Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holiday Cocktails

You can never have too many cocktail recipes on hand for the holiday festivities. So adding this particular one to your Thanksgiving table seemed appropriate. Not only does it have a delicious combination of tasty liqueurs, it also contains pumpkin pie spice and a dash of cayenne to open up the senses. Very tasty.

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Cocktail(Sandra Lee, Cocktail Time Book)

¾ ounce vanilla flavored vodka
½ ounce Irish Cream liqueur
½ ounce Kahlua
½ ounce crème de cacao
1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake until very cold. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Sprinkle lightly with pumpkin pie spice. Makes one drink.

Of course you can't go without having some Hot Chocolate on hand for those chilly nights either. Here's one I decided to call, Not Your Mama's Hot Chocolate. It's absolutely decadent. It's creamy; it's made with real chocolate; it has a peppermint (candy cane) flavor that makes it feel like Christmas morning.

Not Your Mama’s Hot Chocolate
1 cup half and half
1 cup (liquid) Coffee-Mate Peppermint Mocha Coffee Creamer
¾ cup chocolate chips
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 ounces Peppermint Schnapps

Heat half and half along with coffee creamer, chocolate chips and cinnamon. Stir, over medium heat, until chocolate is melted. Divide schnapps into each cup and top with hot chocolate. If you want to make this for the kiddos, substitute a teaspoon of peppermint extract for the schnapps. Makes 2 latte size cups or 4 regular size cups.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Chocolate Caliente Cookies

I’m starting my Holiday baking journey. The first one I thought I’d try (are you surprised?) is a spicy Chocolate cookie. These little bits of joy are spiced with cinnamon and cayenne. That little pinch of cayenne is just enough to give the back of your mouth a little bite of excitement. Have these with a tall glass of milk and you’re set to sit down and write those Christmas cards…people still send out Christmas cards, don’t they? I so hope we haven’t become so “digitized” that all we send out are e-cards, emails and a “Hello” on facebook.

I hope you try these, they really are tasty. AND you can’t go wrong with chocolate. Pack some in small boxes or goody bags to have on hand for dinner guests or friends or neighbors. They make a nice little surprise that say Happy Holidays.

Chocolate Caliente Cookies
A Nestle Toll House Recipe
1 3/4 cups (11.5-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks, divided
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/16 teaspoon (pinch) ground cayenne pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

MICROWAVE 1 cup chunks in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 1 minute; STIR. Chunks may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until chunks are melted.

COMBINE flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and cayenne pepper in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla extract; beat well. Add melted chocolate; stir until blended. Gradually stir in flour mixture. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

PREHEAT oven to 350º F. Line baking sheets with foil.

SHAPE dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Place 3 inches apart on baking sheets.

BAKE for 12 minutes or until cookies are puffed and centers are set but still soft. Immediately place remaining chunks, about 5 to 6 chunks per cookie, onto tops of cookies. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks. Allow chunks to soften and spread melted chocolate evenly over tops of cookies.

TIP:• For a richer chocolate flavor, substitute three 4-ounce bars of NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® CHOCOLATIER 53% Cacao Dark or 62% Cacao Bittersweet Baking Chocolate, broken into pieces, for the semi-sweet chocolate chunks.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cocoa Spiced Chicken

Having chicken for dinner is not new. It's what you do with it that counts.

Chocolate is delicious as a dessert. It is also a delightful suprise when used as a savory flavoring on meats and poultry.

I baked this Cocoa Spiced chicken breast but it is also delicious when grilled. In keeping with the cooking for two, taking out a couple of chicken breasts out of the freezer and spicing it up with "chocolate" makes a special dinner. The addition of a salsa as a topper, in this case made with mangos and avocados makes this simple piece of poultry a complete dinner.

The salsa is the usual combination of diced onions, chopped tomatoes, diced mangos, diced avocados, minced jalapeños and drizzled with a mixture of lime and olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.

To complete the dinner serve crusty french bread and a tall, cold gass of Tecate (Mexican Beer).
Spicy Cocoa Rubbed Chicken with Salsa
(recipe from the Southern Living Magazine)

2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ¼ teaspoon salt, divided
2 large chicken breasts
2 limes
2 teaspoons of honey
1 avocado, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh mango
¾ cup large-diced tomato
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 minced jalapeño
4 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat grill. Use an outdoor or an indoor grill.

Stir together brown sugar and next four ingredients plus ½ teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Rub chicken with the sugar mixture, coating well.

Grate zest from limes to equal 1 tablespoon; squeeze juice from limes to equal 2 tablespoons. Whisk together honey, lime zest and lime juice in a medium bowl. Add avocado and toss to coat. Stir in mango, next 3 ingredients and remaining ¾ teaspoon salt.

Grill chicken until thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 165 degrees. Serve with mango-avocado salsa.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mexican Chocolate Biscotti

Need a self-indulging break from all the hustle and bustle of the holidays? Treat yourself to a Spiced Mexican Mocha and Biscotti delight.

I’d never made biscotti before. My daughter-in-law had made some for me a couple of years ago for Christmas so I thought I’d try it with some Abuelita’s Mexican Chocolate.

My family knows Christmas morning (for me) is not complete without a large cup of java and some biscotti. The holidays are when I love to indulge with this decadent bit of crispy cookie dipped in coffee.

I’m anxious this year for Christmas to come around more than usual. My children will be here. Ask me if I’m excited??!!! I’ve started making my food and shopping lists and we haven’t even hit Thanksgiving yet.

So, to keep me somewhat sane, I decided to experiment with this basic biscotti recipe adding some Abuelita’s chocolate and chopped almonds. I can see the pounds piling back on. I’ve managed to lose some weight in the last few months and I promise to take it back off after the holidays. But for now, it’s time to celebrate. My children are coming and I’m in heaven.

Mexican Chocolate Biscotti
Makes: 2 dozen cookies

1/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
¼ teaspoon espresso powder (or instant coffee granules)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup toasted almonds, chopped*
4 ounces Mexican chocolate, chopped
6 ounces special dark chocolate or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon Kahlua
2 teaspoons shortening

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet; set aside. Beat butter in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and cocoa powder. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour, the hazelnuts, and 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate with a wooden spoon.
2. Divide dough in half. Shape each portion into a 9-inch-long roll. Place rolls 4 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet; slightly flatten each roll to 2 inches wide.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool on cookie sheet for 45 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325F.
4. Cut each roll diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices, slicing carefully with a serrated knife. Place slices, cut sides down, on cookie sheet.
5. Bake in 325F oven for 8 minutes. Carefully turn slices over and bake for 7 to 9 minutes more or until dry and crisp. Transfer to wire racks and let cool, about 1 hour.
6. Microwave chopped chocolate and shortening in a small microwave-safe bowl on 50 percent power (medium) for 1 to 2 minutes or until melted, stirring twice. Dip one end of each cookie into melted chocolate; let excess drip back into bowl. Place cookies on waxed paper; let stand until set. Makes 2 dozen small cookies. If you want larger biscotti cookies make just one large log.
*Note: To toast nuts, spread them in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 4 to 5 minutes or until nuts are slightly golden brown, stirring once or twice. Chop nuts and set aside.
To Store: Place cookies in layers separated by pieces of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw cookies, if frozen, before serving.

Biscotti (or any cookie) wouldn’t be complete without some coffee or hot chocolate. What better way to serve the Mexican Chocolate Biscotti than with some Spiced Mexican Mocha. What can I say? I’m a Mexican Chocoholic!

Spiced Mexican Mocha
Makes 6 servings

4 cups strong coffee, freshly brewed
2 cups whole milk, or half and half, or cream :)
1 tablespoon Kahlua
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet or Mexican chocolate, like Abuelita's or Ibarra’s, grated
Vanilla ice cream or frozen whipped cream, optional
Chili powder, optional

Brew coffee and keep on warmer.
Bring milk to a simmer over low heat. Add next four ingredients and stir until chocolate is melted. Add strong coffee to milk mixture.
Whisk or blend it to make it light and foamy. The traditional way to do this is with a molinillo. A molinillo is a special wooden tool used for creating foam in hot chocolate.
If you desire, top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen whipped cream and sprinkle (lightly) with chile powder or cinnamon.
You may make this ahead and reheat. Make sure to either whisk it or blend it in a blender to make it light and foamy before serving.

In memory of the brave men and women who lost their lives at Fort Hood.

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