Sunday, July 31, 2011

Costco All American Chocolate Cake: Perfect Birthday Cake

So today's my sister's birthday, and you'd think I would have baked a cake. No, and "I knew she was coming, but..."

The clan is gathering this weekend in Bodega Bay, and I had way too many things to do to get ready for the onslaught. At the birthday party today, we'll have 4 generations. Oldest: The Grand Dame at 90. Youngest: the Princess at 17 months. Common denominator? Chocolate. Which Birthday Cake? Costco All American Chocolate Cake. It's my cake of choice for large parties.

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's ever tasted the fabulous Costco All American Chocolate Cake. It's huge! It's delicious! It's a deep dark chocolate four layer cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. 7 pounds of heaven! Yes, it really is 7 pounds  (the mystery: if you eat it all, you'll gain 20!). I bought it yesterday, but this cake freezes very well, in case you have room in your freezer for this gigantic cake--for emergency parties. Actually I've been told that many restaurants buy the Costco All American Chocolate Cake, slice it thin, and serve with raspberry or strawberry sauce. Really. Of course these restaurants don't employ any of my pastry chef friends. The restaurants probably charge a fortune, too. The Costco All American Chocolate Cake is a real deal at $16.99.

If you want to get fancy (or fancier) with the cake (it's already decorated with beautiful frosting with chocolate curls down the sides) freeze or chill the cake in order to get the slices really thin. Makes it easier to cut. Then drizzle with raspberry sauce! But if you're like me, fresh is the way to go. Use a good cake slicer. As I said this is a mile high cake. Add candles, and it's the perfect birthday cake!

Happy Birthday, Judie!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Double Chocolate Cheesecake: National Cheesecake Day

Today is National Cheesecake Day. Yet another wonderful holiday I can support. I love all kinds of cheesecakes, and if it's not a chocolate cheesecake itself, it usually has a chocolate crust.

Cheesecake was definitely made in ancient Greece and was said to have been given to Olympian athletes. Alan Davidson, author of the Oxford Companion to Food, wrote, "cheesecake was mentioned in Marcus Porcius Cato's De re Rustica around 200 BCE and that Cato described making his cheese libum (cake) with results very similar to modern cheesecake." From What's Cooking America: here's  his recipe for libum, often given as a temple offering:

Libum to be made as follows: 2 pounds cheese well crushed in a mortar; when it is well crushed, add in 1 pound bread-wheat flour or, if you want it to be lighter, just 1/2 a pound, to be mixed with the cheese. Add one egg and mix all together well. Make a loaf of this, with the leaves under it, and cook slowly in a hot fire under a brick.

Cheesecakes can use many different cheeses from cream cheese, the most popular, to neufchatel, to cottage cheese to marscapone. What's really amazing are the infinite varieties of cheesecakes. From New York to Pennsylvania Dutch to Lactose Free, you can make a different type of every day for years. If you're so inclined :-)  Read more about cheesecake.

Here's a Round-up of Cheesecakes you can make today to celebrate!

Pumpkin Cheesecake
Turtle Cheesecake
Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake
Oreo Cheesecake
White Chocolate Cheesecake
Bailey's Irish Cream Cheesecake

New recipe today is for Double Chocolate Cheesecake. I first tasted this when Laura-Kate Rurka, aspiring mystery author and major baker and foodie, brought this fabulous cheesecake to one of the literary salons I hold at my home. I remember the cheesecake but not the author who spoke. Priorities? I had to have the recipe, and Laura-Kate complied. Surprisingly she said it wasn't her recipe, but was from Epicurious. However, she adapted it in several ways and made it her own, so I think of it as her recipe. She adapted the recipe by using Medaglia D'Oro espresso powder instead of instant coffee. She also used Guittard Couverture Disks. Although she used to use Valrhona, she said, "I got lazy about chopping all that chocolate.  Anyway, I love those guys at Guittard and they're local."  Totally agree. I've now made this Double Chocolate Cheesecake using several different types and brands of chocolate. It's an easy and fabulous recipe, just give yourself lots of time for the actual baking and setting. I especially like using both cream cheese and sourcream in my cheesecakes, so I appreciate this recipe. Celebrate National Cheesecake Day today!


1 9-ounce box chocolate wafer cookies
6 tablespoons sweet butter, melted

1 1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder (or espresso granules/it will be more intense)
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (experiment with different chocolate)*
 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons Madegascar vanilla extract
3 large eggs

1/2 cup whipping cream
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Make crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Wrap outside of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with double thickness of foil. Spray bottom of pan with vegetable oil spray. Finely grind cookies in processor. Add butter and process until blended. Press mixture onto bottom (not sides) of prepared pan. Refrigerate while preparing filling.

Make filling:
Combine cream and coffee powder in medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until coffee powder dissolves. Reduce heat to low. Add chocolate; whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Cool 10 minutes.

Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until well blended. Beat in cornstarch. Add sour cream and vanilla; beat well. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Whisk 1 cup cheese mixture into chocolate mixture. Return chocolate mixture to remaining cheese mixture; whisk until smooth.

Pour batter into crust. Place springform pan in large baking pan. Add enough hot water to baking pan to cone halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake cheesecake until softly set and slightly puffed around edges, about 1 hour. Turn off oven. Let cake stand in oven 45 minutes. Transfer springform pan to rack and cool. Cover; chill cake overnight.

Make glaze:
Bring cream to boil in heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat. Add 4 ounces chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Pour glaze over top of cake. Using spatula, smooth glaze evenly over top. Refrigerate until glaze is set, at least 2 hours. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Using knife, cut around sides of pan to loosen cake. Remove pan sides. Cut into wedges and serve.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chocolate Milk Cocktails: National Chocolate Milk Day

Today is National Chocolate Milk Day! So much controversy about whether or not chocolate milk is a healthy school drink. We always had a choice of plain or chocolate milk when I was in school. Remember those 1/2 pint waxed containers of milk? I always chose chocolate!

I've posted several great chocolate milk recipes over the years including this one for Nicaraguan Chocolate Milk. Give it a try.

Love this retro ad for Chocolate Milk. But moving from the youngsters to the oldsters, here are two very easycocktail recipes for Adult Chocolate Milk Cocktails!

I. Chocolate Milk Cocktail
Glass of Chocolate Milk
Couple Splashes Kahlua
2 or 3 ice cubes

Add Kahlua to chocolate milk and add ice

II. Chocolate Milk Cocktail

1/2 shot chocolate liqueur
1/2 shot milk
dash of amaretto

Put the milk in the bottom, pour the liqueur on top and add dash of amaretto. Do not mix.
Serve in a tumbler.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Single Malt Scotch Peanut Chocolate Truffles

I've been a judge at several Scotch and Chocolate pairings. It's a hard job, but someone has to do it.

It's often difficult to decide which chocolates pair best with which Scotch, but since today is National Scotch Day, I thought I'd post a recipe for Single Malt Scotch Peanut Chocolate Truffles. It's the ultimate pairing of not two but three distinct flavors. You can decide on your own chocolate and your own Scotch. Keep the chocolate semi-sweet, so you have some sugar in there. I tend to go very dark, but not in this recipe. Recipe is adapted from one by Florence Fabricant that appeared in the New York Times in 2008.

I love truffles. They're easy to prepare and look and taste great!

Single Malt Scotch Peanut Chocolate Truffles

1 pound-12 ounces dark chocolate (55-65% cacao-needs to be semisweet to offset the salted peanuts & Scotch)
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons honey (original recipe calls for floral honey)
3 tablespoons Single Malt Scotch
6 tablespoons salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Madegascar vanilla extract

1. Break 8 ounces chocolate into small pieces and place in metal bowl. Heat cream to a simmer and pour over chocolate. Stir until chocolate has melted and is smooth. If necessary, place bowl briefly over low heat to finish melting.
2. Stir in honey, Scotch, peanuts and vanilla. Chill until firm, 2 hours.
3. Use a small ice cream scoop to scoop small amounts of chocolate mixture. Quickly roll into 1 inch balls. Place on  platter or baking sheet lined with parchment. Put in freezer to firm up (about 30 minutes).
4. Break up remaining chocolate and place 16 ounces in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on full power 2 to 3 minutes, stirring a few times, until melted. Remove from oven. Stir in remaining chocolate until melted. With two forks hold truffles and gently dip in melted chocolate to coat. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet at room temperature 15 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chocolate Marlow: Retro Ad & Recipe

My friends Janet & Marty are recipe testers for Cook's Illustrated. It got me thinking about some 'new' sources for 'old' recipes, and Cook's fits the bill. I found this recipe (and photo) on their site. It's from Woman's Day Magazine, September 1949 (another great site for retro recipes).

I've never seen White House Evaporated Milk, but any evaporated milk will do. I do remember the A&P. My mother shopped there. Well, there and at the Acme. Remembering all those shopping trips as a child, I must mention that my mother did most of her shopping at Reliables. It was a small Mom & Pop corner grocery store where she would choose her fruits and vegetables, and, occasionally some staples--and they delivered them later the same day. She would then go to the butcher for meat, the chicken store for chicken, the fish store for fish, and the bakery for bread--fresh every day! Kind of the way I shop, today! I think of it as so European, but it's really just full circle back to my mother's generation.

Eggs were delivered twice weekly by the eggman who raised chickens on his farm in New Jersey. As far as milk, well, of course, it was left at the backdoor every morning. Maybe I don't really remember this, maybe I just heard about it from my grandmother who lived with us, but I have images of the milkman coming up the back alley in his horse drawn truck. Probably not, but such a great visual!

Anyway, here's a recipe that can be easily updated for a quick dessert.  Use really good chocolate, Madagascar vanilla, homemade marshmallow or marshmallow creme, whipping cream instead of evaporated milk, and it will be fab. Rotary egg beater? I no longer have one, but I do have a whisk--and, of course, a KitchenAid. Recipe says to freeze with temperature control set at coldest setting! That's pretty funny, too! Anyway, as far as recreating this recipe, in a pinch, use what you have or follow the directions! Easy and quick. A little research on my part turned up several Marlow recipes including strawberries. Must have been a popular dessert in the 40s & 50s. Unfortunately, this will not be 8 cents a serving any more.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake: National Hot Fudge Sundae Day

Today is National Hot Fudge Sundae Day, and given that most of the U.S. is scorching, it's the perfect treat!

The classic Hot Fudge Sundae is a creation of vanilla ice cream,  hot chocolate sauce ("hot fudge"), whipped cream, nuts, and a single maraschino cherry on top. A Hot Fudge Sundae can be made with any flavor of ice cream, but vanilla is preferred!

There are many variations about the origins of the Hot Fudge Sundae. According to Wikipedia, a frequent theme is that the dish arose in contravention to so-called blue laws against Sunday consumption of either ice cream or ice cream soda (the latter invented by Robert M. Green in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1874). The religious laws are said to have led druggists to produce a substitute for these popular treats for consumption on Sunday. According to this theory of the name's origin, the spelling was changed to sundae to avoid offending religious conventions. Since I grew up in Philadelphia, I remember the Blue Laws, although at that time they pertained to alcohol and not ice cream.

In support of this idea, Peter Bird wrote in The First Food Empire: A History of J. Lyons and Co. (2000) that the name 'sundae' was adopted as a result of Illinois state's early prohibition of ice cream consumption on Sundays, because ice cream with a topping that obscured the main product was not deemed to be ice cream. However, according to documentation published by the Evanston, Illinois Public Library, it was the drinking of soda, not the eating of ice cream, that was outlawed on Sundays in Illinois.

Other origin stories for the sundae focus on the novelty or inventiveness of the treat or the name of the originator, and make no mention of legal pressures.

You don't really need a recipe for a hot fudge sundae. I gave the ingredients above. However, like anything else, it's all about the quality of the ingredients. Hot Fudge Sundae Cake is a great variation on this traditional treat, and it can be made in a pan in the oven or in a Slow Cooker. See recipe HERE.

Following is a recipe adapted from Betty Crocker for Hot Fudge Sundae Cake in a pan. It's an easy one bowl/pan recipe. What's especially delicious about this cake is that as the cake bakes it separates into a chocolate cake and a dark fudgy sauce. Now that's what Hot Fudge Sundaes are all about! Add the ice cream and you're all set.

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons DARK unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa
1 3/4 cups very hot water
Vanilla Ice cream

1 Heat oven to 350ºF.
2 Mix flour, granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa, the baking powder and salt in ungreased square pan, 9x9x2 inches. Mix in milk, oil and vanilla with fork until smooth. Stir in nuts. Spread in pan.
3 Sprinkle brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa over batter. Pour water over batter.
4 Bake about 40 minutes or until top is dry.
5 Spoon warm cake into dessert dishes. Top with ice cream. Spoon sauce from pan onto each serving.

Rather have Hot Fudge Sundae Cupcakes? Check out Joy the Baker's recipe and photos.

Want Hot Fudge Sundae Macarons? Barbara Bakes has the perfect recipe!

Cake photo: Betty Crocker

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chocolate Tequila Cocktails: National Tequila Day

Tequila is a versatile liquor that goes well in lots of beverages. It even goes well in truffles. See my recipe for Tequila Truffles HERE.

Since today is National Tequila Day, I thought I'd post some recipes using Tanteo Cocoa Tequila. Yes, you can make drinks with tequila and your own chocolate liqueur, but Tanteo Cocoa Tequila is a chocolate-infused Tequila that's delicious. It's made with 100% agave blanco tequila and infused with cocoa beans and jalapeño. I love the extra kick of the jalapeño, and the chocolate blends well with the natural agave. Tanteo Cocoa Tequila isn't overly sweet, either, so it's quite the grown-up chocolate drink! These Chocolate Tequila recipes are from the Tanteo website.

1-1⁄4 oz Tanteo Cocoa Tequila
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
3/4 oz Campari
1 Drop Mole Bitters

Add ingredients into an ice filled mixing glass
Stir and strain into a Champagne coupe glass
Garnish with a flamed orange zest

1-1/2 oz Tanteo Cocoa Tequila
1/2 oz Kahlua
2 oz Club Soda
lime wedge for garnish

Combine the tequila and Kahlua in a cocktail shaker filled with ice
Shake well
Pour everything into a rocks glass
Top with club soda
Garnish with a lime wedge

Have a Great Tequila Day!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread with Pistachios

Right about now you're looking around your vegetable garden and thinking,  "What will I do with all this zucchini?" And don't get me started on that huge one hiding under the leaves! Oddly, National Zucchini Bread Day falls on April 25. That doesn't really make any sense. Oh yes, you can buy zucchini all year round, but it's a summer crop. So, by mid-summer  if you're growing zucchini (even one plant!), you've probably run out of friends to hand zukes off to, and you're thinking of wrapping them up in a blanket, putting them a basket and leaving them on the church steps.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread to the rescue. O.K., to be fair, Zucchini Bread doesn't use up a lot of zucchini, but it's a tasty way of serving up your courgettes! Add chocolate and you're calling my name!

When I first started baking 'vegetable' breads, I used old coffee tins for baking pans, but that was a long time ago. Now, I usually make my zucchini breads in bundt pans, and I'm always amazed by the new bundt pan shapes. Yesterday I saw the cutest car bundt pans at Williams Sonoma, and I love my Train Bundt Pan!  Of course conventional loaf pans work, too, since this is a bread. Most recipes say to let the zucchini bread cool before serving. I don't follow that advice since by the time the aroma has filled my kitchen for an hour, I'm ready to devour the Chocolate Zucchini Bread and often do! Since you, too, might make short shrift of this chocolate zucchini bread, you'll want to make two or double the recipe, so others get a chance to taste.

A few comments on zucchini. Depending on where you live, zucchini is also called courgettes or marrows (remember Hercule Poirot throwing the marrow over the fence in the opening of The Murder of Roger Acroyd?) and sometimes summer squash (although in my neck of the woods summer squash is a totally different squash and a different color).

Here are two of my favorite recipes for Chocolate Zucchini Bread: Geeky Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread and  Chcocolate Chunk Zucchini Bread, but I have a third! As you know, you can never have too many recipes for Chocolate to enjoy! This Chocolate Zucchini Bread tastes great toasted with a little cream cheese or mascarpone! And, the secret ingredient: Pistachios!


3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp Madagascar Vanilla
2 Tbsp sweet butter
6 Tbsp DARK Cocoa
2 cups zucchini, grated
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
dash of salt
1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped chocolate chunks or dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pistachios
2 tsp. flour

Preheat oven to 350°.
In large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Mix until well blended.
In small saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp butter, add 6 Tbsp cocoa and blend tuntil smooth. Set aside to cool.
Peel and grate zucchini. Add zucchini and cooled cocoa mixture to the large mixing bowl and blend well.
In separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to the batter. Stir only enough to blend in all the dry ingredients.
In another bowl, coat broken up chocolate chunks (or chips) with 2 tsp. flour.
Fold in flour-coated chocolate chunks and chopped pistachios to the batter.
Spoon batter into two greased and floured 9x5x3 loaf pans or into a greased bundt pan.
Bake 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
Cool in  pans for 5-10 minutes.
Remove from pans and continue to cool on a wire rack.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Chocolate Fig Bon Bons

Don't you just love the term Bon Bons? Good-Good. Yes! Yes!  Bon bon is the word for candy in French, so bon bon would include all types of candy from hard candy to taffy to chocolate-covered confections.  But I don't live in France, so the  Bon Bons  I'm referring to today have a hearty fig filling covered in chocolate! This is a classic Bon Bon.

Figs: In January I posted two recipes for Chocolate Covered Dried Figs, one stuffed with walnuts. Here's a totally different recipe that uses chocolate & dried figs to make a perfect Bon Bon! As always, I'm all about easy. This recipe is adapted from the Valley Fig Growers site.

Chocolate Fig Bon Bons
 Makes about 25 bon bons

8 ounces Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Calimyrna or Mission Figs, stems removed
2/3 cup (3 oz.) toasted hazelnuts or almonds
8 vanilla wafer cookies, crushed
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup rum
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
5 ounces dark chocolate (65% cacao +)
Vegetable oil

Process figs, hazelnuts and vanilla wafers in food processor until finely ground.
Add powdered sugar, rum and orange peel; process until mixed.
Dampen hands and shape mixture into 1 1/4-inch balls.
Arrange close together on a baking sheet.
In small, deep, microwave-safe bowl, heat chocolate on High 1-2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Add a few drops of vegetable oil if needed to make chocolate thin enough (if needed) to dip.
Dip each ball in chocolate holding between two forks, letting extra chocolate drip off.
Put chocolate dipped Fig Bon Bons on second baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Refrigerate until chocolate is set.
Eat or Store in airtight container up to 1 week.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chocolate Lollipops: National Lollipop Day

Today is National Lollipop Day! Lollipops are usually made of hardened, flavored sucrose with corn syrup on a stick, but lollipops come in all kinds of sizes, flavors and textures. The story goes that the first lollipops were invented during the Civil War, but others believe they were already around in the early 1800s. George Smith claimed to the first to invent the modern style lollipop in 1909, and he trademarked the name in 1931. He named them after a racing horse: Lolly Pop! But the name was around  since 1794 and referred to soft, rather than hard candy. That's great because that's the recipe I have for you today!

My favorite lollipop? Tootsie Roll Pops! Last year I posted about Tootsie Roll Pops, including recipes for Tootsie Pop Cocktails! So this year, I'd post about another less traditional lollipop--a Chocolate Lollipop that you can either lick or bite into!

This is an easy recipe to make with the kids or your sweetheart! Adapted from Kraft Recipes, these are actually called Sweetheart Chocolate Lollipops! As always feel free to substitute your own chocolate ingredients.


4 squares Baker's Unsweetened Chocolate or 4 ounces very dark chocolate
3/4 cup sweet butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. Madagascar vanilla
2 cups flour
4 squares Baker's White Chocolate, melted or 4 ounces white chocolate
Assorted sprinkles

1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted (or melt in a double boiler). Stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended. Add sugar; mix well. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour; mix well. Cover. Refrigerate 1 hour or until dough is stiff.

2. SHAPE dough into 2-inch balls; insert lollipop stick into each ball. Place, 2 inches apart, on greased baking sheets.

3. BAKE 8 min. or just until set. (Do not overbake.) Let stand on baking sheet 1 min.; transfer to wire racks. Cool completely. Drizzle with white chocolate; decorate with sprinkles (if you feel like it). Let stand until chocolate is firm.

Makes about 30 Lollipops!

A Tip from Kraft: How to Melt and Drizzle Chocolate
Coarsely chop white chocolate; place in microwaveable bowl. Microwave on MEDIUM (50%) 2 min. or until chocolate is almost melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Dip fork into chocolate, then use to drizzle chocolate over pops. Let stand until chocolate is firm.

Photo: Kraft (with chocolate heart sprinkles)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Triple Chocolate Ice Cream Cake: National Ice Cream Day

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

July is National Ice Cream Month and yesterday, the third Sunday in July, was National Ice Cream Day. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of July as National Ice Cream Day. He called for all Americans to observe the day with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

Earlier this year on Chocolate ice Cream Day, I posted a recipe for Triple Chocolate Ice Cream Pie. So for National Ice Cream Day, I thought I'd post a recipe I adapted from Silvana Nardone's recipe on Rachael Ray Everyday for Triple Chocolate Ice Cream Cake.

Cake or Pie, you won't go wrong if you use chocolate ice cream! I adapted the following recipe by using Ben & Jerry's Brownie Batter & Chocolate Fudge Brownie, mainly because you can't have enough chocolate. Another possibility is to make your own Chocolate Pound Cake. Here's a link to a favorite chocolate poundcake recipe. Marble pound cake works, too!


1 cup (1/2 pint) heavy cream
12 ounces dark chocolate-70% cacao, broken up
1 12-ounce marble pound cake, such as Entenmann's brand, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (or your own chocolate pound cake)
1 pint Ben & Jerry's Chocolate ice cream, softened
20 chocolate wafers, plus 4 crushed wafers
1 pint Ben & Jerry's Brownie Batter or Chocolate Fudge Brownie, softened

1. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil over medium-high heat. Put the broken chocolate pieces in a heatproof medium bowl and pour the boiling cream over the chocolate. Let sit until chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. Stir the mixture with a fork for about 2 minutes, until the ganache is smooth.
2. Line a nonstick 9 x 5 x 3¾-inch loaf pan with 2 overlapping sheets of plastic wrap, allowing a 4-inch overhang on all sides.
3. Pour half of the ganache (1 cup) evenly into the lined pan and spread to cover the base. Cover the ganache with a single layer of tightly packed cake slices; be sure the layer is flat and even. Working quickly, spread the first chocolate ice cream evenly over the pound cake. Cover the ice cream with a layer made of half of the chocolate wafers. Spread the remaining ganache evenly over the wafers, then top the ganache with another layer, using all of the remaining wafers, and place the cake in the freezer for about 30 minutes to chill and firm up.
4. Remove the cake from the freezer and spread the second chocolate ice cream over the wafers. Top with another flat, single layer of tightly packed slices of pound cake, trimming 1 or 2 slices to fill in the gaps (there might be a few slices left over). The cake may be slightly higher than the pan. Cover the cake completely with the plastic overhang and freeze until firm, at least 5 hours or overnight.
5. To loosen the ice cream cake from the pan, open the plastic wrap and invert the pan over a flat serving platter. Remove the plastic wrap. Scatter the crushed chocolate wafers over the ice cream cake, then slice and serve immediately.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ultimate Turtle Cheesecake

I love Cheesecake, and since I'm from Philadelphia, I usually use Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Did you know the Italian word for cream cheese is Philadelphia? Really! I saw it on the Cake Boss in the episode where Buddy visits Sicily with his family. He taught some bakers to make New York style cheesecake, and since they don't usually use cream cheese in their baking, they brought out Philadelphia brand cream cheese for the cheesecake. They really do call cream cheese Philadelphia. Talk about branding!

I've posted several cheesecake recipes, but as I've mentioned, it's great to go to food product websites for new recipes. This really decadent Cheesecake recipe for Ultimate Turtle Cheesecake is adapted from the Kraft website. This recipe kept popping up in my sidebar on Facebook, so I finally broke down and made it. You'll love it. You can, of course, substitute other cream cheese, caramels, nuts, chocolate and cookies, but try the Kraft products on your test run. Yum!!


24 Oreo Cookies, finely crushed (about 2 cups)
6 Tbsp. sweet butter, melted
1 pkg. (14 oz.) Kraft Caramels
1/2 cup milk
1 cup chopped Planters Pecans
3 pkg. (8 oz. each) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
3 eggs
2 squares Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate

HEAT oven to 325°F.
MIX crumbs and butter; press onto bottom and 2 inches up side of 9-inch springform pan.
MICROWAVE caramels and milk in small microwaveable bowl on HIGH 3 min. or until caramels are completely melted, stirring after each minute. Stir in nuts; pour half into crust. Refrigerate 10 min. Refrigerate remaining caramel mixture for later use.

BEAT cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with mixer until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over caramel layer in crust.

BAKE 1 hour 5 min. to 1 hour 10 min. or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours.

MICROWAVE reserved caramel mixture 1 min. stir. Pour over cheesecake. Melt chocolate as directed on package; drizzle over cheesecake.

Photo: Kraft

Friday, July 15, 2011

Take Me Out to the Ball Game: Chocolate Cracker Jacks

I'm lucky to live in the home of the World Series Champions. Go Giants!! With tickets to the game next weekend, I was trying to decide what to make/what to take. AT&T Park is known for its great food such as garlic fries, local beer, sausage, and other San Francisco treats--no Rice-a-Roni!  But what's classic for me at a game? Cracker Jacks! Being a Chocolate Maven that would mean chocolate cracker jacks.

O.K. if you make this recipe at home to take to the game, you're going to have to bag it with a prize. Everyone covets the prize, and I've put a list of possible prizes at the end of this post. Feel free to comment on what you would include and what you'd want to find in your Cracker Jacks. Of course, the real prize is that you're going to have Chocolate Cracker Jacks.


9+ cups popped popcorn ( 1-3.5 microwave popcorn package)
1 cup salted roasted peanuts (Spanish peanuts are great!)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup DARK cocoa powder
1/2 cup sweet butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees
2. Use non-stick cooking spray to coat the inside of a large baking pan with sides.
3. Combine popcorn and peanuts in large bowl. Set aside.
4. Stir together sugar, corn syrup, cocoa powder, salt and butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Stir in vanilla.
5. Pour over popcorn and peanuts until well coated (gently folding with rubber spatula)
6. Spread popcorn into prepared baking pan.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
6. Remove from oven. Cool to room temperature.
7/ Break into pieces.
8. Store in airtight container or put into waxed bag and take to ballpark.
9. Be sure you add a prize.

Possible Prizes: Chocolate Ring (wrapped), Hershey's Kisses, Chocolate Toy Baseball Bat, Chocolate Baseballs

What prize would you put in your box or bag?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bastille Day: Chocolate Souffle Recipe Round-up

Bastille Day! What is more French than Chocolate Souffle? Instead of chopping off heads, chop up some chocolate! For Bastille Day here's a round-up of some classic chocolate souffle recipes that I've posted over the years. Vive la France!

Bastille Day Chocolate Souffle

Almost Fool-Proof Chocolate Souffle

Chocolate Souffle with a Twist

Chocolate Souffle for Valentine's Day (and Bastille Day!)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chocolate & Magic: Vintage Advertisement

If you've been reading, you know I love Vintage Ads, especially Chocolate Advertisements. This one combines the comics with chocolate and a magic trick! Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chocolate Pecan Pie Cocktail: National Pecan Pie Day

These food holidays keep turning up every year! What's a girl to do? Last year I posted a round-up of Chocolate Pecan Pies for Pecan Pie Day with a recipe for Fudge Brownie Pecan Pie from the North Carolina Pecan Growers Association. Yummy! Pecan Pie Day shouldn't be confused with National Pecan Torte Day on August 22. On that day last year, I posted two recipes for Chocolate Pecan Torte.

But back to Pecan Pie Day. Why not drink your Chocolate Pecan Pie?

Chocolate Pecan Pie Cocktail

2 ounces Praline Pecan liqueur
1 ounce Caramel Cream liqueur
1 ounce good Kentucky Bourbon
.5 ounce Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
.5 ounce heavy Cream

Fill cocktail shaker with ice. Add all liquid ingredients into shaker and shake for 1/2 minute. Pour into glasses.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Blueberry White Chocolate Muffins: National Blueberry Muffin Day

There's nothing quite like a muffin. It's not a scone, it's not a cupcake. For me, a really good muffin should have all the best parts of these baked goods--crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. It's about texture, and, of course, about taste.

Two year ago on Blueberry Muffin Day, I posted two recipes for Blueberry Chocolate Muffins. One is with chocolate chunks and the other is actually a chocolate muffin with blueberries. They're both great and easy.

This year, I thought I'd post a recipe for Blueberry White Chocolate Muffins. You can always substitute chocolate chips or chocolate chunks in this recipe, but give it a try with white chocolate chips. Blueberries are high in antioxidants, but white chocolate, not so much. So if you're going for very high antioxidants, use dark chocolate.


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

1 Preheat oven to 375.
2 Grease muffin pan or use paper liners.
3 Combine flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl.
4 Stir in milk, egg, and butter.
5 Stir in 1-1/2 cups white chocolate chips and blueberries.
6 Spoon into prepared pan, filling almost full.
7 Bake for 25-30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
8 Cool in pans for 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool.

You can do a Streusel topping for these, but I think they're already sweet enough. If you do want to top them, sprinkle streusel topping on muffins on top of batter in pans just before baking.

Streusel: 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 3 Tbsp butter. Combine sgar, flour & cinnamon in bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender until mixure resembles course crumbs--but you can use any good streusel.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Chocolate Bytes: July 10

It's been awhile since I did a Chocolate Bytes post. So here's some news!

1. Chocolate 3-D Printer! 

Using new digital technology this printer allows you to create your own designs on a computer and reproduce them physically in three dimensional form in chocolate.

The project is funded as part of the Research Council UK Cross-Research Council Programme - Digital Economy and is managed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) on behalf of ESRC, AHRC and MRC. It is being led by the University of Exeter in collaboration with the University of Brunel and software developer Delcam.

Research leader Dr Liang Hao, at the University of Exeter, said:

"What makes this technology special is that users will be able to design and make their own products. In the long term it could be developed to help consumers custom- design many products from different materials but we’ve started with chocolate as it is readily available, low cost and non-hazardous. There is also no wastage as any unused or spoiled material can be eaten of course! From reproducing the shape of a child’s favourite toy to a friend’s face, the possibilities are endless and only limited by our creativity".

The printer works like any other additive 3-D printer, building up the design one layer at a time, only this one works with delicious chocolate which can be eaten afterwards. The final goal is to have the printer available to consumers, so they could go into a store with their design and print out a tasty treat to give as a gift. To this end, an easy-to-use interface to input designs is already in development.

2. Chocolate Bar Flashdrive 
Here's something fun and sweet to carry around in your purse or pocket!

3. Band Presses Vinyl Record on Chocolate (HT: Laughing Squid)

This record can go from turntable to coffee table to your mouth! Scottish band Found, looking for an inventive new way to release a new single, baked up a chocolate-y idea: to press the 7” record on chocolate.

The band enlisted the help of a friend, baker Ben Milne who, after several failed attempts, managed to successfully created the Willy Wonka-like treat; the entire record, including the paper label, is edible.

While not audiophile quality, the chocolate disc plays a decent version of the band’s “Anti-Climb Paint” single.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Chocolate Sugar Cookies: National Sugar Cookie Day

Today is National Sugar Cookie Day. I love sugar cookies. There's something about the taste and texture that's so unique. Of course, I like chocolate sugar cookies. One of my favorite recipes is slightly adapted from Martha Stewart for Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookies. Feel free to make these 'regular' size, using a regular scoop. If you do make these as Giant cookies, you can use them for ice cream sandwiches. (make sure the ice cream is soft before you make the sandwiches)* The dough for these sugar cookies can also be rolled and cut into shapes!

As always, use the very best ingredients. I use all butter in this recipe because I love the taste!


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup good-quality unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder  (I use Ghirardelli or Valrhona)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sweet butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, substitute 1/2 cup sweet butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure Madagascar vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375.
Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
Put butter and sugar into the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy.
Mix in shortening (or additional butter).
Add egg and vanilla; mix until creamy. Reduce speed to low.
Gradually add flour mixture, and mix until just combined.
Using a 2 1/2-inch ice cream scoop (or smaller if you're making 'regular' cookies), drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 4 inches apart.
Bake until edges are firm, 18 to 20 minutes.
Let cool on sheets on wire racks.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Spicy Chocolate Almond Butter: Chocolate Almond Day

Today is National Chocolate Almond Day. I've posted lots of Almond Recipes, and, of course, since this is DyingforChocolate, they've always included Chocolate! The Almond Board of California is a great site for recipes and tips! Their Chocolate Almond Coffee Cake is fabulous.

Today I thought I'd post a recipe I adapted from their site for Spicy Chocolate Almond Butter. They recommend serving this Almond Butter with Cookies, but I've also used the Spicy Chocolate Almond Butter like a Hazelnut Spread and made Chocolate Almond Butter French Toast. Here's a link to that recipe, just substitute the Chocolate Almond Butter below for the Nutella. Even easier would be too smear it on a crunchy piece of Sourdough bread--or eat it straight from the spoon! Try adding a bit to your oatmeal, too. This is another of those fabulous easy recipes that you'll love! So many ways to use it!


1 cup of almonds, toasted (I recommend toasting first for more flavor)
2 tablespoons almond oil
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of premium, unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Directions: In a food processor combine almonds, almond oil, cocoa powder, and sugar. Blend until smooth. Sprinkle in chili powder and blend to combine.
For best flavor, chill for 24 hours prior to serving.

To toast almonds: Put almonds on a cooking sheet in a single layer. Place in 400 degree oven for 3 minutes. Then turn them over and bake for another 3 minutes. Be sure and cool them before making the chocolate almond butter.

Photo: Almond Board of California

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chunky Monkey Bites: Banana Chocolate Cookies!

Domino's Sugar is a great go-to for easy and delicious recipes. For me, summer is all about easy cookies on the go. I've adapted this recipe a bit: added dark chocolate chunks and banana pieces.

Chunky Monkey Bites

Nonstick vegetable cooking spray
1  (14 oz.) package banana nut muffin mix
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup Domino® Granulated Sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup banana baby food
3/4 cup dark chocolate chunks
2/3 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup banana chunks (firm)

Preheat oven to 450°F.
Spray 2 baking sheets with cooking spray, set aside. In a large bowl, combine muffin mix, oil, sugar, eggs and baby food, stirring with wooden spoon until well mixed. Fold in chocolate chunks, walnuts, and banana chunks.
Drop heaping tablespoons of the dough on baking sheets, spacing 2" apart. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Makes 24 bites.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cartoon of the Day: Bizarro/Very Dark Chocolate

Bizarro by Dan Piraro is one of my favorite comics. Clearly Dan and Andy Cowan in this cartoon from 6/30/11 have their priorities straight. Dan writes in his blog, "If you don't like chocolate, you're a brain-eating zombie... If you like chocolate and black humor, this cartoon is made to order."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chocolate Power: Guest Post & Recipe by Ken Wishnia

Today I welcome mystery writer Ken Wishnia as guest blogger. Again, my worlds of Crime Fiction and Chocolate collide.

Ken Wishnia is the author of the Macavity Award nominee, The Fifth Servant, and the Edgar Award-nominated series featuring his Ecuadorian-American sleuth, Filomena Buscarsela.


Chocolate Power!

That’s what is says on the label, anyway. The packet of powdered cocoa I bought the last time I was in Ecuador said Cacao en polvo, which can be translated as “chocolate powder.” Only they left out the “d” and it became “chocolate power.” How could I resist?

As some of you know, my wife Mercy is from Ecuador, and we lived there for several years (and I based my first series on these experiences). The country’s major exports include bananas, shrimp, “Panama hats” (which are actually made in Ecuador), long stemmed roses, and the fa-a-abulous liquor of the cacao bean. Volcanic soil and a year-round growing season help produce these marvels, and locally made chocolate bars feature the cacao bean pod on the label.

Now, you can get “chocolate power” and chocolate bars in any grocery store or supermarket, but you have to go to the open market to get the chunks of pure, unsweetened chocolate that still retain the shape of the ribbed palm leaves they were poured into on the plantation.

It also comes in “mud pie” form and “chunky style”.

It’s powerful.

In fact, the hot chocolate made from this stuff is so powerful I drink it instead of coffee.

It’s the neutron star of chocolate.

In U.S. culture, chocolate is often associated with a taste for cozies, but this stuff will get you ready for The Big Knockover.


My favorite chocolate recipe is as follows:

Open a bar of high-quality dark chocolate. Break off a piece. Put it in your mouth and allow it to melt. Don’t chew.

But seriously, here’s the standard South American recipe for Hot Chocolate:

Heat milk in saucepan. Add solid dark chocolate to taste and use a whisk to distribute it as it melts. Add sugar to taste. Overthrow government. Sit back and enjoy.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Star Spangled Cocoa Bundt Cake: Fourth of July

I always say you should check out recipes on food product sites that you like, and for me, the Hershey's Kitchens site is a regular stop.

I grew up in Philadelphia. My Aunt lived in Harrisburg, so Hershey's, being on the way, was a frequent stop. I tend to remember the Hershey Factory tour that took us on catwalks over rooms filled with chocolate vats, without barriers. I always thought you could fall into the vats. This was pre-Willy Wonka. I'm sure my memory is impaired, but it was a child's paradise. I know Hershey Park had lots of amusement rides, a roller coaster, possibly a pool, but our family never availed ourselves of those 'amusements'. We did have chocolate, though, so I'm grateful.

Hershey, PA is a very different place now with an enormous hotel, amusement park, spa, first class restaurants, kitchens and more. Hershey's always seems so American to me! Patriotic, even. So I'm not surprised that this Hershey's Kitchens' Cocoa Bundt Cake has become of my favorite recipes, and here it is, all dressed up for the Fourth of July. I've adapted the recipe slightly.

Star Spangled Cocoa Bundt Cake


3/4 cup butter, softened
1-2/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla extract
3/4 cup dairy sour cream
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk*
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup DARK Cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar
Fresh blueberries and strawberries
Sweetened whipped cream

1 Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 12-cup bundt pan (with a hole in the middle)*
2 Beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in large bowl until fluffy; beat in sour cream. Stir baking soda into buttermilk; set aside. Stir together flour, cocoa and salt; add alternately with buttermilk mixture to butter mixture. Beat 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Pour batter into prepared pan.
3 Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until wooden pick inserted comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Place cake on serving plate. Sift powdered sugar on top and sides of cake. Top with blueberries, strawberries. Serve with whipped cream.

* To sour milk: Use 1 tablespoon white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup.

Photo: Hershey's Kitchens

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Toll House Stars & Stripes Cookies: Fourth of July

From the Nestle Toll House Kitchens comes this recipe and photo for Toll House Stars and Stripes Cookies. How can you go wrong with a Chocolate Chip Cookie, America's Favorite Cookie? Perfect for the Fourth of July!

These cookies are great to make with kids. The fact that this recipe uses refrigerated cookie bar dough makes these cookies quick and easy. You can always make your own chocolate chip cookie dough. I have star cookie cutters.. well... I have a lot of cookie cutters. This recipe decorating technique should give you lots of 'food for thought' for other celebrations.


1 pkg. (16.5 oz.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Refrigerated Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar Dough
1 pkg. (8 oz.) light cream cheese (Neufchâtel), at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
24 fresh, medium strawberries, sliced
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Morsels

1. PREHEAT oven to 350º F.
2. ROLL cookie dough to 1/4-inch thickness between two pieces of wax paper. Remove top piece of paper. Cut cookie dough into stars with 3-inch star cookie cutter. Transfer cookies to ungreased baking sheet(s). (If stars are too hard to remove from wax paper, refrigerate rolled dough for 10 minutes.) Roll remaining dough to 1/4-inch thickness; cut out additional stars.
3. BAKE for 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. While hot, reshape and pat edges of each star back into shape with knife. Cool on baking sheet(s) for 2 minutes; remove to wire rack(s) to cool completely.
4. BEAT cream cheese and sugar in small mixer bowl until fluffy. Spread onto cooled cookies. Place strawberry slices onto each cookie pointing outward. Place 5 to 6 blueberries in center of each cookie. Top each cookie with morsels.

Photo: Nestle Kitchens

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Peanut Butter S'mores & More for Fourth of July!

Since it's Fourth of July weekend, I know I'll be making S'mores. What's truly amazing are the infinite varieties of S'mores out there.

On Memorial Day I did a Recipe Wrap-up with Traditional S'mores, Cupcakes, Brownies, Wacky Candy Bar, Chocolate Chip, Pie, Ice Cream Sandwich, and more. But I knew I wasn't done.

One of my favorite S'mores recipes is for S'mores Pops! Check out Give Me Some Oven for this S'mores on a Stick variety. Easy and great to make with kids.

I love traditional marshmallows, but Kraft has a new product, new to me, anyway. Jet-Puffed StackerMallows, flat marshmallows. What could be easier for S'mores. They're rectangular shaped marshmallows designed to fit on a graham cracker. Just an FYI: These marshmallows don't ooze as well as the 'regular' ones, so don't expect quite the same gooey texture.   

The Idea Room has Special Fourth of July S'mores on a Stick that utilize these flat marshmallows. Traditional S'mores dipped in Chocolate (and on a stick): then sprinkled with red, white & blue jimmies (sprinkles). Can't wait to make these!

And, one more S'mores recipe adapted from Sunset Magazine.  

Chocolate and Peanut Butter S'mores

1. Spread 1 tablespoon peanut butter (at room temperature, for easy spreading) onto a thin, crisp chocolate water (Dark Chocolate Wafers).
2. Sprinkle crushed salted peanuts over peanut butter
3. Slide 1 skewer-toasted marshmallow onto peanut butter.
4. Top with a second wafer and squish down gently.

Enjoy the Fourth! 

What's your favorite S'mores recipe?

Photo: S'mores Pops: Give Me Some Oven
Photo Peanut Butter S'mores: Leo Gong