Friday, April 30, 2021

MINT JULEP TRUFFLES: 2 Recipes for Kentucky Derby Day!

I have two recipes for Mint Julep Truffles to help you celebrate the Kentucky Derby. Since the Mint Julep has been the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, since 1938, why not step it up a notch and add chocolate? I'm all about easy, and the two recipes below are just that!

Mint Juleps are traditionally served in pewter or silver julep cups. I always love an opportunity to buy unique tableware. You can serve the truffles in mint julep cups!

Read more about the history of the Mint Julep at whatscooking america.


7 ounces DARK (60-70% cacao) chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp minced fresh mint leaves
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 Tbsp good quality bourbon

Put chopped chocolate in bowl and set aside.
Heat heavy cream and mint leaves in small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Stir in butter and bourbon; whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth.
Cover chocolate mixture with plastic wrap (press wrap onto surface of chocolate) and chill for two hours, or until firm.

To Form Truffles:
Put cocoa in shallow bowl.
Using a melon baller or teaspoon, scoop out balls of chilled chocolate. Form into balls quickly between your palms.
Roll balls in cocoa to coat.

II. Mint Julep Truffles 
(recipe from Food Network)

6 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate (not chocolate chips), coarsely chopped
2 ounces good-quality milk chocolate (not chocolate chips), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 to 4 tsp bourbon
1/2 tsp pure peppermint extract
1/3 cup sugar
2 packed Tbsp fresh mint leaves

Put chopped semisweet and milk chocolate in medium bowl. Bring heavy cream and butter to simmer in small saucepan. Pour cream mixture over chocolate, completely covering it, and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir with spatula until chocolate is completely melted, smooth and glossy. (If chocolate doesn't melt completely, microwave the mixture on high in 15-second increments, stirring in between, until fully melted.)
Fold in bourbon and peppermint extract until incorporated. Mixture will look separated at first, but keep stirring until uniform.
Set bowl over larger bowl of ice water, and let mixture chill for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until  thickened a bit and it's become homogeneous. Pour mixture into shallow 2-quart baking dish or 9-inch pie plate. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.
Meanwhile, process sugar mint in food processor for 1 minute until mint is finely chopped and dispersed, scraping down bowl with spatula halfway through. (The mint sugar can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.)
Scoop tablespoon-sized balls of chocolate mixture, and roll them between hands to shape them, working quickly-- balls melt fast.
Put them on plate or rimmed baking sheet, and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Put mint sugar in shallow dish, and drop balls in few at time, shaking dish to coat on all sides; transfer truffles to platter, shaking off excess, and refrigerate until ready to serve them.

(Once truffles have been coated, they must be served that day. Uncoated, they can be stored overnight in refrigerator in airtight container or covered with plastic wrap, then coated the day they're served.)

Thursday, April 29, 2021

KENTUCKY DERBY PIE: History, Chocolate, Bourbon, Nuts & More

Over the past few years, I've posted several chocolate recipes that are perfect for Kentucky Derby Parties. I have more than one recipe for Derby Pie, the traditional chocolate, nut, bourbon pie, so here's a re-post of the three most popular --plus a Pie in a Jar to take to your Kentucky Derby party!

Kentucky Bourbon Chocolate Walnut Pie has been served at the annual Derby Horse Race for over 60 years. It was a special recipe that was first made at the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky. * Note: You can't legally call it a "Derby Pie" recipe. The name "Derby Pie" is trademarked, and the owners of the name are very aggressive protecting the name "Derby Pie." is not a commercial site, but to be safe,  I'm calling it Kentucky Derby Pie. Similar Pies to the one above are sometimes called Brownie Pie or Tollhouse Pie, but it's really Derby Pie. There have been many modifications over the years, but the most important ingredient is Kentucky Bourbon.

I'd love to hear about your favorite Kentucky Derby Pie. Do you use Pecans or Walnuts? How much chocolate? What kind? How much Bourbon? What kind?

1. Kentucky Derby Chocolate Pecan Pie

1 pie crust (homemade or store bought)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup light corn syrup
4 large eggs
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup Kentucky Bourbon
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1-1/4 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, shelled and chopped in half

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Roll crust out.
In large mixing bowl, on medium speed with whisk attachment, whip butter, sugars, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla, and bourbon together until frothy.
Remove bowl from mixer, and fold in chocolate chips and pecans or walnuts. Blend well.
Pour into prepared pie crust and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until set.
Serve warm or cool completely before serving with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

2. Kentucky Bourbon Chocolate Walnut Pie

1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar (1/2 brown/1/2 white)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup melted butter
2-4 Tbsp Kentucky bourbon (it's a matter of taste)
1 cup chopped English walnuts (you can vary this by using pecans)
1-1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or chopped dark chocolate)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
dash of salt
1 - 9 " deep-dish pie shell (pre-made crust or make your own)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix flour and sugar.
Add eggs and melted butter; mix to combine.
Stir in bourbon, walnuts, chocolate chips, vanilla, and salt.
Pour mixture into unbaked piecrust.
Bake for 35-40 minutes.
Pie should be chewy but not runny. 

Another variation: don't add the chocolate chips to the mix: Arrange them on the bottom of the unbaked pie shell. Pour over chocolate chips and bake.

Several years ago my friend Janet Appel sent me this recipe. Leave it to someone from Kentucky to make the 'real' thing. I miss Janet. She was the quintessential Kentucky belle.

3. Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie
(Originally called Derby Pie)

1 stick melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup white corn syrup
4 eggs beaten
1 Tbsp Wild Turkey Bourbon
1 cup whole pecans
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1- 9 or 10 inch unbaked pie shell

Mix above ingredients and pour into pie shell.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until fairly firm at 350 degrees.
Let cool and set up before serving.
Garnish with sweetened whipped cream.

Note from Janet Appel: We soak the pecans in bourbon over night and use a jigger of bourbon. We still add the tablespoon of bourbon to the mixture. White corn syrup is Karo.

No time to bake? Going to a Kentucky Derby Party? You can assemble and take this Kentucky Derby Pie Mix in a Jar! 

For this recipe, I substitute Bourbon for the vanilla in the directions. You can always write vanilla (or Bourbon optional) on your recipe gift card.

4. Kentucky Derby Pie in a Jar!

1 cup granulated sugar (or use half brown and half granulated)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup coursely chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

Pour sugar into lightweight food storage bag. Tie bag and cut off some of the excess and fit bag into bottom of a 1 quart wide-mouth canning jar.
Pour in half of nuts, then put in layer of chocolate chips, and then add remaining nuts.
Into food storage bag, add flour and pinch of salt.
Tie with twine or ribbon and cut off excess plastic bag end, if necessary.
Fit into the top of jar and screw on top.

Directions for gift tag or label:

Kentucky Derby Pie in a Jar!
Here's what to add:

1 9-inch pastry shell, unbaked
4 ounces melted sweet butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp Bourbon

Preheat oven to 325°.
Remove bag of flour from jar; set aside.
Pour nuts and chocolate chips into pie shell, spreading evenly.
In small mixing bowl, whisk 2 eggs.
Remove sugar bag and empty sugar and flour bags into bowl, stirring to blend well.
Whisk in 1 tsp Bourbon or splash more (or vanilla) and 4 ounces melted butter. Blend well.
Pour batter evenly over nuts and chocolate chips.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until nicely browned.
Chill thoroughly before cutting.
Serve with whipped cream.

If you're a mystery fan, you'll want to read my list of Kentucky Derby Mysteries on my other blog, MysteryFanfare because we all know there's always murder and mayhem at the races.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

BLUEBERRY CHOCOLATE PIE: National Blueberry Pie Day

I absolutely adore blueberries. When I was young, my Aunt Annie used to take us blueberry picking in the woods. It was such a treat. We'd return to the farm covered in blueberry juice, our mouths and teeth stained with the dark blue liquid. I remember those blueberries as the sweetest I've ever tasted.

Since today is Blueberry Pie Day, I thought I'd post a recipe for Blueberry Chocolate Pie, because this is a Chocolate Blog, after all. I've posted other Blueberry Chocolate Pie recipes, but this recipe from Better Homes & Gardens is special because it also features a Cookie Dough Crust. Of course, you can substitute a chocolate cookie crust if you'd like more chocolate. This is a great recipe for Memorial Day and Fourth of July, so be sure and save or bookmark it!


1 Recipe Sour Cream Cookie Dough
1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1 egg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp all-purpose Flour
1 lemon, juiced
6 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 450°F. Prepare Sour Cream Cookie Dough. Roll half of dough to a 12-inch circle on a well-floured surface. Line 9-inch pie plate with dough. Trim and flute edge. Line with double thickness of foil. Bake for 8 minutes; carefully remove foil. Bake 3 to 4 minutes more or until golden. Remove; Sprinkle with chocolate pieces and set aside.

Reduce oven to 375°F. Roll remaining dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into star shapes using assorted-size cutters. In small bowl whisk together egg and 1 tablespoon water. Arrange cutouts 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Brush cutouts with egg mixture. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

For filling, in large saucepan stir together the sugar, flour, and lemon juice. Add 4 cups of the blueberries. Cook and stir over medium heat until just thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining berries. Pour into crust. Bake for 10 minutes just until berries are heated through, covering edge of pie with foil, if necessary to prevent overbrowning. Remove to a wire rack. Top with cookie cut outs. Cool completely.

Sour Cream Cookie Dough: 
In large mixing bowl beat 1/2 cup butter, softened, with mixer on medium to high for 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, and a dash of salt; beat until combined. Add 1 egg yolk, 1/4 cup sour cream, and 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat until combined. Beat in 2 cups all-purpose flour. Divide dough in half; wrap and chill, if necessary, until easy to handle.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

BABY RUTH COOKIES: National Babe Ruth Day!

Everyone loves Baby Ruth. I do! I also love Retro Ads, and this Retro WWII Ad for Baby Ruth Candy Bars and Cookies  sent me in search of the Baby Ruth cookies recipe. It was fairly easy to find.

The Curtiss Candy Company claimed that the Baby Ruth candy bar was named after President Grover Cleveland's daughter, Ruth Cleveland. However, Ruth Cleveland died 16 years before the introduction of the Baby Ruth bar.

Since today is National Babe Ruth Day, I thought I'd post some more history of this special candy bar. The Curtiss Candy Company had originally negotiated a failed endorsement deal with baseball player Babe Ruth. People have suggested that secretly naming the candy bar after Ruth was a way to tie him to their product without paying any royalties. Talk about shrewd advertising, company founder Otto Schnering chartered a plane in 1923 to drop thousands of Baby Ruth bars over the city of Pittsburgh -- each with its own mini parachute. His marketing plan must have worked -- Baby Ruth has gone on to become a top brand. Today, the Baby Ruth bar is owned by Nestlé.


1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Baby Ruth candy bars (2.1 ounces each), chopped into smallish pieces

In large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in candy bars.
Chill 30 minutes.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Immediately remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 4 dozen.

Monday, April 26, 2021

CHOCOLATE PIE with PRETZEL CRUST: National Pretzel Day!

Today is National Pretzel Day. You can celebrate in so many ways. Dip pretzels or pretzel sticks in chocolate, or you can make this Chocolate Pie with Pretzel Crust! No time to make the chocolate filling from scratch? Use a Pudding Box Mix.


Pretzel Crust

12+ ounces pretzels, crushed
3 Tbsp light brown sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

Whirl pretzels in blender, so they're very fine. Add sugar and butter. Mix. Press half of mixture into 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes. Cool.

Pour in chocolate filling. Top with remaining pretzel mixture. Chill.

Chocolate Pie Filling

1/2 cup sugar
4 Tbsp cornstarch
2 1⁄2 cups milk
3 ounces dark chocolate (70-75% cacoa), chopped
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Combine sugar, cornstarch, milk, and chocolate in top of double boiler. Cook over boiling water until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Stir a bit of hot chocolate mixture into egg yolks in order to temper eggs and keep them from curdling. Add tempered yolks to chocolate mixture, stirring constantly and thoroughly. Cool mixture. Add vanilla extract to chocolate and mix thoroughly. Pour chocolate filling into cooled pretzel crust. Top with remaining pretzel mixture. Chill before serving.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

REGAL BUTTER CAKE: Retro Ad & Recipe

Here's a Retro 1958 Swans Down Cake Flour Recipe Ad for Regal Butter Cake. It's perfect for a Spring day, picnic, birthday, or another celebration. It's so bright and cheery that I decided to post it, even if it's not chocolate. You can always make a chocolate cake and utilize the recipe for Rainbow Frosting.


Friday, April 23, 2021


Today is International Picnic Day! One can never have too many recipes for Chocolate Cake.This Chocolate Picnic Cake is great any time. As you know if you read this blog, I don't usually add icing to my cakes, and this recipe is no exception, especially for a picnic. Less mess. This recipe is slightly adapted from Epicurious, and it's so easy. It will become your go-to picnic cake!



Dry ingredients
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup cocoa
1 3/4 cups sugar

Moist ingredients
1 cup oil
1 cup hot coffee
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Sift dry ingredients together. Add oil, coffee, and milk. Mix at mediun speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat 2 minutes more.
Bake at 350 degrees in greased and floured Bundt pan for 45 minutes or a 9 x 13" pan for 40 minutes. Let sit 25 minutes before taking out of pan.

Thursday, April 22, 2021


Earth Day 2021! Be sure and take a walk today and appreciate our planet earth. As many of you know, I blog about mystery/crime fiction at Mystery Fanfare, as well as Chocolate. I'm also the Editor of the Mystery Readers Journal. We had an issue last year (Volume 36:1) that focused on Environmental Crime Fiction/Mysteries. Today on Mystery Fanfare, I blogged about Reservoir Noir: books that deal with intentional flooding of towns and villages because of building dams and reservoirs for water supply, irrigation, power and other reasons--a sad addition to the environmental crime fiction list.

I don’t know of a good crime novel that involves the chocolate trade. That’s a theme ripe for a good mystery. Something to think about today when you make “Cracked Earth Flourless Chocolate Cake” from the recipe below.

The recipe for the cake is adapted from Tyler Florence of the Food Network. It's his Cracked Earth Flourless Chocolate Cake. And, it's Gluten-Free.

Cracked Earth Chocolate Flourless Cake: Earth Day

1 pound organic fair-trade dark chocolate (65-85% cacao), chopped into small pieces
1 stick unsalted butter
9 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 Tablespoon
2 cups heavy cream, cold 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter 9-inch springform pan.
Put chocolate and butter in top of double boiler over simmering water until melted.
Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks with sugar in mixing bowl until light yellow in color.
Whisk a little of chocolate mixture into egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs - this will keep eggs from scrambling from heat of the chocolate; then whisk in rest of chocolate mixture.
Beat egg whites in mixing bowl until stiff peaks form and fold into chocolate mixture.
Pour into prepared pan (spray bottom with nonstick spray) and bake until cake is set, top starts to crack, and toothpick inserted into cake comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it, 20 to 25 minutes (and then check every five minutes after that--don't overbake).
Let stand 10 minutes, then unmold.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

CASHEW CARAMEL BROWNIES: National Chocolate Covered Cashew Day

You can never have too many Brownie recipes. Since today is National Chocolate Covered Cashew Day, I thought I'd post this easy recipe from Betty Crocker for Cashew Caramel Brownies. As always, use the very best ingredients. You can use a box mix or you can make your own and follow the directions for the cashews and caramel. If you're making brownies from scratch, be sure to add some extra dark chocolate chips.


1 box Betty Crocker triple chunk Premium brownie mix
Water, vegetable oil, and egg called for on brownie mix box 

2/3 cup salted dry roasted cashews, chopped
2 candy bars (1.76 oz each) dark chocolate-covered nougat and caramel candy, each cut lengthwise in half, then chopped (about 2/3 cup)

Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Line bottom and sides of 9-inch square pan with foil, leaving foil overhanging on 2 opposite sides of pan. Spray foil with cooking spray.
In medium bowl, stir brownie mix, oil, water, and eggs until well blended. Stir in 1/3 cup of the chopped cashews and 1/3 cup of the chopped candy bars. Spread evenly in pan.
Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup cashews and 1/3 cup candy bars evenly over batter.
Bake 35 to 38 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out almost clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
Remove brownies from pan, using foil to lift.
Cut into squares.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

CHOCOLATE PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE: National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day

Today is Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day! Pineapple Upside Down Cake is so Retro. Here's a way to bring it into 2021: Add chocolate! The following recipe is easy and terrific. It's from Home Cooking Adventure. Want to save time? Use a chocolate cake mix and add coconut.  Want to use fresh pineapple in your Chocolate Upside Down Pineapple Cake? Try this one from Serious Eats

Want to know more about the history of Pineapple Upside Down Cake? Go to: Kitchen Historic



Pineapple Topping 

1/4 cup unsalted butter 

1/3 cup light brown sugar 

6 or 7 pineapple slices, canned 

Chocolate Coconut Cake 

1 cup 

All-purpose flour 

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut 

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 

1/2 tsp salt 

1 tsp baking powder 

1/3 cup unsalted butter, soft 

2/3 cup sugar 

3 eggs 

1 tsp coconut extract 

3/4 cup coconut milk 

3 oz semisweet chocolate, melted 


Preheat oven to 350F. 

Grease a 9 inch pan and line with parchment paper. 

In small saucepan melt butter over low heat, add sugar, and cook until sugar dissolves. 

Pour mixture in prepared pan and arrange the pineapple slices. Set aside until you prepare chocolate cake. 

In medium bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, shredded coconut, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl mix butter and sugar until thick and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, coconut extract and mix to combine. With mixer on low, alternate adding gradually flour mixture and coconut milk until all is well incorporated. Add melted chocolate and mix to incorporate. 

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs. 

Cool in pan for few minutes minutes, then invert onto a serving platter. 

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Monday, April 19, 2021


Today is National Amaretto Day. Amaretto is a sweet, almond-flavored Italian liqueur. Interestingly enough it isn't always made from almonds. It's primarily made from apricot pits and spices. The original version was made in Saronno, Italy. Amaretto is Italian for "a little bitter." Here's a link to a Homemade Amaretto recipe from

I love this recipe for Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake. I've adapted this recipe from Cooking Light, but I've added more 'heavy' ingredients. My feeling, if you're going to do it, go all the way.

Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake

6-10 chocolate wafers
Cooking spray
1 cup sugar
1 cup cottage cheese
12 ounces cream cheese
6 Tbsp DARK unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 cup Amaretto
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
2 Tbsp dark chocolate, chopped fine (or mini-chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 300°

Place wafers in food processor, and pulse until coarse crumbs. Sprinkle crumbs into bottom of  8-inch spring form pan coated with cooking spray.

Place sugar and next 8 ingredients (sugar through salt) in food processor, and process until smooth.
Add egg, and process until blended.
Pour cheese mixture into prepared pan, and sprinkle with finely chopped dark chocolate.
Bake at 300° for 55 minutes or until cheesecake center barely moves when pan is touched.
Remove cheesecake from oven, and run knife around outside edge.
Cool to room temperature.
Cover and chill at least 8 hours.

Topping Ideas
Fresh Fruit (strawberries or raspberries)
Cherries soak in Rum
Whipped Cream (or Amaretto Whipped Cream)

Sunday, April 18, 2021

CHOCOLATE & ANIMAL CRACKERS: National Animal Crackers Day

Happy National Animal Crackers Day! The original animal crackers of my childhood didn't have a lot of flavor, but even now when I think of them I remember their unique taste during zoo and circus visits. Those trips were always exciting, and animal crackers were an important part of the experience. I remember the red cardboard boxes with pictures of animals in cages (the new packaging has them roaming free) and little flat strings to carry your box.

Today there are many different brands of animal crackers -- vegan, chocolate, chocolate covered, covered with icing and sprinkles, and so many more. There are the original Barnum's Animal Crackers, and I really like Barbara's (all natural) Snackimals Double Chocolate and Snackimals Chocolate Chip.

Want to dress up your store-bought Animal Crackers today to celebrate National Animal Cracker Day? Dip the animal crackers in Chocolate:

Chocolate Dipped Animal Crackers

Melt a good dark chocolate in top of double boiler over simmering water or in the microwave.
Dip animals and let cool on waxed paper.
You can either dip most of the animal (and use forks or special dipping tools) or just dip the feet as I did with the Walker Scottie Dogs with Muddy Boots. I like Trader Joe's Animal Crackers for chocolate dipping.

Want to get fancier? Healthy Happy Life ( has a Chocolate-Covered Vegan Animal Cookies post with great photos and recipes.

There's even a Website devoted to Animal Crackers:  Here you'll find a variety of recipes for animal crackers  such as Homemade Animal Crackers, Oatmeal Animal Crackers, Classic Animal Crackers, Cheese Animal Crackers, Chocolate Animal Crackers, and many others. Animal Crackers have been a snack since the mid nineteenth century. Today they are made by numerous well known companies, such as Keebler, Nabisco, or the Stauffer Biscuit Company. Although store bought varieties can be great, you might want to try some homemade animal crackers.

Recipe adapted from

1/3 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Cup Organic Toasted Rolled Quick Oats
1/2 Cup Softened Unsalted Butter
1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Baking Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
3/4 Cup of Cold Whole Milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In blender, mix organic toasted rolled quick oats, with flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and kosher salt.
Pulse until base mixture is completely ground up into delicate powder, and color and texture are even and consistent.
Pour this mixture into mixing bowl, and stir in cold whole milk and softened real butter. Stir until dough becomes stiff, adding any extra milk if you need to.
Roll animal cracker dough into ball on clean flat surface, then flatten out into quarter inch thickness.
Using animal cracker or other cookie cutters, make as many shapes as you can with dough.
Place your finished shapes on lightly greased baking sheet. Cook for ten to fifteen minutes, or until crackers are crisp.
Cool on wire rack for half an hour.

Waiter, there's an Animal Cracker in my soup! Animal Crackers make a great starch for soups and stews.  I've posted a recipe for a great Chicken Mole Polano made with Animal Crackers.  Or try this recipe for White Chocolate Mole with Animal Crackers.

Want a sweet chocolate soup with Animal Crackers? O. K., this is more of a dessert. This recipe was originally found on the Hershey's Cocoa Box.


3/4 cups half-and-half
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp cocoa
1 egg yolk

Heat half-and-half. Pour into bowl, leaving about 1/4 cup in saucepan or cup.
Add sugar, vanilla, cocoa to pan and mix until it is a syrup. Add egg yolk and stir over low heat. Gradually stir in preheated half-and-half. Stir until blended and thick. Pour into bowl.
Top with animal crackers.

Here's a link to several other Cocoa Soup recipes. All go well with Animal Crackers!

Enjoy this video clip of Shirley Temple singing Animal Crackers in my Soup!

Saturday, April 17, 2021


Can you ever have enough recipes for Chocolate Cake? I don't think so. Here's another Retro recipe from the 70s from Hershey's for Hershey's Prize Chocolate Cake. This recipe uses cocoa, and, of course, specifically Hershey's cocoa. If you have a cocoa you favor, feel free to use it instead. And, don't miss the note: How to Bake with Cocoa. FYI, I usually decrease the amount of sugar in this recipe.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

King Louie's Banana Boats: National Banana Day

Today is National Banana Day. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of banana bread. And, since the weather today is warm and beautiful, it's a perfect day to make this fun recipe for King Louie's Banana Boats from one of my 'Theme" Cookbooks: Cooking with Mickey and Friends by Pat Baird. You'll go Ape over these.

Since we barbecue all year round, I often make these on the grill, but you can just as easily follow the directions and make them in the toaster oven.

And, as Mickey reminds us, Bananas are a good source of potassium and carbohydrates. Use a good dark chocolate (chopped) or high quality dark chocolate chips, and you're adding antioxidants. Want to make S'mores Banana Boats? Add graham crackers mixed with melted butter to the chocolate chips and marshmallows. You'll love King Louie's Banana Boats. You'll want to make more than one!

Wednesday, April 14, 2021


Today is National Pecan Day! Although there are so many ways to celebrate, I thought I'd return to a great recipe from the past. I love when I find recipes like this in the newspaper or magazine, or tucked in or on the back of the product! Here's a great Retro Recipe for Chocolate Pecan Bars. These are so easy to make, and I always have the ingredients in the pantry. Given that it's retro, I would upgrade with the very best cocoa, real butter, and pure vanilla.


1-1/4 cups unsifted flour
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup DARK Cocoa
1 cup cold butter
1 (14-ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk)
1 egg
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350° (325° for glass dish).
In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and cocoa; cut in butter until crumbly (mixture will be dry). Press firmly on bottom of 13×9-inch baking pan. Bake 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in medium bowl, beat sweetened condensed milk, egg, and vanilla; mix well. Stir in nuts. Spread evenly over crust.
Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Cut into bars.
Store covered in refrigerator.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

CHOCOLATE PEACH COBBLER: National Peach Cobbler Day

Peaches aren't in season yet, but I can get peaches at my market. I prefer fresh peaches when making peach pies and cobblers, but in a pinch, here's an easy recipe for Chocolate Peach Cobbler using canned peaches. Perfect for National Peach Cobbler Day! There are some wonderful organic canned peaches, so look for them. Higher quality canned peaches will enhance the flavor of this cobbler. And, of course, since this is a chocolate blog, I've added chocolate to the recipe. Make this Easy Chocolate Peach Cobbler today!


1 cup chopped chocolate
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup canned peaches
1 Tbsp unsalted butter

Mix flour, sugar, and eggs with electric mixer.
Melt chocolate in small pan in microwave (melt chocolate in 10 second intervals to make sure it doesn't harden in the microwave) or in double boiler.
Arrange canned peaches evenly on bottom of buttered baking dish (8 x 8 x 2).
Top with flour mixture, and then melted chocolate.
Bake at 275 degrees, for 10-15 minutes.
Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Sunday, April 11, 2021


I've posted many recipes for Chocolate Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, but this is one of my favorites. As always, experiment, but I have to share this recipe since tomorrow is Grilled Cheese Day. As always use the very best ingredients! Please don't use Parmesan from the can--either grate your own or buy it at a specialty shop where it's just been grated. Recently I've been favoring a Wisconsin Parmesan--not too salty and fabulous flavor. And, of course a good Parmesan/Reggiano would be great in this Grilled Cheese Sandwich!

Dark Chocolate Grilled Ricotta Parmesan Cheese Sandwich

4 slices brioche or sweet sourdough
Butter, for bread
2 Tbsp Ricotta cheese
1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Lightly spread one side of each bread slice with butter. Evenly divide ricotta between two bread slices and then evenly sprinkle the Chocolate and Parmesan over the ricotta. Top with remaining bread slices.
Heat skillet over medium-low heat. Place sandwiches in warm skillet and cook on one side until golden brown and cheese begins to melt, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip sandwich over and cook until golden brown and cheese is completely melted, 2 to 4 additional minutes.
Let cool 2 minutes before cutting in half.

Thursday, April 8, 2021


Chocolate Cosmos
A little diversion today from Chocolate recipes, Chocolate food holidays, and Chocolate reviews. I'm an avid gardener, mainly roses (including Hot Cocoa), and I am lucky to have several different garden areas on my property.

I've always wanted a dedicated 'chocolate-scented' garden. Since I'm in a fairly temperate zone of California, it's certainly possible. I used to use cocoa bean hulls as mulch, and there's nothing that smells more like chocolate than this mulch, but if you have dogs, you'll want to skip the mulch since it can be dangerous to dogs if they eat it.

But as for real chocolate smelling plants, I love Cosmos atrosanguineus. This is a lovely maroon cosmos that actually has a heavy chocolate scent. Originally from Mexico, this plant reblooms in the San Francisco Bay Area Mediterranean climate.

I have Chocolate mint, a very hardy perennial, well it's mint, after all. Warning: it will take over the garden. Plant in containers or monitor its spread. It doesn't taste like chocolate, but definitely smells like it.

What could be more delightful than a chocolate garden? Be sure and check that these plants will grow and flourish in your zone before planting.

Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata) Looks like a daisy with yellow petals and a dark chocolate center. The aroma from the flower can be detected as far as 30 feet away. This is a night-bloomer, so the garden will smell like cocoa in the morning.

Nicotania Chocolate Smoke
Nicotiana 'Chocolate Smoke' This is a Chocolate Flower Farm exclusive and replaced Nicotiana 'Hot Chocolate.' It has a very dark flower.

Decidious (to semi-evergreen) twining Chocolate Vine (Akebia Quinata): climbing plant with purple-red flowers that smell of milk chocolate. Warning: Can be invasive. Keep it trimmed.

Chocolate Mint (Mentha piperita): Some people think this tastes like a combo of chocolate and peppermint. Nice bronze-green leaves.. and as I mentioned, it can be used as a tea and as one of the main ingredients in Chocolate Mint Pots de Creme.

Delphinium "Kissed by Chocolate"

Dahlia 'Karma Choc': Not certain of the scent, but it has a very dark color like chocolate.

Gilia tricolor (Bird's Eyes): Annual California wildflower with wonderful fragrance. Meadow plantings. Grows to 3' (not for a small garden patch)

Columbine chocolate soldiers
Columbine comes in a chocolate-scented variety (Aquilegia 'Chocolate Soldiers')

Foxglove (Digitalis 'chocolate') now this is literally a Dying for Chocolate plant as foxglove is a poisonous plant also: Digitalis Lanata 'Cafe Creme'; Digitalis parviflora 'Milk Chocolate'

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum 'Chocolate')

Rudbeckia (R. 'Chocolate Drop')

Sweet William (Diantush 'Bittersweet William')

Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus): Deciduous shrub with maroon brown flowers (cinnamon-spiced, bittersweet chocolate fragrance)

Himalayan Honeysuckle: (Leycesteria formosa) is a large shrub. Dark maroon to brown flowers followed by berries with a chocolate-caramel flavor. Can be invasive.

Cosmos Astroganguineus: Plants form a medium-sized clump of dark green leaves, with deep maroon blooms that smell of dark chocolate.

Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes
Chocolate Geranium (Pelargonium 'Chocolate Joy')

Penstemon 'Chocolate Drop' How can you go wrong with penstemon?

Hot Cocoa Rose: This is not chocolate scented, but I want to include it, as I'm a rose grower (over 150 bushes). The blooms are burgundy with brown undertones.

One mustn't forget edible plants in the garden that smell (and sometimes taste) like chocolate:

Chocolate Corn, Chocolate Cherry Tomato, Chocolate Mini Bell Pepper, 'Velour Frosted Chocolate' Viola, Chocolate Nasturtium, and Milk Chocolate Calendula.

Cacao Pod - UC Botanical Garden
If your local nursery does not offer the seeds or plants, contact Chocolate Flower Farm.They also have other chocolate scented products such as candles, bath and body products, chocolate teas, sachets and other gifts.

I'd love to add to this list, so please comment on your favorite "chocolate" plants. Plants or seeds welcome.

And, here's a photo from one of the University of California Botanical Garden greenhouses of a chocolate pod. Sadly, I do not have a tropical greenhouse on my property.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Chocolate Marble Coffee Cake: National Coffee Cake Day

Today is National Coffee Cake Day, and it's the perfect day for Coffee Cake. Coffee cakes are sweet cakes usually meant to accompany coffee. They are usually single layer cakes, baked in loaf or bundt pans, but other shapes are fine. I have a square chiffon cake pan that I use with the following recipe.

This recipe for Chocolate Marble Coffee Cake produces a cake with a dense texture that will appeal to both chocolate and white cake lovers--and it has coffee in it, so it's a perfect"Coffee Cake." This recipe is adapted from Stephanie Jaworski's - Joy of Baking. If you're not familiar with her website, you should get acquainted. Lots of great recipes.

Chocolate Marble Coffee Cake

2 1/2 ounces 65-75% chocolate, chopped
1 Tbsp brewed coffee or espresso
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Butter 10 inch bundt or tube pan.
In stainless steel bowl, over saucepan of simmering water, melt chocolate with coffee. Remove from heat and set aside.
In separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon. Set aside.
In bowl of electric mixer (or with hand mixer), beat butter until smooth and creamy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until mixture is light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add beaten eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract and sour cream.
With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour mixture and milk to the batter, in three additions, beginning and ending with flour.
After preparing batter, pour half of batter into separate bowl. Stir melted chocolate into one half of batter, mixing well. Place batter into prepared pan by alternating spoons of vanilla batter and chocolate batter. Then, with flat knife almost to bottom of pan, gently draw swirls (up, over and down) through batter as you rotate pan (if you're using round bundt) to marbleize it. Don't over mix. Smooth top of batter.
Bake for about 50 - 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes before removing cake from pan to cool completely. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I think this cake is fine the way it is (not too sweet), but you can dust with powdered sugar, drip with a chocolate glaze, or frost with chocolate ganache.

This cake will keep for a couple of days at room temperature or it can be frozen.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021


I recently posted a great easy one bowl recipe for Banana Cake with Chocolate Chunks. One of the variations uses oil. Quick breads and pound cakes --terms I use interchangeably--are often made with oil, so for flavor, it will depend on the oil.

If the focus of your quick bread (pound cake) is the oil, I advise you buy fresh extra virgin olive oil. If you have some olive oil on hand that you want to use, give it the sniff test. If it smells at all rancid, dump it and buy new. There's nothing worse than spending time making a lovely Olive Oil Chocolate Pound Cake only to find that it tastes 'off'.  I found this recipe in the local paper, and I've now tried it with different olive oils and adapted it a bit, but so far I'm partial to a more robust extra-virgin olive oil for the its nutty buttery taste, but it's up to you. Experiment!


Extra-virgin olive oil for pan
1-1/3 cups + 1 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt  (I've tried different kinds sea salt, as well as Kosher salt)
1/2 cup unsweetened non-alkalized cocoa powder  (use the very best)
4 large eggs, room temperature
1-1/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°.
Oil 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan (or a similar size).
Sift flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder together, then sift again. Set aside.
In bowl of mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat eggs on medium speed until combined. Add sugar slowly, increasing speed to medium-high, and beat until mixture increases in volume and becomes pale (2 minutes). Reduce speed to low. Add vanilla extract. With mixer running, add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with olive oil in 2 additions, starting and ending with dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated. Stop and scrape side of bowl as needed. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until skewer inserted in center comes out clean (45-55 minutes). Do not overbake.
Cool cake in pan on rack about 15 minutes. Turn cake out of pan, turn right side up and cool completely.

Monday, April 5, 2021


I love Chocolate and Caramel and since today is National Caramel Day, here's an easy recipe for Chocolate Caramel Poke Cake adapted from my good friend Elsie the Cow!

There are all kinds of Poke Cake recipes, but basically a Poke Cake is a cake that's been poked with the bottom of a wooden spoon as soon as it's hot out of the oven. Then liquid--in this case caramel sauce--is poured over it, and the cake absorbs it in varying areas. Yum! This is a great Retro Recipe that you're going to love it!

Chocolate Caramel Poke Cake

1 box chocolate cake mix (Duncan Hines)
1-14 oz. can of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
1-14 oz. jar of caramel topping (Rechiutti Caramel sauce)
Container of Cool Whip (or update this recipe with real whipped cream)
Bag of Toffee Bits or crumbled Heath Bars

Mix Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk and caramel together (warm up, if you need to).
Prepare cake as instructed on box. Bake in rectangular pan.
Remove cake from oven when done and poke holes in top of cake (I use the bottom of a wooden spoon) and pour caramel mixture evenly over cake while cake is still hot.
Refrigerate for at least two hours.
Spread with Cool Whip (or whipped cream)
Sprinkle with Toffee Bits or crumbled Heath Bars.


Today both high end and low end Easter Chocolate is on sale at 50% off. This is the perfect time to scoop up the bargains. But maybe you still have some leftover chocolate at home? Perhaps not the ears of the bunny, but body parts and decimated eggs? Put all that chocolate to tasty use!

If it's still in its wrapping, donate leftover chocolate to homeless shelters -- or if it won't melt, ship overseas to military personnel.

But if your chocolate is in pieces and chunks, here are a few ideas. Leftover chocolate goes great on ice cream or added to brownies and cookies. So many creative ways to re-purpose and re-savor Easter Candy.

Freeze for Later: Chop up chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs. Freeze the pieces and use instead of chocolate chips in cookies and other goodies. 

Ice Cream: Melt Easter bunny parts and pour over ice cream. Add some nuts. Or just chop it up and sprinkle on ice cream. Add berries and whipped cream for a great sundae.

Milk Shake: Use any chopped chocolate with two scoops of ice cream and some milk. Blend!

S'Mores: Well they're a natural with Peeps, especially the chocolate covered ones.. but in a pinch add some chocolate bunny, a peep, a graham cracker, and put in the oven or microwave. Add another graham cracker and you're good to go!

Trail Mix: Well, duh... chop up the chocolate and add some dried fruit and nuts. I think a chopped up chocolate coconut egg would be a great addition, too! Put it in a small baggie and go for a hike!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries: Instead of dipping (unless you have a lot of chocolate), drizzle melted chocolate over fresh strawberries.

Candy from Candy: Melt Chocolate Bunnies or Easter eggs in double boiler or microwave. Once  chocolate is hot and smooth, pour into candy molds.

Chocolate Fondue: see my fondue recipes. The Bunny has never tasted so good... Retro treat with Retro Chocolate. Dip leftover PEEPS and fruit.

Hot Chocolate: Melt some chocolate. Add water or milk and heat until perfect. Add some whipped cream (or a PEEP)!

Brownies: I always add some extra chopped chocolate to my brownies, so why not some Chocolate Easter Eggs? Chop and fold into batter. 

Pancakes: Make a batch of pancakes and drop some chocolate in (do it toward the end or the chocolate or chocolate will scorch) or melt some chocolate and use in place of syrup.

Muffins and Waffles: Chop up Chocolate and add to muffins or waffles.

Trifle: Layer chopped Bunnies with leftover cake or brownies, whipped cream, cookie crumbs and anything else that seems yummy to you. I like to make trifles in clear glass containers to see all the layers of delicious chocolate goodness!

Cookies: Do I really need to tell you how to do this? Chop and Drop in your favorite batter!

Cupcakes: Any way you'd use chocolate -- or use an apple corer and fill the centers.

Rice Krispies Treats: Melt chocolate, then stir in Rice Krispies. Spread on a tray. Put in Refrigerator. Cut.

Any other ideas for left-over Easter Chocolate?


Saturday, April 3, 2021

EASTER PEEPS: Rabbits, Chicks and Chocolate-Dipped!

"Are You My Mother?"
Of all my childhood Spring Confection memories, PEEPS stand out. My sister and I still buy each other PEEPS around Easter, although she rarely eats the sugary marshmallow-y creatures any more. She buys me purple rabbits; I buy her classic yellow chicks -- the original PEEPS. You see where this is going? I'm a purist, but since this is a Chocolate Blog, I've made room in my Easter PEEPS inventory for Chocolate PEEPS.

So, PEEPS: You either love them or hate them. People do all sorts of things with PEEPS, only some of which involve giving them to kids at Easter or eating them straight from the box. For me, it's the elastic quality of the "old" PEEPS that's fun for me--pulling them apart.
Chocolate PEEPS Bunnies off to work in the fields

Chocolate: The ultimate in the ever improving PEEPS. Chocolate-Covered PEEPS are available from the original company in both Dark and Milk chocolate. These are not the small peeps packed together in rows. No, these Chocolate Peeps come in individually wrapped packages, as well as in a three pack. Sadly, in the big ones, the cool sparkly coating of sugar is missing, and I think it would have been a nice buffer between the chocolate and marshmallow to make it stand out from the rest of the chocolate marshmallow candy.

However, the Chocolate Dipped PEEPS do have the sugar. I love the three pack of PEEPS Chocolate Dipped Chicks (both dark and milk chocolate), as well as the Dark and Milk Chocolate PEEPS Chocolate Dipped Mousse Flavored Marshmallow Chicks!

I'm a fan of Chocolate Eggs, and PEEPS has a very fun individually boxed hollow milk chocolate egg with a PEEP chick inside. Maybe it's been around for awhile, but I missed it. LOL!

And, just as an aside, Jacques Torres makes fabulous chocolate, and they sell Chocolate-Covered PEEPS. Their name: Chirp'N'Dales. They are adorable. Also, Asher's Chocolates makes Milk and Dark Chocolate Dipped PEEPS.

Other great uses for PEEPS:

1. Make PEEPS S'Mores, especially with the chocolate covered ones.
2. Plop a Chocolate Covered PEEPS down in your Hot Chocolate or Coffee.
3. Decorate cakes or cupcakes with PEEPS.
4. Create Your Own PEEPS Diorama.
5. Bake PEEPS in your brownies!

Want to make your own Chocolate Covered PEEPS using the original PEEPS?

1. Melt some good dark chocolate or milk chocolate (about 16 oz/depending on how many you plan to make)
2. Remove Peeps from package. I would use Chicks since they're the original, but the other shapes (rabbits, etc) work well.
3. Insert a lollipop stick into the Peep. If you're using the chicks, do it the widest way (maybe this is why they're sideways standing up in the packaged ones--and why bunnies work better). 
4. Dip the Peep into the melted chocolate. Two choices: Either cover the entire Peep or just dip one end as you would strawberries. Be sure and let any excess drip off.
5. Put on wax paper covered plate or cookie sheet and freeze for 20 minutes. 

Question? When is a PEEP, not a PEEP? When it's Chocolate-Covered.

Chocolate Dipped Peeps complete the flock!

VINTAGE EASTER CHOCOLATE MOLDS: Bunnies, Eggs, and Chicks, Oh My!

I adore Chocolate Molds, particularly the vintage metal ones. Here are a few great Chocolate Molds for Easter.  Bunnies, Eggs, and Chicks, oh My!