Saturday, December 31, 2011

Champagne Truffles for New Year's Eve

Ring in the New Year with Champagne Truffles. Don't have time to make them (recipe here)? Several great Chocolate Companies make Champagne Truffles. The following list is not definitive, but will get you started. Comment below with your favorites. Love to add to the list.

Recchiuti Chocolate Champagne Truffles
Indulge in this version of a classic favorite. Dark chocolate truffle with 2001 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs from Napa Valley and confectioner's sugar.

Seattle Chocolate Company Champagne Truffles. A bubbly truffle featuring a blended milk and dark chocolate center with natural popping candy and a bit of bite. Enrobed in dark chocolate.

Choclatique Bubbly Champagne Truffles. I love these. Have tried them several time. They're light and cream and bubbly! 

Teuscher Chocolate of Switzerland
House specialty, the famous Champagne Truffle, a blend of cream, butter and chocolate: champagne cream center surrounded by a dark chocolate ganache, covered in milk chocolate and dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Originally created by Adolf Teuscher, Sr. in 1947. Available also in an all dark version which I like even more!

Jacques Torres
Jacques' Taittinger Champagne Truffles are a combination of milk chocolate, fresh cream and Taittinger Brut La Francaise. I love the cork shape of these truffles.

Vosges Champagne Truffle Collection
Artisanal dark chocolate truffles combined with Krug® Champagne. 85% dark chocolate with Grande Cuvee Champagne and shaped like a truffle mushroom.

Williams-Sonoma
La Maison du Chocolat selects and roasts its own cacao beans, and all of the chocolate is made from special house blends. Their collection of chocolate truffles are hand made at the La Maison du Chocolat workshop in Paris. Other truffles but includes Champagne truffles: dark chocolate truffles infused with Fine Champagne Cognac, covered with dark chocolate and dusted with cocoa powder.

Payard Truffles
Champagne Truffles

Neuhaus Champagne Truffles
Dark chocolate dusted with a frosting of powdered sugar with soft centers of champagne butter. Not for the superstitious. Neuhaus Champagne Truffles are sold in boxes of 13.

Godiva makes a champagne truffle, but I haven't had one in awhile. I remember it was beautiful and very smooth, but there was more chocolate taste than champagne. Still Godiva truffles are great.

Charbonnel & Walker Milk Chocolate Marc de Champagne Truffles.  Milk Chocolate with Marc de Champagne center.  Also try Charbonnel & Walker Chocolate Pink Champagne Truffles. Tangy & Sweet with a strawberry dusting and Marc de Champagne truffle center. Tangy & sweet.

Paul A. Young Champagne Truffles. Made with real Champagne.

Demarquette Champagne Truffles. These are made with vintage Dom Perignon Champagne. U.K. Brut Champagne (Dom Perignon) blended with our very own recipe of single estate and single origin cocoas from around the world and Cornish and Hampshire creams for the ultimate in pure taste. Each truffle is hand dipped in 71.1% couverture chocolate before being dusted with pure cocoa powder.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Champagne Truffles: National Champagne Day

December 31 is National Champagne Day. A Perfect Food Holiday for New Year's Eve. I do a lot of wine/champagne chocolate pairing events with my company TeamBuilding Unlimited, and we often have trivia quizzes. How many bubbles in a bottle of champagne? 49 million to 250 million! Now, that's a lot of bubbles.

You won't have any bubbles in these truffles for New Year's Eve, but you will taste the champagne.. and the Cognac. I posted this recipe last year for New Year's Eve, but I still find it's my favorite for easy Champagne Truffles. This recipe uses more champagne than most Champagne Truffle recipes, and the Cognac also adds some zip. If you're in a pinch you can use a different type of sugar or even cocoa to coat the truffles. The sanding sugar, though, gives it a festive New Year's Eve look!

Martha Stewart's Champagne Truffles
Makes about 3 dozen

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

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

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

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

Photo: Martha Stewart website

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ruth Jordan's Busy Lady Fudge

Yesterday may have been National Chocolate Candy Day, but every day is Chocolate Candy Day for me. One can never have enough Chocolate Candy, and that includes Fudge.

I just love when my mystery and chocolate worlds collide, so today I welcome Ruth Jordan with a guest post for Busy Lady Fudge. Ruth Jordan is the co-publisher of Crimespree Magazine. She believes in life, reading and the power of chocolate in equal measures. A perfect motto to live by!

RUTH JORDAN:
I think I picked up this recipe on the side of a jar of Fluff, but it works like a charm and you can add 1/4 teaspoon of any flavored extract if you want to go crazy. I add 1 teaspoon of orange zest on occasion, too. This is a 20 year tradition.

BUSY LADY FUDGE

Ingredients:
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cups evaporated milk
12 oz chocolate chips (Toll House semi sweet, of course)
1 cup Jet Puff Marshmallow Crème from Kraft (yup, that’s right, this Vermonter is sad to report the Jet Puff is superior to Fluff)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts

Instructions:
Microwave butter for one minute.
Add sugar and milk; Mix
Microwave on high for 3 minutes give a quick stir.
Microwave for 2 more minutes.
Mix well and scrape the bowl.
Return to microwave on high for 3 minutes; quick stir
Back in one last time, on high for 2 and 1/2 minutes
Stir in chocolate.
Add the Fluff/vanilla /and optional nuts.
Stir until blended.
Pour into a greased 9x9 or 13x9 baking dish.
Chill in a cool place.
Cut and eat.
May be stored in cookie tin lined with wax or parchment paper for up to 3 weeks.

Use the deepest microwave safe bowl you have that will fit into your microwave, there is bubbling. I use my trusty college hand mixer for the stirring, but a whisk is fine.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Homemade Oh Henry! Bars: National Chocolate Candy Day

Today is National Chocolate Candy Day, and one of my all time favorite candy bars was an Oh Henry! Bar. Can't really say I've had one recently. Maybe that's because there are so many fabulous chocolate candy companies now, but that's another story.

So what exactly is an Oh Henry! Bar?  

From Wikipedia:

Oh Henry! is a chocolate bar containing peanuts, caramel, and fudge coated in chocolate. It was first introduced in 1920, by the Williamson Candy Company of Chicago, Illinois. According to legend, Oh Henry! was originally named after a boy who frequented the Williamson company, flirting with the girls who made the candy. The name is also said to be a homage to American writer, O. Henry. However, there is no definitive explanation as to the exact origin of the name.

Another theory is that the candy bar was invented by a man named Tom Henry of Arkansas City, Kansas. Tom Henry ran a candy company called the Peerless candy factory, and in 1919 he started making the Tom Henry candy bar. He sold the candy bar to Williamson Candy Company in 1920 where they later changed the name to "Oh Henry!". Henry's family now runs a candy factory in Dexter, Kansas that sells "momma henry" bars, which are nearly identical to the original candy bar.

In 1923, an employee of Williamson, John Glossinger, announced that he was going to make the Oh Henry! bar a national best seller. Company officials said it was impossible and denied him the funds for an advertising campaign. Glossinger went into the streets and pasted stickers saying merely "Oh Henry!" on automobile bumpers. People became curious as to what an Oh Henry! was and sales for the bar rose quickly.

1926 Oh Henry! Advertisement
Nestlé acquired the United States rights to the brand in 1984, and continues to produce the bar. In Canada, the bar is currently sold by The Hershey Company and manufactured at their Smiths Falls, Ontario facilities. Because of Canada's different chocolate standards, the Canadian "Oh Henry!" is not considered a "chocolate bar" and is labelled instead as a "candy bar." In fact, unlike the American version, which labels the bar as "milk chocolate," the Canadian version makes no mention of chocolate on the front of the wrapper. Hershey sells Oh Henry! bars made in Canada on a very limited basis in the United States as Rally bars, using the trademark of a Hershey product introduced in the 1970s and later discontinued.

Want to make your own Oh Henry! Bars? Here are three different recipes. Funny, but several of them include oats. I'm partial to #III because it doesn't include oatmeal, but that's just me. The first two recipes do seem to really capture the flavor.

I. Oh Henry! Candy Bars

Ingredients
4 cups oatmeal
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup butter (melted)
1 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter

Directions
Mix together oatmeal, brown sugar, white sugar and melted butter.
Press into greased 9x13 pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter.
Spread over baked bars.
Put in fridge so frosting hardens completely.

II. Oh Henry! Candy Bars 

Ingredients
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 cup white Karo syrup
2 cups oatmeal

Directions
Melt butter, sugar and syrup.
Add oatmeal.
Press in well buttered 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake 12 minutes at 350 degrees.

Melt:
1 c. crunchy peanut butter
1 (6 oz.) chocolate chips

Cool bottom layer and spread mixture over the top.
Refrigerate.
Cut in squares.

III. Oh Henry! Candy Bars (my favorite recipe)

Part One
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup water
3/4 cup peanut butter

Directions:
Combine over heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
Cook until it reaches the hard boil stage (265 degrees).
Let cool
Add peanut butter.
Stir, then shape into rolls 3/4 inch thick and 1 inch long.
Set aside.


Part Two
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 pounds peanuts, chopped fine
8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped

Directions:
Cook corn syrup and sugar together until it reaches the hard boil stage (265 degrees).
Dip candy from first mixture into second mixture, then roll in peanuts while still hot.

Melt dark chocolate and dip rolls into melted chocolate
Place on parchment paper.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chocolate Fruitcake: National Fruitcake Day

December 27 might seem a little late for National Fruitcake Day, but as they say, better late than never.  If you're like me, you're saying Fruitcake? That over-inebriated rock hard cake with artificial fruits that gets passed around the family kind of like a white elephant gift? Well, it doesn't have to be. There are actually some wonderful recipes for Chocolate Fruitcake. Aha, your eyes and tastebuds are already picking up.

Of course, I'm all about easy, so here's an easy recipe for Chocolate Fruitcake. One caveat, you won't be able to eat this today. Fruitcake really does need to ferment a bit. Following is a recipe for Chocolate Fruitcake adapted froom Diana Rattray at Southern Food. This recipe originally called for candied red and green cherries, but I really don't like those. Try using dried cranberries or dried cherries or dried apricots, lots of nuts and your choice of alcohol. It's quite a versatile recipe. The original recipe didn't use booze, but what's a fruitcake without alcohol? Another recipe for Chocolate Fruitcake that I really like is David Lebovitz's Chocolate-Cherry Fruitcake.

Either way, if you like chocolate, you'll find this chocolate twist on an old holiday standard quite to your liking!

Chocolate Fruitcake

Ingredients:
1 cup sweet butter
6 ounces dark chocolate (65-75% cacao, fair-trade), chopped
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cherries, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 1/2 cups combination of walnuts and pecans, chopped
1/2 cup rum, whiskey, or amaretto.. (or whatever you like)

Preparation:
1. A day ahead, plump of the dried fruits by tossing in 1/2 cup of amaretto,  rum or whiskey (or whatever alcohol you like!), cover for later use in the cake.

To Make Cake:
1. Melt butter and chocolate in a large heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring often. Remove from heat, and cool for 15 minutes.
2. Stir in sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add flour and salt, stirring until blended. Stir in chopped boozy fruits and chopped nuts. Spoon mixture into 4 greased and floured 5 x 3 x 2-inch loaf pans.
3. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes
4. Poke lots of small holes in cakes with skewer. Pour 3 Tbsp liquor (see above) onto each cake. Let cool for another 10-15 minutes or so.
5. Remove from pans, and cool on wire racks.
6. Wrap in plastic and store for up to 7 days.

If you're making these Fruitcakes ahead, you can brush with more liquor every day. Don't freeze if you're adding alcohol.

Chocolate Lovers' Oatmeal

Brr... it's cold outside, and you need to be fortified before you face the crowds or the workplace. What's better to fortify you than Chocolate Oatmeal?  I've posted chocolate oatmeal recipes before, but when I saw this one, I had to try it. As with most recipes, you can vary the ingredients to match your own taste.

I'm a big fan of Coach's Oats. If you haven't tried these yet, you're in for a treat. Coach’s Oats are prepared in a totally different way. The groats are toasted to bring the natural sugars to the surface of the oat, then cracked into small pieces. This patented Cracked n' Toasted™ process means that Coach’s Oats are always firm, never mushy. This recipe is from Coach's Oats (reprinted with permission). Always use the best ingredients. So I know that the Oats are great, and I use premium DARK cocoa. I'll be posting about various cocoas in the near future. I'm a big honey fan, so I use honey rather than sugar, maple syrup or agave, but be sure and experiment.

CHOCOLATE LOVERS' OATMEAL

INGREDIENTS
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup Coach Oats ® (for thicker oatmeal, add 2-3 Tbsp. more oats)
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
Your choice of sweetener: Raw sugar, maple syrup or agave nectar.  (I use honey)*
2% milk or almond milk (I use whole milk)*

PREPARATION
1. Bring water to a boil in saucepan. Once water is boiling, add Coach Oats® and lower heat to a simmer. Let simmer for 5 minutes (stirring occasionally). Add cocoa powder and mix well until lumps are gone. Stir in sweetener.
2. Top chocolate oatmeal with fresh fruits such as bananas, blueberries, strawberries or raisins. For an additional treat, sprinkle with chopped almonds and/or toasted grated coconut.
Optional: Stir in peanut butter and/or quick dissolving whey protein for extra protein.
3. To finish up, pour desired amount of 2% milk or almond milk over oatmeal.

Photo: Coach's Oats, reprinted with permission

Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day Pear and Chocolate Trifle

Photo: BBC GoodFood
Being an Anglophile, I often came across references to Boxing Day in books I was reading. What exactly was Boxing Day? Without any 'real' boxing day experience, I took it to mean the day after Christmas when you boxed up all your ornaments and returned them to the attic. I also thought Boxing Day was the day that you boxed up your presents and returned them to the stores where they were purchased. I was so wrong.

According to Wikipedia, Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas when wealthy people and homeowners in the United Kingdom would give a box containing a gift to their servants. It's now a National Bank Holiday.

Here's a lovely British recipe to celebrate Boxing Day: Pear and Chocolate Trifle. What could be better for Boxing Day than a trifle? This recipe is from John Torode in BBC Good Food Magazine. I've adjusted the measurements for American Cooking. If you're just too tired to bake another thing after the holidays, a shortcut would be to use leftover Chocolate Cake in the trifle.

BOXING DAY PEAR AND CHOCOLATE TRIFLE

FOR THE CHOCOLATE CAKE LAYER
7 ounces dark chocolate, broken into chunks
1 cup sweet butter
2 cups superfine (if you don't have golden caster) sugar
5 large eggs, separated

FOR THE POACHED PEARS
6 firm pears, peeled
1 vanilla pod, split

FOR THE MASCARPONE LAYER
2 large egg yolks
4 tbsp golden caster sugar
5 ounces marsala
2 - 9 ounce tubs mascarpone

TO FINISH
3.5 ounces dark chocolate, grated
5 tbsp very strong coffee (or espresso)

1. For the cake, melt the chocolate and butter together, then cool. Meanwhile, heat oven to 300F  and butter and line the base and sides of a 9" springform tin with parchment paper.

2. Whisk the sugar and egg yolks until very pale and thick, about 5 mins. Fold in the chocolate mix using a large metal spoon. Put the egg whites and a pinch of salt into another bowl and, with clean beaters, whisk until you have medium peaks. Fold this gently but thoroughly into the chocolate mix with your metal spoon, then spoon into the tin and bake for 1½ hrs until risen all over. Insert a skewer into the middle of the tin to test; it should come out with just a few damp crumbs but no wet mix. The cake will sink once it cools. Can be frozen up to 1 month ahead.

3. While the cake cooks, put the pears, vanilla pod and 4 cups water into a saucepan. Weigh the pears down under the surface with a small plate, then simmer for 20 mins, covered, until tender. Leave to cool in the liquid if you have time. Cut each pear into 6 long slices, then remove the stalk and the core. Can be cooked up to a week ahead and kept chilled in some of their poaching liquid.

4. For the mascarpone layer, half-fill a medium saucepan with water, then bring to a simmer. Put the yolks, sugar and 6 tbsp of the Marsala into a large bowl, sit it over the just-simmering water, then whisk for 5 mins until the mixture is thick and holds a trail for a few secs. Put the mascarpone into a bowl, beat with 2 tbsp more Marsala to loosen, then whisk in the egg mix in 2 batches, until smooth, thick and light. Can be made ahead and kept in the fridge. Keep no longer than 2 days in total.

5. You're now ready to assemble the trifle. Cut the cake in half - it will be squidgy, so don't worry if it breaks up. Spoon some of the mascarpone layer into the bottom of a dish, then top with a few pears and a sprinkling of grated chocolate. Put half of the cake on top, then sprinkle with a little of the remaining Marsala and coffee. Spoon more of the mascarpone over, then top with more pears and more chocolate. Top this with the next piece of cake, spoon over more Marsala and coffee, then spoon the remaining mascarpone mix over the top. Finish with the remaining pears. Chill for at least 2 hrs, or up to 2 days. When ready to serve, scatter with the last of the grated chocolate.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gingerbread Truffles: Happy Holidays

With the holidays upon us, I thought I'd post three very different recipes for Gingerbread Truffles. All three are terrific. As always, adapt the recipes to your needs or to what you have on hand. I always have different types and brands of chocolate at the ready. The secret--well, it's not really a secret--is to use the very best ingredients.

These three recipes for Gingerbread Truffles will reproduce the taste of Gingerbread Dough enrobed in chocolate! Be creative in your decorations--from sprinkles to sugars to candied ginger... it's up to you! Perfect for the Holidays.

The First Recipe for White Chocolate Gingerbread Truffles is from Elizabeth LaBau at About.com 
The Second Recipe for Dark Chocolate Gingerbread Recipe is from Epicurious.
The Third Recipe is for White Chocolate Gingerbread Truffles from Organic Authority.

WHITE CHOCOLATE GINGERBREAD TRUFFLES

Ingredients:
1 cup white chocolate chips (or Green & Black White Chocolate Bar broken up)
3 tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup finely chopped nuts
2.5 cups gingersnap crumbs (about one 12-oz box)
1/2 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

Preparation:
1. Place white chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, stirring after every 45 seconds to prevent overheating.
2. Once white chocolate is melted, add corn syrup, evaporated milk, and vanilla extract. If it seems to be separating, stir gently with whisk until it comes back together. Stir in gingersnap crumbs, powdered sugar, all the spices, salt, and chopped nuts. Place mixture in the refrigerator until  firm enough to shape, about 1 hour.
3. Using teaspoon or small scoop, make balls by rolling between palms.
4. Place granulated sugar in a small bowl, and roll the balls in the sugar--or roll in powdered sugar.
Want to get fancy? Roll the balls in colored sugars (red or green or gold?) or dip them in dark chocolate!
Keep them in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve them, and then let them warm a bit to room temperature.

DARK CHOCOLATE GINGERBREAD TRUFFLES

Ingredients
3/4 cup whipping cream
10 whole allspice
10 whole cloves
1 tablespoon mild-flavored (light) molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt

7 ounces plus 12 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
7 ounces plus 12 ounces high-quality white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger plus additional for garnish

Preparation
1. Bring first 7 ingredients just to boil in heavy medium saucepan; remove from heat and let steep 1 hour.
2. Combine 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate and 7 ounces white chocolate in large metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water; stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Strain cream mixture into chocolate; stir to blend. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger. Chill filling until firm, at least 3 hours.
3. Line baking sheet with parchment. Using melon baller or small scoop, scoop filling and roll between palms to form balls. Place on parchment. Chill truffles at least 2 hours.
4. Line another sheet with parchment. Place 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate in medium metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water; stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Cool until thermometer inserted into chocolate registers 115°F. Quickly submerge 1 truffle in chocolate. Using fork, lift out truffle and tap fork against side of bowl so excess coating drips off. Using knife, slide truffle off fork and onto prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining truffles. Chill until set.
5. Line another baking sheet with parchment. Place 12 ounces white chocolate in another medium metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water; stir until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Cool until thermometer inserted into chocolate registers 100°F. Hold 1 truffle between thumb and index finger; dip halfway into white chocolate. Place on prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining truffles. If desired, press small pieces of crystallized ginger atop truffles. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
You can also dip in colored sprinkles!

WHITE CHOCOLATE GINGERBREAD TRUFFLES

Ingredients
3/4 cup organic whipping cream
10 whole allspice
10 whole cloves
1 tablespoon organic light molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
18 to 20 ounces chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (choose organic and fair trade)
14 to 16 ounces organic, fair trade white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger, plus extra for garnish

Preparation:
1. In heavy medium-sized saucepan, bring first seven ingredients to a boil. Remove pan from heat and let steep for an hour.
2. Chop 7 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and 7 ounces of white chocolate into large metal bowl. Place bowl in saucepan of simmering water and stir  chocolate unti melted and smooth. Strain cream mixture into chocolate and stir in 1/2 cup of crystallized ginger (make sure it is minced fine). Chill filling at least 3 hours; it should be firm but not hard.
3. Line baking sheet with parchment. Take small spoonful of filling and roll quickly between hands until it forms a ball of one inch or less. If filling gets too sticky, return it to bowl and take another spoonful. Place each truffle on parchment. It's okay if they're imperfect! They're not finished. Chill truffles another 2 hours.
4. Line another sheet with parchment. Chop remaining bittersweet chocolate into another metal bowl and melt as before. Remove bowl from water and let cool to 115 degrees. Drop one truffle in chocolate and immediately lift it out with fork. Tap fork gently against side of bowl to remove excess chocolate, then use a knife to slide the truffle off the fork and onto parchment. Repeat. Chill your truffles until chocolate sets.
5. Line another sheet with parchment, and melt white chocolate in another bowl. Let cool to 100 degrees. Hold truffle in your fingers and dip top half into white chocolate. Place it on the parchment and press a bit of crystallized ginger into the top. Repeat. Chill again, at least 30 minutes.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Vintage Ad & Recipes: Steamed Chocolate Pudding, Tutti-Frutti Fudge:

If you're following this blog, you know I love Vintage Ads & Recipes. This Christmas dinner Advertisement from Baker's Chocolate appeared in Life Magazine December 6, 1937. Anyone still make Steam Chocolate Pudding? Tutti-Frutti Fudge? Happy Holidays!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chocolate Marshmallow Dreidels

You don't have to be Jewish to make these fabulous Chocolate Marshmallow Dreidels. A Dreidel is a four-sided spinning tops with a Hebrew letter on each side. During Chanukah, children play a game that involves spinning the dreidel and betting on which Hebrew letter will show when the dreidel stops spinning. Children usually play for a pot of 'gelt'--chocolate coins covered in gold colored tin foil.

You won't be spinning these tops unless you want chocolate all over the floor, but making these Chocolate Marshmallow Dreidels is a very fun activity to do with children. This recipe is based on Martha Stewart's recipe for Chocolate Marshmallow Dreidels. If you want to take it up a notch, make your own marshmallows or buy some high end marshmallows made with natural ingredients such as those from Recchiuti. This time I used Guittard 70% dark chocolate, but you can use any great organic fair-trade chocolate. For the white chocolate I used Green & Black's White Chocolate that's made with Madagascan vanilla. I also used Paul Newman's Own Organic pretzel sticks. They were a bit long, so I snapped them.

Apologies for the poor caligraphy. Practice makes perfect, and I'm a bit out of practice. :-)

CHOCOLATE MARSHMALLOW DREIDELS

Ingredients
12 chocolate kisses (I used Hershey's Kisses)
8 ounces melted dark semisweet chocolate (I used Guittard 70% cacao)
12 marshmallows (homemade or whatever you have)
12 thin pretzel sticks (I used Newman's Own)
2 ounces melted white chocolate (I used Green & Black)

Directions 
1. Dip bottom of chocolate kiss in melted semisweet chocolate. Press onto marshmallow; transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat to make 12 dreidels. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
 2. Cut a small slit in bottom of each marshmallow (spray your scissors with PAM); insert 1 thin pretzel stick. Dip dreidels in dark chocolate, and return to baking sheet. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes.
3. Fill a plastic bag or pastry bag with melted white chocolate; cut a tiny opening in a corner, and pipe Hebrew letters onto 3 sides of each dreidel. I used a pastry bag with a tip, but I should have practiced a bit first so I wouldn't have any drips.
4. Refrigerate at least 5 minutes or up to 8 hours before serving.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chocolate Cheese Truffles: Avery Aames Guest Post

As part of the continuing series of Mystery Author Guest Holiday Chocolate Recipe Posts here on DyingforChocolate.com, I welcome back Avery Aames.  

** Book Giveaway: Three commenters today (12/21/12) will win signed copies of CLOBBERED BY CAMEMBERT *** For details, read to the end of the post.

Avery Aames pens the Agatha Award winning, nationally bestselling A Cheese Shop Mystery Series. Avery is the pseudonym for Daryl Wood Gerber. Prior to her career as a novelist, Daryl (aka Avery) created the format for the TV sitcom Out of this World. She was also an actress and co-starred on “Murder, She Wrote” as well as other TV shows. She loves to cook, read, golf, and garden. Visit her website http://www.averyaames.com. And visit her blog where she shares recipes Mystery Lovers Kitchen http://www.mysteryloverskitchen.com

AVERY AAMES: SWEETS FOR YOUR SWEETS

I’m not a gourmet cook, but I do like to experiment, and I adore sweets. During the holidays, I enjoy trying out new recipes for cookies and candy. My family is thankful that I do.

Last year, I discovered an unusual truffle that asked for goat cheese. Now, being what some people call “The Cheese Lady,” I had to test them out. At first, I was a little wary. Chocolate and cheese? But then I thought about it and realized that I adored chocolate cheesecake, and I had made brownies with goat cheese and espresso coffee, which were marvelous. And for Valentine’s Day last year, I made a chocolate and cheese platter. Scrumptious!

Well, these truffles went about as fast as any dessert I’ve ever made.

So, I thought, I would make them again this year but, as an experiment, I would use a different cheese – Monterey Jack (a cow’s milk cheese). The candies turned out looking the same but tasting entirely different. My husband prefers the goat cheese version. I enjoy both.

So from my kitchen to yours, here is an easy recipe with very few ingredients that is a real crowd pleaser.

CHOCOLATE CHEESE TRUFFLES

Ingredients:
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% cocoa)
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, at room temperature (or 4 ounces of goat cheese) {Note: I think 4 oz. of ricotta would be a good substitution, as well}
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons Triple Sec
1/3 cup cocoa powder, for dusting


Directions:
1. Melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl on medium-low heat for about 1-2 minutes. Stir. Heat again at medium-low for another 1-2 minutes. Stir. Remove from microwave. It should be smooth when melted.
2. Blend the cheese and brown sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in the melted chocolate and mix until smooth. Add Triple Sec to the mix.
3. Refrigerate the mixture for about 30 minutes to an hour (if it gets too hard, it won’t be easy to form into balls).


4. When you are ready to make the truffles, roll mixture into walnut-sized balls, between the palms of your hands and set on waxed paper. When all the balls are formed, spread the cocoa powder in a flat container (like a pie tin). Roll the balls in the cocoa powder.
5. They are ready to eat. If you prefer to save them, put in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. They will keep for 4-5 days in the refrigerator. (The cheese is perishable.)

Makes 1 ½ to 2 dozen (depending on the size of your “walnuts”)
. 

So, what’s your favorite holiday candy or cookie?

Three commenters today will win signed copies of CLOBBERED BY CAMEMBERT.

***
Avery Aames pens the Agatha Award winning, nationally bestselling A Cheese Shop Mystery Series. Avery is the pseudonym for Daryl Wood Gerber. Prior to her career as a novelist, Daryl (aka Avery) created the format for the TV sitcom Out of this World. She was also an actress and co-starred on “Murder, She Wrote” as well as other TV shows. She loves to cook, read, golf, and garden. Visit her website http://www.averyaames.com. And visit her blog where she shares recipes Mystery Lovers Kitchen http://www.mysteryloverskitchen.com

The third in the series, CLOBBERED BY CAMEMBERT, comes out February, 2012. You can pre-order here. BOOKSELLERS LINK: http://www.averyaames.com/book_sellers.htm

Also, if you’re interested, sign up for Avery’s mailing list so you’ll receive the latest news on releases and contests.
LINK: http://www.averyaames.com/mailinglist_signup.html

Lastly, the Goat Cheese Brownies recipe can be found under desserts on my group blog: Mystery Lovers Kitchen: LINK: http://www.mysteryloverskitchen.com/p/recipe-index.html

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Hannukah: Chocolate Sufganiyot

Tonight marks the first night of Chanukkah (Hannukah, Hanukah). Since the word is transliterated, you can spell it anyway you want. Chanukkah is the Jewish Holiday of Lights that celebrates the rededication of the Temple after the Maccabees defeated the Syrian army in 165 BC and forced them out of Jerusalem. There was only enough oil for one day to rededicate the eternal flame, but the oil burned for eight days and nights. A miracle! So Hanukkah is celebrated for 8 days.

One of the special foods at Chanukah time is Sufganiyot (singular: sufganiyah): deep fried donut balls stuffed with jelly, or custard (for this blog that would be chocolate custard) and topped with sugar. Of course, you can also stuff them with dark chocolate! I didn't grow up with this tradition, but any food that's fried and stuffed is good in my book. Sufganiyot are really an Israeli tradition, but they're gaining popularity in the U.S. 

There are many recipes for Sufganiyot. Go here for a yeasted Sufganiyot Dough recipe or here on Epicurious (remember to stuff with chocolate) or this recipe from Amanda Gold in the Chronicle.

I'm a huge fan of Katrina's Vosges Haut-chocolate blog, and she posted a fabulous recipe for Sufganiyot, chocolate filling, of course, in 2009.  Be sure and visit the blog for her insights. She, like I, thinks that Sufganiyot are a lot like Beignets. So you might want to check out this simple no frying, no yeast dough recipe I posted for Chocolate Beignets. Make them ahead and pop them in the oven when your guests get there.

Chocolate Sufganiyot from Vosges Haut-chocolat

Ingredients
3/4 cup warm water (about 100 degrees)
1 envelope active dry yeast (1 scant tablespoon)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1/4 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup for coating
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, separated
2 tablespoons sweet butter, room temperature
peanut oil, for frying plus more for bowl
1/4 cup Vosges Haut-Chocolat Candy Bar

Directions
In large metal bowl, stir together warm water and yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt; mix until well combined. Add egg yolks and remaining 1 3/4 cups flour. Mix until combined, then knead dough in bowl until all flour is incorporated. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface; knead a few minutes until smooth. Knead in margarine until incorporated.

Transfer dough to a well-oiled bowl; turn dough several times to coat entirely with oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

About 30 minutes before you’re ready to form doughnuts, remove dough from refrigerator to let come to room temperature. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough into an 11 inch square about 1/8 inch thick. Using a 2 inch cookie cutter (or a glass), cut out about 24 rounds, dipping cutter in flour as needed to prevent sticking. Re-roll scraps and cut out about 16 more rounds.

Line a baking sheet with a clean kitchen towel. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg whites. Brush edge of a dough round with egg white, then mount 1/2 teaspoon chocolate bar pieces in center, or both. Top with another round and press edges to seal. Repeat process with remaining rounds. Transfer to prepared baking sheet; let doughnuts rise until puffy, 20 to 30 minutes.

Heat a few inches of oil in a large (4-5 quart) heavy pot until it registers 360 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer or a scrap of dough sizzles upon contact. Working in batches of 4 to 5, carefully slip doughnuts into hot oil. Fry, turning once until golden brown about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain.

Place remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl. While doughnuts are still hot, toss them in sugar, turning to coat. Serve immediately.

Sufganiyot Photo: Vosge Haut Chocolat

Monday, December 19, 2011

Terry Odell's Apricot Brandy Balls

I just love when my Mystery and Chocolate worlds collide. This holiday season I've invited several mystery writers to send a guest post with their Chocolate Holiday Recipes. Be sure and go back to check out some other great chocolate treats. Today I welcome Terry Odell. 

Terry Odell writes mystery and romantic suspense (although she prefers to call the latter "Mysteries With Relationships.") Her romantic suspense series include the covert ops team of Blackthorne, Inc., and the Pine Hills Police series, set in a small Oregon town. Her newest book, Deadly Secrets, is her first non-romance mystery. Somehow, cooking sneaks into all her books. Her current project is another Pine Hills Police romantic suspense featuring a heroine who is struggling to open her own bakery, featuring...of course...chocolate. You can find more about her at her website: http://www.terryodell.com or her blog, Terry's Place: http://www.terryodell.blogspot.com

Terry Odell's Apricot Brandy Balls

6 squares semi-sweet chocolate
½ c. brandy
3 T. light corn syrup
2 ½ c crushed Wheat Chex cereal
1 c. finely chopped dried apricots
½ c powdered sugar

Cocoa powder and/or powdered sugar

Melt chocolate; stir in brandy and corn syrup. Combine cereal, apricots, and ½ c sugar in large bowl. Add chocolate mixture; stir until well blended. Let stand about 30 minutes. Form into ½ inch balls. Roll in cocoa powder or powdered sugar (or a mixture of both, depending on your taste.) Place in candy cups in a covered container. Let mellow several days.

A few notes. I use the microwave to melt the chocolate. Took about 2 minutes. It might not look melted, but stir it, and it'll come together.

I used some of the cereal and a little of the powdered sugar and chopped the apricots in my food processor. They're sticky little critters, and the cereal & sugar provided a little extra friction so it wasn't just a gloppy mass. I also used my hands to make sure the cereal, sugar & apricots were well distributed before adding the chocolate.

Forming the mixture into balls can be messy. It's more of a 'squeeze' than a 'roll'.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chocolate Mint Bars

Today I welcome back Bobbi Mumm, just in time for some fabulous holiday treats!

Bobbi Mumm is a mystery and thriller writer in Saskatoon, Canada where she works half-time as an event planner at the University of Saskatchewan. Married to a nuclear physicist, she has four children. A year ago, Bobbi completed her first novel, Cream with Your Coffin, and through her U.S. agent, is seeking a publishing home for the novel. Cream with Your Coffin was a quarter-finalist in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Almost finished her second novel, thriller De Rigueur Mortis, Bobbi spends much of her day immersed in 1954 Paris.

Bobbi Mumm: Chocolate Mint Bars

I tested this new recipe last week and my family gave it rave reviews. Because we’ll have lots of guests over the holidays I made two pans. Chocolate and mint are always a wonderful Christmas combination.

The bar is rich and one of those treats that is best served in small pieces. A true dainty. Thanks to my friend, Sarah Bird, for sharing her recipe. Sarah is a lawyer as well as an outstanding baker.

Thank you, Janet, for the opportunity to appear on Dying for Chocolate. I always enjoy visiting with your friends here. Question to everyone: What is your favourite flavour to pair with chocolate?

Sarah’s Chocolate Mint Bars

Base:
2 squares Baker's unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
½ c butter
½ c flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

Filling:
1 c icing sugar
¼ c butter
1 TBSP milk
1½ tsp peppermint extract

Topping:
2 squares Baker's semisweet chocolate (I used 2 oz of semisweet choc chips)
2 TBSP butter

DIRECTIONS:
Base:
Melt unsweetened choc, sugar and butter in saucepan. Let cool slightly. Stir in remaining ingredients and mix well. Spread in greased 13x9 pan. Bake at 350F for 20min. Cool completely.

Filling:
Beat icing sugar, butter and milk until smooth. Stir in peppermint. Spread onto cooled base.

Topping:
Melt choc and butter. Mix well. Cool slightly and then drizzle over filling.

Cut into squares.
Makes approx. 40-50 squares.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Chocolate Bytes: Chocolate Wonderland Opens in Shanghai

Shanghai's World Chocolate Wonderland opened yesterday, Friday (December 16), into a theme park of lifelike chocolate exhibits. The pre-opening included a chocolate fashion show. See video below.

According to Reuters, everything on display was made from chocolate, including a replica of ancient China's famous Terracotta Warriors and the traditional Chinese symbol of the dragon.

Organizers say that the choice of items on display was made based on an effort to unite the East and the West. “We generated the idea of the World Chocolate Wonderland, and it is the first chocolate theme park in the world,” said Paul Chao, the event’s organizer.

Last year's “World Chocolate Wonderland” chocolate theme park held in Beijing drew over a half a million chocolate fans. This year’s exhibit is expected to exceed those numbers as it tries to top last year’s World Chocolate Wonderland sculptures; there will be a Great Wall of China, as well as the army of 500 detailed terracotta warriors. There's also a chocolate BMW that was created out of 80 tons of Belgian chocolate. Some of the most celebrated chocolate makers will be there ready to wow visitors with handmade chocolate truffles and chocolate wine. Tutorials on how to make your own chocolate will also allow visitors to indulge by creating personally designed chocolate creations.

The World Chocolate Wonderland will be open until February 19th, 2012.

SHANGHAI CHOCOLATE WONDERLAND:



Chocolate Fashion Show:

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chocolate Covered Strawberries: Chocolate Covered Anything Day

Yes, Virginia, just about anything can be Covered in Chocolate. Although December 16 is National Chocolate Covered Anything Day, I think this holiday can easily be celebrated all year round.  One of my favorites is Chocolate Covered Strawberries. Simple to make, and they always look fabulous. You can stuff them or drizzle them, but fresh strawberries dunked in good quality chocolate is the key. 

CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRIES TO DIE FOR!

INGREDIENTS:
1 quart fresh large fresh strawberries, with tops
1 cup Dark Chocolate 60-65% cacao, broken or chopped
1/2 cup Dark Chocolate 72-85% cacao, broken or chopped
3 Tbsp. heavy cream
White chocolate, melted for Drizzle

DIRECTIONS:
Rinse strawberries and dry thoroughly, keeping tops on. In top of double boiler or a stainless steel bowl atop a pot of simmering water, combine chocolate and heavy cream. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
Dip strawberries 1/2-3/4 way up in chocolate mixture and place on waxpaper or parchment lined cookie sheet to allow chocolate to harden.
When hardened, drizzle with melted white chocolate.

Hints:
Wash strawberries and pat dry with paper towels; set aside. Make sure the strawberries are completely dry. A drop of water in melted chocolate can cause it to "seize" and turn the entire mixture into a mess. How to smooth out the chocolate: I just saw a chef add a tiny bit of honey and stirred. It worked!

How to dip:
Grasp stem of strawberry and dip into chocolate, swirling to partially cover with chocolate. Give the strawberry a small shake as you pull it out of the chocolate. When strawberry is completely out of chocolate, swirl it in quick, clockwise motion to let excess chocolate drip off. Place on cookie sheet lined with waxed paper or parchment. Repeat withrest of the strawberries.

Want to get a bit fancier? Here are links to Chocolate Covered Stuffed Strawberries.

Chocolate Covered  Stuffed Strawberries: Cookie Dough, Cheesecake, Marscapone

Strawberrries Stuffed with Chocolate Cream

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bourbon Balls, Part II

Last week my friend Janet Appel had a guest post on her family's Holiday Bourbon Balls. Great back story to these Boozy Bourbon Balls. Because Bourbon Balls are a multi-step process, here's Part II. Enjoy! I know I will. Hope Janet A saves a few for me!

JANET APPEL:  Bourbon Balls, Part II

As promised this post shows the completion of the making of our holiday Bourbon balls. For those who did not read Part 1, go here. Now I will tell you how Marty and I made his Mother’s recipe our own.

Dolly was not much on drinking. Every now and then she had a cocktail and sometimes a little wine. Being from Kentucky, Marty and I love Kentucky Bourbons, so we soak the pecans longer than her recipe calls for. Ours soaked nearly a week.

What little Bourbon that was left over Marty pours into the filling. Marty does not use water to soften the mixture, just Bourbon. Do not eat these and then drive.

Marty mixes the ingredients up, spreads them on wax paper, and uses a small cookie scooper to make the balls. He then drops the balls onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet. The cookie sheet then goes into the freezer.

Chocolate dippers:  Dolly used fingers, toothpicks, spoons.


Melting Chocolate: Deluxe Chocolate Melter. Dolly used a double boiler.


Just a little paraffin is added to help the chocolate not melt in your hands. It still will. We don’t add that much.


Dipping Bourbon Balls in chocolate: Marty dips in small batches. The filling thaws if out too long.


After dipped, into the refrigerator they go.  When good and cold again, the Bourbon Balls are placed in sealed containers and kept in the refrigerator.

Now we are ready for the Christmas Eve Bourbon Ball contest. We are so going to win!

For the Recipe, go HERE.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cookie Making Tips

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile by Bernard Waber
The Holidays are about Cookie Making, and I've seen some wonderful new recipes and decorating on the Internet this season. Be sure and do a few searches to expand your Cookie Repertoire! You can never have too many cookie recipes!

Today, I thought I'd post a few Cookie Tips I've gleaned from Gourmet Magazine, Sunset, All Recipes and making cookies for so many years! Love to hear any tips you have.

COOKIE MAKING TIPS

1. For me the most important 'rule' (this is not a tip) is to make sure you Chill the Dough. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. Put the dough in the refrigerator for a few hours or put it in the freezer for 10 minutes. While you're working, if the dough becomes soft, just pop it back in the freezer for a few minutes.

2. Use the Correct Ingredients. If you haven't made the recipe before, follow it exactly and measure the ingredients carefully.

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

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

4. Fats are major to the spread of a cookie. Generally speaking, fat equals flat, crispy cookies while less fat equals higher, cake-like cookies. Speaking of fats: Whipped spreads are not suitable for baking. Use butter, margarine or shortening (Crisco).

5. Sugars: White sugar makes a crisper cookie than brown sugar or honey. Cookies made from brown sugar absorb moisture after baking, so they stay chewy. Most chocolate chip cookie recipes contain both brown and white sugars.
 How to keep brown sugar soft? Put a piece of white bread in the container. The white bread won’t get moldy (trust me), and you’ll always have soft brown sugar. I put the brown sugar in its own plastic container with the bread.

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

7. Temperature: Unless specified, ingredients should be at room temperature before mixing. Yes, Virginia, take the butter out the night before. For cut cookies, chill the cookie dough before baking. The cookies will hold their shape better. For drop cookies, you can keep them at room temperature before baking; the spoonfuls of dough will spread and flatten out.

8. Equipment and Baking: Not surprising to anyone who bakes, different baking sheets and ovens produce different results. I use rimmed baking sheets (jellyroll pans) for cookies rather than thin flat sheet pans. Instead of greasing each baking sheet, I use parchment for easy cookie removal and clean-up. Some of my friends use a silipat liner, but I haven't yet. After a holiday cookie discussion on Twitter (#fnichat) this week, I'm going to get one.


Love to hear other tips! Please comment!

Unusual Gingerbread Cookie Cutters & Chocolate Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

I love unusual Cookie Cutters. Here are some favorites that are perfect for Chocolate Gingerbread Men. Be sure and scroll down for a recipe for an awesome Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies Recipe.
Yoga Cookie Cutters Set i: Lotus Group from Patti Paige Baked Ideas

Yoga Cookie Cutters Set 2: Down Dog from Patti Paige Baked Ideas

GingerDead Men Cookie Cutters:

NinjaBread Men:
Fred ABC Cookies Cutters: Which part do you eat first?


Chocolate Gingerbread Cookie Recipe
This awesome recipe from Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito - Food & Wine Magazine

Cookies
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/3 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons sweet butter, softened
1/3 cup solid vegetable shortening (Crisco)
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup molasses
2 ounces dark chocolate (65-85% cacao), melted and cooled

1. In medium bowl, whisk flour with cocoa powder, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat softened butter with the shortening at medium speed until mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds. Add brown sugar and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
2. Add egg tocookie batter and beat until incorporated. Beat in molasses and then melted chocolate. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, beating between additions. Divide dough into 3 equal parts. Shape each part into a disk, then wrap each one in plastic wrap and refrigerate cookie dough until chilled, about 2 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. On lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 disk of dough 1/4 inch thick. Using 4- to 5-inch cookie cutters, cut dough into shapes and transfer to prepared baking sheets. Reroll dough scraps and cut out more cookies.
4. Bake cookies for about 7 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking until tops are dry. Let cookies cool in pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining dough.

ICING:
You can make Royal Icing or try this Recipe for Mascarpone Filling that doubles as Decorating Icing. Put it in a bag and pipe!  Or use Wilton Decorating Icing in the bottles.

Decorate your cookies. Let stand until icing dries, about 30 minutes.

Make Ahead: chocolate-gingerbread cookies can be kept in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cleo Coyle's Mocha Dipped Rum Macaroons

Photo: (c) Alice Alfonsi
Today I welcome back Cleo Coyle. My mystery and chocolate worlds collide again. You're going to love this recipe! Think Chocolate, Coconut & Rum! Let the holidays begin!

A former journalist, Cleo Coyle is the pseudonym for a multi-published author and New York Times bestselling media tie-in writer. In collaboration with her husband, Cleo pens two popular series for Penguin. The Coffeehouse Mysteries are light, amateur sleuth culinary mysteries set in a Greenwich Village coffeehouse, the first of which, On What Grounds, is now in its sixteenth printing. The tenth and newest entry, Murder by Mocha, includes an appendix of chocolate recipes and is now a national bestseller. Under the name Alice Kimberly, Cleo also writes the Haunted Bookshop Mysteries. You can learn more at Cleo’s virtual coffeehouse: www.CoffeehouseMystery.com

CLEO COYLE:

Italians love to soak things in rum, especially during the holidays. My big, Italian family was no exception. If it wasn’t soaked in rum, it had rum as a flavoring ingredient. (Anisette and amaretto were very close seconds.)

In this recipe, I attempt to elevate the humble coconut macaroon to gourmet dessert tray worthiness with the use of dark rum (or, in a pinch, rum extract). Dressing it up in a shiny mocha jacket lets the cookie shimmer in the evening candlelight while offering a flavor pairing that has delighted candy bar buyers for decades. If you’re a fan of Almond Joy and Mounds, this cookie should be right up your chocolate-coconut alley.

Happy holidays, everyone. May you eat and drink with joy! ~ Cleo

To download a free PDF of this recipe that you can print, save, or share, click here.
http://coffeehousemystery.com/userfiles/file/CleoCoyle_MochaMacaroons.pdf

Cleo Coyle’s Mocha Dipped
Rum Macaroons
Text and photos (c) 2011 by Alice Alfonsi who writes The Coffeehouse Mysteries as Cleo Coyle with her husband, Marc Cerasini

Servings: Makes about 20 cookies
Photo: (c) Alice Alfonsi

Ingredients:

For cookies:
2-3/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 extra large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons rum extract or 1 Tablespoon dark rum

For mocha glaze:
1/2 cup brewed coffee
1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon rum extract

(1) Mix dough: Measure out dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, fork-whip egg whites with vanilla and rum extract (or dark rum). Combine wet and dry ingredients, stirring until dry ingredients are completely moistened. If you are using the extract, you can bake the cookies right away. For a more amazing cookie, use real rum. Note: if you are using real rum, then you must transfer the mixture to a covered plastic container and allow it to rest in the refrigerator overnight. Macerating like this will allow the flavors to fully develop; otherwise, the rum flavor will be very weak. While the rum extract version of this cookie is quite good, the real rum macaroons will give you a more powerful flavor and the cookie centers will stay moister longer (as long as you store finished macaroons in an airtight container).

(2) Form & bake: Preheat oven to 350º F. To prevent cookies from sticking, line baking sheet with parchment paper or coat with cooking spray. The forming of the macaroon is the most important step. You want the coconut mixture to be really packed together. Some bakers use scoops. I simply use the rounded tablespoon from my measuring set (see photo). If you have no such utensil, then drop dough by spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet and use clean fingers to form tight little pyramids. Bake for about 20 minutes. You are watching for edges and tops to lightly brown (see photo). This will give you the perfect, slightly crunchy outside and soft, chewy inside that is the perfect macaroon.

(3) Mocha dipping: In a microwave safe bowl, mix brewed coffee, chocolate chips, vanilla, and rum. Heat in microwave for 15 seconds. Remove and stir. Repeat until chocolate is melted. Whisk until smooth. Dip tops of macaroons in mocha glaze. Cleo’s Note: There’s really no need to wait for this mocha glaze to dry. I serve the cookies with the chocolate still moist and glistening—delicious!

To download more of Cleo’s recipes, sign up to win free coffee, or learn about Cleo’s national bestselling Coffeehouse Mysteries, visit her online coffeehouse at: http://www.CoffeehouseMystery.com

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cocoa/Hot Chocolate Recipes & Variations: National Cocoa Day

Vintage Cadbury Chocolate Ad
Today is National Cocoa Day, and it's blustery out there, so be sure and try one of these recipes to warm you up! I always post on National Cocoa Day, and this is an updated post with some new recipes. Cocoa or Hot Chocolate, whatever you call it, it's great!

In 2009, I posted several brands of cocoa that I enjoy, plus links and recipes. You'll definitely want to take a look. And, remember, using the best ingredients will result in the best cocoa/hot chocolate!

Following are some variations on classic Hot Cocoa/Hot Chocolate. Some recipes are for one, some for four, and some for a crowd.  Some use cocoa powder, some use chocolate bars, but all are delicious. If you have a favorite cocoa recipe, comment below with a link!


Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Ingredients
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
1 tablespoon Madegascar vanilla
3/4 cup granulated sugar
8 ounces 75-85% cacao chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon peppermint oil

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

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

Ingredients:
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons Unsweetened Dark Cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

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

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

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

Mexican Hot Chocolate

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

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

Mexican Hot Chocolate II

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

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

Honey Hot Chocolate   
The flavor of your cocoa will change with the variety of honey. Try lavender honey, sage, wildflower. I get my honey from Beekind that has so many local varieties, but also has international honeys. Available in Sebastopol and the Ferry Building in San Francisco, plus internet.

Ingredients
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons honey
4 cups milk

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

Hot Chocolate with Brown Sugar

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

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

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

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

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

Spicy White Hot Chocolate

Ingredients
4 cups milk
7 oz. good white chocolate (Guittard, Ghirardelli), chopped
1 egg, beaten
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground cinnamon

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

Peppermint White Chocolate Cocoa (is that redundant?)

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

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

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

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

Directions: In a sauce pan bring milk to a simmer. Add chocolate and crushed candies. Whisk until smooth. Divide hot cocoa between mugs and garnish with whipped cream and serve with a candy candy stirring stick. 
Pumpkin Pie Cocoa from Pattie Tierney

Cocoa in a Jar: Great for gifts or just to have on hand.

Elena Santangelo's Hot Cocoa Mix: 
5 parts nonfat dry milk, 2 parts sugar, 1 part cocoa, 1 part vanilla or hazelnut flavored creamer.
To that you can add all sorts of flavorings, cinnamon, etc.
3 Tbsps. per mug and no saucepans to clean.

About the photo: This Vintage Advertisement for Cadbury Cocoa is special to me. First, my niece-in-law is a descendent of the founders of Cadbury Chocolate company. Second, my sister, Judie Siddall, is the President of the Transferware Collectors Club and sells antique blue and white transferware (pottery), similar to what is pictured in this advertisement, although, her wares are much older. She can be found at Merlin Antiques.  And, we all like chocolate, so it's all in the Family!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lunar Eclipse Cookies

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I don't usually get a chance to see an eclipse. It's usually foggy or cloudy, but not this morning. I got to experience the full Lunar Eclipse. Pretty spectacular. So here's a recipe for Chocolate Lunar Eclipse Cookies.

This is a great recipe for Chocolate Cookies. Dip half--or however complete you want your eclipse to be-- in melted white chocolate when the cookies have cooled. Lunar Eclipse Cookies!

CHOCOLATE LUNAR ECLIPSE COOKIES

3/4 cups sweet butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup DARK cocoa powder
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

Directions (lots of refrigerator/freezer steps, but that makes for great cookies)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Add cocoa powder and mix until combined. Add egg and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. Add flour. Mix until combined.
2. Wrap dough in plastic wrap in 2 batches and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
3. Roll dough between two pieces of wax paper, sprinkled with cocoa powder (not flour), to keep from sticking. Freeze dough for 10 minutes.
4. Dip round cookie cutters in a mixture of equal parts flour + cocoa powder (continue for each cookie) before cutting out circles for the moon.
5. Arrange cookies on parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze baking sheet with cookies until firm -about 15 minutes.
6. Bake in pre-heated oven for 10 mins, 12-15 for larger ones. Cool on racks.
8. When cookies are cooled, dip half (or as much as you'd like) in melted white chocolate. Place on parchment paper to harden.

Lunar Eclipse Cookies!