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Sunday, December 31, 2023

CHOCOLATE NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION CAKE

Have you made your New Year's Resolutions? This Retro advertisement from 1952 begins, "Here's a resolution you can make from this minute on... to turn out nothing but the fluffiest, lightest, tastiest cakes the whole year around!" This Ad is 70+ years old.. but the recipe, if not the Dexo, is still fun and easy. This Chocolate Clock Cake is perfect to celebrate the New Year!

Dexo was a brand of hydrogenated vegetable shortening similar to Crisco: "Blendable, dependable and thrifty."

CHOCOLATE RESOLUTION CAKE






New Year's Eve Chocolate Covered Ice Cream Cone Hats

From Disney's Family Fun Magazine comes a really adorable chocolate covered ice cream cone idea that you can do with kids. Use these to hold your favorite ice-cream on New Year's Eve, but first they can decorate your table! This was from a 2011 magazine, but it's perfect for 2024! Just change the date!

New Year's Eve Chocolate Covered Ice Cream Cone Hats

Ingredients
Sugar cones
Ice cream
Chocolate chips (12-ounce bag for 10 to 12 cones) or any high quality dark chocolate, broken up
Icing: Make this easy. Buy the Wilton's icing writers. They come in multiple colors and are easy to use
Shoestring licorice
Mini-nonpareils

Instructions
Spread melted chocolate chips over each sugar cone with a small spatula. Let the chocolate harden for about 1 hour (or 20 minutes in the refrigerator).
For chinstraps, use icing to attach the ends of a fruit strip or a length of shoestring licorice to the inside of each cone (or skip it!).
Use icing to decorate the hats and attach nonpareils. 

Get creative and use your Gingerbread cookie decorating techniques

Photo: Disney Family Fun

Saturday, December 30, 2023

CHAMPAGNE TRUFFLES FOR NEW YEAR'S EVE!

New Year's Eve (December 31) is National Champagne Day, and I thought I'd post this recipe a day in advance, so you'll be able to make sure you have all the ingredients. Champagne Truffles are perfect for New Year's Eve

I've done lots of champagne chocolate pairing events with my company TeamBuilding Unlimited, and we often begin with a trivia quiz. First question: How many bubbles in a bottle of champagne?  (Answer at the end of this post)

You won't have any bubbles in these Champagne Truffles for New Year's Eve, but you will taste the Champagne --and the Cognac. This is my favorite Champagne Truffle recipe. This recipe uses more champagne than most Champagne Truffle recipes, and the Cognac adds zip. If you're in a pinch, you can use a different type of sugar or cocoa to coat the truffles. The sanding sugar, though, gives the Truffles a festive New Year's Eve appearance!

No time to make these? Here's a link to Champagne Truffles you can buy to ring in the new year!

Martha Stewart's Champagne Truffles
Makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon Champagne
1 Tablespoon Cognac
Coarse sanding sugar, for rolling

Directions
Bring cream to boil in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Immediately pour hot cream over chocolate in medium bowl; stir until smooth. Stir in Champagne and Cognac. Refrigerate until chocolate mixture is firm enough to roll into balls, about 1 hour. (or more!!)
Using small melon baller or ice-cream scoop, form 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in coarse sanding sugar and transfer to rimmed baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate truffles at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days before serving.

You can also use unsweetened cocoa or confectioner's sugar if you don't have sanding sugar. This recipe was in Martha Stewart's wedding section, so the sparkly white sugar looks great for weddings and holidays, but cocoa tastes just as good.. just different.

What Is Sanding Sugar?
Sanding sugar is large crystal sugar used as edible decoration that will not dissolve when subjected to heat. Also called pearl sugar or decorating sugar, sanding sugar adds "sparkle" to cookies, baked goods and candies. The sparkling affect is achieved because the sugar crystal grains are large and reflect light. You can order Sanding Sugar online or buy it in cake decorating departments.

How many bubbles in a bottle of champagne? 49 million to 250 million! 

Friday, December 29, 2023

CHAMPAGNE BROWNIES for New Year's Eve!

Here's a great recipe for Champagne Brownies for your New Year's Eve party! What better way to ring in the New Year  -- Champagne and Chocolate! 

CHAMPAGNE BROWNIES

Ingredients 
16 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra for buttering pan
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup champagne

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter 9 x 9 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper (leave extra overhanging edges for easy removal).
Melt chocolate and butter in saucepan over saucepan over simmering water (or double boiler).
Beat salt, vanilla, eggs, and sugar into melted chocolate and beat thoroughly to incorporate.
Add flour and mix just until blended.
Add champagne and continue mixing batter until it becomes shiny and pulls away from sides of bowl. (2-3 minutes on high for a stand mixer.)
Turn into prepared pan and bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Want to be festive? Cut these brownies into stars or decorate with edible gold...

Serve with your favorite Champagne!

Thursday, December 28, 2023

National Box of Chocolates Day!

Today is National Box of Chocolates Day, and who doesn't love a Whitman's Sampler, the ultimate chocolate box? Here's a great Whitman's Sampler Ad for New Year's Eve 1936. Definitely my idea of a great way to spend New Year's Eve: Chocolates and a good book! Love her lounge outfit and silver slippers! Happy 2024!


Wednesday, December 27, 2023

CHAMPAGNE CHOCOLATE CAKE for New Year's Eve!

I love champagne and chocolate! Here's the perfect addition to your New Year's Eve Celebration: Champagne Chocolate Cake! Such an easy recipe, too!

Champagne Chocolate Cake

Ingredients
2 cups sifted cake flour
1/4 cup DARK cocoa
1 1/2 cups sugar (superfine is best, regular is ok), divided
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup Champagne
5 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
7 large egg yolks
7 large egg whites, at room temperature

Directions
Preheat oven to 325F. Use an ungreased 10" Bundt Pan.
In large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar (reserving 2 Tbsp), baking powder, and salt.
In medium bowl, whisk together champagne, vegetable oil, vanilla, and egg yolks, then pour into dry ingredients and whisk until just smooth.
In another large bowl, using electric mixer, beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Add remaining 2 Tbsp of sugar gradually, starting when whites begin to get foamy.
Once egg whites have reached stiff peaks (do not overheat), gently whisk 1/4 of egg whites into champagne batter. Gently, working in two additions, fold remaining beaten whites into champagne batter until no streaks of egg white foam remain visible and batter is uniform color. Be sure to scrape sides and bottom of bowl well.
Pour into ungreased bundt pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until top of cake springs back when gently touched and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Invert onto wire rack and let cool completely.
Once cooled, run knife around the edges and turn cake out onto a serving platter.
Dust with powdered sugar or cocoa.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

What to do with Leftover Candy Canes: National Candy Cane Day!

December 26 is Boxing Day, but it's also Candy Cane Day. Do you have a lot of candy canes left over? Are they still hanging on the tree? Grab a few and make one of these easy recipes! Chocolate and Candy Canes are a great post-holiday treat!

History of the Candy Cane: 

During the 17th century, Europeans adopted Christmas trees as part of Christmas celebrations, and they often made cookies and sugar stick candy as decorations. The first historical reference to the familiar cane shape goes back to 1670, when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, bent the sugar sticks into canes to represent a shepherd's staff. The all white candy canes were given out to children during the nativity services. This tradition of handing out candy canes during Christmas services spread throughout Europe and later to America.

The first historical reference to the candy cane in America goes back to 1847, when German immigrant August Imgard decorated the Christmas tree in his Wooster, Ohio home with candy canes.

About fifty years later the first red-and-white striped candy canes appeared. No one knows who exactly invented the stripes, but Christmas cards prior to the year 1900 showed only all white candy canes. Christmas cards after 1900 showed illustrations of striped candy canes. Around the same time, candy-makers added peppermint and wintergreen flavors to their candy canes and those flavors then became the traditional favorites.

1. Hot Chocolate with Candy Canes! Use the candy cane as a stirrer. It will eventually melt and flavor your hot chocolate, coffee, or tea. Of course, a chocolate dipped candy cane is even better!

2. Candy Cane Chocolate Marshmallows. Dip marshmallows in melted dark chocolate and roll in crushed Candy Canes.

3. Candy Cane Truffles

4. Candy Cane Fudge

5. Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

6. Chocolate Candy Cane Bark

7. Chocolate Covered Candy Canes

8. Chocolate Candy Cane Cheesecake

9. Chocolate Candy Cane Trifle

10. Peppermint Stick Cake:



Monday, December 25, 2023

SCONES FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

Scones are the perfect pastry for the holiday season! There are so many varieties, but being that we're in the holiday season, I thought I'd post a great recipe for Christmas Scones.

A scone is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea, and I imagine you'll need lots of cuppas during the holidays. I serve my scones with clotted cream and jam, but then my grandmother spent many years in England, and we adopted some of the British ways of eating and drinking.

Scones like biscuits are made from flour, leavening, a little salt, some fat, milk, and a bit of sugar. As in making biscuits, you cut the fat into the dry ingredients, add liquid, roll, and bake.. But that's where the similarity ends. The texture of a scone is completely different from that of a biscuit. Scones are denser, drier, and more crumbly. They usually contain less butter, too. One other main difference is that in the making of scones, you use your hands to massage the butter into the dry ingredients. This will help create the proper texture.

This recipe for Scones is originally from Epicurious. You can change up the nuts and fruits for different seasons, but here's one especially for the Winter holidays.

CHRISTMAS SCONES

Ingredients
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, divided
3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp finely grated lemon peel
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup chilled unsalted butter, diced
1 cup dried sweetened cranberries (I use Trader Joe's unsweetened)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup (or more) chilled half and half, divided

Directions
Position rack in top third of oven; preheat to 375°F.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk 2 Tbsp sugar and 1 Tbsp lemon juice in bowl for glaze.
In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, lemon peel, salt, and 1 cup sugar. Add chilled butter; using fingertips, rub in until coarse meal forms. Mix in cranberries and walnuts. Add 1/2 cup half and half and 1 Tbsp lemon juice. Toss with fork until dough comes together in moist clumps, adding more half and half if dough is dry.
Gather dough into ball; divide in half. Press out each half on floured surface to 6-inch-diameter (1-inch-high) round. Cut each round into 6 wedges.
Transfer to baking sheet; brush with glaze.
Bake scones until golden and tester comes out clean, about 18 minutes.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

PULL-APART CHOCOLATE CHIP CHEESECAKE CRESCENT CHRISTMAS TREE

I discovered this recipe last year, and it was a big hit. It definitely deserves reposting. I love this Crescent (Croissant) Christmas Tree. Recipe from Pillsbury. It's perfect for Christmas Morning or Christmas Eve! It's beautiful and delicious. Of course you can use your own croissant dough, but this recipe using Crescents in a Can, is so quick and easy! Simply roll sweetened cream cheese and chocolate chips inside pieces of Pillsbury crescent dough, and then shape the whole thing into a pull apart Christmas tree and bake. Sprinkle with a little powdered sugar for the finishing touch. 

PULL-APART CHOCOLATE CHIP CHEESECAKE CRESCENT CHRISTMAS TREE

Ingredients

2 cans (8 oz) refrigerated Pillsbury Original Crescent Rolls (8 Count) 
6 oz (from 8-oz package) cream cheese, softened 
1/2 cup powdered sugar 
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
 
Directions

Heat oven to 375°F. Line large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Separate dough into 16 triangles. Use pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut each triangle in half lengthwise to get 32 triangles. 

In medium bowl, mix cream cheese and powdered sugar with spoon until well blended. Spoon a generous teaspoon of the cheese mixture on shortest side of each triangle; add a rounded 1/2 teaspoon chocolate chips. 

Roll up each crescent, starting at shortest side of triangle and rolling to opposite point. Using photo as a guide, place crescents next to each other in tree-shaped pattern on parchment lined cookie sheet, starting with top and working way to bottom trunk. 

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until deep golden brown. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar, if desired. 

Tips:

Line your pan with parchment paper to catch any filling that may spill out of crescents while baking. 

Use a pizza cutter to cut crescent dough. 

Use a fine-mesh sieve to sprinkle crescent tree with additional powdered sugar.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

CHOCOLATE EGGNOG: Eggnog History & Three Chocolate Eggnog Recipes

Eggnog evokes the holiday spirit, and Chocolate Eggnog, how delicious can you get? There are so many variations. Following are three great recipes.  

FYI: this wonderful rich drink can be spelled as one word or two: egg nog or eggnog, so I'm going to change it up in the recipes below.

The History of Eggnog From Wikipedia:

The origins, etymology, and the ingredients used to make the original eggnog drink are debated. Eggnog may have originated in East Anglia, England; or it may have simply developed from posset, a medieval European beverage made with hot milk.

The "nog" part of its name may come from the word noggin, a Middle English term for a small, carved wooden mug used to serve alcohol. However, the British drink was also called an Egg Flip (from the practice of "flipping" (rapidly pouring) the mixture between two pitchers to mix it).

Another story is that the term derived from egg and grog, a common Colonial term used for the drink made with rum. Eventually, that term was shortened to egg'n'grog, then eggnog. One very early example: Isaac Weld, Junior, in his book Travels Through the States of North America and the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, during the years 1795, 1796, and 1797 (published in 1800) wrote: "The American travellers, before they pursued their journey, took a hearty draught each, according to custom, of egg-nog, a mixture composed of new milk, eggs, rum, and sugar, beat up together;..."

In Britain, the drink was popular mainly among the aristocracy. Those who could get milk and eggs mixed it with brandy, Madeira or sherry to make a drink similar to modern alcoholic egg nog. The drink is described in Cold Comfort Farm as a Hell's Angel, made with an egg, two ounces of brandy, a teaspoonful of cream, and some chips of ice, where it is served as breakfast.

Eggnog crossed the Atlantic to the English colonies during the 18th century. Since brandy and wine were heavily taxed, rum from the Triangular Trade with the Caribbean was a cost-effective substitute. The inexpensive liquor, coupled with plentiful farm and dairy products, helped the drink become very popular in America. When the supply of rum to the newly-founded United States was reduced as a consequence of the American Revolutionary War, Americans turned to domestic whiskey, and eventually bourbon in particular, as a substitute.

The Eggnog Riot occurred at the United States Military Academy on 23–25 December 1826. Whiskey was smuggled into the barracks to make eggnog for a Christmas Day party. The incident resulted in the court-martialing of twenty cadets and one enlisted soldier.

Chocolate Eggnog
 from Woodhouse Chocolate via The Nibble

Ingredients
6 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
Dash of salt
3 cups whole milk
6 ounces of quality dark chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup cold heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp freshly-ground nutmeg
1/2 cup Bourbon
Whipped cream
Fresh-grated nutmeg for garnish

Directions
Place chopped chocolate in medium mixing bowl and set aside. Also have at the ready the heavy cream in measuring cup or pitcher.
In second medium-size bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar and salt. Whisk in milk, then pour mixture into saucepan.
Heat egg mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until it reaches 160°F. Be careful to heat gently and remove from heat as soon as the mixture reaches 160°, or eggs will curdle.
Pour about 1/2 cup of hot egg/milk mixture over chocolate and pour rest back into bowl in which you whisked it in. Immediately, stir cold cream into the egg/milk mixture in bowl (not chocolate bowl). With small whisk, start whisking in center of chocolate mixture, working in small, circular motions to emulsify chocolate.
When you have smooth, homogenous mixture, gradually add rest of egg/milk mixture.
Whisk in vanilla, nutmeg, and Bourbon.
Chill for several hours, preferably overnight, to mellow flavors.
Serve cold, with dollop of whipped cream and sprinkling of grated nutmeg.

Spicy Mexican Chocolate Eggnog 
from Martha Stewart

Ingredients
2 quarts whole milk, plus more if needed
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and pod reserved
4 cinnamon sticks
12 egg yolks
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
3 ounces milk chocolate, melted
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups brandy
Whole nutmeg, for garnish
Cayenne pepper, for sprinkling

Directions
Heat 2 quarts milk, sugar, salt, vanilla seeds and pod, and cinnamon sticks inlarge pot over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and mixture is heated through. Remove from heat. Let stand for 30 minutes.
Prepare ice-water bath. Whisk yolks in medium bowl until pale, about 2 minutes. Whisk 1 cup of milk mixture into yolks in slow, steady stream. Whisk yolk mixture into remaining milk mixture. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture registers 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 6 minutes. (Do not boil.)
Remove pot from heat, add melted bittersweet and milk chocolates, and stir until incorporated. Discard vanilla pod and cinnamon sticks.
Pour mixture into a large bowl set in ice-water bath, and let cool, stirring often.
Whisk cream until soft peaks form. Pour cooled eggnog into large serving bowl, and add brandy (Add more milk to eggnog if necessary to reach desired consistency.)
Top with whipped cream. Grate nutmeg over top, and sprinkle sparingly with cayenne.
Serve immediately

Easy White Chocolate Egg Nog 
from Sandra Lee, Food Network

Ingredients 
1 quart egg nog
1/2 cup white rum
1/2 cup white chocolate liqueur
1 cup whipped topping
Grated white chocolate, for garnish
Pumpkin pie spice, for garnish

Directions
In punch bowl, combine eggnog, rum, and white chocolate liqueur.
When ready to serve, whisk egg nog to make it frothy and pour mixture into cups.
Place 1 heaping tablespoon of whipped topping into each cup.
Garnish each with grated white chocolate and sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice.

Friday, December 22, 2023

HOLIDAY CHOCOLATE BUTTER COOKIES: Retro Ad with Recipe

Just a few more days to bake! Here's a great Retro Ad with Recipe for Holiday Chocolate Butter Cookies!!

For me, cookies are usually all about butter. If you're baking this holiday season, you'll want to choose the very best butter for all your cookies, but especially for your butter cookies. I always use unsalted butter. 

Here's a great easy Retro Ad with Recipe for Holiday Chocolate Butter Cookies from Land O Lakes. This is a very versatile chocolate cookie recipe. Save it to use year-round. New Year's Eve? 





CANDY CANE FUDGE aka CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT FUDGE


Nothing say Christmas quite like Candy Canes, so why not combine Candy Canes with another holiday favorite -- Fudge. I love this Chocolate Peppermint Fudge aka Candy Cane Fudge. Fudge can be sent to far-flung friends and family, given as a gift, or enjoyed by the family during the holidays! Fudge is so versatile and easy to make.

Candy Cane Fudge aka Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

Ingredients
18 ounces dark chocolate  (60-75% cacao), chopped
1-14 ounce can  sweetened condensed milk
Dash of salt
1 tsp peppermint extract
4 peppermint candy canes, crushed

Directions
Line 9" pan with wax paper.
Melt chocolate with sweetened condensed milk and salt in heavy saucepan over another saucepan with simmering water (or in top of double boiler). Stir until melted.
Remove from heat; stir in peppermint extract, and half the crushed candy canes.
Spread evenly in prepared pan. Top with the rest of candy cane crumbs.
Chill 2 hours or until firm.
Remove from pan by lifting edges of wax paper.
Cut into squares.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Cartoon of the Day: Gingerbread House

 

CHRISTMAS M & M's MAGIC BARS

I love M&M's.They're always a great addition to cookies, bars, and brownies! Here's an easy holiday treat to make with the Christmas Red & Green M & M's: M & M Magic Bars! So festive. Recipe adapted from The Food Network.

Christmas M & M's MAGIC BARS

Ingredients 
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for buttering the dish
14 chocolate graham crackers
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
One 10-ounce bag mint chocolate chips
1 cup cocktail peanuts, coarsely chopped
 2 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup red and green M&M's
1/2 cup coarsely chopped candy canes
1/4 cup red and green sprinkles

Directions
Position oven rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Line 9-by-13-inch baking dish with foil, leaving 2-inch overhang on both sides. Butter foil. Pulse graham crackers into fine crumbs in food processor. Add melted butter and pulse to combine (mixture should hold together when squeezed).
Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish and press it into bottom in even layer, using bottom of measuring cup to help. Pour sweetened condensed milk over crumbs. Sprinkle chocolate chips, peanuts, marshmallows, M&M's, candy canes and sprinkles over condensed milk.
Bake until  sides are golden brown and begin to pull away from baking dish, 30 to 35 minutes.
Let cool completely, about 1 hour. Using foil liner as handles, lift bars out of baking dish; remove foil.
Cut into 24 bars.


Yule Log aka Buche de Noel: Retro Ad with Recipe...easier than falling off a log!

I posted a wonderful but more complicated recipe for a Yule Log aka Buche de Noel yesterday for the Winter Solstice, but I love this easy and delicious Yule Log for the Winter Solstice

"Almost as easy as falling off a you-know-what." 

It's a great Retro Ad and recipe! You can also save this recipe and make it for Christmas.



Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Bûche de Noël aka Yule Log for the Winter Solstice

With the Winter Solstice and Christmas holidays upon us, I'm reposting a recipe for Bûche de Noël aka Yule Log. I've tried various recipes for Bûche de Noël, but I really like this one. Bûche de Noël is the traditional dessert served at the Solstice and during the Christmas holidays in many countries. Basically it looks like a log ready for the fire, hence the name Yule Log.

The traditional Bûche de Noël is made from a Genoise (see recipe below) filled and frosted with buttercream. The Bûche de Noël is often iced to look like a piece of the branch has broken off. Sometimes there are fresh berries and meringue or marzipan mushrooms. Bûche de Noël is one of my favorite holiday desserts. The log represents the hearth -- the center of the house, and this yule log (Bûche de Noël) will certainly be the center of your holiday table.

Stuck for time? Check out your local bakery and order one! Also, check back tomorrow when I post an incredibly easy retro Buche de Noel/Yule Log recipe.

Bûche de Noël aka Yule Log
(recipe adapted from allrecipes.com)

Ingredients
2 cups heavy cream (cold)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 egg yolks (eggs at room temperature)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
 6 egg whites (room temp)
1/4 cup white sugar
Confectioners Sugar for Dusting
Meringue Mushrooms (see recipe below)

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 10x15 inch greased jellyroll pan with greased (sprayed) parchment paper. In large bowl, whip cream, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa, and 1 teaspoon vanilla until thick and stiff. Refrigerate.

In large bowl, use electric mixer to beat egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until thick and pale (about 5 minutes). Blend in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, and salt. In large glass bowl, using clean beaters, whip egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, and beat until whites form very stiff peaks. Immediately fold yolk mixture into whites. Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in preheated oven, or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Dust heavily clean dishtowel with lots of confectioners' sugar. Run a knife around the edge of pan, and turn warm cake out onto silicone baking mat (or towel, but the mat works better!). Remove and discard parchment paper. Let cool before rolling. Starting at short edge of cake, roll cake up with towel. Use the towel as the rolling agent. Cool for 30 minutes. Unroll cake, and spread filling to within 1 inch of the edge. Roll cake up with filling inside. Place seam side down onto serving plate. Ice with remaining filling. Run tines across to simulate bark. Refrigerate until serving. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.

Add meringue mushrooms before serving (do not refrigerate the mushrooms) or use some 'real' holly leaves. Do not use mistletoe. It's poisonous.

MERINGUE MUSHROOMS
(recipe-Southern Living-1999)

Ingredients 
3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup (3 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips, melted
2 teaspoons cocoa

Directions
Combine first 5 ingredients; beat at high speed with electric mixer until foamy. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves (2 to 4 minutes).
Spoon mixture into decorating bag fitted with large round tip. Pipe 32 (1 1/4-inch-wide) mounds to resemble mushroom caps and 32 (1-inch-tall) columns to resemble stems onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake at 200° for 1 1/2 hours; turn oven off. Let meringues stand in closed oven 2 hours.
Spread thin layer of melted chocolate on flat side of caps. Trim rounded end of stems to make them flat; press stems against chocolate to attach them to caps. Sprinkle meringues lightly with cocoa.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

RUDOLPH'S SECRET SNOWBALL KISSES: Updated Recipe

Have you started your holiday cookie baking? Here's one I really love:  Rudolph's Secret Snowball Kisses! Maybe it's the name? Maybe it's the cookie? Whatever, they're great and easy to make! The big secret is that there's a Hershey's kiss inside each "snowball" cookie. This cookie is perfect for your cookie tray for Christmas or New Year's Eve.

RUDOLPH'S SECRET SNOWBALL KISSES 

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, softened 
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup finely chopped walnuts (or pecans)
Hershey's Kisses
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar

Directions

In large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla. Stir together flour and salt and add to mixture and beat well. Fold in walnuts. 

Refrigerate dough for 1-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350. 

Shape dough into 1 inch balls (about a Tbsp) around each kiss. 

Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 1.5 inches apart. 

Bake 10 to 18 minutes or until set. Do not brown.

Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. 

When cooled completely; roll cookies in powdered sugar. 

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.


Monday, December 18, 2023

RED VELVET SNOWFLAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING: Bake Cookies Day & Snowflake Day!

I'd never made Red Velvet Cookies before, so I was pleased to find this recipe in the holiday issue of Country Living Magazine. These cookies are perfect for today's two 'food' holidays: National Bake Cookies Day and National Snowflake Day! Lucky for me, I have lots of snowflake cookie cutters. Aren't these cookies darling? And the cream cheese icing is divine. Get baking!

According to CountryLiving
The first recipe for red velvet as we know it was published as a velvet cocoa cake around 1911. (Leavening agents interacting with the acidic cocoa create the reddish hue, though we now intensify it with food coloring.) 
New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel helped popularize the dessert in the 1930s, but it was the infamous armadillo groom’s cake in the 1989 movie Steel Magnolias that secured its spot as a Southern staple.

RED VELVET SNOWFLAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING

Ingredients 

For the cookies: 
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled 
1 1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder 
1/4 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp kosher salt 
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 
2 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature 
1 c. granulated sugar 
1 large egg yolk 
1 tsp distilled white vinegar 
1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
1/2 tsp red gel food coloring 

For the cream cheese icing: 
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature 
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature 
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract 
Pinch kosher salt 
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar 

Step 1 
Make the cookies: 
Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. 
Beat butter, cream cheese, and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in egg yolk, vinegar, vanilla, and food coloring. 
Reduce mixer speed to low, and gradually beat in flour mixture just until combined. 
Divide dough into 2 discs; wrap each in plastic wrap, and chill 2 hours. 

Step 2 
Preheat oven to 350°F
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
Working with one disc of dough at a time, roll between 2 sheets of parchment to 1/4-inch-thick. 
Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and place, at least 1 inch apart, on prepared baking sheets. 
Freeze 20 minutes. 
Bake, in batches, until set and dry to the touch, 8 to 10 minutes. 
Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. 

Step 3 
Make the cream cheese icing: 
Beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. 
Beat in vanilla and salt. 
Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. 
Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a small open piping tip. 
Pipe onto cooled cookies as desired.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

CHOCOLATE MAPLE SYRUP & CHOCOLATE MAPLE SYRUP TRUFFLES: National Maple Syrup Day!

Today is National Maple Syrup Day. When I was young, we traveled to Canada, Maine, and Vermont for fishing trips (my father was a fresh water fisherman). One of my fondest memories was seeing the taps in the maple trees in the woods. So magical to me ..  a city kid. They were just like beer taps (or for me at that age, they probably looked like soda fountain taps). Tapping the trees for maple syrup was always the highlight of these trips. This experience broadened the school history lesson about the early settlers and Maple Syrup. Of course the indigenous people tapped the trees first, but that wasn't part of our lesson at that time. 

An individual maple tree can be tapped one to three times per year (depending on how big the diameter of its trunk is), producing up to 13 gallons of sap every one to two month harvesting season. Maple trees keep the starch inside their roots and trunk before winter sets in which is then later converted to sugar that appears in the tree's sap in winter and early spring.

It is the starchy sugar that makes maple syrup so characteristically sweet. In order to turn sap into sugar, it's heated and boiled to evaporate the excess water, with the concentrated syrup remaining. Sugar shacks were set up for this process, and those were also available for viewing in small Vermont and Canadian towns. I imagine they still are.

Want to know more about the history of Maple Syrup? Read "Tapping into the history of maple syrup" at Chronically Vintage.

What to do with maple syrup? Well, growing up, maple syrup at our house came in a little crock and was only used to pour over waffles and pancakes. But Maple Syrup is actually a great item to have in your pantry and can be used in lots of ways. Maple syrup is a healthy alternative to sugar in many baked goods and desserts.

Conversion tips:
Substitute an equal amount of maple syrup for sugar.
For each cup of syrup, reduce the quantity of liquid ingredients in the recipe (water, milk, juice) by about a quarter of a cup.
Maple syrup can also serve as a one-to-one substitution for other liquid sweeteners, such as honey, molasses and corn syrup.

And, with the holidays coming up, here are two great recipes to make to give or serve: Chocolate Maple Syrup and Chocolate Maple Truffles.

CHOCOLATE MAPLE SYRUP

Ingredients
1-1/2 cups pure maple syrup
4 Tbsp unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1/4 cup unsalted butter, chopped
Pinch of salt

Directions
Heat maple syrup in small sturdy saucepan over moderate heat until hot.
Whisk in cocoa powder, butter, and pinch of salt. Turn down to simmer and whisk for a minute.
Serve syrup warm.
Syrup keeps, covered and chilled, 1 week.

CHOCOLATE MAPLE SYRUP TRUFFLES
This recipe is from the Pure Canadian Maple Syrup site

Ingredients for Centers 
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 cups dates, pitted and chopped
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp orange juice, just squeezed
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier or other liqueur optional

Ingredients for Coating
8 ounces premium quality bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

Directions
To prepare the centers, melt 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate in double boiler over gently simmering water until completely melted, stirring only once or twice. Set aside.
Chop dates by hand, so they're not sticky (can become sticky if you use a food processor) If you are using food processor, place pecans in with the dates and pulse.
Add melted chocolate, Maple syrup, orange juice and liqueur; pulse until mixture just comes together. Alternatively, you can mix the ingredients together by hand in a medium mixing bowl.
To form and coat truffles, prepare coating:
Melt remaining 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate over double boiler of gently simmering water and cool to about 90°. While chocolate is cooling, form truffles. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Form truffles into small tiny bite sized balls. Place cookie sheet of truffles to left of you. Place melted chocolate in front of you and have sifted cocoa to right of you To far right have cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and or paper truffle cups ready to place coated truffles.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE MINT STAR BROWNIES!


I love Trader Joe's! Not only do they have lots of fun chocolate holiday stocking stuffers, but there are some fabulous easy holiday recipes on their website. Here's a Trader Joe's simple last minute brownie recipe that utilizes their Mini Dark Chocolate Mint Stars! How festive and delicious! Triple chocolate! Perfect for the holidays!

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE MINT STAR BROWNIES 

Ingredients 
1 package TJ’s Mini Dark Chocolate Mint Stars (seasonal), divided in half
1 package TJ’s Brownie Truffle Baking Mix
2 large Eggs
4 ounces Unsalted Butter
¼ cup TJ’s Fudge Sauce

Directions 
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 x 8 x 2 baking pan with butter or cooking spray and set aside. Chop roughly 1/2 package of cookies into pieces and set aside. Melt butter until creamy-looking (approx. 1 minute in microwave or 5 minutes in saucepan over medium heat).
Whisk eggs into melted butter until blended.
Add brownie mix and stir until moistened. Mix in chopped cookies.
Spread batter in pan, filling corners and leveling top.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool for 30 minutes before removing from pan.
Once cooled, cut brownies into squares.
Using a butter knife, spread an even layer of fudge sauce on top of each brownie.
Place remaining cookies on top of each brownie to decorate.

Photo: Trader Joe's

TRADER JOE'S CHOCOLATE STOCKING STUFFERS: Chocolate Passport & Taste Test of Caramels

I'm a huge fan for everything Trader Joe's from the plants to the music to the cheese to the chocolate! The holidays are the perfect time to experience, buy, and gift some great chocolate stocking stuffers.

I've posted before about Trader Joe's Chocolate Passport in past years, and I'm so pleased to see The Chocolate Passport back at Trader Joe's this season. The Chocolate Passport makes a great stocking stuffer or hostess gift or even the basis of your own "chocolate tasting" during the holidays. Trader Joe's Chocolate Passport is beautifully packaged, as well as containing terrific chocolate from beans sourced from all over the world. Different amounts of cacao, too.

Each chocolate is sourced from eight original locations each with its own terroir. The Chocolate Passport takes you on a journey through the cacao-growing world: Peru, Ecuador, Venazuela, The Dominican Republic, Ghana, Papua New Guinea, Sao Tome, and Tanzania. The cacao ranges form 60-73%. Take a trip around the chocolate world!

At $9.99, this is a great bargain! This is also available on several internet sites, but at double the price! Go direct to the store...and dance in the aisles!

Another wonderful seasonal chocolate product at Trader Joe's is the Taste Test of Caramels: Chocolate Covered Caramel Taste Testing Kit featuring 12 distinct Flavor Profiles: Toffee Apple, Ginger, Vanilla, Maple, Double Espresso, Butterscotch, Hot Chili, Coconut, Himalayan Salted, Fig & Honey that makes for a great blind taste test party guessing game. And, it's not just about flavor. Each caramel has a unique design, so you can eat with your eyes as well taste buds! They're well made with hick chocolate at the bottom and thinner on the top. I love this Classic Holiday Treat!  $5.99. How can you go wrong?



Friday, December 15, 2023

SNOWMEN CUPCAKES: National Cupcake Day

Today is National Cupcake Day, and since Christmas is right around the corner, I thought I'd post this graphic for Snowmen Cupcakes. I have no idea where I found this, but I saved it. Love to give credit to whomever posted this cute cupcake collage!



Thursday, December 14, 2023

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL MONKEY BREAD: Happy Monkey Day!


Today is Monkey Day. I have a love/hate relationship with monkeys. I loved them as a child at the zoo and when they appeared in my books. I loved my sock money and all the sock monkeys I collected over the years. But then I met some 'bad monkeys' in India. They stole shoes and belongings at the temples...Bad Monkeys! 

But really I love Monkeys which leads me to this chocolate/monkey connection. I love Monkey Bread. Monkey Bread is a pull-apart bread that's great to share for breakfast or with coffee or tea. This recipe is adapted from Better Homes & Gardens, a great go-to source.

Monkey bread is also called Monkey Puzzle Bread, monkey brains, sticky bread, Hungarian coffee cake, golden dumpling coffee cake, pinch-me cake, pull-apart bread, pluck-it cake, bubble loaf, bubble bread, and funky bread

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL MONKEY BREAD

Ingredients 
1/2 cup sliced almonds or chopped pecans, toasted
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 - 16.3 ounces pkg. refrigerated biscuits (16 total)
32 chocolate-covered caramels (such as Rolo)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup caramel sauce
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease 10-inch nonstick fluted tube pan. Sprinkle 1/4 cup almonds in bottom of pan. Combine sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon.

With kitchen scissors, cut each biscuit into 2 pieces. Using your hands, flatten each piece into  3-inch round of dough. Place chocolate covered caramel in center of each round. Bring edge of dough up and around caramel to form a ball. Pinch edges of dough together to seal firmly.

Dip each ball into melted butter, then roll in sugar mixture. Layer coated balls in prepared pan. Drizzle with any remaining butter; sprinkle with any remaining sugar mixture.

Stir together caramel sauce and vanilla; drizzle over rolls. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup almonds.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean (If needed, cover bread with foil the last 15 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning.) Cool bread in pan for 5 minutes. Run small rubber spatula around edge of bread to loosen. Invert pan onto platter; remove pan. Spoon any remaining caramel sauce and nuts on bread. Cool slightly. Serve warm.


Wednesday, December 13, 2023

15 UNIQUE COCOA RECIPES for National Cocoa Day!

Today is National Cocoa Day. It's really cold, so it's a great day for a good cup of Cocoa. I always post on National Cocoa Day. Cocoa or Hot Chocolate, whatever you call it, it's great--all year round! Be sure and bookmark this page for the holidays.

Want to know the difference between Natural and Dutch Process Cocoa? Click HERE.

Following are variations on classic Cocoa/Hot Chocolate. Some recipes are for one, some for four, and some for a crowd. Some use cocoa powder, others use chocolate bars, some use both, but all are delicious. If you have a favorite cocoa recipe, comment below with a link! Be sure to skim back through the blog for many, many other Cocoa recipes.

Peppermint Hot Cocoa

Ingredients
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
1 Tbsp vanilla
3/4 cup granulated sugar
8 ounces 70-80% cacao chocolate, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp peppermint oil

Directions: Add milk, cream, vanilla, and sugar to pot and place over medium heat. When milk mixture is hot, add chopped chocolate and stir constantly. Continue stirring, adding remaining ingredients. When mixture is starting to simmer, take off heat and serve.

Eggnog Hot Cocoa
What would the holidays be without eggnog? Try this and let me know what you think!

Ingredients:
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp unsweetened Dark Cocoa powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Directions: In blender or processor,  combine egg, milk, water, cocoa, and nutmeg, blend until well mixed. Transfer mixture to top of  double boiler. Hear stirring occasionally, until mixture is steaming. Do not boil.

Argentinian Hot Cocoa

Ingredients:
4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp Madagascar or Mexican Vanilla
4 ounces good quality dark chocolate, broken into 1 ounce pieces

Directions: Heat milk, sugar, and vanilla in pan until almost boiled. Remove from heat and divide  into 4 mugs. Immediately, put piece of chocolate in each mug. It will melt and have a fabulous taste.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:
2 tsp good-quality ground DARK cocoa
1 tsp sugar, plus extra to taste
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground almonds. You can add more if you want a thicker texture.
1 cup milk

Directions: Mix all ingredients, except milk, together in empty, clean glass jar. Shake until completely combined. Heat  milk in a pan and add chocolate mix. Bring to boil and reduce  heat. Simmer for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly; use small whisk to froth milk. Serve hot.

Mexican Hot Chocolate II

Ingredients
5  ounces dark Mexican Chocolate
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup hot water
Pinch of salt
1 tsp instant coffee
2 cups whole milk
1 egg (optional)
1/4 tsp Mexican vanilla extract
1 dried red chile pepper, smashed
Ground cinnamon for sprinkling

Directions: In saucepan over medium-low heat, add Mexican chocolate, honey, hot water, salt, coffee, and chile pepper. Heat, stirring constantly, until mixture just begins to boil; reduce heat to low and let simmer, stirring constantly, for another minute. Carefully stir in milk and let sit over low heat until chocolate is too warm to touch. In bowl, beat egg until frothy. Add vanilla extract and beat in well. Pour hot chocolate mixture over the frothed egg and beat for about 15 seconds. (until you have about foam on top) Pour into mugs. Sprinkle mugs with ground cinnamon and shaved chocolate.

Honey Hot Cocoa  

The flavor of your cocoa will change with the variety of honey. Try lavender honey, sage, wildflower.

Ingredients
4 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
4 Tbsp honey
4 cups milk

Directions: Combine ingredients in medium-size sauce pan. Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally until hot.

Hot Cocoa with Brown Sugar

Ingredients:
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/3 cup water
4 cups hot milk
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
dash of salt

Preparation: In double boiler (or saucepan over a saucepan), melt chocolate and water together. Slowly mix in milk, sugar, and salt. Whisk until chocolate is smooth and blended.

Parisian Warm Chocolate
I'm not sure where I found this recipe, but it works! Anything French works! Lots of varieties on this. Experiment!

Ingredients:
1 cup whole milk
1/3 heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
6 oz chocolate- 65-75% cacao, chopped

Directions: Simmer milk, cream, and sugar together until just boiling. Stir in chocolate until melted. Don't let it boil. Serve warm in mugs.

Spicy White Hot Cocoa

Ingredients
4 cups milk
7 ounces good white chocolate (Guittard, Ghirardelli, Green & Black), chopped
1 egg, beaten
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions: Put white chocolate in medium metal bowl or saucepan over another saucepan of  simmering water, or in top part of double boiler. Melt chocolate, stirring occasionally until smooth. Stir in cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Whisk in egg until smooth. Gradually whisk in one cup of milk until completely incorporated (2-3 minutes). Gradually whisk in remaining milk, and heat until hot, but not simmering. Put in mugs and sprinkle with cinnamon or chocolate.

Peppermint White Chocolate Cocoa

Ingredients:
8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
3 1/2 cups whole milk
6 hard peppermint candies, crushed fine
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
2/3 cup whipping cream

Directions: Beat chilled cream with crushed mints until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate for about 1 hour. Heat milk to simmer, them mix in chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add mint extract and stir through. Pour into mugs and top with minty whipped cream.

Candy Cane Cocoa   
variation on recipe from Sean Paajanen at About.com

Ingredients:
4 cups whole milk
3 ounces 60-85% cacao chocolate, chopped
4 red and white striped peppermint candies crushed
4 small red and white striped candy canes
whipped cream

Directions: In sauce pan bring milk to simmer. Add chocolate and crushed candies. Whisk until smooth. Divide hot cocoa between mugs and garnish with whipped cream and serve with candy cane stirring stick.

Brandied Hot Cocoa

Ingredients 
4 cups milk
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp chili powder
5 Tbsp brandy
6 Tbsp whipped cream
4 tsp unsweetened DARK cocoa powder, sifted

Directions 
In saucepan, bring milk just to boil. Remove from heat.
Put chocolate in small saucepan and add 2 Tbsp hot milk. Stir over low heat until chocolate has melted, then stir chocolate mixture back into hot milk.
Add and stir in sugar. Stir in brandy and pour into four heatproof glasses.
Top each with whipped cream and sprinkle with sifted cocoa.

Kahlua Hot Cocoa

Ingredients
1/2 ounce semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup coffee
2 Tbsp cocoa
1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp Kahlua

Directions
Melt chocolate in saucepan over another saucepan over simmering water.
Once melted, add all other ingredients except Kahlua.
Raise heat to medium high, whisking constantly, until mixture is smooth and just starting to bubble (2-3 minutes).
Remove from heat, stir in Kahlua.
Pour into mug and serve.
Add marshmallows or whipped cream as you see fit.

English Toffee Cocoa

Ingredients
4 cups milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
8 ounces dark chocolate (70% cacao), chopped
1 tsp Madegascar vanilla extract
1/4 cup English toffee, crushed
Whipped cream
Unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions
Combine milk, water, and sugar in saucepan and sttir over medium heat until just boiling.
Remove from heat, and stir in chocolate and vanilla.
Beat with whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is frothy.
Pour hot chocolate into 2 big mugs.
Top with whipped cream and crushed English toffee. Sprinkle with cocoa powder.

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Dark Cocoa (I like Ghiradelli)
1/3 cup water
1 tsp Madagascar Vanilla
2 tsp Sea Salt
2 Tbsp Hazelnut Syrup (or Toffee Nut Syrup from Starbucks)
2 Tbsp Caramel Sauce, Caramel Drizzle
Whipped Cream (or Reddi Whip)

Directions
Mix Sugar, Cocoa, and 1 tsp Salt. Add water and boil for 1 minute. Add milk and heat until warm. Mix in Vanilla, Hazelnut Syrup and Caramel Sauce Pour into coffee cup and top with whipped cream, caramel drizzle, and sea salt  

And, here's a Cocoa Tip: How to Bake with Cocoa

About the photo: This Vintage Advertisement for Cadbury Cocoa is special to me. My sister, Judie Siddall, is the President of the Transferware Collectors Club and sells antique blue and white transferware (pottery), similar to what is pictured in this advertisement, although, her wares are much older. She can be found at Merlin Antiques. She also blogs at Dishy News.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

TUESDAY TIPS: Cookie Tips for the Holidays and Any Time!

It's Cookie Time! So many cookies to make; so many cookies to cook; so many cookies to eat! I've seen some wonderful new recipes and decorating techniques this holiday season. Be sure and do a few searches to expand your Cookie Repertoire! Scroll back over DyingforChocolate.com. I've posted over 400 cookie recipes over the years! You can never have too many cookie recipes!

Here are a few Cookie Making Tips. Love to hear any tips you have.
COOKIE TIPS 

1. For me the most important 'tip'is to make sure you Chill the Dough. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP, if your recipe calls for it. Put the dough in the refrigerator for a few hours or put it in the freezer for 10 minutes. While you're working, if the dough becomes soft, just pop it back in the freezer for a few minutes.  (Drop cookies may be an exception - and don't need chilling--check your recipe)

2. Use the Correct Ingredients. If you haven't made the recipe before, follow it exactly and measure the ingredients carefully. You can experiment on your next attempts.

3. Up for debate: Some say that you should always roll out your dough between sheets of Wax Paper, not Parchment, because wax paper peels easily off the top of the dough. If you do this, you can then cut out the cookies, and they'll peel right off the bottom sheet. And, yet, some people swear by parchment. Give them both a try and see what you think.

3. Add Salt and Leavening to Butter and Sugar Mixture. If you really want your salt and leavening well distributed throughout the dough, beat it in with the butter and sugar.

4. Butter is major to the spread of a cookie. (You can use other fats, but I don't. I love butter!). Generally speaking, more butter equals flat, crispy cookies while less butter equals higher, cake-like cookies. Speaking of butter: Whipped spreads are not good for baking. Use real butter. I mostly use unsalted butter, and I add salt as an ingredient so I can control the amount of salt. Also, French butters will have a higher fat content that may mess with your recipe, so I usually use U.S. butter for baking. 

5. Sugars: White sugar makes a crisper cookie than brown sugar or honey. Cookies made from brown sugar absorb moisture after baking, so they stay chewy. Most chocolate chip cookie recipes contain both brown and white sugars.  Not sure about which sugar is right for your cookie? Consult a cookbook or go on line. I have over 10 types of sugar in my pantry.

How to keep brown sugar soft? Put a marshmallow or a piece of white bread in the container. The white bread won’t get moldy nor will the marshmallow, and you’ll always have soft brown sugar. I like marshmallow better .. maybe it's just aesthetics.

6. Mixing: Proper mixing is important. Some recipes have a creaming step in which the fat and sugars are beaten together until light-colored and fluffy. Other cookies require a sandy texture, so the fat is cut into the flour. Over-mixing can incorporate too much air into the dough, resulting in flat, overly spread-out cookies. Follow the recipe instructions.

7. Temperature (also check out Tip #1): Unless specified, ingredients should be at room temperature before mixing

Softened butter means room temperature (do not put it in the microwave to achieve that temp-you probably won't). Yes, Virginia, take the butter out the night before. 

For cut cookies, chill the cookie dough before baking. The cookies will hold their shape better. For drop cookies, you can keep them at room temperature before baking; the spoonfuls of dough will spread and flatten out.

8. Eggs: Make sure you're using the right size and bring eggs to room temperature.

9. Salt. Don't skip the salt. It balances out the sugar and brings out the flavor. And, yes, you can bake with Kosher salt.

10. Chocolate: Use the best chocolate chips or chocolate baking discs. I also use chopped high-end chocolate. My favorite chocolate for baking: Guittard.

8. Equipment and Baking: Not surprising to anyone who bakes, different baking sheets and ovens produce different results. I use rimmed baking sheets (jellyroll pans) for cookies rather than thin flat sheet pans, although some people swear by flat unrimmed cookie sheets. Instead of greasing each baking sheet, I use parchment for easy cookie removal and clean-up. Some of my friends use a silipat liner, but I don't. It's your choice.

9. Use fresh ingredients. I always replace baking soda, flour, spices, flour and baking powder at the beginning of the cookie making holiday season. This goes for chocolate, too, of course! You're working hard on these cookies, and you want the very best ingredients.

10. Making a big batch of cookies? Be sure and cool the cookie sheet before baking another batch. Otherwise your dough might melt, and you'll have weird looking cookies.

11. Be sure and cool cookies on a wire rack. Don't skip this step or the bottoms might become soggy. And, definitely cool completely before storing them. However, my friend Patti swears by using brown paper grocery bags instead of wire racks. She says the cookies come out well, and the paper absorbs any greasiness.

Love to hear other tips! Please comment!

Illustration from Lyle the Crocodile.

Monday, December 11, 2023

CHOCOLATE & PEANUT BUTTER CHIP COOKIES: Reese's Peanut Butter Chips Retro Ad with Recipe

Here's a quick and easy Cookie addition to your holiday cookie line-up -- or any time! I love Vintage and Retro Food Ads with recipes, and this one is for Reese's Peanut Butter Chips. So many ways to use them. I especially love this recipe for "The Reese's Cookie: CHOCOLATE & PEANUT BUTTER CHIP COOKIES".





Saturday, December 9, 2023

CHOCOLATE CHANUKAH LATKES: THESE ARE NOT WHAT YOU THINK!


This week is the Jewish Holiday of Chanukah  (Hanukkah). This is a great food holiday! And, with 6 more days to go, you'll have plenty of time to make these Chocolate Chanukah Latkes. Hanukkah usually includes the traditional feast of Latkes (potato pancakes), served with applesauce and sour cream. These Chocolate Latkes are not what you think. When you read the recipe, you'll pretty quickly realize that you're really making cookies, but they do look a lot like latkes. Enjoy!

This recipe for "Chocolate Latkes" is from Chocolate Holidays by Alice Medrich. Alice Medrich is one of my chocolate heroes. You'll want to add this cookbook to your collection! 

CHOCOLATE CHANUKAH LATKES

Ingredients

4 large egg whites
3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
3 1/2 ounces dark (65-85% cacao) chocolate, finely chopped
6 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla
Dash 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Put some water in skillet and bring to low simmer.

Combine all ingredients in large heatproof mixing bowl, preferably stainless steel (ingredients heat up faster in stainless steel than in glass). Set bowl in skillet of barely simmering water and stir mixture, scraping bottom to prevent burning, until sticky and hot to touch.

Scoop rounded tablespoons of mixture about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Flatten each cookie slightly with fingers to resemble miniature potato pancakes.

Bake until cookies feel dry on surface and edges and protruding coconut shreds are dark golden brown (despite chocolate color) and interior still looks like melted chocolate, 13 to 15 minutes. Rotate sheets from front to bake and upper to lower about halfway through. Slide parchment paper onto cooling rack. Cool cookies completely before removing from parchment.

***
You'll love these. So much fun and delicious!!!

Friday, December 8, 2023

FLOURLESS BOURBON BROWNIES: National Brownie Day!

I don't know about you, but I can never have too many Brownie recipes. So to celebrate National Brownie Day (and any other day you want), here's an easy and tasty recipe from Maker's Mark for Flourless Bourbon Brownies!

FLOURLESS BOURBON BROWNIES

Ingredients
1¼ sticks unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
¼ cup Maker's Mark® Bourbon
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 large eggs
½ cup confectioners' sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 325°F. 
Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, line with parchment paper or foil, and butter the parchment.
In large saucepan, heat butter and bourbon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter melts. Stir in cocoa powder until smooth. Remove from heat and immediately add 1½ cups chocolate chips. Stir until smooth. Let cool slightly.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in confectioners' sugar until well-combined. Transfer to prepared pan and spread in even layer. Sprinkle remaining ½ cup chocolate chips on top.
Bake until top is glossy and toothpick inserted 1 inch from the edge comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
Lift from pan using the parchment paper. 
Cut into 12 bars.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Cartoon of the Day: Toy Story

 Happy Hanukkah!


Hanukkah Gelt Cookies! What to do with Chanukah Gelt!



The other day I posted a recipe for Home-made Chanukah Gelt. If you're celebrating Chanukah, you might have made that recipe--or plan to over the next week. Or, you will probably have a lot of Chanukah Gelt in the House. Either way, those  'Hanukkah Gelt' chocolate coins are great to use in this fun recipe for Hanukkah Gelt Cookies. (Note: Different spellings because the word is transliterated). And, since Hanukkah lasts for eight days, you'll have plenty of time to make these!

I was so pleased to fine this recipe that appeared in the Jerusalem Post last week. The other good thing about this recipe is that is gluten-free and vegan. However, check your chocolate coins for ingredients for the vegan element. 

Happy Hanukkah!

HANNUKAH GELT COOKIES

Ingredients
2½ cups almond flour (ground almonds)
½ cup of oil. 
A combo of coconut and olive oil
½ cup of natural sweetener of your choice  (maple and agave?)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
16 chocolate coins (parve or dairy) 

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F. 
Pour oil, vanilla, and sweeteners into a mixing bowl. Mix well with rubber spatula (best not to use an electric mixer). 
Add remaining ingredients (except coins), and mix well. 
Place bowl in refrigerator for about 10 minutes. 
Unwrap coils and prepare cookie sheet with baking paper. 
Roll dough into 1½ inch balls – do not flatten them!
Place on baking tray leaving 2 inches between them.  
Take chocolate coin and center on top of one of the cookies. Press down lightly till cookie ball flattens and you can see some of the batter around the coin. 
Repeat until all cookies have a coin on them. 
Bake for  8-9 minutes. 
Let cookies cool and set for 10 minutes before removing from tray.