Friday, March 31, 2023

DOUBLE-CHOCOLATE CARAMEL BROWNIES: Guest Post by Daryl Wood Gerber, author of the Fairy Garden Mysteries

Daryl Wood Gerber: Double-chocolate Caramel Brownies

From A Flicker of a Doubt, the 4th Fairy Garden Mystery


Do you love chocolate? Of course you do! That’s why you read this blog. Do you also like baking that’s easy?  If so, I have a super easy recipe to share with you.  I included it in my upcoming Fairy Garden Mystery, A FLICKER OF A DOUBT.


Wait, what? You don’t know what a fairy garden is? Think of it as doll-housing for miniature gardens.  You can plant fairy gardens in pots, under trees, inside your house. There’s no set rule. They’re simply fun to make, and they open the possibility to invite magic into your life! The series is set in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California and features a fairy garden shop owner, Courtney Kelly and her fairy sidekick, Fiona. Courtney owns Open Your Imagination.


On Saturdays at Open Your Imagination, they serve tea in the afternoon on the outdoor patio.  What could be more magical than a bubbling fountain, twinkling lights in the ficus trees, and a real live fairy readily at hand. Sometimes a harpist plays. The harpist happens to be Courtney’s good friend Meaghan Brownie. Meaghan owns Flair Art Gallery, which is located in the same courtyard as Open Your Imagination, and because of her surname, she has made brownies all her life. She’s always eager to try out new recipes. However, she is aware that some people don’t like to work too hard in the kitchen when making something delicious.


So . . . she came up with this recipe, and it’s easy-peasy.  


Enjoy and fairy best wishes to you all!


Double-Chocolate Caramel Brownies

 (Yield: 12­–16)


1 Devil’s food cake mix  (may be gluten-free version)

2 eggs

⅓ cup evaporated milk

¾  cup melted butter, (1 ½  sticks)

1 (12-ounce) package caramel bits

¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

⅓ cup evaporated milk, additional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13” baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.


In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cake mix, eggs, ⅓ cup evaporated milk, and ¾ cup melted butter until smooth. Spread half of the batter into the prepared 9x13 pan.


Bake for 8 minutes.


In a saucepan over medium heat, melt ⅓ cup evaporated milk with the contents of a package of caramel bits. Stir until smooth.  


When you take the brownies out of the oven, spread the melted caramel over the top.  Pouring from the saucepan is the best way to do this. Then sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. 


Top with remaining batter.  Because it’s all warm, this will need to be done carefully. Spread gingerly.


Bake for 20 minutes more. Remove from oven and cool completely, at least 20 minutes.  Brownies are easier to cut when cooled.



A FLICKER OF A DOUBT: What’s it about?

With a theater foundation tea and an art show planned at Violet Vickers’s estate, Courtney is hired to create charming fairy gardens for the event. It’s not so charming, however, when her best friend Meaghan’s ex-boyfriend turns out to be Violet’s latest artistic protégé. Even worse, not long after Meaghan locks horns with him, his body is found in her yard, bludgeoned with an objet d’murder.
There’s a gallery of suspects, from an unstable former flame to an arts and crafts teacher with a sketchy past. But when the cops focus on Meaghan’s business partner, who’s like a protective older brother to her, and discover he also has a secret financial motive, Courtney decides to draw her own conclusions. Fearing they’re missing the forest for the trees, and with some help from Fiona the sleuthing fairy, she hopes to make them see the light . . .


Plenty of suspects, gardening tips, and fairy lore combine for a sweet treat.” ~ Kirkus Reviews  




Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber is best known for her nationally bestselling mysteries, including the Fairy Garden Mysteries, Cookbook Nook Mysteries, and French Bistro Mysteries. As Avery Aames, she penned the popular Cheese Shop Mysteries. In addition, Daryl writes suspense novels and short stories. Fun Tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to cook, fairy garden, and read. She has a frisky Goldendoodle who keeps her in line. And she has been known to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. You can learn more on her website:











Thursday, March 30, 2023

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

BLACK FOREST MUG CAKE: National Black Forest Cake Day

Photo: CakeontheRun
Yesterday was Black Forest Cake Day, and I posted a recipe for a variation: Black Forest Pie. It's a very retro recipe. But maybe you do want Black Forest Cake, but you only want a single serving, not a whole cake. Well here's a super easy recipe for Black Forest Mug Cake from Cake on the Run via the Great British Bake-Off newsletter. I love Mug Cakes. Quick and Easy..and delicious! Make this tonight! 

(serves 1) 

For the Cake.
3 heaped Tbsp plain flour 
1/3 tsp baking powder 
1 Tbsp butter 
3 tbsp milk 
1 tsp cocoa powder or drinking chocolate 
2 Tbsp sugar 

For the Filling. 2 Tbsp thick cream or yoghurt 
For the Filling 1 Tbsp cherry jam 

Put all of the cake ingredients into a large mug. 
Mix until smooth and creamy. 
Microwave on high for 90 seconds. 
Slice in half and sandwich with jam and cream. 
Stack sponges on top of each other and top with more jam and cream.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

BLACK FOREST PIE: Retro Ad & Recipe for Black Forest Cake Day!

You've heard of Black Forest Cake, but have you made Black Forest Pie? Here's a Retro Ad with Recipe for Black Forest Pie from Kraft Foods.  Happy Black Forest Cake Day!


1 KEEBLER READY-CRUST Chocolate Flavored or Graham Pie Crust
3-1/2 cups (8 oz.) thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping
1 cup cold milk
1 package (4-serving) JELL-O Chocolate Flavor Instant Pudding and Pie Filling
1 cup cherry pie filling
Spread 1 cup of whipped topping on bottom of pie crust.
Combine milk and pudding mix in medium bowl. Blend with wire whisk or electric mixer (low speed) for 1 minute. Fold in 1-1/2 cups whipped topping. Spread over whipped topping in crust.
Spread remaining whipped topping over top, leaving a 1-inch border and forming a depression in center of the whipped topping. Spoon cherry pie filling in the center. Chill at least three hours.
Garnish with melted chocolate, if desired. 

Monday, March 27, 2023


Here's a food holiday I can get behind. Today is World Whiskey Day. Whisky goes well with many dark chocolates, and I've been to a few Scotch and Chocolate Tastings. Have a look at the Nibble for an Overview of Pairing Chocolate & Scotch.

And, to answer your question about spelling: The Scots spell it whisky and the Irish spell it whiskey, with an extra 'e'. This difference in the spelling comes from the translations of the word from the Scottish and Irish Gaelic forms. Whiskey with the extra 'e' is also used when referring to American whiskies. But really common parlance has it as interchangeable.

Want to have your Whiskey and Chocolate together in one bite? Make this Chocolate Whisky Fudge.


12 ounce dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup Whisky (Scotch)
2 (1 lb) boxes powdered sugar
1 cup chopped pecans or 1 cup chopped walnuts

Melt chocolate in microwave or double broiler, stirring frequently.
As soon as chocolate is melted, mix Scotch with powdered sugar in  large bowl and add to melted chocolate, stir well, add nuts.
Turn into 13x9x2-inch pan and cover with plastic wrap. This sets quickly, so cool it long enough to set but still warm enough to cut.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

CHOCOLATE NOUGAT CAKE: Retro Recipe for National Nougat Day!

Today is National Nougat Day. But what is nougatNougat is a fluffy, aerated confection that is made of sugar or honey and egg whites. It often contains fruits and nuts. Traditional nougat resembles fudge and is a far cry from the processed candy fillings you might be familiar with, which are generally made with hydrolyzed proteins and corn syrup and are found in 3 Musketeers, Snickers, and Milky Way candy bars.

For today's holiday, I thought I'd post a  Retro Recipe for Betty Crocker's "New Method" Chocolate Nougat Cake.  

Rich, moist, chocolately...with nuts all through.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Cartoon of the Day: Waffling

Happy Waffle Day! Add Chocolate!

CHOCOLATE WAFFLES: National Waffle Day

Today is National Waffle Day, and I must admit my Waffle Maker doesn't come out as often as it should. I love waffles. There's something about all those edges that increases the flavor for me.

A few years ago I went to the The Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival. It was a lot of fun with great chocolate treats, but the highlight for me was watching Top Chef Casey Thompson prepare Chocolate Waffles.

I always love chef demos and this was even better since it had the added elements of being held outside at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco: crowds, wind and noise. Top Chef Casey did a great job interacting with the audience while working with what looked like a temperamental waffle maker. She shared lots of good tips like giving the waffle maker a quick spritz of non-stick organic canola oil. The first batch did stick a little but that was o.k. Smooth sailing really. All this took place while overlooking San Francisco Bay. Beautiful.

I found a wonderful spot to stand... oh yes, all the seats were taken early, but I was right up front on the side. Great for photos, easy to hear and see. The recipe for chocolate waffles was from The Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook. Surprisingly I didn't have this one in my collection. That was remedied when Casey started asking questions about Chocolate and Ghirardelli. First question: When was Ghirardelli Chocolate started? Frank Price, native San Franciscan, came closest to the correct answer, and he won a copy of the cookbook! (the right answer was 1852) Of course, he gave it to me for my collection, perhaps hoping I would make something for him from the cookbook! A girl can dream...

Top Chef Casey also made Chocolate Sauce. Delicious!

Chocolate Waffles (makes 6 servings)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 Tbsp granulated white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups whole milk
4 large eggs, separated
4 Tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 cup Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat waffle iron according to the manufacturer's directions.

Sift flour, cocoa, and baking powder into bowl. Add sugar and salt and whisk to thoroughly mix. In another bowl, whisk together milk, egg yolks, and oil. Add to flour and whisk gently until just combined.
In clean, dry bowl, beat egg whites with  electric beater at medium speed until they form soft peaks. Fold into batter and mix in chocolate chips.
Ladle one-third of batter onto center of waffle iron. Close top and cook until waffle is crispy on both sides. Follow manufacturer's instructions for cooling time. Serve immediately.
Drizzle with chocolate sauce.

Chocolate Sauce (make this first)*

4 oz Ghirardelli 70% Cacao Extra Bittersweet Chocolate baking bar, broken or chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream

Combine chocolate and cream in double boiler or in heatproof bowl over barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until very smooth. Keep warm or reheat before using.

What a great way to start the day!

Read an interview with Top Chef Casey Thompson on Serious Eats.

Friday, March 24, 2023


I love oatmeal cookies, and I usually add chocolate chips rather than raisins, but this recipe for Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Covered Raisin Cookies from Gold Medal combines the best of both. It's perfect for Chocolate Covered Raisins Day! I use Raisinets!

Oatmeal Chocolate Covered Raisin Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla
1 cup Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1-1/4 cup dark chocolate covered raisins (Raisinets)

Preheat oven to 375°F.
In bowl of electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.
Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
Mix until just combined.
Stir in oats and dark chocolate covered raisins.
Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake about 10 minutes or until light brown.
Let cookies rest on cookie sheets for 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

CHOCOLATE TAMALES: National Tamales Day!

Today is National Tamales Day! I was in Arizona last week, and I had blue corn tamales 'to die for.'  I love tamales, pretty much with all possible fillings and masas. But this being a Chocolate Blog, I'm posting a recipe for Chocolate Tamales for National Tamales Day!

From TheSpruceEats: 

Tamales are a unique Pre-Columbian dish that is believed to have originated in Mesoamerica, the land between North and South America. Mexican tamales are perhaps the best-known version, however, almost all of the Central and South American cultures have adopted the dish into their own style of cooking. 

Tamales are a complete meal in a portable form. In most versions, tamales are made from a mixture of corn dough (masa) and filling, wrapped in a banana leaf or corn husk, and then steamed. The corn masa becomes firmer when steamed, and the tamale can be unwrapped and eaten on the go. Archeological evidence points to tamales being consumed by the ancient Aztec and Mayan cultures. The earliest tamales were simple. They were made with beans and squash and roasted over a fire. When Europeans brought chicken, pork, olives, raisins, and other foods with them to the New World, then tamales became more elaborate. 

Here's a unique version: Chocolate Tamales. Mix up a batch to celebrate today's holiday--or save the recipe for Cinco de Mayo!


1 cup milk
1 pound DARK Mexican chocolate, 65-75% cacao, chopped
1 pound butter
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 pounds corn flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
24 corn husks

Preheat oven to 350.
Boil milk and add chocolate. Stir constantly until chocolate is completely melted. Add butter and sugar. Mix until smooth. Set aside to cool.
Mix corn flour and baking powder together in bowl. Slowly add chocolate mixture and mix by hand for 10 minutes.
Grease 2 (12 cup) muffin pans and line with corn husks. Fill with chocolate tamale mixture and bake for 20 minutes.


And here are 4 more Chocolate Tamales Recipes. Try them all and let me know which you like best!

 Mexican Chocolate Sweet Tamales with Hot Honey from Hola Jalapeno.  

Rick Bayless for Chocolate Tamales

 Mission Chocolate for Sweet Dark Chocolate Tamales

 Chocolate Stuffed Tamales from Deb Lindsey for the Washington Post.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023


I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and if you check the news, you'll see we've been had weeks of atmospheric rivers, cyclone bombs, Pineapple Expresses, rain, hail, wind, and flooding, but yesterday and throughout the night, we had close to what would be considered a hurricane, complete with 75 mpg winds, driving rain, and an 'eye' of the storm! My garden and roof are filled with huge redwood tree limbs, shattered pots, and decimated plants. The earth is saturated, the creeks and rivers are overflowing, the sewers are backing up, and sink holes are popping up everywhere. The good news is that we are finally out of the drought. The bad news is that it's pretty damp out there, and the weather report says the storms will continue! So what to do? Make Rainy Day Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies, of course.

You can never have too many chocolate chip cookie recipes! I have all the ingredients in my pantry and fridge, and I bet you do, too. I won't have to go out in this rain. And, unlike my neighbors, I have an old 1950 O'Keefe Merritt stove, so I am 'cooking with gas'! Electricity is out in our area. Have fun!Your house will smell great, too!

Rainy Day Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

2-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1-1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
2 cups dark chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
Coarse sea salt

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. When butter begins to foam, start whisking to prevent burning. After couple of minutes, butter will begin to brown on bottom of saucepan; continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as butter browns and gives off nutty smell.
Immediately transfer butter to bowl to prevent burning. Set butter in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes or until room temperature.
Meanwhile mix together dry ingredients (except 2 sugars).
Once butter has cooled to room temp, with electric mixer, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in egg, yolk, vanilla, and almond extracts, and yogurt until combined. Add dry ingredients slowly and beat on low-speed until just combined. Gently fold in all of the chocolate chips.
Chill dough for 2 hours in refrigerator, or place in freezer for 30 minutes if you are in a hurry (DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Once dough is chilled measure about 1 heaping tablespoon dough and roll into ball.
Dip top of the ball into coarse sea salt.
Place dough on prepared cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake cookies about 11 minutes or until edges of the cookies begin to turn golden brown. Hint: Cookies will look a little underdone in middle, but will continue to cook once out of oven.
Cool cookies on sheets at least 2 minutes. Then transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.


Tuesday, March 21, 2023


Today is California Strawberry Day. I'm a Californian, and I love California Strawberries

Celebrate California Strawberries Day with an easy to make Strawberry Chocolate Dutch Baby. A Dutch Baby is a cross between a souffle and an omelet. You make this in an iron skillet that bakes in the oven. So easy and so versatile. Great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Strawberry Chocolate Dutch Baby

1/4 cup unsalted butter
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 cup (6 ounces) dark chocolate (65-70%), chopped
1 pint basket fresh California strawberries, stemmed and sliced
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Melt butter in 10-inch ovenproof iron skillet.
In container of electric blender measure eggs, milk, and flour. Blend until smooth.
Pour into hot skillet.
Bake in oven for 2 minutes.
Remove from oven; sprinkle chocolate pieces over pancake and return to oven.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes until puffed and golden brown.
Top with strawberries and dust with sugar.
Serve immediately, cut into wedges.

Monday, March 20, 2023

WELCOME, SPRING! Springtime Fancy Cake: Retro Ad with Recipe

Welcome, Spring! Here's a "Springtime Fancy Cake" Advertisement from 1953. It's not chocolate, but it's so fun! Made with Dexo! Dexo was similar to Crisco.

"In the Spring, a young (5 to 95!) man's fancy really turns to thoughts of 'what's cookin?'

Sunday, March 19, 2023

CHOCOLATE CHIP OATMEAL COOKIE MIX in a JAR: National Oatmeal Cookie Day!

Today is Oatmeal Cookie Day! Oatmeal and Chocolate are both excellent foods to lower your cholesterol and keep your heart healthy. O.K., so there's a lot of sugar and butter in this recipe, and that's not all that healthy, but I'm making cookies, and they taste better with sugar and butter. 

I posted a recipe last year for Vanishing Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. That's a great recipe, but this recipe continues my "Cookies in a Jar" series. It's simple and easy and makes a great gift. Not into gifting this mix? Just make the cookies!

I usually use either dark Guittard or dark Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips in this recipe, but use whatever you have or like.

As I've mentioned in other Cookies in a Jar mixes, be sure and tamp down each layer of ingredients as you fill the jar. Wipe excess off the insides with a dry paper towel after each addition. When my Jar is finished, I add a piece of burlap over the top and tie with raffia. I  place a label directly on the jar, but you can make a tag and attach with raffia or ribbon.

Note: If you're worried about people with nut allergies, put the walnuts in a plastic bag, cut excess off bag and tie tightly. Attach to the jar with raffia or ribbon. Add a note about the nuts on your instructions.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Mix in a Jar

3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats (I use Quaker Oats)
1 1/2  cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Use a 1 quart jar, layering ingredients in the order given. You can mix the baking powder, flour and salt together and make that a layer. Pack down after each addition. Put lid on, and cover with a circle of burlap and tie with raffia.

Attach the following instructions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.
In medium bowl, cream together 3/4 cup softened butter, 2 eggs, and 1 tsp vanilla.
Add the entire contents of jar.
Mix by hand until combined.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoon onto unprepared cookie sheet.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in preheated oven.

Makes 2 dozen.

Love this Vintage Oatmeal Ad. Husky? Only if you add lots of sugar and butter!

Friday, March 17, 2023

Guinness Stout Brownies: St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day! It's a Lovely Day for a Guinness! Add Chocolate! Here's an easy and delicious recipe for Guinness Stout Brownies. The texture of these brownies is great: mousse, candy, fudge, cake. You won't actually taste the stout (although it will make these brownies moist - but you will in the buttercream frosting), so have a pitcher or mug of Guinness on hand to drink while you're making these.


1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I like Scharffen Berger)
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp unsalted Irish butter, cut into cubes
8 ounces dark 60-75% chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup white chocolate (make sure it's real cocoa butter white chocolate), chopped
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup superfine or granulated sugar
1-1/4 cups (10 ounces) Guinness Extra Stout beer (see Note below)
1 cup 60 % chocolate, chopped into small pieces (or chocolate chips)
optional: 1/8 cup confectioners' sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line 9 x13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil.
In medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt until evenly combined. Set aside.
Melt butter, dark chocolate, and white chocolate in double-boiler over simmering water, stirring constantly until melted. Remove from heat.
In large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add melted chocolate mixture, beating until combined.
Beat reserved flour mixture into melted chocolate mixture.
Whisk in Guinness stout beer. Batter will seem thin.
Drop chocolate smaller bits  (or chips) evenly on top of batter (some will sink in).
Pour into prepared baking pan.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes on center rack in the oven, until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean.
Let brownies cool, uncovered, to room temperature.
Optional: Frost with Guinness Buttercream Frosting (I like mine plain)

Note: Guinness should be at room temperature. This recipe uses a little less than a standard 12-ounce bottle of Guinness stout beer. Do not include foam in the measurement. Spoon off foam or let rest until foam subsides. 

Guinness Buttercream Frosting 

1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 whole scraped vanilla bean
1/2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup Guinness extra stout

In saucepan, simmer Guinness on low heat for 10-15 min, until stout becomes reduced and thicker in consistency--similar to syrup. *Tip: keep your eye on the store, so stout does not over cook. Let cool.
In stand mixer, cream butter 1 minute.
Slowly add powdered sugar in thirds, alternating with some milk each time till mixture is creamy.
Add scraped vanilla bean and vanilla extract.
Slowly add reduced Guinness a little at a time. Taste test to desired flavor. You may not use all the Guinness reduction.
Spread on cooled brownies.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

CHOCOLATE GUINNESS CAKE: 3 Recipes for St. Patrick's Day

For St. Patrick's Day every year, I post a lot of Guinness recipes. No big surprise because when I think of Ireland, I think of shamrocks, rainbows, leprechauns...and Guinness.

Guinness Stout was founded in 1759 when Arthur Guinness signed a 9000 (!) year lease on a brewery in Dublin. That brewery is still the center of Guinness operations, and all the Guinness sold in the UK, Ireland, and North America is brewed there! FYI for those of you in the U.K., Guinness is served chilled in Ireland and the bottles read "Serve Extra Cold."

St. Patrick's Day calls for a Chocolate Guinness Cake! I've put together three recipes. One of my favorite Chocolate Guinness Cake Recipes is from the New York Times (12/8/04). There are several other recipes I like, including an "Easy" Chocolate Guinness Cake made from a cake mix and a whole bottle of Guinness. The final one on today's post is from Chef Brian Leth of Vinegar Hill House and appeared in People Magazine in 2012 (see below). My friend Loanne Heavey Slapar swears by it (see photo below). It's pretty similar to the one from the NYT, but I'll bet it all comes down to the cocoa .. and a bit of technique. Being Irish helps, too!

Recipe from NYT (see above)

Butter for pan
1 cup Guinness stout
10 Tbsp unsalted butter
3/8 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa
2 cups superfine sugar
3/8 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper.
In large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter. Place over medium-low heat until butter melts, then remove from heat. Add cocoa and superfine sugar. Whisk to blend.
In small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, and vanilla; mix well. Add to Guinness mixture. Add flour and baking soda, and whisk again until smooth. Pour into buttered pan, and bake until risen and firm, 45 minutes to one hour. Place pan on wire rack and cool completely in pan.
Remove cake from pan and place on platter or cake stand.
Ice the top with cream cheese icing.

The NYT recipe uses a white cream cheese icing. If you use a white cream cheese icing, you can ice the top of cake only, so that it resembles a frothy pint of Guinness. If you use chocolate, well.... you'll be eating more chocolate!


Don't have the time or inclination to make a cake from scratch? This Chocolate Guinness Cake is even easier and calls for more Guinness!!! This recipe is from Canela and CominoDon't worry about the taste or smell of the Guinness because you're using the whole bottle. You'll only have a tang from the Guinness and no yeasty smell, just great chocolate aroma!


1 box of dark chocolate cake mix (one with pudding in the mix)
1 bottle of Guinness Stout
Loanne Heavey Slapar with her Chocolate Guinness Cake
1/2 cup of Canola oil
3 eggs
4 ounces Bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine cake mix, Stout, oil, and eggs in mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed just until combined. Add bittersweet chocolate and gently stir in. Divide between two 8” cake pans, coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when stuck in middle.
Remove from oven and cool in pans for about 15 minutes, then transfer to  cooling rack. Once cooled, frost with a rich Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.  (see recipe above or use canned)


From People Magazine/Vinegar Hill House:

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

GUINNESS CHOCOLATE PIE for St. Patrick's Day and (Pi) Day.

For the Love of Pi(e)! Today is National Pi(e) Day. In order to celebrate and keeping in mind that St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner, I've gone back into my archives for a favorite Chocolate Pie Recipe: Guinness Chocolate Pie. I can't think of a better pie to celebrate both holidays! You can use any stout, of course, but Guinness is easily available! I make a chocolate cookie crust, but you can use a graham cracker crust or a vanilla wafer crust. I think the stout brings out the chocolate. 


Chocolate Cookie Crust

30 chocolate wafers (Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers)
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
Dash of Salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Whirl cookies in food processor until finely ground.
Put crumbs in mixing bowl; combine crumbs, butter, salt, and vanilla; stir until crumbs are moistened.
Press mixture evenly across bottom of 9-inch pie plate and up sides of pan; pack tightly so crust is even and compacted.
Bake in 350° oven for 6 minutes until crisp.
Cool before filling.

12 ounces dark chocolate (65-75% cacao), chopped
24 large marshmallows
Pinch of salt
2/3 cups Guinness
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp creme de cacao or Kahlua

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Make crust (see above)

Place chocolate, marshmallows, and salt in blender or food processor. Blend until well mixed and chocolate is finely ground.
In two separate pans, heat Guinness and evaporated milk until very hot, but not boiling.
Slowly pour hot Guinness over marshmallows and chocolate in blender. Add hot cream. Cover and blend for one minute.
Add vanilla and creme de cacao or Kahlua. Blend for one minute.
Pour into cooled crust and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Top with Whipped Cream or Guinness Ice Cream

Monday, March 13, 2023


Here's another delicious chocolate recipe for St. Patrick's Day: Bailey's Irish Cream Chocolate Trifle.

As an aside, Bailey's has produced fun promotional collectibles over the years. I love these Winking "Yum" cups, creamers, sugar, cookie jars, egg cups, and teapots. You can still find them on eBay and Etsy or at flea markets.

Back to recipes: I often clip recipes from newspapers and magazines, only to find them years later, yellowed by age, but not necessarily by taste. With the Internet, we're so lucky that many of these 'one of a kind' recipes have been posted. No paper, no fuss. No forgetting where they are.. well, maybe if you're like me and you don't bookmark them right away. Here's winner Marlene Moore's top recipe from the Mercury (Pottstown, PA) EATS contest. This is perfect for St. Patrick's Day. And, FYI:  Bailey's Irish Cream comes in several flavors: Original Irish Cream, Mint Bailey's Irish Cream; Coffee Irish Cream; or Creme Caramel Irish Cream. You can make this trifle using different flavors for completely different tastes! I usually make trifle in a clear bowl. The layers look beautiful.

Bailey’s Irish Cream Chocolate Trifle
by Marlene Moore

1 (18.25 pk.) Devil’s Food cake mix
1 cup Bailey's Irish Cream
2 (3.4 oz.) instant chocolate pudding mix
3 1/2 cups cold whole milk
3 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed  (possible substitute: fresh whipped cream)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the cake according to package directions. Bake in a greased 13 x 9 inch pan. Cool 1 hour on a wire rack. Poke holes in the cake about 2 inches apart with a meat fork. Carefully pour the Irish cream over the cake. Refrigerate 1 hour.

In a medium bowl whisk the pudding mix and milk together until smooth. Let stand 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft set. Cut the cake into 1-1/2-inch cubes. Place one-third of the cubes in a trifle bowl. Top with one-third of the pudding and one-third of the whipped topping. Repeat the layers two times. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Makes 14-16 servings

To add to your St Patrick's Day celebration, you might want to read some Crime Fiction set during St. Patrick's Day. Here's a link to a list on my blog, Mystery Fanfare.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

RED CARPET RED VELVET POPCORN: 3 Recipes for A Night at the Oscars!

Roll out the Red Carpet for the Academy Awards. Red Carpet Red Velvet Popcorn (3 ways) is the perfect snack for tonight's Oscars!

A Night at the Oscars with Red Velvet Red Carpet Popcorn!


1 cup red velvet cake crumbs  (make your own cake or buy one at the bakery - a few unfrosted cupcakes will do)
2 Tbsp unsalted  butter
2 Tbsp Madagascar vanilla extract
2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
8 cups popcorn, popped
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.
Spread cake crumbs on baking sheet. Bake 8 - 10 minutes until toasted. Cool.
Melt butter, vanilla, sugar, salt and mix.
Toss popcorn with butter mixture.
Microwave white chocolate chips or melt in double boiler; stir until smooth.
Drizzle over popcorn until evenly coated.
Toss in cake crumbs.

Recipe adapted from CassieCraves, adapted from Cookies and Cups

8 cups popped popcorn (1/2 cup unpopped kernels or 2 bags)
3 cups red velvet cake crumbs
12 ounces white chocolate chips
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Pour popcorn into large bowl. Melt white chocolate in microwave or double boiler.
Pour melted chocolate over popcorn and stir gently to coat completely.
Pour popcorn onto waxed paper lined cookie sheets and sprinkle with red velvet crumbs.
Melt dark chocolate chips in microwave or double boiler. Using fork, drizzle over popcorn.
Let popcorn set completely before eating.

Want to make Red Carpet Red Velvet Popcorn Balls? Here's a recipe adapted from IcyViolet's Kitchen. It's quite heavenly--and very rich.


12 ounces white chocolate 
1/4 cup cream cheese
1-1/4 cup
white cake mix

1/4 cup DARK cocoa powder
2 tsp red food coloring (or 1/4 tsp red food gel)
1/4 cup corn kernels

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt

Put 1/4 cup corn kernels in large pot with Tbsp olive oil over medium to medium high heat...they will heat up and start popping. When popping lessens and stops. it's done. Measure out six cups and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Melt white chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Add cream cheese to chocolate and stir until melted.
Add cake mix, cocoa, and red food coloring to chocolate mixture and stir.
Pour coating onto popcorn and coat evenly.
Pour popcorn onto cookie sheets to cool/harden and shape into popcorn balls

Saturday, March 11, 2023


St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner, so here's an easy recipe for Bailey's Irish Cream Fudge. This recipe is adapted from As I've mentioned before, you can find some great recipes in some unusual places: Food Associations, Travel Sites, and other product sites.

Bailey's comes in different 'flavors', and your fudge will change flavor, too, when you use Mint Bailey's Irish Cream or Coffee Irish Cream or Creme Caramel Irish Cream. Try them all.


2-12 oz milk chocolate (35-45% cacao), chopped, or 2-12 oz packages of milk chocolate chips
12 oz dark chocolate (65-85% cacao), chopped or a 12 oz. package semisweet chocolate chips
2-7oz jars of marshmallow creme
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup Bailey's Irish Cream
2 cups chopped nuts (optional)
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1-12 oz can evaporated milk
1/2 pound unsalted Irish butter, softened

In very large bowl, combine milk chocolate chips, semisweet chocolate chips, marshmallow cream, vanilla extract, Irish Cream, and nuts (if you are adding them). Set this mixture aside.
Line 10 x 15 baking pan with foil and spread lightly with butter.
In medium saucepan, combine granulated sugar, evaporated milk, and butter. Bring to gentle boil over medium heat and cook slowly, stirring constantly for about 10 minutes.
Pour milk mixture into chocolate chip mixture. Stir slowly by hand to combine. It is very important to do this by hand and NOT use any kind of mixer.
Pour fudge into prepared pan and chill until set.

Friday, March 10, 2023

IRISH POTATO CANDY: St. Patrick's Day!

Irish Potato Candy is one of my favorite St Patrick's Day Chocolate Candies! Not sure how many people associate St Patrick's Day and Ireland with the Great Potato Famine anymore, but some must because See's Candies always makes Irish Potatoes for the holiday! This candy might not look great --well it looks like potatoes and that's part of the charm-- but it tastes fantastic! These potato candies are hand-shaped and robed in milk chocolate. The filling is the same fluffy nougat that's inside See's Divinity Truffle. Yum!! They're only available for a short time, so be sure and buy some before they run out.

Want to make your own Irish Potato Candy for St Patrick's Day? This Potato Candy is made with 'real' potatoes! It's a Philadelphia tradition. I've adapted this recipe from Food52. I use cocoa for rolling, but the cinnamon will work too.. or better yet, what about a blend? I also add toasted pine nuts for eyes!


1 potato (medium)
4 cups confectioners sugar
2 -1/2 cups shredded coconut
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
cinnamon or cocoa powder for rolling (or both)
Optional: Toasted pine nuts for eyes

Bring medium pot of water to boil and add potato. Lower heat and cook for 30-45 minutes or until potato is fork tender. When cool enough to handle (but still warm), peel potato and mash along with coconut oil, making sure to get it as smooth as possible. Stir in sugar, coconut, and vanilla extract until everything is evenly distributed and well combined. Mixture will be soft, but at this point it should be able to hold it's shape, if not add a bit more coconut and/or sugar.
Using small scoop or teaspoon, portion mixture into balls and let them chill for about an hour.
Once candies are firm, pour about 1/4 cup of cinnamon and/or cocoa into medium bowl.
Form chilled balls into potato-like shapes and roll each in cinnamon and/or cocoa, adding more cinnamon or cocoa to the bowl if necessary.
Want to have some 'eyes' on your potatoes? Add some toasted pine nuts
Serve immediately or store well wrapped at room temperature or in the fridge.

Makes about 24-30 'potatoes'.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

National Barbie Day: History, Cookbooks, and Recipes

Today is National Barbie Day. If the truth be told, I fancied myself too old for Barbie Dolls, so I never had any or played with them. Nevertheless, I secretly admired the dolls for their clothes. I often designed clothes for my paperdolls, and I could easily have seen myself designing for Barbie. Alas, that was another career not fulfilled.(If you're looking for some really outstanding Barbie outfits with impeccable tailoring, design, and details, don't miss my friend Kathleen Taylor's Etsy shop - KathleenTaylorsStuff)

However, since I collect 'theme' cookbooks, and I love to cook and bake, I have several Barbie CookBooks in my collection. My favorite is the first one (1964) Barbie's Easy-As-Pie Cookbook. There have been many more since, but this is the gold standard in my opinion.  Scroll down to see a few of the Cookbooks. I've also posted a recipe from one of the cookbooks for a 'healthier' choice of snack: Granola Bars with White Chocolate Drizzle.

Want to know more about Barbie? From the History Channel: 

On March 9, 1959, the first Barbie doll goes on display at the American Toy Fair in New York City.

Eleven inches tall, with a waterfall of blond hair, Barbie was the first mass-produced toy doll in the United States with adult features. The woman behind Barbie was Ruth Handler, who co-founded Mattel, Inc. with her husband in 1945. After seeing her young daughter ignore her baby dolls to play make-believe with paper dolls of adult women, Handler realized there was an important niche in the market for a toy that allowed little girls to imagine the future.

Barbie’s appearance was modeled on a doll named Lilli, based on a German comic strip character. Originally marketed as a racy gag gift to adult men in tobacco shops, the Lilli doll later became extremely popular with children. Mattel bought the rights to Lilli and made its own version, which Handler named after her daughter, Barbara. With its sponsorship of the “Mickey Mouse Club” TV program in 1955, Mattel became one of the first toy companies to broadcast commercials to children. They used this medium to promote their new toy, and by 1961, the enormous consumer demand for the doll led Mattel to release a boyfriend for Barbie. Handler named him Ken, after her son. Barbie’s best friend, Midge, came out in 1963; her little sister, Skipper, debuted the following year.

Over the years, Barbie generated huge sales—and a lot of controversy. On the positive side, many women saw Barbie as providing an alternative to traditional 1950s gender roles. She has had a series of different jobs, from airline stewardess, doctor, pilot and astronaut to Olympic athlete and even U.S. presidential candidate. Others thought Barbie’s never-ending supply of designer outfits, cars and “Dream Houses” encouraged kids to be materialistic. It was Barbie’s appearance that caused the most controversy, however. Her tiny waist and enormous breasts–it was estimated that if she were a real woman, her measurements would be 36-18-38–led many to claim that Barbie provided little girls with an unrealistic and harmful example and fostered negative body image.

Despite the criticism, sales of Barbie-related merchandise continued to soar, topping 1 billion dollars annually by 1993. Since 1959, over one billion dolls in the Barbie family have been sold around the world and Barbie is now a bona fide global icon.

Read Barbie Through the Ages Here. 

And, you know Barbie is a chocolaholic. She is very partial to See's Candies, as am I. So I finally got my first Barbie doll when I did a special event for the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau. The "I Left my Heart in San Francisco" Barbie.  The other See's Candies dolls are dolls that sell at See's. See photos below.