Chocolate Hot Lava Cake

1 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch square cake pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, 2 tablespoons of the cocoa powder, the baking powder, and the salt. In a medium bowl, stir the remaining 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder into the brown sugar. Combine the mixture thoroughly with your fingers, breaking up any sugar lumps. Set aside. To the flour mixture, add the egg, milk, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Combine thoroughly. Pour the batter evenly into the buttered pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the batter. Spread the brown sugar mixture evenly over the top. Slowly pour the boiling water over the batter. Bake for 25 minutes.

Allow the cake to cool at 10-15 minutes before serving. The soft, moist cake will be on top, and underneath will be a luscious layer of chocolate "lava". Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Serves 8.

Yummy Chocolate Truffles

1 recipe chocolate ganache (see below)
12 oz. semisweet chocolate, melted
1 cup cocoa powder

Coating Options: sweetened, shredded coconut, cocoa powder, chopped nuts (pecans, pistachios, etc)

Chill ganche until firm. Scoop out 1 heaping teaspoon portions of ganache and drop into cocoa powder, coating all sides. Lift out chocolate and, using bare hands, roll into small ball. Repeat with the rest of the ganache and place chocolate balls on flat surface. Using toothpicks or a fork, drop truffle into melted chocolate, coating all sides. Lift out and gently roll truffle through desired coating (cocoa powder, coconut, chopped nuts). Place on flat surface to dry. Store in the refreigerator.

Note: Flavored extracts (mint, rum, cherry) can be added when ganache is prepared to create lucious flavored truffles!

Luscious Hot Chocolate

This couldn't be simpler - once you have your chocolate ganache on hand! Mix 1/4 cup ganache (see recipe below) into 6 ounces hot milk. If making a larger batch, heat 8 cups milk in saucepan and add 1 full recipe chocolate ganache. Stir until fully combined and piping hot. (8 servings)

Top with marshmallows or whipped cream.

Heavenly Chocolate Ganache

While standard semisweet chocolate chips are perfectly delicious and acceptable in this recipe, specialty chocolate (chips, bars, or chunks) with 50-65% percent cocoa will give your ganache a heavenly complex flavor.Remember: a double boiler is useful - but not required for this recipe. A tempered glass bowl set over a saucepan with simmering water works perfectly!

12 oz. semisweet chocolate (chips, morsels, or chopped bars)
1 cup heavy cream
2 T. butter1 t. vanilla

Bring 1-2 inches of water to a simmer in a sauce pan over medium heat. Place double boiler top pan or tempered glass bowl on top of saucepan and add cream, butter and vanilla. Heat mixture until butter is melted and mixture is heated through - not boiling (reduce heat to low). Add chocolate and stir frequently with spoon or whisk until chocolate has melted and is completely incorporated - this doesn't take long! Enjoy!

Serve over fruit, cake or any dessert. Eventually the ganache will thicken as it cools. It can be used as a basis for truffles, tortes, frosting, or hot chocolate.

Peach French Toast Bake with Peach Syrup and Fresh Cream

1 large loaf challah bread, cut into cubes
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
5 eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1 (29 oz) can peaches in heavy syrup, pureed until smooth in blender or food processor.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In large bowl, whisk together cream, milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon and pureed peaches. Add bread cubes and toss gently to combine. Let sit for 15 minutes.

Lightly coat a 10 x 14 baking pan with butter or cooking spray. Pour bread and egg mixture into pan and press gently. Bake 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm with Peach Syrup and Fresh Cream.

Peach Syrup:
1 ½ pounds fresh peaches, peeled & pitted – or 1 (29 oz.) can sliced peaches in heavy syrup.
½ cup sugar
1 T. butter, melted
In blender or food processor, puree peaches, sugar and butter until smooth. Syrup can be served warm or room temperature.

Fresh Cream:
1 pint heavy whipping cream
½ cup sugar
Beat whipping cream and sugar with mixer until soft peaks form.

Balsamic Glazed Pot Roast with Sund Dried Tomatoes and Mushrooms

What are the three essential steps to a perfect pot roast every time? Brown..Deglaze...and Braise. The browning and deglazing intensifies the flavors while the braising ensures your roast is moist and succulent.The most difficult part of this fabulous pot roast will be waiting the 2 hours while it slow braises in your oven! Warm, tender and bursting with deeply infused flavor, it is the ultimate comfort food.

3 1/2 - 4 lb. chuck roast
4 T. oil plus 2 T. oil
1-2 large onions, coarsley chopped
1 (8 oz.) package sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 (3 oz.) package sun-dried tomatoes
1 1/2 cups beef broth or stock
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup red wine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. smoked paprika
2 t. salt1/2 t. pepper
2 T. flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Trim the chuck roast, removing large strands of visible fat and cutting the roast into 6-8 pieces. In a 5-7 qt. dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the meat in a single layer and brown for 3-4 minutes on each side (meat may need to be browned in 2 batches). Remove the meat to a plate.

Add remaining 2 T. oil, onions, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes to the dutch oven. Saute until the onions are tender. Add the flour and stir. Add the beef stock and deglaze the pan by scraping up any brown bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan (they have intense flavor). Add the balsamic vinegar, red wine, garlic, smoked paprika and salt and pepper. Stir until ingredients are combined, then return the chuck roast pieces and juices to the dutch oven.

Lay a piece of aluminum foil on top and carefully press down until it touches the entire surface of the pot roast. Tightly seal the edges of the foil, crimping them over the top of the dutch oven. Put lid on top. Place in the lower half of the oven and allow to braise for 2 hours.

Substitutions: Try experimenting with different combinations of liquids and spices. 2 cups of liquid and a few teaspoons of spices for a 4 lb. roast is a good rule of thumb. Water, red wine, beef broth or stock, and beer are are excellent liquid choices. Garlic, rosemary, thyme and paprika (sweet or smoked) make wonderful spice additions to your roast. Salt and pepper is always a must.