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Archive for Chocolate

EASTER: Chocolate Gift Certificate

Here’s an easy solution to a gift emergency: a chocolate e-gift certificate.

If you’ve forgotten to bring a gift, or if you receive an unexpected gift and want to reciprocate, you don’t have to sneak out to the nearest store.

Instead, sneak onto the Internet and send a gift certificate via email. It will be in the giftee’s email box in minutes.

Chocomize.com sells ready-made and make-your-own chocolates. Our favorite is the customized chocolate bar, where you pick your chocolate (dark, milk or white) and up to five toppings—candies, fruits, nuts, spices and special decorations (crystallized flower petals, 24 karat gold flakes).

There are more than 70 topping choices. Special Easter toppings include caramel “quail eggs,” carrot cake candy corn, peanut butter speckled eggs and a white chocolate “Happy Easter” plaque.

Jelly beans are available year-round—along with Junior Mints, M&Ms, mini marshmallows, Oreo pieces, Pop Rocks, Reese’s Pieces, toffee bits and much more.

Head to Chocomize.com.

 

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A candy-covered hollow chocolate Easter egg with two chocolate truffles hidden inside.

 

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Chocolate Bacon Bunnies

What are you giving your favorite bacon lover for Easter? Oscar Mayer created these foodcraft projects: bacon-stuffed chocolate bunnies and an Easter basket filled with “bacon grass” and hard-boiled eggs—fun for breakfast on Easter Sunday.

Go buy lots of bacon and get started!

RECIPE 1: BACON-STUFFED CHOCOLATE EASTER BUNNY

Ingredients Per Small Bunny

  • 1 hollow chocolate bunny
  • 2 strips bacon
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    Tools

  • Frying pan
  • Paper towels
  • Sharp knife
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    Preparation

    1. COOK the bacon to desired crispness. Pat dry with paper towels and set aside.

    2. REMOVE and discard any wrapper on the bunny. Heat a knife by running the blade under very hot water; then quickly dry the knife completely. Using the dry, warm knife…

       

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    Hide bacon in a chocolate rabbit. Photo courtesy Oscar Mayer.

     

    3. GENTLY CUT the bottom off of the bunny; set it aside. Insert the bacon slices into the hollow bunny, breaking the bacon into smaller pieces as needed to completely fill the hollow cavity.

    4. REPLACE the bottom piece of chocolate on the base of the bunny. Heat the original knife or a smaller knife as in Step 2. Slowly run the flat side of the knife back and forth over the seam, melting the chocolate to reseal the bottom. Cover in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to five days.

     

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    Bacon “grass” for an Easter basket. Photo courtesy Oscar Mayer.

     

    RECIPE: BACON EASTER GRASS

    Depending on the size of the Easter basket, even a small basket can require a lot of bacon. We recommend having some Easter grass or shredded paper on hand to stuff the bottom of the basket, under the layer of bacon.

    Ingredients

  • Thick cut bacon (8 to 12 slices)
  •  
    Tools

  • Kitchen shears
  • Frying pan
  • Tongs
  • Paper towels
  • Easter basket and colored* hard-boiled eggs for serving
  •  
    *Here’s how to color Easter eggs.

     

    Preparation

    1. CUT each bacon strip lengthwise into three long and skinny strips, using kitchen shears. Cook them in a frying pan over medium heat. Use tongs to stir the bacon and fry them in squiggly shapes to the desired crispness.

    2. TRANSFER the cooked bacon strips to a paper towel-lined plate. Blot dry and let cool completely.

    3. FILL a small Easter basket with the fried bacon Easter grass and serve with hard-boiled, dyed Eater eggs nestled on top. If you’re not planning to eat your creation right away, cover it in plastic wrap and store in the fridge, for up to five days.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Chocolate Pills

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    A cure for some: chocolate pills. Photo courtesy Fika.

     

    If you have a friend suffering from heartache, how about chocolate pills for a Valentine’s Day cure?

    These pills are roasted and caramelized hazelnuts and almonds, enrobed in 70% dark chocolate.

    The prescription for instant happiness: 3-5 chocolate covered nuts daily.

    A bottle of Chocolate Pills is $8.00 at FikaNYC.com.

    Adapting the coffee-centric lifestyle of Sweden, Fika is a coffee house and confectionery with several locations in Manhattan. Chocolates are hand-made in house and are sold online.

     

     
      

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    VALENTINE GIFT: Shiny Chocolate Hearts

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    Pretty to look at, these shiny chocolate hearts are filled with luscious raspberry-infused ganache. Photo courtesy Kohler.

     

    These lovely hearts, from Kohler Chocolates, are beautifully crafted:

    The dark chocolate shells are filled with a delicate raspberry-accented chocolate ganache.

    The dark chocolate is then enrobed with a thin layer of red-tinted white chocolate, which is hand painted with pink dots, and glazed to a very dazzling shine.

    Choose from four sizes, gift-boxed and tied with a lovely ribbon. The smallest size makes a great wedding favor.

  • 4-Piece Box, $9.99
  • 9-Piece Box, $18.99
  • 32-Piece Box, $59.99
  •  
    Get yours at KohlerChocolates.com.

     

     
      

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    RECIPE: Red Velvet Raspberry Truffles

    Surprise your Valentine with a beribboned box of homemade red velvet chocolate truffles with luscious raspberry flavor. The insides are the color of red velvet cake.

    McCormick, which contributed this recipe, specifies baking chocolate; but these will taste so much better if you use couverture—higher quality chocolate that chocolatiers and pastry chefs use. Look for 60% to 70% couverture from Guittard, Valrhona and other brands in cbaking supply stores or specialty food stores.

    RECIPE: RED VELVET RASPBERRY TRUFFLES

    Ingredients For 24 Truffles

  • 1 pound semi-sweet baking chocolate, divided
  • 4 ounces (1/2 package) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red food color
  • 1 teaspoon raspberry extract
  • Optional: sprinkles or other red, white or pink decorations; or white chocolate for a contrasting drizzle
  •    

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    Make your own Valentine bonbons. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    Preparation

    1. MELT 8 ounces of the chocolate as directed on package; or in a double boiler.

    2. BEAT the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, food color and raspberry extract in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended and smooth. Add the melted chocolate; beat until well mixed. Cover. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or until firm.

    3. SHAPE into 24 balls (about 3/4-inch). Place on wax paper-lined tray. Refrigerate until ready to dip.

    4. COAT and decorate only 12 truffles at a time (so the chocolate doesn’t harden). Melt 4 ounces of the remaining chocolate in small microwavable bowl on MEDIUM (50% power) for 1-1/2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Using a fork, dip 1 truffle at a time into the chocolate. Tap the back of fork 2 or 3 times against edge of dish to allow excess chocolate to drip off. Place the truffles on a wax paper-lined tray. (If there are any “bald” spots on a truffle, cover them with the melted chocolate that remains on the fork.) Repeat with the remaining 4 ounces of chocolate and the remaining truffles.

    5. DECORATE: Garnish the truffles with colorful sprinkles immediately after dipping in chocolate. The sprinkles will adhere to the truffles as the chocolate coating sets in the refrigerator. Or, decorate truffles with a swirl of white chocolate. You can use a fork to drizzle white chocolate over the truffles.

    6. REFRIGERATE for 1 hour or until the chocolate is set. Store the truffles between layers of wax paper in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

     

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    White cake with raspberry cream cheese frosting and filling. Raspberry extract is clear and won’t color the frosting by itself. Red food color was used to make the filling pink. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    MORE USES FOR RASPBERRY EXTRACT

    Some people hesitate to purchase a bottle for only one recipe. Here are other uses for that raspberry extract:

    Beverages

  • Club soda/sparkling water
  • Hot chocolate
  • Hot or iced tea
  • Shakes and smoothies
  • Soft drinks, e.g., add to cola or ginger ale
  •  
    Sweets

  • Cake and cookies
  • Frosting
  • Raspberry brownies
  • Syrup for shaved ice
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    RECIPE: RASPBERRY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

    Ingredients

  • 6 ounces white baking chocolate
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons raspberry extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon red food color
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    Preparation

    1. MELT the chocolate in a double boiler or a bowl placed over a pan of gently simmering water. Take care that the chocolate does not get too hot or it can scorch. Remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes.

    2. BEAT the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl on medium speed, until light and fluffy. Add the melted chocolate and raspberry extract and mix well.

    3. GRADUALLY BEAT in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Add the food color and blend well.

      

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    PRODUCT: “Breakfast” Chocolate Bars

    If you know someone who would gladly eat chocolate for breakfast, [s]he may be able to justify it with these new chocolate bars from Chuao Chocolatier:

  • Cinnamon Cereal Smooch, milk chocolate mixed with bits of cinnamon toast cereal.
  • Strawberry Waffle Wild, milk chocolate mixed with tart dried strawberries and crispy waffle pieces.
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    They join an existing line of 14 palate-pleasing and imaginative chocolate bars, including Baconluxious and Potato Chip.

    The chocolate bars sell for an SRP of $6.00 (but are on sale for $4.00), and can be found online at ChuaoChocolatier.com as well as at major retailers nationwide, including Bed Bath & Beyond, REI and Whole Foods Markets.

    MAKE YOUR OWN CEREAL CHOCOLATE BARS

    For about the same price, you can make your own chocolate bars at Chocomize.com. This fun company utilizes a process that lets you place your choice of some 70 different ingredients—fruits, nuts, candies, spices—atop a dark, milk or white Belgian chocolate bar.

     

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    “Breakfast chocolate,” embedded with cereal. Photo courtesy Chuao Chocolatier.

     
    Cereal options include Caramelized Rice Krispies, Teddy Grahams, Vanilla Granola and Waffle Crunch. Non-cereal options include from Potato Chips and Real Bacon.

    For Valentine’s Day, there are Candy Sugar Hearts, Message Hearts and LOVE plaques in white chocolate, along with Lavender Petals, 24 Karat Gold Flakes and Pink Pop Rocks.

    You can create your own bar or send a gift certificate so the recipient can customize excactly what [s]he wants. (In fact, the gift certificates are one of our favorite Valentine gifts.)

      

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    VALENTINE GIFT: Kiss A Frog Chocolates

    If you know a woman who is still waiting for the frog to turn into the handsome prince, here’s an idea for Valentine’s Day:

    A box of Kiss A Frog chocolates, frog-shaped chocolates. The chocolates include 26 solid chocolate frogs and 6 frogs filled with peanut butter. They’re nestled in a chocolate brown, heart-shaped box tied with a gossamer green ribbon.

    The box of chocolate frogs, a total of 16 ounces, is $39.00 at BlackDinahChocolates.com.

    Black Dinah Chocolates, handmade in Maine (on a remote island offshore), are a favorite at THE NIBBLE (here’s our review).

    The confectioners also make beautiful bonbons, bark, salted caramels and other beguiling confections.

    Discover more at BlackDinahChocolatiers.com.

     

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    Chocolate frogs will have to do instead of a handsome prince. Photo courtesy Black Dinah Chocolates.

     

      

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    VALENTINE GIFT: Maggie Louise Chocolates

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    White chocolate Valentine delights. Photo courtesy Maggie Louise Confections.

     

    We love this special white chocolate set for Valentine’s Day. Yes, it’s for the ladies (or girls), but chocolatier Maggie Louise has other items chocolate-loving men (and painted chocolate dinosaurs for chocolate-loving boys).

    The set in the photo, called the XO Make-Up Box, includes:

  • 4 white chocolate lipsticks
  • 2 white chocolate letters: X.O.
  • 4 dark chocolate lips, painted red or pink and filled with cream caramel and chocolate nougat
  • 4 white chocolate hearts filled with chocolate caramel and sea salt
  • 4 white chocolate dots (squares) filled with cream caramel and sea salt
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    While there’s always a great box of chocolate to be found somewhere, this collection will last and last in chocolate memories.
     
    It’s $56, beautifully gift boxed. Check out the other awesome chocolates at MaggieLouiseConfections.com.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies

    Make these Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies as a Valentine gift or for Super Bowl viewing. The recipe is from QVC’s chef David Venable.

    Personally, we prefer omitting the bacon bits and using only the bacon fat. The result will be a smoky, salty flavor that foodies can’t get enough of.

    If you want to soften the bacon flavor, simply Try it both ways and see which you prefer.

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE CHIP BACON COOKIES

    Ingredients For 20 Cookies

  • 1–1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoon bacon fat, reserved when cooking the bacon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
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    Chocolate chocolate chip cookies with a hidden surprise: bacon! Photo courtesy QVC.

  • 12 thick-cut bacon strips, chopped and cooked until fat is rendered, lightly crisped and browned
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    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

    2. COMBINE the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

    3. BEAT the butter, bacon fat and both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, until light and creamy. Add the egg and the vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches and mix well after each addition.

    4. ADD in the milk chocolate chips and chopped cooked bacon and mix until evenly distributed.

    5. SPOON heaping tablespoons of the cookie dough onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 10–12 minutes. Let cool before eating.

      

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    STOCKING STUFFER: Wine-Infused Chocolates

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    Delicious wine-infused chocolates. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Virginia-based Gearharts chocolates Fine chocolates has some irresistible treats for stocking stuffers, party favors or anytime indulgence.

    For wine lovers, an excellent stocking stuffer is Pod and Vine, a box of four bonbons. The pod refers to the cacao; the vine is the wine that infuses the ganache.

    It’s not just any wine: It’s Cabernet Franc from Virginia’s highly regarded Barboursville Vineyards.

    Four boxed bonbons are $8.00 at GearhartsChocolates.com; nine pieces are $20.00.

    We’re also fond of the Pistachio Toffee, eight pieces of buttery toffee with roasted pistachios, enrobed in bittersweet chocolate ($8.00).

    For a full-size gift, another great gift is a Top Pick From Last Year, Chocolate Peanut Butter Pups. That’s pups, not cups: The pieces are decorated to look like dog heads.

    The milk chocolate bonbons are filled with silky chocolate ganache, which is lightly infused with handmade peanut butter.

     

    And they’re guilt-free: Five percent of sales of Peanut Butter Pups is donated to Companions for Heroes, a not-for-profit organization that matches rescue pets as companion animals to our nation’s wounded veterans.

    A box of nine pieces is $22.00 at Gearharts’ online store.

     
      

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