Category Archives: Chocolate

Chocolate Mug Cake

Have you ever been home by yourself and get a hankering for dessert?  Maybe something chocolatey?  You think “maybe some pudding, or a piece of chocolate cake?  But, no, you tell yourself you can’t make a whole dessert:  there’s all those ingredients, all the time to measure, mix and bake and whats more ~ the leftovers!

What if you could make a warm, chocolatey dessert made just for one?  Do you have a coffee mug?  Got some basic baking ingredients in the house?  Got a couple of minutes?  Then you’ve got a fudgey, chocolate mug cake!  You don’t even have to choose between cake and pudding when in less than 2 minutes, you could have both in the same hot dessert.

In 1 coffee mug, measure and whisk or stir together:
3 Tabl. Half and Half (or Whole Milk)
3 Tabl. Vegetable Oil
1 Egg
dash of Vanilla Extract
 
Whisk in:
4 Tabl. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Instant Coffee (optional, but it enhances the flavor of the chocolate)
 
Whisk in:
4 Tabl. Cake Flour
2 Tabl. Cocoa Powder
pinch of Baking Powder
pinch of Salt
 
Drop in:
1-2 Tabl. Chocolate Chips

Place the mug in your microwave.  Microwave on high for 1 minute*.  Remove from heat and stir from bottom up, just enough to mix up ingredients stuck on top.  Place back in microwave for 30 seconds.  Remove from microwave, cool for a few minutes and enjoy your own personal dessert!

     

     

* Microwave ovens cook differently.  Your microwave may cook faster than mine and cook in only 1 minute, or may need a few seconds longer than 1-1/2 minutes.  What is important to remember is:  you want some liquid in the bottom.  Be careful not to over-bake or you’ll have a very solid, dry cake. 

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Homemade Cocoa Fudge

I remember well the evenings when my mom would make homemade fudge.  Not the kind where you melt chocolate chips and add marshmallow cream – mom would have thought of that as cheating!

Typically on a snowy evening, mom would make the fudge base, which is the easy part, because all you do is mix the ingredients and let them cook for a little while.  The hard part was trying to be patient because the fudge needs to cool to room temperature and then we’d endure the long process of mom stirring it with a wooden spoon – always a wooden spoon.  We children fought over who would get to lick the wooden spoon and who would scrape the pan.

Here is mom’s recipe which originally came off the back of a Hershey’s Cocoa can.  I use Callebout Cocoa but you can use whatever type of cocoa powder you have.  The Bad news is: this takes a while to make.  The Good news is: You’ll get a work-out so can justify the calories of enjoying it!

You’ll need a candy/oil thermometer for most accurate temperature reading.

 
In a large, heavy-bottomed pan whisk together:
3 cups Sugar
3/4 cup Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 can (12 oz.) Evaporated Milk (NOT condensed milk)

Stir constantly until it comes to a nice, rolling boil.  Now, don’t stir at all, but watch it on medium heat and test with a candy thermometer until it reaches 234 degrees.  This process of getting to temperature will take approximately 10 minutes, depending on the heat (and your stove).

  

When it reaches 234 degrees, remove from heat and add:
1/4 cup Butter
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

DO NOT STIR!  Place the pan on the counter or table and just wait….and wait…and wait…until it reaches room temperature (it took almost an hour!).   Hint: you should be able to touch the bottom of the pan with your hand.

Now comes the work:  Using a wooden spoon, stir constantly until it gets thick and starts to lose it’s glossy look (this takes a good 15 minutes).  At this point stir in nuts if you wish (I used walnuts).  Pour into an 8 or 9″ pan lined with foil wrap.

     

Cool completely on the counter.  Refrigerate until set.  Remove the foil and place on a cutting board.  Cut into squares.  Freeze if desired.

Mocha Fudgesicles

Is it HOT where you live?  We actually have a slight reprieve from the heat this week, but it is August, and that means more oppressive heat is on the way.  Not to worry, I’ve got a cold, smooth Mocha recipe for adults and if you leave out the coffee, kids will love these “fudgesicles”.

Most fudgesicle recipes call for  sweetened condensed milk or instant pudding.  I wanted to make a slightly healthier, less sweet version.  My experimenting led me to make these which turned out, oh so creamy and yummy.  This recipe made 6 Zoku popsicles – feel free to double or triple the batch.

 

In a 2 cup measuring cup place:
1/2 cup Yogurt, (I used plain, but you could use chocolate)
1/2 cup Evaporated Milk
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 Tabl. Instant Coffee granules
1/4 cup Chocolate Syrup

Whisk the above ingredients well.  Pour into your popsicle molds and freeze until firm.  Since I have the Zoku Popsicle maker I didn’t have to wait long.

        

Question of the Week: What’s the Difference between Unsweetened and Bittersweet Chocolate?

Chocolate is made from dried, ground cacao beans (actually a fruit!) which produce both a chocolate liquor & cocoa butter (fat).

Unsweetened Chocolate – Some refer to this as “bitter” chocolate, because it has no sugar added.  It is a direct result of the dried cacao beans being ground (conched).  In fact, unsweetened chocolate is not even considered edible  in this “raw” state.

Unsweetened chocolate is the base for bittersweet chocolates. Bakers often use this type of chocolate for recipes which contain higher amounts of sugar and demand a high intensity of chocolate, i.e. Fudge Brownies.

Bittersweet Chocolate –  Contains uunsweetened chocolate in varying percentages (at least 35%)  sugar, vanilla and Lecithin.  The higher the % of cacao, the lower the % of sugar.  

Think of the cacao percentages as referring to intensity:  I prefer unsweetened chocolate for intense brownies which have a high amount of sugar in them,  60% cacao for my chocolate flourless cake and 35% for chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate Truffle Cake

Do you LOVE chocolate…I mean, REALLY, LOVE Chocolate?  If so, this intense chocolate cake will take you over the edge!  For those with gluten allergies, it’s perfect because it has no flour.  What it does have is just 3 ingredients: Eggs, Butter and the best dark chocolate you can find.

This cake does not “rise” as traditional cakes do.  It will be shallow, approx. 1-1/4″ thick.  Because of its intensity, this 8″ cake will serve 8-10 guests.  Garnish the cake with just a dusting of powdered sugar, some fresh whipped cream or ice cream and definitely fresh fruit!

In a microwavable bowl melt on medium level of the microwave until liquid:
1/2# of Chopped Dark Chocolate (60-% cacoa or greater)
4 oz. Butter
 
Stir the  chocolate and butter mixture until smooth and allow to cool approx. 10 minutes.
 
Whip on high speed until light color and thick:
4 Eggs, whole (these MUST be ROOM TEMPERATURE)

Gently fold the chocolate into the eggs, mixing to incorporate but not enough to deflate the eggs.  Pour the batter into an 8″ pan which has a parchment circle on the bottom.

            

            

Place the 8″ pan of batter into a larger pan and fill 1/2 way up the sides with HOT water.  Bake in a pre-heated 300 degree oven for approx. 15 minutes until a thermometer tests at 145 degrees.  DO NOT Overbake.  Cool on a rack.  Refrigerate overnight.

When ready to use, place the pan on a stove burner and warm the bottom slightly and run a knife around the edges to loosen.  Place a serving plate on top of the pan and flip it over.  If warmed properly, it will release easily.  Remove the parchment paper and serve.

Food Memories – Chocolate Oatmeal No-Bake Cookies

Recently, scientists announced what many of already knew:  There are direct links between food and memories.  Happily, my mother and I shared many memories as we talked about, wrote about and prepared food together. Today is the anniversary of the death of my mother from Alzheimers Disease.  On this day, I always prepare and eat foods that remind me of her.  Please indulge me in sharing this very true story about my mom on her death bed and the last food memory I have with her.

Mom had been placed on “Comfort Care” meaning no food, no tubes, just waiting for her end. I waited at her bedside for days. She hadn’t been lucid enough to recognize family or speak for weeks.  And yet, on the 9th day of not eating, she looked at me and mouthed “choc-o-late”!  No kidding!!  I jumped up and asked her “Mom, did you day something??!” To which she again mouthed “choc-o-late”.  For the first time in a long time, I knew mom was really “in there”.

Against the nurses wishes, I rushed to the nearest store, bought some Lindt chocolate filled truffles and ran back to her room.  I warmed the truffle in my hand, cut it in two, and drizzled the chocolate inside on mom’s bottom lip.  Then…she smiled at me as if to say “thank you, I needed that!”!!!  Not long after, mom went home to be with God.

This isn’t a sad memory – it’s one that makes me laugh, because truly, my mom LOVED chocolate!  She used to purchase her favorite candy bars by the case, not by the bar (luckily for her she had a metabolism that allowed her to eat like this.)  When I was a kid, mom used to make these simple cookies (from a Betty Crocker book years ago) as a treat, sometimes for us kids and sometimes for herself to share with us.  When my children were little, I made them, and now, my daughter will make them for her children. Just a simple little cookie – so many precious memories!


In a medium size pan, bring to a boil:
1/2 cup Butter
2 cups Sugar
1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
1/2 cup Milk
Dash of Salt

 

Stir constantly and boil for 4 minutes.  Remove the pan from heat and quickly stir in:
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
3 cups Oatmeal (Quick Cooking)

Drop by spoon or scoop onto a piece of parchment.  Allow to cool and enjoy!

Brownies – Reduced Fat & Sugar

If you still haven’t figured out what to make for your sweetie for Valentine’s, how about a healthier alternative to brownies? In this recipe,  I’ve not replaced all of the fat or sugar, but rather about 1/2 of the fat and sugar and compensated by using applesauce and extra dark chocolate.  The texture of these brownies is “cakey” not dense.

We enjoy these brownies best warm, but they are equally as delicious the next day. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.  I may ice some with leftover fondue (from yesterdays post) to make them extra special for my valentine!

In a small bowl, melt and then set aside:
6 Tabl. Butter
1/3 cup  dark chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli 60% cacao)

Whisk together in medium size bowl:
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened Applesauce (smooth, not chunky)
2 Eggs
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Sift together:
2/3 cup AP Flour
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt

1)  Add the melted chocolate and butter to the wet ingredients.

2)  Stir the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients.

3)  Stir 1/2 cup Dark Chocolate Chips into the batter.

Line the 8″X8″ pan with tin foil, leaving foil over the edges.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes.  I recommend serving these the day they are made, or freeze for later.

Chocolate Orange Fondue for Two

I’ve been sharing healthier dessert alternatives this month. Since Valentine’s Day is almost upon us, we have to have a decadent chocolate recipe up our sleeve.  The good news is: dark chocolate has been proven to contain antioxidants and may help decrease blood pressure.  Some scientists actually suggest eating a small piece of dark chocolate each day – emphasis on small.

Professionally, I always use Callebout Dark Chocolate, but for the home baker, most grocery stores carry Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Chocolate Chips and these taste very similar to professional Belgian Chocolate.  It’s the high content of cacao that makes them dark and not sweet.  Don’t let that scare you – dark chocolate isn’t the same as unsweetened chocolate.

Now for the “to die for recipe” which makes enough for two people to share on Valentine’s day.  I suggest you serve the chocolate with fresh fruit and biscotti, which is lower in fat than most cookies.  You can make this in less than 5 minutes!

In a bowl, place:
1/3  cup Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips


Bring to a boil in a small pan:
1/4 cup Heavy Cream
1/4 tsp. Orange Zest
dash of salt
1/4 tsp. Instant Coffee (intensifies the chocolate flavor)


Stir in to the cream:
2 tsp. Grand Marinier (optional)

Pour boiling cream over the chocolate.  Stir until smooth.  Serve!

Buche De Noel – Yule Log

Buche de Noel –  Also known as a Yule Log is traditionally French but has also become a traditional Christmas Day dessert  in America.  Classically it is a sponge cake (Genoise) with pastry cream filling, rolled into a log shape (Roulade) and iced with buttercream.  It is not just in the shape of a log, but it is meant to look like a log in a forest, right down to the meringue mushrooms.

Over the years, as happens with traditions, the recipe has been changed and has evolved.  In the bakery, I chose to make a sponge cake, fill it with fresh whipped cream and finish it with a chocolate glaze.  Instead of the meringue mushrooms, I opt for fondant shaped holly leaves because meringue mushrooms are easy to make but not easy to store (besides holly is prettier!).

A sponge cake is a very simple cake to make and it literally only takes minutes to bake because of its thinness.  We sometimes add peppermint or chocolate pieces or cherries to the whipped cream before rolling, though this is certainly not traditional.  Don’t be scared off by the steps involved.  You do have to make 3 components: a cake, a filling and a glaze.  You’ll find that none of the steps take too long and the assembly is really easy as well.

1.  THE CAKE:
 
In a mixing bowl, whip to soft peaks:
5 Egg Whites 
Slowly add while beating whites:
4 Tabl. Sugar

Continue to whip egg whites to stiff peak and then transfer to another bowl and set aside.

In the same mixing bowl, beat on high speed for 8-10 minutes:
5 Egg yolks
4 Tabl. Sugar

 

Remove the bowl from the mixer and by hand with a spatula, fold in:
1/3 cup Cake Flour, sifted
3 Tabl. Cocoa Powder, sifted

Gently fold in the egg whites to the above mixture:

Spread the batter into a parchment lined 1” sided cookie sheet.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until it springs back when touched.  Allow the cake to cool completely.

 


2.  THE FILLING:
Whip on high speed to stiff peak (Do not overbeat):
2 cups Heavy Cream 
Slowly add:
3 Tabl. Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
 
3.  THE GLAZE:
 
Melt slowly in a microwavable bowl:
1 cup of Chocolate Chips
3 Tabl. Butter 
 
When melted, stir in 1 Tabl. Corn Syrup.  Cool at room temperature until the glaze is spreadable.
 
 

NOW HERE’S HOW TO ASSEMBLE –  (Don’t panic – it’s easy 🙂

1)  Remove cake from the pan by running a knife around the edges and then pulling the parchment off pan and on to the counter.  Flip over the cold cake and remove the parchment.

2)  Spread a thin layer of whipped cream over the cake – extending to the edges.

3)  OPTIONAL:  Add peppermint or cherries over the whipped cream.

4)  Roll the long edge of the cake up, rolling as you go, to form a log shape.

5)  Place seam side down on a piece of parchment.

6)  Spread the glaze from the top working around and down the sides (not the edges).

7)  Drag a fork through the chocolate to make it look like bark.

8.)  Allow the glaze to set-up firm.

9)  Cut the ends off on an angle.

10)  Place the ends (really, any way you like) to make it seem like a cut log.  See my pic for an example.

11)  Touch up the glaze on the cut ends.

12)  Transfer the set cake to a serving platter.

13)  Hand cut some green fondant to look like holly and add red M&Ms for the berries.

14)  Refrigerate

Now, wasn’t that pretty painless?  🙂

Chocolate Crackletops

When deciding what cookie selection you want to include on your holiday table and gift boxes, think as you would a meal.  Think not only about different varieties, but also colors, textures, and flavors.  I like to have fully iced and decorated cutout cookies, something with nuts (like snowball cookies), some spicy cookies (like gingerbread) and of course something chocolate!  This recipe is a “must-have” in many homes, mine included.  It makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Melt in microwave (low heat and gradual):
5 squares of Baking Chocolate
1/2 cup Butter


In mixing bowl, place:
2 cups Sugar

Add melted chocolate to the sugar and mix.


 
Beat in one at a time:
3 Eggs, large


Add and mix:
2-1/2 cups AP Flour
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup Walnuts (optional)
 

Refrigerate the dough overnight or at least 6 hours.  Roll COLD dough into balls.  Roll each ball in confectioner’s sugar and place on parchment lined cookie sheets.  Bake in a 300 degree oven for 12-14 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before removing from pan.

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