Oct 6, 2012

Hawaiian Chocolate Is Very American!

Chocolate Bourbon Balls
To enlarge, click on photo
Hawaii is a great place to live for many reasons, one of which is that it is the only state in the U.S. with the climate to grow cacao beans. Chocolate comes from cacao beans. Very few people know that Hawaii is growing chocolate – even Hawaii residents. It's also the only state in the nation able to grow coffee plants. When you mix the two, you get something very special, and very American. Cacao has been grown in Hawaii since the 1850s. Today there is one estate on the Big Island and two on the island of Oahu that produce cacao beans. While the fruit is grown and fermented in Hawaii, the chocolate is actually manufactured by the large Guittard Chocolate Company in Burlingame, California. Hawaii's chocolate growers are forced to finish the chocolate on the mainland until a factory can be built to process cacao on Oahu. Hopefully soon we can actually grow and manufacture the chocolate right here. Remember Hawaiian chocolate is American chocolate, harvested by unionized workers. Most other chocolate comes from exotic places around the world, like Madagascar, Grenada and the Gulf-of-Guinea island of São Tomé, places where dollar a day labor is common. The fact is that with sugar cane and pineapple production all but gone in Hawaii, coffee and chocolate may be the best hope for Hawaiian agriculture.

The United States has many small makers of superior chocolate products. The vast majority of these companies use cocoa imported from overseas. Only on the Big Island of Hawaii and, in recent years, the island of Oahu, will you find makers of fine American chocolate products who use cocoa grown locally. Many of these companies also use other products grown locally in Hawaii, such as macadamia nuts and vanilla. Here are several of those companies:

Located on the slopes of the Big Island's Hualalai mountain, The Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory harvests cacao to make 100% Hawaiian milk chocolate. These chocolates can be found at: http://www.ohcf.us/products.html.

Malie Kai North Shore Chocolates produce one of the most pampered chocolates in the world, with a unique Hawaiian taste. To find out how to get your hands on some of this fine Hawaiian chocolate, click here: http://www.maliekai.com/availability.html.

There is another Oahu chocolate plantation also located in Waialua. This 155 acre coffee/cacao orchard produces fine Hawaiian coffee and chocolate under the Waialua Estate brand. Their website is: http://www.waialuaestate.com/index.html.

Big Island Candies in Hilo, on the Big Island, produce many wonderful chocolate confections, but only one is made entirely of 100% Hawaiian Chocolate from the Waialua Estate, Toffee Coated Chocolate Covered Hawaiian Macadamia Nuts. Their website is: http://www.bigislandcandies.com/BIC/

Chocolate Recipes:
Chocolate Bourbon Balls
This is an easy, no-bake recipe. I make these for Christmas every year to give as gifts, they are delicious and very potent. They should not be served without checking the recipients ID.

1/2 cup finely chopped dried cherries or cranberries
1/4 cup Makers Mark bourbon (you can use whatever brand you like, this is my favorite)
2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (15.25 ounce package of Orios with cream centers removed, then crushed)
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup finely chopped pecans to roll the bourbon balls in

In a small bowl, let 1/2 cup finely chopped cherries macerate in 1/4 cup of Makers Mark bourbon for 15 minutes. In a large bowl, combine well 2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs, 1/2 cup each of firmly packed dark brown sugar and finely chopped pecans, the cherry mixture, 1/4 cup molasses, 1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon and ground ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. Form the mixture into 1-inch balls and firmly roll the balls in finely chopped pecans. Store the bourbon balls in an airtight container in your refrigerator for at least 1 week before serving. Makes about 30 servings.

Chocolate Oreos You Make Yourself
Ingredients for the Oreos:
1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for cream filling:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature
1 and 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the cookies: Toss the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.

Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl as needed. Switch the mixer to medium speed and beat in the granulated sugar and brown sugar until combined. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Turn the mixer off and pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Turn the mixer on low and slowly beat until a dough is formed. Cover the dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Chilling is mandatory.

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

Roll the dough into small balls, 2 teaspoons of slightly chilled dough per ball, and place 12 on each baking sheet. Press down on the balls to slightly flatten as pictured above. Bake each batch for 6-8 minutes. These cookies are small and bake very quickly. They will appear soft when done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. You'll make 3-4 batches (38-40 cookies total).

While the cookies are cooling, make the cream filling: In a small bowl using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together on high speed until creamy and combined, about 1 minute. Turn the mixer off and add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat on low for 1 minute and then switch to high and beat for 1 more minute until creamy and combined. The cream filling is thick. See photo above for how mine looked.

Spread cream filling between two cooled chocolate cookies. Repeat with the rest. Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week. Cookies freeze well, up to 2 months. Cream filling may be made ahead of time (up to 2 days in advance). Cover and chill when storing. Allow to come to room temperature before using.

For a mint cream filling - beat 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract and 2 drops of liquid or gel food coloring (or add more until you reach desired color) when you add the vanilla extract.

Chocolate-Macadamia Nut Toffee Squares
one sleeve of graham crackers
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
12 ounces milk chocolate chips

Line a 9x13 inch pan with aluminum foil. Place whole crackers in single layer on foil. You will have to break some into quarters to finish filling in one row. In small saucepan, heat butter and brown sugar until sugar dissolves and mixture just starts to bubble. Whisk until the two blend to form a thick butter/sugar sauce; this does take a bit of whisking so don’t give up! DO NOT boil the mixture. Spread evenly over crackers. Sprinkle evenly with chopped nuts. Bake at 325˚F for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and turn oven off. Cover top evenly with chocolate chips and put back into oven for 3-5 minutes until chips are softened enough to spread with a spatula. Remove from oven and spread chocolate over surface of toffee. Cool in refrigerator until chocolate is firm. Cut into squares.

Chocolate Dipped Candied Meyer Lemon Peels
3 organic Meyer lemons, rinsed and dried (you can use regular lemons if you prefer)
2 1/2 cups sugar, divided
semi-sweet chocolate

Cut lemons in half and juice (reserve for other use, like over ice with a shot of vodka). Using a sharp paring knife, remove flesh from skin and discard (leave white pith attached to peel). Slice peel into strips. Place strips into a saucepan and fill with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes. Drain water and repeat two more times. After draining the last batch of water, place peels aside. Combine 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar in saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar has dissolved and reduce heat to medium-low. Add peel strips and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and transparent, about 15-20 minutes. Drain (reserve liquid for other use - this lemon simple syrup can be used to sweeten drinks or desserts). Pour remaining sugar in a bowl and toss strips until coated with sugar. Place coated strips onto a sheet of wax paper and let dry overnight (if you’re impatient, you can dry it in a 200°F oven for an hour, checking frequently). Once peels feel dry to touch, dip in melted chocolate and let dry on wax paper. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

The Devil's In The Chocolate Cake
1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix
1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350˚F. In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil beaten eggs and water. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into two well greased 10" cake pans. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake thoroughly in the pans for 5 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack. I freeze the cake after it is cooled before applying the frosting. Makes one devilishly good chocolate cake.

Frosting Ingredients:
2 cups butter (no substitutes), softened
9 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 1/2 cups baking cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk

Procedure for Frosting:
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar, cocoa and vanilla. Add enough milk until frosting reaches spreading consistency.

Chocolate Honey Cake
Ingredients for the Cake:
4 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1 1/3 cups light brown sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup honey, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 cup boiling water

Ingredients for the Sticky Honey Glaze:
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup honey
6 ounces semi sweet chocolate
3/4 cup confectioners sugar

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over boiling water. Set aside to cool slightly. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with wax paper. Sift flour, soda and cocoa together. Beat together the sugar and butter, until airy and creamy. Add the honey. Add eggs one at a time, adding a tablespoon of flour with each. Fold in the melted chocolate, followed by the dry ingredients. Then add the boiling water, mixing well to make a smooth batter. Pour into prepared pan and bake for one hour, or until a cake tester comes out clean. If the cake is still loose after 45 minutes, yet the top is appears quite cooked, gently lay a piece of foil atop the cake. Cool cake completely in the pan on a rack. Remove the sides. Invert it onto a cake plate. (If the top stays just perfectly rounded, yes, flip it back over. If it sinks a bit, inverting the cake will mask the problem.) Slide strips wax paper under the edges to keep the plate free of glaze.

To make the glaze: 
Bring honey and water to a boil. Turn off heat and add the chocolate. Let it rest while the chocolate melts, then whisk gently. Sift the sugar into the pan (to avoid lumps) and whisk until smooth. Make the glaze in plenty of time to let it cool. If you put it on a warm cake or if it is still warm, the glaze will run right off. When the cake is cool and the glaze is room temperature, the honey glaze turns your cake into a shiny, irresistible confection. Slide the paper out from around the edges and serve. Makes 8 servings.

Black Bottom Coconut Cream Pie
pastry for a 1-crust pie, home-made or refrigerated ready-to-use
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream, divided
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cup milk, divided
3 egg yolks
1 (7 ounce) bag (about 2 1/2 cups) sweetened flaked coconut, divided
2 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Line a 9-inch pie plate with the pastry, prick it all over with a fork, line with a double thickness of foil and bake at 375˚F about 20 minutes, until it is beginning to brown. Remove the foil and bake another 5 to 10 minutes, until it is fully brown. (Or follow label directions on premade crust for baking empty.) Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, combine the 2/3 cup of chips and 1/3 cup of the cream in a small saucepan. Stir constantly over low heat until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is completely smooth. Pour into the pie shell, spread if necessary and set aside to cool completely. In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, flour and salt. Add about 1/4 cup of the milk and stir until the mixture is smooth. Add another 3/4 cup or so of the milk in two additions, stirring well after each, then stir in the remaining 2 cups of milk, stirring well. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly; reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, and scraping around the edges of the pan bottom, until the mixture is as thick as pudding – 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Lightly beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Gradually stir in about a cup of the hot milk mixture. Pour this egg-milk mixture into the hot mixture in the pan, stirring well immediately. Cook over low-medium heat, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes, until it thickens again. Remove from heat and stir in 1 1/2 cups of the coconut and the butter, vanilla and almond extract. Let cool 10 minutes, then spoon and pour over the chocolate in the pie shell. Put a sheet of waxed paper right on top of the custard (to keep skin from forming), and chill at least 2 hours. Meanwhile, spread the remaining cup of coconut onto a baking sheet and toast it at 350˚F 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is golden. Cool completely. Whip the remaining 2/3 cup of cream and spread or pipe it on the cooled pie; decorate with toasted coconut. Makes 8 servings.

Flan... The Dark Side!
Flan is one of my favorite desserts. This version uses dark chocolate and a hint of cinnamon, making it even more decadent.

1 (12 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
6 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
4 ounces premium dark chocolate, shaved thin
1 cinnamon stick

Ingredients for Caramel:
1 cup sugar

Make caramel by slowly heating the sugar in a small saucepan until golden and liquid. Be careful not to stir too much, as this will cause crystals to form. Pour the very hot, molten sugar into the flan mold (this can either be a round pan or a bundt pan - I usually use a bundt pan because I like the pretty pattern the flan takes). Be sure to tilt the mold so that the caramel coats the sides. In a small saucepan, heat the milk, cinnamon, and chocolate pieces, stirring occasionally to help the chocolate melt. Let this cool down to just warm and remove the cinnamon stick. Blend the rest of the ingredients together gradually adding the milk mixture. Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour into caramelized pan and bake in a hot water bath (bain marie) for about 50-55 minutes or until golden. Test with a knife or toothpick, it should come out clean. Remove from oven, cool, unmold and serve. (If you are having trouble unmolding the flan, run a small, sharp knife around sides of pan to help release). Makes 8 - 10 servings.

Bourbon Brownies
1/4 cup bourbon (I use Maker's Mark brand bourbon)
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Bring the bourbon to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat. Add the chocolate chips and stir until smooth. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Combine the sugar and butter in a large bowl and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add the vanilla and eggs and beat well. Add the flour mixture and bourbon mixture to the sugar mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Spread batter into a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350˚F for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 20 small brownies.

Chocolate Florentine Lace Cookies
1 3/4 cups sliced, crushed macadamia nuts (about 5 ounces)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
finely grated zest of 1 orange (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
bittersweet chocolate, 4 ounces, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350˚F. Line 1 baking sheet with silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Pulse the nuts in a food processor until finely chopped, but not pasty. Stir together the nuts, flour, zest and salt in a large bowl. Put the sugar, cream, corn syrup and butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a rolling boil and sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, then pour mixture into nut mixture and stir just to combine. Set aside until cool enough to handle, 30 minutes. Scoop rounded teaspoons (for 3-inch cookies) or rounded tablespoons (for 6-inch cookies) of batter and roll into balls. Place on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 3 to 4 inches between each cookie since they spread. Bake 1 pan at a time, until the cookies are thin and an even golden brown color throughout, rotating pans halfway through baking time, about 10 to 11 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for about 20 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool. Repeat with remaining batter. Add 2/3 of the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds and stir. Repeat until the chocolate is just melted, about 3, 20-second increments. Add the rest of the chocolate and stir until all the chocolate is melted. Dip a fork in the melted chocolate and drizzle the tops of the cookies with the chocolate. Freeze the cookies until the chocolate has set, about 15 minutes. Remove the cookies from the freezer. Store baked cookies carefully, separated by parchment or waxed paper, in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. Florentines are best stored separated from moist cookies and cakes. Makes 5 dozen 3-inch Florentines, or 2 1/2 dozen 6-inch Florentines.

Homemade Chocolate Sauce
Homemade chocolate sauce couldn't be easier to make and is much better than that bottled stuff you buy in the grocery store. Great over vanilla ice-cream, or make a large batch and have a chocolate fondue party with fresh fruit for dipping.

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or pure chocolate, chopped)
1/2 cup heavy cream (no substitutions)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour the chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Set aside. Combine the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a small saucepan over low heat. Bring to boil, stirring often. Remove from heat and pour immediately over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Makes about 1 cup.

For even more chocolate recipes, click here.

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