Thursday, January 31, 2019

SALTED CARAMEL HOT CHOCOLATE: National Hot Chocolate Day

I love a Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate at Starbucks, but it's not always an easy drink to find. It's 'seasonal'. So I went on line a few years ago to find the perfect copycat recipe. I found a great one at Bright Green Door. As always, I made a few adjustments. Here's a recipe for Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate that's perfect for winter weather and today's National Hot Chocolate Holiday. And, you'll save $5 by not going to Starbucks--and you'll stay out of the cold and the snow! Also, you can make this Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate any time of the year!

For this recipe, you can use what ever hot chocolate recipe you like. Make the hot chocolate/cocoa in a pot on the stove. When finished, add about 2 Tbsp Caramel Sauce (I use Recchiuti) and 2 Tbsp English Toffee or Hazelnut Syrup (or Toffee Nut from Starbucks-sometimes they'll sell it to you) right into the pot and stir. Pour into your mug and top with real whipped cream (or Redi-Whip), Caramel Drizzle, and sprinkle of Sea Salt. This recipe makes enough for 4 regular size mugs or 2 "Grandes.'

You can also make a variation on this recipe to make a Salted Caramel Mocha.

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Dark Cocoa (I like Ghiradelli)
1/3 cup water
1 tsp Madagascar Vanilla
2 tsp Sea Salt
2 Tbsp Hazelnut Syrup (or Toffee Nut from Starbucks)
2 Tbsp Caramel Sauce, Caramel Drizzle
Whipped Cream (or Reddi Whip)

Directions
Mix Sugar, Cocoa, and 1 tsp Salt. Add water and boil for 1 minute. Add milk and heat until warm. Mix in Vanilla, Hazelnut Syrup, and Caramel Sauce. Pour into coffee cup and top with whipped cream, caramel drizzle, and sea salt.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

TRADER JOE'S CHOCOLATE CROISSANTS: National Croissant Day

Today is National Croissant Day. There's nothing quite like waking up to a flaky buttery croissant. I have my favorite sources for croissants. I love the ones at La Fournee Bakery in Berkeley (close to my home), and, of course, the many cafes and bakeries in Paris.

But maybe you just want to wake up to fresh croissants without leaving home. I've posted this before, but it definitely bears reposting! Trader Joe's Chocolate Croissants to the rescue. These are some of the best frozen croissants you'll ever taste. The 'proof' is in the pudding, as they say, and these croissants are proofed (allowed to rise) overnight before they're baked for 20 minutes the following morning. The heavenly smell will take over your kitchen. Perfect for the weekend or National Croissant Day.

And, the price can't be beat--$4.99 for 4! In the San Francisco Bay Area, Chef Jean-Yves Charon from Galaxy Bakery is the genius behind Trader Joe's Chocolate Croissants. Rumor has it that Williams Sonoma gets their frozen croissants from the same source. So, Trader Joe's represents a huge savings in cost.

O.K., these "Croissants" are really Pain au Chocolat, as anyone can see by the shape. Feel free to imagine yourself at a sidewalk cafe in Paris when eating these! The croissants are incredibly flaky and buttery, so light and airy, and the Callebaut chocolate is rich and delicious. Since there are four to a box, and each croissant contains 18 grams of fat, you might want to offer a few to family or friends. If you don't care what they'll do to your waistline or thighs, indulge and eat them all. They're terrific!

This is one product that outshines most home baked croissants. Yes, you can make your own Chocolate Croissants, but these are so good, why bother?

You'll find TJ's Chocolate Croissants in the freezer section.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

CHOCOLATE COCA COLA CHICKEN WINGS: Super Bowl Sunday!

Looking for a Savory Chocolate Super Bowl Recipe? You'll love these Chocolate Coca Cola Chicken Wings--fabulous for SuperBowl Sunday! This recipe is adapted from Michael Siry of Duke's Original Roadhouse and Big Daddy's Restaurant and appeared on the Today Show a few years ago along with two other chicken wing recipes.

CHOCOLATE COCA COLA CHICKEN WINGS

Ingredients
4 cans Coca Cola
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce
1 habanera, minced
1-1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup aged balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chocolate sauce
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. orange zest
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup white vinegar

Frying
Brined chicken wings
2 cups flour
1/4 cup salt
2 Tbsp ground black pepper

Baking
Brined chicken wings
2 cups flour
1/4 cup salt
2 Tbsp ground black pepper
Vegetable cooking spray

Directions 
1. Add all ingredients (except butter and white vinegar) into 2-quart saucepan.
2. Bring to boil and simmer until 3/4 reduced.
3. Add butter and vinegar.
4. Keep sauce warm and toss with wings.

Frying recipe:
1. Drain wings from brine, toss chicken wings in flour and place on racked sheet pan.
2. Let stand for 5 minutes; during that time preheat fryer to 325 degrees.
3. Fry wings in batches for 10-13 minutes until wings start to float.
4. Place on racked sheet pan to cool.
5. Toss in sauce.

Baking recipe:
1. Drain wings from brine and toss chicken wings in flour and place on racked sheet pan.
2. Let stand for 5 minutes; during that time preheat oven to 325 degrees.
3. Spray wings with vegetable oil spray.
4. Bake wings for 20 minutes (wings should reach internal temp of 150).
5. Place on racked sheet pan to cool.
6. Toss in sauce. 

Monday, January 28, 2019

CHOCOLATE COVERED FOOTBALL STRAWBERRIES: Super Bowl Sunday!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries are always fabulous, but with the addition of some white chocolate icing, you can make fun footballs that will be perfect for your Super Bowl Party.

You can buy them from: Shari's Berries (Photo--milk chocolate) or you can make your own. They're easy to make. Not a lot of fuss, and it's fun. Great project to do with kids! The strawberries on the right are dipped in milk chocolate (more football colored), but taste-wise I prefer dark chocolate. It's up to you. Just remember to use the very best chocolate, and the freshest strawberries.

CHOCOLATE COVERED FOOTBALL STRAWBERRIES

Ingredients
1 quart fresh large fresh strawberries, with tops
1 1/2 cup Dark Chocolate, chopped
3 Tbsp heavy cream
White chocolate, melted

Directions
Rinse strawberries and dry thoroughly, keeping tops on. In top of double boiler or stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water, combine chocolate and heavy cream. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
Dip strawberries 1/2-3/4 way up in chocolate mixture and place on wax paper or parchment lined cookie sheet to allow chocolate to harden.
When hardened, decorate with melted white chocolate (see below).

Hints:
Wash strawberries and pat dry with paper towels; set aside. Make sure strawberries are completely dry. A drop of water in melted chocolate can cause it to "seize" and turn the entire mixture into a mess. How to smooth out the chocolate: add a tiny bit of honey and stir.

How to dip:
Grasp stem of strawberry and dip into chocolate, swirling to partially cover with chocolate. Give strawberry a small shake as you pull it out of the chocolate. When strawberry is completely out of chocolate, swirl it in quick, clockwise motion to let excess chocolate drip off. Place on cookie sheet lined with waxed paper or parchment. Repeat with rest of strawberries.

For White Chocolate Football Decoration: 
Melt white chocolate in Microwave on high for 20 seconds or so. Stir and repeat if necessary. Put white chocolate in piping bag. Pipe stripe on top and bottom of strawberries. Pipe line down middle and then do about 5 short cross lines.
Tip: Go back over the cross lines to avoid drips.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

CHOCOLATE MAYONNAISE CAKE: 3 Recipes for Chocolate Cake Day

Today is National Chocolate Cake Day! So to celebrate the holiday I thought I'd post three great recipes for Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake. I've posted about chocolate mayonnaise cake before. You'd be surprised how many recipes there are. Seems like everyone's Aunt Sadie had a recipe. But it shouldn't be a surprise to you that mayonnaise was used so often in past generations. Do you remember mayonnaise in jello molds? That used to be a staple at special occasions all over the U.S. If you don't remember, be glad! But in cake, it really works!

As I said there are many recipes for Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake. Here are two Retro recipes for Hellmann's Chocolate Mayo Cake and a newer recipe for a Chocolate Mayonnaise Bundt Cake. I have found several of these ads over the years--some recipes use eggs and some don't. I think the earlier recipes must be from the 30s and early 40s. 

Mayonnaise Cakes are really moist, so it's hard to go wrong on any of these recipes.





Want to try a variation of the recipes above? Use Miracle Whip instead of Mayonnaise. Totally different flavor. Most people are particular when it comes to the choice between Mayonnaise and Miracle Whip. I still think it's worth trying Miracle Whip in this chocolate cake recipe... or for that matter, in the bundt cake recipe below. Word to the wise: don't taste the batter before it's baked. It will seem a bit odd, but the final results will be delicious.

And, just for good measure, here's a third recipe for Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake!

Chocolate Mayonnaise Bundt Cake

Ingredients
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
6 Tbsp dark cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla (or whatever you have)
1 cup mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip)
1 egg, whipped
1 cup lukewarm water
1 cup chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate 70% or higher cacao
powdered sugar

Directions
Blend dry ingredients.
Mix in vanilla, mayonnaise, egg, and water-- just enough to get all ingredients blended.
Fold in chocolate chips (broken up chocolate)
Pour into greased Bundt pan.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool cake.
Dust with powdered sugar.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BRITTLE: National Peanut Brittle Day

Today is National Peanut Brittle Day. I can't believe I've never posted a recipe for Chocolate Peanut Brittle. I'm not sure why, because if peanut brittle is delicious, it's that's much better when you add chocolate! As always, the finished product will reflect its ingredients, so use the very best! This recipe is adapted from Hershey!

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BRITTLE

Ingredients
1-1/4 cups salted peanuts
1/4 cup Dark Cocoa 
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup sugar

Directions
Lightly butter cookie sheet; set aside. Stir together cocoa and baking soda in small bowl; add butter. Set aside.
Stir together sugar, corn syrup, and whipping cream in heavy 2-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Stir in peanuts. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until mixture reaches 300°F. on candy thermometer or until syrup, when dropped into very cold water, separates into threads which are hard and brittle. (Bulb of candy thermometer should not rest on bottom of saucepan.)
Remove from heat; stir in cocoa mixture. Immediately pour onto prepared cookie sheet. With tongs or wooden spoons, quickly spread and pull into 1/4-inch thickness. Place cookie sheet on wire rack; cool completely.
Snap into pieces!



Friday, January 25, 2019

IRISH COFFEE TRUFFLES: Irish Coffee Day

Today is National Irish Coffee Day, and it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood! If I have time later, I'm going to stop by the Buena Vista Cafe for a glass of Irish Coffee. Irish Coffee was invented at the Buena Vista Cafe, right here in San Francisco.

Many years ago, on my first day in California, I was lucky to hitch a ride with a visiting dignitary. Don't ask. Things happen! The day's tour of San Francisco included the hills of San Francisco, Sonoma County, the Renaissance Fair, Sausalito, Fisherman's Wharf, the Palace of Fine Arts, Cliff House, the Golden Gate Bridge and a stop at the Buena Vista Cafe for an Irish Coffee. I saw more of the San Francisco Bay Area on that one day than I did over the next ten years.

Irish Coffee is a very San Francisco drink invented in 1952 at The Buena Vista Cafe. The recipe was a collaborative effort between Jack Koeppler, the Buena Vista’s owner, and Stanton Delaplane, a well-known international travel writer and San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Here's the original recipe. Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista is still made the same way.


The official story of Irish Coffee tells of the perseverance and repeated attempts of Koeppler & Delaplane and even a trip to Shannon Airport, where a forerunner of Koeppler’s vision was served. The whipped cream posed a problem, but the input of a prominent dairy farmer turned Mayor of San Francisco, solved the problem: Age the cream for 48 hours and froth it to a precise consistency so it would float on top of the hot coffee, to Koeppler’s specifications.

So if you're in San Francisco today, it's a big day at the Buena Vista. Stop by and raise a glass!


Since I love alcohol infused truffles, I'm posting a recipe for Irish Coffee Truffles. You'll love this easy recipe from Martha Stewart Weddings. I use darker chocolate than in the original recipe, but otherwise, it's just about the same. I also often roll the truffles in ground chocolate espresso beans! This recipe is pretty much no fail, and that's what I like!

IRISH COFFEE TRUFFLES

Ingredients
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
1 pound plus 14 ounces bittersweet chocolate, (65-72%), finely chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup plus1Tbsp packed dark-brown sugar
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup Irish whiskey
2 Tbsp coffee extract
1/4 tsp coarse salt
Good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder, for rolling  (or ground chocolate covered espresso beans!)

Directions
Coat 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray; line with plastic wrap, allowing a 2-inch overhang; set aside.
Put chocolate and butter into medium heatproof bowl set over pan of simmering water; stir until chocolate and butter have melted. Remove from heat.
In separate saucepan, bring cream, corn syrup, and brown sugar to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Immediately pour over chocolate mixture; whisk until smooth.
Whisk in yolks, whiskey, coffee extract, and salt.
Pour into prepared pan.
Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly on surface to prevent a skin from forming.
Refrigerate until firm enough to roll into balls, about 4 hours (or more).
Using a1-inch ice cream scoop or medium melon baller, scoop chocolate into balls, immersing scoop completely, then rotating it; transfer to rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
Coeur d'Alene Irish Coffee Truffles
Put cocoa powder into shallow dish. Remove truffles from refrigerator. Roll each ball in your palms until completely smooth, then roll in cocoa powder (or crushed chocolate covered espresso beans) to coat (if truffles become too soft to roll, return to refrigerator until firm); transfer to rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (up to 3 days).

No time or ingredients to make your own? You can buy Irish Coffee Truffles. I'm very fond of the Coeur d'Alene Irish Coffee Truffle. Maybe easier to find if you have to celebrate today would be the Lindt Irish Coffee Bar. They're both great and use real Irish whisky. Or, you can check with your local chocolatier. They might make a great Irish Coffee Truffle. If you find one you like, let me know! Make a comment below and win chocolate!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER TRUFFLES: National Peanut Butter Day

January 24 is National Peanut Butter Day. I'm also paying homage today to Mr. Peanut. I grew up with Planter's Peanuts. Mr. Peanut, shaking hands with everyone, would walk the boardwalk in Atlantic City! What a treat. I also loved those hot salty peanuts, roasted right onsite. The original company was called Planters Nut and Chocolate Company, so what's not to love? Planters did make peanut butter, but I'm not sure for how long.

I've posted lots of recipes for Chocolate and Peanut Butter, but here's an easy Peanut Butter Truffle recipe to celebrate today's holiday!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles
This is a simple recipe for a peanut butter ganache truffle rolled in chopped peanuts adapted from a recipe in  CountryLiving.

Ingredients
8 ounces 60-75% dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup smooth Organic peanut butter
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup finely chopped peanuts

Directions
Place chopped chocolate in medium heat-safe bowl. Set aside.
In medium saucepan over low heat, cook heavy cream until it just begins to boil; then immediately pour over chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is thick and smooth. Stir in smooth peanut butter, vanilla extract, and salt. Pour into shallow baking pan and refrigerate until set, 4 to 6 hours.
Spoon chocolate–peanut butter mixture, by tablespoon, into your hand and roll into balls. Place on parchment-lined baking pan and return to refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes.
Place finely chopped peanuts in shallow dish. Roll truffles in peanuts,  shaping each ball as you work. Keep refrigerated until serving.

What's your favorite Peanut Butter and Chocolate recipe?

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE: Rhubarb Pie Day

Today is National Rhubarb Pie Day,  and what's a Rhubarb Pie without Strawberries?  To celebrate the day, I'm posting my favorite recipe for Strawberry Fields Forever Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crust!

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

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

STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE WITH CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUST

Chocolate Cookie Crust

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

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

Filling

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

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

So easy! Make this today -- or tomorrow! And here's something to listen to while you bake this pie!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

RETRO CONGO SQUARES aka BLOND BROWNIES: National Blond Brownies Day

Today is National Blond Brownies Day. Blond Brownies is a misnomer. Blondies are not Brownies! They get their flavor from brown sugar and not cocoa or chocolate, but they're wonderful for exactly what they are--a great butterscotch 'brownie.' Over the years, I've added macadamia nuts, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, or a combination of these ingredients to the following basic recipe. The variety of additions is huge, and the basic batter is a delicious brown sugar concoction. Blondies are simple to make, and I highly recommend them. I use dark brown sugar because I think it has more flavor. As in any recipe, the quality of the ingredients makes a difference in your final product.

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

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





Monday, January 21, 2019

BLOOD MOON ECLIPSE BROWNIES

Last night there was a total eclipse of the Blood Moon. It was pretty spectacular, and the Blood Moon Eclipse got me thinking. I've posted a recipe for Full Moon Brownies, but what about Beet Brownies? Many chocolate cakes such as Red Velvet Cakes can be made with beets. So in honor of the Blood Moon Eclipse, here's a great recipe for Blood Moon Eclipse Brownies.

BLOOD MOON ECLIPSE BROWNIES

Ingredients 
1/2 pound fresh beets, scrubbed
1 cup unsalted butter, plus more for buttering parchment paper
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour  (I buy this from King Arthur Flour)
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup packed light brown sugar

Directions
Put beets in saucepan and add water to cover by ½ inch. Set over medium heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 25-35 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to ice bath until cool. Transfer cool beets to food processor and pulse until minced.
Preheat oven to 350°
Line 9-inch by 9-inch brownie pan with parchment paper; lightly coat with butter.
Cut sticks of butter into chunks and put in heavy saucepan. Add chopped chocolate and cook over simmering water, stirring constantly until chocolate begins to melt.
Remove pan from heat and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool.
In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In bowl of stand mixer with whisk attachment, gently mix eggs for about 30 seconds. Add vanilla and brown sugar; mix on medium-high until light and airy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed and add minced beets then slowly add chocolate mixture and mix just until combined.
Slowly add flour mixture and amix just until combined.
Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top with rubber spatula.
Bake 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool brownies in pan for 5-10 minutes then transfer to cooling rack.
Cut and serve.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

HOMEMADE ALMOND ROCA: National Buttercrunch Day

Today is National Buttercrunch Day. Almond Roca is also known as Almond Buttercrunch. I first had Almond Roca as a young girl. A neighbor who drove us to school always had Almond Roca on the coffee table in the recreation room. This neighbor didn't have the same rules as in my household (No Candy until after dinner--not to mention BEFORE school!). So I always enjoyed Almond Roca when this neighbor was driving. So for today's holiday--Buttercrunch Day, I suggest you make the following recipe for Homemade Almond Roca. No time to cook? Pick up a bar of Almond Roca. It's not too late. We all need something sweet this weekend! This recipe for Home-made Almond Roca is adapted from Elizabeth LaBau on AboutFood.com

Home-Made Almond Roca

Ingredients 
4 ounces butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups toasted whole almonds, coarsely chopped
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

Directions
Prepare 8 x 4 loaf pan by lining with aluminum foil and spraying foil with nonstick cooking spray.
In small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt, and stir until brown sugar dissolves.
Once brown sugar melts, start timer and cook candy for exactly 6 minutes, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. If you use a candy thermometer, stir and boil toffee until it reaches 290 degrees.
After six minutes, take toffee (buttercrunch) pan off heat and stir in 1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds. Scrape toffee into prepared loaf pan—it should be in a layer about 1/2-inch thick.
Let toffee set for about 3 minutes, then use pizza cutter or paring knife to cut toffee into thin bars about 1/2-inch by 2 -1/2 inches. They will look small, but once they're dipped in chocolate and rolled in nuts, they'll be bigger. After another 2 minutes, go over your cuts again as toffee continues to harden.
As you wait for toffee to set, chop remaining 1 cup of toasted almonds very finely, or put them in food processor and pulse for several seconds until they are in very small pieces. Pour finely chopped almonds into shallow bowl.
Once toffee is completely cool and set, break into pieces along lines you made, and trim off any jagged edges with knife.
Melt chocolate. Dip each piece of Almond Buttercrunch in melted chocolate, then place in bowl of nuts. Roll it around until coated with nuts on all sides, then take it out of nuts with fork and place on baking sheet. Repeat until all toffee pieces are coated with chocolate and nuts.
Optional: To make it 'really' look like Almond Roca, wrap individual pieces in gold foil.
Refrigerate tray to set chocolate (about 10 minutes).
Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Bring to room temperature before serving.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

THIN MINTS: Wine, Beer, and Spirit Pairings

In my 'real' life  (www.teambuilding-unlimited.com), I facilitate chocolate pairings--with wine or with beer..and sometimes with Scotch and other Spirits. So because it's the weekend, I thought I'd do a mini-round-up of Girl Scout Cookie/ alcohol pairings and drinks, focusing on my favorite Girl Scout Cookie - Thin Mints.

Vivino is a wine app that allows users (over 13 million members) to snap a shot of a wine label or list and receive ratings and reviews. They've also put together a guide to pairing wine with other Girl Scout cookies. How awesome is this? Since my favorite Girl Scout Cookies are Thin Mints, I immediately checked that out. Be sure and look at the entire list or get the app. Quite fun! You can do a pairing at home! Invite friends.

Babble has an infograph (on the right)

So maybe you're not a wine drinker. You're more of a stout or ale type of person? Beer & Brewing has a great pairing for you, with a 2019 update. Once again, there are several pairings, but I'm sticking with Thin Mints. Recommendation from Beer & Brewing consists of several stouts and ales.

Perennial Artisan Ales 17
Alesmith Speedway Stout
Shipyard Mint Chocolate Stout
Epic Big Bad Baptist
Hardywood Sidamo Coffee Stout

I would add Speakeasy Chocolate Stout, and be sure and put the Thin Mints in the Freezer before your pairing. I think it enhances the tasting flavors. Check out other Girl Scout Cookie/Beer pairings here.

O.K.  So maybe you're a Bourbon drinker?  The Bourbon Review suggests Thin Mints & Basil Hayden's Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Be sure and go to Bourbon Review if you're partial to another cookie.

Scotch? Lagavulin goes well with Thin Mints.


Friday, January 18, 2019

HONEY CHOCOLATE PIE: Winnie the Pooh Day

Today is Winnie the Pooh Day. Yes, there's a holiday for everything! Here's a recipe for Honey Chocolate Pie from The Pooh Cook Book by Virginia H. Ellison, illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard (1969: Dell Publishing). This Cook Book (yes, two words) is inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne.

One of my favorite stuffed animals as a child was Tigger, and I have always been a big honey fan, probably because of the Winnie the Pooh stories. I have honey every day, and perhaps Winnie had allergies, too, and needed his "Hunny."I have found that a teaspoon of local honey every day has alleviated my Spring allergies.


From the Introduction to The Pooh Cook Book:

As a cook you should know that honey is almost twice as sweet as sugar, and yet when you eat it, it doesn't make you want to go on eating sweets. Honey is also healthful, and very good for active people. When used in cooking it keeps food moist and adds a flavor all its won, as you will see when you've made some of the dishes in The Pooh Cook Book. Clover honey is the best all-purpose honey but there are as many flavors, or kinds of honey as there are blossoms on flowers and bushes and trees."

HONEY CHOCOLATE PIE

Thursday, January 17, 2019

HOT BUTTERED RUM COCOA: National Hot Buttered Rum Day

Today is National Hot Buttered Rum Day. Here in Northern California it's pretty blustery, rainy, and cold out here, so this is the perfect drink to celebrate the day!

This recipe for Hot Buttered Rum Cocoa is from the Wisconsin Cheese Board (one of my favorite recipe sites!) So many Food associations have great recipes. Be sure and check them out.

If you don't have time to make Hot Buttered Rum Cocoa, you can always celebrate this food holiday with Seattle Chocolates' Hot Buttered Rum Milk Chocolate Truffle Bar. Fabulous! This bar is buttery, smooth with a light hint of rum and toffee crunch in milk chocolate.

Hot Buttered Rum Cocoa

Ingredients
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
4 cups milk

Directions
Combine butter, brown sugar, and seasonings in small bowl, mixing until well-blended.
Drop six spoonfuls onto plastic wrap-lined plate; chill while preparing beverage, then form into balls.
Combine rum, sugar and cocoa in 2 quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils, stirring constantly. Simmer 1 minute; add milk. Cook until heated through; do not boil.
Pour into six mugs; place one butter ball in each cup.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

ULTIMATE FUDGY BROWNIES: Guest Post by Judy Clemens

Who doesn't need another brownie recipe? especially one as good as this? Today I welcome back my mystery writing friend Judy Clemens aka JC Lane. J.C. Lane is the author of the thriller Tag, You’re Dead. Judy also writes mysteries as Judy Clemens, including the Stella Crown series and the Grim Reaper mysteries

JUDY CLEMENS:
ULTIMATE FUDGY BROWNIES

Brownies are a staple in the dessert world. They’re great for potlucks, birthdays, picnics, Superbowl parties, and casual get-togethers. You can make them from scratch or from a box, with nuts or without, iced or plain. Brownies can be made from milk chocolate or dark, with pieces that are fluffy or flat. All are yummy, and, in the case of boxed versions, can be made by people without much experience in the kitchen. I think we can all agree it’s hard to find a bad brownie!

This recipe, however, kicks most other brownies to the back of the brownie line. I discovered it several years ago, and haven’t found a better recipe since. It’s a bit more complex than most brownie recipes, but very, very worth it. The dessert comes out of the oven moist on the inside, and crispy on the outside. An added bonus is that cut pieces are pretty enough for a dinner party. Whenever I make this recipe for just my family, the entire pan is gone before I can consider what dessert to make next. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Ultimate Fudgy Brownies 

Ingredients
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup water
2 3/4 cups (16 oz.) dark chocolate chips, divided
4 large eggs
2 t. vanilla
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper, letting ends extend up and over sides.

In a large saucepan or in the microwave, combine sugars, butter, and water. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Remove from heat; add 1 ¾ c. chocolate chips and stir until melted. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs until foamy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla; gradually stir in the chocolate mixture.

In another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining chocolate chips and the walnuts.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake on a lower oven rack for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs (do not overbake). Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Lifting with parchment paper, remove brownies from pan and cut into 16 squares.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

COCOA-MINT CHOCOLATE CAKE: Retro Ad & Recipe

It's snowy and blustery in much of the U.S. today, so this is the perfect cake to make! Pillsbury used to have a product called Sno Sheen Cake Flour (super-light...for higher, finer cakes). This Retro Advertisement is for Cocoa-Mint Cake.



Monday, January 14, 2019

GIRL SCOUT THIN MINT COOKIES BROWNIES

You can't miss them. Every street corner, every park, every office is filled with girls in green uniforms and/or mothers and fathers hawking the taste of the season: Girl Scout Cookies.

Girl Scout Cookies are hard for me to pass up. I was a Brownie and a Girl Scout, and I used to pound the pavement selling and then delivering door to door. Those were different times, but not the cookies. I still love them. Anyway, by this time of year, I have a cupboard filled with Samoas, Tagalongs and Thin Mints.. well, not the cupboard for the Thin Mints. I put them in the freezer. I've been freezing my Thin Mints for more years than I want to remember. Not that they're being frozen for future times. I just think they taste best that way. It's no secret that my favorite cookies are Thin Mints. Several years ago on the 100th Anniversary of the Girl Scouts, I posted a recipe for Thin Mint Truffles. So easy and delicious.

So this year, I thought I'd post a recipe for Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies Brownies. Plenty of other ways to use Girl Scout Cookies. Be sure and scroll down for more tips!

Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies Brownies

Ingredients
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 eggs
1/2 Box Thin Mints Girl Scout Cookies, crushed into small chunks

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter 9”x9” square baking pan.
In double boiler over low heat, melt butter and chocolate together and remove from heat.
In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients.
When chocolate/butter mixture has cooled a little, whisk in eggs and vanilla. Note: it is important to cool chocolate/butter mixture or eggs will cook.
Add rest of dry ingredients and whisk to combine.
Pour batter into prepared baking pan.
Bake 40-45 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean.

Other things to do with Girl Scout Cookies:
Crush them up and use them as ice cream toppings, in cakes and cookies, truffles and brownies.
Girl Scout Cookies are also great to use as pie crusts, in the same way you'd make a chocolate wafer cookie crust or graham cracker crust. Yum.

So which cookies will you buy? 

2019 Girl Scout Cookies



Sunday, January 13, 2019

BABY RUTH COOKIES: WWII Ad & Recipe

Everyone loves Baby Ruth. I do! I also love Retro Ads, and this Retro Ad for Baby Ruth Candy Bars and Cookies from WWII sent me in search of the cookie recipe. Here's a recipe for very tasty Baby Ruth Cookies.

The Curtiss Candy Company claimed that the Baby Ruth candy bar was named after President Grover Cleveland's daughter, Ruth Cleveland. However,  Ruth Cleveland died 16 years before the introduction of the Baby Ruth bar.

The company had originally negotiated a failed endorsement deal with baseball player Babe Ruth. People have suggested that secretly naming the candy bar after Ruth was a way to tie him to their product without paying any royalties. Talk about shrewd advertising, company founder Otto Schnering chartered a plane in 1923 to drop thousands of Baby Ruth bars over the city of Pittsburgh -- each with its own mini parachute. His marketing plan must have worked -- Baby Ruth has gone on to become a top brand. Today, the Baby Ruth bar is owned by Nestlé.

BABY RUTH COOKIES

Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Baby Ruth candy bars (2.1 ounces each), chopped into smallish pieces

Directions
In large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in candy bars.
Chill 30 minutes.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Immediately remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 4 dozen.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

CHOCOLATE MARZIPAN COOKIES: Marzipan Day

Today is National Marzipan Day. I love marzipan, and I usually have some around, but for today's holiday, here's an easy recipe from Santa Barbara Chocolate for Chocolate Marzipan Cookies (or truffles, if you don't squash them down). 

What exactly is marzipan? It's an elastic paste made with almonds and powdered sugar. It's like an edible dough, and you can make shapes with him, and, of course, enrobe it in chocolate.

History of Marzipan from Serious Eats:
The invention of marzipan is usually attributed to Lübeck, Germany. Legend has it that during a 15th century famine when flour for making bread became scarce, the senate of Lübeck ordered bakers to create a replacement. Using eggs, sugar, and stores of almonds, the clever bakers came up with marzipan. But cities like Venice, Florence, Konigsberg and more all lay claim to inventing marzipan and put forth similar stories with different dates, making it hard to determine where the sweet actually came from.
Although the origin of marzipan is fuzzy, it has clearly been embraced by many different cultures and is enjoyed worldwide. Marzipan is a traditional food to eat on weddings and religious feast days in Italy, Greece, and Cyprus.
In Latin America, a popular marzipan-like treat which replaces the almonds with peanuts is called "mazapan." In Mexico, pine nuts and pistachios are other substitutes for almonds in marzipan. You can find marzipan in the Middle East, too, usually flavored with orange-flower water. In Germany and throughout much of northern Europe it is considered good luck to receive a marzipan pig on Christmas or New Year's Day. The Spanish and Portuguese are big consumers of marzipan too. But perhaps the form of marzipan that Americans are most familiar with are the cute little miniature fruit shapes that pop up all over.

Whatever the origins, there is nothing quite like chocolate and marzipan! So for today's holiday here's an easy and original recipe for Chocolate Marzipan Cookies from Santa Barbara Chocolate Company.


CHOCOLATE MARZIPAN COOKIES

Ingredients
1 cup of almonds, peeled
1 cup of powdered sugar
1/4 cup Rainforest Bulk Cocoa Powder
1 egg or 2 tbsp honey - egg is used in the traditional marzipan recipe (but use honey if you don't want to use raw eggs)
Chocolate sprinkles

Directions
Chop peeled almonds and put them in blender or food processor. Blend until you get almond flour texture. Be careful to blend really well to avoid big chunks.
In saucepan add almond flour, Cocoa Powder, and powdered sugar, mix together. Incorporate egg in middle and place over low heat. Stir continuously until all ingredients are combined. Keep stirring for 5 minutes and then take off heat. Place in refrigerator and let chill for 15 minutes before decorating. This way the marzipan is going to hold its shape. 
When chilled, roll dough into a tube shape. Cover balls with chocolate sprinkles to decorate. Place on baking sheet and slightly press down with back of spoon. Let set in refrigerator for 5 minutes more and serve.

Friday, January 11, 2019

MIDWINTER CARNIVAL MARBLE CAKE: Retro Ad & Recipe

Here's a cake that's perfect for this time of year, and it's so Retro. Not that many people celebrate Midwinter Carnival any more, but they did when this Ad was created. This Retro Ad & Recipe is from Betty Crocker with a nod to Gold Medal Flour (General Mills). This Midwinter Carnival Marble Cake uses her "Double-Quick new method!"

"Betty Crocker celebrates her Silver Anniversary and the return of Gold Medal Flour with this country-wide Midwinter Carnival"



Thursday, January 10, 2019

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE: Bittersweet Chocolate Day

Today is Bittersweet Chocolate Day. Since I review, eat, and bake chocolate, the word bittersweet isn't really part of my lexicon. Although I have purchased chocolate that is labeled bittersweet, I buy chocolate based on its origins, fair-trade, and amount of cacao. Bittersweet is just too vague a term for me.

According to Wikipedia, Bittersweet chocolate is chocolate liquor (unsweetened chocolate not liqueur) to which some sugar (typically a third), more cocoa butter, vanilla and sometimes lecithin has been added. It has less sugar and more liquor than semisweet chocolate, but the two are interchangeable in baking. Bittersweet and semisweet chocolates are sometimes referred to as 'couverture' (chocolate that contains at least 32 percent cocoa butter); many brands (the ones I like) print on the package the percentage of cocoa (as chocolate liquor and added cocoa butter) contained. The rule is that the higher the percentage of cocoa, the less sweet the chocolate will be. The American FDA classifies chocolate as either "bittersweet" or "semisweet" that contain at least 35% cacao (either cacao solids or butter from the cacao beans).

So using this definition, almost any of my recipes will work since I use mostly very dark chocolate.

Here's a recipe for Bittersweet Chocolate Bundt Cake adapted from Nestle Toll House's Chocolate Pound Cake recipe. It's easy and delicious. If you use Unsweetened Chocolate Baking Bars, be sure and add more sugar to the recipe.

I don't usually make a glaze, but I've included the recipe in case you'd like to. Sometimes I sprinkle this cake with powdered sugar, as in the photo. This cake goes well with ice cream or whipped cream, too!

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE


INGREDIENTS:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 cups water
2 Tbsp Instant Coffee Granules (something you'll only use for this)*
8 ounces dark chocolate (75%-85%), chopped, divided (save 2 oz for glaze if you're making it)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
3 large eggs

CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

FOR CAKE:
1. PREHEAT oven to 325 degrees F. Grease 10-inch Bundt pan.
2. COMBINE flour, baking soda, and baking powder in small bowl. Bring water and coffee granules to boil in small saucepan; remove from heat. Add 6 ounces chocolate; stir until smooth.
3. BEAT sugar, butter, and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs; beat on high speed for 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture alternately with chocolate mixture. Pour into prepared Bundt pan.
4. BAKE for 50 to 60 minutes or until long wooden pick inserted in cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 30 minutes. Invert onto wire rack to cool completely. Place on plate.
Optional: Drizzle with Chocolate Glaze or Sprinkle with Powdered Sugar

** Sometimes I pour the glaze over the bundt cake while it's still a bit warm. The cake absorbs the glaze, and it's extra chocolatey delicious!

FOR CHOCOLATE GLAZE: Melt remaining 2 ounces of chocolate with butter in small, saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar alternately with water. Stir in vanilla extract. Drizzle over cake.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

ENGLISH TOFFEE TRUFFLES: English Toffee Day

Today is English Toffee Day, and if you're a frequent reader of this blog, you know I love Toffee. I've been a Toffee Judge for the International Chocolate Salon for five years. So to celebrate the day, here's a recipe for English Toffee Truffles. This easy recipe is adapted from myrecipes.com. As always, the flavor will change with your ingredients, so use the very best!

English Toffee Truffles

Ingredients
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp whipping cream
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
5 small English Toffee-flavored candy bars, crushed (i.e. Heath Bars or Chopped Toffee)

Directions
Heat chocolate and butter in saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until melted. Remove from heat; stir in cream. Let cool 5 minutes. Stir in pecans.
Cover and chill 2 hours or until mixture is firm.
Shape chocolate mixture into 1" balls; roll in crushed toffee candy.
Store truffles in refrigerator up to one week.

Tips: Crush toffee bars easily by sealing them in a heavy-duty, zip-top plastic bag, crush with a rolling pin. Use a 1 1/4" metal scoop to shape into truffles. It streamlines the process.

Monday, January 7, 2019

CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD FINGERS: National Shortbread Day

Today is National Shortbread Day, and Shortbread is all about butter. As always, use the very best butter in the following recipe! A few years ago on National Shortbread Day I posted Michael Recchiuti's recipe for Chocolate Shortbread Cookies. They're absolutely delicious and worth the time and effort. This year for National Shortbread Day, I'm more about easy and quick, so here's my favorite recipe for Chocolate Shortbread. This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. You can also make cookies using this recipe, but that's for another day. I use unsalted butter in this recipe, but then I use unsalted butter in just about every recipe!

CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD FINGERS

Ingredients
1-1/2 cups plus two Tbsp all-purpose flour
4-1/2 Tbsp Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened  (this is really key.. butter should be room temperature)
1 cup superfine sugar (ok, I have this on hand, but if you don't, put granulated sugar in the blender. Be sure and measure again)
Granulated sugar (for sprinkling)

Directions
Preheat oven to 325F. 
Butter 12 x 8 inch pan. Line with parchment paper.
In bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda until combined
Place butter and superfine sugar in mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy – three to four minutes (use the paddle attachment). Scrape down sides of bowl and add flour mixture. Beat on medium until just combined.
Spread dough in pan, using spatula or your fingers to even out the surface. Freeze dough until firm – approximately 15 minutes. Prick dough all over with tines of a fork, and place in oven. Bake 20 (to 30) minutes. Dough should be just firm to the touch.
Place pan on wire rack to cool. While still hot, cut dough into strips, and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Dough should cool completely in pan. 


For a twist: Sprinkle sea salt on top instead of sugar--or a mixture of both.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

CHOCOLATE PUDDING WITH ESPRESSO WHIPPED CREAM: National Whipped Cream Day

Today is National Whipped Cream Day, and it's a great day to celebrate. Love this recipe from the Nielsen-Massey website for Decadent Chocolate Pudding with Espresso Whipped Cream. Easy and delicious. I love Nielsen-Massey extracts. They're pure and strong and perfect for cooking and baking.

Decadent Chocolate Pudding with Espresso Whipped Cream  

Ingredients
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 cups whole milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1 1/2 tsp Nielsen-Massey Mexican Pure Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Nielsen-Massey Pure Chocolate Extract
1/2 tsp Nielsen-Massey Pure Coffee Extract

Directions
In heavy saucepan, combine cornstarch and milk. Bring to boil over moderate heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool.
In small bowl, beat egg yolks with powdered sugar until pale yellow and have thickened. Gradually pour into cooled milk mixture. Place saucepan back onto low heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not let simmer or boil.
Remove from heat and add melted chocolate, vanilla, chocolate, and coffee extracts.
Pour into individual serving bowls or ramekins.
Chill 3-4 hours until set.
Serve with Espresso Whipped Cream.

Espresso Whipped Cream


Ingredients
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp Nielsen-Massey Pure Coffee Extract

Directions
In chilled bowl, combine all ingredients, and whip with an electric mixer until fluffy. Serve with Decadent Chocolate Pudding.

Recipe and photo from Nielsen-Massey with permission.

Friday, January 4, 2019

CHOCOLATE SPAGHETTI: National Spaghetti Day

Today is National Spaghetti Day, and what can be better than Chocolate Spaghetti? Great flavor, great texture, so versatile. On National Pasta Day several years ago, I posted a very easy Recipe for making Chocolate Pasta. I also posted a Pasta with Sage and Chocolate recipe. That recipe can be made with plain spaghetti but with cheese and chocolate in the sauce, so it's a savory dish.

For today's National Spaghetti Day, I have two different chocolate spaghetti recipes. You can buy chocolate spaghetti online from several chocolatiers and pasta makers. My local Pasta Shop has fresh chocolate spaghetti periodically, and it freezes well.

The first recipe for Chocolate Spaghetti is from Emeril Lagasse. It's slightly more complicated than the second recipe, but has a completely different taste and is worth the effort.

Chocolate Spaghetti with Whipped Cream, Sliced Strawberries and Chocolate Nibs 
from Emeril Lagasse (Food Network)

Ingredients
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar plus 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
Pinch salt
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (Madagascar)
2 teaspoons walnut oil or vegetable oil (go with the Walnut Oil)
1-1/2 cups cold heavy cream
1 tablespoon Nocello or brandy
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 cup chocolate nibs or finely chopped semisweet chocolate

Directions
In large bowl or on work surface, sift together flour, cocoa, 3 Tbsp sugar, and salt. Make a well in center and add eggs a bit at time, working them into dry ingredients using circular motion with hands. Continue working in eggs, and add vanilla and oil, until sticky dough is formed. Knead on lightly floured surface until dough is smooth and elastic, and is no longer sticky. (Alternatively, place dry ingredients in bowl of  food processor, add eggs, vanilla and oil and pulse to form ball of dough. Turn out onto work surface and work to smooth dough.) Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.

Divide dough into 4 fist-sized pieces and flatten into disks. One at time, roll out each dough piece through widest setting of a pasta machine, according to manufacturer's instructions. Remove, fold into thirds and repeat. Continue rolling through machine on 4 times, dusting lightly with flour to keep from sticking. Decrease roller size down 1 notch, and roll through once, passing dough through each setting twice until desired thickness is reached and cut into spaghetti strands. Let dry briefly while assembling "sauce."

In medium bowl, beat cream with electric mixer at medium speed until it becomes thick and frothy. Beating, add sugar and Nocello, and beat until soft peaks form, being careful not to overbeat. Set aside until ready to serve.

Bring pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta until just al dente, about 2 minutes. Drain in colander. Place  drained pasta in large pasta bowl and toss with whipped cream, strawberries and nibs. Serve immediately.

And a second easier recipe.

Chocolate Spaghetti with White Chocolate "Cream" Sauce
 
Spaghetti
2 ounces dark chocolate (60%+ cacao), melted, cooled
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups flour

White Chocolate Cream Sauce
2 ounces white chocolate (Guittard or another 'real' white chocolate)
2/3 cup whipping cream

Directions for Spaghetti

Add melted chocolate to eggs. Make pasta using chocolate-egg mixture and flour. (follow any easy pasta recipe). Let rest for 30 minutes.

Roll out pasta. Roll pasta sheets through spaghetti cutter. Let spaghetti dry for 30 minutes.
In large pan of boiling water, cook spaghetti until al dente.
Drain spaghetti.
Make sauce.
Serve spaghetti with sauce.

Directions for Cream Sauce
Blend white chocolate and cream in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and smooth.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRIES: 4 Recipes for Chocolate Covered Cherry Day!

Life is just a Bowl of Chocolate Covered Cherries! Because there's nothing quite like a chocolate covered cherry, I thought I'd repost a few recipes from last year's Chocolate Covered Cherry Day blog in celebration of National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day. I've added another recipe, too, for Chocolate Covered Dry Cherries. That's 4 recipes for Chocolate Covered Cherries. Still don't have any time to make these? Buy your favorite chocolate covered cherries to celebrate!

When I was growing up, I always wanted the chocolate covered cherry in the Whitman Sampler Box. As I remember they were usually covered with milk chocolate, but I'm a dark chocolate fan. Here are several simple and easy recipes for Chocolate Covered Cherries to celebrate the day.

I can buy fresh cherries at Berkeley Bowl, but if you're a locavore, you may not want to buy Chilean Cherries today. I've also provided recipes for dried or maraschino cherries. If you decide to use maraschino cherries, be sure and dry them thoroughly or your chocolate will seize. And, if you're using maraschino cherries, save the juice from the jar to make the Chocolate Covered Cherry Cocktail in this post! I also love Chukar Cherries. So many varieties. Any of these recipes would be great for Valentine's Day, so bookmark this page!

Chocolate Covered Fresh Cherries

Personally I like dark chocolate with cherries, but if you're a milk chocolate fan, go for it! As always, use the very best quality, organic, fair trade chocolate! Hint: If the melted chocolate starts to harden  before you’re done dipping, put it back on the stove for a few minutes and give it a good stir.

Ingredients
8 ounces of fair-trade chocolate (I use Guittard 65%)
1/2 pound fresh, sweet cherries

Directions
Wash and dry cherries.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler or in saucepan over saucepan over simmering water.
Stir chocolate until completely melted and smooth.
Remove chocolate from heat.
Grab each cherry by stem and dip into chocolate. Swirl cherry clockwise, coating bottom 3/4. It's always nice to see the cherry showing at the top.
Place cherry on parchment paper covered baking sheet.
Repeat with remaining cherries.
Place in refrigerator until chocolate hardens.
If not eating right away, put chocolate covered cherries in covered container and keep in refrigerator for a few days.

Chocolate Covered Marschino Cherries

Use the above recipe with maraschino cherries. Just be sure and dry cherries thoroughly before dipping.

Chocolate Covered Dried Cherries

Ingredients
8 ounces Dark or Milk Chocolate
1 cup dried Cherries (Chukar or Trader Joe's)

Directions
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate in double boiler as above or glass bowl in microwave. Once melted, remove from heat.
Add cherries to chocolate. Stir until coated.
Remove clumps of coated dried cherries with two forks or slotted spoon (this works very well), shaking off excess chocolate on side of bowl. Transfer to lined baking sheet.
Put baking sheet in refrigerator until chocolate hardens, about 20 minutes.
Store in refrigerator.

Feel like something alcoholic to celebrate National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day? Want to drink your Chocolate Covered Cherries?

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cocktail

Fill a tall glass with ice.
Add 1/2 ounce Bailey's, 1/2 ounce Kahlua.
Add a few drops maraschino cherry juice.
Shake.
Strain into another glass with ice.
Add a Chocolate Covered Maraschino Cherry for garnish!


And for your listening enjoyment! 
"Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries" 1931.