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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Chocolate Tootsie Roll Pops Cocktail: National Lollipop Day

Today is National Lollipop Day. It should come as no surprise that my favorite lollipop when I was growing up was a Chocolate Tootsie Roll Pop. I loved licking the hard outside to get to the chewy center. And, at some point, I used to chomp on the lollipop to make that crunchy hard candy shell combine in my mouth with the chewy tootsie roll center.

The Tootsie Roll Pop official website says that the Tootsie Roll Pop was the first lollipop providing an embedded candy "prize." That's exactly what it was...a prize! I can still taste it. Of course I only wanted a chocolate tootsie roll pop because what goes better with chocolate than more chocolate. And, don't forget the sticks. They were always great to chew on even after all traces of 'chocolate' were gone.

History of the Tootsie Roll Pop: Tootsie Roll Pops were invented in 1930 by Brandon Perry, an employee of The Sweets Company of America or in another history, by an employee named Luke Weisgram who was experimenting with new products, or in another story an employee named Tom Medric. Doesn't matter! The Chocolate Tootsie Roll Pop was made from putting company's famous Tootsie Rolls into hard candy, and it quickly became one of the best selling lollipops in the world. 

For people with more time on their hands than they should have: A student study at the University of Cambridge concluded that it takes 3481 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. Another study by Purdue University concluded that it takes an average of 364 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop using a "licking machine", while it takes an average of 252 licks when tried by 20 volunteers. Yet another study by the University of Michigan concluded that it takes 411 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. A study by junior high students at Swarthmore School concluded that it takes 144 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. As I mentioned before, I chomp near the end, so I would certainly skew the statistics.

For those who love a mystery, read the history of Leo Hirschfeld: Tootsie Roll Tragedy - and the murky Tootsie Roll history HERE.

And, for those of you who prefer their Tootsie Pops in a Glass, here's a cocktail recipe to celebrate the day.


Tootsie Pop Cocktail Recipe 
You'll be amazed at how much this tastes like a tootsie roll!

1 part Kahlua
1 part Root beer
2 drops chocolate syrup

In a highball glass, add Kahlua, then root beer. Stir. Then let chocolate syrup drop. Add tootsie pop (unwrapped) to garnish.

Friday, July 19, 2024

3 Chocolate Daiquiri Recipes: National Daiquiri Day

Today is National Daiquiri Day, and how better to celebrate than with Chocolate Daquiris! And, instead of one recipe...here are three recipes with different fruits and flavors. Perfect for the summer.

FYI: A traditional Daiquiri is a cocktail that usually combines rum, citrus (usually lime), and sugar or another sweetener.

Chocolate Daiquiri 

4 parts Light Rum
2 Parts Dark Cacao Liqueur
2 parts lime juice
1 part simple syrup

Fill shaker with ice cubes. Add all ingredients. Shake and strain into chilled daiquiri glass.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Daiquiri

3 ounces chocolate vodka
1 cup fresh strawberries

Combine ingredients in blender. Blend well. Pour into chilled daiquiri glass. Garnish with chocolate covered strawberry!

Chocolate Banana Daiquiri

2 cups ice
1 banana, chopped in pieces
2 ounces golden (or white) rum
2 ounces creme de banane (this should be on your bar shelf!)
juice of 2 limes
2 Tbsp chocolate syrup

Blend ice and banana and blend on high speed. Then add all other ingredients to blender. Pulse until everything evens out and then blend on high until smooth. Serve in daiquiri or high ball glasses.
OMG.. this is fabulous!!




Thursday, July 18, 2024

CHOCOLATE PICNIC CAKE: Retro Ad with Recipe

Summertime and the living is easy! Time for a Picnic. Here's a Retro Ad with Recipe for Chocolate Picnic Cake. I love the directions, especially concerns for baking in warm weather (not a lot of air-conditioned houses at the time this appeared). This is a great basic cake recipe for a picnic or any time!



Wednesday, July 17, 2024

PEACH ICE CREAM BROWNIE MUD PIE: Peach Ice Cream Day

Today is Peach Ice Cream Day. To celebrate the day, you can pour chocolate sauce over peach ice cream topped with fresh peaches. But to take it up a notch, make this great recipe from Land O Lakes. Don't forget that there are some wonderful recipes on food sites. I love this one!

PEACH ICE CREAM BROWNIE MUD PIE

Ingredients 

Brownie 

1/2 cup sugar 
1/4 cup Land O Lakes® Butter, softened 
1 (1-ounce) square unsweetened baking chocolate, melted 
1 large egg 
1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
1/4 teaspoon baking powder 

Filling
 
1 cup thick chocolate fudge sauce
1 quart peach ice cream, slightly softened 

Garnish 

Thick chocolate fudge sauce
Peach slices, if desired

DIRECTIONS

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

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

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

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

Cut into wedges while frozen. Drizzle each serving with fudge sauce and garnish with sliced fresh peaches.

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

CHOCOLATE CHERRY CRUMBLE: National Cherry Day!


Today is National Cherry Day! Fresh cherries
are in the markets and all the roadside stands, so I thought I'd make a Crumble. Here's an easy Chocolate Cherry Crumble recipe. Of course, there are so many different "crumble" toppings you can use. This dessert is very forgiving, so feel free to play with the ingredients.

Chocolate Cherry Crumble

Ingredients

Topping
1 cup walnut halves, chopped  (you can substitute almonds)
7 Tbsp unsalted, cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour

Fruit
About 25 or so fresh cherries, pitted and sliced in half
2 Tbsp local honey
Zest of 1 orange
1 -1 /2 to 2 oz. 65%-75% dark chocolate (bittersweet chocolate), broken into chunks

Directions

Preheat oven to 350
Mix cherries, honey, chocolate, and orange zest in mixing bowl.
Distribute cherry/chocolate mixture on the bottom of 8 inch pie pan (lightly buttered)

Make Topping: Combine 1 cup flour and sugar. Add the pieces of butter and chopped nuts. With your hands, mash up butter and combine into a loose dough. Break into small pieces and sprinkle mixture evenly over the top of cherry/chocolate mixture. You don't have to use all of the topping.

Bake 20-25 minutes. Crumble should be golden brown, but not burnt. Serve warm.

Alternative Crumble Topping (delicious)
1 cup flour
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar
8 ounces unsalted butter
1 Tbs cinnamon
Combine  flour, sugar, butter, and cinnamon until blended and beginning to gather into small balls. Break into small pieces and sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the cherry/chocolate mixture.

Monday, July 15, 2024

BEYOND BOBA: TAPIOCA USES & VINTAGE TAPIOCA ADS

Today is National Pudding Tapioca Day. I posted a recipe for Kicked Up Chocolate Tapioca Pudding on Tapioca Day, so I thought I'd write a little more about Tapioca. 

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

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

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

Varieties 

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

Tapioca Uses 

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

How to Cook With Tapioca 

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

What Does It Taste Like?

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

***

TAPIOCA has been around for a long time. Here are some great Retro/Vintage Advertisements for Tapioca. Some even have recipes! Let me know if you try any!


 














Sunday, July 14, 2024

GRAND MARNIER TRUFFLES: Grand Mariner Day & Bastille Day!

Today is Bastille Day, but it's also Grand Marnier Day, so here's an easy recipe for Grand Marnier Truffles to celebrate both holidays! Ooh la la!

Grand Marnier, an orange flavored brandy, has been an icon of authentic French "joie de vivre" for over 150 years. Still owned by the Marnier Lapostolle Family, this acclaimed liqueur has a luxurious taste and still uses the same secret recipe. Grand Marnier is a blend of Cognac, distilled essence of bitter orange, and sugar.

One of the most important ingredients in Grand Marnier is Citrus Bigaradia Oranges. This variety of tropical orange stands apart from the sweet oranges we usually eat as it is bitter and has an intense aroma. Though the Citrus bigaradia is not a particularly rare orange, the way in which the oranges are harvested and then distilled to obtain the orange essence that goes into Grand Marnier® liqueur is very specific. The oranges are handpicked while they are still green -- when they are at their most aromatic. In order to preserve optimal concentration of the aroma of the peels, they are left to dry naturally under the Caribbean sun for several weeks on the Marnier Lapostolle family plantation. Their slow distillation extracts an orange essence that is particularly aromatic.

GRAND MARNIER TRUFFLES

Ingredients
2/3 cup heavy cream
1tsp fresh orange zest
12 ounces dark chocolate (65-75% cacao), chopped
1 Tbsp plus 1-1/2 tsp Grand Marnier
1/3 cup DARK cocoa

Directions
In saucepan over medium heat, bring the heavy cream and orange zest just to a boil.
Remove from heat.
Add chopped chocolate and Grand Marnier and stir until smooth.
Chill chocolate mixture (ganache) until hard enough to roll into balls.
Using two spoons or melon baller, extricate chocolate and roll into ball.
Roll ball in cocoa powder and chill.

This recipe can be doubled.

Experiment with different chocolate -- brands and amounts of cacao -- for different flavors.

Saturday, July 13, 2024

CHOCOLATE MOJITO: National Mojito Day

I missed National Mojito Day on July 11, but it's never too late to celebrate. 

This first recipe is from Divine Chocolate. It was created for Divine by the mixologist at the Virgin Clubhouse, Heathrow, London. 

1. Chocolate Mojito

Ingredients 
3/4 lime diced
2 Tbsp brown sugar
8 mint leaves, 1 mint leaf for garnish
1 Tbsp melted Divine Dark Chocolate
100 ml Dark Rum
10ml Creme de Cacao

Directions 
Pour creme de cacao in tall drinking glass
Mix lime, mint, and sugar, and mix into creme de cacao
Add melted Dark Chocolate
Fill glass with crushed ice
Pour dark rum over ice and mix with long spoon.
Taste and add more sugar or ice if needed.
Garnish with a sprig of mint

And if one recipe is good, two is even better. I can't remember where I found this recipe, but it does work!

2. Chocolate Mojito

Ingredients
2 Sugar Cubes
1 Tbsp Chocolate Extract
1 ounce Rum
1 Lime
4 ounces Club Soda
Fresh Chocolate Mint Leaves
1/2 - 1 cup Crushed Ice
Coarse Sugar
Chocolate Shavings

Directions
Wet lid of glass and garnish with coarse sugar. Add sugar cubes and chocolate extract to glass and crush the sugar cubes. Take a sprig of chocolate mint leaves and flatten out to release flavor. Pick off the leaves and add to glass. Cut lime into 4 wedges, squeeze juice of 2 of wedges into glass and then drop them in. Add rum. Add Ice until just below the rim of the glass. Use spoon to mix up what's in glass. Top off with club soda. Add lime wedge and straw to glass. Shave some chocolate onto drink for garnish. Put another sprig of chocolate mint next to straw so you'll smell the mint when you drink.

Chocolate Peanut Cream Cake: "Here's a Pal to Summer Desserts"

You know I just love these Baker's Chocolate Ads & Recipes. This Baker's Chocolate Peanut Cream Cake from July 10, 1939 was specifically marketed as a Summer Cake.

I love the beginning. "Here's a Pal to Summer Desserts! Was it you we heard wishing for a summer cake recipe? We know you'll like this one." The ad goes on to say "It's simply grand to take on picnics--because it keeps so nice and moist. So maybe I'll mix up this cake today."

Wish I could order the "Free Party Book of chocolate foods for every occasion" offered at the end of the  advertisement.  In any case, you can still make and enjoy this great Summertime Peanut Cream Cake. 





Friday, July 12, 2024

Elsie at the County Fair: Magic Chocolate Ice Cream

Are you planning to brave the heat and go to the County Fair this weekend? Well, Borden's Elsie the Cow went to the County Fair in August 1941 and won the contest for best Home-made Chocolate Ice Cream. Here's the Retro 'Story' Advertisement. "Elsie's Magic Chocolate Ice Cream wins at the County Fair"... judged the Smoothest and Creamiest Home-made Ice Cream the Jury Ever Tasted." Who doesn't love no-churn ice cream? And, you can make it today!



Thursday, July 11, 2024

CHOCOLATE BLUEBERRY MUFFIN RECIPES: Blueberry Muffin Day!

Today is Blueberry Muffin Day, and this month is Blueberry Month, so celebrate! I'm a major blueberry person from way back, even before I knew they were healthy with antioxidants and flavonoids and vitamins

I grew up back East, and when we went to the 'country,' my Aunt Annie used to take all the children blueberry gathering in the woods. It was great fun. We would all come back with blue-stained hands and mouths. Those blueberries were small, juicy, and sweet just as wild blueberries should be. I still crave blueberries. Local blueberries are at the farmers' market right now, and for frozen blueberries the wild blueberries from Maine at Trader Joe's are very tasty.

For National Blueberry Muffin Day, use fresh blueberries in these muffin recipes. I am partial to plain muffins with blueberries and chocolate chips, so the first recipe is the one I use. But since this is a chocolate blog, I'm also posting a recipe for chocolate blueberry muffins, too.

I like my muffins firm with a crusty top and soft inside -- and not too sweet. In the first recipe I use a 1/2 cup of sugar, but if you want them a little sweeter use 3/4 cup. Don't want your blueberries to sink to the bottom? Dust them with flour before putting them in the batter.

1. Blueberry Chocolate Chip Muffins


Ingredients
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup white sugar
pinch of salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1/3 cup whole milk
fresh blueberries (maybe a cup?)
chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 400. Grease your muffin tin or use liners.
Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Make a well in the center.
Put oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg (already whipped), and enough milk to fill cup to brim. Pour into the well and mix with flour mixture. Do not overmix.
Stir in blueberries and as many of the chocolate chips as you'd like. I like a lot, but you want to also be able to taste the blueberries--and the muffin, itself.
Fill muffin cups right to top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes in preheated oven-- or until done.
***

The one above is my favorite, but for those who want a chocolate muffin with blueberries, here's a recipe from Yankee Magazine.

2. Chocolate Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 ounces unsweetened or very dark chocolate
1 cup sugar (I'd probably use less)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In medium saucepan, melt butter and unsweetened chocolate over medium heat until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Stir in sugar, egg, buttermilk, and vanilla. In small bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Gently combine with liquid ingredients. Fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into well-greased muffin cups, filling to top. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer muffins to wire rack to cool. Drizzle cooled muffins with semisweet chocolate.

Have a great Blueberry Muffin Day--add Chocolate!

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

FAMILY STYLE BAKED ALASKA: Retro Dessert for the Hot Days of Summer

This Retro dessert is perfect for the hot days of summer. You can always update the recipe by making your own chocolate cake and your own ice cream, but take a look at this Retro Ad & Recipe from Betty Crocker for Family Style Baked Alaska.



Tuesday, July 9, 2024

THREE RECIPES FOR CHOCOLATE SUGAR COOKIES: National Sugar Cookie Day!


There's nothing quite like a Sugar Cookie. Add Chocolate, and it's that's much better! Of course, one can never have too many recipes for this perfect cookie. So today for National Sugar Cookie Day, here are three recipes for Chocolate Sugar Cookies. Be sure and try them all!

1. CHOCOLATE SUGAR COOKIES

Ingredients
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp flour
3/4 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
14 Tbsp unsalted butter
1-3/4 cups dark brown sugar (packed)
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In shallow bowl, put granulated sugar on plate. Set aside.
In bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder.
In large bowl, melt 10 Tbsp butter in microwave. Do not overheat; microwave butter until just melted. Stir in remaining 4 Tbsp butter until melted. Allow butter to cool for 10-15 minutes.
Whisk brown sugar, vanilla and salt into melted butter until smooth. Whisk in egg and egg yolk until smooth. Stir in flour mixture until just combined.
Roll dough into balls -- 2 Tbsp for each cookie. Roll balls in white sugar and place on lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets.
Flatten cookies to 1/4-inch thick.
Sprinkle cookies with more white sugar.
Bake 12-14 minutes. Don't overbake.
Transfer to wire rack to cool.

2. CHOCOLATE SUGAR COOKIES

Ingredients
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
5 ounces unsweetened or very dark Chocolate, chopped
1 cup unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions
Mix flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Melt chocolate and butter together in a stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or in a double boiler).
Add 1 cup sugar, egg, and vanilla; mix well.
Stir in flour mixture until well blended.
Refrigerate 15 minutes or until dough is easy to handle.
Heat oven to 375°F.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in remaining sugar.
Place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 min. or until centers are set.
Cool on baking sheets 1 minute.
Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

This third cookie recipe is for Chocolate Caramel Sugar Cookies! This easy recipe is adapted from Kraft. Use Kraft products such as their caramels and Planters Pecans-- or use your favorite caramels and nuts.

3. CHOCOLATE CARAMEL SUGAR COOKIES

Ingredients
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
4 ounces very dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cups sugar, divided
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped Planter Pecans
14 ounces KRAFT caramels
2 Tbsp milk

Directions
Mix flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on High for 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Add 1 cup sugar, egg, and vanilla; mix well. Stir in flour mixture until well blended.
Refrigerate 15 minutes or until dough is easy to handle.
Heat oven to 375°F.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in 1/2 cup chopped Pecans.
Place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets. Make indentation in each ball.
Bake 8 to 10 min. or until centers are set.
Microwave 1 package Kraft Caramels with 2 Tbsp milk in microwaveable bowl on High for 3 minutes or until caramels are melted..stirring after 2 minutes.
Spoon into centers of cookies.
(Drizzle with extra melted chocolate, if you feel inclined)
Cool on baking sheets 1 minute.
Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Monday, July 8, 2024

CHOCOLATE COVERED BLUEBERRIES: National Blueberry Day!

Today is National Blueberry Day, and July is National Blueberry Month! Chocolate goes so well with blueberries--wild, cultivated--even frozen! I've posted different blueberry recipes over the years, but thought the easiest to start a series of blueberry recipes would be Chocolate Covered Blueberries. I make them pretty much the same way I make chocolate covered raisins--in clumps, but you can also dip fat blueberries individually into dark chocolate.. sort of like having blueberry candy.

FYI: Until 1911, blueberries were picked from the wild, or bushes were dug from the wild that might or might not survive when planted elsewhere. But true domestication—reproduction at the will of a grower and breeding to improve desirable traits—was beyond reach. This makes blueberries among the most recently domesticated crops and one of the few that originated in North America, although they are now grown all over the world.

U.S. Department of Agriculture botanist Frederick Coville set the stage for commercial production by solving the mystery of why blueberries could not be cultivated well when he showed, in 1910, that the plants must be grown in moist, very acidic soil. Soon after, he made the first successful crosses designed to improve important traits, such as berry size and flavor. The blueberry was tamed. Coville's records which are at the National Agricultural Library provide a fascinating look at the USDA research effort that took blueberries from a crop picked from the wild and sold for 14 cents a quart in 1912 to a commercially grown crop worth more than $530 million today.

Dark chocolate and blueberries are great anti-oxidants, and coconut oil is great to fight inflammation, so think of this recipe as very healthy! I do.

CHOCOLATE COVERED BLUEBERRIES

Ingredients
Pint of fresh Blueberries
2 cups dark chocolate, chopped
1 tsp coconut oil

Directions
Wash blueberries and dry well (at least an hour before you dip them in chocolate or the chocolate will seize). Pat them dry.
Line a baking sheet with wax paper.
Combine Chocolate and Coconut Oil in the top of a double boiler -- or a saucepan or stainless steel bowl over another saucepan of simmering water. Stir until just smooth. Remove from heat.
Dip berries (about 3-6 at a time-to make clumps) into chocolate to coat  (you can also use a special tool for dipping.. or two forks or two slotted spoons). Take berries out of chocolate with a spoon and put on baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the blueberries. You can always add a bit more coconut oil to the chocolate if it starts to thicken up.
Put baking sheet in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes to set.
Eat!


Sunday, July 7, 2024

WORLD CHOCOLATE DAY: Guittard Best Brownies Ever!

Today
is World Chocolate Day! What a great day to celebrate. There is great chocolate made all over the world, but my favorite baking chocolate is Guittard, a company close to home.

The Guittard Chocolate Company, a San Francisco company now based in Burlingame, CA, has been in business for over 150 years, so it's not surprising that they have developed some fabulous chocolate. They've been crafting chocolate for five generations, using a combination of time-tested craft, innovative techniques, long-standing relationships, and a complete obsession with making a premium chocolate that delivers a spectrum of flavors for a variety of applications.

I often use their cocoa, bars, chips, and wafers in my baked goods. I really love their Collection Etienne Chocolate. Their 100 percent cacao bars are amazing, but they also make 64 and 70% bars--all fair trade-certified, non-GMO, kosher, and whatever else you want from your chocolate. Their baking chocolate is also available as wafers. Did I say I love this company? Did I say it enough? Here are two recipes from Guittard for their incredible Collection Etienne Brownies. You will marvel at the intense chocolate flavor in both. The first recipe is my favorite, since it's fudgy. The second recipe is more cake-like, but equally fabulous-just different. Let me know which you prefer.

Incredible Collection Etienne Best Brownies Ever!

Ingredients
6 ounces Guittard Collection Etienne unsweetened chocolate (100-percent cacao), broken into pieces
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9-by-9-inch pan with foil, covering bottom and extending up sides.
In double boiler set over hot, not boiling water, melt chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Set aside.
Using electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt at high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until light and creamy. Blend in melted chocolate at low speed, stopping to scrape sides as needed. Add flour just until incorporated.
Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until top is puffed and cracked, and toothpick inserted in center test moist. Brownies will set as they cool. Cool before cutting.

Best Cake-Like Collection Etienne Brownies

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups (8 oz) Collection Etienne 74% Cacoa Organic Bittersweet Chocolate Wafers
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups evaporated cane sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temp
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour.

Directions
Preheat oven to 350. Line 8-inch square pan with foil
Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler until smooth and melted.
Transfer to large bowl of electric mixer. Mix in sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, blending until smooth and glossy, stopping to scrape sides as needed. Add flour until just incorporated.
Spread into prepared pan. Bake 25-30 minutes or until puffed around edges and cater tests most. Do not overtake. Cool before cutting.



Saturday, July 6, 2024

BEAT THE HEAT! FRESH UP WITH 7-UP (Chocolate Cake!)

We're on our 6th day of a Heat Wave aka Heat Dome here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Triple digits in my location. 

Here's an advertisement from July 5, 1948! "Beat the Heat! "fresh up" with Seven-Up! Family days at the Beach. Mom packs the picnic basket" Dad drives; and the kids fill the cooler with 7-Up. Seems like a lot of 7-Up from the photo. But they all look like they're having fun at the Beach -- with 7-Up.

Another way of enjoying 7-Up, a very Retro carbonated beverage, is to use it as the leavening agent in a chocolate bundt cake. I've posted 7-Up Chocolate Cake recipes, but this is an easy 'from scratch" recipe. As I mentioned, the 7-Up is the leavening agent. Enjoy! 

I'm headed to the Beach. This cake travels well! Try to beat the heat this holiday weekend! 


7-Up Chocolate Cake

Ingredients
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp pure vanilla
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup DARK cocoa
1 cup 7-Up
1 cup dark chocolate chips  (or a cup of dark chocolate broken into chunks)
 
Directions
Cream butter.
Add sugar and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, beating well after each one.
Stir in salt, flour and cocoa. Blend thoroughly.
Add 7-UP.
Fold in chocolate chips or chunks.
Bake in greased and floured Bundt pan for 60 minutes (or until tester comes clean).
Cool on wire rack. 

Optional: Glaze when cooled with dark chocolate Dobash Frosting. 

Dobash Frosting
1 1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup Ghirardelli cocoa
pinch of salt

Combine all in saucepan and bring to a boil.
Add 1/2 cup water to make a paste. Stir into cocoa mixture with whisk over heat until it thickens. Pour while hot over cake and spread.

Friday, July 5, 2024

CHOCOLATE GRAHAM CRACKERS: National Graham Cracker Day!

Today is National Graham Cracker Day, and since it's only one day past the Fourth, here's a great WWII Ad with Uncle Sam that features all the 'recommended' National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) crackers, cookies, and biscuits.

I've made chocolate graham cracker crusts for pies, and I've used graham crackers in most of my S'mores recipes, so this recipe for Chocolate Graham Crackers is perfect. These are easy to make and delicious. I've seen lots of recipes, but this one from King Arthur Flour is one of the best.

CHOCOLATE GRAHAM CRACKERS

Ingredients
1/2 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour, Traditional or White Whole Wheat
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar or glazing sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons cold milk

Directions
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Have two baking sheets and parchment paper to line them at the ready.
In medium-sized bowl, whisk together flours, salt, cocoa, sugar, and baking powder. With pastry blender, two knives, or your fingertips, cut the butter into flour mixture until evenly crumbly.
In separate bowl, combine honey and milk, stirring until honey dissolves. Add liquid to dry ingredients and toss lightly with fork until dough comes together. Add additional milk, if necessary.
Turn dough out onto well-floured surface and fold over gently 10 to 12 times, until smooth.
Divide dough in half.
Work half the dough at a time, keeping remaining dough covered. Transfer one piece of dough to  piece of parchment. Roll into a rectangle a bit larger than 10" x 14"; dough will be about 1/16" thick. Trim edges and prick dough evenly with a dough docker or fork.
Repeat with  remaining dough and parchment. Place rolled-out dough pieces, on their parchment, onto baking sheets. Bake crackers for 15 minutes, or until you begin to smell chocolate. Remove them from the oven, and immediately cut them into rectangles with pizza wheel knife.
Transfer to rack to cool.
Store cooled crackers tightly wrapped for up to a week, or freeze for up to one month.

Thursday, July 4, 2024

PATRIOTIC PEEPS S'MORES

Photo: PEEPS®
I love S'MORES, and these seasonal  PEEPS® Patriotic Vanilla Creme Marshallow Chicks are so cute! This photo and recipe are from my friends at PEEPS®.  Here's something fun for everyone at the Fourth of July barbecue or campfire: PEEPS Patriotic S'mores!

PATRIOTIC PEEPS SMORES!

Ingredients
PEEPS Patriotic Vanilla Creme Marshmallow Chicks
Graham crackers
Chocolate bars
Sprinkles (Red, White and Blue)

Directions
Break graham crackers in half, so you have two squares.
Melt PEEP over fire or low heat.
Layer melted PEEP over square of chocolate, with graham cracker square on bottom
Top S’more with second graham cracker square and drizzle melted chocolate on top
Add patriotic sprinkles, and top off with PEEPS Patriotic Vanilla Creme Marshmallow Chick

Happy Fourth of July!

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

CHOCOLATE COCA COLA CAKE for a Retro Fourth of July!

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, and what better way to celebrate than with a Retro All American Chocolate Coca Cola Cake. Get out your 'Pyrex' dish and bake this Cake for the holiday! I've also included a recipe for Chocolate Coca-Cola Icing. It's a two-fer!

CHOCOLATE COCA-COLA CAKE

Ingredients
2 cups unsifted cake flour
2 cups sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 Tbsp cocoa
1 cup Coca-Cola
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Directions
Sift together flour and sugar. Heat to boiling point the butter, cocoa, and Coca-Cola. Add to flour and sugar mixture. Stir to blend. Add buttermilk, soda, eggs, salt, and vanilla. Stir with spoon until well blended. Pour into greased and floured oblong pan (Pyrex dish). Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Batter will be thin. Ice while hot.

COCA-COLA ICING

1/2 cup butter
6 Tbsp Coca-Cola
1 box confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp cocoa

Heat to boiling point -- butter, cocoa and Cola-Cola. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla; stir to blend. Using a fork, make holes in hot cake and pour hot icing over it.

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

RED WHITE & BLUE STAR BROWNIES


I love this recipe from Betty Crocker for Red, White, & Blue Star Brownies! It's easy and perfect for Fourth of July. You can always substitute your own brownie recipe or another brand of brownie mix, but here's the original easy recipe.

If you don't have Betty Crocker Decorating Decor stars or icing (or you think it would be too sweet), use Red, White, & Blue Holiday M&Ms. Just press them gently into the batter before baking.

Red White & Blue Star Brownies

Ingredients 
1 box (1 lb 2.4 oz) Betty Crocker™ Original Supreme Premium brownie mix
Water, vegetable oil, and egg called for on brownie mix box
1/2 cup Betty Crocker™ Whipped fluffy white frosting (from 12-oz container)
Betty Crocker™ Decorating Decors stars

Directions 
Heat oven to 350°F. Line 9-inch square pan with foil so foil extends about 2 inches over sides of pan. Spray foil with cooking spray.
Make and bake brownies as directed on box. Cool completely, about 1-1/2 hours.
Remove brownies from pan by lifting foil; peel foil from sides of brownies.
Using 2 1/2-inch star-shaped cookie cutter, cut brownies.
Squeeze frosting on star-shaped brownies.
Sprinkle with decors stars.


EASY STRAWBERRY PIE FOR FOURTH OF JULY!

For me, Fourth of July is all about Strawberries and Whipped Cream. Here's an Easy Fourth of July Strawberry Pie, but of course I want chocolate with that, so I'm making a Chocolate Cookie Crust. Sprinkle blueberries to the whipped cream topping, and you'll have stars!

EASY FOURTH OF JULY STRAWBERRY PIE

Chocolate Cookie Crust

25-30 chocolate cookie wafers, 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled. Heat oven to 350°F.  Whirl cookies in food processor until crumbs are fine. Put in medium bowl, add melted butter, and mix until combined. Press crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate evenly and firmly on bottom and up sides. Bake at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool (on wire rack) before filling.

Filling & Topping

Mash 2 cups of strawberries (chunky not macerated) (put aside a cup of sliced strawberries). Place strawberries in small saucepan. Add sugar (to taste-depends on strawberries-about 1/4cup?), 1/4 cup corn starch, dash of salt, 1 tsp vanilla or 1 Tbsp  lemon juice (or both). Bring to simmer until thickened. Cool completely. Add rest of strawberries (cut up or sliced) and put in baked cooled Chocolate Cookie Crust. Put in fridge for 2 hours to set. Top with whipped cream, big whole strawberries, and blueberries!

Happy Independence Day!

Monday, July 1, 2024

FROZEN S'MORES BARS FOR A HOT SUMMER DAY!

What a brutal hot summer this has been, and it's only July 1. I'm usually posting a lot of S'mores recipes to make around the campfire, but because of the extreme heat, I think S'mores can no longer be relegated to summer campfires. Instead, make this Frozen treat at home! 

This is a variation on traditional S'mores, and it's so easy: FROZEN S'MORES BARS. You can glam these up by making your own graham crackers and using fabulous chocolate and making your own Marshmallow Fluff (recipe below). But, if you're in a hurry and just want a yummy treat, use store bought grahams, Marshmallow Fluff, and dark chocolate.

How to make these: 
Basically you're freezing marshmallow cream between two graham crackers, dipping the 'sandwiches' in melted dark chocolate and then freezing! How easy is that?

Want to be more precise?

FROZEN S'MORES BARS

Put graham crackers bottom side up on parchment lined cookie sheet. Pipe (use a ziplock with a corner cut out or piping bag) marshmallow cream onto graham crackers and top with graham crackers. Put in freezer to harden (30 minutes).
Melt chocolate in double boiler or microwave. Let cool a bit (can't be too hot or will start to melt the cream).
Keep cookies in freezer until ready to use. Take a few out and dip halfway in chocolate. Put back in freezer. Continue to dip. Freeze until hard.

Want to make your own Marshmallow Fluff?

Ingredients
3 egg whites, room temp
2 cups lite corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 Tbsp Madagascar vanilla

Directions
In bowl of stand mixer with whisk attachment, add egg whites, corn syrup, and salt.
On high speed whisk for 5 minutes, until thick and doubled.
On low speed, add powdered sugar. Mix until blended. Add vanilla and blend.

Want to make Chocolate Graham Crackers for triple the chocolate?

CHOCOLATE SANDWICH COOKIES with RED, WHITE, & BLUE SPRINKLES: Fourth of July!

I always say you find recipes in the most unusual places. The Old Farmer's Almanac, founded in 1792, is one of those sites. The Farmer's Almanac is no longer just about when to plant and harvest your crops. The site is filled with weather, astronomy, gardening, advice, food tips, and recipes. Here's one of my favorites for the Fourth of July. As always use the very best cocoa and butter for the best flavor.

CHOCOLATE SANDWICH COOKIES WITH RED, WHITE, & BLUE SPRINKLES

COOKIES 

Ingredients 
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions
In bowl of stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg. Turn off machine and add flour, cocoa, and salt. Beat at low speed until the dough comes together. Turn out onto work surface and knead 2 or 3 times. Flatten into 2 disks, wrap in plastic, and chill at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350F°. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out first portion of dough to a ⅛-inch thickness. Use 2-inch round biscuit cutter or cookie cutter to cut dough into circles, gathering and re-rolling as needed; then transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake until firm, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove cookies from oven and place on cooling rack.

FILLING

Ingredients 
2-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 3 tablespoons water
red, white, and blue sprinkles

Directions
In bowl of stand mixer, combine sugar, shortening, salt, and vanilla. Beat on low speed, then increase to medium. Add water, tablespoon at time, and beat until desired consistency is reached. Frost bottom of one cookie and top with another cookie. Repeat. Roll cookies in sprinkles.

Sunday, June 30, 2024

DAGWOOD'S CHOCOLATE SANDWICH: National Sandwich Day

What is more fitting for National Dagwood Sandwich Day than Dagwood's Chocolate Sandwich? I believe that Dagwood would probably have added lots of other ingredients such as bananas and peanut butter, and that would be great, but how can you go wrong with chocolate, butter, and bread?

I've posted several Chocolate Sandwiches over the years,  so today I turn to my "Tie-In" Cookbook collection and specifically Blondie's Cook Book for today's recipe. Dagwood is the iconic King of Sandwiches. My Dad used to make Dagwood Sandwiches... they were sandwiches that contained every thing but the 'kitchen sink'. FYI: My father never added chocolate.

Dagwood Bumstead, in case you don't know, is one of the main characters in comic artist Chic Young's long-running comic strip Blondie. He first appeared in the U.S. sometime prior to February 1933.

What's Cooking America defines the Dagwood Sandwich as a multi-layered sandwich with a variety of fillings. The term is used to denote a sandwich put together so as to attain such a tremendous size and infinite variety of contents as to stun the imagination, sight, and stomach of all but the original maker. Dagwood sandwiches is a term so well-known that it's in the Webster's New World Dictionary.

According to the creator of the comic strip, Murat Bernard “Chic” Young (1901-1973), the only thing that Dagwood could prepare in the kitchen was a mountainous pile of dissimilar leftovers precariously arranged between two slices of bread. Dagwood became known for his huge sandwiches he created on evening forays to the refrigerator. The comic strip is produced today under the direction of the creator's son, Dean Young, and the strip has continued to keep up with the times.

Blondie's Cook Book: Chic Young's Classic Cook Book with New Comic Art Selections by His Son Dean Young (Gramercy Books, New York 1947, 1996)

This Comic says it all:


CHOCOLATE SANDWICHES RECIPE: Not sure how many sandwiches (or layers) this is supposed to make, but that's a lot of sugar, even if the chocolate is probably sugarless. I've never followed this recipe, so I'm thinking the amount of sugar might be a mistake.



Saturday, June 29, 2024

CHOCOLATE CHIP BUTTERMILK WAFFLES: National Waffle Iron Day!

Today is National Waffle Iron Day. If you follow my food holidays posts, you'll know that there are actually three Waffle Days. 

I have several older waffle irons gleaned from my mother, my mother-in-law, and ones from the Flea Market. My waffle irons (makers) don't come out as often as they should, but when they do,  I always wonder why I don't make waffles more often. Maybe time for a new one? The new waffle makers are so easy to clean.

For today's Waffle Iron Holiday, I'm making Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Waffles with Chocolate Maple Syrup! 

CHOCOLATE CHIP BUTTERMILK WAFFLES

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups buttermilk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips
Chocolate Maple Syrup (see recipe below)

Directions
Preheat waffle maker.
In large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and baking soda.
In smaller bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and butter until well combined.
Pour wet mixture into dry mixture, fold in chocolate chips and stir with wooden spoon until just combined.
Grease waffle maker and pour batter into preheated prepared waffle iron.
Cook until steaming stops and waffles are crisp and golden, about 3 minutes (time depends on waffle maker).
Top with Chocolate Maple Syrup! 

CHOCOLATE MAPLE SYRUP

Ingredients
1-1/2 cups pure maple syrup
4 Tbsp unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1/4 cup sweet 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

Friday, June 28, 2024

KICKED UP CHOCOLATE TAPIOCA PUDDING: National Tapioca Day

Today is National Tapioca Day. I've posted other Chocolate Tapioca Pudding recipes, but this recipe is 'kicked up' with the addition of Rum! Now we're talking. Recipe from Emeril Lagasse. It's easy, fast, and delicious!

KICKED UP CHOCOLATE TAPIOCA PUDDING

Ingredients
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp quick cooking tapioca
3 cups whole milk
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 ounces DARK chocolate
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp dark rum

Directions 
In medium saucepan, combine sugar, tapioca, milk, and egg. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Add cinnamon and chocolate to saucepan and cook over medium heat until pudding comes to full boil, stirring continually to prevent burning.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and rum.
Cool for 20 minutes. Stir for creamy texture.
Serve warm or chilled.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

CHOCOLATE ORANGE BLOSSOM CAKE: National Orange Blossom Day


I have a lot of citrus trees on my property that do well because I live in a Mediterranean climate. Many of my trees are in pots, but some are in the ground, and I have oranges and lemons most of the year. There's nothing quite like the smell of orange blossom...except maybe if it's combined with the smell of chocolate!

Today being Orange Blossom Day, I thought I'd post this recipe for Chocolate Orange Blossom Cake, adapted slightly from Woman's Day Magazine (April 2007). It's a combination of both orange and chocolate. The recipe calls for a devil's food cake mix, but you can always make your own Devil's Food Cake from scratch and add similar ingredients: the orange extract and extra chocolate. The frosting is a marshmallow cream with orange juice and orange zest. Of course you can make a chocolate orange frosting if you're all about the chocolate.

CHOCOLATE ORANGE BLOSSOM CAKE

Ingredients

Cake
1 box (18.25 oz) devil’s food cake mix
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup oil
3 large eggs
3 Tbsp orange liqueur or 1 Tbsp orange extract
1 cup mini–semisweet chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate)

Frosting
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 jars (7 or 7 1/2 oz) or 1 tub (16 oz) marshmallow cream (such as Marshmallow Fluff or Crème)
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup grated orange zest (from 3 to 4 oranges)
2 Tbsp orange juice
Garnish: orange slices

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F. Coat 2: 9 x 2-in. round cake pans with nonstick spray.

Cake
Beat cake mix, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and liqueur in a large bowl with mixer on low speed 30 seconds or until blended. Scrape down sides of bowl; beat on medium speed 2 minutes. Stir in chocolate chips or chopped chocolate. Pour into prepared pans.
Bake 28 to 32 minutes until a wooden pick inserted in centers of cakes comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes, invert on rack, turn right side up and cool completely.

Frosting
Beat butter in a large bowl with mixer on medium speed until creamy. Beat in marshmallow cream. When well blended, beat in confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, orange zest and juice. Increase speed to high and beat 3 to 4 minutes until fluffy (makes 5 cups).
Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate. Spread with 1 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread top and sides with remaining frosting. Decorate with cut orange slices.


Wednesday, June 26, 2024

DARK CHOCOLATE PUDDING with STRAWBERRY ROSES


Today is National Chocolate Pudding Day, and what could be better than Chocolate Pudding with Strawberry Roses? Here's a recipe from Driscoll's, my favorite berry people. Being a rose aficionado (I have over 150 rose bushes in my garden), it's right up my alley, or should I say garden? The technique for creating strawberry roses is awesome and easy. It really elevates the chocolate pudding both in beauty and taste.

These Strawberry Roses are beautiful to put on top of Strawberry Short Cake, too. There are all kinds of uses. Here's the recipe and instructions for Dark Chocolate Pudding with Strawberry Roses.

DARK CHOCOLATE PUDDING WITH STRAWBERRY ROSES

Pudding 
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Topping
1 package Driscoll's Strawberries (16 ounces)
8 fresh mint leaves

Directions

Pudding
Melt Chocolate.
Whisk together 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch.
Bring remaining 1- 1/2 cups milk, sugar, cocoa, and salt just to a simmer over medium heat. Stir cornstarch mixture then add to milk mixture in saucepan and bring to boil, whisking constantly. Cook 1 minute.
Remove from heat and stir in melted chocolate and vanilla.
Spoon into 4 glasses.
Cover surface directly with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming. Chill.

Topping 
Before serving, hull 16 strawberries by removing the green calyx.
Take 4 strawberries and cut top off of strawberries. These strawberries will be used as the center for the roses.
For the remaining strawberries, slice into 1/8: sections to use for the rose petals.
Begin arranging sliced strawberries around pudding making sure ends of slices are facing out and extend slightly beyond rim of glass.
After first circle of strawberries is placed, begin making second circle of strawberries but position slightly more forward toward the center of glass.
Continue with third layer.
Once finished add cut strawberry to center and garnish with mint leaves.
Serve immediately.


Tuesday, June 25, 2024

TUESDAY TIPS: GREAT WAYS TO USE COCOA NIBS!

One part of the cocoa bean that often gets short shrift is the Cocoa Nib. I've posted cocoa nib recipes, of course, but today my Tuesday Tip is Great Ways to Use Cocoa Nibs. 

Cocoa Nibs are bits of fermented, dried, roasted and crushed cacao beans. Cocoa nibs are not chocolate pieces. They are roasted beans separated from their husks. But, since I'm all about chocolate, I see cocoa nibs as just chocolate in a different form--not sweet--since sugar isn't added. Nevertheless, they have a very unique chocolate taste and interesting texture. There are both raw and roasted cocoa nibs. I prefer roasted cocoa nibs. If you're going to buy cocoa nibs, go for organic, and definitely buy them from a chocolatier you like.

I use cocoa nibs in lots of ways, but my best advice is to use them sparingly until you get the hang of them. They're a bit bitter, and you won't want to overwhelm your dish. You'll soon figure out how many to put into your favorite foods. That being said, I use cocoa nibs in both savory and sweet dishes.

SAVORY

Add them to salads for some special crunch.

For an hors d'oeuvre, roll a log of goat cheese in crushed cacoa nibs.

Use as a crust on chicken.

Add them to chili.

Grind them up and use in your barbecue rub.

Add them to mole´.

SWEET

Roll chocolate ganache truffles in chopped nibs in place of cocoa or nuts.

Add them to pancake batter.

Add them to granola or bake them into granola bars.

Mix into Greek yogurt (I add a little honey, too)

Throw them on your oatmeal.

Add them to smoothies.

Use them as sprinkles on cupcakes

Use them as sprinkles on ice cream.

Add them to brittle instead of nuts.

Use them instead of nuts or chocolate chips in Chocolate Chip Cookies. (see recipe below)

Add them instead of nuts in brownies.

Candy them with a caramel glaze.

Dip them in chocolate for another great snack.

OTHER

Add some to your coffee grinder for a special blend.

Eat some plain.

And here's a surprising use: Chew some as a Breath Freshener.

And, if all else fails, have some around and just smell them. The aroma is quite heady!

Chocolate Chip Cocoa Nib Cookies  
a variation on the traditional Toll House Cookie recipe

Ingredients:
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups dark chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate chunks)
3/4 cup chopped cocoa nibs

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and cocoa nibs. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.


Monday, June 24, 2024

CHOCOLATE PRALINE CAKE: 2 Recipes and History of Pralines for National Praline Day!


Today is National Praline Day. Last year I posted several chocolate praline recipes. You can actually eat pralines in several different incarnations--or even drink your pralines, as in Praline Pecan Liqueur.

Another easy way to get your praline fix today (with chocolate) would be to eat some Praline or Butter Pecan Ice Cream with a covering of chocolate syrup. Hence the Vintage Ad from 1951 for Borden's Praline Pecan Ice Cream further along in this post. But another variation on Pralines would be Chocolate Praline Cake. See below for two recipes - one  is a traditional three tier chocolate cake with Ganache Filling and Praline Frosting, and the other a Chocolate Bundt Cake with Praline Frosting. With both cakes, it's all about the Praline frosting.

So what is Praline?

1) a confection of nuts and sugar, as in almonds cooked in boiling sugar until brown and crisp

2) a patty of creamy brown sugar and pecan meats

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

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

Go here for Praline Candy Recipes.

So my motto today is "Let Them Eat Cake" since I'm more of a baker than candy maker.

This first recipe is one of my go-to Chocolate Bundt Cakes, but any good chocolate bundt cake will work. It's all in the frosting here. As a matter of fact a good sour cream or yogurt chocolate bundt cake would be great, too, with Praline Frosting.

1. CHOCOLATE PRALINE BUNDT CAKE 

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups water
2 Tbsp Instant Coffee Granules (I use Starbucks instant espresso packs)
7 ounces dark chocolate (65-75% Cacao), chopped
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp pure vanilla
3 large eggs

FOR CAKE:
Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease 10-inch Bundt pan.
Combine flour, baking soda and baking powder in small bowl. Bring water and coffee granules to boil in small saucepan; remove from heat. Add chocolate; stir until smooth.
Beat sugar, butter and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs; beat on high speed for 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture alternately with chocolate mixture.
Pour into prepared Bundt pan.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until long wooden pick inserted in cake comes out clean.
Cool in pan on wire rack for 30 minutes. Invert onto wire rack to cool completely.
Place on plate.
Pour Praline Frosting over the top of the cake letting it drip down the sides.

PRALINE FROSTING  (from Southern Living, see below for link)

 Ingredients
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preparation 
Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, and boil 1 minute.
Remove from heat, and whisk in 1 cup powdered sugar and vanilla extract until smooth.
Stir in toasted pecans, stirring gently 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thicken slightly.
Pour immediately over cake.

2. CHOCOLATE PRALINE CAKE

This is my favorite "real" Chocolate Praline Cake. It's from Southern Living, November 2001, and I'm so glad I found it again on the Internet, my copy having been stashed inside a cookbook, somewhere. This recipe is all about the praline candy frosting!

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup DARK cocoa
1 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
Chocolate Ganache
Praline Frosting
Garnish: pecan halves  

Preparation
Cook first 3 ingredients in small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until butter melts and mixture is smooth; remove butter mixture from heat.
Beat buttermilk, 2 eggs, baking soda, and vanilla at medium speed with electric mixer until smooth. Add butter mixture to buttermilk mixture, beating until well blended.
Combine sugar, flour, and salt; gradually add to buttermilk mixture, beating until blended.
Coat 3 (9-inch) round cakepans with cooking spray, and line pans with wax paper. Pour cake batter evenly into pans.
Bake at 350° for 18 to 22 minutes or until cake is set. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes.
Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
Spread about 1/2 cup Chocolate Ganache between cake layers, and spread remaining ganache on sides of cake.
Pour Praline Frosting slowly over the center of cake, gently spreading to edges, allowing some frosting to run over sides.
Garnish with pecan halves

Chocolate Ganache 
Ingredients 
1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces

Preparation 
Microwave chocolate morsels and whipping cream in a glass bowl at MEDIUM (50% power) 2 to 3 minutes or until morsels are melted. Whisk until smooth.
Gradually add butter, whisking until smooth.
Cool, whisking often, 15 minutes or until spreading consistency.

Praline Frosting 
Ingredients
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preparation 
Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, and boil 1 minute.
Remove from heat, and whisk in 1 cup powdered sugar and vanilla extract until smooth.
Stir in toasted pecans, stirring gently 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thicken slightly.
Pour immediately over cake (or over the bundt cake--recipe above).