Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mexican Chocolate Drizzled Caramel Popcorn

This actually does taste as good as it looks. It's fresh homemade popcorn, peanuts and cashews drenched in a delicious homemade caramel sauce and then drizzled in a decadent Mexican Chocolate ganache. It's perfect for snacking on while watching a movie at home with your better half late in the evening when the kids are asleep. You don't need to go spend an outrageous amount at the movies, stay at home. Of course there's no one watching if you two decide to snuggle up either!

This recipe can be found along with other tasty dishes in my ecookbook, Mi Chita's Mexican Chocolate Recipes. You'll find recipes for beverages and desserts that can be whipped up quickly for family and guests especially during the holiday season. They're easy and simple to prepare and will have you taking bows when served.

These next two months will be the last time this ecookbook will be offered at the low price of $3.95. Bob and I are already working on a second edition of the cookbook with more recipes and pictures added. This second edition will be offered in print as well as in digital format, but because of the cost of POD (print on demand) the cost will be slightly higher. BUT, the good news is you'll get a bigger cookbook and the choice to have it in print or as a PDF download.

So take this opportunity to get the Mi Chita's ecookbook now before the new one comes out. You won't regret it. Those of you that know me know that I put alot of love and effort into my cooking. I know you won't be disappointed. Thank you my foodie friends.

Mexican Chocolate Drizzled Caramel Popcorn

10 cups popped corn
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup peanuts
1 cup cashews
1/2 c. corn syrup (white)
Mexican Chocolate Ganache*

Pop corn. Put corn and nuts in roaster and keep warm in oven set at 225° while making syrup.
Boil sugar, butter and syrup over medium heat until it reaches 280° on a candy thermometer. Take off heat and stir in vanilla. Pour over popped corn and nuts. Spread caramel covered popcorn in jellyroll pans that have been lightly sprayed with non-stick spray. Allow to cool. This will set up quite fast. Drizzle with Mexican chocolate sauce and allow to set.

*Mexican Chocolate Ganache

½ cup whipping (heavy) cream
½ disk Mexican Chocolate, chopped finely (for easier melting)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon Kahlua (optional)
Place chopped chocolate in large mixing bowl. Heat whipping cream over medium heat until very hot and simmering but not boiling, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add Kahlua. Pour over chocolate and stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in cinnamon.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Midnight Delight....For Two

(Sigh) “Well, I think that was the last of them.”

He looked at her and thought, she goes through this every year. Every Halloween she gets excited upon seeing the little ones all dressed up and Trick or Treating and then it’s over. It makes her sad to wait 12 months before she can open the door to the children again…a reminder that she can never have any of her own.

“Marie, you look so heartbroken every year when Halloween is at an end.”

“I know, it’s just that I won’t be seeing the children for a full year.”

“Yes,” he said with a smile,” that is true. However, you have been giving the little ones treats for almost two centuries now, and you’ll see the princesses, witches and devils for hundreds of years to come.”

“Of course, you’re right,” said Marie. “You always know what to say to brighten my dark moods. It’s barely midnight, what shall we do?”

“Let’s have our own little celebration, what do you think?” he replied.

“Did you have something special in mind?” He’d aroused her curiosity.

“I have a surprise for you.”

He led her into the dining area where he had candles lit, a bottle of wine on ice and a scrumptious dessert for her.

“Chocolate? My Beloved, you said chocolate would be the death of me!”

“I promise, every year so that you might remain happy on Halloween, I will have a special chocolate dessert waiting for you.”

“And then I will have something special for you, my love,” Marie said with a glint in her eye.

A short (VERY short) little story for you by Teresa & Bob. Happy Halloween everyone.)

Midnight Delight, A Chocolate Dessert for Two

Mexican Chocolate Brownies
½ cup all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ round disc Mexican chocolate, pulverized
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, diced, room temperature
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

For brownies:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°. Generously butter 8X8X2 inch metal baking pan; dust with flour. Mix first three ingredients in small bowl. Stir chocolates and butter in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth. Turn off heat. Let chocolate stand over water.

Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar in large bowl until mixture thickens and falls in soft ribbon when beaters are lifted, about 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Stir in flour mixture in 2 additions, blending well after each. Gradually add warm chocolate to egg mixture, beating until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake brownies until top is set and tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack.
Once cooled, top with a layer of Mexican Chocolate Mousse.

Mexican Chocolate Mousse

4 ounces (about 1 ½ disks) Mexican Chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup milk
1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1 carton (8 ounces) whipped topping, like Cool Whip

In a saucepan, over low heat, melt chocolate in milk. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
In mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until well combined. Stir in chocolate mixture. Fold in whipped topping.
Spoon mixture over cooled brownies. Refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours. Using a round cookie cutter (or like in my case, I used a cocktail shaker), cut rounds of the brownie and mousse dessert.

Set on small round plates and top off with Flavored Whipped Cream.
Decorate if desired.

Whipped Cream Topping
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon Chocolate Vodka

Combine whipping cream and vodka in a chilled mixing bowl. Whip until stiff peaks form. Fill a pastry bag with the whipped cream and top off your Midnight Delights with a swirling of the topping. Optional, add raspberries of chocolate shards or curls.

Wine: Vampire Wine

Chocolate Shards: Midnight Reverie by Ghirardelli

Marie, Mistress of the Night: Lily

Her Beloved: Brian, Lily’s BF

"Stress wouldn't be so hard to take if it were covered in chocolate."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mexican Chocolate Capirotada

As promised, this is the dessert I made with that second loaf of the pound cake I made a couple of days ago. Mexican Chocolate Capirotada.

Capirotada is simply Bread Pudding. Traditional Capirotada doesn't contain chocolate, by hey, I figured it couldn't hurt. Actually, I like this one even better, because of the Mexican chocolate of course. Capirotada is one of those traditional Mexican dishes often served around the holidays. And we're certainly getting close to those glorious days in a hurry, aren't we? So, I figure it's never too early to start my "traditional" baking. I really hope you enjoy my version of Capirotada. I added the traditional recipe at the end for all you non-conformists! :) Enjoy.

Chocolate Capirotada

8 slices of pound cake, cubed
3 eggs, beaten
1/3-cup milk
1-teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup dried cherries or raisins
1 medium granny smith apple
1 cup Jack cheese, shredded
Chocolate Sauce*

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a glass-baking dish.

Place half the pound cake cubes into the baking dish.

Mix eggs, milk, cinnamon and brown sugar and pour half of this mixture over the top of the cake cubes in dish.

Sprinkle half pecans, cherries or raisins, apple, and cheese on top.

Add another layer of pound cake cubes followed by the egg mixture and remaining ingredients. Top with chocolate sauce.

Bake 25 minutes or until cheese has melted. Serve with remaining chocolate sauce if desired.

*Chocolate Sauce:

1 cup half and half
1 stick cinnamon
½ disk Mexican Chocolate, chopped

Combine half and half and cinnamon stick in medium sauce pan and heat to scalding. Lower heat and add chocolate. Whisk until chocolate melts and remove from heat. Remove cinnamon stick before using.
Traditional Capirotada (Bread Pudding)

8 slices bread, toasted
3 eggs, beaten
5 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ cup toasted, slivered almonds
½ cup unsalted peanuts
½ cup walnuts, chopped
½ cup raisins
1 medium apple, pared, cored, and thinly sliced
1 cup Jack cheese, cut into small cubes

Preheat oven to 350º.
Butter a square baking dish. Place four bread slices in pan.
Mix eggs, milk, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Pour half of milk, eggs, and sugar mixture on top. Sprinkle with half of remaining ingredients.
Add another layer of bread and repeat as above. Top Capirotada with *Panocha Syrup and bake 25 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve warm or reheat, covered, for 15 minutes.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.

*Panocha Syrup:
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick

Combine ingredients in a medium size saucepan. Bring syrup to a boil. Lower heat and simmer approximately 15 minutes until syrup is slightly thickened. Remove cinnamon stick.

Chocolate Quote of the Day:
"Las cosas claras y el chocolate espeso." (Ideas should be clear and chocolate thick.)
Spanish proverb

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mexican Chocolate Marble Pound Cake

It’s that time of the year when my house smells like chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla, butter, and cakes and cookies. I’m so excited. I now have a legitimate excuse for keeping the oven busy and the gas bill at its highest.

There are so many recipes and not enough time. I have promised my family that I will really try to think about actual cooking of meals and not just try and serve them dessert for lunch and dinner.

I was thinking about Capirotada, Mexican Bread Pudding. But I didn’t want to make it with French bread. And there is no way (Jose) that I’m going to use frozen store bought pound cake. Not that you can’t use it, I have, but I wanted this Capirotada to be special. Bob and I celebrate our 20th Anniversary this week, and he really likes the bread pudding. So it’s got to be extra special. So, today I made a double loaf of Mexican Chocolate Marble Pound Cake. One loaf that Bob and Lily will be munching on and the other to use in my Capirotada. Check back on Wednesday, I’ll give you the picture and the recipe.

For now, here’s that gorgeous marbled pound cake. I hope you like it. There are so many ways to serve this. You can serve it with ice cream or whip up a little whipping cream and flavor it with vanilla or Kahlua or serve it with fruit. Afternoon coffee and a slice of this heavenly cake will keep the hunger growls at bay and you won’t have to rush through the kitchen to get everyone fed.

To all my lovely foodie friends who wished me a happy birthday, I thank you. I’ve had a difficult week, so your wishes were very special to me. They really touched my heart.

Abrazos a todos, hugs to all.
3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
2 sticks butter, softened
8 tbsp. Crisco
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 bar Abuelita Mexican Chocolate, melted
1 tsp. baking powder
Pinch salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon extract

Measure and sift flour, salt and baking powder. Cream butter and Crisco, add sugar gradually and continue creaming until light. Add eggs, one at a time, continue beating. Add lemon and vanilla flavorings. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
Pour 1/3 of batter into separate bowl and add chocolate. Grease and flour 2 loaf pans (or a tube pan). Divide remaining vanilla batter into each loaf pan. Spoon chocolate batter over vanilla batter in dollops. Swirl once around entire pan with wooden spoon handle to marbleize.

Bake in preheated oven at 325 degrees for 1 hour 20 minutes. Cool before icing.


1 box powdered sugar
8 tbsp. cocoa
1 stick softened butter
¼ cup of milk (or more to thin out frosting)
1 tsp. vanilla
Sift sugar and cocoa together. Add butter and blend in well. Add milk a little at a time, mixing well. Add vanilla and beat til smooth.
Chocolate Quote of the Day:
There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.
"The Pickwick Papers"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Rats, Cats and Witches Hats - Oh My!

Rats, Cats and Witches Hats
It’s Almost Halloween

I love Halloween. As the 31st of October approaches, my mind floods with memories of Halloween’s past. All the homemade costumes. All the store bought costumes. The baking, the candy, the Jack O’lanterns. We’ve had so much fun with our kids over the years. Memory-making times. I’ve got a ton of picture that I’ve taken over the years with Bob, my son, my daughter and me all in costume and acting silly, but having a whole lot of fun.

Take this time to enjoy your kids and grandkids. Let you hair down and enjoy the moment. If there are no children in the picture, get together with some friends and party. You don’t have to spend a lot to have fun. What counts is the laughing, the talking, the dancing, and the joy of making memories.

Take a look at these cookies. They’re simple, they’re cute and they’re tasty. If you have kids, let them help. I’ve had my kids and their friends over for cookie decorating parties. Yes, there will be frosting and chocolate on the floor, on the walls, on the ceiling, but who cares? It can be cleaned and forgotten. What won’t be forgotten are the smiles on their faces as they try something new, like making a cat or a rat out of cherries and Hershey kisses. Enjoy the unofficial start of the holiday season with Halloween. But don’t forget Dia de Los Muertos. We’ll talk about that one later. Wait till you see the delicious brownie and sugar skulls we’ll be making.

For now, make some Rats, Cats and Witches Hats. They’re simple to make.
Here’s what you need.

1. Fudge Strip Cookies, the ones with the fudge bottom. This is the side you’ll be using.
2. A jar of stemmed maraschino cherries. Make sure they have the stems on them. These work as tails on the rats and the cats.
3. Chocolate! (of course) for melting and dipping the cherries in.
4. Hershey Kisses. The kisses will be the heads for both the rat and the cats. They will also be the tops of the witch’s hats.
5. Frosting. Here, you’ve got a choice. You can make some royal frosting and color it the different colors you want to use, OR, you can cheat and get the Cake Mate frosting tubes. I also got a couple of tubes of the frosting gels for the eyes.
6. You’ll need some sliced almonds for the rat’s ears.
7. Some mini chocolate chips for the cat’s ears.
That’s it.

Turn the cookies over on a cutting board with the fudge side up. Melt the dipping chocolate and let it cool down a bit. Meanwhile rinse and drain the cherries and let them dry. Unwrap the kisses. Assemble the almonds slices, mini chips, cherries and kisses. Do it assembly-line style.

Dip cherries into melted (cooled) chocolate and lay it on the cookie. Lay a kiss right next to it. Place the rat ears, the almond slices, in between the cherry and the kiss. When you finish making as many as you’re going to make, place the cutting board in the fridge and let the chocolate set, about 15 minutes.

When the chocolate has set, remove the cookies from the fridge and using red gel, draw eyes on the rats. Using frosting, decorate the flat part of the cookie if you like.

These will take a little more work, not much though. First prepare your cat’s heads. Cut off the tip of the Hershey Kiss to give it a semi-round face. With a toothpick, gently carve out a mouth and whiskers. Make a small indentation for the nose and eyes. Fill-in the nose and eyes with the frosting gels. I used red for the nose and green for the eyes. Set these aside for a moment. Get a second cutting board and lay out your cookies, fudge side up. Dip the cherries in the chocolate and lay the cat’s head next to it on the cookie. Dab a little melted chocolate onto the bottom of the mini chocolate chip and place on the cat’s head for ears. Make sure your hands are cold so that the chips don’t melt in your hands. Once you’ve made as many as you’re going to make, place the cutting board in the fridge to allow the chocolate to harden. After 15 minutes, take the cookies out and decorate any way you wish.

Witches Hats:
These are the easiest to make. Squirt a little frosting on the bottom of the Hershey Kiss and place the kisses in the center of the fudge cookie. When you’ve prepared as many as you’re going to make, take all your frostings and decorate the hats however you like.

These are a lot of fun to make with kids. Relish the moment.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cherry Covered Chocolate for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

No, I didn’t make a mistake. I know you normally hear chocolate covered cherries, but not this time. To participate in the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month blog event sponsored by Ley at Cilantro and Lime, I decided to make Piggy Cupcakes. It’s cherry butter cream frosting over Mexican chocolate cupcakes. The recipes aren’t important. You all know how to make chocolate cupcakes and either make homemade butter cream frosting or open up a can of prepared frosting. Easy to decorate. Half a large pink marshmallow for the snout. Make two little slits and insert a chocolate mini M & M in each slit. Cut the corners of strawberry flavored sugar wafers for the piggy ears. Eat the rest. Spread cherry frosting over your cupcake, center the snout, top with piggy sugar wafer ears and add two more mini M & M’s for eyes. Couldn’t be simpler.
But now on to the important stuff. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Ley writes:

“As many of you may know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is a disease that affects an enormous amount of people every day, but many of us don't know much about it or how to take steps to prevent it. I'm hoping to promote awareness of breast cancer and its effects by posting information about it here and drawing attention to the issue through the participation of you guys in baking for this event.
What is this event, you ask? Well, it's called "Baking for Breast Cancer Awareness," and I'm asking for you guys to bake something up that promotes awareness in some form. You can bake something healthy, you can decorate your entries with a theme, or you can make it pink- whatever you choose, just make sure it's obviously tied in to breast cancer awareness! I'm not even going to be picky about the definition of "baking"- it doesn't have to be sweet, it doesn't have to be carb-y, and, you know what?- it doesn't really even have to be "baked." Bake a healthy chicken, make a pink trifle, create something that looks like boobs. It doesn't matter. Just make it. And spread the word.”
While the women in my family have been fortunate enough never to have suffered from breast cancer, we have not escaped the terror of cancer altogether.

Bob, my beloved husband, had prostate cancer 8 years ago. He was diagnosed in April of 2000, after a routine checkup by our family doctor. Even though his PSA was only at 4.5, Dr. May decided Bob should have further testing since his father had passed away from this dreaded disease. (Keep in mind that a normal PSA reading is a 5.) Bob made an appointment with an urologist and Dr. Annabi decided to take a biopsy. One tiny microscopic cell was found. We were told that Bob could choose not to do anything since it probably meant nothing at the moment. Or he could choose one of various treatments.

Bob and I decided to seek a second opinion. We were told the same thing. The decision was ours as to what action to take. We researched the Internet and talked to others who had prostate cancer. After long discussions and a lot of prayers, Bob decided he wanted it out. However small or whatever size it was, he just wanted it out.

Keep in mind that he was first diagnosed in April of that year. The decision to have it surgically removed came in July. That was only three months later. During the course of those three months, the one microscopic cell had grown 1000 %. We found this out right after surgery when Dr. Annabi came out and called me over. He was so animated, I really wasn’t listening. I was crying and wondering what was causing him to be so excited.

He informed me that it had been removed entirely using a new nerve sparing (experimental) technique another surgeon had performed: a total (and miraculous) success.

Needless to say, I give thanks to the Almighty everyday for allowing us a second chance at life. Bob has been president of the Board of Directors of the El Paso Cancer and Chronic Disease Consortium for the past six years. He is a dedicated advocate for cancer research and a loving husband and father.

Everyone is affected by cancer one way or another. Please help us spread the word to keep research going not only for Breast Cancer, but also for any and all types of cancer still haunting us today. Thank you for letting me share this story with you.

Please visit Ley at Cilantro and Lime and join in this most important blogging event.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Birthday Crème Brulee

My daughter Lily just turned a whopping 19 years old this week. I was prepared to make her a delicious cake smothered in her favorite frosting. It’s always been some type of character or kooky looking creation. But, she informed me that this year what she wanted was Crème Brulee. This really surprised me because each year her choice gets more and more outrageous in what she wants as her celebratory tribute.

My son Michael ALWAYS wants a cherry cake. I don’t think he’ll ever change that. He’s had a cherry cake since he was a tiny little guy, and there’s nothing tiny about him anymore. He’s turning 31, also this month, and is 6’2” and weighs over 200 pounds. But mama always made him a cherry cake.

My baby girl has had a football shaped cake, a jukebox cake, a Barney (remember him?) cake, you name it and she wanted it. This year she asked for Crème Brulee. I asked her why and her reply was, “Well, Mom, you never have a cake on your birthday. You always ask for an apple pie. Why can’t I ask for Crème Brulee?” Well, made sense to me. I guess she’s growing up. She hates the fact that this is her last teenage year. “Why can’t I just stay 19 forever?” Oh boy. She takes 15 hours at UTEP and she works about 30 hours a week. She’s tired, she’s stressed and she wants to stay 19. Don’t we all wish we could keep them little forever?

So Mama made Crème Brulee. This picture is the one from my “Mi Chita’s Mexican Chocolate Dessert Ecookbook”. I didn’t have the opportunity to take a picture of the one I made 2 days ago because it was gobbled up quickly. But I wanted you to see a picture of it and know that the taste and creaminess of this dessert is heavenly. I hope you try it. It’s a very simple and easy recipe.

So, for my baby girl, “Happy Birthday my Angel”. May you reach all your dreams and desires and my God protect you when I can’t.

Crème Brulee

2 cups whipping cream
2 cups half & half
8 ounces (about 2 ½ disks), chopped Mexican Chocolate
8 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
Cinnamon-brown sugar topping (8 tablespoons brown sugar plus 1 teaspoon cinnamon)
Amaretto Cherries*, optional

Preheat oven to 300°.
Bring whipping cream and half & half to a boil in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and add chocolate. Whisk until melted and smooth. Remove from heat.
Whisk egg yolks and 1/3-cup sugar. Gradually whisk in hot chocolate mixture. Strain.Divide custard among 8 custard cups.
Place filled cups in a large, deep baking pan. Add hot water to the pan to come ½ way up the outside of the cups. Bake until custard is set, about 50 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool 2 hours on a cooling rack.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Sprinkle each cup with 1 tablespoon cinnamon-brown sugar topping. Use a small butane fueled torch to caramelize the sugar topping. If you don’t have one, broil in the oven until sugar turns golden brown, about 3 minutes. Keep a close eye though, sugar burns quickly. Refrigerate until set. Serve with a tablespoon of Amaretto Cherries if desired. 8 servings.

*Amaretto Chocolate Sauce with Cherries:

2 cups chopped Mexican Chocolate
½ cup whipping cream
¼ cup Amaretto
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon instant coffee
Dash of cinnamon
Maraschino cherries

Combine first 4 ingredients in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Place chopped chocolate in medium size mixing bowl. As soon as cream mixture starts to boil, remove from heat and pour over chopped chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.

Stir in instant coffee and cinnamon and whisk until coffee is dissolved. Add cherries and allow to stand until cherries absorb the flavors of the chocolate mixture. Makes about 1¾ cups.


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