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Suzie’s Next Day Chili

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Thank you guys for sticking with me through my “no recipes” week! I had a lot of fun with it, especially reading all your comments about the pigs you’d like to make fly on Danielle’s Flying Pig. If you didn’t catch that post, you might want to check it out–there is a giveaway for one of Danielle’s kumquat bath & body sets on it, and the deadline for entry is this Thursday. (Update: this giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Ken!)

Now, let’s get back to the recipes, shall we? I’ve got enough saved up that I’m going to be sharing all OLD recipes that I’ve been saving especially for December, which means, you guessed it, LOTS of sweets. Which is why I’m starting off with a savory recipe, to stabilize your blood sugar in preparation for all the sweetness that is soon to come your way from my blog. :)

“You know I luvs you…I have never, ever shared this recipe with anyone!! I’ve been making it for about 10 years now.  :)”

This was the note at the end of the recipe my friend, Suzie, emailed me for her Next Day Chili.  She’s been holding an annual chili cook-off in her neighborhood for the last five years and her chili has won four years out of those five.  She doesn’t allow herself to win the prize since it’s her contest, but hers is almost always voted number one!  She has kept the recipe secret, telling everyone that if they could guess some of the secret ingredients she used, she would share it, but no one ever has.  Knowing all this, I still had the audacity to ask for the recipe.  And I was pleasantly surprised when she obliged me!  (I guess I’m just irresistible, right? LOL!)

I was so excited to get my hands on such a precious recipe, and promised I wouldn’t share it on my blog, thinking she’d want me to keep the secret recipe a secret.  But she surprised me again by granting me permission to share it here.  WOW!  Thank you, Suzie!  Don’t we feel special?! :)

Usually, I like my chili with lots of beans and veggies, so I was actually pretty nervous to make this since it only has one can of beans and a scant 1/2 cup of onion for veggies.  When a friend shares a recipe with you that you’ve never tried, do you get nervous that you won’t like it?  I’m probably ridiculous, but I feel almost obligated to like a recipe that comes highly recommended from a friend, and sometimes put off making it just for the fear that I won’t like it and will have to disappoint the friend when I tell them.  But not this time!  I was nervous, but I wasn’t going to wait–this recipe is special.

Well, I needn’t have worried.  This chili is spectacular!  Spicy, hearty, meaty, with a wonderful & unique flavor. Once you scan the ingredients, you’ll see why it doesn’t taste like any other chili.  I bet you’ve never seen a chili recipe with bacon, chorizo, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire, sage, or maple syrup in it!   My husband loved it and ate most of the batch by himself.  In fact, he told me this was his favorite of any chili I’ve ever made!  This is also the only chili that Suzie’s husband will eat so I’d say this is some real man-pleasin’ chili.

Thank you, Suzie, for sharing your wonderful recipe with us!  Rock on, Chili Queen. :)

Suzie’s Next Day Chili

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

3 lbs. good ground beef
1 lb. chorizo
1/2 lb. bacon
1 tablespoon bacon grease
1 can Bush’s mild chili beans, undrained
1/2 cup diced white onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt (or 2 1/4 teaspoons table salt)
1 teaspoon dried sage
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3-5 tablespoons hot sauce (depending on your taste)
1/2 cup chili powder (more if desired)
1 teaspoon dried cilantro (or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped)
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
1-2 cups chicken or beef broth (or mix 1/2 and 1/2), depending on desired thickness
1 (6 oz.) can of tomato paste
1 (46 oz) can tomato juice
Red pepper flakes, to taste

Brown beef and chorizo. Drain grease, cover and set aside. Slice 1/2 lb. bacon into 1 inch pieces. Cook bacon until crisp, set aside on paper towels to drain off excess fat. Take 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease and add to the burger/chorizo mixture. Add all remaining ingredients, except bacon, to a large pot. Simmer for 3 hours, stirring occasionally and tasting to adjust salt, pepper, chili powder and red pepper flakes to taste. Let cool for an hour or so and then refrigerate overnight. Refrigerate the bacon separately.  Simmer again the next day for 2-3 hours, adding bacon the last hour. It’s now ready to serve.

Suzie recommends serving with homemade cornbread, so I served mine with Lighter Northern Cornbread.  I also have a southern-style Homestead Cornbread recipe if you like yours without sugar and flour.

Recipe source: Suzie S.

Chocolate Decadence


This is a dessert served on the Carnival Cruise ships (or at least it used to be in the late 90s), which I have made several times for my Mother as her birthday cake.  It is one of her favorite cakes, right up there with THE Mocha Crunch Cake, and just as rich…and decadent.  They aren’t kidding when they named this dessert, it really is chocolate decadence.  No better way to describe it.

I originally made this according to their recipe, which is actually broken up into parts, referring to basic recipes in the “Chef’s Notes” in the back of the Carnival Creations cookbook for everything but the mousse layer.  The cake consists of four recipes all combined to make one dessert: the cake layer, the mousse layer, the thin ganache layer, and the strawberry sauce.  I felt that the chocolate sponge cake they used was much too dry for the dessert, and lacked in chocolate flavor since it contained only a few tablespoons of the good stuff.  So I replaced it with my own simple one-bowl deep chocolate cake layer and was pleased with the result.  It’s my first attempt at my own cake recipe and while it’s probably not perfect, it was perfect for this dessert.  Moist, rich and fudgy, nicely complementing the rich rum-infused chocolate mousse.

I stuck with the recipe for the mousse, as that was always lovely and really is the star of the dessert.  It firms up in the fridge and when you take a bite, it’s akin to eating a lightly textured truffle with cake underneath.  Superb.  My middle sister says it almost seems like you’re eating candy rather than cake but I say…it’s the best of both worlds!

When it came to the ganache layer, I considered making a real ganache, using heavy cream, but realized that since this dessert is served from the refrigerator and real ganache gets rock hard when chilled, it would be prudent to stick with this thinner ganache (or what I’ll now call a chocolate sauce) which thickens a little in the fridge but it still nice and soft when you cut into it.

As for the strawberry sauce, their recipe doesn’t make nearly enough (individual tastes may vary, but my family enjoyed having a large puddle of sauce on their plate beneath the small slices I served.  Although the cake is wonderful alone, every bite seems improved when accompanied by a good dose of strawberry sauce!) and I wanted to use a bag of frozen strawberries I had in the freezer rather than buy fresh out of season, so I made my own recipe.  You can use any recipe you like for the sauce, but if you want to use mine, you can click the link to it below.

This cake went over very well with my family.  Although my Mom has always liked it, even in the days when I made it with the dry sponge cake underneath, the rest of my family never got very excited about it until I replaced the cake this time.  Apparently that was the only change it needed, besides the increased amount of sauce.  My little sister usually prefers citrus cakes (preferably unfrosted), but she proclaimed this “the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had.”  I have to admit, I felt a little piqued at this since her devotion previously belonged to my beloved Mocha Crunch Cake, the cake I prize most…but I got over it because ultimately she still giving high praise to something I created.  I’ll take it. :)

The recipe is a bit time-consuming since there are so many parts, but you can pace yourself and make the sauce several days in advance, the cake the day before (wrapping it in plastic wrap and refrigerating in the mean time), and since the cake needs to sit in the fridge overnight after you make the mousse and place the cake on top (which will later be flipped over), you can wait until the next day to make the ganache if you want.  Take it little by little and it won’t seem so overwhelming.

I hope you give this one a try for a special occasion–it is worth the effort and sure to impress!

Chocolate Decadence

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

Cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (I used coconut milk beverage)
¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
¼ cup warm water
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mousse
1 lb. semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup Myers rum
6 egg yolks
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream

Chocolate Sauce
1/3 cup whole milk
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (about 1/2 cup chips)
1 teaspoon butter, softened

For serving:
Strawberry Sauce
Whipped Cream

Make the cake: Sift dry ingredients into a bowl, stir, and then add the remaining ingredients. Beat with a whisk until smooth, scraping down bowl. Pour into a greased and floured round 8” pan. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until tester inserted in center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Cool five minutes on rack in pan, then remove from pan to cool completely, about 1-2 hours.

Make the mousse*: gently melt semisweet chocolate in a double boiler or microwave; stir in whipping cream. Cool. When cool enough that butter will not melt, beat in butter. Stir in rum. In large bowl beat egg yolks and sugar on high speed for 5 minutes or until very light; fold into chocolate mixture. In large bowl beat whipping cream until soft peaks form; fold into chocolate mixture. Line an 8” round baking pan with enough plastic wrap that it comes over the sides; spread mousse into pan. Place cake top side down on top of the mousse and press down to make sure that every part of the cake is in contact with the mousse and that the top is flat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Make the chocolate sauce: Place the chocolate in a food processor or blender. Heat the milk until steaming hot, then turn on the food processor and, while running, pour the hot milk through the feed tube. Blend until smooth and allow to cool.

To serve: Place cake plate upside down on top of the cake, then flip over. Lift the cake pan off the cake (you may have to wiggle it or have someone hold down on the plastic wrap “handles” while you lift the pan).  Remove plastic wrap; spread chocolate sauce over the top and refrigerate for at least ten minutes. Cut into 16 slices; serve with a dollop of whipped cream and strawberry sauce.

*Veronica’s note: I only make this cake once every three or so years, so I can’t recall my previous experiences with the mousse very well, but this time I had problems with the mixture wanting to get too thick every time I let it sit so I could beat eggs or beat whipped cream. To soften it back up before adding those elements, I just rebeat it with the same hand-held mixer I had just used on the eggs or whipped cream, then folded them in. I’m not sure if this is usual or if I overheated my chocolate (which can make chocolate thicker if it doesn’t altogether seize up) so I wanted to mention it just in case others had this difficulty. It is surmountable so do not despair! :)

Per serving (without sauce or whipped cream): 473 calories; 30.5 g fat; 50.5 g carb; 3.2 g fiber; 5 g protein

2 tablespoons strawberry sauce: 42 calories; 0 g fat; 11 g carb; .6 g fiber; .1 g protein

Recipe source: cake and strawberry sauce recipes by Veronica Miller; mousse recipe, dessert concept, and chocolate sauce adapted from Carnival Creations.

Rich Chocolate and Caramel Cake

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My friend, Jaci, in Texas contacted me last week to order a cake for her sister’s birthday. Her sister and I are both in Kansas and she figured since she was unable to make a cake for her herself, she’d get the next best thing.

After she told me that Liz loves chocolate and caramel, I started brainstorming and finally settled on this conconction: two layers of devil’s food cake, filled with caramel buttercream, iced with whipped caramel ganache and decorated with ganache and caramel sauce. With all the chocolate, caramel, cream, and butter involved, this is definitely a special-occasion cake!

Rich Chocolate and Caramel Cake

1 recipe of your favorite chocolate cake, made into two round layers and cooled (I used a Pillsbury devil’s food cake mix)

Caramel Sauce
1 c sugar
6 T unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 t salt
1/2 c heavy cream

Caramel Buttercream
6 T unsalted butter, softened
1 T dulce de leche, room temperature
1 c powdered sugar
2 T caramel sauce, room temperature

Whipped Caramel Ganache
1 c sugar
1 ½ c heavy cream
1/8 t salt
1 lb semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 lb (4 sticks) butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces, softened

Simple Ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Prepare the Caramel Sauce at least 4 hours in advance: Heat the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until the sugar has begun to melt and is brown around the edges, about 3 minutes. Using a heat-safe spatula or spoon, pull the melted sugar toward the center until all sugar is melted and caramel is deep amber in color, about 3 minutes more. Continue pulling and stirring until all the sugar is melted. It will be amber in color. Remove from heat and immediately stir in the butter, vanilla and salt. When mixed, whisk in the heavy cream. Pour into a heat-proof bowl and allow to come to room temperature. After removing 2 T for the buttercream, cover and refrigerate the remaining sauce.

Prepare the Caramel Buttercream: Beat the butter, then mix in the dulce de leche until smooth. Beat in the caramel sauce and then the powdered sugar.

Prepare the Whipped Caramel Ganache: Make a dry caramel with the cup of sugar by putting it into a large saucepan and setting it over medium heat. When the bottom starts to melt and the sides turn brown, start pulling the melted sugar toward the center. Continue doing this, constantly pulling & stirring, until all the sugar is melted and it has turned a deep amber color. Remove from heat.

While the sugar is melting, take a minute to bring the cream to boiling and then remove from heat.

Immediately pour the hot cream into the burnt sugar as soon as you remove it from the heat. It will bubble like crazy and scare the heck out of you, but just keep stirring until all the caramel is dissolved into the cream. If some of the caramel seizes up, put the saucepan back on medium heat and stir, stir, stir, until all the caramel is dissolved and you have a thin, smooth mixture.

Let the mixture sit for five minutes.

Meanwhile, measure your chocolate into a metal or glass bowl. Pour the caramel mixture over the chocolate and allow to sit for a minute before stirring. Stir until all the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth. Allow to sit until the mixture is room temperature, about fifteen minutes. You can pop it in the fridge to speed the process, stirring every few minutes.

With an electric mixer, beat the softened butter into the caramel ganache on low speed and then increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is thickened and lighter in color, about 2 minutes.

Prepare the Ganache: Bring the cream just to a boil over medium heat (or in the microwave). Place the chocolate in a glass or metal bowl and pour the hot cream over the top. Allow to sit for a couple minutes and then stir, stir, stir, until the chocolate is completely emulsified and you have a smooth, shiny dark ganache. Allow to cool slightly before using. You’ll want it still slightly runny but not hot.

Assemble the cake: Place one cake layer on a plate and spread the caramel buttercream over the top. Place the second cake layer over that and then smooth the whipped caramel ganache over the top and sides of the cake. Garnish the cake with the ganache and caramel sauce.  Serve at room temperature.  The butter and chocolate in the whipped ganache get hard when refrigerated, which isn’t as fun to eat as a light & velvety frosting. For a pretty presentation, you could drizzle some caramel sauce over each plate before placing the cake slices on them.

If you wish to write a message with the ganache as I did, you will have to let it set up further, so wait until it’s the consistency of thick buttercream before attempting that.  Otherwise, it will just leak out of your pastry bag and you’ll have smears and pools of dark shiny ganache on top and your sentiments will look like a threat rather than the good thoughts you’d intended. :)

You can use the extra whipped caramel ganache to pipe a border around the top and bottom.  There will be enough leftover whipped ganache to make 1-2 dozen cupcakes, so do it and take them to work to brighten everyone’s day!

Recipe by Veronica Miller

A word of warning: because of the light, velvety texture of the whipped ganache, it couldn’t support the weight of the ganache and caramel I put around the edges of the cake and the sides slid down to the bottom of the cake eventually.  (Luckily Liz got her cake while it was still pretty and everyone enjoyed a piece before this happened). Next time I make this cake, I will pour the ganache over the iced cake and let it ooze down the sides so that the weight is evenly distributed. Then I’d use caramel buttercream (I’d double the recipe so there’s enough for decorating) to write on top. I’d recommend the same to you, unless you plan on serving the cake shortly after applying the ganache.

These are (poor) photos of a birthday cake I made last year that illustrate my suggestion about pouring ganache over the top and letting it ooze down the sides.

Thanks to Liz for providing the following photos!

The beautiful birthday girl with her cake. Happy birthday, Liz!

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