Tag Archives: chocolate

Individual Cheesecakes

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Allison wanted her birthday cake to be cheesecake. And as always, I had to do something special. Since different folks like different tastes, I decided to make individual cheesecakes with a smorgasbord of sauces. Each cheesecake is about the size of a cupcake, and is complete in itself. And then there are the toppings with which each person can choose and complement their cheesecake. All the recipes are in this article, even if some have appeared earlier in other articles.

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For toppings, I made a ganache, a caramel, a praline sauce, lemon curd, strawberries, blueberries, and pumpkin. The latter is because this year we celebrate Alli’s birthday on Halloween, and Halloween goes well with pumpkin cheesecake.

I obviously made way too many, and too much toppings. I was surprised to find that the lemon curd and the strawberries were probably the favorites, with the caramel running third. The ganache was not a favorite; as daughter Mindy told me later- who wants chocolate with cheesecake? Cheesecake is almost the anti-chocolate food.- She also said that she felt pumpkin mousse was not a topping for cheesecake, but if you want a pumpkin cheesecake, you should put the pumpkin in the cheese layer.

Individual Cheesecakes


  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 3 pkg (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 cups Sour Cream at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

The above Ingredient list is broken into 3 parts- bottom crust, middle filling, and topping.


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Put cupcake papers into the bottom of 18 muffin cups
  3. For the crust, mix the graham crumbs, 2 Tablespoons sugar and butter until well blended, and press into the bottoms of the cupcake papers.
  4. For the filling, beat the cream cheese, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 3/4 cup sugar until blended. Add the eggs, one at a time mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Spoon over the crusts.
  5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until the centers are almost set.
  6. For the topping, combine the sour cream, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a small bowl. Spread over the surface of the warm cupcakes. Return the cupcakes to the oven and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or over night.
  7. Remove the cupcake papers and arrange the individual cheesecakes for serving.

Since I made the seven toppings, I will give you recipes for each of them although you should probably only focus on a couple or three for your serving.

Ganache is a mixture of heavy cream and chocolate. I have used several of these in the past and am providing you with a pointer to some of those recipes as well as giving you a recipe herein. Perhaps the best previous recipe was with the home-made Ding Dongs. In that case, We wanted the ganache to set since it was an outside coating, and we wanted it to be shiny. So the amount of chocolate was more than the amount of cream, and we added fat (butter) for the gloss. Likewise, for holding cake pops together, we use a ganache. The recipe in the cake pop article is not strong enough compared to the recipe for white chocolate ganache in the Icings, Frostings and Glazes article; you really need a 4 to 1 ratio of chocolate to cream for cake pops. Here, we want a fairly liquid ganache, and use a 1 to 1 ratio.



  • 8 oz. Chocolate Pieces (any flavor or type, including white)
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream


  1. Place the chocolate in a microwave proof bowl
  2. Heat the cream in a sauce pan until small bubbles start to appear around the edges (just to a boil but not boiling!)
  3. Remove from the heat, and pour over the chocolate.
  4. Let the mixture sit undisturbed for 5 minutes
  5. Stir until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth

An alternative approach is to place the ingredients in a double boiler over simmering water and cook, stirring until it is smooth and all the chocolate is melted. Since the chocolate is in a heat proof bowl, and the sauce pan is out, this should be an easy change from heating the cream separately and waiting for the chocolate to melt.

Caramel is a mixture of heavy cream and sugar. Most of the caramel I have used I have made from salted caramel chips, and used a ganache recipe; it works. However, if you want a straight caramel without salt, then the recipe I have in the Guinness Gingerbread Cupcakes article does a nice job.



  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cool it to room temperature and refrigerate it in a covered container. Reheat over low heat until smooth and spreadable.

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a sauce pan.
  2. Add the brown sugar and cream. Stir with a whisk until the sauce bubbles and gets sticky, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the vanilla and salt.

If ganache is Chocolate and Cream, and Caramel is Sugar and Cream, then I would say that Praline is Sugar and Sugar; it is a very sweet sauce, and this recipe adds chopped pecans to give it more of that Southern flavor.

Praline Sauce


  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespooons cornstarch
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In a small heavy sauce pan, stir together the brown sugar and cornstarch
  2. Stir in the corn syrup and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the nuts and vanilla.
  4. Cool slightly, and serve.

I tried many recipes for a lemon sauce, and found I didn’t like any of them. Then I found this recipe for Lemon Curd, and the way the people at the party liked it, I think it is a real winner. As one person said, “I can’t wait to have my toast with lemon curd in the morning”.

Lemon Curd


  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks in addition
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest


  1. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, beating each into the mixture. Mix in the lemon juice. The mixture will look lumpy but will smooth out in the next step as it is cooked.
  2. In a heavy bottom sauce pan, cook the mixture over low heat until it smooths out. The lumpy appearance disappears as the butter in the mixture melts. Increase the heat to medium and continue to cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. The thickened mixture should leave a path on the back of a spoon, and will read 170 degrees F on a thermometer. Don’t let the mixture go beyond 170 degrees, or boil.
  3. Remove the mixture from the heat, and stir in the lemon zest. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and press plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming. Chill the curd in the refrigerator; it will thicken as it cools.

The curd will keep in the refrigerator for a couple weeks, and can be frozen for a couple months.

For the strawberries, I made the Strawberry Sauce recipe that is macerated strawberries. Again, I had tried several different recipes to get a good strawberry sauce, and finally settle on this one; it is juicy and sweet.



  • 16 oz. strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice


  1. Mix the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice, cover, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Taste the resulting sauce, and if not sweet enough, add more sugar. Some recipes go to 1/2 cup of sugar, while others start with only 2 Tablespoons of sugar.

I started with the idea that I would macerate the blueberries, but then, who would want smashed blueberries. They really would not be very appetizing. So I left the blueberries whole; maceration seems to need the fruit to be cut, or opened such that its juices can flow.


For this “sauce” I added a couple tablespoons of sugar and some lemon zest to the blueberries, but next time, nothing but the berries. I think the zest turned people off; blueberry lovers want the simple pure fruit!

So finally, here is the pumpkin mousse that Mindy said was not proper for a cheesecake; she said the pumpkin should be cooked into the cheese layer of the cheesecake and not painted on top. However, this mousse would make an excellent filling for a simple pie- say graham cracker crust. And it would require no cooking- ready in a jiffy!

Pumpkin mousse


  • 2 small boxes of instant vanilla pudding (sugar free is okay)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 -15 oz. can pure pumpkin/pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp clove


  1. In a large bowl, combine the vanilla pudding mix, milk, pumpkin and spices.
  2. Whisk until smooth

That is all there is too making the mousse. Use it as you like.

S’more Pops

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I saw this idea and it is so simple I just had to try it, and yes, then give it to you. It looks to me that it would be a good way to involve the children; they can do everything but melt the chocolate. An adult should do that, but once melted, its temperature is only about 90 degrees F, so it is less than body temperature and not a danger for the children.

I say an adult should melt the chocolate because whether you do it on the stove using a Bain Marie, or in the microwave with several 10-20 second shots, neither of those techniques are for the younger children.

I think everything is fairly clear from the photo; Start by pushing a pretzel stick into the marshmallow. Then dip the marshmallow in the melted chocolate; I like the idea of leaving part of the marshmallow showing since a S’more shows the marshmallow. While the chocolate is still wet on the pop, dip it in the graham cracker crumbs. Then set it on a piece of parchment paper for a few minutes to let the chocolate harden. That is all there is to it! I did learn that the chocolate in the dipping pot will start to set up and harden after 10 or 12 pops have been dipped, and I reheated mine in the microwave for 5 seconds to get it melted again.

Magic Cookies

There is probably few cookies that are as rich as Magic Cookies. When I asked the daughters what cookies they wanted me to bake for the Holidays, Magic Cookies was easily the first choice of all.

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In many senses, Magic Cookies are a lot like a candy bar; there is the chocolate, the coconut, the condensed milk and the nuts with just enough other ingredients to hold each Magic Cookie bar together.

Magic Cookies


  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup (6 oz pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 1/3 cups (3 1/2 oz.) flaked coconut
  • 15 oz. can Eagle Sweetened Condensed Milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees In a 13 x 9 x 2″ pan, layer ingredients evenly in the order given; butter, crumbs, nuts, chocolate morsels, coconut and milk. Bake about 25 minutes or until lighty browned on top.

Cool in pan about one hour before cutting into bars.

This recipe is so easy that I really don’t have any hints or suggestions.

Chocolate Filled Bon Bons

This is a easy, simple recipe for cookies that contain a surprise. The center of the cookie is filled with chocolate. And the dough of the cookie is tasty in itself. You can have fun making these cookies with your own ideas of what to put in the center.
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When the recipe came to us, there was only one kind of Candy Kiss – milk chocolate. Now, when I go to the store, I have to make a decision about the kind of Candy Kiss I want to use- original milk chocolate, dark chocolate, almond –center kisses. The list seems endless. I went for the dark chocolate kisses this time.

I have tried other fillings for the Bon Bons, but nothing works as well as the Candy Kisses. One filling I tried was reconstituted dry cherries. I had a partial bag of dry cherries, and thought I would try them. So I soaked then in Kirsh to make them soft again, and then made a recipe of Bon Bons using the soft cherries as the centers. I was disappointed in the outcome; the Bon Bon dough does not cling to the cherries, and so on the first bite, the cherry comes out leaving only the Bon Bon dough for the second bite.

Chocolate Filled Bon Bons

  • 3/4 cup Crisco
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup very finely ground nuts (pecans or almonds)
  • 1/2 bag chocolate kisses (Hershey’s?)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove foil from 1/2 bag of chocolate kisses. Cream together Crisco and both sugars. Add egg, vanilla and extract. Beat well. Add flour, baking powder, salt and nuts.

Form dough into 1″ balls. Press each ball around a chocolate kiss so that the kiss is completely enclosed. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes—do not overbake. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

You may decorate the tops of cooled cookies with frosting and sprinkles. Or, sprinkle tops of uncooked cookies with chocolate shot.

For the ground nuts, I used almonds; that seemed to make more sense to me since the dough also has almond extract.

To measure out an approximate 1 inch ball of dough, I used one of my many scoops. The smallest one that isn’t marked with a size appears to be about 1 inch in diameter. I seem to use it a lot, as for when I make truffles. I attempted to measure it, and it would be size 128 or 1/4th ounce.

After I have a ball of dough for a cookie, I press the center material into the ball, and then slowly stretch and mold the dough around that center. It is easier than what I can make it sound.
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You will notice in the pictures that some of the Bon Bons have a pink star on the top; that was to identify what I had used in the center of the cookie. Pink was for the red cherries.

Kentucky Chocolate Cake

What’s is not to like about a chocolate cake? And this one is especially chocolate; it has a whole can of Hershey’s Syrup in the batter, then chocolate chips in the frosting!
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Catharine Fujii is my sister and at one time, her family lived in Kentucky. It was back then that she gave Marlys this recipe.

Kentucky Chocolate Cake

(Catharine Fujii, 1970s)


  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup) at room temperature.
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 16 oz. can Hershey chocolate syrup

Grease a 9 x 13″ pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar. Add one at a time eggs, beating well after each. Add flour, baking powder and vanilla. Fold in Hershey syrup.

Bake for 35 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and then pour icing over the top while still in pan. Serve from the pan.


  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 2/3 cup carnation evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 oz. package chocolate chips, semi-sweet

Mix sugar, butter and milk in medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add vanilla and chocolate chips.

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A 9×13 pan of this rich cake is more than a single person should try to eat, and so in late 2012, I decided to try making a smaller version of the cake, and I had success. I had a 6×9 inch pan which is 54 sq. in. versus 117 sq. in. for the 9×13; that comes close to being 50%. So I cut the cake recipe in half- half a stick of butter, half a cup of sugar, 2 eggs, half a cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 8 oz. Hershey’s chocolate syrup. I got the chocolate syrup by measuring 8 oz. by weight from one of the 24 oz. plastic bottles of chocolate syrup. The only other change I made was to reduce the cooking time by 5 minutes to just 30 minutes and the cake came out perfectly.

In November of 2013, I made the half-recipe into 12 cupcakes; the measure is perfect for making 12 cupcakes. The only change I had to make was in the cooking time; I reduced the cooking time to 20 minutes. This was when I made the turtle pull-apart cake.

One thing I don’t like about this cake is the icing; I feel it has too much of a crystallized sugar taste. It may be something I am not doing well when making the icing. But I decided to try something different for the frosting. I made a chocolate glaze that I have from a different recipe:

Alternate Chocolate Glaze


  • 3 Tablespoons 1/2 & 1/2
  • 2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (this can be chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar


Below, the directions say to microwave until the mixture just begins to steam; this is very important. Otherwise the mixture will burn; 20 seconds can make the difference. So keep checking the plastic wrap; as soon as it shows any moisture and isn’t perfectly clear- stop! You have heated it enough.

To make the glaze, place the 1/2 & 1/2 and semi-sweet chocolate in a medium, microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 20 seconds at a time, until the mixture just begins to steam. Whisk together thoroughly and add the sugar and whisk until completely smooth.

The glaze ingredients seem just enough for the half size cake. I have not tried to double the recipe to use on the full size cake, but it should work okay. I suspect the finer confectioners’ sugar makes a difference.

Peanut Chocolate Bark

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This recipe is called Peanut-Chocolate Bark, but in reality, it is a discussion about how to work with chocolate, to temper it, and thus use it as a coating for some types of things. Using the tempered chocolate with some salty nuts, makes an excellent candy by itself. I have made other Barks using almonds, and even once with toffee chips. With this recipe, and my notes, we will cover all of these matters.

Peanut Chocolate Bark

  • 12 oz Milk Chocolate (a bag of chocolate chips)
  • 1 Tablespoon Shortening
  • 4 oz. SemiSweet Chocolate
  • 2/3 cup Salted, Roasted Peanuts
  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the Milk Chocolate. The original recipe used the microwave technique, but if you want to use a bain marie, it will work just as well.
  3. Stir-in the Shortening
  4. Stir-in the SemiSweet Chocolate.
  5. Spread on parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  6. Sprinkle on the Peanuts, and press into the chocolate

That is as simple as it is; the trick is to not burn the Milk Chocolate. So discussing how to melt the Milk Chocolate is what follows, as well as a discussion on tempering the chocolate.

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You can melt the chocolate in a bain marie; you know, the bowl set over a simmering kettle of water that does not touch the bowl. It is the most controlled method for melting the chocolate, and after using it a few times, I am now an advocate. However, I note that some of the chefs are now using the microwave technique.

To melt the chocolate in the microwave, heat the bowl on HIGH for 15 seconds. Take the bowl out of the microwave and stir the chocolate; you want to move the melted chocolate from the bottom center where the heat is highest, up the sides of the bowl. Now repeat the heating and stirring. After a few iterations, the remaining chocolate will melt just from the heat in the chocolate that is already melted. Keep stirring until all of the chocolate seems melted. Do not over heat the chocolate in the microwave; it can scorch very easily with the high heat created in the microwave.

The latest time I used the microwave technique, there seemed to be no change in the chocolate chips after the first couple heatings, then the spatula seemed to be sticky and drag for another couple heatings, finally, after the fifth or sixth heating, the chocolate stopped grabbing the spatula and seemed to be smoothing out. This is when I stopped using the microwave and just stirred until the chocolate was all melted.
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Once you have most of the chocolate melted, use a spatula and work the chocolate for a few seconds to move the hot chocolate around. After the chocolate is melted, add the Shortening and work it in, then add the SemiSweet Chocolate and work it in. Finally, spread the whole thing thinly on the parchment paper cookie sheet and sprinkle the nuts on the chocolate. (I have occasionally added the nuts to the chocolate, stirring them in, so that they don’t fall off when I break the Bark into pieces).
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While the recipe calls for peanuts, you can use any type of nut- salty tastes good with chocolate. You can even use prezels, or fruit like raisens. It all works the same.

Using less Chocolate While the recipe uses a total of 1 pound of chocolate chips mixed between the milk chocolate and the semi-sweet chocolate, I didn’t like having to open a second bag of chocolate chips and not using all of them. In fact, you can make the Bark by dividing the milk chocolate chips (or whatever flavor you decide to use). You need to reserve 25% of your chocolate for the tempering action, so if you have a 12 oz. bag of chips, measure out 3 oz. for the role of what is the semi-sweet chocolate in the recipe.

Tempering Chocolate All chocolate we buy is already tempered; that is what makes it hard and snappy. But when we melt it, it loses its temper. Now the wonderful thing is that a small amount of tempered chocolate added to the melted chocolate convinces the melted chocolate that it wants to be tempered and so it sets up its crystals as tempered chocolate. That is why we hold out some of the chocolate until we are nearly finished working with it, and then add it to the mixture. Tempering gives the chocolate a more glossy look and a firmer, more snappy texture.

Coating with Tempered Chocolate Previously, I have suggested that we could coat fruit and other things with the tempered chocolate to give them a nice coating. I am going to back away from some of those thoughts. There are a couple problems to overcome.

First, using the microwave technique for melting the chocolate seems to leave the temperature of the chocolate just above the melting value. I find that there is not enough time to work with the chocolate before it is trying to set up and gets too stiff to use as a dip.

Second, we must keep all moisture away from the chocolate, or it seizes. When chocolate seizes, it becomes hard and grainy. A single drop of water or whiff of steam triggers particles in the cocoa butter to solidify into a dull mass. (Some chefs think the steam from the bain marie is somehow getting into the bowl of chocolate, and why they are looking at the microwave technique for melting)

When we try to coat fruit, we are suddenly bringing moisture into contact with our chocolate. I can only say that for now, I have to leave the chocolate coated strawberries and bananas to the professionals. We can, however, coat our truffles, or the pretzels.
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I use a separate bowl for the chocolate that I am using for coating; primarily, this is to keep from contaminating the main bowl of chocolate. If somehow what I am coating is not perfectly dry, then I don’t lose the whole batch to seizing.
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Cooling the Bark and other Tempered Chocolate If we thought the chocolate was persnickety with respect to moisture and needing guidance to become tempered after being melted, then there is one more area in which we need to be careful. Tempered chocolate doesn’t like to be cooled too fast! It wants to be kept at a temperature of about 68 – 70 degrees until it is fully set. That means you don’t want to refrigerate it. When we cool it too fast, the fats (cocoa butter) set up first, and the result is the chocolate gets grey streaks through it and does not have the sheen that we were trying to get with tempering.
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I purposely cooled the pan on the left in the refrigerator to hopefully help you understand what happens. This close-up shows the dull, grey streaks in that chocolate.
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I think something else also happened; when I broke the slab up, it did not have a temper, but was limp. I think there was free moisture in the refrigerator which caused seizing.

While the basic recipe for making a Bark is very simple, I have taken this opportunity to expand your knowledge about working with chocolate. Luckily, truffles are not tempered chocolate, so while they may seem more complicated than the Bark candy, they don’t have many of the problems that show up when we do more than just make the Bark candy with tempered chocolate. Do try to make Bark candy, using the peanuts, or any of the other suggested flavors; then, when you feel comfortable with the basic tempering, move forward and try coating something that doesn’t add moisture to the chocolate. Look at how pretty the truffles appear with their coating of tempered chocolate.
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Mississippi Mud Pie

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This recipe appeared in the November 2012 Food Network Magazine. I received a copy from Penny DeLancey after I tasted her cooking of it and announced it as a keeper.

I have since found the recipe on the Food Network web site; here is a pointer to it: Mississippi Mud Pie Recipe.

The only suggestion I have is in making the crust. The crust becomes quite hard, so keep it thin. Be especially careful at the transition between the bottom of the pie plate and the sides; it is natural for this to build up to support the crumb on the sides. If the sides are not fully crumbed, it is no problem.