Chocolate-Almond Petit Fours

Black Bottom Banana Cream Pie

Chocolate Spritz Cookies

Sour Cream Fudge

Gateau Rosie O.

Sweet Spot


Hi! My name is Stephanie Zonis, and welcome to the December, 1999 (Holiday) edition of "For Chocolate Lovers Only". Each month you'll find great recipes, tips, and recommendations on chocolate specialties.

As another year comes to a close, I'd like to thank Patti, Paul, and Sunil for giving me the chance to talk about chocolate with all of you. Thanks also to my parents and my sisters for their support and love. And special thanks to all of my readers, without whom there would be no column. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you all!

Please take some time this month to cook something. Food and food preparation are so often overlooked in our busy lifestyles, and that just isn't as it should be. Whether it's an elaborate holiday dinner or made-from-scratch brownies, we need to become more aware of what we eat and how it is made, and there's no better way of doing that than making food yourself. Our children are becoming culinary illiterates because we aren't teaching them even basic food preparation skills. Microwave ovens and the occasional mix or prepackaged food can be great timesavers in the kitchen, but people need to realize that there's much more to food than just making it and eating it as quickly as possible.

Chocolate Recommendation of the Month: Peanut Butter Fudge Swirl. Coffee Heath Crunch. Black Forest Cheesecake. Sound good? All are superpremium ice creams made by December's Chocolate Recommendation, Bart's Homemade. Ice cream in December, I hear you ask? Absolutely! Most people would agree that the holidays are a time for foods we especially enjoy, and everyone I know adores ice cream. Further, this ice cream is distinctive for several reasons. Part of the mission statement of Bart's Homemade is to "support a sustainable, independent future for the Connecticut River Valley and surrounding region". Milk is obtained solely from small, family-run farms, all of which have pledged not to use rbST. Local ingredients are used when possible, and only all-natural flavorings are employed. Equally importantly, many of the flavors I've tried are so good I'd walk over hot coals to get them.

Normally, I'll try a small portion of any chocolate dessert, then pass the rest along to family and/or friends. But nobody else got so much as a taste of my pint of Chunky Chocolate Mousse with Raspberries--chocolate ice cream, chocolate mousse powder, semisweet chocolate chunks, and a red raspberry ripple. Gentle reader, this is ice cream to make the downtrodden feel joyful again. The Orange Dutch Chocolate is a brilliant combination of flavors, both vying for your attention even as they harmonize with one another. Even the plain Vanilla (the litmus test of an ice cream maker, according to some people) is outstanding. If you ever want a change of pace, Bart's Homemade is there for you, with Peppermint Stick or Ginger or Kahlua Sombrero. Wouldn't a gift of great ice cream be unique? And a sampler of this ice cream as a holiday dessert would bring sighs of contentment from adults and children alike. The company makes sorbets and low fat organic ice creams, too. If you're a true frozen dessert devotee, is the place to be!

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Chocolate Idea of the Month: For New Year's Eve or a holiday party, how about an All- Chocolate Dessert Buffet? Champagne as a beverage would be fun and classy (you could even have a champagne buffet to go with your chocolate buffet!), but make sure to have coffee and pitchers of ice water, too. For those who can't eat chocolate all night long, serve a few good cheeses with fruit and crackers. For the buffet itself, be prepared with plenty of extra plates, napkins, and utensils. Choose only desserts that can be made well ahead and/or frozen, so they'll require no last-minute work on your part (except, perhaps, for decoration). The idea here is that people will try most, if not all, of what you serve, so make portions small; you should be able to get twice as many servings out of each dessert as you normally would. The desserts needn't all be ornate or large (truflles or special cookies would be fine buffet items, for instance), but do have at least one grand, showy creation. If you're having 12 people, plan on making 6 to 8 different desserts. The buffet can be dress-down or dress- up, as you please. If you have leftovers, send them home with your guests to ensure a sweet start to the new year.

Do you have a comment, question, or suggestion? I'd like your input into this column. You can reach me at:; please specify that you're writing regarding "For Chocolate Lovers Only". Thank you!