Nothing is more symbolic of Christmas than a candy cane and peppermint has been one of my favorite flavors for as long as I can remember. I’ll never forget taking trips to see my Grandma who lived in Kansas City around the holidays and there was a little ice cream shoppe that had the most amazing hand-dipped candy cane ice cream. I could hardly stand the three-hour drive from Springfield to KC in anticipation of that peppermint, creamy, frozen goodness! Such a good memory.
So, I went searching for some awesome peppermint recipes and found so many, I almost didn’t know when to stop! But I did manage to stop and I have quite the selection to share with you! Not only are these desserts GORGEOUS but they are chocked full of peppermint goodness. Make one of these for your holiday gathering this weekend!
I FINALLY had candy making success last week–yessss! Lately, things have been a little rough in the kitchen and I have no idea why…maybe doing too much at once or not having enough time, but for whatever reason, my candy making had been very, very sad. But with this latest recipe for eggnog fudge, I have regained my confidence! Yay!
I happened to see that Brown Eyed Baker had posted this recipe earlier in the week and decided to make it for my husband’s office Christmas party on Friday night. I made it Friday morning since the instructions said to let it sit overnight and it was actually totally set up by noon, in about four hours. I also had a little trouble with the directions, as my fudge reached the temperature waaaaayyyyy before the stated time of 8-10 minutes. So I have my version of her recipe in this post, but if you’d like to go by the original, you can find it here.
Oh and I should mention that the day I made this it tasted very much like white chocolate to me and not as eggnog-y as I had hoped but by the next day the flavor was awesome and tasted JUST LIKE eggnog. Totally yummy. Try this recipe for creamy, rich eggnog fudge…you will LOVE it.
11 oz. White Chocolate Chips (I chopped mine to allow for quicker melting)
¼ t. Ground Nutmeg
1, 7 oz. Jar Marshmallow Creme
1 t. Rum Extract or Pure Vanilla (which is what I used)
Line an 8-inch square pan with foil and let it hang over the sides, creating "handles". Butter well and set aside.
In a heavy 3-quart saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, eggnog and salt over medium heat. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat.
Using a wooden spoon, immediately and quickly stir in the chopped white chocolate chips, nutmeg and vanilla until melted and smooth. Stir in marshmallow creme. Beat until blended and then pour into prepared pan. Let stand at room temperature until completely cool and firm.
Using the foil "handles", lift the fudge out of the pan and cut into 1-inch squares. Store in an air-tight container.
I couldn’t let all this Christmas baking love go by without mentioning what else….cupcakes! There are some seriously cute ones out there. I really don’t know how people come up with this stuff, but I LOVE it. I think I’d make the snowmen, but with my homemade marshmallows, of course! They are just toooooo cute. Check out all of them below!
As promised, my famous Peanut Butter Ball recipe! Ok, maybe they’re not quite famous, BUT I have sold alot of this candy over the years and people love them! It’s a recipe I have never shared before but since I took it to the cookie exchange I figured why not put it on the blog? As you can see, I chose to top mine with crushed potato chips-delicious! There are a lot of peanut butter ball recipes out there but this is the best, in my opinion. They are super creamy and 100 times better than a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Seriously, the best. But that’s just my opinion…
Crushed Potato Chips, Chopped Dry-Roasted Peanuts, etc for topping
Melt the butter in a large bowl. Add the peanut butter and stir until smooth and thoroughly combined. Add the powdered sugar and stir until completely incorporated. The mixture will become stiff (you may need to use your hands, I do). Form into two balls and let it stand overnight on the kitchen counter. Knead it the next morning until smooth. Put in the refrigerator to firm up a bit, about an hour. Form into 1½" balls and place on a foil lined cookie sheet. Place back in the fridge while you melt your chocolate. Melt the chocolate candy coating in a microwave at 20-second intervals, stirring between each, until smooth and completely melted. Dip peanut butter balls (I remove only a few from the refrigerator at a time) in chocolate and immediately top with crushed potato chips, chopped peanuts, etc. and let cool on foil until hardened.
Last week I got to experience my first every cookies exchange and it was SO much fun! A sweet girl from our church, Monica, was gracious enough to host the event for a whopping 27 women! Yes, 27 women…27 different kinds of cookies, candies, etc. We made 12 dozen of the treat of our choice and swapped goods when we got there which meant we left with 12 dozen different goodies! It was insane. I was in sugar heaven. I brought my famous Peanut Butter Balls (recipe tomorrow!) and had so much fun checking out and tasting everyone else’s homemade treats. I can’t wait to do it again next year! Here are a couple of photos of the bounty I brought home.
This is the platter…there was fudge, toffee, butterscotch cookies, chocolate cookies, buckeyes, Oreo stuffed brownies, ginger cookies, Nutter Butter Snowmen cookies, Oreo truffles, chocolate dipped candy cane coated pretzels, loaded oatmeal cookies and on and on it goes….
One of my favorites was the Chocolate Candy Cane Cheesecake. Soooo good.
And my absolute favorite was this biscotti. It had spices and orange flavor (at least I think it was orange..something like that), along with chocolate chips…it. was. amazing.
This past weekend I made homemade candy, which is probably my favorite thing to make in the kitchen. I tried a couple of old recipes and a couple of new ones. One of the new ones was out of a candy book that I have and unfortunately it was a total disaster. It was supposed to be similar to a 3 Musketeers but was more like chocolate taffy. The taste was great because I used my super delicious Mexican cocoa powder but the texture was way off. I was soooo disappointed in the recipe but I’m not going to give up! I think that is what I like about candy making, it can be a challenge and it’s fun to figure out why recipes went wrong and what to do right or change the next time.
Here is a small collection of candy recipes that I’d love to try this Christmas, from simple to a little bit more complicated. The homemade Snickers bar and Coffee Toffee are totally calling my name…actually they ALL look good! Which one would you like to try??
Happy Friday! In case you’ve been thinking about what you’re going to give to that hard-to-buy for friend or family member for Christmas, why not give them food?? Everyone loves food. Seriously, everyone. What I like about these food gifts is that they are not your typical fudge or baked good that will probably get a little stale before you can recover from all the holiday eating. These can be stored away for a cold winter night (or day) and made or used whenever the urge strikes.
Things are busy this time of year. You need something to be easy. Like 5-minutes, DONE easy. What about some desserts that require ZERO baking time and hardly any effort? Maybe you need something for an office party or family get-together or ANOTHER ugly Christmas sweater party? I’ve got a few recipes that are perfect and done in no time, all in one pan. They will definitely impress! And you will be alot less stressed.
Believe it or not, I had never made gingerbread until a couple of days ago. I’m not sure why, maybe because it is not the typical eggnog/peppermint/chocolate holiday dessert that I usually go for but it has so many things in it I love! To start, it is full of molasses and I absolutely adore molasses. When I was a kid, I loved eating a bowl of peanut butter with either honey, molasses or sorghum all mixed in. Yes, I’d just eat it with a spoon. Healthy, right? Needless to say, I was a chubby kid.
Anyway, I finally made it and I am so glad I did! This gingerbread is absolutely delicious and the smell while it is baking–divine! I looked for some eggnog ice cream to go with ours but for some reason Wal-mart had zero holiday ice cream flavors the day I went so I had to settle for rum raisin. Which ended up being a yummy choice, especially when topped off with homemade salted caramel sauce…which is exactly what we did. Mmmmmmm! Highly recommend!
I am more excited about this Christmas season than ever before! And it’s mostly because I will be baking my way through the next 25 plus days and documenting every gloriously sweet moment on this blog! Since there are so many awesome recipes I want to try right now, I’ll be posting a new one every Monday and Wednesday of the week from now until Christmas. Most likely one will be something baked (cookie, cake, etc) and one will be unbaked (candy, party mix, etc).
I’ve decided to kick off all the festive baking with this amazing Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Cappuccino Ganache. This thing is decadent and rich and worth every single calorie you will have to burn on the treadmill the next day. You really can’t go wrong bringing chocolate to a holiday gathering because seriously, who doesn’t love it??
The only problem (well, ok there were two) I encountered with this cheesecake is that the butter in the cookie crust started seeping out of my springform pan for some reason (I have NEVER had that happen before–weird!) so I had to put a cookie sheet beneath it to catch it all. And problem number two was that I didn’t realize how much volume adding two cups of melted chocolate chips would add to this recipe so my 9-inch springform pan got very full…TOO full! I’d advise you to use at least a 10-inch round springform pan. And don’t freak if the top gets kind of funky and cracked; your just going to cover it with ganache anyway. I torted mine to give it a nice even surface before spreading the ganache over it and in the end it turned out perfect!
What are you most looking forward to baking this Christmas season?? I’d love to know!
2½ c. Oreos, crushed (I did mine in a food processor)
1 Stick Unsalted Butter, melted
4, 8 oz. Packages Cream Cheese, softened
1½ c. Granulated Sugar
¾ c. Whole Milk
1 c. Sour Cream
2 T. Pure Vanilla
¼ c. All-Purpose Flour
1 c. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 c. Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
¼ c. Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
9 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped
1 c. Heavy Whipping Cream
2 T. Instant Coffee (or 1 T. Espresso Powder)
¼ t. Cinnamon
For the Cheesecake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 10-inch springform pan.
In a medium bowl, combine the crushed Oreos and melted butter and press evenly into the bottom of the springform pan, pressing the crust up onto the sides of the pan just a little.
In a small bowl, melt the semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate chips in the microwave at 20-second intervals, stirring between each, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set aside and let cool slightly.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Blend in the milk and then mix in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in sour cream, vanilla, flour and cocoa until smooth. Beat in the melted chocolate and spread evenly into the springform pan.
Bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake cool in the oven with the door closed for at least 1 hour (I left mine in for 3 but if I'm pressed for time, I take it out at about 1 hour...it's supposed to help prevent cracking, if you care about that). Let cool completely and then chill in the refrigerator overnight.
For the Ganache
Place the chopped chocolate and cinnamon in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the heavy whipping cream over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. In a separate bowl, dissolve the instant coffee in 3 tablespoons of the boiling heavy whipping cream and then add back to the rest of the heavy whipping cream in the saucepan. Pour the heavy whipping cream over the chocolate and stir until smooth. Let cool slightly to barely warm and almost room temperature. Pour over cheesecake by starting at the center of the cake and with a spoon, slowly smooth it out toward the edges and slightly over. Let cool completely and store in the refrigerator. Decorate with shaved white chocolate, if desired.
Mmmm, pralines. There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the correct pronunciation of these yummy drops of sugar and nuts…praw-lines, pray-lines…how do you say it?? I suppose it depends on where you’re from but I’m sure we can all agree these things are delicious! I will admit I had never even made them before until my baking buddy Betsy suggested we get together and try a couple different kinds. She has the best ideas.
I’m not sure how many or exactly what kinds we did that night, but I know we used one recipe that was her grandmother’s and these are the real deal. Honestly, they are hard to describe other than just yummy pecans and sugar…they almost have a maple taste to them. Which I love. They do use a candy thermometer but don’t be afraid! The candy thermometer is your friend! All you have to do is watch that little red line get to 236 degrees and bam! You’re golden and on your way to praline heaven.
In a medium saucepan, bring butter, corn syrup, evaporated milk and sugar to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring occasionally so the mixture doesn't scorch, until a candy thermometer reaches 236 degrees (it will take 8-10 minutes). Once it reaches 236 degrees, remove from heat and stir in vanilla and pecans. Continue to stir until very thick and dark in color, about 4-5 minutes (it will become somewhat difficult to stir...my arm was tired!) and immediately and quickly begin spooning onto wax paper or foil. Let sit until cool and completely firm.
In case you’re feeling crafty and in the mood for cupcakes this Thanksgiving, why not give one of these so, so cute Thanksgiving themed cupcakes a try! I think the acorn cupcakes look like something even I could handle! I’d probably add some chocolate leaves just to give it a little more oomph!
Last week I posted some healthy dessert recipes and I had my eye on a couple to try myself. I decided to start with the Sunny Oat-Date Bars. I just happened to have a HUGE bag of dates sitting on my counter that I had been meaning to make into a dessert but had never taken the time to find a recipe. These bars were the perfect thing to use them in!
I made some minor adjustments to the recipe and overall the results were delicious. They turned out a teensy bit crumbly so I’d recommend eating them with a fork. And after I simmered the dates and orange juice, I had no liquid left over to add to the dry ingredients, it just turned into a very thick mixture. So even though I didn’t have any of the orange/date liquid to add to the oats, it still worked fine. I absolutely LOVED this recipe and found I could hardly stay out of the bars. The flavors of orange, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and dates was ah-mazing. Pretty sure a healthy recipe becomes not so healthy when you eat 2-3 times more than you should! Oh well.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x9 pan with cooking spray.
In a small saucepan, combine the dates, orange juice and orange rind. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occassionally, until dates are very soft and the mixture has turned very thick (about 5-8 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Once cool, mash until smooth.
In a large bowl, whisk together oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, honey, maple syrup and vanilla. Add oil mixture to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Press ⅔ of the oat mixture into the pan and spread the date mixture over the crust. Stir pecans into remaining oat mixture and drop by spoonfulls onto the date mixture and spread evenly.
Last year Drury partnered with some local businesses to bring the first every Sugar Rush event to Springfield, MO. It’s basically a sampling a sweets made by local vendors and restaurants with all the profits going to Care to Learn, an organization dedicated to meeting the basic social and economic needs of kids in schools across the Ozarks.
I didn’t know about the event last year in time to go and I almost missed it this year but found out about it at the last minute and managed to score two for one tickets! I asked my friend Robyn (of Red’s Cupcakes!) to go with me and together we ate our way through 25+ vendors and three plates of desserts. Yes, THREE plates. There were a LOT of mini cupcakes, some cookies, chocolates and truffles and even doughnuts and frozen yogurt samples. I can’t say I was terribly impressed with anything but I definitely had my favorites. I think Robyn and I agreed the front runners were Amycakes (awesome from scratch cupcakes and cookies), Elle’s Patisserie (loved her truffles and pastry), My Mary’s Jellies (truffles filled with wine-infused jelly–omg, so going to be making my own!) and one that I really liked, Granolove (super delicious homemade granola). These places stood out above all the rest for quality and taste.
It was so much fun and I absolutely cannot wait for next year! Here are some pictures from the evening-enjoy!
Believe it or not, there are some people on diets this time of year. Yes, DIETS, preparing/starving themselves for the two month long eat-o-rama that begins around mid-November and doesn’t stop until somewhere around the new year. I myself believe in moderation and balance and try to get plenty of exercise and eat an overall healthy diet (I definitely do NOT believe in starvation and “diet” trends). And I am most certainly planning on indulging during the holidays but in moderation.
So, for those more health-conscious readers out there like myself, I thought I would provide you with some healthy dessert options for you to bring to those family get-togethers. Some are most definitely more healthy than others; there are low-fat, low-calorie, high-protein, low-sugar, etc. Options! That’s what I’m all about. 🙂 I’ll definitely be testing a couple (the Date Bars and Honey-Almond Cake are calling my name!) to see if they are worthy of the upcoming family festivities. I’ll post my results!
If you’ve never tried the combination of pumpkin and chocolate, you are seriously missing out. The first time I ever tried the unusual, but oh-so-delicious pairing was several years ago when I made these Chocolate Pumpkin Truffles. I was in heaven. You wouldn’t think that the two flavors would go together but they compliment each other wonderfully. Throw in some cinnamon and it’s a party in your mouth! Now, add a cheesecake factor and you have mind blowing AWESOMENESS. And that is just what you get with these Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirled Brownies.
These are simple and delicious. The brownie batter is super thick and doesn’t seem like alot when you pour it in the pan, but after it bakes up, it’s the perfect proportion of brownie to cheesecake. The only problem I had was swirling the brownie batter into the cheesecake because it was so thick. It was more just kind of gently mixing it all together with a knife. But it worked! And they turned out perfect.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8 baking pan.
For the Brownie Batter:
Beat together the melted butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Whisk together dry ingredients in a small bowl and then gradually fold into the butter mixture by hand.
For the Pumpkin Cheesecake Batter:
In another bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in remainder of ingredients until smooth.
Spread about ⅔ of the brownie batter into prepared pan. Spread the pumpkin cheesecake batter over top, distributing evenly. Drop the remaining brownie batter over the cheesecake batter and swirl together with a butter knife.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely and chill before cutting and serving. (They are MUCH better chilled in the refrigerator overnight.)
I know everyone is getting really excited about the colder temps and winter-like weather that is happening right now, but we have PLENTY of fall left and I’m going to savor every last minute of it. Here are a few things I love at this time of the year (and some ah-mazing pumpkin recipes).
Fall Leaves. Can’t get enough of the beautiful colors. And it’s even better this year since this is the first fall in our new house and we have two gorgeous trees in our front yard. (and no, these are not our trees! I wish!)
Pumpkin Monkey Bread. I do believe I could eat this EVERY SINGLE morning for breakfast. I won’t! But I could.
Fall-Scented Candles. According to this blog, Bath and Body Works has a Bakeshop candle collection. Sad to say I haven’t been to the mall in so long, I have no idea if this is true or not! Shopping trip!
Andy’s Frozen Custard Pumpkin Pie Concrete. I think this is my favorite concrete concoction from Andy’s (besides my husband’s brilliant combination of cherry juice, Oreos and brownie mmmmm). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a good photo which I suppose means one thing: I’ll have to go get a Pumpkin Pie Concrete and take my own photo. The things I do…
Lovely Fall Dessert Tables. I so wish I had been invited to this party.
Just one week ago I was digging my toes into soft, white sand, reading non-stop on my Kindle under a palm tree and eating waaaaayyyyyy too much food. It was a good five days in Cancun.
Here are some photos of the most important part of our trip…dessert! (Forgive the photo quality..taken with a phone…bad lighting..etc etc etc)
These are some of the gorgeous dessert buffets. I honestly can’t tell you what 1/4 of the stuff is and there wasn’t much that I liked, believe it or not. Oh, but I tried it ALL. Most of the choices were either way too sugary sweet coconut candy type things or bland. And the “cake”-like options were very dry. I did find a chocolate cheesecake wrapped in a chocolate purse-type shell (in first pic below, bottom right) that was good and another plain vanilla cheesecake thing (at least I THINK that’s what it was..hard to tell because the top half was green and it was shaped like an oval) that I liked also. I did find these little chocolate cube-like things that I LOVED and I actually found them in the shop at the resort. Turns out they were made of toasted amaranth and chocolate. Yep, totally going to try making them.
There were two little gems that I found on our shopping day. One is an amazing chocolate shop called Ah Cacao. They sold all kinds of chocolate, coffee, every form of vanilla, cookies and some of THE BEST brownies I have ever had. Oh and their chocolate covered espresso beans…AH-MAZING. They were dipped in dark chocolate and then had a crunchy outer shell, like an M&M. I wish I had bought more than one package.
This was a lovely little gelato place called Aldo’s. There’s actually alot of gelato places in Cancun, which surprised me. They pretty much started shoveling gelato samples into our mouthes the minute we walked up to the counter. But I’m not complaining! It was delicious! I ended up getting a waffle cone with Almond gelato–heaven!
And this is us on our last day of living like beach bums, soaking up the sun. Let me tell you, it was SWEET.
Amy Atlas has featured several baseball themed dessert tables on her blog the last few days. Seeing as how we are so close in proximity to St. Louis and (naturally) cheering on the Cardinals, I thought it’d be fun to share a few of the photos on here. Too see more, click on the link above each picture.