Tuesday, November 30, 2021

CHOCOLATE FRUITCAKE: National Fruitcake Month

December 27 is National Fruitcake Day, but that seems a bit late for a Fruitcake recipe. Luckily, the entire month of December is Fruitcake Month, so let's celebrate! If you start now, you'll have time to make this Chocolate Fruitcake and let it ferment for a month! Don't forget to add your alcohol of choice every day!

If you're like me, you're saying Fruitcake? Why bother? It's just an over-inebriated rock hard cake with artificial fruits that gets passed around the family kind of like a white elephant gift? Well, it doesn't have to be. There are actually some wonderful recipes for Chocolate Fruitcake. Aha, your eyes and tastebuds have already picked up.

Of course, I'm all about easy, so here's an easy recipe for Chocolate Fruitcake. As I mentioned, you won't be able to eat this today. Fruitcake really does need to ferment. Following is a recipe for Chocolate Fruitcake adapted from Diana Rattray at Southern Food. This recipe originally called for candied red and green cherries, but I really don't like those. I use dried cranberries or dried cherries or dried apricots (or a mix), lots of nuts, and different alcohol. This is quite a versatile recipe. The original recipe didn't use booze, but what's a fruitcake without alcohol? Another recipe for Chocolate Fruitcake that I absolutely love is David Lebovitz's Chocolate-Cherry Fruitcake.

Either way, if you like chocolate, you'll find this chocolate twist on an old holiday standard quite to your liking!

Fruitcake Through the Ages: A History - MentalFloss.

Chocolate Fruitcake

1 cup unsalted butter
6 ounces dark chocolate (65-75% cacao, fair-trade), chopped
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cherries, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1-1/2 cups combination of walnuts and pecans, chopped
1/2 cup rum, whiskey, or amaretto.. (or whatever you like)

A day ahead, plump the dried fruits by tossing them in 1/2 cup of amaretto, rum or whiskey (or whatever alcohol you like!), cover for later use in the cake.

To Make Cake:
Melt butter and chocolate in large heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring often. Remove from heat, and cool for 15 minutes.
Stir in sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add flour and salt, stirring until blended. Stir in chopped boozy fruits and chopped nuts. Spoon mixture into 4 greased and floured 5 x 3 x 2-inch loaf pans.
Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes
Poke lots of small holes in cakes with skewer. Pour 3 Tbsp liquor (see above) onto each cake. Let cool for another 10-15 minutes or so.
Remove from pans, and cool on wire racks.
Wrap in plastic and store for up to 7 days.

If you're making these Fruitcakes ahead, you can brush with more liquor every day. Don't freeze if you're adding alcohol.


Today is National Mousse Day. Of course for me that means chocolate mousse. Chocolate Mousse is easy to make and simple to enjoy! I came across this recipe for No Bake Chocolate Mousse Pie a few years ago. What a great way to enhance chocolate mousse -- add more chocolate! The cookie crust made with Italian wafer sandwich cookies is fab and adds some zip, but you can also make a regular chocolate cookie crust if you don't have any Italian sandwich cookies! You can also make an oreo cookie crust. This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking, a great resource for recipes.


1 ounce unsalted butter, melted; more for the pan
8 ounces Italian chocolate wafer sandwich cookies (Quadratini) (if you don't have these you can use Famous Chocolate Wafers or Oreos)
9 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (about 1-1/2 cups); more for garnish
1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch kosher salt
3-3/4 cups heavy cream

Butter 9-inch springform pan.
Grind cookies in food processor until they resemble wet sand, 20 to 30 seconds; you will have about 1-3/4 cups. Transfer to small bowl and mix in butter. Spread crumbs in pan, cover with plastic wrap, and press evenly into bottom. Refrigerate.

Combine chocolate, 1/2 tsp of vanilla, and salt in large bowl. In small saucepan, bring 3/4 cup of cream to barely a simmer. Pour cream over chocolate, let sit for 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to cool.

Beat 1-1/2 cups of cream in medium bowl with electric mixer on medium-high speed to stiff peaks, about 2 minutes. Whisk chocolate mixture to loosen, and fold into whipped cream with large silicone spatula until no streaks remain.

Carefully peel plastic wrap off crust and scrape mousse into pan, gently spreading to edges. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

Just before serving, beat remaining 1-1/2 cups cream and 1 tsp vanilla in medium bowl to medium-stiff peaks. Run knife around pie to loosen edges and then remove side of pan. Slide spatula under crust and transfer pie to serving plate. Mound whipped cream over mousse and top with chocolate curls, shards, or shavings. To serve, dip knife into hot water and dry before slicing.

Monday, November 29, 2021


Today is National Lemon Creme Pie Day. This is not the same as Lemon Meringue Pie. This pie has a smooth fresh lemon filling and dollops of whipped cream on top (not meringue). I'm lucky enough to have four Meyer Lemon trees in my garden, and they're all loaded with fruit right now. I make this pie from scratch. It's really easy. But, if you don't have time, you can buy a store bought crust and whipped cream in a can.

Lemon Cream Pie with Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust 


Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust
1-1/2 cups chocolate graham crackers
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp granulated sugar

Lemon Filling
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 large eggs yolks, lightly beaten
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
1 -1/2 Tbsp grated lemon zest
1-1/4 cups sour cream

Whipped Cream
1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350°F.
Break up graham crackers and put them in food processor. Pulse until chocolate graham crackers are processed into fine crumbs. Pour crumbs into bowl and stir in melted butter and sugar. Once all graham cracker crumbs are moistened, press crumb mixture into bottom and halfway up sides of 9-inch pie plate. Bake the crust for about 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Lemon Filling
In heavy saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in milk and lemon juice. Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened and bubbling. Reduce heat to low and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
Put egg yolks in bowl. Slowly add cup of hot mixture into egg yolks, whisking as you pour (this will slowly bring up the temperature of the eggs).
Add egg mixture back to pan and bring to gentle boil for 2 minutes, whisking constantly.
Remove from heat.
Stir in butter and lemon zest, mixing until completely combined.
Transfer to bowl and cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, whisk in sour cream. Whisk vigorously to maintain creamy texture.
Pour lemon filling into the crust. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Before serving, whip heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until stiff peaks form. Top pie with whipped cream (pipe on in stars or spread using butter knife or spatula).
Garnish with finely grated lemon zest.

Sunday, November 28, 2021


The Jewish holiday of Chanukah starts tonight and lasts 8 days, so there's plenty of time to make chocolate treats! Perhaps the most familiar Chanukah treat is Chanukah Gelt (money), a chocolate coin covered in gold foil. This tradition probably dates from the late 18th and early 19th century in Europe, when Jews figured prominently in chocolate manufacturing.

There are many chocolatiers who sell Chanukah Gelt, and some of it is very tasty, but if you want the very best, make your own!

The first recipe for Homemade Chanukah Gelt is from the  Oh Nuts! Sweet & Crunchy blog and is pretty traditional in appearance. This Chanukah Chocolate Gelt is fun to make with kids. Easy and quick.

The second recipe is for Chocolate Truffle Gelt. The truffles can't really be flattened like a coin, but you can individually wrap them in gold foil to mimic the gold coins. The truffles contain a bit of alcohol that helps to "cook" the yolks in the mixture. If you want to avoid alcohol totally, useone Tablespoon of orange juice, but it will slightly alter the taste and consistency.

And, you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy any of this Chanukah Gelt!


8 ounces (about 1-1/3 cups) melting chocolate wafers (or dark or milk chocolate, chopped)
2 mini muffin tins
Gold luster dust
Clean food-safe paintbrush

Put chocolate in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave chocolate in 30-second increments, stirring after every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a pot over a pot over simmering water.
Drop a spoonful of melted chocolate into 24 mini muffin cavities. Don't use a lot if you want them to look like coins.
Hit muffin pans against counter to level out chocolate and reduce “peaks” on top of chocolate. Refrigerate pans until chocolate is completely set, about 20 minutes.
Turn pans upside-down over clean surface, and flex to release the coins. If some stick in pan, knock on bottom of tin to dislodge the coins.
Use clean, dry food-safe brush and brush luster dust over the surface of coins. Luster dust and water do not mix, so don’t get any fancy ideas about mixing them together to make gold paint–you’ll just end up with a mess. Dry brushing works better.

If you don't want to use the luster dust, you can wrap the coins in gold foil and press a coin pattern (or not) into the foil (preferably while still a bit soft).


6 ounces dark or milk chocolate
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp coffee liqueur, cognac, or Grand Marnier
Dried sweetened cherries
Gold foil paper

Put chocolate in one quart bowl and place in saucepan filled halfway with hot but not boiling water. Over low heat, melt chocolate and stir to remove any lumps. Remove bowl of chocolate from hot water bath.
Cut butter into 4 pieces and whisk in, one piece at a time, until smooth.
Whisk in yolks until thoroughly combined. (Mixture might look grainy and separated. Don't worry about using raw yolks; the yolks will essentially be "cooked" by alcohol in liqueur.) Then whisk in the cognac or other flavoring.
Cover and refrigerate for hour, or until mixture is firm but not rock hard.
Working quickly, place heaping teaspoon of chocolate in hand. Press dried cherry into center of chocolate and shape into ball, about an inch in diameter, covering the fruit.
Roll truffle in cocoa. Place on plastic wrap-lined plate, cover with additional wrap, and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes for dark chocolate and 15 minutes longer for milk).
To create "coins," wrap truffles in gold foil.

Saturday, November 27, 2021


Hanukkah (aka Chanukah) starts tomorrow night, and these fabulous Chocolate Marshmallow Dreidels are perfect for the holiday. Easy to make and delicious to eat!

A Dreidel is a four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side. During Chanukah (Hanukah, Hanukkah), children play a game that involves spinning the dreidel and betting on which Hebrew letter will show when the dreidel stops spinning. Children usually play for a pot of 'gelt' -- chocolate coins covered in gold colored foil.

You won't be spinning these tops unless you want chocolate all over the floor, but making these Chocolate Marshmallow Dreidels is a fun activity to do with children.

This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart's recipe for Chocolate Marshmallow Dreidels. If you want to take it up a notch, make your own marshmallows or buy some high end marshmallows made with natural ingredients like those from Recchiuti. I usually use whatever dark chocolate I have, but you can use any good dark chocolate. For the white chocolate I use Green & Black's White Chocolate that's made with Madagascar vanilla. I also use Paul Newman's Own Organic pretzel sticks. They are a little long, so I snap them in half. Or, you can just use a short lollipop stick.

Apologies for the poor calligraphy. Practice makes perfect, and I'm very out of practice. :-)


12 chocolate kisses (I use Hershey's Kisses)
8 ounces melted dark chocolate
12 marshmallows (homemade or whatever you have)
12 thin pretzel sticks (I use Newman's Own)
2 ounces melted white chocolate (I use Green & Black)

Dip bottom of chocolate kiss in melted semisweet chocolate. Press onto marshmallow; transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat to make 12 dreidels. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Cut small slit in bottom of each marshmallow or just one thin pretzel stick into the marshmallow. Dip dreidels in dark chocolate, and return to baking sheet. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes.

Fill plastic bag (or pastry bag) with melted white chocolate; cut a tiny opening in corner, and pipe Hebrew letters onto 3 sides of each dreidel. I used a pastry bag with a tip, but I should have practiced a bit first so I wouldn't have any drips.

Refrigerate at least 5 minutes or up to 8 hours before serving. 


Friday, November 26, 2021


Black Friday sales have already begun--in the stores and online, but in honor of the 'real' day, I'm posting this recipe for Black Friday Cake. You'll be the first in line! It's easy to make and delicious to eat. Don't be put off by the thin batter.. it will work!

Black Friday is traditionally the Friday after Thanksgiving when millions of people in the U.S. start their holiday shopping. There are many stories about the origins of the term Black Friday. In the 1950s, some factory managers referred to the day after Thanksgiving as "Black Friday" because so many workers called in sick. The day, noted one industrial magazine, was "a disease second only to the bubonic plague" in its effects on employees. In the 1960s, police in Philadelphia complained about the congested streets, clogged with motorists and pedestrians out shopping, calling it “Black Friday.” By the mid 1970s, newspapers in and around Philadelphia used it to refer to the start of holiday shopping. But its usage also has negative associations. In the 1980s, some enterprising merchants turned it around. They pointed out that there was a "black ink" that showed up on balance sheets as a result of the day. “Black” refers to stores moving from the “red” to the “black,” back when accounting records were kept by hand, and red ink indicated a loss, and black a profit--a short hop to the idea that Black Friday was the day when retailers came out of the red and went into the black by beginning to turn a profit.

As retailers began to realize they could draw big crowds by discounting prices, Black Friday became the day to shop, with lots of bargains. Black Friday is a long day, with many stores opening at 5 p.m. the night before or 3 a.m. in the morning on the actual Friday. It's just amazing to me that hordes of people stand in line for items they may or may not need, just because it seems to be a bargain. For those of you who don't want to stand in an actual line, there are plenty of Black Friday sales online. Not to mention Small Store Saturday and CyberMonday.

Planning to be at the stores today? Bring some chocolate to give you energy throughout the day. At home in your jammies shopping online? You'll have plenty of time to make and enjoy this delicious Black Friday Cake! This is an adaptation of the original Hershey's Black Magic Cake.


1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups DARK cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup strong black coffee, cooled
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 oz melted very dark or unsweetened chocolate, cooled
3 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla

Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in large mixing bowl or stand mixer.
Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.
Beat at medium speed for two minutes. Batter is thin.
Pour batter into greased and floured 9x13 pan or two 9 inch cake pans.
Bake at 350 degrees 35-40 minutes for 9x13, or 30 -35 minutes for layer pans.
Combine frosting ingredients and mix with hand or stand mixer.
Spread frosting on cooled cakes.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

TURKEY MOLE: What to do with Leftover Turkey!

If you have Turkey Leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner, make Turkey Mole! According to common legend molé was originally created for turkey. At the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla, the nuns had to rush to prepare a meal for a visiting archbishop so they killed an old turkey, cooked it, and mixed everything else they had in a sauce to top it. That sauce was the original mole.

So if you have leftover turkey--or fresh turkey you've just made, you will love these two Quick Turkey Mole recipes. I make the first recipe with Taza Chocolate Mexicano and their Chipotle Chili Chocolate Mexicano, but any good chocolate will work!

The first Quick Molé recipe is adapted from Paula Deen's Quick Chicken Mole. Perfect with Turkey. The second recipe is from Grand Velas Riviera Maya in Mexico, a Five Diamond resort.

Quick Turkey Molé

2 Tbsp good quality olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 chipotle peppers, roughly chopped
1 (10-ounce) can chicken broth
2 Tbsp peanut butter
4 ounces Taza Chocolate Mexicano, chopped
Leftover Turkey
Toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), for garnish

Heat oil in heavy saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add garlic and spices and continue to saute to toast and develop flavor. Add diced tomatoes, peppers, chipotles, broth, peanut butter, and chocolate. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and puree until smooth.

Take left over Turkey and either add to oven friendly sauté pan or put in another pot and then cover with the Molé sauce. Braise in 350 oven for 45 minutes. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.

This second recipe is from the Grand Velas Riviera Maya Hotel. I haven't made this one yet, so let me know if you do!

Turkey con Mole Sauce

1 1/4 lbs Turkey Breast
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
1 1/4 cup Mole Paste
3/4 cup Chicken Broth
1/4 cup Nopal, peeled and cubed  (cactus!)
1/4 cup Tomato, seeded and cut
1/4 cup Onion, diced
2 Tbsp Coriander leaves, finely diced
1/2 cup Lemon Juice
1 large Avocado
2 1/2 Tbsp Lemon Juice

(If using fresh turkey): Cut turkey breast into 4 pieces and season with salt and pepper.
In frying pan, add oil over medium-high heat and brown both sides. Remove from pan and finish cooking on  baking sheet at 350 ° F for about 8 minutes. Set aside.  (or use turkey from Thanksgiving's meal)
In pan over medium heat add mole paste. Add chicken broth slowly, bringing to boil and then simmering until you’ve achieved hick consistency. Set aside.
Combine nopal, onion, tomato and coriander in bowl, add 1/4 cup lemon juice and season.
Blend pulp of avocado with remaining lemon juice and season.
Plate some sliced turkey over layer of mole and dress with some drops of mashed avocado and pico de gallo.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021


I love Chocolate Molds, especially Vintage ones. Here are a few chocolate molds for your Thanksgiving viewing pleasure. Of course you can buy new ones, but I think the older ones have such character. As always, if you're making a chocolate turkey for a centerpiece or dessert, use the very best chocolate, especially if you plan to eat it for dessert!

And a Double Chocolate Turkey Mold
And a Triple Chocolate Turkey Mold

And some Turkey humor for you Thanksgiving Pleasure!


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

MARSHMALLOW FLUFF WHIPPED CREAM: The Ultimate Whipped Cream for your Thanksgiving Pies!

I'm partial to Whipped Cream on my Thanksgiving pies. In the past I've made chocolate whipped cream, white chocolate whipped cream, and, of course, plain sweetened whipped cream. Well here's one more, and I hope you'll try it. I was reminded of Marshmallow Fluff Whipped Cream when I saw this recipe on the Epicurious site the other day. You're going to love it on your holiday pies! I always have a jar of Marshmallow Fluff in my pantry for use with fudge and other chocolate desserts.

Not familiar with Marshmallow Fluff

Marshmallow Creme is a sweet marshmallow-like spread called was invented in 1917 by Archibald Query in Somerville, Massachusetts. In 1913 during World War I, Emma and Amory Curtis of Melrose, Massachusetts invented Snowflake Marshmallow Creme. Query sold his recipe for Marshmallow Creme to Durkee-Mower, Inc in 1920, who renamed it Marshmallow Fluff. Over 100 years later they continue to sell it under that name today.


1 cup heavy cream 
¼ cup Marshmallow Fluff 
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar 

Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat cream, Marshmallow Fluff, and powdered sugar in a medium bowl until medium peaks form, about 3 minutes. Chill Marshmallow Fluff Whipped Cream until ready to serve. Marshmallow Fluff Whipped Cream can be made 8 hours ahead; keep chilled.

Monday, November 22, 2021

TURKEY CAKES: Pans, Recipes, and More: Happy Thanksgiving

I've made a lot of Birthday and Holiday cakes in odd shapes, mostly without the use of wonderfully 'shaped' cake pans. But today I'm posting some Thanksgiving Turkey Cake Pans. Most of these are readily available at local shops and on Amazon and eBay.

If you don't want to use a Turkey Cake Pan, you can always make your own cake and cut it and shape it and frost it to resemble a turkey! See the links below to some fabulous photos of "Turkey Cakes" with directions and recipes. Who says you can't have Chocolate Cake for dessert at your Thanksgiving meal?


NordicWare Platinum Collection 3D Turkey Cake Pan

Check out Baking Bites finished Turkey Cake using the Nordicware 3-D Turkey Cake Pan 

CK Products Turkey Pantastic Plastic Cake Pan
Chicago Metallic Silicone Turkey Cakelet Pan with stencils
You can also make muffins in this pan and use them for place settings!

Wilton Thanksgiving Turkey Cake Pan 
(1979/Retired-but available on Amazon and eBay)

Want to make your own Turkey Cake? Chocolate, of course! Scroll down to see the Coolest Homemade Thanksgiving Cake Ideas on

Disney Family Fun has a great recipe for Turkey Cake and how to make it. The Body of the Cake is yellow cake with the 'drumsticks' a spice cake. I would do the drumsticks in chocolate cake for the dark meat, but then I'm all about chocolate.  Here's a link to this Turkey Cake Recipe.

Sunday, November 21, 2021


Holidays are the perfect time for Trifles. I make a wicked (and easy) Trifle for the Fourth of July with sponge cake, strawberries, blueberries, and kirsh. For Thanksgiving, I love this easy and sweet trifle recipe for Chocolate Pumpkin Toffee Trifle that combines pumpkin and chocolate.

What's a TRIFLE? The dictionary defines 'Trifle' as something insignificant, but you'll find that this dessert is anything but insignificant. I'm not trifling with you. This is a fabulous dessert!

Trifles are traditionally made in a large clear deep bowl so you can see all the layers. The assembled trifle is covered and placed in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours so the flavors can mingle. This Chocolate and Pumpkin Trifle is perfect for Thanksgiving since it can feed upwards of 8 guests.

There are many variations, and you can add different things in different layers--and you can vary the size of your layers. You can follow the recipe below with cookies but stack as you please: ex, layer of pumpkin cream, layer of cookies, layer of chocolate cream, etc. This is not a science. Instead of Chocolate Wafers, you can use Chocolate Cake or Brownies or try using left over Chocolate Pumpkin Bundt Cake or Pumpkin Bread.


4 ounces dark chocolate (70% cacao), chopped
4 cups heavy cream
2 tsp pure vanilla
1 cup natural pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp pumpkin spice
1- 7.5 ounce jar Marshmallow Fluff
6 small Heath bars, chopped (still have any left over from Halloween? or your favorite English toffee)
1 1/2  9 ounce boxes chocolate wafer cookies (or chocolate cake)

Directions (but when it comes to layering, that's up to you!)
In small saucepan over another saucepan, melt chocolate with 1/2 cup cream over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth. Let cool.
Using electric mixer, whip 2 cups cream with 1 tsp vanilla until stiff.
In medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, pumpkin spice, and marshmallow cream. Fold in whipped cream in 2 parts; refrigerate.
Add remaining 1-1/2 cups heavy cream to mixer bowl and whip until thickened. With machine on, slowly add the chocolate mixture and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla and beat until stiff but not dry.
Spread one-third of chocolate cream in a 4-quart clear glass trifle bowl.
Layer with one-third of the toffee.
Make cookie (or cake) layer--be sure and stand up some cookies along the side of the bowl (it will look pretty)*
Make pumpkin cream layer
Repeat with remaining cookies and more pumpkin cream (depending on how thick you make the layers).
Add chocolate cream layer.
Sprinkle with chopped toffee and cover with chocolate cream.
Cover and refrigerate for 4-24 hours.
To serve, sprinkle with the remaining toffee (or not).

Saturday, November 20, 2021


Photo: Annemarie Kostyk
Thanksgiving is coming up, and what's Thanksgiving without Pumpkin Pie? Add Chocolate, and you're calling my name! You'll love this recipe!

I've posted several recipes for Chocolate Pumpkin Pie, but this is one of the best and easiest! This is from my friend Annmarie Kostyk, the Chocolate Goddess.

I love making this Easy Chocolate Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving. And, you can always change it up with a Chocolate Crust. You can never have too much chocolate!


2 Tbsp flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 can pumpkin (16 oz.)
1 unbaked pie shell  (or make a chocolate cookie crust)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup half and half
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup dark chocolate (chopped), melted with 1 tablespoon butter

Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and pumpkin in a medium bowl. Mix well.
Add eggs.
Stir in half and half and chocolate.
Mix thoroughly and pour into pie shell.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake about 40 minutes longer, until custard tests done.

Friday, November 19, 2021

SPICY CHOCOLATE TURKEY RUBS: 2 recipes for Barbecued Turkey for Thanksgiving

I live in Northern California, and we barbecue turkey all year round, so it's not surprising that we also barbecue the turkey for Thanksgiving. I love the smokiness and flavor that the barbecue brings to the bird. Barbecuing the turkey also leaves the ovens free for all those side dishes and pies.

Several years ago we started barbecuing our turkey with spicy chocolate rub. Here are two great recipes. We've made some adaptations, but the first recipe for Spicy Chocolate Rub Recipe is adapted from  The BBQ Report. Just combine everything in the Cuisinart until finely ground and pat on turkey. Very easy!

This recipe is for chicken, so if you're planning a 20 lb. turkey, you'll need to increase the amounts.


1 cup natural unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 tsp dried red pepper flakes, chopped fine
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 Tbsp granulated sugar

Want to get a little more sophisticated with the Rub? Kunde Family Estates (great wines to accompany your turkey) has a recipe for BBQ Turkey with Ancho Chile/Chocolate Rub. This recipe includes brining the turkey first. If you buy a kosher turkey it will already be brined. This recipe is for a 12-16 pound turkey, so if yours is bigger than that, you'll need to adjust the measurements.


3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp chile powder
1 Tbsp unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp chipotle chile powder
2 tbsp softened butter


In small bowl, combine all dry rub ingredients. Mix well. In another small bowl, mash butter together with 2 Tbsp rub – set aside.

Place turkey in large roasting pan. With fingers, gently loosen the skin over breast meat and insert butter/rub under skin; gently rub over breast meat. Rub the outside of bird well with olive oil; then sprinkle generously inside and out with rub. Loosely pack  cavity with lemon and orange slices. Tie drumsticks together with kitchen string. Place in refrigerator and let sit; uncovered, 5 – 6 hours, or until ready to cook.

When ready to cook, prepare grill. If using charcoal grill, prepare for indirect cooking. For gas grills, heat to medium high. Put turkey in roasting pan on grill; add 2 cups water; cover. Turn all gas setting to low. Grill-roast turkey, basting with pan juices and rotating pan 180 degrees every hour, for 3 hours. (If using charcoal grill, add briquettes or mesquite every hour to maintain an even temperature). After 3 hours, insert instant-read thermometer in fleshy part of inner thigh to check for doneness. Thigh meat should register 175° F and the juices should run clear when thigh is pierced. If not done, cover and continue to cook; checking every 20 minutes for doneness.

When done, transfer turkey to heated platter, cover loosely with foil and allow to sit for 20 minutes before carving.

Does Chocolate have a place at your Thanksgiving Table this year?

Thursday, November 18, 2021


Today is Mickey Mouse Day! Mickey Mouse first appeared publicly in the short film “Steamboat Willy” on November 18, 1928, the day fans officially recognize as Mickey Mouse’s Birthday. Mickey reminds us of the magic of childhood — a time when dreams had wings, and our imagination made everything possible. Read more about Mickey Mouse on National Today.

From National Day Calendar:

Mickey Mouse came under the roller coaster events of Oswald’s success and Universal’s disappointing contract negotiations. Disney Bros. Studio took their leave of both the studio and Oswald and set to work creating a character who would go on to lead the company into the future.

From a rabbit named Oswald to a mouse named Mortimer, eventually, the squeaky-voiced rodent was dubbed Mickey. He flopped in two animated short films without any success. Then on November 18, 1928, Mickey’s star was born. The first animation synchronized to music and sound effects, Steamboat Willie premiered in New York.

Within a year, a Mickey Mouse Club popped up in Salem, Oregon. This particular club offered admission as a fundraiser for the Salvation Army with a donation of either a potato or a small toy and a penny. According to a December 22, 1929, Statesman Journal (Salem, Oregon) article, $12 and three truckloads of potatoes and toys collected by eager new members.

Remember, the stock market crashed just 20 days before Mickey Mouse was born. That a cute little mouse could bring smiles to the faces of children at an uncertain time really isn’t such a surprise.
Generally, new members joined the club by completing an admission form obtained from a local merchant and attending meetings held during matinees at local movie houses. The price of admission often was reduced for good deeds and report cards. By the end of 1930, the Mickey Mouse Clubs had spread across the country.

In 1935, animator Fred Moore gave Mickey a new look that enabled a more fluid movement to the animation. A makeover in 1935 by animator Fred Moore gave Mickey the look we are familiar with today. The big eyes, white gloves, and the pert little nose. More lovable than ever before, he propelled himself even further into the hearts of children everywhere.

There are so many ways to celebrate, but here's an easy and delicious one for Mickey Mouse Chocolate Cookies from Disney Family Recipes. You'll need a Mickey Mouse Cookie Cutter (I have several different ones--full body, head, ears, etc).


2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 ¼ cups sugar
½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ sticks of butter, softened
Parchment paper

Mickey Mouse Shaped Cookie Cutter 

For the Chocolate Icing: 
3 cups confectioners sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 to 6 tablespoons water
¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Helpful Tip 
If your dough is too sticky even after you’ve chilled it, work more flour into the dough while your roll it out. To add the white icing stripes, make extra icing without the cocoa powder and use a fork or whisk to dribble white icing over the chocolate iced cookies. 

Whip butter in mixer until pale and fluffy. Add sugar, baking soda, salt, vanilla, egg, and whip until blended. Add flour ½ a cup at a time while continuing to mix. Add cocoa powder slowly until fully mixed into the dough. Halvedough and wrap each half in parchment paper. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Take first half of dough and roll out between parchment paper until ¼ – ½ inch thick. Use Mickey Mouse cookie cutter to cut out Mickey shapes. Place Mickey cookies on parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 14 minutes. Continue to roll and cut out dough until all dough has been cut and baked. Set cookies aside on parchment paper to cool.

Sift together confectioners sugar and Dutch-process cocoa powder into bowl. Add lemon juice and vanilla. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time while whisking. Stop adding water when icing is thick but spreadable. Fill sandwich bag with chocolate icing and cut off bottom corner. Pipe icing onto cookies, using knife to evenly spread icing over surface.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

A Chocoholic Faces Type 2 Diabetes: Guest Post by Jeri Westerson

A Chocoholic Faces Type 2 Diabetes by Jeri Westerson 

I’ve been in denial for too many years. It crept up on me…just like the weight did. And I love to bake. And I love desserts. And the dessert I love best is…chocolate. 

But blood glucose numbers don’t lie. I was pre-diabetic for years, though I wasn’t quite sure what that meant. My doctor wasn’t exactly helpful in that regard. When I spilled over into Type 2 diabetes, my doctor was even less helpful. 

But a new day dawned with a new doctor who sat down with me and really explained some things, like my numbers were dangerously high. I think that one word finally woke me up. 

Then I got moving. I am a creative cook. I love to do it. All kinds of cooking and baking. So it was a blow to have to cut out bread, pasta, potatoes, rice—all the staples on the side of the plate. None. Nada. They spiked my blood sugar, which I was finally testing twice a day. This took a while to get it through my head. It took six weeks to get my glucose numbers down to what they were at the beginning of my Type 2 diabetes. More work and more weight loss to get it to pre and then, perhaps, no diabetes, but in the meantime, it didn’t mean uninteresting meals…or desserts. 

But let me tell you about sugar substitutes. We must be in the golden age of them, because there is a wide variety. And through my many experiments with desserts—cheesecakes, flour-substitute cookies, breads—some just weren’t cutting it. (Everything sugar free and low carb are now labeled “Keto”. Be aware, not all “Keto” is the same.) 

Also, I really hate the taste of these flour substitutes. I mean really hate the taste of them with a white-hot hate. Gluten flour, coconut flour, almond flour (although the almond flour is good for lots of other cooking and a pie crust recipe that I like). Add them together and they taste like gluey sawdust. Ack! Maybe some of you can bear them, but I can’t. That means soy or chick pea pasta is yuck. Nothing with a flour substitute will do. 

Which finally led me to a flourless tort. 

I can do this. And it required chocolate chips. I knew that Hershey’s Sugar Free Chocolate chips taste great (but do watch out, because it contains Maltitol. Maltitol is a sugar alcohol that can cause bowel discomfort, so no second helpings or you will be sorry!) 

So the following recipe is modified from a King Arthur Flour recipe. I merely changed out the chocolate chips for the sugar free kind, and the added sugar for artificial sweetener. And as I said, some artificial sweeteners are better for things than others. I’ve been experimenting with erythritol, a monk fruit derivative, because it comes in granular form, has no weird aftertaste, and was not twice the usual sweetness of sugar. But the latter became a problem. Because it’s only 70% as sweet as sugar, you have to use more. And its other problem was that it doesn’t dissolve. Certainly not in cold drinks, and really not well in cooked things. And it recrystallizes once the cooked thing is cool. I threw out a lot of cranberry sauce working out the best sugar substitute. 

Also, some sugar substitutes will actually spike your blood sugar, so please do your research. That means no Splenda. Darn it. And I liked Splenda. 

But finally. A recipe that works. So here it is. King Arthur’s Flourless Tort with Jeri 


For the Tort 

1 cup/bag Hershey’s Sugar Free Chocolate Chips 

8 tablespoons butter, room temperature 

1/2 cup of Equal sugar substitute (or equivalent of other sweetener to ¾ cup of sugar) 

1/4 teaspoon salt 

2 teaspoons espresso powder or instant coffee (I use decaf) 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 3 large eggs 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa 


1 cup/bag Hershey’s Sugar Free Chocolate Chips 

1/2 cup heavy cream 


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Use cooking spray to grease a metal 8" round cake pan, with parchment at the bottom. Don’t forget to spray the parchment too. 

2. To make the tort: Pour the chocolate chips and place the butter in a microwaveable bowl, and heat until the butter is melted and the chips soften. Stir until the chips melt, reheating in the microwave if needed to melt all the chips. Stir until butter and chips are all incorporated, then transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl or mixer bowl (I prefer to use my mixer.) 

3. Add in the sugar substitute, salt, coffee powder, and vanilla, and mix. 

4. Add the eggs and mix until smooth. 

5. Add the cocoa powder, and mix just until it’s all combined. 

6. Spoon the thick batter into the prepared pan. 

7. Bake the cake for 25 minutes. Don’t overbake. (The original recipe called for it to reach 200 degrees on a thermometer inserted into the center, but I found that cooking it to that temp made the tort too dry). 

8. Remove it from the oven, and cool it in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. 

9. Loosen the edges of the tort with knife and turn it out onto a serving plate. The top of the tort will now be the nice flat bottom. Allow the tort to cool completely before glazing. 

10. To make the glaze: Pour the chocolate chips into a microwavable bowl. Heat the cream on the stove until it just shows fine bubbles around the edge. Pour the cream over the chocolate, stir slowly with a whisk to combine, then more vigorously — until the chocolate is completely melted and the glaze is smooth. If any chunks of chocolate remain, reheat very briefly in the microwave, then stir until completely smooth. 

11. Spoon the glaze over the cake, spreading with a spatula to just the edge of the tort. Allow the glaze to set for several hours before serving the cake. 


You can garnish with a dollop of whipped cream (or sugar free Cool Whip), and include raspberries for a colorful flourish. 


Los Angeles native JERI WESTERSON is the author of historical novels and fifteen Crispin Guest Medieval Noir Mystery novels, ending with the fifteenth book, THE DEADLIEST SIN, a series nominated for thirteen national awards from the Agatha to the Shamus. Jeri also wrote three paranormal series, BOOKE OF THE HIDDEN, an urban fantasy set in a small town in Maine with demons and angry gods; the ENCHANTER CHRONICLES TRILOGY, a gaslamp-steampunk fantasy series, with a stage magician who performs real magic by summoning Jewish daemons; and a werewolf mystery series, beginning with MOONRISERS, set in Huntington Beach, California with a surfer wolf solving crimes with the help of a Voodoo coven. Under the pen name Haley Walsh, Westerson has written the SKYLER FOXE MYSTERIES, a humorous and romantic LGBTQ mystery series set in Redlands, CA with amateur sleuth and high school English teacher, Skyler Foxe. She has served two terms as president of the Southern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, twice president of the Orange County Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and one term as vice president for the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters in Crime. She’s also a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the Historical Novel Society. See more about Jeri at


Tuesday, November 16, 2021


I love Chocolate Pumpkin Bread Pudding. It's perfect for Thanksgiving or any time! As an extra bonus this recipe is dairy and egg free, so you'll feel you've indulged, but you won't least not all that much. Recipe is from Chloe Coscarelli and appeared in the NYT in 2010. I have posted other Chocolate Pumpkin Bread Pudding recipes, all of which include a thick sauce. This recipe is much lighter.

Chocolate Pumpkin Bread Pudding

1 cup coconut milk
1 15-ounce can organic pumpkin
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
10 cups cubed day-old bread of your choice (about 10 to 12 slices of sandwich bread, depending on the thickness of slices)
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (Guittard and Ghirardelli are nondairy)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 14 4-ounce ramekins (single-serving ceramic dishes) or a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish.
In blender, process coconut milk, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, and spices until smooth.
In large bowl, toss bread cubes with pumpkin mixture and chocolate chips until each bread cube is coated.

If using ramekins:
Evenly sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar into the bottom of each greased ramekin. Fill each ramekin to the top with the mixture and lightly press it down with the back of a spoon.

If using 9-by-13 baking dish:
Fill baking dish with mixture and lightly press down with back of spoon. Evenly sprinkle about 2 tablespoons brown sugar over the top of the bread pudding. The brown sugar will help the pudding to caramelize on the edges.
(Steps 1 through 3 can be done up to three days in advance; store covered in the refrigerator.)
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until top is lightly browned.

If using ramekins:
Let pudding cool a few minutes, then carve around edges with knife to loosen and unmold.
Garnish with powdered sugar if desired and serve warm.

If using  9-by-13 baking dish:
Let pudding cool a few minutes before serving. Cut into portions, then garnish with powdered sugar if desired and serve warm.

The pudding can be baked right before serving or earlier that day and then reheated for 8 to 10 more minutes right before serving.

Monday, November 15, 2021


I love Bundt Cake molds. So many choices, and Bundt Cake molds always elevate the presentation of cakes. For National Bundt Day, here's an easy recipe for Chocolate Apple Cake recipe that I found on the Piedmont Grocery site. Piedmont Grocery is a local market. As always use the very best cocoa and chocolate and apples in this bundt cake recipe. The apples make this cake moist. You can never have too many apple cake recipes, especially in the Fall. This is a great cake for Thanksgiving, too. And, you can make it ahead and serve for breakfast over the Thanksgiving weekend. It's especially good toasted with cream cheese.

Chocolate Apple Cake

2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 cup nuts, chopped
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces (3 ounces), chopped (or dark Chocolate Chips)
2 cups apples, raw grated (about 2 large)
1 tablespoon vanilla

Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.

In large bowl, beat sugar, eggs, butter, and water until fluffy. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and allspice in separate bowl and beat dry mixture into sugar mixture. Stir in nuts, chocolate, apples, and vanilla.

Carefully spoon batter into prepared tube pan. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes on a rack. Then, with long spatula, gently loosen cake from pan and turn out onto serving plate to cool completely. Optional: Sift powdered sugar over the cake.

Sunday, November 14, 2021


I always think that alcohol escalates chocolate, so I was thrilled when I found this recipe a few years ago in People Magazine. The original recipe for this Chocolate Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake is from Betty Crocker. The recipe is a Triple Threat: Chocolate, Bourbon, Cheesecake. Wow!  Perfect for Thanksgiving.

Chocolate Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake 

2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (35 to 40 cookies)
1/4 cup butter, melted

4 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs
4 Tbsp bourbon
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 1/2 tsp aromatic bitters
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted  (or chopped dark chocolate)

Toppings  (I consider topping's great without, but if you want to)

1/2 cup caramel topping (I have used Recchiuti)
2 tsp bourbon 
Dash aromatic bitters 
Toasted pecans (optional) 

Heat oven to 300ºF. Grease 9-inch springform pan with shortening or cooking spray. Wrap outside bottom and side of pan with foil to prevent leaking. In small bowl, mix crust ingredients. Press mixture into bottom and one inch up side of pan. Bake eight to 10 minutes or until set. Cool for five minutes.

In large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy; do not overbeat. On low speed, gradually beat in sugar, then flour and then eggs (one at a time), just until blended. Remove half of cream cheese mixture (about 3 cups) into another large bowl; reserve.

Into remaining cream cheese mixture, stir 2 Tbsp bourbon, pumpkin, 1 1/2 tsp bitters, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg with whisk until smooth. Spoon over crust into pan. Into reserved 3 cups of filling, stir 2 Tbsp bourbon, vanilla, and melted chocolate. Pour mixture over pumpkin layer directly in middle of pan. (This will create layers so that each slice includes some of each flavor.)

To minimize cracking, place shallow pan half-full of hot water on lower oven rack. Bake cheesecake 80 to 90 minutes minutes, or until edges are set but center of cheesecake still jiggles slightly when moved.

Turn oven off, and open oven door at least four inches. Leave cheesecake in oven 30 minutes longer. Remove from oven; place on cooling rack. Without releasing side of pan, run your knife around edge of the pan to loosen cheesecake. Cool in pan on cooling rack for 30 minutes. Cover loosely; refrigerate at least six hours but no longer than 24 hours.

To release: Run knife around side of pan to loosen cheesecake again; carefully remove side of pan. Put cheesecake on serving plate.

I considered adding the rich topping, but I don't top this already rich cheesecake. Here's the original recipe in case you want it. Stir together caramel topping, 2 tsp bourbon and dash of bitters. To serve, drizzle with caramel and sprinkle with pecans. Cover and refrigerate any remaining cheesecake. 

Saturday, November 13, 2021

PUMPKIN PATCH CAKE ROLL: Retro 1984 Thanksgiving Dessert Recipe

Here's a great Retro 1984 Thanksgiving dessert recipe for Pumpkin Patch Cake Roll. It's a pumpkin spice cake roll with cream cheese filling and frosted with chocolate! This would look and taste great on your Thanksgiving table.


3 eggs, separated
3/4 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate buttercream frosting
Candied leaves or candied pumpkins for decoration


Preheat oven to 350 F. In small mixing bowl, beat egg yolks until thick, about 5 minutes. Gradually add sugar; beat well. Stir in pumpkin.
Sift together dry ingredients; fold into egg mixture. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter.
Spread evenly into greased and floured waxed paper-lined 15-1/2 x 10-1/2 x 1-inch jelly roll pan. Bake 14 to 18 minutes.
Immediately loosen sides of cake. Invert onto towel lightly dusted with powdered sugar. Remove waxed paper.
Starting from narrow end, roll cake in towel. Cool on wire rack.
Unroll cake; spread with cream cheese filling.

Combine cream cheese and butter. Cream until fluffy.
Gradually add sugar and vanilla; beat until well-blended. Spread over cool, unrolled cake.
Roll; frost with your favorite chocolate frosting.
Decorate cake roll with large or small orange gumdrops or leaf candies. Use your imagination. Treat this like a Thanksgiving Buche!