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.

 

Continue Reading

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!

Continue Reading

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.

 

Continue Reading

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.

 

Continue Reading

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

Continue Reading

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.

 

Continue Reading

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

 

 

Continue Reading

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!

Continue Reading

Love is Sweet

My last and final post about our trip to Illinois in August!  I’ve covered chocolate, pie and cupcakes and now the grand finale—the wedding!!!  Jeremy and Lisa worked together at the church we went to in Rockford and when we left a mere 2.5 years ago she wasn’t even dating anyone but before we knew it she was engaged to Adam and it was wedding time!  Lisa is a very detailed oriented person so I expected alot out of this wedding and I can honestly say I was not disappointed!  It was totally a gorgeous, picture perfect wedding.  Seriously.

The ceremony was at 1, with a dessert reception immediately following outside on the front lawn of the church.  There was a white tent with the most amazing spread of mini cupcakes, cheesecakes, chocolate-dipped strawberries, hand pies, mini brownies and chocolate dipped pretzels.  I LOVE mini anything, especially desserts, so it was a feast for the eyes!  And her colors were some of my favorites…pink, grey, black and white.  Loved it.

A few hours later there was a dinner reception at the Rockford Art Museum.  The venue was awesome but even more awesome was this candy buffet!  It had gummies, Jordan almonds, Circus Peanuts, lollipops, gumballs, jelly beans and taffy.  So fun!

Lastly, the wedding cake!  Isn’t it so sweet??  To my surprise this was a strawberry shortcake cake!  The frosting on the outside looked like buttercream but was actually a whipped cream frosting and the inside was layers of yellow cake with strawberries and more whipped cream in between!  Loved it.  Definitely different and memorable!

We were so happy we were able to share in Lisa and Adam’s special day and wish them all the best!

Continue Reading

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Welp, it’s October.  Pumpkin is everywhere.  Pumpkin decor, pumpkin patches, pumpkin candy, pumpkin soup…it goes on and on.  And then we have baking.  The pumpkin recipes never end.  You’ve got bars, cakes, ice cream, cookies, fudge, cheesecake, cupcakes and so many other things I’m not even able to think of right now!  I of course want an EPIC pumpkin recipe to share with you all but it seems like so many ideas have already been done…but I’m working on it!

In the meantime, I’d like to share this super simple and healthy pumpkin muffin recipe.  It’s like pumpkin pie in muffin form with a little chocolate thrown in.  I LOVE the combo of pumpkin and chocolate.  I first tried it a few years ago when I made pumpkin truffles and wow, the two flavors together are amazing!  This recipe from Deliciously Organic was originally grain-free but I only had whole wheat pastry flour on hand so I went with that.  I modified a few other things and these turned out fabulous.  Super moist and full of pumpkin flavor.  And the little touch of chocolate is delicious.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 4 Egg Whites
  • ⅓ c. Almond Milk
  • ½ c. Sucanat
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ⅓ c. Safflower Oil
  • 1 c. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 2 t. Baking Powder
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • ¾ t. Salt (I prefer Pink Himalayan)
  • 1 t. Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1½ t. Cinnamon
  • 1 c. Canned, Pure Pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • ½ c. Dark or Bittersweet Chocolate
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a regular muffin tin with 12 muffin liners.
  2. Whisk eggs, egg whites, almond milk, sucanat, vanilla and safflower oil together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon together. Add dry ingredients to wet and whisk until no lumps remain. Fold in pumpkin. Spoon batter into muffin cups and sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  3. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 12 muffins.

 

Continue Reading

Apple Snickers Trifle

Apples are SO good right now.  Am I right or am I right?  I can’t get enough.  And this past weekend I wanted to make a special dessert for a family get-together and of course, wanted to include apples.  But I didn’t necessarily want to bake something.  Enter the Apple Snickers Trifle.  You might have seen a version of this recipe on Pinterest called an Apple & Snickers Salad, made with a pudding/Cool Whip mixture.  But first, the name had to go.  Salad?  It just felt wrong.  I mean salads have vegetables and croutons and definitely don’t involve Snickers in any way.  Apples maybe but Snickers…no.

Second, I put it in a trifle dish and layered the ingredients instead of just throwing it in a bowl.  I think it definitely looks prettier, don’t you?  Much better for presentation!

I will warn you: this stuff is good.  It seemed a little odd to me at first to mix apples with Snickers but it totally makes sense: it’s like a caramel apple with some chocolate thrown in.  Yum!  It is VERY rich and decadent and a nice change of pace from apple cake or apple cookies (not that those are bad…they rock as well).

Enjoy!

Apple Snickers Trifle
 
Ingredients
  • 2, 8 oz. Pkgs. Cream Cheese, softened
  • 2 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1, 16 oz. Container Cool Whip
  • 6 c. Chopped, Granny Smith Apples (about 6-7 apples, plus a few for garnish)
  • 10 Regular-Size Snickers, chopped (I froze mine unwrapped in a large plastic Ziploc bag and took the flat side of a meat mallot to them...worked like a charm)
  • Caramel Sauce
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. On low speed, gradually beat in the powdered sugar and then the vanilla. Fold in the Cool Whip.
  2. Stir in the chopped apples, reserving a few for garnish. Stir in 1½ c. of the crushed Snickers. Spoon ⅓ of the mixture into a trifle dish. Sprinkle half of the remaining Snickers onto the mixture. You can also drizzle with caramel sauce, which is what I did, but I thought it was a little too sweet and not necessary and wouldn't do it again. Spoon another ⅓ of the mixture into the trifle dish and the remaining half of the Snickers (save a ½ c. or so for garnish). Spoon the remaining mixture into the trifle dish and garnish with chopped apples, Snickers and caramel sauce. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve (it will probably get a bit runny the next day so I highly recommend making and serving it the same day).
Notes
Serves 25.

 

Continue Reading

Caramel Apple Sandwich Cookies

I love fall.  Hands down, my favorite season.  Leaves turning colors, cooler temps and oh yeah, APPLES.  Gorgeous apples from local orchards around town have been showing up at our farmer’s market lately.  I absolutely love, love, love apple recipes. As kids, my sister and I knew that fall meant apple picking (can I just say there is nothing like a golden delicious apple right off the tree) and then of course BAKING with those apples.  My mom would always make her German Apple Cake (which is still one of my favorite desserts) and an apple crisp!  There was nothing like warm apple crisp right out of the oven with a big scoop of cold vanilla ice cream.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  Yum.

So I wanted to do something just a little different and thought these Caramel Apple Sandwich Cookies totally fit the bill.  I will say that these cookies are divine by themselves but sandwich them with caramel cream cheese frosting and wow, takes it to a whole other level!  You could also sub the apples with raisins, craisins, white chocolate chips, nuts…this is just a very solid oatmeal cookie!  Promise, you’ll love it!

Enjoy!

Original recipe by Taste of Home.

Caramel Apple Sandwich Cookies
 
Ingredients
Chewy Apple Oatmeal Cookies
  • 1 c. Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1 c. Packed Brown Sugar
  • ½ c. White Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • ⅛ t. Ground Cloves
  • ⅛ t. Nutmeg
  • ⅛ t. Allspice
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 3 c. Old-Fashioned Oats
  • 1 c. Chopped, Dried Apples
  • 1 c. Chopped Granny Smith Apple (one large apple should be enough)
Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
  • ¼ Stick Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 2 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
  • ⅛ t. Salt
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1¾ c. Powdered Sugar
  • 3 T. Caramel Sauce (I used Smuckers brand)
Instructions
For the Cookies
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time and then vanilla. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, baking soda, salt and oats. Gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in chopped apples.
  3. Drop by rounded spoonfuls 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating pans and switching racks halfway through. Let cool for two minutes before moving to wire racks and let cool completely.
For the Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the salt and vanilla. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar and then the caramel sauce.
To Assemble the Cookies
  1. Spread 1-2 tablespoons of the frosting on the flat side of a cookie and place another cookie on top.
Notes
Makes 16 cookie sandwiches or 32 cookies.

 

Continue Reading

Hoosier Mama Pie Company

Ok, I’ve already covered stop #1 at The Chocolatier, Inc. on our Illinois getaway trip.  Now we come to our next sweet destination…Hoosier Mama Pie Company in Chicago.  I was SO excited about this bakery because it was the first pie place I have ever had the opportunity to go to–yay!  Usually it’s chocolate or cupcakes, but not this time!

Since my recent obsession with pies developed, I knew that when planning this trip, I HAD to find a pie place in Chicago for us to go to.  And believe it or not there were several that seemed good but this one really stood out and had awesome reviews.

First, I have to say that this place literally is a hole in the wall.  We drove by it the first time and I swore up and down that I didn’t see it…I mean, I was looking.  So, we did another circle, this time going as slow as possible with traffic all around and sure enough, there it was!  Luckily, there was a spot open almost right in front of it.

So we got in and immediately found ourselves in the teeny, tiniest space…like hard to move and not bump into people.  There were a total of three tables and one just happened to be opening up so we grabbed it.  And it was chaos from that moment on.  People did not stop coming in the door and it was a little overwhelming trying to choose the pies I wanted with a line forming.  But I managed to narrow it down to five (at $4 a slice it was not cheap!).  Here’s a little pic of the ones we got.  And yes, people DID look at our table like we were crazy.

Least favorite, I won’t lie, was the Chocolate Chess Pie.  I had been dying to try a chess pie because it was such an old-fashioned thing and I’d never had one.  But it was just..odd.  Kind of cake/brownie-like and you could definitely tell there was vinegar in it so I wasn’t really a fan.  Kind of non-descript to me.

Next least favorite was the Coconut Cream Pie.  I just tasted like vanilla bean to me (and I’m not a huge fan of vanilla bean–tragic, I know) with coconut mixed in.  So nothing special in my book.

However, things got a LOT better with the fruit pies.  The Apple Pie was scrumptious.  It was like apple cider in pie form.  We liked it alot.

Next the Peach & Cherry Pie was also delicious.  It had a pecan streusel topping that was sooooo good.  I loved it.

Finally, the Chocolate Cream Pie.  It was divine.  You could tell it was made with high-quality chocolate and was silky smooth.  Jeremy and I both thought it was the best of all of them.

We loved this little pie place and highly recommend it if you are ever in the Chicago area!

 

 

Continue Reading

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

Ina Garten does not disappoint.  I honestly cannot think of one recipe (dessert recipe, of course) that I have ever made of hers that hasn’t turned out absolutely fabulous.  I mean the woman just knows her sweets.

And I’m happy to say that the same can be said for these Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars.  Think of the most amazing peanut butter cookie you have ever had, layered in bar form with sweet, gooey jam in the middle and you get these bars.  They are rich and thick and completely indulgent.  And they definitely require a HUGE glass of milk.  I mean HUGE.  They come together in a snap and bake up fast but it’s important to let them cool completely, otherwise they will not hold their shape when cut.  Just a helpful tip from the first time I ever made them.

I’m thinking these are the perfect school lunch treat for kids!  Or husbands even.  Or…is that the same thing?? 😉

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 1½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Large Eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 c. Creamy Peanut Butter (I like Peter Pan)
  • 3 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 t. Baking Powder
  • 1½ t. Salt
  • 2 c. Strawberry Jam (or other kind)
  • ½ c. Salted Peanuts
  • 1 c. Peanut Butter Chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed add the eggs, one at a time, thoroughly incorporating after each addition. Add vanilla and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix until just combined.
  4. Spread ⅔ of the dough into the pan. Spread the jam evenly over the dough but not all the way to the edges as the jam will burn slightly if it's touching the pan. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don't worry if it doesn't quite cover all the jam; the dough will spread as it bakes. Spinkle with peanuts and peanut butter chips and press down gently into the dough.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely and cut into squares.
Notes
Makes 18 bars.

 

Continue Reading

Bake a Cake Inside an Orange

Did you know you could bake a cake inside an orange?!  Over a campfire, no less?!?!  I wouldn’t have believed it myself but according to this little tidbit on lifehacker.com it’s a REAL THING.  All you need is cake batter, an orange, some foil and an open flame and voila!  Cake!  I happen to love chocolate and orange combos so I will totally be trying this in the near future!  See the full instructions here.

Continue Reading

The Chocolatier, Inc.

A couple of weeks ago Jeremy and I went on a little getaway to Illinois.  Illinois?  Yes, Illinois.  A friend of ours who lives in Rockford, IL was getting married the same week of our anniversary so we thought we’d make a it little anniversary celebration trip too.  We actually stayed in Bloomington, IL the first couple of days of our trip at a little B&B called the Vrooman Mansion (see pic above).  Except there is nothing little about this place…it has 18 rooms, a massive outdoor patio, several parlors and is just gorgeous!  I highly recommend this place if you are travelling through Illinois.  Oh, and the breakfast is divine!

We did lots of antiquating and some other mansion tours (one being the David Davis Mansion–who knew there were so many in Illinois?) and even hit up a winery that had live music one night.  Oh, and found a couple of totally fabulous restaurants.  We LOVED every minute in Bloomington.

Of course part of our trek through Illinois included some carefully researched sweet stops.  The first being this very unassuming chocolate shop in Bloomington, The Chocolatier, Inc.  It’s located in their downtown area and when we drove up I kind of thought it didn’t look too legit.  The outside was meh and inside there were ZERO frills…we’re talking bakery cases for the chocolates and then jars of bulk candy.  No gimmicks, no aesthetic niceties…nothing.

But guess what?  I was WRONG.  This place was more then legit.  It was crazy good.  I didn’t get any of the bulk candy, because I wanted to focus on the chocolate that was made there.  I can honestly say the chocolates at this place were perhaps the best I have ever had.  I’m talking melt in your mouth, nothing artificial, amazing, deliciousness.

Here’s what we got.  It was so hard to choose but I narrowed it down to six.  A Coffee Buttercream, Chocolate Covered Marshmallow, Marzipan Truffle, Amaretto Truffle, a Peanut Butter Cup and a Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffle.

First of all, none of these were bad.  They were all delicious.  But of course we had to rank our favorites.  The Coffee Buttercream came in last only because I thought it could have used a tad more coffee flavor.  Next, was the Chocolate Covered Marshmallow which was actually really, really good and I have never found a homemade marshmallow I like better than mine (sorry, it’s true!).   After that the Marzipan came in fourth, only because the top three were soooo good.  So third was the Amaretto Truffle…amazing amaretto flavored ganache covered with a milk chocolate shell.  Yum.

Second was the Peanut Butter Cup.  Oh my gosh…I’ve always loved my homemade peanut butter balls but I thought this thing was way better.  So good.

And lastly the star of the show was the Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffle.  Holy cow.  Amazing dark chocolate ganache middle infused with raspberry puree and covered in a dark chocolate shell.  It. Was. Divine.  Not to mention gorgeous.

So yeah.  This place is the real deal when it comes to chocolate.  Definitely go if you are ever there.  Our next stop was in Chicago at a teeny, tiny pie place…can’t wait to share with you next week!

Continue Reading

Chocolate S’mores Muffins

 

I am so, so, SO excited to introduce the very first fall recipe for 2012 on Desserted Planet–Chocolate S’mores Muffins!!  Yes, I know it’s still August but here in Missouri the temperatures have drastically plunged and we’ve been seeing highs in the 70’s and low 80’s and people are more than ready to break out their scarves and throw some chili on the stove.  Bring on fall!  If only winter didn’t come after it…oh well.

Anyways, back to these amazing muffins.  A couple of weeks ago Jeremy and I went camping with some other couples and all their cute kiddos.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a fan of camping.  I didn’t grow  up camping so I think that is part of the problem.  I just don’t see how people enjoy being dirty and sweaty and sleeping on the ground and doing their business behind a tree…I honestly just don’t get it!  However, this camping trip was a little different so I wasn’t quite a reluctant to go…but reluctant nonetheless.  Everyone had a camper, including Jeremy’s brother and his wife so we had somewhere to sleep that was not that ground and it was even air-conditioned!  It also meant we had a bathroom.  Ok, I could do that.

So after agreeing to go, I began to think about what we should bring to eat.  Since we’d only be there overnight and the next morning, I wanted something sweet and appropriate for breakfast.  Of course!  S’mores!  In muffins!  Brilliant.  And yes, the recipes were already out there.  Like this one from Elle’s New England Kitchen.  It was pretty much a perfect recipe as is, but not very sweet so I added a bit of extra sugar and doubled the recipe, as the original stated that it only made twelve.  They were a BIG hit and pretty much like eating a chocolatey, marshmallow studded cupcake for breakfast.  Yes, cupcake.  But we didn’t call them that…they are MUFFINS.  And that makes them totally appropriate for breakfast.  But if you want to eat one for dessert, that’d be ok too…

Enjoy!

Chocolate S'mores Muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 3 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 c. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 2 T. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 c. Brown Sugar
  • ½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 2 c. Whole Milk
  • 1 c. Vegetable Oil
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. Dark Chocolate Chips, divided
  • 3-4 c. Mini Marshmallows
  • 12 Whole Graham Cracker Sheets, broken into chunks but not too small (for a total of 3 cups graham cracker pieces, with one cup reserved for topping muffins)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 32 muffin cups in a muffin pan.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt and both sugars. In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Stir the wet mixture into the dry and gently fold until everything is incorporated. Fold in 1 cup chocolate chips, 2 cups mini marshmallows and 2 cups graham cracker pieces.
  3. Divide the mixture evenly between the muffin cups. Top each muffin with the remaining chocolate chips, marshmallows and graham crackers. Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  4. After baking, cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes and then run a knife around the edges, remove the muffins from the pan and continue cooling completely on the rack. Or eat warm!
Notes
VERY IMPORTANT: You MUST remove the muffins from the pan after 5 minutes or they will NOT come out. Also, muffin liners will NOT work with these muffins--they will stick to the liners and be a mess.

 

Continue Reading

Quinoa Coconut Macaroons

I made macaroons for the first time not once, but TWICE a couple of weeks ago.   And that’s macaroons, not macarons (which I love dearly).  There is sometimes confusion as to which is which, so this article might help clear things up for you if you are not sure on the differences.  Not saying you don’t know because I am certain my blog readers are dessert aficianados and semi-experts on all things sweet, but just in case…

Ok.  Back to the macaroons.  With two o’s.

The first version of macaroon I made was the healthified Quinoa Coconut Macaroon.  Totally yummy.  Could eat all of them in one sitting.  They are decidedly not like a regular macaroon but they are delicious nonetheless.  Jeremy even liked them and he despises coconut (so sad).  I like that they have protein from the quinoa.  Isn’t it amazing what you can put quinoa in?!  Of course, I had to add a bit of pure vanilla and almond extract.  Makes all the difference, in my opinion.

Later this week I’ll have a little blog post about my sister’s baby shower and the fun, themed dessert table I got to do which included the typical macaroons, along with the recipe!

Enjoy!

Quinoa Coconut Macaroons
 
Ingredients
  • 6 T. Egg Whites (I used 3 large eggs for this)
  • ¼ c. Light Agave (or honey)
  • 1½ c. Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 1 c. Cooked Quinoa (I used quinoa cooked in light, organic coconut milk for even more coconut flavor)
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ½ t. Pure Almond Extract
  • Pinch of Salt
Instructions
  1. Combine the egg whites and agave in a small saucepan. Over very low heat, whisk the eggs and agave until creamy and warm. Heating the eggs will temper them which will create a nice, crispy cookie exterior. Test with your finger--if they are warm to the touch, they are tempered.
  2. Put the quinoa, coconut and salt in a large bowl and mix in the egg and agave mixture. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts. Chill in the fridge for at least two hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Using a small ice cream scoop or melon baller, scoop the mixture onto the baking sheet. I actually used a 2 Tablespoon measuring spoon and pressed the mixture VERY firmly against the side of the bowl as I scooped it out and then knocked it against the pan quickly and firmly to get the mixture out. If it starts to fall apart a bit, press it together with your fingers otherwise it will not stick together while baking.
  5. Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes until the cookies are nice and golden brown. Let them cool for at least 10 minutes or until completely cool. Store in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 16 cookies.

 

Continue Reading
1 4 5 6 7 8 16