top with whipped cream.
Garnish with shaved chocolate or chocolate sprinkles.

Chocolate Peppermintini

Ingredients
2 1/2 ounces chilled vodka
1/2 ounce chilled peppermint schnapps
1/2 ounce chilled white Creme de Cacao (or Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur)
Junior mints

Directions
Mix cold liquor together and shake with ice.
Strain into martini glass.
Drop a few Junior Mints into bottom of glass or garnishrim with crushed candycanes

Optional: I've used Godiva chocolate liqueur in place of the creme de cacao, and I've also used Chocolate vodka in place of both the vodka and Creme de Cacao. Just different. I'm not a stickler for proportions.

Peppermint Patty on the Rocks

Ingredients
1 ounce peppermint schnapps
1 ounce dark crème de cacao
2 ounces cream

Directions
Pour peppermint schnapps, crème de cacao, and cream in ice-filled old-fashioned glass.
Shake by placing a mixing tin over glass and give a good shake.

Photo: Candy Cane Martini Glasses from Artland

Thursday, December 19, 2019

CHRISTMAS CRISCO CAKE: Retro Ads & Recipe for Chocolate Cake

Crisco was standard in our pantry when I was growing up, and I've posted about Crisco several times on this blog. Here's a Retro Crisco Christmas Cake Ad --but since this is a chocolate blog, I'm also posting the 'same' ad for a Crisco Chocolate Cake. Everything in the Ad is pretty much the same, except the color and frosting. Very Retro Advertising.





RECIPE FOR CHOCOLATE CRISCO CAKE

STEP 1 — Measure (all measurements level): 2 cups sifted cake flour, 1-2/3 cups sugar, 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1-1/2 teaspoons soda, 1 teaspoon salt. Add 1/2 cup Crisco, 3 squares melted chocolate, 2/3 cup milk. Mix thoroughly by hand (300 strokes) or by mixer (medium speed) for 2 minutes.

STEP 2 — Add 2/3 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 3 eggs (2/3 cup). Mix thoroughly another 2 minutes. Pour batter into two 9″ layer pans (1-1/2″ deep) which have been “Criscoed” or lined with paper. (For smaller pans, fill half full, bake remaining batter in cup cakes.)

Bake in moderate oven 350°F. about 35-40 minutes.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Homemade Hanukkah Gelt: Coins and Truffles

The Jewish holiday of Chanukah lasts 8 days, so there's plenty of time to make chocolate treats! Perhaps the most familiar form of Chanukah Gelt (money) is a chocolate coin covered in gold foil. This tradition probably dates from the late 18th and early 19th century in Europe, when Jews figured prominently in chocolate manufacturing.

There are many chocolatiers who sell Chanukah Gelt, and some of it is very tasty, but if you want the very best, make your own!

The first recipe for Homemade Chanukah Gelt is from Oh Nuts! Sweet & Crunchy blog and is pretty traditional in appearance. This Chanukah Chocolate Gelt is fun to make with kids. Easy and quick. Perfect for the Holiday!

The second recipe is for Chocolate Truffle Gelt. The truffles can't really be flattened like a coin, but you can individually wrap them in gold foil to mimic the gold coins. Each truffle contains less than 1/8 th teaspoon alcohol, that helps to "cook" the yolks in the mixture. One Tablespoon of orange juice can be substituted, but it will slightly alter the taste and consistency.

And, you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy any of this Chanukah Gelt!

HOMEMADE CHANUKAH GELT 

Ingredients
8 ounces (about 1-1/3 cups) melting chocolate wafers (or dark or milk chocolate, chopped)
2 mini muffin tins
Gold luster dust
Clean food-safe paintbrush

Directions
Put chocolate wafers in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave chocolate in 30-second increments, stirring after every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a pot over a pot over simmering water.
Drop a spoonful of melted chocolate into 24 mini muffin cavities. Don't use a lot if you want them to look like coins.
Hit muffin pans against counter to level out chocolate and reduce “peaks” on top of chocolate. Refrigerate pans until chocolate is completely set, about 20 minutes.
Turn pans upside-down over clean surface, and flex to release the coins. If some stick in pan, knock on bottom of tin to dislodge the coins.
Use clean, dry food-safe brush and brush luster dust over the surface of coins. Luster dust and water do not mix, so don’t get any fancy ideas about mixing them together to make gold paint–you’ll just end up with a mess. Dry brushing works better.

If you don't want to use the luster dust, you can wrap the coins in gold foil and press a coin pattern (or not) into the foil (preferably while still a bit soft).

CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE GELT

Ingredients
6 ounces dark or milk chocolate
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp coffee liqueur, cognac, or Grand Marnier
Dried sweetened cherries
Cocoa
Gold foil paper

Directions
Put chocolate in one quart bowl and place in saucepan filled halfway with hot but not boiling water. Over low heat, melt chocolate and stir to remove any lumps. Remove bowl of chocolate from hot water bath.
Cut butter into 4 pieces and whisk in, one piece at a time, until smooth.
Whisk in yolks until thoroughly combined. (Mixture might look grainy and separated. Don't worry about using raw yolks; the yolks will essentially be "cooked" by alcohol in liqueur.) Then whisk in the cognac or other flavoring.
Cover and refrigerate for hour, or until mixture is firm but not rock hard.
Working quickly, place heaping teaspoon of chocolate in hand. Press dried cherry into center of chocolate and shape into ball, about an inch in diameter, covering the fruit.
Roll truffle in cocoa. Place on plastic wrap-lined plate, cover with additional wrap, and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes for dark chocolate and 15 minutes longer for milk).
To create "coins," wrap truffles in gold foil.

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE MINT STAR BROWNIES

I love Trader Joe's! I posted two great stocking stuffers from Trader Joe's, but did you know there are some fabulous easy recipes on their website? Here's a simple last minute brownie recipe that utilizes their Mini Dark Chocolate Mint Stars! How cute and delicious? Triple chocolate! Perfect for the Holidays! Very festive!

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE MINT STAR BROWNIES 

Ingredients 
1 package TJ’s Mini Dark Chocolate Mint Stars (seasonal), divided in half
1 package TJ’s Brownie Truffle Baking Mix
2 large Eggs
4 ounces Unsalted Butter
¼ cup TJ’s Fudge Sauce

Directions 
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 x 8 x 2 baking pan with butter or cooking spray and set aside. Chop roughly ½ package of cookies into pieces and set aside. Melt butter until creamy-looking (approx. 1 minute in microwave or 5 minutes in saucepan over medium heat).
Whisk eggs into melted butter until blended.
Add brownie mix and stir until moistened. Mix in chopped cookies.
Spread batter in pan, filling corners and leveling top.
 Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool for 30 minutes before removing from pan.
Once cooled, cut brownies into squares.
Using a butter knife, spread an even layer of fudge sauce on top of each brownie.
Place remaining cookies on top of each brownie to decorate.

Photo: Trader Joe's

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

CHOCOLATE MARSHMALLOW DREIDELS for Hanukkah

Hanukkah starts Sunday night, and these fabulous Chocolate Marshmallow Dreidels are perfect for the holiday. Easy to make and delicious to eat!

A Dreidel is a four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side. During Chanukah (Hanukah, Hanukkah), children play a game that involves spinning the dreidel and betting on which Hebrew letter will show when the dreidel stops spinning. Children usually play for a pot of 'gelt' -- chocolate coins covered in gold colored foil.

You won't be spinning these tops unless you want chocolate all over the floor, but making these Chocolate Marshmallow Dreidels is a fun activity to do with children.

This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart's recipe for Chocolate Marshmallow Dreidels. If you want to take it up a notch, make your own marshmallows or buy some high end marshmallows made with natural ingredients such as those from Recchiuti. I usually use whatever dark chocolate I have, but you can use any good dark chocolate. For the white chocolate I use Green & Black's White Chocolate that's made with Madagascar vanilla. I also use Paul Newman's Own Organic pretzel sticks. They are a little long, so I snap them in half. Or, you can just use a short lollipop stick.

Apologies for the poor calligraphy. Practice makes perfect, and I'm very out of practice. :-)

CHOCOLATE COVERED MARSHMALLOW DREIDELS

Ingredients
12 chocolate kisses (I use Hershey's Kisses)
8 ounces melted dark chocolate
12 marshmallows (homemade or whatever you have)
12 thin pretzel sticks (I use Newman's Own)
2 ounces melted white chocolate (I use Green & Black)

Directions 
Dip bottom of chocolate kiss in melted semisweet chocolate. Press onto marshmallow; transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat to make 12 dreidels. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Cut small slit in bottom of each marshmallow or just one thin pretzel stick into the marshmallow. Dip dreidels in dark chocolate, and return to baking sheet. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes.

Fill plastic bag (or pastry bag) with melted white chocolate; cut a tiny opening in corner, and pipe Hebrew letters onto 3 sides of each dreidel. I used a pastry bag with a tip, but I should have practiced a bit first so I wouldn't have any drips.

Refrigerate at least 5 minutes or up to 8 hours before serving.

CHOCOLATE MAPLE SYRUP & CHOCOLATE MAPLE SYRUP TRUFFLES: National Maple Syrup Day

Today is National Maple Syrup Day. When I was young, we traveled to Canada, Maine, and Vermont for fishing trips (my father was a fresh water fisherman). One of my fond memories was seeing the taps in the maple trees in the woods. So magical to me.. a city kid. They were just like beer taps (or for me at that age, they probably looked like soda fountain taps). Tapping the trees for maple syrup was always the highlight of these trips. This experience broadened the school history lesson about the early settlers and Maple Syrup. Of course the indigenous people tapped the trees first, but that wasn't part of our lesson at that time. 

An individual maple tree can be tapped one to three times per year (depending on how big the diameter of its trunk is), producing up to 13 gallons of sap every one to two month harvesting season. Maple trees keep the starch inside their roots and trunk before winter sets in which is then later converted to sugar that appears in the tree's sap in winter and early spring.

It is the starchy sugar that makes maple syrup so characteristically sweet. In order to turn sap into sugar, it's heated and boiled to evaporate the excess water, with the concentrated syrup remaining. Sugar shacks were set up for this process, and those were also available for viewing in small Vermont and Canadian towns. I imagine they still are.

Want to know more about the history of Maple Syrup? Read "Tapping into the history of maple syrup" at Chronically Vintage.

What to do with maple syrup? Well, growing up, maple syrup at our house came in a little crock and was only used to pour over waffles and pancakes. But Maple Syrup is actually a great item to have in your pantry and can be used in lots of ways. Maple syrup is a healthy alternative to sugar in baked goods and desserts.

Conversion tips:
Substitute an equal amount of maple syrup for sugar.
For each cup of syrup, reduce the quantity of liquid ingredients in the recipe (water, milk, juice) by about a quarter of a cup.
Maple syrup can also serve as a one-to-one substitution for other liquid sweeteners, such as honey, molasses and corn syrup.

And, with the holidays coming up, here are two great recipes to make and give or serve: Chocolate Maple Syrup and Chocolate Maple Truffles.

CHOCOLATE MAPLE SYRUP

Ingredients
1-1/2 cups pure maple syrup
4 Tbsp unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1/4 cup unsalted butter, chopped
Pinch of salt

Directions
Heat maple syrup in small sturdy saucepan over moderate heat until hot.
Whisk in cocoa powder, butter, and pinch of salt. Turn down to simmer and whisk for a minute.
Serve syrup warm.
Syrup keeps, covered and chilled, 1 week.

CHOCOLATE MAPLE SYRUP TRUFFLES
This recipe is from the Pure Canadian Maple Syrup site

Ingredients for Centers 
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 cups dates, pitted and chopped
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp orange juice, just squeezed
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier or other liqueur optional

Ingredients for Coating
8 ounces premium quality bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

Directions
To prepare the centers, melt 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate in double boiler over gently simmering water until completely melted, stirring only once or twice. Set aside.
Chop dates by hand, so they're not sticky (can become sticky if you use a food processor) If you are using food processor, place pecans in with the dates and pulse.
Add melted chocolate, Maple syrup, orange juice and liqueur; pulse until mixture just comes together. Alternatively, you can mix the ingredients together by hand in a medium mixing bowl.
To form and coat truffles, prepare coating:
Melt remaining 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate over double boiler of gently simmering water and cool to about 90°. While chocolate is cooling, form truffles. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Form truffles into small tiny bite sized balls. Place cookie sheet of truffles to left of you. Place melted chocolate in front of you and have sifted cocoa to right of you To far right have cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and or paper truffle cups ready to place coated truffles.

Monday, December 16, 2019

TRADER JOE'S CHOCOLATE STOCKING STUFFERS: Chocolate Passport & Taste Test of Caramels

I'm a huge fan for everything Trader Joe's--from the plants to the music to the cheese to the chocolate! The holidays are the perfect time to experience, buy, and gift some great chocolate stocking stuffers.

I've posted before about Trader Joe's Chocolate Passport, and I'm so pleased to see The Chocolate Passport back at Trader Joe's this season. The Chocolate Passport makes a great stocking stuffer or hostess gift or even the basis of your own "chocolate tasting" during the holidays. Trader Joe's Chocolate Passport is beautifully packaged, as well as containing terrific chocolate from beans sourced from all over the world. Different amounts of cacao, too.

Each chocolate is sourced from eight original locations each with its own terroir. Trader Joe's Chocolate Passport takes you on a journey through the cacao-growing world: Peru, Ecuador, Venazuela, The Dominican Republic, Ghana, Papua New Guinea, Sao Tome, and Tanzania. The cacao ranges form 60-73%. Take a trip around the chocolate world!

At $9.99, this is a great bargain! This is also available on several internet sites, but at double the price! Go direct to the store...and dance in the aisles!

Another wonderful seasonal chocolate product at Trader Joe's is the Taste Test of Caramels: Chocolate Covered Caramel Taste Testing Kit featuring 12 distinct Flavor Profiles: Toffee Apple, Ginger, Vanilla, Maple, Double Espresso, Butterscotch, Hot Chili, Coconut, Himalayan Salted, Fig & Honey that makes for a great blind taste test party guessing game. And, it's not just about flavor. Each caramel has a unique design, so you can eat with your eyes as well taste buds! They're well made with hick chocolate at the bottom and thinner on the top. I love this Classic Holiday Treat!  $5.99. How can you go wrong?



DECADENT EGGNOG BROWNIES: National Eggnog Month

It shouldn't come as a surprise, but December is Eggnog Month. If you're like me, I have eggnog around this time of year, but Santa doesn't always partake. So how else to use it? Why not make Eggnog Brownies? 


This amazing recipe is from Amy Guittard's Guittard Chocolate Book...no surprise there! I love Guittard Chocolate, and the recipes in Amy's cookbook are fantastic. These brownies are absolutely delicious! If you already have brandy in your eggnog, you don't need to add more... And, as always, use the very best chocolate and Eggnog!

Decadent Eggnog Brownies

Ingredients
6 ounces Guittard 100% Cacao Unsweetened Chocolate, chopped
1 cup + 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, divided
2 1/2 cups plus 4 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup eggnog
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line 9x9x2 inch pan with foil covering the bottom and extending up sides.
Melt unsweetened chocolate and butter in medium microwave safe bowl at medium power (50% or level 5) mixing at 30-second intervals until smooth and all of chocolate is melted. Set aside.
In large bowl of stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, beat eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt at high speed for about 2-3 minutes or until light and creamy. Blend in melted chocolate at low speed, stopping to scrape sides as needed. Add flour just until incorporated.
Spread two-thirds of the batter into prepared pan and transfer remainder to a small bowl.
Clean bowl and paddle of stand mixer and refit to mixer. Beat egg yolk on medium-high until frothy. Stir in 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, eggnog, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Beat in cream cheese until mixture is smooth.
Top  brownie batter with cream cheese eggnog mixture, using spatula to level out mixture. Spoon remaining brownie batter over cream cheese eggnog layer, again using spatula to spread evenly. Drag the spatula through pan to create marbled effect.
Bake about 45 minutes to an hour or until top is puekered and cracked and toothpick inserted in center is moist (DO NOT OVERBAKE!)
Cool before cutting.