Saturday, October 15, 2005

Chocolate fun!

Last night was very fun. Of course, how can chocolate ever NOT be fun. ;-) While I don't always find Pampered Chef parties fun, this one was. Part of that, I'm sure, can be contributed to the consultant who was very laid back and low-pressure. I also had people come that I didn't actually expect to come, and some neighbors, both old and new. So it was a good time. I got to know a few people better that I didn't know very well before, so that is always a bonus.

On to the chocolate. I didn't do anything overly complicated, but since it was a chocolate party, I felt I needed to have a good representation of chocolate here. I started with fudge. This was a super simple fudge that I added a few things- and by far was my favorite item of the evening. It was basic Eagle Brand fudge, only I mixed in some orange zest, craisins, and pecans, and oh yum. Next I made a batch of brownies. My favorite brownie currently is the one on a can of Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa. I would post the recipe- but since you need that specific cocoa to make the brownies- just go buy yourself a can. The recipe is on there. :-) Finally I made chocolate mousse cups. I made a simpel mousse with whipped cream, dark chocolate, and cinnamon. Next I took some frozen phyllo cups and brushed white chocolate on the top edge and a dollop on the bottom. I piped in the mousse, sprinkled on some edible glitter and had mousse cups. They turned out pretty darn good too.

Rounding out the evening for me, I made a centerpiece of chocolate chips. I used a bowl of dark, white, and swirl chocolate chips in three seperate bowls, surrounded by chocolate candy corn. It was nice and simple. I also made a simple punch using 7-Up, Pineapple juice, and orange sherbet. That was quite yummy and I will do again. And for those who cared to, of course, you cannot have chocolate without a glass of wine- right?

The PC rep made a skillet fudge cake which was okay, and a cold chocolate fondue. That was silly in my opinion, but then I have become a bit of a food snob as of late. She took chocolate chips and melted them, then stirred them into some Cool Whip and added a sprinkle of cinnamon. It certainly wasn't fondue. It was a dip, but it was more mousse-like than anything, and I think they would be better to call it chocolate mousse dip than fondue. Of course, I've been staying away from Cool Whip anyway- all that high fructose corn syrup...yucky. Give me real whipped cream anyday. The fudge cake was a devils food cake mix baked in a skillet. She took some caramel sundae topping and mixed in some chocolate chips and melted them together. Voila, topping for cake. And of course, decorated with Cool Whip squeezed out of a decorator. A little silly for me and my taste, but not bad considering some of the PC recipes I have experienced over time.

And for my non-chocolate contribution I made a cold Greek inspired pizza. I really went back and forth on whether or not I needed something non-chocolate, and I'm glad that I did decide to do that. I started with a purchased pizza crust (Gasp! The horror- I know, I know). Then I took some Chive cream cheese, stirred in some mayo, lemon juice, and Penzey's Greek Seasoning, and made a sauce for the pizza. I topped this with some pre-cooked chicken breast chopped up, marinated artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, tomatoes, feta cheese, and green onions. I guess it was pretty good. I never actually got a chance to have a piece, but I had back ups in case I needed to toss together a quick second pizza, so I may make it up for lunch today.

Here is the recipe for Eagle Brand Fudge, followed by my quantities for the Orange-Cranberry Pecan additions. I want to add that I have successfully made this with both the low fat and the fat free condensed milk- so if you,d rather- go nuts.

1 can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk.
1 1/2 pkgs. chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

Melt chocolate chips and condensed milk together in the microwave for about 2 minutes. Stir until melted and combined. Stir in vanilla and pour into an 8x8 pan lined with plastic wrap and sprayed with cooking spray. Let cool and harden for several hours before cutting. Add nuts if desired.

Chocolate Cranberry version:

Along with the vanilla, stir in:
FInely grated zest of 1 orange
3/4 cup craisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans

The craisins make it take a little longer for the fudge to set up, so give it overnight before cutting into it. This is a hard step to follow- but you will be rewarded with fabulous orange fudge with yummy bursts of sweetness inside.

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