Friday, February 10, 2012

Chocolate Cherry Clusters

photo by Christina Williams

If you're looking for a quick, easy and absolutely delicious treat to make for a gift or party this Valentine's Day, I have the perfect thing. I began making chocolates over ten years ago and have sold them online over the years and always give them as gifts.

My Chocolate Cherry Clusters have always been one of my favorites. They are so easy and yummy. I would tell you to use a double boiler and get a quality block of European semi-sweet chocolate, but I know you are probably just as busy and on-a-budget as I am.

You can certainly go for the more expensive Belgium chocolate, but if you want to save time and money, by all means head for the baking aisle and get some chocolate baking chips. But all baking chips are not created equal. In my article Should Bad Chocolate Be Illegal, you'll find a paragraph towards the end about how to buy the best chocolate chips for cooking.

Ingredients/ Supplies:

1. One 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

2. One 12 oz. bag of milk chocolate chips

3. One jar of pitted maraschino cherries without the stem. (Usually found near the ice cream toppings like flavored dessert syrups.)

4. One tbsp real butter. (cannot use substitutes)

5. White chocolate for garnish-optional.

6. Small paper cups. Must be mini cupcake size. The candy cups are two small for this recipe.


1. Drain and rinse cherries and leave in collander to continue to drain. Set aside.

2. Put milk chocolate chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips in a glass bowl. I'll let you in on a little secret for the perfect melted chocolate. Most people use semi-sweet by itself when cooking with chocolate, but I've found that using a ratio of 2/3 semi-sweet to 1/3 milk chocolate adds the perfect level of sweetness. I usually just empty 2/3 of the 12 oz semi-sweet bag into the bowl and add in 1/3 of the milk chocolate bag. If I end up with extra melted chocolate, I simply grab some pretzels or fruit and dig in.

3. You can use a double boiler to melt the chocolate over the stove, but it's much easier to just pop it in the microwave. Heat it on high for one minute at a time, stirring each time. It should only take a few minutes.

4. Stop just before all of the chips are melted. Add in the butter and stir until it melts all the way. This is a quick way of tempering the chocolate.

5. Have all of your paper cups lined up on a cookie sheet (make sure it's one you can easily fit into your fridge.)

6. Now you can use any spoon to scoop the chocolate into the paper cups, but I like to use my tbsp measuring spoon and my 1/2 tbsp measuring spoon. I scoop with the larger spoon and use the bottom-side of the smaller spoon to easily scrape the chocolate out and into the paper cups. You can also use a plastic bag or pastry bag to squirt the chocolate into the cups. But if you are a beginner, I'd suggest you use spoons to avoid a messy catastrophe. It's different working with chocolate than batter.

7. If your cherries are still damp, take a paper towel or cloth and pat them dry. You don't want water mixing with the chocolate. Now take three cherries per chocolate and press them down into the cup as far as you can. Finish this with all of the cups then use your spoon or bag to put just enough chocolate over the tops. You can tap the cookie sheet on your counter to release air bubbles and to help the chocolate spread over the tops. You may still need to use a spoon to spread the chocolate evenly over the cherries. You don't want any cherries showing. That'll make it a lot easier to package them without a sticky mess.

8. (optional) You can drizzle the tops with white chocolate or dark chocolate to add some interest and increase the flavor.

9. Place them in the fridge to set for about 30-45 minutes then package. You can find white candy boxes in the baking aisle of your craft store. Tie with ribbon for a professional look.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Top 10 Things to Do With A Wiener

If you have accidentally come across this post, because you were in search of wieners in the form of the male body part, sorry! I suppose you could substitute the real thing with one of these pictured below. I believe in England it's called sploshing. (I am NOT providing a link for "sploshing"!) You're on your own with googling that.

I am here to share some amazing ways to eat a wiener  cook a wiener. Even to gals like me who hate football, it's no secret that the Superbowl is right around the corner. I just heard on the Martha Stewart show this week that next to Thanksgiving, the Superbowl has become the second-biggest food holiday in America! I couldn't believe it. Well, men are pigs men do like to eat after all.

I know hot wings top the list of tailgating foods, but whenever I think of football food, I can't help but think of wieners...big ones, little one, juicy ones, skin-on, skin-off...okay I've got the dirty jokes out of my system. Well, I'm from Oklahoma, so I'm used to two very important party foods--pigs in a blanket and little smokies in barbecue sauce. Those are like potato chips to me; once I pop one of those wieners in my mouth, I just can't stop. (Okay, I swear that was the last dirty pun.)

Here are the top ten hot dog and sausage recipes from some fabulous food bloggers. All images are by the bloggers credited with each recipe. To visit their blogs and view the full recipes or posts, simply click on the recipe titles. Happy Superbowl day!

Grilled Hot Dog Skewers with Creamy Avocado Dip
by Marla Meridith of Family Fresh Cooking

Hot Dogs on a stick recipe for summer Grill BBQ party

Pretzel Dogs
by Tara at Smells Like Home


Cheese & Jalepeno Stuffed Hot Dogs
by Mike from Another Pint Please

The Grill

posted by Dawn and Eric of Wright Eats

Pomegranite Glazed Sausage Bites
by The Galley Gourmet

Mini Sausage Sliders
by Weekend Food Projects

Maxwell Street Polish Purses
by Joelen of What's Cookin Chicago?

Beanie Wienies for Grown-Ups
by The Homesick Texan

Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits Pigs In Blankets
by Evil Shenanigans

Jalapeno Cheddar Pigs in Blankets

Bacon-Wrapped Tex Mex Hot Dogs
by Diethood


Friday, January 27, 2012

Foodie Pic of the Week: Tortellini On Countertop

This was taken at a gallery opening for a kitchen design company in SOHO in NYC. The Italian chefs threw the tortellini right down on the countertops and artfully splattered pesto and olive oil. It was heavenly!
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