Dark Chocolate Truffle Cake
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate morsels
6 egg yolks
12 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 egg whites
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup corn syrup (light or dark)
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate morsels
Cake: Bring butter to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate morsels. Let stand for 5 minutes to melt the chocolate. Whisk until smooth.
In a medium mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with 6 tablespoons sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Beat until almost all of the sugar has dissolved. Combine with the melted chocolate mixture and blend thoroughly.
In a clean glass or metal mixing bowl using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until foamy. Ever so gradually, add 6 tablespoons sugar. Beat until medium-firm peaks hold. Add 1/3 of the egg white mixture to the chocolate mixture, stirring to fully incorporate and loosen the chocolate mixture. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites to the chocolate batter. Fold in remaining third of the egg whites. Stir gently until no white streaks remain.
Transfer batter to prepared springform pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour. Place on a cooling rack. As the cake cools, it will fall in the center. Press around edges of pan to level the cake.
Once cooled thoroughly to room temperature, loosen cake from the springform pan. Remove from pan. Peel away the parchment collar from the cake. Invert cake onto a cardboard round of slightly smaller diameter than the cake itself. Peel away the parchment. Prepare the ganache glaze.
Ganache glaze: Bring the cream and the corn syrup to a low boil. Add the chocolate morsels and let stand for about 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth and the chocolate is melted. Place a piece of foil, parchment or wax paper on a clean work surface. Place the cake (on the cardboard round) on a bowl of smaller diameter than the cake itself, centered on the foil.
Spread about 1 cup of the ganache over the top of the cake. Spoon or drizzle the remaining ganache over the sides of the cake, letting the glaze to drip off the sides of the cake.
Note: Using an offset spatula, scrape the glaze up and redistribute over the cake as desired -- you may have to reheat the glaze a bit in the microwave to make it more liquid.
Place in the refrigerator until the glaze is firm. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to five days.
To serve: Serve small wedges, garnishing each serving with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream. This cake is super rich, so may I suggest small servings.
Chocolate Tulip Cups
8 ounces white “chocolate” candy coating
8 ounces dark “chocolate” candy coating
12 (3 1/2-inch) water balloons (purchase extra balloons as some will be “duds”)
2-3 large cookie sheets covered with parchment
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt candy coatings in three separate bowls, using the melting instructions on the candy product packaging. Keep chocolate warm and liquid (I find a heating pad works great. Fully blow up the balloons and tie securely.
On a parchment-covered cookie sheet, using a 1/2 cup measure, pour out a 3-inch wide strip of white chocolate (it should be about 10-inches long). Right beside it, pour out a dark chocolate strip. Using the back of a teaspoon, swirl together the chocolates.
Before dipping the balloons in chocolate, make certain that the chocolate is no warmer than body temperature. If the chocolate is too warm, the chocolate-coated balloon will burst -- trust me here!
Working with one balloon at a time, holding the balloon by the top, dip only the lower third into the chocolates. Tip the balloon back and forth to create the “petals” of a tulip. Be careful not to cover the balloon too high -- not beyond the curve -- or the chocolate will crack when remove the balloon once the chocolate hardens. Place the chocolate-covered balloons side by side on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Let chocolate harden.
Make sure that the balloon bottom is heavily coated, you may choose to coat the bottom with another layer of chocolate. Use additional chocolate as needed to cover all of the balloons.
If the chocolate starts to harden on the cookie sheet that you’re working from as a “palette,” place the cookie sheet briefly in the preheated oven to re-melt the chocolate, but do not get the chocolate too warm.
Once the chocolate has hardened (for a few hours) on all of the balloons, you will need to release the chocolate tulip cups from the balloons. Grasp the balloon by the stem and prick a small hole in the top at the stem end, continuing to hold the stem end. Carefully and slowly release the air from the balloon. Remove deflated balloon from the cups. Fill these fragile beauties with your favorite chocolate mousse.
Easiest Chocolate Mousse Ever
1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
3 tablespoons prepared espresso
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
Place chocolate in blender. Bring half-and-half just to a boil. Add sugar and espresso; stir to dissolve. Pour over chocolate. Cover blender with lid and blend 5 seconds. Add eggs.
Cover tightly; blend on high 1 minute. Pour into 8 small bowls, goblets or ramekins. Chill several hours, until firm.
Quick Fix Raspberry Sauce
1 (12-ounce) jar seedless raspberry jam
2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur
Makes about 11/4 cups.
Blend jam and liqueur together until smooth.
Store in the refrigerator for up to one year. Use as a dessert sauce and decorative drizzle.
Chocolate Bread Pudding
1 quart milk
1 (12-ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate morsels
21/4 cups sugar, divided
6 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 (12-ounce) loaf stale French bread, torn into bite size pieces
1 (6-ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate morsels
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish. Heat milk to boiling, then remove from heat. Place 12 ounces chocolate morsels in large mixing bowl. Pour hot milk over chocolate morsels. Let rest 2-3 minutes. Whisk until smooth.
Beat in 2 cups sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt. Stir in bread pieces and 6-ounce package chocolate morsels. Turn mixture into prepared baking dish. Cover tightly with foil. Bake 1 hour.
Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining1/4 cup sugar. Continue to bake 15-20 minutes longer, until set in center and the top is crusty. Serve warm with Bourbon Sauce or freshly whipped cream. Leftovers reheat beautifully.
Buttered Bourbon Sauce
3/4 cup butter
1 (1-pound) box 10X confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup bourbon
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 cups water
In a small saucepan, heat the butter over medium-high heat until melted. Stir in the confectioners’ sugar and bourbon.
Place the cornstarch in a small bowl. Add the water, stirring to dissolve. Add the cornstarch mixture to the saucepan. Stirring often, bring to a boil and cook until thickened and alcohol has cooked off somewhat.
Serve warm over bread pudding or other deserts as desired. Makes a lot! Store any leftover sauce tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
EASTER BRUNCH RECIPES
Italian Scrambled Eggs with Asparagus and Ham
6 tablespoons butter, divided
11/4 cups sliced mushrooms
1/4 pound ham or prosciutto, slivered or diced
3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 medium green pepper, cut into1/4-inch dice
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
6 ounces mozzarella, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the mushrooms, ham, garlic and green pepper. Saute over medium heat until the vegetables are tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water until crisp-tender. Drain well and set aside. Whisk together the eggs, basil, oregano, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cut the cream cheese in bits into the eggs.
Just before serving, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in the skillet. Add the egg mixture. Cook over medium heat while folding the mixture with a spatula to blend in the cream cheese. When the eggs are half set, add the warm vegetable-ham mixture, the mozzarella, Parmesan and warm asparagus. Continue to cook while gently folding in the cheese with the spatula. When the eggs are just done, serve at once.
Oven-Roasted Potatoes with Onions
2 1/2 pounds unpeeled all-purpose potatoes
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup corn oil
2 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
Serves six to eight.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut the potatoes into 1/2- to 3/4-inch dice and toss them with the salt, pepper and corn oil. Spread them in a single layer on rimmed baking sheet or pan and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove pan from oven and combine the potatoes with the onions. Return to the oven and continue to roast for 25 minutes or until browned and crisp. Stir occasionally.
Fruit Salad with Port Reduction Glaze
1 orange or 1/2 grapefruit
1 wedge melon, your choice
1 pear or banana
1 cup grapes, optional
1 cup strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 cup raisins, craisins or other dried fruit
1/2 cup almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts
1/3 cup chocolate chips, optional
1 cup port
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Cut each fruit into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl. Mix well. Shortly before serving, add nuts and chocolate chips, if using.
To make the port reduction, mix together port and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a high simmer or low boil, and reduce by 2/3 or 3/4 until the liquid clings to the back of a spoon and when you draw your finger across the spoon you can see the trail of its path. Allow to cool. Add sparingly to fruit salad, and toss. Extra glaze can be refrigerated for a week or two.
Note: For each additional person, add 1 serving of a large fruit (1 mango, 1/2 cup pineapple, 1 kiwi fruit, another wedge of melon, etc.) and another small handful of berries, raisins, nuts and chocolate chips.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Nut Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter, can use reduced-fat
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 cups (12 ounces) chocolate chips or mini-chocolate chips
Makes 18 muffins.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Paper-line or grease 18 (2 1/2-inch) muffin tins.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, peanut butter and brown sugar in large mixing bowl until creamy. Add eggs and milk; beat until smooth. Add flour mixture to peanut butter mixture; beat until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into prepared cups, filling 3/4 full.
Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out slightly sticky. Cool in pans on wire racks for 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
EASTER HAM RECIPES
Fully Cooked, Cured Ham on the Grill
2 cups apple wood or hickory wood chips
1 fully cooked smoked half ham, about 10 pounds
Brown Sugar Rub, see recipe
About 2 cups unfiltered apple cider or fresh orange juice
Rhubarb-Ginger Sauce, see recipe
Soak wood chips in water to cover, at least 30 minutes.
Pat ham dry. Rub it on the top with a generous coating of the Brown Sugar Rub. Set ham in a baking pan or foil roasting pan. Add apple cider, juice or water to come up about 1 inch in the pan. Completely cover the ham and the pan in heavy-duty foil.
Heat a gas grill to medium-high or light a charcoal fire and let it burn just until the coals are covered with gray ash and very hot. Turn off the heat in the center of the gas grill or set up the charcoal grill for indirect cooking by banking all the coals to the sides, leaving the center empty.
Put the foil-wrapped ham in the center of the grill (not directly over the heat source). Add a small handful of soaked chips to the coals. (If using a gas grill, wrap the drained soaked chips in foil and pierce the foil in several places; position the packet directly over the heat source.) Cover the grill to maintain a steady 325 degrees. (Use an oven thermometer as a guide.) Cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 130 degrees when inserted in the thickest part of the leg and the juices run clear, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. If using charcoal, check the grill every 30 minutes to see if the coals need replenishing and to add a handful of the wood chips to the coals.
Let ham rest on cutting board, at least 20 minutes. The temperature will rise about 10 degrees. Serve the ham very thinly sliced with the Rhubarb-Ginger Sauce.
Brined and Smoked Fresh Ham on the Grill
1 small fresh ham (whole fresh leg of pork), about 14 pounds, skin on
SWEET AND SPICY BRINE:
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup coarse (kosher) salt
2 tablespoons each: dill seed, crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon celery seed
Brown Sugar Rub, see recipe
4 cups apple wood or hickory wood chips
Rhubarb-Ginger Sauce, see recipe
Use a very sharp knife to score through the skin in long slashes about 2 inches apart and1/4 inch deep.
Have ready a large food-safe plastic bucket or container that will hold the leg and the brine and will fit in your refrigerator. (You may need to adjust the shelves to accommodate everything.) Heat 2 quarts water until very hot. Remove from heat; stir in the sugar, salt and spices until salt is dissolved. Transfer to the bucket; stir in 3 quarts cold water. Add pork to the brine. Add more water as needed so pork is completely submersed. Refrigerate, 1 to 3 days.
Remove pork from brine. Discard brine. (Pork can be refrigerated, covered, up to 2 days.)
Pat pork dry. Rub it on all sides with a generous coating of the Brown Sugar Rub. Let stand at room temperature while you prepare the grill.
Soak wood chips in water to cover for at least 30 minutes. Heat a gas grill to medium-high or light a charcoal fire and let it burn just until the coals are covered with gray ash and very hot. Turn off the heat in the center of the gas grill or set up the charcoal grill for indirect cooking by banking all the coals to the sides, leaving the center empty. Add a drip pan to the bottom of the charcoal grill. Put the cooking grate in place.
Put the pork leg in the center of the grill (not directly over the heat source). Add a small handful of soaked chips to the coals. (If using a gas grill, wrap the drained soaked chips in foil and pierce the foil in several places and position the packet directly over the heat source.) Cover the grill to maintain a steady 325 degree temperature. (Use an oven thermometer as a guide.) Cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 150 degrees when inserted in the thickest part of the leg, usually 3 1/2 to 4 hours. If using charcoal, check the grill every 30 minutes to see if the coals need replenishing and to add a handful of the wood chips to the coals. Start checking the temperature of the meat after 2 1/2 hours to avoid over-cooking.
Let ham rest on cutting board for at least 20 minutes. The temperature will rise about 10 degrees. Serve the ham very thinly sliced with the Rhubarb-Ginger Sauce.
Brown Sugar Rub
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon each salt and sweet paprika
2 teaspoons dry mustard
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
2 pounds fresh rhubarb, trimmed and diced (about 8 cups)
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
Makes 4 cups.
In a large saucepan, heat all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring often, until rhubarb is fall-apart tender, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve warm.