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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

CHOCOLATE STOUT TRUFFLES: American Beer Day

October 27: National American Beer 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 oz. 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.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP SCONES: National Pumpkin Day!

I love scones, and they're so easy to make. These Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Scones are perfect for National Pumpkin Day! Mix up a batch today! 

Tips: 

Do not overwork the dough! Use frozen butter!

PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP SCONES

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup salted butter frozen (frozen butter is the key to a good scone!)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Coarse sugar

Directions
Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in bowl.
Add cold butter to flour mixture and combine with pastry cutter, two knives, or stand mixer with paddle attachment on low speed until mixture resembles coarse meal.
In bowl whisk together egg and pumpkin puree.
Add wet ingredients to flour and butter mixture and stir with rubber spatula until just combined. Be careful to not over mix!
Carefully fold in mini chocolate chips.
On floured surface, shape dough into disk about 3/4 inch thick.
Place dough on prepared pan and slice dough (like a pizza to create 8 scones)
Sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Put baking sheet in freezer for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
When scones are chilled, bake for 14-16 minutes until very light golden brown.
Serve warm with clotted cream!

Monday, October 25, 2021

CHOCOLATE ANNIVERSARY CAKE: Happy Anniversary to Me!

Today is my Anniversary. I have been married to Frank for several wonderful years. I often post Birthday Chocolate Cakes or Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake (Frank's favorite) for our special days, but I love Anniversary Chocolate Cake! You'd be surprised how many Anniversary Chocolate Cake recipes there are. I like this recipe from MidwestLiving the best. It's easy to make (40 minutes) and delicious. It's also a towering cake, so visually it's lovely. I tweaked the recipe just a bit. As always use the very best ingredients.

Chocolate Anniversary Cake

Ingredients 
4 eggs
1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces dark chocolate (use the best!)
1/2 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (see note)
Fudge Frosting
Ganache
Chocolate Curls

Directions
Separate eggs. Allow egg whites, egg yolks, and butter to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Grease and flour three 8 x 1-1/2-inch or 9 x1-1/2-inch round cake pans and two 6 x 1-1/2-inch cake pans; set pans aside.
In medium bowl stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In small saucepan heat chocolate and water over medium-low heat until chocolate is melted, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool.
In very large mixing bowl beat butter with electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar; beat until well combined. Add  egg yolks, one at time, beating well after each addition. Beat in melted chocolate and vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.
Thoroughly wash and dry beaters.
In medium mixing bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Fold about one-third of egg whites into cake batter to lighten. Fold in remaining whites.
Spoon 2 cups of batter into each of the 8- or 9-inch cake pans; spread batter evenly. Divide remaining batter between the two 6-inch cake pans, spreading batter evenly.
Bake in 350 degree F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean.
Cool cake layers in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.
Remove cake layers from pans. Cool thoroughly on wire racks.

Prepare Fudge Frosting
Place one 8 - or 9-inch cake layer on serving plate. Spread top with about 3/4 cup of Fudge Frosting. Top with second 8 - or 9-inch cake layer. Spread top with about 3/4 cup more frosting. Top with remaining 8 - or 9 - inch cake layer. Spread top and sides of cake with about 1-1/2 cups of remaining frosting. Place one 6-inch cake layer in center of stacked cake. Spread top with about 1/2 cup of frosting.
Top with remaining 6-inch cake layer. Spread top and sides of 6-inch cakes with remaining frosting. Prepare Ganache. Spoon over top of cake, letting it drip down sides. Top with chocolate curls, if you like.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Cartoon of the Day: Food Allergies


CANDY CORN BROWNIES: Happy Halloween!

I love Candy Corn. It just screams Halloween. According to the National Confectioners Association, 20 million pounds (9000 tons) of candy corn are sold annually. Want to try making your own Candy Corn? Jessie Oleson (aka Cakespy) has a great recipe for Homemade Candy Corn. You will definitely taste the difference.

There are so many ways to incorporate Candy Corn with Chocolate. Here's an easy recipe for Candy Corn Brownies. In a rush? Use a brownie mix and just when pulling brownies out of the oven, pour candies over the top. Push down lightly so they sink into the soft brownies.

CANDY CORN BROWNIES

Ingredients
1/2 lb unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1-1/2 cup Dark Cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks
Lots of Candy Corn

Directions 
Preheat oven to 350.
Butter 9 x 9 pan.
Beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in bowl.
Stir in flour, cocoa, and salt.
Fold in chopped chocolate pieces.
Pour into prepared baking pan.
Sprinkle candy corn pieces evenly over top (alternatively, you can wait until brownies are baked and place candy corn pieces into top of baked brownies 2 minutes after taking out of oven).
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

BOSTON CREAM PIE POKE CAKE: National Boston Cream Pie Day!

Today is National Boston Cream Pie Day. Boston Cream Pie, isn't exactly a pie, and it's not exactly a cake. A Boston Cream Pie is a round cake that is split and filled with a custard or cream filling and frosted with chocolate. Not exactly your standard pie, but it's been around since 1855 or 1856 (two different sources with different dates).

According to Wikipedia, Boston Cream Pies were created by French Chef M. Sanzian at Boston's Parker House Hotel, opened in 1855. This pudding/cake combination comprises two layers of sponge cake filled with vanilla custard or crème pâtissière. The cake is topped with a chocolate glaze (such as ganache) and sometimes confectioner's sugar or a cherry. The cherry and sugar topping is rarely used any more.

The real question is why this is called a pie? It's a cake, after all -- two layers of yellow cake filled with custard and topped with chocolate frosting. Suggestions on why it's called pie are welcome. And here's an esoteric fact: The Boston Cream Pie is the official dessert of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

I've posted traditional recipes for Boston Cream Pie--from scratch and from mixes--and I've posted Boston Cream Pie Cheesecake (a favorite!). So for today's holiday I thought I'd post a really easy recipe for Boston Cream Pie Poke Cake. What's a Poke Cake, you ask? A poke cake is usually made with a boxed cake mix and a pudding mix. You poke holes in the cake after it's been baked, but still warm, and you pour the pudding over it. How easy is that? And Boston Cream Pie lends itself to this easy cake. Very Retro!

Boston Cream Pie Poke Cake

Ingredients
1 (18 ounce) box yellow cake mix
2 (5.1-oz) packs of instant French vanilla pudding
4 cups cold milk
2 cups dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 9-x-13” pan and sprinkle with flour.
Prepare cake mix according to box instructions. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake until toothpick inserted in middle of cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cake.
When cake is cool-ish, poke big holes across entire surface of cake using rounded end of wooden spoon.
Combine pudding mix and milk in medium bowl and whisk until mixture just begins to thicken. Pour over cake and spread with spatula to make sure pudding pours into holes. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
After cake has been refrigerated for 2 hours, make ganache. Put chopped chocolate in medium glass bowl and set aside. Meanwhile, bring heavy cream to simmer in small saucepan. When bubbles start to break surface, pour hot cream over chopped chocolate and whisk until mixture is smooth. Pour ganache over the pudding layer of the cake and serve.

Friday, October 22, 2021

DIAMOND WALNUT CLUSTERS: Retro Ad with Recipe for National Nut Day!

Today is National Nut Day! Add chocolate! You know I love Retro Ads, and this 1950 Retro Ad from  Diamond Walnuts with Recipe for Diamond Walnut Clusters sure fits the bill. Love the graphics--and the recipes. I would substitute good quality very dark chocolate instead of unsweetened chocolate and butter instead of margarine, but it's up to you! Celebrate National Nut Day. Sometimes you feel like a Nut!



Cartoon of the Day: Pumpkin

Thursday, October 21, 2021

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE BAKED IN A CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUST: National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day

Today is National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day: Add Chocolate...I love pumpkin and chocolate... and cheesecake is my thing, so here's a repost of an easy recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake! Celebrate.  

Great for Halloween and Thanksgiving!

The filling for this pumpkin cheesecake is adapted from a recipe from Hershey's Kitchens. I like this recipe because it has a Chocolate Cookie Crust and Mini-Chocolate Chips in the filling! I've posted the Hershey's chocolate crust recipe, but I also posted another simple Chocolate Cookie Crust using Chocolate Wafers. The second is my favorite.

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE BAKED IN A CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUST

Ingredients
1 Chocolate Cookie Crust (see two possible recipes below)
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup canned pumpkin
4 eggs
1-1/2 cups Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Directions
Prepare Chocolate Cookie Crust. Increase oven temperature to 400°F.
Beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, and pumpkin pie spice in large bowl until well blended. Add pumpkin and eggs; beat until well blended. Stir in mini-chocolate chips; pour batter into prepared crust. Bake 10 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 250°F; continue baking 60 minutes or until almost set. Remove from oven to wire rack. With knife, loosen cake from side of pan.
Cool completely; remove side of pan. Refrigerate about 5 hours before serving.

I. CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUST

Stir together 1 cup vanilla wafer crumbs (about 30 wafers)
1/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup melted butter.

Press mixture firmly onto bottom and 1/2-inch up side of 9-inch springform pan.
Bake  at 350 F for 8 minutes; cool slightly.

II. CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUST

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

Put cookies in container of food processor; process until finely ground.
Transfer crumbs to mixing bowl; combine crumbs, butter, salt, and vanilla; stir until crumbs are moistened.
Press mixture evenly across the bottom of 9-inch springform pan and all the way up sides of pan; pack tightly so crust is even and compacted.
Bake at 350° for 6-8 minutes or until crisp.
Let cool completely before filling.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

BRANDIED CHERRIES CHOCOLATE CAKE: National Brandied Fruit Day!

Today is Brandied Fruit Day, so I thought I'd post my favorite recipe for Brandied Cherries Chocolate Cake. This recipe appeared in the Washington Post several years ago. You can buy brandied cherries -- or you can make your own. It's so easy, and so good!!!

Brandied Cherries

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds dark, sweet cherries, pitted
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 small cinnamon stick
1/4 cup good brandy

Directions
Combine sugar, water, lemon juice, and cinnamon stick in medium saucepan. Bring to boil and reduce heat to medium. Add cherries and simmer for five minutes.
Remove from heat, remove cinnamon stick. Stir in brandy.
Cool completely before placing in jar.

BRANDIED CHERRIES CHOCOLATE CAKE

Tip: When processing nuts and chocolate, be careful not to make chocolate almond butter. Chill both ingredients -- and even the flour, if you want to be careful.

Ingredients
6 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate, chilled (about 1-1/3 cups)
6 ounces (1-1/2 cups) chopped almonds, chilled
6 1/2 Tbsp flour
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated into yolks and whites
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
16 ounces drained brandied cherries
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 9-inch cake pan with nonstick oil-and-flour spray and line bottom with circle of parchment paper.
Pulse chocolate, almonds, and flour in a food processor to grind them into fine meal, being careful not to turn into paste.
Beat butter and sugar together at high speed in bowl of stand mixer or held-held electric mixer until mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolks, then vanilla and almond extracts, and beat well to combine. Add chocolate-nut mixture and beat until incorporated.
Beat egg whites in separate, clean bowl of stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer until they form soft peaks. Use flexible spatula to fold them into chocolate-sugar mixture.
Spread half of batter in bottom of prepared pan. Top with brandied cherries, which should fit evenly in 1 layer. Spread remaining batter over cherries, using flexible spatula to lightly level top.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until cake is puffed and set.
Cool on rack and turn out of pan.
Dust top generously with confectioners' sugar.
Serve warm or cool.

Original recipe adapted from Peter Brett, pastry chef at Blue Duck Tavern, Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

GINGER-CREAM DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE: Retro Ad with Recipe

Here's a great Blast from the Past: Ginger-Cream Devil's Food Cake. This Retro Magic Baking Powder Recipe is for a great and easy Devil's Cake (use butter not margarine) with a Ginger-Cream Frosting.




Monday, October 18, 2021

HALLOWEEN CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES: National Chocolate Cupcake Day!

Today is National Chocolate Cupcake Day, and with Halloween right around the corner, what's more fun than spooky Chocolate Halloween Cupcakes?

Country Living has 43 fabulous Cupcake Ideas with Recipes. You won't want to miss this.

AllRecipes has links to multiple Inspirations, Ideas, and Recipes

Good Housekeeping has 31 Seriously Cute Halloween Cupcake Ideas that link back to some of your favorite bloggers' cupcake ideas.

 

Taste of Home has 21 Recipes for Halloween Cupcakes


I love these easy Bat Cupcakes from Betty Crocker.



And this is just a start. Check out your favorite bloggers and dessert sites for other Halloween Chocolate Cupcake Ideas.

Have a favorite? Post a comment below with the link! Boo!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

CHOCOLATE PASTA: National Pasta Day!

Today is National Pasta Day. I used to make my own pasta, but not so much anymore. It's so easy to find fresh pasta at shops in my neighborhood. However, since it is National Pasta Day, I thought I'd post a few recipes for Chocolate Pasta.
 

Chocolate Pasta

Ingredients
1 3/4 cup Flour
1/4 cup Cocoa powder
2 Egg
4 Tbsp Water

Directions
Mix flour and cocoa well. Mound on work surface or in large bowl. Make deep well in center of mound and break the eggs into it. Beat eggs in with fork, adding about 2 Tbsp water. Using circular motion, draw flour and cocoa into center. Toss in another Tbsp of Water. Stir with fork until all flour is moistened. Add more water as needed. Finish mixing by hand. Pat dough into ball. Clean off work surface, and flour it. Knead dough for about 10 minutes, or until dough becomes silky and elastic. Cover dough and let rest for half hour. Roll out 1/4 of dough at time. A machine makes this easy. Allow pasta to dry a little before cooking. Makes 4 to 5 cups of cooked pasta---plenty for dessert.

You can always buy some great dark chocolate pasta. There are many brands. My market sells fresh chocolate pasta!

Here are two recipes from Pappardelle (Dark Chocolate Pasta)

Dark Chocolate Pasta with Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients
1 pound Pappardelle’s Dark Chocolate Pasta
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or chopped dark chocolate)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions
Cook pasta in pot of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente (about 8-10 minutes). Drain and rinse with cool water.
Melt chocolate chips and butter together in small saucepan. Add powdered sugar and milk. Stir constantly and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low simmer. Cook for 8 minutes, continuing to stir constantly. Add vanilla.
In serving dishes, add pasta, top with chocolate sauce. Garnish with favorite topping.

Chocolate Noodle Kugel

Ingredients
1 pound Pappardelle’s Dark Chocolate Noodles (these really are quite good)
1 stick butter, cut into pieces
1 cup whole milk
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 pound container of sour cream
1 pound container of small curd cottage cheese

Topping:
2 cups cornflakes, coarsely crushed
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter, cut into pieces

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13 x 9 inch baking dish (lasagna style pan).
Meanwhile, cook pasta in 6-8 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente (about 8-10 minutes). Drain, then return to cooking pot and add butter. Toss until noodles are well coated and butter is completely melted.
Whisk together milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt until combined, then whisk in sour cream. Stir in cottage cheese and add to noodles. Spoon gently into baking dish.
For topping, stir together cornflakes, sugar, and cinnamon and sprinkle over noodles. Dot with butter and bake kugel until edges are golden brown, about 40-50 minutes. Let stand before serving.

Have some chocolate pasta recipes? Love to see them.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN CHOCOLATE LIQUEUR: National Liqueur Day

Today is National Liqueur Day! I often make Chocolate Liqueur Truffles. They're so easy to make, and you can change the flavor of the liqueurs whenever you'd like. 

Sometimes, though, I like to make my own chocolate liqueur. You can always buy Chocolate Liqueur, and I'll have to admit that Godiva has an awesome Dark Chocolate Liqueur. You might also want to try Mozart Black Chocolate Liqueur. But if you want to make your own, try one of the following two recipes for Making Your Own Chocolate Liqueur.

As always, use the best cacao nibs or cocoa, vodka, and vanilla. You won't have the results to taste today, but it will be worth the wait!

How to Make Your Own Chocolate Liqueur

1. Chocolate Liqueur
The recipe is from Serious Eats, one of my favorite sites.

Ingredients
 2/3 cup cacao nibs
1 1/3 cup vodka
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions
Combine cacao nibs and vodka in sealable glass jar. Shake and let steep for 8 days.
After initial steeping period, bring sugar and water to a boil. Let syrup cool, then add to jar along with vanilla extract. Let steep an additional day.
Strain out nibs through sieve and filter through a coffee filter into bottle or jar. Store in this jar.

II. Chocolate Liqueur
This Recipe from Creative Culinary uses Scharffen Berger Cocoa Powder. 

Ingredients
1/4 cup unsweetened good cocoa powder
1 cup boiling water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 cup vodka

Directions
In bowl, dissolve cocoa powder in boiling water.
In saucepan, bring sugar and water to simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
Add sugar syrup to cocoa syrup.
Strain through fine-mesh sieve into jar with lid.
Add vodka, cover and refrigerate for one week.
To serve, stir well and strain again through fine-mesh sieve.
 
These two recipes should get you started. Want to try some variations? Use less sugar and maybe add almond extract--or use rum instead of vodka. Experiment!

You can drink your Chocolate Liqueur straight, use it in truffles, or make a martini.

Have a wonderful National Liqueur Day. Make it Chocolate!

Friday, October 15, 2021

I LOVE LUCY DAY! The Candy Factory Episode!

Today is I Love Lucy Day. And really, who doesn't? Being that it's all about chocolate for me, here's my favorite scene from the archetypal Queen of Comedy: Lucy and Ethel in the Candy Factory.


Thursday, October 14, 2021

CHOCOLATE CRICKET CHIP COOKIES: National Chocolate-Covered Insects Day

Today is definitely a holiday worthy of Halloween. October 14 is National Chocolate-Covered Insects Day. Last week I was at two different markets and saw these packages of Chocolate Crickets with Amaranth Seeds. Bugs and insects are hitting the big time in specialty food. So if you're not inclined to make Chocolate Cricket Chip Cookies (recipe below), I suggest you pick up a bag. They're handmade in San Francisco and are "toasted, protein packed & crunchy."

Over the years, I've posted several examples of chocolate covered insects: Chocolate Scorpions and other chocolate covered bugs, but I always return to this recipe I found on Weird-Food.com for Chocolate Cricket Chip Cookies. They put the crunch in the cookie. O.K. they're slightly weird, but Frank Price, my partner in crime, spent 3 years in Cote d'Ivoire, and it doesn't seem weird to him at all. Dry-roasted Crickets add protein and crunch. I've seen a different version of these Chocolate Chip Cricket Cookies with whole crickets in them. Declaration: I've never made these, and I never will. I'm definitely not a bug person. But because it's National Chocolate Covered Insect Day, I thought I'd share the following recipe.

Chocolate Cricket Chip Cookies

Ingredients
2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 12-ounce chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup dry-roasted crickets

Directions
Preheat oven to 375.
In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla; beat until creamy.
Beat in eggs.
Gradually add flour mixture and Crickets, mix well.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Drop by rounded measuring teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

ULTIMATE M&M'S COOKIES: National M&M's Day

Today is National M&M's Day! Celebrate with Red's Ultimate M&M's Cookies or just eat a bunch of M&M's. 

M&M's originated in the United States in 1941, and are now sold in as many as 100 countries. They are produced in different colors, some of which have changed over the years. The candy-coated chocolate concept was inspired by a method used to allow soldiers to carry chocolate without having it melt.

Red's Ultimate M&M's Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 12-ounce package M&M’S® MINIS®

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy
Beat in egg and vanilla.
In medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt; blend into butter/sugar mixture.
Stir in M&M’S® MINIS® Milk Chocolate Candies.
Drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and centers are still soft. Do not overbake. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; cool completely on wire racks.
Store in tightly covered container.

MAKES ABOUT 50 COOKIES.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

HAUNTED SKULL DARK CHOCOLATE CAKES: Halloween!

I love Nordicware pans. So creative in shapes and sizes. Not surprisingly the Skull Cakepans are one of my favorites. I particularly like the Skull Cakelette Pan...and Nordicware has a great recipe for Haunted Skull Dark Chocolate Cakes on its website that works well with this pan! Dark Chocolate Skull Cakes are perfect for Halloween!

HAUNTED SKULL DARK CHOCOLATE CAKES

Ingredients 

For cakeletes: 
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 cup extra-dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon Fiori di Sicila
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon black food color, if desired

Chocolate Glaze:
3.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream

Directions
Preheat oven to 325°F. 
Prepare Skull Cakelet pan with baking spray or brush with butter and dust with cocoa.
Whisk flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together.
In separate bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix butter and sugars together until creamy and lightened, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add extracts. Put mixer on low speed and add buttermilk alternately with  dry ingredients in 4 additions. Mix until smooth. Add black food color to desired shade if using.
Fill pan no more than 3/4 full in each well. Tap pan on top of a cutting board covered with heavy kitchen towel to evenly distribute batter and eliminate air bubbles from batter.
Bake for 30-35 minutes.
Allow cakelets to cool in pan 5-8 minutes before inverting onto cooling rack. Repeat with remaining batter.

***

Prepare glaze by adding chocolate to heat-proof bowl. Warm cream until just beginning to steam and pour over chocolate, stirring with spatula to incorporate while chocolate melts. When all chocolate has melted, pour over cooled cakeletes.
Garnish as desired with candy decorations or decorating sprinkles.
Makes 12 cakes.


Monday, October 11, 2021

NANAIMO BARS: 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 in the past. Some of the foods are very similar to the U.S. Thanksgiving. But for today's Canadian Thanksgiving, I have a great recipe for Nanaimo Bars, one of my favorite no bake chocolate treats from British Columbia. You will absolutely love these!

The late Bill Critchfield, a member of my mystery book group, used to make them on special occasions. 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 10, 2021

CHOCOLATE ANGEL FOOD CAKE: National Angel Food Cake

Today is National Angel Food Cake Day. In case you were worried that there would be no chocolate, I have a go-to recipe for Chocolate Angel Food Cake. Recipe from Martha Stewart! This cake is light and airy and delicious... truly angelic!

Angel food cake is a cake made with a lot of egg whites and usually no shortening or leavening agent. It has the consistency of a sponge cake.

From WhatsCookingAmerica.net comes this piece of information: Angel Food Cake is also known as ice cream cake (a Pennsylvania Dutch wedding cake). And, because there are an abundance of cake molds in southeastern PA, one of the major producer of cake molds, angel food cake may have originated there in the 1800s. Some other historians think that the first angel food cakes were baked by African slaves in the South because making this cake required a strong beating arm and lots of labor to whip the air into the whites (pre-egg-beaters 1865). Angel Food cakes are also a traditional African-American favorite at funerals. You decide, but whatever the origin, you'll love this cake!

CHOCOLATE ANGEL FOOD CAKE

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups sugar
Scant 1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 ounce dark chocolate, grated (about 1/2 cup)
12 large egg whites
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp pure almond extract

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place oven rack in center.
Sift together onto piece of parchment paper: 3/4 cup sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add grated chocolate; set aside.

In bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. With machine running, add remaining 3/4 cup sugar in slow steady stream, beating until fully incorporated and stiff glossy peaks form. Add vanilla and almond extracts; beat to combine.

Remove from mixer. Gradually add flour mixture, gently but thoroughly, folding into egg-white mixture until fully combined. Pour into nonstick angel food cake pan. Tap pan on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake until cake springs back when depressed with finger, 30 to 35 minutes.
Cool, inverted, 1 hour before removing pan.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

BLUE CHEESE CHEESECAKE WITH CHOCOLATE COOKIE 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. It's really delicious!

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 COOKIE 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.

Friday, October 8, 2021

CHOCOLATE FLUFFERNUTTER SANDWICH: National Fluffernutter Day!

Today is National Fluffernutter DayFluffernutter sandwiches must contain Marshmallow Fluff. I always have a jar in my pantry.

Marshmallow Fluff is not just any marshmallow crème. Fluff has been manufactured by Durkee-Mower of Lynn, Massachusetts since 1920, and is the preferred brand of the northeast.

This gooey, spreadable, marshmallow-infused confection is used in countless recipes and found in a variety of baked goods—from whoopie pies and Rice Krispies Treats to chocolate fudge and beyond.

And in the beyond lies the best concoction of all: the Fluffernutter sandwich—a classic New England treat made with white bread, peanut butter, and Fluff.

History of Marshmallow Fluff:

A sweet marshmallow-like spread called Marshmallow Creme was invented in 1917 by Archibald Query in Somerville, Massachusetts. In 1913 during World War I, Emma and Amory Curtis of Melrose, Massachusetts invented Snowflake Marshmallow Creme and published a recipe for a peanut butter and marshmallow creme sandwich, which is the earliest known example of a Fluffernutter. Query sold his recipe for Marshmallow Creme to Durkee-Mower, Inc in 1920, who renamed it Marshmallow Fluff. Over 100 years later they continue to sell it under that name today.

It was in 1960 that the term Fluffernutter was created by an advertising agency for Durkee-Mower in an attempt to effectively market the peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich. See the 1960s ad and jingle explaining the recipe below. How Retro!

So if the Fluffernutter sandwich is a classic New England treat made with white bread, peanut butter, and Marshmallow Fluff, it can only be better if you add chocolate. And, for me, press the sandwich in a panini press!

Chocolate Fluffernutter Sandwich:

Chopped dark chocolate, Marshmallow Fluff, Chunky peanut butter, soft good white bread - pressed hot in a panini press!

Have a Chocolate Fluffernutter Sandwich today!

Thursday, October 7, 2021

CHOCOLATE COVERED PRETZELS: National Chocolate Covered Pretzels Day

Today is National Chocolate Covered Pretzel Day! Salted pretzels go so well with chocolate, and this easy recipe can be dressed up with the addition of sprinkles and other decorations! You can use regular twisted pretzels or pretzel sticks. 

CHOCOLATE COVERED PRETZELS

Ingredients

2 (10 ounce) packages pretzels  (or pretzel sticks)

1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream 

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate) 

Sprinkles, peanut butter chips, or whatever you'd like

Directions

Melt chocolate and cream in double boiler over low heat, stirring constantly. Dip pretzels one at a time quickly to coat while mixture is still very warm. Place pretzels on wax paper. Sprinkle with sprinkles or other decorations . Let cool and harden.

Save this recipe and make for seasonal holidays with the appropriate colored decorations.

 How easy is this?

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

MOONLIGHT CHOCOLATE CAKE: Retro Advertisement with Recipe

I can never have enough chocolate cake recipes. Can you? So here's a Swan's Down 1952 Retro Ad & Recipe for Moonlight Chocolate Cake. This is a rich Chocolate Cake with a Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting. The cake recipe called for 3 squares of Baker's unsweetened chocolate, but I use a good quality dark chocolate and cut down on the sugar. Either way, you'll love this cake!



Tuesday, October 5, 2021

CHOCOLATE APPLE BROWN BETTY: National Apple Brown Betty Day

Now that it's Fall, it's time for Apple Brown Betty, a classic Fall dessert. 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.

Monday, October 4, 2021

BLACK RUSSIAN TRUFFLES: National Vodka Day

Today is National Vodka Day. There are some wonderful Chocolate Vodkas out there. You can always make yourself a Chocolate Vodka Martini or a Chocolate Vodka Cake, but I'm a huge fan of Truffles. I've posted this recipe before, but it's worth a second post! You'll love these Black Russian Truffles.

A Black Russian is a cocktail made with vodka and coffee liqueur (three parts vodka to two parts coffee liqueur, or five parts vodka to two parts coffee liqueur). I love Kahlua, so that would be my coffee liqueur of choice in the following recipe.

BLACK RUSSIAN TRUFFLES

Ingredients
8 ounces DARK (60-75% cacao) chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 tablespoons Kahlua
1 1/2 tablespoons Vodka
1 1/2 cups DARK cocoa  (or espresso powder or toasted walnuts)

Directions:
Melt chocolate in double boiler or in saucepan on top of another saucepan over simmering water.
Heat cream and butter together in microwave or in pot (don't scorch). Remove from heat and pour over melted chocolate. Using rubber spatula, stir chocolate and cream/butter mixture gently until smooth.
Add Kahlua and vodka. Stir until blended.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours to overnight.
Shape chocolate into 1-inch balls using melon baller or small ice cream scoop or two spoons.
Roll in cocoa (or pulverized espresso beans or toasted walnuts)
Store in airtight container in refrigerator.
Serve at room temperature.

Happy VODKA Day!

Saturday, October 2, 2021

SCORE A TOUCHDOWN: HOME-MADE TOOTSIE ROLLS

It's officially October here in Northern California.. hot and breezy. This is very different from where I grew up when October meant a sharp change in the weather to cool and even cold. October back East was all about Football Games, new clothes, new classes, and Halloween.

This Vintage Tootsie Roll Advertisement reminded me of those days, so for today's post I thought I'd add a recipe for Home-made Tootsie Rolls. I've tried several different recipes, and you might want to search the web for others. Paula Deen has one that has orange extract in it, but the following recipe is my favorite. Home-made Tootsie Rolls are perfect for Halloween! You can wrap them individually in orange wrappers!

Note:
This recipe makes 80 -100 tootsie rolls, but you can roll them out bigger and cut them longer. Remember the 5 cent Tootsie Roll?

As always the brand of chocolate will make a difference. You also might want to substitute 1/2 cup DARK cocoa powder for the unsweetened chocolate. In that case, sift with the dry milk.

Powdered milk, by the way, is not instant milk powder, it's dehydrated milk. Hope you can find it.

I also sift the flour. Not sure if it's necessary, but old habits die hard.

HOME-MADE TOOTSIE ROLLS
This recipe is adapted slightly from Elizabeth LaBau at About.com

Ingredients:
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 tbsp softened unsalted butter
3/4 cup powdered milk (not instant.. see note above)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 cups powdered sugar (sifted)

Directions
Melt chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl or in double boiler over simmering water.
Once chocolate is melted and smooth, stir in corn syrup and butter, stirring until butter is melted. Stir in powdered milk and vanilla extract.
Add cup of powdered sugar and stir until incorporated. Once that sugar is mixed in, add second cup of powdered sugar, and stir to mix. Dough will be getting stiff and it might be difficult to stir more powdered sugar into candy.
Dust work surface with powdered sugar and knead the candy until smooth. If still very soft, knead in more powdered sugar until firm but not dry or crumbly. You might need up to 3 cups of powdered sugar total.
Once Tootsie Roll candy is smooth and firm but supple in texture, break off palm-sized piece and roll into long, thin rope. Using sharp knife, cut it into small pieces and place on baking sheet. Repeat until you have formed all of Tootsie Roll dough into small pieces. Depending on size of rolls, you should get 80-100 pieces.
Refrigerate tray of Tootsie Rolls until they firm up, about 1 hour.

Store Tootsie Rolls in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to two weeks.
You can wrap them individually in waxed paper if they start to stick together because of condensation from refrigerator. Bring Tootsie Rolls to room temperature before serving.

Friday, October 1, 2021

PUMPKIN SPICE CHOCOLATE CHIP QUICK BREAD

Today is National Pumpkin Spice Day. Pumpkin Spice is definitely a flavor associated with Fall, and sometimes overused, but this Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Quick Bread is an easy and great way to celebrate the day--and 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 make your own, remember to use the freshest spices to create your Pumpkin Spice.

The following recipe for Pumpkin Spice Quick Bread Chocolate Chip is from the Land O Lakes website. Want to 'spice' up the look of this pumpkin quick bread? Use a NordicWare Pumpkin Loaf Pan.

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip 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

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Moroccan Chocolate Cake: Retro Ad with Recipe

Not sure what makes this Morocco Chocolate Cake Moroccan.. maybe the Raisin Nut Frosting? This November 11, 1940 Baker's Retro Ad with Recipe is really delicious and unique. This Morocco Chocolate Cake is very moist. You can always substitute your favorite dark chocolate (and cut down on the sugar a bit), too, for 2021 sensibilities and taste. And, if you're wondering the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby movie Road to Morroco wasn't released until 1942.



Wednesday, September 29, 2021

COFFEE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: National Coffee Day

Today is National Coffee Day. So many ways to celebrate, especially if you add Chocolate. You can always have a Cafe Mocha, Chocolate Coffee Fudge, Chocolate Clouds in your Coffee, Irish Coffee Chocolate Cake, Irish Coffee Truffles, or pick up some Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans.

In honor of the day, I thought I'd re-post one of my favorite recipes for Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies. What I love about Chocolate Chip Cookies are the infinite varieties.

As I've mentioned before, your final product is only as good as your ingredients. Use the very best Chocolate, Espresso (or Coffee) Beans, Vanilla, Flour, Butter and other ingredients! This recipe calls for a baking stone. You can use a pizza stone. If you don't have one, you can make these Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies the traditional way. The stone helps makes them gooey on the inside and crispy on the outside. I've adapted this recipe from ehow.com.

COFFEE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES 

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 fresh large eggs (room temperature)
2 cups brown sugar
6 Tbsp granulated sugar
5 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
3 - 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp ground espresso beans (or finely ground coffee beans). Try this recipe with ground chocolate covered Coffee beans. Gives it just a bit more chocolate!
16 oz dark chocolate (65-75% cacao) chopped into small pieces (or dark chocolate chips)
Baking Stone

Directions
Toss butter in microwave for 20 seconds to SOFTEN not melt the butter. (or leave out in advance, so it's already softened)
Cream butter and sugars together until fluffy. Mixture should be well blended but firm.
Add 2 eggs. Beat. Add vanilla. Mix well. Set aside.
Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into another bowl. Add ground coffee or ground espresso beans.
Add dry ingredients to wet mixture, beating in a little at a time. Fold in chocolate pieces (or chips).
Put cookie dough in refrigerator for 2 hours to firm up. Put wax paper on top to prevent drying.
Preheat oven to 350. Put hot stone in Oven.
Take hot stone out of oven. Drop cookie balls (use a small scoop or form balls) onto stone, smashing with fork after dropping. Put back in oven on stone.
Bake for about 8 minutes. Depends on your oven, of course.
Transfer with spatula to wire rack.
Hint: Check the first one. If the cookies fall apart or aren't cooked all the way, give them another minute.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

STRAWBERRY CREAM PIE WITH OREO COOKIE CRUST: National Strawberry Cream Pie Day

Today is Strawberry Cream Pie Day. Strawberries are still fresh in the market, and this Strawberry Cream Pie with Oreo Cookie Crust is easy and delicious. There are lots of recipes out there, but I really recommend this one. I've adapted the recipe from allrecipes.com, and of course, I added a Chocolate Crust--and for this pie an Oreo Crust.

Strawberry Cream Pie with Oreo Cookie Crust

Crust
25 Oreo cookies
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Directions
Crush cookies or whirl in food processor. Stir cookie crumbs and melted butter together.
Press crumbs into bottom and upsides of 9" pie plate. Bake for 8 minutes at 350. Cool before filling.

Filling
1 quart strawberries, sliced
1 (13.5 ounce) container strawberry glaze  (or you can make your own by boiling down strawberry jam with a little water and straining)
1 (4 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions
Stir strawberries with glaze in bowl and place in refrigerator to chill.
Stir cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract together in bowl.
Beat cream in separate bowl with electric mixer until it just begins to thicken. Add cream cheese mixture and continue beating until thick.
Pour cream mixture into baked pie crust. Top with strawberry mixture.
Chill for 1 hour before serving.

Monday, September 27, 2021

CHOCOLATE MILK: 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.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

KEY LIME PIE WITH CHOCOLATE GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST: National Key Lime Pie Day!

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, my sister and I tasted over 25 different key lime pies. We judged them on tartness, firmness, sweetness (too sweet is unacceptable), whipped cream vs. meringue, and more. It was a hard job, but we 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. That being said, I buy them green, probably because that's they way they sell them at 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 several other hurricanes. Most Key limes now come from Mexico.

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)

Saturday, September 25, 2021

ICE CREAM CONE DAY: History and Recipe

Oh no! I totally forgot to post on National Ice Cream Cone Day, September 22. I love a good ice cream cone, and as this Retro Ad shows, so does EVERYBODY.  So in honor of the day, here's a bit of history about ice cream cones from the International Dairy Foods Association. As I've mentioned many times on this blog, you can find all kinds of food history and recipes at Food Association sites.

HISTORY OF THE ICE CREAM CONE

The first ice cream cone was produced in 1896 by Italo Marchiony. Marchiony, who emigrated from Italy in the late 1800s, invented his ice cream cone in New York City. He was granted a patent in December 1903.

Although Marchiony is credited with the invention of the cone, a similar creation was independently introduced at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair by Ernest A. Hamwi, a Syrian concessionaire. Hamwi was selling a crisp, waffle-like pastry -- zalabis -- in a booth right next to an ice cream vendor. Because of ice cream's popularity, the vendor ran out of dishes. Hamwi saw an easy solution to the ice cream vendor's problem: he quickly rolled one of his wafer-like waffles in the shape of a cone, or cornucopia, and gave it to the ice cream vendor. The cone cooled in a few seconds, the vendor put some ice cream in it, the customers were happy and the cone was on its way to becoming the great American institution that it is today.

St. Louis, a foundry town, quickly capitalized on the cone's success. Enterprising people invented special baking equipment for making the World's Fair cornucopia cones.

Stephen Sullivan of Sullivan, Missouri, was one of the first known independent operators in the ice cream cone business. In 1906, Sullivan served ice cream cones (or cornucopias, as they were still called) at the Modern Woodmen of America Frisco Log Rolling in Sullivan, Missouri.

At the same time, Hamwi was busy with the Cornucopia Waffle Company. In 1910, he founded the Missouri Cone Company, later known as the Western Cone Company.

As the modern ice cream cone developed, two distinct types of cones emerged. The rolled cone was a waffle, baked in a round shape and rolled (first by hand, later mechanically) as soon as it came off the griddle. In a few seconds, it hardened in the form of a crisp cone. The second type of cone was molded either by pouring batter into a shell, inserting a core on which the cone was baked, and then removing the core; or pouring the batter into a mold, baking it and then splitting the mold so the cone could be removed with little difficulty.

In the 1920s, the cone business expanded. Cone production in 1924 reached a record 245 million. Slight changes in automatic machinery have led to the ice cream cone we know today. Now, millions of rolled cones are turned out on machines that are capable of producing about 150,000 cones every 24 hours.

ICE CREAM CONE RECIPE 

Ingredients
2 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, or as needed

Directions
Whisk together eggs and sugar in a large bowl until frothy. Whisk in butter, milk, and vanilla. Gradually whisk in flour and salt until smooth. Batter should be thin; you can stir in more milk if needed.
Heat small skillet or griddle over medium heat. Brush pan lightly with oil. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto skillet and turn to spread out batter into thin circle. When underside is golden brown, flip over and cook until golden on other side. Remove from pan and form into cone while it's hot, squeezing end to seal. Place on wire rack to cool and harden completely.
Repeat with remaining batter.

Want to add chocolate? Dip the cone in melted dark chocolate and let it set before filling. 

Tip: Want to make sure your ice cream doesn't drip through the bottom of your cone? Put some melted dark chocolate in the bottom, let harden, and then fill!



Friday, September 24, 2021

CHOCOLATE CHERRIES JUBILEE: National Cherries Jubilee Day!

Today is National Cherries Jubilee Day! Cherries Jubilee was created by Chef August Escoffier in honor of Queen Victoria's Jubilee celebration. Cherries were her favorite fruit. The original recipe featured cherries poached in syrup and warmed with brandy that was set afire just prior to serving.

But this is a chocolate blog, so here are two recipes - one for Chocolate Cherries Jubilee Cake and one for Chocolate Cherries Jubilee. The cake is moist and scrumptious. You can also pour the Cherries Jubilee sauce over your own favorite chocolate cake!

CHOCOLATE CHERRIES JUBILEE CAKE!

Cake:
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1- 1/2 cups cake flour or 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1- 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided use
1/2 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Canola oil
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Cherry Sauce:
1 (16 or 17-ounces) can pitted dark sweet cherries, drained (reserve 3/4 cup liquid)
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp Kirsch or Cherry Brandy
1 Tbsp cornstarch
Dash salt

Vanilla ice cream

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan.

For Cake:
Stir baking soda into buttermilk in medium bowl until dissolved; set aside.
In large bowl, stir together flour, 1 cup sugar, cocoa, and salt. Add oil, buttermilk mixture, egg yolks, and vanilla and beat until smooth.
In small bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form; gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold egg whites into chocolate batter. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool in pan.

For Cherry Sauce:
In medium saucepan, stir together reserved cherry liquid, cherry liqueur, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add cherries and orange peel.

Serve cake with a scoop of ice cream and Cherry Sauce spooned over the top.

CHOCOLATE CHERRIES JUBILEE

Ingredients
1/2 cup dark cherry preserves (I love Bonne Maman)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3 Tbsp Cognac or Kirsh

1 pint chocolate chocolate chip ice cream

Directions
Melt preserves in heavy small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Mix in cinnamon and Cognac.
Scoop ice cream into bowls. Spoon sauce over (you can ignite it for special effects and then pour :-).