Here Comes Peter Cottontail

Chocolate Tarantula and Octopus

Gosh! Easter’s on its way! April Valley must really be hopping right now. Well you know, in Spring the Easter Bunny never sleeps. There are tulips that need tending and baskets that need mending and a million other things. But don’t worry guys. Peter Cottontail’s the right bunny for the job and he’s got everything covered. He won’t let us down. Sure he made one little mistake and ruined Easter, but that’s all in the past. You know the story, right? Seymour S. Sassafras first told/showed it to me a long time ago and it’s been one of my favorites ever since.

Colonel Wellington B. Bunny decides to retire from the position of Chief Easter Bunny and chooses Peter as his successor. However, the kid hating, January “Boom Boom” Irontail (Hee hee. I couldn’t help myself.) wants to be the ruler of April Valley and won’t allow Peter to have the the job. According to the constitution of April Valley, the Chief Easter Bunny shall be the one who delivers the most eggs, so Irontail swoops in and proposes a contest. Peter readily accepts, certain that he’ll win. But instead of getting lots of sleep, the irresponsible bunny decides to stay out late partying the night before Easter. Thanks to that and Irontail sealing the lips of Peter’s alarm clock rooster, Peter sleeps through Easter and loses to Irontail. To make up for his blunder, Peter sets out in Mr. Sassafras’ Yestermorrowbile, piloted by Antoine the caterpillar, to revisit Easter. Unfortunately, Irontail spies Peter and has his spider foul up the wires of the Yestermorrowbile. They pass right over Easter, but there are still plenty more holidays in a year. If Peter wants to give away his eggs, he has to try one (or all) of those.

Now you’d think that since Here Comes Peter Cottontail is all about Easter eggs, I’d just paint some eggs. Well it’s not happening. Maybe someday in the future, but not today. I’ve always enjoyed the egg hunt, but my favorite part of Easter is the chocolate. Works of delicious art like those created by Milkchocolateangelo and Leonardo di Bittersweet. And even though Irontail’s idea of Easter is a lot less…umm cheerful, he still wants the candy sculptors to keep busy. But instead of bunnies and chicks, Irontail wants chocolate tarantulas and octopuses. Ha! I just can’t pass those up! The candy carvers of April Valley start off with big blocks of chocolate to make their art, but I don’t have those. Plus carving isn’t very forgiving because you can’t add back what you’ve taken away. So I’m going to sculpt these guys out of modeling chocolate instead. A wise caterpillar once said, “When you can’t get it all together, improvise.”

Recipe makes one chocolate tarantula and one chocolate octopus.

Ingredients

2 pounds chocolate, finely chopped-Milk, Dark, Whatever (I’m a Semisweet fan myself.)

2/3-1 cup light corn syrup (Milk takes closer to 2/3 cup while Dark takes 1 cup)

 

Directions

I prefer to make the modeling chocolate in two smaller batches, but you can make it all at one time. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or a bowl over a pot of simmering water. At the same time, microwave the corn syrup for a few seconds until it’s warm. Allow the chocolate to cool to 90-91 degrees F., stirring often. Pour the corn syrup into the chocolate and fold it in with a rubber spatula until fully incorporated. Be careful not to overmix! Pour the chocolate out onto a cool countertop. I like to chill a baking sheet in the refrigerator and work my chocolate on that. Cover with plastic wrap and let the chocolate rest until it firms up to a workable consistency. Depending on how hot it is, this can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours. Unwrap the chocolate and knead until smooth.

Now comes the fun part. Half of the modeling chocolate will be used for the tarantula and the other half for the octopus. For the tarantula, you’ll need to mold a large oblong shape and a large round shape for the body. You’ll also need to roll out 6 legs. Now I’m no artist, so please sculpt as you see fit. I placed the oblong piece on a support. (They were small boxes of jellybeans.) I attached the round piece to the back and placed more support behind it to keep it in place. Then I attached the legs. For added stability, use toothpicks or dry spaghetti noodles to attach the pieces. Let the tarantula sit until firm. For the octopus, you’ll need one oblong/rounded piece for the body and 6 arms. I flipped a short glass upside down and placed the large piece on top. I then attached the arms. Let the octopus sit until firm. Now you can eat them!

PeterCottontail ChocolatePeter Cottontail ChoTarOct

Halloween is more of Irontail’s kind of holiday, so my chocolate tarantula and octopus don’t seem too Eastery. I still like them, but I don’t think they’ll catch on. Can you imagine an Easter basket with one of these guys sitting in it? Peter Cottontail’s got jellybeans for Tommy, colored eggs for sister Sue, and a big chocolate tarantula!!! Nope. Not going to work. Oh well. Have a hippity hoppity, Happy Easter Day!

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

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Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School

Fungus Fudge

“Raggy, rook! Writing!” I’m not trying to say “lighting” or “lightning.” I really do mean “writing” because this is the beginning of the Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School post! I love Scooby-Doo and I have quite the soft spot for this movie. Most of Shaggy’s and Scooby’s adventures involve some guy in a costume, but every once in a while, they have to face off against real deal monsters. And when Shaggy takes on a job as a Gym Teacher/Coach (With Scooby and Scrappy as assistants, of course.) at Miss Grimwood’s Finishing School for Ghouls, the guys get a little more than they bargained for. (He should’ve paid a little closer attention to the name.) Miss Grimwood’s isn’t the typical fancy finishing school. It’s full of girl ghouls with some very famous fathers. We’re talking the mightiest monsters in the world: Count Dracula, The Werewolf, Frankenteen (Frankenstein’s Monster), The Phantom, and The Mummy. Now it’s all fun and games training the girls for their annual volleyball match against the neighboring Calloway Military School, but things get downright dangerous when the Witch of the Web, Revolta, kidnaps the girls and tries to turn them evil.

But long before Shaggy ever lays eyes on Miss Grimwood’s and meets the girls, he’s, in typical Shaggy fashion, most excited to get to the school to try some of its fancy cooking. Unfortunately, the food is anything but fancy. The garden is full of rotten fruits and vegetables. (They make sure to weed out all the fresh stuff.) And thick, tasty-looking steaks are reserved for the Venus Flytraps. The goodies for the school’s big Halloween Open House include Swamp Brownies, Caterpillar Cookies, and Poison Ivy Punch. Even when Colonel Calloway stops by to arrange their volleyball game, he is offered refreshments with the Grimwood flair. Tea and sweets seems harmless enough to Miss Grimwood, but the Colonel isn’t a fan of Fungus Fudge and Toadstool Tea. If you couldn’t tell by now, I kind of have a thing for making weird food, so Fungus Fudge is right up my alley. I have no clue just what kind of fungus Miss Grimwood uses in her fudge, so I thought that typical, non-poisonous mushrooms would be a safe bet.

Recipe makes 9 large pieces of fudge.

Ingredients

4 ½ cups sugar

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

1 ¾ cup, plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 ¼ tablespoons corn syrup 

6 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks

1 ounce dried mushrooms, processed into a fine powder (I used a blend that included porcini, shiitake, and oyster, but it all comes down to flavor preferences.)

Directions

Grease an 8 X 11 inch baking dish.

In a large saucepan, combine sugar, chocolate, heavy cream, and corn syrup. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the chocolate has melted. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan and cook the mixture, without stirring, until the thermometer reads 234 degrees F.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the butter and mushroom powder. As much as it pains you, don’t stir the mixture until it drops to 130 degrees F. Stir the fudge until it’s well-blended, thickened, and loses its shine. Pour and spread evenly into the prepared pan and let it sit until firm. This could take about 4 hours. Slice the fudge and eat up!

scooby-fungus-fudgescooby-ghoul-fudge

I guess my Fungus Fudge wouldn’t meet Miss Grimwood’s standards because it doesn’t taste moldy, but I’m more than happy with it. There is a little bit of a mushroomy earthiness to it, but it works really well with the chocolate. If I were on a strict military diet, I’d break it for a piece of this fudge. Colonel Calloway took one bite of Miss Grimwood’s and dropped it, (Right into Matches’ mouth.) but I think he’d like mine. And I know Scooby-Doo would like it too because he had no qualms with the piece he stole from Shaggy. Would you expect anything different?

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Witch’s Night Out

Garlic Taffy Apples

Just when I think I’ve watched every animated Halloween episode or special in existence, one more pops up out of nowhere. I’m actually quite happy about that because there really aren’t enough Halloween cartoons out there. The last special to catch my eye is Witch’s Night Out. It originally aired before my time, but I read that it used to be played on The Disney Channel back in the 80’s and 90’s. Let me tell you something. I was practically raised on that channel and I don’t remember seeing it even once. I wish I had watched it years ago because now I feel like I’m late to the Halloween Party. Well, better late than never.

The Witch is kind of in the same boat, even though the big Halloween party takes place in HER mansion. Hey, Goodly didn’t know anyone lived there. He was wary of the place anyway because he feared it was haunted. If he knew about the Witch, he’d never go anywhere near there. As for myself, I’d never throw a party anywhere without the witch. Hands down, the Witch (The Godmother) is my favorite character. She’s so dramatic and the faces and movements she makes are just priceless. If she wants to come to my house to grant me a Halloween wish, my window’s open. (I really don’t want her crashing through it and getting glass everywhere.) Anyway, back to the party. The adults want to make Halloween a meaningful experience, which I stand behind 100%. Kids have it pretty sweet being able to go trick-or-treating, but adults don’t have anything unless they plan it themselves. (It’s an insult to Halloween to say it’s just for children.) So Goodly and the others come up with the idea of having a big party, complete with a ton of guests and food. But maybe he shouldn’t have assigned food duty to Malicious. I can’t deny that she’s got some serious cooking skills. It’s just that her tastes are a bit funky, so she makes the most interesting party hors d’oeuvres. Sardine meringues, pepperoni peppermints, peanut butter corned beef balls, and chocolate gefilte fish all sound absolutely delicious, but nothing gets me more into the Halloween spirit than garlic taffy apples.

Recipe makes 6 taffy apples.

Ingredients

6 large apples

6 sturdy skewers, chopsticks, or craft sticks

Caramel:

2 cups sugar

½ cup light corn syrup

½ cup water

1 cup heavy cream, room temperature

½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature- cut into chunks

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons garlic powder

Red food coloring

 

Directions

Thoroughly wash apples and dry completely. Insert the skewers down to the apple cores through the stem ends. Set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water. Place over high heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and cook until the mixture reaches 230 degrees F. Reduce heat to medium and cook, without stirring, until the syrup mixture is golden. When the syrup reaches close to 300 degrees F, gently stir. Continue to cook until the syrup turns dark amber and closes in on 350 degrees F. Remove from the heat, stir, and let sit for a couple minutes. Gradually stir in heavy cream, butter, salt, garlic powder, and food coloring. The mixture will bubble, so be careful. Return the saucepan to the stove over low heat and stir until the butter is completely melted and the caramel is smooth. Remove from the heat and allow the caramel to cool to 200 degrees F.

Dip the apples, one at a time, into the caramel and swirl around so the apple is completely coated. Allow the excess caramel to drip back into the saucepan and move the apples to the baking sheet. The caramel will drip down the apple and form “feet.” If the caramel begins to stiffen before you’ve finished dipping apples, return the saucepan to the stove over low heat and warm until smooth again. Chill the apples until the caramel has fully set, 30-60 minutes. Now they’re ready to eat!

witchs-night-out-garlicwitchs-night-out-taffy-apple

I just couldn’t resist trying garlic taffy apples, and since I’m a garlic lover, I’m actually really into these. They could easily have been a hit at the party. But no matter how well the party was going before the Witch and her monsters (Small, Tender, and Bazooey.) crashed it, it would never’ve become a true Halloween party without them. Not a single guest was in costume. (They think that dressing up is silly and immature, but it’s okay to form an angry mob and chase down monsters.) The Witch was kind enough to point out that every day we go about our lives the same old way, but Halloween is the one day a year we can pretend to be whoever or whatever we want. That may have been an eye opener for the townsfolk, but that’s old news to me. And with witch’s magic on your side, you don’t even have to pretend. I don’t have that luxury, so instead of just “poofing” into whatever I want to be for the night, I’m stuck wrestling with a wig and a dress.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

 

Ewoks

Episode: The Curse of the Jindas
Taffy

I’m one of those lucky individuals who had been introduced to Star Wars at a very early age. I can’t even remember the first time I actually watched the movies, but I’ve seen them a ton. My parents loved them, so the tapes were always close at hand. After spending most of my life with Star Wars, I could mention like 6 million things I love about the franchise. But, I’m going to try to narrow all that down. Here’s a fun fact: When I was little, I wanted an Ewok. (I also wanted a droid, and Yoda, and to be a Jedi, and have Darth Vader be my friend.) But asking for an Ewok seemed to be the most reasonable thing for me to do. I thought I could take care of one. To me, they were cute, little teddy bears with attitude and I couldn’t get enough of them. I guess I wasn’t the only one because there’s a cartoon dedicated to the Ewoks. I found that out when I saw a tape at one of my local video stores. (Well, it was labeled as a film, so I called it the Ewok movie for years.) Animated Ewoks! It just can’t get any better! I rented that tape multiple times and always enjoyed it. Years later, I finally got to watch the series and I still gave it a thumbs-up. (I can overlook Season 2’s issues.)

I love getting a closer look at the forest moon of Endor and the daily lives of the Ewoks. Wicket W. Warrick will always be my favorite, but I’ve found that I identify most with his slower, klutzy brother, Willy. When the village is attacked by Master Logray’s Stranglethorn Plant, Willy runs to the bakery and tries to eat all the baked goods before the plant does. He also has a thing for taffy. (Actually, he has a thing for any kind of food.) When Wicket and the gang go to Mooth’s store to trade their surplus goods, Willy eats from a large vat of taffy and begins to make a sticky mess. Yeah, Ewoks and taffy seem like an odd pair, but that’s nothing compared to some things that’ve come out of the Star Wars universe.

Recipe makes at least 50 pieces of taffy. It depends on how big you cut them.

Ingredients

1 cup sugar

1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup corn syrup

1 tablespoon butter, plus more for greasing hands and pan

1/2 cup water

1/2-1 teaspoon extract/flavoring

Food Coloring

 

Directions

Butter a shallow pan or cookie sheet. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add corn syrup, butter, and water and place over medium heat. Stir to combine ingredients until the mixture begins to boil. Attach a candy thermometer and cook until the mixture reaches 255 degrees F. Remove from heat and add flavor and color. Pour taffy onto pan/sheet.

Let the taffy sit until it’s cool enough to handle. Butter your hands and begin pulling. Pull the taffy until the color lightens and takes on a sheen. It should be difficult to pull by then. (This is when placed it in a small loaf pan for the picture.) For actual taffy pieces, roll the taffy into a long, thin rope and cut into pieces with kitchen shears. Wrap each piece in wax paper and they’re ready to devour!

Ewoks Taffy WillyEwoks Taffy

I did try leaving my taffy in the small loaf pan and just pulling some out when I want it, so I’ve gotten pretty sticky like Willy does. It’s a mess and gets tough after a while (Willy must be playing with hot taffy.) but I find it fun. I also love the versatility of taffy. I have no idea what flavor Willy’s taffy is and Sugarleaf Taffy could be anything, so I made some fruity and left some unflavored. And they both taste delicious. It’s too bad my parents never got me an Ewok. I could’ve shared my taffy with him. Oh well. More for me.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Earthworm Jim

Episode: Trout!
Nut Log

It seems I’ve caught a bad case of Cabin Fever. Now I can sit here and try to ignore it until I do something desperate or… Road Trip! Yep, I like road tripping as much as Earthworm Jim. The difference though, mine usually don’t end at a Giant Fur Bearin Trout. Although that would be pretty awesome! Road trips do run the risk of being a bit long and tiring, but they’re really the best way to experience all the wonderfully weird things out there. I’ve yet to visit the World’s Biggest Scab or the First Speed Bump in the Northern Hemisphere, but I have been to museums about vacuum cleaners and beans. And there’s nothing better about a road trip than stopping off at a tourist trap covered with signs promising clean bathrooms and grabbing yourself a nut log. Some of them do put up a bit of a fight, but I haven’t had to boil a nutty delight to soften it. Or run it over. Or shoot it.

That’s one of the things I love about Earthworm Jim, though. The show is so surreal but also super believable. Nut logs are obstinate roadside delicacies, but you just can’t resist buying them again and again and risk breaking your teeth each time. Maybe Peter Puppy is right when he says that a nut log’s true purpose is to anchor ships in a heavy storm. Still, it’s not going to stop me from trying to make and EAT one.

Recipe makes 10 nut logs

Ingredients

Divinity

1 cup sugar

½ cup corn syrup

¼ cup water

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 egg whites

Caramel

1 cup sugar

¼ cup light corn syrup

¼ cup water

½ cup heavy cream, room temperature

4 tablespoons butter, room temperature- cut into chunks

½ teaspoon salt

4 cups Pecans, most or all chopped (There are some pecan halves on Jim’s nut log, but coating them in just chopped pecans is fine.)

Melted butter, Spray butter, or butter-flavored cooking spray

 

Directions

Pecans:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F,

Spread out the pecans on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spray the pecans with a little butter or butter-flavored cooking spray. Toast the pecans in the oven for 5 minutes. You should be able to smell them when they’re finished. Keep a close eye on the pecans while they’re in the oven since they tend to scorch easily. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Divinity:

Lightly grease an 8 X 8 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine water, corn syrup, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Place the saucepan over medium high heat and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan and continue to cook, without stirring, until it reads 260 degrees F. When the syrup reaches about 240 degrees F, beat the egg whites in a stand mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks just form. When the syrup reaches 260 degrees F, immediately take the syrup off the heat. With the mixer on medium, pour the syrup into the egg whites. When all of the syrup is in the bowl, increase the mixer’s speed to high. Add the vanilla extract and whip the mixture until the texture loses its shine and becomes rough, 10-20 minutes.

Pour the divinity into the prepared pan and spread evenly with a lightly greased spatula. Chill until set, 30 minutes-1 hour. Cut the divinity into 10 pieces and roll them into 4-inch logs. Place the logs on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for at least 2 hours.

Caramel:

In a saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water. Place over high heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and cook until the mixture reaches 230 degrees F. Reduce heat to medium and cook, without stirring, until the syrup mixture is golden. When the syrup reaches close to 300 degrees F, gently stir. Continue to cook until the syrup turns dark amber and closes in on 350 degrees F. Remove from the heat, stir, and let sit for a couple minutes. Slowly add heavy cream, butter, and salt. The mixture will bubble, so be careful. Return the saucepan to the stove and stir until the butter is completely melted. Cook over medium heat until it reaches 255 degrees F. Remove from heat.

Putting It All Together:

Remove the logs from the freezer. One log at a time, dip them in the hot caramel with tongs or a fork. Once fully coated, move them to the pecan-covered baking dish. If you want pecan halves on your nut logs, stick them in place now. Proceed to roll the logs in the chopped pecans until completely covered. Chill the finished nut logs until set, 30 minutes-1 hour. Enjoy!

Earthworm Jim NutlogEarthworm Nut Log

Good news! These nut logs aren’t like the ones at the Nutlog Palace. They are light (My noodle arms have no trouble lifting them.) and can actually be eaten. Every last one of my teeth is still safely snug in my mouth. I wouldn’t recommend throwing them around, but I’m almost confident that they can’t K.O. anyone. Earthworm Jim’s battle with the impudent nut log ended in a “draw,” but I think I won this round. Too bad I have to quit while I’m ahead because I really just can’t handle haggis.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

 

My Love Story!! / Ore Monogatari!!

Episode: My Chocolate / Ore no Chokorēto
Takeo’s Valentine’s Day Chocolate

Hooray for Valentine’s Day! It’s the season of love and hearts and pink and chocolate! I’ve always loved this holiday. Not for the romance, but for the fact that I can shape all of my food into hearts and no one will look at me funny. Plus giving chocolates to people you love is fun. (Especially if you get some in return!) See, there’s that “L” word again. I’ve used it three times already. Since LOVE is what Valentine’s Day boils down to, what better love story to feature than My Love Story!! (Just look at that title.)

Takeo and Rinko love each other so much, but they’re always on the wrong page. They don’t think they deserve each other, but they don’t want to lose one another either. The series is so sugary sweet it makes my teeth hurt. It’s also so funny that I have trouble breathing. (Literally. I was wheezing after the plastic wrap thing.) The show is after my own heart. And stomach. Every time Rinko turns around, she’s got another mouth-watering dessert for Takeo. Valentine’s Day is no exception. Actually, she outdoes herself by making a monstrous chocolate tower. And that’s after teaching her friends how to make chocolate cookies and having a Valentine’s Day get-together with the boys. How she found the time to pull this off astounds me.

Recipe makes 1 tower of chocolatey goodness

Ingredients

Cake:

2 large eggs, separated

¼ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar

½ cup cake flour, sifted

1 ½ tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

Chocolate Mousse:

5 ounces milk or semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or melting wafers

1 tablespoon butter

2 large eggs, separated

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup heavy cream

White Chocolate Mousse

6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped or melting wafers

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup heavy cream

Chocolate Truffles:

5 ounces milk or semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or melting wafers

1 ½ tablespoons butter

¼ cup heavy cream

Chocolate Cigarettes and Other Shapes

½ pound milk or semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or melting wafers

½ pound dark chocolate, coarsely chopped or melting wafers

1 pound white chocolate, coarsely chopped or melting wafers

Pink food coloring

Yellow food coloring

Strawberries for Garnish

 

Directions

Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a deep 6-inch round cake pan

Whip egg whites in a stand mixer on medium-high speed until smooth. Add sugar 2 tablespoons at a time while continuing to whip. Once the egg whites are glossy and form stiff peaks, beat in egg yolks until incorporated. Use a spatula to fold in cake flour. Heat butter and milk until the butter melts. Pour this into a small bowl. Add cocoa powder and salt to butter and milk and stir until dissolved. Stir in vanilla extract. Fold this into the batter, a little at a time, until fully incorporated without overmixing. Pour cake batter into prepared pan and gently tap or drop on the counter to remove air pockets. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when the cake is tested. Tap the pan on the counter again and cool upside down for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan and wrap completely in plastic wrap. This will help keep your cake moist. Cool completely on a baking rack.

Chocolate Mousse:

Slowly melt chocolate in a double boiler or a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir in butter and egg yolks, one at a time, until incorporated. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and allow to cool slightly. Whip the egg whites in a stand mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture. Whip heavy cream in a stand mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into the chocolate mixture until combined. Move mousse to the refrigerator and allow it to chill until it is set. If it’s still not solid enough to pipe, whip in a stand mixer until stiff.

White Chocolate Mousse:

Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat until on the verge of boiling. Add the white chocolate and whisk until melted and incorporated. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract. Chill mousse in the refrigerator for at least an hour or until it begins to set. Transfer mousse to a stand mixer and whip until stiff.

Chocolate Truffles:

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir in the butter until melted and incorporated. Set aside. Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat until on the verge of boiling. Remove from heat and add to chocolate. Stir together until combined. Pour chocolate mixture into a small baking dish and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Remove the baking dish and scoop out balls with a spoon or melon baller. Use your hands to form the truffles into an oblong shape. Allow the truffles to set for at least 30 minutes.

Chocolate Cigarettes:

Melt white and dark chocolates in double boilers or bowls over pots of simmering water. Pour white chocolate onto a work surface. You can use the back of a chilled baking sheet or a cool counter. Spread the white chocolate into a long, paper-thin sheet with a palette knife. Allow the white chocolate to harden slightly. It should feel dry when you touch it. Move a combscraper across the sheet towards you to draw lines. Since I didn’t have the proper tools, I drew lines with a butter knife. (That’s why they look a little funny.) Pour dark chocolate over the white chocolate lines and spread over into a thin sheet. Allow the chocolate to harden until it feels dry to the touch. Clean up the edges so they are straight. Push the palette knife up under the chocolate at an angle. Push the knife through the chocolate and back to make the cigarettes. Allow the cigarettes to rest until completely hardened.

Chocolate Disks:

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Line a baking dish with parchment paper. Place large round cookie cutters on the dish and pour chocolate into cutters until you’ve reached your desired thickness. Tap the dish on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Chill the chocolate until it’s set. Gently tap the dish to remove the chocolate from the cutter. Chill the disks until assembly. You can also pour the chocolate straight into the baking dish, chill, and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter that has been heated.

Stars and Pink Heart:

Melt white chocolate in a double boiler or a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Use the same method as the chocolate disks to achieve the desired shapes. Before making the heart, add a small amount of pink food coloring to some of the white chocolate. Chill shapes until assembly.

Crosshatch Heart

Melt white chocolate in a double boiler or a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Mix in a small amount of yellow food coloring. You can use a spatula or fork to drizzle chocolate on parchment paper in a crosshatch pattern and cut out the heart shape. You can also pipe out thin lines of chocolate into the crosshatch pattern and cut out the heart shape. They are delicate so be careful. (Mine broke so many times I had to settle for drawing the pattern on a solid piece of chocolate.) Chill heart until assembly.

Putting It All Together:

Place your cake on your desired base, cake board, or plate. Pipe chocolate mousse onto the cake. I opted for small blobs that sit close enough to squish together. Place a chocolate disk on top of the mousse. Pipe the white chocolate mousse on top of the disk and cover with the second chocolate disk. Be careful not to sandwich the disks and mousse too much. (That’s why my bottom layer isn’t too happy.) Pipe a small blob of white chocolate mousse in the center of the top chocolate disk. Place strawberries, truffles, and stars in front of the blob. Place the pink heart and the crosshatch heart behind it. Stick the chocolate cigarettes out next to the crosshatch heart. To keep the decorations in place, I glued them down with a little melted chocolate and a bit of leftover mousse.

Variations:

I assumed that the fillings were mousse, but I could be wrong. You can use marshmallow, cheesecake, panna cotta, or anything you want. You can also use other decorations, like regular chocolate pieces in place of the truffles.

my love story chocolate (3)My Love Story

Rinko must REALLY love Takeo because there’s a lot of work involved to make this towering chocolate. At least I got to try some of it. Rinko doesn’t even watch Takeo eat it. She’s feels rewarded just by giving it to him. She even apologizes for making mistakes. And that makes Rinko a much better person than I am. Not to mention that Takeo just wanted any chocolate from Rinko and was already satisfied with the cookies he’d gotten. He was already on his way out to buy her some expensive chocolate in return. Even though he wasn’t expecting anything else from Rinko, he was overjoyed and made sure to savor every bite. They’re just too cute! The couple is perfectly imperfect and show that love is difficult, but it’s the silliness and over-the-topness of it that makes it worthwhile.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

 

The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy

 

Episode: Chocolate Sailor

Enchanted Chocolate Assortment

 Who wouldn’t want the Grim Reaper to be his/her best friend forever? You get to pal around with the master of the forces of life and death. And in Billy and Mandy’s case, you get to boss him around. Talk about power. You also get to encounter all sorts of monsters and magic that most people don’t even know exist. I can see how that can lead to trouble pretty quickly. Just look at Billy and the whole Chocolate Sailor debacle. He becomes so addicted to the chocolate he’s supposed to be selling that he becomes solid chocolate and eats himself.

It’s sad to say, but that would probably happen to me too because I like chocolate! I’ve just about taken out my dad over the stuff. Just like Billy. I’m not proud of it, but I just can’t stop. If the Chocolate Sailor offered me an assortment of enchanted chocolates, I’d have to try them all. So just in time for Halloween, here’s an assortment that you can eat all of without exploding into a big, chocolatey mess.

Ingredients

 1 pound milk chocolate, coarsely chopped or melting wafers

1 pound dark chocolate, coarsely chopped or melting wafers

2 pounds white chocolate, coarsely chopped or melting wafers

Light green food coloring

 

Caramel

1 cup sugar

¼ cup light corn syrup

¼ cup water

½ cup heavy cream, room temperature

4 tablespoons butter, room temperature- cut into chunks

½ teaspoon salt

 

Buttercream

¼ cup (half stick) butter, room temperature

¼ cup shortening

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups (half pound) powdered sugar, sifted

 

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

1 cup hazelnuts, skinned

3 tablespoons sugar

12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon salt

 

Marshmallows

1 ½ packets of unflavored gelatin

½ cup cold water, divided

½ cup light corn syrup

¾ cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup powdered sugar, sifted, plus more if needed

 

Peanut Butter Filling

1 ½ cups peanut butter

3 tablespoons butter

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

 

Or 1 package caramels

1 container buttercream

1 jar chocolate hazelnut spread

1 package marshmallows

 

Directions

 Caramel:

Grease and line an 8 inch baking dish with parchment paper.

In a saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water. Place over high heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and cook until the mixture reaches 230 degrees F. Reduce heat to medium and cook, without stirring, until the syrup mixture is golden. When the syrup reaches close to 300 degrees F, gently stir. Continue to cook until the syrup turns dark amber and closes in on 350 degrees F. Remove from the heat, stir, and let sit for a couple minutes. Slowly add heavy cream, butter, and salt. The mixture will bubble, so be careful. Return the saucepan to the stove and stir until the butter is completely melted. Cook over medium heat until it reaches 255 degrees F. Take off the heat and pour into a prepared pan. Tap the pan to remove bubbles and place on a cooling rack. Let sit for about 4 hours and cut into pieces. (If you plan on making your chocolates right away, you can just leave your caramel in the saucepan and just allow it to cool slightly.)

 

Buttercream:

In a stand mixer, beat butter and shortening until fluffy. Add vanilla extract. Beat powdered sugar in, a little at a time. Scrape down sides of the bowl and add milk. If the icing is too thick, add more milk, ½ teaspoon at a time.

 

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 15 minutes, or until deep brown. Let cool.

Grind hazelnuts and sugar in a food processor for about 1 minute, or until smooth. Melt chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and let cool. Add vegetable oil, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and salt to hazelnut paste and process until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and combine. Strain if there are excess hazelnut chunks. Let cool completely to thicken.

 

Marshmallows:

Lightly grease an 8 X 8 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Dump powdered sugar into the dish and swirl it around until the bottom and sides are completely coated. Shake excess powdered sugar into a bowl for later use.

Pour gelatin and 1/4 cup of cold water in the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with the whisk attachment. While the gelatin is blooming, combine the remaining 1/4 cup of water, corn syrup, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Place the saucepan over medium high heat and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan and continue to cook, without stirring, until it reads 240 degrees F. Immediately take the syrup off the heat. With the mixer on low, pour the syrup into the gelatin. When all of the syrup is in the bowl, increase the mixer’s speed to high. Whip the mixture until it’s thick, about 12 minutes. Add the vanilla extract during the last minute of whipping.

Pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan and spread evenly with a lightly greased spatula. Things may get messy! Sprinkle some of the remaining powdered sugar over the marshmallow to completely cover the top. Let the marshmallow completely rest until firm, about 4 hours. (If you plan on making your chocolates right away, you can spread the marshmallow into your molds before it fully sets.)

Turn out marshmallow onto a cutting board. With a lightly greased knife or pizza cutter, cut into marshmallows. I usually aim for 2-inch squares. Roll the marshmallows into the rest of the powdered sugar to coat all sides. 

 

Peanut Butter Filling

Add peanut butter, butter, and powdered sugar in a stand mixer and beat on medium-low speed until combined.

 

Putting It All Together:

Caustic Caramel Cream:

Melt half of the white chocolate in a double boiler or a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir in a small amount of light green food coloring. Spoon a small amount of chocolate into the chocolate molds of your choice and swirl around. Use a small paintbrush or similar tool to ensure that chocolate covers the entire mold. Dump excess chocolate back into the bowl. Let the chocolate set.

Melt caramel and 2 tablespoons milk in a saucepan. Spread caramel and then buttercream in the mold, leaving enough room to encase it in chocolate. Pour more colored white chocolate on top to seal in caramel and buttercream. Tap mold on the counter to remove bubbles. Let chocolate completely set. Remove from mold.

 

Horrific Hazelnut:

Melt milk chocolate in a double boiler or a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Spoon a small amount of chocolate into the chocolate molds of your choice and swirl around. Use a small paintbrush or similar tool to ensure that chocolate covers the entire mold. Dump excess chocolate back into the bowl. Let the chocolate set. Spread chocolate hazelnut spread in the mold, leaving enough room to encase it in chocolate. Pour more chocolate on top to seal in spread. Tap mold on the counter to remove bubbles. Let chocolate completely set. Remove from mold.

 

Mutating Marshmallow:

Melt dark chocolate in a double boiler or a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Spoon a small amount of chocolate into the chocolate molds of your choice and swirl around. Use a small paintbrush or similar tool to ensure that chocolate covers the entire mold. Dump excess chocolate back into the bowl. Let the chocolate set.

Melt marshmallows either in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Spread marshmallow in the mold, leaving enough room to encase it in chocolate. Pour more chocolate on top to seal in marshmallow. Tap mold on the counter to remove bubbles. Let chocolate completely set. Remove from mold.

 

Antidote:

Melt the other half of the white chocolate in a double boiler or a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Spoon a small amount of white chocolate into the chocolate molds of your choice and swirl around. Use a small paintbrush or similar tool to ensure that chocolate covers the entire mold. Dump excess chocolate back into the bowl. Let the chocolate set. Spread peanut butter filling in the mold, leaving enough room to encase it in chocolate. Pour more white chocolate on top to seal in filling. Tap mold on the counter to remove bubbles. Let chocolate completely set. Remove from mold.

 

Variations:

Whenever I make candy, I try to make it worth my while. I just whip up a bunch of stuff and make candy until I run out of ingredients. You can easily make more or less of anything by halving or doubling any of the recipe.

Antidote doesn’t have a specific flavor, so I made what I wanted. I wanted peanut butter, but you can fill it with whatever you want or not fill it at all.

Although I have a ton of candy molds, nothing comes close to the big-mouthed monster looking things in the enchanted chocolate assortment. I used skeletons because they were on hand, but you can use whatever molds you want. If you don’t want to make them in molds, you can put the candy together in a parchment lined pan and cut them into bars.

grim chocolatesDSC_0411 (2)

Now we’ve got an army of enchanted chocolates minus the enchantment part. As hard as I tried, I still ended up a big chocolatey mess. At least I’m still human. I think. So maybe I haven’t learned my lesson yet. Enough chocolate induced stomach aches and I’ll change my ways. Either that or someone gets me an issue of Man Eating Comics.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!