Friday, February 21, 2020

CHOCOLATE COCONUT MUFFINS: National Muffin Day!

Yesterday was National Muffin Day, but it's not too late to celebrate with these delicious Chocolate Coconut Muffins! They're perfect for your weekend brunch! And, they're so easy and quikc to make.

CHOCOLATE COCONUT MUFFINS

Ingredients 
1 cup oat flour
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions 
In large bowl, combine all ingredients (excluding coconut flakes and chocolate chips).
Fold in coconut flakes and chocolate chips.
Pour batter into cupcake liners, filling about 3/4 full.
Top with additional coconut flakes (this will toast while baking)
Bake at 350°F for approximately 20 minutes.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

CHOCOLATE CHERRY PIE: National Cherry Pie Day

So today is National Cherry Pie Day, but since it's winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, I'm not sure why this food holiday shows up in February. Many markets carry cherries from Mexico and countries in South America, so check around. All of my markets have fresh cherries. Or, you can wait and bookmark this recipe to make in the summer.

But, if you can get fresh cherries, I suggest you make Chocolate Cherry Pie today. This recipe is from Allison Arevalo who posted this on Local Lemons several years ago.

This Chocolate Cherry Pie features fabulous cherries, rich dark chocolate, and a butter pie crust. It is positively sinful. The directions and photos on Local Lemons are outstanding.

I use pre-made pie crusts from Trader Joe's, but check the link if you want to make an outstanding pie crust that includes graham cracker crumbs as well as a good flour.

CHOCOLATE CHERRY PIE

Ingredients
2 pre-made deep dish pie crusts
2 1/2 pounds fresh cherries (about 2 pounds pitted)
1/2 cup agave nectar
4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shredded chocolate (Mostly dark, with some milk chocolate mixed in, also chopped in food processor)

Directions

Filling
Pit cherries using cherry-pitter and put in large bowl. Add chopped chocolate, 4 Tbsp flour, and agave nectar. Gently toss until cherries are well coated.
Preheat oven to 400F.
With pre-made pie dough that's been rolled out. Fit into 9 inch pie dish. Carefully pick up and place in dish, cutting off overhang. Fill dough with cherry mixture. Roll out second piecrust and place on top of pie. Pinch sides closed with thumb and forefinger, and use sharp knife to cut three vents into top of crust. Brush with egg wash.
Bake for 25 minutes in middle of oven. Lower heat to 350F and bake for 25 more minutes.  

Photo: Local Lemons with permission

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Thin Mint Cookie S'mores: National Chocolate Mint Day


Today is National Chocolate Mint Day. So many Chocolate Mint recipes, but my favorite Chocolate Mint Cookies are Girl Scout Cookies Thin Mints. And, it's Girl Scout Cookie Time! Girl Scouts invented S'mores, so this recipe from the the Campfire Marshmallow website for Mint Chocolate Cookie S'mores using Girl Scout Thin Mints is a great and easy way to celebrate!

THIN MINT COOKIE S'MORES

Ingredients
Mint Chocolate Cookies (Girl Scout Thin Mints)
Regular Campfire Marshmallows

Directions
Place cookie face side down on plate.
Carefully toast marshmallow over grill or campfire (or oven).
Place toasted marshmallow on cookie and top with second cookie. Press gently.

How easy is that?

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

THIN MINT GIRL SCOUT COOKIE BROWNIES

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

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

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

Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookie Brownies

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

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

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

So which cookies will you buy?



Monday, February 17, 2020

GEORGE WASHINGTON'S FAVORITE DRINK: Warm Chocolate Cream

Presidents Day and what better way to celebrate than with the George Washington's Favorite Drink: Warm Chocolate Cream.

George Washington definitely liked his chocolate. A favorite breakfast for him was cornmeal hoe cakes with honey and butter, washed them down with Warm Chocolate Cream, according to the cookbook, Dining with the Washingtons, by the staff at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate. This cookbook offers updated versions of typical recipes from the period and a glimpse into the first president's favorite foods.

Dining with the Washingtons, Historic Recipes, Entertaining, and Hospitality from Mount Vernon, edited By Stephen A. McLeod

Chocolate was a favorite drink at Mount Vernon in George Washington's lifetime. Washington's first recorded order for chocolate was for 20 pounds of chocolate, which arrived from England in 1758. He continued to buy chocolate throughout his life, in quantities as small as one pound and as large as the 50 pounds purchased three months before his death in 1799. (Source: Pleasant Living Magazine)

Chocolate was a typical breakfast beverage, not only at Mount Vernon but throughout British North America. It was made by grating a small amount of chocolate into boiling water, milk and water, or wine and water, and later adding sugar (See recipe below from Dining with the Washingtons).

In a letter to his wife in Scotland, tutor John Harrower at Belvidera Plantation wrote that breakfast with his employer usually consisted of warm bread and either coffee or chocolate. In 1794, a friend wrote to George Washington requesting two or three bushels of chocolate shells "such as we've frequently drank Chocolate of at Mt. Vernon, as my Wife thinks it agreed with her better than any other Breakfast....". Martha Washington's daughter-in-law admitted to one of her daughters that "the more simple food I have is best" and went on to say that "I breakfast on Chocolate....".

Special ceramic forms were used to serve this beverage. Among the 309 pieces of white and gold French china acquired in 1790 for the presidential mansion were 12 chocolate cups and saucers, which were brought to Mount Vernon upon Washington's retirement. The Washingtons purchased three sets of tea china and six chocolate cups in 1793, further evidence that chocolate, although popular, was not served as often as tea. A covered, two-handled chocolate or caudle cup, probably intended as a display piece, survives from the "States" service given to Martha Washington in 1796 and is exhibited in the museum at Mount Vernon.

In addition to enjoying cocoa, the Washingtons often made a healthful tea from the shells (hulls), which they served to guests.

Recipe from Dining with the Washingtons:


Sunday, February 16, 2020

FIRST LADIES' CHOCOLATE RECIPES: Presidents Day

Tomorrow is Presidents' Day. It's not any 'real' president's birthday. When I was growing up we celebrated both Lincoln's Birthday and Washington's Birthday on two separate days. That also meant two days off from school, not just one. Times have changed. For this year's Presidents Day, I'm featuring recipes by the women behind the men (sadly not a man behind the woman, although there's a family recipe for the 2016 Cookie Bake-Off. See below). Here are several Chocolate Recipes from first ladies. The recipes are found in the individual Presidential Archives, as well as newspapers, magazines (Family Circle) and individual cookbooks. Make any of these great recipes and celebrate Presidents Day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Directions
Heat oven to 375°.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. In large bowl with electric mixer, cream butter, vegetable shortening, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract.
Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
On low speed, beat in flour mixture. By hand, stir in white and milk chocolate chips, mint chips and walnuts.
Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto un-greased baking sheets.
Bake at 375° for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
***
Starting in 1992, Family Circle Magazine has orchestrated a political bake-off during every presidential election year. It was already commonplace for presidential candidates to release family recipes during their campaign—it helps to humanize the candidates and also allows them to promote family values. But Family Circle decided to up the ante by publishing cookie recipes from the wives of each candidate and asking readers to try baking both and then vote on their favorite. The results of the bake-off have interestingly almost always predicted the winner of the presidential election, save a couple outliers.

In the first First Lady bake-off in 1992, Hillary Clinton’s chocolate chip cookies beat out Barbara Bush’s still-delicious chocolate chip recipe, and again in 1996, Hillary’s chocolate chip recipe won over Elizabeth Dole’s Pecan Roll cookies. In 2000, Laura Bush debuted her Texas Governor’s House Cowboy Cookies, and as expected, they beat our Tipper Gore’s ginger snap recipe.

Laura Bush's Cowboy Cookies
From Southern Living:

Laura switched up her recipe during her husband’s second presidential campaign in 2004 to a similar oatmeal chocolate chunk recipe, but it’s her first Cowboy Cookie that’s become so famous. As with most things in Texas, Laura’s Cowboy Cookies are big and completely stuffed with so many mix-ins: oats, coconut, pecans, and of course, chocolate chips

Ingredients 
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups light-brown sugar, packed 3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened flake coconut 2 cups chopped pecans

Directions
Heat oven to 350 degree F.
Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in bowl.
In 8-quart bowl, beat butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 1 minute. Gradually beat in sugars to combine, 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Beat in vanilla.
Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Add chocolate chips, oats, coconut and pecans.
For each cookie, drop 1/4 cup dough onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart.
Bake in 350 degree F oven 17 to 20 minutes, until edges are lightly browned; rotate sheets halfway through. Remove cookies to rack to cool

CLINTON FAMILY'S CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

And in case you're wondering, yes, there was a 2016 Cookie Bake-Off of the Candidates's spouses. Bill Clinton was asked to contribute a recipe, and the Clinton campaign submitted the "Clinton Family's Chocolate Chip Cookies" (see above for same recipe 1992, 1996, 2016!) -- a reprise of Hillary Clinton's earlier oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. Melania Trump submitted her recipe for Star Cookies, a rolled butter cookie, enriched with a bit of sour cream and egg yolk. Nothing special, and no chocolate!  She did not win..Sadly her husband won the electoral vote, but not the popular vote ... just as this cookie shows... no one likes a plain cookie!

Saturday, February 15, 2020

VELVET ALMOND FUDGE PIE: Retro Ad & Recipe for National Almond Day

Tomorrow is National Almond Day, and this Retro Ad and Recipe from Jell-O and Blue Diamond Almonds for Velvet Almond Fudge Pie is the perfect way to celebrate!

Velvet Almond Fudge Pie

"This is an extraordinary pie — incredibly chocolatey, incredibly rich, with the delectable crunch of almonds. What makes this pie so deliciously chocolatey and so extraordinarily rich is the delicious chocolate flavor you bake in with Jell-O brand chocolate fudge flavor pudding and pie filling and chocolate chips. And you bake in the delicious crunch of Blue Diamond almonds, too."

Ingredients 
1 cup almonds
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 unbaked 8″ pie shell
1 pkg. Jello brand chocolate fudge chocolate pudding pie filling
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted

Directions
Chop almonds and toast at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Set aside. Blend together until smooth; pie filling mix, corn syrup, milk, egg and chips. Add almonds and pour into pie shell. Bake at 375 degrees about 45 minutes or until top is firm and begins to crack. Cool at least 4 hours. Garnish with whipped topping, if desired.

Friday, February 14, 2020

HEART SHAPED TRUFFLES & Vintage Heart Chocolate Molds for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is all about Chocolate. I love heart-shaped truffles, and they're easy to make... if you have the right molds. There are silicon heart shaped molds to make these chocolates, but I'm lucky enough to have a few vintage heart-shaped chocolate molds I've found over the years. Scroll down for photos of Vintage Heart-Shaped Chocolate Molds.

So here's yet another recipe for Truffles--this time for Valentine Heart-shaped Chocolate Truffles. Of course, you can use any basic truffle recipe and just press into the mold. I usually melt my chocolate and butter in a double boiler, but the microwave works, too.


And, if you don't have time to make your own heart shaped truffles, buy Coeurs de truffes from Guyaux! Guyaux was founded in 1931. They produce traditional French-style truffles-in heart shape this time of year--covered with cocoa powder. Guyaux is a family run company, headed by second and third generation chocolate makers in Paris. It's now run by the grand-daughter of the founder. And, if you want to give a really special gift, buy Guyaux truffles in the traditional French Truffle Box! The basket is a replica of the one used historically to store Perigord truffles… which explains the open-weave lid. Ooo-la-la! I will have a post on all their products in the near future. For now, they're available in lots of specialty markets--I picked up a box at my local Pasta Shop! These are definitely my favorites! So rich and decadent!

Valentine Chocolate Truffle Recipe
Makes 24 chocolate truffles

Ingredients
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, chopped coarsely
9 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 tsp corn syrup
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted for dusting the finished chocolate truffles
You are only limited by your imagination or heart on decorating ideas!

Directions
Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler or in saucepan on top of saucepan over simmering water.
Remove from heat and add cream and corn syrup. Mix until combined and smooth. If you are adding flavorings add them with the cream (kirsch, bourbon, kahlua, etc???).
Pour chocolate truffle filling into heart shaped chocolate mold. Level top with scraper. Put in refrigerator to set.
Once firm, place in freezer for 5 minutes then push out of mold. Dust with sifted cocoa powder.
Store in cool dry place until ready to eat or give as a Valentine's Day gift.

Vintage Valentine Chocolate Molds





Thursday, February 13, 2020

NOTHIN' BUT LOVE CAKE: Fun Recipes from M&M's

I collect cookbooks, and today at the Oakland Museum White Elephant Sale I came across this cookbook: Fun Recipes from M&M's. It has strong cardboard pages (like a children's book) and a unique shape. And, who doesn't love M&M's? In keeping with this week's Valentine's Day spirit, I was pleased to find a section in the cookbook called "Celebrate" and a recipe for Nothin' But Love Cake. Yes, please.

Happy Valentine's Day!



STRAWBERRY SWEETHEARTS RICE KRISPIES TREATS for Valentine's Day

Rice Krispies Treats aren't just for kids. Here's a great and easy recipe form Kellogg's Rice Krispies for Valentine's Day. I love these Strawberry Sweethearts Rice Krispies Treats -- Retro with a Twist!

Want to upgrade this Valentine's Day treat? Use good quality White Chocolate and Ruby Chocolate for your dipping. The difference in flavor is amazing!

STRAWBERRY SWEETHEARTS RICE KRISPIES TREATS

Ingredients
3 Tablespoons butter
1 package (10 oz., about 40) JET-PUFFED Marshmallows or 4 cups JET-PUFFED Miniature Marshmallows
6 cups Kellogg’s® Strawberry Krispies® cereal
8 ounces white, red and/or pink candy melts  (or good quality white and ruby chocolate --for better flavor)
Red, pink and/or white sprinkles

Directions
1. Follow the Kellogg's® Rice Krispies Treats™ Original Recipe on the back of cereal box.
2. Using a buttered spatula or wax paper, evenly press into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool slightly.
3. Use a 2 ½ inch cookie cutter coated with cooking spray to cut into heart shapes. Cool completely. 4. Melt candy melts according to package directions. Dip each heart halfway into melted candy. Shake sprinkles over candy-coated portion. Place on wax paper-lined tray to cool and set.

Photo: Kellogg's

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

RED VELVET PANCAKES: Breakfast for Dinner on Valentine's Day

Red Velvet Pancakes are perfect for Valentine's Day -- either for brunch or Breakfast for Dinner! You can make Red Velvet Pancakes from scratch or use a mix. Add a little extra love by using a heart-shaped pancake mold! Hint: If you use a mold, use several and be sure to spray the molds, so the pancakes don't stick.

There are many Red Velvet Pancake Mixes. My favorite Red Velvet Pancake Mix is from The Griddle Cafe. My second choice which is still fab would be the Red Velvet Pancake Mix from Cost Plus World Market. If you have a favorite, let me know by commenting below.

Want to make Red Velvet Pancakes from Scratch? Here are two awesome recipes. The first recipe is my favorite, but the second is great, too.

1. RED VELVET PANCAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE GLAZE 
(Adapted from About.com)

Pancakes:
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp Dark cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
8 ounces buttermilk
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted, and cooled slightly
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 tsp white vinegar
2 tsp red liquid food coloring
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Extra butter or nonstick cooking spray

Cream Cheese Glaze:
4 ounces light cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp milk

Directions
Preheat griddle to medium-high heat. In bowl, whisk to combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt. Set aside.
In separate bowl, whisk eggs, then add milk, buttermilk, butter, vanilla extract, white vinegar, and food coloring, whisking to combine completely. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients, stirring just until combined. Do not overmix.
Brush some butter or spray nonstick cooking spray on hot griddle, and spoon batter into desired sized pancakes (or molds). Cook until bubbles form in batter, the edges are dry and underside is lightly brown, about 5 minutes, then flip over and cook other side 1 to 2 minutes more. Repeat as needed until all batter is used.

As pancakes cook, make cream cheese glaze: 
In small bowl, use fork to stir together cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Add a little milk if needed to make glaze that has thin enough consistency to drizzle.

To serve, stack three pancakes on a plate and drizzle cream cheese glaze over them.

2. BISQUICK RED VELVET PANCAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE GLAZE
(recipe from Betty Crocker)


Cream Cheese Topping
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbsp milk
2 cups powdered sugar

Pancakes 
2 cups Original Bisquick™ mix
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 cup milk
1 to 1 1/2 tsp red paste food color**
2 eggs
Powdered sugar, if desired

Directions 
In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, and 3 Tbsp milk with electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Gradually beat in 2 cups powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, on low speed until topping is smooth. Cover; set aside.
In large bowl, stir all pancake ingredients except powdered sugar with wire whisk until well blended. Heat griddle or skillet over medium-high heat (375°F). (To test griddle, sprinkle with a few drops of water. If bubbles jump around, heat is just right.) Brush with vegetable oil if necessary or spray with cooking spray before heating.
For each pancake, pour slightly less than 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until bubbles form on top and edges are dry. Turn; cook other side until golden brown.
Spoon cream cheese topping into resealable food-storage plastic bag; seal bag. Cut off tiny corner of bag; squeeze bag to drizzle topping over pancakes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

** Do not use liquid red food coloring in this recipe**

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

PEPPERMINT PATTY BROWNIES: Peppermint Patty Day

Today is National Peppermint Patty Day! Peppermint Patties are candy made from a simple recipe of butter, powdered sugar, corn syrup and peppermint extract. 

For today's holiday, here's a easy recipe for Peppermint Patty Brownies, because you can never have too many Brownie recipes. Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.

PEPPERMINT PATTY BROWNIES

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups butter
3 cups white sugar
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
5 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
 24 small peppermint patties

Directions  
Mix butter, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs till well blended. Stir in flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Blend well. Reserve 2 cups of batter, set aside
Grease 13x9x2 inch pan. Spread remaining batter in prepared pan. Arrange peppermint patties in a single layer over batter about 1/2 inch apart. Spread reserved 2 cups batter over patties.
Bake 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 50-55 minutes till brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. E

Monday, February 10, 2020

SWEET STORY CAKE for Valentine's Day: Vintage Recipe and Ad

Here's a great 1948 Vintage Spry Ad for a "Sweet Story Cake" It's perfect for Valentine's Day! "Every Cake Rates a Kiss"   FYI: Spry was similar to Crisco.

SWEET STORY CAKE

Ingredients
  • For Cake:
  • 2½ cups sifted cake flour
  • 1½ cups of sugar
  • 3½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup shortening
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¼ cup maraschino cherry juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 4 egg whites, unbeaten
  • 18 maraschino cherries, well drained and finely chopped
  • ½ cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped
  • For Frosting: (I doubled this)
  • 2 Tablespoons shortening
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
  • 9 Tablespoons scalded cream
  • Red or pink food coloring
Directions
  1. For Cake:
  2. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into mixing bowl. Drop in shortening. Combine milk and maraschino cherry juice and add ¾ cup of this liquid. Add flavoring extracts and mix with mixer on low for 2 minutes (100 strokes by hand).
  3. Add remaining liquid and egg whites and beat for another 2 minutes. Fold in cherries and nuts. Bake in two 9-inch pans or two heart-shaped pans at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. (If you pour all the batter in one pan, bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes)
  4. When cool, cut layers with heart shaped pattern, if you didn't use a heart-shaped pan. Spread with frosting, and outline a short Valentine's message with a toothpick and fill in letters and outline of cake with sugar pearls.
  5. For Frosting:
  6. Combine shortening, butter, flavorings and salt and blend well. Beat in ½ cup sugar. Add hot cream alternating with remaining sugar, beating well after each addition. Add only enough cream to make a nice spreading consistency. Add a few drops of red or pink food coloring to tint frosting a delicate pink before spreading on cake.

GERMAN CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE BROWNIES

Today is National Cream Cheese Brownies Day. To celebrate, here's a fabulous Retro Recipe with Advertisement from Baker's Chocolate for German Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies.

GERMAN CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE BROWNIES

Ingredients

1 (4 ounce) package Baker's German sweet chocolate
5 Tbsp butter
1 (3 ounces) package cream cheese
1 cup sugar
 3 eggs
1/2 cup plus
1 Tbsp unsifted flour
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup coarsely-chopped nuts
1/4 tsp almond extract

Directions

Melt chocolate and 3 tablespoons butter over very low heat, stirring constantly. Cool. Cream remaining butter with cream cheese until softened. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, creaming until light and fluffy.
Blend in 1 egg, 1 tablespoon flour and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Set aside. Beat remaining eggs until thick and light in color. Gradually add remaining 3/4 cup sugar, beating until thickened. Add baking powder, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup flour. Blend in cooled chocolate mixture, nuts, almond extract, and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla. Measure 1 cup chocolate batter and set aside.
Spread remaining chocolate batter in a greased 9 inch square pan. Top with cheese mixture. Drop measured chocolate batter from tablespoon onto cheese mixture, swirl with spatula or marble.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool, then cut. Cover, and store in refrigerator.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

EASY CHOCOLATE CHERRY FUDGE for Valentine's Day!

Here's a Quick and Easy Recipe to whip up for Valentine's Day - or Any Day: Chocolate Cherry Fudge. Recipe from Better Homes & Gardens.

CHOCOLATE CHERRY FUDGE

Ingredients
1 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup chopped dried cherries (I use Trader Joe's)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 tsp pure vanilla

Directions 
Line cookie sheet with waxed paper; set aside. In medium microwave-safe bowl microwave chocolate and sweetened condensed milk on high for 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 1 minute more or until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in 1/2 cup cherries, 1/4 cup walnuts, and vanilla.

Pour mixture onto prepared cookie sheet and spread into a 9 x 6 inch rectangle. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cherries and remaining 1/2 cup walnuts.

Chill 30 minutes or until firm. Cut fudge into 1-1/2-inch squares.

To Store: 
Layer fudge between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

For Valentine's Day, pack the fudge in a fabulous heart shaped tin with a big red ribbon! Enjoy!


Friday, February 7, 2020

RED VELVET RED CARPET POPCORN: A Night at the Academy Awards

Roll out the Red Carpet for the Academy Awards. Red Carpet Red Velvet Popcorn (3 ways) are the perfect Oscar winning snacks!

Roll out the Red Velvet Red Carpet Popcorn!

I. RED VELVET RED CARPET POPCORN

Ingredients
1 cup red velvet cake crumbs  (make your own cake or buy one at the bakery - a few unfrosted cupcakes will do)
2 Tbsp unsalted  butter
2 Tbsp Madagascar vanilla extract
2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
8 cups popcorn, popped
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Directions 
Preheat oven to 350.
Spread cake crumbs on baking sheet. Bake 8 - 10 minutes until toasted. Cool.
Melt butter, vanilla, sugar, salt and mix.
Toss popcorn with butter mixture.
Microwave white chocolate chips or melt in double boiler; stir until smooth.
Drizzle over popcorn until evenly coated.
Toss in cake crumbs.

II. RED CARPET RED VELVET POPCORN
Recipe adapted from CassieCraves, adapted from Cookies and Cups

Ingredients
8 cups popped popcorn (1/2 cup unpopped kernels or 2 bags)
3 cups red velvet cake crumbs
12 ounces white chocolate chips
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions
Pour popcorn into large bowl. Melt white chocolate in microwave or double boiler.
Pour melted chocolate over popcorn and stir gently to coat completely.
Pour popcorn onto waxed paper lined cookie sheets and sprinkle with red velvet crumbs.
Melt dark chocolate chips in microwave or double boiler. Using fork, drizzle over popcorn.
Let popcorn set completely before eating.

Want to make Red Carpet Red Velvet Popcorn Balls? Here's a recipe adapted from IcyViolet's Kitchen. It's quite heavenly--and very rich.

III. RED CARPET RED VELVET POPCORN BALLS

Ingredients
12 ounces white chocolate 
1/4 cup cream cheese
1-1/4 cup
white cake mix

1/4 cup DARK cocoa powder
2 tsp red food coloring (or 1/4 tsp red food gel)
1/4 cup corn kernels

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt

Directions: 
Put 1/4 cup corn kernels in large pot with Tbsp olive oil over medium to medium high heat...they will heat up and start popping. When popping lessens and stops. it's done. Measure out six cups and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Melt white chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Add cream cheese to chocolate and stir until melted.
Add cake mix, cocoa, and red food coloring to chocolate mixture and stir.
Pour coating onto popcorn and coat evenly.
Pour popcorn onto cookie sheets to cool/harden and shape into popcorn balls

Thursday, February 6, 2020

CHERRY PORT HEART-SHAPED BROWNIES for Valentine's Day!

Here's a great brownie recipe for Valentine's Day: Cherry Port Brownies. Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens.

Want to make these special? Use a 3" heart-shaped cookie cutter to make Brownie Hearts. The photo is from Betty Crocker, and their recipe uses the Betty Crocker Brownie Mix. That's a big shortcut. It's up to you. You can always use the mix and add some dried cherries soaked in port. Another festive touch is to sprinkle with powdered cocoa or red crystallized sugar or drizzle with red icing after the brownies have cooled.

CHERRY PORT HEART-SHAPED BROWNIES

Ingredients
2 Tbsp port
1/2 cup dried cherries
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, cold
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (about 3/4 cup)

Directions 
Position oven rack in center of oven; preheat to 325 degrees F.
Line 8x8x2-inch pan with foil. Butter foil; set aside.
In small saucepan, bring port and water to boiling. Add dried cherries; cook and stir over low heat until fruit is soft and plump and liquid evaporates. Using spatula, scrape cherries into bowl; set aside to cool.
Set heatproof bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water (be sure water doesn't touch bottom of bowl). Place butter in bowl; scatter 6 ounces chocolate over butter. Heat until chocolate is almost melted (you do not want to heat the mixture so much that the butter and chocolate separate). Remove bowl from heat. Stir until butter and chocolate are smooth. Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated. Add eggs one at a time, stirring until batter is smooth and glossy. Whisk in salt. Gently whisk in flour, stirring only until it disappears into the batter.
Using spatula, stir in port-soaked cherries (and any liquid that accumulated) and remaining 4 1/2 oz. chopped chocolate.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top as much as possible.
Bake 35 minutes.
Transfer pan to wire rack; cool to room temperature.
Invert brownies onto cutting board; gently peel away foil
Turn brownies over. Cut into squares or use 3" heart shaped cookie cutter. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

VALENTINE'S DAY CHOCOLATE CHERRY LAYER CAKE: Retro Ad & Recipe

I love this Retro Ad & Recipe for Valentine's Day -- Catch-a-Valentine Cake! So pretty and yummy. But it's not chocolate! So I decided to post the photo and original recipe (scroll down), but I've also added a link to a wonderful recipe for Chocolate Cherry Layer Cake for Valentine's Day from Serious Eats. So plan your Valentine's Day celebration and make one or both of these delicious Valentine's Day Cakes.

Catch a Valentine Cake! 


Chocolate Cherry Layer Cake

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

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


Monday, February 3, 2020

CHOCOLATE CHERRY TRUFFLES for Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day is all about Chocolate and for me anything red, and that includes cherries. Remember your first Valentine's Day card? I bet it had a red heart on it. I used to love Chocolate Covered Cherries on Valentine's Day.

Here are two recipes for Chocolate Cherry Truffles. One has alcohol (Kirsch - cherry liqueur), and one is non-alcoholic. They're both easy to make which is what this blog is all about. These are my go-to Valentine's Day gifts!

Chocolate Kirsch Truffles
adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients
1 pound DARK chocolate (65-75% cacao), chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature
4 Tbsp KIRSCH (cherry liqueur)
3 cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Directions
Melt chocolate with cream in heatproof bowl or saucepan set over another saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Add butter and Kirsch; stir until smooth.
Transfer to 8-inch square baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm but still maleable (about 2 hours)
Using melon baller, drop balls of chocolate mixture onto rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate 10 minutes.
Put cocoa powder into large bowl.
Using cocoa-dusted hands and working one at a time, roll balls between your palms until smooth.
Roll in cocoa to coat. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Easy Chocolate Cherry Truffles

Ingredients
13 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Dash of salt
1/2 cup DARK cocoa powder

Directions
In saucepan over another saucepan with simmering water, combine chocolate and cream. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.
Stir in chopped dried cherries, balsamic vinegar and salt.
Pour into small baking pan (8 x 8) and refrigerate until set (about 2 hours).
Put cocoa in bowl.
Using melon baller, scoop out about a small ball of chocolate mixture.
Place each ganache ball on parchment lined cookie sheet until all chocolate is used up. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Take out of refrigerator and roll into balls with your hands.
Roll balls in cocoa powder until coated.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COCONUT CARROT CAKE: National Carrot Cake Day!

TODAY is National Carrot Cake Day! I've always loved carrots, and growing up I was called Rabbit by some family members. Following is a great 1928 Vintage ad with recipe from the Ladies' Home Journal,  for a Coconut Carrot Cake. Of course, for my recipe I had to add chocolate: Cocoa and Chocolate Chips. All the great food groups in this one, especially with the cream cheese frosting! I also baked this in one pan. "Men-folks certainly like Coconut," and so do women!

CHOCOLATE CHIP COCONUT CARROT CAKE

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
2 Tbsp DARK cocoa
1/2 cup water
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
2 cups shredded carrots
3/4 cups chopped nuts
1/3 cup coconut
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time; beating well after each addition.
Sift dry ingredients together; add to creamed mixture alternately with water and vanilla.
Fold in carrots, nuts, coconut, and chocolate chips.
Pour into 9"x13" baking pan. Bake for 45 minutes. 
Cool and frost with cream cheese frosting.

For Frosting
Combine cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and mix until blended.
Scrape down bowl and add sifted powdered sugar.
Mix until smooth.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

CHOCOLATE COVERED FOOTBALL STRAWBERRIES: SUPER BOWL SUNDAY!

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

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

CHOCOLATE COVERED FOOTBALL STRAWBERRIES

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

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

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

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

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

Tip: Go back over the cross lines to avoid drips

Saturday, February 1, 2020

NEW ROUTE TO ALASKA: Family-style Baked Alaska for Baked Alaska Day!

This Retro Ad & Recipe for Family Style Baked Alaska is perfect for today's food holiday--National Baked Alaska Day. For ingredients, you can always update the recipe by making your own chocolate cake and your own ice cream, but take a look at this Betty Crocker Ad with recipe. It's easy to make and still delicious!