Friday, July 30, 2010

Very Basic Truffles

Very Basic Truffles

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine chocolate and cream. Cook, stirring, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Remove from heat and whisk in flavoring. Pour into a small dish and refrigerate until set, but not hard, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Use to fill candies or form balls and roll in toppings.

This very basic truffle filling to which you can add your own flavorings or extracts. You may use this to fill the chocolate shells

or roll into balls then into powdered sugar, cocoa, sprinkles or other toppings.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Your Own Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

Start out by choosing your chocolate. You can use something as simple as a bag of chocolate chips or a block of cooking chocolate.

In a double boiler, melt chocolate and 1-2 tablespoons of Crisco shortening over medium heat, stirring until melted and smooth.

Dip pretzels in chocolate and place on waxed paper covered tray to set. Chill in refrigerator for 5-10 minutes if desired.

Decorate your chocolate dipped pretzels with crushed nuts, coconut, crushed mints, or colored sprinkles. Be sure to sprinkle on your topping before the chocolate sets.

Another decorating idea is to use contrasting colored melted chocolate to drizzle across your dipped pretzels for an even nicer look.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

White Chocolate Apricot Almond Bark

12 ounces semi-sweet white chocolate, chopped
6 ounces (about 1.5 cups) chopped dried apricots
6 ounces (about 1-1/3 cup) roughly chopped toasted almonds, divided

Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil.

Temper or melt the chocolate in a large bowl.

Place 1 cup of the chopped almonds in the chocolate, and stir well to combine.

Pour the chocolate-almond mixture out onto the prepared baking sheet, and spread with an offset spatula or spoon until it is in a thin, even layer.

While the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle the top with the remaining almonds and all of the apricots. Press down gently to embed them in the chocolate.

Place in the refrigerator to set the chocolate for approximately 10 minutes. Once set, break the bark into uneven pieces and serve. If the chocolate has been tempered, it can be served at room temperature, but if it has not, it should be kept refrigerated until served.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Raspberry White Chocolate

Raspberry White Chocolate

6 oz white chocolate, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1.5 pints fresh raspberries

Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil or waxed paper.

Place the chopped white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, stirring after every 30 seconds to prevent overheating. White chocolate is very heat-sensitive, so it’s a good idea to stop heating it before all the pieces are melted, and simply stir it until the residual heat melts all the pieces.

Using a small spoon, drop small blobs of white chocolate about 1” round on the prepared baking sheet. Top each mound with a fresh raspberry.

Refrigerate the tray to set the chocolate, about 15 minutes. Once set, White Chocolate Raspberry Bites can be served immediately, or they can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Peanut Butter Nanaimo

Peanut Butter Nanaimo

For the base:
2 oz (4 tbsp) butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped peanuts

For the middle layer:
2 oz (4 tbsp) butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter, smooth or chunky
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the top layer:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp butter

Prepare an 8x8 pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Fill a saucepan with about an inch of water, and place it over medium heat. Fit a double boiler or close-fitting metal bowl on top, and place the butter, sugar, and cocoa in the double boiler. Stir occasionally until the butter is melted and the mixture is entirely smooth.

Add the beaten egg to the cocoa mixture and stir continuously until it cooks and thickens. This process should take 2-4 minutes. The mixture will get very thick and shiny. If the fat seems to separate out, continue stirring or whisking until it reincorporates.

Once the mixture is thick and shiny, remove it from the heat and add the graham crumbs and chopped peanuts. Stir until they're well-incorporated. The mixture will be a little bit dry, but should hold together when you squeeze it in your hand. Scrape it into the prepared pan and press it into an even layer. Refrigerate while you prepare the second layer.

To make the middle layer: Place the softened butter in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat it until the butter is creamy. (Alternately, you can use a hand mixer and a large bowl.)

Add the peanut butter and beat until incorporated, then add the powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla extract, and beat on low until combined. Scrape down the bowl, and then turn the mixer to medium, beating until fluffy and light, about 30 seconds.

Spoon the peanut butter mixture onto the crust and smooth it into an even layer. Refrigerate it while you prepare the chocolate topping.

Place the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, stirring after every 30 seconds to prevent overheating.

Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, pour it onto the peanut butter and spread it into a smooth, even layer. Refrigerate the pan to set the chocolate and the filling, about 1 hour.

After an hour, the bars are ready to be cut. I find it easiest to cut them after they have sat at room temperature for about 15 minutes. The chocolate layer needs to warm up a bit in order to not crack and shatter when you try to cut it. It also helps to use a warm knife that is run under hot water between each cut--this will get the cleanest cuts. Cut the bars into small 1-inch squares to serve. These are delicious at room temperature, or right out of the refrigerator.

Store Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bites in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Delicious Chocolate Soufflé Cake

 Delicious Chocolate Soufflé Cake

2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons Kahlúa (coffee-flavored liqueur)

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon instant espresso or 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2/3 cup Dutch process or unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sifted cake flour (such as Swan's Down)
6 large egg whites (at room temperature)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

1/4 cup raspberries (optional)
Chocolate curls (optional)

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 300°.

Coat bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, water, and espresso in a large saucepan; stir well and bring to a boil. Remove from heat; add cocoa, salt, and chocolates, stirring with a whisk until chocolate melts. Stir in Kahlúa and egg yolks. Stir in flour; cool to room temperature. Set aside.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed of a mixer until foamy. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Gently fold one-fourth of egg white mixture into chocolate mixture; repeat procedure with remaining egg white mixture, one-fourth at a time. Spoon into prepared pan. Bake at 300° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool completely on wire rack.

Remove sides from pan; sift powdered sugar over cake.

Garnish with raspberries and chocolate curls, if desired.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Rich Thick Hot Chocolate

Rich Thick Hot Chocolate

2 (3.5-oz.) dark chocolate bars (at least 70% cacao), chopped
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 cups milk, divided
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Marshmallow Whipped Cream (optional)

Whisk together cornstarch and 1/2 cup milk until smooth.

Cook remaining 3 1/2 cups milk in a large, nonaluminum saucepan over medium heat until bubbles appear around edge of saucepan (about 4 minutes; do not boil). Whisk in chocolate, honey, vanilla extract, and salt until blended and smooth. Whisk in cornstarch mixture.

Bring milk mixture to a light boil, whisking frequently (about 4 minutes). Remove from heat. Let cool slightly. (Mixture will thicken as it cools.) Serve immediately with Marshmallow Whipped Cream, if desired.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Very Chocolatey Mousse

A Very Chocolatey Mousse

1 tbsp cocoa powder
140g vanilla sugar
3 whole eggs, separated, plus 3 extra egg yolks
200ml double cream
85g unsalted butter, cubed
225g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 tbsp armagnac

To decorate
125ml double cream, lightly whipped
50g dark chocolate, grated

Put 55g of the sugar, all 6 egg yolks, the cocoa powder and the cream together in a bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.

Whisk the mixture continuously until it thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Remove from the heat and add the butter and chocolate pieces, a little at a time, whisking until melted and fully incorporated.

Stir in the armagnac.

Whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add the remaining sugar a little at a time, and continue to whisk until the mixture is thick and glossy and meringue-like.

Fold the meringue lightly but thoroughly into the chocolate mixture.

Spoon the mixture into a large serving bowl or individual glasses and refrigerate until set.

Decorate with a swirl of whipped cream and some grated chocolate.

Black pepper brownies

Black pepper brownies

Chocolate and black pepper can be a good mix in brownies, just try to bake one for yourself.

200g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
115g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 large eggs
250g sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp black peppercorns, freshly ground
150g plain flour

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4, moving the rack to just below the middle of the oven.

Grease and line a 20cm square baking tin with baking parchment, using enough to hang over the sides.

Break the chocolate into small pieces and put it in a heatproof bowl with the butter. Place the bowl over a pan of steaming, but not quite simmering, water (make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the surface of the water) and stir until the chocolate and butter are melted and well combined. Gradually sprinkle in the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.

Beat together the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, salt and ground pepper until well mixed. Gradually beat in the still-warm chocolate mixture, then stir in the flour, mixing well.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out very slightly sticky – brownies are meant to be gooey in the middle.

Leave the brownies in the tin until completely cool. Lift from the tin using the overhanging baking parchment. Slice into squares and serve.

A little chocolate humor to brighten your day

I could give up chocolate but I'm not a quitter.

Put the chocolate in the bag and nobody gets hurt.

A day without chocolate is a day without sunshine.

Life without chocolate is like a beach without water.

I have this theory that chocolate slows down the aging process.... It may not be true, but do I dare take the chance?

I am a serious chocoholic. For the serious chocoholic, chocolate is better than sex.
If you believe that, you REALLY need to meet that special someone who can change your mind.
If you HAVE met that special someone and still believe that, I REALLY NEED to know where you get your chocolate!!!

Chocolate is the best when it melts so creamy and soft in your mouth and it slides down your throat.

Don't wreck a sublime chocolate experience by feeling guilty.
Chocolate isn't like premarital sex. It will not make you pregnant. And it always feels good.