Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Retro Easter Egg Cake Ad & Recipe

I love this Retro Advertisement and recipe from 3/30/53. "Quick Like a Bunny Make this Gay Easter Egg Cake."

This is a "Golden Yellow" Cake with Chocolate Icing. Easy and pretty. You can, of course, update the recipe to make your own yellow cake and your own icing. Most kitchen and craft stores will have special pans to create an egg shape, but if you want to go retro, follow this recipe and cut the egg into shape!


Monday, March 29, 2021

LEMON CHIFFON TRUFFLES: National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day

March 29 is National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day, and there's nothing so light and wonderful as a lemon chiffon cake made right! However, there really isn't a Chocolate Lemon Chiffon Cake, so instead to celebrate the day, I suggest making Lemon Chiffon Truffles. The truffle recipe below is simple to make. There's no coating.. so they're really easy. I always use Meyer lemons, maybe because I have 4 Meyer lemon trees that never stop producing lemons - or maybe because Meyer Lemons have the best flavor.  For the white chocolate I use Guittard. Whatever you do, please use 'real' white chocolate.

Want to read a great book related to Lemon Cake? Read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender.

No time to make these? Michael's Chocolates makes my favorite -- Lemoncello Truffles.

LEMON CHIFFON TRUFFLES

Ingredients 
1/4 cup unsalted butter
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
3 Tbsp heavy cream
1 cup white chocolate, finely chopped (real white chocolate not disks-I use Guittard)
3/4 tsp lemon extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar or sparkling sugar for coating

Directions
Put white chocolate in mixing bowl, set aside. 

Melt butter with lemon zest in saucepan. Stir in cream and heat until bubbles form around edges but not boiling.
Pour hot cream mixture over white chocolate. Add extract then stir until smooth.
Cover mixture and refrigerate 2 hours (or overnight) -- until firm enough to handle.
Scoop mixture by heaping teaspoon fulls and form into balls. Roll in powdered sugar or sparkling sugar.
Freeze truffles 20 minutes or refrigerate for one hour, then enjoy.
Keep truffles in refrigerator until ready to eat.

My Garden with Meyer Lemon Tree

Sunday, March 28, 2021

BLACK FOREST BUNDT CAKE: National Black Forest Cake Day!

March 28 is Black Forest Cake Day. A traditional Black Forest cake has multiple (usually 4) layers of chocolate sponge cake, cherries, frosted with whipped cream, and covered with chocolate shavings and cherries for decoration. Kirschwasser (Cherry Schnapps) is used to flavor the whipped cream. The bottom layers of sponge cake are also brushed with Kirschwasser to provide moisture and a little extra flavor.

Over the years, I've posted recipes for traditional Black Forest Cake, but here's a great and easy recipe from Challenge Butter for Black Forest Bundt Cake. Want to make this more traditional? Serve with Cherry Schnapps Whipped Cream (recipe below) 

As to how Black Forest Cake got its name, some historians say it's possible that the name came from the traditional costume worn by women in the Black Forest. The dress was black (just like the chocolate flakes), the blouse is white (like the cream), and the hat has red pom-poms that look just like cherries. Well, maybe??

Black Forest Bundt Cake

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs
2 tsp almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 can (21 ounces) cherry pie filling  (I use Chukar's)

Directions
Preheat oven to 325°F. Generously butter (1-1/2 Tablespoons) a 12-cup Bundt pan (or similar sized pan).
Cream butter and sugar. Beat in sour cream, eggs, and almond extract.
Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add dry mix to creamed mixture alternating with the milk. Mix until well blended.
Spread 1/2 of batter into prepared Bundt pan, spreading batter slightly up the sides to form a trough. Spoon pie filling on top of batter; avoid touching sides and center of pan. Cover filling with remaining batter.
Bake 60 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool in pan 10-15 minutes; turn out onto wire rack or serving plate to complete cooling.
Sprinkle with confectioners sugar before serving.
Serve plain or with Cherry Schnapps Whipped Cream

Cherry Schnapps (Kirsch) Whipped Cream

Ingredients
1-1/2 cups chilled whipping cream
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp Kirsch

Directions
Beat cream, sugar, and kirsch in large bowl until peaks form. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 hours.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRY 'CARROTS' IN CHOCOLATE DIRT for EASTER

Photo Credit: Driscoll's
Searching for the Perfect Edible Easter Centerpiece? You've found it! These Chocolate Covered Strawberry 'Carrots' in Chocolate Dirt are adorable and easy to make. Thanks once again to Driscoll's Strawberries for the recipe and for their always perfect strawberries! These Chocolate Covered Strawberry Carrots in Chocolate Dirt are also great for a Spring Table!

This has to be the best presentation I've seen in awhile. I actually use these little tin buckets for my succulents, so I have plenty. Don't have tin buckets? You can use small mason jars.

CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRY 'CARROTS' IN CHOCOLATE DIRT

Pudding 
1 cup sugar
4 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 cups whole milk, divided
6 Tbsp cornstarch

Dirt Topping
2 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about 40 cookies)

Strawberry Carrots 
1 package (16 ounces) Driscoll's Strawberries (the 8 largest from the package for dipping)
11 ounces white chocolate (make sure it's 'real' white chocolate--made with cocoa butter)
Gel food coloring (red and yellow)

Directions

Pudding 
In double boiler melt bittersweet chocolate. Set aside.
Whisk together 1 cup milk and cornstarch.
Bring remaining 3 cups milk, sugar, cocoa, and salt just to simmer over medium heat. Stir cornstarch mixture then add to milk mixture in saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in melted chocolate and vanilla. Divide pudding between 8 food safe 6 oz stainless steel mini pail buckets or small 6 - 8 oz jars or glasses. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming. Chill.

Preparing strawberries
Rinse and dry strawberries. You do not want water on the berries when you dip them in chocolate. For best results berries should be at room temperature for dipping to ensure that the chocolate will adhere to berry.

Melting the Chocolate 
To melt chocolate on stovetop, put white chocolate in double boiler (or saucepan over saucepan) over simmering water.

Dipping and Decorating
Line baking sheet with wax paper or parchment paper. Once chocolate has melted, add 4 drops of yellow gel food color and 4 drops of red food gel color and stir well until thoroughly blended into chocolate.
Holding strawberry by green leaves, dip it into chocolate swirling the strawberry until coated. Coat about 3/4 of the way up the strawberry leaving some strawberry showing. Shake off excess chocolate and place on prepared baking sheet to set.

After dipping strawberries, take remaining chocolate and gently reheat until fully melted again. Prepare pastry bag fitted with piping tip and fill bag with remaining chocolate. With berries lying on baking sheet, start at tip of each berry and pipe lines half way across strawberry, alternating starting from left, then right until up to chocolate line below the calyx (strawberry stem). Repeat with remaining berries. If you don't have a pastry bag, you can dip fork into the melted chocolate and drizzle the lines on--or you can use a ziploc bag with corner cut out to pipe.
Place decorated strawberries in refrigerator until chocolate is firm.
Before serving, remove plastic wrap from pudding, and sprinkle tops of each pudding with cookie crumbs.
Once finished, add chocolate covered strawberry to center. Serve immediately.

Friday, March 26, 2021

QUEEN OF SHEBA CAKE aka REINE DE SABA for Passover or Anytime!

A few years ago a friend made a Queen of Sheba cake for Passover. This cake is also known as a Reine de Saba, and surely Julia Child is the Queen of the Queen of Sheba Cake! I've watched the episode where she makes a Reine de Saba several times, but I never really thought about this in terms of the perfect Passover cake -- with a few tweaks.

Julia Child writes in "The Way to Cook" that this was the first French cake she ever ate, prepared by co-author Simone Beck, "and I have never forgotten it."

The following recipe will make one large Reine de Saba in an 8-inch cake pan, or make six petite versions in a large (3 1/2-inch diameter) muffin tin.

Queen of Sheba Cake

Ingredients:
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (bittersweet may be used)
2 Tbsp rum or coffee
1/4 lb butter at room temperature
2/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
3 eggs, separated
2/3 cup finely ground almonds
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (the jury is out on whether or not cream of tartar is kosher for Passover--so if in doubt substitute squeeze of lemon juice instead)
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup cake flour, measured then sifted (for Passover use matzo cake meal--1/3 cup -- or Almond flour)
one good pinch of salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F and place rack in middle.
Melt chocolate and rum or coffee in pot set over simmering water, stirring to combine. Cover, turn off heat, and leave alone. Cream butter and 2/3 cup sugar together until pale yellow and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks until pale and fluffy. Add almond extract.
In separate bowl, beat egg whites on low-to-medium until foamy, then increase speed, adding 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (or squeeze of lemon) until soft peaks form.
Return to melted chocolate and give it a small stir.
Beat in some of butter/yolk mixture a little at a time, stirring constantly so yolks do not curdle. Repeat until all is combined.
Combine almond meal, cake flour, and salt. Add this dry mixture to chocolate mixture, incorporating bits at a time. Then gently fold in egg whites, starting with about 1/2 a cup and working the rest in.
Immediately put 1/2 cup of your batter into each of the six muffin tins. Give a good, hard bang or two on your kitchen counter to level and remove any bubbles in batter.
Bake for 12 minutes, then watch closely until finished. A pale, chocolaty crust should form, but cakes should jiggle a little. Toothpick inserted about an inch from the edges should come out dry, but one poked into the center should not. Remove from oven and let cool for about an hour. When ready to remove from pan, run a sharp knife around the edges of the cakes, invert onto platter.
Top with chocolate glaze or dust with powdered sugar.

Icing recipe from Julia Child's original recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Icing
2 ounces semisweet baking chocolate
2 Tbsp rum or coffee
5 to 6 Tbsp unsalted butter

Directions
Place chocolate and rum or coffee in small pan, cover, and set in larger pan of almost simmering water. Remove pans from heat and let chocolate melt for 5 minutes or so, until perfectly smooth. Lift chocolate pan out of hot water, and beat in butter a tablespoon at a time. Then beat over the ice and water until chocolate mixture has cooled to spreading consistency.
At once spread it over cake with spatula or knife, and press design of almonds onto icing.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

CHOCOLATE SPONGE CAKE for PASSOVER

I have several recipes for Chocolate Sponge Cake for Passover, but this specific Chocolate Sponge Cake is fabulous all year round. And it's gluten-free! It's made with almond flour.

Want to dress it up? Add some whipped cream and fresh berries, cut it in half and fill with a light chocolate buttercream, or cut it up and put it in a trifle. Easy to make and delicious.

A few hints. Fresh Almond flour is readily available where I live and online, but you can always grind your own. Use a hand grinder (a clean coffee grinder) or blender --not a food processor which could result in oil rather than flour. I've used a blender, and just did this in smaller increments, about 1/2 cup at a time. Almond and chocolate go very well together. Try using different types of chocolate to achieve the flavor you like best. Enjoy!

Because there are so many eggs to separate in this recipe, I use the 'egg trick'. Break all eggs into bowl (yes yolks and whites). Then take an empty water bottle and place the neck near a yolk and squeeze the water bottle. The yolk pops up into the bottle. Then place the water bottle over another bowl and release. So cool! Try with one egg first, just to master this simple task!

CHOCOLATE SPONGE CAKE

Ingredients
7 ounces dark chocolate (60-75% cacao), chopped
10 eggs, separated
3/4 cup white sugar
2 cups ground almonds
Almond Flour

Directions
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler or saucepan over another saucepan of simmering water. Set aside.
Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon colored. Gradually beat in sugar. Blend in chocolate and ground almonds.
Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold whites into chocolate batter.
Spoon batter into ungreased 10 inch Bundt pan or tall springform pan.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour, or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Remove from oven, invert pan, and cool about 40 minutes before removing from pan.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

OATMEAL CHOCOLATE COVERED RAISIN COOKIES: National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day

I like oatmeal cookies, and I usually add chocolate chips rather than raisins, but this recipe for Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Covered Raisin Cookies from Gold Medal combines the best of both. It's perfect for Chocolate Covered Raisins Day! I use Raisinets!

Oatmeal Chocolate Covered Raisin Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla
1 cup Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1-1/4 cup dark chocolate covered raisins (Raisinets)

Directions
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In bowl of electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.
Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
Mix until just combined.
Stir in oats and dark chocolate covered raisins.
Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake about 10 minutes or until light brown.
Let cookies rest on cookie sheets for 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

PASSOVER CHOCOLATE BROWNIES: 4 Recipes

Passover begins Saturday night, and if you observe the Passover holiday (8 days) you won't be eating any leavened food products. So in terms of chocolate baking you need to tweak some things, starting with not using flour. This doesn't mean you can't have Chocolate Cake, Brownies, or Cookies ..  just an adjustment. And, if you're gluten-free, you'll love the first recipe. Baking without flour shouldn't be a problem, and these recipes are great any time, not just for Passover.

So for Passover week, here are 4 different recipes for Passover Brownies. Think of them as Flourless Brownies! You love Flourless Chocolate Cake, right? Try all the recipes and let me know which you like best. Do you have your own favorite recipe for Passover Brownies? Be sure and share by linking below.

These first two recipes I adapted from recipes I found on Chowhound in 2008.

Passover Chocolate Brownies #1

Ingredients
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
5 eggs, separated
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (not chocolate chips)
8 ounces finely chopped or ground almonds (or almond flour)
Pinch of salt

Directions
Cream butter and sugar together. Mix in egg yolks.
Melt chocolate over double boiler (or over saucepan over saucepan with simmering water). Cool and add to butter mixture. Add finely ground almonds.
Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold into batter.
Pour into 9" square greased baking tin.
Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 45-50 min.
Cool and cut into squares.

Passover Chocolate Brownies #2

Ingredients
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup of matzo cake meal
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup DARK cocoa
3 large eggs
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Directions
Mix oil and sugar.
Add eggs and mix again.
Sift matzo cake meal and cocoa together and add to mixture.
Fold in nuts and mix thoroughly.
Grease 8 x 8 pan and pour in batter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
Cool and cut in squares.

This third recipe is originally from Gourmet 2000 ( Epicurious). It calls for a Chocolate-Wine Glaze, and you might want to try that. I like my brownies unadulterated, but I've tried the chocolate-wine glaze, and it's delicious. Nothing quite like chocolate and Manischewitz!

Passover Chocolate Brownies #3

Ingredients
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted margarine (if keeping brownies pareve) or butter, cut into pieces
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
Pinch of Salt
2 tsp finely grated fresh orange zest
3/4 cup matzo cake meal
3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with wax paper or greased foil.
Melt chocolate and margarine (or butter) in metal bowl over saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.
Beat eggs, sugar, and salt in large bowl with electric mixer on high until pale and thick. Beat in chocolate in 3 batches on low speed. Stir in zest, matzo meal, and nuts just until blended.
Spread batter in baking pan and bake in middle of oven until firm and tester comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
Cool in pan on rack, then invert onto a platter and remove paper or foil.
Cut into Squares.

Passover Chocolate Brownies #4

Ingredients
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or dark chocolate, chopped)
1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup matzoh cake meal
2 Tbsp unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
2 Tbsp potato starch
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions
Preheat oven to 350. Grease 8-inch square baking dish.
Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler or in saucepan on top of another saucepan with simmering water. Set aside to cool slightly.
In mixing bowl, stir together cake meal, cocoa powder, and potato starch.
Combine eggs, granulated sugar, and vanilla in large bowl. Beat with electric mixer until light and creamy – about 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture until smooth, then add cake meal mixture, beating on low speed just until combined. Batter is thick.
Fold in chopped nuts and spread in prepared baking dish.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or just until entire surface has puffed slightly. Brownies will still be moist in center.
Remove from oven and cool before cutting into squares.

I especially love Passover Brownies #4--very, very fudgy!!! Of course, always use high quality chocolate! It really makes a difference!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

CHOCOLATE MATZO TOFFEE aka MATZO BRITTLE for Passover

My sister made this fabulous Chocolate Matzo Toffee aka Matzo Brittle for the Passover Seder a few years ago. It's an easy recipe, but it does take time.. lots of waiting. But if you're doing other things, it's a snap! Photo by Judie Siddall.

Recipe for Passover Toffee is from Celebrate Passover by Deborah Heiligman (National Geographic Holidays Around the World) No date. In the acknowledgements of the book the author thanks "Vivian Phillips who gave me the toffee recipe years ago." This book is for children, but the directions for this recipe say, "You will need an adult to help you."  To eat it, for sure!

PASSOVER CHOCOLATE MATZO TOFFEE




Monday, March 22, 2021

CHOCOLATE PECAN BROWNIE FUDGE CAKE for PASSOVER

Here's a great recipe that's perfect for Passover. Recipe first appeared in the L.A. Times on April 14, 2011 and again in August 2012.

Instead of flour, the recipe calls for ground blanched almonds. Almond and chocolate go very well together. The almond flour gives the following cake a nutty flavor that is complemented by the Pecans! This cake is simple to make and easy to enjoy! Just an FYI, it's not very high. Add some fresh whipped cream if you need to. I particularly like the crunchy top of this cake and the fudge-y insides.

Notes on special ingredients:

Almond Flour: Almond flour is readily available where I live, as well as online, but you can grind your own. Use a hand grinder (a clean coffee grinder) or blender. Don't use a food processor or you might end up making oil. If you use a blender, do it in small increments, about 1/2 cup at a time.

Turbinado Sugar: Turbinado sugar is a sugar cane-based, minimally refined sugar. It's medium brown in color and has large crystals. It's often mistaken for traditional brown sugar because of its light brown color, but it's made in a different way. It contains more moisture than regular white or brown sugar, so get some for your pantry. If you don't have it, and you want to make this cake today, you can substitute granulated sugar.

Potato Starch: No you don't have to make your own! Potato starch is available from Bob's Red Mill, King Arthur Flour, and many other sources. FYI: It is not the same product as potato flour.

CHOCOLATE PECAN BROWNIE FUDGE CAKE

Ingredients
1/3 cup potato starch (see my note above)
1/2 cup finely ground blanched almonds (almond flour-see note above)
1 cup turbinado sugar (in a pinch you can use granulated sugar)
Pinch salt
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate (the very best quality!), melted
1 cup chopped pecans

Directions
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 9-inch round or square baking pan and line with parchment paper so paper extends 2 inches beyond the pan. (Always good to ease the cake out of the pan)
In medium bowl, whisk together potato starch, ground almonds, sugar, and salt.
In small bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, and vanilla. Pour oil mixture over dry ingredients and stir together with wooden spoon until thoroughly combined and smooth. Stir in melted chocolate and chopped pecans. Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Level with frosting spatula dipped in cold water, if necessary.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out slightly moist but without crumbs.
While still warm, cut into 8 equal pieces, leaving cake in pan. Set aside cake to cool completely, then chill.
Bring cake back to room temperature before lifting out of pan (using parchment 'handles'), and gently separate into portions.
Top with fresh whipped cream and serve!!

Sunday, March 21, 2021

CHOCOLATE CHIP COCOA MERINGUES for Passover

Here's a staple to make during Passover. These Chocolate Chip Meringues are easy and tasty and fun to make with children. I always think of Meringues as a little bit of heaven--Light, Airy, and Sweet. You can serve them on a bed of chocolate chips to dress them up for dessert--or just stack them on a platter. Recipe from Allrecipes.com with a few tweaks.

Chocolate Chip Cocoa Meringues

Ingredients
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened DARK premium cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
3 egg whites
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 300. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sift 1/4 cup sugar, cocoa, and salt into small bowl.
In large bowl, beat egg whites with electric mixer until soft peaks begin to form. Mix in remaining 1/4 cup of sugar gradually, and beat until medium-firm peaks form. Sprinkle in cocoa mixture gradually, and continue beating until egg whites are stiff. Fold in mini-chocolate chips.
Drop mixture onto baking sheets by rounded teaspoonfuls, spacing about 1 inch apart.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes for crispy cookies. Cool cookies on baking sheets.

Tip: The parchment paper reduces risk of burning bottoms.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

STRAWBERRY EXTRA-CHOCOLATEY BROWNIES: National California Strawberry Day!

Today is California Strawberry Day. It's also the first day of Spring, so it's a great day to celebrate! California is the nation's leading producer of strawberries. The coast of California has a unique environment with its western ocean exposure with moderate temperatures year round -- warm sunny days and cool foggy nights - the perfect combination for growing delicious, beautiful strawberries!

I've posted recipes over the years for California Strawberry Day: Strawberry Chocolate German Pancake, Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake, Chocolate Covered Stuffed Strawberries, and 'regular' Chocolate Covered Strawberries. There have been others, too.


I can always depend on Driscoll's for fresh delicious California Strawberries, so it's no surprise I consult their website for special Strawberry recipes (and other berries). In this recipe for Strawberry Extra-Chocolatey Brownies (recipe adapted from Driscoll's website), chopped strawberries add a fresh touch of fruity tartness to rich fudgy brownies. This is a quick and easy recipe. Use the finest ingredients-- California Strawberries, the best chocolate-- and you'll have a winner!

Visit California Strawberries for more facts, recipes, and apps.

Strawberry Extra-Chocolatey Brownies

Ingredients
1 pkg. Driscoll’s Strawberries
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate (I use Guittard)
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1- 1/4 cup Granulated sugar
2 wggs
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cups All-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 12 muffin cups, or coat with cooking spray.
Rinse and dry strawberries. Stem and chop 8 ounces berries (half the container, 1-1/2 cups chopped), reserving the smallest berries for garnishing.
Place chocolate and butter in a medium mixing bowl. Microwave on medium power 2-3 minutes until butter is melted; stir until chocolate is completely melted. (or melt in a double boiler)*
Stir in sugar, eggs and vanilla.
Mix in flour, chopped strawberries, stirring just until combined.
Scoop batter into muffin cups, filling one half full.
Bake 15-17 minutes until brownies are just set on top and no longer shiny. Remove from oven and sprinkle about 1-1/2 teaspoons chocolate chips on tops. Return to oven 1-2 minutes until chocolate softens. Spread chocolate with the back of a teaspoon or knife.
Cool completely in pan. Run a knife around edges and lift to remove from pan. Before serving, halve remaining strawberries and place one on top of each brownie.

Pan Brownies Variation
Use an 8-inch square pan instead of muffin pan. Bake 25-30 minutes as directed above. At end of bake time sprinkle chocolate chips on top; return to oven for 1-2 minutes. Evenly spread chocolate. Cool. Cut into squares and garnish with strawberries.

Friday, March 19, 2021

SEA SALT CARAMEL BROWNIES: National Chocolate Caramel Day

Today is National Chocolate Caramel Day! My favorite truffles are sea salt caramel, and the same goes for brownies! So for Chocolate Caramel Day, here are two recipes for Sea Salt Caramel Brownies -- one uses a fudge brownie mix and the other is for brownies from scratch.You can make or buy the caramel sauce. Both recipes are easy, and it just depends on what you have on hand and how much time you have!

1. SEA SALT CARAMEL BROWNIES FROM SCRATCH

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter
5 ounces good quality dark (60-75% cacao) chocolate
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp instant espresso powder (optional)
2 ounces chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
1/4 cup good quality caramel sauce
1 tsp good quality sea salt

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 F
Grease 9 x13 inch baking pan.
In saucepan over another saucepan with simmering water, melt butter and chocolate, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar. Cool slightly.
In large bowl, beat eggs one at time. Stir in vanilla.
Fold in chocolate mixture.
Combine flour, 1/2 tsp salt and espresso powder (if using). Add to chocolate mixture.
Fold in chocolate chips or chopped chocolate pieces
Spread batter evenly into prepared pan.
Drizzle caramel on top of batter
Using knife, swirl over surface.
Sprinkle sea salt over caramel.
Bake 30-40 minutes.
Cool in pan on wire rack.

Want to make your own Caramel Sauce, too?  

HOMEMADE CARAMEL SAUCE

Ingredients
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp heavy cream
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Directions
In small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and 2 Tbsp water to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and cook without stirring, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush, until sugar is deep amber color (5-8 minutes). Remove caramel from heat. Add cream and butter and whisk to combine. Let cool slightly in pan.

2. Sea Salt Caramel Brownies using a Brownie Mix
This recipe is from Morton Salt. I always say check product sites for recipes. Did you know that Morton Salt has an excellent Sea Salt? Found this recipe on their site. Of course, you can always use your own sea salt. I'm partial to Duncan Hines Brownie Mixes, but whatever you have on hand.

Ingredients
1 package fudge brownie mix
Eggs
Vegetable oil
Water
20 individually wrapped caramels
2 Tbsp milk
1 teaspoon Morton® Coarse Sea Salt

Directions 
Heat oven and prepare brownie mix as instructed on box.
After placing brownie mix in 8 x 8 baking pan, set aside.
Make caramel sauce as instructed below (or use a prepared caramel sauce), then drizzle sauce on top of brownie batter.
Bake brownie batter as instructed on package.
Remove brownies from oven.
Sprinkle with Morton Coarse Sea Salt.
Cool brownies before cutting.

Caramel Sauce:
Place unwrapped caramels and milk in microwave safe bowl.
Microwave on high for 1 minute and then in 10 second intervals, until caramels are easily whisked. Whisk until caramel mixture is smooth and thoroughly combined.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE WALNUT COOKIES: Passover

Here's a recipe I posted a few years ago. Perfect for Passover--or for anyone who's looking for a great Gluten-Free cookie.

Top pastry chef Francois Payard makes keeping kosher for Passover look easy, offering a range of non-leavened, grain-free desserts for the holiday. This is a fabulous and simple recipe for Passover or any time, and these cookies are Gluten-free. As always the quality depends on the cocoa! Thanks, Chef Francois, for the recipe and photo!

Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies

Makes about twelve 4-inch cookies

Ingredients
1/2 cup plus 3 Tbsp Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
Pinch of salt
2-3/4 cups walnuts, toasted, and roughly chopped
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions
Place racks in upper and bottom thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Combine cocoa powder, confectioners’ sugar, salt, and walnuts in bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 1 minute.

With mixer running, slowly add egg whites and vanilla. Mix on medium speed for 3 minutes, until mixture has slightly thickened. Do not overmix or egg whites will thicken too much.

With 2-ounce cookie or ice cream scoop or generous tablespoon, scoop batter onto prepared baking sheet, to make cookies that are 4 inches in diameter. Scoop 5 cookies on each pan, about 3 inches apart so they don’t stick when they spread. If you have extra batter, wait until first batch of cookies is baked before scooping next batch.

Put cookies in oven, and immediately lower temperature to 320°F. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, or until small thin cracks appear on surface of cookies. Switch pans halfway through baking. Pull  parchment paper with cookies onto wire cooling rack, and let cool completely before removing cookies from paper. Store in airtight container up to 2 days.
****

François Payard is a third generation pastry chef, who, after honing his skills by his family’s side and in the finest pastry kitchens in France, moved to New York where he was named “Pastry Chef of the Year” by the James Beard Foundation. Francois Payard has won numerous awards, such as the “Ordre du Mérite Agricole” by the French Government in 2004, he became a member of Relais Desserts International in 2006, an association of the 85 best pastry chefs in the world and in 2010 received the Dom Perignon Award of Excellence. 

Not just a chef, François is also the author of the popular cookbooks Bite Size: Elegant Recipes for Entertaining, Simply Sensational Desserts and Chocolate Epiphany: Exceptional Cookies, Cakes, and Confections for Everyone and PAYARD DESSERTS.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

CHOCOLATE GUINNESS CAKE: 3 Recipes for St. Patrick's Day!

For St. Patrick's Day every year, I post a lot of Guinness recipes. No big surprise because when I think of Ireland, I think of shamrocks, rainbows, leprechauns...and Guinness.

Guinness Stout was founded in 1759 when Arthur Guinness signed a 9000 (!) year lease on a brewery in Dublin. That brewery is still the center of Guinness operations, and all the Guinness sold in the UK, Ireland, and North America is brewed there! FYI for those of you in the U.K., Guinness is served chilled in Ireland and the bottles read "Serve Extra Cold."

St. Patrick's Day calls for a Chocolate Guinness Cake! I've put together three recipes. One of my favorite Chocolate Guinness Cake Recipes is from the New York Times (12/8/04). There are several other recipes I like, including an "Easy" Chocolate Guinness Cake made from a cake mix and a whole bottle of Guinness. The final one on today's post is from Chef Brian Leth of Vinegar Hill House and appeared in People Magazine in 2012 (see below). My friend Loanne Heavey Slapar swears by it (see photo below). It's pretty similar to the one from the NYT, but I'll bet it all comes down to the cocoa .. and a bit of technique. Being Irish helps, too!

1. CHOCOLATE GUINNESS CAKE
Recipe from NYT (see above)

Ingredients
Butter for pan
1 cup Guinness stout
10 Tbsp unsalted butter
3/8 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa
2 cups superfine sugar
3/8 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda

Directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper.
In large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter. Place over medium-low heat until butter melts, then remove from heat. Add cocoa and superfine sugar. Whisk to blend.
In small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, and vanilla; mix well. Add to Guinness mixture. Add flour and baking soda, and whisk again until smooth. Pour into buttered pan, and bake until risen and firm, 45 minutes to one hour. Place pan on wire rack and cool completely in pan.
Remove cake from pan and place on platter or cake stand.
Ice the top with cream cheese icing.

The NYT recipe uses a white cream cheese icing. If you use a white cream cheese icing, you can ice the top of cake only, so that it resembles a frothy pint of Guinness. If you use chocolate, well.... you'll be eating more chocolate and can ice the entire cake!

***
Don't have the time or inclination to make a cake from scratch? This Chocolate Guinness Cake is even easier and calls for more Guinness!!! This recipe is from Canela and CominoDon't worry about the taste or smell of the Guinness because you're using the whole bottle. You'll only have a tang from the Guinness and no yeasty smell, just great chocolate aroma!

2. EASY CHOCOLATE GUINNESS CAKE

Ingredients
1 box of dark chocolate cake mix (one with pudding in the mix)
1 bottle of Guinness Stout
Loanne Heavey Slapar with her Chocolate Guinness Cake
1/2 cup of Canola oil
3 eggs
4 ounces Bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine cake mix, Stout, oil, and eggs in mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed just until combined. Add bittersweet chocolate and gently stir in. Divide between two 8” cake pans, coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when stuck in middle.
Remove from oven and cool in pans for about 15 minutes, then transfer to  cooling rack. Once cooled, frost with a rich Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.  (see recipe above or use canned frosting)

***

3. CHOCOLATE GUINNESS CAKE
From People Magazine/Vinegar Hill House:


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

BAILEY'S IRISH CREAM CHOCOLATE TRIFLE for St Patrick's Day


Here's another delicious chocolate recipe for St. Patrick's Day: Bailey's Chocolate Trifle.

As an aside, Bailey's has produced fun promotional collectibles over the years. I love these Winking "Yum" cups, creamers, sugar, cookie jars, egg cups, and teapots. You can still find them on eBay and etsy or at flea markets.

Back to recipes: I often clip recipes from newspapers and magazines, only to find them years later, yellowed by age but not necessarily by taste. With the Internet, we're so lucky that many of these 'one of a kind' recipes are posted. No paper, no fuss. No forgetting where they are.. well, maybe if you're like me and you don't bookmark them right away. Here's winner Marlene Moore's top recipe from the Mercury (Pottstown, PA) EATS contest. This is perfect for St. Patrick's Day. And, FYI:  Bailey's Irish Cream comes in several flavors: Original Irish Cream, Mint Bailey's Irish Cream; Coffee Irish Cream; or Creme Caramel Irish Cream. You can make this trifle using different flavors for completely different tastes! I usually make trifle in a clear bowl. The layers look beautiful.

Bailey’s Irish Cream Chocolate Trifle
by Marlene Moore

1 (18.25 pk.) Devil’s Food cake mix
1 cup Bailey's Irish Cream
2 (3.4 oz.) instant chocolate pudding mix
3 1/2 cups cold whole milk
3 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed  (possible substitute: fresh whipped cream)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the cake according to package directions. Bake in a greased 13 x 9 inch pan. Cool 1 hour on a wire rack. Poke holes in the cake about 2 inches apart with a meat fork. Carefully pour the Irish cream over the cake. Refrigerate 1 hour.

In a medium bowl whisk the pudding mix and milk together until smooth. Let stand 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft set. Cut the cake into 1-1/2-inch cubes. Place one-third of the cubes in a trifle bowl. Top with one-third of the pudding and one-third of the whipped topping. Repeat the layers two times. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Makes 14-16 servings

**
To add to your St Patrick's Day celebration, you might want to read some Crime Fiction set during St. Patrick's Day. Here's a link to a list on my other blog, Mystery Fanfare.

Monday, March 15, 2021

BAILEY'S IRISH CREAM S'MORES: St Patrick's Day!

Happy St Patrick's Day! Here's a great and easy way to celebrate the day. As always, it includes Chocolate! Who doesn't love S'mores? And, these S'mores Indoors are filled with Bailey's Irish Cream! Erin Go Bragh!

Bailey's Irish Cream S'mores!

Ingredients
3 ounces Baileys® Original Irish Cream
Crushed graham crackers
Mini marshmallows
Chocolate sauce (see recipe below or use your favorite!)
Large marshmallows

Directions
Crush and then layer graham crackers at the bottom of a mason jar.
Add a layer of mini marshmallows and chocolate sauce (proportion and layer to your taste).
Top with a few large marshmallows.
Brown marshmallows with a kitchen torch.

Drizzle 3 oz. of Baileys Original Irish Cream on top for a sweet finish.

Easy Chocolate Hot Fudge Sauce 

Ingredients 
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

Directions 
In medium sized saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Once butter is melted, add sweetened condensed milk. Use whisk to combine. Add chocolate, and stir continuously with whisk until melted and smooth. Immediately remove from heat.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

GUINNESS CHOCOLATE SILK PIE: National Pi Day & St. Patrick's Day

For the Love of Pi(e)! Today is National Pi(e) Day. In order to celebrate and keeping in mind that St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner, I've gone back into my archives for a favorite Chocolate Pie Recipe: Guinness Chocolate Silk Pie. I can't think of a better pie to celebrate both holidays! You can use any stout, of course, but Guinness is easily available! I make a chocolate cookie crust, but you can use a graham cracker crust or a vanilla wafer crust. I think the stout brings out the chocolate.

GUINNESS CHOCOLATE SILK PIE

Chocolate Cookie Crust

Ingredients
30 chocolate wafers (Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers)
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
Dash of Salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions
Whirl cookies in food processor until finely ground.
Put crumbs in mixing bowl; combine crumbs, butter, salt, and vanilla; stir until crumbs are moistened.
Press mixture evenly across bottom of 9-inch pie plate and up sides of pan; pack tightly so crust is even and compacted.
Bake in 350° oven for 6 minutes until crisp.
Cool before filling.

Filling:
12 ounces dark chocolate (65-75% cacao), chopped
24 large marshmallows
Pinch of salt
2/3 cups Guinness
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp creme de cacao or Kahlua

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Make crust (see above)

Place chocolate, marshmallows, and salt in blender or food processor. Blend until well mixed and chocolate is finely ground.
In two separate pans, heat Guinness and evaporated milk until very hot, but not boiling.
Slowly pour hot Guinness over marshmallows and chocolate in blender. Add hot cream. Cover and blend for one minute.
Add vanilla and creme de cacao or Kahlua. Blend for one minute.
Pour into cooled crust and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Top with Whipped Cream or Guinness Ice Cream

Saturday, March 13, 2021

GUINNESS CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES: St Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day is coming up! Time to bring out the Guinness.

I've posted this easy recipe in the past. You can really taste the Guinness in these truffles. Guinness goes very well with Chocolate! Hoist a few of these:

GUINNESS CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

Ingredients
3/4 cup Guinness
1 pound dark chocolate  (65-75% cacao), chopped
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Cocoa
Optional: chopped nuts

Directions
Melt chocolate in top of a double boiler or saucepan over another saucepan over simmering water.
Gradually stir in cream.
Gradually add Guinness, stirring gently to blend.
Cover and chill overnight.
Shape mixture into 3/4 inch balls, using about a tablespoon for each.
Roll in cocoa (optional: then roll in nuts)

Need some more St. Patrick's Day Chocolate Recipes?

Guinness Chocolate Silk Pie
Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes
Chocolate Irish Soda Bread with Guinness Ice Cream
Bailey's Irish Cream Truffles (made with Kerry Gold Pure Irish Butter)
Bailey's Chocolate Trifle
You Make Me Want to Stout Cupcakes (Scharffen Berger)
Bailey's Irish Cream Fudge

Friday, March 12, 2021

IRISH POTATO CANDY: St Patrick's Day!

Irish Potato Candy is one of my favorite St Patrick's Day Chocolate Candy! Not sure how many people associate St Patrick's Day and Ireland with the Great Potato Famine anymore, but some must because See's Candies always makes Irish Potatoes for the holiday! This candy might not look great --well it looks like potatoes and that's part of the charm-- but it tastes great! These potato candies are hand-shaped and robed in milk chocolate. The filling is the same fluffy nougat that's inside See's Divinity Truffle. Yum!! They're only available for a short time, so be sure and buy some before they run out.

Want to make your own Irish Potato Candy for St Patrick's Day? This Potato Candy is made with 'real' potatoes! It's a Philadelphia tradition. I've adapted this recipe from Food52. I use cocoa for rolling, but the cinnamon will work too.. or better yet, what about a blend? I also add toasted pine nuts for eyes!

IRISH POTATO Candy

Ingredients
1 potato (medium)
4 cups confectioners sugar
2 -1/2 cups shredded coconut
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
cinnamon or cocoa powder for rolling (or both)
Optional: Toasted pine nuts for eyes

Directions
Bring medium pot of water to boil and add potato. Lower heat and cook for 30-45 minutes or until potato is fork tender. When cool enough to handle (but still warm), peel potato and mash along with coconut oil, making sure to get it as smooth as possible. Stir in sugar, coconut, and vanilla extract until everything is evenly distributed and well combined. Mixture will be soft, but at this point it should be able to hold it's shape, if not add a bit more coconut and/or sugar.
Using small scoop or teaspoon, portion mixture into balls and let them chill for about an hour.
Once candies are firm, pour about 1/4 cup of cinnamon and/or cocoa into medium bowl.
Form chilled balls into potato-like shapes and roll each in cinnamon and/or cocoa, adding more cinnamon or cocoa to the bowl if necessary.
Want to have some 'eyes' on your potatoes? Add some toasted pine nuts
Serve immediately or store well wrapped at room temperature or in the fridge.

Makes about 24-30 'potatoes'.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

BAILEY'S IRISH CREAM FUDGE: St Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner, so I thought I'd post an easy recipe for Bailey's Irish Cream Fudge. This recipe is adapted from Fantasy-Ireland.com. As I've mentioned, you can find some great recipes in some unusual places: Food Associations, Travel Sites, and other product sites.

Bailey's comes in different 'flavors', and your fudge will change flavor, too, when you use Mint Bailey's Irish Cream or Coffee Irish Cream or Creme Caramel Irish Cream. Try them all.


BAILEY'S IRISH CREAM FUDGE

Ingredients:
2-12 oz milk chocolate (35-45% cacao), chopped, or 2-12 oz packages of milk chocolate chips
12 oz dark chocolate (65-85% cacao), chopped or a 12 oz. package semisweet chocolate chips
2-7oz jars of marshmallow creme
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup Bailey's Irish Cream
2 cups chopped nuts (optional)
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1-12 oz can evaporated milk
1/2 pound unsalted Irish butter, softened

Directions:
In very large bowl, combine milk chocolate chips, semisweet chocolate chips, marshmallow cream, vanilla extract, Irish Cream, and nuts (if you are adding them). Set this mixture aside.
Line 10 x 15 baking pan with foil and spread lightly with butter.
In medium saucepan, combine granulated sugar, evaporated milk, and butter. Bring to gentle boil over medium heat and cook slowly, stirring constantly for about 10 minutes.
Pour milk mixture into chocolate chip mixture. Stir slowly by hand to combine. It is very important to do this by hand and NOT use any kind of mixer.
Pour fudge into prepared pan and chill until set.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

GIRL SCOUT COOKIES: History and Recipe for Thin Mint Truffles

I was both a Brownie and a Girl Scout. Of course that makes me a huge fan of Thin Mints (it's Girl Scout Cookie Time), so here's a special post to celebrate. The "Badge" on the right is from the 100th Anniversary several years ago.

As a Brownie and Girl Scout, I trudged around selling cookies door to door by myself. There were no cookies being sold on street corners, nor were there any fathers (or mothers) coercing colleagues or employees to buy multiple boxes, although as a pediatrician, my father could have sold a lot of boxes for me. No, we were responsible for the sale and the delivery of those boxes of cookies. Since I wanted to sell a lot in order to be the 'highest' seller in my area (which I never was), I remember going very far afield one year. My mother actually had to help me deliver that year, especially because she was so astounded by how far afield I had gone. We lived in the city, where neighborhoods changed block by block. No matter, it never occurred to me not to knock on any door. Good thing I didn't read adult mysteries or watch the news then. I must have been a Brownie, because I was only a girl scout after we moved to the suburbs. So when I started selling Girl Scout Cookies, I had to be about 8. Times were different. I wore my uniform and with that I was fearless. Kind of like superwoman only my costume was more modest. Still it protected me! In those times, it was all about selling the most cookies, not worrying about the deviant at the door. I got through my sales unscathed except for the development of my fondness for Chocolate Mint Cookies (now Thin Mints). Yum! Thin Mints make up over 24% of Girl Scout Cookies sales. No surprise to me. 

A little history of the Girl Scouts. Juliette Gordon Low rounded up her first troop on March 12, 1912, a time when few women held jobs and only six states allowed them to vote. "Girl Scouting from its inception was forward-looking. Although it was  rooted in domesticity, it always opened further paths to women."

The first Girl Scout handbook, published in 1913, encouraged girls to shoot rifles and gave instructions for tying up intruders. My kind of group! The original Scouts took camping trips and played basketball on outdoor courts shrouded from public view by curtains hung so that men couldn't glimpse the girls in their bloomers. O.K., I'm not much for group sports, but luckily by my time that wasn't necessary since we had gym in school. Outdoor activity also included gardening, and learning the difference between poisonous and non-poisonous mushrooms was in the first handbook. Good to know.

Lest you think that the first Girl Guides in the US (later changed to the Girl Scouts) were not also being trained to be wives and mothers, Juliette Gordon Low had the Girls learn about cooking and preserving food. She wanted them to know how to run a sterile kitchen. She taught about nursing—taking care of invalids and sick children—and sewing. Anything that a wife and mother should do she thought she could train her girls to do better.

Low understood how it was possible that any woman might find herself in the situation of needing to take care of herself. So, she emphasized career training for girls. Some of the early badges were about flying, typing, telegraph skills and farming.

Hillary Rodham Clinton was a Girl Scout, as was Laura Bush. Barbara Walters, Peggy Fleming, Venus Williams and Mariah Carey all wore Girl Scout uniforms, as did at least seven astronauts, 17 current and former members of Congress, and numerous executives and CEOs.

I'm proud to count myself within the ranks! 

And, now we have the merged organization called Scouts which includes both boys and girls. This year we had several girls reach Eagle Scout. Congratulations!

Girl Scout Cookies

The first cookie sales by an individual Scout unit was by the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma in December 1912. In 1922, the Girl Scout magazine The American Girl suggested cookie sales as a fund-raiser and provided recipes. The first Girl Scout cookie recipe was a sugar cookie

Early Girl Scout Sugar Cookie® Recipe

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar plus additional amount for topping (optional)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder


Cream butter and the cup of sugar; add well-beaten eggs, then milk, vanilla, flour, salt, and baking powder. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll dough, cut into trefoil shapes, and sprinkle sugar on top, if desired. Bake in a quick oven (375°) for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Makes six- to seven-dozen cookies.


In 1934, Girl Scout Cookies went commercial when the Girl Scouts of Greater Philadelphia Council (my council, but not my time) became the first council to sell commercially baked cookies in the city's gas and electric company windows. By 1937, over 125 councils nationwide held cookie sales, with the trefoil-shaped Shortbread as the first official Girl Scout Cookie. Cookie Sales taught girls leadership and life skills such as entrepreneurship, money management and goal setting.

Despite flour, butter, and sugar shortages caused by World War II, the Girl Scout Cookie program prevailed. In 1942 there were 48 cookies per box, available in either vanilla or chocolate. Customers were limited to two boxes during some war years.

In 1951, two other Girl Scout Cookies were introduced to the world—in addition to Shortbreads, the public could also purchase Cream-filled Sandwiches and in 1954 Chocolate Mints (now called Thin Mints) were introduced. Some bakeries even offered optional flavors to their respective councils.

Read more about Girl Scout Cookies.

Because of the pandemic, I'm not sure any Scouts are selling cookies at the bank and in the mall.  I had to purchase my supply of Thin Mints from neighborhood children. You can also order online.

And I found this great sign on etsy that I must have.

Of course, I just have to post another recipe here--Thin Mint Truffles from The Hungry Housewife. This recipe calls for a final coating of cookie crumbs, but you can also dip the truffles in dark chocolate with chocolate sprinkles or roll them in cocoa.

Thin Mint Truffles

1/2 box of Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies (1 sleeve) + 3 cookies
4 oz Cream Cheese, softened

In food processor, process 1 sleeve Thin Mints Girl Scout Cookies until they resemble course sand.
Transfer mixture to large bowl and add cream cheese. Mix together by hand until fully incorporated. Scoop out by tablespoon (or use small scoop) and roll into nice ball in your hands to form truffles.
Pulse extra 3 cookies in the food processor until resembles course sand and place in small bowl. Roll truffles in processed cookie crumbs to coat.
Chill coated truffles for at least hour to set up.... or overnight for flavors to really develop with the cream cheese.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

National Barbie Day: Make it a See's Candies San Francisco Barbie

Barbie is such an American institution. So much so, that there is a National Barbie Day on March 9. So many fascinating stories connected with this doll, as well as so many variations. I'm a collector, but not of Barbies. However, several years ago, I was given this San Francisco Barbie in a See's Candies shop. How iconic is that? I just love her retro San Francisco outfit. And how perfect is a Barbie at a See's Candies shop for my chocolate blog? I really love See's.

So for your viewing pleasure, here's my See's San Francisco Barbie, complete in the box and mint condition. Look closely to see my photobomber!






Monday, March 8, 2021

CHOCOLATE PEANUT CLUSTERS: NATIONAL PEANUT CLUSTER DAY!

Today is National Peanut Cluster Day. This should come as no surprise as March is National Peanut Month. Peanuts are a nutrient rich super food that contains vitamins E, magnesium, and B6. Add heart healthy dark chocolate with antioxidants, and you have an incredibly healthy treat!

Here's an easy recipe for Chocolate Peanut Clusters. Remember, your finished product (and taste) is only as good as your ingredients. Use the best chocolate and peanuts!

CHOCOLATE PEANUT CLUSTERS

Ingredients
12 ounces dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
12 ounces peanut butter chips
12 ounces roasted salted peanuts

Directions
Combine chocolate chips and peanut butter chips in top of double boiler (or saucepan over saucepan over simmering water). Stir over medium heat until melted. Add peanuts and stir.
Drop by teaspoon full onto wax paper.
Refrigerate until firm (30 minutes or so)



Saturday, March 6, 2021

OREOS: History, Truffles, and More: National Oreo Day!

Oreo Ad: 1960
Happy Birthday, Oreo! Today is National Oreo Day! The Oreo is America's Favorite Cookie! This cookie debuted on March 6, 1912 produced by the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco, now owned  by Kraft). The original Oreo was packaged as a Trio: the Mother Goose, the Veronese, and the Oreo Biscuit. Oreo was the most popular, and soon was a stand-alone, well as far as cookies go, because you always need milk with Oreos!

In 1921, Nabisco dropped 'Biscuit' from the name and called it 'Oreo Sandwich.' In 1948 it was called the 'Oreo Creme Sandwich,' and today it's marketed as the Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookie. Over the years there have been many variations -- Mini Oreos, Double Delight,  Triple stuffed, Lemon-Cream, Chocolate Covered Mint Oreos, Halloween Oreos--even Oreo O's Cereal made by Post. For those who are interested in cookie history, the Hydrox chocolate sandwich cookie predated Oreos by four years. Read more here.

So how do you eat your Oreos? Do you dunk them? Do you open them and lick the filling and then eat the cookies? 

I've posted scads of Oreo-based tasty treats here on DyingforChocolate.com. But here's an easy recipe for Oreo Truffles -- recipe from Kraft. You'll find similar recipes all over the Internet. This is so easy, and you'll only need Three Ingredients: Oreos, Cream Cheese, and Chocolate. Yum! I substitute fair trade organic dark chocolate for the Baker's, but if you don't have any, Baker's is fine.

OREO TRUFFLES


Ingredients
1 pkg. (8 ounces) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1 pkg. (15.5 ounces) Oreo Cookies, finely crushed (about 4-1/4 cups), divided
2 pkg. (8 squares each) Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted

Directions
Mix cream cheese and 3 cups cookie crumbs until well blended.
Shape into 48 (1-inch) balls. Dip in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.
Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator.

Hint: for Dipping, use two forks to make it easier (and less messy) or a special dipping utensil you can find online or at a kitchen store. I melt chocolate in a double boiler, but if you're careful, you can melt it in the microwave.

And what are Oreos without a cold glass of milk?

Oreo Elevator Ad

Have an Oreo Today! Happy Birthday, Oreo!

Friday, March 5, 2021

NATIONAL ABSINTHE DAY: Absinthe, Green Fairy Truffles, and Absinthe Chocolate Cocktails

Today is National Absinthe Day. Absinthe is a strong herbal liqueur distilled with a large number of herbs like anise, licorice, hyssop, veronica, fennel, lemon balm, angelica and wormwood (the flavor of anise and/or licorice, at least in contemporary forms of the liquor, tends to predominate).  

Wormwood, the one that's gained the most notoriety, is Artemisia absinthum, an herb that grows wild in Europe and has been cultivated in the United States as well. Much of the liquor's legendary effect is due to its extremely high alcohol content, ranging from 50% to 75% (usually around 60%), plus the contribution of the various herbs. It has been assumed by  that the so-called "active ingredient"in absinthe is wormwood, although that is apparently not really the case.

The drink was referred to in France as "La Fée Verte" or The Green Fairy which is a reference to its green color (depending on the brand). The color usually came from the chlorophyll content of the herbs used in the distillation process; however, some disreputable manufacturers added toxic chemicals to produce both the green color and the louche (or clouding) effect that in reputable brands was caused by the precipitation of the essential oils of the herbs. It is quite probable that the bad reputation absinthe developed was due to these low-grade and perhaps quite poisonous version of the real thing.

Absinthe was very popular in fin-de-siècle Paris, with Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Verlaine, Alfred Jarry and Oscar Wilde among its most famous imbibers. 

Two good websites about Absinthe: La Fee Verte  & The Wormwood Society


ABSINTHE GREEN FAIRY TRUFFLES
Recipe adapted from The Marine Room, San Diego

Ingredients
3/4 heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces chopped dark chocolate
1/4 cup absinthe liquor

Directions
Add cream and butter to saucepan over medium heat. Bring to simmer. Turn off heat. Add chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Stir in absinthe.
Transfer to 9 x9-inch baking dish.
Refrigerate 1 hour or until set.
Using melon baller, scoop mixture onto parchment or waxed paper lined baking sheet. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
Form balls in palm of hand. Return to parchment or waxed paper. Cover. Refrigerate 2 hours.

At this point you can just roll in cocoa--- or you can make this easy coating!

Coating
1-1/2 pounds finely chopped dark chocolate
1-1/2 cups cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Add chocolate to mixing bowl set over pot of simmering water. Melt, stirring often.
Sift cocoa powder and cayenne pepper into deep baking dish. Set aside.
Quickly dip chocolate balls in melted chocolate one at a time for 3 seconds. Retrieve with fork, tapping stem of fork on side of bowl to remove excess chocolate.
Transfer to cocoa powder. Roll to coat.
Let sit 2 minutes.
 
No time to make your own? Several chocolatiers make absinthe truffles, so check with your local. Here are a few.

Artemisia Collection makes a Chocolate Absinthe which is cocoa mixed with the aroma of Sicilian oranges and red hot peppers from Calabria blended with Wormwood. This Hot Spicy Chocolate Artemisia Absinthe gives the drinker a sweet and unique sensation.

Nunu Chocolates' Absinthe Delight is one of the most popular flavors from Nunu Chocolates. The anise flavor holds its own with the dark chocolate! A very 'addictive' treat!

Vosges also makes an Absinthe Truffle as part of its Exotic Truffle Collection. It contains Chinese star anise, fennel, absinthe, dark chocolate and cocoa powder.

Absinthe Chocolate Cocktails! 

1. Spicy Absinthe Chocolate Martini
1 part habanera-infused reposado tequila
1 part Chocolate Absinthe Liqueur

Combine in shake with ice. Shake. Strain into martini glass rimmed with Mexican chocolate (mixed with a dash of chipotle powder).

2. Absinthe Chocolate Cocktail
1/4 ounce Absinthe
1/4 ounce Creme de Cacao
1/4 ounce Frangelico
1/2 ounce Godiva Liqueur

Mix all ingredients in shake with ice. Strain into Martini glass rimmed with grated dark chocolate.

 

Thursday, March 4, 2021

MILK CHOCOLATE CHIP PECAN POUND CAKE: National Pound Cake Day

Today is National Pound Cake Day. Pound Cake is so versatile. You can serve it plain or dress it up with berries and whipped cream. I like it toasted with butter for breakfast.

The name Pound Cake comes from the fact that the original pound cakes contained one pound each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. Made it easy to remember! No leaveners were used other than the air whipped into the batter. A cake made of one pound of each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour would have been very large and would have been able to serve multiple families. As years went by, the portions of the ingredients used were adjusted to make a smaller, lighter cake. However, the name of the cake stuck. Pound cakes are generally baked in either a loaf pan or a Bundt pan. They can be iced or dusted with powdered sugar.

I know you're going to love the following recipe for Milk Chocolate Chip Pecan Pound Cake. I left the recipe pretty much as I originally found it on the Hershey's Kitchens website, but, of course, feel free to substitute. It's actually quite awesome with dark chocolate chips, dark cocoa and rich dark chocolate syrup.

Milk Chocolate Chip Pecan Pound Cake 
from the Hershey's Kitchens

Ingredients
 2 cups (11.5-oz. pkg.) Hershey's Milk Chocolate Chips, divided
1 cup unsalted butter, softened (Margarine in original recipe as option. I don't use margarine)
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Dash salt
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk*
3/4 cup Hershey's Syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
Powdered sugar(optional)

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube pan (Bundt pan).
Place 1 cup milk chocolate chips in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted when stirred.
Beat butter in large bowl until creamy; gradually add granulated sugar, beating on medium speed of mixer until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add melted chocolate; beat until blended.
Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; add to chocolate mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until blended. Add syrup and vanilla; beat until blended. Stir in remaining milk chocolate chips and pecans. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely.

*To sour milk: Use 1 tablespoon white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup.


Photo: Hershey's Kitchens