Sunday, December 10, 2017

Peelabanana for Santa: Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

O.K. I know Bananas don't jump to mind when you think Santa and Christmas, but the United Fruit Company thought you should. Check out this cool Retro 1967 Ad from the United Fruit Company. There's a recipe for Banana Quick Bread on the ad, but I am posting my favorite Banana Bread recipe--with Chocolate Chunks, of course. Santa can use the extra energy from the chocolate. Want to be festive? Double the recipe and bake it in a holiday bundt pan.

PEELABANANA: CHOCOLATE CHUNK BANANA BREAD

Ingredients
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4-5 ounces dark chocolate (70-85% cacoa) very coarsely chopped (you can always substitute chocolate chips)

Directions
Heat oven to 350ºF. Stir eggs, bananas, oil, and milk until blended. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; stir until just moistened. Stir in chocolate chunks.
Pour into greased 9x5 inch loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cook in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan to cool on wire rack.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Pâtisserie, Chocolate Eclairs and National Pastry Day

December 9 is National Pastry Day. I know that pastries covers a huge range of baked cooks that include flour, butter, sugar, eggs and milk, but I thought today I'd mention the pâtisserie.  I can rarely pass a pâtisserie here or in France without going in and sampling the pastries. But the term pâtisserie has a very specific meaning in France and Belgium. It refers to a French or Belgian bakery that specializes in pastries and sweets. In those countries it is a legally controlled titles that can only be used by bakeries that employ a licensed master pastry chef.

I am not a maître pâtissier, and I imagine you're not either, but for National Pastry Day, I thought I'd post my go-to pastry recipe for Mini-Chocolate Eclairs.

My favorite eclairs are not the long thin "traditional" hotdog shaped eclairs (although I like those, too), but rather, the mini-eclairs. Pâte à choux.. little puff pastry.. that I've been making for years are simple to make and easy to fill. Well, I checked my blog, and I've already posted about these eclairs, but they're worthy of a re-post. They're so easy and yet look so beautiful and taste fabulous! Hope you enjoy making these as much as I do!

I've adapted this recipe for Mini Chocolate Eclairs from Paula Deen. It is one of my favorites because it's easy and fabulous! I never use margarine, so I've dropped that alternative from the recipe. Real butter is always best. As always, I use the very best dark chocolate for the topping. I've changed a few measurements and directions in the recipe for the novice Eclair Chef. If you're a purist, just click on Paula Deen's recipe above.

Because these eclairs are so small, feel free to have 3 or 4. :-) Yield depends on how small you make them, but I can get about 40 small eclairs from this recipe. They're great for a crowd!

Want to make these even more chocolate? Add a handful of chocolate chips or chocolate chunks to the egg cream filling or fill with chocolate cream instead: just add 1/4 dark cocoa to the dry ingredients. To fill the eclairs, I use a pastry bag, but if you don't have one, you can always fill a Ziploc bag and cut the tip off to pipe the filling into the eclair.

You will probably have some extra icing. Half the recipe if you ice sparingly. I'm all about chocolate, so there's never much left.

MINI CHOCOLATE ECLAIRS

Pastry:
1 cup water
8 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
3 eggs

Filling:
3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla

Icing:
3 ounces unsweetened dark chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400F.
Heat water and butter to boiling point. Add flour and stir constantly until mixture is smooth and forms a ball when tested in cold water. Remove from heat and let cool. Beat in 3 eggs, one at a time. Drop dough from teaspoon, elongate slightly to form small eclairs (or drop in 'puffs'), onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until light brown. Set aside to cool.
Prepare filling by mixing all dry ingredients. Very slowly add milk over low heat and cook until mixture thickens (don't let heat get too high), so you don't have any lumps. Then pour this custard  into the beaten eggs, stirring quickly (so eggs don't cook). Cool and add vanilla.
With serrated knife, slice pastry puffs lengthwise (or if you have puffs make a hole), but not all the way through. Pipe custard mixture into the center.
Melt chocolate for icing, add sugar and cream. Cook over medium heat until soft ball stage.
Let cool and beat until smooth.
Ice tops of eclairs.


Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Dreidels for Hanukkah

Hanukkah starts this week, and these fabulous Chocolate Marshmallow Dreidels are perfect for the holiday. Easy to make and delicious to eat!

A Dreidel is a four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side. During Chanukah (Hanukah, Hanukkah), children play a game that involves spinning the dreidel and betting on which Hebrew letter will show when the dreidel stops spinning. Children usually play for a pot of 'gelt' -- chocolate coins covered in gold colored foil.

You won't be spinning these tops unless you want chocolate all over the floor, but making these Chocolate Marshmallow Dreidels is a fun activity to do with children.

This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart's recipe for Chocolate Marshmallow Dreidels. If you want to take it up a notch, make your own marshmallows or buy some high end marshmallows made with natural ingredients such as those from Recchiuti. I usually use whatever dark chocolate I have, but you can use any great dark chocolate. For the white chocolate I use Green & Black's White Chocolate that's made with Madagascar vanilla. I also use Paul Newman's Own Organic pretzel sticks. They are a little long, so I snap them in half. Or, you can just use a short lollipop stick.

Apologies for the poor calligraphy. Practice makes perfect, and I'm very out of practice. :-)

CHOCOLATE COVERED MARSHMALLOW DREIDELS

Ingredients
12 chocolate kisses (I use Hershey's Kisses)
8 ounces melted dark chocolate
12 marshmallows (homemade or whatever you have)
12 thin pretzel sticks (I use Newman's Own)
2 ounces melted white chocolate (I use Green & Black)

Directions 
Dip bottom of chocolate kiss in melted semisweet chocolate. Press onto marshmallow; transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat to make 12 dreidels. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Cut small slit in bottom of each marshmallow or just one thin pretzel stick into the marshmallow. Dip dreidels in dark chocolate, and return to baking sheet. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes.

Fill plastic bag (or pastry bag) with melted white chocolate; cut a tiny opening in corner, and pipe Hebrew letters onto 3 sides of each dreidel. I used a pastry bag with a tip, but I should have practiced a bit first so I wouldn't have any drips.

Refrigerate at least 5 minutes or up to 8 hours before serving.

Friday, December 8, 2017

National Brownie Day: 90+ Brownie Recipes

Photo: Ghiradelli Gluten-Free Brownies
Today is National Brownie Day. I've posted many Brownie recipes over the years, including my favorite, Aunt Sylvia's Brownies.

Recently I came across the history of Brownies. Chicago Magazine says the recipe is credited to Bertha Palmer, wife of the Palmer House's original owner. Apparently the organizers of the World Columbian Exposition of 1893 asked her and the hotel to make a delicious and transportable dessert. Here's a link to that original Palmer House Brownie recipe.

Whatever the origins, Brownies have come a long way. Here's a Round-up of 90+ Brownie Recipes I've posted over the years. I'm sure I didn't catch them all, but it's an updated list. Several recipes are Gluten-Free.

And, to start, here's a link to Tips for Making the Best Brownies.

2016 Brownie Recipe Round-Up: 
Links to 50+ Brownie Recipes

Aunt Sylvia's Brownies

Double Chocolate Brownies  

Peanut Butter Brownies 

Elsie's Fudgy Mocha Brownies 

Merlot Brownies 

Peppermint Bark Brownies

One Bowl Oreo Brownies

TV Dinner Buttermilk Brownies 

Red, White, & Blue Star Brownies

Cherry Port Heart-Shaped Brownies

Super Moon Blue Cheese Brownies 

Double Chocolate Olive Oil Brownies

Extra Nutty Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies

Guy Fawkes Night: Bonfire Brownies

Peanut Butter Toffee Cheesecake Brownies

White Chocolate Brownies

Lemon Curd Brownies 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Best Ever Gluten Free Brownies 

Easter Egg Brownies 

Peanut Butter & Jelly Brownies

Milky Way Brownies

Gluten Free Chocolate & Peanut Butter Chip Brownies

Peanut Butter Marbled Brownies

White Chocolate Brownies with Macadamia Nuts 

Full Moon Brownies

Fudgy Mocha Brownies

Cream Cheese Brownies

Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownies

Guinness Stout Brownies

Kahlua Brownies

Creme de Menthe Brownies

Blood Moon Eclipse Brownies

Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies

Strawberry Extra-Chocolately Brownies

Ghirardelli Gluten-Free Brownies

S'mores Brownies from a Mix

S'mores Brownies from Scratch

S'mores Brownies

Gravenstein Apple Chocolate Brownies

Cocoanut Golden-Brownies

Chocolate Walnut Brownies

Gold Rush Brownies  

Ghirardelli Gluten-Free Brownies

Nutella Brownie Muffins 

Sea Salt Caramel Brownies: 2 Recipes

Brownie Ice Box Cookies: Retro Ad & Recipe

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies

Honey Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Raspberry Beer Brownies

Better Bacon Brownies

Congo Squares

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

Eggnog Brownies

Scotch Brownies

Tequila Brownies 

Brandy Alexander Brownies

Bourbon Cream Cheese Brownies

Chewy Pistachio Brownies 

Double Chocolate Fresh Cherry Brownies

Cocoanut Golden-Brownies

Red Wine Brownies 

Scharffen Berger Mother's Day Brownies

Glad's Brownies

Chocolate Merlot Mustard Brownies 

Mounds of Brownies: Chocolate Revelations

Candy Corn Brownies

Halloween Oreo Brownies

Halloween Brownies

Harvest Moon Pumpkin Brownies

Peanut Butter Brownie Cupcakes 

Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies

Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Passover Flourless Brownies (4 recipes) #Gluten-free

Dutch Process Cocoa Brownies

Spinach Carrot Brownies: Eat Your Veggies!

Judy Hogan's Healthy Brownies

Brownies in a Mug

Brownie Mini Ice Cream Sandwiches

Miss Piggy's Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Brownies 

"Mounds" of Brownies

Mexican Spicy Brownies

Brownie Bites with Cherry Jubilee Sauce 

Pudding Brownies

Brownies in a Jar

Decadent Quadruple Chocolate Brownie Pie

Retro Chocolate Brownie Pie

Chocolate Pecan Brownie Fudge Cake

German Chocolate Brownie Pecan Tarts