Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chocolate Citrus Cooler

Chocolate Citrus Cooler



(I couldn't find this recipe on the Hershey's sites so I copied it as it is written in that glorious cook book we are exploring. Of course, that means there is no picture either... I'm sorry, I'll try to be better at taking pictures of our experiences before we devour them!)

1 ½ cups cold milk
¼ cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
3 tablespoons Hershey’s Syrup
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
Crushed ice or additional ice cream (optional)

* In blender container, place milk, orange juice concentrate, syrup and 1 scoop ice cream. Cover; blend until smooth. Pour into glasses over ice or top with additional ice cream, if desired.
About three 8-ounce servings.



  Today for no reason whatsoever monster and I decided we needed to make a chocolate drink. So we hit The Book!  On page 172 we found it.
We had the ingredients (sorta),
We had technology (after a fashion),
and we had the craving!
So off we set…

  First thing was first. We didn’t have frozen organ juice concentrate, we had orange juice. So we poured some orange juice into our heart shaped cube trays and set them in the freezer while we did something else… which was make more ice cube, with water this time.  When we decided we really didn’t want to wait any longer (about 20 minus later) we checked them, they were slushy! Yippie!
  On we pressed!

Monster took the lead on this one. She found a pitcher that we usually use to make lemonade. In it she put the ingredients… she used a spoon to scoop out the slushee orange juice and put it in a measuring cup till it reached ¼ cup. 

Have you guessed by now that we do not have a blender? Nope. No blender. Haven’t had one in years.  Once upon a time, a long time ago, when I was first married, my parents gave all the married kids an Oster Kitchen center. It was a food possessor, blender, mixer all in one, and it had a really good engine. I was able to mix and blend and slice all out of one machine and I never really thought to much about how incredible that one little kitchen appliance was…until it burned out. My kitchen has never been the same. I burned through more mixers then I can count and a handful of blenders, too. Never did get another food processor. That experience led me to the 3 pieces of equipment that every home kitchen needs.

  One is a bread machine. Warm fresh bread daily. No preservatives and adjusted each day to match every meal you are having. Spaghetti? Add garlic to the dough. Need a warm breakfast? Add cinnamon and eat as toast. Or add fruit yogurt and make special breads for the best French Toast you have had. The bread machine wants just a few minutes of your time and it will make you special breads to warm your heart and meal. I have a theory that even Fairies love bread machines, seeing as how much they love bread with honey and all kinds of pizza.


  The second is a crock-pot. This little darling will cook you your dinner to hot bubbly perfection each day and only wants a little time and thought from you. There are so many on the market and I am beginning to think more then one is not a bad idea. With more then one your cooking is cut even more. You can make your dessert, side dish , and main dish all at once. Heck with the right planning and recipes having your bread machine and crock-pots cook your meals every night is almost effortless! The best thing in the world to a busy house that believes in real food.


The third thing every kitchen needs is that Oster Kitchen Center I mentioned earlier. With it you can prepare all the ingredients you will be using in the crock-pot and bread machine (and everywhere else) very uniformly and efficiently, again saving time and making for better looking and tasting meals.


In this case I am missing the Oster Kitchen Canter or any blender substitute…except I did have a MagicWand. At least I think that is what the thing is called. I received it years ago as a white elephant gift. It took me a while to figure out how to use it as it had no instructions or attachments to it. I found out later they usually had attachment to make drinks and stuff. So I have always made due using it. The thing is rather dangerous though so don’t let the kids too close until you are really familiar with it. Yes, I did cut myself pretty badly on it once and that is why I am warning you.  It’s a handy little tool. I use it anytime I need a blender… like with crepe mix, or making breadcrumbs, or as in this case I need to blend a drink.
Unfortunately it just isn’t as good as an actual blender.

So, while Monster did an excellent job with the ingredients and the original blending of it went just fine I think the weak link in this drink was the crushed ice. We just could not get them as small and uniform as a good blender does. Like the ones I use when I was a barista. Now those things could really crush the ice!

The taste was really good! It was a subtle chocolate and orange flavor. In fact for the first few sips I thought it really needed more of both. But as the drink progressed I came to think the chocolate and orange where in a pretty good proportion. The texture is what got me. It was more like chocolate milk with a few chips of ice in it. I was really looking forward to a drink like the ones I made in the café. I think if I had a blender this would have knocked out the drinks from the café! Think of all the money you could save on frozen drinks if you just had a good blender. My favorite drink costs a minimum of $5 and that’s without any extra shots. And lets be truthful here, unless I am the one mixing it, they just don’t get it right!
In fact, I can see this drink making its way onto all the coffee shop/café menus. Which may just tick me off to no end.
But at least you and I will know the best one is still made at home!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Chocolate Sundae Pizza

Chocolate Sundae Pizza
2/3 cup shortening
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
¼ tespoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup Hershey’s Syrup
1 quart ice cream (any flavor)
Sliced fresh fruit
Chocolate Carmel Sauce

*Heat oven to 370 degrees F. Grease 12-inch pizza pan. In large mixer bowl, beat shortening and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg; blend well.

*Stir together flour, cinnamon and salt; add to shortening mixture alternately with syrup, blending well. Pat dough evenly into prepared pan, forming a slightly thicker edge toward outside of pan. Bake 15-17 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Cool Completely.

*Cut into wedges; do not remove from pan. Place scoop icecream on each wedge. Arrange fruit around ice cream. Top with Chocolate Carmel Sauce.
Serve immediately.
12 servings

Chocolate Caramel Sauce
20 caramels
½ Hershey’s Syrup
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons butter

* Remove wrappers from caramels. In small microwave-safe bowl, place caramels, chocolate syrup, milk and butter. Microwave at HIGH (100%) 2 to 2 ½ minutes or until caramels are softened. Stir until caramels are melted and mixture is blended. If necessary, microwave at HIGH additional 10 seconds; stir until caramels are melted.


  Another barbecue, another reason to try a new recipe! This time the barbecue is with a coworker and his girl friend, so there will be guests. Even better he is a caterer, so this desert needs to be nice on the eyes as well as the taste buds! In a conversation with him once we talked about the best desserts and we found we both thought that a brownie with a scoop of icecream on top is about the best desert you can have.  So my search was narrowed… I wanted something like a brownie preferably with ice cream. I narrowed it down to three choices then ran them past the family. This recipe barely nudged out  Brownie pie a la mode, but for My Love, the Caramel Chocolate sauce  made this recipe very attractive. You see he is a caramel lover and only eats all the chocolate he does because that is what I have made. So this was in his words ‘the best of both worlds’. With that in mind I decided on vanilla icecream instead of chocolate.
I am repeatedly surprised at how simple and quick these recipes are to put together. I don’t know why but I think the long years of box cake and brownie mixes have persuaded me that from scratch is difficult or time consuming. That I don’t have time for this. Well, each time we mix something up I am trying to undo that ridiculously absurd brain washing. The dough was mixed up in 5 minuets so quickly that I read the recipe twice more to be sure I did it right (we all know my record with misreading).
This was done, out of the oven and cooling long before the quest arrived.
The barbecue was spectacular! We had made a pasta salad with olives, red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, garlic, onions, crimini mushrooms, zucchini, and summer squash.  A simple garden salad, and I had mixed up some bread dough that the kids shaped in to the biggest buns! There were only eight rolls because they decided to make them as big as possible. We also made hamburgers and chicken. Darryld and his girlfriend brought smoked pork lion, barbecue ribs with his special rub that Monster loves, his special barbecue sauce, potatoes au gratin and a warm green bean and carrot side dish. Oh and corn on the cob! Can not forget the Olathe Sweet Sweet Corn…. We had lots of that too! For dessert there was Watermelon and then the Chocolate Sundae Pizza. 
For the fresh fruit we had fresh picked peaches from the neighbors tree, strawberries that Monster had chocolate dipped, and kiwi that I thin sliced. They were all arranged on the pizza then the icecream was added. Eldest scooped and then drizzled the Carmel Chocolate Sauce on top. It looked beautiful and though everyone was completely stuffed from dinner we gave it a try.
The pizza crust was really not what I expected. I think I was still thinking brownie. Turns out this was a big hit with most everyone. My Love really liked it, said the crust put him in the mind of a ginger snap, and it wasn’t too chocolaty. He really dug the Caramel Chocolate Sauce and I caught him and eldest adding a big spoonful to their icecream! The boy didn’t have room for dessert, but after 3 hamburgers what can you expect? Monster being the kid that she is picked all the fruit off (it magically reappeared on my slice), inhaled it and asked for seconds!
I personally think it needed more ice cream but I did get the smallest scoop.  If not bigger scoops then maybe softening the icecream and spreading it over the top then putting the fruit and sauce on top of that? This one may be getting tried again when I need to make a not completely chocolate dessert.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Strawberry-Chocolate Bavarian Cream

Today I am in a seriously foul mood .
Today I also am making everything on page 90.
This will be the first time I have ever made or eaten Bavarian Cream so I have no idea on what to expect.

I can tell you how it has gone so far.
Usually I have a rule about not cooking when you are in a bad mood, it gets into the food and it just doesn’t taste as good. But I have little choice as it is the Fourth of July and we need, NEED I tell you, a special dessert worthy of this celebration!
  Yesterday I went shopping for the ingredients and pick them all up… or so I thought.
I miss read the ingredients list … I figured that out only after I had started.
First thing was to prep the strawberries. I had picked up a pack of fresh strawberries with the plan that I would use some and the Monster would use 8 for some chocolate dipped Strawberries that would grace the center of our dessert (the recipe is also on page 90). So, at the store yesterday I let her pick out the pack she wanted. I specifically said I like smaller strawberries, but Monster wanted HUGE ones. She compromised and got a pack that had THE single larges strawberry she had seen in her young life! Oh, and there were smaller ones in the pack too, But Look at this big one! She picked out her eight strawberries, including the behemoth one and washed the rest for the dessert. She then sliced them each and we covered them with sugar and set them in the fridge.  The way the instructions are for the Bavarian Cream are we will need the reserved juice from the strawberries for one part and puree for another part.
While the strawberries oozed out their sweet juice she Followed the recipe for the Creamy Chocolate Dipped Strawberries…kinda.
1 cup Hershey’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
½ cup Hershey’s Vanilla Milk Chips
1 tablespoon shortening (do not use butter, margarine, or oil)
Fresh Strawberries, rinsed and patted dry (about 2 pts.)

Right away there are a few problems…  can you spot them?
They don’t make Vanilla Milk Chips any more and I had bought only 1 pint of strawberries to be split between the two recipes. I am already beginning to wonder if I had really planned for this as well as I had thought I had.
She washed the berries and patted them dry in a dish towel. She measured the chips, just adding more of the simi sweet to make up for the loss of the vanilla. She did all the measuring herself and microwaved them for about a minute… stirred them like crazy then microwaved them a little more… till when she stirred like crazy it came out smooth and yummy looking. Before melting the chips she had lined a small cookie sheet with parchment paper (the recipe had said waxed, which caused her stress till I assured her they could often substitute for each other.)   She wanted to leave the leaves on so she held back the leaves as she dipped and then set them on the sheet, arranging the leaves, and put it in the fridge to set up. There was so much chocolate left over that she and her sister decided we needed some chocolate covered bacon. Raven cooked up some bacon till it was as crisp as she liked it. They let it drain a few minutes then dipped the bacon into the bowl till it was fully covered. I rather wish they wouldn’t have done that. I am wondering how bacon and chocolate and strawberry will go together as Monster plans to give the strawberries a second dipping of chocolate…. I just hope not much bacon grease got in the dipping chocolate in the bowl.

Not a bad start… kinda fun… not much yelling and my mood, though still not happy, isn’t completely foul.
I read the recipe…

Strawberry-Chocolate Bavarian Cream


1 package (10 oz.) frozen sliced strawberries, thawed, or 1 cup sweetened, sliced fresh strawberries
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
½ cup sugar
1 cup Hershey’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
2 ¼ cups Milk, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (½ pt) cold whipping cream
Strawberry Cream

Wait. What?! Cold Whipping cream?!? I had bought Whipped Cream! I read thru the instructions quickly…. I suppose I could just make it with the whipped cream…. I start to get really growly (and whinny) I noticed that I need ¾ a cup of the reserves from the strawberries… I get them out of the fridge and pour the syrup of yum off the strawberries to see how much I have…. Less then a ¼ a cup!!!
Now I am full on growly. For some brilliant reason I decide that if I puree the strawberries now and let them sit then more juice will come out faster! Remember I said I don’t like to cook while I am unhappy…. Well it’s brilliant moves like this that are why.  I puree them with my magic wand thing and go to the store to get whipping cream.
As it is the 4th I pick up some corn on the cob, King’s Hawaiian rolls, and a bag of charcoal. I then think about my mood and go back and get a package of  paper plates.
I get home and there is no separation in my strawberry puree at all! Now what? I think… maybe I could use some strawberry jam? No… I have to figure out a way to use what I have made… no matter how far from the recipe I go, which looks like as usual, I will go far. I decide to strain it.
   I grab my tea strainer and pour some of the strawberry puree in… it kinda works. If I stir my finger around in the strainer then strawberry with out pulp or seeds drips thru! Yeah! I haven’t completely destroyed it! (I hope) I get about ½ a cup of this strain strawberry and then add in water to make it the ¾ of a cup the recipe calls for.
I sprinkle a packet of gelatin over the strawberry stuff then read the recipe again. And again… I don’t see where the other packet of gelatin goes in…. so again… ooooohhhh… both of the packets go into the strawberry….
Yeah it goes like that.
I have to read it a few more time to figure out when the cream is added…
So far I am done with steps 1 and 2 and waiting for the ‘mixture to mound’
But the steaks are done now… I’ll check again… if it’s not mounding yet I’m eating first… then I’ll try this again.

I checked on the chocolate mixture and it was past mounding and into setting… I think that was a bad thing. I stirred it really hard till it was not really as solid and then Folded in the whipped cream I had just beaten up.  The garlic steaks where marched past as I poured it into a oiled bunt cake pan (I don’t have a ring mold… now I know what they are for I will be looking for one) The pan was returned to the refrigerator till  it was set. I whipped up the Strawberry cream before going in to enjoy the diner.
After diner we watched Ghost Rider II which gave our dessert just enough time to set.
 Now, as I have never had Bavarian Cream anything I have never un molded one either. At first I tried to just flip it like you would a cake, but that didn’t do anything. Then Raven remembered a scene from the movie Julie and Julia where she was un molding a jello-like thing. Of course, that scene ended with her in tears, so we went with great caution, seeing as my day had been lacking in luck up unto this point.
 I ran a little cold water over the outside of the pan then we tried flipping it again. This time it worked! The fun thing about glass cake servers is you can look up through them to see if your culinary creation has come out or needs a little more help.  After digging in many drawers I found a big frosting bag but never found the tip! That drives me crazy. I can’t even count the number of things I lost from them being used/played with and not put back. I really think this is the root cause of my mental instability. How different would life be if everyone put back what they use/barrow?
  The frosting bag (tipless)  filled with the strawberry whipped cream, the chocolate dipped strawberries ready and waiting and the mold on the cake plate, off center, but on the plate none the less, it was time to put it all together and see what we had made!

The family gathered round to make their comments and wait, some with impatience some with trepidation, for their piece… results..
It was too sweet, it exploded with sweet and strawberry in the mouth
It’s texture was a little sandy
The  chocolate dipped strawberries where incredible!

I do want to make both of these again! I want to see if I can make the Bavarian Cream smooth and sexy!
The Chocolate dipped Strawberries were the Best I have ever had! I will always make my own now and never turn one down when it is offered to me that  is for sure! Those are defiantly date night worthy!
Heck those alone were a perfect cure to a bad day.


Strawberry-Chocolate Bavarian Cream
Instructions
* Lightly oil 6-cup ring mold. Drain strawberries; reserve syrup. Add  water to syrup to equal ¾ cup. Sprinkle gelatin over liquid; let stand 3 minutes. Refrigerate drains berries for use in Strawberry Cream.

*In medium saucepan, combine sugar, chocolate chips and ½ cup milk; cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and very hot. Add gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is completely dissolved.

*Remove from heat; add remaining 1 ¾ cups milk and vanilla. Pour into bowl; refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until mixture mounds when dropped from spoon.

*In small mixer bowl, beat whipping cream until stiff; fold into chocolate mixture. Pour into prepared mold; refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. Unmold; garnish with Strawberry Cream.
8 to 10 servings.

*STRAWBERRY CREAM: Mash or puree reserved strawberries to equal ½ cup. In small mixer bowl, beat whipping cream and vanilla until stiff. Fold in strawberry puree and red food color.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fudge Experience (worth the delay)

My first attempt at candy making came this last Easter. I wanted something special to give to the family and keeping with my traditions of making sure the fairies leave something in Spring this endeavor was my favorite. I started mixing everything for the 3 candies I was making the night before Easter… that’s one of the tricks to slipping in a surprise, make something out in the open and slip your secret dish in the middle.
Here’s what I mean…
The 3 chosen candies were Foolproof Dark Chocolate Fudge (page 138), Creamy Double Decker Fudge (page 139) and Chocolate Truffles (page 136).  I told the kids and My Love that I was making fudge to have after Easter Dinner. They were suitability excited, especially My Love when I showed him the recipe for the double decker fudge. He has very fond memories of his mom making fudge and was excited to have it again. So while they all did there own things to get ready for bed I started pans on the stove.

The first recipe up is the Foolproof Dark Chocolate Fudge
Since I was making 2 kinds of fudge and only have one small square baking dish I made this in a glass pie pan.  It said it was fool proof so I started with it and for once I almost followed the recipe completely.

Foolproof Dark Chocolate Fudge
3 cups (1 ½ 12-oz. pkgs.) Hershey’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate chips
1 can Sweetened condensed milk
Dash salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

*Line 8 or 9-inch square pan with foil. In heavy saucepan over low heat, melt chips with sweetened condensed milk and salt.

*Remove from heat; stir in Walnuts and vanilla. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm.

*Remove from pan; place on cutting board. Peel off foil; cut into squares. Store loosely covered at room temperature.
 About 5 dozen pieces or 2 pounds.

I only deviated in one aspect. I used ¼ cup of a bag of nut toping instead of walnuts (as that was what I had on hand) and only in half the recipe. I am the only one who likes nuts and I see no reason I can’t make some just for me.
That was so seriously simple that I felt ready to try the next one with no fear. It really helps to have a  good attitude when you are trying a new recipe. It takes a lot of courage sometimes to make something for the first time. It helps to have eaten it before so you have a little idea on what you are going for.

Having gained some confidence I went forth with the recipe that My Love was anticipating the most.

Creamy Double Decker Fudge
1 cup Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
1 cup Hershey’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

I don’t think I was over confidant exactly, I just wasn’t as careful as I could have been… or something.
* Line 8-inch square pan with foil: in a small microwave-safe bowl, place peanut butter chips and 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk. Microwave at high (100%) 1 to 1 ½ minutes, stirring after 1 minute, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred.

*Stir in ½ teaspoon vanilla; spread evenly into prepared pan. In small microwave-safe bowl, place remaining sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips; repeat above microwave procedure.

*Stir in remaining ½ teaspoon vanilla; spread evenly over peanut butter layer. Cover; refrigerate until firm. Cut into squares. Store tightly covered in refrigerator. About 4 dozen pieces or 1 ½ pounds.

Every thing seemed to go okay, but in the end the peanut butter layer never hardened. I think I didn’t divide the milk carefully enough.  It really didn’t matter, My Love thought they were the best I had made! Turns out his fondest memory of his mother’s fudge was a time it didn’t set up right.

Now, while I was microwaving the 2nd layer I started the last and secret recipe. It was rather easy to sneak in as it needed to set in the fridge for a time before I could shape it. It worked perfectly. The two pans of fudge were finished before the kids headed to bed and the pan of Truffle was cooling in the fridge out of sight. They had seen me mix it up, but as I was using the stove for one of the fudge recipes they didn’t notice that it was an extra pot.  I set down to read a book… nothing out of usual here, go on to bed, sleep well… just reading a book… It worked so well that My Love even went to bed none the wiser.

After they were all asleep I formed the balls. I was surprised at how simple it was… and I must say it is by far the best chocolate thing I have ever had in my mouth!

Chocolate Truffles
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) butter
¾ cup Hershey’s Cocoa
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Cocoa or powdered sugar

*In a heavy saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Add cocoa; stir until smooth. Blend in sweetened condensed milk; stir constantly until mixture is thick, smooth and glossy, about 4 minutes.

*Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours or until firm.

*Shape into 1 ¼-inch balls; roll in cocoa or powdered sugar or a blend of these two ingredients. Refrigerate until firm, 1 to 2 hours. Store, covered, in refrigerator.
About 2 ½ dozen candies.

The recipe has extra instructions for how to roll them:
1. Use a melon ball scoop or a spoon to remove truffle mixture from bowl.
2. Roll spoonfuls of Truffle mixture between hands to form balls. Keep hands and truffle mixture as cold as possible.
3. Roll truffles in assorted coatings and place in decorative candy cups for serving.

I was able to roll about half the mixture before it was to warm to work, so I put it back into the fridge for a bit. There are several variations on this recipe that I hope to try this Christmas! On this try I simply rolled them in powdered sugar. Set them on a pretty tray and stored them in the refrigerator. I made a tiny little note that told about the Fairy present and slipped it in a basket. The next morning found me and the youngest eating  magical balls of fairy chocolate in bed and that was the sweetest thing yet!


Sunday, February 5, 2012

I think she left a bruise!

This morning a chocolate muse hit me...

It all started with a phone call to the phone company