Tag Archives: chocolate

Caramel Macchiato Popcorn Balls

Why shouldn’t adults enjoy the whimsical play of a dessert on a stick?  Here’s a popcorn ball that’s not just for kids!

Traditional popcorn balls are usually loaded with gooey sweetness, but I’ve created a contemporary version with more grown-up appeal.  These coffeehouse-inspired popcorn balls are made with caramel, chocolate and espresso powder—what a combination!

Did you know that macchiato means marked or stained?  In this case, the popcorn is “marked” with a little espresso.  You have to try them—I’ve already eaten 3.  Okay, maybe 4!!!!

as photographed by our team, alacartepartners

Caramel Macchiato Popcorn Balls
Makes 6 popcorn balls

8 cups popped popcorn
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon warm water
20 caramels, unwrapped
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 popsicle or craft sticks

– Place popcorn in large bowl. In small bowl, stir together espresso powder and warm water.

– In medium glass bowl, microwave caramels, chocolate chips and espresso mixture on HIGH (100%) power, 1 and 1/2 minutes. Stir
mixture until completely melted.
– Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and quickly stir until popcorn is well coated.  Using greased  hands, shape mixture into 6 balls.
Insert a stick into each ball.

– Store in airtight container up to 1 week.

Tips

– You can use store-bought popcorn; air popped popcorn or your favorite microwave popcorn.

– For a sweeter treat, use kettle corn.

– Instead of forming the popcorn mixture into balls, spread it in single layer on a baking sheet.  Let sit for 30 minutes and break into clusters.

– For added coffeehouse flavor, stir 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon into the espresso mixture.

Cathy

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Filed under Caramels, Chocolate, Dessert, Popcorn, Snacks

Double the Chocolate Strawberries

I can’t think of an easier dessert that yields as many “oohs” and “ahhs” as chocolate dipped strawberries. Perfect on their own, and truly elegant when garnishing a plate of cookies or brownies, these berries are a hit every time. As easy as they are to make, there are a couple of secrets for success: 1) use the freshest ripe berries you can find (local is best!) 2) do not burn the chocolate and 3) always make more berries than you need or keep them hidden until guests arrive! So, here, in honor of strawberry season, we give you:

Double the Chocolate Strawberries
Makes 12 dipped strawberries

1 dozen medium-size fresh strawberries, rinsed and patted dry
4 squares (4 ounces) semi-sweet baking chocolate
2 squares (2 ounces) white chocolate

– Line a baking sheet with wax paper. In small glass bowl, microwave chocolate on HIGH (100%) power for 1 minute. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. (If, after stirring well, there is still some unmelted chocolate,  microwave for another 10 seconds, then stir until melted).

– Hold strawberry by stem and dip into the melted chocolate, covering about 3/4 of the berry. Gently shake off excess chocolate and  place on wax paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes.

– In small glass bowl, microwave white chocolate on MEDIUM (50%) power for 1 minute. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Carefully transfer melted chocolate to a zipper-style plastic sandwich bag. Squeeze out excess air and seal bag.

– Using scissors, snip a tiny corner of the bag. Squeeze chocolate from bag onto the dipped berries, using a random pattern. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes. Transfer berries to serving platter. Leftovers (ha!) may be stored in the refrigerator overnight.

Tips

– Recipe can easily be doubled, tripled and more!!!!

– Triple Chocolate? I like the way you think! Using dark (bittersweet) chocolate, follow the same procedure for the white chocolate. Pipe or drizzle in a criss-cross pattern over the white chocolate. Pretty!

– I am a big fan of Baker’s Chocolate Baking Squares, and you can find them in any supermarket.

– Think outside the strawberry! Try dipping kiwi slices, banana halves, pineapple chunks, and more. The trick is to pat the fruit dry before dipping.

Heather

2 Comments

Filed under Berries, Chocolate, Dessert, Entertaining, Sweets

Best-dressed Chocolate Truffle Cake

To bake or not to bake? That is often the question in our hurried world. We all like to serve up something special, but we do not always have the luxury of time. My cousin ML, who lives in New York City, likes to say “If I can buy it within a six-block radius, I consider it homemade!” Luckily, as my cousin could attest,

there are an increasing number of top-quality desserts available in the freezer section of better grocery stores.

It’s easy to dress up a store-bought confection, especially if you start with a quality product. In this photo, one of my favorites from alacarte, our food stylist Cathy Paukner began with a boxed and frozen single-layer chocolate truffle cake. Using a fine mesh sieve, she dusted it lightly with unsweetened cocoa powder, and added a few luscious fresh raspberries and a sprig of mint. Presented on a pretty pink porcelain plate, the dessert looks as if you had spent hours in the kitchen baking and garnishing, when in fact, all you did was purchase and thaw. Wouldn’t “Purchase & Thaw” be a great name for a new food blog? Maybe my cousin could start it…

Heather

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Filed under Chocolate, Dessert, Entertaining, Foodies

Do You Fondue ?

I used to think fondue was a throwback from the 1970’s.  Remember those bright-colored earthenware pots with those tiny little forks? But fondue is not just a throwback anymore. Last week, I was in Trader Joe’s desperately  looking for a quick, but interesting appetizer to serve to last-minute guests.

In the cheese section, I happened upon a package of Swiss Beer Fondue that just called for heating and serving. Perfect!  I don’t have one of those vintage bright-colored pots but, having a food background, I knew I didn’t need one.  I figured I could heat the fondue in the microwave oven or in a double-boiler just before serving and it would be fine.  And sure enough, it was.  I served the fondue in small ramekins and when it needed to be re-warmed, I just put it in the microwave for about 15 seconds.  I served the fondue with chunks of warm crisp sourdough bread and fresh veggies.  Perfect with a cold beer or glass of wine. And my guests loved it!

If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s in your area (you poor soul!), I have noticed pre-packaged cheese fondue in the produce sections of supermarkets.

Another way to “fondue”  is to make a dessert fondue.  Dark, milk or white chocolate fondues are delicious served with strawberries, pound cake or angel food cake cubes, biscotti, ladyfingers, marshmallows, banana chunks, pretzel rods, and more.  Flavor the chocolate with your favorite liqueur or extract.

Here’s a quick recipe:

Easy Chocolate Fondue

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

1 cup heavy cream
12 ounces chocolate (semi-sweet, milk, bittersweet, or white), chopped
2 tablespoons favorite liqueur (such as Chambord, Grand Marnier, or Creme de Menthe) or 1/4 teaspoon favorite extract flavoring (optional)

– Heat cream in small heavy saucepan over medium heat just until small bubbles appear around edge of pan.  DO NOT BOIL.

– Remove pan from heat; add chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted.  Stir in liqueur, if desired.

– Serve warm directly from pan.  If fondue gets too thick, thin with 1 tablespoon heavy cream.

Tip

– For a Mexican favor, using the darker chocolate, add  1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon and 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper. Olé

Cathy

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Filed under Appetizer, Dessert, Snacks