Monday, November 15, 2010

Double Chocolate Scones & $100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway

This is a sponsored review by BlogHer and Ghirardelli.

One of the sweetest emails I've ever received was one from BlogHer inviting me to participate in a BlogHer/Ghirardelli chocolate promotion. Even though I was going to be on vacation until three days before I had to have this post completed, I pounced on the offer. After all, they said they'd send me some samples. I will work for chocolate! And I'm not the only one; you can check out the round up of the other 9 participating bloggers here.

Imagine my surprise when the friends who were taking care of the the kitties texted me and said I'd received a huge box from Ghirardelli. When we got back from Paris, they had unpacked the box and put the "samples" in the fridge. The samples were approximately 14 pounds of Ghirardelli chocolate, everything from chips to bars, cocoa to ground chocolate to addictive squares... It went on and on.

By far the most exciting discovery for me was the MINI chocolate chips. I refuse to buy mini chocolate chips because I think they taste awful. So the very first thing I broke in to was one of the bags of minis and - squee! - they are as delicious as Ghirardelli's semisweet chips. I've since checked my Safeway and they don't stock them so I'm going to have to find another source when my treasured stash of the two bags they sent me runs out (NOTE: I've since found these at a larger Whole Foods). My next (and completely unexpected) favorite was the peppermint bark squares. They are absolutely not something I would have believed I'd like and I can hardly keep my hands out of the bag. Stored in the fridge, they are a delightful treat. We already loved the caramel squares since we always stop by the Ghirardelli store when we go to San Francisco or Monterey, and they frequently offer these as a sample. I keep them in the fridge, too, which makes the gooey caramel especially yummy.

Fortunately, nobody told Ghirardelli that I buy the 36 ounce bags of Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet and Semisweet chips at Cost Plus (World Market) two and three at a time, so I already appreciate the quality and clean flavor of these chocolates. I have found that they melt extremely well and I frequently use the chips rather than bar chocolate when melting. You can't do that with other brands.

Ghirardelli asked us to make one recipe of theirs and one of our own original recipes with the chocolate they sent us, and they kindly sent their cookbook. I had already narrowed down my choice to six recipes from their website (you can find their recipes here), but when I reviewed the cookbook I found these super easy Peanut Butter Bars. Three ingredients, make ahead and absolutely irresistible.

These really couldn't be easier or more elegant. If you know anything at all about me, it's that I'm lazy and have absolutely no talent for making food look good. Behold how great these turned out when made by a jetlagged lazy person:

I love the peanut butter/chocolate flavor combination but often find chocolate overpowers peanut butter. These were the exception as the peanut butter is combined with white chocolate for the base, making it smooth and luscious, with the bittersweet swirl the perfect balance of chocolate. They are a new favorite around here. You can find the recipe here.

Then, inspired by the chocolate bounty sitting on my counter, I created these chocolate scones. To make sure they packed a serious chocolate punch, I added semisweet chocolate chips. Because I added the chips, I cut back on the sugar so the sweetness of the chips would pop more. Resist the urge to overwork the dough: it will be shaggy, and that's the secret to a tender scone. Delicious with a cup of coffee or glass of milk, these make a decadent breakfast treat. You can find the recipe below.

AND:  I'm having a mega giveaway, courtesy of BlogHer. They've generously offered a $100 Visa gift card to the winner. To enter, simply:
  • leave a comment on this post with your favorite way to include chocolate in your baking. Is it chocolate chip cookies? Brownies? A decadent double chocolate cake? Please let me know! And...
  • For a second entry, you can:
  1. Tweet about this post with a link to it (and put your tweet URL in a separate comment below) you can use this abbreviated URL:;
  2. Blog about this post with a link to it (and put your blog post URL in a separate comment below); or
  3. Read the official rules for another way to enter.
The deadline to enter is 5:00 PM PST on 12/15/10; you can find the sweepstakes rules here. Good luck!

Chocolate Scones

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons cold butter, diced
7/8 cup (1 cup minus 2 tablespoons) whipping cream
1 egg
1 teaspoon espresso powder
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

With rack set in the middle of the oven, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking liner. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar into a mixing bowl and set aside. Put the cream, egg and espresso powder in a small mixing bowl and whisk until well combined. Set aside.

Toss the butter with the dry ingredients, and mix on low speed with mixer until the mixture looks like small peas. Add the chocolate chips and the cream mixture and mix with a spoon until just about combined. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a 1 inch high circle. Using a 3" cutter, cut out as many scones as you can before gathering the scraps and patting them together into a circle. Repeat until you've cut out your scones. Place scones on the prepared baking sheet and put in preheated oven. Bake for 19-20 minutes. Scones will feel firm but should not be visibly browned. Let scones cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes about 10 scones.

Unbaked scones freeze beautifully and bake up as well as the ones you make fresh. You can find my tips for freezing unbaked scones here.

Full disclosure:  In addition to receiving the cookbook and chocolate samples to taste and bake with, I was compensated by Ghirardelli. BlogHer is providing the Visa gift card for the giveaway.

PLEASE NOTE: The winner of the Visa gift card was #83, nape. Congratulations, nape!