Easter baskets don’t get much better than this one! Filled with chocolate!
And I didn’t have to hunt for it!
Thanks, Kraft Kitchens. Happy to share my knowledge of eggs with some of your employees during the lunch hour cooking class!
Want a decadent brunch or dessert recipe? Perhaps something to serve this Easter weekend?
At the Chocolate class I taught at Thyme to Cook in Guelph a couple weeks ago, one of the recipes I made was Chocolate Crepes with Cream Cheese Filling.
You could easily use another filling of your choice for these crepes: chopped fruit, caramelized bananas, ice cream, sherbet, frozen yogurt, pudding, or ???? What do you suggest?
Or, you could simply roll up the crepes and drizzle them with fruit syrup, maple syrup or chocolate sauce.
Chocolate Crepes with Cream Cheese Filling
(Makes about 18 small crepes or 10 large crepes)
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp (45 mL) sugar
2 tbsp (30 mL) cocoa
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
1-1/4 cups (300 mL) milk
2 tbsp (30 mL) melted butter
For Valentine’s Day – a basic chocolate cake with lots of variations (see below)….in case you’d rather have cupcakes, or a different size or shape of cake.
(Makes 10 to 12 servings)
2 cups (500 mL) sugar
1-3/4 cups (425 mL) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (175 mL) cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) baking powder
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) baking soda
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) milk
½ cup (125 mL) vegetable oil
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
1 cup (250 mL) boiling water
Chocolate Icing (recipe below)
Grease and flour two 9-inch (23 cm) round baking pans.
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water. (The batter will be thin.) Pour batter into prepared pans.
A bouquet of flowers sweetly arranged in a vase was waiting for me when I arrived home from work on Thursday night.
My sweetheart wasn’t going to be able to spend Valentine’s Day at home with me as duty called and he needed to hang out in a few hockey arenas for the day and evening, scouting for players for the rebuilding Kitchener Rangers.
Being the thoughtful guy he is, he picked up flowers (including carnations, my favourite flower – I just love the look and smell of them!) and a mushy card ahead of time.
What a good guy! I think I’ll hold on to him. He’s a sweetheart the other 364 days of the year too!
Cards that included a sweet reminder of the joy of cupcakes…..
A few valentines arrived in the mail including this cute card from my brother’s family (full credit to my sister-in-law who no doubt picked out the card!).
Inside the card (made by Carlton Cards) it reads – “It’s my Valentine smile – I’m supposed to have little frosting smudges around the edges. Hope your day is sweet!”
Aaaahhhh……a puppy and a cupcake! How cute!
Cupcakes are so popular these days. These mini desserts can be baked in many flavours and the decorating possibilities are endless. If you’re a cupcake fan, here are a few blogs you’ll want to visit:
Chocolate…..both sweet and salty
Murray and I don’t usually make too much fuss about Valentine’s Day. I did pick up some chocolate to share with him when he gets home tonight.
I saw a couple new (or at least new to me) chocolates at the grocery store this week. First I found a bar of Lindt Excellence Fleur de Sel – dark chocolate with a touch of hand-harvested fleur de sel, or sea salt. (Chocolate and a hint of salt go very well together.)
I also found Lindt Lindor milk chocolate in a chocolate bar form, or so I thought.
Had I examined the picture on the box a little more closely, I may have clued in that the box contained chocolate pieces, not a solid bar.
Nonetheless, if you like Lindt’s Lindor chocolates (those foil wrapped round balls of chocolate with smooth and creamy centres), you’ll love this box of Lindor pieces.
I’ll confess I’ve sampled both chocolates already, and pronounced them good. Let’s hope there’s still some left by the time Murray gets home.
Chocolate lovers are invited to join me for a chocolate cooking class at Household China & Gifts cooking school in Waterloo on Thursday, Feb. 5th.
I’ll be demonstrating sweet and savoury recipes with the help of cooking school co-ordinator Donna-Marie Pye. There will be lots of chocolatey samples as well as tips on working with chocolate. We’ll be doing some chocolate tasting and, if we can fit it in, an easy hands-on chocolate “craft”, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
The class runs from 6:30 until 9 p.m. and costs $70.00.
Sign up for Chocoholics Rejoice by calling 519-884-2792 or visiting Household China at 300 King Street North in Waterloo.
Be sure to check out the other cooking classes in Household China’s Winter Cooking class schedule.
Take my chocolate poll below to vote for your chocolate preference – milk, dark or white. (Yes, white chocolate is technically not chocolate because it doesn’t contain cocao solids but I’m including it anyway since many people consider it chocolate.)
Yesterday was Murray’s birthday. Although no longer the handsome young man I met 28 years ago, like fine wine or cheese, he has aged well and is now the handsome somewhat older man I am proud to call my husband! With him around, life is certainly never dull!
A few days ago, a cool birthday card came in the mail for him from my sister-in-law, brother and niece.
The card elicited an extra smile from both of us since Murray is not a cat lover, although he does seem to have a special bond with Sam, the black Burmese-ish cat who lives next door and occasionally stays with us when his family is away.
Murray’s birthday was a low-key celebration, as our birthdays tend to be. Just him and me, out for supper as is our usual birthday tradition. He picked Charbries restaurant in Waterloo as his destination of choice. I reserved the table by the fish tank. Again, his choice.
“If our conversation becomes dull or we run out of things to talk about, we can always look at the fish,” he reasoned.
As it turned out, we were able to find something to talk about all the way from pre-dinner drinks through dessert! We also watched the marine life swimming in the wall tank beside us. It included tiny fish with flourescent blue stripes on their sides and a little shark that stayed motionless on the bottom of the tank nearly all through dinner. Our server told us she once saw the shark lying on his back with his mouth open and presumed the worst, but the next day he was swimming around again!
Dinner started with a four cheese soup for Murray and curried cauliflower soup for me. A Jonagold apple and cardamom sorbet cleansed our palates before the entrees were served – chicken in a wine sauce and roasted vegetables for him, and portabello-wrapped pork with chunky applesauce and roasted vegetables for me. We shared dessert – apple bread pudding with caramel sauce and whipped cream.
Yes, we managed to eat, drink and be “merry”…..in Murray’s honour!
Speaking of honour, I was also able to find an appropriate card for Murray.
It was late afternoon last Saturday……I was struggling valiantly to down another sip of rich, thick, sweet, intensely chocolate hot chocolate. I was attending the Death by Chocolate event at COPIA (the Center for Wine, Food and the Arts) in Napa, California.
I had been sampling chocolate of all kinds, flavours and cocoa contents since 10 a.m. It was about 4 p.m. and I was sitting in COPIA’s beautiful tiered kitchen theatre, watching the final Master Class of the day. Chuck Siegel of Charles Chocolates had just passed around samples of the third of three hot chocolates he had made. Each was made with Guittard chocolate and tasted rather like drinking chocolate syrup (not that I will attest to knowing what drinking chocolate syrup tastes like!).
In terms of chocolate tasting, I was clearly done for the day. Continue reading
Anyone who’s read my February posts so far will likely have noticed they’ve all included chocolate in one fashion or another. Since chocolate is a passion of mine, I trust I’m excused for this narrow focus, especially during the chocolatey month of February. I promise to move on to other food topics very soon, just after I share a few more chocolate thoughts.
Last year, Carol Wiebe, an artist and dear friend, created two pieces of chocolate-themed art for me. The first, Chocolate Confessions, was a commissioned piece I asked her to create when she began making personalized mixed media collages.
Chocolate Confessions by Carol Wiebe, 2007
To create the piece, Carol asked me to give her a picture of myself, and to write out some thoughts about chocolate. One thing I wrote about was that I eat chocolate everyday. Using that idea, Carol designed a chocolate mandala sun with painted rays and my own words about chocolate radiating from it. (Although you can not see the fine details, my handwriting is sprinkled liberally throughout the art quilt.)
Carol also painted a cacao tree to reflect my interest not only in eating chocolate but studying the history of it.
What about that chocolate egg? Those of you who know I work for the Egg Farmers of Ontario probably figured out the significance of the egg pretty quickly.
On the back of Chocolate Confessions, Carol appropriately penned the following: “Both chocolate and confessions can assuage the soul.”
Ancient Appetites came as a wonderful Christmas surprise from Carol. This piece included other aspects of my love of all things chocolate (like Cocoa, my poodle), historical references to chocolate and cocoa, as well as a favourite recipe for Molten Chocolate Cakes (the underbaked baby cakes that spill chocolate lava when unmolded onto a dessert plate and broken into with a fork or spoon).
Showing these pieces here does not begin to do proper justice to their beautiful colours, textures and sparkle, or Carol’s fine workmanship, however believe me when I say both are beautifully crafted keepsakes I will treasure always.
Carol has written about both creations on her Silverspring Studio blog. Her reflections on these pieces can be found on her posts, Chocolate Confessions and A Surprise of Beautiful Work. On her blog, you can also read some of her thoughts about art and creating and the processes she uses to design and her create her art quilts. And, of course, you can see more of her art.
Who doesn’t love brownies?
I suppose if you don’t like chocolate, you might not care for brownies.
Whoa! Back up! Who doesn’t love chocolate?
As hard as it might be for some of us to fathom, there are people in this world who are indifferent to chocolate. They can take it or leave it. Quite easily. Without much care or thought. Some of those people may even prefer to ignore chocolate altogether. Don’t pity them, however. Consider how much more this leaves for the rest of us!
But back to brownies.
Recently I found a recipe for The Ultimate Brownie on the About.com Desserts/Baking website. I’ve never understood the idea of an “ultimate” anything because what might be the best ever version of something (e.g. brownies) to you may very well be a just okay version of that something (e.g. brownies) to me. And vice versa. If you claim something is the “ultimate” or “world’s best” or “greatest ever”, you’ve set up some pretty high expectations as to what that something will look like, taste like, feel like, act like, and so on, depending on exactly what that something is. So many things in life are subject to an individual’s taste preferences, perceptions, biases, and experiences that I’m always hesitant to label anything (and in the context of this blog, a recipe!) with the moniker of “ultimate” unless it’s been highly rated by more people than just me.
That said, I did try The Ultimate Brownie recipe, and it was pretty good! Thick and fudgey (my preference as opposed to cakey), it would rank fairly high on my scale of “best brownies ever eaten”. I’ve posted the recipe below.
Speaking of things “ultimate”, I’m also posting a link to the website of my colleague, cookbook author Mairlyn Smith and her healthy Decadent Brownies recipe. It’s from her and co-author dietitian Liz Pearson’s best-selling book, Ultimate Foods for Ultimate Health…and don’t forget the chocolate (Whitecap Books, 2007). Mairlyn’s recipe uses whole wheat flour, canola oil and cocoa powder.
As well, here’s the link to the recipe for Fudgey Special Dark Brownies on Hershey’s website; it’s made with cocoa powder and Chipits. If you make the brownies in a 15 x 10-inch (38 x 25 cm) pan instead of a 13 x 9-inch (33 x 23 cm) pan, you can cut the brownies into heart shapes for Valentine’s Day. On the Hershey’s website you can also find chocolatey recipes for mousse, cookies and truffles. Perfect fare for giving to all your loved ones and sweeties! Assuming they all like chocolate, that is!
The Ultimate Brownie
(Makes a 13 x 9-inch/33 x 23 cm baking pan)
8 squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped into chunks
1 cup (250 mL) butter, cut in chunks
5 large eggs
3 cups (750 mL) sugar
1 tablespoon (15 mL) vanilla
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
2-1/2 cups (625 mL) chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted
In a saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate and butter, stirring frequently; set aside.
In a large bowl, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on high speed for 10 minutes. (Mixture will be thick and pale yellow in colour.)
Stir in chocolate mixture. Fold in flour and salt until just mixed. Stir in nuts. Pour into a lightly greased 13 x 9-inch (33 x 23 cm) baking pan.
Bake in a preheated 375F (190C) oven for 35 to 40 minutes. The brownies should be moist in the centre.
For more brownie recipes, visit Brownie Lover’s Diary.
Another blustery wintery day in southwestern Ontario!
A perfect afternoon to stay indoors, curled up with a book and a steaming mug of spiced hot chocolate. To complement the beverage choice, and in honour of this sweet month of February, I picked out JoAnna Carl’s chocoholic mystery, The Chocolate Cat Caper, from my library of culinary mysteries.
Before filling my mug with hot chocolate, I dipped the rim in a mixture of cocoa powder, sugar and ground cinnamon. Hardly essential, but it made for a pretty presentation – and an extra bit of spice and sweetness with every sip!
Spiced Hot Chocolate
(Makes about 4 cups/1 L)
3 oz (90 g) semisweet chocolate
3 tablespoons (45 mL) water
2 teaspoons (10 mL) sugar
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) ground allspice or nutmeg
4 cups (1 L) milk
In a medium saucepan, combine chocolate, water, sugar, cinnamon, allspice and salt. Place saucepan over low heat and stir until chocolate is melted and ingredients are blended together. Remove from heat. Add milk. Return to stove. Over medium heat, stir frequently until milk is not, but not boiling. Remove from heat. Whisk until frothy or use a frother to froth. Pour into mugs and serve.
Optional: To decorate mug rims, combine about 2 tablespoons each (about 30 mL) sugar and cocoa powder with about 1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground cinnamon; stir to blend. Pour mixture into a plate; give plate a shake to spread mixture out evenly, about 1/4 inch (5 mm) thick. Dip rims of mugs in water, then into the cocoa powder/sugar mixture. Fill mugs with hot chocolate and serve.