Thursday, October 31, 2019

RETRO HALLOWEEN CANDY ADS!

Every year I post Retro Halloween Chocolate Ads. Trick or Treat! What's your favorite?











HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

HAUNTED SKULL DARK CHOCOLATE CAKES

I love Nordicware pans. So creative in shapes and sizes. Not surprisingly the Skull Cakepans are favorites. I particularly like the Skull Cakelette Pan...and Nordicware has a great recipe for Haunted Skull Dark Chocolate Cakes on its website that works well with this pan! Dark Chocolate Skull Cakes are perfect for Halloween!

HAUNTED SKULL DARK CHOCOLATE CAKES

Ingredients 

For cakeletes: 
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 cup extra-dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon Fiori di Sicila
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon black food color, if desired

Chocolate Glaze:
3.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream

Directions
Preheat oven to 325°F. 
Prepare Skull Cakelet pan with baking spray or brush with butter and dust with cocoa.
Whisk flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together.
In separate bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix butter and sugars together until creamy and lightened, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add extracts. Put mixer on low speed and add buttermilk alternately with  dry ingredients in 4 additions. Mix until smooth. Add black food color to desired shade if using.
Fill pan no more than 3/4 full in each well. Tap pan on top of a cutting board covered with heavy kitchen towel to evenly distribute batter and eliminate air bubbles from batter.
Bake for 30-35 minutes.
Allow cakelets to cool in pan 5-8 minutes before inverting onto cooling rack. Repeat with remaining batter.

***

Prepare glaze by adding chocolate to heat-proof bowl. Warm cream until just beginning to steam and pour over chocolate, stirring with spatula to incorporate while chocolate melts. When all chocolate has melted, pour over cooled cakeletes.
Garnish as desired with candy decorations or decorating sprinkles.
Makes 12 cakes.


Monday, October 28, 2019

HALLOWEEN OREO BROWNIES!

I love seasonal Oreos, and Halloween Oreos are so much fun! You can use them in lots of ways including as a cookie crust for your favorite Pumpkin Cheesecake or in the following two recipes for Halloween Oreo Brownies...or just eat them straight from the bag! Orange and black, the colors of Halloween! 

1. Easy Halloween Oreo Brownies
I use the Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix and crumble about 15 cookies into the mix.

2. Halloween Oreo Brownies
This recipe is no-fail and delicious. It's a double recipe, so be sure you have a lot of goblins around to eat these up! As always use the very best ingredients.

Ingredients
1 lb sweet butter
1 lb semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate -- chopped
6 eggs
3 Tbsp instant coffee granules
2 Tbsp Madagascar vanilla
2-1/4 cups sugar
1-1/4 cup flour -- divided
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
50 Halloween Oreos  (4 cups chopped)

Directions
Arrange rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350.
Butter and flour 11 1/2" x 17 1/4" x 1" baking pan. (or make in two 9x9 pans)
In heatproof medium bowl set over saucepan of simmering water, heat butter, chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate until melted and smooth. Allow to cool slightly.
In large bowl, whisk eggs, coffee, vanilla and sugar. Blend chocolate mixture into egg mixture; cool to room temperature.
In medium bowl, sift together one cup flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture.
In small bowl, stir Oreos and remaining 1/4 cup flour. Add Oreo mixture to chocolate mixture. Pour batter into baking pan and smooth top with a rubber spatula.
Bake 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean; do not overbake.
Allow to cool. Refrigerate, tightly wrapped, until cold; cut into squares.

Adapted from Cooking Light and "O" Magazine recipe by Ina Garten

Saturday, October 26, 2019

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN COCKTAILS: National Pumpkin Day

Today is National Pumpkin Day. I've been posting a lot of pumpkin recipes for Halloween, mostly for baked goods. But since there are so many pumpkin liqueurs on the market at this time of year, I thought I'd post some Chocolate Pumpkin Cocktails.

It's my opinion that pumpkin needs chocolate, so I put together three recipes for Chocolate Pumpkin Cocktail recipes for Halloween. These can be served all through the Fall, as well as today for National Pumpkin Day! The first two recipes call for Pumpkin Liqueur, but the last one uses other liqueurs and some pumpkin spice.

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN COCKTAIL

3 ounces Pumpkin Liqueur
Chocolate (melted)

Shake pumpkin liqueur with ice in cocktail shaker.
Strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Slowly add melted chocolate to glass.

WHITE CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN MARTINI

Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur
2 ounces Vanilla Vodka
1/2 ounces Pumpkin Liqueur
1 tsp whipped cream

Pour white chocolate liqueur, vodka, and pumpkin liqueur into shaker filled with ice.
Shake. Pour into martini glass. Optional: Add whipped cream.

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN MARTINI

3/4 ounce Vanilla Vodka
1/2 ounce Bailey's
1/2 ounce Kahlua
1/2 ounce Crème de Cacao
1/4 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
Pinch cayenne pepper
Ice cubes

In cocktail shaker, combine Vanilla Vodka, Bailey's, Kahlua & Crème de Cacao, Pumpkin Pie Spice, and cayenne pepper. Add ice; cover and shake until very cold. Strain into chilled martini glass.

Friday, October 25, 2019

PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS: National Pumpkin Day

Tomorrow is National Pumpkin Day, but why not get a jump on the holiday! October is all about Pumpkins. Here's an easy recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins from allrecipes.com.

I use a natural pumpkin puree that I always have in the pantry for doggie stomach upsets (pumpkin is good for dogs), but you can use Libby's if that's what you have..or pumpkin puree you make yourself if you've already started carving your pumpkins.

As always, use the best chocolate chips--and make sure your oil is fresh. These Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins are a great way to start the day on a brisk morning!


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips 

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Grease and flour muffin pan or use paper liners.
Mix sugar, oil, eggs. Add pumpkin and water.
In separate bowl mix together the baking flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt.
Add wet mixture and stir in chocolate chips.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

HALLOWEEN PEEPS CHOCOLATE MOUSSE IN A JAR!

O.K. you know I'm a sucker for PEEPS. They may not be the healthiest of treats for Halloween, but I love that PEEPS are made for different holidays. So many shapes and flavors.  Here's one of my favorite recipes for Halloween: PEEPS Chocolate Mousse in a Jar. This was developed by LovefromtheOven for PEEPS. So easy and pretty! You can top these Chocolate Mousse Dessert Jars with the PEEPS of your choice, but aren't these Halloween chicks perfect?

PEEPS CHOCOLATE MOUSSE IN A JAR!
from PEEPS recipes

Ingredients
One package of PEEPS Chocolate Flavored Mousse Cats
PEEPS of your choice for garnish
Two 8 oz containers of whipped topping
One cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
One Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs (I like Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers)
Four ramekins, cups or jars for serving (large mouth if you want to put a PEEP on top!

Directions
In microwave safe bowl (or in pan over simmering water) combine chocolate chips, butter and two PEEPS Chocolate Flavored Mousse Cats. 
Microwave on 50% power for 30 seconds, remove to stir. Continue to microwave in 15 second increments until chocolate ship and PEEPS have melted. Stir to combine. The mixture will be very thick. Allow mixture to cool for five minutes.
In large bowl, combine 8oz container of whipped topping and melted chocolate mix. Mix with electric mixer on low until well combined. Set aside.
In ramekins, cups or jars, sprinkle 1/4 cup of cookie crumbs on bottom of container. Gently spoon 1/4 of chocolate mousse mixture into each container, on top of cookie crumbs.
Top with additional whipped topping.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Just before serving top each mousse cup with a Marshmallow PEEP of your choice.

Other Halloween PEEPS.

What are you making with PEEPS?

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

BOSTON CREAM PIE: National Boston Cream Pie Day!

Today is National Boston Cream Pie Day. Boston Cream Pie is a round cake that is split and filled with a custard or cream filling and frosted with chocolate. Not exactly your standard pie, but it's been around since 1855 or 1856 (two different sources with different dates).

According to Wikipedia, Boston Cream Pies were created by French Chef M. Sanzian at Boston's Parker House Hotel, opened in 1855. This pudding/cake combination comprises two layers of sponge cake filled with vanilla custard or crème pâtissière. The cake was topped with a chocolate glaze (such as ganache) and sometimes confectioner's sugar or a cherry. The cherry and sugar topping is rarely used any more.

The real question is why this is called a pie? It's a cake, after all -- two layers of yellow cake filled with custard and topped with chocolate frosting. Suggestions on why it's called pie are welcome. And here's an esoteric fact: Boston cream pie is the official desert of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

This Retro Ad (3/29/68) from Jello-O Pudding has a quick and easy recipe for Boston Cream Pie. I really prefer making the cake, filling, and ganache from scratch. You know I'm a sucker for good chocolate which for me will make or break the taste of a good Boston Cream Pie. However, if you don't have time, I've posted the Jell-O Pudding Boston Cream Pie recipe below.

I. BOSTON CREAM PIE FROM SCRATCH

Ingredients
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour
2/3 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Pastry cream, recipe follows
Ganache, recipe follows

Pastry Cream Filling
2 cups milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 Tbsp unsalted butter

Ganache
8 ounces good quality semisweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream, boiling

Directions

Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make well in center of flour mixture. Add milk, oil, egg yolks, and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer on low to medium speed until combined. Beat additional 3 minutes on high speed and set aside.

In large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium to high speed until soft peaks form. Pour egg yolk mixture over egg white mixture and fold in. Gently pour batter into 9-inch greased pie pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Invert pan onto wire rack. Cool completely.

Pastry Cream Filling
In medium saucepan, heat milk and vanilla bean to boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off heat and set aside to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. In bowl, whisk egg yolks and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in remaining hot milk mixture, reserving empty saucepan.

Pour mixture through strainer back into saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from heat and stir in  butter. Let cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing  plastic against surface to prevent skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. (Custard can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate until 1 hour before using.)

Ganache
In medium bowl, pour boiling cream over chopped chocolate and stir until melted.

To assemble pie
Remove cake from pan. Cut cake in half horizontally. Place bottom layer on serving plate or board, and spread with pastry cream. Top with second cake layer. Pour chocolate ganache over and down sides of cake. Store in refrigerator.

II. Jell-O Pudding Boston Cream Pie

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

FUDGY NUT BUNDT CAKE WITH CARAMEL SAUCE: Retro Ad & Recipe for National Nut Day!

Today is National Nut Day and what could be better than this amazing Fudgy-Nut Bundt Cake: A Retro Ad & Recipe from Betty Crocker c. 1974.  

"Very clever, this new Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge Supreme Cake Mix. You can make it in layers, or bake it up in the round as our new Fudgy-Nut Bundt cake. Dedicated to you who like any cake, as long as it’s chocolate, this is deep, dark, fudgy heaven. Pass it around."


Monday, October 21, 2019

CHOCOLATE BOURBON PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE: National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day


Today is National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day! Iove this Fall Holiday, and this Chocolate Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake is the best way to celebrate! Easy and delicious!

I always think that alcohol escalates chocolate, so I was thrilled when I found this recipe a few years ago in People Magazine. The original recipe for this Chocolate Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake is from Betty Crocker. The recipe is a triple threat: chocolate, bourbon, cheesecake. Wow! Perfect for Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Chocolate Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake 

Crust
2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (35 to 40 cookies)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake 
4 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs
4 Tbsp bourbon
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 1/2 tsp aromatic bitters
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp pure vanilla
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted  (or chopped dark chocolate)

Toppings  (I consider topping optional..it's great without, but if you want to)

1/2 cup caramel topping (I have used Recchiuti)
2 tsp bourbon 
Dash aromatic bitters 
Toasted pecans (optional) 

Directions
Heat oven to 300ºF. Grease 9-inch springform pan with shortening or cooking spray. Wrap outside bottom and side of pan with foil to prevent leaking.

In small bowl, mix crust ingredients. Press mixture into bottom and one inch up side of pan. Bake eight to 10 minutes or until set. Cool for five minutes.

In large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy; do not overbeat. On low speed, gradually beat in sugar, then flour, and then eggs (one at a time), just until blended. Remove half of cream cheese mixture (about 3 cups) into another large bowl; reserve.

Into remaining cream cheese mixture, stir 2 Tbsp bourbon, pumpkin, 1 1/2 tsp bitters, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg; whisk until smooth. Spoon over crust into pan. Into reserved 3 cups of filling, stir 2 Tbsp bourbon, vanilla, and melted chocolate. Pour mixture over pumpkin layer directly in middle of pan. (This will create layers so that each slice includes some of each flavor.)

To minimize cracking, place shallow pan half-full of hot water on lower oven rack. Bake cheesecake 80 to 90 minutes minutes, or until edges are set but center of cheesecake still jiggles slightly when moved.

Turn oven off, and open oven door at least four inches. Leave cheesecake in oven 30 minutes longer. Remove from oven; place on cooling rack. Without releasing side of pan, run your knife around edge of the pan to loosen cheesecake. Cool in pan on cooling rack for 30 minutes. Cover loosely; refrigerate at least six hours but no longer than 24 hours.

To release: Run knife around side of pan to loosen cheesecake again; carefully remove side of pan. Put cheesecake on serving plate.

I consider adding a rich topping optional, and I don't top this already rich cheesecake, but here's the original recipe in case you want it. Stir together caramel topping, 2 tsp bourbon, and dash of bitters. To serve, drizzle with caramel and sprinkle with pecans. Cover and refrigerate any remaining cheesecake. 

Photo: Betty Crocker

Sunday, October 20, 2019

BRANDIED CHERRY CHOCOLATE CAKE: Brandied Fruit Day

Today is Brandied Fruit Day, so I thought I'd post my favorite recipe for Brandied Cherry Chocolate Cake. This recipe appeared in the Washington Post several years ago. You can buy brandied cherries -- or you can make your own. It's so easy, and so good!!!

Brandied Cherries

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds dark, sweet cherries, pitted
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 small cinnamon stick
1/4 cup good brandy

Directions
Combine sugar, water, lemon juice, and cinnamon stick in medium saucepan. Bring to boil and reduce heat to medium. Add cherries and simmer for five minutes.
Remove from heat, remove cinnamon stick. Stir in brandy.
Cool completely before placing in jar.

BRANDIED CHERRY CHOCOLATE CAKE

Tip: When processing nuts and chocolate, be careful not to make chocolate almond butter. Chill both ingredients -- and even the flour, if you want to be careful.

Ingredients
6 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate, chilled (about 1-1/3 cups)
6 ounces (1-1/2 cups) chopped almonds, chilled
6 1/2 Tbsp flour
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated into yolks and whites
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
16 ounces drained brandied cherries
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 9-inch cake pan with nonstick oil-and-flour spray and line bottom with circle of parchment paper.
Pulse chocolate, almonds, and flour in a food processor to grind them into fine meal, being careful not to turn them into paste.
Beat butter and sugar together at high speed in bowl of stand mixer or held-held electric mixer until mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolks, then vanilla and almond extracts, and beat well to combine. Add chocolate-nut mixture and beat until incorporated.
Beat egg whites in separate, clean bowl of stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer until they form soft peaks. Use flexible spatula to fold them into chocolate-sugar mixture.
Spread half of batter in bottom of prepared pan. Top with brandied cherries, which should fit evenly in 1 layer. Spread remaining batter over cherries, using flexible spatula to lightly level top.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until cake is puffed and set.
Cool on rack and turn out of pan.
Dust top generously with confectioners' sugar.
Serve warm or cool.

Original recipe adapted from Peter Brett, pastry chef at Blue Duck Tavern, Washington, D.C.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

HALLOWEEN PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE FUDGE: Retro Ad & Recipe

In 2019, Fudge might not be your first choice to give to trick-or-treaters for Halloween, but it certainly was done in another time in our history. My Aunt Annie always made her famous fudge to hand out to the children. I used to help her make the fudge, thus ensuring that I would get my fare share or more. But even if you don't plan to give out this fudge, it's perfect for your Halloween party, school lunchbox, or after school treat. This is a fun and easy Retro Recipe from Borden's for Halloween Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge.

It's no trick to make this treat...delicious peanut butter chocolate fudge. Your tricksters will love the delicious taste combination of rich chocolate and peanut butter.



Friday, October 18, 2019

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES: National Chocolate Cupcake Day

Today is National Chocolate Cupcake Day. I could stop by the bakery or Cara's Cupcakes and pick up a cupcake or two, but I'll probably just make some Triple Chocolate Cupcakes. I like to fill my cupcakes with chocolate ganache. If you find it too thick, just thin a bit with some cream. I also use the ganache for the icing. Saves a step.

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Cupcakes

Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
3/4 cup Dark cocoa powder  (Read about Natural vs. Dutch Process cocoa)
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp pure vanilla
2/3 cup mini dark chocolate chips

Directions
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.
In small bowl, place flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder, and combine.
Add milk and vanilla and stir.
Add 1/3 dry ingredients to butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
Add half milk/vanilla mixture and beat to combine.
Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with dry ingredients.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Scoop batter into cupcake cups between 1/2 & 3/4 full.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

To make cupcakes flat on top: Bake in paper cups and flip onto flat surface when finished baking.  Leave pan sitting on top to make them flat. Allow to cool.
Freeze cupcakes and then use an apple corer to make the hole for the filling.

Ganache
Of course, you might have some leftover ganache in the freezer. 
Read Things to Do With Leftover Ganache.

Ingredients
12 ounces good quality chocolate, chopped
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp unsalted butter


Directions
Place chocolate in medium sized bowl. 
Heat cream over medium low heat until barely begins to boil. Remove from heat immediately. Do not over-heat! 
Pour hot cream over chocolate and let sit for minute. 
Stir mixture (gently) until chocolate is melted and blended with cream. 
Add butter and combine. 
Do not beat the mixture.
Cool before filling or spreading. (use pastry bag to fill and frost) 

Sprinkle with chocolate curls, sprinkles, or other decorations.


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN CHOCOLATE LIQUEUR: National Liqueur Day

Today is National Liqueur Day! I often make Chocolate Liqueur Truffles. They're so easy to make, and you can change the flavor of the liqueurs whenever you'd like. But sometimes I make my own chocolate liqueur. It's simple, and you should try it. Of course you can always buy Chocolate Liqueur, and I'll have to admit that Godiva has an awesome dark Chocolate Liqueur. You might also want to try Mozart Black Chocolate.

But if you want to make your own, try one of the following two recipes for Making Your Own Chocolate Liqueur.

As always, use the best cacao nibs or cocoa, vodka, and vanilla. You won't have the results to taste today, but it will be worth the wait!

How to Make Your Own Chocolate Liqueur

1. Chocolate Liqueur
The recipe is from Serious Eats, one of my favorite sites.

Ingredients
 2/3 cup cacao nibs
1 1/3 cup vodka
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions
Combine cacao nibs and vodka in sealable glass jar. Shake and let steep for 8 days.
After initial steeping period, bring sugar and water to a boil. Let syrup cool, then add to jar along with vanilla extract. Let steep an additional day.
Strain out nibs through sieve and filter through a coffee filter into bottle or jar. Store in this jar.

II. Chocolate Liqueur
This Recipe from Creative Culinary uses Scharffen Berger Cocoa Powder. 

Ingredients
1/4 cup unsweetened good cocoa powder
1 cup boiling water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 cup vodka

Directions
In bowl, dissolve cocoa powder in boiling water.
In saucepan, bring sugar and water to simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
Add sugar syrup to cocoa syrup.
Strain through fine-mesh sieve into jar with lid.
Add vodka, cover and refrigerate for one week.
To serve, stir well and strain again through fine-mesh sieve.
 
These two recipes should get you started. Want to try some variations? Use less sugar and maybe add almond extract--or use rum instead of vodka. Experiment!

You can drink your Chocolate Liqueur straight, use it in truffles, or make a martini.

Have a wonderful National Liqueur Day. Make it Chocolate!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

FRUIT & NUT CHOCOLATE CHUNKS for Sukkot

Sukkoth (Sukkot), the Jewish harvest festival, is upon us. I love this holiday where families gather and eat meals in a sukkoh. The word Sukkot means 'booths'--and refers to temporary dwellings. The sukkah (variations on the spelling) is great fun for children, as it is reminiscent of forts with an open top usually covered with vines or loose branches, cornstalks, or reeds--something that grew from the earth but was cut off. These are laid sparsely, so you can see the sky and stars. A sukkah has at least 2 1/2 walls covered with a material that will not blow away.

When I was very young, our neighbor and friend "Uncle Clyde" and his family always had a sukkoh in their small backyard. I would watch from our back porch...they were across the alley (a very wide alley through which horses and cars could pass--garages were on the alley), as he constructed the sukkah. Then we'd go there for food and drink and songs and fun. The sukkah was there for a full week. What an exciting time for a child. It was as close to camping as I came as a kid. My family was not into camping.

Sukkoth is a Jewish harvest festival--the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles) that begins on the 15th day of the month of Tishri and is celebrated for 9 days (8 if you're in Israel). Sukkoth celebrates the harvest, and it's a very joyous occasion. It is as historical as it is agricultural. Sukkoth commemorates the 40-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters.

Since Sukkoth is primarily a harvest festival, I thought today's post would reflect fruits and nuts - and, of course, chocolate. Here's a great recipe adapted slightly from Epicurious. I've substituted a few different fruits and nuts, and you may want to experiment with some others. These Fruit and Nut Chocolate Chunks are perfect to eat in a Sukkoh.


Fruit & Nut Chocolate Chunks

Ingredients
1 1/4 lb fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
Vegetable oil for greasing pan
2/3 cup dried cherries (or cranberries)
2/3 cup raisins
2/3 cup salted roasted shelled pistachios (3 oz)
2/3 cup salted roasted cashews or walnuts (3 oz)

Directions
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler or metal bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.
While chocolate is melting, line bottom and sides of 8-inch square baking pan with foil, leaving  2-inch overhang, then lightly oil foil.
Remove chocolate from heat and stir in fruit and nuts, then spread evenly in baking pan. Freeze until firm, about 20 minutes. Lift candy in foil from pan using overhang and transfer to cutting board. Peel off foil and cut candy with long heavy knife into 36 pieces.
Tip: If you have more time, chill candy in refrigerator (instead of freezer) until firm, about 1 hour. 

Monday, October 14, 2019

NANAIMO BARS: Canadian Thanksgiving

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving. Canadian Thanksgiving is held on the second Monday in October. It commemorates the first Thanksgiving in North America that was held by Sir Martin Frobisher and his crew in the Eastern Arctic in 1578. They ate a meal of salted beef, biscuits and mushy peas to celebrate and give thanks for their safe arrival in what is now Nunavut.

I've posted various pumpkin/chocolate pies and puddings for Canadian Thanksgiving. Some of the foods are very similar to the U.S. Thanksgiving. But for today's Canadian Thanksgiving, I think Nanaimo Bars, one of my favorite no bake chocolate treats from British Columbia, would be perfect.

Bill Critchfield, a member of my mystery book group, used to make them on special occasions. Bill passed away, and unfortunately his safely guarded recipe passed on with him. Since then, I've tried to create his version of Nanaimo Bars (there are so many variations). This has involved trying different recipes and really exploring the whole Canadian Nanaimo history.  Months of Edible Celebrations had a special post devoted to Nanaimo Bars in conjunction with Pecans several years ago. Interesting that the recipe for Nanaimo Bars in The Pecan Cookbook calls for baking. I don't think Bill used pecans, and I'm sure he didn't bake.

Interestingly, The New York Times had a great article on the History, Culture, and Craving for the Nanaimo Bar! Here's a link

The City of Nanaimo website says: "According to local legend about 35 years ago, a Nanaimo housewife entered her recipe for chocolate squares in a magazine contest. In a burst of civic pride, she chose to dub the entry not "Daphne's Delights" or "Mary's Munchies", but "Nanaimo Bars". The entry won a prize, thereby promoting the town as much as her cooking. Some American tourists claim sovereignty over the dessert, referred to as "New York Slice" which is sold in many other places in the world. Nanaimo residents refuse to accept this theory, however, believing that once you set foot on Vancouver Island, there are no other places in the world. The official Nanaimo Bar recipe was available as a handout as well as on quality tea towel and apron souvenirs."

Here's a recipe for Namaimo Bars from the Official City of Nanaimo Website:
  
Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer
½ cup unsalted butter (European style cultured)
¼ cup sugar
5 Tbsp cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.

Second Layer
½ cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp and 2 Tsp cream
2 Tbsp vanilla custard powder  (I use Bird's)
2 cups icing sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Third Layer
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.

The really nice thing about this 'refrigerator bar' is that you can adapt it in so many ways by adding different ingredients or substituting different nuts. Very fun! and always good!

Links to other Nanaimo Bar Recipes:

Cookie Madness 
My Baking Addiction (Valentine's Day Nanaimo Bars)
Barbara Bakes
Life's Ambrosia
Playing House (Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars)
New York Times

Sunday, October 13, 2019

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS & CHOCOLATE: Recipe for Super Rich Spanish Hot Chocolate

In the U.S., we celebrate Columbus Day. In terms of chocolate, though, Christopher Columbus was the first European to come in contact with cacao. On August 15, 1502, on his fourth and last voyage to the Americas, Columbus and his crew encountered a large dugout canoe near an island off the coast of what is now Honduras. The canoe was the largest native vessel the Spaniards had seen. It was "as long as a galley," and was filled with local goods for trade -- including cacao beans. Columbus's crew seized the vessel and its goods, and retained its captain as his guide.

Later, Columbus' son Ferdinand wrote about the encounter. He was struck by how much value the Native Americans placed on cacao beans, saying: "They seemed to hold these almonds [referring to the cacao beans] at a great price; for when they were brought on board ship together with their goods, I observed that when any of these almonds fell, they all stooped to pick them up, as if an eye had fallen."

At first, however, the cocoa beans were neglected. Despite the bitterness of the drink produced, Columbus claimed the resulting concoction was a "divine drink which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink permits a man to walk for a whole day without food". 

What Ferdinand and the other members of Columbus' crew didn't know at the time was that cocoa beans were the local currency. In fact, in some parts of Central America, cacao beans were used as currency as recently as the last century.

While it is likely that Columbus brought the cacao beans he seized back to Europe, their potential value was initially overlooked by the Spanish King and his court. Far more exciting treasures on board his galleons meant the cocoa beans were ignored. It was his fellow explorer, the Spanish Conquistador Don Hernán Cortés, who first realized their commercial value. He brought back three chests full of cocoa beans to Spain in 1528 and very gradually, the custom of drinking the chocolate spread across Europe.

It was still served as a beverage when the Spanish first brought chocolate back to Europe. Cortez, described chocolatl as "the divine drink ... which builds up resistance and fights fatigue," and his countrymen, conceived the idea of sweetening the bitter drink with cane sugar.

The recipe for the sweetened frothy beverage underwent several more changes in Spain, where newly discovered spices such as cinnamon and vanilla were added as flavorings. The original chili pepper that made the spicy drink was replaced by sugar to make a sweet beverage. The sweetened chocolate beverage was a luxury that only a few could afford.

By the 17th century, the drink became common among European nobility. In London, chocolate was more widely available, and those who could afford it could enjoy the drink in coffee and chocolate houses.

Super Rich Spanish Hot Chocolate 
Makes two mugs!

Ingredients 
5 Tbsp good quality unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
4 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp corn starch
1 tsp Mexican vanilla extract
1 cup water

Directions 
Combine cocoa powder, sugar, and corn starch in small bowl.
Pour COLD water into small sauce pan, add vanilla extract and cocoa mixture, and cook at medium low heat, stirring constantly.
Cook until it thickens and serve immediately.

Friday, October 11, 2019

DARK CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN SEED SEA SALT BARK: National Pumpkin Seed Day

Somehow I missed National Pumpkin Seed Day on October 3! But October is all about Pumpkins and Halloween, so here's a great recipe for Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed Sea Salt Bark that treats pumpkin seeds in a sweet way--chocolate with a sea salt finish.

Pumpkin seeds like chocolate are heart healthy, immune boosters, and great for brain power, among other health benefits!

DARK CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN SEED SEA SALT BARK

Ingredients 
Canola oil cooking spray
1-2 cups dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds  (raw or toasted-I prefer toasted)
1 tsp sea salt

Directions
Coat 9 x12 inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, and line with parchment, leaving overhang on ends.
Melt chocolate in double boiler or heatproof bowl over saucepan of simmering water, stirring.
If chocolate is too thick, add canola oil as needed to thin.
Pour melted chocolate onto baking sheet, and spread in even layer with spatula.
Immediately sprinkle pumpkin seeds then sea salt over chocolate.
Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Peel off parchment and break bark into pieces.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

WHITE CHOCOLATE ANGEL FOOD CAKE: National Angel Food Cake Day

Today is Angel Food Cake Day. I'm more of a Devil's Food Cake person, but here's a White Chocolate recipe for White Chocolate Angel Food Cake from Godiva Chocolate.  Although I am posting a Retro Ad for Angel Food Cake, the recipe below is all from scratch!

White Chocolate Angel Food Cake

Ingredients

Cake
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 cup sifted cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups egg whites, at room temperature (about 11 to 12 large eggs)
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 bars (1.5 ounces each) Godiva Ivory Chocolate, grated or finely chopped

Add:

Whipped Cream:
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Berries:
1 cup fresh red raspberries
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup fresh blackberries
White chocolate curls 

Directions

Cake
Position oven rack in lower third of oven. Heat oven to 350°F.
Sift together confectioners’ sugar, cake flour, and salt onto sheet of waxed paper.
Put egg whites in clean, dry bowl of electric mixer. Beat egg whites at medium-low speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat at medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add granulated sugar in steady stream, beating just until whites are thick and form slightly stiff peaks. (Do not over-beat)
Gently fold in 1/3 of sifted dry ingredients over whites just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in remaining dry ingredients with vanilla and grated white chocolate in two additional batches.
Gently pour batter into ungreased 10" angel food or tube pan, spreading evenly. Tap gently on counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake 35 minutes or until top is firm and springs back when lightly touched. Invert pan on a large bottle (such as wine bottle or olive oil bottle) and cool completely.
To remove cake from pan, run long knife or thin metal spatula around outside edge of cake and gently remove side portion of pan. Then, run knife around inside of center tube, loosen bottom of cake with long knife or thin metal spatula and remove cake from remaining portion of pan. Place on cake plate; cover with plastic wrap if not serving immediately.

Whipped Cream:
Combine heavy cream and granulated sugar in a medium, chilled bowl. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer until soft peaks form; whisk in vanilla.
Place sweetened whipping cream in refrigerator until ready to serve cake, up to 2 hours.
Combine berries in a medium bowl and toss lightly.

Assembly:
Cut cake with serrated knife using a sawing motion. Serve with sweetened whipped cream and berry mixture. Garnish with white chocolate curls.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

BLUE CHEESE CHEESCAKE WITH CHOCOLATE CRUST: Moldy Cheese Day

Today is Moldy Cheese Day! Blue Cheese is about as moldy as I care to get, so to celebrate today's food holiday and fit it into the "Chocolate" theme of this blog, here's a recipe for Blue Cheese Cheesecake with a Chocolate Cookie Crust.  

Chocolate and Blue Cheese go well together. I've made Blue Cheese Truffles on numerous occasions, and I love them. If this is your first foray into the combination, choose a mild creamy blue cheese. If you're not sure, ask your cheese specialist.

BLUE CHEESE CHEESECAKE WITH CHOCOLATE CRUST

Chocolate Cookie Crust

Ingredients
30 chocolate wafers (Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers-1-1/2 cups crumbs)
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions
Process cookies in food processor until finely ground.
Transfer crumbs to mixing bowl & combine crumbs, butter, salt, and vanilla. Stir until crumbs are moistened.
Press mixture evenly across bottom of 9-inch springform pan and up sides of pan. Pack tightly so crust is even.
Bake in 350° oven for 6-8 minutes or until crisp.
Let cool completely before filling. You can put it in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

For the Cheesecake

Ingredients
1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
10 ounces Blue Cheese, room temperature (I've used Humboldt Fog)
3 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp honey
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch cracked black pepper

Directions
In large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add blue cheese; beat until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape bowl. Add sour cream, honey, salt, and pepper. Beat until combined.
Pour into cooled prepared Chocolate Cookie Crust. Bake 40 to 45 minutes in a 325° oven or until set and knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool to room temperature in pan.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

CHOCOLATE CHIP NOODLE KUGEL: Breaking of the Fast

The Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, starts tonight. Here's a recipe you can easily make in advance for the Breaking of the Fast. I love this Chocolate Chip Noodle Kugel.

A bit of  history about Kugel. Kugel is a traditional Ashkenazic Jewish dessert or side dish. Kugel is Yiddish for ball, but it is sometimes translated as pudding or casserole, and related to the German Gugelhupf. The first Kugel were plain -- made from bread and flour, and salty rather than sweet. About 800 years ago, the flavor and popularity changed when cooks in Germany replaced bread mixtures with noodles or farfel. Eventually eggs were incorporated. The addition of cottage cheese and milk created a custard-like consistency which is common for today's dishes. In the 17th century, sugar was introduced, which gave the option of serving kugel as a side dish or dessert. In Poland, Jewish women sprinkled raisins and cinnamon into recipes. Hungarians took the dessert concept further with a hefty helping of sugar and sour cream.

Today many people add corn flakes, graham cracker crumbs, ground gingersnaps, or caramelized sugar on top. Some people layer the dish with sliced pineapples or apricot jam, but since this is a chocolate blog, here's a recipe that includes chocolate chips! Enjoy this for the Breaking of the Fast or any time!

Chocolate Chip Noodle Kugel

Ingredients:
12 oz pkg medium wide noodles boiled & drained
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
8 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 pint (16 oz) cottage cheese (large curd)
2 cups sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.
Butter sides and bottom of 9 x 13 Pyrex or another Pan.
Beat together eggs and sugar. Add cottage cheese, sour cream, melted butter, and vanilla, and mix with wooden spoon.
Fold in noodles and chocolate chips.
Pour mixture into buttered pan.
Bake at 350°F for 40-60 minutes until just set.

Monday, October 7, 2019

STARBUCKS OREO FRAPPUCINO: National Frappé Day

Today is Frappé Day. Most of us have a frappé of one kind or another in our lifetime.

A frappé is an iced beverage that has been shaken, blended, or beaten to produce a foamy cold blended drink, often with whipped cream and toppings. Ice can be added before or after beating the coffee and adding other ingredients such as sugar, milk, vanilla, and sweet sauces. It really depends on what you are shaking or blending it in - a shaker, frappe maker, or blender. According to one source, an ice-crushing blender is better than a shaker for blending a frappe. Traditionally frappés are made with coffee, but you can make other frappé drinks with tea, juice, or hot chocolate.
The word Frappé comes from the French word Frapper - which means to slap, knock, or beat. Cold coffee drinks named "café frappé" go back to the 19th century.

Which leads me to the Italian term: Frappuccino. In the last few years, I've had numerous types of Frappuccinos at Starbucks, most with chocolate. So here's a recipe for Starbucks' Oreo Frappuccino I found on StarbucksSecretMenu.net There are several 'Starbucks" secret menu recipes that you can order at Starbucks (you may need to know the recipe), but you can also make this at home. As always use the very best chocolate.

Starbucks Oreo Frappucino

Ingredients
8 ounces whole milk
1 cup ice
2 scoops vanilla bean ice cream
2 Tbsp semisweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp mocha syrup or chocolate syrup
1 Oreo
Whipped cream, for garnish
Crushed Oreos, for garnish

Directions
In a blender add milk, ice, vanilla bean ice cream, chocolate chips, mocha syrup, and an Oreo.
Blend until smooth. Pour into a glass, and garnish with whipped cream and crushed Oreos.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

MAD HATTER CHOCOLATE CHIP SCONES: Mad Hatter Day!

Celebrate Mad Hatter Day with Mad Hatter Chocolate Chip Scones at a Mad Hatter Tea Party.

The unofficial Mad Hatter holiday was created in 1986 in Boulder Colorado by a group of computer technicians who were inspired by the Mad Hatter and his antics in Alice in Wonderland. In the book, the Mad Hatter is an eccentric milliner for whom time is forever stuck at a tea party with his friend the March Hare.

The date for the holiday was chosen because of how John Tenniel illustrated the Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. The English illustrator who was also a political cartoonist depicted the Hatter wearing a hat with a piece of paper that has 10/6 written on it. The 10/6 refers to the cost of a hat – 10 shillings and 6 pence. The creators of the holiday who are from the United States where the date is written in the month/day (mm/dd) format took this to set the date for the holiday on October 6 (10/6). For those who write the date in the day/ month (dd/mm) format, the holiday would fall on June 10.

Planning to host a Mad Hatter Tea Party? Then be sure and serve Chocolate Chip Scones (not that the Mad Hatter offered Alice anything at all!). Add some clotted cream and jam, don your hat, and you're good to go!   

MAD HATTER CHOCOLATE CHIP SCONES

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
3 Tbsp orange juice (without pulp)

Directions
Preheat oven to 400. Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With pastry blender or large fork, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in chocolate chips. Mix in orange juice to form dough.
Turn out dough on floured surface. Pat or roll into 9 inch circle about 1/2 inch thick.
With 2 -1/2 inch fluted biscuit cutter, cut out 12 scones, pushing dough scraps together for last few, if necessary.
Transfer scones to baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 12 minutes.
Move to wire racks to cool.
Serve with clotted cream and jam!

Saturday, October 5, 2019

CHOCOLATE APPLE BROWN BETTY: National Apple Brown Betty Day

Now that it's Fall, it's time for Brown Betty, one of my favorite classic desserts. A Brown Betty is a traditional American dessert made from fruit and sweetened crumbs. Similar to a cobbler or apple crisp, the fruit is baked, and, in this case, the sweetened crumbs are placed in layers between the fruit. Since this is a chocolate blog, I'm adding chocolate, of course. So celebrate National Apple Brown Betty Day today with this Chocolate Apple Brown Betty!

CHOCOLATE APPLE BROWN BETTY

Ingredients
2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and chopped (roughly)
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
3/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs
3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp golden syrup
1/2 tsp salt

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Mix apples, 1/4 cup sugar, and 2 Tbsp water in buttered 8 x 8 ovenproof serving dish. Bake for 40 minutes, or until apples have started to soften, then mash roughly with fork. Mix remaining sugar with breadcrumbs, chocolate, butter, golden syrup and 1/2 tsp salt. Spoon on top of the mashed apples. Return to oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

CHOCOLATE CHIP PUMPKIN SPICE QUICK BREAD: Pumpkin Spice Day

Pumpkin Spice is definitely a flavor associated with Fall. One can't seem to go anywhere without seeing pumpkin spice coffee, cakes, breads, candy, and more. This Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Quick Bread is an easy and great way to celebrate the season! Pumpkin spice (sometimes called pumpkin pie spice) is available in the market, but you can also make your own (scroll down for recipe). If you do, remember to use the freshest spices to create your Pumpkin Spice.

The following recipe for Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Quick Bread is from the Land O Lakes website. Want to 'spice' up your presentation? Use a NordicWare Pumpkin Loaf Pan.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Quick Bread

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin (or 1 cup canned pumpkin)
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large Eggs
2 teaspoons pumpkin spice**
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 9x5-inch loaf pan; set aside.
Combine all ingredients in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.
Stir in chocolate chips so evenly distributed.
Spoon batter into prepared pan.
Bake 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan.
Cool completely.

**Make your own Pumpkin Spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

CHOCOLATE INDULGENCE: Guest post by Nancy J. Cohen

Nancy J. Cohen: 
Chocolate Indulgence

In my Bad Hair Day mystery series, amateur sleuth Marla Vail’s best friend, Tally, is a chocoholic. You’ll find scenes in a chocolate shop in Hair Brained and Trimmed to Death. I based this place on a visit to World of Chocolate in Orlando, where I was impressed by the artisan methods of production and the chocolate sculptures.

In my stories, we learn more about chocolate. This food counters the taint of murder in a mystery. When you’re in a bad mood, do you tend to pop a piece of chocolate into your mouth? Or maybe you’ll reward yourself after a task well done with your favorite chocolate indulgence. We always feel better after savoring the sensation of chocolate on our tongue.

Here’s a snippet of conversation between Marla and Teri, a chocolatier. They’re discussing the health benefits of chocolate.

“Cocoa contains flavonoids that are powerful antioxidants. These prevent cellular damage due to free radicals and help to lower your risk for heart disease. Flavonoids also improve blood flow to your brain and cause your body to release endorphins. Dark chocolate has a higher content than milk chocolate. You’ll want to avoid cocoa powder that has undergone Dutch processing. It’s been treated with alkali agents that reduce the flavonoid value.” 

“How about caffeine? Like, if I eat too much chocolate, won’t it make my heart race?” Marla asked. 

“Cocoa contains some caffeine, but it also has theobromine. Both of these compounds can increase your heart rate. Again, dark chocolate has a higher concentration than milk chocolate. And these chemicals are usually not present in white chocolate.” 

It came as no surprise when I wrote a cookbook that some of the recipes include chocolate. Some desserts are rich indulgences, such as the coconut fudge pie. Or they include healthy ingredients, like the chocolate zucchini cake. Since I like to include a splash of liqueur in my cakes on occasion, you’ll find a Kahlua chocolate cake among the recipes. Here is one sample item:

CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE 

Ingredients
2 1⁄4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 3⁄4 cups sugar
1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1⁄2 cup buttermilk
2 cups grated, unpeeled zucchini
6 oz. package semisweet chocolate chips
3⁄4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13x2 inch baking pan. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together into a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the sugar, softened butter, and oil until blended. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Add vanilla, and then mix in dry ingredients alternating with buttermilk. Mix in grated zucchini.

Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Sprinkle semisweet chocolate chips and nuts on top. Bake for 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

What is your favorite chocolate indulgence? A candy bar or a brownie? Chocolate ice cream or a chocolate chip cookie? 

***

A BAD HAIR DAY COOKBOOK: 
Recipes from Nancy J. Cohen’s Cozy Mystery Series 

Are you having a bad hair day? Whip out your whisk, snatch up your spoon, and prepare your palate. Inside the pages of this cookbook are recipes that will bring you good cheer.

Enjoy 160+ tasty recipes from Nancy J. Cohen’s popular Bad Hair Day cozy mystery series. Included in this cookbook are excerpts, cooking tips, and anecdotes written by hairstylist and savvy sleuth Marla Vail. From appetizers to desserts, Marla offers cooking tips and tricks along with commentary about the dishes she prepares for her family. Whether you’re a skilled cook or an eager novice, this cookbook will unravel the mystery of cooking. Put on your apron and plan to make some killer recipes! Bonuses Include:

Meet the Sleuth 
Introduction by Marla Vail 
Cooking Tips 
Excerpts from Series Titles 
Themed Menu Suggestions 
“A Sabbath Dinner” by Nancy’s Mother

For Home Cooks, Food Lovers, Mystery Fans and Cookbook Collectors 

BUY LINKS 
Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Bad-Hair-Day-Cookbook-Recipes-ebook/dp/B07XSH6C7B
Amazon Print: https://www.amazon.com/Bad-Hair-Day-Cookbook-Recipes/dp/099979325X/ 
Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/a-bad-hair-day-cookbook/id1479889058 
Nook: https://bit.ly/2kvrySl

***
Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Her latest title is Trimmed to Death. Nancy’s books have won numerous awards, including her instructional guide, Writing the Cozy Mystery. When not busy writing, Nancy enjoys cooking, fine dining, cruising, visiting Disney World, and shopping. 

Website: https://nancyjcohen.com 
Blog: https://nancyjcohen.com/blog 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE COOKIES WITH SEA SALT: Homemade Cookie Day


Today is Homemade Cookie Day. Here's an easy delicious recipe for Chocolate Truffle Cookies with Sea Salt that you can make to celebrate! This recipe is from local San Francisco chocolate company Ghirardelli. They have some great recipes online and in their new Cookbook.

Ghirardelli: In 1849, during the California Gold Rush, Italian-born Domingo Ghirardelli moved to America and opened a store in a mining camp. After discovering the miners were starved for luxuries and needed something to spend their gold dust on, he starting stocking chocolate delicacies. In 1852, the enterprising immigrant founded a confectionery shop in San Francisco, which eventually became the modern-day Ghirardelli Chocolate Company.

Today, Ghirardelli is America’s oldest continuously operating chocolate maker. Their products are sold in stores everywhere and online, and they also have their own chocolate and ice cream shops across the country.

CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE COOKIES WITH SEA SALT

Ingredients
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Baking Chips, for melting into the cookie dough
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Baking Chips, for mixing into the prepared cookie dough
2 to 3 tablespoons coarse sea salt

Directions
In heatproof bowl over double boiler, melt chocolate and butter until smooth. Turn off stove and let chocolate sit over warm water.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt and mix to combine.
In another bowl, mix together sugar and eggs, combine thoroughly with whisk and slowly add warm chocolate mixture. Stir to combine. Add vanilla extract and mix. Stir in flour mixture.
Cool for a few minutes (if batter is warm, chocolate chips will melt). Stir in chocolate chips. Chill for 10-15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Scoop rounded tablespoons of batter and place on baking tray. Sprinkle each cookie lightly with a pinch of sea salt.
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 7-8 minutes until the outside looks slightly cracked. Be very careful not to over bake cookies because they will continue to bake as they cool once removed from the oven. Cookies should be soft and gooey in the center.

For a chunky and different twist add one of the following: 3/4 cup toasted pecans or pistachios, 1/4 cup chopped candied ginger, or 1/3 cup sweetened coconut