Monday, October 14, 2019

NANAIMO BARS: Canadian Thanksgiving

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving. Canadian Thanksgiving is held on the second Monday in October. It commemorates the first Thanksgiving in North America that was held by Sir Martin Frobisher and his crew in the Eastern Arctic in 1578. They ate a meal of salted beef, biscuits and mushy peas to celebrate and give thanks for their safe arrival in what is now Nunavut.

I've posted various pumpkin/chocolate pies and puddings for Canadian Thanksgiving. Some of the foods are very similar to the U.S. Thanksgiving. But for today's Canadian Thanksgiving, I think Nanaimo Bars, one of my favorite no bake chocolate treats from British Columbia, would be perfect.

Bill Critchfield, a member of my mystery book group, used to make them on special occasions. Bill passed away, and unfortunately his safely guarded recipe passed on with him. Since then, I've tried to create his version of Nanaimo Bars (there are so many variations). This has involved trying different recipes and really exploring the whole Canadian Nanaimo history.  Months of Edible Celebrations had a special post devoted to Nanaimo Bars in conjunction with Pecans several years ago. Interesting that the recipe for Nanaimo Bars in The Pecan Cookbook calls for baking. I don't think Bill used pecans, and I'm sure he didn't bake.

Interestingly, The New York Times had a great article on the History, Culture, and Craving for the Nanaimo Bar! Here's a link

The City of Nanaimo website says: "According to local legend about 35 years ago, a Nanaimo housewife entered her recipe for chocolate squares in a magazine contest. In a burst of civic pride, she chose to dub the entry not "Daphne's Delights" or "Mary's Munchies", but "Nanaimo Bars". The entry won a prize, thereby promoting the town as much as her cooking. Some American tourists claim sovereignty over the dessert, referred to as "New York Slice" which is sold in many other places in the world. Nanaimo residents refuse to accept this theory, however, believing that once you set foot on Vancouver Island, there are no other places in the world. The official Nanaimo Bar recipe was available as a handout as well as on quality tea towel and apron souvenirs."

Here's a recipe for Namaimo Bars from the Official City of Nanaimo Website:
  
Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer
½ cup unsalted butter (European style cultured)
¼ cup sugar
5 Tbsp cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.

Second Layer
½ cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp and 2 Tsp cream
2 Tbsp vanilla custard powder  (I use Bird's)
2 cups icing sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Third Layer
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.

The really nice thing about this 'refrigerator bar' is that you can adapt it in so many ways by adding different ingredients or substituting different nuts. Very fun! and always good!

Links to other Nanaimo Bar Recipes:

Cookie Madness 
My Baking Addiction (Valentine's Day Nanaimo Bars)
Barbara Bakes
Life's Ambrosia
Playing House (Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars)
New York Times

Sunday, October 13, 2019

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS & CHOCOLATE: Recipe for Super Rich Spanish Hot Chocolate

In the U.S., we celebrate Columbus Day. In terms of chocolate, though, Christopher Columbus was the first European to come in contact with cacao. On August 15, 1502, on his fourth and last voyage to the Americas, Columbus and his crew encountered a large dugout canoe near an island off the coast of what is now Honduras. The canoe was the largest native vessel the Spaniards had seen. It was "as long as a galley," and was filled with local goods for trade -- including cacao beans. Columbus's crew seized the vessel and its goods, and retained its captain as his guide.

Later, Columbus' son Ferdinand wrote about the encounter. He was struck by how much value the Native Americans placed on cacao beans, saying: "They seemed to hold these almonds [referring to the cacao beans] at a great price; for when they were brought on board ship together with their goods, I observed that when any of these almonds fell, they all stooped to pick them up, as if an eye had fallen."

At first, however, the cocoa beans were neglected. Despite the bitterness of the drink produced, Columbus claimed the resulting concoction was a "divine drink which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink permits a man to walk for a whole day without food". 

What Ferdinand and the other members of Columbus' crew didn't know at the time was that cocoa beans were the local currency. In fact, in some parts of Central America, cacao beans were used as currency as recently as the last century.

While it is likely that Columbus brought the cacao beans he seized back to Europe, their potential value was initially overlooked by the Spanish King and his court. Far more exciting treasures on board his galleons meant the cocoa beans were ignored. It was his fellow explorer, the Spanish Conquistador Don Hernán Cortés, who first realized their commercial value. He brought back three chests full of cocoa beans to Spain in 1528 and very gradually, the custom of drinking the chocolate spread across Europe.

It was still served as a beverage when the Spanish first brought chocolate back to Europe. Cortez, described chocolatl as "the divine drink ... which builds up resistance and fights fatigue," and his countrymen, conceived the idea of sweetening the bitter drink with cane sugar.

The recipe for the sweetened frothy beverage underwent several more changes in Spain, where newly discovered spices such as cinnamon and vanilla were added as flavorings. The original chili pepper that made the spicy drink was replaced by sugar to make a sweet beverage. The sweetened chocolate beverage was a luxury that only a few could afford.

By the 17th century, the drink became common among European nobility. In London, chocolate was more widely available, and those who could afford it could enjoy the drink in coffee and chocolate houses.

Super Rich Spanish Hot Chocolate 
Makes two mugs!

Ingredients 
5 Tbsp good quality unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
4 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp corn starch
1 tsp Mexican vanilla extract
1 cup water

Directions 
Combine cocoa powder, sugar, and corn starch in small bowl.
Pour COLD water into small sauce pan, add vanilla extract and cocoa mixture, and cook at medium low heat, stirring constantly.
Cook until it thickens and serve immediately.

Friday, October 11, 2019

DARK CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN SEED SEA SALT BARK: National Pumpkin Seed Day

Somehow I missed National Pumpkin Seed Day on October 3! But October is all about Pumpkins and Halloween, so here's a great recipe for Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed Sea Salt Bark that treats pumpkin seeds in a sweet way--chocolate with a sea salt finish.

Pumpkin seeds like chocolate are heart healthy, immune boosters, and great for brain power, among other health benefits!

DARK CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN SEED SEA SALT BARK

Ingredients 
Canola oil cooking spray
1-2 cups dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds  (raw or toasted-I prefer toasted)
1 tsp sea salt

Directions
Coat 9 x12 inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, and line with parchment, leaving overhang on ends.
Melt chocolate in double boiler or heatproof bowl over saucepan of simmering water, stirring.
If chocolate is too thick, add canola oil as needed to thin.
Pour melted chocolate onto baking sheet, and spread in even layer with spatula.
Immediately sprinkle pumpkin seeds then sea salt over chocolate.
Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Peel off parchment and break bark into pieces.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

WHITE CHOCOLATE ANGEL FOOD CAKE: National Angel Food Cake Day

Today is Angel Food Cake Day. I'm more of a Devil's Food Cake person, but here's a White Chocolate recipe for White Chocolate Angel Food Cake from Godiva Chocolate.  Although I am posting a Retro Ad for Angel Food Cake, the recipe below is all from scratch!

White Chocolate Angel Food Cake

Ingredients

Cake
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 cup sifted cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups egg whites, at room temperature (about 11 to 12 large eggs)
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 bars (1.5 ounces each) Godiva Ivory Chocolate, grated or finely chopped

Add:

Whipped Cream:
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Berries:
1 cup fresh red raspberries
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup fresh blackberries
White chocolate curls 

Directions

Cake
Position oven rack in lower third of oven. Heat oven to 350°F.
Sift together confectioners’ sugar, cake flour, and salt onto sheet of waxed paper.
Put egg whites in clean, dry bowl of electric mixer. Beat egg whites at medium-low speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat at medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add granulated sugar in steady stream, beating just until whites are thick and form slightly stiff peaks. (Do not over-beat)
Gently fold in 1/3 of sifted dry ingredients over whites just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in remaining dry ingredients with vanilla and grated white chocolate in two additional batches.
Gently pour batter into ungreased 10" angel food or tube pan, spreading evenly. Tap gently on counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake 35 minutes or until top is firm and springs back when lightly touched. Invert pan on a large bottle (such as wine bottle or olive oil bottle) and cool completely.
To remove cake from pan, run long knife or thin metal spatula around outside edge of cake and gently remove side portion of pan. Then, run knife around inside of center tube, loosen bottom of cake with long knife or thin metal spatula and remove cake from remaining portion of pan. Place on cake plate; cover with plastic wrap if not serving immediately.

Whipped Cream:
Combine heavy cream and granulated sugar in a medium, chilled bowl. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer until soft peaks form; whisk in vanilla.
Place sweetened whipping cream in refrigerator until ready to serve cake, up to 2 hours.
Combine berries in a medium bowl and toss lightly.

Assembly:
Cut cake with serrated knife using a sawing motion. Serve with sweetened whipped cream and berry mixture. Garnish with white chocolate curls.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

BLUE CHEESE CHEESCAKE WITH CHOCOLATE CRUST: Moldy Cheese Day

Today is Moldy Cheese Day! Blue Cheese is about as moldy as I care to get, so to celebrate today's food holiday and fit it into the "Chocolate" theme of this blog, here's a recipe for Blue Cheese Cheesecake with a Chocolate Cookie Crust.  

Chocolate and Blue Cheese go well together. I've made Blue Cheese Truffles on numerous occasions, and I love them. If this is your first foray into the combination, choose a mild creamy blue cheese. If you're not sure, ask your cheese specialist.

BLUE CHEESE CHEESECAKE WITH CHOCOLATE CRUST

Chocolate Cookie Crust

Ingredients
30 chocolate wafers (Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers-1-1/2 cups crumbs)
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions
Process cookies in food processor until finely ground.
Transfer crumbs to mixing bowl & combine crumbs, butter, salt, and vanilla. Stir until crumbs are moistened.
Press mixture evenly across bottom of 9-inch springform pan and up sides of pan. Pack tightly so crust is even.
Bake in 350° oven for 6-8 minutes or until crisp.
Let cool completely before filling. You can put it in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

For the Cheesecake

Ingredients
1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
10 ounces Blue Cheese, room temperature (I've used Humboldt Fog)
3 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp honey
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch cracked black pepper

Directions
In large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add blue cheese; beat until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape bowl. Add sour cream, honey, salt, and pepper. Beat until combined.
Pour into cooled prepared Chocolate Cookie Crust. Bake 40 to 45 minutes in a 325° oven or until set and knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool to room temperature in pan.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

CHOCOLATE CHIP NOODLE KUGEL: Breaking of the Fast

The Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, starts tonight. Here's a recipe you can easily make in advance for the Breaking of the Fast. I love this Chocolate Chip Noodle Kugel.

A bit of  history about Kugel. Kugel is a traditional Ashkenazic Jewish dessert or side dish. Kugel is Yiddish for ball, but it is sometimes translated as pudding or casserole, and related to the German Gugelhupf. The first Kugel were plain -- made from bread and flour, and salty rather than sweet. About 800 years ago, the flavor and popularity changed when cooks in Germany replaced bread mixtures with noodles or farfel. Eventually eggs were incorporated. The addition of cottage cheese and milk created a custard-like consistency which is common for today's dishes. In the 17th century, sugar was introduced, which gave the option of serving kugel as a side dish or dessert. In Poland, Jewish women sprinkled raisins and cinnamon into recipes. Hungarians took the dessert concept further with a hefty helping of sugar and sour cream.

Today many people add corn flakes, graham cracker crumbs, ground gingersnaps, or caramelized sugar on top. Some people layer the dish with sliced pineapples or apricot jam, but since this is a chocolate blog, here's a recipe that includes chocolate chips! Enjoy this for the Breaking of the Fast or any time!

Chocolate Chip Noodle Kugel

Ingredients:
12 oz pkg medium wide noodles boiled & drained
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
8 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 pint (16 oz) cottage cheese (large curd)
2 cups sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.
Butter sides and bottom of 9 x 13 Pyrex or another Pan.
Beat together eggs and sugar. Add cottage cheese, sour cream, melted butter, and vanilla, and mix with wooden spoon.
Fold in noodles and chocolate chips.
Pour mixture into buttered pan.
Bake at 350°F for 40-60 minutes until just set.

Monday, October 7, 2019

STARBUCKS OREO FRAPPUCINO: National Frappé Day

Today is Frappé Day. Most of us have a frappé of one kind or another in our lifetime.

A frappé is an iced beverage that has been shaken, blended, or beaten to produce a foamy cold blended drink, often with whipped cream and toppings. Ice can be added before or after beating the coffee and adding other ingredients such as sugar, milk, vanilla, and sweet sauces. It really depends on what you are shaking or blending it in - a shaker, frappe maker, or blender. According to one source, an ice-crushing blender is better than a shaker for blending a frappe. Traditionally frappés are made with coffee, but you can make other frappé drinks with tea, juice, or hot chocolate.
The word Frappé comes from the French word Frapper - which means to slap, knock, or beat. Cold coffee drinks named "café frappé" go back to the 19th century.

Which leads me to the Italian term: Frappuccino. In the last few years, I've had numerous types of Frappuccinos at Starbucks, most with chocolate. So here's a recipe for Starbucks' Oreo Frappuccino I found on StarbucksSecretMenu.net There are several 'Starbucks" secret menu recipes that you can order at Starbucks (you may need to know the recipe), but you can also make this at home. As always use the very best chocolate.

Starbucks Oreo Frappucino

Ingredients
8 ounces whole milk
1 cup ice
2 scoops vanilla bean ice cream
2 Tbsp semisweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp mocha syrup or chocolate syrup
1 Oreo
Whipped cream, for garnish
Crushed Oreos, for garnish

Directions
In a blender add milk, ice, vanilla bean ice cream, chocolate chips, mocha syrup, and an Oreo.
Blend until smooth. Pour into a glass, and garnish with whipped cream and crushed Oreos.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

MAD HATTER CHOCOLATE CHIP SCONES: Mad Hatter Day!

Celebrate Mad Hatter Day with Mad Hatter Chocolate Chip Scones at a Mad Hatter Tea Party.

The unofficial Mad Hatter holiday was created in 1986 in Boulder Colorado by a group of computer technicians who were inspired by the Mad Hatter and his antics in Alice in Wonderland. In the book, the Mad Hatter is an eccentric milliner for whom time is forever stuck at a tea party with his friend the March Hare.

The date for the holiday was chosen because of how John Tenniel illustrated the Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. The English illustrator who was also a political cartoonist depicted the Hatter wearing a hat with a piece of paper that has 10/6 written on it. The 10/6 refers to the cost of a hat – 10 shillings and 6 pence. The creators of the holiday who are from the United States where the date is written in the month/day (mm/dd) format took this to set the date for the holiday on October 6 (10/6). For those who write the date in the day/ month (dd/mm) format, the holiday would fall on June 10.

Planning to host a Mad Hatter Tea Party? Then be sure and serve Chocolate Chip Scones (not that the Mad Hatter offered Alice anything at all!). Add some clotted cream and jam, don your hat, and you're good to go!   

MAD HATTER CHOCOLATE CHIP SCONES

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
3 Tbsp orange juice (without pulp)

Directions
Preheat oven to 400. Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With pastry blender or large fork, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in chocolate chips. Mix in orange juice to form dough.
Turn out dough on floured surface. Pat or roll into 9 inch circle about 1/2 inch thick.
With 2 -1/2 inch fluted biscuit cutter, cut out 12 scones, pushing dough scraps together for last few, if necessary.
Transfer scones to baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 12 minutes.
Move to wire racks to cool.
Serve with clotted cream and jam!

Saturday, October 5, 2019

CHOCOLATE APPLE BROWN BETTY: National Apple Brown Betty Day

Now that it's Fall, it's time for Brown Betty, one of my favorite classic desserts. A Brown Betty is a traditional American dessert made from fruit and sweetened crumbs. Similar to a cobbler or apple crisp, the fruit is baked, and, in this case, the sweetened crumbs are placed in layers between the fruit. Since this is a chocolate blog, I'm adding chocolate, of course. So celebrate National Apple Brown Betty Day today with this Chocolate Apple Brown Betty!

CHOCOLATE APPLE BROWN BETTY

Ingredients
2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and chopped (roughly)
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
3/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs
3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp golden syrup
1/2 tsp salt

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Mix apples, 1/4 cup sugar, and 2 Tbsp water in buttered 8 x 8 ovenproof serving dish. Bake for 40 minutes, or until apples have started to soften, then mash roughly with fork. Mix remaining sugar with breadcrumbs, chocolate, butter, golden syrup and 1/2 tsp salt. Spoon on top of the mashed apples. Return to oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

CHOCOLATE CHIP PUMPKIN SPICE QUICK BREAD: Pumpkin Spice Day

Pumpkin Spice is definitely a flavor associated with Fall. One can't seem to go anywhere without seeing pumpkin spice coffee, cakes, breads, candy, and more. This Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Quick Bread is an easy and great way to celebrate the season! Pumpkin spice (sometimes called pumpkin pie spice) is available in the market, but you can also make your own (scroll down for recipe). If you do, remember to use the freshest spices to create your Pumpkin Spice.

The following recipe for Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Quick Bread is from the Land O Lakes website. Want to 'spice' up your presentation? Use a NordicWare Pumpkin Loaf Pan.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Quick Bread

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin (or 1 cup canned pumpkin)
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large Eggs
2 teaspoons pumpkin spice**
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 9x5-inch loaf pan; set aside.
Combine all ingredients in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.
Stir in chocolate chips so evenly distributed.
Spoon batter into prepared pan.
Bake 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan.
Cool completely.

**Make your own Pumpkin Spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

CHOCOLATE INDULGENCE: Guest post by Nancy J. Cohen

Nancy J. Cohen: 
Chocolate Indulgence

In my Bad Hair Day mystery series, amateur sleuth Marla Vail’s best friend, Tally, is a chocoholic. You’ll find scenes in a chocolate shop in Hair Brained and Trimmed to Death. I based this place on a visit to World of Chocolate in Orlando, where I was impressed by the artisan methods of production and the chocolate sculptures.

In my stories, we learn more about chocolate. This food counters the taint of murder in a mystery. When you’re in a bad mood, do you tend to pop a piece of chocolate into your mouth? Or maybe you’ll reward yourself after a task well done with your favorite chocolate indulgence. We always feel better after savoring the sensation of chocolate on our tongue.

Here’s a snippet of conversation between Marla and Teri, a chocolatier. They’re discussing the health benefits of chocolate.

“Cocoa contains flavonoids that are powerful antioxidants. These prevent cellular damage due to free radicals and help to lower your risk for heart disease. Flavonoids also improve blood flow to your brain and cause your body to release endorphins. Dark chocolate has a higher content than milk chocolate. You’ll want to avoid cocoa powder that has undergone Dutch processing. It’s been treated with alkali agents that reduce the flavonoid value.” 

“How about caffeine? Like, if I eat too much chocolate, won’t it make my heart race?” Marla asked. 

“Cocoa contains some caffeine, but it also has theobromine. Both of these compounds can increase your heart rate. Again, dark chocolate has a higher concentration than milk chocolate. And these chemicals are usually not present in white chocolate.” 

It came as no surprise when I wrote a cookbook that some of the recipes include chocolate. Some desserts are rich indulgences, such as the coconut fudge pie. Or they include healthy ingredients, like the chocolate zucchini cake. Since I like to include a splash of liqueur in my cakes on occasion, you’ll find a Kahlua chocolate cake among the recipes. Here is one sample item:

CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE 

Ingredients
2 1⁄4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 3⁄4 cups sugar
1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1⁄2 cup buttermilk
2 cups grated, unpeeled zucchini
6 oz. package semisweet chocolate chips
3⁄4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13x2 inch baking pan. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together into a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the sugar, softened butter, and oil until blended. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Add vanilla, and then mix in dry ingredients alternating with buttermilk. Mix in grated zucchini.

Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Sprinkle semisweet chocolate chips and nuts on top. Bake for 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

What is your favorite chocolate indulgence? A candy bar or a brownie? Chocolate ice cream or a chocolate chip cookie? 

***

A BAD HAIR DAY COOKBOOK: 
Recipes from Nancy J. Cohen’s Cozy Mystery Series 

Are you having a bad hair day? Whip out your whisk, snatch up your spoon, and prepare your palate. Inside the pages of this cookbook are recipes that will bring you good cheer.

Enjoy 160+ tasty recipes from Nancy J. Cohen’s popular Bad Hair Day cozy mystery series. Included in this cookbook are excerpts, cooking tips, and anecdotes written by hairstylist and savvy sleuth Marla Vail. From appetizers to desserts, Marla offers cooking tips and tricks along with commentary about the dishes she prepares for her family. Whether you’re a skilled cook or an eager novice, this cookbook will unravel the mystery of cooking. Put on your apron and plan to make some killer recipes! Bonuses Include:

Meet the Sleuth 
Introduction by Marla Vail 
Cooking Tips 
Excerpts from Series Titles 
Themed Menu Suggestions 
“A Sabbath Dinner” by Nancy’s Mother

For Home Cooks, Food Lovers, Mystery Fans and Cookbook Collectors 

BUY LINKS 
Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Bad-Hair-Day-Cookbook-Recipes-ebook/dp/B07XSH6C7B
Amazon Print: https://www.amazon.com/Bad-Hair-Day-Cookbook-Recipes/dp/099979325X/ 
Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/a-bad-hair-day-cookbook/id1479889058 
Nook: https://bit.ly/2kvrySl

***
Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Her latest title is Trimmed to Death. Nancy’s books have won numerous awards, including her instructional guide, Writing the Cozy Mystery. When not busy writing, Nancy enjoys cooking, fine dining, cruising, visiting Disney World, and shopping. 

Website: https://nancyjcohen.com 
Blog: https://nancyjcohen.com/blog 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE COOKIES WITH SEA SALT: Homemade Cookie Day


Today is Homemade Cookie Day. Here's an easy delicious recipe for Chocolate Truffle Cookies with Sea Salt that you can make to celebrate! This recipe is from local San Francisco chocolate company Ghirardelli. They have some great recipes online and in their new Cookbook.

Ghirardelli: In 1849, during the California Gold Rush, Italian-born Domingo Ghirardelli moved to America and opened a store in a mining camp. After discovering the miners were starved for luxuries and needed something to spend their gold dust on, he starting stocking chocolate delicacies. In 1852, the enterprising immigrant founded a confectionery shop in San Francisco, which eventually became the modern-day Ghirardelli Chocolate Company.

Today, Ghirardelli is America’s oldest continuously operating chocolate maker. Their products are sold in stores everywhere and online, and they also have their own chocolate and ice cream shops across the country.

CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE COOKIES WITH SEA SALT

Ingredients
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Baking Chips, for melting into the cookie dough
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Baking Chips, for mixing into the prepared cookie dough
2 to 3 tablespoons coarse sea salt

Directions
In heatproof bowl over double boiler, melt chocolate and butter until smooth. Turn off stove and let chocolate sit over warm water.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt and mix to combine.
In another bowl, mix together sugar and eggs, combine thoroughly with whisk and slowly add warm chocolate mixture. Stir to combine. Add vanilla extract and mix. Stir in flour mixture.
Cool for a few minutes (if batter is warm, chocolate chips will melt). Stir in chocolate chips. Chill for 10-15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Scoop rounded tablespoons of batter and place on baking tray. Sprinkle each cookie lightly with a pinch of sea salt.
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 7-8 minutes until the outside looks slightly cracked. Be very careful not to over bake cookies because they will continue to bake as they cool once removed from the oven. Cookies should be soft and gooey in the center.

For a chunky and different twist add one of the following: 3/4 cup toasted pecans or pistachios, 1/4 cup chopped candied ginger, or 1/3 cup sweetened coconut

Monday, September 30, 2019

POMEGRANATE FUDGE for Rosh Hashanah or Any Time!

Here's another chocolate recipe for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Even if you're not celebrating this holiday, you'll want to bookmark this recipe and try it today or another time. This is a very simple recipe, but you'll find it incredibly tasty. I use dark chocolate, but milk chocolate works well, too. I buy my pomegranate seeds at Trader Joe's, but you may want to buy a whole pomegranate and de-seed it. As I've mentioned before, use the very best ingredients for the best flavor!

On the second day of Rosh Hashana, it's traditional to eat a fruit you haven't had this season. Pomegranates are often the 'preferred' fruit, because they also symbolize fruitfulness. It's also said to have 613 seeds which corresponds with the 613 commandments of the Torah.

Pomegranate Fudge

Ingredients
23 ounces Chocolate, chopped  (65-75% cacao) or chocolate chips (or milk chocolate, if you prefer)
14 ounces Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/4 cup Pomegranate Molasses
1/2 tsp Sea Salt (fleur de sel)
Seeds of 1 Pomegranate (about a cup or 5 1/3 ounces if you're buying them loose)

Directions
Line pan that is at least 7 x 7 and 2 inches high with parchment paper.
In saucepan over saucepan over simmering water, combine chocolate and condensed milk. Stirring constantly.
Remove from stove and mix in pomegranate molasses. Mix in 1/4 teaspoon sea salt.
Pour fudge into parchment-lined pan, smoothing with spatula.
Spread pomegranate seeds over top of fudge and gently pat into fudge so they stick to fudge as it cools.
Add another 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt over top of fudge.
Put in refrigerator to set.
Remove from refrigerator.
Cut and eat.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

REAL COFFEE TRUFFLES: National Coffee Day

Today is National Coffee Day. Here's a recipe for Real Coffee Chocolate Truffles. These are fabulous, and unlike other espresso and coffee truffle recipes I've posted in the past, these do not use brewed coffee or instant--this recipe uses fresh ground coffee beans! You can also use different coatings for these truffles, such as chopped nuts or powdered sugar, but I prefer my truffles covered in unsweetened cocoa!

Real Coffee Truffles

Ingredients
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces DARK chocolate, 70% cacao
2 Tbsp finely ground coffee beans
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
2 Tbsp Kahlua, room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder

Directions
In double boiler or saucepan over saucepan, bring cream to a simmer.
Add chopped chocolate slowly, whisking constantly until mixture is thick and smooth.
Whisk in ground coffee beans.
Whisk in butter until melted.
Slowly whisk in Kahlua.
Remove mixture from heat and pour into shallow baking dish.
Put baking dish in refrigerator overnight or in freezer until the chocolate has hardened.
Scoop chocolate from baking dish, roll into ball with hands and roll in cocoa powder.
Set on parchment paper on baking sheet.
Repeat.
Cover and refrigerate truffles until firm.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

CHOCOLATE HONEY CAKE for Rosh Hashana

Here's a wonderful recipe for Chocolate Honey Cake to celebrate Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Honey is a traditional food that symbolizes a Sweet New Year. Add Chocolate, and the year is bound to be even sweeter!

This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Honey Cake aka Honey Bee Cake. She decorates her Chocolate Honey Cake with the most adorable marzipan bees, but I never get quite that involved. FYI: Honey cake doesn't have to be dry and heavy. This cake is incredibly moist! As I've mentioned many times, though, your final product will be different depending on the type and brand of chocolate and the type of honey you use.

Chocolate Honey Cake

Ingredients

Cake:
4 ounces dark chocolate (50-65% cacao), chopped
1 1/3 cups soft light brown sugar
8 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup local honey
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp DARK cocoa
1 cup boiling water

Sticky Honey Glaze:
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup honey
6 ounces dark chocolate (60-75% cacao), finely chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp confectioners sugar

Directions:
Have all ingredients at room temperature.
Melt chocolate from cake part of ingredients list in large bowl, either in microwave or bowl over pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool slightly.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and line 9-inch springform pan.
Beat together sugar and softened butter until airy and creamy, and then add honey.
Add 1 of eggs, beating in with tablespoon of flour, and then second egg with another tablespoon of flour.
Fold in melted chocolate, and then remaining flour and baking soda.
Add cocoa pushed through tea strainer to ensure no lumps, and last of all, beat in the boiling water.
Mix everything together well to make smooth batter and pour into prepared springform pan.
Bake for up to 1 -1/2 hours, checking cake after 45 minutes. If it's getting too dark, cover top lightly with aluminum foil and keep checking every 15 minutes.
Let cake cool completely in pan on rack.

Glaze: 
To make glaze, bring water and honey to boil in pot, then turn off the heat and add finely chopped chocolate, swirling around to melt in hot liquid.
Leave for few minutes, then whisk together.
Add sugar through sieve and whisk again until smooth.

Putting it together:
Choose plate or stand, and cut 4 strips of parchment paper and form square outline on plate. Reason: So when you put cake on it and ice it, icing won't run all over the plate (you can always cut the excess off later).
Unclip springform pan and set thoroughly cooled cake on prepared plate.
Pour glaze over cold chocolate honey cake. It might dribble a bit down the edges, but don't worry too much about it. Glaze stays tacky for some time (which is what gives it its melting goeyness) so ice in time for glaze to harden a little, at least an hour before you want to serve it.

Nigella Lawson decorates this great cake with marzipan bees. For the recipe for them, and for her exact recipe, go HERE.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Chocolate Milk: The Ultimate Post-Workout Drink: NATIONAL CHOCOLATE MILK DAY!

Today is National Chocolate Milk Day, so I thought I'd post this  article from NPR on excerise and fitness. If you're reading this post, you're probably sitting too long at your computer. The headline of this article is Stand Up, Walk Around, Even Just for Twenty Minutes.

O.K. I know you'll want to read the entire article, but here's the final paragraph. So pertinent to this blog.

The Ultimate Post-Workout Beverage: Use chocolate milk to replenish sugars after an intense workout. Reynolds calls it an "ideal recovery beverage" because it has the right ratio of carbs and proteins to aid your body's recovery process.

Fitness Magazine also has an article on Chocolate Milk as a Post-Workout Drink. The article explains that chocolate milk after a tough workout can help replenish exhausted muscles and significantly aid exercise recovery. Note, though, that the article goes on to say that it works best for high intensity workouts (and probably not the 20 minute stroll as noted above).

Drinking plain water after exercise replaces sweat losses — and that's it. "Chocolate milk provides carbohydrate replenishment to your muscles — something they can metabolize," said Jason Karp, MS, another researcher for this study. "There's nothing to metabolize in water." 
Stager's assessment of chocolate milk is even simpler. "It's water plus a whole lot more," he said.

So get out there, walk around, stretch (or not!) and drink chocolate milk when you're finished exercising...that's real chocolate milk and not chocolate 'drink'...


Chocolate Milk

Ingredients
11 ounces cold milk
1-1/2 teaspoons Dutch-process cocoa
1/2 tsp sugar or 3/4 tsp honey

Directions
Heat 1/4 cup milk in microwave until steaming (15 seconds)
Add cocoa powder and sugar (or honey) to hot milk. Stir until lumps are gone,
Put mixture into glass and fill with remaining cold milk and stir.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

KEY LIME PIE DAY: Key Lime Pie with Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust

Key Lime Pie is one of my favorite pies. There seem to be several different Key Lime Pie Days (September 23, 26, and June 15). You pick... or have this easy delicious pie whenever you want. I'm going with September 26 for the purposes of this blog!

Several years ago when I visited the Florida Keys, I tasted over 25 different key lime pies. I judged them (for myself) on tartness, firmness, sweetness (too sweet is unacceptable), whipped cream vs. meringue, and more. It was a hard job, but someone had to do it. FYI: Key Lime Pie is the official pie of the Florida Keys.

I've made different variations of key lime pies, and, as I always say, you can never have too many recipes. Variety is what it's all about. One ingredient that is essential is using real key limes.

I buy key limes at my market. Key Limes are definitely different from 'regular' limes. Key limes are smaller, about the size of a ping-pong ball. They are round, think-skinned, and contain very few seeds. They're juicier than other limes, too. Green key limes are actually immature fruits. They ripen to yellow as they mature. I buy them green, probably because that's they way they sell them in my market. Just an FYI: bottled Key Lime juice is sometimes used in Key Lime Pies. This juice is not always made from key limes. Find fresh key limes, if you can. It will make a huge difference.

Key limes are also known as Mexican limes and West Indies limes. Cultivated for thousands of years in the Indo-Malayan region, this variety made its way to North Africa and the Near East via Arabian traders, and then carried on to Palestine and Mediterranean Europe by the Crusaders. Columbus is credited with bringing the Key lime to Hispaniola (Haiti), where it was carried on by Spanish settlers to Florida. Key Limes are found in in South Florida, particularly the Florida Keys, hence the current common name of Key Lime. Due to hurricane-depleted soils, locals switched from pineapple commercial crops to limes in 1906, and business boomed until a hurricane once again reared and wiped out the lime groves, never to be restored. Sadly, even if they had been, they would be gone again after Hurricane Irma. Most Key limes now come from Mexico.

And FYI: Key Lime Pies are yellow..not green (unless you add food coloring--ugh!).  And, some people top Key Lime Pie with Meringue.. some with whipped cream!

Key Lime Pie with Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust

Ingredients

Crust
1 1/2 cups crushed chocolate graham crackers
3 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
Spray pan with non stick spray.

Filling
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
2/3 cup fresh squeezed Key Lime juice
1 Tbsp grated Key Lime zest

Directions

Crust
Mix together crumbs and sugar in bowl, add butter, and mix well. Press into bottom and up sides of  9-inch pie pan. Make it tight.
Bake 350 F for 8 minutes.
Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Filling
Beat egg yolks and grated Key Lime zest for about 5 minutes until fluffy.
Add sweetened condensed milk and beat for 4 more minutes.
Reduce speed and beat in lime juice until combined.
Pour into prepared chocolate graham cracker crust.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes (until firm in center)
Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.
Cover and chill for 2 hours.
Top with Whipped Cream or Meringue (whichever you prefer)

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Betty's Brownies: National Comic Book Day

I was a huge comic book reader as a child. I could read the same comic over and over. Comics did not detract from my reading; they enhanced it. Just another platform, as they would say today. I don't know about you, but I learned a lot from Archie comics...about relationships, morals, values, and life.

Since today is National Comic Book Day, here's a recipe for Betty's Brownies from Archie Comics. They're "Out of Sight." That should date this strip!


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

DOWNTON ABBEY DOWAGER DUCHESS TRIPLE CHOCOLATE SCONES

Last week I posted a recipe for Downton Abbey Chocolate Cherry Scones that might have been served at Downton Abbey or taken on visits to tenant farmers. Today I'm posting a recipe for Dowager Duchess Triple Chocolate Scones. Of course these go very well with a heaping helping of Clotted Cream.

Dowager Duchess Triple Chocolate Scones 

Ingredients
1-3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla
6 Tbsp butter  (cold)
7-8 Tbsp whole milk  (cold)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3 Tbsp chopped dark chocolate
Sugar Crystals 

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Sift together dry ingredients in large bowl (not the chocolatae chips or chocolate).
Add chocolate chips and dark chocolate.
Cut butter into dry ingredients until size of peas.
Put vanilla into small bowl and add milk. Pour most of milk mixture into dry mix and stir to moisten. Dough should be moist enough to form a soft ball, but not sticky. If needed, additional milk can be added 1-2 teaspoons at time.
Turn dough onto lightly floured cutting board and press out with hand to approximately 1/2 inch thickness. (makes 10-12 scones or 8-12 wedges)
Do not over-knead dough. Use as little flour as possible to keep dough from sticking to  board.
Cut into desired shapes and place on lightly greased baking sheet.
Lightly brush tops with milk (or not).
Sprinkle with sugar crystals (you can get this at King Arthur Flour or in the market in the baking section).
(If using a biscuit cutter or glass, dip the cutting edge in flour first)
Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on size. Start checking at 9 minutes. Do not overbake!
Sprinkle again with large sugar crystals while scones are still hot for visual appeal.

Scones are like biscuits. To get a tender, flaky scone, dough should be handled as little as possible, and you should always use cold butter and cold milk.

Monday, September 23, 2019

FALL EQUINOX APPLE CHOCOLATE CHIP BUNDT CAKE


I love Autumn with its infinite variety of apples.  Here's a great way to make the most of the apple harvest. This fabulous Chocolate Chip Apple Bundt Cake (recipe originally from Sunset Magazine) is a great way to celebrate the Fall Equinox. I use tart apples in this recipe because I like the combination of tart and sweet. Try different apple varieties. You can use your favorite dark chocolate instead of chocolate chips. Chop into chips.

Apple Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

Ingredients 
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups apples - peeled, cored and diced
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or chocolate chunks)

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Grease and flour one 9 or 10 inch Bundt Pan.
In large bowl, cream butter with sugar. Beat in eggs. Add water and vanilla.
Stir flour, cocoa, baking soda, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg together. Beat this mixture into creamed mixture.
Fold in chopped apples and semisweet chocolate chips (or chocolate chocolate chunks).
Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake at 325 degrees F for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cake tests done when toothpick is inserted near center. Do not overbake. Start checking at one hour.
Transfer to a rack to cool.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

WHITE CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE: National White Chocolate Day

Today is White Chocolate Day. Not many people, including the FDA, consider white chocolate to be chocolate. It is made with cocoa butter, but combined with sugar and milk, and sometimes vanilla, so I'm including it as chocolate for the purposes of this blog. It doesn't taste like chocolate, but it does taste like 'white' chocolate! I love the flavor. I have two favorite white chocolates for baking: Guittard and Green & Black. Whatever you do, don't use the 'white wafers' you get at crafts stores. Be sure you use 'real' white chocolate in this recipe. The cheaper white chocolates have most of the cocoa butter replaced by vegetable fats. Not tasty at all. The amazing Ad in the photo is from Green & Black.

So for today's holiday, here's a recipe for White Chocolate Bundt Cake. You can always drizzle with dark chocolate, if you're so inclined, but I like my Bundt cakes plain.

WHITE CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 Tbsp unsalted butter to coat pan
2 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbsp granulated sugar for sugaring pan
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
5 eggs, room temperature
4 ounces white chocolate, melted, still warm
4 ounces white chocolate chunks or white chocolate chips
1 cup sour cream

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Coat 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan with 1 tablespoon butter, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar.
In medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Put remaining 1 cup butter and 2 cups sugar in large bowl and cream with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, almond extract, and eggs, one at a time, beating 20 seconds after each addition. Slowly beat in 4 ounces melted white chocolate. Scrape down bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in thirds, alternating with sour cream. Beat 45 seconds after each addition.
Place batter in prepared pan in 3 layers, separating each layer with remaining 4 ounces white chocolate chunks or chips.
Bake in preheated oven 55 to 60 minutes or until done. DON'T OVERBAKE!
Top should be slightly brown and cake tester inserted into center will come out with a few crumbs on it.
Remove cake to wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack and cool to room temperature.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE PECAN COOKIES: National Pecan Cookie Day

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

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

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE PECAN COOKIES

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

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

Friday, September 20, 2019

CHOCOLATE FUDGE BROWNIE CUPCAKES: Guest post by Laura-Kate Rurka


I love when my mystery and chocolate worlds collide. Today I welcome back Laura-Kate Rurka. Laura attends many of the Mystery Literary Salons I host at my home. Everyone is thrilled when Laura-Kate comes because she brings such amazing baked goods! Here's her post with recipe for the divine Chocolate Fudge Brownie Cupcakes she made this summer.

LAURA-KATE RURKA: 

At a 4th of July party in Virginia this summer, a woman came up to me to ask about the chocolate chip cookies I had made (blogged about here on Dying for Chocolate a few years ago). I explained that I use an ice cream scoop to make them uniform, and we got to chatting about baking in general. She was clearly as much of a fanatic as I am, so I suggested we be baking pen pals. The first batch of recipes she sent included these chocolate fudge brownie cupcakes with cookie dough frosting, which I made for a salon at Janet’s and which were a lot of fun to make and even more to eat. Thanks to my new pen pal, Amy Anderson for passing it along. I’m looking forward to trying many more of her confections in the future, and to sharing them with all of you. For the salon, I made them in little baking cups and served them with a wooden ice cream spoon, but they can just as easily be made in a regular cupcake paper and eaten out of hand.

Chocolate Fudge Brownie Cupcakes 

Ingredients (Makes 12): 
4 ounces of semisweet chocolate chopped (I prefer Ghirardelli chips)
Half cup of unsalted butter (8 Tablespoons) 1 Stick
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3 large eggs
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
Frosting of your choice or use Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Over low heat melt butter and chocolate pieces just until the two are melted and combined. Do NOT boil. You just want the two melted until smooth.

Stir in the sugar and vanilla until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring or whisking vigorously after each addition.

Stir in the flour and salt.

Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 17-20 minutes or just until baked through. Do not overbake. The cupcakes won’t be domed like normal cakey cupcakes. They will be more flat and dense like a brownie.

Remove the cupcakes to a cooling rack to cool completely. Frost as desired.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Frosting 

Ingredients: 
12 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
2 Cups of powdered sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
3 Tablespoons of milk or cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Half to one cup of mini chocolate chips

Directions: 

In a medium bowl with a handheld mixer beat together the butter, powdered sugar, brown sugar, flour, salt, milk or cream, and vanilla until very light and fluffy 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the chocolate chips. Frost cupcakes and serve immediately. You can refrigerate but remove them about an hour before you want to serve them.

***
Laura-Kate Rurka is a freelance writer, aspiring mystery author, and avid baker. She lives in Northern California with her husband and three kids.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

RUMBLE CAKES: Get ready to roll!

I'm a big fan of Trader Joe's. I like their mixes and products...and certainly their prices. I always have frozen TJ desserts in my freezer in case I don't have time to make something. And, you can always dress them up!

Here's one of my favorite recipes direct from the Trader Joe's website. You can buy all the ingredients at Trader Joe's or you can mix and match with your own items. The beauty of this recipe is that it's filled with all kinds of things and you can change them out, add or delete! Don't you just love the name? Rumble Cakes!

Let's Rumble!

RUMBLE CAKES

Ingredients
1 stick unsalted Butter
2  Eggs
1 box TJ’s Truffle Brownie Mix
¼ cup TJ’s Dried Tart Montmorency Cherries (I love these)
¼ cup Walnut Halves and Pieces
1 box TJ’s Frozen Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Bring the butter to room temperature and combine the eggs with the
butter and whisk/ mix.
Slowly add in the brownie mix.
Once the mixture is uniform, add in the cherries and walnuts; set aside.
Lightly grease a brownie pan and place the chunks of cookie dough sporadically around the bottom of the pan (there may be a few pieces of cookie dough left, do with them what you must).
Pour the brownie mix over the top, evenly coating the cookie dough.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes or until you can stick a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.

Monday, September 16, 2019

CINNAMON SWIRL CHOCOLATE RAISIN BREAD: National Cinnamon Raisin Bread Day

I love bread..probably more than cake. I used to make all my own bread, but in the past 20+ years my home town of Berkeley, CA, has been the epicenter of food, and, for me, bread! I have so many fabulous bakeries within a mile of my house that I no longer bake bread. However, since today is National Cinnamon Raisin Bread Day, I thought I'd post a recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Chocolate Raisin Bread!

My favorite recipe is from Zabar's website! No surprise there! Recipe by Tiffany Ludwig with a few adaptations. As always, use the very best chocolate and cinnamon.

Cinnamon Swirl Chocolate Raisin Bread

Ingredients 
1 cup warm milk
4 Tbsp brown sugar
1 packet instant yeast (2 1/4 tsp) 
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
3 1/2 cups white all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks (or chips)

Directions
Combine warm milk, 4 Tbsp brown sugar, and yeast, stir and wait 10 minutes.
In bowl of stand mixer whisk yeast mixture, eggs, and melted butter. Add flour and salt all at once and with dough hook attachment combine on low speed. To this loose dough add raisins and continue to knead on medium /low for 10 minutes. Don't worry if raisins drop out of the dough, they will eventually combine with the dough. If dough nudges up over the hook pause machine and push dough back down. If dough is very dry, add water; if too sticky, add flour, but only a bit.
You can also mix and knead by hand for 10 minutes. 
Remove hook and let dough rest in bowl, covered in plastic wrap, for at least an hour. It will double in size.

Filling Ingredients
In small bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter to make paste.
Prepare 5"x 9" loaf pan with butter and line bottom and sides with parchment paper.
Flour counter top and stretch dough to form rectangle approximately 8"x18".
Spread filling over entire dough and sprinkle on chocolate chunks.
From short end, roll up dough tightly all the way across.
Place dough in prepared loaf pan, seam side down.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 min.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake 45-50 minutes, until internal temperature reads 190 degrees.
Remove from oven, loosen ends with knife and lifting the parchment (if used) remove bread from pan.
Allow to fully cool on a rack before slicing.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

CREME DE MENTHE BROWNIES: National Creme de Menthe Day

Today is Creme de Menthe Day. Creme de Menthe is a sweet mint-flavored liqueur, primarily derived from Corsican mint or dried peppermint. You can make your own Creme de Menthe (recipe below) or use a good brand in this recipe for Creme de Menthe Brownies. Since they're three layers, they really look great when they're cut! And, of course, you can never have too many brownie recipes. Here's an easy Creme de Menthe Brownie recipe adapted originally from Hershey. Of course, you can substitute the chocolate of your choice--or the brownie recipe of choice.

HOMEMADE CREME DE MENTHE

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves (divided)
1 1/2 cups vodka
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1-2 drops green food coloring (optional)

Directions
Take 1 cup of mint leaves and tear them in quarters. Put mint leaves in sealable glass jar and pour vodka on top. Shake and steep for 12 hours.
After steeping, strain mint leaves from infused vodka. Return infused vodka to the jar.
Bring water and sugar to boil, and let simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool, then add syrup to mint-infused vodka.
Take additional 1/2 cup of mint leaves, tear them, and add them to jar. (Optionally at this point you can add the 1-2 drops green food coloring). Shake and let steep for 10 hours.
Strain twice to remove all mint leaves, keep in resealable bottle.

CREME DE MENTHE BROWNIES

BROWNIE LAYER: 
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 can Hershey syrup

CREME DE MENTHE FILLING:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 Tbsp green creme de menthe

CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
6 ounces semisweet dark chocolate chips (or dark chocolate, chopped)
6 ounces unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

BROWNIE LAYER: 
Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add beaten eggs, one at a time, mix thoroughly. Add vanilla, salt, and flour. Mix until well blended. Add Hershey syrup. Mix well.
Pour into greased 13"x9" baking pan.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes.
Cool completely.

MINT FILLING:
Use mixer for adequate consistency.
Cream butter and confectioners' sugar until smooth, adding small amount of milk if needed. Add creme de menthe and mix thoroughly until of spreading consistency.
Frost brownie layer with mint filling.
Refrigerate to harden mint filling, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
Melt butter and chocolate chips over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth. Cool to room temperature.
Spread over mint filling covering entire layer.
Cool until glaze hardens.
Score with sharp knife to prevent cracking glaze.
Cut carefully into 1" squares.
If you don't eat them right away, refrigerate or freeze.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

DOWNTON ABBEY CHOCOLATE CHERRY SCONES

Downton Abbey, the Movie, opened last night, and even if you haven't had a chance to see it yet, you'll want to be prepared by making these fabulous scones! The TV show was one of the most watched PBS (or any!) productions in years. Your local station is showing the entire series on PBS Passport. Here's a great recipe that I'm sure Mrs. Patmore and Daisy could easily have mixed up for the staff or family. Make a batch to celebrate the new Downton Abbey movie. Serve with clotted cream and black cherry jam!

Be sure and scroll down to watch the video of Mrs Patmore.

DOWNTON ABBEY CHOCOLATE CHERRY SCONES

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup whipping cream, divided
1/4 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 450°.

Stir together first 4 ingredients in large bowl. Cut butter into flour mixture with pastry blender until crumbly and mixture resembles small peas. Freeze 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp cream, dried cherries, and chocolate, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Turn dough out onto wax paper; gently press or pat dough into 7-inch round (mixture will be crumbly). Cut round into 8 wedges. Place wedges 2 inches apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush tops of wedges with remaining 2 Tbs. cream just until moistened.

Bake at 450° for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden.

 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

QUIRKY CHOCOLATE MILKSHAKES: National Chocolate Milkshake Day

Today is National Chocolate Milkshake Day, and here are several easy and unique chocolate milkshake recipes with a link to more.

The easiest way to celebrate is to mix a little Milk with Chocolate Ice Cream and Chocolate Syrup and put it in the blender. Or you can mix Milk with Vanilla Ice cream and Chocolate syrup and blend. Measurements are up to you, but I have a few quasi-measurements below for Special Chocolate Milkshakes. 

If you're absolutely Dying for Chocolate, use 1 cup chocolate ice cream, 1/4 cup chocolate syrup, and 1/2 cup chocolate milk. Mix in Blender.

A Chocolate Malted Milkshake is a variation on your traditional chocolate milkshake. Add a Tbsp of malted milk powder to milk, chocolate syrup, and chocolate ice cream, and blend.

Like bananas? Make a Chocolate Banana Milk Shake: 1 cup milk, 1 scoop banana ice-cream, 1 scoop chocolate ice cream, 1/2 ripened banana, and some chocolate syrup, and blend.

And, if you really want to be daring, celebrate with a Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake. Blend 1 cup creamy peanut butter, 1/2 cup chocolate syrup, 1/4 cup milk, 12 cubes ice. Blend until smooth. (Ice cubes instead of ice-cream).

Want to try more quirky variations? Check out FoodBeast for the 13 Most Extravagant Chocolate Milkshakes around the World. Whoa!

Have a great day! Make it Chocolate!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

TV DINNERS DAY: Retro Ads & History

I shouldn't be surprised, but I was, to find out that there is a TV Dinner Day on the Food Holiday list.  TV Dinners became popular in the 1950s. After a busy day, families would put frozen dinners (they were individually packaged) in the oven, and out would come a full meal of 2 to 4 courses. Traditionally these were eaten on TV trays in front of the TV where the family would sit on the sofa or chairs and watch their favorite TV shows together.

This was not the case in my family. We ate as a family, fresh food prepared by my grandmother, mother, one of my aunts, or the help. Yes, we had help. Dinner time was when the family gathered and discussed school, work, politics, art, literature, music. We were not allowed to watch TV during dinner. Perish the Thought! Oh how I envied the children in the ads and commercials. I was a TV junkie. Still am. I must reveal, though, that I have never eaten a TV Dinner. Never. They wouldn't have been in our freezer, even if someone 'dropped by' as it says in one of the ads below. The food on our table was always expandable to accommodate the numerous people who might and did stop in at dinner time. My grandmother was good at stretching everything. She didn't have to rely on a frozen prepackaged dinner.

The term TV dinner is a trademark originally used for a brand of packaged meal developed in 1953 by C.A. Swanson & Sons (the name in full was TV Brand Frozen Dinner). The original Swanson's TV Dinner came in an aluminum tray and was heated in the oven. It was an individual portion. TV dinners required very little preparation and contained all the elements for a single-serving meal. A TV dinner usually consisted of a cut of meat, usually beef or chicken; a vegetable, such as peas, carrots, corn, or potatoes; and sometimes a dessert.

Because this is a chocolate blog, I want to let you know that occasionally TV Dinners had a brownie  or chocolate pudding for dessert. More likely they didn't.

So in honor of TV Dinner Day, here are several Retro Ads. Always fun to see. Be sure to scroll down and watch the Retro TV Ad!





Monday, September 9, 2019

TEDDY BEAR TRIPLE CHOCOLATE SCONES: National Teddy Bear Day

Today is National Teddy Bear Day. You may not think that's a food holiday, but when I was little I always had teddy bear tea parties, and I always served them scones. My grandparents were married in London, and I got my love of tea with milk and sugar -- and tea with scones and clotted cream -- from them. So for today's Teddy Bear Day, here's a recipe for Triple Chocolate Scones. Of course you might want to add some honey on your scones. Bears love honey!

Teddy Bear Triple Chocolate Scones 

Ingredients 
1-3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 Tbsp unsalted butter (cold)
7-8 Tbsp whole milk (cold)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3 Tbsp chopped dark chocolate
Sugar Crystals

Directions 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Sift together dry ingredients in large bowl (not the chocolate chips or chocolate). Add chocolate chips and dark chocolate.
Cut butter into dry ingredients until size of peas.
Put vanilla into small bowl and add milk.
Pour most of milk mixture into dry mix and stir to moisten. Dough should be moist enough to form a soft ball, but not sticky.
If needed, additional milk can be added 1-2 teaspoons at time.
Turn dough onto lightly floured cutting board and press out with hand to approximately 1/2 inch thickness. (makes 10-12 scones or 8-12 wedges)
Do not over-knead dough. Use as little flour as possible to keep dough from sticking to board.
Cut into desired shapes and place on lightly greased baking sheet.
Lightly brush tops with milk (or not).
Sprinkle with sugar crystals (you can find this at King Arthur Flour or in the baking section of the market). (If using a biscuit cutter or glass, dip the cutting edge in flour first)
Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on size. Start checking at 9 minutes. Do not overbake!
Sprinkle again with large sugar crystals while scones are still hot for visual appeal.

Tip: Scones are like biscuits. To get a tender, flaky scone, dough should be handled as little as possible, and you should always use cold butter and cold milk.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

CHOCOLATE STOUT TRUFFLES: Beer Lovers Day

Today is National Beer Lovers Day. I like a good chocolate stout, and I'm lucky enough to live in an area with several microbreweries that produce Chocolate Stout. Chocolate Stout adds a bit of creaminess that enhances the taste of these beer truffles

CHOCOLATE STOUT TRUFFLES

Ingredients
1/2 cup Chocolate Stout, reduced by half
12 ounces dark chocolate (65-75% cacao), chopped
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
Cocoa powder (Dutch process) or ground espresso

Directions
Reduce stout (texture should be thick enough to lightly coat a spoon).
Stir in butter and heavy cream and bring to simmer. As soon as bubbles start forming, pour over chopped chocolate.
Whisk to blend and put in refrigerator (covered with plastic wrap) until ganache is set, at least 3 hours.
Remove ganache from refrigerator, and using melon baller or spoon, scoop out ganache and roll into balls. You can also finish off by hand.
Place each ganache ball on parchment paper and put back in refrigerator for about an hour to harden.
Roll ganache balls in cocoa powder or ground espresso.