Category Archives: Chocolate

Cheesecake Strawberries with Chocolate Accents

My first introduction to the concept of filling a strawberry with the flavors of cheesecake was featuring a post by Nutmeg Nanny many Fridays ago. When I finally got serious about making these little gems for a bridal shower, there were tweaks to the recipe I could not resist—lemon zest is a must in cheesecake—and they were absolutely fabulous.  Juicy, ripe strawberries dressed in flavors of cheesecake, graham cracker, and chocolate create a beautiful presentation and a memorable dessert for a shower or any gathering.  What a great way to make the most of what is left of summer berries!

Cheesecake Filled Strawberries with Chocolate Accents

Yields approximately 30 Stuffed Berries
2   pounds  strawberries — stem and core removed, bottom trimmed flat
2   teaspoons  lemon zest — minced fine
8   ounces  cream cheese — softened
3   tablespoons  powdered sugar
1    teaspoon  vanilla extract
2   squares  graham crackers or Milano cookies — crushed fine
1   cup  white or dark chocolate — chopped or in chips, melted

Rinse strawberries and dry well. Trim the cap and hull strawberry with a paring knife, creating a small pocket. In order to stand the berries upright, trim the bottom of the strawberry creating a flat base.

Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla with a mixer until creamed and fluffy. Add cream cheese mix to piping bag or large Ziploc bag with a small piece of the bottom corner cut off.  Set aside.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler.  Place a dime-size amount of chocolate on a baking sheet or tray lined with wax paper. Place a strawberry on top of chocolate and cooling until chocolate hardens. This chocolate base adds stability to the strawberries, especially in transport.

Using the piping bag or Ziploc bag, fill strawberries with the cream cheese filling. Sprinkle with crushed graham crackers.  Accent with chocolate to finish the strawberries.  Allow chocolate to harden or set.

NOTES: Large strawberries are best, requiring fewer berries, yet any size will work. Strawberries kept in the refrigerator will sweat in a warm room. Remove from refrigeration well in advance to allow time for the berries to come to room temp and dry well before dipping in chocolate or filling.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Simply Delish
Mom Trends
EKat’s Kitchen Friday Potluck


Grown Up S’mores [via Someone Left The Cake Out In The Rain]: Feature Fridays

As I leisurely finished my iced coffee this morning, I discover this S’mores recipe from Someone Left The Cake Out In The Rain—an automatic YUM! was set off in my brain.  According to the author, the marshmallow drooping down the sides of the chocolate was a fail … Uh, I don’t think so.  I think it looks amazing, so I am passing it along in case your plans to light a patio fire get rained out this weekend.  Now you have a back-up plan.  Enjoy!

Triple Chocolate Cookies

What’s better than just plain chocolate?  Chocolate delivered three ways in one cookie.  A soft chocolate cookie wrapped around white chocolate and bittersweet chocolate chips is milk’s new best friend.  A hint of instant coffee—the secret in great chocolate desserts—does wonders for chocolate cookies, deepening flavor and adding complexity. Make a batch to take to picnics or backyard barbeques this weekend, they’ll be glad you did.

Triple-Chocolate Cookies

Yield: 24 cookies
1         cup  butter — (2 sticks) softened
3/4    cup  granulated sugar
3/4    cup  packed light brown sugar
2         teaspoons  vanilla extract
1/2     teaspoon  salt
2         large  eggs
2        cups  all-purpose flour
1/2    cup  Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa -or- Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate cocoa
1         teaspoon  baking soda
1 1/2  teaspoons  instant coffee granules — optional
1         cup  Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips
1         cup  Ghirardelli Classic White Chocolate Baking Chips

Heat oven to 375 F.

Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, coffee, vanilla and salt in large bowl until creamy. Add eggs; beat well.

Sift together flour, cocoa, and baking soda; gradually add to butter mixture, mix until well blended. Mix-in baking chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set, careful not to over bake. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet; remove from baking sheet to wire rack to cool completely.

Note: For High Altitude baking, add 1/4 cup more flour.

This is what happens when you can’t wait for them to cool — so worth it!

Chocolate Kiwi Popsicles [via Showfood Chef]: Feature Fridays

After 90° temperatures here in Colorado yesterday, it is no surprise these kiwi popsicles at Showfood Chef caught my eye.  What can be better than a recipe with two ingredients–especially when one of them is chocolate?  These look refreshing, delicious, and fun for summer treats.  Enjoy!

Ghirardelli Grand Fudge Cake with Coconut-Pecan and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

German Chocolate is the favored cake of two in our household, but the least favored of two others. We do not indulge in dessert often, birthdays being the exception. In order to honor birthday wishes and still include everyone in a celebratory cake, this “halvsies” cake has become a standard that suits everyone. Ghirardelli Grand Fudge Cake is a fantastic base for the classic Coconut-Pecan Frosting and of course, it marries well with Ghirardelli Buttercream Frosting.

By now I am sure you’ve noticed I am more cook than baker, so it should be no surprise that the photos reveal that my cake fell; it was still absolutely delicious, so that is what we will focus on.  My lack of passion for baking and living at altitude does not help with delicate baked items, but I get by. 😉  Although I only frost half the cake with each one, I do not reduce the frosting recipes—not only is it hard to measure half an egg yolk it is easy to use the leftover frosting for graham cracker treats.

It has been a whirlwind birthday season at our house with four cakes in just 7 weeks, Ghirardelli Grand Fudge Cake with Coconut-Pecan and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting was a delightfully sumptuous finish.

Ghirardelli Grand Fudge Cake

Yield: 2 layer, 9 inch cake
Serves 16
2        cups  all-purpose flour
3/4    cup  Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa
1         teaspoon  baking powder
1         teaspoon  baking soda
1/2     teaspoon  salt
1         cup  butter, softened
1 3/4  cups  sugar
2         teaspoons  vanilla
2         large  eggs
1 1/3   cups  milk

Preheat oven to 350º. Grease and lightly flour two 9-inch round cake pans or place a round of parchment in the bottom of each cake pan and butter the sides. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Reduce speed to low, and add vanilla and eggs one at a time, scraping bowl after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and milk (starting and ending with the flour mixture), while mixing on low speed. Continue to mix until smooth.

Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of cake comes out clean. Cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

Ghirardelli Grand Fudge Cake with Coconut-Pecan Frosting

Coconut-Pecan Frosting

Frosts tops and sides of two 9″ layers.
1           cup  sugar
1           cup  evaporated milk
1/2       cup  butter
3           whole  egg yolks
1 1/2     cups  flaked coconut
1 1/4     cups  pecans — coarsely chopped
1            teaspoon  vanilla

In 2-quart saucepan, mix sugar, evaporated milk, butter and eggs yolks and cook over medium heat, while stirring, until mixture begins to bubble, approximately 12 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Mix coconut and pecans in a large bowl to break up any clumps of coconut. Pour caramel sauce over pecans and coconut, add vanilla, and stir until it reaches spreading consistency (it will thicken as it cools). Cool completely before frosting cake.

Note: Pecan pieces can be toasted in a 350° oven for 5 minutes until aromatic, before adding to the frosting, if desired.

Ghirardelli Grand Fudge Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Ghirardelli Buttercream Frosting

Frosts tops and sides of two 9″ layers.
6        tablespoons  butter — softened
2 2/3   cups  powdered sugar
1/2       cup  Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa
1/3       cup  milk
1/2       teaspoon  vanilla extract

In a bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, mix confectioner’s sugar with cocoa.

Blend sugar mixture with butter alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Beat until smooth. Blend in vanilla.

Special Note: For leftover frosting, spread on graham crackers as a filling between two crackers. Place sandwiched grahams into a plastic bag and keep in the freezer. Allow to thaw for only a few minutes and enjoy!

Memorial Day BBQ Menu & Recipes

Of course, you can throw the usual burgers and brats on the grill, but if you’re feeding more than a handful of people burgers can be dry or cold before your guests get one on a bun.  BBQ Pulled Pork and Pulled Chicken Sandwiches are an ideal choice to feed a crowd.  Easily prepared ahead of time an kept warm in a crockpot for serving gives you more time to attend to guests or other scheduled holiday eventsSee Special Note about Memorial Day below.

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Original recipe by Emeril; Recipe has been altered from original.
Serves 10
1           whole  boneless pork shoulder – (abt 4 lbs)
3 3/4   tablespoons  dark brown sugar
2 1/2    tablespoons  Emeril’s Essence
1 1/4    tablespoons  salt
1 1/4    tablespoons  cumin
1 1/4    tablespoons  paprika
1 1/4    tablespoons  freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4    tablespoons  cayenne
1           bottle  barbecue sauce (Show Me BBQ)
10        hamburger buns
2 1/2    cups  apple cider vinegar
1 1/4    tablespoons  dark brown sugar
1 1/4    tablespoons  red pepper flakes
1 1/4    tablespoons  freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/4    tablespoons  salt
Place the pork in a baking dish.  In a bowl, combine the sugar, Essence, salt, cumin, paprika, pepper, and cayenne.  Rub the seasoning evenly over the pork to coat.  Cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Wet Mop Basting Sauce:  The night before you cook the pork, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk well.  Refrigerate and let the flavors blend overnight.  (Makes 2 1/4 cups)

Preheat an oven or smoker to 225°.  Bring the pork to room temperature and place in a roasting pan, fat-side up.  Slow cook in the oven, basting with the Wet Mop Basting Sauce every hour, until tender and the internal temperature reaches 160°.  (The cooking should take about 6 to 7 hours.)  Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

With a knife and fork or two forks, pull the meat apart into small slices or chunks.  Toss with the barbecue sauce, to taste, and divide among the hamburger buns.  Top with coleslaw.

BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Serves 6-8
8      whole  chicken thigh — bone-in, skin removed
onion powder
granulated garlic
smoked paprika
sea salt and ground black pepper
1         7″x16″  cedar plank — untreated, designed for grilling
1         large  onion — peeled and quartered
1/4       cup  water
1 1/2    cups  ketchup
1 1/2    cups  apple cider
2        tablespoons  palm coconut sugar or brown sugar
3        tablespoons  Worcestershire sauce
4        tablespoons  Dijon mustard
1/3      cup  molasses
1/2      teaspoon  ground black pepper
4        tablespoons  apple cider vinegar
1         tablespoon  liquid smoke flavoring
1         tablespoon  olive oil
4       medium cloves  garlic — minced
1         tablespoon  chili powder
1/4      teaspoon  cayenne pepper or a splash or two of Chipotle Tobasco

Soak cedar plank in water for an hour or so. Remove skin from chicken thighs. Sprinkle both sides of chicken pieces with onion powder, granulated garlic, paprika, salt and pepper.

On a gas grill, place soaked cedar plank directly over medium heat and allow wood to get hot, 3-5 minutes. Place chicken directly on the cedar plank and cook over medium-low heat (this will depend on the grill, so you may have to adjust the temp to be sure the plank stays hot enough). As chicken cooks, rotate one or two pieces at a time and cook directly on the grill for a few minutes, then back to the plank. This will help the chicken cook through. During the cooking process, the wood plank will char and smoke which is ideal. If the wood should begin to catch fire, simply spray those parts with a little water.

Once the chicken is cooked through, transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and allow to cool until easy to handle. This is the time to make the sauce.

FOR THE SAUCE: Process onion and water in food processor until pureed. Pass mixture through fine-mesh strainer into liquid measuring cup, pressing on solids; this should produce approximately 3/4 cup strained onion juice. Discard solids.

Whisk onion puree, ketchup, apple cider, sugar, Worcestershire, mustard, molasses, pepper, cider vinegar, and liquid smoke together in medium bowl. Heat oil in nonreactive saucepan over medium heat until shimmering; add garlic, chili powder, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in ketchup mixture; increase heat to medium-high, bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, until flavors meld and sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. This will yield approximately 4 cups of sauce.

Remove chicken from the bone with fingers. Remove any gristle, fat, or connective tissue so that only the meat remains. Pull chicken meat apart so that it is in small strips and pieces.

To serve, toss chicken with desired amount of sauce in a separate large skillet or oven dish–add as little or as much sauce as you prefer. Extra sauce can be stored in the refrigerator. Heat chicken with sauce in the skillet over medium-low heat or in the oven at 350° until incorporated and heated through. Serve on whole wheat buns with coleslaw on top.

Baked Beans

Serves 8
1        pound  dry white beans
2        cups  hot water
1/2    pound  bacon — 1/2 cut into 1/4″ slices
1        medium  onion — chopped
1        cup  mild green chilies — chopped
2        cloves  garlic — minced
2        teaspoons  cider vinegar
1        tablespoon  Dijon mustard
2        tablespoons  brown sugar
1/4     cup  molasses
1/2     cup  Show-Me BBQ sauce — or favorite BBQ sauce
1         whole  bay leaf
1/2    teaspoon  black pepper
sea salt — to taste

Rinse and cover dry beans in water and 2 tablespoons of salt, soak overnight or for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse beans, cover beans with water and cook for 1-2 hours or until beans are tender.

In a skillet, fry the bacon pieces until fat is rendered and bacon is fairly crisp. Remove from skillet and set aside. Saute chopped onion in 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat until caramelized; add garlic and cook until fragrant.

Mix hot water, vinegar, mustard, sugar, molasses, bbq sauce, bay leaf, and pepper in a bowl until well combined. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning as desired.  Mix cooked beans, bacon, onions and garlic, and green chilies in a separate bowl until combined. Once mixed, pour into a large casserole dish and cover with the sauce mix. If needed, add additional water to cover the beans.

Cover and bake in slow oven 325º for 3-4 hours. Add liquid if necessary to keep beans just covered. For the last hour of baking, remove cover to allow sauce to evaporate and thicken, if needed. Remove bay leaf before serving.


Serves 6-8
3/4    cup  mayonnaise
1/4     cup  Dijon mustard
1/4     cup  packed brown sugar
3        tablespoons  apple cider vinegar
2        tablespoons  buttermilk
2        teaspoons  celery seeds
1/2    teaspoon  salt
1/4     teaspoon  black pepper
3        cups  shredded green cabbage — (about 1/2 head)
3        cups  shredded red cabbage — (about 1/2 head)
1/2     green bell pepper — finely diced
1         large  carrot — peeled and shredded
1/2     cup  grated yellow onion
1/4     cup  minced fresh parsley

In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, vinegar, buttermilk, celery seeds, salt and pepper; whisk well to dissolve the sugar.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Toss with the dressing until evenly coated.  Adjust seasoning, to taste.  Place in the refrigerator, covered, to chill and meld flavors for at least 1 hour before serving.

Bow Tie Pasta Salad

Serves 8-10
1          16-ounce package mini bow tie pasta — cooked and drained
1 1/2   cups  grape tomatoes — halved
1 1/2   cups  zucchini — coarsely chopped
1 1/2   cups  yellow summer squash — coarsely chopped
1          12-ounce jar  artichoke hearts — drained and quartered
1          whole  red pepper — chopped
1          can  sliced black olives — drained
1/2      cup  red onion — chopped fine
1          cup  feta cheese — crumbled
1          cup  Provolone cheese — 1/4″ dice
1/2      cup  fresh basil — chopped
1/2      cup fresh parley — chopped
vinaigrette or Italian dressing — as desired

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Toss with enough dressing to coat well just before serving.


Serves 8
3       medium  avocados — peeled and crushed
1        can  Rotel tomatoes — drained
1/2    cup  cilantro — chopped
1/2    cup  green onion — finely chopped
2        clove  garlic — minced
1/2    teaspoon  sea salt
3        tablespoons  red bell pepper — minced
1         tablespoon  fresh parsley — minced
1/4     teaspoon  onion powder
1/4     teaspoon  crushed red pepper — as desired
2         teaspoons  lime juice

Peel avocados and remove large seed in the center.  Drain Rotel tomatoes.  Chop onions and cilantro.  Mince garlic.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl; stir while smashing the avocados gently, leaving some chunks. Serve with tortilla chips.


Serves 8
1/3     yellow onions — chopped fine
1/4     Serrano pepper — chopped fine
1/4     green pepper — chopped fine
1/2     yellow chili pepper, mild — chopped fine
1         clove  garlic — chopped fine
5         Roma tomatoes — coarsely chopped
1/2     bunch cilantro leaves — coarsely chopped
2         teaspoons  lime juice
1/2     teaspoon  salt — to taste

Put garlic, peppers, and onion in food processor and pulse to chop fine. Cut stems off of cilantro just below leaves.  Add tomatoes and cilantro to processor and pulse to chop slowly so that tomatoes do not become too small.

Remove from processor and squeeze fresh lime over mixture, stir well.  Add salt and stir well. Serve with tortilla or pita chips.

NOTES: For hotter flavor use whole Serrano pepper.  For milder flavor use more tomatoes or less peppers.

Magic Cookie Bars

Yields 24  bars
1/2       cup  butter
1 1/2    cups  graham cracker crumbs
1           can  sweetened condensed milk — 14 oz.
2          cups  Ghirardelli double chocolate chips — 12 oz package
1 1/3    cups  flaked coconut
1           cup  chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350° (325° for a glass dish). In a 13×9 inch pan, melt butter in oven.  Sprinkle crumbs over butter; pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumbs.  Layer evenly with remaining ingredients; press down firmly.  Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool.  Chill if desired.  Cut into bars.  Store loosely covered at room temperature.

Posted on the following Blog Hops:
Real Food Whole Health Traditional Tuesdays
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania
Hearth & Soul Hop
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday

Special Note

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service.  All holidays are difficult for families who have lost loved ones, but Memorial Day must be especially difficult to process as others plan picnics and backyard parties.  Parades, street fairs, vacation plans coincide with graveside visits.

This is an excerpt from an article featured in The Gazette, What to say to grieving families, and why it’s important to remember, about the grief families experience as they remember those they have lost:

“But after the crowds go home, grief is rarely tidy, say those who have lost a child in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some people inadvertently contribute to the heartache with awkward talk of closure or a tone-deafness about the significance of Memorial Day.”

So what expressions of sympathy are truly helpful?

“The kindest thing you can do is just say, ‘Tell me about him,’ because if you don’t talk, you get sick. I’ve had some terrible times after Jake was killed, but for me, being of service is the way to go. I’d hope Jake would say, ‘I’m proud of you, Pops.'”

Read the full article here.

Test Kitchen Tuesdays: Homemade Oreos

I thought it would be nice to try a new cookie recipe for Test Kitchen Tuesday this week. Although we do not eat sweets much anymore, I am still open to treats worthy of a special occasion. Since Oreos are made with hydrogenated oils, a homemade version could prove to be a great alternative. This recipe looked promising and versatile—if the cookie part turns out well it could be used for ice cream sandwiches or even crushed for chocolate pie crust.  Hope you can join me in baking a batch!

In the next week or so:

1.  Make the recipe (posted below)
2.  Leave a comment describing your experience, opinion, adjustments, or suggestions.  ♥ If you do focus on altering it to economize, choose healthier ingredients or techniques, make it gluten-free/allergy sensitive, embellish for entertaining, or incorporate into batch/once-a-month cooking, please mention that too.
3.  Subscribe to comments so you can see what others have done.
4.  If you are feeling especially proud of your creation, snap a photo and send it to me at so it can be included.

A change in the method: Use a cookie cutter to make perfect sized sandwich cookies.

Homemade Oreos

Yields 16 to 18 sandwich cookies

For the cookies:
1          cup  unsalted butter — (2 sticks/228 grams) melted and cooled slightly
3/4     cup  granulated sugar — (150 grams)
1           teaspoon  vanilla extract
1           cup  semisweet chocolate chips — (200 grams) melted and cooled slightly
1           egg
1 1/2  cup  unbleached all-purpose flour — (210 grams)
3/4     cup  Dutch-processed cocoa powder — (90 grams)
1           teaspoon  kosher salt
1/2      teaspoon baking soda

For the vanilla cream filling:
1/2      cup  unsalted butter — (1 stick) softened
1 2/3   cup  confectioners sugar
1           teaspoon  vanilla extract
1           tablespoon  milk
pinch  kosher salt

In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter and granulated sugar until well combined. Whisk in the vanilla and chocolate. Add the egg and whisk until thoroughly incorporated.

In another medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda until well mixed. Using a wooden spoon, stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. The dough will start to seem too floury, and you will find it easiest to switch to mixing it with your hands until it comes together. It will have the consistency of Play-Doh. Let the dough sit at room temperature for about 1 hour to firm up.

Transfer the dough to a 15-inch square sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Using your hands, shape the dough into a rough log about 10 inches long and 2-1/2 inches in diameter. Place the log at the edge of the sheet of parchment paper, and roll the parchment around the log. With the log fully encased in parchment, roll it into a smoother log, keeping it at 2-1/2 inches in diameter. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until firm. The log may settle and sink a bit in the fridge, so re-roll it every 15 minutes or so to maintain a nice round log, if you like. If not, your cookies will be more oblong than round, which is not a bad thing taste-wise, though they won’t look like the famous packaged cookie. (At this point, the dough log can be well wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month. If the dough is frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding.)

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or butter it.

Cut the dough log into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place the slices about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cookies are firm to the touch. Check them frequently after 16 or 17 minutes, poking them in the middle. As soon as they feel firm to the touch, remove them from the oven. You can’t judge by color because they start out black. Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack to warm or room temperature. They don’t have to cool completely before you fill them, but you can’t fill them while they are hot.

While the cookies are cooling, make the frosting. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer), beat the butter on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until completely smooth and soft. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and beat until the mixture is perfectly smooth. Add the milk and salt and again beat until smooth. It will look like white spackle and feel about the same—like putty. You can also mix this frosting by hand. Make sure the butter is very soft, and use your hands to mix and knead the confectioners’ sugar into the butter. You should have about 1 cup. (The filling can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before using.)

Scoop about 1 rounded tablespoon of the filling onto the bottom of 1 cookie. Top with a second cookie, bottom side down, then press the cookies together to spread the filling toward the edges. Repeat until all of the cookies are filled.