Victoria's Vegetarian Victuals

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

Chocolate Slab Cake

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

Candied Oranges Dipped in Chocolate

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

Rich Chocolate Cake With Creamy Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Frosting

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

Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

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

Chocolate Mudslide Frozen Pie

5. Chocolate Mudslide Frozen Pie
Take along this dessert to a party or serve as an after-dinner delight. The chocolate crumb crust is spread with a mixture of sour cream, melted chocolate chips and coffee. Covering that is a whipped topping followed by a sprinkling of mini-chocolate chips.
  • 1 prepared 9-inch (9-oz.) chocolate crumb crust
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 1 teaspoon hot water
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt 1 cup morsels in a small, heavy-duty saucepan over the lowest possible heat. When the morsels begin to melt, remove from the heat; stir. Return to the heat for a few seconds at a time, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat; cool for 10 minutes.

Combine the coffee granules and water in a medium bowl. Add the sour cream, granulated sugar and vanilla extract; stir until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the melted chocolate until smooth. Spread into the crust; chill.

Beat the cream, powdered sugar and cocoa in a small mixer bowl until stiff peaks form. Spread or pipe the mixture over the chocolate layer. Sprinkle with mini morsels. Freeze for at least 6 hours or until firm.

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes plus freezing time

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Pie

6. Peanut Butter Ice Cream Pie
  • 1 (18-oz.) package refrigerated peanut butter chocolate chip cookie

    dough, softened, divided

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter, divided
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream, softened
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts, plus extra for sprinkling, if desired
  • 3 tablespoons chocolate flavor syrup

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 prepared pie plate.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown; flatten down the dough with the back of spoon to form a pie shell. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Spread ¼ cup peanut butter over the crust. Mix the ice cream, remaining peanut butter and ¼ cup peanuts in a medium bowl. Spoon into the cookie crust; spread evenly. Drizzle with chocolate syrup and additional peanuts. Freeze for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Bake the remaining cookie dough according to the package directions. Cool completely on a wire rack; crumble the cookies.

Thaw the pie for 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle the cookie crumbs over the pie; cut into wedges.

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes plus freezing time

Quick Brownie Sundae

7. Quick Brownie Sundae
A great party dessert for kids.
  • 1 (18-oz.) package refrigerated brownie or walnut brownie bar dough
  • 1 quart ice cream
  • 1 cup whipped cream
  • 1/2 cup chocolate flavor syrup
  • 6 tablespoons miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 maraschino cherries

Prepare the brownies according to the package directions. Cool for 20 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into 12 pieces.

Place 2 brownies in each sundae dish. Top with ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, morsels and cherries.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 35 minutes

Sensational Irish Cream Cheesecake

8. Sensational Irish Cream Cheesecake
It is truly sensational and too good to only make for St Patrick's Day!
  • 1 3/4 cups finely crushed chocolate graham crackers
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 recipe filling, (as follows)
  • 3 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup Irish cream liqueur, (up to 1/2 cup)
  • 3/4 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Grease a 9-inch spring form pan.

For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs and butter in a medium bowl; stir until crumbly. Press onto the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the prepared pan.

For the filling, beat the cream cheese and sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the liqueur.

Combine 1/2 cup morsels and flour in small bowl; gently stir into the cream cheese mixture. Pour into the crust. Sprinkle the remaining morsels on top.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the edge is set but the center still moves slightly. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the side of the pan. Cover; refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate curls, if desired.

For Sensational Mocha Cheesecake, SUBSTITUTE 1/4 cup half-and-half or milk, 2 tablespoons cooled coffee and 1 teaspoon almond extract for the liqueur. Prepare as above.

  • Yields: 16 servings
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes plus refrigeration time

Famous Fudge

9. Famous Fudge
This famous fudge will make you a star. Don't skip the nuts with their

crunchy touch.

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line a 8-inch-square baking pan with foil.

Combine the sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Stir in the marshmallows, morsels, nuts and vanilla extract. Stir vigorously for 1 minute or until the marshmallows are melted. Pour into the prepared baking pan; refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Lift from the pan; remove the foil. Cut into pieces.

For milk chocolate fudge, SUBSTITUTE 1 3/4 cups (11.5-ounce package) Milk Chocolate Morsels for the Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels.

For butterscotch fudge, SUBSTITUTE 1 2/3 cups (11-ounce package) Butterscotch Flavored Morsels for the Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels.

For mint chocolate fudge, SUBSTITUTE 1 1/2 cups (10-ounce package) Mint-Chocolate Morsels for the Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels.

  • Yields: 24 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Easy Chocolate Mousse

10. Easy Chocolate Mousse
If desired, ensure that your eggs are salmonella-free by treating them using the method below*.
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate

Prepare a mold for the mousse by placing a foil collar around a 6-cup baking dish so that it extends 2 inches higher than lip of dish. Using a mixer, beat the egg whites in a medium mixing bowl until very foamy. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and beat until stiff. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks until very thick and lemon colored; mix in the vanilla. Beat the cream in a large bowl, until foamy, but not stiff. Add the remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar and continue beating until stiff. Gently fold in the egg whites and yolks until well combined. Pour 1/3 of the mixture into the prepared mold and refrigerate until set.

Meanwhile, melt the semi-sweet chocolate in the top of a double boiler until just smooth; cool slightly. Fold into 1/2 of the remaining mousse mixture. Spread this on top of the chilled mousse and place back in the refrigerator until set.

Melt the remaining unsweetened chocolate; cool slightly. Combine with the remaining mousse mixture and pour over the chilled mousse. Cover with foil and chill for 24 hours.

If desired, invert the mousse onto a serving platter and serve. Suggested garnishes include mint sprigs, chocolate and white chocolate shavings, cocoa powder or edible flower petals.

*For salmonella-safe egg whites, you will need:
  • a medium stainless steel bowl
  • a wooden or plastic stirring spoon
  • a heat-resistant rubber spatula
  • a medium skillet
  • a quick-read kitchen thermometer

Place the egg whites in a bowl. For each white, add 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon water, and 1/16 teaspoon cream of tartar. Stir gently, breaking up the egg whites, but not raising any foam. Set aside.

In a skillet, heat 1 inch of water to a simmer and remove from the heat. Place the bowl in the hot water and begin stirring and scraping constantly with rubber spatula to prevent overheating. After 1 minute of constant stirring, remove the bowl from the hot water and check the temperature with a thermometer (tilt the bowl if necessary to have about 2 inches of white covering the thermometer stem).

The temperature must reach 160°F. If not, place the bowl back in the hot water and resume scraping in 15-second increments until the temperature reaches 160°F. Rinse off the thermometer in the hot pan water between each use.

When the desired temperature is reached, proceed with recipe.

*For salmonella-safe egg yolks or whole eggs, you will need:
  • a small, heavy saucepan
  • a heatproof, 2-cup glass measuring cup
  • a large stainless steel mixing bowl
  • a wooden or plastic stirring spoon
  • a quick-read kitchen thermometer

Place the eggs or yolks in a saucepan. Add the liquid from the recipe (2 tablespoons of liquid per yolk). Stir gently just to combine.

Fill a measuring cup 2/3 full with boiling-hot water.

Prepare the bowl by half-filling it with ice water.

Heat the eggs or yolks over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160°F. Between each use, rinse off the thermometer in the hot water. When the desired temperature is reached, place the saucepan in the bowl of ice water to stop the heating process. When cooled, proceed with recipe.

  • Yields: 12 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes plus refrigeration time