'Egg-cellent' Gifts

Published 4:40 pm Tuesday, December 13, 2011

“When you see end shelves in the grocery store piled high with marshmallows, cinnamon, cranberry sauce, stuffing mix and maraschino cherries you know it's the holiday season,” state Mary Rapoport, spokesperson for the Virginia Egg Council.

One essential ingredient missing from that line-up is, of course, eggs (which for safety's sake need to be in a refrigerated display case).

“The Egg Council's suggestion for the season is to purchase plenty of eggs,” Rapoport continued.

Eggs help with the holidays in many ways. They are the foundation for baked gifts, quick-fix dinner, make-ahead breakfast casseroles, and special desserts.

This holiday season the Egg Council is also offering (for a stamped, self addressed envelope) a booklet called “A Collection of Virginia's Best Brunch for a Bunch Recipes.”

“The booklet itself would make a nice gift placed in a casserole dish with a bow on it,” Rapoport said.

Today's recipes from the Virginia Egg Council include: Holiday Biscotti, Chocolate Cake with a Hint of Mint.

HOLIDAY BISCOTTI

1 c. sugar, 3 eggs, 1 c. oil, 3 c. flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1 c. nuts, chopped, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, cinnamon or coarse sugar

Mix 1 egg at a time into sugar until creamy. Mix in oil. Stir in flour and rest of ingredients. Mix well. Form three loaves, crosswise on a large parchment lined cookie sheet; sprinkle with cinnamon or coarse sugar. Bake 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Slice on a diagonal and separate; bake another 15 minutes. Makes 3 to 4 dozen small biscotti.

CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH A HINT OF MINT

Cake: 3 c. flour, 2 c. sugar, 1 T. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt, 2 (1.4-oz) pkg. sugar free instant chocolate pudding, 1 c. cocoa powder, 1/2 c. canola oil, 2 c. warm water, 1 T. vanilla, 8 egg yolks, 8 egg whites, 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Use a clean 10-inch tube pan or 3 9-inch round layer pans. Separate eggs. Place whites in a deep-bottomed bowl with cream of tartar and beat until peaks form (but not dry). Combine dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients in a large bowl; then combine wet and dry. Once whites are done, fold whites into chocolate mixture, mixing until the stiff batter is smooth. Pour batter into pans and place on lowest rack and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Tube pan will take longer. Remove cake from oven but do not invert pan. Cake will be heavier than an angel food or chiffon but lighter than a German chocolate cake.

Filling: 2 c. heavy cream, 1 tsp. mint extract, 1/2 c. sugar, green food coloring,

Cool cake completely. Whip cream; gradually add sugar while mixing then add mint flavor to taste and just a tiny bit of color, if desired. Slice tube cake into three layers. Spread between layers, then ice with Whipped Chocolate Ganache.

Whipped Chocolate Ganache: 16 oz. dark or semi sweet chocolate chips, 2 c. heavy whipping cream

Heat cream in heavy saucepan just until it starts to boil. Remove from heat; add chocolate all at once and stir until chocolate is melted. Cool in refrigerator (several hours, consistency should be like thick pudding). Whip until soft peaks form (over whipping may cause mixture to become lumpy). Frost the sides and top of cake. Using a hot spatula, warmed in hot water and dried well, offers smooth spreading.

Garnish: Melt 1/4 c. white and 1/4 c. dark chocolate chips and drizzle each on top and sides of frosted cake.