Friday, December 31, 2010

Champagne Truffles: Ring in the New Year

Today is National Champagne Day. Now here's a food holiday that's perfect for the day. I do a lot of wine/champagne chocolate pairing events with my company TeamBuilding Unlimited, and we often have trivia quizzes. How many bubbles in a bottle of champagne? 49 million to 250 million! Now, that's a lot of bubbles. Wishing you and yours a Happy and Healthy New Year!

You won't have any bubbles in these truffles tonight for New Year's Eve, but you will taste the champagne.. and the Cognac. I posted this recipe last year for New Year's Eve, but I still find it's my favorite for easy Champagne Truffles. This recipe uses more champagne than most Champagne Truffle recipes, and the Cognac also adds some zip. If you're in a pinch you can use a different type of sugar or even cocoa to coat the truffles. The sanding sugar, though, gives it a festive New Year's Eve look!

Martha Stewart's Champagne Truffles
Makes about 3 dozen

1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon Champagne
1 tablespoon Cognac
Coarse sanding sugar, for rolling

1. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Immediately pour hot cream over the chocolate in a medium bowl; stir until smooth. Stir in the Champagne and Cognac. Refrigerate until chocolate mixture is firm enough to roll into balls, about 1 hour. (or more!!)
2. Using a small melon baller or ice-cream scoop, form 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in coarse sanding sugar, and transfer to rimmed baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate truffles at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days before serving.

You can also use unsweetened cocoa or confectioner's sugar if you don't have sanding sugar. This recipe was in Martha's wedding section, so the sparkly white sugar looks great for weddings and holidays, but cocoa tastes just as good.. just different.

What Is Sanding Sugar?
Sanding sugar is a large crystal sugar used as edible decoration that will not dissolve when subjected to heat. Also called pearl sugar or decorating sugar, sanding sugar adds "sparkle" to cookies, baked goods and candies. The sparkling affect is achieved because the sugar crystal grains are large and reflect light. You can order Sanding Sugar online or buy it in cake decorating departments.

Photo: Martha Stewart website

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Food Holidays, Chocolate and Me

Many years ago I read The Five Year Sentence by Booker Prize winner Bernice Rubens. In it a woman who works in a sweets (candy) factory is preparing for her last day of work. She’s cleaned her house, and she’s checked the oven. Everything is ready, we’re sure, for her return from the day when with nothing left to do in her life, she will return home and turn on the gas. However, fate intervenes, and she is given a 5 year diary as a retirement gift. It’s as if she’s been given  ‘a five year sentence’. She feels she has an obligation to fill in each day. The novel takes some imaginative turns, and Bernice Rubens, who was also a mystery author, should be sought out and read.

Sometimes I feel like the woman in the story…not the suicide bit… but being given a ‘purpose’ to do what I do. When I started this blog, I followed a similar thought process, and although I do posts with chocolate reviews, chocolate news and recipes as they strike me, a lot of the time I post recipes that coincide with the Food Holiday of the Day. They’re at the top of my ‘diary’.

Surprisingly every day is some sort of Food Holiday (See The Nibble). Even if some Food Holidays aren’t specifically chocolate food holidays, just about everything goes well with chocolate, so I post a chocolate recipe! The big holidays are easy: Christmas, Easter, Passover, Halloween…lots of chocolate, but there are some very esoteric food holidays, such as:

Chocolate Covered Insect Day (October 14): Chocolate Scorpions (not for the faint of heart)

National Cocoa Day (December 12): Recipe Round up from Mexican to Peppermint

National Espresso Day (November 24): Espresso Truffles

California Strawberry Day (March 21): Strawberry Chocolate German Pancake

National Rice Pudding Day (August 9): Chocolate Rice Pudding

National Pecan Day (April 14): Chocolate Pecan Pie

Be sure and search for more Food Holidays and easy chocolate recipes.

As well as writing chocolate posts to fit a particular holiday, I do something similar on my mystery blog, Mystery Fanfare. On Mystery Fanfare, along with posts about the mystery world in general, I am drawn to dates and holidays and make extensive lists of titles that fit the holidays. Have a look at my Christmas Crime Novels list that is so big this year that I divided it into 5 posts. I’ve also posted Halloween Mysteries, Fourth of July Mysteries, Father’s Day Mysteries , New Year's Mysteries and lots of other holidays. 

I suppose I’m still in school with the teacher giving me a topic to use as a springboard, or as in Rubens’ novel, a day in a diary to fill in. I’m so lucky to write about my passions chocolate and crime fiction! This isn’t to say I don’t stray a bit with reviews and recipes ‘off list’, but for the most part I find it fun to fulfill the day and holiday… in mystery and in chocolate.

So, you might say my whole life is about mystery and chocolate. How sweet it is!  

Williams Sonoma Holiday Chocolate Sale

Some of my favorite Williams Sonoma holiday chocolate is on sale! You can't really stock up for next year, but you can enjoy these chocolate products now.

I really like their hot chocolate and peppermint bark, so I wanted to share the information on this sale. Disclaimer: I don't work for Williams Sonoma, nor do I benefit by mentioning :-)

There are other items on sale, and those will keep! Cookie cutters, chocolate pots and more! Most of the chocolate foods come in great containers. Perfect to store cookies and candies or use for gifts! Enjoy!

Peppermint Bark: Sale price: $12.99

Hot Chocolate & Peppermint Hot Chocolate: $14.99

Peppermint Bark Cookies: $16.99

Chocolate Filled Peppermint Snaps: $17.99

To order anything, go to a Williams Sonoma store or order online.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year's Eve Chocolate Hats: Ice Cream Cones

 From Disney's Family Fun Magazine comes a really adorable chocolate covered ice cream cone idea that you can do with kids. Use these to hold your favorite ice-cream on New Year's Eve, but first they'll decorate the table!

New Year's Eve Chocolate Covered Ice Cream Cone Hats

Sugar cones
Ice cream
Chocolate chips (12-ounce bag for 10 to 12 cones) or any high quality dark chocolate, broken up
Icing: Make this easy. Buy the Wilton's icing writers. They come in multiple colors and are easy to use
Shoestring licorice

1. Spread melted chocolate chips over each sugar cone with a small spatula. Let the chocolate harden for about 1 hour (or 20 minutes in the refrigerator).
2. For chinstraps, use icing to attach the ends of a fruit strip or a length of shoestring licorice to the inside of each cone.
3. Use icing to decorate the hats and attach nonpareils. 

Get creative and use your Gingerbread cookie decorating techniques

Photo: Disney Family Fun

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chocolate Truffles Recipe Round-Up for National Chocolate Candy Day

Today is National Chocolate Candy Day. So in order to celebrate, I thought I'd do a Truffle Recipe Round-up. Most of these recipes are simple, and you probably have all the ingredients.  Besides links to specific truffle recipes, I've added a new recipe for Kahlua Truffles. Scroll to the end! Simple and delicious!

Don't have time to make truffles? Your favorite chocolatier has lots of varieties!

Chocolate Honey Truffles

Milk Chocolate Truffles

Blue Cheese Truffles

Chocolate Espresso Truffles

Eggnog Truffles

Champagne Truffles

Oreo Truffles

Candy Corn Truffles

Mexican Chocolate Truffles

Kahlua Chocolate Truffles

1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons Kahlua
7 ounces dark chocolate, 60-75% cacao, broken
4 tablespoons sweet butter, softened
Unsweetened cocoa

Heat cream in a small heavy pan until reduced to 2 tablespoons.
Remove from heat then stir in kahlua and chocolate.
Return to low heat and stir until chocolate melts.
Whisk in softened butter.
When mixture is smooth pour into a shallow bowl and refrigerate about 40 minutes.
Scoop chocolate with teaspoon or small cookie scoop and shape into 1" balls.
Roll balls in unsweetened cocoa.
Store truffles covered in refrigerator.
Let truffles stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Katherine Hall Page: Brownies, Bread Pudding & Have Faith in Your Kitchen

Today I welcome mystery and cookbook author Katherine Hall Page--and yes, there will be Chocolate. This is a cross-over post. My worlds collide: Chocolate and Crime Fiction!

Katherine Hall Page's The Body in the Gazebo (Wm. Morrow) 19th in her award winning series will be out in April. The Body in the Sleigh (Avon), a holiday book, is now out in paperback and her short story, “The Proof Is Always in the Pudding” appears in the current issue of The Strand magazine. Have Faith in Your Kitchen, Katherine Hall Page's collection of recipes is now available.

A Tale of How Two Old Friends Came to Cook a Book
And Yes, There Will Be Chocolate

By Katherine Hall Page

Few writers, perhaps none, can say they met their publishers at summer camp if not on the volleyball court then near it. Roger Lathbury, who started Orchises Press in 1983, and I were probably talking about books instead of spiking a ball. It was the early Sixties and we were at Rowe Camp, “Vision in the Berkshires”, a Unitarian Universalist camp for teens. There were a lot of longhaired guitar players strumming while we belted out “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore” and “If I Had a Hammer”. Campers toted around Hesse’s Siddhartha and Gibran’s The Prophet as talismans. Roger, however, was reading Fitzgerald, Auden, Sinclair Lewis, and Lewis Carroll. When we returned to our respective homes in northern New Jersey, he sent me a copy of the Jabberwocky translated into Latin. We were soul mates.

One memorable Saturday I went with him to Irving Penn’s studio in Manhattan. Roger collected photographs of his favorite authors taken by specific artists. Showing his trademark inventiveness even at this tender age, Roger funded his pursuit with a rubber address stamp business, the stamps made by him and shipped from his home. The object of desire that day was Penn’s famous portrait of Colette. Youthful ignorance can be bliss. We simply knocked on the studio door, which was opened by Penn himself. Wonderfully generous with his time, he pulled out the Colette (which Roger did purchase at a later time) and showed us a number of other extraordinary photographs. There may have been a cup of tea, as well.

I returned to the camp for several more summers. Roger didn’t, but we kept in touch, the thread snapping only during college in the way it does.

Three years ago I heard from someone that Roger was very much alive and well, a professor of English at George Mason University teaching, among other offerings, a highly popular graduate level course in nonsense. His Orchises Press in Alexandria published original poetry, reprints, and whatever took his fancy. I immediately Googled him and found the description he’d written for the site JacketFlap: “Kindly spry, youthful, ever blithe, yet (isn't it sad?) lonely, Roger Lathbury is known on four continents as ‘the man for whom spam was invented.’ The other three continents refuse to know him at all.” And this from the George Mason English Department listing: “Lathbury is a thoroughly delightful conversationalist; his imitations of Hapsburg rulers and wind chimes are renowned throughout Virginia. He does card tricks, can yodel in six non-European languages, and has built a collection of silica gel packages that is the envy of several backwater museums.” So often in life one’s memories of an individual prove a disappointment. I breathed a great sigh of relief—and emailed him immediately! Like a good claret, Roger had aged beautifully The following spring we met for coffee when I was in town for Malice Domestic and simply picked up where we had left off over 40 years earlier, talking long into the afternoon, much of it about what we had been reading in the interim. I confessed my desire to publish the recipes from my mystery series featuring caterer Faith Sibley Fairchild —Sibley incidentally was the name of one of Rowe Camp’s extremely rustic buildings—and Roger said, “I’ll do it.” Just like that. No nonsense at all.

I do not recall any of Roger’s teenaged culinary predilections. On those trips to Manhattan we probably ate at the Automat or Chock Full of Nuts and Rowe Camp ran mostly to large vats of tuna noodle type casseroles. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that he and I now share an interest in gastronomy, as well as the belief that food and crime are a natural pairing. The cookbook’s epigraph is “Le mauvais gout mène au crime”—“ Bad taste leads to crime.” (Baron Adolphe De Mareste (1784-1867). This also serves as a motto for the entire Faith Fairchild series.

When I started writing the first book, The Body in the Belfry (1990), my husband was on sabbatical and we were living in Lyon, France. Each day, I’d shop in an open air market that stretched for blocks along the Quai St. Antoine, and watch as Paul Bocuse selected his ingredients for that evening’s three star meals before following in his footsteps to select the ingredients for my more humble attempts. Back at the apartment, after putting the food away, I wrote. I liked mysteries with food in them—Rex Stout, Dorothy Sayers, Nan and Ivan, Virginia Rich—but I think Faith Fairchild was a product not just of my imagination, but the sights and smells of all that fabulous food in Lyon. (The wonderfully fresh baguettes never made it up my long flights of stairs intact-the heel was always missing by the time I opened my door).

Have Faith in Your Kitchen had been a work in progress since I first started putting recipes at the end of the books, starting with The Body in the Cast (1993). All the recipes are original, either created by me or the individual credited. The dishes are straightforward-anyone can make them-and require no expensive or exotic ingredients. In some cases, I’ve also suggested ways they can be modified to make them more heart-wise. The appendix lists the recipes by each book; some play a more prominent role in the plots than others. As I told Roger all this over coffee and croissants that day in Virginia, the book seemed to take shape right before my eyes. I’d include the Author’s Notes from the books—topics ranging from reading cookbooks solely for pleasure to funeral baked meats and other customs. The book would need an introduction. Illustrations?

Thus began the most enjoyable publishing experience of my life—a year of discussion of fonts, paper quality, and yes, illustrations, from a variety of sources: nineteenth century cookbooks, pen-and-ink drawings done by a friend. After lunch with Roger’s delightful family, I chose a burgundy Roxite Grade B cloth for the cover with a maroon headband (that little bit at the top of a sewn binding). We were doing two editions, a sewn paperback that could get messy in the kitchen and 100 signed, with a fountain pen to be precise, numbered casebound copies, both editions for “Those devoted to the cooking of mystery and the mysteries of cooking.” Roger showed me what J. D. Salinger had selected for “Hapworth 16, 1924” and, as it was after Salinger’s death, Roger felt free to relate the whole publishing adventure that sadly went awry (see Lathbury’s very moving article on it in the April 4, 2010 issue of New York Magazine). Jean Fogelberg took the author photo and did the marvelous cover design. Receiving author copies is always thrilling and a bit mystifying—“How did I do this?” This time it was less complicated, a huge thrill accompanied by the knowledge that it had all come about because of my friend Roger.

And now for the chocolate. Early on I knew that each book had to have a killer chocolate recipe in some form, so there have been cakes, cookies, bread puddings, and many references in the text to Faith Fairchild’s chocolate cravings. Here are what I consider the cream of the recipe crop: Glad’s Brownies and Chocolate Bread Pudding, both of which are the fan favorites, as well! Enjoy!

Glad’s Brownies

4 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sifted flour
1 cup dried cherries
1 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chocolate chunks or chips (milk or semi-sweet)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease and lightly flour a 13”x 9” pan. Melt the chocolate squares together with the butter. Cool it slightly and beat in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in the flour. Mix well, then add the cherries, walnuts, and chocolate chunks or chips. Put the batter in the pan and bake for about 35 minutes. Be careful not to over bake. Cool in the pan and serve. Makes a very generous1 1/2 dozen.

You may vary this recipe by substituting dried cranberries, golden or dark raisins for the cherries and pecans for the walnuts. Attributed in the book to Faith as a child, it is actually the creation of the author’s dear friend, Gladys Boalt of Stormville, New York.

Chocolate Bread Pudding

5 thick slices of chocolate bread, cubed
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups half and half or light cream
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
Butter to grease the pan
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Mix the eggs, milk, half and half, sugar, vanilla, and salt together. Faith likes to pulse this in a blender, which makes it easy to pour over the bread cubes.

Put the bread cubes in a large mixing bowl and pour the egg mixture over them. Use the palm of your hand to gently push the bread into the liquid to make sure it absorbs evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Butter a Pyrex-type baking pan, approximately 12”x8”. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Mix the cherries and chocolate chips together in a small bowl.

Put a layer of the bread mixture in the pan, sprinkle the cherry/chip mixture over it, and cover with the remaining bread mixture. Again, use the palm of your hand to press down, so the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Bake for 40 minutes.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.

This is a very rich dessert and this recipe will serve 12 easily.

Neither Faith nor I have ever met a bread pudding we didn’t like. It’s comfort food. Many bakeries make chocolate bread. When Pigs Fly, the bakery company mentioned in the text is based in Wells, Maine, but their breads—including the chocolate bread—are sold at many Whole Foods and other markets. They also sell the bread—you bake it in your own kitchen for the last 30 minutes—online at They also sell a kit to make the chocolate bread.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Chocolate Covered Candy Canes: National Candy Cane Day

Today is National Candy Cane Day, and I'm posting a great recipe for Chocolate Dipped Candy Cane Stir Sticks. Hope you have some leftover candy canes.

History of the Candy Cane:  During the 17th century, Europeans adopted Christmas trees as part of Christmas celebrations, and they often made cookies and sugar stick candy as decorations. The first historical reference to the familiar cane shape goes back to 1670, when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, bent the sugar sticks into canes to represent a shepherd's staff. The all white candy canes were given out to children during the nativity services. This tradition of handing out candy canes during Christmas services spread throughout Europe and later to America.

The first historical reference to the candy cane being in America goes back to 1847, when German immigrant August Imgard decorated the Christmas tree in his Wooster, Ohio home with candy canes.

About fifty years later the first red-and-white striped candy canes appeared. No one knows who exactly invented the stripes, but Christmas cards prior to the year 1900 showed only all white candy canes. Christmas cards after 1900 showed illustrations of striped candy canes. Around the same time, candy-makers added peppermint and wintergreen flavors to their candy canes and those flavors then became the traditional favorites.

For me, dipping candy canes in chocolate is brilliant! Here's a great recipe for Chocolate Covered Candy Canes  (Stir Sticks) from Mrs. Fields. These are perfect with a cup of hot cocoa. Adds extra chocolate flavor and a hint of peppermint to each sip. You can also use these in your coffee.. instant peppermint mocha!


12 peppermint candy canes, unwrapped
1 cup high quality dark chocolate (60-85% cacao), chopped
5 tablespoons heavy cream
vanilla candy wafers (optional)

In a small double boiler over medium heat, melt the chocolate with the cream, stirring frequently until the chocolate is completely melted with no lumps. Hold each candy cane over the pan and spoon a layer of chocolate over the bottom half of the candy cane. Give the candy cane a gentle shake to remove any excess chocolate. Lay each candy cane on a sheet of parchment paper to cool.

Optional: Melt candy wafers according to package directions and drizzle onto cooling candy canes. Allow chocolate and candy to completely cool and solidify before serving.

Photo: Mrs Fields

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas: Vintage Cadbury's Chocolates Christmas Club Ads

Merry Christmas! Vintage Cadbury's Chocolates Christmas Club Advertisements.
I love that Santa's bag is a Union Jack! 


Friday, December 24, 2010

Eggnog Truffles, Hot Chocolate & Brownies

December 24 is National Eggnog Day. This is a food holiday that really works for this time of year. Last year on Christmas Eve,  I posted some easy delicious recipes for Dark and White Chocolate Eggnog Truffles. Thought I'd repost the Dark Chocolate one. Great truffles to make on Christmas Eve. For today's holiday, I'm reposting the Dark Chocolate Eggnog Truffle recipe, and I'm adding recipes for Eggnog Hot Chocolate and Eggnog Brownies.

Dark Chocolate Eggnog Truffles

3/4 cup eggnog (good thick quality brand/or make yourself)
11 ounces dark chocolate 60% cacao +, chopped
3 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat the eggnog over medium heat almost to the boiling point, whisking constantly. Do not boil.
Immediately remove pan from heat, turn heat to low. Add chocolate and butter to eggnog. Stir until chocolate is completely melted, returning to low heat if necessary.
Pour mixture into mixing bowl and beat with electric mixer at high speed for 5 minutes. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until mixture is firm but pliable.
In small bowl, mix superfine sugar with nutmeg and cinnamon; set aside.
Take 1 teaspoon of chocolate mixture and roll into a ball, then roll it in sugar mixture.
Place truffle in foil cup or on waxed paper tray (I don't use cups but they look festive if you do). Repeat.
Store truffles in airtight container in the refrigerator.

Don't have time to make Eggnog Truffles? Starbucks sells Eggnog Latte Truffles. Godiva has them in their 12 piece Truffle Holiday Box.

Eggnog Hot Chocolate

Mix cocoa powder with equal amounts of hot water and eggnog for a delicious twist to your hot chocolate.

Eggnog Brownies

2 eggs
1 tbsp. brandy
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. butter
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 c. sugar
1 1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. chopped pecans

Grease shallow 11x7-inch baking pan with butter, line bottom with parchment or waxed paper.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly beat eggs with brandy and vanilla; set aside.
Put butter and chocolate in a large saucepan, stir continuously over medium heat until melted.
Remove from heat.
Stir in sugars, flour, pecans, and egg mixture.
Pour into pan. Spread evenly.
Bake 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in middle comes out clean.
Allow brownies to cool. Cut into 24 squares.
Remove from pan. Store in airtight container.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cocoa in a Jar

Need last minute gifts? Easy and delicious Cocoa in a Jar

From Sunset Magazine comes these four recipes and fabulous photos for Cocoa in a Jar. What better gift to give now and throughout the winter season?

Mixes will fill 1- quart jars (12 servings), but if you have different containers, keep the ratio of the ingredients constant. Layer the ingredients for homemade Cocoa in a Jar, add a ribbon and a tag, and you have great gift. For most of my 'in a Jar' gifts, I tie with raffia, but ribbon is very festive. I especially love a cinnamon stick tied into the ribbon on the Mexican Cocoa. On the back of the tag, write "Mix contents in a large bowl.  For each serving, put 1/3 cup cocoa mix in a mug and stir with one cup boiling water. Store remaining mix in airtight container."

Possible containers: 1-liter French canning jars, 1-quart cracker jars. Mason jars.

Want to create your own unique Cocoa in a Jar? Use these recipes from the Cocoa Round-Up as a starting point.


Layer 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 cup powdered milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips, and 1/2 cup miniature marshmallows. Makes 1 quart mix or 12 servings hot cocoa.


Layer 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 cup powdered milk, 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, and 3/4 cup chopped Mexican chocolate (such as Ibarra). Add a few cinnamon sticks to top of jar. Makes 1 quart mix or 12 servings hot cocoa.


Layer 1 cup powdered milk, 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips, and 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy. Makes 1 quart mix or 12 servings hot cocoa.


Layer 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup espresso powder, 1 cup powdered milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate or miniature chocolate chips. Makes 1 quart mix or 12 servings hot cocoa.

Photos by David Prince

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

National Nut Bread Day: Chocolate Nut Bread

Oops.. today is National Date Nut Bread Day, but I'll leave this post here for National Nut Bread Day. Nut breads are great to have around in case unexpected visitors drop in, especially during the holidays. This Chocolate Nut Bread isn't too sweet, and it freezes well.  Adapted from You can half this recipe if you'd like, but why not make two -- one to eat now and one to freeze.

Other Nut Breads you might want to make today (or any day): 
Chocolate Kahlua Date Nut Bread 
Geeky Double Chocolate Zucchini Walnut Bread
Banana Bread with Chocolate Chunks (add walnuts)

Chocolate Nut Bread
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups milk
2/3 cup vegetable oil
12 ounces dark chocolate, broken into smallish chunks or chocolate chips- divided use
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans.
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl.
3. Combine eggs, milk and vegetable oil in medium bowl. Add to flour mixture; mix just until moistened. Stir in 1-1/2 cups chocolate pieces (or chips) and nuts. Spoon into prepared loaf pans.
4. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes; remove from pans. Cool on wire racks.

5. Optional: Microwave remaining morsels in heavy-duty plastic bag on HIGH for 45 seconds; knead bag to mix. Microwave at additional 10 to 20 second intervals, kneading until smooth. Cut a small hole in corner of bag; squeeze to drizzle over bread. Sprinkle with additional nuts.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ice Cream Yule Log aka Bûche de Noël for the Winter Solstice

Today is the Winter Solstice, and what could be more fitting that a Yule Log aka Buche de Noel. Yes, it can be served for Christmas, but we all know about the cross-over traditions of winter holidays.

The tradition of the Yule Log spans millennia and actually precedes Christianity. The Peasants used to burn a yule log on the Winter Solstice in December to keep evil spirits away by burning the Yule log, which they presumed might come because of the prolonged darkness of the Winter Solstice.

As Christianity grew, the yule log became more commonly associated with Christmas celebrations and Christianity adopted the Yule log tradition. For centuries, Christians cut their own yule logs at Christmas time or they would try to find a yule log to burn. During the 1700s and 1800s, it was a regular Christmas tradition for men to go out in search of a yule log. Many European countries had traditions surrounding the Yule log, but a Yule log was burned either in the days preceding Christmas or on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

For the purposes of this blog, the expression "Yule log" has also come to refer to log-shaped Christmas cake or "Bûche de Noël".  Last year, I posted a fabulous recipe for a traditional Buche de Noel.

Here's a simple recipe adapted from the Breyers Ice cream site for a Buche de Noel aka Yule Log Ice Cream Cake. You can always change the ice cream to a flavor you like best. How easy is this?


1 box (16 oz.) angel food cake mix or Duncan Hines Chocolate Cake mix (guess which one I use?)
1 Tbsp. confectioners sugar PLUS extra for garnish
1 container (1.5 qt.) Breyers Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (original recipe uses strawberry)
3 large marshmallows
6 mini marshmallows
Unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1 can (16 oz.) chocolate frosting
Fresh mint sprigs
Ground cocoa nibs

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line 15-1/2 x 10-1/2-inch jelly-roll pan with parchment paper; set aside.
2. Prepare cake mix according to package directions; pour into prepared pan. Bake 22 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. On wire rack, cool 15 minutes.
3. Run metal spatula around edges of cake to loosen; sift 1 tablespoon sugar onto cake. Invert onto clean kitchen towel; remove parchment paper.
4. Starting at short end of cake, roll up tightly, jelly-roll style, folding towel into cake; refrigerate 30 minutes or until chilled.
5. On cutting board, unroll cake. With scissors, cut carton from softened (leave out for 10 minutes) Ice Cream (or if you're using other ice-cream, let it soften until you can spread it). Arrange Ice Cream on its side, then cut crosswise into 8 slices. Arrange slices on cake leaving 1-1/2-inch border at one end of cake; pressing to form an even layer. Roll cake up tightly, using towel to help roll cake; freeze 3 hours or overnight. Freeze serving platter 30 minutes before serving.
6. Meanwhile, for ''mushrooms'', with scissors, snip large marshmallows in half crosswise; press mini marshmallows onto sticky side of large marshmallows. Sift cocoa powder over mushrooms; set aside.
7. On cutting board, remove towel from cake. With serrated knife, slice 1-1/2-inch diagonal piece off one end of cake. On chilled serving platter, arrange large ''log''. Place diagonal slice against side of ''log'' to form ''branch''.
8. Frost "log" and "branch" with chocolate frosting, leaving ends unfrosted. Drag fork across frosting to create "bark"; press on "mushrooms". Return to freezer to firm up.
9. To serve, garnish with cranberries and mint and sprinkle with additional confectioners sugar. Serve on a bed of ground up cocoa nibs!

TIP: The frosting will cover any cracks you may get in the cake when rolling.

Don't have time to do this? The other day I saw Buches de Noel for sale at the Haagen-Daz store. You get to pick the ice cream flavor you like. They're ready for take-out or they'll customize it for you.

Photo: Breyer's with strawberry ice cream

Crushed Peppermint Cheesecake

Just when I thought I was finished with Peppermint and Chocolate recipes, I came across this Sunset recipe for Crushed Peppermint Cheesecake! Cheesecake is one of my favorite foods, and I have several spring pans.. even bought some more last year at the White Elephant Sale. My sister made this last week, but left off the Crushed Peppermint and peppermint oil. Guess it's a versatile recipe. I love peppermint and chocolate, and when you add butter, cream cheese and sour cream..well what could be better?


12 ounces creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookies, such as Oreos or Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe Joes, broken into pieces
3 tablespoons melted butter
1- 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
4 eggs
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup coarsely crushed peppermint candy

1. Place cookies in a heavy zip-lock plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Pour into a buttered 9-inch round springform pan and pour melted butter over crumbs; mix to coat, then press evenly over bottom and about 1/2 inch up sides of pan. Bake in a 300° oven until crust is slightly darker and looks a bit dry, about 10 minutes (leave oven on).
2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until well blended. Beat in sour cream. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend after each addition. Beat in flour, vanilla, peppermint extract, and salt until smooth. Pour cream cheese mixture into pan over baked crust.
3. Bake until edges are just golden and center jiggles slightly when pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour. Run a knife around edge of pan rim. Place pan on a wire rack and cool cheesecake completely in pan. Cover and chill until cold, at least 4 hours or up to 2 days. Run a knife around rim again, then release rim. If any liquid has pooled on surface of cheesecake, blot dry gently with a paper towel.
4. Decorate top of cake with crushed peppermint candy, pressing it in gently with your hands.

Photo: Christina Schmidhofer

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Chocolate Barks: Red and Green and Chocolate!

I adore barks, and I've posted several Bark recipes over the past year including Chocolate Peppermint Bark for the holidays. Bark is so easy and quick to make and there are so many variations that it's perfect for this busy time of year! I especially that these two Bark Recipes because they employ both color and unique tastes along with chocolate! As always use the very best chocolate! Here's to a Red, Green and Chocolate Holiday!

The first recipe comes from Annmarie Kostyk, the Chocolate Goddess! She is the ultimate Chocolate Blogger with great reviews and recipes and interesting facts about chocolate. She truly is a Chocolate Goddess. Be sure and visit her website and scroll back for the 12 Days of Holiday Chocolate Candy and 12 Days of Holiday Chocolate Cookies! Exceptional!!!

Pistachio and Cherry Dark Chocolate Bark
from Annmarie Kostyk, the Chocolate Goddess

3/4 cup roasted, shelled pistachios, (3 ounces), coarsely chopped (raw pistachios and/or other salted nuts, don't have the same saltiness)
3/4 cup dried cherries (or cranberries)
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
24 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped, divided

1. Line the bottom and sides of a jelly-roll pan or baking sheet with foil. (Take care to avoid wrinkles.) Toss pistachios with cherries in a medium bowl. Divide the mixture in half; stir orange zest into 1 portion.
2. Melt 18 ounces chocolate in a double boiler over hot water. (or in a saucepan over a saucepan of simmering water) Stir often with a rubber spatula so it melts evenly.
3. Remove the top saucepan and wipe dry. Stir in the remaining 6 ounces chocolate, in 2 additions, until thoroughly melted and smooth.
4. Add the pistachio mixture containing the orange zest to the chocolate; stir to mix well. Working quickly, scrape the chocolate onto the prepared pan, spreading it to an even 1/4-inch thickness with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the remaining pistachio mixture on top; gently press it into the chocolate with your fingertips. Refrigerate, uncovered, just until set, no more than 20 minutes.
5. Invert the pan onto a large cutting board. Remove the pan and peel off the foil. Using the tip of a sharp knife, score the chocolate lengthwise with 6 parallel lines. Break bark along the score lines. Break the strips of bark into 2- to 3-inch chunks.

Hint: Never store Chocolate Bark in the refrigerator. It will sweat or bloom. For that matter, don't store any chocolate candy in the refrigerator.

The following recipe is from the King Arthur Flour website. I love the innovative recipes on the website and blog, and, of course, King Arthur Flour's great products! This recipe is very festive with red cranberries and crunchy pecans...and it uses both white and dark chocolate layers. Let's face it, you can never have enough bark! Woof!

Cranberry Nut Chocolate Bark
from King Arthur Flour


1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup toasted diced pecans
2- 2/3 cups chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted
2- 2/3 cups chopped white chocolate, melted

1. Toss the cranberries and pecans together. Set them aside.
2. Melt the dark chocolate (in the top of a double boiler--see above), and spread it into an 8" x 12" oval on parchment paper.
3. Allow the chocolate to set, but not harden completely.

4. Melt the white chocolate (in the top of a double boiler-see above) and mix it with about 3/4 cup of the cranberries and pecans.
5. Spread this over the dark chocolate.
6. Sprinkle the rest of the nuts and fruit on top, pressing them in gently.
7. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes--no more than 20-- until hardened, then break it into chunks.

Happy Holidays!

Photo: Pistachio and Cherry Dark Chocolate Bark: Annmarie Kostyk
Photo: Cranberry Nut Chocolate Bark: King Arthur Flour

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Peppermint Ice Cream Pie

When I was little, we went on long turnpike rides to visit family at the holidays. We always stopped at Howard Johnson's, the roadside retreat, on the way, and my treat was Peppermint Stick ice cream. It didn't matter what he weather was like outside, that Peppermint Ice Cream was delicious--rich and creamy filled with lots of crunchy peppermint pieces. It was served in simple cones then, but this recipe for Peppermint Ice Cream Pie takes it one step further.

It's cold outside, but that shouldn't keep you from making this simple delicious Peppermint Ice Cream Pie. As a matter of fact, now's the time to make this when the Limited Edition flavors hit the frozen dairy case.  Dreyer's Ice Cream (Edy's in the Midwest and on the East Coast) has a very good Peppermint Ice Cream. Fenton's, a local favorite, has terrific Peppermint Ice Cream.

So here's another Peppermint and Chocolate recipe that's simple to make and great to serve and eat! This is a simple alternative to the Chocolate Peppermint Pie recipe I posted on Friday.  And, of course, you can use any Peppermint Ice Cream you like! You can even make your own!

I've changed the Peppermint Oreo Pie Crust recipe a bit. Put it into the freezer rather than refrigerator for an hour before filling, so it doesn't get soggy.

Peppermint Ice Cream Pie

Peppermint Oreo Pie Crust
2 1/4 cups of crushed Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe Joes (oreo-like with peppermint filling), finely crushed (whirl in a blender or put in plastic bag and use rolling pin)
2 1/2 ounces of melted sweet butter

1. Combine cookie crumbs with melted butter in a bowl
2. Pour mixture into 9 inch pie pan and press into the bottom and up the sides evenly
3. Smooth surface with the back of a spoon
4. Freeze pie crust for at least an hour

1 carton (1.5 quarts) Peppermint Ice Cream  (leave out for 10-15 minutes to soften)
2 candy canes, crushed

Spread softened ice cream evenly on frozen crust.
Sprinkle with crushed candy canes.
Freeze for several hours until firm.
Cut into wedges to serve.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Candy Cane Fudge

I've been posting a lot of Peppermint and Chocolate Recipes, and I thought I was finished, but I couldn't help but post a recipe for Candy Cane Fudge. This one is adapted from Erin's Files.  I didn't include the espresso or vanilla which is in the original recipe, so be sure and check out the original recipe if you're interested. You can also use chocolate chips if you don't have dark chocolate bars.

There's nothing quite like Chocolate and Peppermint! Perfect for the holidays. I'll add this to my Peppermint and Chocolate Holiday Round-up.


18 oz. dark chocolate  (60-75% cacao), chopped
1 14 oz. can  sweetened condensed milk
Pinch of salt
1 tsp peppermint extract
4 peppermint candy canes, crushed

1. Line 9" pan with wax paper.
2. Melt chocolate with sweetened condensed milk and salt in a heavy saucepan over another saucepan with simmering water (or in top of double boiler). Stir until melted.
3. Remove from heat; stir in peppermint extracts, and half the crushed candy canes.
4. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Top with the rest of the candy cane crumbs.
5. Chill 2 hours or until firm.
6. Remove from pan by lifting edges of wax paper.
7. Cut into squares.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Chocolate Peppermint Pie with Peppermint Oreo Pie Crust

Here's a fabulous recipe for Chocolate Peppermint Pie. Since the original recipe is adapted from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, you realize there's going to be lots of butter, cream cheese and whipping cream. This is a perfect treat for the holidays! I dressed this up even more by adding a Chocolate Peppermint Oreo Crust using Holiday Oreos--Candy Cane Joe Joes from Trader Joe's. It's a great crust for lots of holiday desserts.

Chocolate Peppermint Pie with Peppermint Oreo Pie Crust

Peppermint Oreo Pie Crust

2 1/4 cups of crushed Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe Joe's (oreo-like with peppermint filling), finely ground
2 1/2 ounces of melted butter

1. Combine cookie crumbs with melted butter in a bowl
2. Pour mixture into 9 inch pie pan and press into the bottom and up the sides evenly
3. Smooth surface with the back of a spoon
4. Refrigerate pie crust for at least an hour

Chocolate Peppermint Pie Filling 

1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup pasteurized egg product* (egg beaters or similar product to avoid the raw egg controversy)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup white chocolate chips or white chocolate bar, broken up-- melted and cooled
1/2 cup (20) peppermint candies, crushed
1/2 cup dark chocolate (45-65% cacao) broken up or 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled
crushed peppermints

1. In a bowl, beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar together.
2. Combine  egg product and whipping cream, and gradually add to butter mixture while beating, scraping bowl often. Beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reserve half of mixture in a small bowl.
3. Add  cooled white chocolate to remaining half of mixture; beat well. Stir in crushed candy. Spread in pie crust; chill 10 minutes.
4.  Return reserved butter mixture to bowl, add cooled dark chocolate; beat well. Spread over white chocolate layer.
5.  Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chocolate Peppermint Creams: Vintage Ad & Recipe

Today, I'm continuing the Peppermint and Chocolate holiday theme. I'm a sucker for Vintage Ads, especially when they are about chocolate. This is a 1953-1955 advertisement.

Since Tobler Chocolate Peppermint Creams are no longer available, I thought I'd post an easy recipe for Chocolate Peppermint Creams.

Chocolate Peppermint Creams

1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/2 to 1 tsp of peppermint oil
4 ounces dark chocolate (70-75% cacoa)
3-4 tbsp cold water


Place sifted confectioner's sugar in a bowl.
Stir in water and the peppermint oil until you have a very stiff paste.
Roll into balls.
Put balls on parchment paper and flatten. 
Refrigerate for about an hour.
Melt chocolate in small saucepan over a saucepan of simmering water.
Removemints from the fridge.
Dip the mints one by one in the melted chocolate and then place them back on parchment paper.
Put them back into the fridge until chocolate hardens.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kahlua Peppermint Mocha Hot Chocolate & Peppermint Whipped Cream

From Drink of the Week today comes a wonderful Holiday Recipe for Kahlua Peppermint Mocha Hot Chocolate. I'll be sure and add this to my Hot Chocolate Recipe Round-up. Recipe originally from Kahlua Peppermint Mocha Liqueur. Kahlua Peppermint Mocha is certainly a liqueur to add to your cabinet! This recipe is garnished with marshmallows, but you can also add Peppermint Whipped Cream. See my recipe below.

Kahlua Peppermint Mocha Hot Chocolate

2 parts Milk
1 part Drinking Chocolate
1 part Kahlúa Peppermint Mocha

Bring milk to a simmer. Whisk in drinking chocolate. Simmer for 30 seconds while stirring. Add Kahlúa Peppermint Mocha. Garnish with peppermint stick and marshmallows or Peppermint Whipped Cream.

Peppermint Whipped Cream
1/2 cup Heavy cream
2 tbsp Pulverized peppermints
1 tbsp Powdered sugar

Whip the cream, pulverized peppermints and sugar until stiff peaks form.  Serve on any hot chocolate or the drink above.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Peppermint & Chocolate Holiday Round-Up

I love Chocolate and Peppermint, and the holidays are the perfect time to enjoy this combination!  I thought I'd do a round-up of some of the Peppermint Chocolate Recipes that have appeared here on DyingforChocolate!

Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Peppermint Bark Brownies

Peppermint Patty Drinks:
   Peppermint Patty Hot Chocolate Cocktail
   Chocolate Peppermintini
   Peppermint Patty on the Rocks

Chocolate Cheesecake Candy Cane Bars

Chocolate Peppermint Ganache

Peppermint Patty Ice Cream Sandwiches

Peppermint Cookie Recipes
    Chocolate Peppermint Patty Cookies
    Peppermint Bark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Peppermint Trifle

Peppermint Patties from Pattie Tierney

Kahlua Peppermint Mocha Hot Chocolate & Peppermint Whipped Cream 

Chocolate Peppermint Creams: Vintage Ad & Recipe

Chocolate Peppermint Pie with Peppermint Oreo Pie Crust  

Candy Cane Fudge

Peppermint Ice Cream Pie  

Crushed Peppermint Cheesecake

Eric Wolitzky's Godiva Chocolate Lava Cake

I really enjoyed Top Chef Just Desserts, and although I was thrilled that Yigit Pura, a local boy, won, I admired Eric Wolitzky, a baker, for his ambition and great recipes. Competing against pastry chefs must have been daunting, but he became better and better with presentation as the series went on. It's not all about the flavor, we learned in this show, but a lot about presentation. However, I had no doubts that Eric Woltizky, pastry chef at New York City's Baked, was a fabulous baker! One of the tough things for the viewer is not tasting the creations. With shows like Project Runway, I know what I like, and what works, but with cooking shows, I have to take the word of the judges on taste.

This month Eric Wolitzky's recipe for Godiva Chocolate Lava Cake appeared in  Food & Wine Magazine. Now's your chance to give it a taste. It's not a difficult cake, and I adore bundt cakes! The fudge glaze makes it beautiful, but you can leave it off if you don't have time. The cake is great by itself. The original recipe uses Godiva Dark Chocolate Callets. It was a Godiva challenge. If you don't have Godiva, you can always substitute the dark chocolate you do have on hand. Just make sure it's the highest quality! No counting calories on this one, and forget cholesterol.


4 ounces Godiva Dark Chocolate Callets
1/2 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1 cup sour cream
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups pecans (finely chopped or ground in food processor)
1 teaspoon salt
1- 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar

3/4 cup cocoa powder
(plus more for dusting pan)
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla
2- 1/4 sticks butter
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt pan and dust with cocoa powder.

In a medium bowl, pour boiling water over Godiva Dark Chocolate Callets and espresso powder and whisk until smooth. Whisk in sour cream and set aside. In a large bowl whisk together flour, ground pecans, confectioners' sugar, cocoa and salt.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat granulated sugar, brown sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 mins). Turn mixer to low and add eggs, yolks and vanilla slowly, scraping down the bowl as necessary until well combined.

Add the dry mixture in three additions alternating with two additions of the chocolate sour cream mixture.

Scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth batter and bake for no longer than 45 mins. The edges should start to pull away from sides of pan and the top will looked cracked. A cake tester placed in center will be very wet. Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 1½ hrs. Invert onto serving plate and let cool, about 2 hrs. Pour fudge glaze over top of cake and let set for 10 mins.

Fudge Glaze (optional for me!)

2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons espresso powder
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 tablespoon honey
4 ounces Godiva Dark Chocolate callets
1 or 2 tablespoons Godiva Mocha Liqueur (optional)
1/4 cup Godiva White Chocolate callets

In a medium saucepan combine cream, cocoa powder, espresso powder, corn syrup and honey. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and add the chocolate callets. Whisk and continue cooking for 2 minutes until mixture is bubbling. Take off heat and let cool completely. Pour glaze over top of cake and let set for at least 10 minutes. Melt white chocolate callets and drizzle over cake before serving.

Photo: Food & Wine Magazine

Monday, December 13, 2010

Candied Chocolate Almonds

From Sunset Magazine comes another easy recipe for the holidays. Candied Chocolate Almonds. The perfect hostess gift! I ordered  small gift boxes in quantity from U-Line for these. Much less expensive than buying individually. Delivered to my door in two days. The original recipe called for milk chocolate, but I'm a dark chocolate fan. It's your choice.

Be sure and check out a related chocolate covered nuts recipe from Margaret Maron. Southern Chocolate Covered Fried Pecans.

Candied Chocolate Almonds

Cooking-oil spray
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups raw almonds with skins
2 tablespoons butter
12 ounces chopped DARK chocolate
3 tablespoons Dutch-processed unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
3 tablespoons powdered sugar


1. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray and set aside. Mix corn syrup, granulated sugar, and 2 tbsp. water in a 4-qt. pot. Bring to a boil; boil 2 minutes.

2. Reduce heat to medium-high, add nuts, and cook, stirring continuously; syrup will crystallize into sugar around nuts and become very sandy. Keep cooking and stirring until sugar starts to melt again and caramelize, about 5 minutes. When nuts smell toasted and all sugar has caramelized and is medium brown, remove from heat. Stir in butter. Carefully pour hot nuts onto prepared baking pan (reserve pot).

3. Spray tines of 2 forks with cooking spray. Using forks, stir and separate nuts until cool. Freeze nuts on pan 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, add 3 in. water to reserved pot; bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Put chocolate in a medium metal bowl and set bowl over pot. Let sit, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted.

5. Transfer nuts from freezer to a medium bowl. Pour half the melted chocolate over nuts; stir well to coat. Return nuts to baking sheet, spreading out and separating them. Return nuts to freezer until chocolate has set, about 20 minutes. Repeat with remaining melted chocolate.

6. Divide nuts between 2 bowls. Sift cocoa over first bowl, tossing gently to coat nuts. Repeat with second bowl, using powdered sugar instead of cocoa. Store nuts separately in airtight containers up to 2 weeks.

Photo: Annabelle Breakey

Sunday, December 12, 2010

National Cocoa Day: Recipes & Variations

Cadbury's Chocolate. Go to end of post
Today is National Cocoa Day, and it's blustery out there, so be sure and try one of these recipes to warm you up!

Last year on National Cocoa Day, I posted several brands of cocoa that I enjoy, plus links and recipes. You'll definitely want to take a look. Be sure and click. Remember, starting with the best ingredients will result in the best cocoa/hot chocolate!

Following are some variations on classic Hot Cocoa. Some recipes are for one, some for four, and some for a crowd.  Some use cocoa powder, some use chocolate bars, but all are delicious. If you have a favorite cocoa recipe, comment below with a link!

Later this week I'll be reviewing and posting recipes for Holiday Marshmallows. They're always a welcome addition to Hot Cocoa, and will add to the flavor.

Mexican Hot Chocolate
2 teaspoons good-quality ground DARK cocoa
1 teaspoon sugar, plus extra to taste
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground almonds. You can add more if you want a thicker texture
1 cup milk

Directions: Mix all the ingredients, except the milk, together in an empty, clean glass jar. Shake until completely combined. Heat the milk in a pan and add the chocolate mix. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Simmer for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly; use a small whisk to froth the milk. Serve hot.

Mexican Hot Chocolate II

5  ounces dark Mexican Chocolate
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup hot water
Pinch of salt
1 tsp instant coffee
2 cups whole milk
1 egg (optional)
1/4 tsp Mexican vanilla extract
1 dried red chile pepper, smashed
Ground cinnamon for sprinkling

Directions: In saucepan over medium-low heat, add Mexican chocolate, honey, hot water, salt, coffee, and chile pepper. Heat, stirring constantly, until mixture just begins to boil; reduce heat to low and let simmer, stirring constantly, for another minute. Carefully stir in the milk and let sit over low heat until chocolate is too warm to touch. In a bowl, beat egg until frothy. Add vanilla extract and beat in well. Pour the hot chocolate mixture over the frothed egg and beat for about 15 seconds. (until you have about foam on top) Pour into mugs. Sprinkle mugs with ground cinnamon and shaved chocolate.

Honey Hot Chocolate   
The flavor of your cocoa will change with the variety of honey. Try lavender honey, sage, wildflower. I get my honey from Beekind that has so many local varieties, but also has international honeys. Available in Sebastopol and the Ferry Building in San Francisco, plus internet.

4 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons honey
4 cups milk

Directions: Combine ingredients in a medium-size sauce pan. Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally until hot.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

1 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
1 tablespoon Madegascar vanilla
3/4 cup granulated sugar
8 ounces 75-85% cacao chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon peppermint oil

Directions: Add milk, cream, vanilla and sugar to a pot and place over medium heat. When milk mixture is hot, add the chopped chocolate and stir constantly. Continue stirring, adding remaining ingredients. When mixture is starting to simmer, take off heat and serve.

Eggnog Hot Chocolate
What would the holidays be without eggnog? Try this and let me know what you think!

1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons Unsweetened Dark Cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions: In blender or processor,  combine egg, milk, water, cocoa and nutmeg, blend until well mixed. Transfer mixture to top of a double boiler. Hear stirring occasionally, until mixture is steaming. Do not boil.

Argentinian Hot Chocolate

4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp Madegascar or Mexican Vanilla
4 ounces good quality dark chocolate, broken into 1 ounce pieces

Directions: Heat milk, sugar and vanilla in a pan until almost boiled. Remove from heat and divide  into 4 mugs. Immediately, pop a piece of chocolate in each mug. It will melt and have a fabulous taste.

Hot Chocolate with Brown Sugar

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/3 cup water
4 cups hot milk
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
dash of salt

Preparation: In a double boiler (or saucepan over a saucepan), melt the chocolate and water together. Slowly mix in milk, sugar and salt. Whisk until chocolate is smooth and blended.

Parisian Warm Chocolate
I'm not sure where I found this recipe, but it works! Anything French works! Lots of varieties on this. Experiment!

1 cup whole milk
1/3 heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
6 oz chocolate- 65-75% cacao chocolate, chopped

Directions: Simmer the milk, cream and sugar together until just boiling. Stir in the chocolate until melted. Don't let it boil. Serve warm in mugs.

Spicy White Hot Chocolate

4 cups milk
7 oz. good white chocolate (Guittard, Ghirardelli), chopped
1 egg, beaten
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground cinnamon

Directions: Put white chocolate in medium metal bowl or saucepan over another saucepan of  simmering water, or in the top half of a double boiler. Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally until smooth. Stir in cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Whisk in the egg until smooth. Gradually whisk in one cup of the milk until completely incorporated (2-3 minutes). Gradually whisk in remaining milk, and heat until hot, but not simmering. Put in mugs and sprinkle with cinnamon or chocolate.

Peppermint White Chocolate Cocoa (is that redundant?)

8 oz white chocolate, chopped
3 1/2 cups whole milk
6 hard peppermint candies, crushed fine
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
2/3 cup whipping cream

Directions: Beat chilled cream with crushed mints until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate for about an hour. Heat milk to a simmer, them mix in chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add mint extract and stir through. Pour into mugs and top with minty whipped cream.

Candy Cane Cocoa   
variation on recipe from Sean Paajanen

4 cups whole milk
3 ounces 60-85% cacao chocolate, chopped
4 red and white striped peppermint candies crushed
4 small red and white striped candy canes
whipped cream

Directions: In a sauce pan bring milk to a simmer. Add chocolate and crushed candies. Whisk until smooth. Divide hot cocoa between mugs and garnish with whipped cream and serve with a candy candy stirring stick.

About the photo: This Vintage Advertisement for Cadbury Cocoa is special to me. First, my niece-in-law is a descendent of the founders of Cadbury Chocolate company. Second, my sister, Judie Siddall, is the President of the Transferware Collectors Club and sells antique blue and white transferware (pottery), similar to what is pictured in this advertisement, although, her wares are much older. She can be found at Merlin Antiques.  And, we all like chocolate, so it's all in the Family!