Saturday, September 22, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Marshmallows


WHITE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE: White Chocolate Day!

Today is White Chocolate Day. The USDA does not consider white chocolate as chocolate.White chocolate doesn't contain any cocoa solids (chocolate liquor) and does not have 'chocolate' flavor. But I believe it's chocolate, and I like the unique creamy flavor good white chocolate does have--of course that depends on the brand and that varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. (see below)


White chocolate contains cocoa butter, a product of the cocoa bean used to make chocolate. White chocolate used in baking and candy making is a blend of milk, cocoa butter, sugar and often vanilla. This is what you'll find in milk chocolate, except without the cocoa. If you are baking with white chocolate, make sure to buy the very best. Cheap white chocolate often has the cocoa butter replaced by vegetable fat. Check the ingredients on the package. It should have a cacao percentage just as other chocolate bars.

Examples of good white chocolate:
E. Guittard has 31% Cacao White Chocolate wafers. Great for baking (and eating)
Green & Black's uses cocoa butter, pressed directly from the crushed cocoa beans. They also use a blend of milk and Bourbon vanilla. Available in 3.5oz bars.
Askinosie has bean to bar white chocolate and uses goat's milk instead of cow's milk. The main ingredient in their white chocolate is 34% natural, non-deodorized cocoa butter. The cocoa butter is pressed in their factory, and they are the first small-batch chocolate maker to do this. After pressing theibeans to create the cocoa butter, they combine them with goat's milk powder and organic cane juice, and then craft it for days in their 85-year old German melanguer, making their white chocolate one of the only single origin white chocolates in the world. It has a very unique buttery/nutty flavor, less sweet than many other white chocolate.
And, there are others!

Because it's comprised mainly of cocoa butter, white chocolate can be used in so many ways. Check past posts for White Chocolate Mashed Potatoes, White Chocolate Brownies, White Chocolate Coffee Cake, White Chocolate Truffles and a host of other white chocolate candies and baked goods.

My favorite White Chocolate Recipe, though, is for White Chocolate Cheesecake! Here's an easy recipe adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook. I changed the original graham cracker crust to a Chocolate Cookie Crust (see below)... much better, I think, but then I like chocolate.

WHITE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE WITH CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUST

Ingredients for Filling:
1 cup chopped white chocolate (make sure it's good white chocolate that's made with cocoa butter)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 egg yolks
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream

Directions
Move oven rack to lowest position. Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease bottom and side of springform pan, 8 x 3 inches.
Prepare Chocolate Cookie Crust (see below). Baking 6-8 minutes and cooling.

Place chopped white chocolate in top of double boiler (or saucepan on top of another saucepan over simmering water). Heat over low heat, stirring frequently, until white chocolate is melted. Remove from saucepan.
Increase oven temperature to 475ºF.
Beat melted white chocolate, 3/4 cup sugar, and flour in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until blended. Beat in cream cheese and egg yolks until smooth. Continue beating, adding eggs one at a time, then add sour cream until blended. Pour batter carefully into crust. Cover pan with aluminum foil.
Bake 20 minutes; remove foil. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F. Bake 1 hour. (If cheesecake browns too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil during last 30 minutes of baking.)
Turn off oven and leave cheesecake in oven 15 minutes. Take out and cool on wire rack 15 minutes. Run metal spatula along side of cheesecake to loosen before and after refrigerating. Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 8 hours, but no longer than 5 days. Run metal spatula along side of cheesecake to loosen; remove side of pan. Place cheesecake on serving plate. Refrigerate if you plan to serve later.

I like my cheesecake unadorned, but you can always add berries, whipped cream, or chocolate sauce.

Chocolate Cookie Crust:
Ingredients
30 chocolate wafers (to yield about 1-1/2 cups crumbs)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions
Put cookies in food processor; process until finely ground.
Transfer crumbs to mixing bowl; combine crumbs, butter, salt, and vanilla; stir until crumbs are moistened.
Press mixture evenly across the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan and all the way up the sides of the pan; pack tightly so crust is even and compacted.
Bake in 350° oven for 6-8 minutes or until crisp.
Let cool completely before filling.

Friday, September 21, 2018

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE PECAN COOKIES: National Pecan Cookie Day

Pecans and chocolate are a true marriage made in heaven! I've posted recipes for Chocolate Pecan Sandies, definitely a pecan cookie, but I thought I'd post a different one to celebrate National Pecan Cookie Day!

This recipe is adapted from Woman's Day, April 1, 2006.  As always, I suggest you use the very best ingredients. I use crumbled toffee in the recipe, and I use 15 ounces of 75% chocolate in place of the original 2 10-oz milk chocolate bars. Also used DARK cocoa. And, an FYI, there are over 1000 varieties of pecans. Whichever you choose, you'll go nuts for this recipe!

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE PECAN COOKIES

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2⁄3 cup packed light brown sugar
2⁄3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3⁄4 tsp baking soda
3⁄4 tsp salt
2 1⁄3 cups all-purpose flour
2⁄3 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
10 oz English toffee bits
1-1⁄2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
15-oz dark chocolate (65-75% cacao), chopped coarsely (or dark chocolate chips)

Directions
Heat oven to 375°F. Have baking sheets ready.
Beat butter, sugars, and vanilla in large bowl with mixer on medium speed 1 to 2 minutes until fluffy. Beat in eggs, baking soda, and salt until combined. Add flour and beat on low speed until blended.
Stir in cocoa powder,  English toffee bits, pecans and chocolate.
Drop rounded tablespoons dough about 1 1⁄2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake 8 to 9 minutes until edges are golden brown.
Cool on sheet 1 to 2 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

DEVIL'S FOOD CHOCOLATE CAKE: Guest post by Carolyn Tillery

I was perusing Facebook the other day and came across a fabulous photo of Devil's Food Chocolate Cake on my friend Carolyn Tillery's profile page! Carolyn Tillery is definitely the hostess with the mostess. Her cakes are legendary, her china and pottery fabulous, and personally she's a delight. I had to ask her for the recipe. I especially love that this cake has 3 layers.. Makes it so much more interesting! And, did I mention that Carolyn is the author of the Galveston Island and The Captain Maggie Hayes Mysteries? She's also Vice-Chair of Bouchercon 2019 in Dallas, TX. I love when my mystery and chocolate worlds collide.

Carolyn Tillery:
Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake 

I’m one of those bakers who measures everything out ahead of time. I really enjoy the process of baking, so filling all those little bowls with carefully measured ingredients makes me happy. I found this chocolate cake recipe–torn from a magazine–among my thick file of them, and was delighted with the results. The cake is extremely moist and rich. I recommend it be served with vanilla ice cream.

For the Cake 
1 cup butter, softened
3 cups packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup baking cocoa 3 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups sour cream
1 1/3 cups boiling water

For the Frosting
½ cup butter, cubed
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
5 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup (8oz) sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease and flour (I use Baker’s Joy) three 9-inch round baking pans.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. In another bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream, beating well after each addition. Carefully mix in water until blended.
3. Transfer to prepared pans. Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
4. For frosting, in a metal bowl over simmering water, melt butter and chocolates; stir until smooth. Cool slightly.
5. In a large bowl, combine confections’ sugar, sour cream and vanilla. Add chocolate mixture; beat until smooth. Spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate leftovers.