Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Valentines Day: Warm Upside-Down Pear Cake With Tangerine Custard Sauce

Pear Parade

From Denny:  For pear lovers - and lovers - this is an outstanding dessert good enough for any holiday!

Like any upside down cake this one is practically beginner cook and foolproof.  The custard requires a more experienced cook and a little time but is well worth the effort.

The cake is a simple one using all-purpose flour, unsalted butter, tangerine zest, a few tablespoons of milk and heavy cream, a couple of eggs, cognac and pecans.  Cream, cognac and pecans (all fav ingredients of mine) all play off each other for a wonderful flavor combination.

This tangy tangerine sauce is an unusual and clever pairing with the pears and hearty cake.  The sauce combines half and half cream, tangerine juice, tangerine zest, vanilla extract and sugar along with the egg yolks to make it rich and memorable.

Sold?  Yeah, me too!  If you can't find tangerines, try substituting oranges.

Tip:  In fact, every time I enjoy a fresh orange I go ahead and take the time to zest it, placing the zest in the freezer like a treasure mounting up over time.  Then, when I need some orange zest for any recipe I'm ready to go.

Romancing The Chocolate: National Chocolate Cake Day Today! 2 Recipes

Our most popular cake. Of course anything choc...
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Romancing The Chocolate: National Chocolate Cake Day Today! 2 Recipes: From Denny: Like anyone had to inform the chocolate hounds that today is a special day. We all know we sure don't pay much attention to any other holiday - excepting Valentine's Day - 'cause only chocolate holidays rule. :)

What are the goals of National Chocolate Cake Day? The Obvious: bake and decorate a wonderful chocolate cake and then enjoy it with a few friends! Now that's what I call a plum assignment.

First off, everyone should have at least one basic good Simple Chocolate Sheet Cake in their bag of magic baking tricks. This will make you a big hit at family or sports gatherings - read that at tailgating too.

People can cut the small or large size they desire. Of course, the cake can end up looking like a bit of a messy disaster that way so usually most cooks choose to pre-cut the pieces. I usually cut mine into long fingers like 1-inch x 3-inches. The dieters (and the diabetics who are supposed to behave but can't) can slice that in half - and the Hungry Jacks can take two. Everyone is happy!

Then try the Mexican Chocolate Fudge Pecan Cake where cinnamon is added to a basic chocolate and buttermilk cake. Chocolate and cinnamon are natural pairings and the result is wonderful.
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Monday, January 30, 2012

Comfort Food From Louisiana: Mardi Gras: New Orleans Zulu King Cake


king cake 1


Comfort Food From Louisiana: Mardi Gras: New Orleans Zulu King Cake: From Denny: When you experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans one of the first things you want to enjoy again is the famous King Cake.

Here in Baton Rouge our grocery stores and local bakeries offer literally dozens of varieties from chocolate eclair to cream cheese and blueberry. Those are two of my favorites. :)

The Zulu King Cake has coconut and chocolate chips. Cinnamon, sugar and cream cheese is another popular version.
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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Romancing The Chocolate: Cookies: Chocolate Crackled

Semi-sweet chocolate chips
Image via Wikipedia
Romancing The Chocolate: Cookies: Chocolate Crackled: From Denny: These chocolate chunk cookies are delightfully decadent as they also include ancho chile pepper that provides some smokey heat. Cinnamon and extra vanilla extract balance the chile heat and intense semi-sweet chocolate.
A variation of this cookie is provided that enjoys using roasted ginger spice in place of the cinnamon.

Check out the interesting variations of your favorite chocolate chunk cookie!
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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Romancing The Chocolate: Cookies: Triple Chocolate Pistachio Mint


Various types of chocolate.
Image via Wikipedia


Romancing The Chocolate: Cookies: Triple Chocolate Pistachio Mint: From Denny: These rich cookies are perfect for the holidays from Thanksgiving to Christmas to Valentine's Day to Mardi Gras. Any celebration will do when it comes to chocolate!

Chocolate and peppermint are a great pairing, each complementing the other. What I like about this chocolate recipe is it uses bittersweet chocolate and white chocolate too. The contrast of the very dark and the light white is awesome, balanced by the roasted pistachio nuts. Can it get any better?
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Romancing The Chocolate: Cookies: Double Chocolate Chunk Mint




Romancing The Chocolate: Cookies: Double Chocolate Chunk Mint: From Denny: Looking for a chocolate cookie with a deep, rich flavor? This recipe combines cocoa powder and semi-sweet chocolate.

Chunks of tasty walnuts are perfect with intense chocolate. And remember that peppermint extract you bought for the Christmas holidays and haven't managed to use up yet? This is a winner of a recipe to make good use of it. Yeah, had some peppermint extract languishing in the back of my pantry too. I'm just saying... :)

This recipe reminded me of those delicious Hershey's mint miniatures that are almost completely disappeared from the holiday season. And I was craving a chocolate-mint combination and then I happened upon this little gem of a recipe. Enjoy!
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Romancing The Chocolate: Cookies: Vanilla Rich Chocolate Chip




Romancing The Chocolate: Cookies: Vanilla Rich Chocolate Chip: From Denny: This is basically your standard chocolate chip recipe but with the difference of lots of extra vanilla extract to punch up the intensity. They should probably rename these cookies to Intense Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cookies.

This recipe is from McCormick, the company we usually think of for spices. Turns out they have quite an extensive recipe collection!

These cookies use light brown sugar along with white sugar. We like dark brown sugar at our house and reduce the white sugar by half. But hey, we are living in Louisiana where we like the molasses taste of dark brown sugar.

We bake and cook a lot with the cane syrup produced here. Steen's cane syrup is a lot like black strap molasses in that it is an intense taste but much sweeter, just perfect for baking or making an awesome barbecue sauce. I find it a bit too strong to pour onto pancakes. Of course, my Cajun husband thinks it's awesome on pancakes and waffles. :)
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Comfort Food From Louisiana: Tailgating Pancakes: Beer and Bacon Man Cakes


Beer and Bacon Mancakes


Comfort Food From Louisiana: Tailgating Pancakes: Beer and Bacon Man Cakes: From Denny: More ways to use beer and bacon in delicious recipes, two favorites men love. OK, if it uses dark beer even I'm intrigued. After all, many dark beers - like Boston's own Samuel Adams Cream Stout - have chocolate in the brew.

A favorite recipe from the Betty Crocker site is this one that includes bacon that is baked and candied with brown sugar. Then you crumble the bacon into the Bisquick mix, along with the eggs and beer. The result produces a large and fluffy pancake.

Talk about a cool recipe to use for tailgating. Can you imagine the smell of the bacon and brown sugar wafting through the RV parking lot outside of the stadium? You will have new best friends in no time! :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Comfort Food From Louisiana: Mardi Gras: Muffuletta Sandwich


Muffuletta Sandwich


Comfort Food From Louisiana: Mardi Gras: Muffuletta Sandwich: From Denny: Do you love the New Orleans tradition of muffuletta sandwiches? They are popular throughout Louisiana, especially at carnival time. During the parades people are always looking for snacks that are easy to grab off a tray and run back into the crowd to catch those all important beads. :)

This recipe is for an appetizer version where you don't have to worry so much about the high calories, salt and preservatives since it is a smaller portion.

There is even a recipe to show you how to make your own olive salad which can be used for more than just this sandwich, like a dressing on a garden salad or as a spread on French bread. It was originally developed by the Sicilian immigrants that settled in New Orleans about 100 years ago.
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Comfort Food From Louisiana: Mardi Gras: Winner Meatloaf and 3 Sauces


Mardi Gras 2008


Comfort Food From Louisiana: Mardi Gras: Winner Meatloaf and 3 Sauces: From Denny: Looking for a healthier recipe for the Mardi Gras season? While the kids are busy jumping off and on to the porch to grab fistfuls of chips and quick sandwiches and then run back to the parades, the adults might enjoy taking a plate of this crowd pleaser.

This recipe is so easy to make it's kid friendly. The versatility of this meatloaf is that it can be topped with something as simple as a warmed can of cream of mushroom soup or any of the three sauce recipes that follow.

One is a tomato sauce with brown sugar and mustard. Another is a sweet and sour taste. The final one is an Asian flavor using hoisin sauce, soy sauce, ginger and ketchup.
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Chocolate Pudding In The Raw


Chop Chocolate So It Will Melt Quickly


From Denny:  There are devoted fans of the raw food diet.  While not everyone can partake of this lifestyle there are many recipes anyone can enjoy.  This Raw Chocolate Pudding is one of them - and so easy and quick to make!

Who doesn't love the taste pairing of chocolate and coconut?  An added bonus is that in place of refined sugar the recipe uses agave nectar which is far superior on the glucose meter for diabetes and others sensitive to sugar.

The raw food diet, and this very simple and quick version of chocolate pudding, may seem unusual but it sure is tasty!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Romancing The Chocolate: Easy Triple Layer Mud Pie

This image was selected as a picture of the we...
Image via Wikipedia
Romancing The Chocolate: Easy Triple Layer Mud Pie: From Denny: This is an easy recipe for those chocolate lovers who are in a hurry to whip up a dessert and then forget about it for a few hours while it chills in the fridge.

Simple pies like this are also perfect for tailgating to those special sports events.

All you need for this simple dessert is part of a can of sweetened condensed milk, 3 squares of semi-sweet chocolate, a prepared chocolate cookie crumb pie crust, a chocolate instant pudding mix, some two percent milk, 1/2 cup chopped nuts and a small tub of frozen whipped topping of your choice.
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