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Crazy About Chocolate

I don’t dream of sugarplums this time of year—I dream of chocolate, and lots of it. I’ve included several recipes that will make great additions to your holiday treat table, and a honey brulée for a great ending to a festive meal. From Noelle, Lola and Sophie (the boxer sisters), and me—holiday peace to you and yours!

QUICK CHEESECAKE BONBONS
1 large store-bought frozen cheesecake
1 large bag (1 lb.) semisweet chocolate pieces

Use a small lemon baler to scoop out cheesecake. Place on cookie sheet covered with waxed paper and put in freezer. Melt chocolate pieces in double boiler and stir until smooth and glossy. Use a thin wooden skewer to dip cheesecake balls into chocolate, coating all sides. Put tray filled with covered bonbons back in the freezer for 20 minutes before serving. Makes about 30.

Note: If using assorted cheesecake flavors, drizzle white or tinted chocolate over the top so guests will know what flavors to choose.

FANCY FRUIT PIZZA WITH COMBINATION CHOCOLATE SAUCE
1 roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough, rolled out into 12-inch round
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons orange juice
2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
1 pint strawberries, hulled, rinsed, and sliced lengthwise
1 cup thinly sliced canned peaches, drained well
1/2 cup purple or red seedless grapes, sliced in half
1/2 cup white chocolate morsels, melted in double boiler until smooth
1/2 cup dark chocolate morsels, melted in double boiler until smooth
1/2 cup milk chocolate morsels, melted in double boiler until smooth
Sprigs of mint for garnish

Roll out and bake cookie on large sheet in a round. Combine cream cheese, orange juice, and powdered sugar until creamy. Spread over cooled cookie and top with fruit slices. Melt chocolate in 30-second intervals and drizzle on assembled pizza. Cut in pie slices or small appetizer pieces. Serves 12.

CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
8 oz. semisweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons prepared coffee
1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier, optional; may use your choice of flavoring instead
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar
Cocoa powder

Chop bittersweet and semisweet chocolate finely and place in heat-proof mixing bowl. Heat cream just until it boils and pour into bowl with chocolate. Whisk together slowly until chocolate is completely melted. Whisk in flavoring, coffee, and vanilla. Allow to sit at room temperature for an hour. Spoon about 50 round balls of the chocolate mixture onto cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Refrigerate about an hour. Roll each ball in your hands until round. Roll each ball in powdered sugar or cocoa or both. They will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. 50 truffles.

CHOCOLATE HONEY BRULEES
From the National Honey Board
1 (12-oz.) can evaporated milk
1 cup whole milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup honey
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 Tablespoons sugar

In medium bowl, whisk together evaporated milk, milk, and eggs until well-blended. Mix in honey, cocoa powder, orange peel, and vanilla. Divide mixture evenly into four 3/4- to 1-cup capacity ramekins. Place cups in baking pan. Fill pan halfway with boiling water. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour or until inserted knife comes out clean. Remove cups from baking pan and cool. Cover cups and refrigerate until chilled, 4 hours or overnight. Before serving, sprinkle sugar evenly over tops of custard and broil until sugar melts and caramelizes. 4 servings.

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT ICE CREAM SAUCE
1 cup whipping cream
1-1/2 Tablespoons orange liqueur
1 8-oz. pkg. semisweet chocolate pieces
1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts
1 quart favorite ice cream

Pulsate toasted hazelnuts in a food processor until finely ground. In medium saucepan, heat cream and orange liqueur until it reaches a gentle boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate pieces and hazelnuts. Whisk until chocolate is melted and cover to keep warm until ready to use. Serve over scoops of your favorite ice cream. Makes 1-1/2 cups.

Coming Next Month: Soups & Cornbread

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