Sunday, May 16, 2021

MEYER LEMON CHEESECAKE WITH CHOCOLATE CRUST: Shavuot

The Jewish holiday of Shavuot starts this evening, so I thought I'd post an easy and delicious recipe for MEYER LEMON CHEESECAKE with Chocolate Crust. This is perfect for a festive dairy meal.. and the lemons are all about the holiday, too!

The Shavuot holiday celebrates the giving of the Torah. One of the most popular customs on Shavuot is to eat dairy foods. A possible explanation-- there are many-- comes from the Song of Songs, Verse 4:11, that says "milk and honey are under your tongue." Some have said that the Torah is like the milk in this verse. Like milk, the Torah sustains its people. Therefore, a dairy meal on Shavuot celebrates the nourishing ability of the Torah. Shavuot is also known as Chag HaKatzir (the Harvest Festival), since it coincides with the annual wheat harvest in Israel. In ancient Temple times, Jews would bring their first fruits as sacrifices. So I think lemons are perfect to add to this dairy dessert. Make a Chocolate crust, and it's really delicious!

The recipe for the Cheesecake is adapted from Epicurious. I've changed it up in several ways. Since I have Meyer Lemons in my yard, I use them to give this recipe a tangy/sweet taste. I also make a Chocolate Crust. No big surprise there! And, this cheesecake is great just about any time!

MEYER LEMON CHEESECAKE WITH CHOCOLATE CRUST

Chocolate Cookie Crust
2 cups chocolate wafer cookies (grind in food processor)
6 tablespoons sweet butter, melted
Filling
5 8-ounce packages (Philadelphia brand) cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 large eggs
3 cups (24 ounces) sour cream
2 tablespoons (packed) finely grated Meyer lemon peel
2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice

Directions

For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Stir cookie crumbs and butter in medium bowl until evenly moistened.
Press mixture onto bottom of 9-inch-diameter removable-bottom cheesecake pan with 
3-inch-high sides.
Bake crust about 10-12 minutes. Cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
Stack 3 large sheets of foil on work surface. Place same cake pan in center. Gather foil snugly around pan bottom and up sides to waterproof.

For filling:
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until smooth and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar, then salt. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in sour cream, grated lemon peel, and lemon juice. Pour filling into pan.
Place wrapped cake pan in large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cake pan. Bake cake until filling is slightly puffed and moves only slightly when pan is shaken gently, about 1 hour 25 minutes. Remove cake pan from water bath; remove foil. Cool cake in pan on rack 2 hours. Chill uncovered until cold; cover and keep chilled at least 1 day and up to 2 days.
Cut around pan sides; carefully loosen pan bottom from sides and push up pan bottom to release cake. Place cake (still on pan bottom) on platter.

Tip:
The pan: It must be three inches high to hold all the filling. If your nine-inch springform pan is that high, it can be used instead.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

BOURBON BACON CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: National Chocolate Chip Cookies Day!


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

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

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

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

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

Preheat oven to 375°F.

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

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

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

Friday, May 14, 2021

CHOCOLATE BUTTERMILK BISCUITS: National Buttermilk Biscuit Day!

Today is Buttermilk Biscuit Day. American biscuits are nothing like British Biscuits which are cookies. No, our biscuits are more like scones, only fluffier. Buttermilk Biscuits are great with breakfast and gravy and chicken or just about anytime. I love biscuits.

I couldn't pass up this great Retro Space Age Ad for Puffin Biscuits. I think Sterling Cooper (Mad Men) could easily have created this ad. I, of course, suggest you make your biscuits from scratch, and they truly will be "So Light they almost fly"...

And, if you're so inclined, you can add chocolate. Following is a recipe for Chocolate Buttermilk Biscuits.

First, though, a few biscuit making tips from the Bisquick site. These apply if you use Bisquick or if you make your biscuits from scratch.

BISCUIT MAKING TIPS

1. Leave an inch or two space around the biscuits on the cookie sheet. They'll heat more evenly and cook better.
2. In a pinch, a straight-sided plastic glass can also substitute for a rolling pin.
3. For crunchy top, skip kneading and rolling and drop biscuit-sized spoonfuls directly onto baking sheet.
4. Loosen freshly baked biscuits from tray with spatula so they don't stick.
5. Count to ten; kneading biscuit dough too much can make biscuits tough.
6. If you don't have a biscuit cutter, either use a knife to cut squares or cut rounds with upside-down drinking glass. A little flour or extra Bisquick on the knife or glass will help keep things from sticking.

CHOCOLATE BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

This recipe is great served with whipped cream and strawberries! Or just grind some Trader Joe's Chocolate Coffee Bean Sugar -- or some Cinnamon Sugar-- over them just after you brush with the melted butter. Yum! Another variation: add chocolate chips to the dough.

Ingredients
2 cups of flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
5 Tbsp DARK cocoa powder
4 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp cold buttermilk (no buttermilk?add a tsp of vinegar to whole milk)
2 Tbsp melted butter for top of biscuits

Directions
Preheat oven to 450
In food processor: Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Pulse. Add cubed butter. Pulse until butter combines to create grainy mixture.
Put contents of food processor in bowl. Make well in center and pour in chilled buttermilk. Mix to form sticky dough. Place dough on well floured surface. Fold dough a few time. DO NOT OVERWORK.
Roll out dough with floured rolling pin to one inch thickness.
Using biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits in straight up and down motion. Do not twist when cutting out the biscuits. Hint: Twisting will seal sides of biscuits preventing biscuits from rising and consequently make for tough, flat biscuits.
Put cut out biscuits on parchment paper lined baking sheet so that they are close but not touching.
Once all of biscuits are on baking sheet, bake for 10-12 minutes in center of oven until golden brown. Brush with melted butter.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

CHOCOLATE APPLE PIE: National Apple Pie Day

One of my favorite children's books by Alison Murray
Today is National Apple Pie Day, and it's only fitting that it comes a few days after Mother's Day. This Chocolate Apple Pie is "as American as Mom and Apple Pie." But what's the origin of this catch phrase?

 From Wikipedia: 
Although apple pies have been eaten since long before the European colonization of the Americas, "as American as apple pie" is a saying in the United States, meaning "typically American". In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, apple pie became a symbol of American prosperity and national pride. A newspaper article published in 1902 declared that “No pie-eating people can be permanently vanquished.” The dish was also commemorated in the phrase "for Mom and apple pie" - supposedly the stock answer of American soldiers in World War II, whenever journalists asked why they were going to war.

My Grandmother made an awesome apple pie. I've written about this pie before. It did not contain chocolate. She made it in a huge rectangular pan. She made it because it was "American," and when she came to these shores, she became an American! My grandmother was born in Ukraine (then part of Russia), married in London, and settled in Philadelphia, the Cradle of Liberty. She took her new citizenship to heart, and she baked apple pie for her family every Friday. She did it because she saw herself as a true American. 

CHOCOLATE APPLE PIE

Ingredients
Pastry for a double-crust 9-inch pie, unbaked
8-10 tart apples (peeled, cored and sliced thinly--number of apples depends on their size)--Gravensteins aren't available this time of year, but they're my favorite, especially for pies!
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup 65-75% dark chocolate, chopped

Directions
Apples: peel, core, and slice thinly.
Combine cinnamon & sugar = cinnamon sugar. (you may need a tiny bit more). I've also used the chocolate cinnamon sugar from Trader Joe's
Place 1 layer apple slices on bottom crust. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar. Repeat twice.
Spread chopped chocolate pieces over top.
Using remaining apples, make 3 more apple/cinnamon sugar layers.
Top with 2nd crust and seal edges. Make cut on top--or prick with fork in a few places.
Bake in preheated 450 F oven for 15 minutes (until golden).
Lower heat to 350F and continue baking for another 25-30 minutes, or until apples are tender.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

NUTTY FUDGE: History & 3 Recipes for National Nutty Fudge Day


Another holiday, another recipe. Today is National Nutty Fudge Day. My Aunt Annie made the best fudge in the world, but now that I know more about candy nomenclature, I think she actually made truffles. They were dark chocolate balls rolled in cocoa. I'll always remember her truffles as fudge.

But I had my first taste of the 'real' fudge down the shore in Atlantic City. Fudge was sold along with Salt Water Taffy at many of the Boardwalk candy shops. Yum!

History of Fudge: Fudge was supposedly invented in the U.S.in the late 1880s. Historians believe the first batch of fudge resulted from a bungled batch of caramels, as in "Oh, Fudge" I don't think so...

According to Wikipedia, the main component of Fudge was similar to the traditional recipe for Scots Tablet found in The Household Book of the Lady Grisell Baillie (1692-1733). The term 'fudge' is often used in the UK for a soft variant of the tablet recipe.

One of the first documented examples of American fudge (containing chocolate!) was found in a letter written by Emelyn Batersby Hartridge, a Vassar College student, who wrote that a friend's cousin made fudge in Baltimore in 1886 and sold it for 40 cents a pound. Hartridge asked for the fudge recipe, and in 1888 she made 30 pounds of the fudge for the Vassar Senior Auction. In The Candy Book (Alice Bradley, 1929) an entire chapter is devoted to fudge.

Fudge is a crystalline candy, which means that, unlike lollipops, caramels, and taffy, crystal formation is the key to making great fudge. Tiny microcrystals of sugar in fudge give fudge its firm but smooth texture. The secret to successful fudge is getting these crystals to form at just the right time. Fudge is one of the rare exceptions to the rule that sugar crystals are not desirable in candy. Tiny microcrystals in fudge are what give it its firm texture. When the crystals are small enough, they don’t feel grainy on your tongue, but smooth.

While you ultimately want crystals to form, it's important that they don't form too early. Now it gets tricky! The key to successful, nongrainy fudge is in the cooling, not the cooking. If you disturb the cooling fudge during this cooling phase you increase the potential for larger crystals (seed crystals) of sugar to form too early and thus a grainy fudge results.

O.K. this is too much for me to take in, not being a candy maker. So how to make fudge easily? Here are three recipes.

1. Easy Million Dollar Fudge 
Adapted from Stephanie in All Recipes

Ingredients
4 - 1/2 cups white sugar
1 pinch salt
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
2 cups chopped nuts
1 (12 ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips (or good quality dark chocolate, chopped)
12 (1 ounce) squares German sweet chocolate
2 cups marshmallow creme

Directions
Butter two 9 x 9 inch baking pans and set aside.
Place chocolate chips, German chocolate, marshmallow creme, and nuts into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
In 4 quart saucepan, combine sugar, salt, butter, and evaporated milk. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil, and cook for 6 minutes.
Pour boiling syrup over ingredients in bowl, beat until all chocolate is melted. Pour into prepared pans. Let stand a few hours before cutting.

2. Foolproof Dark Chocolate Fudge Recipe

Ingredients
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (or dark chocolate, chopped)
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
Pinch of salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
1-1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions
In heavy saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate chips with sweetened condensed milk and salt. Remove from heat; stir in walnuts and vanilla.
Spread evenly into aluminum foil lined 8 or 9 inch square pan.
Chill 2 hours or until firm.
Turn fudge onto cutting board; peel off foil and cut into squares.

3. Nutty Chocolate Fudge
Alton Brown had a great show on the Food Network on making fudge, so I thought I should include one of his recipes for nutty chocolate fudge (slightly adapted)

Ingredients
2- 3/4 cups sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 cup half-and-half
1 Tbsp corn syrup
1 Tbsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 cup chopped, roasted nuts

Directions
Grease 8 by 8-inch pan with butter.
In heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar, chocolate, 1-1/2 Tbsp  butter, half-and-half, and corn syrup. Over medium heat, stir with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved and chocolate is melted.
Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and boil for 3 minutes.
Remove cover and attach candy thermometer to pot. Cook until thermometer reads 234 degrees F.
Remove from heat and add remaining butter. Do not stir.
Let mixture cool for 10 minutes or until it drops to 130 degrees F.
Add vanilla and nuts and mix until well-blended and shiny texture becomes matte.
Pour into prepared pan.
Let sit in cool dry area until firm.
Cut into 1-inch pieces.

And, there are websites that are just devoted to fudge. Fudge-Recipes.net and Fudge-Recipes.com and Fudge Recipe Collection. In addition there are many, many other nutty chocolate fudge recipes on various food blogs, including this one!

Have a Nutty Fudge Day!

Monday, May 10, 2021

FANCY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER: Guest Post by Alice Loweecey

I love when my mystery and chocolate worlds collide. I saw photos of this amazing "Giant Ho-Ho" on mystery author Alice Loweecey's Facebook page and had to have the recipe. Thanks, Alice!

ALICE LOWEECEY:

Fancy is in the Eye of the Beholder 

A few Christmases ago I was searching for a new dessert. I can hear you all now saying “Never try a new recipe for a holiday!” Sometimes you have to live on the edge. 

I’m not too edgy, so I figured chocolate would be a good compromise. I wandered through recipe sites waiting for something to catch my eye. The image of a chocolate, creamy swirl caught my eye. This was it!

Now for a nostalgia interlude. Back in May of 1984, a friend and I celebrated passing our senior exams with dinner at a tiny little French restaurant in Georgetown. We’d saved up so we could order what we wanted. I don’t remember the main course, but I was chosen to go to the bakery counter to choose dessert. I gazed at several fancy, sugary confections, but a swirl of chocolate and cream caught my eye. Our first bite confirmed the choice. Oh, my. 

So, of course, I clicked on the image of that chocolate, creamy swirl, which took me to the King Arthur Flour website. The recipe was simple enough for an experienced baker. I’ve been baking for about 46 years. I gave it a shot. 

I freely admit this version isn’t French restaurant quality. But the cake has a good crumb, whipped cream is always wonderful, and the ganache gives it an air of sophistication. 

Until my kids saw it for the first time. They dubbed it the Giant Ho-Ho. It was a hit and I’ve made it every Christmas since. It’s always the Giant Ho-Ho in our house now. 

Since time still has no meaning, I made it again this weekend for a combo belated birthday/Mother’s Day celebration. I fancied up the presentation, and no one complained. 

You can’t go wrong with chocolate. Enjoy! 

King Arthur Flour Company Chocolate Cream Roll 

Ingredients 

Batter 

• 4 large eggs, at room temperature 

• 3/4 cup (149g) sugar 

• 1/2 teaspoon salt 

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

• 2/3 cup (82g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour 

• 1/3 cup (28g) Double Dutch Dark Cocoa, or other Dutch-process cocoa 

• 1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional; for richer chocolate flavor 

• 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder 

• 1/4 cup (50g) vegetable oil 

• 6 tablespoons (85g) buttermilk, at room temperature Filling 

• 1 cup (227g) heavy cream 

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

• 1 tablespoon (14g) sugar 

• 2 teaspoons Instant ClearJel 

• 1/2 cup (85g) finely ground dark chocolate or 3/4 cup (75g) 

Sweet Ground Chocolate (Optional) 

Glaze 

• 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (85g) heavy cream 

• 1 1/2 tablespoons (29g) corn syrup, light or dark 

• 3/4 cup (128g) Guittard Semisweet Wafers, or chopped semisweet chocolate from a block 

Instructions 

• Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9 1/2" x 14" jelly roll pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick vegetable oil spray. 

To make the cake: 

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until thick and pale, then beat in the sugar, salt, and extracts. 

• Sift together the flour, cocoa, and baking powder, and fold gently into the egg mixture. Whisk together the oil and buttermilk and fold in, stirring just until combined. 

• Spread the batter onto the pan and smooth with a spatula. Bake the cake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the top springs back when pressed gently. 

• Remove the cake from the oven, let it cool in the pan for 1 to 2 minutes, then loosen the edges with knife. Turn out onto a tea towel lightly dusted with confectioners' sugar (or onto a piece of parchment), roll up loosely (starting with a short end), and let cool completely. 

To make the filling: 

Stir together the cream and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl. Mix together the sugar and ClearJel in a small bowl and sprinkle over the cream. Whip the cream (by hand, stand mixer, or hand mixer) until soft peaks form then fold in the finely ground chocolate or sweet ground chocolate. Refrigerate until needed. 

• To make the glaze: 

Gently heat all of the ingredients until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes to thicken slightly. 

• To finish the cake: Unroll the cake and spread it with the filling. Re-roll, and place seam-side down on rack set over a piece of parchment or wax paper. Trim the ends for a clean appearance. 

• Pour the chocolate glaze over the cake, spreading it to cover the ends and sides and allowing the excess to drip onto the paper below. Allow the glaze to set for 10 to 15 minutes, then if desired pour the excess glaze back over the cake. 

• Serve the cake immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 24 hours. Freeze for longer storage. 

***

Baker of brownies and tormenter of characters, Alice Loweecey recently celebrated her thirtieth year outside the convent. She grew up watching Hammer horror films and Scooby-Doo mysteries, which explains a whole lot. When she's not creating trouble for her sleuth Giulia Driscoll or inspiring nightmares as her alter-ego Kate Morgan, she can be found growing her own vegetables (in summer) and cooking with them (the rest of the year).

Sunday, May 9, 2021

VINTAGE MOTHER'S DAY WHITMAN'S CHOCOLATE ADVERTISEMENTS

I love old magazine chocolate advertisements--Retro and Vintage. Life is Like a Box of Chocolates, and Whitman's Samplers has known that for decades. Here are several Whitman's Chocolates Mother's Day Ads.  Enjoy the tour through the decades. Happy Mother's Day!




 


Saturday, May 8, 2021

COCONUT CREAM PIE FROM SCRATCH: National Coconut Cream Pie Day

Love these food holidays! Today is National Coconut Cream Pie Day! Add a Chocolate Crust and now you're talking! The advertisement on the right is from 1953 for "Coconut Cream Dreams -- in Minutes,"  but believe me, take a few more minutes to make your own. It will be 100% better!

This recipe is from Southern Living (April 2005) and also appeared in one of the Best of Southern Living collections. It's worth the time to make this great Coconut Cream Pie from Scratch.

COCONUT CREAM PIE FROM SCRATCH

Coconut Cream Pie Filling
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups half-and-half
4 egg yolks
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Garnish: toasted coconut

Directions

Chocolate Pie Crust:
2 cups chocolate wafers (in a pinch use Oreos)
6 tbsp butter

Melt the butter.
Put the chocolate wafers in plastic bag. Close bag and crush with spoon or rolling pin until you have tiny pea-sized chocolate bits.
Combine melted butter with chocolate bits.
Press ingredients into 9-inch buttered pie pan. Be sure and go up sides.
Bake 10 minutes at 325°F. 

Filling:
Combine 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch in heavy saucepan. Whisk together half-and-half and egg yolks. Gradually whisk egg mixture into sugar mixture; bring to boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil 1 minute; remove from heat.

Stir in butter, 1 cup coconut, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap, placing plastic wrap directly on filling in pan; let stand 30 minutes (or put it in the refrigerator). Spoon custard mixture into prepared crust, cover and chill 30 minutes or until set.

Beat whipping cream at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add 1/3 cup sugar and remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla, beating until soft peaks form. Spread or pipe whipped cream over pie filling.

Garnish with toasted coconut

*To make toasted coconut, heat oven to 350. Put coconut in a pie pan and spread out to about 1/4 inch thick. Toast in oven for about 3-5 minutes.. check to make sure it doesn't burn.

MOTHER'S DAY CHOCOLATE CAKE: Retro Ad & Recipe

I adore Retro Advertisements, and this one is particularly close to my heart. My mother had a Sunbeam Mixmaster. So many cookies, cakes, and brownies were made with that Mixmaster. I don't have my mother's Sunbeam Mixmaster, but I have my Mother-in-Law's -- the same model with all the attachments. I use my Kitchenaid Mixer mostly, but I love the functionality of that old Mixmaster War Horse. It still works, and I'll bet my mother-in-law got it in the early 1950s.

So, for Mother's Day, here's a Sunbeam Mixmaster Mother's Day Advertisement from Life Magazine, May 1, 1950, complete with Chocolate Cake recipe. What are you making for Mother's Day?





Friday, May 7, 2021

Five D-I-Y Chocolate Face Masks: The Perfect Gift for Mother's Day!

Here's a personal and unique Mother's Day Gift! A Chocolate Facial for Mom! Mix up one of these recipes for Mom! Be sure to make a second batch for yourself!

We all know Chocolate is good for the heart, blood pressure, and a lot more. When I was growing up, we were told that chocolate was bad for the skin. That it actually caused acne. This is not true. Chocolate is full of antioxidants that actually give the skin extra protection against free radicals and can nourish the skin. The following masks can increase hydration, support skin's defense against UV damage, decrease roughness, and actually improve blood flow. Give one or all of them a try.

Pros of Chocolate Face Mask: The skin becomes glowing and soft,  firm, and smooth. Even if the mask goes into your mouth, no problem; it tastes yummy. The final Chocolate Face Mask even has an alternative fudge recipe.

So here are 5 D-I-Y Chocolate Face Mask Recipes! They're all simple to make. Let me know which one you like best.

1. Chocolate Mask from Household Magic: Daily Tips

Mix together a heaping Tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder with heavy cream to form a paste.
Apply to clean, dry skin and leave paste on for 15 minutes.
Wipe off mask with washcloth.
Rinse face with lukewarm water and pat dry.

2. Chocolate Yogurt Honey Mask from Flavor Fiesta

Ingredients
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp yogurt
1 tsp honey

Directions
Blend cocoa powder with honey and yogurt. Cocoa powder can be difficult to blend, so be patient with this step. Keep mixing until mixture looks like melted chocolate.
Clean your face with lukewarm water. Dab dry and then apply the mask evenly all over your face except the eye and lip areas. Relax for 15-20 minutes and let the mask do it’s magic.
Wash off with lukewarm water and dab dry.
Apply moisturizer.

3. Chocolate Brown Sugar Sea Salt Mask from WikiHow

Ingredients
2 bars of dark chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup of milk
Sea salt
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar

Directions
Heat dark chocolate in double boiler for about 3 minutes.
Mix sea salt, brown sugar, and 2/3 of a cup milk in a bowl.
Remove melted chocolate from heat.
Mix melted chocolate with salt/milk mixture.
Allow to cool.
Apply to face while cool but not hardened.
Leave on until it hardens.
Wash or chip off with mild cleanser and warm water.
Add moisturizer when done.

4. Chocolate Oatmeal Honey Mask from Skin Care and Remedies

Ingredients
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup organic honey
2 Tbsp of heavy cream (or sour cream)
3 tsp oatmeal powder

Directions
Mix all ingredients until mass in consistent.
Apply to face, gently massaging so oatmeal can start exfoliating the dead skin cell layer.
Leave on for about 15-20 minutes
Rinse off with lukewarm water.

The following recipe is one of my favorites because it's so versatile.. with a tiny bit of tweaking, you can make fudge! How cool is that?

5. Chocolate Avocado, Honey, Oatmeal Face Mask (or Fudge)  
 from Meghan Telpner-Making Love in the Kitchen

Ingredients
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup organic honey
2 Tbsp smashed avocado
3 tsp oatmeal powder (leave this out if making soft fudge, leave in if you want a harder texture)

Directions: Face Mask
Mix all ingredients until mass is consistent.
Apply on face, gently massaging so oatmeal can start exfoliating the dead skin cell layer.
Leave on for 15-20 minutes.
Rinse off with lukewarm water.

Instructions: Fudge
Mix all ingredients (except oatmeal) until mass is consistent.
Spread in small pyrex dish or into individual ramikens.
Allow to set in refrigerator for at least two hours.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

CHOCOLATE CREPES SUZETTE: Crepes Suzette Day: ooh-la-la!

Today is National Crepes Suzette Day. Ooh-la-la! What could be more French than Crepes Suzette?

To add a chocolate element, you can add chocolate sauce to your traditional crepes suzette, but even better, make Chocolate Crepes?

History of Crepes Suzette from What's Cooking America?

Probably the most famous crepe dish in the world. In a restaurant, a crepe suzette is often prepared in a chafing dish in full view of the guests. They are served hot with a sauce of sugar, orange juice, and liqueur (usually Grand Marnier). Brandy is poured over the crepes and then lit. The dish was created out of a mistake made by a fourteen year-old assistant waiter Henri Carpentier (1880-1961) in 1895 at the Maitre at Monte Carlo's Café de Paris. He was preparing a dessert for the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII (1841-1910) of England. 

According to Henri Charpentier, in own words from Life A La Henri – Being The Memories of Henri Charpentier:

“It was quite by accident as I worked in front of a chafing dish that the cordials caught fire. I thought I was ruined. The Prince and his friends were waiting. How could I begin all over? I tasted it. It was, I thought, the most delicious melody of sweet flavors I had every tasted. I still think so. That accident of the flame was precisely what was needed to bring all those various instruments into one harmony of taste . . . He ate the pancakes with a fork; but he used a spoon to capture the remaining syrup. He asked me the name of that which he had eaten with so much relish. I told him it was to be called Crepes Princesse. He recognized that the pancake controlled the gender and that this was a compliment designed for him; but he protested with mock ferocity that there was a lady present. She was alert and rose to her feet and holding her little shirt wide with her hands she made him a curtsey. ‘Will you,’ said His Majesty, ‘change Crepes Princesse to Crepes Suzette?’ Thus was born and baptized this confection, one taste of which, I really believe, would reform a cannibal into a civilized gentleman. The next day I received a present from the Prince, a jeweled ring, a panama hat and a cane.”

CHOCOLATE CREPES SUZETTE


For the Crepes: 

Ingredients
2 cups milk
2 eggs
2 1/2 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
2 ounces dark chocolate, melted
1-1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup DARK cocoa
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Melt butter and chocolate together, mixing to combine and smooth out  chocolate. 
In large bowl, combine milk and eggs. 
In separate, smaller bowl, combine dry ingredients.
Whisk together milk and eggs with dry ingredients, continue whisking as you incorporate butter and chocolate mixture.
Cover and refrigerate at least an hour, or overnight. Be sure to re-whisk batter before you cook  crepes.

To Cook Crepes:
Butter hot skillet (small or medium, not large) or crepe pan, then wipe out excess butter with paper towel so it's dry-ish. Pour in small amount of crepe batter and tilt pan as needed so batter spreads and covers bottom of pan. As edges begin to turn up, flip crepe with a spatula for few seconds to cook other side.


SAUCE & FINAL PREPARATION

Ingredients
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
Juice of 6 oranges (with zest from one)
3 Tbsp Cointreau
3 Tbsp Cognac
12 dark chocolate crepes
Grated chocolate for garnish

Directions
Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Stir in sugar, zest, juice, and liqueur. Stirring constantly, reduce sauce to 2/3 cup. Carefully add each cooked crepe to  pan—one at a time—and coat with sauce.
Fold each crepe into quarters, and arrange on plate (3 per plate if you're serving four)
Sprinkle crepes with orange zest and grated chocolate chocolate.

Only if you're really careful: Flambé sauce: reserve two tablespoons and add three more tablespoons of Cognac. Stir together and remove the pan from heat. Ignite with match and pour flaming sauce over crepes.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

BUTTERMILK MEXICAN CHOCOLATE CHILE BUNDT CAKE: Cinco de Mayo

Here's one of my favorite Chocolate Cake recipes. It's perfect for Cinco de Mayo or any time: Buttermilk Mexican Chocolate Cake. I adapted this from a recipe in Southern Living a few years ago. I've added ground chiles and used Taza Mexican Chocolate with Chiles for a little more kick. I usually bake this pound cake in a bundt pan. This is quick and easy and delicious.

Buttermilk Mexican Chocolate Chile Bundt Cake

Ingredients
8 oz chopped dark (65-75% cacao)chocolate (I use either Taza Chipotle Chili Chocolate Mexicano or Guajillo Chili Chocolate Mexicano, but you can use any dark chocolate)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup chocolate syrup
2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ancho chiles
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk 

Directions
Melt chocolate in saucepan over saucepan of simmering water.
Beat butter at medium speed with electric mixer 2 minutes or until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating 5 to 7 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears after each addition. Stir in melted chocolate, chocolate syrup, and vanilla until smooth.
Combine flour and next 4 ingredients; add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Pour batter into a greased and floured 12-cup Bundt pan.
Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and let cool for another hour.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

MEXICAN CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE: Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Here's a great recipe for Mexican Chocolate Cheesecake from Betty Crocker.  As always, use the very best chocolate and other ingredients. To make this extra chocolate-y, add a chocolate crust.

Mexican Chocolate Cheesecake

Ingredients

Crust
1 1/2 cups crushed chocolate wafer cookies (about 35 cookies)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling 
1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) chopped Mexican Chocolate (I use Taza Mexicano)
1/2 cup whipping cream
3 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla
3 eggs

Topping and Garnish 
2 cups sweetened whipped cream
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Chocolate shavings

Directions:
Heat oven to 350°F.
Wrap outside bottom and side of 8-inch springform pan with heavy-duty foil to prevent leaking. Spray inside bottom and side of pan with cooking spray.
In small bowl, mix crust ingredients. Press in bottom of pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F. Cool crust 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in 2-quart saucepan, melt chopped chocolate and whipping cream over medium-low heat; stir until smooth. Remove from heat.
In large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy.
Beat in eggs, one at a time, just until blended.
Stir in chocolate mixture. Pour filling over crust.

Bake at 300°F 1 hour or until edge of cheesecake is set at least 2 inches from edge of pan but center of cheesecake still jiggles slightly.
Turn oven off; open oven door 4 inches. Let cheesecake remain in oven 30 minutes. Run small metal spatula around edge of pan to loosen cheesecake.
Cool in pan on cooling rack 30 minutes.
Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

To serve, run small metal spatula around edge of pan; carefully remove foil and side of pan. Cut cheesecake into slices. Top slices with whipped cream; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
Garnish with chocolate shavings. Cover; refrigerate any remaining cheesecake.


CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY TART: National Raspberry Tart Day

Yesterday was Raspberry Tart Day, and I forgot to post this great recipe for Chocolate Raspberry Tart. I favor Driscoll's Berries, especially since I can find them in the market year round. I live in California, so that's pretty easy. Driscoll's Berries are always sweet and fresh. I love raspberries!

So in honor of the day (and perhaps for Mother's Day?), here's a recipe for a Chocolate Raspberry Tarte (or Tart)! This recipe is adapted from the Art and Soul of Baking cookbook. Of course, I always make a chocolate crust! The crust in this recipe is not the usual one I make from chocolate cookie wafers. This one is made using cocoa powder, and you'll taste the difference. Of course, use only the best ingredients -- the very best cocoa. The original recipe calls for making 15 tiny tartlettes, but you can also make one big tart (or a pie, if you only have a pie pan). A tart is usually made in a shallow fluted pan, usually with a removal bottom -- a tart pan. Tarts rarely have an upper crust.

For the jam at the end, I use Bonne Maman Raspberry Preserves, one of my favorites.

CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY TART!

Ingredients
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 Tbsp unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
3/4 cup raspberry jam (or strawberry)
4 ounces dark chocolate (65-75% cacao), chopped
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
6 ounces fresh raspberries
1/2 tsp water
powdered sugar

Directions
Beat butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Use spatula to scrape down bowl and beat another minute if there are lumps of butter. Add egg yolk, beat well, and scrape down sides.
Add flour and cocoa powder. Beat on low speed until dough comes together (but still has small to medium clumps) and looks moist with dark uniform color. Scrape down bowl. Use spatula to incorporate anything not mixed in.
Put dough in tart pan with removable bottom (or pie pan, if that's all you have). Press dough evenly along bottom and up sides of pan. (as with any pie dough, if it isn't working for you, stick it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes)
Use knife to cut off dough that is above top of pan (save left over dough for repairs). Put dough filled tart pan in fridge for 30 minutes. 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in lower third. Place dough filled pan on cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and use any leftover dough to repair cracks. Bake another 8 minutes.
Remove tart pan to cooling rack and use rounded side of a spoon to press center down and make more room for filling. Let cool completely (in fridge, if you have to).
Put aside Tbsp of jam in small bowl. Spoon rest of jam to cover bottom of tart crust.
Put chocolate in heatproof bowl. Put heavy cream in small saucepan. Heat cream until it just starts to boil, then pour over chocolate. Begin whisking to blend completely and melt all chocolate. Pour ganache into crust.
Refrigerate tart for 1 hour or until filling is firm. Remove from fridge and arrange raspberries on top of tart.
Mix reserved Tbsp of jam with 1/2 tsp of water and heat in microwave for about 15 seconds. Brush jam mixture onto tops of arranged raspberries (just a little to make them shiny).
Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Optional: Sift with powdered sugar before serving.

Monday, May 3, 2021

MEXICAN CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES: 3 Recipes for National Chocolate Truffles Day & Cinco de Mayo

Today is National Chocolate Truffles Day! A great day to celebrate, and since Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner, I thought I'd post three recipes for "Mexican" Truffles.

I've posted the first recipefor Tequila Truffles before. I love this one becaise you really can taste the Tequila. I sometimes roll Tequila Truffles (the ganache part) in cocoa....or dip them in dark chocolate and sprinkle with course sea salt. Either way works. The second recipe is for Mexican Chocolate Truffles, and the third is for Spicy Mexican Truffles. Try all three!

1. Tequila Truffles 
This recipe is adapted from Divine Chocolate. I probably didn't need 100 or more truffles as in the original recipe :-) I must admit that I'm a bit haphazard in measurements when I make these. I adhere to my grandmothers's "a pinch of this, a pinch of that" method. I daresay, though, that my grandmother would never have made Tequila Truffles.

Ingredients:
14 oz white chocolate, chopped into small chunks
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tsp white tequila
1 tsp grated lime zest
Drop of fresh lemon juice and drop of fresh lime juice or 1/4 tsp each of lime and lemon oil (natural) 

Coating
1 - 1 1/4 lbs. dark chocolate (70% cacao) for dipping, chopped into small chunks
Coarse sea salt

Ganache Directions
Line shallow baking pan with plastic wrap, overlapping 2 or more sheets as needed, leaving generous overhang on two sides (enough to cover the ganache once it is in the pan).
Place white chocolate in food processor and process to crumb consistency. Add tequila, zest, and juice or oils.
Bring cream to boil in small pan. With food processor on, pour cream through feed tube, processing fortotal of 20-30 seconds, until mixture is perfectly smooth. Scrape ganache into plastic wrap-lined pan and let cool at room temperature, without stirring.
Once ganache is cool, fold plastic wrap over it and let sit at room temperature for several hours, preferably overnight, until firm enough to scoop. You can always refrigerate, but the texture of the truffles won’t be quite as silky. Once ganache has set, chilling won’t hurt it.
To shape  truffles, use melon baller to form balls with hands from the ganache. If needed, smooth the surface with hands. (I do both)
Place centers (ganache balls) slightly apart on tray lined with parchment or wax paper. Let stand at room temperature, uncovered, until surface is dry and slightly crusted, at least 2 hours, preferably longer.

Coating Directions
Temper dark chocolate by melting about 75% of chocolate either in double boiler or in microwave until it reaches about 100°F. Add remaining 25% of solid chocolate to bowl and mix until all melts and temperature reaches about 90°F. Dip truffles one at time (I use the two fork method I've posted before) in melted chocolate, let excess drip off, and place on tray lined with parchment or wax paper.
Sprinkle with a little bit of sea salt before chocolate begins to harden. Continue with remaining truffles, but if dark chocolate becomes to cool, reheat a bit until it gets back up to about 90°F.
Let sit at room temperature.
Store truffles in a covered container at cool room temperature for up to 10 days.

2. Mexican Chocolate Truffles 
 recipe adapted from Elizabeth LaBau on About.com

Although it doesn’t use actual Mexican chocolate (although you could), this easy chocolate truffle recipe has cinnamon, almonds, and coffee for a sweet spiced Mexican chocolate taste. Unlike most truffle recipes, the chocolate is not melted but remains in small chunks. For this reason, it’s important to chop the chocolate very fine so that it’s evenly incorporated throughout the truffles.

Ingredients:
4 ounces dark chocolate (60-75% cacao, very finely chopped
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup almond paste
1 Tbsp strong coffee
1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup DARK cocoa powder
 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
In large bowl, combine chopped chocolate, sugar, almond paste, coffee, and melted butter. Stir with wooden spoon until comes together and forms smooth paste.
Combine cocoa powder and cinnamon in shallow bowl or pie tin.
Using teaspoon, scoop up small balls of the truffle mixture and roll into ball in between your hands. Roll truffle in cocoa-cinnamon mixture, and place on baking sheet or plate.
Repeat with remaining truffle mixture and cocoa powder.
Refrigerate truffles for 2 hours before serving.
If you are making these ahead of time, transfer chilled truffles to airtight container in the refrigerator so they don’t get too dry or absorb other odors. Take out and leave at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

3. Spicy Mexican Truffles

Ingredients
1/3 cup heavy cream
6 Tbsp sweet butter, chopped
2 cups Dark Chocolate (60-75% cacao), chopped
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 Tbsp ground cardamom
1/2 Tbsp orange peels
Pinch of Salt

Directions
In saucepan bring cream to simmer.
Add butter and stir until melted.
Add chocolate.
Stir until completely melted and smooth.
Stir in cayenne, cardamom, orange peels and salt.
Remove from heat and pour into shallow bowl.
Cool, cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.
Using melon baller or hands, roll mixture into small balls.
Roll each ball in cocoa.