Tuesday, February 28, 2023


There's nothing more delicious than a Chocolate Souffle right out of the oven. Here's a great recipe from Sunset Magazine to celebrate National Souffle Day!

Individual Chocolate Soufflés

Prep and Cook Time: 25 minutes. You can fill the soufflé dishes up to 1 day before baking and chill them (allow up to 5 extra minutes to bake). 
Here's a helpful hint from Sunset: increase or decrease the number of soufflés with this simple formula: For each soufflé, use 1/2 tsp. butter, 1 tbsp. sugar, 1 oz. chocolate, 1 tbsp. milk, 1/2 egg yolk, 1 egg white, and a small pinch of both salt and cream of tartar.

1 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for dishes
6 Tbsp  sugar, plus more for dishes
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (use the very best quality)*
6 Tbsp milk
3 egg yolks
6 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

The Sunset recipe tops the soufflés with Vanilla Bean Cream, but I use fresh whipped cream or just eat as is.

Preheat oven to 375°. Generously butter six 8-oz. soufflé dishes. Sprinkle butter with sugar to coat. Put dishes on baking sheet and set aside.
Bring 1 inch of water to boil in medium frying pan. Put chocolate, milk, and 1 Tbsp butter in small metal bowl. Put bowl in water and take pan off heat. Stir occasionally until chocolate melts. Remove bowl from water, mix in egg yolks, and set aside. (You can melt chocolate in a different way, if you'd like, but this is an interesting technique and controls the heat well.)
In large clean bowl, beat egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Sprinkle in 6 Tbsp sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
Whisk 1/4 of beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture. Fold chocolate mixture into remaining egg whites. Divide mixture evenly among prepared soufflé dishes and bake until set but still soft in center, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately, with whipped cream.
Serve with demitasse spoons to savor every bite.

Remember, you can fill the soufflée dishes up to 1 day before baking and chill them (allow up to 5 extra minutes to bake). 

Photo: Leo Gong, Sunset Magazine

Monday, February 27, 2023


Today is National Kahlua Day. Kahlua is such a versatile liqueur. It is a Mexican coffee-flavored rum-based liqueur that's dense and sweet, with the taste of coffee. Kahlúa also contains sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla bean, so it's a natural to match with chocolate in drinks, cakes, pies, and candy. 

To celebrate today's Kahlua holiday, scroll down for a recipe for Black Russian Bundt Cake. A Black Russian is a classic cocktail made with 1 part Kahlua, 2 parts Vodka. Fill glass with ice. Add alcohol and mix!  

Want to make your own Kahlua? Here's a recipe. The Kahlua won't be ready for a month, but it will be great!

Homemade Kahlua

4 cups water
4 cups sugar
2 ounces instant coffee
1 vanilla bean
Fifth of vodka or bourbon

Bring 4 cups water to boil. Add 4 cups sugar and cook until dissolved. Add instant coffee. Simmer slowly - do not boil!
Add vanilla bean and 1/5 vodka or bourbon.
Bottle and cap. Leave for a month or more!
Kahlua Black Russian Bundt Cake 

1 box yellow cake mix (without pudding)
1/2 cup sugar
1 pkg (6 ounces) chocolate instant pudding
1 cup oil
4 eggs
1/4 cup Vodka
1/4 cup Kahlua
3/4 cup water

Combine all ingredients and beat on low for one minute and then on medium for 4 minutes.
Pour into greased and floured 10-inch bundt pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes.
Let cool in pan for 10 minutes.
Invert onto plate and pour on glaze.

1/4 cup Kahlua
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Combine and have ready when cake comes from oven.
Poke holes in cake and pour glaze over cake. 

Dust with sifted powdered sugar.

Sunday, February 26, 2023


Today is National Pistachio Day! I posted this recipe for Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread with Pistachios last summer when my zucchini plants were taking over the garden. I can get zucchini at the market (not the farmers' market) any time of year, so I can make this Zucchini Bread to Celebrate the day. This zucchini bread is tasty hot out of the oven or toasted the next day with fresh unsalted butter, cream cheese, or mascarpone.

The Secret Ingredient: Pistachios! Pistachios add taste and texture to this wonderful moist zucchini bread.

Pistachios' clam-like seeds pop open when they are ripe and the exposed seed has a brownish pink skin–which in turn reveals a pale creamy green flesh inside. Pistachios are members of the Anacardiaceae family, which includes sumacs and poison ivy.  (This makes it perfect for my other blog: Like these scary relatives, pistachio plants (and seeds) can contain the oily irritant urushiol—so pistachios sometimes trigger allergies and rashes, however, dieticians assert that the seed is one of the healthier sources of protein and oils. Traditionally pistachio nuts were dyed red to hide the blemishes made by handpicking, however this false color is no longer necessary.

Please use natural pistachios in the following recipe. No red dye #3!

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread with Pistachios

3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp pure Vanilla
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
6 Tbsp DARK Cocoa
2 cups zucchini, grated
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped chocolate chunks or dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pistachios
2 tsp flour

Preheat oven to 350°.
In large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Mix until well blended.
In small saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp butter, add 6 Tbsp cocoa and blend tuntil smooth. Set aside to cool.
Peel and grate zucchini. Add zucchini and cooled cocoa mixture to the large mixing bowl and blend well.
In separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to the batter. Stir only enough to blend in all the dry ingredients.
In another bowl, coat broken up chocolate chunks (or chips) with 2 tsp flour.
Fold in flour-coated chocolate chunks and chopped pistachios to batter.
Spoon batter into two greased and floured 9x5x3 loaf pans or into a greased bundt pan.
Bake 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
Cool in pans for 5-10 minutes.
Remove from pans and continue to cool on a wire rack.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Hazelnut Caramel Toffee Bon Bons: Chocolate Covered Nuts Day!

Today is National Chocolate Covered Nuts Day! Go Nutty. Celebrate with Hazelnut Caramel Toffee Bon Bons to celebrate the day! Have some Chocolate Covered Nuts today!d This easy recipe for chocolate covered Hazelnuts is from the Hazelnut Council


3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skin removed, divided
1/4 cup toffee candy bits
1 1/4 cups (10oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
20 (6 oz) caramels, unwrapped, cut in half
40 hazelnuts, whole, toasted, skin removed

Process 1/4 cup hazelnuts and toffee in food processor or blender until finely ground; set aside. Don't overprices or you'll have oil.
Microwave chocolate chips and cream in small microwave-safe bowl on high for 1 to 1 1/2
minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until most of chocolate is melted. Do not overheat; lumps will melt when stirred. Stir in hazelnut mixture, vanilla and salt until blended. Cover and set aside until cool, about 1 1/2 hours.
Flatten caramel pieces and wrap around one whole hazelnut forming a round ball; repeat. Dice remaining 1/2 cup hazelnuts; set aside.
Form 1 heaping teaspoon chocolate mixture around each caramel and roll in diced hazelnuts. Let
set until firm.

Tip: When handling ganache, work quickly in a cool room.

Friday, February 24, 2023

NIGHTCAP: Cocktail for cold winter nights!

It's actually snowing here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Quite a rarity. So to mark this momentous occasion, here’s a cocktail for cold winter nights (or days!) NIGHTCAP.

Thanks to Jessica Christensen for this cocktail recipe!


"Nightcap was created specifically as a dessert menu cocktail for the 630 Park Restaurant. I have always loved a boozy coffee cocktail, my mom used to make coffee with peppermint schnapps and Kahlua with creamer and whipped cream during the winter anytime we came over and visited. I always loved them, and it was always so comforting. Although hers were always extremely sweet, definitely a dessert in a cup! This one I wanted it to be sweet without losing the coffee flavor, and sophisticated enough to belong on a Steakhouse menu. This cocktail is a simple pour over, just adding each ingredient one after another, filling with coffee and topping it off with whipped cream and the chocolate shavings.” 

    --Jessica Christensen, lead mixologist at Graton Resort & Casino in Sonoma County, CA



  • 1 oz. Myers’s dark rum
  • ½ oz. Mozart chocolate cream liqueur
  • ½ oz. Frangelico
  • Coffee
  • Whipped cream
  • Chocolate shavings, garnish


In a coffee mug (ours is a 12-ounce coffee glass) pour the Myers’s Dark Rum. Add the Mozart chocolate liqueur. Add the Frangelico. Fill with coffee and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings

Thursday, February 23, 2023


Today is Banana Bread Day! Who doesn't love a big slice of banana bread? Add chocolate chips, and you'll be in heaven! I love this old postcard. Good banana bread is all about ripe bananas.

I have several recipes for Banana Bread, and every time I make banana bread, I change it up a bit. It usually depends on what's in the pantry, but mostly it doesn't matter. Two musts: baking soda and over ripe bananas--black and squishy, if possible!

The other day I was out of whole milk, so I used 1/2 -half and half and 1/2 -two percent. I actually prefer buttermilk, but use what you have. Oil or butter? Well, I used butter this last time, but oil works just as well, and I think I might even prefer it. I did think about olive oil, but opted for butter! French butter vs. domestic in baking? I think regular butter works better. I know, that may be a surprise. But French butter has more fat and changes the banana bread, so I save my French butter for buttering the bread after it's baked. As always, I added chocolate chips. Oh, and this is a one bowl recipe! How easy is that?

Makes 1 loaf--easily doubled!

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3 medium-sized bananas (I used 4 smaller ones), very ripe
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
1/2 cup + chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 8 x 5 loaf pan with parchment, letting excess hang over sides. Spray inside with nonstick cooking spray. (this last time I buttered the pan and then used some flour)

Whisk together melted butter and sugar in mixing bowl until combined. (If you cream the sugar and butter, you'll have a more cake-like banana bread--always a choice!)
Add eggs and whisk until combined and mixture is smooth.
Whisk milk and vanilla into batter.
Peel bananas and add to bowl. Using fork, mash them into batter. Leave bananas as chunky or as smooth as you prefer.
Add flour, baking soda, and salt to bowl. Switch to spatula and stir until ingredients are just barely combined and no more dry flour is visible. (Don't overstir)
Fold in nuts and chocolate chips.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Smooth top of batter.
Bake 55 to 65 minutes: Bake until top of banana bread is dark brown with some yellow insides showing (there's usually a crack down the top) and toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean. Baking time varies, so start checking around 50 minutes or so.
Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes.
Lift loaf out of pan and set on cooling rack to cool for another 10 minutes before slicing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

CHOCOLATE PAINTING: Guest Post by Amber Royer

I love when my mystery and chocolate worlds collide. Today I welcome back Amber Royer, mystery writer and chocolate maven! Amber Royer writes the Chocoverse space opera series, and the Bean to Bar Mysteries. She is also the author of Story Like a Journalist: a Workbook for Novelists, and has co-authored a chocolate-related cookbook with her husband. She also teaches creative writing and is an author coach.


A couple of years ago, I took a class where we painted with colored cocoa butter, onto the smooth side of chocolate bars. The class was a lot of fun, and I duly Instagrammed about it and filed the information away to fit into my mystery series that stars a bean to bar chocolate maker. That class led directly to the newest book in the series, A Study in Chocolate, where I riff on the title in several ways. One of those is to have my protagonist offered the opportunity to sit for a chocolate painting. This would be a more elegant take on what I’d done in the class, with the artist using only different shades of chocolate, from dark to a caramelly white.

Such paintings are available commercially, either as commissioned works or showpieces. On a large scale, chocolatiers in Spain did a life-size reproduction of Picasso’s Guernica out of chocolate.

And you can buy a detailed chocolate portrait of Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin or Audrey Hepburn done on a chocolate “canvas” for roughly $700.  (It claims to have a shelf life of a year.)  The artists do the work to order, to deliver the freshest art possible.

I even found a site that advertises chocolate portraits (or mosaics) of the bride and groom for weddings, with the idea that the piece will be smashed with a hammer and distributed to the guest as a party favor.

There are a number of on-line tutorials if you want to try your hand doing your own chocolate painting.  

These boil down to two basic techniques:

You can paint on the slab of chocolate you are using as a canvas, using a brush, creating strokes and textures similar to an oil painting. If you want to sketch out your work first, use edible markers (made with food coloring – available from cake supply shops or some craft stores). You will either need to work quickly, so that your tempered chocolate doesn’t solidify before you can paint with it, or devise a method of keeping it warm while you work. (You can actually buy a chocolate warming pallet, with cups to hold multiple shades or colors of chocolate, or improvise with a silicon tray in a crock pot.)

The other method is more similar to how chocolatiers make hand-painted filled chocolates using molds, where they paint the inside of the mold first, then pour chocolate onto the design. For this method, you need a sheet of acetate. You paint the image you want onto the acetate. Remember to do it backwards – with the detail work face-down on the acetate.  Then you pour tempered chocolate over the top of your image, let it set, then flip it over and remove the acetate.  The benefit of this method is that you can trace an image from a photograph or other source onto the acetate to outline your work.  But you lose most of the sense of texture or brush strokes, as the acetate serves to make for a flat finished surface.

Here is my attempt to paint Ruffles, the cat you see on the cover of A Study in Chocolate.  Not only was it fun, but it felt a bit meta, since this is similar to something the characters do in the book.


Tuesday, February 21, 2023

MoonPie, Mardi Gras, & Mobile!

Moon Pies are a very Southern snack food, and Moon Pies in their packaging are thrown from floats during Mardi Gras in Mobile, AL, and other towns along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. They might not have the allure or shine of purple (justice) green (faith) and gold (power) beads, but they are a tradition, and people covet them--and they're great to eat! Catching items from floats means good luck, but sometimes, as in this case, it means a tasty treat!

I have a friend from Mobile, Alabama, and Moon Pies are definitely a Mardi Gras throw there. The first group to throw these chocolate covered marshmallow treats were the Maids of Mirth in 1956. The Chattanooga MoonPie company supplied the MoonPies after crackerjack boxes were banned because of dangerous sharp corners, and the MoonPie became a traditional "throw" of Mardi Gras krewes in Mobile, Alabama. The westernmost outpost of the Moon Pie as an important Carnival throw is Slidell, Louisiana, which has a parade by "The Krewe of Mona Lisa and MoonPie." The Moon Pie Company actually now offers smaller bite size individually wrapped MoonPies for throwing off floats.

So what is a MoonPie? Although it's often mistaken for a Whoppie Pie, it's not the same thing at all! A moon pie is a sandwich composed of brittle soft crumbly graham crackers and thick soft spongy marshmallow and then covered with rich dark chocolate.

The Moon Pie Brand began in 1917 with its trademark registered on Jan 1, 1919 in Chattanooga. According to the MoonPie Company, the story goes that Earl Mitchell, Sr, a bakery salesman, visited a company store that catered to coal miners. The Miners wanted something solid and filling because they didn't get time to break for lunch. About how big? he asked. A miner held out his hands, framing the moon, and said, "About that big!" When Mitchell returned to the bakery, he notices some workers dipping graham cookies into marshmallow & laying them on the window sill to harden. The idea of adding another cookie and a generous coating of chocolate was tried, and samples of this new MoonPie were distributed. It had a great response and became a regular item for the bakery.

During the 1930s, the MoonPie found its place in Southern folklore as part of the 'workingman's lunch." Coal miners and laborers could enjoy the biggest snack on the rack, a MoonPie, and a 10 oz RC Cola, each for a nickle. This inspired the 1950s country music hit "Give me an RC and a MoonPie. Double Decker MoonPies with three cookies and two layers of marshmallow appeared during the 1960s, and they were easier for vending machines.

So if you're in Alabama or Louisiana for Mardi Gras, try to catch some MoonPies!

Want to make your own Moon Pies? Here are some recipe links.

Serious Eats

SHROVE TUESDAY aka PANCAKE DAY: History and Chocolate Chip Pancake Recipes

Today is Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake Day! Shrove Tuesday marks the last day before Lent which is traditionally a period of abstinence, associated with clearing your cupboards of goods such as sugar, fats, and eggs. Today is commonly known as Pancake Day because it represents a good opportunity to use such ingredients ahead of the fasting period.  

Pancake Day takes place 47 days before Easter Sunday. Because the date of Easter Sunday is tied to the cycle of the moon, Pancake Day can occur anytime between February 3 and March 9. In many countries, Shove Tuesday is celebrated with pancake throwing contests and races. Not so much in the U.S.

From Wikipedia: 
Like many other European holidays, the pancake day was originally a pagan holiday. Before the Christian era, the Slavs believed that the change of seasons was a struggle between Jarilo, the god of vegetation, fertility and springtime, and the evil spirits of cold and darkness. People believed that they had to help Jarilo fight against winter and bring in the spring. The most important part of Shrovetide week (the whole celebration of the arrival of spring lasted one week) was making and eating pancakes. The hot, round pancakes symbolized the sun.   

So to celebrate Shrove Tuesday and Pancake Day, you'll want to make pancakes, and I suggest one or both of the following recipes for Chocolate Chip Pancakes. I've listed two easy recipes for Chocolate Chip Pancakes, but you can also make Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes and add chocolate syrup or a dollop of chocolate ice cream...if you're in a really chocolate mood. And, if you're giving up Chocolate for Lent, this will be your last chocolate treat until Easter!

1. Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Pancake batter
Chocolate chips

Make a batch of your favorite pancake batter. For every cup of dry pancake mix, add 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Mix batter. Stir in chips. Lightly grease and heat griddle or skillet. Pour a little less than 2 tablespoons of batter for each pancake. When bubbles appear all over uncooked side of the pancake, it's time to turn over. Cook the second side until light brown.

Or, if you don't have your own pancake recipe:

2. Chocolate Chip Pancakes

1 1/2 cups sifted flour

1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
3 eggs, separated
4 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 2/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Put dry ingredients in bowl. Combine well-beaten egg yolks with buttermilk and stir lightly into dry ingredients. Add chocolate chips. Stir in melted butter. Beat in stiffly beaten egg whites.
Cook on griddle or in skillet.
Makes 10-12 pancakes.

Monday, February 20, 2023


Today is National Muffin Day, so I thought I'd post one of my favorite recipes for Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins. I know that zucchini may not be growing in your garden now, but zucchini is in the market. If you're a strong locavore, you can always save this recipe for the summer when you are sure to have a huge harvest of zucchini. 

Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
Makes 18 muffins

1/3 cup boiling water
2 cups shredded zucchini
1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup DARK cocoa
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup canola oil
3 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.
In large bowl, pour boiling water over zucchini.
Add other ingredients (except chocolate chips) and stir until just combined.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Line muffin tins with paper muffin cups (or grease muffin tin)
Using 1/4 cup measure, pour batter into cups.
Bake for 30 minutes.

How easy is that?

Sunday, February 19, 2023

JUNIOR MINTS CHEESECAKE: National Chocolate Mint Day!

Today is National Chocolate Mint Day... the perfect food holiday to write about focusing on one of my all time favorite candies -- Junior Mints.

Junior Mints are a candy consisting of small rounds of mint filling (with a dimple on one side) inside a dark chocolate coating. They are currently produced by Tootsie Roll Industries.

History: Junior Mints was introduced in 1949 by the James O. Welch Company, manufacturers of candies and candy bars such as Sugar Babies, Welch's Fudge, and Pom Poms. The name of the product is a pun on Sally Benson's Junior Miss, a collection of her stories from The New Yorker, which were adapted by Jerome Chodorov and Joseph Fields into a successful play, directed by Moss Hart. Junior Miss ran on Broadway from 1941 to 1943. In 1945, the play was adapted to film, with George Seaton directing Peggy Ann Garner in the lead role. The Junior Miss radio series, starring Barbara Whiting, was being broadcast weekly on CBS at the time Junior Mints were first marketed in 1949. Welch created a product sold at movie theater concession stands and identified with a specific movie and radio series and displaying a name that sounded almost exactly like that property–yet different enough that it avoided any fees for licensing and merchandising. Junior Mints quickly became a popular candy, and one product in the line is the three oz. box marketed as the "Theater Size Junior Mints Concession Candy."

And, of course, who can forget the Junior Mints episode of Seinfeld?

In case you want to smell like Junior Mints, not just eat them, here's a Link to the Scent.

And, here's a recipe that includes actual Junior Mints: Junior Mints Cheesecake.


6 ounces Junior Mints (two 3 ounce packages)
3 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate crumb crust for a 9 inch springform pan (see below)

Put Junior Mints in freezer.
In electric mixer, combine cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Stir in vanilla.
Pour into crust.
Chop cold Junior Mints and sprinkle on cheesecake.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until just set.
Cool on wire rack, then chill several hours or overnight. Makes 8 servings.

Chocolate Crust: 
Combine 2 cups crushed chocolate wafers (I whirl them in the blender) with 6 Tbsp melted butter.
Press into bottom and up sides of pan.

Saturday, February 18, 2023


Who doesn't love a good King Cake? The season for King Cake extends from the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Twelfth Night and Epiphany Day -January 6), up until the end of Shrovetide: Mardi Gras, "Fat Tuesday," or Shrove Tuesday; the day before the start of Lent.  This year Mardi Gras day fall on February 21. 

Epiphany comes from a Greek word that means "to show." Jesus first showed himself to the three wisemen and to the world on this day. As a symbol of this Day, a tiny plastic baby is placed inside each King Cake. Whoever gets the baby is considered lucky and has to keep the tradition going by bringing a king cake to nthe next party. The King Cake tradition is thought to have been brought to New Orleans from France in 1870.

Each cake is decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors - purple representing justice, green representing faith, and gold representing power.  The varieties of King Cake range from cinnamon to cream cheese to guava, and I've heard there's event a cricket-based king cake made by a New Orleans insectarium. That might not be for me, but a King Cake filled with Chocolate. Yes!

Here's a really easy recipe for Chocolate-Filled King Cake. Don't forget the Baby!

Chocolate Filled King Cake


1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 (.25 ounce) packets active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup half & half
5 egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup chocolate chips

4 cups confectioners' sugar
2/3 cup melted butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3-6 Tbsp hot water
Purple, Green, and Yellow sugar crystals for decoration 

Plastic Baby



Heat milk until steaming, not boiling. Immediately remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of melted butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In large bowl, dissolve 2 packets of yeast in warm water with 1 tablespoon white sugar. Let stand about 10 minutes. Mixture will look slightly creamy and begin bubbling.

When yeast mixture starts bubbling, add cooled milk mixture. Whisk in eggs. Stir in remaining white sugar, nutmeg, and salt. Beat flour into milk/egg mixture about one cup at a time. When dough pulls together, turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until elastic and smooth. (about 10 minutes)

Lightly oil large bowl, place dough in tbowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in  warm place until doubled in volume. (about 2-3 hours) When dough has doubled in size, turn out on lightly floured surface, and punch dough down to remove air. Divide dough in half.


Whisk sugar, salt, flour, half and half, and egg yolks together in small saucepan on medium heat. Stir constantly for about 5 minutes, or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract and chocolate until chocolate melts. Let chocolate filling cool for 5 minutes.

On floured surface, roll dough halves out into large rectangles (about 10x15 inches). Brush dough with melted butter. Spread chocolate filling evenly over dough and roll up each half tightly, beginning atwide side. Bring ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring on prepared cookie sheet.

With scissors, make cuts about 1/3 of way through rings at 1 inch intervals. Let cakes sit and rise in warm spot until double in size. (about 30-45 minutes)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake cakes in preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes.


While king cake is baking, mix powdered sugar, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Add hot water, one tablespoon at time, until desired consistency.

When you take king cake out of oven, push small plastic 'baby into bottom of cake.

Frost while warm.

Finish with sprinkles of purple, green, and yellow sugar crystals.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Café Au Lait Coffee Cake: Café Au Lait Day

Today is National Café au Lait Day! Café au lait is French for "coffee with milk" and refers to a specific French coffee drink, although like most things there are multiple varieties. Don't confuse it, though, with a Caffe Latte. Did you know that in the 1600s a French doctor suggested Cafe Au Lait for patients, inspiring people to add milk to their coffee? Cafe au Lait is often served in a small bowl. Very French! There are several cafe au lait bowls on the market if you want to be authentic when serving.

To celebrate today, go to your local cafe or brew a cup at home, or you can make this sensational Café au Lait Coffee Cake from Nicole at MadebyNicole. Her recipe is fool-proof, and it's filled with Chocolate Chips. What better way to celebrate coffee with milk than with a Coffee Cake? As always, you can use any good quality chocolate, chopped into small chunks in place of chocolate chips.

For those of you lucky enough to live in New Orleans, pop on over to the Café du Monde today for a Café Au Lait. They make it with chicory, which gives it a strong, bitter taste. The bitterness of the chicory offsets the sweetness of the powdered-sugar-covered beignets that, of course, you'll want to have. 

Café Au Lait Coffee Cake

Crumb Topping
1 tsp instant coffee
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter
1 cup chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup pecans

1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp instant coffee
2 Tbsp warm water
2 3/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk

1/2 cup icing sugar
milk or cream to desired consistency
vanilla (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9 x 13 pan
Make crumb topping: Stir together dry ingredients, cut in butter, add chocolate chips and nuts.
In large bowl beat sugar and butter until light. Add eggs, then sour cream, and then coffee dissolved in water.
In small bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Gradually stir into moist ingredients starting with 1/3 of dry mixture, 1/2 of milk, 1/3 dry, 1/2 milk, and final 1/3 dry mixture.
Spread half of batter into pan. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups of topping. Cover with remaining batter and finish with crumb topping.
Bake for 60 – 65 minutes

(Optional) Cool and drizzle glaze off a fork onto top of cake.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

MOLTEN CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE: Valentine's Day Dessert for One

Are you spending Valentine's Day alone? Here's a great chocolate Valentine's Day Dessert for One: MOLTEN CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE. This is so easy to make and Perfect for One! Treat yourself! Of course you can always make two. If you do, cook them in the microwave separately rather than two at the same time.

Molten Chocolate Mug Cake: Valentine's Day for One

1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp whole milk
1 egg
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 ounce chopped chocolate  (whatever you have--truffles, chocolate bars, etc..and dark or milk chocolate--your preference)
1 Tbsp water

In 2-cup capacity microwave-safe mug or bowl, whisk together with fork, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Add in melted butter, milk, egg, and vanilla. Whisk well to combine, making sure to mix in flour mixture in bottom. Put chopped chocolate in center of mug. Do not push down; it sinks as it bakes. Drizzle tablespoon of water on top of batter.

Cook in microwave on full power for 1 minute and 15 seconds until cake rises to top, edges look set but surface of center is a little wet and shiny and sticks to finger when touched. It will set up as it sits. Do NOT overbake. If the center still looks raw then give it another 5 to 10 seconds. Cake will fall after it comes out of microwave (like a soufflé). Let cool for 5 minutes to help thicken sauce in bottom.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar or add ice cream or whipped cream! 

TIP: Short mug with wide mouth works best. If not available, a small bowl could be used instead.  I use a vintage Pyrex Bowl. To know if your mug/or bowl is the right size, pour 2 cups of water into it and this should fill it to the top.

Mickey & Minnie Chocolate Cookies for Valentine's Day!

There's nothing quite like a good Chocolate Cookie for Valentine's Day. I make a lot of Heart shaped Chocolate Cookies for Valentine's Day because I have a lot of Heart Cookie Cutters - many different sizes and different shaped hearts. But what says Valentine's Day more than the ultimate couple -- Mickey & Minnie Mouse! Love these Mickey and Minnie cookie cutters!

Here's a great easy Chocolate Cookie Recipe. Use whatever cookie cutters you have, but I'm using Mickey & Minnie for my Valentine's Day cookies.

This great Chocolate Cut Out Cookie Recipe is slightly adapted from Bake @ 350. These cookies hold their shape and are delicious! You can decorate them in many different ways or leave them plain.


2 &1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dark cocoa powder (Dutch Process)
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cream together butter and sugar until light & fluffy (1-2 full minutes). Beat in egg and vanilla until well combined.
Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, espresso, and salt and slowly add to butter mixture with mixer on low. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl as needed.
Roll dough about 1/4 inch thick on surface lightly dusted with cocoa powder. Hint: roll soft dough in between sheets of parchment and put in refrigerator for 15 minutes until firm.
Cut out shapes and put on baking sheets.
Freeze for 5 minutes.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, until set.
Let cookies cool for 2-3 minutes and using spatula put on cooling rack.

I don't frost or decorate my chocolate cookies, but these cutters would guide the way. I know you'll love the great chocolate taste in these cookies! Be sure not to skip the refrigerating and freezing directions.

What cookie cutters are you planning to use for Valentine's Day?


Monday, February 13, 2023


Valentine's Day is all about Chocolate. I love heart-shaped truffles, and they're easy to make... if you have the right molds. There are silicon heart shaped molds to make these chocolates, but I'm lucky enough to have a few Vintage heart-shaped chocolate molds I've found over the years. Scroll down for photos of Vintage Heart-Shaped Chocolate Molds.

So here's yet another recipe for Truffles, this time for Valentine Heart-shaped Chocolate Truffles. Of course, you can use any basic truffle recipe and just press into the mold. I usually melt my chocolate and butter in a double boiler, but the microwave works, too.

And, if you don't have time to make your own heart shaped truffles, buy Coeurs de truffes from Guyaux! Guyaux was founded in 1931. They produce traditional French-style truffles-in heart shape this time of year--covered with cocoa powder. Guyaux is a family run company, headed by second and third generation chocolate makers in Paris. It's now run by the grand-daughter of the founder. And, if you want to give a really special gift, buy Guyaux truffles in the traditional French Truffle Box! The basket is a replica of the one used historically to store Perigord truffles… which explains the open-weave lid. Ooo-la-la! So rich and decadent!

Valentine's Day Chocolate Truffle Recipe
Makes 24 chocolate truffles

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, chopped coarsely
9 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 tsp corn syrup
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted for dusting the finished chocolate truffles
You are only limited by your imagination or heart on decorating ideas!

Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler or in saucepan on top of saucepan over simmering water.
Remove from heat and add cream and corn syrup. Mix until combined and smooth. If you are adding flavorings add them with the cream (kirsch, bourbon, kahlua, etc???).
Pour chocolate truffle filling into heart shaped chocolate mold. Level top with scraper. Put in refrigerator to set.
Once firm, place in freezer for 5 minutes then push out of mold. Dust with sifted cocoa powder.
Store in cool dry place until ready to eat or give as a Valentine's Day gift.

Vintage Valentine Chocolate Molds

Cartoon of the Day: Valentine's Day Chocolates for Cats

Saturday, February 11, 2023


I love this Retro Ad & Recipe for Valentine's Day -- Catch-a-Valentine Cake! So pretty and yummy. But it's not chocolate! So I decided to post the photo and original recipe (scroll down), but I've also added a link to a wonderful recipe for Chocolate Cherry Layer Cake for Valentine's Day from Serious Eats. So plan your Valentine's Day celebration and make one or both of these delicious Valentine's Day Cakes.

Catch a Valentine Cake! 

Chocolate Cherry Layer Cake

I love this recipe for Chocolate Cherry Layer Cake from Serious Eats. Tart Cherry Juice is a new ingredient in chocolate cake for me, but maybe it shouldn't be. The tart cherries bring out the earthy chocolate. I drink tart cherry juice, so it's a staple in my fridge. You won't really taste the cherry in the cake, but it's there, and it does subtly change the chocolate flavor. This recipe also calls for natural cocoa powder. Serious Eats suggests Valrhona Cocoa or Cacao Barry Extra Brute, but you can use Guittard or Ghirardelli...or whatever you have. Of course, the better your ingredients, the better the cake.

For the Serious Eats recipe, tips, and step by step directions, go HERE.

Friday, February 10, 2023


Nothing says Valentine's Day quite like Red Velvet Cake. It combines that nice deep red Valentine color with Chocolate.

I've posted Natural Red Velvet Cake Recipes that don't use red food dye, but real Southern Red Velvet Cake cries out for the artificial red dye! One of my favorite no fail recipes (make it in a bundt pan or mini-bundt pans) is Marge's Red Velvet Cake which does use red food coloring.

Some people don't think of Red Velvet Cake as a chocolate cake but you use cocoa, so it's a cake deserving of this blog. Red Velvet Cake is made with cocoa, white vinegar, baking soda, and buttermilk, and it gets its deep color from red food dye. For some very 'Southern' tips and things about Red Velvet Cake that will surprise you, read Adrian Velez's post for CafeMom at The Stir.

So for another recipe, because variety is the spice of life, here's a slightly adapted Paula Deen recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting! I added more cocoa, because I do like them to taste a bit more chocolate-y. These are perfect for your Sweetie this Valentine's Day, and you can make ahead. Be sure and scroll down for a link to a very special Red Velvet Cake Surprise from CakeSpy!


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp DARK cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 Tbsp red food coloring
1 tsp white distilled vinegar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers (or use mini-cupcake pans and double).
In medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In large bowl gently beat together oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with handheld electric mixer. Add sifted dry ingredients to wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
Divide batter evenly among cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning pans once, half way through. Test cupcakes with  toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

For Cream Cheese Frosting:
In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together until smooth. Add sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

Paula Deen tops her cupcakes with nuts, but I suggest sprinkling with Red Velvet Cake Crumbs!

Want to try something really wacky and delicious? CakeSpy has a fabulous recipe for a Red Velvet Shake! Forget about your arteries. Ice-cream, milk, and a big piece of red velvet cake! Heaven. Now you know what to do with that last cupcake or piece of cake!

Happy Valentine's Day!

BOURBON CREAM CHEESE BROWNIES: National Cream Cheese Brownie Day

Today is National Cream Cheese Brownies Day. I've posted several different recipes for Cream Cheese Brownies including ones from scratch, ones using box brownie mixes, and a one-bowl recipe.

This recipe, adapted from Southern Living December 2011, is for Bourbon Cream Cheese Brownies. Delicious and easy! I've changed some of the measurements, and I've added pecans, but feel free to adapt what you'd like!

And, since Valentine's Day is coming up, make these to celebrate. Serve with a glass of Bourbon.

Bourbon Cream Cheese Brownies

5 ounces dark chocolate (60% cacao or higher)
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 - 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 large eggs, divided
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 cup bourbon
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350° Line bottom and sides of 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil, allowing 2 to 3 inches to extend over sides; lightly grease foil.
Melt chocolate and butter in top of double boiler or saucepan on top of saucepan with simmering water. Whisk in brown sugar and 1 cup granulated sugar. Add 3 eggs, 1 at time, whisking just until blended after each addition. Whisk in vanilla, salt, and 1 cup flour. Fold in pecans. Spread half of batter in prepared pan.
Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth; add 2 Tbsp flour and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, beating until blended. Add bourbon and remaining 1 egg, beating until blended.
Pour cream cheese mixture over brownie batter in pan; top with remaining brownie batter, and swirl together. Once through-- don't overswirl.
Bake at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs.
Cool completely in pan on wire rack (about 1 hour). Lift brownies from pan, using foil sides as handles. Remove foil; cut into squares.

Thursday, February 9, 2023


Here's a great recipe for Valentine's Day: Cherry Port Brownies.

Want to make these special? Use a 3" heart-shaped cookie cutter to make Brownie Hearts. The photo is from Betty Crocker, and their recipe uses the Betty Crocker Brownie Mix. That's a big shortcut. It's up to you. You can always use the mix and add some dried cherries soaked in port. Another festive touch is to sprinkle with powdered cocoa or red crystallized sugar or drizzle with red icing after the brownies have cooled.


2 Tbsp port
1/2 cup dried cherries
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, cold
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (about 3/4 cup)

Position oven rack in center of oven; preheat to 325 degrees F.
Line 8x8x2-inch pan with foil. Butter foil; set aside.
In small saucepan, bring port and water to boiling. Add dried cherries; cook and stir over low heat until fruit is soft and plump and liquid evaporates. Using spatula, scrape cherries into bowl; set aside to cool.
Set heatproof bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water (be sure water doesn't touch bottom of bowl). Place butter in bowl; scatter 6 ounces chocolate over butter. Heat until chocolate is almost melted (you do not want to heat the mixture so much that the butter and chocolate separate). Remove bowl from heat. Stir until butter and chocolate are smooth. Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated. Add eggs one at a time, stirring until batter is smooth and glossy. Whisk in salt. Gently whisk in flour, stirring only until it disappears into the batter.
Using spatula, stir in port-soaked cherries (and any liquid that accumulated) and remaining 4 1/2 oz. chopped chocolate.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top as much as possible.
Bake 35 minutes.
Transfer pan to wire rack; cool to room temperature.
Invert brownies onto cutting board; gently peel away foil
Turn brownies over. Cut into squares or use 3" heart shaped cookie cutter. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

CHOCOLATE & CHEESE PAIRING for Valentine's Day or Any Time!

A Chocolate & Cheese Pairing is a terrific way to celebrate Valentine's Day! It's easy to put together, romantic, and a great tasty way to spend time with your sweetheart. Thanks to the California Milk Advisory Board for this post on Chocolate and Real California Cheese Pairings. Use this post as a guide, but substitute what you love or what you'd like to try. I'd like to hear which chocolate and cheeses you pair. I had Cowgirl Creamery Triple Brie & Taza 70% Stoneground Chocolate the other night (photo). Happy Valentine's Day!  
Rich, bold, decadent – Chocolate and Cheese is a savory-sweet love connection is sure to make your foodie heart race. Creating the perfect pair is easy with these dating guidelines. Foods with similar flavor profiles go together best. For darker chocolates, choose a more complex, aged cheese while sweet milk chocolates work best with buttery cheeses, such as Brie. Bright, fruity chocolates are perfect with sharper cheeses and nuttier chocolates find a perfect pair in high butterfat cheeses. Want to spice things up a bit? Try pairing spicy chocolates with sharp cheeses – the intensities play off each other beautifully!

· Pair a dark chocolate with more the 80% cacoa with a delicious true Blue cheese
· Indulge in burnt caramel chocolates with a beer-soaked table cheese
· Pair a Bordeaux-style chocolate with a creamy triple crème Brie
· Treat yourself to chocolate candied orange peel and an aged Cheddar

Take the pairing up a notch with help from “Pair Savvy” a smart phone app that helps you pair the myriad of delicious California cheese varieties with the wine and beers you enjoy. The user-friendly application is free for download on most smart phones:

Tuesday, February 7, 2023


I blogged about Red Velvet Pancakes the other day. They would be perfect for Valentine's Day brunch or dinner. Just the name Red Velvet screams Valentine's Day! To really make the most of the holiday, consider making this Red Velvet Bundt Cake in a heart-shaped bundt pan. Of course, if you don't have a heart bundt cake pan, you can use any bundt pan. Following are two great Red Velvet Bundt Cake recipes. One is even heart healthy because it's made with beets. Both are delicious.

Most red velvet cakes use red dye. If you're not making the Beet Red Velvet Bundt Cake, you'll need to use red food dye, the kind in the little bottles, if you want to get that really red color (even the Wilton's red paste doesn't quite do it). The first cake uses lots of real beet juice and the color comes very close to a true red. The cake is yummy. Most red velvet cakes I've made call for buttermilk and/or vinegar in them, so the second is perfect in taste. As always, the quality of the chocolate or cocoa will really make the difference!

This Beet Red Velvet Cake is more like a vegetable cake --i.e. a carrot cake or zucchini cake. 
(Adapted from Diana Rattray --Southern Food at


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 - 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1- 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder (use regular not Dutch Process)
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp vegetable oil, Canola or corn oil
1-1/2 cups grated cooked beets
2 tsp pure vanilla
powdered sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 350°
Combine flour, soda, salt, sugar and cocoa in bowl; set aside.
In mixing bowl, combine eggs and oil. Beat in vanilla and continue beating until well blended. Slowly beat in dry ingredients until well mixed; stir in beets.
Pour into greased and floured bundt cake pan. Bake at 350° for 25 to 35 minutes, or until cake bounces back when touched lightly with finger.
Cool in pan on a rack. Frost cooled cake or dust with powdered sugar.


1/2 cup shortening
3 Tbsp cocoa
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups cake flour
1 tsp vinegar
red food color ("2 whiskey glasses full")
1 tsp vanilla

Mix cocoa with red food coloring to make a paste.
Cream shortening, sugar, and eggs. Add cocoa paste and beat well. Add flour and baking powder and stir in buttermilk a little at a time. Add salt and vanilla. Add baking soda and vinegar by hand; do not mix too much.
Pour into greased and floured Bundt Pan (or mini-bundt cake pan) Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Monday, February 6, 2023

Greek Yogurt Chocolate Bundt Cake: National Yogurt Day!

Today is Yogurt Day. I use Greek Yogurt in baking because it gives a bit of a tangy flavor to cakes, muffins, and breads. I often substitute Greek Yogurt for sour cream in recipes. You'll love this Greek Yogurt Chocolate Bundt Cake.

Greek Yogurt is not necessarily from Greece. Greek yogurt refers to a yogurt making process. It differs from regular yogurt in that the whey is strained off in the process. Consequently it contains less sugar, fewer carbs, and a lot more protein. Real old fashioned Greek yogurt is made with goat's milk, while much American Greek-style yogurt is made from cow's milk. You can try either in the following recipe. As always, choose a good quality Greek yogurt, as you would a good cocoa.

Greek Yogurt Chocolate Bundt Cake

1 cup unsalted butter, plus more for bundt pan
1 cup water
1/3 cup DARK cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1  3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Optional: Confectioners Sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 10- or 12-cup Bundt pan.
Put butter, water, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until butter has just melted and mixture is combined. Set aside.
Whisk together flour, sugar, and baking soda in large mixing bowl. Add half butter mixture and whisk to combine. Add remaining butter mixture, and whisk until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in Greek yogurt and vanilla.
Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Cool cake in pan for 15 minutes.
Invert cake onto wire rack and cool completely.
Optional: Sprinkle with confectioners sugar.