Sunday, June 30, 2019

BROWN COW: National Ice Cream Soda Day

Today is National Ice Cream Soda Day, and, of course, I'm going to have a Brown Cow! See recipe below. Ice cream sodas, aka ice cream floats, are made by combining ice cream with soda or carbonated water and flavored syrup. Of course, mine always contain chocolate (ice cream and syrup). Many people consider root beer and vanilla ice cream to be the classic ingredients for an ice cream soda, but that's a Black Cow. I posted a recipe on National Black Cow Day. A Brown Cow is very similar, but it's made with chocolate ice cream. See below for an easy recipe for a Brown Cow to celebrate National Ice Cream Soda Day!  Serve in a "retro" glass or Mason jar for that 'out of the past' feeling. A Brown Cow is great for Fourth of July or any time!

According to Wisegeek.com, "although the recipe for an ice cream soda is quite simple, there is a trick to creating the perfect drink. Plain soda foams because it releases carbon dioxide gas, but ice cream is actually a foamy mixture of liquid, ice crystals, and air pockets. Therefore, if you want to make an ice cream soda with a lot of foam, put the ice cream in the glass before pouring the soda. If you want to make a treat with a minimal amount of foam, add the ice cream after the soda has been poured."

From The Nibble:

According to food historians, the first ice cream soda was created by accident at the Philadelphia Exposition in October 1874. It was there that pharmacist Robert M. Green invented the now-familiar ice cream soda. At that time, at soda fountains in pharmacies across America, the pharmacist or an employee known as a soda jerk (because he had to jerk back the tap of carbonated water to make a soda) would create a “cream soda” by adding a tablespoon of vanilla or other flavor of fountain syrup along with a tablespoonful of heavy cream to soda water. 

As with most stories, there are multiple variations. One version says that the fountain ran out of fresh cream. As there was no cream in the vicinity, Mr. Green got vanilla ice cream from a nearby vendor. He planned to let it melt and use it as cream, but was so busy that instead he added a frozen spoonful directly to the cream soda. In another version, he ran out of ice and used the ice cream to cool the drink. However, in his own published account, (in Soda Fountain magazine in 1910), he recounted that while operating a soda fountain at the Franklin Institute’s sesquicentennial celebration in Philadelphia in 1874, he wanted to create something that would attract customers away from another competitor. During some deliberate experimenting, he added ice cream to the soda water. 

Whatever the genesis, the ice cream soda was an instant hit and spread nationwide, where they were also called floats (for the scoop of ice cream floating at the top of the glass). 
Read more at: http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/ice-cream/ice-cream-float.asp

Brown Cow

Ingredients 
Chocolate syrup
Chocolate ice cream
Root beer  (or cola)
Whipped cream, for garnish
Chocolate sprinkles, for garnish
Optional: 1 ounce Godiva chocolate liqueur  (for an adult Brown Cow!)

Directions
Put approximately 2-1/2 scoops of chocolate ice cream in glass cup (depending on size of glass)
Pour optional liqueur over ice cream.
Fill glass with cola (or root beer).
Place spoon in glass and stir gently.
Top with chocolate syrup, whipped cream and sprinkles.
Add straw and serve.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

CHOCOLATE ALMOND BUTTERCRUNCH: National Almond Buttercrunch Day

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

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

CHOCOLATE ALMOND BUTTERCRUNCH TOFFEE

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 28, 2019

International Chocolate Salon 2019 Caramel Awards

I was a judge recently at the International Chocolate Salon Caramel Awards. Such a tough job, but someone has to do it. The caramels that were submitted were incredibly diverse and delicious. Some were traditional, some were chocolate enrobed, others a combination of different flavors within the caramel. The caramels were judged on taste, artistry, unique combinations, and and so much more. We had a diverse tasting panel as well. When it comes down to it, taste is up to the individual, but the chocolatiers really created some fabulous caramels.

2019 CARAMEL AWARDS Competition. The International Chocolate Salon Awards for the 2019 CARAMEL AWARDS are based on the combined total number of votes received by each entrant from the Judging Panel. The Judging Panel consists of National and Regional Magazines, Newspaper and Blog Editors, plus Topic Experts, Local Chefs and Food Gurus. Here are the results.


 

Best Caramel Exterior Design

GOLD

  • St. Croix Chocolate Company Emperor's Garden (yuzu caramel and jasmine tea)

SILVER

  • Banyan Tree Chocolate Hibiscus Liquid Caramel
  • Tandem Chocolates Caramels

BRONZE

  • Delysia Chocolatier Banoffee pie chocolate truffle
  • The Chocolate Fetish African Queen
  • The Secret Chocolatier Bananas Foster

HONORABLE MENTION

  • Delysia Chocolatier Salty dog chocolate truffle
  • Theo Chocolate Honey Saffron Caramel
  • Zocalisa Fine Chocolates Pecan Caramel

Best Ingredient Combinations

GOLD

  • Zocalisa Fine Chocolates Pecan Caramel

SILVER

  • Tandem Chocolates Caramels
  • Delysia Chocolatier Banoffee pie chocolate truffle
  • The Chocolate Fetish African Queen
  • The Chocolate Fetish Dark Pistachio Frog

BRONZE

  • Hot Tempered Chocolates Browned Butter Salted Caramel
  • Sweet Jules Gifts Dark Chocolate Pecan Caramels
  • Dallas Caramel Company Mocha Caramel
  • The Oakland Chocolate Company Jamaican Jerk Caramels
  • Theo Chocolate Ghost Chili Caramels

HONORABLE MENTION

  • St. Croix Chocolate Company Emperor's Garden (yuzu caramel and jasmine tea)
  • The Secret Chocolatier Bananas Foster
  • Theo Chocolate Honey Saffron Caramel
  • Dallas Caramel Company Jalapeno Bacon Armadillo TxTurtle
  • echo chocolate Signature Sea-Salt Caramel
  • Wildflower Caramel Co. Smoked Jalapeno Caramel

Best Taste

GOLD

  • Zocalisa Fine Chocolates Pecan Caramel
  • The Chocolate Fetish Dark Pistachio Frog

SILVER

  • Delysia Chocolatier Banoffee pie chocolate truffle
  • Sweet Jules Gifts Dark Chocolate Pecan Caramels
  • Dallas Caramel Company Mocha Caramel
  • Theo Chocolate Ghost Chili Caramels
  • St. Croix Chocolate Company Emperor's Garden (yuzu caramel and jasmine tea)

BRONZE

  • Tandem Chocolates Caramels
  • The Chocolate Fetish African Queen

HONORABLE MENTION

  • The Oakland Chocolate Company Jamaican Jerk Caramels
  • Theo Chocolate Honey Saffron Caramel
  • echo chocolate Signature Sea-Salt Caramel
  • Wildflower Caramel Co. Smoked Jalapeno Caramel
  • Mouth Party Caramel Maple Caramels
  • The Oakland Chocolate Company Strawberry Cardamom Caramels

Best Packaging (External)

GOLD

  • Sweet Jules Gifts Dark Chocolate Pecan Caramels

SILVER

  • echo chocolate Signature Sea-Salt Caramel

BRONZE

  • Banyan Tree Chocolate Hibiscus Liquid Caramel
  • Sweet Jules Gifts Scotch Ale and Pretzel Caramels

HONORABLE MENTION

  • St. Croix Chocolate Company Emperor's Garden (yuzu caramel and jasmine tea)

Most Unique

GOLD

  • Banyan Tree Chocolate Hibiscus Liquid Caramel

SILVER

  • Delysia Chocolatier Banoffee pie chocolate truffle

BRONZE

  • Wildflower Caramel Co. Smoked Jalapeno Caramel
  • Dallas Caramel Company Jalapeno Bacon Armadillo TxTurtle

HONORABLE MENTION

  • Sweet Jules Gifts Dark Chocolate Pecan Caramels
  • St. Croix Chocolate Company Emperor's Garden (yuzu caramel and jasmine tea)
  • Tandem Chocolates Caramels
  • The Oakland Chocolate Company Jamaican Jerk Caramels
  • Hot Tempered Chocolates Browned Butter Salted Caramel
  • Theo Chocolate Ghost Chili Caramels
  • Mouth Party Caramel Maple Caramels

Top Caramels


GOLD

  • Sweet Jules Gifts Dark Chocolate Pecan Caramels
  • St. Croix Chocolate Company Emperor's Garden (yuzu caramel and jasmine tea)
  • Tandem Chocolates Caramels
  • Theo Chocolate Ghost Chili Caramels
  • Dallas Caramel Company Mocha Caramel

SILVER

  • The Chocolate Fetish Dark Pistachio Frog
  • The Chocolate Fetish African Queen

BRONZE

  • Delysia Chocolatier Banoffee pie chocolate truffle
  • Wildflower Caramel Co. Smoked Jalapeno Caramel
  • The Oakland Chocolate Company Jamaican Jerk Caramels
  • Mouth Party Caramel Maple Caramels
  • Zocalisa Fine Chocolates Pecan Caramel
  • Vande Walle's Candies Milk Sea Salt Caramel
  • echo chocolate Signature Sea-Salt Caramel
  • Coco Gusto Caramel Bar
  • Vande Walle's Candies Wrapped Vanilla Caramel
  • Delysia Chocolatier Butterscotch mocha chocolate truffle

STAR RATINGS

4.5 STARS

  • Sweet Jules Gifts Dark Chocolate Pecan Caramel

4 STARS

  • The Chocolate Fetish Dark Pistachio Frog
  • Tandem Chocolates Caramels
  • The Chocolate Fetish African Queen
  • Dallas Caramel Company Mocha Caramel
  • echo chocolate Signature Sea-Salt Caramel
  • Theo Chocolate Ghost Chili Caramels
  • Vande Walle's Candies Milk Sea Salt Caramel

3.5 STARS

  • Hot Tempered Chocolates Browned Butter Salted Caramel
  • St. Croix Chocolate Company Classic Sea Salt Caramel
  • St. Croix Chocolate Company Emperor's Garden (yuzu caramel and jasmine tea)
  • Zocalisa Fine Chocolates Pecan Caramel
  • Banyan Tree Chocolate Hibiscus Liquid Caramel
  • Wildflower Caramel Co. Smoked Jalapeno Caramel

3 STARS

  • The Oakland Chocolate Company Strawberry Cardamom Caramels
  • Vande Walle's Candies Wrapped Vanilla Caramel
  • Delysia Chocolatier Banoffee pie chocolate truffle
  • Mouth Party Caramel Maple Caramels
  • Theo Chocolate Honey Saffron Caramel
  • Delysia Chocolatier Butterscotch mocha chocolate truffle
  • The Oakland Chocolate Company Jamaican Jerk Caramels
  • The Secret Chocolatier Bananas Foster
  • Dallas Caramel Company Jalapeno Bacon Armadillo TxTurtle
  • Delysia Chocolatier Salty dog chocolate truffle
  • Sweet Jules Gifts Scotch Ale and Pretzel Caramels
  • Coco Gusto Caramel Bar

JUDGES' FAVORITES

  • Dallas Caramel Company's Mocha Caramel
  • Tandem
  • The Delysia Banoffee Pie Chocolate Truffle won my heart. The rich banana flavor was mouth watering and delicious. It brought back memories of some pies I had when I was a child.
  • St. Croix Emperor's Garden
  • Theo Ghost Chile
  • Sweet Jules Dark Chocolate Pecan Caramel
  • AFRICAN QUEEN

JUDGES' COMMENTS

  • The Oakland Chocolate Company's Jamaican Jerk Caramel not only had a great caramel texture, but its combination of jerk spices (allspice, thyme and hot pepper) was surprising. It had a savoriness that lingered. I thought it was unique and quite enjoyable. Sweet Jules Dark Chocolate Pecan Caramel was wonderful. It was not overly sweet, and the pecan really came through -- freshly nutty, and even meaty. Loved it. Delysia Chocolatier's Banoffee Pie Chocolate Truffle had a wonderfully creamy banana filling. Delicious!
  • Vande Walle's Vanilla Caramel was smooth, classic, traditional. Yum! Wildflower Smoked Jalapeno..rich caramel with a Kick; Dallas Mocha Caramel: good coffee combo; Delysia Banoffee Pie..multi-layered
  • I was worried about the heat level of the Theo Ghost Pepper, but it was quite delicious. the level of heat was just right for me. The Vande Walle Wrapped Vanilla caramel was both attractively striped and a delightful pleasure for the palate. The Zocaliza Pecan Caramel was rich in flavor with a good crunch

CHOCOLATE TAPIOCA: 2 Recipes for National Tapioca Day

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 yucca 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

Ingredients
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 pure vanilla extract

Directions
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)  

Ingredients
1/2 cup Tapioca Pearls
2-1/2 cups whole milk
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
4-6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

Directions
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.

HAPPY TAPIOCA DAY!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

ICE CREAM CAKE ROLL: National Ice Cream Cake Day

Today is Ice Cream Cake Day! I love ice cream cake. When I was growing up we didn't have Baskin & Robbins Ice Cream Cakes, but we did have store-bought Ice Cream Cake Rolls. I loved the spongy chocolate cake that contrasted with the cold solid vanilla ice cream. You can make this easy recipe today or any day. The following recipe for this Classic Retro Recipe for Ice Cream Cake Roll -- "a Double Treat" is adapted from Family Circle Magazine.

ICE CREAM CAKE ROLL 

Ingredients
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
4 eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons confectioners' sugar
3 cups vanilla ice cream, softened

Directions 
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 15 x 10 x 1-inch jelly-roll pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment or waxed paper. Spray paper.
Stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. In large bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed for 5 minutes, until very light yellow. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until smooth. Beat in vanilla extract.
Fold flour mixture into egg mixture until no lumps remain. Pour into prepared pan, spreading level. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.
Dust a clean kitchen towel with confectioners sugar. Turn cake out onto towel. Roll up towel and cake from short end; cool completely.
Unroll; spread with softened ice cream to within 1 inch of edges.
Re-roll cake without towel; wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze at least 4 hours or overnight.
If frozen overnight, let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving.
To serve, carefully remove plastic wrap.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

P is for PUDDING: Retro Ads & Recipes for National Chocolate Pudding Day!

Today is National Chocolate Pudding Day, and yes, you can make your own pudding from scratch. I usually do. But it's amazing the revolution that powdered chocolate pudding made on the American food landscape. 

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

Jell-O Pudding in the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s jumped on the advertising bandwagon of this easy yet versatile dessert. I was especially taken by the Jell-O Chocolate Pudding Ad campaign in 1967-68. So for your pleasure on this yummy holiday, I give you the Jell-O "Now, pudding is..." Each advertisement includes a recipe, too. Advertisements appeared in Life Magazine.

Now, pudding is cheesecake: May 26, 1967


Now, pudding is pop: June 23, 1967


Now, pudding is napoleons: April 28, 1967
 

Now, pudding is torte: September 15, 1967


Now, pudding is eclairs: January 19, 1968


Now, pudding is fudge: March 8, 1968


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


Now, pudding is brownies: October 11, 1968


Now, pudding is Bavarian: July 12, 1968


RAINBOW CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: Pride

To celebrate Pride, I thought I'd post a great and easy recipe for Rainbow Chocolate Chip Cookies. Mix up a batch and take them to the Pride Parade or Party! These cookies are also great for Children's parties! Who doesn't love Rainbows?

RAINBOW CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients 
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla
2 eggs
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups flour
2 cups chocolate chips
4 different colors food coloring (Wilton's has natural food dyes)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix butter and both sugars together for 2 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in egg, vanilla, salt, and baking soda and continue mixing for 1 minute until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. Turn mixer to low and add in flour, mixing until just incorporated.  Fold in chocolate chips.
Divide cookie dough into 4 equal portions. Using food coloring (Wilton's has natural food dyes), color each dough. Roll each colored dough into approximately 15-inch rope.
Place each colored rope next to each other on large piece of non-stick (parchment or saran wrap). Wrap tightly, pressing doughs together forming a large log. Remove wrap and break off dough with your hands into 2 tablespoon portions or use cookie scoop. Roll dough into loose ball, add some more chocolate chip to the top of each ball, and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 9 minutes or until edges are done (they may look underdone, but they're not). Don’t overbake!
Cool on baking sheet for 3-4 minutes and then transfer to wire rack to cool. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

COCOA COOKIES: Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum

The Sailor Jerry Ads for Spiced Rum may be a bit racy for some people's tastes, but their rum and recipes are great. Here's one for Cocoa Cookies!


Monday, June 24, 2019

CHOCOLATE PRALINE CAKE: 2 Recipes for National Praline Day


Today is National Praline Day. Last year 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.

CHOCOLATE PRALINE BUNDT CAKE 

Ingredients
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 unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs

FOR CAKE:
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)

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

Preparation 
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.

CHOCOLATE PRALINE CAKE

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!

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted 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  

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

Preparation 
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 
Ingredients
1/4 cup unslated butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preparation 
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).

Photo: Southern Living

Sunday, June 23, 2019

CHOCOLATE PECAN SANDIES: National Pecan Sandies Day

Today is National Pecan Sandies Day. Pecan sandies are great shortbread cookies, and all I've done is add chocolate to make them all that much better.

Pecan Sandies: A shortbread cookie with ground pecans added to the flour. The cookies are easy to make -- flour, butter, sugar, salt,  vanilla -- and pecans. The name Sandie might have something to do with the color--or not. Urban myth?

I have two suggestions for making Chocolate Pecan Sandies. The first is the full recipe for  Chocolate Pecan Sandie Cookies. The second would be to use a 'regular' pecan sandie recipe (BrownEyedBaker's recipe for "non-chocolate" pecan sandies. ) and add chocolate chips.

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

Chocolate Pecan Sandies

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

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

Saturday, June 22, 2019

HOMEMADE VANILLA PUDDING ECLAIRS: National Eclair Day

Today is National Eclair Day, and I just had to post this Retro Ad for Jell-O Pudding Eclairs. The recipe on the Ad uses Jell-O Vanilla Pudding & Pie Filling, but scroll down for a recipe for easy and delicious Home-made Vanilla Pudding that you can use in your Eclairs.


HOME-MADE EASY VANILLA PUDDING

Ingredients
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups whole milk
3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions
Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in  medium saucepan and whisk together. While continuing to whisk, slowly add in 1/4 cup of milk until smooth. Whisk in egg yolks and rest of milk.
Place saucepan over medium heat and cook, whisking often, until pudding begins to thicken and just starts to bubble, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and switch to rubber spatula. Stir constantly, scraping  bottom and sides of pan, until pudding makes ribbons when drizzled over surface, about 5 minutes. 
Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla until butter is melted and completely incorporated.
Transfer pudding to container or individual cups (depends what you plan to do with the pudding). Carefully press piece of plastic wrap on top of pudding to prevent skin from forming.
Chill in refrigerator until set, about 2 hours.

Use in recipe above ... replace packaged vanilla pudding with your own homemade pudding!

Friday, June 21, 2019

SWEDISH STICKY CHOCOLATE CAKE for Midsummer aka the Summer Solstice


I love Midsummer aka the Summer Solstice! 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 was created 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 Cake...do not overbake.

Ingredients 
14 Tbsp unsalted 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

Directions
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!

Photo: All Recipes

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Midcentury Midsummer Magic: CHOCOLATE COCA COLA ICE CREAM SODA

I love Midsummer, and how perfect is it that today is also Ice Cream Soda Day. Here's an easy way to celebrate Midsummer with this Mid-Century Midsummer recipe for Chocolate Coca Cola Ice Cream Soda.

MIDSUMMER MAGIC CHOCOLATE COCA COLA ICE CREAM SODA

For each Chocolate Coke Ice Cream Soda, you'll need a tall glass, 3 Tbsp chocolate syrup, 2 Tbsp half & half, coca cola, chocolate ice cream, whipped cream.

Chill glass in freezer.

Pour chocolate syrup into bottom of glass. Add half & half and blend together. Add coca cola to 3/4 of glass.

Add 2-3 scoops of chocolate ice cream. Stir.

Top Ice Cream Soda with whipped cream and maraschino cherry.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

S'MORES CANDY BARS, KITS, & TRUFFLES

Who doesn't love S'mores? They take me back to summer - girlscouts, camping, and barbecues. The recipes for S'mores run the gamut from Traditional (graham crackers, marshmallows and Hershey's chocolate) to Pies to Ice Cream. Summer is upon us, so I thought I'd post a few ready made S'mores Candy Bars and links and recipes to S'mores Candy you can make your own.

Hershey's, the classic candy bar in the original S'mores, actually introduced a S'mores Candy Bar in 2003. The bar had a layer of graham cracker bits topped with marshmallow and coated with milk chocolate. The S'mores bar was discontinued. When it was introduced, there was a a Cooler promotion. Collect 9 box tabs and get a 12-pack Soft Coole, so you could keep the chocolate cool.

Madyson's Marshmallows has its own giant hand-made Smores Candy Bar for sale on etsy.
"Bite into this delicious chocolate bar and you'll find crunchy graham crackers and our sweet, fluffy gourmet marshmallow piped right in between two layers of a very fine dark chocolate!At just over 6 ounces of sweet heaven, you will surely delight someone with this giant dark chocolate Smore's bar."

Want to make your own S'mores Candy Bars? NotSoHumblePie has a recipe for S'mores Chocolate Bars. You'll need a chocolate bar pan, but it's worth it! Yum!!

S'mores Marshmallow Chocolate Balls Candy
 These are available from several bulk chocolate places.  Copy reads:

"No need for a campfire to enjoy this twist on a classic favorite.... soft and fluffy marshmallow balls are coated in decadent milk chocolate and then rolled into crumbled graham crackers to create the ultimate taste sensation!"

Recchiuti has a fabulous S'mores Kit that's a true gourmet S'mores and a Real Simple top pick. Each kits includes 9 handmade Vanilla Bean Marshmallows, 8 Recchiuti Grahams, and 1 Bittersweet Chocolate Bar, so you can create 4 S'mores sandwichs or 8 open faced Smore's. This is one of my favorites.

 ***
And, since I'm a big truffles fan, try this S'mores Truffles recipe from the fabulous Elizabeth LaBau on about.com. Isn't it amazing how versatile these three ingredients are? 


Tip: If you want a more graham cracker flavor, stir a handful of coarsely crushed crackers into the ganache itself. The truffles won’t have a smooth, creamy texture, but they’ll have a greater graham taste and an interesting crunch. As always, the quality of the truffles dependson the quality of the chocolate you use, so be sure to use a good-quality chocolate you enjoy eating. This recipe yields about 2 dozen truffles.

S'mores Truffles 

Ingredients:
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (about 1.25 cups)
2/3 cup cream
4 graham cracker sheets
1/2 cup miniature marshmallows

Directions:
Prepare your materials: line baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside. Crush graham crackers in food processor or with large knife and place them in bowl. Put mini marshmallows in a bowl and set aside as well. Place chopped chocolate in a large bowl.
Place cream in small saucepan over medium heat and scald until bubbles being to appear around sides of the pan. Pour cream over the chocolate and allow to soften and melt chocolate for one minute.
Using whisk, gently stir to combine cream and chocolate. Do not stir too vigorously or you will incorporate air bubbles. Continue to whisk until cream and chocolate is homogenous.
Cover truffle mixture with cling wrap and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cool, refrigerate until texture of semi-firm cookie dough, about 90 minutes.

To form truffles, make sure you have all ingredients (ganache, graham crumbs, and marshmallows) set out. Using small spoon, scoop up ball of ganache about size of large marble. Press one or two mini marshmallows into center of ball, and scoop out a little more ganache with spoon, pressing it over marshmallows to cover them completely with chocolate. This process will be messy, and at first the truffle ball will be misshapen.
Drop truffle into bowl of graham crumbs. Roll it around until coated with crumbs, then pick it up and roll between your palms until round. Roll once more in crumbs to get a good coating, then place on prepared baking sheet. This is done because first layer of graham crumbs prevents truffle from becoming too sticky when you roll it between your hands.
Repeat process with remaining ganache and marshmallows. Truffles can be served immediately, or stored in airtight container in refrigerator for up to a week. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Monday, June 17, 2019

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.

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 Desperationdinners.com and Dianasaurdishes.com. 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 CHERRY TART

Chocolate Pie Crust:
 
Ingredients
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 Tbsp unsweetened DARK cocoa powder

Directions
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!

Cherry Filling:

Ingredients
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)

Directions
Put chocolate and cream in double boiler 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.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

MARSHMALLOW FLUFF FUDGE: 2 Retro Ads & Recipes for National Fudge Day

Today is National Fudge Day. I don't know about you, but I can never have too many Fudge recipes. Yes, I have my favorites, but sometimes you just want to experiment. So, you can see why I really like these two Retro Ads & Recipes, both of which use Marshmallow Fluff as a major ingredient.

Marshmallow Fluff you ask? You may know this product as Marshmallow Creme. You can make it at home or you can buy a jar. Can't find it at your market? Try Amazon or another online store. I usually have a jar in the pantry. O.K. not the healthiest of ingredients, but it really adds to the flavor in these Fudge recipes!"P.S. It's so easy!"

Two Retro Ads and Recipes for Marshmallow Fluff Fudge!




Friday, June 14, 2019

BOURBON BACON CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: National Bourbon Day

Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Today is National Bourbon Day! Here's an easy recipe for Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies to celebrate! These cookies contain all the food groups! How can you go wrong with bourbon, bacon, and chocolate? Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies are perfect for Father's Day, too!

Maker’s Mark has a website that gives fans more of the content and information highlighting the culinary versatility of Maker’s Mark. The site features a section of recipes, selected by chef, Lee Anne Wong. She explains, “My goal in compiling this recipe collection for Maker's Mark was to show the versatility of their handcrafted whisky behind the bar and inspire people to incorporate bourbon into food in ways they may have never thought to. From soups and appetizers to entrees and desserts, I've included it all.” The collection includes appetizers, desserts, entrees, sides and soups, all created by a variety of world renowned chefs and restaurants.

Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies
by Lee Anne Wong, Editor and Culinary Director, Maker's Mark® Virtual Recipe Cookbook

Ingredients
3 Tbsp Maker's Mark® Bourbon
3/4 pound bacon, 1/4-inch dice*
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup reserved bacon fat, chilled
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
2 large eggs
8 ounces dark chocolate chips

Directions
In large sauté pan, cook out diced bacon until bacon pieces are golden and crisp. Remove bacon pieces from fat and drain on paper towel. Strain fat through fine sieve and measure out 1/2 cup of bacon fat and chill bacon fat until it congeals and sets.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, chilled bacon fat, granulated sugar, light and dark brown sugars, vanilla and Maker's Mark® Bourbon in large mixer bowl until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in cooked bacon pieces and chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoon onto parchment-lined baking sheets at least 3 inches apart.
Bake in oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.
Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Keep in dry, airtight container for up to 5 days.

* A fattier sliced bacon is preferred, as lean bacon and turkey bacon will not work for this recipe. ** Use a dark chocolate with 65% cocoa or higher. Anything from a 65%-85% chocolate will work well.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE COCKTAIL: National German Chocolate Cake Day

I totally forgot to post this on Tuesday for National German Chocolate Cake Day. German Chocolate Cake Day is an American Holiday has nothing to do with Germany. The chocolate part was invented by Sam German at Baker's... to learn more about the history of German Chocolate Cake go to my post HERE.

But maybe you're not a baker? Want that cake in a cocktail? You're in luck. There are several recipes..with and without cream..with lemon.. rimming the glass with chocolate, adding chocolate curls. Invent your own, but here's a start!

German Chocolate Cake Cocktail 

1 ounce Malibu coconut rum
1 ounce Dark Creme de Cacao
1.5 ounces Cream
Splash of Frangelico

Mix and serve with ice in a cocktail glass. You can also half the recipe and serve over ice in a shooter glass.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: National Peanut Butter Cookie Day

TODAY is National Peanut Butter Cookie Day, and here's a great recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. You'll love these!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies 

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

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