Monday, January 27, 2020

Hershey's 'Perfectly Chocolate' Chocolate Cake: NATIONAL CHOCOLATE CAKE DAY

Today is National Chocolate Cake Day, and what better chocolate cake to make than Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake? It always works, and it's rich and chocolatey!

This "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake  lends itself to so many variations. See below!



HERSHEY'S 'PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE' CHOCOLATE CAKE

Ingredients
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
Frost with "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 10 to 12 servings.

"PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING 

Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions
Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.  

***
VARIATIONS on HERSHEY'S 'PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE CAKE 

ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

NATIONAL PEANUT BRITTLE DAY: Chocolate Peanut Brittle

Today is National Peanut Brittle Day. Peanut Brittle is delicious, and it's that's much better if you add chocolate! As always, the finished product will reflect its ingredients, so use the very best! This recipe is adapted from Hershey's!

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!



Saturday, January 25, 2020

IRISH COFFEE CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE: Irish Coffee Day

Today is National Irish Coffee Day. Here's an easy recipe for Irish Coffee Chocolate Cake to celebrate! If you're a purist, you'll want to substitute your own chocolate cake and pudding recipes for the box mixes. If you're in a hurry, though, this is a great easy recipe! A terrific way to celebrate the day. No time to bake? Head on over to your favorite Irish Pub and raise a glass of Irish Coffee. Have some chocolate in your pocket. Stir it in!

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!


IRISH COFFEE CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE

Ingredients
1 box chocolate cake mix (Duncan Hines Devil's Food Cake)
1/2 cup oil
4 eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee
3/4 cup Irish whiskey
1/2 cup water
1 small package instant chocolate pudding
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
Whipped cream

Directions
Combine cake mix, oil, eggs, instant coffee, whiskey, water, and pudding mix. Blend well. Fold in chocolate chips/chopped chocolate. Pour into greased and floured bundt pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F for about 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool completely.


LUNAR NEW YEAR: Chinese Five-Spice Truffles

Lunar New Year! Chinese New Year, also referred to as Lunar New Year, is the Chinese festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. The festival is usually referred to as the Spring Festival in mainland China, and is one of several Lunar New Years in Asia.

A few years ago I tasted fabulous Chinese 5-Spice Truffles at a special event. The chef wouldn't part with his recipe, so I did a bit of sleuthing. I found several recipes on the Internet, and experimented. As always the final outcome depends on the quality of chocolate and, additionally in this case, the spices. I found some locally produced Chinese Five-Spice, and I prefer it to the 'regular' Chinese 5-spice you can get at the local market. Five-Spice encompasses all five flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty. In case you want to make your own Chinese 5 Spice, scroll down for a recipe for Chinese Five Spice. It's easy to make, and that way you get to control the quality and freshness.

CHINESE FIVE-SPICE TRUFFLES

Ingredients
1 lb dark chocolate, preferably 70%
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (you can mix in a bit of sparkling sugar if you want to be festive)

Directions
Melt chocolate in metal bowl over saucepan of simmering water (or in a double boiler).
Remove from stove and pour cream with spices over it.
Let stand 2-3 minutes and then whisk together until smooth.
Refrigerate for an hour.
Take out of refrigerator and scoop or spoon into balls and put on parchment-lined baking sheet.
Put baking sheets in refrigerator for a few hours to firm up.
When balls are cold and solid, roll in cocoa powder, shaking off excess.

Chinese Five Spice
Recipe from Food.com

Ingredients
3 Tbsp cinnamon (I use Vietnamese cinnamon)
6 star anise or 2 teaspoons anise seeds
1 1⁄2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 1⁄2 teaspoons Szechuan peppercorns (If you don't have any, you can substitute black peppercorns)
3⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions
Combine all ingredients in blender or coffee grinder. Blend until finely ground. Store in airtight container. Keeps up to 2 months.

Tip: You can "roast" the whole spices a bit for more intense flavor -- in a dry frying pan, but watch closely, so spices don't burn.

Friday, January 24, 2020

ELVIS'S PEANUT BUTTER, BANANA, BACON CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: National Peanut Butter Day

Today is National Peanut Butter Day! We all know that Elvis loved his peanut butter and banana sandwiches, but add some bacon and chocolate chips and make these cookies to celebrate National Peanut Butter Day. Here's Elvis' Cookies recipe for Peanut Butter, Banana, Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies from the Cooking Channel. Some interesting ingredients, as well a preparation--in muffin tins!

ELVIS'S PEANUT BUTTER, BANANA, BACON CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES!


Ingredients 
10 slices bacon
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts
1/2 cup sweet dried banana chips, roughly chopped

Directions 
Cook bacon in skillet until crisp, then drain on paper towels. Once bacon is cool, roughly chop it (you should have about 1/2 cup).
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl.
In large bowl, beat butter, mayonnaise, and sugars with mixer at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Add peanut butter and vanilla and beat until combined. At low speed, add flour mixture in batches, beating until just combined.
Using wooden spoon, stir in chocolate chips, bacon, peanuts and banana chips.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Position racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Line 2 muffin tins with paper liners. Fill muffin tins about halfway full with batter (a 2-inch, 2-ounce ice cream scoop gives you just about the perfect amount, and helps prevent spilling).
Bake until tops are slightly golden and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. (Keep in mind that the cookies won't rise and form a dome like a cupcake.)
Let cool in muffin tins on wire racks for about 10 minutes, then unmold cookie cups and transfer to racks to cool completely.
Cook's Notes: The mayonnaise in this recipe makes these cookies especially soft. 

Elvis has left the building, and he took these cookies with him!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

FALLING IN LOVE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE PIE: National Pie Day

Today is Pie Day! Over the years, I've posted over 50 recipes for Chocolate Pies, but here's a favorite from the movie Waitress. Waitress (2007) was written and directed by the late Adrienne Shelly. Jenna, played by Keri Russell (The Americans), is a woman trapped in a life she dreams of escaping. Jenna bakes this pie--Falling in Love Chocolate Mousse Pie -- for a friend before a date, and the friend winds up marrying her date! Waitress is now a hit on Broadway, as well. This pie is easy to make and delicious.It's a great one to celebrate Pie Day! Bookmark it and make it for Valentine's Day, too!

Falling in Love Chocolate Mousse Pie

Ingredients
9-inch baked pastry shell
1 1/4 ounce can condensed milk (not evaporated)
2/3 cups water
1 (4 serving) package chocolate pudding mix (not instant)
1 1-ounce square unsweetened chocolate
2 cups (1 pint) whipping cream, stiffly whipped

Directions
In large saucepan, combine condensed milk, water, and pudding mix; mix well. Add chocolate. Over medium heat, cook, and stir rapidly until chocolate melts and mixture thickens. Remove from heat; beat until smooth. Cool. Chill thoroughly; stir. Fold in whipped cream. Pour into prepared pastry shell. Chill 4 hours until set.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

RETRO CONGO SQUARES: National Blonde Brownies Day!

Today is National Blonde 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.

I 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 sweets 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, coconut, 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 coconut in.





Tuesday, January 21, 2020

CHOCOLATE FILLED KING CAKE

Who doesn't love a good King Cake? The season for King Cake extends from the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Twelfth Night and Epiphany Day -January 6), up until the end of Shrovetide: Mardi Gras, "Fat Tuesday," or Shrove Tuesday; the day before the start of Lent.  

Epiphany comes from a Greek word that means "to show." Jesus first showed himself to the three wisemen and to the world on this day. As a symbol of this Day, a tiny plastic baby is placed inside each King Cake. The King Cake tradition is thought to have been brought to New Orleans from France in 1870.

Each cake is decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors - purple representing justice, green representing faith, and gold representing power. 

Here's a really easy recipe for Chocolate-Filled King Cake. Don't forget the Baby!

Chocolate-Filled King Cake

INGREDIENTS

CAKE
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 (.25 ounce) packets active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

CHOCOLATE FILLING
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup half & half
5 egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup chocolate chips

FROSTING
4 cups confectioners' sugar
2/3 cup melted butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3-6 Tbsp hot water
Purple, Green, and Yellow sugar crystals for decoration

DIRECTIONS

CAKE

Heat milk until steaming, not boiling. Immediately remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of melted butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In large bowl, dissolve 2 packets of yeast in warm water with 1 tablespoon white sugar. Let stand about 10 minutes. Mixture will look slightly creamy and begin bubbling.

When yeast mixture starts bubbling, add cooled milk mixture. Whisk in eggs. Stir in remaining white sugar, nutmeg, and salt. Beat flour into milk/egg mixture about one cup at a time. When dough pulls together, turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until elastic and smooth. (about 10 minutes)

Lightly oil large bowl, place dough in tbowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in  warm place until doubled in volume. (about 2-3 hours) When dough has doubled in size, turn out on ightly floured surface, and punch dough down to remove air. Divide dough in half.

CHOCOLATE FILLING

Whisk sugar, salt, flour, half and half, and egg yolks together in small saucepan on medium heat. Stir constantly for about 5 minutes, or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract and chocolate until chocolate melts. Let chocolate filling cool for 5 minutes.

On floured surface, roll dough halves out into large rectangles (about 10x15 inches). Brush dough with melted butter. Spread chocolate filling evenly over dough and roll up each half tightly, beginning atwide side. Bring ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring on prepared cookie sheet.

With scissors, make cuts about 1/3 of way through rings at 1 inch intervals. Let cakes sit and rise in warm spot until double in size. (about 30-45 minutes)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake cakes in preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes.

FROSTING

While king cake is baking, mix powdered sugar, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Add hot water, one tablespoon at time, until desired consistency.

When you take king cake out of oven, push small plastic doll into bottom of cake.

Frost while warm.

Finish with sprinkles of purple, green, and yellow sugar crystals.

Monday, January 20, 2020

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 their 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 Buttercrunch Day holiday, I suggest you make the following recipe for Homemade Almond Roca. This recipe for Home-made Almond Roca is adapted from Elizabeth LaBau on AboutFood.com

No time to cook? Pick up a bar of Almond Roca.

Home-Made Almond Roca

Ingredients 
4 ounces unsalted 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 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 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 in food processor and pulse for several seconds until becomes 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.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Chocolate Peanut Butter Footballs: Tailgate Party!

Going to a Tailgate Party today? Here's a great and easy recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Footballs! Save this recipe for Super Bowl Sunday! Or make it both times! Everyone will love these.

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER FOOTBALLS

Ingredients
1-1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
12 ounces chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)
2 tablespoons shortening
White icing gel

Directions
Line baking sheet with waxed paper. Set aside.
Mix peanut butter, butter, and vanilla together in bowl.
Add one cup powdered sugar to creamy mixture, mixing well each time. By third cup of powdered sugar, mixture becomes hard to stir with spoon. Mix with hands.
Once all powdered sugar is incorporated into peanut butter mixture, start making balls.
Pinch off small amount and roll between hands to form small ball. Then shape into footballs.
Place peanut butter footballs on prepared wax paper on cookie sheet.
Once all balls are made, melt chocolate (double boiler or pot over pot with simmering water). Be sure to add shortening to chocolate –to make covering peanut butter balls with chocolate easier.
One at a time, dip peanut butter balls into melted chocolate. Lift ball out of chocolate with fork or candy dipper and put on waxed paper.
Once all peanut butter balls are coated, put cookie sheet in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to harden.
Use icing gel to make laces on your football.
Allow to dry.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

CHOCOLATE CHIP HONEY SCONES: Winnie the Pooh Day

Today is Winnie the Pooh Day. We all know that Winnie the Pooh loves Honey (Hunny) Well, most bears love honey, don't they? And, Winnie the Pooh loves a good tea party, so here's a great recipe for Chocolate Chip Honey Scones to celebrate the Day!

“I don’t feel very much like Pooh today," said Pooh.
"There there," said Piglet. "I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do.”
A.A. Milne,
Winnie-the-Pooh 

Winnie the Pooh Chocolate Chip Honey Scones 

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon honey
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
2/3 cup milk or cream

Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In large mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir to combine.
Cut in cold butter with pastry cutter (or fork), and mix with pastry cutter or fork until mixture has the texture of coarse sand.
Add chocolate chips, honey, ricotta cheese, and milk. Stir with wooden spoon until batter forms and all ingredients are combined. DO NOT OVERMIX.
Lightly flour board and place ball of dough on floured surface. Gently pat dough down into disk, about 1 inch thick. With knife, cut disk into 8 approximately equal pieces. Place pieces on prepared baking sheet.
Bake at 425 for about 15-17 minutes, or until scones are lightly golden and baked through.
Cool.

Friday, January 17, 2020

HOT CHOCOLATE BUTTERED RUM BUNDT CAKE: Hot Buttered Rum Day!

I love a mug of Hot Chocolate Buttered Rum on a cold rainy day. For the past few years I've posted a recipe  for Hot Chocolate Buttered Rum on January 17 for National Hot Buttered Rum Day. This year I thought I'd post a great recipe I found a few years ago at the CrumbyKitchen for Hot Chocolate Buttered Rum Bundt Cake! It's a very dense spiced chocolate bundt cake and amazingly boozy!You're going to love it. And, you can always have a Chocolate Hot Buttered rum with it!

Hot Chocolate Buttered Rum Bundt Cake

Ingredients 

Cake 
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup strong coffee
1/2 cup rum
1 1/2 cups plus
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder, divided
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Buttered Rum Glaze 
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup rum
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions

Cake
Preheat oven to 326 degrees F. Spray a 15-cup bundt pan with baking spray, then dust with 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder; set aside

Whisk flour, baking soda and powder, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.

In large saucepan set over medium heat, combine butter, buttermilk, coffee, rum, cocoa powder, and spices and stir. Heat until butter melts and all ingredients come together, then whisk in sugars, stirring until dissolved. Cool mixture for 5 minutes, then transfer to large mixing bowl.

In small bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla extract, and add to cooled chocolate rum mixture, stirring until combined.

Add flour mixture and stir until just combined – batter will be rather thin but slightly lumpy/bubbly.

Pour batter into prepared bundt pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted to the bottom comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool for 20-30 minutes while you make glaze.

Buttered Rum Glaze

In small saucepan, dissolve brown sugar into cream over medium-low heat. When combined, add rum and set heat to low. Allow to simmer until liquid is reduced and thickens. Add butter and stir to melt, then remove from heat.

Using skewer, poke multiple holes across bottom of cake. Spoon or brush buttered rum glaze on  cake, and allow to soak 5-10 minutes, then repeat with more glaze two more times. Let cake soak & cool 20-30 minutes.

When cake cools, turnonto cake plate. Brush top and sides of cake with remaining glaze until all used up.

Top with whipped cream or ice cream.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

CHOCOLATE COVERED DRIED FIGS

January 16 is Fig Newton Day! My Dad was a huge Fig Newtons fan. Me, not so much. However, I love figs, and I'm using this food holiday as a jumping off point for Chocolate Covered Figs. Before I embark on recipes for Chocolate Covered Dried Figs, just wanted to let you know that Vice Chocolates' Dark Chocolate Bar with Fig &Anise is one of my favorite chocolate fig combinations!

Following are two recipes for Chocolate Covered Dried Figs (not Fig Newtons!). The first is alcoholic, because who doesn't love a drunken fig? The second recipe calls for stuffing the dried figs with walnuts, but contains no alcohol. Actually you can mix and match these recipes to come up with whatever you think is perfect for you! As always, use the very best chocolate and figs! Different chocolate, different figs, different tastes!

And if you want a recipe for Chocolate Covered Fig Newtons, check out Cakespy's post for Chocolate Covered Fig Newtons on a Stick.

Want to make your own Fig Newtons? Try this recipe for Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Figgy Newtons.

And, just as an FYI. The original Fig Newtons are now called just Newtons.

Chocolate Covered Dried Figs

Ingredients
20 dried figs
Rum
10 ounces 70-85% dark chocolate, chopped fine
1/4 cup unsalted butter
pinch of sea salt

Directions
Put figs in bowl and cover with rum. Let soak, covered, overnight in refrigerator.
Next day, drain well and pat dry.
Put chopped chocolate into top of double boiler, stirring. Add butter, stirring until smooth. 
Take figs by stems and dip in chocolate several times, covering completely.
Put figs on rack over cookie sheet to catch drips.
When finished dipping, chill figs in refrigerator.

Non-Alcoholic Chocolate Covered Figs Stuffed with Walnuts

Ingredients
9 figs, dried
9 walnut halves
5  Tbsp dark chocolate (60-75%), chopped

Directions
Make small incisions in bottoms of 9 dried figs and stuff each with a walnut half.
Melt chocolate in double boiler until smooth.
Holding the stem, dip stuffed figs into chocolate.
Let them drip from rack over cookie sheet, or place on plate or wax paper.
Put chocolate covered figs on plate or waxed paper in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or more until chocolate hardens.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM CHOCOLATE HEART SANDWICHES: National Strawberry Ice Cream Day

Today is Strawberry Ice Cream Day. This seems a little odd coming in the middle of a cold January, but ice cream is available all year round, so why not?

I chose a recipe for today's holiday that will also be great for Valentine's Day, so be sure and bookmark it. Recipe is from Martha Stewart. Her recipe calls for homemade vanilla, which is really lovely, but if you don't have time for that, you can always use whatever vanilla you have. I will be doing a post on vanilla in the near future. Stay tuned. I have lots of heart shaped cookie cutters, but you can use and cookie-cutter shape you'd like for these ice cream sandwiches. I especially like strawberry ice cream that has bits of strawberry in it. Much richer and luscious.

STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM CHOCOLATE HEART SANDWICHES

Ingredients 
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 -1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp milk 2 to 2 1/2 pints strawberry ice cream, softened

Directions
In medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.
In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter, vanilla, and sugar. Add eggs and milk, and mix until combined. Add reserved flour mixture, and mix on low speed until incorporated, scraping sides of bowl at least once.
Divide dough in half, and shape each half into flat disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap, and chill until firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out on floured surface, sliding offset spatula under the dough to release every few turns of rolling pin. Roll dough to 1/8 inch thick.
Cut dough using variety of heart-shape cookie cutters 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter, making sure each cookie has a match to make a sandwich.
Place hearts on parchment-lined baking sheet; chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
Remove from refrigerator; use fork to prick the cookies all over with holes. Bake until just firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet; transfer to a wire rack.
With underside of half cookies face up, spoon softened strawberry ice cream about 1/2 inch thick to cover one side. Place matching cookie on top of ice cream, top side facing out. Transfer immediately to freezer to harden; repeat with remaining cookies and ice cream. Serve directly from freezer.
Sandwiches can be kept stored in an airtight container in the freezer for 3 to 4 days.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

HAND-ME-DOWN CHOCOLATE CAKE: Retro Ad & Recipe

I just love these Retro Story Ads with Recipes, don't you? Here's a 1972 Hershey's Ad for Hand-Me Down Chocolate Cake. It's a great and easy cake to make, and you'll enjoy the story behind it.





Monday, January 13, 2020

GLUTEN-FREE BROWNIES: National Gluten Free Day!

Today is Gluten-Free Day. Because so many of my friends are Gluten-Free, I try to post several chocolate recipes a year that are Gluten Free. It's been a few years since I posted one of my favorite gluten-free recipes: Ghirardelli Gluten-free Brownies. 

I've often mentioned that product websites are great places to find terrific recipes. Ghirardelli Chocolate has many Gluten-Free Chocolate Recipes on their website, including this fabulous recipe for Gluten-Free Brownies. Only thing I'd add to this recipe would be more chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate chunks) when you add the walnuts or pecans, but then I'm big on extra chocolate. There's also a great recipe for a Gluten-Free Walnut Torte. Be sure to check out all the recipes.

GHIRARDELLI GLUTEN-FREE BROWNIES

Ingredients
1 cup 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips (or chunks)
1/2 cup whole almonds (or 2/3 cup almond flour)
1/3 cup brown rice flour
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

Directions
Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in lower third of oven.
Line pan across bottom and up two sides with parchment paper.
If using whole almonds, add them to food processor with rice flour and pulse until nuts are finely ground. If using almond flour, mix with rice flour. Set aside.
Place chocolate, butter, and salt in top of large double boiler over barely simmering water. Stir frequently until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove bowl and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Stir in eggs, one at a time. Add almond and rice flour mixture and stir until moistened, and then mix briskly, about 40 strokes. Stir in walnuts or pecans if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until brownies are slightly puffed all over and toothpick inserted into center comes out moist but clean.
Cool pan on rack. Run knife along unlined sides of pan to detach brownies. Lift edges of parchment paper to remove brownies. Cut into squares

You can substitute Ghirardelli Bittersweet 60% Chocolate Chips with 1-1/2 bar of Ghirardelli Bittersweet 60% chocolate, broken into small pieces.

You will love this recipe--even if you're not gluten-free. 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

CHOCOLATE COVERED MARZIPAN CHERRIES: National Marzipan Day

Today is National Marzipan Day. I love marzipan, and I usually have some around, so for today's holiday, here's an easy recipe for Chocolate Covered Marzipan Cherries. Be still my heart! This recipe would also be great for Valentine's Day, so be sure and bookmark it.

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! And, these chocolate covered Marzipan Cherries and delicious and easy to make. Don't want to use Maraschino Cherries? Try Chukar Cherries. They're natural and delicious.

CHOCOLATE COVERED MARZIPAN CHERRIES

Ingredients
Cherries (Maraschino or Chukar's Cherries)
Marzipan
Chocolate (dark..use any melting technique on this blog)

Directions
Drain Cherries
Take a piece of marzipan bigger than the cherry and wrap it around the cherry.
Continue until all cherries are covered.
Melt chocolate in double boiler or pan over pan with simmering water.
Dip Marzipan Covered Cherry Balls in chocolate.
Put Balls in Refrigerator to set.

How easy is that?

 

Want to make your own Marzipan? Here's an easy recipe from Epicurious. 2 pounds in 5 minutes!

Five - Minute Marzipan 
(from Liz Gutman & Jen King's The Liddabit Sweets Cookbook)

Ingredients 
3 cups (24 ounces) almond paste
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, plus extra if needed
1 Tablespoon kirsch or other brandy (see Note), plus extra if needed

Directions
If using a stand mixer: Combine almond paste, confectioners' sugar, and 1 tablespoon brandy in mixing bowl. Mix on low speed until everything is completely incorporated and dough is smooth and pliable, about 5 minutes. If using hands: Form almond paste into flat round on work surface. Dust half of confectioners' sugar over round and begin kneading it into paste, folding paste over on itself repeatedly. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of brandy over dough and knead in. Once incorporated, dust    remainder of sugar over dough and knead untilcompletely incorporated.

Dough should be uniform and pliable. If dry, add a few more drops of flavoring (or warm water) and knead until at desired consistency; if sticky, a little more confectioners' sugar. Store marzipan, wrapped very well in plastic wrap, in refrigerator for at least 3 months.

Note: Kirsch is brandy distilled from cherries. Cherries particularly complement almonds since the two are related, and cherry pits have an almond like flavor that is imparted to the liquor (and works well with the cherry recipe above)

Saturday, January 11, 2020

HOT TODDY DAY! Make it Chocolate!

This season is seeing the worst cases of flu in years. There is no real cure for flu or colds, but I can attest that a Hot Toddy does the trick in making you feel better, even if only temporarily--a traditional Hot Toddy, that is. See the Retro Ad on this page. So because today is Hot Toddy Day, I'm offering up a recipe with a chocolate spin.

Hot Toddy might be an old fashioned name, but the Hot Toddy has served for centuries as a therapeutic drink. If you add chocolate, you get all those chocolate benefits, too. Alcohol and chocolate: a great combination.

What exactly is a Hot Toddy?
A toddy is a drink made typically with a spirit base, water, some type of sugar, and spices. A hot toddy is usually a mixture of whiskey, cinnamon, hot water, honey, and lemon. A Hot Toddy may have tea as the spice (or in addition to the spice). 

Where did it come from?
The word “toddy” itself stretches back to the British colonial era and is taken from the Hindi word tārī, which was a drink made from the fermented sap of toddy palm, hence the name. The British Toddy was served cool and, for awhile this was the tradition. The toddy eventually made its way across the ocean to the American South where plantation owners would drink their own version of a toddy with rum, spices, and locally-available sugar. This mixture was cooked, then cooled and consumed. While derived from the British colonial toddy, this drink was called a bombo or bimbo. That’s great and all, but you said you’d be talking about hot toddies. 

The hot toddy that we know now found its roots in Scottish tradition. No surprise there. This Hot Toddy was made with whisky, hot water, honey, and spices such as nutmeg or clove, and was touted as a cold cure. The Scots claim that the name toddy came from the origin of the water used for the drink: Tod’s Well in Edinburgh. Legend states that during the Revolutionary War, colonists would use toddies as liquid courage, drinking round after round to get up the nerve to fight. The biggest difference in the American toddy from the Scottish was the use of rum or brandy in comparison to whiskey. The colonists were working with what they had — which was more often the brandy they were making at home or the rum that was being imported from the Caribbean. The presentation of the toddy was also different. The drink was typically made in a punch bowl in large amounts to accommodate the crowds that would gather at local taverns and then served in a specific type of stemmed glassware, which was itself at some point named a toddy. So there you have it, the hot toddy, which wasn’t all that hot at first.

But this is a Chocolate Blog, so here's a recipe from Sunset for Brandied Hot Chocolate, a great Hot Toddy to drink today!

Chocolate Hot Toddy!

Ingredients
1- 1/2 cups grated dark chocolate (65-75% organic, your favorite)
1/2 cup dry milk powder (not something I have on hand except for this)
4 cups whole milk
4 Tbsp Armagnac
Whipped cream or marshmallows, for garnish

Directions
In medium bowl, mix grated chocolate and dry milk powder.
In medium saucepan, heat whole milk over medium heat. Once heated, stir in chocolate mixture and whisk until chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and hot.
Pour 1 Tbsp Armagnac into each mug (four mugs total), then fill each mug with smooth, hot chocolate mixture.
Serve hot, garnished with fresh whipped cream or fresh marshmallows.

THE BIG BAD WOLF'S BROWNIES: Wolf Moon Brownies!

Last night was the full moon called the Wolf Moon, named after howling wolves on the coldest night of the year. It got me thinking about wolves in stories, and I thought of the Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs. The recipe below is for The Big Bad Wolf's Brownies from the Walt Disney Mickey Mouse Cookbook. This is a great and easy recipe -- no huffing and puffing. Celebrate the Wolf Moon with these Big Bad Wolf's Brownies.

The Big Bad Wolf's Brownies
This recipe for The Big Bad Wolf's Brownies appeared in Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Cookbook.

Ingredients
Shortening for buttering pan
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 squares (2 ounces) unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour, unsifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup pecans or walnut pieces, raisins, or salted pecans
2 eggs

Directions
Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9x9x2 pan with shortening.
Melt butter and chocolate in large saucepan over low heat. Remove sauce pan from heat.
Stir in sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla, and nuts. Add eggs and beat well with egg beater.
Pour batter into baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove pan from oven and place on rack.
When brownies are cool, cut into squares.

THE WOLF MOON 2020

Friday, January 10, 2020

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES ROLLED IN SPICES:: National Bittersweet Chocolate Day

Today is Bittersweet Chocolate Day! This is a great day to celebrate, with a few clarifications on terminology. Don't fear, the holiday will be sweet..and not bitter! 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 U.S. classifies chocolate as either "bittersweet" or "semisweet" that contain at least 35% cacao (either cacao solids or butter from the cacao beans).

So for today's holiday, here's one of my favorite recipes for Bittersweet Chocolate Truffles from  from Joan Coukos that appeared in Food & Wine in 2005. It's an easy recipe for Bittersweet Chocolate Truffles Coated with a Blend of Chinese and Mexican Spices. Heaven!

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES ROLLED IN SPICES!

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 a 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 of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. In another small bowl, whisk 1/3 cup of sugar with the remaining 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, allspice, and 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 ganache and drop them onto parchment. Place baking sheet in refrigerator for 10 minutes. Using 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 tbaking sheet, cover loosely and refrigerate until chilled.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

WHITE CHOCOLATE APRICOT SCONES: National Apriocot Day

It's blustery outside today, and scones right out of the oven are perfect for this cold rainy weather. I've posted lots of scone recipes, but since today is National Apricot Day, I thought I'd post this easy recipe for White Chocolate Apricot Scones. No fresh apricots this time of year, at least not growing in my local area, so this recipe is perfect since it calls for dried apricots. I always have dried apricots in the refrigerator or pantry. I serve these scones with clotted cream (or unsalted butter) and a nice pot of tea!

WHITE CHOCOLATE APRICOT SCONES

Ingredients
2/3 cup butter
3 1⁄2 cups flour
1⁄4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2⁄3 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1 cup white chocolate chips (make sure it's 'real' white chocolate!)
2 eggs
2⁄3 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla
Optional (sugar for sprinkling)

Directions 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In large bowl cut together butter, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt using pastry blender (or use 2 table knives crisscrossing ingredients in opposite directions)until mixture is crumbly.
Stir in apricots and white chocolate chips.
Add eggs, half & half, and vanilla so dough separates from side of bowl and forms a ball.
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead lightly 10 times (don't overwork).
Divide dough into two equal portions.
On greased baking sheets pat each portion of dough into an 8" circle, and cut each circle into 8 wedges.
Optional: Sprinkle with sugar
Bake about 15 minutes, until golden. Serve warm.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

ENGLISH TOFFEE HOT CHOCOLATE: English Toffee Day

Today is English Toffee Day. I'm a toffee-holic. I judge Toffee at the San Francisco and International Chocolate Salons. English Toffee is the very best of toffee as far as I'm concerned. It's rich and buttery with a crisp texture and covered with a thick coating of dark chocolate and a sprinkling of nuts.

Toffee is great by itself, but sometimes it's great to pair with Hot Chocolate! And, today is the perfect day for it! It's cold outside, so here are two ways to keep warm inside: Two recipes for English Toffee Hot Chocolate.

Although you can make your own Toffee, you can just use your favorite store-bought English toffee in these recipes! Just be sure to chop it up!

1. English Toffee Hot Chocolate

Ingredients
4 cups milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
8 ounces dark chocolate (70% cacao), chopped
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup English toffee, crushed
Whipped cream
Unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions
Combine milk, water, and sugar in saucepan and stir over medium heat until just boiling.
Remove from heat, and stir in chocolate and vanilla.
Beat with whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is frothy.
Pour hot chocolate into 2 big mugs.
Top with whipped cream and crushed English toffee. Sprinkle with cocoa powder.

2. English Toffee Hot Chocolate

Ingredients 
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
6 ounces dark chocolate (70% cacao), chopped
2 ounces butterscotch chips
Whipped cream
1/4 cup English Toffee, crushed

Directions
Heat milk, water, sugar to boil.
Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate and butterscotch chips until they combine with milk.
Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream and crushed toffee.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Cartoon of the Day: Culinary Classics


TOLL HOUSE CHOCOLATE MINT COOKIES:Retro Ad & Recipe

Here's a Retro 1966 Ad with Recipe for Toll House Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies that still holds its own today. You'll love these. nd, you can never have too many Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipes! Use the chocolate and chocolate mint chips you have on hand or opt for the very best! Toll House Chocolate Mint Cookies!


Monday, January 6, 2020

CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD HEARTS: National Shortbread Day

Today is National Shortbread Day! I love shortbread! The large amount of butter is what makes shortbread short: the term short, when applied to biscuits and pastry, means crumbly, like shortcrust pastry should be. It is the reason why the fat added to biscuits and pastries is called shortening.

The history of shortbread goes back to at least the 12th century and originally started life as ‘biscuit bread’; biscuits that were made from left-over bread dough that was sometimes sweetened and dried out in the oven to form a hard, dry rusk. Over time the leavening was lost and exchanged for butter, making it an expensive fancy treat that was only bought for celebrations such as Christmas and Hogsmanay (Scottish New Year). There are similar ‘breads’ outside of Scotland such as Shrewsbury cakes and Goosnagh cakes.

So what's a new recipe for Shortbread? Here's one for Chocolate Shortbread Hearts from Melissa Clark that appeared in the New York Times! You can make it today for National Shortbread Day or save this recipe for Valentine's Day!

The dough is basic, and you can decorate in so many different ways! I love versatile recipes, don't you? These buttery shortbread cookies are dunked partway in melted chocolate and sprinleed with freeze-dried raspberries. I found some really good freeze-dried raspberries at Trader Joe's, and now always have them in my pantry. You can also use flaky sea salt, chopped pistachios or coconut to top the dipped chocolate!

CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD HEARTS

Tips:
Be sure not to roll the dough thinner than 1/2 inc or the cookies might break. 
Use European-style butter. It's higher in butter fat and the cream was cultured before churned. I use French butter.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup salted European-style (or cultured) butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 6 ounces dark, milk or white chocolate chips, or use some of each (about 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup freeze-dried raspberries, lightly crushed 

Directions

  1. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder and salt.
  2. In bowl of electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in yolk, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Form dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
  3. Once chilled, remove plastic wrap and sandwich dough between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll it out into a 1/2-inch-thick slab. Leaving dough between the parchment, place it on a baking sheet or large plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours).
  4. Heat oven to 325 degrees, and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Pull dough from refrigerator, and remove parchment from dough. Using a 2-inch heart-shaped cutter, cut out as many hearts as possible. Transfer them to the prepared cookie sheets. Reroll the dough scraps and repeat.
  6. Bake cookies for 18 to 23 minutes, until puffed and set, rotating the cookie sheets halfway through. Transfer pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  7. In heatproof measuring cup, melt chocolate in the microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring in between.
  8. Dip half of each cooled cookie in melted chocolate, letting excess drip back into measuring cup. Place back on parchment-lined baking sheets, and sprinkle chocolate with crushed raspberries. Let cool until chocolate is set, then store in an airtight container.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM: Milk, Dark, and White for National Whipped Cream Day

Today is National Whipped Cream Day. I've posted many recipes that call for whipped cream including chocolate whipped cream for National Cream Puff Day. Today I have three recipes for Chocolate Whipped Cream -- milk, dark, and white.

Chocolate Whipped Cream is terrific to add to desserts, fill cream puffs,/ There are so many other creative uses. Whipped Cream is easy to make, and it's delicious. You can use it as an icing or filling. You can use it with just about anything you would use regular whipped cream for, including Chocolate Strawberry Short Cake!

The first recipe for Milk Chocolate Whipped Cream is from Martha Stewart. Martha uses chocolate whipped cream for the filling of chocolate sandwich cookies. Fabulous!  I love these Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Chocolate Whipped Cream, and you can use any chocolate cookie recipe!

The second Chocolate Whipped Cream Recipe uses a lot more chocolate, and it's dark chocolate. Which chocolate you choose depends on what you like and what you have.

The third Chocolate Whipped Cream is from the Queen of Chocolate, Alice Medrich. It's for White Chocolate Whipped Cream. Of course, Medrich has great recipes for Dark and Milk chocolate, too, so check out her recipes online and in her many cookbooks.

The Retro Advertisement is for Reddi-Wip! Don't use a can if you have the ingredients and time to make your own. It's so much better!
Photo: Martha Stewart

1. CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM  
(from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients
4 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups heavy cream
3 Tbsp sugar

Directions
Place chocolate in medium bowl; set aside.
Heat sugar and 1 cup cream in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until sugar has dissolved.
Pour cream mixture over chocolate; stir until chocolate has melted. Let cool.
Transfer chocolate mixture to electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Add remaining cup heavy cream and beat on medium speed until thick and fluffy.

How easy is that?

2. DARK CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM (from Sherry Yard)

I really love this recipe from Sherry Yard for Chocolate Whipped Cream. It's definitely more of a rich whipped ganache, but then isn't that what it's all about? Sherry Yard was the executive pastry chef at Wolfgang Puck's Spago in Beverly Hills and shared this recipe on Cookin' with Good Morning America (December 25, 2003). It's also in in her book Secrets of Baking: Simple Techniques for Sophisticated Desserts.

Ingredients
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp sugar

Directions
Using serrated knife, finely chop the chocolate into 1/4 inch pieces and place in medium heatproof bowl.
Bring cream and sugar to boil in small saucepan over medium heat. Immediately pour hot cream over chopped chocolate. Tap bowl on counter to settle chocolate into cream, then let sit for 1 minute.
Using rubber spatula, slowly stir in circular motion, starting from center of bowl and working out to sides. Stir until all chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes.
Pour ganache into medium container, cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. It should be consistency of peanut butter.
Once ganache has chilled, transfer to large bowl. Using balloon whisk, whip ganache by hand until it just reaches soft peaks, about 2 minutes. Be sure to lift whisk out of cream with each pass to bring in as much air as possible. Do not overwhip. Don't worry if cream doesn't seem firm enough. It will have consistency of mustard but will solidify more after it sets in the refrigerator. You can also use a hand mixer.
Use this cream immediately to fill pastries, tarts, and cakes. After dessert is filled, refrigerate for about 1 hour to set the Chocolate Whipped Cream.

3. White Chocolate Whipped Cream from Alice Medrich

Ingredients
4 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp water
A pinch or two of salt (optional)

Directions
Put chocolate in medium bowl.
Bring cream and water to simmer in saucepan and pour over chocolate. Let stand for 30 seconds, then stir well.
Let stand for 15 minutes to finish melting chocolate, then stir again until every last bit of chocolate is melted into cream. Let cool. Taste and add salt, if desired.
Cover and refrigerate for at least several hours, or until completely chilled.
To serve, whip the cream with electric mixer until it holds a shape.
Use immediately or refrigerate until needed.

And, as always, your final product will only be as good as your ingredients. Use the best. Here's one of my favorite whipping creams!



Saturday, January 4, 2020

CHOCOLATE SPAGHETTI: National Spaghetti Day

Today is National Spaghetti Day, and what can be better than Chocolate Spaghetti? Great flavor, great texture, and oh 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.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Chocolate Covered Cherries: Easy Recipes for National Chocolate Covered Cherries 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 Cherries Day. I've added another recipe, too. 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.

Chocolate Covered Cherries usually have a sweet liquid center. According to National Day,
in the 1700s in England, cherries were enclosed in chocolate with a little kirsch (cordial) liqueur. After finding their way to the United States, Americans received them quite well, delighting in the little bit of alcoholic cordial surrounding the fruit dipped in chocolate. Although originally made with the liqueur, cordials/chocolate covered cherries are more commonly made with a sugar syrup flavored with cherries. The pitted cherries have been cooked in sugar syrup and jarred.

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!

1. 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.

2. Chocolate Covered Marschino Cherries

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

3. 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?

And here's a fourth easy recipe for Chocolate Covered Cherries from Santa Barbara Chocolate

4. Easy Chocolate Covered Cherries

Ingredients
60 maraschino cherries with stems
3 tablespoons butter softened
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 1/2 pounds candy-making chocolate

Directions
Drain cherries thoroughly on paper towel. Combine butter, corn syrup, and salt. Stir in powdered sugar; knead mixture till smooth (chill mixture if too soft).
Shape 2 teaspoon of the sugar mixture around each cherry. Place coated cherries on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper (or parchment paper), chill.
In a heavy 1 quart saucepan, melt chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly (use the microwave on low to melt more quickly). Holding by the stems, dip coated cherries, one at a time, into chocolate coating. Spoon chocolate over cherries to coat to ensure the center is fully encased. Place cherries on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper (or parchment paper). Chill. Store in refrigerator in a covered container. Let candies ripen in refrigerator for one or two weeks before serving.....If you can wait!
***
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!