Friday, October 18, 2019

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES: National Chocolate Cupcake Day

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

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Cupcakes

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

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

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

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

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


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

Sprinkle with chocolate curls, sprinkles, or other decorations.


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN CHOCOLATE LIQUEUR: National Liqueur Day

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

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

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

How to Make Your Own Chocolate Liqueur

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a wonderful National Liqueur Day. Make it Chocolate!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

FRUIT & NUT CHOCOLATE CHUNKS for Sukkot

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

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

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

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


Fruit & Nut Chocolate Chunks

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

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