Wednesday, January 23, 2019

STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE: Rhubarb Pie Day

Today is National Rhubarb Pie Day,  and what's a Rhubarb Pie without Strawberries?  To celebrate the day, I'm posting my favorite recipe for Strawberry Fields Forever Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crust!

A little info on rhubarb: In culinary use, fresh raw petioles (leaf stalks) are crisp (similar to celery) with a strong, tart taste. Most commonly, the plant's leaf stalks are cooked with sugar and used in pies and other desserts. Rhubarb is usually considered a vegetable. In the United States, however, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit, it counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties. And, a warning: Do not eat or use the leaves.

The following recipe is easy and great. Most people do a two crust pie.. the top crust being a lattice; however, I don't think this works with a chocolate crust. You can always do a crumble on top! Or make a traditional pie crust and add a lattice crust on top. As always, it's your choice! Enjoy and celebrate the day!

STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE WITH CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUST

Chocolate Cookie Crust

Ingredients 
2 cups chocolate wafers
6 Tbsp unsalted butter (or salted if you're inclined), melted

Directions 
Melt butter. Put chocolate wafers in plastic bag and crush with spoon or rolling pin. Should be pea-size. Combine melted butter and ground chocolate wafers. Press ingredients into 9 inch buttered pie pan--bottom and up the sides. Bake for 10 minutes at 325. Let cool.  

Filling

Ingredients
3-1/2 cups rhubarb stalks, in 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp orange zest
1/4 cup cornstarch
Dash of salt
3 1/2 cups strawberries, cleaned, hulled, quartered  (or thinly sliced)

Directions
Combine filling ingredients in bowl and toss well. Spread into prepared crust and bake for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees or until rhubarb is tender and filling is bubbly.

So easy! Make this today -- or tomorrow! And here's something to listen to while you bake this pie!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

RETRO CONGO SQUARES aka BLOND BROWNIES: National Blond Brownies Day

Today is National Blond 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.

 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 sweet 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, cocoanut, 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 cocoanut in.





Monday, January 21, 2019

BLOOD MOON ECLIPSE BROWNIES

Last night there was a total eclipse of the Blood Moon. It was pretty spectacular, and the Blood Moon Eclipse got me thinking. I've posted a recipe for Full Moon Brownies, but what about Beet Brownies? Many chocolate cakes such as Red Velvet Cakes can be made with beets. So in honor of the Blood Moon Eclipse, here's a great recipe for Blood Moon Eclipse Brownies.

BLOOD MOON ECLIPSE BROWNIES

Ingredients 
1/2 pound fresh beets, scrubbed
1 cup unsalted butter, plus more for buttering parchment paper
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour  (I buy this from King Arthur Flour)
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup packed light brown sugar

Directions
Put beets in saucepan and add water to cover by ½ inch. Set over medium heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 25-35 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to ice bath until cool. Transfer cool beets to food processor and pulse until minced.
Preheat oven to 350°
Line 9-inch by 9-inch brownie pan with parchment paper; lightly coat with butter.
Cut sticks of butter into chunks and put in heavy saucepan. Add chopped chocolate and cook over simmering water, stirring constantly until chocolate begins to melt.
Remove pan from heat and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool.
In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In bowl of stand mixer with whisk attachment, gently mix eggs for about 30 seconds. Add vanilla and brown sugar; mix on medium-high until light and airy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed and add minced beets then slowly add chocolate mixture and mix just until combined.
Slowly add flour mixture and amix just until combined.
Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top with rubber spatula.
Bake 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool brownies in pan for 5-10 minutes then transfer to cooling rack.
Cut and serve.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

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 the 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 holiday--Buttercrunch Day, I suggest you make the following recipe for Homemade Almond Roca. No time to cook? Pick up a bar of Almond Roca. It's not too late. We all need something sweet this weekend! This recipe for Home-made Almond Roca is adapted from Elizabeth LaBau on AboutFood.com

Home-Made Almond Roca

Ingredients 
4 ounces 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 a 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 a 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 them in food processor and pulse for several seconds until they are in 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.