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Chocolate goes international

Roozitaa, Wikimedia Commons

Cocoa or chocolate muffins are delicious plain, but you can also frost or glaze them if you prefer.


Every once in a while, I like to look up national or international food days that are recognized every year. September 13 has several to choose from, including International Chocolate Day.

I like chocolate, but in most cases I do not like the dark type, especially the bittersweet. Having said that, I must admit that See’s Candy does a good job with their dark chocolates. When growing up, however, I remember my grandmother always had a large box of See’s chocolates out for sampling, and my cousins obviously did not appreciate most of the candies.

After they visited and would go home, my grandmother and I would find chocolates hidden all over the house, like under sofa cushions, in the laundry hamper, behind drapes and curtains, just about anywhere. They would take a bite, not knowing what was inside, then realize they did not like it and stash it away. I never did understand why my grandmother did not just put the box of candy out of sight somewhere.

Anyway, here are some recipes you might like to try if you are a chocolate fan. I’m sure you won’t be hiding any treats under places such as sofa cushions.

Flourless chocolate cake

For the cake:

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into large chunks

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1/4 cup hot water

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs

3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder

For the ganache:

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Raspberries, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8-inch springform pan with cooking spray.

2. To make cake: Place a small saucepan filled halfway with water over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Place bittersweet chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over the simmering pot, ensuring the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir until chocolate and butter are completely melted. Turn off heat and remove bowl from saucepan.

3. Dissolve espresso powder in hot water. Add sugar and espresso to melted chocolate and whisk until completely combined, then add eggs and whisk to combine. Stir in cocoa powder.

4. Pour batter into prepared springform pan and bake until just set in the middle and forms a thin crust, about 35 minutes.

5. Let cake cool for 15 minutes, then remove sides of springform pan. Let cake cool completely.

6. Meanwhile, make ganache: Place heavy cream in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Place chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl, then pour hot cream over chocolate chips. Let sit 1 minute, then whisk to combine.

7. Pour ganache over cake and smooth with an offset spatula. Place in refrigerator until set, if desired, about 10 minutes. Top with raspberries and serve. Makes 10 servings.

Cocoa muffins

2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 1/4 cups whole or low-fat milk (not non-fat)

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 400. Position an oven rack in the center of the oven. Spray a muffin tin or line with paper muffin cups.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

3. In a large bowl, whisk eggs until lightly beaten, then whisk in milk, oil and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until moistened.

4. Fill the prepared tins about 3/4 full. Reserve any leftover batter for a second batch, if necessary. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, or until the muffins have firm, rounded tops, and a toothpick inserted into the center of one muffin comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.

5. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. If not using liners, gently rock each muffin back and forth to release it. Remove muffins from pan and allow to cool on the rack for 5 minutes. Makes about 12 muffins.

Chocolate ice cream

Adapted from a recipe by Alton Brown.

1 1/2 ounces unsweetened cocoa powder, approximately 1/2 cup

3 cups half-and-half

1 cup heavy cream

8 large egg yolks

9 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/4 cups

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Chocolate sprinkles, for serving (optional)

1. Place the cocoa powder along with 1 cup of the half-and-half into a medium saucepan over medium heat and whisk to combine. Add the remaining half-and-half and the heavy cream. Bring the mixture just to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and remove from heat.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the sugar and whisk to combine. Temper the cream mixture into the eggs and sugar by gradually adding small amounts, until about 1/3 of the cream mixture has been added. Pour in the remainder and return the entire mixture to the saucepan and place over low heat. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon and reaches 170 to 175 degrees. Pour the mixture into a container and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Place the mixture into the refrigerator and once it is cool enough not to form condensation on the lid, cover and store for 4 to 8 hours or until the temperature reaches 40 degrees or below.

3. Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s directions. This should take approximately 25 to 35 minutes. Serve as is for soft serve or freeze for another 3 to 4 hours to allow the ice cream to harden. Top each serving with chocolate sprinkles, if desired. Makes 1 1/2 quarts.

Death by chocolate poke cake

If you can’t find Hershey’s pudding mix or chocolate candy bar, you can substitute other brands.

For the cake:

1 package (15.25-oz.) dark chocolate cake mix

Ingredients listed on the box to make the cake

1 box (3.56-oz.) instant Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Pudding mix

4 cups milk, divided

1 jar (12.8-oz.) Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate topping

For the topping:

1 box (3.56-oz.) instant Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Pudding mix

1 container (8-oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 Giant (6.8-oz.) Hershey Dark Chocolate candy bar, chopped

1. Bake the cake according to package directions using a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

2. Mix the pudding mix with 2 cups of milk in a medium bowl. Poke holes in the hot cake with the round end of a wooden spoon and slowly pour this mixture over the cake, trying to fill the holes.

3. Microwave the chocolate topping (with the lid off) for about 45 seconds or until it pours easily. Pour evenly over the top of the cake. Let the cake cool completely.

4. In a medium bowl, combine the second pudding mix with the additional 2 cups of milk. Carefully fold in the whipped topping. Spread the mixture evenly over the top of the cake. Sprinkle the chopped candy bar over the top.

5. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Store the cake (covered) in the refrigerator. Makes 18 to 24 servings, depending on size.



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