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September 2001 Issue
Annual Chocolate Column
by Victoria Smith
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The summer is almost over. School will be opening soon, and the kids will need snacks in their lunches, and after school, too. I have put together some treats that are guaranteed to please just about any kid, anytime, anywhere.

However, I am going to try them out on a kid, just to be sure.

My niece will be here visiting me for a week. Among other things, I am going to take her to New Jersey, to see the Atlantic Ocean, near our house down there. And of course, I'm going to spoil her as thoroughly as I can. She's i11, and her name is Natasha.

Natasha has a puppy, but because she lives in an apartment, and can't keep him there, we have had him here with us since he was eight weeks old. He is five months old now, and Tash hasn't seen him.

I just can't wait until she sees how big he has grown. He is a German Shepherd-Labrador crossbreed, and his name is Baxter. He's sweet, but whacky, like most puppies his age. He's a handsome young dog, and he loves to play with our German Shepherd, Lorelei.

So, between the Ocean at the Atlantic Highlands cliffs at Twin Lights, her overgrown puppy, Baxter, and a load of chocolate recipes, I hope to show my special little buddy a very good time.

Here's your special column, Tash. Enjoy!

Love, Aunt Vicky


1. Chocolate Slab Cake

This is a great recipe for a moist chocolate slab cake that needs no filling and is quick and easy to make.
  • 225 g/ 8 oz butter
  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 150 ml water
  • 300 g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 275 g soft brown sugar
  • 150 ml soured cream
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp single cream
  • 1 tbsp butter, chilled
Grease a 13 x 8 inch square cake tin. In a saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate with the water over a low heat. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl and stir in the sugar. Pour the hot chocolate liquid into the bowl and then beat well until all of the ingredients are evenly mixed. Stir in the soured cream, followed by the eggs. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes on Gas mark 5 (350 degrees). Leave the cake to cool in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack. Leave to cool completely.

To make the frosting, melt the chocolate with the water in a saucepan over a low heat, stir in the cream and remove from the heat. Stir in the chilled butter, and then pour the icing over the cake using a spatula to spread evenly.

  • Yields: 1 8" x 13" cake
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour


2. Candied Oranges Dipped in Chocolate

Tangy oranges and creamy chocolate are an unbeatable combination. They look fancy and colorful, and are easy to make. A Christmas favorite! (But why wait?)
  • 4 Valencia oranges
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups Sugar, as needed for coating
  • 2 pounds semisweet coating chocolate (reserve a 2-oz chunk), chopped into small pieces
Cut the oranges in half lengthwise. With the cut side down, slice the oranges crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces. Discard the ends. In a 10-inch sauté pan, combine the water and the 3 1/2 cups of sugar. Stir to blend, then bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the orange slices, separating them, and simmer them gently for 1 hour uncovered. Periodically dunk any floating slices. Remove the pan from the heat and cool to room temperature.

Remove the orange slices with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a cooling rack set over a baking sheet to let them drain and dry 24 hours. After drying the slices, toss them in the granulated sugar and reserve them. Do not stack them or let them stick together.

While you are coating the orange slices, have the chocolate melting slowly in the top of a double boiler over 120°F water. Add water occasionally to maintain that temperature. When all of the chocolate is melted and creamy and registers 100°F on an instant read thermometer, remove the top section of the double boiler. Add the 2-ounce chunk of reserved chocolate and stir gently until the thermometer reads 88°F to 91°F, then remove what remains of the chunk of chocolate. Now dip the orange slices 2/3 of the way into the chocolate. Gently scrape off excess chocolate against the side of the pan and set on a sheet of wax paper to set. Work quickly with the slices. If the chocolate becomes too thick for dipping, place it over the 120°F water again until it has reached 88°F to 91°F.

Tip: Valencia oranges are the best since the skin and 'meat' seem to remain connected better than with navel oranges.

  • Yields: 50 slices
  • Preparation Time: 1 day


3. Rich Chocolate Cake With Creamy Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Frosting

Like a chocolate-covered peanut butter cup, this yummy cake blends two favorite flavors in one treat. Chocolate curls are a simple way to decorate.
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 (11-oz.) package peanut butter and milk chocolate chips, divided
  • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 (2-oz.) semi-sweet chocolate baking bars, for curls
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9-inch-round cake pans.

Combine the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixer bowl. Add the milk, water, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract; blend until moistened. Beat for 2 minutes (batter will be thin). Pour into the prepared pans. Sprinkle 1/3 cup morsels over each cake.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove from the pans to cool completely. Frost each cake with Creamy Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Frosting between the layers and on the top and sides of cake. Garnish with chocolate curls before serving.

To make the frosting, microwave the remaining morsels in a small, microwave-safe bowl on MEDIUM-HIGH (70%) power for 1 minute; stir. Microwave at additional 10- to 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth. Beat the cream cheese, melted morsels, vanilla extract and salt in small mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar.

Carefully draw a vegetable peeler across a bar of semi-sweet chocolate to make the chocolate curls. Vary the width of your curls by using different sides of the chocolate bar.

Tip: Soft chocolate doesn't shave very well, so refrigerate your chocolate bar before making the curls.

  • Yields: 12 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour


4. Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

Banana cream pie made easy! A chocolate chip and white fudge cookie dough crust makes the dessert.
  • 1 (18-oz.) package refrigerated chocolate chip & white fudge cookie dough, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1 (4-oz.) package banana cream or vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix
  • 2 medium bananas, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons chocolate flavor syrup
  • 3 tablespoons miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch pie plate.

Press ¾ package cookie dough* onto the bottom and up the sides of a pie plate.

Bake the "crust" for 18 to 24 minutes, or until golden brown; flatten the dough down with back of a spoon to form a pie shell. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Beat the milk and pudding mix according to package directions in small bowl; refrigerate for 5 minutes. Spread 1 cup of the pudding over the cookie crust (save remaining pudding for a later use). Top the pudding with bananas; spread with whipped topping. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until set. Drizzle with chocolate syrup; top with morsels. Cut into wedges.

*Bake the remaining dough for an additional treat the kids (and grownups) will love!

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

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