Wednesday, June 30, 2021


Happy Fourth of July! We have a lot to celebrate this year! 

I always say you should check out recipes on food product sites that you like, and for me, the Hershey's Kitchens site is a regular stop.

I grew up in Philadelphia. Since my Aunt lived in Harrisburg, Hershey's, being on the way, was a frequent stop. I remember the Hershey Factory tour that took us on catwalks over rooms filled with chocolate vats--without barriers. I always thought you could fall into the vats. Very pre-Willy Wonka. I'm sure my memory is impaired, but it was a child's paradise and fantasy. I know Hershey Park had lots of amusement rides, a roller coaster, possibly a pool or two, but our family never availed ourselves of those 'amusements.' We always went on the educational tour. We did have chocolate, though, at the end, so I'm grateful.

Hershey's always seems so American to me! Patriotic, even. So I'm not surprised that this Hershey's Kitchens' Cocoa Bundt Cake has become of my favorite recipes, and here it is, all dressed up for the Fourth of July. I've adapted the recipe slightly.

Star Spangled Cocoa Bundt Cake


3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1-2/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk*
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup DARK Cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
Powdered sugar
Fresh blueberries and strawberries
Sweetened whipped cream

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 12-cup bundt pan (with a hole in the middle)*
Beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in large bowl until fluffy; beat in sour cream. Stir baking soda into buttermilk; set aside. Stir together flour, cocoa and salt; add alternately with buttermilk mixture to butter mixture. Beat 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until wooden pick inserted comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. 

Place cake on serving plate. Sift powdered sugar on top and sides of cake. Top with blueberries, strawberries. Serve with whipped cream.

Tip: If you don't have buttermilk, here's how to sour milk: Mix 1 Tbsp white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup.

Cake Photo: Hershey's Kitchens

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

HOME-MADE ALMOND ROCA: National Almond Buttercrunch Day

Today is National Almond Buttercrunch Day. Almond Roca is also known as Almond Buttercrunch.

I first had Almond Roca as a young girl. A neighbor who drove us to school always had Almond Roca on the coffee table in their recreation room. This neighbor didn't have the same rules as in my household (No Candy until after dinner--not to mention BEFORE school!). So I always enjoyed Almond Roca when this neighbor was driving. So for today's Buttercrunch Day holiday, I suggest you make the following recipe for Homemade Almond Roca. This recipe for Home-made Almond Roca is adapted from Elizabeth LaBau on

No time to cook? Pick up a bar of Almond Roca.

Home-Made Almond Roca

4 ounces unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups toasted whole almonds, coarsely chopped
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

Prepare 8 x 4 loaf pan by lining with aluminum foil and spraying foil with nonstick cooking spray.
In small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt, and stir until brown sugar dissolves.
Once brown sugar melts, start timer and cook candy for exactly 6 minutes, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. If you use candy thermometer, stir and boil toffee until it reaches 290 degrees.
After six minutes, take toffee (buttercrunch) pan off heat and stir in 1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds. Scrape toffee into prepared loaf pan—it should be in layer about 1/2-inch thick.
Let toffee set for about 3 minutes, then use pizza cutter or paring knife to cut toffee into thin bars about 1/2-inch by 2 -1/2 inches. They will look small, but once they're dipped in chocolate and rolled in nuts, they'll be bigger. After another 2 minutes, go over your cuts again as toffee continues to harden.
As you wait for toffee to set, chop remaining 1 cup of toasted almonds very finely, or put in food processor and pulse for several seconds until becomes very small pieces. Pour finely chopped almonds into shallow bowl.
Once toffee is completely cool and set, break into pieces along lines you made, and trim off any jagged edges with knife.
Melt chocolate. Dip each piece of Almond Buttercrunch in melted chocolate, then place in bowl of nuts. Roll it around until coated with nuts on all sides, then take it out of nuts with fork and place on baking sheet. Repeat until all toffee pieces are coated with chocolate and nuts.
Optional: To make it 'really' look like Almond Roca, wrap individual pieces in gold foil.
Refrigerate tray to set chocolate (about 10 minutes).
Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Bring to room temperature before serving.

Monday, June 28, 2021

TAPIOCA DAY: Uses and Vintage Tapioca Advertisements

Today is National Tapioca Day. I grew up with tapioca as a once a week dessert. It was not a favorite, but times and recipes have changed, and it may have been how my mother prepared it. If you're into boba or bubble tea--all the rage now--know that it is made with big pearl tapioca. That tapioca starch turns into a chewy gummy ball when cooked.

But what is Tapioca? I consulted Spruce Eats for answers.

Tapioca has a neutral flavor and strong gelling power, making it effective as a thickening agent in both sweet and savory foods. Unlike cornstarch, tapioca can withstand a freeze-thaw cycle without losing its gel structure or breaking down, making it an ideal thickener in ice cream recipes.


Tapioca starch (from the cassava plant) can be purchased as flour or instant flakes; it's opaque prior to cooking but turns translucent upon hydration. Tapioca pearls and powders are most often white or off-white, but the pearls, frequently used in desserts, can be dyed to just about any color. Tapioca pearls come in large and small sizes. Boba are large sweetened pearls often dyed black and used for bubble tea. 

Tapioca Uses 

Traditional uses for tapioca include tapioca pudding, bubble or boba tea, and other candies and desserts. Both tapioca pudding and boba tea are made with pearled tapioca, or small balls of tapioca starch that turn into a chewy, gummy ball when cooked. In addition, tapioca adds body to soups, sauces, and gravies; it has more thickening power and generally costs less than flour and other thickeners. Tapioca can be added to ground meat products, such as burger patties and chicken nuggets, as a binder and ingredient stabilizer. It traps moisture in a gel, so it's often added to baked goods to prevent the pastry from becoming soggy during storage. Tapioca is a common ingredient in gluten-free products because it helps lighten the texture and maintain moisture in the absence of gluten. 

How to Cook With Tapioca 

Tapioca pearls must be soaked for up to 12 hours and then cooked in boiling liquid to form a gel. Quick-cooking or instant tapioca, with a more granular texture, can be whisked into soups, gravies, jams and jellies, pie fillings, and other creamy concoctions to act as a thickener. Tapioca flour can be used in place of other flours and as a 1:1 replacement for cornstarch. 

What Does It Taste Like?

Tapioca does not have much flavor on its own, but when sweetened and added to desserts such as pudding, it adds texture and heft. The lack of flavor is an advantage when it's used to thicken savory dishes such as soups and gravies. 


Sunday, June 27, 2021

P IS FOR PUDDING: Retro Ads & Recipes for National Chocolate Pudding Day!

Yesterday was National Chocolate Pudding Day. You can make your own pudding from scratch. I usually do. But it's amazing the revolution that powdered chocolate pudding made on the American food landscape. 

According to Jell-O history, chocolate was introduced into the Jell-O family early on but discontinued in 1927. In 1936, chocolate returned to the Jell-O lineup, this time as an instant pudding made with milk. Just an FYI, today there are several Jell-o chocolate pudding flavors including Devil's Food, Double Chocolate, Chocolate Fudge and Oreo Cookies 'n Creme.

Jell-O Pudding in the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s jumped on the advertising bandwagon of this easy yet versatile dessert. I was especially taken by the Jell-O Chocolate Pudding Ad campaign in 1967-68. So for your pleasure on this yummy holiday, I give you the Jell-O "Now, pudding is..." Each advertisement includes a recipe, too. Advertisements appeared in Life Magazine.

Now, Pudding is: 1967 Pudding Ads.

Now, pudding is pop: June 23, 1967

Now, pudding is napoleons: April 28, 1967

Now, pudding is torte: September 15, 1967

Now, pudding is eclairs: January 19, 1968

Now, pudding is fudge: March 8, 1968

Now, pudding is Boston Cream Pie: March 29, 1968

Now, pudding is brownies: October 11, 1968

Now, pudding is Bavarian: July 12, 1968

Saturday, June 26, 2021


Snowballs in Summer? Yes, if they're made with chocolate and coconut. These No Bake Chocolate Coconut Snowballs are perfect for National Coconut Day!. They are actually wonderful, easy, truffles. The flavor of your Chocolate Coconut Snowballs will depend on the quality of your ingredients. Use the best!

Chocolate Coconut Snowballs

4 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
2 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil
6 Tbsp pure maple syrup
4 Tbsp unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup dark chocolate, melted with 1 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil
Additional coconut for dusting if desired.

Place shredded coconut and coconut oil in food processor. Process on high speed, scraping down sides occasionally, until reaches almost buttery consistency. Add maple syrup, coconut milk, vanilla extract, and salt, and process on high speed until ingredients are combined.
Shape coconut mixture into 1” balls.
Place on wax paper, and refrigerate for at last an hour, or set in freezer for 30 minutes.
Once coconut balls are very firm, melt dark chocolate and coconut oil in  small saucepan over medium heat for just a minute or two, stirring constantly. Once chocolate is melted, carefully dip coconut balls into melted chocolate and sprinkle with small amount of shredded coconut.
Put coconut balls back into refrigerator for 5-10 minutes to harden.
Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer, for up to a week.

Friday, June 25, 2021

CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY PARFAITS: National Strawberry Parfait Day

Today is Strawberry Parfait Day. I usually add chocolate to my parfaits. The following recipe can be made with ice cream, of course, but give it a try with some vanilla yogurt for a healthier alternative.

A parfait is a dessert that alternates layers of ice cream, fruit, sometimes gelatin, and/or liqueur, and is topped with whipped cream. It is usually served in a stemmed glass. Parfait in French means "perfect," and this is certainly a perfect dessert. The following recipe has a lot of baking and making from scratch, but if you're in a hurry substitute a store-bought chocolate pound cake and some strawberry sauce. The fact that it adds cake makes it a bit more of a trifle, but it still qualifies.

Chocolate Strawberry Parfaits
Use clear containers. Small mason jars are 'perfect' and look great!

Chocolate Pound Cake  *this can be made in a rectangular pan rather than in a Bundt Pan
2 cups vanilla yogurt
1 cup fresh strawberries
optional: Whipped Cream

Strawberry Sauce 
1 pint strawberries, divided
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla


Strawberry Sauce 
Wash and chop strawberries. Add honey, vanilla, and 2/3 of the chopped strawberries to medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until juices are released and slightly thickened (about 15 minutes). Sauce thickens more while cooling. Stir in remaining strawberries and remove from heat. Cool completely.

To Assemble:
Layer 1/4 cup fresh strawberries in bottom of each container.
Cut chocolate pound cake into cubes. Make a pound cake layer over the strawberries.
Top with 1/4 cup yogurt and 2 tablespoons strawberry sauce.
Repeat layers.
Optional: Top with whipped cream.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

CHOCOLATE PRALINES: History, Recipes & More for National Praline Day

Today is National Praline Day! I love Pralines, and I always buy them when I'm in New Orleans. Friends who know me bring them back from New Orleans, too. But I've also made them. They're fabulous!

There are so many variations of Pralines, so I'm posting several recipes, for you to make at home. Of course, if you're in the Big Easy, you'll want to sample, as I do, and buy a few different kinds. Each of the following recipes has its virtues, and none has any vices. I, of course, add Chocolate to my Pralines. No big surprise there! So all three recipes feature chocolate and nuts!

1) a confection of nuts and sugar: as in almonds cooked in boiling sugar until brown and crisp
2) a patty of creamy brown sugar and pecan meats

If you associate Pralines with the South, you'd be right! The original praline was a sweet confection made of almonds and some sort of creamy sugary caramelized coating. Lots of stories about how the Praline came to New Orleans and the South. One is that Pralines were first concocted in the home of 17th century French diplomat Cesar du Plessis Praslin by one of his chefs. The name "Praslin" eventually evolved into "praline." I don't buy that story since they were already popular in Europe in a slightly different version. Another story is that pralines were brought over from France by the Ursuline nuns, who settled in New Orleans in 1727. This makes sense since Pralines were already in the French tradition. Almonds were in short supply, so cooks began substituting the nuts of the native Louisiana pecan trees, thus the modern pecan pralines were born. Praline pecans were known as individual pecans covered in the sugary coating. The new pecan pralines quickly spread throughout New Orleans and became a common confection in the area.

Pralinières were women who used to sell pralines on the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans during the mid-to-late 19th century, providing a unique entrepreneurial opportunity to les gens de couleur libres (free people of color). Not only was being a pralinière a source of income, it was a means of providing for oneself without any strings attached. This was a rare situation for economically less-fortunate, but resourceful women of that time period, who were often employed as indentured servants or forced by need and without choice into plaçage, as kept-women of wealthy businessmen. (Read more about Praline Sellers of Old New Orleans here)

Because New Orleans was a thriving port, people from all over the world came through, and the praline spread with them. Many people are unaware of the candy’s historical origin, and the praline is thought of as a southern confection not necessarily specific to New Orleans. Some believe the pecan praline is a Texan candy, whereas others assume it came from Savannah. The pronunciation of the candy is a bit of a point of contention as well. In New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, where there are many communities settled by the French, the pronunciation is prah-leen, with the long aaah sound, which is closer to that of the candy’s namesake du Plessis-Praslin. Other regions of the country, including parts of Texas, Georgia, and New England have anglicized the term and pronounce it pray-leen. Other terms for pralines include pecan pralines, pecan candy, plarines and pecan patties.

Whatever you call it, you're going to love these recipes for Chocolate Pralines. They're simple to make. The first recipe doesn't call for a candy thermometer, but get one ready for the next two recipes. Candy thermometers are easy to use, and if for some reason you don't have one, you can always use the water test.

This first recipe is adapted from Sunset Magazine.


1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp milk
1 1/2 tsp unsweetened DARK cocoa

Place almonds in 9-inch pie pan. Bake in 300° regular or convection oven, shaking pan once, until nuts are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Coat 12-inch square of foil lightly with vegetable oil (about 1 teaspoon).
In 8- to 10-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, combine sugar, butter, corn syrup, and milk. Stir occasionally until mixture is bubbly and golden, about 5 minutes. Add cocoa and stir until smooth, then stir in toasted almonds. Pour mixture onto oiled foil and spread about 1/4 inch thick. Let cool until solid, about 10 minutes. Break praline into 6 to 8 large chunks.


4 oz semi-sweet chocolate (50-65% cacao)
1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed firmly
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup pecan pieces

In heavy saucepan combine the sugar and cream.
Heat to 240 degrees (115 C) on candy thermometer (stirring constantly).
Remove from heat, stir in butter and chocolate.
Cool mixture to 110 degrees F (43 C).
Stir in pecans.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper and allow to cool and harden.

Want a kick with your Chocolate Pralines?  Homesick Texan has a terrific recipe for Mexican Chocolate Pralines.  Here's her recipe, but be sure and read her post about her first attempts.. and to see her sensational photos. Yes, bacon can become an ingredient!

3. Mexican Chocolate Pralines 
(adapted from Aprovecho)

1 disc of Mexican hot chocolate (Ibarra)
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
2 cups pecans, 1 cup chopped and 1 cup whole
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp fresh orange zest or 1 tsp dried orange zest
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Set oven at 350 degrees, roast pecans for 10 minutes.
In large pot, melt together on medium heat - chocolates, sugars, pecans, milk, butter, cinnamon, orange zest, Cayenne, and sea salt, stirring occasionally. Place candy thermometer in pot to monitor heat. When it reaches 235 degrees, remove from fire and add vanilla and stir pot for two minutes. There should be bit of shine to the candy but candy will be a bit more thick.
Scoop pralines onto parchment paper. (If too stiff, add warm water to mixture.) Let cool for an hour and remove. They will still be a bit shiny but will lose that shine after a few hours. 

Note from Homesick Texan: If you want to add bacon to these, fry up four slices, crumble them and stir into praline when you add the vanilla.

These are unbelievably fabulous!!!!

BUTTER CRUNCH S'MORES: S'mores with a Twist

I'm a big fan of Tate's Bake Shop Cookies. I often use their chocolate cookies to make my chocolate pie crust, and, of course I love to eat them. Here's an easy recipe for S'mores with a Twist: Butter Crunch S'mores. And, this recipe can be a springboard for other variations.



Wednesday, June 23, 2021

CHOCOLATE PECAN SANDIES: National Pecan Sandies Day!

Today is National Pecan Sandies Day. Pecan sandies are great shortbread cookies, and all I've done is add chocolate to make them all that much better.

Pecan Sandies: A shortbread cookie with ground pecans added to the flour. The cookies are easy to make -- flour, butter, sugar, salt,  vanilla -- and pecans. The name Sandie might have something to do with the color--or not. Urban myth?

I have two recipes for making Chocolate Pecan Sandies. The first is the full recipe for Chocolate Pecan Sandie Cookies. The second would be to use a 'regular' pecan sandie recipe (BrownEyedBaker's recipe for "non-chocolate" pecan sandies. ) and add chocolate chips.

Pecan Sandies are simple to make and taste delicious. They're not too sweet. Some people like to chop the pecans coursely, and that works, but you can also pulverize the pecans. To form the cookies, I use the drop method, but some people like to make logs and then slice them. Either way, they'll taste great!

Chocolate Pecan Sandies

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) ground pecans, divided use
1/2 cup unsweetened good quality DARK cocoa powder
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease cookie sheet or line with parchment.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla until well blended.
Mix together flour, 1 cup ground pecans, and cocoa powder, then beat flour mixture into butter mixture.
Chill dough for 30 minutes.
Combine remaining 1/2 cup ground pecans and 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar in a bowl.
Form dough into 1-inch balls.
Roll in pecan sugar mixture (reserve any leftover sugar mix) and place on baking sheets.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool, then dip pecan sandy cookie tops in any remaining pecan sugar.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

MINI CHOCOLATE ECLAIRS: National Chocolate Eclair Day!

Today is National Chocolate Eclair Day. My favorite eclairs are not the long thin "traditional" hotdog shaped eclairs (although I like them), but rather, the mini-eclairs. They're easy to make using a basic Pâte à choux.. puff pastry. I've been making them for years.

I've posted this recipe before, but it's always worthy of a re-post. These eclairs are so easy and yet look so beautiful and taste fabulous! Hope you enjoy making these as much as I do!

I've adapted this recipe for Mini Chocolate Eclairs from Paula Deen. This is one of my favorite recipes because it's simple and delicious! I never use margarine, so I've dropped that alternative from the original recipe. Real butter is always best. As always, I use the very best dark chocolate for the topping. I've changed a few measurements and directions in the recipe for the Novice Eclair Chef. If you're a purist, just click on Paula Deen's recipe above.

Because these eclairs are so small, feel free to have 3 or 4. :-) Yield depends on how small you make them, but I usually get about 40 small eclairs from this recipe. They're great for a crowd!

Want to make these even more chocolate-y? Add a handful of chocolate chips to the egg cream filling or fill with chocolate cream instead: just add 1/4 cup dark cocoa to the dry ingredients. To fill the eclairs, I use a pastry bag, but if you don't have one, you can always fill a Ziploc bag and cut the tip off to pipe the filling into the eclair.

You will probably have some extra icing. Half the recipe if you ice sparingly. I'm for more chocolate, so there's never much left.


1 cup water
8 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup sifted flour
3 eggs

3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla

3 ounces unsweetened dark chocolate, chopped
2 cups sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 400F.
Heat water and butter to boiling point. Add flour and stir constantly until mixture is smooth and forms a ball when tested in cold water. Remove from heat and let cool. Beat in 3 eggs, one at a time. Drop dough from teaspoon, elongate slightly to form small eclairs (or drop in 'puffs'), onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until light brown. Set aside to cool.
Prepare filling by mixing all dry ingredients. Very slowly add milk over low heat and cook until mixture thickens (don't let heat get too high), so you don't have any lumps. Then pour this custard  into beaten eggs, stirring quickly (so eggs don't cook). Cool and add vanilla.
With serrated knife, slice pastry puffs lengthwise (or if you have puffs make a hole), but not all the way through. Pipe custard mixture into center.
Melt chocolate for icing, add sugar, and cream. Cook over medium heat until soft ball stage. Let cool and beat until smooth. Ice tops of eclairs.

Monday, June 21, 2021

PEACHES & CREAM BROWNIE MUD PIE: National Peaches & Cream Day

Today is Peaches & Cream Day. Fresh peaches are in the market now, so it's a great time for this holiday! To add chocolate to Peaches & Cream Day, you can always cover some fresh halves with dark chocolate and serve with whipped cream. But to take it up a notch, make this great recipe from Land O Lakes. Don't forget that there are some great recipes on various food sites. I love this one!




1/2 cup sugar 

1/4 cup Land O Lakes® Butter, softened 

1 (1-ounce) square unsweetened baking chocolate, melted 

1 large Egg 

1/2 cup all-purpose flour 

1/4 teaspoon baking powder 


1 cup thick chocolate fudge ice cream topping 

1 quart peach ice cream, slightly softened 


Thick chocolate fudge ice cream topping, if desired Peach slices, if desired

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 9-inch pie plate with no-stick cooking spray; set aside. 


Combine sugar and butter in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add chocolate and egg. Continue beating until well mixed. Add flour and baking powder; beat at low speed until well mixed. 

Spread batter into prepared pie plate. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until edges just begin to pull away from sides of pan. (Do not overbake.) Cool 1 hour. 

Spread ice cream topping over cooled brownie. Spread softened ice cream over topping. Cover; freeze 4 hours or until firm.  

Cut into wedges while frozen. Drizzle each serving with ice cream topping, if desired. Garnish with peaches, if desired.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

S'MORES MARTINI: National Martini Day!

Today is National Martini Day, and since it's summer, it's the perfect time for a S'mores Martini. Three Olives makes a S'mores Vodka. You can drink it straight up, but here are two recipes for S'mores Martinis from Three Olives. What a great way to drink your S'mores!

Inspired by the classic vodka martini served with a garnish of olives, Three Olives launched as a non-flavored vodka brand in 1998 and became a pioneer of the flavored-vodka market when it introduced the first-ever cherry and grape varieties in 2001. The super-premium vodka brand now offers over 20 different flavors that have fueled a three-fold increase in sales to nearly 1.5 million cases from half a million. As implied by the brand’s popular flavors - Cake, Bubble, Dude and S’mores - Three Olives delivers one-of-a-kind drinks that appeal to polished individuals who revel in their uniqueness; they are clever, witty, and loath to take themselves too seriously. 

Thanks to Three Olives for the following recipes and photos!

Campfire Martini
3 parts Three Olives S'mores Vodka
Crushed graham crackers, chocolate syrup, marshmallows

Dip rim of martini glass in chocolate syrup and coat with crushed graham crackers.
Pour Three Olives S'mores into martini shaker filled with ice.
Shake and strain into martini glass.
Garnish with a skewer of three toasted marshmallows!

S'mores Sea Salt Martini
2 parts Three Olives S'mores Vodka
2 parts half & half
Sea salt
Chocolate syrup

Dip rim of martini glass in chocolate syrup and coat with sea salt.
Drizzle chocolate syrup inside martini glass.
Pour Three Olives S'mores and half & half into martini shaker filled with ice.
Shake and strain into martini glass!

Cartoon of the Day: Chocolates for Men


Friday, June 18, 2021


What to give Dad for Father's Day? What a dilemma. There are so many cool chocolate items available that Dad will love. Of course, you can always get out the mixer and bake him a chocolate cake!

Several different companies make molded novelty chocolates. Chocolate Vault offers a 6 piece tool set that is fun and creative! They also offer some nice looking chocolate ties. Does your father still wear ties? In addition there are companies that make Beer Mug chocolate lollies and lots of individual bars that say World's Greatest Dad, etc. If Dad has a hobby, you have more choices such as fishing, tools, computers, and money! Dad can't have enough money, can he, or enough chocolate?

Totally Chocolate has lots of molded chocolates. I've tasted their delicious Belgian milk and dark chocolate. Their chocolates are exquisitely engraved and molded and very reasonable. I love their package of chocolate golf balls--white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate. Located in Blaine, WA, they ship all over the U.S. I especially enjoyed their Bite Back at the IRS chocolate bars

And, of course, you can always give Dad a great box of truffles! Maybe alcoholic ones? So many wonderful chocolatiers out there.

My father wasn't much of a chocolate lover, but I loved him all the same. He passed away 20 years ago, but it seems like only yesterday. He encouraged and supported me throughout my varying careers and educational pursuits, and he always told me I could accomplish anything and succeed in whatever I tried.

One thing we shared in common was our love of mysteries. I'm the Editor of the Mystery Readers Journal and I also blog at Mystery Fanfare. Over the years my taste in mysteries has changed. I read more hardboiled, dark mysteries now like my father always did. Even now, I often finish a book and  say to myself, "I have to send this to Dad. He'll love it." My father engendered a love of mysteries in me through his collection of mystery novels and Ellery Queen Magazines.

So if Chocolate is not on Dad's Menu this Father's Day, how about giving him a mystery set during Father's Day--or a crime fiction novel about Fathers and Sons or Fathers and Daughters? Here's a list: 
Father's Day Mysteries.

Thursday, June 17, 2021


A special cake 
a special way 
To reach his heart 
on Father's Day...

Love this Retro Father's Day Ad for Buttercake. I don't think I've ever posted a Butter Cake recipe. A good Butter Cake should be in every baker's repertoire, especially with chocolate butter frosting! As always use the very best butter and chocolate!

The following recipe for Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting is from Betty Crocker, tweaked slightly. This cake is perfect for Father's Day!



2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350°F.
Grease bottom and sides of 2 (8-inch) round cake pans with shortening; lightly flour.
In small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In large bowl, beat 3/4 cup butter and the granulated sugar with electric mixer on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, about 2 minutes or until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, just until smooth. Stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla. On low speed, beat flour mixture into sugar mixture alternately with 3/4 cup milk, beating after each addition, until smooth. Scrape side of bowl occasionally. Beat in sour cream. Pour evenly into pans. Tap pans on counter 2 to 3 times to eliminate air bubbles from batter.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

In medium bowl, beat frosting ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and spreadable. Place first cake layer on plate, and spread 1 cup frosting over top. Place second cake layer on top of first. Frost side and top of cake with remaining frosting. Store loosely covered at room temperature.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

RIBBON FANTASY FUDGE: Retro Ad & Recipe for National Fudge Day

Today is National Fudge Day. I love Fudge. Who doesn't? I love both the texture and the taste. What makes it special for you?

To celebrate this food holiday, here's a great Retro Ad & Recipe from Kraft for Ribbon Fantasy Fudge using Marshmallow Creme. I usually use Marshmallow Fluff which I think has a better flavor, but whatever works for you. What I like most about this Fudge recipe is that there are two distinct layers. Easy to make, and oh so pretty! And, you can always throw in some walnuts for more texture.

Ribbon Fantasy Fudge

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter (original retro recipe calls for Parkay margarine)
2/3 cup (5-1/3 fl oz can) evaporated milk
6 ounce pkg semi-sweet chocolate pieces (I substitute chopped good dark chocolate)
7 ounce jar Kraft marshmallow creme (I prefer marshmallow Fluff)
1 tsp pure vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter (crunchy or creamy style)

Combine 1-1/2 cups sugar, 6 Tbsp butter, and 1/3 cup milk in heavy 1-1/2 quart sauce pan; bring to full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling 4 minutes over medium heat; stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat; stir in chocolate pieces until melted. Add 1 cup (1/2 jar) marshmallow creme and 1/2 tsp vanilla; beat until well blended. Pour into 13 x 9 inch pan. Repeat with remaining ingredients, substituting peanut butter for chocolate pieces. Spread over chocolate layer. Cool at room temperature; cut into squares.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

HOLY CANNOLI! National Cannoli Day!

Today is National Cannoli Day! I love all these food holidays because they remind me that there are so many different chocolate foods. One of my all time favorite desserts: Cannoli. I used to have these in South Philly, either from the bakeries or for dessert at the many Italian restaurants. Traditionally cannoli come from the Palermo and Messina areas and were prepared as a treat during Carnevale season, but it quickly became a year-round staple in Sicily. Cannoli are fried and stuffed with sweet ricotta cheese with chocolate chips. Heaven.

Here's a great recipe from Alex Guarnaschelli on the FoodNetwork. Do you have a favorite cannoli recipe? Post a link in the comments.

Don't have a Cannoli mold? Here are a few substitutes.
Wood dowel: about 6-8 inches. Sand it down, so it's smooth, and then grease with canola oil.
Curtain rod (be sure it's clean).
Aluminum Foil: Scrunch up foil into golf ball sized balls. Make a 6-8 inch long line and press together for even surface. Wrap with additional aluminum foil into long piece of aluminum. Make enough for all your cannoli.

And, you can buy Cannoli shells ready made and just stuff them!

Many Italian bakeries and markets sell cannoli...just in case you don't feel like making them today!



2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup dry white wine

2 cups ricotta cheese, preferably whole milk
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup small semisweet chocolate chips
1 lemon
1 quart canola oil, for frying

Flour, for rolling
1 egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash
Powdered sugar, for dusting


For Shell Dough: 
In medium bowl, sift together flour, sugar, and salt. Work butter pieces into flour with your fingers until mixture becomes coarse and sandy. Add egg yolk and white wine and mix until it becomes  smooth dough. Spread piece of plastic wrap on flat surface and place dough in center. Wrap plastic loosely around it and press dough to fill gap. Flattening dough will mean less rolling later. Let it rest in fridge for a few minutes while you make filling.

For Filling: 
In medium bowl, whisk ricotta until smooth. Sift in powdered sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. Mix to blend. In separate bowl (or in bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment), beat heavy cream until fairly stiff. Using rubber spatula, gently fold cream into ricotta mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
Lightly zest exterior of lemon and stir it into ricotta. Refrigerate for half hour to hour.

To Roll and Fry Shells:
In medium pot with heavy bottom, heat canola oil to 360 degrees F. Meanwhile, sift even layer of flour on flat surface. Flour rolling pin. Roll dough until very thin (about 1/8-inch thick). Cut dough into fourths and work in small batches.

Use any glass or small bowl that has 3-to-4-inch diameter. Cut rounds, tracing around each one to assure dough has been fully cut. You should have about 24 circles. Wrap each circle around cannoli mold. Use a little of the egg wash on edge of each round to seal it shut and to assure it won't slide or fall off the mold before pressing it closed over the mold. Flare the edges out slightly from the mold. Flaring will allow oil to penetrate each cannoli shell as they fry. Use pair of tongs to hold edge of the mold as you submerge and fry shell in the oil until crispy, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from oil, and holding mold in one had with tongs, gently grip shell in your other hand with kitchen towel and carefully slide off the mold. Set aside to cool. Repeat with all of the circles.

To Fill Cannolis: 
Just before serving, use pastry bag without tip to pipe ricotta into cannoli molds. Fill  cannoli shells from both ends so cream runs through the whole shell. Dust with powdered sugar. Powdered sugar gives that little extra sweetness and added texture to the exterior. It also makes me feel like I have a professional bakery touch in my own home.
Serve immediately.

If ricotta has an excess of liquid, drain over strainer for at least half hour before making filling. Make and fry shells and filling. Don't fill shells with cream until you are ready to eat them. Everyone loves a crispy cannoli.

Sunday, June 13, 2021


Yesterday was National Peanut Butter Cookie Day, but it's not too late to celebrate! Make this great recipe for Toffee Peanut Butter Cookies! I love English Toffee, and I'm a Toffee Judge for TasteTV. I know, I know, it's hard, but someone has to do it.

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

Toffee Peanut Butter Cookies

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

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

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Cachaça Chocolate Brigadeiros: International Cachaça Day

Today is International Cachaça Day! Cachaca is a beverage I can get behind. Caipirinha, the traditional Brazilian drink, is made with cachaça. Cachaca is a liquor made from fermented sugarcane, and is the most popular distilled alcoholic beverage in Brazil. So to celebrate, I'm definitely having a Caipirinha, and if you want to have something chocolate, you can make the traditional Brazilian candy--Brigadeiros and add cachaça for a kick!

I first tasted cachaça in Brazil when I was there on a Fulbright. What a great liquor.. a bit like rum.. but not. In my search for the very best pinga, as it's colloquially called, I found myself in the back country at a large still. I felt I had wandered into the back hills of Kentucky. The men operating the still, probably not a legal endeavor, had the wild look of way too much alcohol of way too high a percentage. Their acacia was amazing but not very smooth. Nevertheless, the many memorable cachaça drinks I enjoyed in Brazil stayed with me,. You can find cachaça at bars and liquor stores in the U.S.

For the recipe today, I decided not to post a cocktail recipe, although there are many chocolate cachaça drink recipes. Instead I'm posting a Brazilian treat--Brigadeiros (link to the non-alcoholic ones from Jane Vana Bishop). But here is a great chocolate 'adult' version of this fudgy truffle candy. This recipe is from Luxury Experience using Leblon Cachaca. The Leblon distillery is in Patos de Minas in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The area has a great microclimate and high altitude and produces taller and juicier sugar cane. What makes Leblon Cachaca different from other cachacas is that Leblon uses XO Cognac casks to 'rest' the liquor for up to six months to smooth and round out the flavors. Leblon Cachaca is 40% alcohol.

The following recipe is easy--and delicious. Of course you can use any brand of cachaça you have!


1 14 ounce can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2/3 can Milk (use Sweetened Condensed Milk can as measure)
1/3 can Leblon Cachaça (use Sweetened Condensed Milk can as measure)
2 Tbsp Dark Cocoa
1 Tbsp unsalted Butter
1 Jar Chocolate Sprinkles (Jimmies)

In medium pan, add sweetened condensed milk, butter, cocoa, and milk, and stir well to combine. Cook over medium heat stirring with long handled wooden spoon until mixture starts to thicken approximately 10 minutes, and then add Leblon Cachaça.
Continue stirring while cooking until chocolate mixture comes away from sides of pan and starts to look dry-- approximately 13 minutes.
Pour into bowl and let cool.
When completely cool, butter your hands, use teaspoon amount of chocolate and roll into ball, and then roll ball in chocolate sprinkles.
Complete process until all chocolate is used.
Put candy in paper cups (or on parchment paper), and set in refrigerator until ready to eat.

Friday, June 11, 2021

GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE COCKTAIL: National German Chocolate Cake Day!

Today is National German Chocolate Cake Day. German Chocolate Cake Day is an American Holiday, and German Chocolate Cake has nothing to do with Germany. It was invented by Sam German at Baker's Chocolate. To learn more about the history of German Chocolate Cake go to my post HERE.

But maybe you're not a Baker? Want your cake in a cocktail? You're in luck. There are several recipes..with and without cream..with lemon.. rimming the glass with chocolate, adding chocolate curls. Invent your own, but here's a start!

German Chocolate Cake Cocktail 

1 ounce Malibu coconut rum
1 ounce Dark Creme de Cacao
1.5 ounces Cream
Splash of Frangelico

Mix and serve with ice in a cocktail glass. You can also half the recipe and serve over ice in a shooter glass.

Thursday, June 10, 2021


Today is Black Cow Day. You can go out and give Bossy a pat, but really this holiday is about a different type of black cow. A black cow aka a root beer float is made with root beer, chocolate syrup, and vanilla ice cream. Have one at your favorite Ice Cream Fountain or make one today. So easy!

The history of the Black Cow From Leites Culinaria: The first true black cow day seems to have occurred on August 19, 1893. That’s when the notion of combining root beer and ice cream into a frothy concoction is rumored to have occurred to Frank Wisner, owner of a soda fountain as well as a mining company in Cripple Creek, CO. Although soda fountains were rampant at this point in our country’s culinary evolution, iced cream sodas didn’t yet contain ice cream. Instead, they were commonly made from either syrups combined with cream and cold soda water or cream mixed with flavored syrup. As the story goes, on that particular moonlit night, Wisner was gazing at the dark Cow Mountain when its snow-capped peak inspired him to float a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of his Myers Avenue Red root beer. Sure enough, he swapped root bear for cola, and ice cream for cream, and called the sweet creation “Black Cow Mountain.” It proved immensely popular, not just with the town’s children, but their mothers and the miners whom one might expect to find elsewhere—say, in a saloon or worse. Regulars promptly shortened the title to “Black Cow,” and since then, the term has been used interchangeably to describe root beer floats both with and without a dose of chocolate sauce. Consider trying it both ways before passing judgment.


10 ounces root beer
2 scoops vanilla ice cream
1 Tbsp chocolate syrup
1 1⁄2 ounces whipped cream
 maraschino cherry

Pour root beer over ice cream and chocolate syrup in a large glass.
Top with whipped cream and maraschino cherry.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE: National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day

Today is National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day. Strawberry and Rhubarb go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly. Here's one of my favorite Strawberry Rhubarb Pie recipes! Strawberry Fields Forever! Of course I make this pie with a Chocolate Cookie Crust.

A little info on rhubarb: In culinary use, fresh raw petioles (leaf stalks) are crisp (similar to celery) with a strong, tart taste. Most commonly, the plant's leaf stalks are cooked with sugar and used in pies and other desserts. Rhubarb is usually considered a vegetable. In the United States, however, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit, it counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties. And, a warning: Do not eat or use the leaves. They are deadly.

The following recipe is easy and great. Most people do a two crust pie.. the top crust being a lattice; however, I don't think this works with a chocolate crust. You can always do a regular crumble on top! Or make a traditional pie crust and add a lattice crust on top. As always, it's your choice! Enjoy and celebrate the day!


Chocolate Cookie Crust

2 cups chocolate wafers
6 Tbsp unsalted butter (or salted if you're inclined), melted

Melt butter. Put chocolate wafers in plastic bag and crush with spoon or rolling pin. Should be pea-size. Combine melted butter and ground chocolate wafers. Press ingredients into 9 inch buttered pie pan--bottom and up sides. Bake for 10 minutes at 325. Let cool.  

3-1/2 cups rhubarb stalks, in 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp orange zest
1/4 cup cornstarch
Dash of salt
3 1/2 cups strawberries, cleaned, hulled, quartered (or thinly sliced)

Combine filling ingredients in bowl and toss well.
Spread into prepared crust and bake for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees or until rhubarb is tender and filling is bubbly.

So easy! Make this today!

Tuesday, June 8, 2021


Here's a great and easy recipe for Rainbow Chocolate Chip Cookies to celebrate Pride. No Pride Parade again this year in San Francisco because of the pandemic, but you can mix up a batch and share with neighbors and friends all Pride Month--or all year round!


1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla
2 eggs
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups flour
2 cups chocolate chips
4 different colors food coloring (Wilton's has natural food dyes)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix butter and both sugars together for 2 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in egg, vanilla, salt, and baking soda and continue mixing for 1 minute until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. Turn mixer to low and add in flour, mixing until just incorporated.  Fold in chocolate chips.
Divide cookie dough into 4 equal portions. Using food coloring (Wilton's has natural food dyes), color each dough. Roll each colored dough into approximately 15-inch rope.
Place each colored rope next to each other on large piece of non-stick (parchment or saranwrap). Wrap tightly, pressing doughs together forming a large log. Remove wrap and break off dough with your hands into 2 tablespoon portions or use cookie scoop. Roll dough into loose ball, add some more chocolate chip to the top of each ball, and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 9 minutes or until edges are done (they may look underdone, but they're not). Don’t overbake!
Cool on baking sheet for 3-4 minutes and then transfer to wire rack to cool. 

Monday, June 7, 2021

MAGIC CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM: Retro Ad & Recipe for National Chocolate Ice Cream Day!

Today is National Chocolate Ice Cream Day. To celebrate, here's a great Borden's Elsie the Cow Recipe Ad from August 1941. I love these Retro 'Story' Advertisements, and I love Elsie the Cow! In this story Ad, Elsie's Magic Chocolate Ice Cream wins at the County Fair -- judged the Smoothest and Creamiest Home-made Ice Cream. This really is an easy recipe that doesn't require an ice-cream maker. Still great today, in case you have an "autmatic refrigerator"

Happy Chocolate Ice Cream Day!