Flavor-of-the-Month . . . Chocolate Raspberry Truffles

Until I was in my 20's, I'd never eaten a truffle. Sure, I'd had chocolate from the box of Russell Stover's, but truffles, no.

Enter my brilliant Aunt Janice who treated me to my first truffle, a Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, at Godiva on a visit to New York City. It was pure heaven...the crisp outer shell, the dark, rich center, the slight tang of raspberry. I believe there were angels singing.

Since I had this raspberry sauce on hand, I decided to try making them myself. You know what? They are pretty delicious.

Chocolate Raspberry Truffles

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 TBSP raspberry sauce
1 bag dark chocolate candy melts
sanding sugar (optional)

Chop the chocolate and place in a bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer on the stove and pour over the chocolate.

Let sit 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Stir in the raspberry sauce.

Let this mixture sit at room temperature for an hour or more until set. (I poured it into a shallow baking dish to help cool it down faster.)

Scoop into balls using a melon baller or a spoon and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. (I watched Ina do this on TV and get perfectly round ball....that didn't happen for me. I got this: )

{not pretty.}

If that happens to you, pop them in the fridge, then remove after 15 minutes and shape into balls. (I had better luck pressing them together, rather than rolling them.)

{much better. }

Refrigerate the truffles until ready to coat.

(You can skip the next step entirely and roll the truffles in cocoa powder, or...)

In the microwave, melt the candy melts with 1 tsp shortening. Melt in 30 second intervals on 50% power, stirring after every cycle until melted.

Dip the truffles into the candy melts and place on the wax paper lined sheet. While the candy melts are still wet, sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Now, I know it is like a sacrilege to use candy melts to coat real chocolate, but I wanted that hard outer shell and haven't been brave enough to try my hand at tempering chocolate. Anyone tried it?

Do you have a chocolate post to link up? I can't wait to see! Link up a the the bottom of the post. Please remember to link to your POST, not the main page of you blog.

Thanks so much for playing along with Flavor-of-the-Month. I've heard from several of you that FOTM sneaks up on you and sends you into a mad panic at the end of each month. You know what, it does to me too, most months. I always meant it to be *fun* not stressful, SOOOOO...this is the last Flavor-of-the-Month. (I think chocolate is a good way to go out, don't you?)

It will be replaced with impromptu linky parties now and again. I might say..."What's the best thing you've baked this month?" and ask you link up. I'll be sure to announce those on twitter, too, so if you're not there, come join the fun!

Alright, ladies & gents....link away!!! {Linky will be open through March 2nd.}

As promised . . . cheesecake

How about a little somethin' to go with that raspberry sauce?

How about Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with a Chocolate Cookie Crust? Oh, yeah.

One really nice part about finally living in the same city as my sister is that when it's her birthday, I get part of the cake. {I mean, that's not the only reason I like having her here.}

She wanted birthday cheesecake and I couldn't have been happier.

Let's start with the crust.

Chocolate Cookie Crust

1 & 3/4 c. crushed chocolate wafers
4 TBSP melted butter
4 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. coarse salt

Combine all ingredients. Press into the bottom of a 9" springform pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

{I used (chocolate) Oreos...just the cookie part...for the wafers because, well, they're cheaper than chocolate wafers and I knew there would be extras. What you do with the creamy centers is your business.}

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
{modified version of Classic Cheesecake from The King Arthur Flour Baking Companion}

3 (8 oz) pkgs. cream cheese, room temp.
1 & 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. coarse salt
4 eggs
3 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 TBSP vanilla bean paste
1 c. sour cream, full fat
1/2 c. heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 325.

On low speed, beat the cream cheese until no lumps remain; scraping down the sides as needed. Add the sugar and salt and beat until combined. Add the eggs one at a time until the mixture is smooth before adding the next egg. Scrape the bottom of the bowl after each addition.

Stir in the lemon juice, vanilla bean paste, sour cream and heavy cream until smooth.

Pour onto the cooled crust and bake 50 minutes or so until the edges are set and the cheesecake is a light golden brown. The middle will still jiggle when the pan is shaken.

Turn off the oven, crack the door and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for 1 hour. (This helps prevent cracking.) The center will finish setting in the oven.

After 1 hour, remove the cheesecake from the oven and run a knife around the edge of the pan.

{Doing this allows the cheesecake to contract as it cools without pulling off the side and cracking.}

Refrigerate overnight and serve with raspberry sauce (or plain, or with chocolate sauce).

You might start spooning the raspberry sauce onto the cheesecake,

but I say....go for the pour!

Happy birthday to my beautiful sister, Molly! Thanks for sharing your cake with us! :)

Related posts:
{Oh...and Flavor-of-the-Month *Chocolate Edition* linky will be up on Sunday!}

Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Gluten free Irish soda bread with raisins also known as Spotted Dog bread
Tender, delicious gluten-free soda bread.

As with anything in life, you get a little, you lose a little.

I just wish Mother Nature would reverse the getting and losing when it comes to life post-menopause, Darling. I'm losing on top where I've never been particularly gifted, if you know what I mean. I buy bras in the teen section because the only adult bras that fit me are those pull-over-your-head uniboob running bras and Ladies, come on. These tight little torturers (once you squeeze into them, which could take a good seven minutes; I timed it once) are, shall we say, less than inspiring. If you're over a certain age and so is your husband, you know what I'm talking about.

So I'm losing oomph there and I'm gaining in the new mid-section of me I like to call Doris because it somehow seems appropriate. These love handles deserve a name, after all. A retro name like Kitty or Patty or Madge. Because they're evidently not intent upon leaving. They insist they're here to stay.

So since Doris won't go away, I try to coax her to skedaddle by eating lots of lettuce. And a rice cake or two. I tell myself, Bunny food rocks! But I lose even more of my boobs when I eat this way.

And Doris still sticks around.

Which brings me to bread. (What midriff conversation doesn't?) In this case, Irish soda bread. Yep. The classic, yeast-free quick bread. I'm not gonna give up a bread this delicious. Even for Doris. I'll just have to run up and down the block. A lot. In between taking iPhotos with my iPhone. That's my plan anyway.

That should work, right?

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Beautiful Bread . . . Works For Me Wednesday

I've had so much fun baking bread lately with my sourdough starter, but I was frustrated. Why wasn't my bread *pretty* like at Panera or the bakery?

It tasted good, but it was dull looking. None of the recipes I read said anything about getting a pretty, shiny, crackly crust. What was the secret?

Then I read in a magazine....brush with beaten egg! Now, why hadn't I thought of that?

{See that shiny crust?}

So, if you want a shiny, golden crust on your bread, just brush the top with beaten egg right before popping it in the oven!

Also, tonight I just came across this site with great ideas for glazing bread. I can't wait to try them all!

Be sure to scoot on over to Works For Me Wednesday for hundreds of "works for me" tips!

Related posts:

My Latest Obsession

Have you ever eaten a Chocolate Raspberry Truffle from Godiva? OK, this doesn't taste as good as that, but I think it's as close as yogurt can get.

My latest obsession is raspberry sauce. Most days for lunch, I'm adding it to Greek Yogurt with some chocolate chips and convincing myself it's health food.

Raspberry Sauce

2 tsp cornstarch
3 TBSP sugar
1/3 c. water
12 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed (not thawed work, too...it just takes longer)

In a small saucepan, stir together the cornstarch, sugar and water. Add the raspberries and cook over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture boils. Continue stirring and boil one additional minute.

Pour the sauce into a mesh sieve placed over a bowl to remove seeds. The sauce can be served warm or cold. Store in the refrigerator.

Yogurt isn't the only thing made more delicious with this sauce. Coming later this week......

Oh, yeah.

Gluten-Free Multi-Grain Crackers

Gluten-Free Multi-Grain Crackers
Company worthy gluten-free olive oil multi-grain crackers.

This is a light, pleasantly crisp cracker that is flaky and tender- and you won't believe it's gluten-free and vegan. The texture is so elegant. Yet. The flavor retains an earthy touch of rustic, with a hint of... Dude. Cue soft focus. Suddenly I feel as if I'm in a varietal wine commercial, tossing my hair back (if I had tossable tresses, that is and not a sensible cheek length bob that refuses to toss) and laughing just so- with a tableaux of my closest, dearest multicultural friends, of course- revealing a gleaming set of perfectly capped teeth as I raise a globe of pinot noir into the rosy glow of a Napa Valley sunset to convey The Good Life.

The life without chin hairs and medical bills and neighbors who don't recycle.

All kidding aside (I don't sport a tableaux of polo shirt wearing best friends and I've never been to Napa Valley or for that matter, capped my teeth or Botoxed my frown lines leaving the perfect hint of crow's feet to crinkle when I smile so that you don't notice my eyebrows are frozen back to 1985) I  just might bake up a batch of these tasty crackers for Oscar night, whip up some Roasted Eggplant Tapenade and pop open a bottle of lovely Veuve Clicquot Brut.

Uh oh.

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New York, part 2 . . . and a *secret* about Kelly Ripa !

I wouldn't say I'm lucky, but I have won a few things in my life...

  • When I was 6, I won a coloring contest at our local Baskin-Robbins. The prize? 31 FREE scoops of ice cream!!! Is there anything more exciting than free ice cream to a 6-year-old (or a 40-year-old, for that matter)?
  • As a sophomore in high school, I won tickets from a radio station to the Cyndi Lauper concert. Second row from the top of the auditorium, total nosebleed seats, but I WON!!!

    {Unfortunately, I bought SHE BOP earrings at the concert and wore them....to school! Do you know that "she bop" doesn't have anything to do with dancing? Yeah, me neither...until the *dreamy* senior who sat behind me in Spanish class filled me in. I still wasn't *quite sure* what he was talking about, but I knew it was bad. Google it.}
  • And, then, Foodbuzz sent out an email asking if any of its featured publishers would like to apply to go to Kelly's Cake Off. I applied hoping I'd get lucky (and not in the She Bop way) and be chosen. I was!!! Yay!
Thanks to you and Electrolux, these cakes have raised over $20,000 for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. You know all about that, though. Let me show you a little bit more of the trip...

First, I got to meet 14 fabulous food bloggers!!! (You can see a list here.)

{Here I am with the brilliant Jessie of CakeSpy.}

Before the festivities even started, Jen of My Kitchen Addiction & I met with Gail of the ultra-amazing One Tough Cookie. (Go, see for yourself. She's a cookie genius!) Gail treated us to cappuccinos at Pastis and I felt very hip & New York.

Then, we all went to the Gastropub (I'm not sure what that means, but trust me, it's good) The Spotted Pig. We were ushered to a private kitchen and given a cooking demo (& dinner) by Chef April Bloomfield.

You guys...it was phenomenal.

{It was my very first time to eat duck and I'm looking at those duckies in the pond down the street in a whole new light.}

After that, we headed up to the rooftop bar at our hotel for a drink and a gift exchange with the other bloggers.

That morning, we were up at the crack of dawn to go to a taping of Live! with Regis & Kelly. Here's what I loved:
  1. a car service....seriously, being picked up and driven around town is something I could get used to,
  2. Kelly & Regis came over and talked to the audience between segments. I was most impressed by that.
  3. Regis threw candy into the audience. I didn't get any, but I still love Regis for it.

Here's the secret about Kelly Ripa.....ready?

EATS! Really! She does! Between segments, she ate right from a bag of All-Bran cereal...and joked that she might have to make a quick exit...AND before the cooking segment, she snacked on the nuts and chocolate. (I know you all are probably as shocked as I was.)

Oh, and she's tee-nine-y! (That's tiny.) I thought about sticking her in my purse and bringing her home to Texas. Look at me, y'all, in that picture. I'm freaking Julia Child towering over everyone. I'm even hunching.

Then, it was time for the Cake Off. You all know about that (or if you don't, click here).

I just have to add how nice everyone was to us...the people from Electrolux and Foodbuzz and the PR people handling the event. Kelly Ripa was beautiful and fun and really quick-witted!

{Did I mention the swag?!?!?}

Buddy, Frankie, Remy and the gang from Cake Boss were so fabulous! They were *the sweetest* guys and stayed as long as we needed to help with the cakes, sign autographs, take pictures...and then they had to CLEAN up all of the cake paraphernalia. Oh, and Buddy's cakes taste every bit as delicious as they look!

Overall, I was lucky! It was a fabulous trip, for a great cause, and I feel blessed to have been a part of it.
vote for me

Today is the LAST DAY (2-19) to vote on a cake. Remember, for every vote, Electrolux donates $1 to the OCRF. What an easy way to make a difference. (And you can still send a virtual cake through March.)

Thank you, thank you for supporting this cause (and me)! ♥

My participation with Kelly's Cake Off for a Cause was sponsored by Electrolux and Foodbuzz who provided me with travel arrangements to and accommodations in New York to participate.

Roasted Vegetable Chowder

Gluten free roasted vegetable chowder recipe
Craving a bowl of comfort? Have I got a soup recipe for you.

Frost was not on the pumpkin this morning. Not my pumpkin, anyway. Mine's long gone. Turned into a pie. Well, that and it was 80 degrees yesterday. Skateboarders careening by my apartment (at impressive speeds for a Fat Tuesday) wore nothing but Aloha shorts. Welcome to Santa Monica in February.

But what was on my pumpkin- if I still had one?

Pollen, dude. The trees are blooming, doing their sexy spring thang. Bursting. Co-mingling. Giving the bees something to buzz about. And I'm all about having a good time. I believe in love. And bees. But tree pollen, I have to ask you. Why so hostile?

Can't we all just get along?

I am thick and stupid from your assault. Not to mention, dripping from frontal orifices (not the most attractive trait sported by a woman of a certain age, I assure you- though how would you even know? You're a microgametophyte, for goddess sake).

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Sourdough Starter . . . Works For Me Wednesday

Nothing makes me feel like more of a real baker than baking homemade bread. Here's the problem....I forget. I have good intentions, then lunch rolls around and we have turkey and cheese and mustard...no bread.

Well, that's all changed since I bought a sourdough starter.
{See it bubbling away in there?!?}

Sourdough starter is the beginning of sourdough breads (and more)...and it's so easy to keep on hand. I keep mine in the fridge and "feed" it with water and flour about once a week. (The instructions come with the starter.)

No more forgetting to make bread because every time I open the refrigerator, there it is, staring back at me. {Kinda like those googly eyes in the Geico commercials.}

Here are some of the goodies I've made with my starter:

Sourdough bread (duh)...

Sourdough Ciabatta (now it's getting interesting)....

Sourdough Cinnamon Swirl Bread (ooooo)....

Sourdough Bread Bowls (look out, Panera!).....

even, Sourdough Waffles!

I've also made Sourdough Pizza Crust, but keep forgetting to take a picture. Pizza doesn't last long around here.

So, there you have it, Sourdough Starter works for me (you can buy your own here, from King Arthur Flour)! Click on over to Works for Me Wednesday for more great tips and ideas!

{This post was not sponsored in any way by King Arthur Flour. I'm happy to be an unpaid spokesmodelbaker.}

Like bread? You might also enjoy these related posts:
OH...and there are a few days left to vote. For each and every vote, Electrolux donates $1 to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. Thank you for supporting a wonderful cause!!!

vote for me