Monday, February 18, 2019

FIRST LADIES' CHOCOLATE RECIPES: Presidents Day

Today is Presidents' Day. It's not any 'real' president's birthday. I find this odd. When I was growing up we celebrated both Lincoln's Birthday and Washington's Birthday on separate days. That also meant two days off from school, not just one. But times have changed, so to go with the flow, for this year's Presidents' Day, I'm featuring recipes by the women behind the men (sadly not a man behind the woman). Here are several Chocolate Recipes from some first ladies. The recipes are found in the individual Presidential Archives, as well as newspapers and individual cookbooks. Make any of these great recipes and celebrate Presidents Day.

From Mamie Eisenhower (Dwight D. Eisenhower) 
Mamie Eisenhower’s Million Dollar Fudge 
**This recipe makes 4 pounds of Fudge**

Ingredients
4 1/2 cups sugar
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp butter
1 tall can evaporated milk
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate bits
12 ounces German-sweet chocolate
1 pint marshmallow cream
2 cups nutmeats

Directions
Boil sugar, salt, butter, evaporated milk together for six minutes.
Put chocolate bits and German chocolate, marshmallow cream, and nutmeats in bowl.
Pour boiling syrup over ingredients.
Beat until chocolate is all melted, then pour into pan.
Let stand a few hours before cutting.
Remember it is better the second day. Store in tin box.

From Betty Ford (Gerald Ford)
Betty Ford's Chocolate Icebox Dessert

Ingredients
6 eggs
1 Angel food cake
12 oz chocolate chips
4 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp water
2 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp salt
2 cup whipping cream

Directions
Line flat 9x9″ cake pan with wax paper.
Slice angel food cake and place a layer of cake in pan. (Slices easier if frozen). Separate eggs, beat yolks.
Melt chocolate in double boiler over water.
When melted, add sugar and water. Mix well. Make sure sugar melts.
Remove from heat and stir gradually into beaten egg yolks. Beat until smooth. Cool this mixture. Add vanilla and salt. Mix well.
Beat egg whites until stiff.
Whip the cream.
Fold egg whites into chocolate mix, then the whipped cream.
Place a layer of chocolate on the angel food slices, than another layer of cake, then a layer of chocolate.
Place in refrigerator overnight.
This can be frozen and used later. Be sure to chill overnight before freezing.

From Lady Bird Johnson (LBJ) 
Lady Bird’s Chocolate Nut Drop Cookies



From Hillary Clinton (Bill Clinton)
Hillary Clinton's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
Vegetable oil, for baking sheets
1 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup (firmly packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 package (12-ounce) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease baking sheets with vegetable oil.
Combine flour, salt, and baking soda on waxed paper.
Beat together shortening, sugars, and vanilla in large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, beating until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture and rolled oats. Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop batter by well-rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden.

***
From Michelle Obama (Barak Obama)
Mama Kaye’s White and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 5 dozen cookies Prep: 15 minutesBake at 375° for 12 minutes per batch

Ingredients
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 stick Crisco butter-flavored solid vegetable shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup each white chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips and mint chocolate chips (or Andes mint pieces)
2 cups chopped walnuts

Directions
Heat oven to 375°.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. In large bowl with electric mixer, cream butter, vegetable shortening, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract.
Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
On low speed, beat in flour mixture. By hand, stir in white and milk chocolate chips, mint chips and walnuts.
Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto un-greased baking sheets.
Bake at 375° for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

TOO LAZY TO MAKE COOKIES: WHITE CHOCOLATE MACADAMIA NUT BARS: Guest post by Kathleen Taylor

I love when my mystery and chocolate worlds collide, and in the case of Kathleen Taylor, that collision also includes my photography world. Kathleen Taylor is the author of 6 Tory Bauer Mysteries, 5 knitting books, 3 coloring books, one coming of age novel, and a couple of still-unpublished mid-grade fantasies.

KATHLEEN TAYLOR:
Too Lazy to Make Cookies White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Bars

You know how it is, when you want something sweet, but you want it fast, and you don't want to hover over the oven for the next two hours. And you also have a lovely bag of macadamia nuts in the pantry?

I do.

My solution? Make bars instead of cookies. And if you have macadamia nuts on hand, make White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Bars.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Bars 

Preheat Oven 350 degrees 
Spray a 9" x 13" pan with nonstick spray
Makes 24 approx 2" x 3" bars 

Ingredients
1 cup salted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted macadamia nuts, lightly chopped (in about quarters)
2 cups white chocolate chips (or equivalent white chocolate chunks)

Directions:
Cream butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Add flour, baking soda, and salt, stir until thoroughly blended. Stir in macadamia nuts and white chocolate.

Spread evenly in the sprayed 13" x 9" pan.

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until edges are slightly brown. When in doubt, undercook. These bars get dry and crumbly easily.

Eat warm, or (better yet) serve with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.



Saturday, February 16, 2019

CAFE AU LAIT COFFEE CAKE: Café au Lait Day

February 17 is National Café au Lait Day! Café au lait is French for "coffee with milk" and refers to a specific French coffee drink, although like most things there are multiple varieties. Don't confuse it, though, with a Caffe Latte. Did you know that in the 1600s a French doctor suggested Cafe Au Lait for patients, inspiring people to add milk to their coffee. Cafe au Lait is often served in a small bowl. Very French! There are several cafe au lait cups on the market.

To celebrate today, go to your local cafe or brew a cup at home, or you can make this sensational Café au Lait Coffee Cake from Nicole at MadebyNicole. Her recipe is fool-proof, and it's filled with Chocolate Chips. What better way to celebrate coffee with milk than with a Coffee Cake? As always, you can use any good quality chocolate, chopped into small chunks in place of chocolate chips.

For those of you lucky enough to live in New Orleans, pop on over to the Café du Monde today for a Café Au Lait. They make it with chicory, which gives it a strong, bitter taste. The bitterness of the chicory offsets the sweetness of the powdered-sugar-covered beignets which of course you'll want to have. O.K., getting ahead of myself.

Café Au Lait Coffee Cake


Crumb Topping:
1 tsp instant coffee
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter
1 cup chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup pecans

Cake:
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp instant coffee
2 Tbsp warm water
2 3/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk

Glaze:
1/2 cup icing sugar
milk or cream to desired consistency
vanilla (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9x13 pan
Make crumb topping: Stir together dry ingredients, cut in butter, add chocolate chips and nuts.
In large bowl beat sugar and butter until light. Add eggs, then sour cream, and then coffee dissolved in water.
In small bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Gradually stir into moist ingredients starting with 1/3 of dry mixture, 1/2 of milk, 1/3 dry, 1/2 milk, and final 1/3 dry mixture.
Spread half of batter into pan. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups of topping. Cover with remaining batter and finish with crumb topping.
Bake for 60 – 65 minutes

(Optional) Cool and drizzle glaze off a fork onto top of cake.

Friday, February 15, 2019

MARSHMALLOW MERMAID PIE: Waitress

I recently re-watched Waitress, a smart and quirky foodie movie from 2007. Waitress was written and directed by the late Adrienne Shelly. Jenna, played by Keri Russell, is a woman trapped in a life she dreams of escaping. She plans to save money from her waitressing job to leave her controlling husband and change the course of her life. She's sharp and sassy and has a gift for making unusual pies whose recipes are inspired by the trials and circumstances of her life. Pies such as: I Don't Want Earl's Baby Pie, Baby Screamin' Its Head Off in the Middle of the Night & Ruinin' My Life Pie, I Can't Have No Affair Because It's Wrong & I Don't Want Earl to Kill Me Pie, Falling in Love Chocolate Mousse Pie, and Marshmallow Mermaid Pie.

Mermaid is also now a musical Broadway hit! 

So today I thought I'd post Jenna's recipe for Marshmallow Mermaid Pie. The recipe actually came with the DVD of the film, but you can find variations of the recipe on the Internet.

Marshmallow Mermaid Pie was the pie Jenna brought for her doctor, Dr. Mueller, who happened to be semi-retired. Jenna ended up giving the pie to the junior doctor, Dr. Pommater. On their next meeting, Dr. Pommater exclaimed, “That pie was biblically good, that’s how good it was!” Want to try it? Here's a recipe for Marshmallow Mermaid Pie!

Marshmallow Mermaid Pie 

Ingredients
9 graham crackers
1/2 cup sweetened, flaked coconut, toasted
5 Tbsp butter, melted
34 large marshmallows (8 oz.)
1/2 cup whole milk
1-1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
1-1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, grated

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine coconut and graham crackers in food processor until coarse crumbs form. Combine crumbs and butter with fork. Press to bottom and side of 9-inch pie plate. Bake 10 minutes and cool on wire rack.
Heat marshmallows and milk in 3-qt. saucepan over low heat until smooth, stirring constantly. Remove saucepan from heat. Cool completely (30 minutes.)
In large bowl with mixer at medium speed, beat cream until stiff peaks form. Fold marshmallow mixture into whipped cream with grated chocolate.
Spoon filling into cooled crust.
Refrigerate pie at least 3 hours or overnight.
Top with mini marshmallows, if desired.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

MICKEY & MINNIE CHOCOLATE COOKIES: Valentine's Day

There's nothing quite like a good Chocolate Cookie for Valentine's Day. I make a lot of Heart shaped Chocolate Cookies for Valentine's Day. I always think it's fun to use different Heart Cookie Cutters, so you have different sizes and different shaped hearts. What says Valentine's Day more than the ultimate couple -- Mickey & Minnie Mouse! Love these Mickey and Minnie cookie cutters!

Here's a great easy Chocolate Cookie Recipe. Use whatever cookie cutters you have.. I'm using Mickey & Minnie!

This great Chocolate Cut Out Cookie Recipe is slightly adapted from Bake @ 350. These cookies hold their shape and are delicious!

CHOCOLATE COOKIES

Ingredients
2 &1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dark cocoa powder (Dutch Process)
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt (I use course seasalt)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Directions
Preheat oven to 350.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cream together butter and sugar until light & fluffy (1-2 full minutes). Beat in egg and vanilla until well combined.
Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, espresso, and salt and slowly add to butter mixture with mixer on low. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl as needed.
Roll dough about 1/4 inch thick on surface lightly dusted with cocoa powder. Hint: roll soft dough in between sheets of parchment and put in refrigerator for 15 minutes until firm.
Cut out shapes and put on baking sheets.
Freeze for 5 minutes.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, until set.
Let cookies cool for 2-3 minutes and using spatula put on cooling rack.

I don't frost my chocolate cookies, but these cutters would guide the way. I know you'll love the great chocolate taste in these cookies!

What cookie cutters are you planning to use for Valentine's Day?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

CHOCOLATE FONDUE WITH A TWIST: Perfect Retro Valentine's Day Dessert

Fondue is so retro and romantic! How fun would this be for your Valentine's Day dinner? I know there's cheese fondue, but my favorite is, of course, Chocolate Fondue. Who doesn't like to dip things in chocolate? So pull up a chair at that mid-century table you found at the Flea Market, and enjoy!

A few tips: You can make everything ahead of time: cut up the fruit, put out the marshmallows, and other dippers. Be sure and have lots of napkins on hand, it can get messy. Fondue pots are readily available at most kitchen stores and many hardware stores, and online, of course. Or.. search the attic or ask your mother. You're bound to find one -- maybe even one that's never been used!

Here are two easy Chocolate Fondue Recipes--with a Twist!

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL FONDUE

Ingredients
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 jar Recchiuti burnt caramel sauce (I'm partial to this sauce)*
3 ounces extra dark chocolate (75% cacao), chopped
Assorted fresh fruit

Directions
Combine condensed milk, caramel sauce, and chocolate in saucepan. Cook over low heat until chocolate is melted.
Put in fondue pot and keep warm.

Serve fresh fruit--strawberries, bananas, pineapple, oranges for dipping!

More suggested dippers: marshmallows, pound cake, pretzels, biscotti

EASY CHOCOLATE BOOZY FONDUE
Adapted from Rachael Ray

Ingredients
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
12-15 ounces dark chocolate bars, chopped
2 Tbsp Amaretto or Kirsch
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

Directions
Heat 1/2 cup cream in heavy saucepan over moderate heat until cream comes to low boil.
Remove pan from heat and add chocolate.
Let chocolate stand in hot cream 3 to 5 minutes to soften, then whisk chocolate together with cream. Stir in liqueur and chopped nuts and transfer to fondue pot.

Dip fruit and other goodies as above. Use fondue forks, skewers, or seafood forks

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Catch a Valentine Cake & Chocolate Cherry Layer Cake: Retro Ad & Recipe

I love this Retro Ad & Recipe for Valentine's Day Cake for Catch-a-Valentine Cake. So pretty and yummy. But since it's not chocolate, I also added a link to a wonderful recipe for Chocolate Cherry Layer Cake for Valentine's Day from Serious Eats. So plan your Valentine's Day celebration and make one or both of these delicious Valentine's Day Cakes.

Catch a Valentine Cake! 


Chocolate Cherry Layer Cake

I love this recipe for Chocolate Cherry Layer Cake from Serious Eats. Tart Cherry Juice is a new ingredient in chocolate cake for me, but maybe it shouldn't be. The tart cherries bring out the earthy chocolate. I drink tart cherry juice, so it's a staple in my fridge. You won't really taste the cherry in the cake, but it's there, and it does subtly change the chocolate flavor. This recipe also calls for natural cocoa powder. Serious Eats suggests Valrhona Cocoa or Cacao Barry Extra Brute, but you can use Guittard or Ghirardelli...or whatever you have. Of course, the better your ingredients, the better the cake.

For the Serious Eats recipe, tips, and step by step directions, go HERE.


Monday, February 11, 2019

SPICY CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is all about chocolate! Want to spice up your Chocolate Valentine's Day? Make these fabulous Spicy Chocolate Truffles. Love is all about chocolate!

This recipe is from Joan Coukos of Chocolate Moderne  and appeared in Food and Wine Magazine. I had 5-spice Truffles a few years ago at an event, and I've been looking for a good recipe like this that replicates the flavor! Have a spicy Valentine's Day!

SPICY CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

Ingredients 
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3/4 pound bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of ground cloves
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground chipotle powder
1 teaspoon ancho powder
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder

Directions
In medium saucepan, bring cream and corn syrup to boil. Put bittersweet chocolate in  medium bowl and pour hot cream over it. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Whisk in butter. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in small dry skillet, toast coconut over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until just lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and let cool. Stir in cardamom, cloves, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.
In another small bowl, whisk 1/3 cup of sugar with remaining 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, the allspice, and the chipotle and ancho chile powders.
In third small bowl, whisk 1/4 cup of cocoa powder with five-spice powder and remaining 1/3 cup of sugar.
Put remaining 1/4 cup of cocoa in another bowl.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop up level tablespoons of the ganache and drop onto parchment. Place baking sheet in  refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Using your hands, roll each mound of ganache into ball; you may have to cool your hands in ice water periodically while you work.
Roll 1 truffle at a time into 1 of coatings. Return truffles to baking sheet, cover loosely and refrigerate until chilled.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CREAM CHEESE BROWNIES: National Cream Cheese Brownies Day

Today is National Cream Cheese Brownie Day. Here's a great recipe for Double Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownies. Philadelphia Cream Cheese is usually my cream cheese of choice since I grew up in Philly, but I've been known to substitute local rich California Cream Cheese. The extra dark chocolate chips are a great addition to these Cream Cheese Brownies, and you can actually add more than 1/2 cup. I chop up high quality chocolate rather than chips, but either works! Celebrate! Make Double Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownies today or make some for Valentine's Day. You can never have too many brownie recipes!

Double Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownies

Brownies
1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 ounces 85-95% good quality chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks or dark chocolate chips

Cream Cheese Layer
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Line 9 x 9 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil across the bottom and up two opposite sides of the pan.
In stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt butter and chocolate.
Remove from heat and stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Use a spoon. Stir in flour and salt and beat, until batter is smooth and glossy and comes away from the sides of the pan (about a minute).
Remove 1/2 cup of the brownie batter and set aside.
Fold chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate) into remainder of brownie batter and then pour batter evenly onto bottom of prepared pan.
Using mixer or food processor, whip cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, vanilla, and egg and process just until smooth.
Spread cream cheese mix over brownie layer. Spoon small clumps of reserved brownie batter on top of cream cheese filling. Then with knife or wooden skewer, swirl two batters without mixing them.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until brownies start to pull away from sides of pan and edges just begin to brown.
Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.
Refrigerate brownies until firm enough to cut into squares (at least two hours).
Once chilled, remove brownies from pan by lifting with ends of foil and transfer to cutting board.
Cut into squares.

Want to try some variations on Cream Cheese Brownies?
Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies with Heath Bars from Recipe Girl
Nibby Cream Cheese Brownie Cupcakes from The Spice Life
Bailey's Cream Cheese Brownies from Tasting Spoons

Saturday, February 9, 2019

NO BAKE DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHERRY TART: Valentine's Day


This No-Bake Double Chocolate Cherry Tart is an all-time showstopper! It's easy and delicious. I usually make it for Valentine's Day. Recipe is from Taza Chocolate, my go-to chocolate (Taza 70% Mexicano is always in my desk). Fresh cherries are thee best in this one, but you can always substitute fresh raspberries or strawberries.

NO-BAKE DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHERRY TART

Ingredients
30 Oreos or other sandwich cookies
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 pints heavy cream
Taza 60% Dominican Stone Ground Chocolate bars, chopped (plus additional to melt for drizzling if desired)
1 pound cherries, pitted

Directions

Crust:
Process cookies in food processor until fine crumb.
Place in bowl and drizzle melted butter over them, and stir to combine.
Press into 11 inch tart pan and put in refrigerator to cool.

Tart Filling:
Combine heavy cream and chocolate in small saucepan over medium-low heat and stir occasionally until fully incorporated. Allow to cool slightly then pour into crust.
Place pitted cherries on top of tart and let sit for 2 hours or overnight.
Drizzle with additional melted chocolate if desired.

How easy is this?

Photo: Taza Chocolate

Thursday, February 7, 2019

VALENTINE'S DAY PEEPS!

I know you can buy all kinds of fabulous chocolates for Valentine's Day. I have a whole lot of favorites, but just thought I'd lighten it up with Valentine's Day 'chocolate' offerings from PEEPS®. 

I've blogged about PEEPS before, and I love that they've expanded their line to include many holidays besides Easter. The Valentine's Day PEEPS are great.

A few ways to enjoy PEEPS for Valentine's Day!

Eat them the way they are.
Put them in your cocoa or coffee.
Decorate your Valentine's Day presents with them.
Skewer a few Raspberry Hearts and tie it to a gift of Cocoa in a Jar!
Create a diorama using PEEPS!
Stuff a Chocolate Raspberry Heart between two graham crackers, and you have Valentine's Day PEEPS S'mores.
Place a Valentine's Day Peep in a cellophane bag, tie with a ribbon, and have the kids give these as Valentine's Day cards.
PEEPS are so versatile.

This season there are Valentine's Day fluffy, cherry flavored marshmallow hearts dipped in and drizzled with chocolate, Strawberry Creme flavored Chicks sitting on a bed of chocolate, and there's even a Chocolate-covered Raspberry Heart. Of course there are other non-chocolate PEEPS' hearts that you can dip yourself in some great dark or milk chocolate.

The PEEPS® pictured here:

Milk Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Crème Flavored Chicks
Milk Chocolate Covered Raspberry Heart
Chocolate Dipped Marshmallow Cherries Drizzled in Chocolate. .



Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

SWEETHEART FUDGE PIE: Retro Valentine's Day Ad & Recipe

So many great recipes for Valentine's Day. Here's a Retro 1982 Diamond Walnuts Ad with recipe for Sweetheart Fudge Pie. Serve it to your sweetie or save this recipe for another special occasion.  Just an FYI, I always use butter, never margarine, and use real rum, not flavoring.



Tuesday, February 5, 2019

EASY ANYTIME NUTELLA COOKIES: World Nutella Day

Today is World Nutella Day. Nutella is a hazelnut-chocolate spread with the consistency of smooth peanut butter. FYI: Nutella has no artificial colors or preservatives. I think of nutella as goodness in a jar! Nutella is more than just a “chocolaty hazelnut spread,” it is a way of life.

Want to know more about Nutella and today's celebration? Check out these links!
Did you know that Costco now sells a 6.6 pound Nutella tub? That's a lot of Nutella. And, it's only $22.

I'm a fan of Cost Plus World Market, so I signed up for their emails. A few years ago, this recipe popped up in my inbox for Easy Anytime Nutella Cookies from Chef Katie Chin of the Sweet and Sour Chonicles for World Market. As I've mentioned, exciting and delicious recipes are everywhere! You just have to find them. 


Monday, February 4, 2019

BACON CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES: THE YEAR OF THE PIG: Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year starts tomorrow, February 5, and it's the Year of the Pig. Here's a very easy and delicious recipe for Bacon Chocolate Truffles to celebrate! This recipe is adapted from Kraft Foods. As always, use the very best ingredients. Gung Hay Fat Choy! 恭喜發財

BACON CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES
THE YEAR OF THE PIG

Ingredients
6 slices Thick Cut Bacon
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 pkg. (4 oz. each) BAKER'S GERMAN'S Sweet Chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
4 ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate, chopped

Directions
Heat oven to 350ºF.
Place bacon in single layer on foil-covered rimmed baking sheet; sprinkle with sugar. Bake 20 to 22 min. or until bacon is crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels. Discard all but 1 Tbsp. drippings from baking sheet; reserve for later use.
Bring cream to boil in medium saucepan on medium heat; remove from heat. Add next 3 ingredients; stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended. Crumble bacon. Add 1/2 cup to chocolate mixture; mix well. Freeze 1 to 2 hours or until firm.
Roll chocolate mixture into 24 balls; place on waxed paper-covered rimmed baking sheet. Freeze 20 min.
Melt semi-sweet chocolate as directed on package. Stir in reserved bacon drippings. Dip chocolate balls, 1 at a time, in semi-sweet chocolate mixture, turning to evenly coat each ball. Return to prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with any remaining melted chocolate. Sprinkle with remaining bacon. Refrigerate 30 min. or until chocolate coating is firm.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CARROT CAKE: National Carrot Cake Day

Today is National Carrot Cake Day, and I love carrots, especially when they're a major ingredient in cake! I used to bake carrot cakes in coffee cans. Remember coffee cans? Now my coffee beans come in recyclable paper bags, so no baking in those. I make my carrot cake in a bundt pan, but you can use a square 8" pan or 2 small loaf pans (1 large) for this recipe. You'll love this Double Chocolate Carrot Cake. This recipe is adapted from Southern Food. My adaptation makes it a bit more chocolatey.. no big surprise!

At my farmers market we have quite a variety of carrots, however, but can use regular  carrots in this cake..

Double Chocolate Carrot Cake

Ingredients
1-1/2 cup finely grated carrots
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cup wholewheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (best quality, of course)
1-1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 handfuls of dark chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips): 65-75% cacao

Directions
Pre-heat oven to 350F.
In large bowl, combine carrots, sugar, & oil. Pour water over mixture.
In separate bowl, combine rest of ingredients. Add to carrot mixture & mix well.
Pour 1/2 of batter into non-stick or lightly oiled 8" square pan or bundt pan or loaf pan.
Throw in chopped chocolate pieces.
Pour rest of batter over this.
Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes... if you can wait.

The original recipe called for frosting, but it doesn't need it. Plus, this is a great cake to toast for breakfast! 

Happy Carrot Cake Day!
 

Saturday, February 2, 2019

MOLASSES SPICE COOKIES: Guest post by Laura-Kate Rurka

Laura-Kate Rurka is an amazing and avid baker and an aspiring mystery writer. I first met her at Left Coast Crime in Los Angeles where I was surprised and happy to learn that she lived in the Bay Area. Since that meeting, she has attended several of my Literary Salons where she has always brought the most amazing baked goods! Laura-Kate loves to see the expression on people’s faces when they bite into something delicious, and is always on the hunt for new recipes to make her friends and family happy. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband, three children and a big, red lab. 

Laura-Kate recently brought these amazing cookies to a Literary Salon at my home, and I can attest they are some of the best cookies I have ever had. I know they're not chocolate, but you have to make them! Be sure to pay special attention to and don't deviate from the instructions and ingredients.

LAURA-KATE RURKA:

Every year during the holidays, (and in the off season, for Janet’s Literary Salon) I make hundreds of these chewy, molasses spice cookies, and every year I hear the same things:

“I hid them.”
“I didn’t share.”
“I told the kids they couldn’t have any.”
“Those are the best cookies I’ve ever had.”

And then:

“Can I have the recipe?”
“Don’t bother,” says one friend to the other, overhearing the request.
“They won’t taste like hers.”

It’s not true. They will taste like mine. All you have to do is use the proper ingredients and mind the extra instructions and soon, your friends too will be hoarding cookies and hiding them from their children. Or maybe you’ll keep them all for yourself.

The recipe is listed below and is pretty perfect in its own right, but follow these few tips and you’ll end up with the best cookies you’ve ever had. Deviate at your own peril.

1) Use Challenge or Land O’Lakes butter, softened on the counter for at least one hour.
2) Have your eggs at room temperature.
3) Use C&H dark brown sugar and Brer Rabbit full flavor molasses (not blackstrap or mild).
4) Conventional granulated sugar is fine for the batter, but use organic evaporated cane juice to roll the cookies and roll them generously. You may require more than the recipe calls for.
5) Make them big! I use an ice cream scoop from the restaurant supply store.
6) Bake them one sheet at a time on a parchment or Silpat lined un-insulated pan in the middle to upper third of the oven. This ensures the perfect sugar crusted crackly top.
7) Batter can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for a day or two. Soften for half an hour before rolling and baking.
8) If you use a large ice cream scoop, one batch will yield 12 big cookies. Batch can be doubled without issue.
9) Underbake! Start with 10-12 minutes baking time. The cookies should look slightly wet in the crevices of the crackles. Once cool, this will produce a crisp outside and chewy middle.
10) Make sure your spices are fresh.
11) Enjoy!

Molasses Spice Cookies Recipe

Preparation time: 30 minutes. Makes 12 large cookies.

Molasses spice cookies are sort of like ginger snaps except bigger and chewy. The recipe for these cookies comes from Cook's Illustrated's The Best Recipe Cookbook.

Ingredients
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling cookies
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsulphured molasses

Directions
Preheat oven to 375°F.

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice together in a bowl and set aside.

With a mixer (or by hand), cream butter, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes with mixer set at medium speed. Add egg, vanilla extract, and molasses. Beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape sides of bowl.

Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.

Place remaining 1/3 cup of granulated sugar in a shallow bowl. Working with 2 Tbsp of dough each time, roll dough into 1 3/4 inch balls. Roll balls in sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheets, spacing them 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.

Bake until outer edges begin to set and centers are soft and puffy, about 11 to 13 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks with a wide spatula.

Friday, February 1, 2019

BROWNIE BAKED ALASKA: IT'S THE BOMBE!

Today is Baked Alaska Day. This Retro dessert is making a major comeback, and I've seen it on the menus of several restaurants in San Francisco, New York, L.A. and Chicago. This dessert originated at New York City’s Delmonico’s restaurant to commemorate the United States’ purchase of Alaska in 1867. Baked Alaska is an ice-cream cake covered with an igloo of toasted meringue. It's a real show stopper!

Following is an easy and delicious recipe from Betty Crocker. This version consists of an ice cream dome on a brownie base, topped with meringue. No time to bake? Pick up a pint of Ben & Jerry's Baked Alaska. Want to spend more time, don't miss Martha Stewart's Baked Alaska with Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Ice Cream. It's the Bombe!

Brownie Baked Alaska!

Ingredients

Ice Cream Dome 
2 cups (1 pint) peppermint ice cream, softened
6 cups (1.5 quarts) mint chocolate chip ice cream, softened
6 cups (1.5 quarts) vanilla ice cream, softened

Brownie Base
1 cup butter
8 oz bittersweet chocolate
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Merinque
8 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar

Directions

Line 3 (or 4) quart bowl (with 9 inch circumference) with plastic wrap. Fill base of bowl with peppermint ice cream; layer with mint chocolate chip ice cream, then finish with a layer of vanilla ice cream. Cover surface with plastic wrap and freeze until ice cream is very hard, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours in advance.

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray, line bottom of pan with parchment paper and spray parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray.
Place butter and chocolate in medium glass bowl over saucepan of hot water (or use double boiler) and stir butter and chocolate until melted. Set aside to cool
In separate large bowl, whisk  eggs, sugar, and vanilla until well combined. In another medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt until combined. Add cooled chocolate mixture to eggs and whisk to combine. Add flour to chocolate mixture and whisk to combine. Pour into cake pan. Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
When brownie is completely cool, about 1 hour, turn brownie out onto large flat, ovenproof plate. Unmold ice cream dome on top of brownie layer. Place back in freezer.
With electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites and cream of tartar for 2 minutes on medium-high speed. Increase speed to high and add sugar in slow stream until stiff, glossy peaks form.
Remove ice cream dome from freezer. Remove plastic wrap. Cover ice cream dome with meringue, covering completely, using back of spoon to make swirly peaks. Freeze for at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.
Heat oven to 500°F. Bake for 2 minutes or until peaks start to turn a golden brown color.
For easier slicing, let cake stand for 20 minutes. Slice and serve.