Coffee Break


(photo courtesy of

I like to start the morning with a brew - brewed coffee that is. I used to drink gallons of coffee throughout the day. I could never seem to get enough caffeine goodness. Then I decided I was getting too much of a good thing and thought it might be time to back off.  I knew people who were drinking coffee substitutes from herbs and maya nuts, but that was a bit much for me to entertain. I decided a cup o' joe a day would be sufficient. However, that cup has now lead to two. Part of the reason I cut back was that I was beginning to have problems sleeping. Shocking! This is not an area where I generally have issues. I used to do six hours now I love 8 or 9. On any given rainy afternoon, I'm happy to nap as well. I've gradually acclimated myself to two cups of coffee - one in the morning and one in the afternoon - without any sleep disturbances so all is right with my world. My mother drinks decaf. She loves it.  I can't knock what makes her happy, but I'd rather swallow swords. My other afternoon indulgence is a bit of chocolate with my coffee. Perfect!


(photo courtesy of

Flourless Chocolate Cake recipe makes go-to holiday cake

Simple yet sensationalThis is my go-to holiday and special occasion cake - Flourless Chocolate Cake made with a recipe first introduced by Gourmet magazine in November 1997.

The recipe is simple enough for a novice cook, yet special enough, with all its gooey, chocolate-y goodness, for experienced cooks to bake it again and again.

This chocolate all-star is a fixture of my son's birthday parties as well as Thanksgiving and Christmas dessert menus. If I want to make the chocolate lovers in my life delirious with bliss, this is the cake I bake to up their serotonin levels dramatically.

There is nothing not to love about a cake that looks this good, tastes this good and is done, ready to serve in under an hour - including clean up.

I prefer to serve it with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream or seasonal fruits.

Flourless Chocolate Cake Gourmet | November 1997

Can be prepared in 45 minutes or less.

Yield: Makes one 8-inch cake


4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for sprinkling

Accompaniment if desired: Coconut Lime Sorbet


Preheat oven to 375°F and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of wax paper and butter paper.

Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth.

Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs and whisk well. Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate.

Dust cake with additional cocoa powder and serve with sorbet if desired. (Cake keeps, after being cooled completely, in an airtight container, 1 week.)

Triple chocolate-cookie trifle cake easy to make

This no-bake cake is so-good and so-easy

There is nothing I like better than a delicious dessert which looks fabulous and makes me look like a kitchen genie. 

I don't know about you, but I love looking like I slaved over a dessert when really I barely spent an hour mixing and stirring and molding. 

This is that cake.  It's gorgeous. Anyone - no matter your expertise in the kitchen - can make this creamy, dreamy dessert.

The Triple Chocolate-Cookie Trifle Cake is a keeper.

Key ingredients

Adapted from a recipe in Southern Living.

Yield Makes 10 to 12 servings

Triple Chocolate-Cookie Trifle Cake


* 4 cups heavy cream, divided

* 1 1/2 (4-oz) bittersweet chocolate baking bars, chopped

* 1 (4-oz) white chocolate baking bar, chopped

* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* 1 (12.5-oz) package assorted Pepperidge Farm cookies

* 1 (18-oz) package Oreo cookies

Crushed Oreo cookie crust

* 2 tablespoons Kahlua  (optional)

* 1 (6-oz) container fresh raspberries


Let cream come to room temperature before preparing the cake's filling.

Microwave 1/2 cup cream at HIGH 30 seconds to 1 minute or until hot (do not boil). Place bittersweet chocolate in a large bowl. Pour hot cream over chocolate, and stir until smooth.

Repeat procedure with 1/4 cup cream and white chocolate.

If chocolate does not melt completely after stirring, microwave at HIGH for 10-second intervals until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Melting white chocolate for the cake filling

Stir 1/2 tsp. vanilla into each chocolate mixture until well blended. 

Beat remaining cream at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until medium peaks form. Gently fold one-half of whipped cream into cool bittersweet chocolate mixture. Fold remaining whipped cream into cool white chocolate mixture.

In food processor, crush half the package of Oreos. Sprinkle crushed cookies on the bottom of a lightly greased 9-inch springform pan, then spread half of bittersweet chocolate mixture over the crushed cookies. Arrange Pepperidge Farm cookies around sides of pan (about 19 cookies). Note: You might wish to buy an extra package of cookies in case of damage or breakage. 

Process the remaining Oreos and spread over the bittersweet chocolate, then spread the white chocolate

Mixing up the chocolate cream filling

mixture over this layer. Drizzle with liqueur, if desired.

Spread the remaining bittersweet chocolate mixture over the crushed cookies.Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours.

Remove sides from pan. Mound raspberries in center of trifle. Raspberries may be brushed with a glaze.

Raspberry Glaze: Combine 3 Tbsp. seedless raspberry jam and 2 tsp. water in a small glass bowl. Microwave at HIGH 10 to 15 seconds or until smooth.

Creating the cookie crust

Layering the chocolate cream filling.


Ready to chill for 8-24 hours.

Unmolding the finished product

Finished Triple Chocolate Cookie Trifle Cake

Top Paris pastry chef opens Nutella patissierie

Nutella is my secret vice

I am of a certain age, which here means that I can remember a time that Nutella was sadly NOT available in US groceries.

I remember stashing jars of the chocolatey, nutty goodness in my suitcase to hold me until my next trip over the pond.

Thank goodness this indignity has been rectified, although I still think the European product far superior to what we mere Nutella newbies get stateside. And technically, US Nutella is manufactured in Canada.

For those of you fortunate enough to find yourselves in Paris, My Little Paris, the insider's guide to La Ville-Lumière or the City of Lights, suggests La pâtisserie des rêves (93 rue du Bac, 7th Metro Rue du Bac or Sèvres Babylone tel : 00 33 1 42 84 00 82) where pastry chef Phillippe Conticini creates the recipes in his cookbook,Sensations Nutella dedicated exclusively to the jar of chocolately, nutty deliciousness.

We can't think of anything more divine.

Norman Love Confections Unveils New Flavors

Simply delicious Norman Love Confections Seven new handcrafted white, milk and dark chocolate flavors have been introduced into award-winning Norman Love Confections' (NLC) 2009 product line complete with 36 flavors and its new ultra-premium dark chocolate line titled BLACK.

New 2009 flavors include: Banana Nut Bread; Chocolate Pretzel; Creole Truffle; Honey Toffee Truffle; Key Lime Shell; Passion Panna Cotta; and Toasted Almond.

Chocolatier and founder of NLC Norman Love explains that through a collaborative process, his team works to put together identifiable single flavors stemming from American foods and beverages.

"Regardless of the new flavors we focus on making each piece of premium chocolate perfect with the freshest ingredients," Love says. "We also try our best to transfer the flavor profile with an aesthetic. Americans eat with their eyes, so delivering a visual wow factor in addition to the taste wow is critical

The 2009 new flavors focus on comfort foods and popular American dishes. "Many of us have memories of our mom or grandmother as a child from the kitchen," Love states. "Who cannot recall the fresh baked smell of banana nut bread?"

Following is a description of the newly unveiled 2009 flavors:

Banana Nut Bread: A rich banana ganache with roasted walnuts and a touch of vanilla.

Chocolate Pretzel: A fun and flavorful pairing crunchy baked pretzels and rich dark chocolate.

Creole Truffle: A 49% dark Venezuelan Chocolate made from Criolo beans and blended with cream and butter.

Honey Toffee Truffle
: A buttery vanilla toffee ganache made with Tasmanian Honey and blended with Swiss milk chocolate.

Key Lime Shell: Classic and simple, made with fresh key lime juice and the feeling of a little Florida sunshine with each bite.

Passion Panna Cotta: A light buttermilk ganache layered with passion fruit and vanilla jam covered in white chocolate.

Toasted Almond: Roasted almonds blended into a Swiss white chocolate ganache and accented with a touch of amaretto and Kahlua.

All of NLC's regular assorted boxes are available in 10-, 15-, 18-, 25- and 36-piece boxes starting at $22 for the 10-piece box (prices do not including shipping and applicable taxes).

For those visiting NLC's chocolate salon in Ft. Myers, Florida, they can indulge in a piece of luxury for as little as $1.50.

Life by Chocolate loves Mom & so should you

As a Mom, I know what Moms like (and you can sorta sing that to the tune of Know What Girls Like).

Moms like chocolate.  And lots of it.  But not bad, waxy, low cacao, high sugar content chocolate.

We like good chocolate.

This is the sort of chocolate we want to see stretched out to us in the chubby, baby hands:
Chili and dark chocolates from Life by Chocolate

Mark LaPolla, owner of Life by Chocolate artisan chocolaterie in Greenville, NY, has these dark & spicy lovelies as well as many more for that special Mother in your life (and we're not playing here).

Buy one for Mom, one for me for letting you know what's good, and one for yourself.  

The Tao of chocolate

oliver kita making chocolate

For the Tao in cacao, look no further than Rhinebeck chocolaterie Oliver Kita Fine Confections.

Kita, a chef for 20 years, turned his obsession "for cooking and baking with the perfumes and flavors of chocolate, flowers, herbs, citrus, exotic fruits, berries, nuts, and spices" into a second passion  -- the hand-crafting of fine chocolates.

Using the best organic and fair trade products sourced in France and Switzerland, Kita makes magic in his upstate confectionery. 

For seekers of chocolate Nirvana, he created the Woodstock Buddha, 65% Valrhona Madagascar Solid Dark chocolate shimmering with edible gold dust ($22.75) and the Eight-fold Path of Chocolate Awareness, eight miniature solid dark chocolate Buddhas with a cacao pod blossom in the center ($22.00)

The devout chocolate worshipper of the Christian persuasion, can choose from the pearlized Virgin Mary, Holy Queen of the Universe manifested in chocolate and empowerin prayers for peace ($19.95) or the 12-piece Cloister Clusters, a rapturous experience of chocolate faith with six each of Trois Nonnes and six each of Trois Prêtes ($30).

Kita's trademark slogan is Mind, Body, Body, Chocolate, Everyday. We couldn't agree more. Praise Buddha and pass the truffles!

A Culinary Institute of America gradiuate, the chef turned chocolatier studied his sweet craft at L’Ecole Lenotre, Paris, L’Ecole du Grand Chocolat Valrhona, and Academy du Chocolat, Barry-Callebaut, Montreal.

His line of artisan fine chocolates is defined by "a remarkable quality using superlative French organic and Swiss sources complemented by traditional French methods and the finest ingredients.  Kita's handcrafted designs meld, "heavy satin cream, award-winning sweet butter, the finest fruits, low sugar, and carefully selected and roasted nuts."

And for the person who puts in a special performance in  your life: the edible Oscar, a solid chocolate Oscar statuette decorated with edible gold luster dust ($32.00).

Oliver Kita Fine Confections
6815 Route 9
Astor Square No. 8
Rhinebeck, New York 12572
To order by telephone:
(845) 876-2665

Email: [email protected]