Eggnog Caramel Sauce

The other day I was making caramels.  Well, I thought I was making caramels.  I have this recipe for amazing, chewy caramels that I’ve made for years and decided to try and switch things up and make them EGGNOG caramels.  As the buttery, sugary mixture boiled and did its thing, I thought to myself, “Yeah…these are going to be awesome.” The scent of eggnog and caramelized sugar smelled divine and I could not wait to sink my teeth into one of these babies.

Imagine my shock the next day when I went to check on the caramels and ummm, they weren’t quite as firm as they should be.  As a matter of fact, the weren’t firm AT ALL.  Bummer.  But then I had a thought!  Eggnog Caramel Sauce?!  Heck yes!  What I thought was a disaster actually turned out to be the most wonderful, delicious thing ever!  We warmed our sauce in the microwave for about 10 seconds and drizzled it over vanilla ice cream and our taste buds were immediately transported to total nirvana.  To be honest, I rarely have mistakes that actually turn out for the better and this was totally an exception.  The flavors of caramel and eggnog in this sauce are just incredible.  Perfect for gift giving.  Or just keep it all to yourself.  Like we’re doing.  Hah.

Enjoy!

P.S. This sauce would pretty much be AMAZING over this Gingerbread Loaf Cake.  Trust me on this one.

Eggnog Caramel Sauce
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Sugar
  • 1 c. Salted Butter
  • ½ c. Dark Corn Syrup
  • ½ c. Lyle's Golden Syrup (or Light Corn Syrup)
  • 2 c. Eggnog
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ t. Nutmeg
Instructions
  1. Bring sugar, butter, dark corn syrup and light corn syrup to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook 5 minutes without stirring. Stir in eggnog, turn heat to medium and bring to boil. Cook, stirring constantly, 10 minutes or until a candy thermometer reaches 245 degrees. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and nutmeg and pour into a bowl to cool. Once cooled, pour into jars and store in the refrigerator.
Notes
Makes 3 cups of caramel sauce or 3, half-pint jars.

 

 

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Fresh Orange Italian Cream Cake

Hey friends.  I’ve got a cake recipe for you today.  Not just any cake recipe.  Fresh Orange Italian Cream Cake.  This cake…oh my goodness, where do I start?  I am such a sucker for layer cakes.  Especially ones with homemade orange marmalade in between the layers.  Such as this one.

Luckily, my friend Shawna, who happens to have this fantastic gourmet cooking club that I’m a part of, is also a lover of layer cakes.  And we happened to have cooking club this past weekend.  So when I saw this cake from Southern Living show up in my email a couple of weeks ago, I immediately knew what I’d be taking.  And I won’t lie, on our way to cooking club I was having my doubts and second guessing my choice of cake.  I kind of started thinking maybe I should have done something with chocolate and peppermint (one of my all time favorite combos) or something a little more holiday-ish.  But my doubts were all put to rest after cutting into this baby.  Everyone loved it!  I have to admit, this is a GOOD cake.  The yellow cake is so moist and delicious with coconut mixed in and the orange marmalade and pecan cream cheese frosting just make the whole thing an amazing combination of flavors and textures.

A couple of notes about the cake.  You’ll want to make it in stages since it has a few components.  It’s nothing complicated, just plan ahead.  I made the cake layers one day and froze them.  One trick I learned for cake is that after it has baked, let it cool off for about 5 minutes, wrap it tightly in a couple of layers of foil and then put it in the freezer.  It traps the moisture and makes the cake SUPER moist and it only takes a couple of hours on the kitchen counter for it to defrost.  Next day I made the orange marmalade and then a couple days later I made the glazed pecans and frosting and put the whole thing together.

All in all, this was an absolutely divine cake.  Perfect for holiday parties and festivities.  Everyone will rave!

Enjoy!

Fresh Orange Italian Cream Cake
 
Ingredients
Cake
  • ½ c. Unsalted Butter, softened
  • ½ c. Shortening
  • 2 c. Sugar
  • 5 Large Eggs, separated
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 c. Whole Milk (or buttermilk)
  • 1 c. Sweetened Flaked Coconut
  • 2 T. Grated Orange Rind
Orange Marmalade
  • 1 c. Sugar
  • ¼ c. Cornstarch
  • 2 c. Fresh Orange Juice (I used 10 large oranges to get two cups of juice)
  • 3 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ c. Unsalted Butter
  • 2 T. Granted Orange Rind
Glazed Pecans
  • 1½ c. Pecan Halves
  • ⅓ c. Light Corn Syrup (I used Lyle's Golden Syrup)
Pecan Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 c. Pecans, toasted and choppped
  • ½ c. Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese, cold
  • ¼ c. Shortening
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 4 c. Powdered Sugar
Garnish
  • ⅓ c. Flaked Sweetened Coconut, toasted
Instructions
For the Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2, 9-inch round pans and line with parchment paper.
  2. Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add vanilla and beat until blended.
  3. Whisk together flour, soda and salt. Add to sugar mixture alternately with milk, begginging and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in one cup flaked coconut and grated orange rind.
  4. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter. Divide batter evenly between the two pans.
  5. Bake for 25-28 minutes until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks or remove from pans, wrap in foil and store in the freezer until ready to use.
For the Orange Marmalade
  1. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a 3-quart saucepan; gradully whisk in fresh orange juice. Whisk in lightly beaten eggs. Bring to a boil (5 to 6 minutes) over medium heat, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until mixture reaches a pudding-like thickness. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and grated orange rind. If the mixture ends up with pieces of cook egged in it (mine did) simply push it through a very fine mesh sieve with the back of a large spoon in to a bowl. Cover, placing plastic wrap directly on curd and chill for at least 8 hours or until ready to use.
For the Glazed Pecans
  1. Combine pecan halves and corn syrup, stirring to coat pecans. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange pecan halves in an even layer in pan.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Stir using a rubber spatula and bake 3 minutes more. Remove from oven and arrange in an even layer on another piece of foil and let cool completely.
For the Pecan Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Cream Butter, shortening and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in salt and vanilla. Gradually beat in powdered sugar on low speed until creamy and well blended. Stir in pecans.
To Assemble
  1. Split cake layer in half horizontally. Place a layer on a plate or cake stand and spread with a thin layer of frosting and then marmalade. Top with a cake layer. Spread with another thin layer of frosting and marmalade. Top with third cake layer and spread again with frosting and marmalade. Top with final cake layer and frost sides and top of cake with the remaining pecan cream cheese frosting. Garnish with glazed pecans and toasted coconut. Serve with remaining orange marmalade.
Notes
Serves 18.

 

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Dark Chocolate Chunk Toffee Bars

As mentioned in my post yesterday, I have a great healthy recipe to share with you guys this morning!  I was REALLY needing a healthy sweet treat for our house and this recipe from Oh She Glows seemed perfect.  I did make a few changes just because I didn’t have the exact things she used but they still turned out perfect, in my opinion.  They do indeed taste a little toffee-like although I think I’d omit the cinnamon next time to let the toffee flavor come through more.  These are totally wholesome, whole-grain, low-sugar (NOT refined sugar) and like a chewy granola bar.  I definitely thought they were better after they had sat overnight, so give them a little time to come to their full potential!  Hope you like them as much as we do!

Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Chunk Toffee Bars
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. Thick Cut Oats
  • ¼ c. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 2 T. Chia Seeds
  • 1 t. Ground Cinnamon (or omit completely)
  • ½ t. Sea Salt (I use pink Himalayan)
  • 1 c. Almonds, chopped and toasted
  • ½ c. Agave
  • 2 T. Butter (I used whipped organic)
  • ¼ c. Sucanat
  • ⅓ c. Almond Butter (I use homemade so the only ingredient is almonds)
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 T. Dark Chocolate Chunks or Chips (I prefer Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together oats, flour, chia seeds, cinnamon, salt and almonds.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together the agave, butter, sucanat, almond butter and vanilla, Microwave on high for 45 seconds and stir until smooth.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture. Add the egg and stir until everything is combined. Scoop into the pan and spread out the mixture.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack and cut into squares.
Notes
Makes 16 squares.

 

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Healthy Sweet Treats

As of right now, I’m in recovery stage from Thanksgiving eatings.  Is anybody else with me?  Lots of fruits, veggies, lean meat and trying desperately to stay away from sweets…at least for the moment.  But doesn’t it just seem like you are inundated from Thanksgiving to Christmas (ok, more like Easter) with candy and sweet stuff EVERYWHERE?!  At the office, church, cookie exchanges, holiday parties, special holiday treats from local bakeries and ice cream shops…I mean, you’ve only got one month to stuff your face with all these limited time, seasonal treats!!!!   No wonder people gain on average 10 pounds from November to December.  Sheesh.

I’ve found the best defense is to have a plan of action!  I think ahead about what I REALLY want to indulge in and what I can live without.  It seems that we think since something is laying out on the kitchen table in the breakroom at work, we might as well eat it, even if it’s really not that good.  Save your calories for the things that are AMAZING, not just o.k.  I also like to keep fruits and healthy baked treats on hand at our house.  That way we already have something to grab in case the sweet tooth kicks in or we want to go out and get that limited-time dark chocolate candy cane shake.  Tomorrow morning I’m going to share a recipe for healthy Dark Chocolate Chunk Toffee Bars but for now I thought I’d share some of my favorite healthy treats I’ve done over the past few months. These are all great options and totally delicious.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Quinoa Trail Mix Bars

Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Java Mocha Protein Balls

Lightened Up Gluten-Free Brownies

No-Bake Almond Butter Rice Crisp Treats

No-Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites

Strawberry Almond Butter Soup

Whole Grain Strawberry Newtons

 

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Candy Cane Mocha Fudge Truffles

Ah, Christmas candy, my favorite kind of Christmas indulgence.  I LOVE homemade Christmas candy.  Luckily I am surrounded by family that knows a thing or two about making it.  My mom makes homemade fudge like no one else, my grandparent’s peanut brittle is THE BEST and my aunt Theresa makes divinity that is out of this world.  I guess you could say that candy making runs in my blood!  Hence my love for homemade marshmallows, chocolate covered cherries, toffee, truffles…so many divine options.

For Thanksgiving I had FOUR different kinds of truffles that I wanted to make but between making three different pies, cherry cheesecake and brownies, plus a myriad of non-dessert food, I only got around to making one.  Sigh.  Just not enough hours for all the baking and cooking.  But it’s ok because the truffles were scrumptious!  They’re a combination of coffee, peppermint and dark chocolate.  It’s all mixed up with a touch of cream cheese which makes the center of the truffle almost cheesecake-like!  So good.

Oh and yes, I WILL be making those other truffles and sharing the recipes, don’t you worry.

Enjoy!

Candy Cane Mocha Fudge Truffles
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Bittersweet or Dark Chocolate Chips (I prefer the Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet)
  • ½ c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 3 T. Instant Coffee
  • 4 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 lb. Dark Chocolate Candy Coating
  • 4 Candy Canes, crushed
Instructions
  1. Place chocolate chips in a small bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the cream just until it begins to boil. Quickly stir in the instant coffee until it has dissolved and pour over the chocolate chips. Stir until the mixture is smooth. Let cool until it is barely warm. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth and slowly beat in the chocolate ganache mixture. Place mixture in the refrigerator until stiff, about one hour.
  2. With a melon baller or small spoon, scoop out 1½" mounds onto a foil lined baking sheet. Place in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the dark chocolate candy coating in the microwave at 20 second intervals, stirring between each, until completely smooth. Using the palm of your hands, shape the truffle mounds into balls and dip in the melted candy coating. Top immediately with crushed candy canes. Serve immediately or store in a single layer in an air-tight container.

 

 

 

 

 

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Holiday Cookies

Last year I went to my first ever Christmas cookie exchange and it was so, so fun!  In case you have never been to one, you make enough of a cookie or candy so that everyone gets one of everything (plus the recipe).  You swap sweets, snack on holiday goodies and leave with enough sugar to give you heart palpitations for days.  Good times.  And totally worth the sugar overload.

I loved trying everyone’s homemade creations and am so looking forward to doing the exchange again this year.  I’ve already started researching recipes and found so many that I want to try.  If you have a cookie exchange you’re going to, take a second and browse these scrumptious cookie and bar recipes!

Honey Walnut Bar

Chocolate Cheesecake Candy Cane Bars

 Outrageous Chocolate Cookies

Cranberry-Honey Spice Pinwheel Cookies

Pecan-Cinnamon Wafers

Chocolaty Melting Snowmen

Holiday 7-Layer Bars

Chocolaty Caramel-Nut S’mores Bars

Black-and-White Coconut Macaroons

Almond-Oat Lace Cookies

Butterscotch Blondie Bars with Peanuts and Pretzels

Cherry Rum Ribbons

White Chocolate and Peppermint Brownies

Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies

 Russian Tea Cakes

 

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Thanksgiving 2012

I have so many things to be thankful for this year.  Family, friends, health, good jobs and so much more than I can even count right now.  Oh and of course all of you!  I am thankful for each and every one of you that come back to my little baking site time and time again.  God has blessed me beyond what I deserve and I am so incredibly thankful.  Praying you all have a blessed Thanksgiving and get to enjoy good food, family and friends!

(Thought I’d share a little photo of some baking I did this week!  Cherry cheesecake, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate cream pie and lots of other delicious things that couldn’t fit in the picture. 🙂  Mmmmm, sugar….)

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Hot Cinnamon Cranberry Punch

This morning I want to share a recipe that is one of my absolute favorite holiday recipes.  It’s a hot punch drink that my mom makes every year at Christmas and it is one of the most delicious drinks I’ve ever had.  The flavors of cranberry, cinnamon, citrus and cloves are perfectly balanced and blend together so nicely.  And this recipe couldn’t be easier–simply heat and it’s done!  If you are looking for something warm and absolutely delicious, try this punch.

Enjoy!

Note:  This recipes calls for Cinnamon Imperial Candies.  You can find them at Price Cutter or Hyvee. Brach’s brand is best.

Hot Cinnamon Cranberry Punch
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Qt. 100% Cranberry Juice Cocktail
  • 9 oz. (3/4 of 12 oz. can) Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate
  • 9 oz. (3/4 of 12 oz. can) Frozen Lemonade Concentrate
  • 3 Qt. Water
  • 20 Whole Clove
  • 3 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 15 oz. Cinnamon Imperial Candies
Instructions
  1. Heat all ingredients in a VERY large stockpot over medium heat until heated through. Stir frequently.*
Notes
Makes about 25, 8 oz. servings. *The Imperial candies will want to stick to the bottom of the pan while the mixture heats, but just a use a wooden spoon to keep them scraped off and they will eventually melt.

 

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Cinnamon Roll Cake

Cinnamon Roll Cake.  Also known in our house as “crack cake”.  Listen I don’t care what your planning on baking for Thanksgiving this week–pie, cookies, trifle, cobbler, whatever–I don’t care.  Yeah I know you’re in the middle of making your massive grocery list but whatever dessert you have on it, scratch it off.  You will likely already have all the ingredients needed for this cake and this cake is what you want to make.  Trust me on this.

I had never even heard of Cinnamon Roll Cake until my good friend Nicole (who also happens to be a FABULOUS baker) told me she had went to a recipe exchange and someone brought this cake.  When she showed me the recipe, it looked so easy I had to try it right away.  Luckily we had a bonfire we were going to this past Friday so it was the perfect excuse to make it.  I had it done in no time and was taking it out of the oven, piping hot, pouring the glaze all over it and breathing in the delicious aroma of what smelled just like yummy cinnamon rolls.  Now whoever wrote the recipe said they preferred to eat it while it was still warm, so of course we took their advice!  And it was indeed delicious.  Very much like a warm cinnamon roll in cake form.  However, after letting it cool for several hours, something magical happens after all the glaze has soaked into the dense cake and the cinnamon-brown sugar swirl has turned super gooey and decadent.  The cake itself is not overly sweet which is nice because it balances out the sweetness of the swirl and glaze perfectly.  I’m telling you, it was amazing!!!  Jeremy and I agreed that we liked it warm but LOVED it cold/room temperature and both agreed that we can never be left alone with this cake in the house.  It’s so, SO good.  Totally addicting.  Yeah, like crack.  Seriously, make this for your Thanksgiving dinner!  People will rave.

Enjoy!

Cinnamon Roll Cake
 
Ingredients
Cake
  • 3 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • 1 c. Sugar
  • 4 t. Baking Powder
  • 1½ c. Whole Milk
  • 2 Large Eggs, room temperature
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ½ c. Unsalted Butter, melted
Cinnamon-Brown Sugar Swirl
  • 1 c. Unsalted Butter, softened (I just popped mine in the microwave for about 20 seconds)
  • 1 c. Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 T. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 T. Cinnamon
Glaze
  • 2½ c. Powdered Sugar
  • 5 T. Whole Milk or Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2½ T. Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions
For the Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 9x13 pan.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Slowly beat in the milk, eggs (one at a time) and vanilla. With mixer on low, slowly pour in the melted butter. Mix for a couple of minutes on medium speed until all ingredients are well combined. Pour into pan.
For the Cinnamon-Brown Sugar Swirl
  1. Mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Drop by spoonfuls over cake and then swirl gently with a knife. Bake for 32-35 minutes (mine took 35), until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. While the cake is still warm, slice into pieces and drizzle the glaze (instructions below) all over the cake. Eat warm or at room temperature (which is what we prefer!).
For the Glaze
  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.
Notes
Serves 18.

 

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Homemade Twinkies

It’s a sad day friends.  Hostess has announced they will be closing their doors for good!  We weren’t really allowed to have many Hostess products growing up but every now and then a friend at school would share their Twinkies with me (don’t tell my mom) and I relished every single bite.  It’s sad to see such an iconic baking brand go away but thankfully there are a plethora of foodie bloggers and cooking websites out there that have tried to duplicate their sweets over the years.  For instance, this recipe from Joy the Baker for Homemade Twinkies. When it comes to baking, Joy knows what she’s doing so I’m confident this recipe in a winner!  The next time the Twinkie craving strikes, give this recipe a try!

P.S. For that classic Twinkie shape, you can buy a Twinkie pan like this one or make you own Twinkie tins as illustrated here.  Or you can do what I plan on doing–make them in a cupcake pan!  Same great taste, just a different shape!

Homemade Twinkies
 
Ingredients
Twinkie Cake
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  • 1 cup milk
Twinkie Cream
  • 2 teaspoons very hot water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups marshmallow cream (one 7-ounce jar)
  • ½ cup shortening
  • ⅓ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
For the Twinkie Cake
  1. Put a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute in between each addition. Beat in vanilla and almond extract. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture alternately with the milk in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating until just incorporated.
  4. Spray prepared Twinkie tins with nonstick spray and divide the batter between the cups. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, or until the cakes are just slightly golden and a pick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before filling with marshmallow cream.
For the Twinkie Cream
  1. Combine the salt and the how water in a small bowl and mix until the salt is dissolved. Let the mixture cool.
  2. Combine the marshmallow cream, shortening, powdered sugar and vanilla extract in a medium sized bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy.
  3. Add the salt solution to the filling and beat to combine.
  4. Scoop into a pastry bag with a small tip and pipe into cooled Twinkie cakes. Flip them over so the browned bottoms of the cakes are on top, and the filling side is on the bottom. Wrap cakes in plastic wrap and give them to all your friends!
Notes
Makes 12 Twinkies.

 

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Cappuccino Truffles

Last week I had the privilege of giving a brief presentation to our local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group in Springfield, MO.  I shared two recipes with them, one healthy and one definitely not healthy.  I was a little nervous because I have never tried doing a cooking demonstration AND talking at the same time, but everyone was very nice and made me feel very comfortable!

The first recipe I shared was this one for my No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites (chocolate version).  I actually made this one in front of the group with a little help from two lovely assistants.  They were passed around so everyone could try them and the general consensus was “yum!”.  Everyone seemed to love the fact that these were healthy, easy to make and tasted delicious (I describe them as tasting just like a no-bake cookie!).  I was sooo relieved that everyone liked them!

The second goodie I shared were my Cappuccino Truffles.  There are a few candy recipes that I have made many times in the past and NEVER shared and this was one o them.  When I find recipes that people rave over and are willing to pay me to make, it’s hard for me to let go of them, but it was time!  I had these done ahead of time and did a few with coffee bean decor and some with gold luster dust.  It was so fun to pass these out and watch while people tasted them…the look of sheer pleasure on their faces was priceless.  Yep, they’re good.

I make mine with bittersweet chocolate ganache that has a hint of cinnamon and coffee and has been enrobed in a yummy white chocolate.  They are absolutely divine.  If you are looking at candy recipes for this holiday season and just don’t know which one to choose (there are MANY out there) I would highly encourage you to make this one!  They will be gone in seconds wherever you take them.

Needless to say, I had a fantastic time with the MOPS group of girls.  They were so fun and had lots of questions which I actually really enjoyed answering!  I’m definitely thinking I might be ready for my own cooking show….

Enjoy!

Cappuccino Truffles
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. Bittersweet or Dark Chocolate, finely chopped (I prefer Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet Bars)
  • 1½ c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 T. Instant Coffee Granules (or espresso powder)
  • ½ t. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1.25 lbs White Chocolate Candy Coating
  • 60 Coffee Beans, for decoration
Instructions
  1. Place the bittersweet/dark chocolate in a large bowl. Place the instant coffee in a small bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the heavy whipping cream to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir 3 tablespoons into the instant coffee, to dissolve the granules, then blend this mixture back into the rest of the cream. Stir in the cinnamon, then pour the cream into the bowl with the bittersweet chocolate. Let the mixture stand for one minute, then stir together until thoroughly blended and smooth. Let cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until thick but not stiff, about 2 hours.
  2. Line a large cookie sheet with foil. With a melon baler, scoop out about 1” balls onto the foil-lined pan. Place in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove from freezer and roll into balls with the palm of your hands. Place back in the refrigerator while you melt the white chocolate.*
  3. Melt the white chocolate candy coating in the microwave at 20 second intervals, stirring between each until completely melted and smooth. Dip each truffle in the white chocolate and place on foil. Top immediately with a coffee bean.
Notes
Makes 60, 1" truffles. *Be sure your truffles are not frozen or too cold. If they are very cold, it will cause the white chocolate to crack after you dip them.

 

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Fire Truck Birthday Party

A few weeks ago I was asked to do a dessert table for a little boy’s firetruck/firehouse birthday party.  Of course I said yes!  It sounded like so much fun.  But then I realized…what kind of desserts do I do for a firetruck theme?!  I have done plenty of dessert tables for weddings, baby showers and bridal showers but a boy’s firetruck birthday party?  Ummm, no.

I immediately turned to Google for ideas and was able to come up with some fun stuff!  I honestly am not a big decorator/detail person when it comes to desserts.  I like to make stuff that tastes amazing and just looks good.  Fondant and decorated sugar cookies have never been my thing.  So it was challenging to find desserts that I could do that didn’t require crazy decorating skills.  But I came up with a great spread! If I do say so myself.

We had Twizzlers to represent a firehose, fire hydrant sugar cookies, “flaming” yellow and red swirled marshmallows, red and yellow Jelly Belly’s and of course, cupcakes!  I was SO happy with how everything turned out and so was the client (which of course is the MOST important thing).  It was a fun challenge and more importantly everything was delicious!

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Spiced Pear Butter

I am officially obsessed, OBSESSED, with this recipe for pear (or apple!) butter.  It was insanely easy and produced the most delicious pear butter I have ever had.  Fortunately, my grandparents have a pear tree in their backyard and were generous enough to share their bounty with me!  The only downside is that now that I know how awesome this stuff is, I can’t get my hand on any more free pears!  They seem to have gotten to their peak and are no more.  I am so, so sad about this.  I’m still thinking about just hitting up a local apple orchard because I’d REALLY love to make apple butter from this recipe.  We shall see.

Thus far, I’ve been spreading this yumminess on my bagels in the morning.  Or eating with a spoon from the jar.  I’m not proud of that but I can’t help myself.  You could put it on waffles, pancakes, crepes…so many possibilities.  The spices in it are perfection and the texture is so buttery smooth.  I love that I was able to throw everything in the crockpot overnight and it was practically done!  It does take a little time to peel and core all the pears (about 45 minutes) but it is so worth it.  I also used Sucanat which is a great alternative to processed, refined sugar…much better for your body.  Also used pink himalayan sea salt instead of overly processed table salt that’s been stripped of all nutrients.  I wondered how it would work with the alternative sugar and honestly, I couldn’t tell a difference in texture and taste-wise, I thought it was better!

Take advantage of the pears and apples at the height of the season and make this stuff!  So, so good!

Spiced Pear Butter
 
Ingredients
  • 6 lbs (about 25 large) Pears or Apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 2½ c. Sucanat (or use brown sugar)
  • 4 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ t. Ground Cloves
  • ½ t. Allspice
  • ½ t. Fine Sea Salt (I used pink himalayan)
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and stir to combine.
  2. Cover and cook on high for one hour.
  3. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and dark brown.
  4. Uncover and continue cooking on low for one hour. Place mixture in blender and blend until completely smooth.  Let cool completely.
  5. Spoon the mixture into sterile containers and refrigerate or freeze.
Notes
Makes 2 pints.

 

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Butterfinger Fudge

Fudge.  Who doesn’t love fudge??  My mom makes THE BEST chocolate and peanut butter fudge that I have ever had.  I seriously have tried a LOT (more than I care to admit) both from friends, co-workers and fudge shops and I can honestly say I have found NOTHING that beats hers.  She only makes it at Christmas and I am soooo ready to dig into some.

In the meantime I tried my hand at this recipe for Butterfinger Fudge.  It uses lots of candy corn which is perfect since pretty soon it will all be on clearance! I was a little skeptical only because this recipe seemed so easy…no timing or waiting for a certain temperature, just mixing stuff together.  And I thought my recipe for Maple-Walnut Fudge was easy, and it is, but this stuff was so easy my dog could make it.  If I had a dog.  Ok, let’s just say your husband could do it–YES, that easy.  I was pleasantly surprised with the results!  The taste is definitely yummy and I’ll be honest, once you mix the candy corn, peanut butter and sweetened condesnsed milk together it does in fact taste just like a Butterfinger candy bar.  But adding the white chocolate chips dilutes the flavor a bit and it ends up (in my opinion) tasting more like peanut butter fudge.  It’s still super yummy and delish, I just wish there was more of a way to retain that Butterfinger flavor…maybe using peanut butter chips instead of white??  Try it and let me know what you think!

Butterfinger Fudge
 
Ingredients
  • 3 c. Candy Corn
  • 1 c. Smooth Peanut Butter
  • 1, 14 oz. Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 c. White Chocolate chips
  • Dark Chocolate for Dipping (I like the Wilton Dark Chocolate Discs or the Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Candy Coating)
Instructions
  1. Line a 9x9 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the candy corn and peanut butter. Stir occasionally. The peanut butter will start to melt and the candy corn will break down. When it gets to the point it looks like cookie dough texture, add in the sweetened condensed milk. Stir vigorously until everything is blended and the candy corn has melted into the mixture completely. It will get thick! Add the white chocolate chips and stir until the are fully melted and blended in with the mixture. Pour into the 9x9 pan and let cool completely. Cut into 1" squares and drizzle or dip in dark chocolate.
Notes
Makes about 50, 1" squares.

 

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Cupcake Themed Halloween

Obsessed with cupcakes?  Who isn’t?!  They are cute.  So cute, that they are put on pretty much anything.  Seriously…you could put a picture of a cupcake on a cow patty and it would be cute.  While no one will be capitalizing on cupcake cow patties anytime soon, they sure are coming up with lots of other products to keep the sweet trend going.  Check out these fun items…

Cupcake Halloween Costume from Pottery Barn

Chiasso Cupcake Doormat

Johnny Cupcakes Hello Kitty Tote Bag

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Best Butterscotch Cookies Ever

I have finally made a cookie recipe that I LOVE and it is as close to a perfect cookie as I will probably ever get.  I always struggle with cookies.  Not all cookies, just the most basic cookie ever--chocolate chip!  For some reason I have never found the perfect recipe for a chewy, thick chocolate chip cookie, like one you'd find in a bakery.  And I've tried many.  MANY.  That's not to say I don't have some absolutely fantastic chocolate chip cookie recipes, I just haven't found one in my mind that is the best. Anywho, this isn't quite a typical chocolate chip cookie but let me tell you I might just give up my search after making this one.  It is literally the thickest, chewiest, most delicious cookies I have ever made and maybe ever had...EVER!  Yeah, I'm pretty excited about it.  I took a really basic recipe for oatmeal butterscotch cookies and made some changes to it that I hoped would make it beyond awesome.  And much to my delight, it did.  Seriously, this cookie is out of this world.  Let me know if you agree! Enjoy!
Best Butterscotch Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Unsalted Butter
  • ½ c. White Sugar
  • 1 c. Packed Brown Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs, 1 Large Egg Yolk
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 c. Rolled Oats
  • 2 c. (11 oz. pkg.) Butterscotch Chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large pan over medium heat, brown the butter. This will take about 8 minutes for the butter to melt and turn golden brown. Remove from heat and combine the sugars and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until thoroughly combined. Add the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and oats. Add to the wet ingredients and mix just until combined. Stir in butterscotch chips.
  4. Roll mixture into 2" balls and place on baking sheets two inches apart. Bake for 14 minutes, rotating pans and switching racks halfway through. Cool on pan for 2 minutes and then transer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
Notes
Makes about 30 cookies.

 

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Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe started off as blondies but somehow turned into cake.  Not sure what I did wrong but it’s all good because this turned out to be one of the best pumpkin cakes I’ve ever made.  It’s super moist and the spices are very pronounced which I love.  On top of all that, the orange cream cheese frosting is THE PERFECT frosting to complement all the spices in the cake…it’s absolutely delicious.  I added semi-sweet chocolate chips and dried cherries but if I did it again, I’d omit the chocolate chips.  The just seemed unnecessary and didn’t really add anything.  I did love the dried cherries but you could also leave those out if you prefer.

If you’re looking for a fantastic pumpkin cake recipe, try this one.  You won’t be disappointed.

Enjoy!

Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
 
Ingredients
Spiced Pumpkin Cake
  • 2 sticks, plus 2 T. Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1¾ c. Packed Brown Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1½ c. Pure Pumpkin Puree
  • 1½ T. Cinnnamon
  • ½ t. Nutmeg
  • 2 t. Allspice
  • 2 t. Ginger
  • 1 t. Ground Cloves
  • 2¼ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1½ t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Salt
  • ¾ c. Dried Cherries (optional)
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1, 8 oz. Pkg Cream Cheese, softened
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • 4 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 1 T. Orange Zest
  • 4 T. Fresh Orange Juice
Instructions
For the Spiced Pumpkin Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then vanilla and pumpkin until combined. In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet and mix until thoroughly combined. Stir in dried cherries, if using.
  3. Bake for 35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely and frost with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting.
For the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter, cream cheese and shortening until smooth. Add salt. On low speed, gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Beat in orange zest and juice. Frost cake.
Notes
Serves 18

 

 

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Pumpkin and More Pumpkin

I really enjoy finding recipes from other blogs to share with you guys.  The only problem is I find so many that it’s hard to choose which ones to include without the post being incredibly long!  So I managed to narrow things down to TEN pumpkin recipes.  All look drool-worthy and absolutely freakin’ delicious.  See if there is one you like and make it!  If you do, please tell me about it in the comments…I truly would love to know what you end up making and loving!

Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats

Pumpkin Butter

Mini Pumpkin Oreo Cheesecakes

Chocolate Covered Pumpkin Pretzels

Chai Pumpkin Spice Thumbprints

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

Mini Pumpkin Doughnuts with Rum-Cider Glaze

Pumpkin Candy Cups

Pumpkin Scones

P.S.  I guess I shouldn’t be worried about linking too many recipes–check out this blog!  LOTS of pumpkin going on on this page!  Wow!

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