Thursday, June 30, 2016

Great British Baking Show: Season 3

Attention: Star Bakers. The Great British Baking Show, Season 3 premieres Friday, July 1st

Follow the trials and tribulations of passionate amateur bakers whose goal is to be named the U.K.’s best. Each week, the bakers tackle a different skill, the difficulty of which increases as the competition unfolds. Mary Berry, a leading cookbook writer, and Paul Hollywood, a top artisan baker, serve as judges. Together with hosts and comic foils Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, Berry and Hollywood search for the country’s best amateur baker by testing the competitors’ skills on cakes, breads, pastries and desserts, crowning a winner after 10 weeks of competition.

I've watched the first two episodes, and it's smashing! I love this series!

Read More Here.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Fourth of July Strawberry Pie

For me, Fourth of July is all about Strawberries and Whipped Cream.  Here's an easy Fourth of July Strawberry Pie, but of course I want chocolate with that, so I'm making a Chocolate Cookie Crust. Add blueberries to the whipped cream topping, and you'll have stars!


Chocolate Cookie Crust

25-30 chocolate cookie wafers (I use Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers), 4 Tbsp sweet butter, melted and cooled. Heat oven to 350°F.  Whirl cookies in food processor until crumbs are fine. Put in medium bowl, add melted butter, and mix until combined. Press crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate evenly and firmly on bottom and up sides. Bake at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool (on wire rack) before filling.

Filling & Topping

Mash 2 cups of strawberries (chunky not macerated) (put aside a cup of sliced strawberries). Place strawberries in small saucepan. Add sugar (to taste-depends on strawberries-about 1/4-1/2 cup), 1/4 cup corn starch, dash of salt, 1 tsp vanilla or 1 Tbsp  lemon juice (or both). Bring to simmer until thickened. Cool completely. Add rest of strawberries (cut up or sliced) and put in baked cooled Chocolate Cookie Crust. Put in fridge for 2 hours to set. Top with whipped cream, big whole strawberries, and blueberries!

Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Tapioca, along with junket and pudding, were standard desserts when I was growing up. I knew what pudding was, but never junket or tapioca. As a child that was fine, but as an adult interested in food and food derivations, this holiday--National Tapioca Day--got my attention.

According to Ask.Yahoo, tapioca is a root starch derived from the cassava, or yuca plant. It's often used to thicken soups and sweeten the flavor of baked goods, and it makes a great pudding. The cassava plant is native to South America and the West Indies, where its thick, fibrous roots are used in a variety of forms: bread flour, laundry starch, an alcoholic brew, and of course, tapioca pudding.

From Wikipedia: The pudding can be made from scratch using tapioca in a variety of forms: flakes, coarse meal, sticks, and pearls. Many commercial packaged mixes are also available. British schoolchildren have traditionally nicknamed the dish frog spawn, due to its appearance. American children often call it fish eyes and glue.

And here's a reason not to make tapioca at home -- cassava roots have traces of cyanide in them! The ever-resourceful Mayans, the first known to use tapioca, figured out how to extract this poison for their blow darts, leaving the uncontaminated roots free for eating. Perhaps this information would be better served on my other blog, Mystery Fanfare.

So a processed tapioca should be used in the following recipes. The first recipe for Dark Chocolate Tapioca Pudding recipe is adapted from Kraft recipes and uses instant tapioca. The second recipe uses tapioca that needs to be soaked overnight. I think the flavor is much better, but really for me, it's all about the chocolate.

1. Easy Dark Chocolate Tapioca Pudding 

1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp MINUTE Tapioca
3-1/2 cups whole milk
3 ounces dark chocolate (60-75% cacao)
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla

Beat egg lightly in medium saucepan with wire whisk.
Add sugar and tapioca; mix well.
Gradually add milk, beating well after each addition.
Let stand 5 minutes. Add chocolate.
Bring to boil on medium heat, stirring constantly.
Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until chocolate is completely melted, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat.
Stir in vanilla.
Cool 20 minutes; stir. (Pudding thickens as it cools.)
SERVE warm or chilled.

2. Longer to make but worth it -- Dark Chocolate Tapioca Pudding
adapted only slightly from JamHands (a great site)  

1/2 cup Tapioca Pearls
2-1/2 cups Whole Milk
Pinch of Salt
2 Eggs, Separated
1/2 cup Sugar
1 Tbsp Madagascar Vanilla
4-6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

Soak tapioca in 2 cups of room temperature water overnight. Drain water in morning.
Heat milk over medium low heat in top of double boiler (for just a very short time, do not boil). Add salt and tapioca. Continue to heat until small bubbles appear. Cover, turn heat to very low and cook for one hour. Make sure the milk mixture does not simmer or boil.
Separate egg whites from yolks.
Beat egg yolks and sugar together until light yellow in color. Add a little of hot milk mixture to egg yolks and blend thoroughly.
Add egg yolk mixture into hot milk mixture, stirring constantly.
Place double boiler over medium heat and cook until tapioca mixture is very thick, from 15 – 30 minutes.
Beat egg whites until stiff.
Slowly fold hot tapioca mixture into egg whites.
Stir in vanilla and chopped chocolate and combine thoroughly until smooth.
Serve warm or chilled.


Monday, June 27, 2016

One Ingredient Banana Ice Cream

My favorite ice cream when I was little was Banana Ice Cream. We used to stop at the Howard Johnson's on the Highway, and I was always thrilled that they had 28 flavors! As amazed as I was by all the flavors,  I usually picked banana. Here's an unbelievably easy One Ingredient Banana Ice Cream recipe. It's healthier, too, since there's no cream, no sugar ... just bananas. And, since this is a chocolate blog, just pour some chocolate sauce over it when you're ready to eat! This pure banana 'ice cream' is really creamy, too, because bananas are high in pectin.

One-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream 

Large ripe bananas.
Peel bananas and chop into evenly sized small pieces.
(Optional but good step) Put bananas in airtight container: freezer bag. Freeze banana pieces for at least 2 hours to overnight.
In small food processor, blend frozen banana pieces. Keep blending —  banana will look crumbly. Scrape down food processor. Keep blending —  banana will look gooey: like banana mush. Scrape down food processor. Keep blending — banana will look like oatmeal: It will get smoother but still have chunks of banana in it. Scrape down food processor. Suddenly, as the last bits of banana smooth out, you'll see mixture shift from blended banana to creamy, soft-serve ice cream texture. Blend for a few more seconds to aerate ice cream.
Transfer to airtight container and freeze until solid: You can eat the ice cream immediately, but it will be quite soft. You can also transfer it back into airtight container and freeze until solid, like traditional ice cream.

Food processor vs. blender: Food processor works best since it has enough room for the banana to get fully creamy and a little bit aerated. Some people do make it in a blender, but be careful; make sure your blender is powerful enough to process the frozen bananas. 

Making a bigger batch: Make sure your food processor is big enough (and powerful enough).

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Chocolate Pudding Cake: National Chocolate Pudding Day

Today is Chocolate Pudding Day. I just love this old-fashioned Chocolate Pudding Cake. This cake actually has two layers--a moist chocolate cake and a thick chocolate pudding sauce. The recipe has been around for a long time and is a precursor to Molten Chocolate Cake. The first recipe is incredibly easy--kind of a chemistry experiment. No need for the mixer. You can do everything quickly by hand. Both recipes are pretty simple and great to make with kids! Always good to have a choice. Chocolate Pudding Cake is the perfect recipe for a great dessert. And, there are many fun variations--and just as many terrific toppings. Ice cream is #1 for me, but Bourbon Whipped Cream would be great, too!

1. Chocolate Pudding Cake

1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
2 Tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups boiling water

Sift dry ingredients together. Mix milk, egg, and oil together in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in the big bowl. Stir until smooth. Add vanilla to bowl. Pour mixture into baking dish (1 ½ - 2 quart casserole dish). Mix together additional dry ingredients (brown and white sugars and  cocoa) and pour on top of everything already in the baking dish.
Pour boiling water on top of everything. DO NOT STIR.
Bake at 350 degrees F. for 45-50 minutes.

2. Chocolate Pudding Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter, or spray with a non stick cooking spray,  8 inch (20 cm) square baking dish.

Pudding Sauce Ingredients: 
1 1/2 cups boiling water
2 teaspoon instant coffee (powder or granules)
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Cake Ingredients: 
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup (25 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 large egg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Pudding Sauce Directions: 
Stir instant coffee into boiling water (or freshly brewed hot coffee.)
In separate bowl, stir together white sugar, brown sugar, and cocoa powder.

Cake Directions: 
In bowl, sift flour with cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder.
In another large bowl, whisk the egg with the melted butter, sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture until combined. Spread batter evenly onto bottom of prepared pan.
Sprinkle sugar/cocoa mixture evenly over cake batter. Gently pour coffee mixture over cocoa mixture.
Bake for 25 minutes or until cake is puffed and just beginning to pull away from sides of the pan. Remove from oven and place on wire rack.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Strawberry Chocolate Cookie Crumble

I recently ordered a Strawberry Crumble for dessert. Yes, I ordered this over the Chocolate Plano Pudding, but it was a warm day, and I was splitting dessert with a strawberry shortcake fiend, so it was a compromise. Well, imagine my surprise when the crumble was not like any crumble I ever tasted before...or at least that I remembered, and it was all about chocolate! I asked the waiter. "Chocolate cookie dough crumble," he said. Obviously this dessert was not well described on the menu, but it was so delicious, who cared? I asked for the recipe. Well, no, it's chef's secret. So began my search for a recipe. Thank you, Internet, I found a good recipe at Food & Wine that replicated the chocolate cookie crumble, so I adapted that to use over my strawberries. I saw other recipes, but this one came closest. As far as the strawberry the original restaurant dessert, they were cut up and seemed to be marinated with simple syrup and balsamic vinegar, but I can't be sure. Rememeber that the freshest strawberries will make for a winning dessert.. This would be great for Fourth of July!


1/2 pound dark chocolate (72 percent), coarsely chopped
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup oat flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup turbinado sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Strawberries (marinate with simple syrup & balsamic vinegar)

In food processor, pulse chocolate until size of peas. Transfer to plate and freeze for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325°.
Sift both flours with cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
In large bowl, using electric mixer, beat butter with both sugars at medium speed until very light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture until just incorporated, then stir in frozen chocolate.
Put marinated strawberries in heat-proof deep pan (or individual ramekins).
Drop clumps of chocolate cookie dough on top of strawberries.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until top is dry but crumble is still soft. Let cool completely.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Chocolate Praline Cake: National Praline Day

Today is National Praline Day. A few years ago I posted several chocolate praline recipes. You can actually eat pralines in several different incarnations--or even drink your pralines, as in Praline Pecan Liqueur.

Another easy way to get your praline fix today (with chocolate) would be to eat some Praline or Butter Pecan Ice Cream with a covering of chocolate syrup. Hence the Vintage Ad from 1951 for Borden's Praline Pecan Ice Cream. But another variation on Pralines would be Chocolate Praline Cake. See below for two recipes.. one  is a traditional three tier chocolate cake with Ganache Filling and Praline Frosting, and the other a Chocolate Bundt Cake with Praline Frosting. With both cakes, it's all about the Praline frosting. 

So what is Praline?
1) a confection of nuts and sugar: as in almonds cooked in boiling sugar until brown and crisp
2) a patty of creamy brown sugar and pecan meats

The original praline was a sweet confection made of almonds and some sort of creamy sugary caramelized coating. Lots of stories about how the Praline came to New Orleans and the South. One is that Pralines were first made in the home of 17th century French diplomat Cesar du Plessis Praslin by one of his chefs. The name "Praslin" eventually evolved into "praline." I don't buy that story since they were already popular in Europe in a slightly different version. Another story is that pralines were brought over from France by the Ursuline nuns, who settled in New Orleans in 1727. This makes sense since Pralines were already in the French tradition. Almonds were in short supply, so cooks began substituting the nuts of the native Louisiana pecan trees, thus the modern pecan pralines were born. Praline pecans were known as individual pecans covered in the sugary coating. The new pecan pralines quickly spread throughout New Orleans and became a common confection in the area.

Because New Orleans was a thriving port, people from all over the world came through, and the praline spread with them. Many people are unaware of the candy’s historical origin, and the praline is thought of as a southern confection not necessarily specific to New Orleans. Some believe the pecan praline is a Texan candy, whereas others assume it came from Savannah. The pronunciation of the candy is a bit of a point of contention as well. In New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, where there are many communities settled by the French, the pronunciation is prah-leen, with the long aaah sound, which is closer to that of the candy’s namesake du Plessis-Praslin. Other regions of the country, including parts of Texas, Georgia, and New England have anglicized the term and pronounce it pray-leen. Other terms for pralines include pecan pralines, pecan candy, plarines and pecan patties.

Go here for Praline Candy Recipes.

So my motto today is "Let Them Eat Cake" since I'm more of a baker than candy maker.

This first recipe is one of my go-to Chocolate Bundt Cakes, but any good chocolate bundt cake will work. It's all in the frosting. As a matter of fact a good sour cream or yogurt chocolate bundt cake would be great, too.


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups water
2 Tbsp Instant Coffee Granules (I use Starbucks instant espresso packs)
7 ounces dark chocolate (65-75% Cacao), chopped
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup sweet butter, softened
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease 10-inch Bundt pan.
Combine flour, baking soda and baking powder in small bowl. Bring water and coffee granules to boil in small saucepan; remove from heat. Add chocolate; stir until smooth.
Beat sugar, butter and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs; beat on high speed for 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture alternately with chocolate mixture.
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.
Place on plate.
Pour Praline Frosting over the top of the cake letting it drip down the sides.

PRALINE FROSTING  (from Southern Living, see below for link)

1/4 cup sweet butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, and boil 1 minute.
Remove from heat, and whisk in 1 cup powdered sugar and vanilla extract until smooth.
Stir in toasted pecans, stirring gently 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thicken slightly.
Pour immediately over cake.
Photo: Southern Living Chocolate Praline Cake. Beautiful!


This is my favorite "real" Chocolate Praline Cake. It's from Southern Living, November 2001, and I'm so glad I found it again on the Internet, my copy having been stashed inside a cookbook, somewhere. This recipe is all about the praline candy frosting!

1 cup butter
1/4 cup DARK cocoa
1 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
Chocolate Ganache
Praline Frosting
Garnish: pecan halves  

Cook first 3 ingredients in small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until butter melts and mixture is smooth; remove butter mixture from heat.
Beat buttermilk, 2 eggs, baking soda, and vanilla at medium speed with electric mixer until smooth. Add butter mixture to buttermilk mixture, beating until well blended.
Combine sugar, flour, and salt; gradually add to buttermilk mixture, beating until blended.
Coat 3 (9-inch) round cakepans with cooking spray, and line pans with wax paper. Pour cake batter evenly into pans.
Bake at 350° for 18 to 22 minutes or until cake is set. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes.
Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
Spread about 1/2 cup Chocolate Ganache between cake layers, and spread remaining ganache on sides of cake.
Pour Praline Frosting slowly over the center of cake, gently spreading to edges, allowing some frosting to run over sides.
Garnish with pecan halves

Chocolate Ganache 
1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces

Microwave chocolate morsels and whipping cream in a glass bowl at MEDIUM (50% power) 2 to 3 minutes or until morsels are melted. Whisk until smooth.
Gradually add butter, whisking until smooth.
Cool, whisking often, 15 minutes or until spreading consistency.

Praline Frosting 
1/4 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, and boil 1 minute.
Remove from heat, and whisk in 1 cup powdered sugar and vanilla extract until smooth.
Stir in toasted pecans, stirring gently 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thicken slightly.
Pour immediately over cake (or over the bundt cake--recipe above).

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Toffee Peanut Butter Cookies

I love English Toffee, and I'm actually judging Toffee this month for TasteTV. Having all this toffee around made me want to bake some cookies. Here's a great recipe that combines my love of Peanut Butter Cookies with English Toffee. I have a toffee hammer (well, I have three of them) for breaking up toffee. Clearly this is something I like to do! The small hammers used to come with the toffee tins. Very cool. As always, use the very best peanut butter and toffee. Mix up a batch and take them to the ball game. These Toffee Peanut Butter Cookies are a grand slam!

Toffee Peanut Butter Cookies

1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup sweet butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
10 ounces Toffee Bits

Preheat oven to 350.
Whip butter with peanut butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugars until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In another bowl, sift together dry dry ingredients, then mix into batter. Fold in Toffee bits.
Scoop cookies onto ungreased baking sheet.
Lightly flatten each cookie with fork or back of hand.
Bake for 10 minutes for chewy cookie or 13 minutes for crunchy one.
These cookies will fast become favorites!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Chocolate Ice Tea: Iced Tea Month

I'm a tea drinker, so I'm glad that June is National Ice Tea Month. Of course, since I'm always Dying for Chocolate, I love Chocolate Ice Tea.

Just an FYI: 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 with some 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 have a recipe for Chocolate Mint Ice Tea... that's the herb Chocolate Mint that grows in the garden (it is not a chocolate --cacao-- plant!). Chocolate mint makes a lovely ice tea.

History of Ice Tea: The story goes that at the St. Louis World's Fair, 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 chocolate 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

Teavana: 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, CocoLoco
Tea Guys:  Chocolate Delight

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


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

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Midsummer Chocolate: Kladdkaka - Swedish Sticky Chocolate Cake

I love Midsummer! June 21 is the longest day of the year, and I love those extra hours of sunshine. I can only imagine what it's like in Sweden, Land of the Midnight Sun. Here is a traditional Swedish recipe to celebrate Midsummer (Midsommar). Chocolate may not be native to Sweden, but this chocolate treat is celebrated there. Chocolate is global!

Kladdkaka--Swedish Sticky Chocolate Cake

Kladdkaka is a gooey Swedish chocolate cake, and it's simple and quick to make. You'll love it. Add some whipped cream and raspberries or strawberries (wild strawberries? channeling Ingmar Bergman) or other summer berries, and you're good to go! Be sure not to overbake the cake and cool before cutting. This recipe is adapted from several different recipes. Kladdkaka is similar to Mudcake or Lava not overbake.

14 Tbsp sweet butter, cut into chunks
1 cup bittersweet chocolate
4 large eggs
1 cup caster sugar (if you don't have any, whirl some granulated sugar in the blender and remeasure)
2  cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
Whipped cream
Fresh berries

Preheat oven to 425°F and grease 9-inch springform pan.
In  small saucepan, melt butter. Once melted, remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until smooth. Set aside to cool.
In large bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until foamy. Check that chocolate is cool, then whisk into egg mixture.
Fold in flour and baking powder until incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 12 minutes (don't overbake).
Cool completely before serving.
Top with whipped cream and berries!


Chocolate Cosmos
A little diversion today from Chocolate recipes, Chocolate holidays and Chocolate reviews. Perfect for the Summer Solstice. I'm an avid gardener, mainly roses (including Hot Cocoa), and I am lucky to have several different garden areas on my property.

I've always wanted a dedicated 'chocolate-scented' garden. Since I'm in a fairly temperate zone of California, it's certainly possible. I've always used cocoa bean hulls as mulch, and there's nothing that smells more like chocolate than this mulch, but if you have dogs, you'll want to skip the mulch which is dangerous to dogs.

But as for real chocolate smelling plants, I've been given (and time to get more) Cosmos atrosanguineus. This is a lovely maroon cosmos that actually has a heavy chocolate scent. Originally from Mexico, this plant reblooms in the San Francisco Bay Area Mediterranean climate.

I have Chocolate mint, a very hardy perennial, well it's mint, after all. Warning: it will take over the garden. Plant in containers or monitor its spread. It doesn't taste like chocolate, but definitely smells like it.

There's a wonderful article online: Growing a Chocolate-Scented Garden by Deb Babcok in Steamboat Today. Her climate in Steamboat Springs is harsher than mine and the growing season is shorter, but she has a great list of chocolate scented plants. I decided to add to this list, so here are several plants that smell like chocolate. What could be more delightful than a chocolate garden? Be sure and check that these plants will grow and flourish in your zone. Be sure and check before planting.

Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata) Looks like a daisy with yellow petals and a dark chocolate center. The aroma from the flower can be detected as far as 30 feet away. This is a night-bloomer, so the garden will smell like cocoa in the morning.

Nicotania Chocolate Smoke
Nicotiana 'Chocolate Smoke' This is a Chocolate Flower Farm exclusive and replaced Nicotiana 'Hot Chocolate'. It has a very dark flower.

Decidious (to semi-evergreen) twining Chocolate Vine (Akebia Quinata): climbing plant with purple-red flowers that smell of milk chocolate. Warning: Can be invasive. Keep it trimmed.

Chocolate Mint (Mentha piperita): Some people think this tastes like a combo of chocolate and peppermint. Nice bronze-green leaves.. and as I mentioned, it can be used as a tea and as one of the main ingredients in Chocolate Mint Pots de Creme.

Delphinium "Kissed by Chocolate"

Dahlia 'Karma Choc': Not certain of the scent on this but it has a very dark color like chocolate.

Gilia tricolor (Bird's Eyes): annual California wildflower with wonderful fragrance. Meadow plantings. Grows to 3' (not for a small garden patch)

Columbine chocolate soldiers
Columbine comes in a chocolate-scented variety (Aquilegia 'Chocolate Soldiers')

Foxglove (Digitalis 'chocolate') now this is literally a Dying for Chocolate plant as foxglove is a poisonous plant  also: Digitalis Lanata 'Cafe Creme'; Digitalis parviflora 'Milk Chocolate'

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum 'Chocolate')

Rudbeckia (R. 'Chocolate Drop')

Sweet William (Diantush 'Bittersweet William')

Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus): Deciduous shrub with maroon brown flowers (cinnamon-spiced, bittersweet chocolate fragrance)

Cosmos Astroganguineus: Plants form a medium-sized clump of dark green leaves, with deep maroon blooms that smell of dark chocolate.

Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes
Chocolate Geranium (Pelargonium 'Chocolate Joy')

Penstemon 'Chocolate Drop' How can you go wrong with penstemon?

One mustn't forget edible plants in the garden that smell (and sometimes taste) like chocolate:

Chocolate Corn, Chocolate Cherry Tomato, Chocolate Mini Bell Pepper, 'Velour Frosted Chocolate' Viola, Chocolate Nasturtium, and Milk Chocolate Calendula.

Cacoa Pod - UC Botanical Garden
If your local nursery does not offer the seeds or plants, contact Chocolate Flower Farm.They also have other chocolate scented products such as candles, bath and body products, chocolate teas, sachets and other gifts. They're located in Langley, WA.

Love to add to this list, so please comment on your favorite "chocolate" plants. Plants or seeds welcome.

And, here's a photo from one of the University of California Botanical Garden greenhouses of a chocolate pod. I do not have a tropical greenhouse on my property.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Last Dinner on the Titanic: Chocolate Eclairs with French Vanilla Ice Cream

A few years ago for the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic's maiden voyage, many restaurants and special venues held 'memorial' dinners. Many of them replicating the final meal. In terms of Chocolate, the First Class Service that "last" night included Painted Chocolate Eclairs with French Vanilla Ice Cream aka Chocolate Eclairs with Creme Patissiere.  Since Wednesday is National Chocolate Eclair Day, I thought I'd post the recipe.

At the end of this post, I've included the recipe from the cookbook Last Dinner on the Titanic. This great cookbook includes recipes and facts and Titanic trivia. Originally published for the 85th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic, Rick Archbold and Chef Dana McCauley's Last Dinner On the Titanic: Menus and Recipes from the Great Liner is one part social history, one part recipe book, and one part guide to recreating one of the most famous - and most elegant - dinner parties in recent history. As one critic wrote, it's "A cookbook designed to recreate the atmosphere of dining on the famous, doomed luxury liner serves up such recipes as Lobster Thermidor, Quail's Eggs in Aspic with Caviar, and Poached Salmon with Dilled Mousseline Sauce and Cucumber."

In case you've been living completely off the grid, you will know that in the early hours of the morning, April 15, 1912, the great steamship RMS Titanic met its tragic fate. At 11:30pm on April 14, the state-of-the-art cruise ship that was on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic hit an iceberg, resulting in a 300-foot-wide rip below the waterline. The damage caused the ship to plunge two miles down to the ocean floor, leading to the deaths of more than 1500 passengers and crew members. But without knowledge of the events to come, on the evening of April 14th, the first-class passengers enjoyed what would be their final meal on the ship. And it was an extravagant and decadent meal.

As served in the first-class dining saloon of the R.M.S. Titanic on April 14, 1912

First Course
Hors D'Oeuvres

Second Course
Consommé Olga
Cream of Barley

Third Course
Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce, Cucumbers

Fourth Course
Filet Mignons Lili
Saute of Chicken, Lyonnaise
Vegetable Marrow Farci

Fifth Course
Lamb, Mint Sauce
Roast Duckling, Apple Sauce
Sirloin of Beef, Chateau Potatoes
Green Pea
Creamed Carrots
Boiled Rice
Parmentier & Boiled New Potatoes

Sixth Course
Punch Romaine

Seventh Course
Roast Squab & Cress

Eighth Course
Cold Asparagus Vinaigrette

Ninth Course
Pate de Foie Gras

Tenth Course
Waldorf Pudding
Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly
Chocolate & Vanilla Eclairs
French Ice Cream

The meal was served with a different wine for each course. Following the tenth course fresh fruits and cheeses were available followed by coffee and cigars accompanied by port and, if desired, distilled spirits.

Chocolate and Vanilla Eclairs 
with French Vanilla Ice Cream 
From The Last Dinner on the Titanic Cookbook

Both the pastry and the filling (standard French pastry cream) date back to the Renaissance, when the Arab art of pastry making invaded Europe by way of Italy. Making perfect choux pastry is a skill acquired through practice. Don’t be alarmed if your first attempt tastes better than it looks.
(You can always buy a nice high quality ice cream if you don't have time to make your own)*


6 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup whipping cream

In bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 1/4 cup of sugar for 2 minutes or until pale yellow. Adding flour in 3 additions, stir until well mixed.
In saucepan, heat milk, remaining sugar, and vanilla bean over medium heat, stirring often, for 8 to 10 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and small bubbles are beginning to form around edges of pot. Stirring constantly, pour about one-third of the milk mixture into egg mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.
Pour egg mixture into remaining milk and cook, stirring for 3 to 4 minutes or until mixture begins to bubble. Continue to cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture begins to mound and hold its shape; remove from heat. Stir in butter and remove vanilla bean.
Transfer to bowl, cover with plastic wrap touching surface of custard, and cool to room temperature.
Beat whipping cream until stiff; add a large dollop of cream to cooled pastry cream and fold in; add remaining whipped cream and fold in until almost combined.
Transfer to pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch star tube. Place in refrigerator until completely chilled.


1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
5 eggs, room temperature
1 Tbsp water
3 oz. bitter sweet chocolate
Icing sugar or edible gold flakes

Meanwhile, in heavy-bottomed saucepan set over high heat, bring water, butter, and salt just to boil. Remove from heat and add flour all at once, stirring vigorously with wooden spoon until mixture comes away from sides of pan, making a smooth ball.
Reduce heat to medium-low and cook flour mixture, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until coating begins to form on bottom of pan. Turn into large bowl; stir for 30 seconds.
Make well in middle of dough and, using electric mixer, beat in 4 of the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until mixture is smooth and shiny and holds its shape when lifted.
Place dough into piping bag fitted with 3/4-inch wide tip. On parchment-lined baking sheets, pipe fingers of dough about 4 inches long and 1 wide. In bowl beat together remaining egg and 1 tbsp water; brush each bun lightly, being careful not to drip down sides.
Bake in 425?F oven for 12 minutes; reduce heat to 375 F and bake for 5 minutes longer or until golden brown. With sharp knife, pierce side of each éclair twice. Turn oven off and let éclairs stand for 5 minutes, then remove and cool on rack.
Melt chocolate over barely simmering water. Brush top of each cooled éclair with enough chocolate to coat well. Cool in refrigerator for 5 minutes to harden chocolate.
Halve éclairs lengthwise. Pull out any sticky dough in center; discard. Pipe pastry cream into bottom of each éclair. Replace chocolate-covered tops.
Dust with icing sugar or edible gold flakes just before serving.
Makes 25 to 30 small éclairs.

And the Band Played On....

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Guajillo Roasted Chicken Wings for Father's Day

Photo: Taza Chocolate
I'm a huge fan of Taza Chocolate. I have several 70% Mexicano Discs in my desk drawer. I often check the Taza website for recipes and news, so I was thrilled to find this recipe for Guajillo Roasted Chicken Wings. This recipe is perfect for Father's Day!

Guajillo Roasted Chicken Wings
Serves 2 as a main, 4 as an appetizer

2 1/2 pounds chicken wings
2 teaspoons Bondat Foods Chocolate Chipotle Rub (or substitute your favorite poultry rub)
1 package (2.7oz) Taza Guajillo Chili Chocolate Mexicano, chopped
1/4 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 425 degrees. Toss chicken wings with rub until evenly coated, then place on baking sheet lined with tin foil. Roast for 25 minutes, or until wings are puffed and golden.
Combine chopped chocolate, apple juice, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, and smoked paprika in saucepan over medium heat and bring to simmer, stirring constantly, until all tingredients are evenly combined.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve alongside roasted wings.

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. Jam 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

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.
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.
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)
Cut off any dough above top of tart pan. Save dough for repairs. Place dough filled pan in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
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.
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)

Put chocolate and cream in doubleboiler or saucepan on top of another saucepan with simmering water. Melt together, stirring, until smooth. Set aside.
Remove cherry stems, remove pits with cherry pitter. Set aside.
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 chocolate to hold in place.
Put jelly in small measuring cup and microwave on High until spreadable, about 15 seconds.
Using pastry brush, lightly brush tops of cherries with jelly just to glaze.
Place tart in refrigerator, uncovered, to cool until chocolate is set, about 25 to 30 minutes.
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.)
Slice into wedges, and serve cold.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Subscription Sweets: Guest Post by Emily Stashower

My friend Emily Stashower mentioned that she subscribed to a monthly artisan sweets delivery service called Treatsie. I just had to find out more, so Emily agreed to write a guest post after sampling several months worth of treats. FYI: Emily paid for the service, so this is an unbiased review. 

Emily Stashower is an amateur nature enthusiast, blogger and mother of twins. After a career in healthcare and numerous community organizations, her current endeavor, her blog, was started on a lark to combine a love of gardening, writing, photography, nature and an inability to meet deadlines. The blog notes that "sometimes an empty nest is just a nest without a bird. Other times, it's a middle aged suburban woman rediscovering interests and cultivating passions." 

Emily Stashower:
Subscription Sweets

It’s pretty hard to ignore the array of delivery services available these days and it seems like one can subscribe to just about anything and everything imaginable. What was once a novelty, such as a subscription to a special magazine (oh how I eagerly anticipated “Tiger Beat” each month), Fruit of the Month Club and/or more recently, Flower of the Month Clubs, is now commonplace. I’ve yet to take the plunge and subscribe to one of the meal services, tempting though they may be, but when I came across the possibility to subscribe to a monthly artisan sweet service, I caved. That’s right – I’m a subscriber to a service that curates artisan sweets and delivers them monthly. Welcome to

I have a sweet tooth and, fortunately for me, it is satisfied easily with “just a taste” of something unique and sweet – that is exactly what Treatsie provides. If you want to receive large quantities of desserts, this is not the service for you but if you would like to sample from a diverse assortment of sweets, Treatsie more than fits the bill.

So far, I’ve received three boxes in the subscription service and here’s what just arrived for May:

Previous boxes have had more chocolate (so this one was a little disappointing but more on that in a bit) and they are always selected from at least 3 different companies. Some of the more memorable items have included delicious shortbread covered in salted caramel and then drizzled with chocolate, chocolate covered graham crackers topped with sea salt, vanilla bean shortbread and key lime macaroons. One standout was the Lambrecht Gourmet Toffee packaged in cello bags with a few pieces in each bag. Flavors included Southern Pecan Toffee, Karma Toffee (butter toffee with roasted slivered almonds then drenched in mocha/caramel chocolate) and Hoity Toity Toffee (toffee with dry roasted macadamia nuts covered in imported white chocolate).

In advance of the month’s delivery, Treatsie emails customers to highlight seasonal products that can be added on to the subscription. This month, I added on “Sticky Toffee Pudding Bars” and they’re terrific:

Even if you add on to the basic monthly subscription, it seems like the delivery always includes “just the right amount” of sweets. You won’t feel like you’ve overindulged – you can’t eat an entire box of delicious artisan sweets because they don’t send you a huge box. Each box includes a carefully curated selection of about 4 – 6 sweets chocolates in a box and if you’ve added on anything, you have even more to enjoy. It’s a lot of fun to read the descriptions, go through the box’s contents and look forward to sampling a sweet over the following days. The boxes have been consistently good – so good, in fact, that I sent a box as a gift to my father and wouldn’t hesitate to send a subscription to someone.

How does this subscription service work? The first step is to decide on what plan you would like; you can be billed monthly ($20), quarterly ($19) or annually ($17) per box. Boxes are shipped after the 15th of each month and you can cancel at any time. I decided to subscribe for a year and paid for it at one time. No matter what, you are guaranteed to receive a box of treats from at least 3 different vendors every month and it contains up to $25 of gourmet sweets in each box.

When subscribing, they ask a limited amount of information by soliciting a rating about milk chocolate, dark chocolate and coffee/espresso. However, it’s merely a “thumbs up” or “down” and unless I missed something, there’s little else to direct the choices (e.g. do you like nuts, coconut and/or are there other flavors or ingredients you have specific likes/dislikes about).

Once you select the billing and rate those few tastes, you customize the box – the choices are a standard box or you can “double up” and get $50 worth of sweets per month. No matter what plan you select, the first box will be doubled up and I was thrilled to receive TWICE as much toffee, shortbread and individually wrapped chocolate bites.

Even if you don’t subscribe to the monthly service, you can order from Treatsie’s website – but it should be noted that the website’s selection(s), just like the monthly offerings, change according to season and availability. Something you may have loved a few months ago might not be available any longer. However, the subscription service and website (if used for add-ons and/or a one time gift box) always offers a wide variety of chocolate bars – using many different companies and within that, some amazing selections.

Other companies offered via Treatsie which consistently offer superior products include Dolcetta (amazing chocolate bars – I particularly recommend the Dolcetta Sweets Milk Chocolate Pretzel Bar), Nunu Chocolates, Cocoa Rouge Dark & White Chocolate Swirl Bar, Cocoa Rouge Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Bar and Dick Taylor Ginger Snaps Bar.

The website lists best sellers and I have to admit the Milk Chocolate Colts Bolts (pure milk chocolate layered with peanut butter and whole roasted almonds) are calling me. After all, they won the “Outstanding Confection" Award at the International Fancy Food Show!

Treatsie offers a vegan alternative in addition to the subscription service, it’s a great resource for gifts and specialty boxes and they also offer wedding favors. And although it’s likely you could scour the website to find these recommendations (and much more) there’s something really satisfying about the anticipation of a monthly delivery of curated artisan sweets. Slightly indulgent, I admit, but well worth it.

To date, the “hits” far outweigh the “misses” (the edible dough was sickly sweet, and I could have done without the unusual flavored lollypops with bubblegum centers) and the only thing I really should be weighing is . . . myself. I’ll stick with the basic service with the occasional “add on” to keep that sweet tooth satisfied & under control – but if you’re in the mood for an unusual, tasty and high quality surprise hand selected for your enjoyment and delivered right to your door each month, give a try.

Father's Day Chocolate Gifts: Chocolate Tools, Ties, and More!

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 13 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.

List of Father's Day Mysteries

Thursday, June 16, 2016

National Fudge Day: Fudge Recipe Round-Up

National Fudge Day: What a great day to celebrate! My Aunt Annie made the best Fudge in the world, but now that I know more about candy nomenclature, I think she really made truffles. They were dark chocolate balls rolled in cocoa. I'll always remember her truffles as fudge.

However, I had my first taste of 'real' fudge down the shore in Atlantic City. Fudge was sold along with Salt Water Taffy at many of the Boardwalk candy shops.

In honor of National Fudge Day, I'm posting a Recipe Round-Up of Fudge Recipes that have appeared on!

Just an FYI: I'm from Philly, and I grew up with Philadelphia Cream Cheese, so the Philly Fudge recipe below is an adaptation of the famous uncooked fudge recipe developed by Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese.  It became popular right after World War II. It really is foolproof.

Be sure to scroll down for all the links to fabulous Fudge!!! 

History of Fudge: Fudge was supposedly invented in the U.S. in the late 1880s. Historians believe the first batch of fudge resulted from a bungled batch of caramels, as in "Oh, Fudge." I don't think so... According to Wikipedia, the main component of Fudge was similar to the traditional recipe for Scots Tablet found in The Household Book of the Lady Grisell Baillie (1692-1733).

One of the first documented examples of American fudge (containing chocolate!) was found in a letter written by Emelyn Batersby Hartridge, a Vassar College student, who wrote that a friend's cousin made fudge in Baltimore in 1886 and sold it for 40 cents a pound. Hartridge asked for the fudge recipe, and in 1888 made 30 pounds of the fudge for the Vassar Senior Auction.

Other fudge recipes in the USA can be traced back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Mackinac Island fudge ice cream (vanilla ice cream blended with small chunks of fudge) is still sold on Mackinac Island in Michigan, and surrounding areas, where shops have been selling fudge to summer vacationers since the late nineteenth century.

In The Candy Book (Alice Bradley, 1929) an entire chapter is devoted to fudge.

Fudge is a crystalline candy, which means that, unlike lollipops, caramels, and taffy, crystal formation is the key to making great fudge. Tiny microcrystals of sugar in fudge give fudge its firm but smooth texture. The secret to successful fudge is getting these crystals to form at just the right time. Fudge is one of the rare exceptions to the rule that sugar crystals are not desirable in candy. Tiny microcrystals in fudge are what give it its firm texture. When the crystals are small enough, they don’t feel grainy on your tongue, but smooth.

While you ultimately want crystals to form, it's important that they don't form too early. Now this is where it gets tricky! The key to successful, non-grainy fudge is in the cooling, not the cooking. If you disturb the cooling fudge during this cooling phase, you increase the potential for larger crystals (seed crystals) of sugar to form too early and thus a grainy fudge results.

O.K. this is too much for me to take in, not being a candy maker. So how to make fudge relatively easy?


S'mores Fudge: 2 Recipes

Elsie's Double Chocolate Nutty Fudge

Bailey's Irish Cream Fudge

Granny Hollin's Peanut Butter Fudge

Penuche (Creamy Praline) Fudge

Layered Mint Chocolate Fudge

Five Minute Dark Chocolate Coffee Fudge

Candy Cane Fudge

Retro Marshmal-O Fudge

Fanny Farmer Fudge

Triple Chocolate Honey Fudge

Marshmallow Fluff Fudge: 2 Vintage Ads & Recipes

Retro Ronrico Rum Fudge

Peanut Butter Fudge

Six Vintage Holiday Fudge Recipes

Cinderella Pink Fairy-Tale Fudge

Double Layer Fudge

Nutty Fudge (3 recipes)

Goldie's Fudge

Vanilla Macadamia Nut Fudge

Nigella's Chocolate Pistachio Fudge

Creamy Chocolate Fudge

Chocolate Coffee Fudge

Ruth Jordan's Busy Lady Fudge

Foolproof Dark Chocolate Fudge

Easy Million Dollar Fudge


4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 - 8 ounce package Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
2 Tbsp milk or cream
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Dash of salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
Butter 8 inch baking pan well; set aside.
Melt chocolate in double boiler over hot, not boiling water.
Mix cream cheese and milk (or cream), beating on high speed until smooth.
Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at time, and beat at low speed until creamy.
Blend in melted chocolate, vanilla, and salt. Beat until smooth.
Stir in pecans or walnuts, but not both.
Press mixture into pan, cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight or until firm.
Cut into 1 1/4-inch squares.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Devil's Food Cake vs Chocolate Cake

I've posted this before, but it's an important re-post. People always ask what's the difference between Devil's Food Cake and Chocolate Cake. It's a good question, and there are many different interpretations. Some recipes use cocoa, some melted chocolate, some add coffee or hot liquid, and some increase the baking soda.

According to Wikipedia:

Because of differing recipes and changing ingredient availability over the course of the twentieth century, it is difficult to precisely qualify what distinguishes Devil's food from the more standard chocolate cake. The traditional Devil's food cake is made with shredded beets much the way a carrot cake is made with carrots. The beets add moisture and sweetness to the cake, helping it to be very rich. The red of the beets slightly colors the cake red and due to the richness of the cake it became known as the Devil's food. 

O.k. That's a beet cake or a 'natural' red velvet cake, and I make a good one, but it's not a Devil's Food Cake in my opinion.

Devil's food cake is generally more moist and airy than other chocolate cakes, and often uses cocoa as opposed to chocolate for the flavor as well as coffee. The lack of melted chocolate and the addition of coffee is typically what distinguishes a Devil's food cake from a chocolate cake, though some recipes call for all, resulting in an even richer chocolate flavor. The use of hot, or boiling water as the cake's main liquid, rather than milk, is also a common difference. 

Devil's food cake is sometimes distinguished from other chocolate cakes by the use of additional baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) which raises the pH level and makes the cake a deeper and darker mahogany color. Devil's food cake incorporates butter (or a substitute), egg whites, flour (while some chocolate cakes are flourless) and less egg than other chocolate cakes. Devil's food cake was introduced in the United States in the early 20th century with the recipe in print as early as 1905. 

A similar cake, the red velvet cake, is closely linked to a Devil's food cake, and in some turn of the century cookbooks the two names may have been interchangeable. Most red velvet cakes today use red food coloring, but even without it, the reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk tends to better reveal the red anthocyanin in the cocoa. When used in cakes, acid causes reddening of cocoa powder when baked, and before more alkaline "Dutch Processed" cocoa was widely available, the red color would have been more pronounced. This natural tinting may have been the source for the name "Red Velvet" as well as "Devil's Food" and a long list of similar names for chocolate cakes.

And, lastly:  A traditional difference between just a chocolate cake and a devil's food cake is more chocolate. "When the larger amount of chocolate is used, it is a black, rich Devil's Food," said the first Joy of Cooking (1931 p. 236, cited in the Food Timeline, which has additional material on the history too).

I'm partial to Devil's Food Cake.

Here are several mid-century recipes. Sorry about the light print on the first cookbook.

I've posted many Devil's Food Cake recipes in the past, but today I have four mid-century recipes.

The first recipe is for Cocoa Devil's Food Cake from How To Get the Most Out of Your Sunbeam Mixmaster (1950). I posted a "Mix-Easy" Devil's Food Cake for Mother's Day, and you might want to look at that one, too. It's pretty much the same as the following recipe. The following page in the Sunbeam Mixmaster Cookbook is great for today's post since there's a Chocolate Cake recipe next to the Devil's Food Cake recipe.

This same cookbook has a recipe for Black Devil's Food Cake, so now we have Cocoa Devil's Food Cake, Black Devil's Food Cake, and a Red Devil's Food Cake. As you see, the following Black Devil's Food cake is made with cocoa and with the addition of strong hot coffee or boiling water.

The Red Devil's Food Cake is a variation on the Chocolate Fudge Cake on the same page, and to save space, they didn't reprint the entire recipe! It's a very small pamphlet. The baking soda is increased, but otherwise it's the same cake. This recipe is from the Recipes for your Hamilton Beach Mixer-17 Delicious New Cakes (1947). Don't you just love that someone wrote good next to the recipe? It's the same recipe I posted (but from a different pamphlet) on Devil's Food Cake for Mother's Day. 

And one more Red Devil's Food Cake from the same mid-century period. This one is from Kate Smith Chooses her 55 Favorite Ann Pillsbury CAKE RECIPES.

Enough Devil's Food Cake recipes? Never! Have a look at Martha Washington's Devil's Food Cake from Capitol Hill Cooks: Recipes from the White House by Linda Bauer. It's a great Buttermilk Devil's Food Cake!  And, mystery author Eva Gates aka Vicki Delany has a guest post here on DyingforChocolate for Fun with Devil's Food Cake. Check out her recipe.

So what's the difference between Devil's Food Cake and Chocolate Cake? You decide.