Tuesday, January 30, 2024

TRADER JOE'S CHOCOLATE CROISSANTS: National Chocolate Croissant Day

Today is National Croissant Day. There's nothing quite like waking up to a flaky buttery croissant. I have my favorite sources for croissants. I love croissants at La Fournee Bakery in Berkeley (close to my home), and, of course, the many cafes and bakeries in Paris.

But maybe you just want to wake up to fresh croissants without leaving home. I've posted this before, but it definitely bears reposting! Trader Joe's Chocolate Croissants to the rescue. These are some of the best frozen croissants you'll ever taste. The 'proof' is in the pudding, as they say, and these croissants are proofed (allowed to rise) overnight before they're baked for 20 minutes the following morning. The heavenly smell will take over your kitchen. This is perfect for this weekend and National Croissant Day. Just an FYI, I recently bought some TJ's croissants that didn't need rising. Yay! Even better. 

And, the price can't be beat--$4.99 for 4! In the San Francisco Bay Area, Chef Jean-Yves Charon from Galaxy Bakery is the genius behind Trader Joe's Chocolate Croissants. Rumor has it that Williams Sonoma gets their frozen croissants from the same source. So, Trader Joe's represents a huge cost savings.

O.K., these "Croissants" are really Pain au Chocolat, as anyone can see by the shape. Nevertheless, feel free to imagine yourself at a sidewalk cafe in Paris when eating these! These croissants are incredibly flaky and buttery, so light and airy, and the Callebaut chocolate is rich and delicious. Since there are four to a box, and each croissant contains 18 grams of fat, you might want to offer a few to family or friends. If you don't care what they'll do to your waistline or thighs, indulge and eat them all. They're terrific!

This is one product that outshines most home baked croissants. Yes, you can make your own Chocolate Croissants, but these are so good, why bother?

You'll find TJ's Chocolate Croissants in the freezer section.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Retro Ad with Recipe for Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies: National Peanut Butter Day

Today is National Peanut Butter Day! Celebrate by making the recipe from this Retro 1982 Skippy Peanut Butter Ad for Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies. This 40 year old recipe is easy and deliciious. I  use Skippy Peanut Butter for most of my peanut butter baking needs. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Reese's Peanut Butter No-Bake Pie: National Pie Day

Today is National Pie Day! I've posted Peanut Butter Chocolate Pies before, but this Reese's Peanut Butter No-Bake Pie from The Novice Chef is terrific. I adapted several things, as well as making my own chocolate cookie crust (see recipe below). I substituted my own hot fudge sauce, but as always, feel free to use what you have. I also use whipped cream rather than Cool Whip, but again, it's a choice you can make. The Novice Chef uses Smucker's Hot Fudge Topping.



Chocolate Cookie Crust
1-1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs -about 25 (chocolate wafers that have been crushed)
1/4 cup sweet butter, melted and cooled

Directions for Crust:
In bowl, combine cookie crumbs and butter until moistened and pat evenly into bottom and up side of 10-inch deep pie plate. Bake in preheated 350 °F oven for about 10 minutes or until firm. Let cool.

Pie Ingredients
24 unwrapped Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, divided
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
12 ounces whipped cream (whipped into stiff peaks) or Cool Whip, divided
12 ounces hot fudge sauce

Line bottom of pie crust with whole Reese's cups in flat layer. Set aside.
In stand mixer, beat peanut butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar until smooth.
Fold in 8 ounces of whipped cream (or cool whip) into peanut butter mixture by hand, until well combined. Spoon mixture into pie shell and smooth mixture to edges of pie using spatula or back of spoon.
Heat hot fudge topping for 1 minute in microwave. Stir. Pour on top of cake and spread until reaches the edges.
Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.
Once pie is set, spread remaining whipped cream over hot fudge layer.
Chop up remaining Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and sprinkle on top.
Refrigerate until ready to serve!

Monday, January 22, 2024

DAGWOOD'S BLONDIES: National Blondie Brownies Day!

Today is National Blondie Brownies Day. Now this is a misnomer because Blondies aren't really brownies. Blondies are all about the butter and brown sugar, and as with their versatile cousin, chocolate brownies, you can add other ingredients such as macadamia nuts, cocounut, chocolate chips, pecans, and other goodies.

This year I'd like to celebrate National Blondie Brownies Day with a recipe that features Blondie, that wonderful comic strip woman known for her baking and sandwich making! Created in 1930 by Chic Young, Blondie and Dagwood appear together in blissful love and happiness in over 2300 newspapers all around the world and translated into 35 different languages in 55 countries and read by an estimated 280 million people every day.

This recipe isn't from the Blondie Cookbook (I posted a recipe from the cookbook for a Chocolate Sandwich, of course).  This recipe for Dagwood's Blondies is from the Lurpak Butter Company. Enjoy!

Dagwood’s Blondies

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 oz (1 cup or 16 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. On medium speed, beat butter and both sugars until pale and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time and then vanilla.
Lower speed and stir in flour mixture
Fold in nuts and chocolate chips or pieces.
Transfer batter to 9 x 13" non-stick or sprayed baking pan.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Cool completely in pan before cutting into 2-inch squares.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond Granola Bars: National Granola Bar Day

National Granola Bar Day
. Granola is such a great treat on a hike, in your lunchbox, or a mid-day snack and bars make it so much easier to carry. Here's a great quick recipe for Dark Chocolate Cherry Granola Bars. So easy and delicious.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond  Granola Bars 

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour (or all purpose flour)
3/4 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup dried cherries (I like Chukar's Cherries)
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup shredded coconut
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 9 x 9 inch glass baking dishes with parchment paper. Mix flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, dried cherries, slivered almonds, coconut, and chocolate chips together in a bowl.
 In a separate bowl mix butter, honey, and vanilla.
Split mixture into baking dishes and use your hands to pat it into the square of the pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. 
Cool and cut into bars

Saturday, January 20, 2024

HOME-MADE ALMOND ROCA: National Buttercrunch Day

Today is National Buttercrunch Day. So for today's holidays, here's a recipe for Almond Roca aka Almond Buttercrunch.

I first tasted Almond Roca as a young girl. A neighbor who drove us to school always had Almond Roca on the coffee table in his recreation room. This neighbor didn't have the same rules as in my household (No Candy until after dinner--not to mention BEFORE school!). So I always enjoyed Almond Roca when this neighbor was driving. So for today's Buttercrunch Day holiday, I suggest you make the following recipe for Homemade Almond Roca. This recipe for Home-made Almond Roca is adapted from Elizabeth LaBau on

No time to cook? Pick up a bar of Almond Roca to celebrate!

Home-Made Almond Roca

4 ounces unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups toasted whole almonds, coarsely chopped
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

Prepare 8 x 4 loaf pan by lining with aluminum foil and spraying foil with nonstick cooking spray.
In small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt, and stir until brown sugar dissolves.
Once brown sugar melts, start timer and cook candy for exactly 6 minutes, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. If you use candy thermometer, stir and boil toffee until it reaches 290 degrees.
After six minutes, take toffee (buttercrunch) pan off heat and stir in 1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds. Scrape toffee into prepared loaf pan—it should be in layer about 1/2-inch thick.
Let toffee set for about 3 minutes, then use pizza cutter or paring knife to cut toffee into thin bars about 1/2-inch by 2 -1/2 inches. They will look small, but once they're dipped in chocolate and rolled in nuts, they'll be bigger. After another 2 minutes, go over your cuts again as toffee continues to harden.
As you wait for toffee to set, chop remaining 1 cup of toasted almonds very finely, or put in food processor and pulse for several seconds until becomes very small pieces. Pour finely chopped almonds into shallow bowl.
Once toffee is completely cool and set, break into pieces along lines you made, and trim off any jagged edges with knife.
Melt chocolate. Dip each piece of Almond Buttercrunch in melted chocolate, then place in bowl of nuts. Roll it around until coated with nuts on all sides, then take it out of nuts with fork and place on baking sheet. Repeat until all toffee pieces are coated with chocolate and nuts.
Optional: To make it 'really' look like Almond Roca, wrap individual pieces in gold foil.
Refrigerate tray to set chocolate (about 10 minutes).
Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Bring to room temperature before serving.

Friday, January 19, 2024


Today is National Popcorn Day! I usually post popcorn recipes around the time of the Academy Awards, but I came across this recipe a few years ago on the Taza Chocolate website and love it! You may recall that I always have Taza Mexicano chocolate in my desk. It's a favorite. I love the stone ground texture.  

I saved this recipe from Tara Chocolate for Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Balls. As I've mentioned before on this blog, you can find great recipes at food and food association sites. I love the crunchy salty-sweet taste of these Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Balls, and they're so easy to eat. Great for parties for both kids and adults!

Makes 15 popcorn balls

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
pinch of salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
8 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup Taza Roasted Cacao Nibs
2 bars Taza Dominican 70% Dark Stone Ground Chocolate, chopped
Wood skewers or popsicle sticks
Sprinkles, to garnish

Grease large mixing bowl with oil or kitchen spray. In large lidded pot with lid on, heat vegetable oil, popcorn, and pinch of salt over high heat while continuously shaking pot and listening for popping. Remove from heat when popping is less frequent than every 3 seconds and pour into greased bowl.

In saucepan combine sugar, brown sugar, honey, and butter over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until temperature reaches 300 degrees measured on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and carefully add baking soda (be careful, the sugar will bubble and expand!), then pour over popcorn carefully using a spatula to toss and coat the popcorn. Add cacao nibs.

When popcorn is cool enough to handle, but still warm, wet hands and form popcorn into balls, sticking each one with skewers or popsicle sticks.

Place chocolate in heat proof bowl, then place on top of bowl of simmering water until chocolate is warm and melted then drizzle over popcorn balls. Top with sprinkles if desired. Allow to cool before serving.

Thursday, January 18, 2024


Today is Winnie the Pooh Day. We all know that Winnie the Pooh loves Honey (Hunny) Well, most bears love honey, don't they? And, Winnie the Pooh loves a good tea party, so here's a great recipe for Chocolate Chip Honey Scones to celebrate Winnie the Pooh Day!

“I don’t feel very much like Pooh today," said Pooh.
"There there," said Piglet. "I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do.”
A.A. Milne,

Winnie the Pooh Chocolate Chip Honey Scones 

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon honey
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
2/3 cup milk or cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In large mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir to combine.
Cut in cold butter with pastry cutter (or fork), and mix with pastry cutter or fork until mixture has the texture of coarse sand.
Add chocolate chips, honey, ricotta cheese, and milk. Stir with wooden spoon until batter forms and all ingredients are combined. DO NOT OVERMIX.
Lightly flour board and place ball of dough on floured surface. Gently pat dough down into disk, about 1 inch thick. With knife, cut disk into 8 approximately equal pieces. Place pieces on prepared baking sheet.
Bake at 425 for about 15-17 minutes, or until scones are lightly golden and baked through.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Hot Buttered Rum Cocoa: Hot Buttered Rum Day!

Today is National Hot Buttered Rum Day. It's cold and crisp today, and I know some areas of the U.S. are blanketed with snow, so this is the perfect drink to celebrate the day!

This recipe for Hot Buttered Rum Cocoa is from the Wisconsin Cheese Board. As I've mentioned before, Food associations have great recipes. Be sure and check them out.

If you don't have time to make Hot Buttered Rum Cocoa, you can always celebrate this food holiday with Seattle Chocolates' Hot Buttered Rum Milk Chocolate Truffle Bar. Fabulous! This bar is buttery, smooth with a light hint of rum and toffee crunch in milk chocolate.

Hot Buttered Rum Cocoa

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
4 cups milk

Combine butter, brown sugar, and seasonings in small bowl, mixing until well-blended. Drop six spoonfuls onto plasticwrap-lined plate; chill while preparing beverage, then form into balls.
Combine rum, sugar, and cocoa in 2 quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils, stirring constantly. Simmer 1 minute; add milk. Cook until heated through; do not boil.
Pour into six mugs; place one butter ball in each cup.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Chocolate Covered Dried Figs: Fig Newton Day

Today is Fig Newtons Day
! My Dad was a huge Fig Newtons fan. Me, not so much. However, I love figs, and I'm using this food holiday as a jumping off point for Chocolate Covered Figs. Of course if you're really after a Fig Newton with chocolate, you can just dip one in dark chocolate. 

But this is the way I like to eat my figs: Chocolate Covered Dried Figs (not Fig Newtons!). Following are two recipes. The first is alcoholic, because who doesn't love a drunken fig? The second recipe calls for stuffing the dried figs with walnuts, but contains no alcohol (this actually tastes more like a Fig Newton). You can also mix and match these recipes to come up with whatever you think is perfect for you! As always, use the very best chocolate and figs! Different chocolate, different figs, different tastes!

Want to make your own Fig Newtons? Try this recipe for Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Figgy Newtons.

And, just as an FYI. The original Fig Newtons are now called just Newtons.

Chocolate Covered Dried Figs

20 dried figs
10 ounces 70-80% dark chocolate, chopped fine
1/4 cup unsalted butter
pinch of sea salt

Put figs in bowl and cover with rum. Let soak, covered, overnight in refrigerator.
Next day, drain well and pat dry.
Put chopped chocolate into top of double boiler, stirring. Add butter, stirring until smooth. 
Take figs by stems and dip in chocolate several times, covering completely.
Put figs on rack over cookie sheet to catch drips.
When finished dipping, chill figs in refrigerator.

Non-Alcoholic Chocolate Covered Figs Stuffed with Walnuts

9 figs, dried
9 walnut halves
5  Tbsp dark chocolate (60-75%), chopped

Make small incisions in bottoms of 9 dried figs and stuff each with a walnut half.
Melt chocolate in double boiler until smooth.
Holding the stem, dip stuffed figs into chocolate.
Let them drip from rack over cookie sheet, or place on plate or wax paper.
Put chocolate covered figs on plate or waxed paper in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or more until chocolate hardens.

Monday, January 15, 2024


Today is Strawberry Ice Cream Day. Odd holiday for the middle of winter, don't you think? But for the purposes of this blog, here's an easy way to celebrate: serve strawberry ice cream with hot fudge over it. Or, you make some great homemade strawberry ice cream with chocolate chunks.

However, here's something else that's easy, pretty, and delicious--Chocolate Strawberry Ice Cream Cake. This is perfect for Strawberry Ice Cream Day or for special celebrations! I found the recipe on the Whole Foods Market site and adapted it slightly. Some great recipes to be had there! Bookmark it for summer, too!


14 Oreos
2 Tbsp sweet (unsalted) butter, melted
1 quart chocolate ice cream, softened
1 1/4 cup chocolate fudge sauce, divided
1 quart strawberry ice cream, softened
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

Pulse cookies in bowl of food processor until ground (you should have about 1 1/2 cups crumbs). Pour in butter and pulse just until mixed.
Press mixture firmly into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.
Freeze until chilled, about 30 minutes.
Using rubber spatula, spread chocolate ice cream over cookie crust and smooth top.
Place in freezer until firm, at least 1 hour.
Reserve 2 tablespoons of fudge sauce for decorating top of cake and spread remainder evenly over top of chocolate ice cream.
Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. 
Spread strawberry ice cream over fudge, level top of cake, and freeze until whole cake is very firm, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.
Remove cake from freezer. Run large knife under hot water, wipe dry, and run knife around rim of the pan to loosen ice cream from sides; repeat as necessary. Release and remove sides of springform pan. Lightly spread reserved fudge sauce over top of the cake using back of a spoon, and arrange strawberries however you like.
To serve, cut cake into wedges with knife warmed in hot water and wiped dry.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

CHOCOLATE BAGELS: National Bagel Day

Tomorrow is National Bagel Day. I grew up with traditional bagels served with lox and cream cheese. The bagels were onion, poppy seed, and occasionally sesame seed, but that was about it. Boiled bagels only, too. But when bagels really caught on nationally, we saw an explosion of flavored bagels. 

So for today's Bagel Holiday, here's a recipe for Chocolate Bagels from Red Star Yeast. Red Star Yeast has a recipe for serving with Cookies and Cream Whipped Cream (see below), but I serve my chocolate bagels with marscapone. However you serve these chocolate bagels, I can assure you they will be a big hit! 




1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115°F) 1 (0.25oz) package (7g) or 2 1/4 teaspoons Platinum Yeast 
3 1/4 cups bread flour 
1/4 cup cocoa powder 
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/2 teaspoon chocolate extract (optional) 
Coarse sugar, for topping 


1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened 
1/3 cup powdered sugar 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste 
5 chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed

8 cups water

Gently whisk warm water and yeast together in a measuring cup. Set aside for 5-10 minutes to allow the yeast to bloom. (Optional: stir in 1 teaspoon sugar to give the yeast a good start.) 

In a stand mixer attached with the dough hook attachment, add flour, cocoa powder, salt and espresso powder. Mix on low speed until combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture. Add the vanilla. Add the chocolate extract (optional). Continue to mix on low speed for 8 minutes. 

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough, adding flour as needed, for an additional 1 minute. Shape the dough into a smooth ball and place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a clean, dry dish towel and place the bowl in a warm, undisturbed area of your kitchen. 

Allow the dough to rise until it is doubled in size, about 1-2 hours. Punch down dough and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Shape dough into a log. Using a pastry scraper or floured knife, cut the log into 8 even pieces. Gently roll each piece into a ball. Place your thumb in the center of each ball and push down to create a hole. Gently tug on the dough to create a slightly larger whole. Cover the dough with a clean, dry kitchen towel and allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes. 

While the dough is resting, heat 8 cups of water to a gentle boil and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Boil the bagels for 40 seconds on each side. Remove bagels from the water with a slotted spoon and transfer onto your prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle each bagel with a generous pinch of coarse sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops of the bagels are golden brown.


Add the softened cream cheese and powdered sugar to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla bean paste and mix until combined. Fold in the crushed chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreos). 

To serve, cut the bagels in half and lightly toast in a toaster (optional). 

Spread a thick layer of the whipped cream cheese on each half. 

Store the cooled bagels in an airtight container or bag for up to 5 days. Or, freeze the bagels for up to 3 months. 


1. Bread flour will yield the best results, but if you don’t have bread flour in stock, you can use all-purpose flour. You may need to adjust the amount of water in the dough. 
2. Make the whipped cream cheese right before serving so the cookies remain crunchy.

Saturday, January 13, 2024


Today is Gluten-Free Day. Because so many of my friends are Gluten-Free, I try to post several chocolate recipes a year that are Gluten Free. It's been a few years since I posted one of my favorite gluten-free recipes: Ghirardelli Gluten-Free Brownies. 

I've often mentioned that product websites are great places to find terrific recipes. Ghirardelli Chocolate has many Gluten-Free Chocolate Recipes on their website, including this fabulous recipe for Gluten-Free Brownies. Only thing I'd add to this recipe would be more chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate chunks) when you add the walnuts or pecans, but then I'm big on extra chocolate. There's also a great recipe for a Gluten-Free Walnut Torte. Be sure to check out all their recipes.


1 cup 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup whole almonds (or 2/3 cup almond flour)
1/3 cup brown rice flour
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in lower third of oven.
Line pan across bottom and up two sides with parchment paper.
If using whole almonds, add them to food processor with rice flour and pulse until nuts are finely ground (don't overmix or you'll have oil). If using almond flour, mix with rice flour. Set aside.
Place chocolate, butter, and salt in top of large double boiler over barely simmering water. Stir frequently until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove bowl and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Stir in eggs, one at a time. Add almond and rice flour mixture and stir until moistened, and then mix briskly, about 40 strokes. Stir in walnuts or pecans if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until brownies are slightly puffed all over and toothpick inserted into center comes out moist but clean.
Cool pan on rack. Run knife along unlined sides of pan to detach brownies. Lift edges of parchment paper to remove brownies. Cut into squares

You can substitute Ghirardelli Bittersweet 60% Chocolate Chips with 1-1/2 bar of Ghirardelli Bittersweet 60% chocolate, broken into small pieces.

You will love this recipe--even if you're not gluten-free. 

Friday, January 12, 2024


Today is National Marzipan Day. I love marzipan, and I usually have some around, but for today's holiday, here's an easy recipe from Santa Barbara Chocolate for Chocolate Marzipan Cookies (or truffles, if you don't squash them down and bake them). 

What exactly is marzipan

Marzipan is an elastic paste made with almonds and powdered sugar. It's like an edible dough, and you can make shapes with it, and, of course, enrobe it in chocolate.

History of Marzipan from Serious Eats:

The invention of marzipan is usually attributed to Lübeck, Germany. Legend has it that during a 15th century famine when flour for making bread became scarce, the senate of Lübeck ordered bakers to create a replacement. Using eggs, sugar, and stores of almonds, the clever bakers came up with marzipan. But cities like Venice, Florence, Konigsberg and more all lay claim to inventing marzipan and put forth similar stories with different dates, making it hard to determine where the sweet actually came from.

Although the origin of marzipan is fuzzy, it has clearly been embraced by many different cultures and is enjoyed worldwide. Marzipan is a traditional food to eat on weddings and religious feast days in Italy, Greece, and Cyprus.

In Latin America, a popular marzipan-like treat which replaces the almonds with peanuts is called "mazapan." In Mexico, pine nuts and pistachios are other substitutes for almonds in marzipan. You can find marzipan in the Middle East, too, usually flavored with orange-flower water. In Germany and throughout much of northern Europe it is considered good luck to receive a marzipan pig on Christmas or New Year's Day. The Spanish and Portuguese are big consumers of marzipan too. But perhaps the form of marzipan that Americans are most familiar with are the cute little miniature fruit shapes that pop up all over.

Whatever the origins, there is nothing quite like chocolate and marzipan! So for today's holiday here's an easy and original recipe for Chocolate Marzipan Cookies from Santa Barbara Chocolate Company.


1 cup of almonds, peeled
1 cup of powdered sugar
1/4 cup Rainforest Bulk Cocoa Powder
1 egg or 2 Tbsp honey - egg is used in the traditional marzipan recipe (but use honey if you don't want to use raw eggs)
Chocolate sprinkles

Chop peeled almonds and put them in blender or food processor. Blend until you get almond flour texture. Be careful to blend really well to avoid big chunks.
In saucepan add almond flour, Cocoa Powder, and powdered sugar, mix together. Incorporate egg in middle and place over low heat. Stir continuously until all ingredients are combined. Keep stirring for 5 minutes and then take off heat. Place in refrigerator and let chill for 15 minutes before decorating. This way the marzipan is going to hold its shape. 
When chilled, roll dough into a tube shape. Pull off pieces and make into balls. Cover balls with chocolate sprinkles to decorate. Place on baking sheet and slightly press down with back of spoon. Let set in refrigerator for 5 minutes more and serve.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

CHOCOLATE MILK SHAKES for National Milk Day!

Today is National Milk Day, and what could be more for the celebration than a Chocolate Milk Shake.

The easiest way to celebrate is to mix a little Milk with Chocolate Ice cream and Chocolate syrup and mix it up in the blender. Or you can mix Milk with Vanilla Ice cream and Chocolate syrup and blend. Measurements are up to you, but I have a few quasi-measurements below for Special Chocolate Milkshakes. 

If you're absolutely Dying for Chocolate, use 1 cup chocolate ice cream, 1/4 cup chocolate syrup and 1/2 cup chocolate milk. Mix in Blender.

A Chocolate Malted Milk Shake is a variation on your traditional chocolate milkshake. Add a Tbsp of malted milk powder to milk, chocolate syrup and chocolate ice cream and blend.

Like bananas? Make a Chocolate Banana Milk Shake: 1 cup milk, 1 scoop banana ice-cream, 1 scoop chocolate ice cream, 1/2 ripened banana and some chocolate syrup, and blend.

And, if you really want to be daring, celebrate with a Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake. Blend 1 cup creamy peanut butter, 1/2 cup chocolate syrup, 1/4 cup milk, 12 cubes ice. Blend until smooth. (Ice cubes instead of ice-cream).

Have a great Milk Day!

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE: National Bittersweet Chocolate Day!

Since I review, eat, and bake chocolate, the word bittersweet isn't really part of my lexicon. Although I have purchased chocolate that is labeled bittersweet, I buy chocolate based on its origins and amount of cacao. Bittersweet is just too vague a term for me. Nevertheless today is Bittersweet Chocolate Day, so I'm celebrating!

According to Wikipedia, Bittersweet chocolate is chocolate liquor (unsweetened chocolate not liqueur) to which some sugar (typically a third), more cocoa butter, vanilla and sometimes lecithin has been added. It has less sugar and more liquor than semisweet chocolate, but the two are interchangeable in baking. Bittersweet and semisweet chocolates are sometimes referred to as 'couverture' (chocolate that contains at least 32 percent cocoa butter); many brands (the ones I like) print on the package the percentage of cocoa (as chocolate liquor and added cocoa butter) contained. The rule is that the higher the percentage of cocoa, the less sweet the chocolate will be. The American FDA classifies chocolate as either "bittersweet" or "semisweet" that contain at least 35% cacao (either cacao solids or butter from the cacao beans).

So using this definition, almost any of my recipes will work since I use mostly very dark chocolate.

Here's a recipe for Bittersweet Chocolate Bundt Cake adapted from Nestle Toll House's Chocolate Pound Cake recipe. It's easy and delicious. If you use Unsweetened Chocolate Baking Bars, be sure and add more sugar to the recipe.

I don't usually make a glaze, but I've included the recipe in case you'd like to. Sometimes I sprinkle this cake with powdered sugar, as in the photo. This cake goes well with ice cream or whipped cream.



2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 cups water
2 Tbsp Instant Coffee Granules (I've used espresso granules)
8 ounces dark chocolate (75%-85%), chopped, divided (save 2 oz for glaze if you're making it)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp pure vanilla
3 large eggs

3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 325 degrees 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 6 ounces 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.


Drizzle with Chocolate Glaze or Sprinkle with Powdered Sugar

Sometimes I pour the glaze over the bundt cake while it's still a bit warm. That way, the cake absorbs the glaze, and it's extra chocolatey delicious!


Melt remaining 2 ounces of chocolate with butter in small, saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar alternately with water. Stir in vanilla extract. Drizzle over cake.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024


A storm is brewing. It's a perfect day for scones right out of the oven! I've posted many scone recipes over the years, but since today is National Apricot Day, here's a great recipe for White Chocolate Apricot Scones. There are no fresh apricots this time of year, at least not growing in my local area, so this recipe is perfect since it calls for dried apricots. I always have dried apricots in the refrigerator or pantry. I serve these scones with clotted cream (or unsalted butter if I don't have the cream) and a nice pot of tea!


2/3 cup unsalted butter
3 1⁄2 cups flour
1⁄4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2⁄3 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1 cup white chocolate chips (make sure it's 'real' white chocolate!)
2 eggs
2⁄3 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla
Optional (sugar for sprinkling)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In large bowl cut together butter, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt using pastry blender (or use 2 table knives crisscrossing ingredients in opposite directions)until mixture is crumbly.
Stir in apricots and white chocolate chips.
Add eggs, half & half, and vanilla so dough separates from side of bowl and forms a ball.
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead lightly 10 times (don't overwork).
Divide dough into two equal portions.
On greased baking sheets pat each portion of dough into an 8" circle, and cut each circle into 8 wedges.
Optional: Sprinkle with sugar
Bake about 15 minutes, until golden. Serve warm.

Monday, January 8, 2024


January 8
is a world-wide holiday: English Toffee Day. I absolutely adore English Toffee, and I'm a Toffee Judge at the International and San Francisco Chocolate Salons.

I first had English Toffee on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. Don't ask! Yes, there was salt water taffy, but I was drawn to the English Toffee and White Chocolate. Both were rarities in our household, so they were special treats -- easily accessible on the Boardwalk.

English Toffee has several definitions, but for me it's any confection made by boiling sugar with butter or milk, surrounded by chocolate and nuts. What's your definition? Some people call this brittle. Whatever it is, you have the hard, soft, and chewy all in one.

The preparation for making English Toffee is much like that for making candy barks. English Toffee can be made with dark chocolate of varying amounts or even milk chocolate or a mixture of both. Nuts can range from almonds to peanuts to filberts to hazelnuts. Such range. Every time you make English Toffee, you can vary the ingredients to come up with a completely different taste. How fun! One thing, though, be sure and use real butter!!!

I've adapted this easy recipe from Epicurean. You will need a candy thermometer.


1 cup unsalted butter (best quality)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla
6 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao or higher)
2 oz milk chocolate (40-55% cacao)
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans,walnuts, filberts, or hazelnuts (you choose)

Combine butter, sugar, water, and salt in a heavy 2- 1/2 qt pan. Cook over medium-high to high heat, stirring often, until candy thermometer reads 305 degrees. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Immediately pour into heavily buttered 9-inch square pan, spreading to fill pan. Cool completely.

Melt semisweet and milk chocolate in top of double boiler stirring until smooth. Spread half of chocolate over 1 side of toffee and sprinkle with half of nuts Refrigerate until chocolate is firm.

Reheat remaining chocolate until flowing. Turn toffee over and spread other side with chocolate and sprinkle with remaining nuts. Refrigerate until firm. When chocolate is set, break toffee into pieces. Store in airtight container in a cool place.

Cooking for Engineers has another great and similar recipe with photos.

Saturday, January 6, 2024


Today is National Shortbread Day. Since Shortbread is all about butter, use the very best butter in the following recipe! A few years ago on National Shortbread Day I posted Michael Recchiuti's recipe for Chocolate Shortbread Cookies. They're absolutely delicious and worth the time and effort. This year for National Shortbread Day, I'm more about easy and quick, so here's my favorite recipe for Chocolate Shortbread. This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. You can also make cookies using this recipe, but that's for another day. I use unsalted butter in this recipe, but then I use unsalted butter in just about every recipe!


1-1/2 cups plus two Tbsp all-purpose flour
4-1/2 Tbsp Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened  (this is really key.. butter should be room temperature)
1 cup superfine sugar (ok, I have this on hand, but if you don't, put granulated sugar in the blender. Be sure and measure again)
Granulated sugar (for sprinkling)

Preheat oven to 325F. 
Butter 12 x 8 inch pan. Line with parchment paper.
In bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda until combined.
Place butter and superfine sugar in mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy – three to four minutes (use the paddle attachment). Scrape down sides of bowl and add flour mixture. Beat on medium until just combined.
Spread dough in pan, using spatula or your fingers to even out the surface. Freeze dough until firm – approximately 15 minutes. Prick dough all over with tines of a fork, and place in oven. Bake 20 (to 30) minutes. Dough should be just firm to the touch.
Place pan on wire rack to cool. While still hot, cut dough into strips, and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Dough should cool completely in pan.

For a twist: Sprinkle sea salt on top instead of sugar--or a mixture of both.

Friday, January 5, 2024

ESPRESSO WHIPPED CREAM: 2 Recipes for National Whipped Cream Day

Today is Whipped Cream Day! I've posted lots of recipes for Whipped Cream over the years. My blog is only 15 years old, but whipped cream has been around since the 16th century. It appeared in recipes that date back to 1549 in Italy and 1604 in France. It was first called whipped cream in 1673, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. And, there is a record of crème fouettée—whipped cream-- in a French recipe book from 1629.

So for Whipped Cream Day, here are two great and easy recipes for Espresso Whipped Cream. It's so versatile. I like it on cakes and cupcakes, brownies, puddings, and in my coffee and hot cocoa! Stuff some profiteroles or cream puffs. Put in in or on your crepes! Add to drinks such as Mudslides and Irish Coffee. Use it as a dip for berries and cookies.Whip some up today! It's so easy! Chocolate and Espresso Whipped Cream: Yes!


1. Espresso Whipped Cream made with coffee extract

1 cup heavy whipping cream 
2 tsp sugar 
1 tsp pure coffee extract  (I use Nielsen-Massey)

In chilled bowl, combine all ingredients, and whip with an electric mixer until fluffy. 


2. Espresso Whipped Cream made with instant espresso powder

2 cups heavy whipping cream 
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp instant espresso powder

Put cream in large bowl and beat on medium speed with electric mixer for about a minute (until starts to thicken) Add powdered sugar and espresso powder. Beat on high speed and beat for 1-2 minutes until whipped cream forms stiff peaks.

Thursday, January 4, 2024


Growing up in Philadelphia, my family often visited the Hershey Factory in near-by Hershey, PA. What an amazing family outing. It truly was a Willy Wonka experience. At the end of the factory tour, each child was given a Hershey Bar! I'm not talking mini, either, these were the 'regular' sized bars. Since I was used to buying penny candy (remember that?), this was a huge treat. Visiting the Hershey Factory was an experience I'll never forget, and even though I might now opt for more refined single origin organic dark chocolate, I'll never turn down a Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar.

So here's a Classic Chocolate Cake recipe. You'll find this in many of the older Hershey Cookbooks. And, yes, you can make it with high end dark chocolate and syrup, but try it first with Hershey chocolate bars and Hershey's syrup. This easy to make cake will satisfy any chocoholic!


1 cup buttermilk
2-1/2 cups flour
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sweet butter, softened
2/3 cup Hershey's chocolate syrup
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 Hershey's Milk Chocolate bars (1.55 ounces), melted and cooled

Heat oven to 350. Butter either 12 cup Bundt Pan or 10" tube pan. 
In medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside. 
Cream butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla with electric mixer. Add syrup and melted chocolate and mix completely. Blend in buttermilk. Gradually add flour mixture until well combined. 
Pour into prepared pans.
Bake in Tube or Bundt pan for 45 minutes to an hour -- or until done.
Cover with foil immediately to steam and make cake moister.
Keep covered until cake is completely cool.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

LIFE IS JUST A BOWL OF CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRIES: History & 4 Recipes for Chocolate Covered Cherries Day

Life is just a Bowl of Chocolate Covered Cherries! Because there's nothing quite like a chocolate covered cherry, I thought I'd post 4 recipes for Chocolate Covered Cherries Day. Don't have time to make these? Buy your favorite chocolate covered cherries to celebrate!

When I was growing up, I always wanted the chocolate covered cherry in the Whitman Sampler Box. Although there was a diagram on the inside lid of the box of the types of chocolates, my sister would often move the cherry ones, our favorites. Then, she'd leisurely eat them, knowing that they were missed marked, without anyone claiming them. Oh, childhood!

Some history of Chocolate Covered Cherries: According to National Day, in the 1700s in England, cherries were enrobed in chocolate with a little kirsch liqueur. After finding their way to the United States, Americans received them quite well, delighting in the little bit of alcoholic cordial surrounding the fruit dipped in chocolate. Although originally made with the liqueur, cordials/chocolate covered cherries are more commonly made with a sugar syrup flavored with cherries. The pitted cherries have been cooked in sugar syrup and jarred.

I can buy fresh cherries in January at Berkeley Bowl, my favorite produce market here in Berkeley, but if you're a locavore, you may not want to buy Chilean Cherries or maybe they're not available where you live, so I've also provided recipes for dried or maraschino cherries. If you decide to use maraschino cherries, be sure and dry them thoroughly or your chocolate will seize. And, if you're using maraschino cherries, save the juice from the jar to make the Chocolate Covered Cherry Cocktail in this post! My favorite jarred cherries are Chukar Cherries. So many varieties. Any of these recipes would be great for Valentine's Day, so bookmark this page!

1. Chocolate Covered Fresh Cherries

Personally I like dark chocolate with cherries, but if you're a milk chocolate fan, go for it! As always, use the very best quality, organic, fair trade chocolate! Hint: If the melted chocolate starts to harden  before you’re done dipping, put it back on the stove for a few minutes and give it a good stir.

8 ounces chocolate (I use Guittard 65%)
1/2 pound fresh, sweet cherries

Wash and dry cherries.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler or in saucepan over saucepan over simmering water.
Stir chocolate until completely melted and smooth.
Remove chocolate from heat.
Grab each cherry by stem and dip into chocolate. Swirl cherry clockwise, coating bottom 3/4. It's always nice to see the cherry showing at the top.
Place cherry on parchment paper covered baking sheet.
Repeat with remaining cherries.
Place in refrigerator until chocolate hardens.
If not eating right away, put chocolate covered cherries in covered container and keep in refrigerator for a few days.

2. Chocolate Covered Marschino Cherries

Use the above recipe with maraschino cherries. Just be sure and dry cherries thoroughly before dipping.

3. Chocolate Covered Dried Cherries

8 ounces Dark or Milk Chocolate
1 cup dried Cherries (Chukar or Trader Joe's)

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate in double boiler as above or glass bowl in microwave. Once melted, remove from heat.
Add cherries to chocolate. Stir until coated.
Remove clumps of coated dried cherries with two forks or slotted spoon (this works very well), shaking off excess chocolate on side of bowl. Transfer to lined baking sheet.
Put baking sheet in refrigerator until chocolate hardens, about 20 minutes.
Store in refrigerator.

Feel like something alcoholic to celebrate National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day? Want to drink your Chocolate Covered Cherries?

And here's a fourth easy recipe for Chocolate Covered Cherries from Santa Barbara Chocolate

4. Easy Chocolate Covered Cherries

60 maraschino cherries with stems
3 tablespoons butter softened
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 1/2 pounds candy-making chocolate

Drain cherries thoroughly on paper towel. Combine butter, corn syrup, and salt. Stir in powdered sugar; knead mixture till smooth (chill mixture if too soft).
Shape 2 teaspoon of the sugar mixture around each cherry. Place coated cherries on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper (or parchment paper), chill.
In a heavy 1 quart saucepan, melt chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly (use the microwave on low to melt more quickly). Holding by the stems, dip coated cherries, one at a time, into chocolate coating. Spoon chocolate over cherries to coat to ensure the center is fully encased. Place cherries on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper (or parchment paper). Chill. Store in refrigerator in a covered container. Let candies ripen in refrigerator for one or two weeks before serving.....If you can wait!
Want to drink your Chocolate Covered Cherries? 

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cocktail

Fill a tall glass with ice.
Add 1/2 ounce Bailey's, 1/2 ounce Kahlua.
Add a few drops maraschino cherry juice.
Strain into another glass with ice.
Add a Chocolate Covered Maraschino Cherry for garnish!

And here are some retro Chocolate Covered Cherries Ads.. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

CHOCOLATE CREAM PUFFS: National Cream Puff Day

Today is National Cream Puff Day. Cream Puffs are one of the easiest pastries to make, and incredibly versatile. You can stuff them, top them, add flavoring to the choux, and really change them up in so many different ways! For example, during the holidays, you can make a Croquembuche, a pyramid of cream puffs drizzled with chocolate or spun sugar.

A Cream Puff is just a baked puffed shell of choux pastry. In spite of the Betty Crocker Vintage Ads from the 1950s for Cream Puff mixes displayed below, they're really simple to make from scratch. Following is an easy basic recipe for Cream Puffs and Chocolate Cream, as well as a recipe for non-traditional Chocolate Cream Puffs.


1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour (some people use bread flour and that will really give these a different taste and texture, give it a try)
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 425.
In large pot, bring water and butter to rolling boil.
Stir in flour and salt until mixture forms a ball. Transfer dough to large mixing bowl.
Using wooden spoon or mixer, beat in eggs one at time, mixing well after each.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in preheated oven, until golden brown. Centers should be dry.
When the shells are cool, split and fill.
How easy is that!

Chocolate Cream Filling

14 ounces dark chocolate (65-85% cacao), finely chopped
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar 


Place chocolate in top pot of double boiler over simmering water in lower pot (or in a saucepan over another saucepan that has simmering water). Stir just until chocolate melts, then remove from heat.
Pour cream into bowl. Using electric mixer set on high speed, beat until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form, about 20 seconds.
Pour all of melted chocolate into whipped cream quickly, continue to mix on high speed until evenly combined, about 1 minute.
Place chocolate cream in clean pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe into bottoms of cooled cream puffs. Replace tops on filled bottoms and serve immediately. Alternatively, spoon cream onto bottoms being careful not to put too much. Of course, it looks pretty when it's piped!

Or you can make Chocolate Cream Puffs. The following recipe adds cocoa to a traditional cream puff (choux) recipe. Stuff with sweetened whipped cream. You don't need to add the sugar in the cream puff recipe, but I find the chocolate cream puffs taste a little better since there's no sugar in the cocoa. Of course, you could try this recipe with sweetened cocoa. Let me know what you think if you do that.


1 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp cocoa
2 Tbsp sugar
4 eggs

Preheat Oven to 400.
Combine flour, cocoa, and sugar in small bowl.
In heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring water, butter, and salt to a boil.
Stir in flour, cocoa, sugar mixture, until smooth ball forms. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until smooth and shiny.
Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls (golf ball size), 3 inches apart onto greased (or parchment lined) baking sheets.
Bake (in middle of oven) at 400 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until set and browned.
Remove to wire racks. Let cool before splitting.
Cool puffs completely before filling with Whipped Cream, Ice Cream, or whatever!

Monday, January 1, 2024

DEEP SOUTH PEANUT PIE: Retro New Year's Ad with Recipe

O.K. this is a very creepy Retro 1940s Karo Syrup Advertisement, but since it features the Karo Kid as a New Year's baby, I thought I'd post it. I love Peanut Pies. Add a Chocolate Cookie Crust, and I'm in heaven. Peanuts and Chocolate -- great way to start the New Year.


2 eggs beaten
1 cup Karo Syrup, Blue Label (dark syrup)
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 cup shelled, roasted peanuts

Roll pastry 1/8-inch thick. Line 9-inch pie pan. Mix remaining ingredients together, adding peanuts last. Pour into pastry shell. Bake in hot oven (400˚F) 40 minutes or until a silver knife inserted in center of filling comes out clean.

To make Peanut Tarts:
Follow above recipe for De Luxe Peanut Pie using 1 recipe pastry. Line 6 to 8 individual tart shells. Pour in filling. Bake in hot oven (400˚F) 20 to 25 minutes.

Cartoon of the Day: New Year Commitment