Saturday, June 29, 2013

Chocolate Almond Buttercrunch Toffee

Today is National Almond Buttercrunch Day. I take that to mean Chocolate Almond Buttercrunch Toffee. Food & Wine has the easiest recipe from Grace Parisi, and one you'll want to make it. It does involve a candy thermometer, but it's still easy and worth it!

No time to cook? Grab a bar of Almond Roca or check out your local chocolatier for Almond Toffee.


2 sticks sweet butter 
1 1/2 cups sugar  
2 Tbsp water 
1 cup salted roasted almonds—3/4 cup coarsely chopped, 1/4 cup finely chopped  
1 Tbsp Madagascar vanilla extract 
1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt, crumbled  
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (Of course use the very best chocolate!)

Line 8-by-11-inch baking pan with foil. Spray foil with vegetable oil.

In heavy saucepan, melt butter. Stir in sugar and water and bring to boil. Wash down side of the pan with moistened pastry brush. Cook over moderate heat, stirring with wooden spoon, until deeply golden caramel forms and temperature reaches 300° on candy thermometer, 15 minutes; if sugar and butter separate, stir vigorously to blend. Remove from heat and add the coarsely chopped almonds, vanilla and salt. Scrape toffee into prepared pan; let cool for 10 minutes. 

Sprinkle half of chocolate over the toffee and let stand until melted. Spread chocolate over toffee and sprinkle with half of finely chopped almonds. Freeze toffee for 10 minutes.  

Invert toffee onto foil-lined baking sheet and peel off foil backing. In microwave safe bowl, melt remaining chocolate. Spread melted chocolate over top of toffee and sprinkle with remaining finely chopped almonds. Let toffee cool, then break into shards. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Picnic Game A-Z

This week I'm playing the Picnic Game organized by that fabulous blogger Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations! Each letter of the alphabet is taken by a different food blogger who post what they're bringing to the Perfect Virtual Picnic A-Z! Want to find out about the history of the picnic? Be sure and read the story at Months of Edible Celebrations.

I'm going to a picnic, and I chose the letter "D", so yesterday I posted my Dying for Chocolate Chocolate Cake. No icing! Very portable for the picnic.

So here's the line-up for the Picnic Game. Lots of wonderful recipes and foods to enjoy in 'real' time and at your 'real' picnic.
A is for Aloo Gobi 

B is for Blueberry Cucumber Salsa

C is for Crispy Curry Fried Chicken

D is for DyingforChocolate Chocolate Cake
E is for Eton Mess

F is for Fish In A Jar

G is for Golden Pillow Hee Ban

H is for Hummingbird Cake

I is for Ice Cream Sandwiches

J is for Jersey Hot Dogs

K is for Kahlua Mocha Ice Cream

L is for Light and Soft Japanese Cheesecake

M-To Come

N is for Nettle Quinoa Tart

O is for Oriental Pasta Salad

P is for Pan de Mango

Q is for Quinoa Pizza Balls

R is for Rainbow Connection Cupcakes

S is for Strawberry- Yogurt Ice Cream

T is for Telosma Cordata Eucheuma Jelly

U is for U-Never Fail Cheesecake

V is for Vanilla & Cream Cheese Pound Cake & Citrus Glaze

W is for Watermelon Sorbet

X is for Xtra good Walnut Apple Cake

Y is for Yakon Kelp Soup

Z is for Zucchine in Padella con Aceto e Peperoncino 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dying for Chocolate Chocolate Cake: The Picnic Game

I'm going to a picnic, and I have the letter "D". I was going to bring a Devil's Food Cake, but I decided instead to bring my easier to make and easier to eat at a picnic "Dying for Chocolate Chocolate Cake.  No icing!

I'm not sure how many years I've been playing the Picnic Game organized by that fabulous blogger Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations! Each letter of the alphabet is taken by a different blogger who will post what they're bringing to the Perfect Picnic A-Z! Want to find out about the history of the picnic? Be sure and read the story at Months of Edible Celebrations.  I'll be posting all the recipes from the different blogs on June 30, so you can have your own Virtual Picnic... or real! 

So because I'm always Dying for Chocolate, I'm bringing "Dying for Chocolate Chocolate Cake." This recipe is easy to make, and  Dying for Chocolate Chocolate Cake is perfect for a picnic. You can dress it up or dress it down. It packs easily and holds up well in the weather. I could use a cake tin to transport this cake, but I could also carefully wrap it up in this cute "Chocolate" tea towel. Depending on where your picnic or barbecue may be, you can serve the "D" Cake with whipped cream and berries or with ice cream.


2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1-1/2 cups water
2 Tbsp Instant Coffee Granules (or ground espresso)
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (save two ounces of chocolate chunks)
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup sweet butter, softened
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease 10-inch Bundt pan.
Combine flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder in small bowl. Bring water and coffee granules to a boil in small saucepan; remove from heat. Add 6 ounces chocolate; stir until smooth.
Beat sugar, butter and vanilla extract in mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs; beat on high for 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture alternately with chocolate mixture.
Fold in remaining 2 ounces chocolate chunks.
Pour into prepared Bundt pan.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until long wooden pick inserted in cake comes out clean.
Cool in pan on wire rack for 30 minutes.
Invert onto wire rack to cool completely.

Have fun at the virtual picnic!

Here are the letters up to D!

A-Aloo Gobi (Mae is out of the country but sent the permalink which will go up on the 28th)

C-Crispy Curry Fried Chicken

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

National Chocolate Pudding Day: Retro Ads & Recipes

I posted this last year on National Chocolate Pudding Day,  but I just had to repost! I love these Retro Ads & Recipes, and this was such a cool ad campaign. Of course, you can make your own pudding from scratch. I usually do. But it's amazing what an impact powdered chocolate pudding made on the American food landscape. 

According to Jell-O history, chocolate pudding was introduced into the Jell-O family early on but discontinued in 1927. In 1936, chocolate returned to the Jell-O lineup, this time as an instant pudding made with milk. Just an FYI, today there are several Jell-o chocolate pudding flavors including Devil's Food, Double Chocolate, Chocolate Fudge and Oreo Cookies 'n Creme.

Jell-O Pudding in the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s jumped on the advertising bandwagon of this easy yet versatile dessert. I was especially taken by the Jell-O Chocolate Pudding Ad campaign of the 60s. Do you think Don Draper had the account?

So for your pleasure on this yummy holiday, I give you the Jell-O "Now, pudding is..." Each advertisement includes a recipe, too. Advertisements appeared in Life Magazine.

Now, pudding is cheesecake: May 26, 1967

Now, pudding is pop: June 23, 1967

Now, pudding is napoleons: April 28, 1967

Now, pudding is torte: September 15, 1967

Now, pudding is eclairs: January 19, 1968

Now, pudding is fudge: March 8, 1968

Now, pudding is Boston Cream Pie: March 29, 1968

Now, pudding is brownies: October 11, 1968

Now, pudding is Bavarian: July 12, 1968

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Chocolate Walnut Potato Cake: Retro Ad & Recipe

I just love these Retro Ads and Recipes!

Chocolate Potato Cakes are always good. Mashed potatoes make the cake moist. This ad is for Diamond Walnuts, and they're still around! Of course, you'll want to have lots of butter and milk (or cream cheese) in your mashed potatoes--no savory mashed potatoes, please! 

Check out another recipe for a Chocolate Mashed Potato Bundt Cake HERE.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup sweet butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup mashed potatoes
1/3 cup milk, room temperature
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
Melt dark chocolate in microwave, stirring every 15 seconds, until smooth (or melt in top of double boiler)
Warm mashed potatoes in microwave until room temperature (or cool freshly mashed potatoes).
Beat butter and sugar with electric mixer in large bowl until light and fluffy.
Add room temperature eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into butter mixture before adding next.
Mix in mashed potatoes and melted chocolate.
Pour in flour mixture alternately with milk, mixing until just incorporated.
Fold in walnuts, disperse evenly.
Pour batter into buttered and floured pans, smoothing surface if needed.
Bake in preheated oven until knife or toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
Cool cakes in pans on a wire rack.

Frost with cream cheese icing! Garnish with whole walnuts.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies: Laura-Kate Rurka

I always love when my chocolate and mystery worlds collide. I met Laura-Kate Rurka, an aspiring Bay Area writer who loves both chocolate and mysteries a few years ago at Left Coast Crime: Booked in LA. Both she and I are glad we met because since that time she has shared both delicious treats and great stories at the literary salons at my home in Berkeley. 

At the latest literary salon for Scottish Mystery Author Catriona McPherson (who brought CAKE), Laura-Kate brought awesome Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies. What a wealth of sweet riches. I had to have the recipe, so I asked Laura-Kate to share with DyingforChocolate readers. Here's the tale and recipe!

LAURA-KATE RURKA: Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Of course I couldn't leave well enough alone with this recipe. I've tried both with the salted peanuts and without and prefer without. The peanuts disrupt the glorious texture.

Also, I just realized in making them this time that I put a full stick of butter in the peanut butter ganache layer instead of the half a stick that it calls for–cardiologists stand by your beepers! (Do they even have those anymore?)

The bars are best served cold, though I find it better to let take them out of the fridge about 15-20 mins before I cut them into bars, otherwise the layers separate. They're not bad warm, just not quite as good.

They need to be made a day ahead. I usually prepare them through the peanut butter layer, put them in the fridge overnight, and then make the topping the next morning. This keeps the chocolate from melting into the peanut butter ganache. 

Here is the original recipe from Anne Thornton on Food Network, if you want to be a purist, but read Laura-Kate's notes and adaptations above for an even more fabulous Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Bar!



Decadent Brownies:
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, plus more, softened, for pan
1 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Peanut Butter Buttercream Layer:
1 cup creamy peanut butter (don't use old-fashioned or natural)
1/2 stick sweet butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups salted cocktail peanuts

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
7 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
For your brownie batter: Melt your butter in a medium (or large) heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water.
While the butter is melting, whisk the cocoa powder, sea salt and sugar in a separate bowl. (The sugar and salt will work as abrasive agents to get any lumps out of the cocoa.) Whisk the cocoa/sugar/salt combo into the melted butter until the sugar has dissolved fully. The mixture should look like fudge and pull away from the bowl into a ball. Take off the stove and set the pan on a dishtowel on your counter. Allow the fudgy mixture to cool down until it's warm, but not hot anymore.
While that is cooling, line the bottom and sides of your 9 by 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper or foil. You want to leave about 4 inches of overhang on the 2 opposite sides. These serve as your handles to remove the brownies from the pan in 1 piece, so make sure that there is enough of the overhang for you to have a solid grip. Grease the parchment or foil well.
Stir in the vanilla into the cooled fudge mixture to loosen it up. Add the eggs into the mixture 1 at a time, adding the second egg after the first egg is fully incorporated. The batter should look shiny and well blended. Add in your flour and stir it until it's fully incorporated. Once it looks fully blended, beat the batter vigorously for at least 45 strokes. This'll not only get out any pent up stress, but it will make the brownies chewy. Fold in your chocolate chips. Spread the very thick and fudgy brownie batter evenly in the lined pan with an offset spatula or your greased hands.
Pop the brownies in the oven and bake until they get a nice crust and your house smells like brownies, 30 to 35 minutes. Let them cool completely on a rack or a dishtowel on your counter.
While the brownies are cooling make the buttercream and ganache.

For the buttercream:
Mix your peanut butter and butter together in a stand mixer until they are totally blended. Turn your mixer down and slowly add your powdered sugar and fine sea salt. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Turn your mixer back to medium, add your milk and vanilla and keep mixing until it's fully blended. Dollop the peanut butter buttercream in heaping spoonfuls on top of the cooled brownies. Evenly spread it with the back of a butter knife the over the surface. Scatter the peanuts evenly over the buttercream, pressing into the buttercream so that the ganache has something to hold on to and the peanuts are all covered.

For the ganache:
Melt the chocolate chips and butter together in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Allow the ganache to cool down slightly for 10 minutes or so, then pour it evenly over the peanut butter buttercream layer. Smooth the ganache out with the back of a butter knife, making sure to cover the buttercream and peanuts completely. Chill the brownies in the refrigerator until the toppings are set, 1 1/2 hours or so.

Remove these delicious guys from the refrigerator. Lift up the ends of the foil liner and place the Fudgy Salty Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies on a cutting board. Cut into squares.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Chocolate Pecan Sandies: National Pecan Sandies Day

Today is National Pecan Sandies Day. Pecan sandies are great cookies, and all I've done is add chocolate to make them all that much better. If you're a purist, check out the BrownEyedBaker's recipe for "non-chocolate" pecan sandies. It's great.

I have two suggestions for Chocolate Pecan Sandies. The first is the full recipe for  Chocolate Pecan Sandie Cookies. The second would be to use a 'regular' pecan sandie recipe and add chocolate chips.

Pecan Sandies are pecan shortbread cookies. They're simple to make and taste delicious. Not too sweet. I added rum, but you don't need to do that. Some people like to chop the pecans coursely, and that works, but you can also pulverize them. To form the cookies, I use the drop method, but some people like to make logs and then slice them. Either way, they'll taste great!

Chocolate Pecan Sandies

1 cup sweet butter, room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 tsp dark rum (optional)
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) ground pecans, divided use
1/2 cup unsweetened good quality DARK cocoa powder
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease cookie sheet or line with parchment.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and rum until well blended.
Mix together flour, 1 cup ground pecans, and cocoa powder, then beat flour mixture into butter mixture.
Chill dough for 30 minutes.
Combine remaining 1/2 cup ground pecans and 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar in a bowl.
Form dough into 1-inch balls.
Roll in pecan sugar mixture (reserve any leftover sugar mix) and place on baking sheets.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool, then dip pecan sandy cookie tops in any remaining pecan sugar.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Today is National Eclair Day.  My favorite eclairs are not the long thin "traditional" hotdog shaped eclairs (although I like those), but rather, the mini-eclairs. They're easy to make using Pâte à choux.. little puff pastry. I've been making them for years.

I've posted about this recipe before, but it's worthy of a repost. These eclairs are soooo easy and yet look so beautiful and taste fabulous! Hope you enjoy making these as much as I do!

I've adapted this recipe for Mini Chocolate Eclairs from Paula Deen, the controversy about her personal indiscretion not withstanding. This is one of my favorites because it's easy and fabulous! I never use margarine, so I've dropped that alternative from the recipe. Real butter is always best. As always, I use the very best dark chocolate for the topping. I've changed a few measurements and directions in the recipe for the novice Eclair Chef. If you're a purist, just click on Paula Deen's recipe above.

Because these eclairs are so small, feel free to have 3 or 4. :-) Yield depends on how small you make them, but I usually get about 40 small eclairs from this recipe. They're great for a crowd!

Want to make these even more chocolate-y? Add a handful of chocolate chips to the egg cream filling or fill with chocolate cream instead: just add 1/4 cup dark cocoa to the dry ingredients. To fill the eclairs, I use a pastry bag, but if you don't have one, you can always fill a Ziploc bag and cut the tip off to pipe the filling into the eclair.

You will probably have some extra icing. Half the recipe if you ice sparingly. I'm for  more chocolate, so there's never much left.


1 cup water
8 Tbsp butter
1 cup sifted flour
3 eggs

3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 tsp Madagascar vanilla

3 ounces unsweetened dark chocolate, chopped
2 cups sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Heat water and butter to boiling point. Add flour and stir constantly until mixture is smooth and forms a ball when tested in cold water. Remove from heat and let cool. Beat in 3 eggs, one at a time. Drop dough from teaspoon, elongate slightly to form small eclairs (or drop in 'puffs'), onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until light brown. Set aside to cool.
3. Prepare filling by mixing all dry ingredients. Very slowly add milk over low heat and cook until mixture thickens (don't let heat get too high), so you don't have any lumps. Then pour this custard  into beaten eggs, stirring quickly (so eggs don't cook). Cool and add vanilla.
4. With serrated knife, slice pastry puffs lengthwise (or if you have puffs make a hole), but not all the way through. Pipe custard mixture into center.
5. Melt chocolate for icing, add sugar and cream. Cook over medium heat until soft ball stage. Let cool and beat until smooth. Ice tops of eclairs.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Solstice Vintage Chocolate Ad

Since today is the first 'official' day of summer, and the temperature looks like it's going to hit 100 in San Francisco--I think this Baker's Chocolate Vintage Ad is perfect!

So mix up some cool cocoa today! Nothing beats Chocolate! 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

CAKE! Guest post by Catriona McPherson

Photo: Janet Rudolph
In my other life, well, in one of my many other lives, I host Literary Salons in my home. Last week I was lucky enough to host Scottish author Catriona McPherson. I say lucky not only because she's witty and funny and creative and an excellent writer, but because she brought her own cake! "If I knew you were coming, I'd Have Baked a Cake!" This was a first. I don't think any other author has ever shown up with cake, let alone a cake they made! So, of course, I had to have the recipe. That in itself was unique. Catriona not only didn't have a written recipe, but her manner of testing the cake was by listening to it. No toothpicks involved. And, then there was the matter of the word cake. It certainly involved the English language separated by a large body of water. I just had to ask for a post on Thanks, Catriona, for stopping by!



That’s the first thing we need to sort out. I’m often cast adrift from those around me by our shared language, and it took a bit of to-ing and fro-ing on Facebook to establish that this wasn’t a shortcake, or a sponge cake, or a sheet cake, or an angel food cake, or (although it’s close) a white cake.

I don’t really know what those categories of American sweet treats are. I know this stuff as “cake”. Like there’s camembert, stilton and chevre, but there’s also . . . “cheese”. Focaccia, ciabatta, baguettes and . . . “bread”.

So here’s my mother’s “cake” recipe. 

6oz butter
6oz sugar
6oz self-raising flour
3 eggs.

I know standard US recipes use volume rather than weight. I use these:

Someone once asked me if they still worked. I thought: how could they not?

You’ll also need an 8in diameter cake tin. I use one with a push-out bottom and line that bottom with a disc of greaseproof paper. And I use a hand-held electric balloon whisk. If you are gym-fit, you could use a wooden spoon.

If you like vanilla – I love it! – you can add a teensy-weensy drip of vanilla extract too. And if you want to make a chocolate cake, Janet, you can take out an ounce of flour and add an ounce of cocoa powder in its place.

Set your oven to 300-325ish. Sorry, but you need to get to know whether your own oven is sluggish or fierce. Mine is a bit fierce so I tend to the 300 end.

It’s very important that the butter and eggs should be at room temperature. If they’re cold the first bit of this is well-nigh impossible.

Okay, in a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, by whipping them with your brawny arms or with the electric whisk set on nuclear. Keep going until the mixture is pale and fluffy and there are no gritty bits.

Then break one egg into the mixture, add a tablespoon of flour to it (this prevents curdling) and beat/whip again. Then the next egg and another spoonful of flour. Then a third of each. If it curdles, soldier on; it’ll come back together in the end. Up to this point the more mixing the better. Scrape the sides to make sure everything is well beaten.

But then, oh but then, it all changes!

When it comes to adding the flour, you want to get it all incorporated while at the same time disturbing the egg mixture as little as possible so as not to pop all the bubbles which are going to make your cake light.

So in about four batches: add some flour and fold and cut, fold and cut. This means sweep a metal spoon around the edge of the mixture and then once through the middle. The flour will gradually be mixed in.

I’ve heard it said that if you have a food processor you can dispense with folding and cutting. But I have this:

When all the flour is incorporated, gently pour/slide/scrape the mixture into the cake tin. Have it higher round the edge than in the middle so that it ends up flat as it rises.

Put it in the oven and then – very important – leave the door closed. It’ll fall if you peek. It should take about 50 mins to an hour. You can start checking after 40 if you think your oven is on the aggressive side.

To check, take the tin out and listen to the cake. It’ll whisper “I’m ready” in a piping little voice--Wouldn’t that be adorable? But no. If it’s not finished cooking you will hear wet snapping noises. If it’s ready you will hear dry popping noises. If it’s silent it’s very ready and might even be a wee bit what we call “well-fired”.

Leave it in the tin until you can handle it without wincing – about ten minutes. Then turn it out onto a wire rack.

Et voila. For the literary salon at Janet’s house, I cut it in half and filled and topped it with cream, whipped up with some icing/powder sugar and a drip more vanilla and added strawberries. Butter cream icing (one part butter to two parts icing/powdered sugar) and M&Ms are also a fine idea. But don’t, whatever you do, go to all this faff with the warm eggs, and folding, and listening to a cake - and then cover it in that nasty shop-bought gloop. 

Photo: Clark Lohr

Catriona McPherson is the Agatha, Macavity and Left Coast Crime Award winning author of a series of (preposterous) 1920s detective stories, including DANDY GILVER AND AN UNSUITABLE DAY FOR A MURDER (Minotaur), set in Scotland where she was born and where she lived until 2010.  AS SHE LEFT IT (Midnight Ink) is the first in a new strand of contemporary stand-alones. Catriona now lives in northern California with two black cats and a scientist.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

S'mores Martinis: National Martini Day

As we approach the Summer Equinox, it's the perfect time for National Martini Day and a S'mores Martini. Three Olives actually makes a S'mores Vodka. You can drink it straight up, or here are two recipes for S'mores Martinis from Three Olives. What a great way to drink your S'mores!

Inspired by the classic vodka martini served with a garnish of olives, Three Olives launched as a non-flavored vodka brand in 1998 and became a pioneer of the flavored-vodka market when it introduced the first-ever cherry and grape varieties in 2001. The super-premium vodka brand now offers over 20 different flavors that have fueled a three-fold increase in sales to nearly 1.5 million cases from half a million. As implied by the brand’s popular flavors - Cake, Bubble, Dude and S’mores - Three Olives delivers one-of-a-kind drinks that appeal to polished individuals who revel in their uniqueness; they are clever, witty, and loath to take themselves too seriously. 

Thanks to Three Olives for the following recipes and photos!

Campfire Martini
3 parts Three Olives S'mores Vodka
Crushed graham crackers, chocolate syrup, marshmallows

Dip rim of martini glass in chocolate syrup and coat with crushed graham crackers.
Pour Three Olives S'mores into martini shaker filled with ice.
Shake and strain into martini glass.
Garnish with a skewer of three toasted marshmallows!

S'mores Sea Salt Martini
2 parts Three Olives S'mores Vodka
2 parts half & half
Sea salt
Chocolate syrup

Dip rim of martini glass in chocolate syrup and coat with sea salt.
Drizzle chocolate syrup inside  martini glass.
Pour Three Olives S'mores and half & half into martini shaker filled with ice.
Shake and strain into martini glass!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

CHOCOLATE CHERRY TART: National Cherry Tart Day

Fresh Cherries are everywhere right now, so National Cherry Tart Day couldn't have come at a better time!

One of the most useful gadgets in my kitchen is my cherry pitter, especially for doing anything with fresh cherries in a large batch. I've had a cherry pitter for over 30 years. I originally got my cherry pitter for pitting small plums for jam. The house I lived in at the time was surrounded by plum trees. Canning mania!

But back to the cherries. Since today is National Cherry Tart Day, I'm posting a recipe for Chocolate Cherry Tart that was "blended and adapted" from recipes from and These two blogs have morphed, but I still had the recipe. DesperationDinners' tart uses a 'plain' tart dough, but I can never have enough Chocolate! Dianasaurdishes has a wonderful chocolate tart recipe that's pretty fool-proof. Have a look at Eating Richly (Dianasaurdishes') Raspberry Chocolate Tart Recipe. No time to make the tart shell? Feel free to substitute a prepared pie crust that's not chocolate. I often use Trader Joe's frozen pie crusts.


Chocolate Pie Crust:
4 oz sweet butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 tbsp unsweetened DARK cocoa powder

1. Beat butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Scrape down bowl and beat another minute so there are no lumps. Add egg yolk, beat well, and scrape downsides again.
2. Add flour and cocoa powder, beat on lowest speed until dough has just come together (but still has small to medium clumps) and looks moist with dark uniform color. Scrape down bowl and use spatula to incorporate anything that isn’t mixed in.
3. Put chocolate crust in 11- to 12-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Use heel of hand to press dough and spread along bottom of pan and up sides ( if you’re having trouble, refrigerate  dough 15 minutes before pressing)
4. Cut off any dough above top of tart pan. Save dough for repairs. Place dough filled pan in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pan on cookie sheet and bake in lower third of oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and use leftover dough to repair cracks. Bake another 8 minutes.
6. Remove tart pan to cooling rack and use rounded side of a spoon to press center down and make more room for filling. Let cool completely (you can do this in refrigerator for faster results).

While the crust is baking, prepare filling!


12 ounce 65-75% dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 1/2 pounds fresh sweet cherries, rinsed and dried (any cherries will work)
3 Tbsp Bonne Maman Cherry preserves (or strawberry jelly)

1. Put chocolate and cream in doubleboiler or saucepan on top of another saucepan with simmering water. Melt together, stirring, until smooth. Set aside.
2. Remove cherry stems, remove pits with cherry pitter. Set aside.
3. When crust is cool, pour chocolate into crust and smooth evenly with back of spoon. Place cherries into chocolate in concentric circles, stem side up, pressing into chocolateto hold in place.
4. Put jelly in small measuring cup and microwave on High until spreadable, about 15 seconds.
5. Using pastry brush, lightly brush tops of cherries with jelly just to glaze.
6. Place tart in refrigerator, uncovered, to cool until chocolate is set, about 25 to 30 minutes.
7. To serve, remove sides of  tart pan. (Love this trick for removing the tart from the outside ring of the pan: Place bottom of  pan over a small bowl that's smaller than tart pan. The pan ring will fall away if sides have shrunk enough, or you can jiggle gently and pull down on the pan ring to remove.)
8. Slice into wedges, and serve cold.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hersheys Chocolate World Las Vegas

From (

The future, two-story Hershey's Chocolate World "retail experience" at New York-New York gets a candy-coated rendering. The design is comprised of a giant Hershey's Milk Chocolate bar, an 18-foot Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and entrances in the shape of Hershey's Kisses Chocolates.

The interactive element of the experience will allow visitors to "taste new treats, personalize sweet gifts and create keepsake photos." Candy wrappers and Hershey's Kisses "plumes" can also be personalized, a service available at their three other national flagship stores.

The new 70-foot facade is part of a $100 million makeover along Las Vegas Boulevard, creating a unified promenade stretching from the Monte Carlo to New York-New York.

Completion of the entire promenade remodel is expected by early 2014.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day! Give him Chocolate!

What to give Dad for Father's Day? What a dilemma. There are so many cool chocolate items available that Dad will love. Of course, you can always get out the mixer and bake a chocolate cake!

Several different companies make molded novelty chocolate. Chocolate Vault offers a 6 piece tool set that is fun and creative! They also offer some nice looking chocolate ties. Does your father still wear ties? In addition there are Beer Mug chocolate lollies and lots of individual bars that say World's Greatest Dad, etc. If Dad has a hobby, you have more choices such as fishing, tools, computers, and money! Dad can't have enough money, can he, or enough chocolate?

Totally Chocolate has lots of fabulous molded chocolates. I've tasted their delicious Belgian milk and dark chocolate. Their chocolates are exquisitely engraved and molded and very reasonable. I love their package of chocolate golf balls--white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Located in Blaine, WA, they ship all over the U.S. I especially enjoyed their Bite Back at the IRS chocolate bars. They have ready to ship favorite designs, and they'll do custom designs, as well.

My father wasn't much of a chocolate lover, but I loved him all the same. He passed away 10 years ago, but it seems like only yesterday. He encouraged and supported me throughout my varying careers and educational pursuits, and he always told me I could accomplish anything and succeed in whatever I tried.

One thing we shared in common was our love of mysteries. I'm the Editor of the Mystery Readers Journal and I also blog at Mystery Fanfare. Over the years my taste in mysteries has changed. I read more hardboiled, dark mysteries now like my father always did. You can't imagine how many times I finish a book, and I say to myself, "I have to send this to Dad. He'll love it." My father engendered a love of mysteries in me through his collection of mystery novels and Ellery Queen Magazines.

Here's to you, Dad, on Father's Day!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Double Layer Fudge: Retro Ad & Recipe

Love these Retro Ads & Recipes. This one is from Pet Evaporated Milk, 1959, for Double Layer Fudge. It appeared in Co-Ed Magazine. Love the mid-century illustration, don't you?  Recipe is still great! Double Layer Fudge -- The newest hit with Teens!


Friday, June 14, 2013

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake: National Strawberry Shortcake Day

Today is Flag Day, but it's also National Strawberry Shortcake Day.  There's something about strawberries and whipped cream with a little shortcake that says Summer and America!

There are several different types of shortcake, or pastries known as shortcake. First there are scones and biscuits--perfect for Strawberry Shortcake. And, then there are sponge cakes like those little spongy cups you get at the supermarket, also good, just different. And, of course, there's just plain cake which can be chocolate! All these 'cakes' are quick to make and taste great with strawberries and whipping cream. Of course, for me, the shortcake should always be chocolate. As always, your cakes are only as good as the chocolate you use!

No one really knows  exactly when the first strawberry shortcake was made. Shortcake, itself, is a European invention that goes back at least to the late 1500's. Strawberries have been around for over 2000 years. But putting strawberries and shortcake together is an American tradition. Strawberry Shortcake parties became popular in the United States around 1850 with the earliest recipe in 1847. Strawberries were so popular that people talked about strawberry fever. Advertisements and articles about strawberry shortcake, caused more and more demand. Harpers Magazine in 1893 said, "They give you good eating, strawberries and short-cake-- Ohh My!"

Several years ago on National Strawberry Shortcake Day I posted a recipe for Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake. This recipe is a combination of individual chocolate biscuits, fresh strawberries and sweet whipping cream. I also linked to Annmarie Kostyk's Double Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake. Fabulous!

Here's another recipe for Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake because you can't have enough of a good thing. Recipe adapted from Rhoda Peacher at

A tip from Lynda King at Hobbyfarms: one of the best ways to prepare berries for shortcake is to bruise them with a potato masher. You don’t want all the berries mashed, but you want most of them bruised sufficiently to yield their juice into the mixture. If needed, add sugar or honey to taste, depending on your preference, and chill for a few hours before serving.



2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sweet butter
1 cup + up to 2 T. milk

4 to 5 cups fresh strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream, whipped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Grease two, 8-inch round cake pans.
In large bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
Using a pastry blender, cut butter into mixture until consistency resembles coarse crumbs.
Stir in 1 cup milk with fork until mixture is just moistened (you may need to add extra milk for the mixture to blend evenly).
Using your fingers, spread into prepared pans.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, or until cake begins to pull away from sides of pans.
Cool 15 minutes; remove cakes from pans. Cool completely.

Reserve five whole strawberries for garnish.
Wash, hull and halve remaining strawberries.
In large bowl, combine halved strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar.
Place 1 shortcake bottom-side up on serving plate.
Top with half of strawberries and half of whipped cream.
Drizzle with a few tablespoons of chocolate sauce, to taste.
Place the other shortcake on top of this, right-side up.
Top with remaining prepared strawberries and whipped cream.
Garnish with reserved whole strawberries.

So there you have it: Three fabulous recipes for Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake!

Want to drink your Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake?


1 shot amaretto
1 shot creme de cacao
2 double shots of fresh strawberry puree
2 double shots of cream

Add several ice cubes, 2 double shots of fresh strawberry puree, 2 double shots of cream, add one shot of amaretto and one shot of creme de cacao. Blend for 1 min until mixture is thick. Pour into a martini glass.

Garnish with a whole strawberry or rim the glass with crushed chocolate--or both!

Today is also Flag Day!!! Happy Flag Day

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Yesterday was National Peanut Butter Cookie Day, but it's never too late to post a good Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. Celebrate any time!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies 

1/2 cup European sweet butter, softened
3/4 cup chunky or smooth peanut butter (I like chunky organic stone ground for texture)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
1 cup King Arthur flour or all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup chocolate chips (Guittard)-the darker the better

Preheat oven to 375°.
Cream butter, sugars until light. Add egg and vanilla and mix until fluffy.
Add peanut butter and beat until combined.
Blend flour, baking powder, soda and salt together well.
Add dry ingredients to butter mixture.
Fold in chocolate chips and stir to combine.
Drop cookie dough by teaspoonfuls onto lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets.
Bake 10-12 minutes at 375°.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cachaca Chocolate Brigadeiro: International Cachaca Day

Today is International Cachaca Day. Cachaca is famous as the main ingredient in caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil. Cachaca is a liquor made from fermented sugarcane, and is the most popular distilled alcoholic beverage in Brazil.

I first tasted cachaca in Brazil when I was there on a Fulbright. What a great liquor.. a bit like rum.. but not. In my search for the very best pinga, as it is colloquially called it, we found ourselves one day in the back country at a large still. Surely we had wandered into the back hills of Kentucky. The men operating the still, probably not a legal endeavor, had the wild look of way too much alcohol of too high a percentage. Nevertheless, the many memorable cachaca drinks stayed with me, and now I find cachaca at bars and liquor stores in the U.S.

For the recipe today, I decided not to post a cocktail recipe, although there are many chocolate cachaca drink recipes, but instead for that fabulous Brazilian treat--Brigadeiro. Of course, I always want a chocolate version. This is a great chocolate 'adult' version of this fudgy truffle candy. Recipe from Luxury Experience using Leblon Cachaca. The Leblon distillery is in Patos de Minas in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The area has a great microclimate and high altitude and produces taller and juicier sugar cane. What makes Leblon Cachaca different from other cachacas is that Leblon uses XO Cognac casks to 'rest' the liquor for up to six months to smooth and round out the flavors. Leblon Cachaca is 40% alcohol.

The following recipe is  easy--and delicious. Of course you can use any brand of Cachaca you have!


1 14 oz. Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2/3 Can Milk (use Sweetened Condensed Milk can)
1/3 Can Leblon Cachaça (use Sweetened Condensed Milk can)
2 Tablespoons Dark Cocoa
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Jar Chocolate Sprinkles (Jimmies)

In medium pan, add sweetened condensed milk, butter, cocoa and milk, and stir well to combine. Cook over medium heat stirring with a long handled wooden spoon until mixture starts to thicken approximately 10 minutes, and then add Leblon Cachaça.
Continue stirring while cooking until chocolate mixture comes away from sides of pan and starts to look dry-- approximately 13 minutes.
Pour in a bowl and let cool.
When completely cool, butter your hands, use teaspoon amount of chocolate and roll into ball, and then roll ball in chocolate sprinkles. Complete process until all of chocolate is used.
Put candy in paper cups (or on parchment paper), and set in refrigerator until ready to eat.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Today is National German Chocolate Cake Day. It may sound odd that's there's a national holiday for German Chocolate Cake, but this cake is not German. German Chocolate Cake is an American creation that contains the key ingredients of sweet baking chocolate, coconut, and pecans.

In 1852, Sam German created a dark baking chocolate bar for Baker's Chocolate Company, and in his honor, the company named it "Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate."

The story goes that the first published recipe for German's chocolate cake showed up in a Dallas newspaper in 1957 and supposedly came from a Texas homemaker. The cake quickly gained in popularity and the recipe together with photos spread all over the country. America fell in love with German Chocolate Cake, and food editors were swamped with requests for information on where to buy the chocolate. In one year, there was a 73% sales jump in German's Baker Sweet Chocolate sales (then owned by General Mills). 

However, the cake most likely didn't originate from the Dallas housewife. Buttermilk chocolate cakes were popular in the South for over 70 years, and pecans were plentiful, also, to make the frosting. Point of fact: German's chocolate is similar to a milk chocolate and sweeter than regular baking chocolate.

Here's the "Original Recipe." I found this specific recipe in many places on the Internet, and I daresay no one can claim it as their own. So even if you think you're making Grandmom's recipe--and it might be with a few changes over the years- the following is a basic one that millions use. That's not to say I didn't find several unique recipes for German Chocolate Cake that peaked my interest. But those are for another time.


1 pkg. Baker's German’s sweet chocolate (4 oz.)
1/2 cup Water, boiling
1 cup Butter
2 cup Sugar
4 Eggs, separated
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
2 cups Flour, all-purpose
1 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Buttermilk
Coconut-pecan frosting

Approx. Cook Time: 30 min
1. Melt chocolate in water and cool.
2. Cream butter and Sugar.
3. Beat in egg yolks.
4. Stir in vanilla and chocolate.
5. Mix flour, soda and salt. beat in flour mixture, alternately with buttermilk.
6. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter. Pour batter into three 9-inch layer pans, lined on bottoms with waxed paper.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly pressed in
center Cool 15 minutes; remove and cool on rack.

1--14 oz. can of condensed milk such as Eagle Brand
1/2 Cup water
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup butte
1 1/3 cup Pecans; chopped reserve 10 whole pecan halves for garnish.
1 3/4 cups Angel flake coconut

Cook milk, eggs, and water over double boiler until thickened.
Cook it over direct heat if you use complete concentration.
Then add vanilla and butter and whisk in until melted and smooth.
Add chopped pecans and coconut.

1/2 Cup butter, softened
9 squares Baker's German's chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 Tbsp milk
for a richer chocolate flavor, add cocoa powder- or use more German's chocolate

Mix butter and chocolate in mixing bowl. Stir in powdered sugar.
Beat vanilla and milk until smooth and of spreading consistency.

Divide filling evenly between 3 cakes putting 1st layer down, then spread filling evenly. Repeat with  other layer.
Frost side or top of the cake only. (Maybe--but make more, and you can frost everything)
For garnish,  place pecan halves around top edge.

My friend Iris, who sadly passed away, used to make the best German Chocolate Cake. She said it was an African American traditional cake made and served at New Year's. I can't find any information on that tradition in the African American community, so I think it was only a tradition in her family. Sadly, Iris never shared her recipe. Some people keep family recipes within the family. The photo in this post is Iris's German Chocolate Cake. It was always fabulous!

Monday, June 10, 2013

CHOCOLATE ICE TEA: National Iced Tea Day

I'm a tea drinker, and in the Summer, I'm an ice tea drinker, so I can really get behind Ice Tea Month (June) and National Iced Tea Day (June 10). Of course, since I'm always Dying for Chocolate, so I like Chocolate Ice Tea.

The following teas will not have the full bodied chocolate taste of an iced cocoa. They're more subtle, but definitely worth trying. They're essentially different types of teas infused with cacoa nibs or cocoa and other ingredients. Some even use carob pods. You might prefer some of them more as hot teas. Experiment.

At the end of this post, I also have a recipe for Chocolate Mint Tea... that's the herb Chocolate Mint that grows in the garden (it is not a chocolate plant!). Chocolate mint makes a lovely ice tea.

History of Ice Tea: The story goes that at the St. Louis World's Fair, the Englishman Richard Blechynden was introducing Americans to the new India and Ceylon black tea.There was a heat wave at the time and lines were not forming to try his steamy hot beverage. After a few days of frustration, he tried adding ice to the tea in order to entice people in. It was the hit of the fair and a new way of drinking tea had instantly taken hold!

How to Brew Ice Tea:
To brew a quart, place either 4 to 5 bags or teaspoons of loose tea in a pitcher. Bring 2 cups of cold, tap water or filtered water to a boil. Pour the boiling water directly over the tea and steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove tea bags or strain and then add 2 more cups of cold water. Serve over ice.

Sun Brewed Iced Tea
Fill a container with 4 cups of cold water, preferably filtered. Place 6 bags or 6 teaspoons of tea and cover or cap lightly. Place in direct sunlight for 2 to 4 hours (depending on desired strength). Remove bags or strain and serve over ice.

Cold Water Method
Fill a container with 4 cups of filtered cold water. Put 6 bags or 6 teaspoons of tea and cover or cap lightly. Place in refrigerator for 8 hours. Remove bags or strain and serve over ice.

There are so many Chocolate Teas available now, some with black tea, some with rooibos or other herbs. The following is a random list. Let me know your favorites, and, especially, if you like the teas better hot or cold!

Republic of Tea:
Peppermint Cuppa Chocolate Tea Bags:  peppermint, rich chocolate and smooth, caffeine-free rooibos
Cocoanut Cocoa Cuppa Chocolate Tea Bags:  coconut, chocolate and caramel malted barley
Double Dark Chocolate Mate: roasted Yerba Maté blended with organic dark cocoa powder
Red Velvet Cuppa Chocolate Tea Bags: Rooibos blended with chocolate and beet root bits
Strawberry Cuppa Chocolate Tea Bags: chocolate paired with a hint of strawberry. Rooibos (red tea) provides the base.

Mighty Leaf Tea
Mayan Chocolate Truffle
Masala Chocolate Truffle
Chocolate Chip Truffle
Chocolate Mint Truffle Rooibos
Chocolate Orange Truffle
Mocha Truffle Pu-erh

Kalahari: Choco Latte: Red Tea Raspberry Truffle

Stash Tea: Chocolate Mint Wuyi Oolong Tea

Haute Chocolate Rooibos Tea
Cacao Mint Black Tea

TeaFrog: Chocolate and Cream

Harney & Sons  (one of my favorite sources for black tea): Chocolate tea

Tea Forte:  Coco Truffle
American Tea Room:
Choco Late
Tea Guys:  Chocolate Delight

Here's a tea for the Spring & Summer, and yes, I do have Chocolate Mint growing in my yard.


4 cups fresh chocolate mint, chopped
16 cups water
1 cup local honey

Boil water, add chopped mint leaves and simmer in a covered stockpot with tight-fitting lid for 10 mins. Add honey, stirring until dissolved. Remove from heat. Cover and let steep 3-4 hours or longer.
Refrigerate overnight. Strain before serving.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Retro Daisy Cake Ad & Recipe

My high school had a graduation custom: The Daisy Chain. In sophomore year, a group of girls (yes, not the boys) would go into the surrounding countryside and pick wild daisies and make a daisy chain. In junior year, the girls, wearing white dresses, would carry the chain at the commencement procession. I'm not sure exactly how 'daisy chain' girls were chosen, probably based on leadership, grades and activities. I don't think we thought about it, but it was an honor.

Since it's June, and there are a lot of graduations, this Retro Ad & Recipe for Daisy Cake reminded me of the Daisy Chain tradition. This recipe is for a Crisco Daisy Cake.  Crisco was a staple in our household. Not so much in mine now, but I do have it in the pantry. I would replace the almond/gumdrop daisies with real daisies (at the last minute when you're serving) or make sugar daisies. The cake is really good, so I wouldn't downgrade it with the daisies in the recipe. Of course, you can always use your own recipe for thick chocolate icing!