Monday, November 30, 2009

Italian Chocolate Meals

I have made a complete Mexican chocolate meal during Cinco de Mayo, but I never really thought about Italian food and chocolate until I read this article in the Pittsburgh Tribune. Among the most classic and simplest uses of chocolate in Italian savory food is as a topping to pasta dishes. One simple recipe is to toss cooked pasta with ground walnuts and gorgonzola cheese and top it with grated dark chocolate.

Chocolate is also incorporated into fillings for ravioli, such as the Italian fall favorite pumpkin-chocolate ravioli served with a brown butter sage sauce. Chocolate is also a key ingredient with venison and wild boar. Read the full article HERE.

How to cook with chocolate

Sprinkle cocoa nibs on polenta, rice, stuffing or baked potatoes. Add them to salads and soups for crunch, texture and nutty flavor.

Add a square or two of semi-sweet or dark chocolate to meat dishes, such as beef stew, chili, BBQ or pasta meat sauce, for an unexpected rich deep taste.

Add cocoa powder to your favorite bread recipe. Unsweetened chocolate bread is great with cheese.

White chocolate, which is made with cocoa butter, is delicious with seafood or cheese. Add a little to macaroni and cheese or cream soups, or melt it over baked fish.
**
Pasta with Sage and Chocolate
Recipe from G.B. Martelli of the chocolatier Venchi

1 pound spaghetti or fettuccine
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
4 shallots, finely minced
20 fresh sage leaves, plus more for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper or crushed red pepper, to taste
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 to 2 ounces Venchi Chocaviar bits, or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely grated

Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and saute the shallots and sage leaves, for about 8 minutes, until the butter is golden brown.

Toss the pasta with the sage-shallot butter and about 1/4 cup of the pasta's cooking water. Season with pepper.

Serve topped with the cheese and a generous sprinkling of Chocaviar or grated chocolate. Garnish with sage leaves.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Aunt Sylvia's Brownies

I was rummaging through old recipes the other day looking for the Thanksgiving Corn Pudding Recipe (doesn't contain chocolate), and I came across an envelope labeled Recipes in my mother's handwriting. There were several hand-written recipes, some in my Mother's writing, some in mine (when I was younger as the penmanship was much better), and some I wasn't sure about. However, in the envelope was the elusive recipe for my Aunt Sylvia's Brownies. I read through the recipe, and it just seems so simple, yet her brownies were always the BEST! Chewy, not cakey, crunchy on the top. Yum.

My Aunt Sylvia lived about 100 miles from us. I can still see her in her dress, high heels and apron pulling these brownies out of the oven in her state of the art 1950s kitchen in her mid-century modern ranch house-a brand new ranch house at the time. Shades of Mad Men. The family room and sun room had beautiful knotty pine panelling, the kitchen was green (not avocado but dark green) with a glass kitchen table. Maybe I'm confused on the details of that house on Green Street, but I can still remember the taste of those sensational brownies. They were a real treat!

AUNT SYLVIA'S BROWNIES

1/2 lb. butter (2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
{cream together}
4 eggs
1 cup Flour
2 tsp vanilla
4 sq chocolate (unsweetened) melted (probably was Baker's)
1 cup Walnuts (optional)

There was no direction about mixing the rest together, but I think that was obvious.
The only other direction was: Pour in Buttered Pan for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees

These are Killer Brownies!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Chocolate French Toast


Today is National French Toast Day, and how best to celebrate? Chocolate French Toast.

3 large eggs
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened Cocoa (Hershey's or Ghirardellis or Scharffen Berger)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
8-10 slices challah
2 tbsp butter

I also like to use Cinnamon Swirl bread with this recipe. Just eliminate the extra cinnamon.

1. Beat eggs, milk, sugar, cocoa, vanilla, salt and cinnamon in large bowl until smooth.
2. Place bread in baking dish, making sure pieces do not overlap.
3. Pour egg mixture over bread slices. Turn bread until well-coated.
3. Heat griddle or skillet over medium-low heat. Grease griddle with butter.
3. Place bread slices on griddle. Cook about 2 to 4 minutes on each side until lightly browned and cooked through.
Serve immediately with butter, sliced strawberries, powdered sugar.

Photo: Hershey's Recipes

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Add Chocolate

So many great ways to use up Thanksgiving Left-Overs, and with the addition of a little chocolate (which is always left-over chez moi) you can have an outstanding meal.

Simply Recipes has a wonderful Turkey Chili Recipe that can be used in enchiladas or just eat as chili or use with Sloppy Joe's. Be sure and add chopped chocolate at the end. Recipe says unsweetened, but I add sweetened dark chocolate for a little more impact.

Good Food Channel has an awesome recipe by Gino D'Acampo for Turkey Mole that uses 'bitter' chocolate. For me that would be any chocolate over 65% cacao. I love this recipe because it uses almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds, prunes, raisins, plantains and lots of other ingredients that aren't in your (or my) usual moles.

For me, though, Mashed Potato Chocolate Cake is my favorite use of left-overs. There are lots of Mashed Potato Chocolate Cake recipes, but this is one of the easiest.

1 1/2 cup self rising flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz. organic fair-trade dark chocolate, melted
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup cooked mashed potatoes (make sure they weren't seasoned)

Cream butter and sugar with potatoes. Then add melted chocolate or cocoa. Add beaten eggs alternately with flour and salt. Pour in milk and mix well. Grease 9 inch square pan. Pour mixture into pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Top will be firm and spring to the touch when cooked. Let cake cool and turn onto wire rack. Frost with a good chocolate ganache when completely cooled.

More Chocolate Desserts for Thanksgiving


More Chocolate Desserts for Thanksgiving.

So now you have the Chocolate Turkey Rub and the White Chocolate Mashed Potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner. I've posted several pumpkin + chocolate desserts, too. Here are a few more last minute possibilities for including chocolate at your Thanksgiving table.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
. This is always great . Add a dollop of whipped cream or some pure vanilla ice-cream.

Susan Shea mentioned a Chocolate Pavlova when she saw the Chocolate Caramel Trifle yesterday. A Pavlova is basically a meringue, so it shouldn't be too difficult. Here's Martha Stewart's recipe for Chocolate Pavlova. I would add strawberries or raspberries and blueberries in addition to the whipped cream and chocolate curls on top, but it's your choice. I just think it looks more festive!

Chocolate Pavlova

FOR THE MERINGUE
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 cup dark-brown sugar
3/4 cup superfine sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder

TO ASSEMBLE
Dark-Chocolate Cream
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
Milk-Chocolate Curls, for garnish (optional)

Make the meringue: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Draw an 8-inch circle on parchment, then flip. Mix whites, sugars, and salt in a mixer bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugars dissolve and mixture is warm, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and whisk on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Beat in vanilla.

Sift cocoa powder over meringue, and fold until barely any streaks remain. Using an offset spatula or a large spoon, spread meringue into a round, using circle as a guide. (Be careful not to spread out too much; meringue will spread more during baking.) Form a well in center, being careful not to spread meringue too thin.

Bake meringue until dry to the touch, about 1 hour. Let cool on sheet on wire rack. Meringue will keep, covered, for up to 1 day.

To assemble pavlova: Spread dark-chocolate cream evenly in center of meringue, leaving a 1/2-inch border from edge. Spread whipped cream over chocolate cream. Garnish with chocolate curls, and serve immediately.

White Chocolate Mashed Potatoes

The other day I posted two different Chocolate Rubs for the Turkey. Well today Candy Dish Blog posted a recipe for White Chocolate Mashed Potatoes. There's some hot red pepper sauce in this dish, so it's not really sweet. White chocolate has a lot of cocoa butter in it, so these will be rich and are actually taking the place of butter in a 'normal' recipe.

White Chocolate Mashed Potatoes

3 pounds yellow-fleshed potatoes, peeled
1 1/2 ounce white chocolate, chopped (make sure it's pure white chocolate made from cocoa butter and not just a hydrogenated shortening)
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 dashes hot red pepper sauce, such as Tabasco sauce
1 1/2 cup fat-free milk

Directions:
Place the potatoes in a large pot, cover with cool water to a depth of 2 inches, and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Drain in a colander set in the sink and return the potatoes to the pan.

Add the white chocolate to the still-hot potatoes; stir until the white chocolate starts to melt. Stir in the salt and hot red pepper sauce.

Use an electric mixer at medium-low speed to mash the potatoes slightly. Pour in the milk and continue mixing until creamy, about 1 minute. Serve at once.

Checking my sources, I found on MSNBC.com that this recipe was created by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, co-authors of The Ultimate Potato Book for the U.S. Potato Board. Glad it's making the rounds.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Chocolate Caramel Trifle with Raspberries: An Alternative to Pumpkin Pie

Sunset has as wonderful list of 17 Thanksgiving desserts. Most call for pumpkin or cranberries but the one that stands out for me is Chocolate Caramel Trifle with Raspberries. I posted something about trifle on DyingforChocolate, and I must admit it's a lovely dessert. This chocolate trifle is outstanding... and decadent.

I am a good baker, but I don't always have time, so I have printed the original recipe here and below an adaptation for the Time Challenged Cook.

Original Chocolate Caramel Trifle with Raspberries from Sunset
Notes: Make and cool pastry cream while cake bakes and cools.
Ingredients
About 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter, at room temperature
About 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup hazelnut- or coffee-flavor liqueur
Caramel Pastry Cream
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries (6 oz.), rinsed and drained

Preparation
1. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.
2. Coarsely chop 3 ounces of the chocolate and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in a microwave oven on full power (100%), stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth, about 1 1/2 minutes total.
3. In a large bowl, with a mixer on medium-high speed, beat 1/2 cup butter and the sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well blended. Stir in melted chocolate.
4. In another bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture and milk to butter mixture, stir to combine, then beat until well blended. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread level.
5. Bake in a 350° regular or convection oven until cake begins to pull from pan sides, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cake cool to room temperature in pan on a rack, about 1 1/2 hours.
6. Run a thin knife between cake and pan sides and invert onto a board to release. Cut cake into 1- to 1 1/2-inch cubes. Layer a third of the cubes in the bottom of a 3- to 3 1/2-quart trifle bowl or other straight-sided glass bowl. Drizzle 1/4 cup liqueur evenly over cake. Spoon a third of the Caramel Pastry Cream over cake and spread level. Repeat to make two more layers each of cake, liqueur, and pastry cream, ending with pastry cream. Cover and chill at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.
7. Finely chop remaining 1 ounce chocolate or scrape into curls. Arrange raspberries on trifle and sprinkle chocolate evenly over berries. Scoop onto dessert plates to serve.

Adaptation: Use a good chocolate cake mix. You can also substitute caramel syrup for the caramelized sugar in the pastry cream. Fast and easy. I serve this trifle in a glass bowl with straight sides. Trifles should be seen and admired, as well as taste good.

Photograph: James Carrier for Sunset. Yours will look this good, too!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More Pumpkin + Chocolate Recipes


Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and I have a few more recipes that include pumpkin and chocolate. The Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake and the Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread Recipe are from CDkitchen. For other Pumpkin + Chocolate recipes, go to my posts on Pumpkin + Chocolate and Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake Recipe

1 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour 9x5x2 1/2-inch metal loaf pan.

Sift first 5 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in sugar, then beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in pumpkin and vanilla. Beat dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture alternately with milk. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake loaf cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack; cool completely. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Wrap in plastic; store at room temperature.)

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread Recipe

2 1/3 cups white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
4 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups canned pumpkin
2/3 cup water
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour four 1-pound coffee cans, four mini loaf pans or two 8 by 4-inch loaf pans. In large mixing bowl, stir together white flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Make a well in the center. Add the eggs, oil, pumpkin and water. Beat well. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into prepared pans. Bake for about 1 hour or until tests done. Allow loaves to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cake rack to finish cooling. You may double wrap the loaves when cool and freeze for 2 months.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Spicy Chocolate Rub: Turkey for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is at my home this year, and we're Barbecuing the Turkey. We like the smokiness, and it leaves my ovens free for all the side dishes and pies. We usually do a citrus marinade, but this year I was thinking of doing something chocolate. That should come as no big surprise to daily readers of this blog.

So I've been searching for either a marinade or rub, and I found a Spicy Chocolate Rub Recipe on The BBQ Report. I've used chocolate in mole, so I think this would be great. Just combine everything in the Cuisinart until ground fine. This recipe is for chicken, so if you're planning a 20 lb. turkey, you'll need more.

1 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Want to get a little more sophisticated with the Rub. Kunde Family Estates (great wine) has a recipe for BBQ Turkey with Ancho Chile/Chocolate Rub. This recipe includes brining the turkey first. Too much work for me this time, but you might want to try it. Here's the recipe for

Ancho Chile/Chocolate Rub

3 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. chile powder
1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. chipotle chile powder

2 tbsp. softened butter

In a small bowl, combine all the dry rub ingredients. Mix well. In another small bowl, mash the butter together with 2 tbsp. rub – set aside.

How are you using chocolate at Thanksgiving this year?

Photo: Milk Chocolate Turkey available at Chocolate.com

Chocolate Sampler: November 21

Today's the first day of a new Column: Chocolate Sampler. I'll be blogging about chocolate news, recipes and reviews of the week. Enjoy!

The Kitchn has a How To: Totally Terrific Thanksgiving Turkeys. How cute are these? And, so easy. Follow the simple directions for great decorations for your Thanksgiving table.

Making Chocolate Bowls with Balloons. I saw this blog last March, but for some reason I never mentioned it on DyingforChocolate. I think it's pure genius and lots of fun. Cathy saw this idea on Stephanie's Kitchen, but her photos and step-by-step directions are priceless. Sometimes balloons like bubbles break, but most of these make fabulous bowls to be filled with your favorite chocolate treats.

Rocky Road Ice Cream. Easy and delicious recipe at What's Cooking.

And Chocolate News:
Warning for Cadbury from the home of Hershey's:
• US confectioner has moved thousands of jobs to Mexico in three-year restructuring
• Company's intentions towards Cadbury, a potential bid target, remain unclear

Send me links to your favorite chocolate news or Follow me on Twitter where I RT what I find as I find it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

National Peanut Butter Fudge Day

Who wouldn't want to celebrate National Peanut Butter Fudge Day?

Fudge is often used as a generic term for a type of candy: Fudge: n. A soft rich candy made of sugar, milk, butter, and flavoring. But I believe one can't really call it fudge if there isn't any chocolate, after all, this is the Dying for Chocolate blog. I go with this definition: Fudge is a cooked chocolate confection. There are a huge range of fudge recipes, but most include chocolate, sugar, butter, and condensed milk, evaporated milk, or cream.

For a really easy peanut butter fudge recipe, try this one I've adapted from allrecipes.com

Ingredients
3 cups white sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup cocoa (best quality for best taste)
1/2 cup peanut butter (organic smooth)
1 tablespoon butter

Directions
1. Butter one 9x9 inch pan.
2. Combine the sugar, evaporated milk and cocoa in saucepan. Stir over high heat until mixture comes to a rolling boil. Lower heat to medium and continue cooking to a soft ball stage.
3. Remove from heat, add peanut butter and butter. Beat by hand until creamy; pour into prepared pan. Allow to cool and cut into squares.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Homemade Bread Day: Dark Chocolate Cherry Levain


Monday was Homemade Bread Day, but I wasn't home. However, it's never too late to make homemade bread. I used to love to bake bread, but I haven't recently. I live in the San Francisco Bay area, and we have so many fabulous bakeries, it's just easier to buy it sometimes.

There was one bread that I really liked to bake that is especially appropriate to this blog: Chocolate Cherry Sourdough. I couldn't locate my recipe since it's been awhile, so I started looking on the Internet for something close. I found several recipes on The Fresh Loaf, a great site for "News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts." That would be me, and I hope you.

Here's JMonkey's Blog from February 11, 2007 for Chocolate Cherry Sourdough Bread. Great recipe and terrific photos and instructions. This seems very close to the one I used to make. There are a few comments I'm unclear on, so my recommendation is do what you usually do. And, I should say I bake in a regular oven.

This recipe and blog elicited a lot of discussion on The Fresh Loaf, and I found another recipe, this time for a Dark Chocolate Tart Cherry Levain posted by unbreadman, December 2, 2007. These recipes complement each other, so have a look at both before you decide to try one.

Dark Chocolate Tart Cherry Levain
1.5 lbs Bread Flour (Golden Buffalo)
1lb 2ozs water
.5oz salt
Small amount of refreshed s.dough culture (adjust depending on taste/rising time preference)
8ozs dark chocolate, broken into small bits
12ozs dried tart cherries (if sugar is added, its okay. They will come out during soaking)

1) Soak cherries for at least 30 minutes to remove any added sugar and prevent burning
2) Mix flour, salt, and water until fully hydrated, let sit for 30 minutes (can do while cherries soak)
3) Cut up levain, add to dough with cherries, mix until fully distributed, knead to develop gluten, but be gentle not to destroy cherry integrity
4) Bulk ferment until approx 1.5x volume increase, folding once* halfway through.
*During fold, add chocolate bits in between each fold over. JMonkey's blog illustrates this well, here.
5) Very gently shape the loaf, trying not to puncture the future crust. While it's not tragic if it does happen, if there's a leak, chocolate can leak out and burn, and it might make you a little sad. But you'll be fine! It's okay!
6) Bake on a preheated stone with steam at 400-425F.
LET COOL BEFORE CUTTING. Molten Chocolate is very hot! It will burn if you, so it is imperative that you resist the nearly irresistable urge to eat this bread.
7) Devour. It will probably not last very long. Not because it won't keep. But because it's too tasty. Even if you mess up a bit.

Photo: "unbreadman" posted on The Fresh Loaf

Monday, November 16, 2009

Vancouver: Chocolate at the Refinery

Sorry I don't live in Vancouver. Doesn't this sound fabulous!!

Chocolate at the Refinery: Artisan chocolate meets wine, beer, cocktails and canapes

Date: Friday, November 20th, 2009
Time: 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Location: The Refinery, 1115 Granville Street, Vancouver, British Columbia
Tickets: $40.00

Schedule of events:

5:30 - 6:15 p.m. Savoury canapes from The Refinery's Chef Mike Carter, incorporating Theo Chocolate. Paired with a custom cocktail from Lauren Mote, incorporating Vista d'Oro walnut wine and garnished with shavings of Theo Chocolate.

6:15 - 6:30 p.m. Welcome and introductions. Joe Whinney, CEO of Theo Chocolate, will tell us about the company he founded.

6:30 - 7:10 p.m. Guided chocolate and beverage pairing. Hear stories about where the chocolate comes from, and who made the beverage that it's paired with.

Featuring four chocolates from the Theo Chocolate line:
* Ghana single-origin bar 84%
* Madagascar single-origin bar 74%
* Fig, fennel & almond bar from the 3400 Phinney line
* Jane Goodall milk chocolate 45% (voted best organic product at NY Fancy Food Show, 2009)

Paired with those, we have gorgeous selections from Farmstead Wines and Vista d'Oro:
* Farmstead Claus Preisinger Basic (retail: $43 per bottle)
* Farmstead Marc Tempe Rodelsberg 2004 (retail: $90 per bottle)
* Farmstead Agricola Marrone Arnies 2007 (retail: $60 per bottle)
* Vista d'Oro walnut wine (retail: $96 per bottle)

7:10 - 7:30 p.m. Sweet canapes from Chef Mike Carter, plus confections from Theo Chocolate. Here's your opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the artisan products that you just enjoyed.

This event presented by Eagranie Yuh, thewelltemperedchocolatier.com

Contact info

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Super-Duper Chocolate Kisses


Better Homes and Gardens has been sending me a daily cookie email. 'Tis the season. I welcome these wonderful recipes in my inbox. It's definitely cookie time, especially if you want to bake ahead. The BHG recipe for Super-Duper Chocolate Kisses is simple (very little clean-up, too), and the cookies look fabulous and taste delicious. Perfect to set out for Santa! Enjoy!

Ingredients
1 16-1/2-ounce package refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup chocolate-flavor sprinkles
2 tablespoons milk
About 40 dark chocolate kisses, unwrapped

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet; set aside. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine cookie dough and cocoa powder. Seal bag; knead with your hands until dough is well mixed. Remove dough from bag.

2. Place chocolate sprinkles in a shallow dish or small bowl. Place milk in another shallow dish or small bowl. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Dip balls in milk to moisten, then roll in chocolate sprinkles to coat. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet.

3. Bake in the preheated oven about 8 minutes or until edges are firm. Immediately press a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool. Makes about 40 cookies.

To Store: Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day: Cookies & Bars for the Military

Linda Brandt has an article: Veteran's Day Treats in the Sarasota Herald Tribune today about sending baked goods, especially cookies, overseas to military personnel. Lots of great tips and advice on what to send and how to send it. She's compiled a list of Websites to help with the process of sending.

One of her tips: Use M&Ms instead of chocolate chips in cookies if you're concerned about the heat.

Packages usually reach their destination in 10 to 14 days; however, first class and priority mail deadline for Christmas delivery to APO/FPO AE ZIP 093 is Dec. 4; for all others the deadline is Dec. 11. Include a letter or card with your cookies.

Here's the recipe for Peanutty Buckeye Bars. (bars pack nicely and stay fresh)

PEANUTTY BUCKEYE BARS

1 (19.5-ounce) package brownie mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup cooking oil
1 cup chopped peanuts
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan; set aside. In a large bowl, combine brownie mix, eggs and oil. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Stir in peanuts. Remove half of the brownie mixture and set aside. Spread the remaining brownie mixture evenly into prepared pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter until smooth. Spread evenly over brownie mixture in pan. Separate the remaining brownie mixture into pieces, flatten them with your fingers, and place them on top of the brownie mixture in pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until top is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes 32 bars.

From Better Homes & Gardens Holiday Bar Cookies
reprinted in Linda Brandt's article


Since it's Veteran's Day, you might want to mix up your own special chocolate cookie or bar recipe and take it to a military base or give to a Veteran friend. Check out Bake at 350 for her adapted recipe of Crisp Chocolate Chip Shortbread.

Chocolate Milk May Reduce Inflammation

The New York Times reported today that chocolate milk--skim milk with flavonoid-rich cocoa--may reduce inflammation, potentially slowing or preventing development of atherosclerosis. Researchers noted, however, that the effect was not as pronounced as that seen with red wine.

So I guess I'll have a glass of chocolate milk at lunch and a glass of red wine in the evening, and cover my bases.

For the entire article about the Spanish study on chocolate milk, go HERE.

However, before you mix up that chocolate milk, have a look at Julie Deardorff's article in the Chicago Tribune on how to pick healthy chocolate. She writes, "But before you run out and stock up on the latest sugary drink to hit schools, remember that not all chocolate is created equal. It comes in many forms--cocoa powder, dark chocolate (bittersweet), milk and baking chocolate--and only certain types have shown to have benefits. Read the rest of the article here.

The benefits of chocolate milk isn't exactly new. James Madison University presented a study at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting that showed that lowfat chocolate milk provides muscle recovery equal and possibly even better than, high-carbohydrate recovery drinks with the same…amount of calories.

Well, yet. And, I'm not even going to go to the school chocolate milk controversy.

For a great Chocolate Milk recipe, go to my comments on National Chocolate Milk Day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chocolate Bouchons

So I put out a call for Thanksgiving chocolate recipes on Twitter and Facebook, and Sallee Kraics sent me a link to this fabulous recipe for Chocolate Bouchons. They have a texture close to a dense cake or a very dense brownie. Yummy! I've made these before, but even though they were a suggestion for Thanksgiving, I don't think I'll have time. They're best served the same day as baked. Thanksgiving is at my house this year. They really are easy to make though and only take about 45 minutes...so another time, but a great reminder!


This recipe is from the L.A. Times, adapted from "Bouchon" by Thomas Keller, with a few adaptations of my own. Timbale molds are available at Sur La Table and online. Keller suggests using 3-ounce (2 to 2 1/2 -inch diameter) stainless-steel timbale molds.

3/4 cup (3 1/2 ounces) flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I like Scharffen Berger)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I use Madagascar vanilla)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and just slightly warm
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, 55%-70% cacao, chopped into pieces
Butter and flour for the timbale molds
Powdered sugar

1. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt.
2. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the eggs and sugar on medium speed until thick and pale in color, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.
3. With the mixer on low speed, add about one-third of the dry ingredients, then one-third of the butter, and continue alternating with the remaining flour and butter. Add the chocolate and continue to mix to combine. (The batter can be made up to this point and refrigerated, covered, for up to one day.)
4. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 12 timbale molds. Set aside.
5. Put the timbale molds on a baking sheet. Place the batter in a pastry bag without a tip, or with a large plain tip, and fill each mold about two-thirds full. Bake the bouchons until the tops are shiny and set (like a brownie), and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out moist but clean (there may be some melted chocolate from the chopped chocolate), 20 to 25 minutes.
6. Transfer the bouchons to a cooling rack. After a couple of minutes, invert the molds and let the bouchons cool in the molds. Remove the molds and serve, or store until needed (the bouchons are best eaten the day they are baked).

To serve, invert the bouchons and dust them with powdered sugar. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream. At Bouchon (Keller's bakery in Yountville, they serve three small bouchons with roasted banana ice cream and a hazelnut tuile, along with chocolate sauce and a salted caramel sauce. Heaven!!!

If you have a special chocolate recipe for Thanksgiving, I'd love to see it. Planning to Blog a chocolate recipe for Thanksgiving, I'll link.

Photo: Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times

Monday, November 9, 2009

San Francisco Holiday Chocolate Show

San Francisco Holiday Chocolate Show: Saturday November 14, 2009, noon to 5, Fort Mason Center, Herbst Pavillion, San Francisco. Sample and purchase artisanal chocolates from over 30 of the Bay Area's finest Chocolate Makers and Vendors:

Belgano Chocolatier, BonBonBar, Bridge Brands Chocolate, Charles Chocolates, Chocolate Visions, Clarine's Florentines, Coco Delice, Coco-luxe Confections, Divine Chocolate, Dolce Bella Chocolates, Edible Love Chocolates, Gâteau et Ganache, Jeanne's Fudge, Jade Chocolates, Kika's Treats, Madécasse, Neo Cocoa, Rushburn Toffee, Sacred Chocolate, Saratoga Chocolates, Snake and Butterfly Chocolate, Sôcôla Chocolatier, Sterling Confections, TCHO, The Tea Room Chocolates, Truffles in Paradise, The Xocolate Bar, XOX Truffles

Want to save admission fee ($21/25), volunteer for a 2 hour shift (working check-in, during 10 am to 7 p.m.) and get free admission for the rest of the shows. Register here to volunteer.

The SF Firefighters will be on hand to collect new unwrapped toys for their annual Toy Program. Help them brighten the day of deserving children this holiday season.

You can purchase tickets at http://holidaychocshow.eventbee.com or via Paypal (send payment to Les at les_tso@yahoo.com).

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Isaac Mizrahi Tartan Cheesecake

Isaac Mizrahi is launching a new collection for QVC that includes, along with clothes, handbags and teapots, the Isaac Mizrahi cheesecake--a tartan cheesecake with a chocolate cookie crust.

It's a little strange to me that Mizrahi is now including cheesecake and cookies with his clothes and teapots. His latest offering is a tartan-plaid cheesecake for Christmas. Mizrahi suggested “a chocolate-crumb moment” to add some crunch and said the cheesecake is “enrobed” in white chocolate dyed red, with green and navy plaid stripes.

The tartan cheesecake is from Junior’s and will feature a Mizrahi-mandated chocolate cookie crust. There will also be Mizrahi-selected chocolate chip cookies and banana nut loaf. When asked about the credibility of his food selections, he was defensive. “To me, they’re very important, wonderful things," and he did “1,000 tastings.”

“I have been building and building and building over the past 10 years. I have been doing a TV show with a lot of cooking segments, working with Lidia Bastianich and Mario Batali. It has made me quite good at tasting food. I’ve been a judge on ‘Iron Chef.’” That would qualify him?

These are designer cheesecakes. Besides the plaid version for Christmas, there will be a classic “enrobed” in white chocolate, dyed in signature red with navy plaid stripes. In spring, there will be polka dots.

To promote his exclusive line of cheesecakes Isaac Mizrahi will have his own show on QVC called "Isaac Mizrahi Live!"

Read more about Isaac Mizrahi in the WSJ here.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day: November 7

As I've said many times before, every day is Chocolate Day for me, but today is National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day. In this age of high end organic, fair trade chocolate, single origin chocolate, bittersweet seems to cover a broad range of chocolate. So bittersweet as defined below leaves one open to enjoying all kinds of chocolate today--along with almonds.

According to Wikipedia, bittersweet chocolate is chocolate liquor (unsweetened chocolate) 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 now 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).

In honor of Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day, I'm going to have a bittersweet chocolate bar with almonds. So many great bars out there including Sjaks, Green & Black, Valor, Ghirardelli, Alter Eco --and even Hershey's.

Want to make your own treat to celebrate the holiday? One of my favorite recipes is Chocolate Almond Nut Jobs from David Lebovitz's Room for Dessert. This is a simple delicious recipe! Thank you, David!

Ingredients
3/4 cup almonds
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toast the almonds in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until they are lightly browned. Allow them to cool completely, and then chop them coarsely.
2. Break up the chocolate and melt it in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Make sure that the bowl you melt the chocolate in is completely dry; if there’s even a drop of water, the chocolate will “seize”—become stiff and granular—and it will be unusable.
3. Once the chocolate has melted, take the bowl off the heat and stir in the chopped nuts, completely coating them with chocolate.
4. Cover a baking sheet with parchment or plastic wrap. Scoop out heaping teaspoons of the chocolate-nut mixture onto the sheet pan. When done, refrigerate until ready to eat.

Note: By refrigerating the candies and serving them cold, you avoid having to temper the chocolate. Candies made with untempered chocolate and left at room temperature eventually develop white streaks from the gradual separation of cocoa butter out of the chocolate.

Today is also National Bookstore Day. Visit your favorite Cookbook Bookstore. I love Ominvore in San Francisco.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cold Stone Creamery: Fudge Brownie Batter


Cold Stone Creamery has added a new Holiday Flavor--Fudge Brownie Batter- to its Cake Batter Line. This new Fudge Brownie Batter and all the creations they'll be making using this flavor will be available at all Cold Stone stores from November 4 to December 29, 2009. The powers that be say its 'reminiscent of licking a brownie batter bowl.' This flavor will be featured in ice-cream Creations, pies, cakes and cupcakes:

Brownie Batter Connection Creation - Fudge Brownie Batter ice cream mixed with brownies, OREO® cookies and fudge

Peanut Butter Brownie Bliss Creation - Fudge Brownie Batter ice cream mixed with brownies, creamy peanut butter and fudge

OREO® Fudge Brownie Cake- Layers of moist brownie, fudge and Fudge Brownie Batter ice cream mixed with OREO cookies and fudge, then wrapped in chocolate
frosting

OREO® Brownie Crunch Cupcake - A rich chocolate cup filled with an OREO cookie layer, then a scoop of Fudge Brownie Batter ice cream mixed with brownies, and topped with chocolate frosting and an OREO cookie

This season`s featured ice cream pies are:

Chocolate on my Peanut Butter Pie, Chocolate ice cream with Reese`s® Peanut Butter Cup™ and covered in fudge ganache
Caramel Turtle TreatPie, Sweet Cream ice cream in a graham cracker crust and drizzled with caramel
Cookie Dough Pie, Cake Batter ice cream with fudge and caramel and topped with creamy, white frosting

Haven't tried it yet, but I wonder how it will compare with Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice-cream. I'll let you know. Of course, Cold Stone Creamery has this as a seasonal flavor and uses it in special pies, cakes and sundaes during this short period of time. So I'm off to Cold Stone Creamery in the next few days, and I'll update this post.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Leftover Halloween Candy: Brownies & Pie


Always a dilemma, what to do with all that leftover Halloween candy. If you have older kids, they've probably eaten it by now, but if you're like me, you bought a lot and no one came to the door. Yes, you can eat all that candy or throw it in the freezer, but it's not usually the high end chocolate I enjoy eating. I tried putting it out for the book group last night, but they, too, are more discerning about their chocolate.

So today on Twitter I was directed to two different blogs with great baking ideas for that left over Halloween Candy.

Susan at Doughmesstic blogs today about Trick or Treat Brownies. You can use a brownie recipe or a box mix, but make sure to add in lots of chocolate syrup and reduce the amount of water. She made her Trick or Treat Brownies with her 2 year old, Seven, who as you will see from the photos really participated. Once her brownie batter was mixed, she threw in chopped up Twix, 3 Musketeers and some Hershey Bars. Bake and serve. Full recipe on today's Doughmesstic. Be sure and check it out.

Cakespy, another of my favorite food blogs, did a blog the other day entitled Candy Massacre: Leftover Halloween Candy Pie for Serious Eats. What a colorful chocolate pie you can make if you follow this path!

Cakespy writes:
"But is there a way to breathe new life—to re-animate, if you will—this past its prime candy? I propose yes: by dumping it in a pie shell and melting it into one monstrous mash of a candy pie. It's not for the faint of heart, what with the alarming spread of candy viscera melted all over the top. I wouldn't even try to call it a sophisticated or refined dessert. But in an admittedly guilty pleasure sort of way, this pie is actually pretty tasty, and if you have an oven with a window, it's fascinating to watch while it bakes."

Cakespy actually incorporates M&Ms, Snickers, Dots and Candy corn, but you use can use whatever you left over. Her pie crust recipe looks easy and good. It's a single crust and the filling is just all the candy, but predominately chocolate candy.

So there you have it: two great blog posts about What to do with all that Halloween Candy.

This may not be for everyone, but I'll bet several of you out there will love making--and eating-- these desserts.

Added 11/6 in case you have any more Leftover Candy. To Your Heart's Content has a blog about S'more of the Week: Leftover Halloween Candy with "recipes' for 2 Musketeers Bar, Krackel, Heath Bar, Mounds of Almond Joy (oh Joy!), and Kit Kat bars.

Photo credit: Doughmesstic

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Better Homes & Gardens has a great recipe for Red Velvet Whoopie Pies. I blogged about Whoopie Pies on Dying for Chocolate, but not Red Velvet. How American is this! 45 minutes to make and 8 minutes to Bake!

RED VELVET WHOOPIE PIES

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (the best quality)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1-oz. bottle red food coloring (2 Tbsp.)--(yes tasty red velvet cakes use red food coloring)
1 recipe Whoopie Pie Filling, recipe below

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment; set aside. In medium bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
2. In large mixing bowl beat butter on medium to high 30 seconds. Beat in brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beating after each addition just until combined. Stir in food coloring.
3. Spoon batter in 1- or 2-inch diameter rounds, about 1/2-inch high on prepared baking sheets, allowing 1 inch between each round.
4. Bake 7 to 9 minutes for 1-inch cookies or 9 to 11 minutes for 2-inch cookies, or until tops are set. Cool completely on baking sheets on rack. Remove cooled cookies from baking sheets.
5. To fill, dollop Whoopie Pie Filling on flat sides of half the cookies. Top with remaining cookies, flat sides down. Makes 60 one-inch or 42 two-inch cookies.

6. Whoopie Pie Filling: In medium mixing bowl beat 1/4 cup softened butter and half an 8-ounce package softened cream cheese until smooth. Fold in one 7-ounce jar marshmallow creme.
7. To store: Refrigerate in airtight container up to 4 days. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

National Sandwich Day: Chocolate Mayo BLT


November 3 is National Sandwich Day, as opposed to National Sandwich Month which is the Month of August. According to Gone-ta-pott.com this is a day to honor and enjoy sandwiches. A sandwich is defined as a food item made of two or more slices of leavened bread with one or more layers of filling, typically meat or cheese, with the addition sometimes of vegetables or salad. Sometimes mustard, mayonnaise, or butter is used. For the history of the sandwich, go Here.

So I've had several recipes for Chocolate Panini and Grilled Chocolate Cheese Sandwiches and the like, but I just got the Recchiuti newsletter and Michael has a dynamite Recipe for Brioche and Chocolate Mayo BLT. I love bacon and chocolate, and this is a subtle pairing. There's a Recipe for brioche that looks fairly easy, but if you can't wait, go out and buy a nice artisan brioche to use in this special BLT.

At the Cheese & Chocolate Taste Project, Recchiuti assembled his BLTs with his homemade brioche, applewood smoked bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, fresh butter lettuce, a thick slice of heirloom tomato and this great Chocolat-y mayonnaise.

CHOCOLATE MAYO

6 extra-large egg yolks
1/4 pound unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (I love Recchiuti!)
3 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper

Place yolks in a stainless steel mixing bowl.
Combine unsweetened chocolate and olive oil in double boiler and heat mixture to 115°F.
Begin beating egg yolks on medium speed for 1 minute, then increase speed to high and whip until doubled in volume.

Reduce speed to medium and add the chocolate mixture to the yolks carefully, in a fine stream. The yolks will start to emulsify and thicken. If mixture becomes too thick you may add a small amount of oil to loosen the mixture. Season to taste.

Note: This mayonnaise is meant for immediate use and will not keep well in the refrigerator.

Celebrate the day with this fabulous BLT!

New York Chocolate Show

I really wish I could clone myself so I could have been at the 12th Annual New York Chocolate Show this past weekend. The next best thing, I guess, is reading all the blogs and watching all the videos.

Designed for the public, this event allows visitors to discover a lot about the world of chocolate. The Chocolate Show is for chocolate lovers of all ages. There's even a Kid's Corner. Included at the Show are demonstrations by top pastry chefs and chocolate makers, Chocolate Tastings (well...yeah), 65 top chocolate brands & booths (less than last year), cookbook store with author signings, and Haute Couture dresses and accessories made with chocolate.

In case you didn't go or didn't see the demos, if you did, Fine Cooking Live at the Chocolate Show has several videos. Go to their site to watch the demos that include Regional Chocolates of Italy (Maglio, De Bondt, and Gobino), Karen DeMasco, Locanda Verde making Chocolate Cake Doughnuts with Chocolate Crackle Glaze, Beth Kimmerle, Author and Candy Historian
Spooky Chocolate Halloween Treats, Jacques Torres and others.

Delish reported on the Chocolate Catwalk. Great photos of incredible chocolate 'costumes'

Speakeasy (Wall Street Journal) has a short video including a clip of Swedish chocolatier Hakan Martensson’s gothic sculptures that will last from 10-15 years. Not for eating.

Nikki Goldstein for Serious Eats New York does a 'serious' wrap-up.

Here's what people had to say:
Dessert Buzz
Paris Breakfasts
Epicurious on The Best of the 2009 Chocolate Show with three new favorites (including one of mine)

And there was Camel's Milk Chocolate from Dubai that I mentioned last Spring. Now, for sure, I should have been there.

Were you there? Love to hear what you think. Leave comments.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I saw this recipe in the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday, and I know it will be sensational for two reasons. #1 the ingredients are perfect. #2 you can make the dough for these cookies up to a month in advance, freeze them, and then bake them at the last minute, especially during the holidays. Your house will smell great, and your guests will be in awe of how well you budgeted your time that you were able to make homemade cookies in addition to everything else. These are also great for any time you need a special dessert at the last minute.

This recipe is just one of many --but the only with chocolate-- that Amanda Gold at the SF Chronicle assembled for her "Freezer Party." Read the whole article, here. I made a few changes/additions based on cookies I've made.

Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes about 5 dozen cookies

2 sticks butter, softened (unsalted)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
10 ounces dark chocolate chunks (I would use a high-grade dark chocolate-the best you can buy-break into pieces)
3/4 cup dried cherries (I would use dried tart montmorency cherries)
I would also add 3/4 cup of chopped pecans/I think they'll be fine in the freezer

Instructions: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugars and salt until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, then add vanilla, beating after each addition. Slowly add in the baking soda and flour, beating until well combined, taking care not to overmix. With a spatula, fold in the chocolate chunks and cherries (and pecans if you're using them)

Using two tablespoons or a small ice cream scoop, form cookies and place on ungreased baking sheets. If baking right away, the cookies should be 2 inches apart on the baking sheets, and should be baked for about 9 minutes in a 350° oven.

If freezing, place cookies right next to one another on one cookie sheet, and freeze for at least 30 minutes until firm, then transfer cookies to a self-sealing plastic freezer bag.

You can pull them out as needed and bake them directly from the freezer in a preheated 350° oven for about 11 minutes.

another variation: