Friday, May 29, 2009

Strawberry Cream Bars

Aren't these gorgeous? The recipe (from the Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade TV Show) started out as Lemon Cream Squares. Well, considering I'm the only one at home that like's lemon pastries, I figured I should change the recipe to please all the other hungry tummys around here. I couldn't resist doing a chocolate crust and then topping everything with some left-over strawberries dipped in chocolate I had in the fridge. [I've been using those Debbie Meyer Green bags...they really work. They keep produce fresh a whole lot longer.]

The beauty of this recipe is that you can change and mix flavors however you please. It's so very simple, you'll see. Here is the original recipe.

Lemon Cream Squares
(by Sandra Lee)

For Lemon Layer:
1 (18.25 ounces) box lemon cake mix (recommended: Betty Crocker)
1 stick butter, softened
1 egg

For Top Layer:
16 ounces cream cheese (recommended: Philadelphia) softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 (3-ounce) box lemon or lime gelatin (recommended: Jell-O)
2 eggs

Set up grill for indirect cooking over medium heat. (No heat source under cookies). Spray 9 by 13-inch foil pan with cooking spray and set aside.
For lemon layer:
In a large mixing bowl, beat with an electric mixer on low speed the cake mix, butter, and egg until well combined and smooth. Press cake mixture evenly into prepared pan; set aside.
For top layer:
In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, and lemon or lime gelatin on medium speed until creamy. Add eggs and beat until smooth.
Spread cream cheese mixture over cake layer. Place foil pan in a second foil pan for stability and insulation. Place on hot grill away from heat. Cover and bake 40 to 50 minutes. Rotate pan halfway through baking. Remove from grill and cool completely before cutting into squares.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray 9 by 13-inch baking pan lightly with cooking spray; set aside. Prepare cake layers as directed above. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until cake barely start to pull away from sides. Cool completely before cutting into squares.
What I did to change the recipe was use a chocolate cake mix and added a teaspoon of cinnamon to it as well. This was for the bottom crust. For the top layer, I just used a strawberry jello mix instead of the lemon. Then I topped it off with a little whipped cream, a chocolate covered strawberry and a mint leaf. I also baked them indoors in the oven. They were delicious.

I think next time I'll make some mango cream bars, or pineapple cream bars, or blueberry cream bars. The possibilities are endless. I hope you try the recipe and enjoy it. Love and hugs.

If you would like to see what we had before dessert, check out the tasty beer-can chicken tortas we made. Delicioso!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Something To Put a Smile On Your Face

I got this as it rolled down our family's email. One person sending it to the other. My beautiful "sister" Stella sent it to me and I couldn't resist sending it along to you all. Just a little something to put a smile on your face. :)

What's for Dinner???

Can't eat pork,

Swine flu...
Can't eat chicken.

Bird flu.
Can't eat Beef.

Mad cow....
Can't eat fish.

Heavy metal poisons in their waters.
Can't eat fruits and veggies.

Insecticides and herbicides.

I believe that leaves Chocolate!!!!!!!!

Remember - - - 'STRESSED'

spelled backwards! is 'DESSERTS'
Here's me on my eliptical machine:

Here's me in my bikini!!!

Have a great day everyone.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Chocolate French Toast

As a chocoholic, I don’t mind in the least having chocolate morning, noon, or night. I know I need to allow other healthy foods to cross my lips so when I find a recipe that incorporates both I jump for joy. Next week I’ll be showing you a recipe I found for a Chocolate Flank Steak. I can hardly wait. But let’s start with breakfast.

A couple of posts ago I brought you chocolate waffles. Now, with these waffles you can serve them for breakfast or as a dessert. You pick. I’ll just have them for both. Then I found this chocolate French toast recipe from the Hershey site so I jumped at the opportunity to make them and enjoy my passion for chocolate first thing in the morning.

Did anyone catch Dinner Impossible on the Food Network this week? Robert Irvine, the chef on the show, ended up at Hershey West Chocolate Factory preparing a five-course meal for 150 employees. Each course had to incorporate chocolate in the dish. And he did it. This insane, intense chef was magnificent. Follow the link to see his wonderful recipes.

Enjoy the French Toast!

‘Le Chocolate’ French Toast(from the Hershey site)

3 eggs
¾ cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Hershey’s cocoa
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
8 to 10 pieces thickly sliced bread
Powdered sugar
Pancake syrup

Beat eggs, milk, sugar, cocoa, vanilla, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl until smooth.

Heat griddle or skillet over medium-low heat. Grease griddle with a little butter if necessary.

Dip bread in egg mixture. Place on griddle and cook about 4 minutes per side. Serve immediately with powdered sugar and syrup. Garnish if you would like. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chocolate Chip Day

May 15th – Chocolate Chip Day

Last Sunday, May 15th, was Chocolate Chip Day according to the Nibble, a magazine about specialty foods. Although I’m a day late and a dollar short, I wanted to commemorate the day with these Chocolate Chip Scones.

According to Dufflet, an online dictionary with cooking term definitions, scones are described as follows.

“SCONES: An English biscuit made from flour, butter, sugar, milk or cream and baking powder, not much different from the American version. Traditionally, they are made with currants but are now seen with other dried fruits and flavors. They are served at teatime with clotted cream and jam. “

Although I don’t practice the habit of having “teatime”, I think the idea of such is certainly lovely. I would certainly prefer to have “drinking chocolate” time.
So here is my version of a typical British afternoon, my style. Enjoy.

Special Dark Chocolate Chip Scones
(from the Hershey’s Chocolate Cookbook)
Makes 24 scones

3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon of salt
2 cups (12 ounce package) dark chocolate chips
½ cup chopped nuts, optional
2 cups whipping cream, chilled
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Additional granulated sugar
Powdered sugar, optional

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease two baking sheets.
Stir together flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
Stir whipping cream into flour mixture just until ingredients are moistened.
Turn mixture out into lightly floured surface. Knead gently until soft dough forms, about 2 minutes. Divide dough into 3 equal balls. One ball at a time, flatten into 7-inch circle. Cut the circle into 8 triangles. Transfer triangles to prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with additional sugar.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm, sprinkled with powdered sugar if desired.

Drinking Chocolate(from the Hershey’s Chocolate Cookbook)
Makes 2 servings

2 sections (1/2 ounce each) Hershey’s unsweetened chocolate
2 tablespoons hot water
¼ cup sugar
Dash of salt
¼ cup milk, warmed
¼ teaspoon vanilla

Place chocolate and water in top of small double boiler. Melt over simmering water, stirring until smooth. Stir in sugar and salt, blending thoroughly. Gradually blend in warmed milk. Heat, stirring occasionally until hot. Stir in vanilla. Serve immediately.

(This is a thick version of what many of us are accustomed to. More the traditional method as inspired by the Aztecs. If the liquid is too thick for you, simply add additional milk or cream to your liking.)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Children Love Me

I hope everyone had a lovely Mother's Day. My children and my husband spoiled me as usual.

Bob was tired of hearing me talk about wanting to refresh my French so he gave me the basic and intermediate Berlitz conversational course. I love it. So beware, I'll probably be posting a few "Frenchy" type desserts before long. Crepes, hm?

My daughter Lily made this delicious Hershey's Dark Chocolate cake for me. It's the first time she bakes a cake from scratch and let me tell you it was delicious. A lovely chocolate buttercream frosting topped it off along with some large, sweet and scrumptious strawberries.
Lily also got me this Mother - Daughter coffee cup. She says it will remind me of her when she takes off to live and go to school in Dallas in a couple of months. As if I really needed something to remind me of her!
My son Mikey and daughter-in-law Jenn, sent me a wonderul Mother's Day care package. CHOCOLATE!!! In the box I found this Creme Brulee Chocotini Mix and these beautiful chocolate dish towls. You don't need to tell me twice to pull out the vodka from the freezer. It was divine. But that just was enough for them. I also got these wonderful show gels.
There's milk, white and dark chocolate. I'm alternating each day. I guess my kids know me pretty well. So, right now I'm a happy mom. I hope you all had an equally wonderful day.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Luscious Dessert for Mother's Day

Mom's are so good all year long. They deserve a special dessert just for them on their day -- Mother's Day.

Say you start off with this. A little boring you say??
So, add a few ingredients. Ice cream, nuts and a special Dulce de Leche sauce.
Now here's a dessert that would make any mother proud. The secret (and the reason this dessert is on a chocolate blog) is the addition of Godiva Chocolate Cream Liqueur. Ahh, so good. But we're not done yet. How about adding this to her dessert table?
A delicious and satisfying Dulce de Leche Cocktail...just for mom. Let me tell you, I could linger at the table savoring these delicious treats long enough for someone else to clean up the kitchen.

However you celebrate Mom on her day, make memories. It's the one time of the year where kids can be mushy and pamper mom with moments and memories gone by. Take a ton of photos and present them to her on her birthday or at Christmas. You can really rack up the points with her. Just treat her like the special person she is and all will be well on this earth.

Pound Cake Dessert with Dulce de Leche Topping
1 or 2 slices of your favorite pound cake
1 scoop of brown sugar ice cream
1/4 cup Dulce de Leche Sauce
Pecans, optional

Assemble and serve.

Dulce de Leche Sauce1 cup whipping cream
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup "La Lechera" Dulce de Leche
1 ounce Godiva Chocolate Cream Liqueur

In a small sauce pan, stir together brown sugar and whipping cream over medium heat. Add Dulce de Leche. Stir until it starts to boil. Allow to boil over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat source and add 1 ounce of Godiva Chocolate Cream Liqueur. Allow to cool for a bit. Serve over the ice cream. Enjoy.

Dulce de Leche Cocktail

1 ounce rum
1/2 ounce "La Lechera" Dulce de Leche
1/2 ounce Hershey's Caramel Ice Cream topping
1/2 ounce Godiva Chocolate Cream Liqueur

Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into a pretty glass just for mom. I used Lily's margarita (Chiquita Margarita) glass to make this drink. Cute, huh?
Have a lovely weekend.
If you can't find "La Lechera" Dulce de Leche, make your own. Here's a recipe by Alton Brown that you might like.

Dulce de LecheRecipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2007

Makes about 1 cup

1 quart whole milk
12 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Combine the milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds in a large, 4-quart saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the baking soda and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered at a bare simmer. Stir occasionally, but do not re-incorporate the foam that appears on the top of the mixture. Continue to cook for 1 hour. Remove the vanilla bean after 1 hour and continue to cook until the mixture is a dark caramel color and has reduced to about 1 cup, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a month.

Have a lovely Mother's Day weekend everyone.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

More Brownies Please

I couldn't help myself. I'd been really good about not overindulging all week as I cooked and cleaned and went about my "domestic management" duties. But today is Saturday. So it's time to party. My idea of "party" is indulging in chocolate. (I know, I know...I need to get out more.)

Anyway, I decided to bake another recipe from the 'Chocolat" Cookbook. For some reason my hands refused to turn the page after I found the "Big Chocolate Brownie" recipe. I gave into fate.

The recipe calls for dark chocolate; a premium brand, preferrably from the Dominican Republic. Well...all I had was Nestle's Chocolatier Dark Chocolate, 53% cacao. Good enough...I'm desperate.

If you're a chocoholic like I am, you look for the closest product you can "quickly" get your hands on. This was it.

Now this is the first time I've made this particular recipe. Oh, I've made dozens of brownies in my life, I'm sure you have too. But I'd never made one with only a "scant" 1/2 cup of flour. I thought it would be really heavy and chewy. Boy was I wrong. The texture, though it looks dense, is rather light. I didn't incorporate Mexican chocolate (my favorite) into the recipe because this recipe called for dark chocolate, ground almonds and a couple of pinches of cinnamon. I did add 2 teaspoons of instant coffee though. I really believe that coffee brings out the full-bodied flavor of chocolate. The taste is divine. I can honestly say I will make this brownie recipe again.

Big Chocolate Brownie

7 ounces 52% or 70 % dark chocolate (a premium brand from the Dominican Republic is recommended)
3 eggs
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
Scant 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons ground alonds
Ground cinnamon
1 cup walnuts or pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 6-inch square baking pan and line the base with waxed or parchment paper.

Melt the chocolate gently in a bowl over simmering water.

Break the eggs into a bowl and stir in the sugar. Fold in the softened butter, flour, almonds, 2 pinches of cinnamon, the melted chocolate and finally the nuts.

Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool for 2 hours (HA!) before eating.

I really hope you try this recipe. It's delicious.

Check this out.

See my little Russian nesting doll?
They're measuring cups! I saw them on either The Pioneer Woman's website or Bakerella's. Don't remember which one right now. But I was strolling through my favorite blogs right before Lily and I went to Dallas and came across a post talking about a store called Anthropologie. I had never heard of it before but Lily had. They have one in San Antonio. And after a lot of nagging about going to the store in Dallas I gave in, mainly because I really wanted these beautiful measuring cups. Yeah, I treat myself to a little something every once in a while. The store is amazing. It's a fru-fru boutique...a little pricey, but they do have a few extraordinary things, like the Russian Doll (Matryoshka) measuring cups. Anyway, I just wanted to share. Have a great weekend.

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