Sunday, October 22, 2017

Tombstone Cookies for Halloween

I like the nutty taste and crunchy texture of cocoa nibs, and I'm always looking for new uses for them -- in salads, sauces, and baking. Here's a great recipe that's perfect for Halloween (or any time) for Tombstone Cookies that includes cocoa nibs in the recipe. You can use theses cookies in Graveyard Chocolate Pots de Creme or just serve them on a plate.  Recipe from Sunset. And, here's a link to the Dark Chocolate Graveyard Pots de Creme.

Tombstone Cookies

Ingredients 
2 Tbsp cocoa (or cacao) nibs*
6 Tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling cookies
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Melted semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

Directions
Preheat oven to 400°. In blender, whirl cocoa nibs until each is about the size of a grain of rice.
In large bowl of electric mixer, beat butter and 1/2 cup sugar until creamy; beat in egg and vanilla.
In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa nibs; gradually add to butter mixture, blending thoroughly, to form a soft dough.
Divide dough into thirds, cover each portion tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm (at least 1 hour), or up to 3 days.
On floured board, roll out dough, portion at a time, to 1/8 inch thickness (keep dough refrigerated when not in use). With sharp knife, cut out free-form tombstone shapes (about 1 1/2 by 3 in.; cut bottom edges at an angle to make them easier to poke into the pots de crème), and place slightly apart on ungreased baking sheets. Sprinkle generously with sugar.
Bake cookies until edges are lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and let cool completely before handling. Using pastry bag with very fine tip, pipe letters "RIP" in chocolate on at least 8 of the cookies. Stick these cookies into Dark Chocolate Graveyard Pots de Crème and serve the rest of the cookies alongside.

** Cocoa nibs, also called "cacao nibs," give these cookies a mottled look that resembles stone. You can use chocolate-covered nibs made by Scharffen Berger or plain nibs from Dagoba Organic Chocolate.  Don't have any cocoa nibs? Substitute 2 tbsp. finely chopped bittersweet chocolate if you prefer. 

No time to make this great recipe? Use pudding packages and Milano Cookies for a similar graveyard effect!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Pumpkin Cheesecake Day: Chocolate Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake


Today is National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day! Love this Fall Holiday, and this Chocolate Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake is the best way to celebrate! Easy and delicious!

I always think that alcohol escalates chocolate, so I was thrilled when I found this recipe a few years ago in People Magazine. The original recipe for this Chocolate Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake is from Betty Crocker. The recipe is a triple threat: chocolate, bourbon, cheesecake. Wow! Perfect for Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Chocolate Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake 

Crust
2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (35 to 40 cookies)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake 
4 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs
4 Tbsp bourbon
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 1/2 tsp aromatic bitters
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted  (or chopped dark chocolate)

Toppings  (I consider topping optional..it's great without, but if you want to)

1/2 cup caramel topping (I have used Recchiuti)
2 tsp bourbon 
Dash aromatic bitters 
Toasted pecans (optional) 

Directions
Heat oven to 300ºF. Grease 9-inch springform pan with shortening or cooking spray. Wrap outside bottom and side of pan with foil to prevent leaking. In small bowl, mix crust ingredients. Press mixture into bottom and one inch up side of pan. Bake eight to 10 minutes or until set. Cool for five minutes.

In large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy; do not overbeat. On low speed, gradually beat in sugar, then flour, and then eggs (one at a time), just until blended. Remove half of cream cheese mixture (about 3 cups) into another large bowl; reserve.

Into remaining cream cheese mixture, stir 2 Tbsp bourbon, pumpkin, 1 1/2 tsp bitters, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg; whisk until smooth. Spoon over crust into pan. Into reserved 3 cups of filling, stir 2 Tbsp bourbon, vanilla, and melted chocolate. Pour mixture over pumpkin layer directly in middle of pan. (This will create layers so that each slice includes some of each flavor.)

To minimize cracking, place shallow pan half-full of hot water on lower oven rack. Bake cheesecake 80 to 90 minutes minutes, or until edges are set but center of cheesecake still jiggles slightly when moved.

Turn oven off, and open oven door at least four inches. Leave cheesecake in oven 30 minutes longer. Remove from oven; place on cooling rack. Without releasing side of pan, run your knife around edge of the pan to loosen cheesecake. Cool in pan on cooling rack for 30 minutes. Cover loosely; refrigerate at least six hours but no longer than 24 hours.

To release: Run knife around side of pan to loosen cheesecake again; carefully remove side of pan. Put cheesecake on serving plate.

I consider adding a rich topping optional, and I don't top this already rich cheesecake, but here's the original recipe in case you want it. Stir together caramel topping, 2 tsp bourbon and dash of bitters. To serve, drizzle with caramel and sprinkle with pecans. Cover and refrigerate any remaining cheesecake. 

Photo: Betty Crocker

Friday, October 20, 2017

Haunted Skull Dark Chocolate Cakes

I love Nordicware pans. So creative in shapes and sizes. Not surprisingly the Skull Cakepans are favorites. I particularly like the Skull Cakelette Pan...and Nordicware has a great recipe for Haunted Skull Dark Chocolate Cakes on its website that works well with this pan! Dark Chocolate Skull Cakes are perfect for Halloween!

HAUNTED SKULL DARK CHOCOLATE CAKES

Ingredients 

For cakeletes: 
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 cup extra-dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon Fiori di Sicila
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon black food color, if desired

Chocolate Glaze:
3.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream

Directions
Preheat oven to 325°F. 
Prepare Skull Cakelet pan with baking spray or brush with butter and dust with cocoa.
Whisk flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together.
In separate bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix butter and sugars together until creamy and lightened, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add extracts. Put mixer on low speed and add buttermilk alternately with  dry ingredients in 4 additions. Mix until smooth. Add black food color to desired shade if using.
Fill pan no more than 3/4 full in each well. Tap pan on top of a cutting board covered with heavy kitchen towel to evenly distribute batter and eliminate air bubbles from batter.
Bake for 30-35 minutes.
Allow cakelets to cool in pan 5-8 minutes before inverting onto cooling rack. Repeat with remaining batter.
***

I went to the Nordicware site to get a photo of the cakelette pan. It's out of stock today, but back in next week...or perhaps you can find it locally or on another site. Enjoy!

Prepare glaze by adding chocolate to heat-proof bowl. Warm cream until just beginning to steam and pour over chocolate, stirring with spatula to incorporate while chocolate melts. When all chocolate has melted, pour over cooled cakeletes.
Garnish as desired with candy decorations or decorating sprinkles.
Makes 12 cakes.