Chocolate Mousse Dream Truffles


These little jewels are wonderful for festive gifts and parties. Creamy chocolate center highlighted by dark chocolate liqueur, then rolled in cocoa powder. You can definitely be creative with the inside additions (ie nuts, raspberry flavoring, etc.) and also with the outside coating. For instance, consider dusting with edible glitter for a sparkling bling effect from

1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 pound dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon strong espresso
Dash salt
1/2 cup Godiva® Dark Chocolate Liqueur
Cocoa powder

Place cream and butter in pot and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat add dark chocolate. Let set for 45 seconds and then stir until chocolate has melted completely into the cream. Let cool. (Put into refrigerator to cool faster.) When cool, mix with a beater until smooth. Add espresso, salt, vanilla, liqueur and mix again until smooth. Refrigerate until the mixture has become solid enough to scoop, at least 4 hours. (Whisk to help firm up if needed.) Scoop out small balls and roll in cocoa powder. Keep cool.

Black Cauldron Cake

Black Cauldron Cake

Things you need:

Cooking spray
4 16-to-18-ounce boxes pound cake mix to make two Bundt® cakes
2 3-ounce boxes lime gelatin
3 16 -ounce tubs dark chocolate frosting
1/2 16 -ounce tub white frosting
Black food coloring
20+ pieces each yellow, orange and red gummy fruit slices
10 colorful gummy worms
5-8 white gumball/candy eyeballs
2 chocolate-covered doughnuts
4 bamboo skewers or toothpicks
12+ Cupcakes for around cauldron (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat Bundt® pan with cooking spray. Combine two cake mixes and pour batter into the pan. Bake and cool as directed. Repeat for the second Bundt® cake. Meanwhile, prepare the gelatin as directed.

Stack configuration

Stack configuration

Level the domed tops of the cakes with a long serrated knife and set aside for later. Now slice each Bundt® cake in half horizontally. Place the bottom of the first Bundt® cake on a flat serving dish or cake cardboard. Spread a thin layer of black frosting between the two sections of the bottom Bundt® cake and join together. Spread a thin layer of frosting on top of the cake and place the second Bundt® cake upside-down on top. Spread frosting between the top two layers of the top Bundt® cake (like the bottom cake). Spread frosting on top of the stacked cakes, take the best looking dome cake top and place on top, upside-down. Remove from refrigerator. Cut and scoop out the center of the top cake layer, about 6 inches wide and 2 inches deep. Cover the inside of the hole with the white frosting. Freeze for about 30 minutes.

Dye the remaining chocolate frosting black. Cover the exposed cake with a thin layer of black frosting; freeze about 20 minutes, then cover with the remaining frosting, filing in any indents to make a smooth surface. Return the cake to the freezer.

Once the gelatin is firm, stir until clumpy. Return to the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Prepare the flames by slicing the gummy fruit in half to resemble flames. Either press the flames around the bottom of the cake or stand them up on a dozen or so red cupcakes and place around the bottom of the cake (as shown). Cut off one-half of each doughnut. Mark where the doughnuts will be placed for handles, then insert a bamboo skewer or toothpick where the doughnut ends touch the cauldron, allowing only an inch to show. Dab the doughnut ends with some of the frosting and slide the doughnuts into place. Add the gelatin, gummy worms and eyeballs just before serving.

Chef Viola’s Deep Chocolate Cake


Haunted by the luscious taste of my chef grandmother Viola’s dark chocolate cake that only chocoholic dreams are made of, I’ve spent many years testing chocolate cake recipes with varying results. I’ve come close but not exact. Then by a streak of fate I found it scribbled faintly on the back of an obscure recipe card…this was the same cake that was a favorite of Governor Warren Green of South Dakota where she presided over the kitchen in the early 1930’s. This cake is beautifully dense, moist and bakes more evenly in a slow oven. This recipe has become a standard, go-to for me.

Before you begin, preheat the oven to 300° (275° if using convection). Prepare your pans with butter/cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

Makes two 8×3-inch baking pans or one 12×3-inch round or square pan.


2 1/2 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking soda

2/3 cup water

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup vanilla

2 1/3 cups sugar

1 pound unsalted butter, room temperature

12 eggs

12 ounces dark chocolate* (65% to 85% cocoa), pieces or batons

*The original recipe calls for unsweetened chocolate. I prefer a slightly sweeter taste. Use your discretion.

Sift the flour and baking soda together in a bowl and set aside. Put the chocolate pieces/batons in a microwavable bowl and heat on high for 15 second spurts, stirring briefly between each time until thoroughly melted. Set aside.

In a small saucepan bring the water to a boil and pour into a bowl on the counter. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla, whisking swiftly until it is smooth with no lumps. Set aside to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the butter and mix on medium speed for approximately 3 minutes. Add the sugar and mix until the batter is fluffy, about 3 minutes more. Now add the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the sides at least once.

Add the bowl of melted chocolate pieces/batons and continue mixing for 1 minute to incorporate. Reduce the speed to low and alternate adding the flour and cocoa mixtures. When completely combined, pour into the prepared pans.

Bake the 8-inch pans for 60-70 minutes; 12-inch pan up to two hours. To test when ready, the top of the cake will spring back when touched or insert a toothpick which should come out free of batter or crumbs. (FYI, top cracks and pulling away from the side both indicate doneness. Beware of over-baking.)


12 ounces (340 g) heavy cream

1 lb (454 g) semisweet or bittersweet dark pieces/batons

1 tablespoon glucose (or corn syrup)

Pour the chocolate pieces/batons into a metal bowl and set aside. Add the heavy cream to a saucepan and bring to scalding. (You can microwave instead in 15 second spurts, stirring briefly between each time until scalding.) Pour this over the chocolate and let rest for 30 seconds. Now stir thoughtfully until fully blended. (Stirring quickly or whisking will add air, creating an abundance of bubbles which you do not want.) Stir in the glucose (for shine). This is where you can add alcohol-to-taste such as rum, grand marnier, bourbon, Cointreau, kirsch, etc. Keeping stirring the liquid for a few minutes to thicken slightly. You can then pour this over the prepared cake (glacé) or cover with plastic and let rest on the counter until thick enough for spreading (filling and frosting). This will take several hours.

Hack: To speed up the process, place bowl into a larger bowl of ice (an ice bath) and continue stirring. The chocolate ganache will start to solidify much faster. Do this several times until a smooth, spreadable consistency is reached. Note: If it becomes too thick, microwave for 10 second spurts on high until smooth. Be careful not to overmelt. This is where I like to turn my ganache into a whipped ganache by simply whisking vigorously till it turns to a light shade of chocolate and becomes fluffy. Fill the cake. You can then frost the cake with this OR for a chocolate glacé outside, pour a just-blended ganache over the top of a filled cake which is resting on a cookie rack on top of a plastic-lined baking tray.

TIP: No need to refrigerate ganache for several days since the milk has been sterilized.

#chocolatecake #chefrobertteddy #teddybearpastryhack

Banana Butterscotch Bourbon Bread

Being raised as a fat German boy I loved sweet breads! Flash forward to my culinary career I’ve many times used sweet breads for cakes, slathering them with a wonderful meringue buttercream or cream cheese frosting. Taking a favorite recipe from my chef grandmother Vi, I created this tasty variation which uses coconut oil instead of shortening or vegetable oil, which is a far healthier choice. The “why” being that the body can break it down easier, it has lower triglycerides and contains far less oxidants. Prefer not to use any oil? Then applesauce is fine at a 50% ratio.

If you are using this recipe for a cake, brush the Butterscotch Bourbon Sauce onto each layer liberally, in place of a simple syrup. Note: you can substitute the bourbon for rum, or eliminate the alcohol completely. 

2 cups (400 g) sugar
1 cup coconut oil
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
3 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/3 cup (80 ml) buttermilk or sour cream
3 cups (420 g) flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup (25 g) shredded coconut, dried and ground
1/2 cup (60 g) walnuts, lightly chopped
Whole walnuts for decoration
Butterscotch Bourbon Sauce—
1/2 cup (100 g) golden brown sugar
70 g unsalted butter
4 Tbsp cream
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup bourbon, optional
Prep: Spread the shredded coconut out on a pan and bake at 250° F for 5-10 minutes till dried but not toasted. This is the desiccation process. Put into food processor and grind.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease two loaf pans and line bottom with parchment paper.
Step 1:
Whisk together eggs, sugar, oil, bananas, buttermilk or sourcream, and vanilla. Set aside.
Step 2:
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add this to the wet mixture, then stir in the ground coconut and chopped walnuts.
Step 3:
Pour the batter into the baking pans, top with several whole walnuts and bake for 40-60 minutes, or until skewer comes out clean.
Step 4:
A few minutes before the bread is finished baking, place all ingredients of the sauce in saucepan and heat gently until sugar has dissolved and mixture is slowly boiling.
Step 5:
As soon as the breads are done, remove from oven and pierce them all over with a skewer. Pour the hot butterscotch bourbon sauce over the tops. Leave to cool in pan.

#bananabread #teddybearpastryhack

Perfectly Perfect Pie Dough

The secret to this perfect dough is vodka which adds moistness without aiding in gluten formation. Because the alcohol vaporizes when baked the result is a more tender and flaky crust. I’ll also use cold juice instead of the cold water (a trick used by Chef Viola, my grandmother). Why add water when you have other flavor-adding liquids available! It’s always best to keep the butter cold so after mixing it’s best to chill for at least an hour before use. When chilled and ready to use, remove the wrapper and knead it a few times to soften slightly before rolling out.

Yield: 2 (10-inch) crusts
4 cups (24 oz) flour, divided
2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup (4 oz) ice water or vodka (add up to 1/4 cup more if dough is too dry to come together)
2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (12 oz) butter, chilled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (using butter adds flavor)
1/2 cup (4 oz) vegetable shortening (using shortening or lard improves flakiness. Use butter if not available.)

Place 2 cups flour, sugar and salt in food processor. Pulse a few times to incorporate

Add the butter and shortening then pulse to combine.

Add remaining flour. Add the ice water a little at a time, pulsing between additions. Then let the blade run; dough will start to gather together. It should feel smooth, not sticky. If not, add more liquid.

Remove dough and form into a ball. Divide and pat the dough into two discs, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to a day. This will help the dough not to shrink during baking. After removing chilled discs, let warm slightly for 15 minutes. Before rolling, bang the disc with the roller a few times to loosen up. (FYI, if you’re in a hurry you can skip chilling and just use it immediately.)

Note: If making only single crust, use half the ingredient amounts. Roll and line the pan, poke the bottom and sides with a fork, then put into refrigerator or freezer for 20 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. When ready, line shell with 15-inch parchment paper or foil and fill shell with pie weights or dried beans. Place on a sheet pan and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until very light golden brown.

*Using vodka instead of water increases the flaky texture since the alcohol evaporates.

Tricks to prevent a single crust from puffing during baking:
1. Take two identical metal pie pans. Put your pie shell in one of them, as usual. Put the second pie pan in the pie shell. Flip over and bake on a baking sheet.
2. Freeze it for 15 minutes before baking; it rarely puffs at all.
3. Line pastry with foil (bottom and up sides) and fill 1/3 with dry beans or lentils. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove foil/beans and bake 5 to 6 minutes more or until golden.

#piedough #chefrobertteddy #teddybearpastryhack

Blueberry Regret Pie


What is there to regret about pie? Blueberry pie? Well, nothing…except for when it’s all gone. And I’ll take the last slice, thank you very much! I’ve been focused on pie lately and my grandmother chef Viola could make them in her sleep; so tasty and out-of-this-world. Some say it’s all in the crust…WRONG! To achieve pie orgasm (you heard me) takes a beautiful marriage of crust AND filling. But thankfully it’s not rocket science. Only a little guidance is needed for the misguided to receive rave reviews.

The filling here is a combination of cooked and uncooked berries. This creates a lovely “pudding” texture, one which I prefer, that the berries float in. And by cooking out some of the juices the color really punches making it visually delicious. I’ve included a crumble which can be added to kick this American icon up a notch (see bottom of this page). Then there’s the crust…you can refer to my Perfectly Perfect Pie Dough recipe for the secret to crust heaven.

While the pie dough is chilling, set your oven rack to the middle, preheat to 400° and make the filling:

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup cold water

6 cups fresh blueberries, divided

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoon lemon juice

In a small bowl blend together sugar, cornstarch, salt and water until smooth. Pour into a saucepan over medium heat and add the remaining 3 cups blueberries. Mash most of them with a potato masher to release the juices. Then while stirring, bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Remove from the heat. Add butter, lemon juice and remaining berries; stir until butter is melted. Set aside.

Assembly: On a floured surface roll out the dough for the bottom of the pie to about a 12-inch circle. Before lifting, run a flat metal spatula (or counter scraper) under the dough to make sure that no part is sticking to your work surface. Trim off any edges that go beyond the circle, lightly flour the dough and fold over in half. Lift and place the dough in the pie pan, unfold and trim around the outside lip of the pan. Punch a few times around the bottom with a fork and pour in the blueberry filling, spreading it out and creating a mound.

Roll out the dough for the top. Wet the exposed lip of the bottom dough with water all around and, using the same folding technique, place the dough on top and gently press down the outside edge to seal to the lip. Create your edge and make a few slices on top to release the steam. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove and let cool before serving.


Tip: Pie edges tend to burn easily. To avoid, cut three 3-inch strips of aluminum foil, fold and crimp the short ends together and cover the pie’s edge all around. Remove after 30 minutes of baking.


8 shortbread cookies, crushed

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons cold butter, unsalted and softened

Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter and mix together with your fingers so that all the dry ingredients are absorbed by the butter. Stir in the shortbread cookies. Cover the bottom of the pie shell with 1/4 cup of the crumble mix. Pour in the blueberry filling. Sprinkle the remaining crumble over the top, spreading it out evenly. Finish with the top dough and bake.

#blueberrypie #teddybearpastryhack