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.