I'm amazed at how superior your vanilla is!
- Des, The Grommet
I opened the bottle of your vanilla extract last weekend to bake some cookies and the difference in taste is extraordinary." – Judy

Tin Roof Ice Cream

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 My grandsons were asking my daughter for stories about her childhood and she told them about the box freezer her grandparents kept in their basement filled with ice cream. Wide eyed, they wanted to know what her favorite flavor was. She told them Tin Roof Sundae. Despite it’s popular surge in the early 80’s, Tin Roof Sundae has since declined both in popularity and availability, but when the boys heard it was made with peanuts, chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream they knew they had to try it.

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Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse Tart

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While this recipe involves some time and dedication, it isn’t difficult. It was inspired by a recipe in Sunset magazine, which I’ve adapted. For instance, the original recipe called for two tablespoons of hazelnut liquor, such as Frangelico. The local liquor store didn’t have any “shooter” bottles and I didn’t want to invest in a large bottle, so I added some extra vanilla extract.

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A Knock-Out Vanilla-Bean Ice Cream Sandwich

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Fresh off the press, Jennie Schacht’s latest book, I Scream Sandwich is out in time for summer. Here’s what she says about the following recipe:

The It’s-It company began selling scoops of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between old-fashioned oatmeal cookies, all cloaked in chocolate, at San Francisco’s Playland at the Beach in 1928. By the time I moved to the area in 1978, the It’s-It was a well-established local phenomenon. I’ve filled my version of the novelty with a not-overly-sweet vanilla frozen custard.

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Rose Red Velvet Cake

Courtesy of Rose Levy Beranbaum, Real Baking With Rose

I long resisted the charms of Rose Red Velvet Cake, believing it to be merely a layer cake tinted red with a bottle of food coloring. But when several people on my blog sang its praises, I decided to investigate it more thoroughly. It turns out that there is more to this cake than its shocking color. This beloved southern cake is traditionally prepared with oil, a mere suspicion of cocoa, and a teaspoon of white vinegar, which raises the acidity of the batter and intensifies its color. The liquid component is usually buttermilk, which is thought to raise the acidity as well, although the baking soda normally used neutralizes most of the acidity and makes the crumb more coarse and the color darker. So, when I created my
version of this classic, I used only baking powder to employ the full acidity of the buttermilk, making vinegar unnecessary. I also used half oil and half butter for the flavor-enhancing qualities of butter and the moist, softening quality of the oil. The resulting cake is as flavorful and tender as you can hope for and stays soft enough to eat even straight from the fridge. A heart-shape pan is perfect for Valentine’s Day. And the contrast of the white chocolate cream cheese buttercream against the red cake is alluring.

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Double Chocolate Raspberry Tofu Torte With Raspberry Coulis

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Densely rich and chocolatey, this gluten-free, dairy-free torte will surpass your expectations.  It did mine.    It’s perfect for vegans as well as those of us who can’t tolerate gluten or dairy.  A sensational, show-stopping dessert, it’s especially good with raspberries and raspberry coulis. Even those people who recoil at the idea of tofu, would never guess that this dessert contains tofu.

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Sweet Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache

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Courtesy of Susie Norris, author of Chocolate Bliss

Susie says about ganache:  Ganache is one of the great creations of the chocolate world.  it is a very versatile emulsion of melted chocolate and cream.  It can be poured as a glaze, whipped to make icing, piped to decorate cakes, shaped into truffles, thickened with butter, flavored with alcohol and herbal infusions, or blended with fruit.  While you can certainly make ganache by hand with warm chocolate, warm cream, and a whisk, the food-processor method, below, is favored by many pastry chefs and chocolatiers.  The rapid action of the machine’s blades creates a smooth texture and a very stable emulsion.  Immersion blenders work well too.  If you envision a cake with thick icing layers and decorations, double this recipe.  (The perfect chocolate cake for ganache?  Gift of the Gods Cake, also by Susie Norris.)

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Gift of the Gods Cake

Courtesy of Susie Norris, author of Chocolate Bliss

Susie says, This is my favorite fudge cake. It is light, but also buttery, chocolaty, soft, and moist. Its texture is strong enough to hold up to butter cream, which can drag a lesser cake down. This cake works well with Sweet Bittersweet Ganache (recipe below.)   

Makes 2 (8-inch) cake layers

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Creamy, Cooked Chocolate Mousse

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Chocolate that is smooth and rich in flavor is ideal for using in mousse.

You can use either milk or dark chocolate, but if you use milk, make certain that it is at least 35% cacao.

What’s special about this recipe is that it’s cooked.  Most mousses are not cooked, which can be a problem for anyone with a compromised immune system.  While cooking adds an extra step, you don’t need to be concerned about using eggs.

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Heavenly Brownie-on-Shortbread Bars

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 Courtesy of Flo Braker

Here’s a fun recipe from Flo’s book, Baking for All Occasions.  It makes a great hostess
gift as do many of her delectable recipes.

Flo says:  Baking the silky, intense chocolate topping on crunchy (firm) shortbread makes for neatly cut brownies that will lend panache to any dessert time. 

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For an update on the 2016 vanilla shortage, please see "Why is Vanilla so Expensive?"

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