Friday, February 10, 2017


What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with a chocolate tea time!  Whether you are celebrating with friends, family or just a special someone in your life, chocolate will be the center of attention from beginning to end, savory to sweet.  In fact, you may not want to see or eat chocolate for days or maybe even weeks after this event!

Chocolate covered fruit makes a delicious edible centerpiece combined with mint sprigs and chocolate curls.  Dip a variety of fruit such as strawberries, mandarin oranges, pineapple and kiwi in melted chocolate and when set stack on a small tiered plate stand. Use a potato peeler to create chocolate curls from a candy bar and you will have a start on your “sweets” plus a highlight for the table.

Remember chocolate is a spice, is healthy for you, comes in several forms and can be used in all courses of your tea time, so choose from some of these recipes to fill out the rest of your menu:


Chocolate Chili
1lb ground beef
1 chopped onion
2 minced garlic cloves
1Tbs chili powder
1Tbs cocoa powder
2 lg cans diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1c beef broth
1 can pinto beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
            Brown ground beef and onions then add garlic, Tex-Mex, chili powder and cocoa and cook for a couple minutes.  Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, broth and beans, cover and simmer for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally or place in a crockpot on low for 6 hours.  May be served garnishes with sour cream, shredded cheese and chives.   

Butternut Squash and Cacao Soup
2lb butternut squash
3-4 plum tomatoes
1/2 onion, unpeeled
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 canned chipotle in adobo
1/8tsp ground allspice
1/8tsp ground cinnamon
1/8tsp toasted fennel seeds
2Tbs cacao nibs
1Tbs olive oil
1Tbs brown sugar
6c chicken stock
1oz dark chocolate
Peel and seed squash, then chop into 1 inch pieces.  Roast the tomatoes, onion and garlic in a skillet for 10 mins., cool and then remove peel.  Combine tomatoes, garlic, onion, chipotle chile, spices and cacao nibs in a food processor until smooth.  Heat olive oil, add puree and brown sugar and cook for 5 mins.  Add squash and chicken stock and bring to a boil, reduce to low and cover to simmer 15-20 mins. or until squash is tender.  Puree the soup, strain and remove solids and then heat and add chocolate until melted.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve with a dollop of crema and diced Manchego cheese.

Strawberry-Arugula Salad with Cacao Nibs
4c arugula
2 sliced strawberries
½ large thinly sliced fennel bulb
¼c cacao nibs
            Toss arugula with sliced strawberries and fennel. Drizzle with some of the following vinaigrette and toss to coat. Sprinkle liberally with cacao nibs. Serve immediately.
            Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette: Whisk together ¼ to ½ scraped vanilla bean, 2Tbs white balsamic vinegar, 4Tbs olive oil and 1tsp honey. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Spinach-Pear Salad with Chocolate Vinaigrette
6oz fresh baby spinach
1 sliced large pear
3Tbs dried cranberries
2Tbs toasted sliced almonds
            Drizzle spinach with the chocolate vinaigrette and top each serving with sliced pear, cranberries and almonds.
            Chocolate Vinaigrette: Melt 1oz milk chocolate chips and whisk in 3Tbs balsamic vinegar, 3Tbs canola oil, 1tsp honey, salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper.


Crostini with Eggplant or Spicy Beans
Diagonally slice a baguette, then brush with olive oil and grill.  Top with one of the following chocolate infused mixtures:
            2Tbs olive oil
            1 finely chopped onion
            2Tbs golden raisins
            2Tbs pine nuts
            2 thinly sliced garlic cloves
            1/4tsp crushed red­ pepper flakes
            1/2c tomato paste
            1tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
            2Tbs sugar
            1 eggplant, cut into 1/2­” cubes
            1/3 cup white­ wine vinegar
                        Sauté onion, raisins, pine nuts, garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste. Cocoa powder and sugar and cook 2-3 mins.  Add eggplant, vinegar and 1/3c water, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until eggplant is tender and mixture thick.  Season with salt and more sugar if desired, then cool to room temperature.  Use to top crostini and garnish with basil chiffonade.
            Spicy Bean
            2Tbs olive oil
            1 chopped onion
            1 1/2c vegetable broth
            1Tbs tomato paste
            1Tbs TEX-MEX
            1tsp salt
            1 1/2c cooked black beans
            1 ounce dark chocolate
            1tsp honey
            1c diced tomatoes
            2Tbs fresh lime juice
                        Sauté onion in olive oil for 15 mins., then add vegetable broth and simmer 2 mins.  Add tomato paste, TEX-MEX and salt, stir well, then add beans, chocolate, honey, lime juice and tomatoes and cook 10 mins. or until liquid is absorbed.  Cool to room temperature, use to top crostini and garnish with fresh snipped chives.    

Mini Chocolate Chipotle Chicken Tacos
1Tbs olive oil
2 minced garlic cloves
1/3c soy sauce
6-oz tomato paste
2Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1tsp chipotle chili powder
2tsp smoked paprika
1c beer
c brown sugar
1-oz dark chocolate
4c cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
            Sauté garlic until fragrant, then add the remaining ingredients except chicken and simmer until thickened, about 15-20 minutes.  Add chicken and spoon into Tostito scoops and top with diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce and shredded cheese plus a dollop of sour cream.


Chocolate Chip Scones: Combine 2 c flour, 1/3 c sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda and 1/4 tsp salt in a mixing bowl.  Cut in 8Tbs butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add 1/2c mini chocolate chips.  Combine an egg and 1/2c plain yogurt until well blended, and then add to dry ingredients until they are moistened.  Knead on floured surface until dough holds together.  Divide dough in half and pat out each into a 1/2 inch thick circle and cut into 6-8 wedges.  Place on greased baking sheet, brush with yogurt and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 mins or until golden brown.

Orange Chocolate Tea Bread
1/2c butter
3/4c sugar
2 eggs
2Tbs grated orange zest
3/4c half and half
2c flour
1Tbs baking powder
1/4tsp salt
1/2c chopped pecans
4-oz chopped semisweet chocolate
Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs and beat well.  Beat in orange zest, pour in half-and-half and beat to combine even though it may curdle.  Add a combination of the flour, baking powder, and salt and gently beat just to combine. Stir in nuts and chopped chocolate.  Spoon batter into greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until top is golden. Cool in pan on rack. Invert onto serving platter and cool completely.
            When bread is cool, combine an additional 4-oz dark chocolate with 1Tbs water and 1Tbs orange zest over low heat to melt, stirring constantly.  Spread evenly over top and chill to set.


Powder Puff Kiss Cookies
1 frozen pie crust, thawed
12 Hershey Kisses
3/4c confectioners' sugar
            Place pie crust on a lightly floured surface and cut circles using a 2 or 2 ½” round cookie cutter.  Place one chocolate kiss in the center of each section and seal the dough at the top and flatten slightly into a mound.  Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until crust is set and lightly golden.  Cool 15 minutes then dredge liberally in confectioner’s sugar – repeat if necessary.

Ultimate Grasshopper Cookies
1/2c butter
2Tbs brown sugar
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
1 Devil's Food Cake mix
            Combine butter and sugar, then add eggs and extract.  Add in cake mix forming a stiff batter.  Roll into balls, place on greased cookie sheet and slightly flatten.  Bake at 350 degrees for 7-9 minutes and let cool on racks.  When cool, ice with a combination of 3/4c butter, 1tsp peppermint extract, a few drops green food coloring and 2c powdered sugar then drizzle with melted chocolate using a fork and sprinkle with chopped Andes mints.
Do not forget to entertain strangers, 
for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”
I Corinthians 10:31  

No comments: