Sunday, January 31, 2021

BRANDY ALEXANDER CHEESECAKE: National Brandy Alexander Day!

Brideshead Revisited: Brandy Alexander
Today is Brandy Alexander Day. A Brandy Alexander is a cocktail made with brandy, chocolate liqueur, and cream

There are many rumors about its origins. Some sources say it was created at the time of the London wedding of Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles in 1922. Drama critic and Algonquin Round Table member Alexander Woollcott claimed that it was named after him. Other sources say it was named after the Russian Tsar Alexander. According to historian Barry Popik, Troy Alexander, a bartender at Rector's, a New York City restaurant, created the drink in order to serve a white drink at a dinner celebrating Phoebe Snow, a character in a popular advertising campaign in the early 20th century.

I've posted many recipes for Brandy Alexanders--cocktails, brownies and Brandy Alexander Pie, but today I'm posting a recipe for Brandy Alexander Cheesecake. Be sure to scroll down. And for the TV addicts out there, here's a list of the Brandy Alexander as it appeared on different TV series.

The Brandy Alexander on Television (from Wikipedia)

The character Raj Koothrappali orders a brandy Alexander in "The Hofstadter Isotope" episode of The Big Bang Theory, after being mocked for ordering first a grasshopper and then a chocolate Martini.
In season one episode nine of Cheers, while Carla is in charge of the bar, she is asked to make a brandy Alexander.
In the Fantasy Island episode entitled "Anniversary," Cap Truman (Jim Backus) rushes outside with his butler to greet Tom (Ronny Cox) and Toni Elgin (Lucie Arnaz) with brandy Alexanders, just as he had done eight years before, the day before their wedding.
In season one episode eleven of Mad Men, Peggy Olson expresses disappointment with her Brandy Alexander while on a blind date.
The drink was included as the Cocktail Moment on the 29 March 2013 episode of The Rachel Maddow Show.
Lance White's hypnotist friend in "Nice Guys Finish Dead", an episode of The Rockford Files, is named after the drink.
In the pilot episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary Richards asks for a brandy Alexander at her first job interview.
In season four episode twenty-three of Chuck, "Big Mike" orders a Brandy Alexander at a wedding rehearsal dinner.
In episode one of Brideshead Revisited, Anthony Blanche orders four Brandy Alexanders in a bar: two for himself and two for Charles Ryder.
In season one episode three of Dilbert, Lena Olsen asks Dilbert to make a "Triple Brandy Alexander with an Easter Island sunset chaser" as a way of keeping him occupied while she searches his house.
In season three, episode 16 of Three's Company, a woman orders a brandy Alexander from Mr Roper. He responds, "You don't want to drink that junk. Try some bourbon. It's fresh."
In season four, episode five of American Horror Story, the Strongman Del (Michael Chiklis) orders two Brandy Alexanders at a gay bar for his paramour Andy (played by Matt Bomer).
In the Season 2 episode of Lou Grant, called "Schools", Lou asks the bartender for a "malt." When the bartender admits to not knowing how to make a malt, Lou asks, "Do you know how to make a brandy Alexander? Just leave out the brandy and give us the Alexander!"
In the TV movies "A Town Without Christmas" and "When Angels Come to Town", the Brandy Alexander is the preferred drink of the angel Max (Peter Falk).

Brandy Alexander Cheesecake
recipe adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients
1 (10-ounce) box chocolate graham crackers, crushed (about 2 1/4 cups)
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp sugar, divided
4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
4 large eggs, at room temperature
4 Tbsp Brandy, divided 4 tablespoons Kahlua, divided (you can use Creme de Cacao instead)
1 (16 ounces) container sour cream
Optional: Garnishes: blackberries, currants, raspberries, strawberries

Directions
Preheat oven to 325°. Stir together crushed graham crackers, butter, and 1 Tbsp sugar. Press mixture on bottom and halfway up sides of 9-inch springform pan. Freeze 10 minutes.
Beat cream cheese, 1 1/4 cups sugar, and cornstarch at medium speed with electric mixer 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating at low speed just until yellow disappears after each addition. Add 3 Tbsp brandy and 3 Tbsp Kahlua, and beat just until blended. Pour into prepared crust.
Bake at 325° for 1 hour or just until center is almost set.
During last 2 minutes of baking, stir together sour cream and remaining 1 Tbsp sugar, 1 Tbsp brandy, and 1 Tbsp Kahlua (or crème de cacao).
Spread sour cream mixture over cheesecake. Bake at 325° for 8 more minutes.
Remove cheesecake from oven; gently run a knife along outer edge of cheesecake, and cool completely in pan on a wire rack (about 1 1/2 hours).
Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours.
Remove sides of springform pan, and place cheesecake on serving plate.
Garnish, if desired.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

HERSHEY'S CHEWY CHOCOLATE COOKIES: Retro Ad & Recipe

I love Retro Ads with Recipes. This advertisement is actually a Retro Hershey's Recipe Card. Love this delicious easy, quick, tasty recipe. Today's the day to make these Chewy Chocolate Cookies! Enjoy!


Friday, January 29, 2021

TRADER JOE'S CHOCOLATE CROISSANTS: National Croissant Day

Tomorrow is National Croissant Day. There's nothing quite like waking up to a flaky buttery croissant. I have my favorite sources for croissants. I love croissants at La Fournee Bakery in Berkeley (close to my home), and, of course, the many cafes and bakeries in Paris.

But maybe you just want to wake up to fresh croissants without leaving home. I've posted this before, but it definitely bears reposting! Trader Joe's Chocolate Croissants to the rescue. These are some of the best frozen croissants you'll ever taste. The 'proof' is in the pudding, as they say, and these croissants are proofed (allowed to rise) overnight before they're baked for 20 minutes the following morning. The heavenly smell will take over your kitchen. This is perfect for this weekend and National Croissant Day.

And, the price can't be beat--$4.99 for 4! In the San Francisco Bay Area, Chef Jean-Yves Charon from Galaxy Bakery is the genius behind Trader Joe's Chocolate Croissants. Rumor has it that Williams Sonoma gets their frozen croissants from the same source. So, Trader Joe's represents a huge cost savings.

O.K., these "Croissants" are really Pain au Chocolat, as anyone can see by the shape. Nevertheless, feel free to imagine yourself at a sidewalk cafe in Paris when eating these! These croissants are incredibly flaky and buttery, so light and airy, and the Callebaut chocolate is rich and delicious. Since there are four to a box, and each croissant contains 18 grams of fat, you might want to offer a few to family or friends. If you don't care what they'll do to your waistline or thighs, indulge and eat them all. They're terrific!

This is one product that outshines most home baked croissants. Yes, you can make your own Chocolate Croissants, but these are so good, why bother?

You'll find TJ's Chocolate Croissants in the freezer section.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

BLUEBERRY CHOCOLATE CHIP PANCAKES: National Blueberry Pancake Day

Today is National Blueberry Pancake Day, and it's not too late to celebrate. I'm all for Breakfast for Dinner! There are actually two or three pancake days on the calendar! For today's holiday, here are two recipes for Chocolate Chip Blueberry Pancakes.

This first recipe is from Cooking Light for Perfect Buttermilk pancakes. I've added blueberries and chocolate chips to enrich the recipe! I usually have fresh blueberries around, but if you don't, you can always use frozen blueberries. Trader Joe's has wild blueberries that are great in this recipe. Don't thaw before adding the frozen blueberries. The second recipe is for Blueberry Chocolate Chip Pancakes in a Jar.

1. BUTTERMILK BLUEBERRY CHOCOLATE CHIP PANCAKES

Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1 cup Blueberries (less if frozen.. I like the frozen Wild Blueberries from Trader Joe's. Don't thaw, if frozen)
1/2 cup Dark Chocolate chips

Directions
Spoon flour into dry measuring cup; level with knife.
Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (flour through salt) in large bowl, and make well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk, oil, and egg; add to flour mixture, stirring until smooth. Fold in Blueberries and Chocolate Chips.
Spoon about 1/4 cup batter onto hot nonstick griddle or nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray.
Turn pancakes when tops are covered with bubbles and edges seem cooked.
***

So that's what you'll make fresh today! I'm also fond of Mixes in a Jar. Here's a quick and delicious recipe for Chocolate Blueberry Pancakes in a Jar. You can have this on hand or to give as a gift. One helpful hint, when making mixes in a jar, really pack the ingredients in. Use a tamper, if you have one...except for the dried blueberries and chocolate chips that you'll put on top.

2. BLUEBERRY CHOCOLATE CHIP PANCAKES IN A JAR

Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup dried Blueberries
2/3 cup mini dark chocolate chips

Layer flour, then sugar, then baking powder mixed with baking soda and salt in 1-quart wide-mouth jar.
Add blueberries, then chocolate chips.
Seal Jar.
Cover jar with burlap or other fabric and tie with raffia or a bow.

Attach gift tag with the following instructions:

Chocolate Blueberry Pancakes 
Makes 25 pancakes
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1-1/2 to 2 cups whole milk (or buttermilk)

Mix eggs and melted butter in large bowl. Add contents of jar. Stir until well blended.
Add 1-1/2 cups milk. Stir until dry ingredients are moistened.
Heat griddle or skillet.
Pour batter onto hot griddle 1/4 cup at a time.
Cook pancakes until golden on both sides.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

CHOCOLATE MAYONNAISE CAKE: 3 Retro Recipes for National Chocolate Cake Day

Today is National Chocolate Cake Day! So to celebrate the holiday I thought I'd post three great recipes for Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake. I've posted about chocolate mayonnaise cake before. You'd be surprised how many recipes there are. Seems like everyone's Aunt Sadie had a recipe. But it shouldn't be a surprise to you that mayonnaise was used so often in past generations. Do you remember mayonnaise in Jell-o molds? That used to be a staple at special occasions all over the U.S. If you don't remember, be glad! But in cake, it really works!

As I said there are many recipes for Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake. Here are two Retro recipes for Hellmann's Chocolate Mayo Cake and a newer recipe for a Chocolate Mayonnaise Bundt Cake. I have found several of these ads over the years--some recipes use eggs and some don't. I think the earlier recipes must be from the 30s and early 40s. 

Mayonnaise Cakes are really moist, so it's hard to go wrong on any of these recipes.


Word to the wise: Don't taste the batter before it's baked. It will taste a bit odd, but the final results will be delicious.




Want to try a variation of the recipes above? Use Miracle Whip instead of Mayonnaise. Totally different flavor. Most people are particular when it comes to the choice between Mayonnaise and Miracle Whip. I still think it's worth trying Miracle Whip in this chocolate cake recipe... or for that matter, in the bundt cake recipe below. 

And, just for good measure, here's a third recipe for Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake!

Chocolate Mayonnaise Bundt Cake

Ingredients
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
6 Tbsp dark cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla (or whatever you have)
1 cup mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip)
1 egg, whipped
1 cup lukewarm water
1 cup chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate 70% or higher cacao
powdered sugar

Directions
Blend dry ingredients.
Mix in vanilla, mayonnaise, egg, and water-- just enough to get all ingredients blended.
Fold in chocolate chips (broken up chocolate)
Pour into greased Bundt pan.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool cake.
Dust with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

PEANUT BRITTLE COOKIES: National Peanut Brittle Day

Happy Peanut Brittle Day! Here's a 1953 ad from French's for the $1,000 Peanut Brittle Cookies Recipe (1953)

Fill your cookie jar today with these really different, prize-winning cookies made with French’s pure vanilla and fresh-ground cinnamon. Best of Class Winner in Pillsbury’s Bake-Off!

PEANUT BRITTLE COOKIES

Ingredients 

1 cup sifted flour 

1/2 teaspoon baking soda 

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

1/2 cup butter or other shortening 

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly-packed 

3 tablespoons beaten egg 

1 teaspoon French's vanilla extract 

1 cup salted peanuts 

Instructions 

Sift together flour, soda, cinnamon. 

Cream butter, add sugar gradually, creaming well. 

Add 2 tablespoons of egg and vanilla. 

Beat well.

Blend in dry ingredients and 1/2 cup peanuts, finely-chopped. 

Mix thoroughly. 

Spread or pat dough on a greased baking sheet to a 14- by 10-inch rectangle. 

Brush with remaining egg. 

Sprinkle on 1/2 cup peanuts. 

Bake in slow oven (325 F) for 20 to 25 minutes. Do not overbake. 

Cut or break into pieces while warm.

Monday, January 25, 2021

IRISH COFFEE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE: National Irish Coffee Day!

Today is National Irish Coffee Day! Irish Coffee was invented at the Buena Vista Cafe, right here in San Francisco.

On my first day in California I was lucky to hitch a ride with a visiting dignitary. Don't ask? Things happen. The day's tour of the San Francisco Bay Area included the hills of San Francisco, Sonoma County, the Renaissance Fair, Sausalito, Fisherman's Wharf, the Palace of Fine Arts, Cliff House, the Golden Gate Bridge, and a stop at the Buena Vista Cafe for an Irish Coffee. I saw more of the San Francisco Bay Area on that one day than I did during the next ten years.

Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista Cafe is a very San Francisco tradition. The drink was invented there in 1952. The recipe was a collaborative effort between Jack Koeppler, the Buena Vista’s owner, and Stanton Delaplane, a well-known international travel writer and San Francisco Chronicle columnist.

The official story of Irish Coffee tells of the perseverance and repeated attempts of Koeppler & Delaplane and even a trip to Shannon Airport, where a forerunner of Koeppler’s vision was served. The whipped cream posed a problem, but the input of a prominent dairy farmer turned Mayor of San Francisco, solved the problem: age the cream for 48 hours and froth it to a precise consistency so it would float on top of the hot coffee, to Koeppler’s specifications.

But this is a Chocolate Blog, so once again I wanted to post a recipe that includes Chocolate and the day's 'food' holiday.

Irish Coffee Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
4 tsp whiskey
2 eggs
2 Tbsp plus 4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions
Put Chocolate, 1/3 cup of cream, and 1/4 teaspoon of espresso powder in heatproof bowl. Put bowl in skillet of barely simmering water. Stir frequently until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Remove bowl from skillet, stir in whiskey, and set aside.
In heatproof medium bowl, whisk eggs with 1 tablespoon water and 2 tablespoons of sugar until well blended.
Put bowl in skillet and whisk eggs constantly (to prevent from scrambling) over barely simmering water until they register 160 degrees F. on instant-read thermometer.
Remove bowl from skillet and beat at high speed with electric mixer until eggs have texture like softly whipped cream, 3 to 4 minutes.
Fold one quarter of eggs into chocolate.
Scrape chocolate mixture over remaining whipped eggs and continue to fold just until evenly incorporated.
Divide mousse into ramekins. Chill at least 1 hour, or until set, before serving.

Serve with Bailey's Irish Cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp Baileys Irish Cream

Whip heavy cream to soft peaks. Add Baileys Irish Cream and whisk until combined.
Spoon small amount of whipped cream onto the top of each mousse ramekin.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

PEANUT BUTTER BROWNIES: Retro Ad & Recipe for National Peanut Butter Day

Today is National Peanut Butter Day! Peanut Butter and Chocolate are a match made in heaven! I love Retro Ads, especially the ones that include recipes. I was a Brownie (and later a Girl Scout), so this Retro Advertisement caught my eye! You'll love this recipe for Peanut Butter Brownies. However, I would use butter and not margarine. Make these brownies for your Brownie Troop or for yourself to celebrate today's food holiday!



Saturday, January 23, 2021

HERSHEY'S COCOA CREAM PIE: National Pie Day: Retro Ad & Recipe

Today is National Pie Day. Here's a simple and delicious recipe from Hershey's for Hershey's Cocoa Cream Pie! You probably have all the ingredients in your pantry! I love these old Retro Ads & Recipes. I believe this ad was on the back of the can.


Friday, January 22, 2021

CONGO SQUARES: National Blonde Brownies Day: Retro Ad & Recipe

Today is National Blonde Brownies Day. Blond Brownies is a misnomer. Blondies are not Brownies! They get their flavor from brown sugar and not cocoa or chocolate, but they're wonderful for exactly what they are--a great butterscotch 'brownie.' Over the years, I've added macadamia nuts, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, or a combination of these ingredients to the following basic recipe. The variety of additions is huge, and the basic batter is a delicious brown sugar concoction. Blondies are simple to make, and I highly recommend them. I use dark brown sugar because I think it adds more flavor. As in any recipe, the quality of the ingredients makes a difference in your final product.

I love this Retro Ad & Recipe for Congo Squares aka Blondies or Blond Brownies. As always, you can never have too many recipes!

Congo Squares or Bars, by the way, have nothing to do with Africa. There's nothing like these sweets in any African country that I know of...and you can't even grow wheat in Central Africa. So why are they called Congo Squares? Who knows.. maybe because of the exotic ingredients (chocolate, coconut, nuts) which might come from Africa? I also read somewhere that these Congo Squares originated in the Southeast (US). There was a plaza in New Orleans called Congo Square which in the early 19th century was a gathering place for both free and enslaved African-Americans who met for marketing, music-making and dancing... probably not the connection, but a possibility. Whatever the origin, this is a great treat for the weekend! This Nestle ad is from 1949 and doesn't include the cocoanut, but throw some toasted coconut in.





Thursday, January 21, 2021

CHOCOLATE COCONUT GRANOLA BARS: National Granola Bar Day!

Today is National Granola Bar Day! Yes, always a holiday to celebrate! I've posted recipes for Granola Bars in the past (Chocolate Cranberry Granola Bars, and Dark Chocolate Cherry Granola Bars), but here's one for Chocolate Coconut Granola Bars. Don't be overwhelmed by the number of steps. These bars are really quite quick to make, but I suggest you have all your ingredients ready before you go to work! The following Chocolate Coconut Granola Bar recipe produces terrific, tasty, and healthy bars that are great in the kids' lunchboxes or as a pick-me-up for you! This is a 'copycat' Kashi recipe. No time to make this today? Then buy yourself a Kashi Chocolate Coconut Granola Bar.

CHOCOLATE COCONUT GRANOLA BARS

Ingredients 

Bars 
1 cup whole almonds, divided
1 cup walnuts, divided
1 1/2 cup old fashion oats, divided
1/4 cup ground flax
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp almond butter

Chocolate Glaze 
1 Tbsp coconut oil
10 ounces dark chocolate (about 1 1/2 cups chopped)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped coconut flakes

Directions 
In food processor, add 1/2 cup of almonds, 1/2cup of walnuts, and 3/4 cup of oats. Process until  turns into fine powder, about 1 minute. (Do not over process)
Chop remaining almonds and walnuts. Add to large bowl along with remaining 3/4 cup oats and processed powder. Add to bowl: ground flax, chia seeds, and coconut flakes. Toss together.
Heat small pan on stove over medium heat. Add honey, coconut oil, vanilla bean paste, cinnamon, and almond butter. Stir constantly until fully melted and begins to foam. Allow to foam and bubble for about a minute before immediately pouring over nuts and oats mixture.
Using rubber spatula, stir everything together until evenly distributed.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 13 x 6’’ pan with parchment paper, enough to hang over two of the sides.
Pour granola mixture into pan and spread evenly. Using metal spatula, begin pressing down really hard all along edges and through middle. (Tip: If you don’t press down tightly, they will fall apart when cut)
Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes, until firm. Remove and allow to cool completely.

Chocolate glaze:
Melt 1 Tbsp coconut oil in small saucepan over medium-low heat.
Add chopped chocolate. Stir until you have smooth glaze.
Pour over Baked mixture and using spatula, spread to edges and even out.
Sprinkle top with additional walnuts and coconut flakes.
Allow top to set (several hours)
Once totally set, pick up both sides of overhanging parchment paper and remove from pan.
Cut into small rectangles.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE TRUFFLES: National Cheese Lovers Day

Today is National Cheese Lovers Day, and I immediately thought of Cheesecake! I've posted recipes for a variety of of chocolate cheesecakes,  from Pumpkin Cheesecakes to Double Chocolate Cheesecakes, so for today's food holiday, I thought I'd take a different approach. I love truffles, so here's a simple recipe for Chocolate Cheesecake Truffles. Easy and delicious! As always, use the very best chocolate. There are three different ways to coat these.. It's up to you!

CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE TRUFFLES

Ingredients 
8 ounces cream cheese
4 cups powdered sugar
5 ounces bittersweet dark chocolate, melted (I use 70% cacao)
1 tsp good quality vanilla

Coatings for truffles:
Toasted pecans, chopped (or other nuts)
Pulverized graham crackers (gives you a true cheesecake taste)
Cocoa powder

Directions
Using mixer, slowly add powdered sugar to cream cheese, mixing well after each addition.
Add melted chocolate and vanilla and mix until smooth.
Chill several hours.
Shape into 1-inch balls. Roll in coatings.

How easy is this?

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

INAUGURATION DAY BROWNIES: Red, White, and Blue


Here's a great recipe to celebrate Inauguration Day: Red, White & Blue Star Brownies. I love this recipe adapted from Betty Crocker. I've made it many times. You can always substitute your own brownie recipe or another brand of brownie mix, but here's the original easy recipe.

If you don't have Betty Crocker Decorating Decors stars or icing (or you think it would be too sweet), use Red, White, & Blue M&Ms (press into batter before baking) or Red, White & Blue sprinkles. These Brownies are perfect to celebrate our 46th President!

Red White & Blue Star Brownies

Ingredients 
1 box (1 lb 2.4 oz) Betty Crocker™ Original Supreme Premium brownie mix
Water, vegetable oil, and egg called for on brownie mix box
1/2 cup Betty Crocker™ Whipped fluffy white frosting (from 12-oz container)
Betty Crocker™ Decorating Decors stars (or Red, White, and Blue Sprinkles if you don't have stars)

Directions 
Heat oven to 350°F. Line 9-inch square pan with foil so foil extends about 2 inches over sides of pan. Spray foil with cooking spray.
Make and bake brownies as directed on box. Cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.
Remove brownies from pan by lifting foil; peel foil from sides of brownies.
Using 2 1/2-inch star-shaped cookie cutter, cut brownies.
Squeeze frosting on star-shaped brownies.
Sprinkle with red, white, and blue star decor or red, white, and blue sprinkles.

Monday, January 18, 2021

HONEY CHOCOLATE PIE: Winnie the Pooh Day!

Today is Winnie the Pooh Day. Yes, there's a holiday for everything! Here's a recipe for Honey Chocolate Pie from The Pooh Cook Book by Virginia H. Ellison, illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard (1969: Dell Publishing). This Cook Book (two words) is inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne.

One of my favorite stuffed animals as a child was Tigger, and I have always been a big honey fan, probably because of the Winnie the Pooh stories. I have honey every day, and perhaps Winnie had allergies, too, and needed his "Hunny."I have found that a teaspoon of local honey every day has alleviated my Spring allergies.

From the Introduction to The Pooh Cook Book:

As a cook you should know that honey is almost twice as sweet as sugar, and yet when you eat it, it doesn't make you want to go on eating sweets. Honey is also healthful, and very good for active people. When used in cooking it keeps food moist and adds a flavor all its won, as you will see when you've made some of the dishes in The Pooh Cook Book. Clover honey is the best all-purpose honey but there are as many flavors, or kinds of honey as there are blossoms on flowers and bushes and trees."

HONEY CHOCOLATE PIE

Sunday, January 17, 2021

HOT BUTTERED RUM COCOA: National Hot Buttered Rum Day

Today is National Hot Buttered Rum Day. Here in Northern California it's unusually warm today, but if you're in a rainy or snowy cold place, this is perfect!

This recipe for Hot Buttered Rum Cocoa is from the Wisconsin Cheese Board (one of my favorite recipe sites!) So many Food associations have great recipes. Be sure and check them out.

If you don't have time to make Hot Buttered Rum Cocoa, you can always celebrate this food holiday with Seattle Chocolates' Hot Buttered Rum Milk Chocolate Truffle Bar. Fabulous! This bar is buttery, smooth with a light hint of rum and toffee crunch in milk chocolate.

Hot Buttered Rum Cocoa

Ingredients
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
4 cups milk

Directions
Combine butter, brown sugar, and seasonings in small bowl, mixing until well-blended.
Drop six spoonfuls onto plastic wrap-lined plate; chill while preparing beverage, then form into balls.
Combine rum, sugar and cocoa in 2 quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils, stirring constantly. Simmer 1 minute; add milk. Cook until heated through; do not boil.
Pour into six mugs; place one butter ball in each cup.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

CHOCOLATE COVERED DRIED FIGS: National Fig Newton Day

January 16 is Fig Newton Day
! My Dad was a huge Fig Newtons fan. Me, not so much. However, I love figs, and I'm using this food holiday as a jumping off point for Chocolate Covered Figs. Before I embark on recipes for Chocolate Covered Dried Figs, just wanted to let you know that Vice Chocolates' Dark Chocolate Bar with Fig &Anise is one of my favorite chocolate fig combinations!


Following are two recipes for Chocolate Covered Dried Figs (not Fig Newtons!). The first is alcoholic, because who doesn't love a drunken fig? The second recipe calls for stuffing the dried figs with walnuts, but contains no alcohol. Actually you can mix and match these recipes to come up with whatever you think is perfect for you! As always, use the very best chocolate and figs! Different chocolate, different figs, different tastes!

And if you want a recipe for Chocolate Covered Fig Newtons, check out Cakespy's post for Chocolate Covered Fig Newtons on a Stick.

Want to make your own Fig Newtons? Try this recipe for Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Figgy Newtons.

And, just as an FYI. The original Fig Newtons are now called just Newtons.

Chocolate Covered Dried Figs

Ingredients
20 dried figs
Rum
10 ounces 70-85% dark chocolate, chopped fine
1/4 cup unsalted butter
pinch of sea salt

Directions
Put figs in bowl and cover with rum. Let soak, covered, overnight in refrigerator.
Next day, drain well and pat dry.
Put chopped chocolate into top of double boiler, stirring. Add butter, stirring until smooth. 
Take figs by stems and dip in chocolate several times, covering completely.
Put figs on rack over cookie sheet to catch drips.
When finished dipping, chill figs in refrigerator.

Non-Alcoholic Chocolate Covered Figs Stuffed with Walnuts

Ingredients
9 figs, dried
9 walnut halves
5  Tbsp dark chocolate (60-75%), chopped

Directions
Make small incisions in bottoms of 9 dried figs and stuff each with a walnut half.
Melt chocolate in double boiler until smooth.
Holding the stem, dip stuffed figs into chocolate.
Let them drip from rack over cookie sheet, or place on plate or wax paper.
Put chocolate covered figs on plate or waxed paper in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or more until chocolate hardens.

Friday, January 15, 2021

FUDGE TRUFFLE CHEESECAKE: Retro Ad & Recipe

I just love Retro Ads with Recipes. Here's one from Hershey's with an especially delicious recipe for Fudge Truffle Cheesecake. Let me know what you think when you make this. I love it!




Thursday, January 14, 2021

ICELANDIC COCOA SOUP aka Kakósúpa: National Soup Month

January is Soup Month.  Several years ago, my friend Louise over at Months of Edible Celebrations (sadly Louise passed away and her website was taken down) sent me a link to Cocoa Soup. The thickening agent is what makes this a soup and not a steaming hot cup of cocoa. So here's a recipe to warm you up today.


Icelandic Cocoa Soup, Kakósúpa, although it uses potato or cornstarch, is not all that thick. Nevertheless, it has a different texture and taste from regular drinking cocoa. Give it a try. The savory Cocoa Black Bean Soup definitely has a different flavor with the addition of the cocoa.

According to the website Gestgjafinn, Sweet Dessert Soups are common in Iceland and Northern Europe. This unusual dessert soup often surprises visitors to Iceland, who will not encounter it at restaurants but may be served it in private homes.

Icelandic Cocoa Soup

Ingredients
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups water
3 cups milk
1 tablespoon potato starch or 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Pinch of Salt

Directions:
Mix cocoa powder, sugar, and cinnamon in a saucepan.
Add water gradually and stir until smooth.
Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add milk, reheat to boiling point and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
Mix potato starch or cornstarch with a little cold water, stir into soup, and remove from heat.
Salt to taste and serve.
Serve with crushed zwiebacks.

For a fancier version, use 3 ounces dark chocolate (55-75% cacao) instead of cocoa powder and serve soup with whipped cream instead of zwiebacks.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

GLUTEN-FREE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: National Gluten Free Day!

Today is National Gluten Free Day! So many of the readers of this blog are gluten-free, so I thought I'd post two of my favorite Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies recipes. Do you have a favorite? Post a link below.

The first recipe for Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies is from King Arthur Flour. This is my favorite. I definitely want vanilla in my chocolate chip cookies! If you're not following King Arthur Flour on Twitter or Facebook, it's time. I get their emails, too. Their photos are enticing but even more, their products and recipes are fantastic! Just a heads up, I usually bake with unsalted butter, especially when I'm adding salt to the recipe, so I've designated that in both the following recipes. The original recipes didn't.

1. Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp gluten-free vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 1/3 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour
2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts, optional

Directions
Beat butter, sugars, vanilla and salt till fluffy.
Beat in eggs one at a time, being sure to scrape down sides and bottom of bowl midway through to make sure everything is well combined.
Whisk together flour or flour blend, xanthan gum, baking powder, and baking soda.
Beat dry ingredients into butter mixture, then blend in chocolate chips and nuts. Again, scrape bottom and sides of bowl to be sure everything is well blended.
Cover bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour, or for up to 2 days.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a couple of baking sheets, or line with parchment.
Scoop tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto prepared baking sheets; a tablespoon cookie scoop works well here. Leave space betweencookies so they can spread.
Bake cookies for 9 to 11 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and let rest on baking sheets for 5 minutes, to set, before transferring to racks to cool completely. Or allow to cool right on baking sheets.

This second Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe is from Rachael Ray. It's quick and easy. As I've said before, you can never have enough recipes for Chocolate Chip Cookies, especially Gluten-Free. Try both recipes and see what you think!

2. Rachael Ray's Easy Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 egg
2 1/4 cups of gluten-free baking flour
1 tsp baking soda 

1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup of crushed pecans

Directions
Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Grease baking sheet.
In medium sized bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg and stir until blended. Slowly add  gluten-free flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
Drop teaspoon sized cookies onto prepared baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for about 8 minutes or until slightly brown and not wet.
Let cookies cool for 5 minutes before taking them off sheet.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

CHOCOLATE MARZIPAN COOKIES: National Marzipan Day!

Today is National Marzipan Day. I love marzipan, and I usually have some around, but for today's holiday, here's an easy recipe from Santa Barbara Chocolate for Chocolate Marzipan Cookies (or truffles, if you don't squash them down and bake them). 

What exactly is marzipan

Marzipan is an elastic paste made with almonds and powdered sugar. It's like an edible dough, and you can make shapes with it, and, of course, enrobe it in chocolate.

History of Marzipan from Serious Eats:
The invention of marzipan is usually attributed to Lübeck, Germany. Legend has it that during a 15th century famine when flour for making bread became scarce, the senate of Lübeck ordered bakers to create a replacement. Using eggs, sugar, and stores of almonds, the clever bakers came up with marzipan. But cities like Venice, Florence, Konigsberg and more all lay claim to inventing marzipan and put forth similar stories with different dates, making it hard to determine where the sweet actually came from.
Although the origin of marzipan is fuzzy, it has clearly been embraced by many different cultures and is enjoyed worldwide. Marzipan is a traditional food to eat on weddings and religious feast days in Italy, Greece, and Cyprus.
In Latin America, a popular marzipan-like treat which replaces the almonds with peanuts is called "mazapan." In Mexico, pine nuts and pistachios are other substitutes for almonds in marzipan. You can find marzipan in the Middle East, too, usually flavored with orange-flower water. In Germany and throughout much of northern Europe it is considered good luck to receive a marzipan pig on Christmas or New Year's Day. The Spanish and Portuguese are big consumers of marzipan too. But perhaps the form of marzipan that Americans are most familiar with are the cute little miniature fruit shapes that pop up all over.

Whatever the origins, there is nothing quite like chocolate and marzipan! So for today's holiday here's an easy and original recipe for Chocolate Marzipan Cookies from Santa Barbara Chocolate Company.

CHOCOLATE MARZIPAN COOKIES

Ingredients
1 cup of almonds, peeled
1 cup of powdered sugar
1/4 cup Rainforest Bulk Cocoa Powder
1 egg or 2 tbsp honey - egg is used in the traditional marzipan recipe (but use honey if you don't want to use raw eggs)
Chocolate sprinkles

Directions
Chop peeled almonds and put them in blender or food processor. Blend until you get almond flour texture. Be careful to blend really well to avoid big chunks.
In saucepan add almond flour, Cocoa Powder, and powdered sugar, mix together. Incorporate egg in middle and place over low heat. Stir continuously until all ingredients are combined. Keep stirring for 5 minutes and then take off heat. Place in refrigerator and let chill for 15 minutes before decorating. This way the marzipan is going to hold its shape. 
When chilled, roll dough into a tube shape. Pull off pieces and make into balls. Cover balls with chocolate sprinkles to decorate. Place on baking sheet and slightly press down with back of spoon. Let set in refrigerator for 5 minutes more and serve.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie: National Milk Day!

Today is National Milk Day, and according to "Anonymous" who frequently comments on this blog, there's nothing quite like a tall glass of milk with chocolate brownies, cookies, or cakes!

So to celebrate National Milk Day, here's a very simple recipe that includes a cup of milk: Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie. It's a great combination of healthy foods to give you a boost in the morning or mid afternoon!

CHOCOLATE BANANA PEANUT BUTTER SMOOTHIE

1 cup Milk
1 ripe Banana (or frozen banana)
1 cup Ice
2 Tbsp Vanilla Greek Style Yogurt
3 Tbsp Chocolate Syrup
2 Tbsp Creamy Peanut Butter

In a blender, combine milk, banana, yogurt, ice, chocolate syrup, peanut butter, and blend until smooth.
Pour into glass and drink.

How are you celebrating National Milk Day?

Sunday, January 10, 2021

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE: National Bittersweet Chocolate Day

Since I review, eat, and bake chocolate, the word bittersweet isn't really part of my lexicon. Although I have purchased chocolate that is labeled bittersweet, I buy chocolate based on its origins, fair-trade, and amount of cacao. Bittersweet is just too vague a term for me. Nevertheless today is Bittersweet Chocolate Day, so I'm celebrating!

According to Wikipedia, Bittersweet chocolate is chocolate liquor (unsweetened chocolate not liqueur) to which some sugar (typically a third), more cocoa butter, vanilla and sometimes lecithin has been added. It has less sugar and more liquor than semisweet chocolate, but the two are interchangeable in baking. Bittersweet and semisweet chocolates are sometimes referred to as 'couverture' (chocolate that contains at least 32 percent cocoa butter); many brands (the ones I like) print on the package the percentage of cocoa (as chocolate liquor and added cocoa butter) contained. The rule is that the higher the percentage of cocoa, the less sweet the chocolate will be. The American FDA classifies chocolate as either "bittersweet" or "semisweet" that contain at least 35% cacao (either cacao solids or butter from the cacao beans).

So using this definition, almost any of my recipes will work since I use mostly very dark chocolate.

Here's a recipe for Bittersweet Chocolate Bundt Cake adapted from Nestle Toll House's Chocolate Pound Cake recipe. It's easy and delicious. If you use Unsweetened Chocolate Baking Bars, be sure and add more sugar to the recipe.

I don't usually make a glaze, but I've included the recipe in case you'd like to. Sometimes I sprinkle this cake with powdered sugar, as in the photo. This cake goes well with ice cream or whipped cream, too!

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE 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 (something you'll only use for this)*
8 ounces dark chocolate (75%-85%), chopped, divided (save 2 oz for glaze if you're making it)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
3 large eggs

CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

FOR CAKE:
PREHEAT oven to 325 degrees 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 6 ounces 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.

Optional: Drizzle with Chocolate Glaze or Sprinkle with Powdered Sugar

** Sometimes I pour the glaze over the bundt cake while it's still a bit warm. That way, the cake absorbs the glaze, and it's extra chocolatey delicious!

FOR CHOCOLATE GLAZE: 

Melt remaining 2 ounces of chocolate with butter in small, saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar alternately with water. Stir in vanilla extract. Drizzle over cake.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

CHOCOLATE APRICOT CREAM CAKES: National Apricot Day

Today is National Apricot Day! Add Chocolate. Here's a Retro Baker Ad and recipe for Chocolate Apricot Cream Cakes. Perfect to make today! As a bonus, the second recipe for Chocolate Upside Down Cake can be made with apricots instead of peaches.



Friday, January 8, 2021

TOFFEE PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES: National English Toffee Day

Today is National English Toffee Day. I love English Toffee. I always have toffee around, and today is the perfect day to bake bake some cookies using Toffee. 

Here's a great recipe that combines my love of Peanut Butter Cookies with English Toffee. I have a toffee hammer (well, I have three of them) for breaking up toffee. Clearly this is something I like to do! The small hammers used to come with the toffee tins. Very cool. As always, use the very best peanut butter and toffee.

Toffee Peanut Butter Cookies

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

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

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Cartoon of the Day: Gingerbread House


 

ENGLISH TOFFEE TRUFFLES: National English Toffee Day

Tomorrow is English Toffee Day, and if you're a frequent reader of this blog, you know I love Toffee. I've been a Toffee Judge for the International Chocolate Salon for five years. So to celebrate the day, here's a recipe for English Toffee Truffles. This easy recipe is adapted from myrecipes.com. As always, the flavor will change with the quality of your ingredients, so use the very best!

English Toffee Truffles

Ingredients
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp whipping cream
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
5 small English Toffee-flavored candy bars, crushed (i.e. Heath Bars or Chopped Toffee)

Directions
Heat chocolate and butter in saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until melted. Remove from heat; stir in cream. Let cool 5 minutes. Stir in pecans.
Cover and chill 2 hours or until mixture is firm.
Shape chocolate mixture into 1" balls; roll in crushed toffee candy.
Store truffles in refrigerator up to one week.

Tips: Crush toffee bars easily by sealing them in a heavy-duty, zip-top plastic bag, crush with a rolling pin. Use a 1 1/4" metal scoop to shape into truffles. It streamlines the process.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD FINGERS: National Shortbread Day!

Today is National Shortbread Day. Since Shortbread is all about butter, use the very best butter in the following recipe! A few years ago on National Shortbread Day I posted Michael Recchiuti's recipe for Chocolate Shortbread Cookies. They're absolutely delicious and worth the time and effort. This year for National Shortbread Day, I'm more about easy and quick, so here's my favorite recipe for Chocolate Shortbread. This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. You can also make cookies using this recipe, but that's for another day. I use unsalted butter in this recipe, but then I use unsalted butter in just about every recipe!

CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD FINGERS

Ingredients
1-1/2 cups plus two Tbsp all-purpose flour
4-1/2 Tbsp Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened  (this is really key.. butter should be room temperature)
1 cup superfine sugar (ok, I have this on hand, but if you don't, put granulated sugar in the blender. Be sure and measure again)
Granulated sugar (for sprinkling)

Directions
Preheat oven to 325F. 
Butter 12 x 8 inch pan. Line with parchment paper.
In bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda until combined.
Place butter and superfine sugar in mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy – three to four minutes (use the paddle attachment). Scrape down sides of bowl and add flour mixture. Beat on medium until just combined.
Spread dough in pan, using spatula or your fingers to even out the surface. Freeze dough until firm – approximately 15 minutes. Prick dough all over with tines of a fork, and place in oven. Bake 20 (to 30) minutes. Dough should be just firm to the touch.
Place pan on wire rack to cool. While still hot, cut dough into strips, and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Dough should cool completely in pan.

For a twist: Sprinkle sea salt on top instead of sugar--or a mixture of both.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM: Milk, Dark, & White for National Whipped Cream Day!

Today is National Whipped Cream Day. I've posted many recipes that call for whipped cream including chocolate whipped cream for National Cream Puff Day. Today I have three recipes for Chocolate Whipped Cream -- milk, dark, and white.

Chocolate Whipped Cream is terrific to add to desserts, fill cream puffs, and even add to your coffee. There are so many creative uses. Whipped Cream is easy to make, and it's delicious. You can use it as an icing or filling. You can use it with just about anything you would use regular whipped cream for, including Chocolate Strawberry Short Cake!

The first recipe for Milk Chocolate Whipped Cream is from Martha Stewart. Martha uses chocolate whipped cream for the filling of chocolate sandwich cookies. Fabulous!  I love these Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Chocolate Whipped Cream, and you can use any chocolate cookie recipe!

The second Chocolate Whipped Cream Recipe uses a lot more chocolate, and it's dark chocolate. Which chocolate you choose depends on what you like and what you have.

The third Chocolate Whipped Cream is from the Queen of Chocolate, Alice Medrich. It's for White Chocolate Whipped Cream. Of course, Medrich has great recipes for Dark and Milk chocolate, too, so check out her recipes online and in her many cookbooks.

The Retro Advertisement is for Reddi-Wip! Don't use a can if you have the ingredients and time to make your own. It's so much better!

Photo: Martha Stewart

1. CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM  
(from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients
4 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups heavy cream
3 Tbsp sugar

Directions
Place chocolate in medium bowl; set aside.
Heat sugar and 1 cup cream in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until sugar has dissolved.
Pour cream mixture over chocolate; stir until chocolate has melted. Let cool.
Transfer chocolate mixture to electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Add remaining cup heavy cream and beat on medium speed until thick and fluffy.

How easy is that?

2. DARK CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM (from Sherry Yard)

I really love this recipe from Sherry Yard for Chocolate Whipped Cream. It's definitely more of a rich whipped ganache, but then isn't that what it's all about? Sherry Yard was the executive pastry chef at Wolfgang Puck's Spago in Beverly Hills and shared this recipe on Cookin' with Good Morning America (December 25, 2003). It's also in in her book Secrets of Baking: Simple Techniques for Sophisticated Desserts.

Ingredients
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp sugar

Directions
Using serrated knife, finely chop the chocolate into 1/4 inch pieces and place in medium heatproof bowl.
Bring cream and sugar to boil in small saucepan over medium heat. Immediately pour hot cream over chopped chocolate. Tap bowl on counter to settle chocolate into cream, then let sit for 1 minute.
Using rubber spatula, slowly stir in circular motion, starting from center of bowl and working out to sides. Stir until all chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes.
Pour ganache into medium container, cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. It should be consistency of peanut butter.
Once ganache has chilled, transfer to large bowl. Using balloon whisk, whip ganache by hand until it just reaches soft peaks, about 2 minutes. Be sure to lift whisk out of cream with each pass to bring in as much air as possible. Do not overwhip. Don't worry if cream doesn't seem firm enough. It will have consistency of mustard but will solidify more after it sets in the refrigerator. You can also use a hand mixer.
Use this cream immediately to fill pastries, tarts, and cakes. After dessert is filled, refrigerate for about 1 hour to set the Chocolate Whipped Cream.

3. White Chocolate Whipped Cream from Alice Medrich

Ingredients
4 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp water
A pinch or two of salt (optional)

Directions
Put chocolate in medium bowl.
Bring cream and water to simmer in saucepan and pour over chocolate. Let stand for 30 seconds, then stir well.
Let stand for 15 minutes to finish melting chocolate, then stir again until every last bit of chocolate is melted into cream. Let cool. Taste and add salt, if desired.
Cover and refrigerate for at least several hours, or until completely chilled.
To serve, whip the cream with electric mixer until it holds a shape.
Use immediately or refrigerate until needed.

And, as always, your final product will only be as good as your ingredients. Use the best. Here's one of my favorite whipping creams!



Monday, January 4, 2021

COOKIES AND CREAM MICKEY CUPCAKES: The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook

If you're a Walt Disney Parks fan, you're probably lamenting the fact that you've been unable to go this past year, at least here in California. And, because of the pandemic, you're probably doing a lot more cooking and baking. Well The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook will bring a bit of the Walt Disney magic into your own kitchen. This book features 100 Disney-inspired recipes ranging from the classic Dole Whip and Mickey Pretzels to new favorites like blue milk from Star Wars land and Jack Jack’s Cookie Num Nums from Pixar Pier. 

The cookbook is organized by park — from Disneyland to Epcot, Hollywood Studios to Disney’s Animal Kingdom — and showcases recipes for some of the amazing foods you can find from Main Street USA to Galaxy’s Edge. With The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook, you can explore every delicious nook and cranny the parks have to offer, all without leaving the comfort of your own home. 

And, since this is a Chocolate blog, here's one of my favorites from the cookbook:

Cookies and Cream Mickey Cupcakes

Main Street, U.S.A., Disneyland

Candy Palace on Main Street, U.S.A., was renovated in 2012 and given a very sweet interior. Many of the features are meant to look edible, such as the chandelier that seems to be dripping ice cream, and the exit sign shaped as a wrapped candy. And among its actually edible creations are delectable, supersweet Cookies and Cream Mickey Cupcakes. Topped with the iconic mouse ears, these popular treats are easy to whip up and sure to please.

 

YIELDS 24 CUPCAKES

For Cupcakes

3 tablespoons salted butter, softened

1 12 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 13 cups all-purpose flour

14 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

34 cup cocoa powder

14 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole milk

1.      ‌To make Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two standard muffin tins with cupcake liners and set aside.

2.      ‌In the bowl of a stand mixer, add butter and sugar. Using the flat beater attachment, cream together well. Add eggs and vanilla. While mixer is running, add flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt; continue mixing until well combined. Add milk slowly.

3.      ‌Scoop batter into prepared muffin tins, filling cups just above halfway.

4.      ‌Bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely, about 1 hour, before frosting.


For Frosting

12 cup salted butter, softened

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons heavy cream

10 chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed

48 mini chocolate sandwich cookies, whole

1.      ‌To make Frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, add butter, confectioners’ sugar, cream cheese, and heavy cream. Using the flat beater attachment, whip until light and fluffy. Add crushed cookies and mix until combined.

 

2.      ‌Scoop frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Swirl a generous amount of frosting on each cupcake, creating a pointed mound. Stand a mini sandwich cookie upright on either side of pointed mount to create Mickey Mouse ears.


MIX IT UP

Frosting swirls are adorable, but if you prefer less frosting on your cupcakes, you can just use a knife to spread a thinner layer of frosting on top of the cupcakes—enough to push in the mouse ears.

***

Excerpted from The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook by Ashley Craft. Copyright @2020 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Photography by Harper Point Photography. Used with permission of the publisher, Adams Media, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.