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A Tasty Morsel For Sure

A Tasty Morsel For Sure

October 28, 2014 is
National Chocolate Day
Today is National Chocolate Day! Just what you’ve been waiting for – a reason to eat more chocolate! Americans consume an average of 12 pounds per person per year. Do you help contribute to this staggering stat?

Valentine’s Day and Easter are two of the top holidays for buying chocolate, but you can’t forget about Christmas or Halloween! However, many will argue that chocolate is best enjoyed year-round.

To celebrate National Chocolate Day, enjoy some chocolate with each meal today! Try hot chocolate or chocolate donuts for breakfast. A fun lunch idea is to pair your favorite dish with a tall glass of chocolate milk. For dinner, try a traditional mole sauce, made with cocoa powder. Top it all off with a decadent chocolate dessert!

Give a friend a box of chocolates, try a new recipe using chocolate, or treat yourself to some! The above excerpt is courtesy of PUNCH BOWL.

Oh Take Me Awayyyyy

Oh Take Me Awayyyyy

You notice I opted for dark chocolate because seriously is there any other kind?  LOL LOL, that ought to provoke some responses!  Milk Chocolate – Mmmm more like a pretender, solidified hot cocoa (American style not French).  White chocolate?  Don’t even go there;  In case you didn’t know IT’S NOT EVEN CHOCOLATE!!!

I can see if I don’t stop writing this blog this morning, I’m going to be in trouble because right now some of the best brands of dark chocolate and the picture of their labels are swirling around in my head!  Thinking of the sources too!   Swiss, Belgian, French, not to mention the fabulous rebirth of small-batch hand-crafted chocolate (and other wonderful foods and drinks like coffee, bread and beer) that have sprung to life over the past decade or so.  Some credit this resurgence to that horrible period of job lay-offs and downsizing and some think our salvation lies with a younger generation (X or Y?) who don’t want to don that corporate garb.  Hallelujah to them I say!

After watching the news last night where the benefits of dark chocolate were extolled for regaining one’s memory, I may have to rethink my current attempt to diet and indulge is some very, very dark chocolate today.  Thinking 70-75% cacao, oh yeah!  You can hold a square in your mouth, let it rest on your tongue and it will melt oh so slowly…..  You have to resist the urge to chew it, which is hard I know but so rewarding if you don’t !

Did I ever tell you about my experience at The Chocoholic’s ate Bar at the Hyatt Regency in Hawaii?  OMG it will have to be for another time.  The whole experience was mind-blowing for a chocoholic like me! 

What’s your favorite kind of chocolate?  What brand(s) do you prefer?  Are you a milk chocolate lover?  It’s okay to admit it even if the rest of us dark chocolate lovers think you’re misguided lol lol.

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I grew up in a household where dessert was not a regular menu item.  Once in a while my mother would bake a cake or pie, however, on Sunday we were treated with ice cream as dessert after Sunday dinner which was around  one o’clock or two o’clock.  Right smack in the best part of the day.  I had already devoted the morning to a quick breakfast and going to Mass and now I wanted to spend the afternoon doing something fun with my friends.  Well at least we had ice cream!

Last week I was down in the West Village getting my hair cut and afterwards since it was such a glorious Fall-almost-still-summer afternoon I thought I’d wander around a bit and lo and behold I looked across the street and there was the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop.  And that name rang a bell and I remembered that this summer I read an article about the 10 Best Ice Cream shops in New York City.  Well time for the taste test!

I went in and was surprised at how small it was but then again I guess most of the business is take out.  I couldn’t remember anything about the article or why this place was noted.  Looking around and up at the chalkboards, I searched for a list of flavors – there was none!  What kind of place is this.  One sign said Vanilla, Chocolate and Flavor of the Day which happened to be Dulce de Leche (not a fan).  There were signs for Shakes and some Specialties.  I tried to see what the people ahead of me were getting and it looked like it was soft serve ice cream.   Mmmm

I just ordered a twist of chocolate and vanilla, really not quite my usual BUT I was unsure about what the specialties actually were.  I have NEVER tasted soft serve ice cream that creamy and rich.  It was dense, the flavor ran deep, it was delicious! 

When I got home I read the article and found out the shop is famous for a concoction known as a Salty Pimp ! Turns out it is a delectable chocolate-dip covered  vanilla ice cream cone combined with Dulce de Leche and Sea Salt.  I may not be fan of Dulce de Leche ice cream but the thought of it on top of vanilla ice cream and under a chocolate shell…Wellllll

In retrospect it was a mistake not to order the Salty Pimp ONLY because the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop is too far away for me to just stop by.  However, I will definitely be looking forward to my next haircut!

The Salty Pimp

The Salty Pimp

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English: "Holyland" brand matzah, ma...

“Holyland” brand matzah, machine-made in Jerusalem and purchased at Trader Joes in the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tonight which as you know is unlike any other night or if you don’t, you can check out a previous blog of mine https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/why-is-this-night-different-from-all-other-nights/.  Anyway tonight we are going to my sister-in-law’s home for a Seder dinner.  It will of course be a feast, and being the balabusta  she is, she is cooking a very traditional meal as well as adding vegetarian dishes for the one or two non-meat eaters in the group.  And by group I mean she is seating and serving 11 people tonight!

I asked what I could bring and was assigned an asparagus dish.  I’m going to make a room temperature asparagus platter with an egg sauce on top.  If I haven’t already posted this recipe previously, I will tomorrow.  It was a traditional Easter Sunday dinner side in my family for years.

And then if I can organize myself, I plan to make some Matzo Crack!  This is a surprise addition to the meal.  Naturally Stacey, our hostess, who is size 2 is planning on serving strawberries and cream for dessert, something light and moderately healthy.  I, on the other hand, am hoping for the taste of chocolate and in keeping with the holiday tradition of no leavened bread, I’m going to make chocolate toffee matzoh! 

So simple to do (they say) and since I’m posting this prior to actually making it, I can’t attest to that but I do believe this is not going to be difficult at all.

4-5 pieces of matzo

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 cup ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 cup bittersweet chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate bits

Toppings as desired

Preheat oven to 375º

Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and/or parchment paper.  Place matzo in one layer on baking sheet, breaking it when necessary to fill pan complexly.

In large sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar together over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Once mixture reaches a boil, continue to cook for additional 3 minutes, still stirring, until thickened and just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Remove from heat and pour over matzo, spreading evenly with a heat proof spatula.

Put the pan in the oven, then immediately turn the heat down to 350 degrees.  Bake for 15 minutes, watching to make sure it doesn’t burn.  If it looks like it is starting to burn, turn heat down to 325 degrees.

After 15 minutes, the toffee should have  bubbled up and turned a rich golden brown.  Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the chocolate over the pan.  Let sit for 5 minutes and then spread the now-melted chocolate evenly with a spatula.

You can leave as it is or add a topping such as sea salt or toasted nuts.  Let cool completely, then break into smaller pieces and store in airtight container.

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Photo credit: Mommiecooks

Photo credit: Mommiecooks

I don’t usually post recipes on Sunday but lately I’ve been on a sweet tooth binge and this recipe just jumped off the page at me.  It is a modified version of Shortbread Candy Corn Kissed Brownies, posted by Jenny of Picky Palate.   I found it on Gojee and it comes from another blog, Mommiecooks. Just goes to show you how a good recipe travels kind of like bad news!

For the crust:

1 1/2 cup mulched pretzels

1 stick of melted butter

1/4 cup sugar

For the bars:

1 pkg of caramel kisses

1 stick of butter melted

1 cup of brown sugar

1 tsp of vanilla

1/4 cup of evaporated milk

1 egg

3/4 cup of flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp milk

Start with the crust; Put a few handfuls of pretzels in your food processor mulch up till you have 1 1/2 cups worth.  

Dump into 9×9 baking pan and add in melted butter and 1/4 cup sugar.  Mix up and press into the pan.

Cook in oven at 350 degrees for about 8  minutes.  Remove and let cool.

Melt second stick of butter on low heat.  Once melted, remove from heat and add in brown sugar, vanilla, and evaporated milk.  Next add the egg, then the flour and baking soda. Mix all ingredients.

Lay the kisses in rows on top of the cooled crust.

Pour the batter over the kisses.

Bake in 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes.

While cooling, take any extra kisses and melt them in double boiler with tsp of milk.  Spread melted kisses over the top of your bars and put in refrigerator to set about 3-4 hours. 

 

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YES this is one of those ONLY IN NEW YORK experiences!  Every year I look forward to February….no I don’t love the gray days, or the ice and snow piled up at the bus stops, or the black slimy slush on the subway stairs.  BUT February brings City Bakery’s Annual Hot Chocolate Festival.  

Every day of the month, St. Maury Rubin (not to be confused with St. Valentine who only has one feast day) celebrates February with a different delicious blend of his famous hot chocolate every day.  I really don’t have the words to describe this liquid orgasmic treat.  It’s creamy, feels thick in your mouth, the hot steam sends chocolate thrills up your nose while a smooth molten very chocolatey, chocolate slithers down your throat.  I swear my eyes roll back in my head when I drink, no sip, this heavenly concoction.

See for yourself just what can be had this month! 

Oh Heavenly Days!

Oh Heavenly Days!

Once a chocoholic, kind of a hard to get over this particular addiction since the only 12 Step Program I know goes like this: “Never Be More Than 12 Steps Away From Chocolate”.  In 2012 I posted this: HOT CHOCOLATE on Steroids!

I’m not alone in my devotion to the February rite of steaming delight – No, City Bakery’s Hot Chocolate has a cult following.  This year I noted that another blogger who I follow, FOOD BY SKYLAR, posted an homage to City Bakery and Maury’s Hot Chocolate and I am adding the link to her blog post below.  Maybe I’ll run into her on Malted  Milk Hot Chocolate day! A Hot Chocolate a Day Makes February the Best Month Ever

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In the last couple of years I seem to be making more recipes that call for lemon zest or orange zest and so a couple of years ago I bought a Zester and then went on to buy another microplane with slightly larger holes and blades and is best used for grating cheese and chocolate.  

I don’t have a kitchen filled with lots of gadgets and expensive knives, quite the contrary actually.  However, when I find a kitchen tool that makes putting together and cooking a meal easier, I’m all for it.  I love using my zester and using it when  you can zest a whole lemon over a bowl or pot is so easy.  BUT when I have to measure out a tablespoon or two and am zesting the lemon over a small plate, the zest ends up on the counter and elsewhere.  Then you have to scrape up the zest and scoop it into a measuring spoon.  

Well LOOKY HERE! Edgeware Better Zester is a creative new product that has taken zesting to a new level.  This handy tool has  little zester teeth that are coated with a food-safe nonstick coating, similar to the popular brightly-colored Kuhn Rikon knives. Also, it has a plastic attachment on the back that catches all the zest.  

Where this really shines, though, is in that zest catcher. It has measurement markings, so you can shake the zest into the bottom and see how much you’ve collected so far. Then, when you’re ready to get your zest, you can slide the zest catcher off and it sort of squeegees everything off the zester, leaving you with clean blades and all the zest neatly caught in the little attachment. Works perfectly, every time. 

Add A Little Zest To Your Life

Add A Little Zest To Your Life

This super kitchen aid  is available online through several stores and Amazon.  The average price is $14.95

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I’m a chocoholic, I admit it, however, I am particular.  I mean there’s chocolate and there’s chocolate! I like dark chocolate, bitter and at least 75% cacao.  You can keep the milky soft sweet stuff and the calories that go with it.  

I also collect some chocolate-related items and probably should do  a post featuring my collection of chocolate candy molds and vintage chocolate bar labels.  I have several chocolate cookbooks and few odd chocolate nostalgia pieces.  But I don’t have this – it isn’t quite my style.

However, you might have just the Foodie on your list who also appreciates funky gifts and loves chocolate too.  If so, check this out:

"ADD" Me to Your List

“ADD” Me to Your List

This is a big calculator that looks and *drumroll* .. smells, like chocolate! And it is solar powered. A great stocking filler.

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