Coeur de Creme au Chocolat

Chocolate cream hearts.  Arn't they pretty?

Chocolate cream hearts. Aren’t they pretty?

Don’t let the French title of this dessert send you into a tizzy.  It means chocolate cream hearts and it’s really easy to make. The oohs and aahs you get when you serve it, will make it all  worthwhile.

This recipe is one that I clipped from a magazine ages ago because it looked so pretty and sounded easy to make.  But then,  I never made it.  Each time I flipped through my recipe notebook looking for something to make I passed this one by.  How could I?   What was the matter with me?  I think I saw it so often that I no longer saw it.   Know what I mean?   But suddenly this year I SAW IT, because I was searching for  things to make for Valentine’s Day, and these hearts jumped out at me and said, “Here we are, make us”.   OK,  all right,  I will!

I am so glad I did.  They are smooth, creamy-dreamy, a little chocolaty, very decadent, and unbelievably good.  And, all it takes to make them is four, count them, four ingredients.

Only four ingredients.

Only four ingredients.

GET THESE:

  • 6   6-inch squares of cheesecloth.  Not an ingredient, but you need this.
  • 1  8-ounce package cream cheese, cut up
  • 2  Tablespoons bottled fudge sauce   I used Dove Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Sauce by Smucker’s.
  • 1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 cup whipping cream

DO THIS:

1.  Moisten the cheesecloth squares.  Line six 1/2 cup molds or custard cups with the cheesecloth, overlapping it so it fits into the mold or cup with an overhang.

Molds lined with cheesecloth.

Molds lined with cheesecloth.

2.  Beat the cheese and the fudge sauce with an electric mixer till well combined.  Add the sugar, beat on high speed till fluffy.

Beat cream cheese with fudge sauce and sugar.

Beat cream cheese with fudge sauce and sugar.

3.  Wash beaters.  In another bowl beat cream till soft peaks form;  fold into the fudge mixture.

Fold in whipped cream.

Fold in whipped cream.

Spoon into molds.  Cover with overhanging cheesecloth.  Quick chill in freezer 30 – 45 minutes or chill in refrigerator 3 – 24 hours.

Fill molds and cover with cheesecloth.

Fill molds and cover with cheesecloth.

4.  To serve:  spoon additional fudge sauce onto serving plates.  Unmold, remove cheesecloth, and drizzle additional fudge sauce over the top.

Unmold heart onto a puddle of chocolate sauce, and drizzle with more chocolate.

Unmold heart onto a puddle of chocolate sauce, and drizzle with more chocolate.

5.  To take this showy dessert one step further,  place a  heart-shaped chocolate on top.

Cap off a special meal with your sweetie by serving this dessert.

Cap off a special meal with your sweetie by serving this dessert.

I never said it was low in calories, but sometimes you just gotta splurge.  If you are feeling really guilty about all this use reduced fat cream cheese like I did.   🙂

The amount you get from this recipe is ample for 6 molds plus more.  I made an additional serving in a custard cup, and I probably could have made another one if I hadn’t licked so much off my fingers, the beaters, the bowl, the spoon, the spatula—–while making it.

Creamy, dreamy, and chocolaty!

Creamy, dreamy, and chocolaty!  Julia would be proud.

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Chicken with Mushrooms and Onions in Balsamic Cream Sauce

Chicken with mushrooms and onions in a balsamic cream sauce.

Chicken with mushrooms and onions in a balsamic cream sauce.

Challenge day # 3 without a refrigerator.  This is the requirement right now:  cook with what you have on hand, ONLY.  Going to the grocery store to fill in the blanks is not an option.   Today these were the food items that had priority for usage:  a package of 6 chicken tenders that had defrosted,  a half-package of mushrooms,  some  light cream, and part of a can of chicken broth.  To those ingredients I added 1 large onion, some balsamic vinegar and some butter to come up with what turned out to be a very good chicken dish.

The chicken tenders worked well because they cooked quickly, and remained tender in the cream sauce.  You could also use boneless chicken breasts, cut vertically in half, so they are not too thick.  The amount of sauce is plentiful, so it’s a good idea to plan rice or noodles to spoon it over.  I used a package of herbed rice pilaf with our meal.  To go along with this I used up the leftover  herbed butternut squash from day #1.

This is how I created this entree:     CHICKEN WITH BALSAMIC CREAM SAUCE, MUSHROOMS AND ONIONS

YIELD:   Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • Chicken tenders, at least 6 pieces, or 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut vertically in half.
  • Chicken Tenders

    Chicken Tenders

  • 1 large onion, cut vertically in half, then sliced into “half-moons”.
  • A large onion, cut into "half-moons".

    A large onion, cut into “half-moons”.

  • 1 pkg. mushrooms, (or less), sliced or halved

    Mushrooms, butter, and chicken broth.

    Mushrooms, butter, and chicken broth.

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2  cup cream, light cream, or half and half
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Over medium heat, in a large skillet, melt 1 Tablespoon butter.

Hot skillet with butter melted.

Hot skillet with butter melted.

Add the sliced onions, reduce heat to low and sauté until nicely caramelized, about 15 minutes.  Remove to a bowl, and set aside.

Nicely browned, caramelized onions.

Nicely browned, caramelized onions.

2.  Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons butter in the same skillet, add chicken pieces and cook to brown each side.  Chicken will not be fully cooked at this point.  Remove to a plate.

Chicken browned, but not thoroughly cooked.

Chicken browned, but not thoroughly cooked.

3.  Deglaze the pan with the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits into the broth.  Add the cream and balsamic vinegar and stir.  Add the mushrooms and salt and pepper.  Decrease heat to low and simmer a few minutes.

Saute mushrooms, add broth and cream.

Saute mushrooms, add broth and cream.

4.  Bring heat back up to medium.  Add the chicken and onions to the pan mixture and cook the chicken all the way through.

5.  To serve, transfer chicken pieces to a serving dish, pour mushroom-onion-cream-sauce over the top and garnish with parsley if you wish.  (I did not have any parsley on hand.)

A satisfying dish of chicken,  mushrooms and onions in a rich cream sauce.

A satisfying dish of chicken, mushrooms and onions in a rich cream sauce.

Our assessment of this dish?  My husband said ” UHMMM! this is great”.  But he loves mushrooms, so anything with mushrooms in it is AOK with him.  I thought it was a very good combination of flavors.  Most importantly for me is that the chicken remained moist and tender.  I always worry about white meat chicken becoming dried out, tough and chewy, but this didn’t.  The cream in the sauce smoothed out the tang of the vinegar, with the vinegar providing a dark color to the sauce. The mushrooms and onions rounded out the dish and were a good compliment over all.  I’m glad I made rice to go with it to put the sauce on.  I will definitely be making this dish again.

SOURCE:   A Carolyn Original

Cap’n Crunch Scones

Cap’n Crunch Scones

Cap’n Crunch is haunting me!…  I thought I was done with him years ago, but here he is back again; reinvented in a new form.  Oh, but what a form it is!   Scones, one of the (many) loves of my life, containing “The Cap’n”, plus cream, plus corn.  A rather odd combination, but somehow it works, and the resulting scones are just great.  You must try them and see for yourself.  They’re not just for breakfast, and definitely not just for kids.

In my previous experience with Cap’n Crunch cereal, when eaten for breakfast it seemed to soak up the milk and become very soggy, thus losing its appeal for me.   I prefer to snack on the cereal dry which provides lots of crunch—of course, that’s what the name says it should do, so what’s up with becoming so mushy when wet?   I know, I’m rambling, so back to the point;  in this recipe you want the cereal to become mushy so you puree it to get crumbs, then add cream for the crumbs to soak up.

CAP’N CRUNCH SCONES

YIELD:   Makes 8 large scones

CEREAL PUREE

  • 1 cup Cap’n Crunch Cereal, ground in the food processor
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

SCONES

  • 1 1/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/2 cup Cap’n Crunch Cereal
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup cereal puree, from above
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon butter flavor (optional)

GARNISH

  • 1/4 cup cereal puree, from above
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • additional Cap’n Crunch cereal for garnish

DIRECTIONS

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or grease a scone pan.

2.  For the cereal puree:  Grind 1 cup of cereal in the food processor; place in a bowl or measuring cup and add the heavy cream.  Stir; set aside to soak while you measure the rest of the ingredients.

Pureed cereal with cream added.

3.  For the scones:  Put the corn and 1/2 cup cereal in the food processor and puree until smooth.**  Place the mixture in a bowl and whisk in the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in the butter until it’s in lumps the size of peas.

   ** My corn was still a little frozen, so I didn’t get a smooth puree.

Add the 3/4 cup cereal puree, egg, vanilla, and butter flavoring, if using.  Mix until the dough comes together, then pat into an 8-inch circle on the prepared pan, or portion the dough into the wells of the scone pan.  If baking on a sheet pan, cut the dough into 8 wedges, then back up each wedge so there’s 1/2″ of space between each one. ( Leave adequate room between them as they tend to spread a bit.)

4.  Combine the 1/4 cup cereal puree and 1/4 cup heavy cream and use to brush the tops of the scones and then decorate each one with additional pieces of cereal.

Brush tops with more puree and decorate with pieces of cereal.

5.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.  Remove from the oven and serve warm.

Warm from the oven. Ummmmh, so good!

SOURCE:   The Baking Sheet,  King Arthur,  Holiday 2012

White Peach Sherbet

White Peach Sherbet

Keeping with the subject of peaches, I decided to give this recipe a try for two reasons:  first, I have a new ice-cream maker and couldn’t wait to give it a whirl, and two, I have an abundance of peaches that are ripening too fast.  So here we go—-Peach Sherbet,  you can’t wish for a better summer dessert, as far as I am concerned.

Even though the recipe calls for white peaches, regular yellow peaches will do fine.  In fact, the peach flavor may even be a little more pronounced.  The amount of sugar required is given as a range, so taste your peaches to determine sweetness and use the amount of sugar that suits you best.  In my sherbet I used 3/4 cup sugar. The idea of putting fresh herbs in the mixture was intriguing to me.  I used basil.  However I did not note any taste of basil in the finished sherbet.  I would suggest that you muddle the herbs with a small amount of the sugar to release some of their oils before adding to the mixture.

You will notice that the recipe lists vodka as an ingredient.  You can omit this if you prefer.  In my version I used my peach liqueur.  The purpose of the alcohol is to keep the sherbet from freezing too solidly.  Lastly, note that  the liquid portion of the recipe is 1 cup of heavy cream, but you can use light cream, half and half, or milk, thereby reducing the fat content and calories.  This recipe leaves room to experiment so play around with it, have fun, and see what you come up with.  I’d love to hear about your ideas!

WHITE PEACH SHERBET:

These pretty peaches are about to lose their skins.

SERVES:   Makes about one quart

INGREDIENTS

  •  2 & 1/2 pounds ripe white peaches, peeled
  • juice of 1 lemon  (2-3 Tbs.)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup sugar  Adjust according to sweetness of peaches.
  • 2 sprigs herbs such as basil, lavender or mint
  • 1 Tablespoon Vodka or peach liqueur
  • 1 cup heavy cream ( or half and half, light cream or milk)

DIRECTIONS

1.  Coarsely chop peaches,  then mash with a potato masher.

2.  Stir in lemon juice, sugar and herbs.  Cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour.

3.  Stir in vodka, then cream.  Discard herbs.

4.  Freeze in an ice cream maker, as manufacturer directs.  Transfer to a chilled container and freeze for about 2 hours or up to 2 weeks.

This was cool, creamy and delicious.

SOURCE:   Better Homes and Gardens, e-mail newsletter