Honey Almond Date Balls

Memorial Day weekend is coming, bringing with it lots and lots and LOTS of food.  And I don’t know what it’s like where you’re at, but here it’s in the 90s already!  And you know what that means…pools.  And lakes.  And…bikinis.  Yes, it’s already swimsuit season!  Yikes!  Are you ready?!?  It kinda snuck up on me, I gotta admit, but I am trying to incorporate more and more natural sweets (as in honey, fruits, etc) into our diet so we don’t look like the michelin man when we bare it all at the first water-type event this year.  Of course, can’t do anything about the whiteness (trying to avoid that pesky skin caner) but we CAN do something about the shape of our bodies and our overall health!

(Sorry, little peptalk for myself there.  Ahem.  Ok, back to the recipe…)

If you are watching what goes in your mouth this weekend (like me and my husband) and are kinda scared about the next 72 hours of festivities and merriment, may I suggest these Honey Almond Date Balls as a sweet and healthy alternative?  You might want to double or triple the batch because once people taste them, they will want more.  Seriously.  Jeremy doesn’t even like coconut and he LOVES these things.  I left the recipe alone for the most part except instead of rolling the balls in more almonds, I rolled them in unsweetened coconut.

We love ’em.

We’ve made a double batch for this weekend.

We’re ready to battle the crazy food war.

BRING IT.

Original recipe by David Lieberman

Honey Almond Date Balls
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Raw Almonds (do 2 cups if you plan on rolling the balls in almonds)
  • 2 c. Pitted Dates, preferably Medjool
  • ¼ c. Raw Honey
  • ⅓ c. Dried, Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grind almonds in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a baking sheet and toast in oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until fragrant and a shade darker.
  3. Roughly chop dates and add to food processor. Pulse until finely chopped and dates form a ball. Remove from processor to a bowl. And the almonds and honey to the dates. Mix together until evenly incorporated.
  4. Using a damp washcloth to dampen your hands periodically, for the mixture into 1" balls and roll in the coconut.
  5. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for a few days or transfer to the fridge and they will keep for a couple of weeks.
Notes
Makes 25 balls.

 

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Cinco de Mayo Cupcakes

Hey guys!  In case you didn’t know, Cinco de Mayo is this Saturday!  I know the day is typically celebrated with LOTS of alcohol and good food but may I suggest a cupcake?  I’ve got a few drool-worthy options and yes, even a couple with a bit of alcohol thrown in!  The Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcake is my top pick to make…anything with cayenne and chocolate is a MUST make for me.  It’s one of my favorite flavor combinations!

How do YOU celebrate Cinco de Mayo??

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Photo by cheekykitchen.com

Margarita Cupcakes

Photo by browneyedbaker.com

Tres Leches Cupcakes

Photo by bakersroyale.com

Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes

Photo by kokocooks.blogspot.com

Churro Cupcakes

Photo by dishingthedivine.com
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Easter Desserts

Need some Easter inspiration?  I’ve got it!  Get your crafty on with these pretty pastel treats–delicious and cute!

Bird’s Nest Cookies

Photo by creationsbykara.com

Crispy Easter Eggs

Photo by delish.com

Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs

Photo by whatmegansmaking.com

Little Lamb Cupcakes

Photo by foodnetwork.com

Easter Bunny Cupcakes

Photo by delish.com

Easter Candy Basket Cupcakes

Photo by bakerella.com

Easter Brownies

Photo by bettycrocker.com

Rice Krispie Treat Bird’s Nests

Photo by kidscooking.about.com

Floral Cake

Photo by delish.com

 

 

 

 

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White Chocolate Easter Bark

Hi guys!  I wanted to share a super easy, last-minute Easter dessert idea with you today—Easter Candy Bark!  I wish I could take credit for this idea but I actually saw it on Pinterest (shocking, I know) and couldn’t wait to make it.  It took only about 20 minutes to do, which in my book=AWESOME.

So, you can do this a couple of ways if you’d like.  The first is to buy several different colors (including white) of Wilton Candy Melts from your local crafts store (such as Hobby Lobby or Michaels).  Whatever you think is Easterish.  The second way is to buy just white Wilton Candy Melts and color them yourself which is what I did.  I really wanted to control the color of the candy so that they were really pastel and would be exactly what I wanted.  I loved the way they turned out.  Now that you have your options, let’s get on to the recipe!

Easter Bark
 
Ingredients
  • 24 oz. White Wilton Candy Melts
  • Gel-based Dyes (for coloring the white chocolate—VERY important it is gel-based and NOT water-based as the water will cause the chocolate to seize and ruin)
  • Easter Candy such as M&M’s and Jelly Beans (Nerds, Robin Eggs, Skittles…whatever you like!)
  • 1 Large Bowl
  • 4 Small Bowls
  • Several Spoons
  • 1 Knife
Instructions
  1. Line a large baking sheet with foil.
  2. In the large bowl, melt the white candy melts on 20-second intervals in the microwave, stirring between each. Once completely melted, put two large spoonfuls of white chocolate into each small bowl. Color the white chocolate in the small bowls with your gel-based dyes.
  3. Pour the remaining white chocolate out onto the foil-lined baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Spoon out all the colored white chocolate randomly over the white chocolate layer. Run the knife through the chocolate, in a swirled motion one way and then the other way. Sprinkle the candy over the chocolate and then gently press the candy into the chocolate (this is VERY important, otherwise some of the candy will fall off after the chocolate has hardened). Place in the freezer for about 3-5 minutes until completely hardened. Cut into pieces with a sharp knife.
Notes
Makes about 20 pieces.

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St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes

Thought I’d share some St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes with you all!  I do believe the the rainbow with the pot o’ gold Rolos is my favorite–so cute. Which one do you love??

Shamrocks and Leprechaun Hats by Hoosier Homemade

Green Velvet by Love from the Oven

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Bailey’s Buttercream by Susi’s Kochen and Backen Adventures

Pot of Gold Cupcakes by Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes by Fab Foods

Airhead Rainbows and Rolo Pot of Gold Cupcakes by The Fickle Pickle

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Thin Mint Brownies with Bailey’s Buttercream

I am proud to say that my husband is now a chocolate and mint convert–all because of these brownies.  He said he wasn’t going to try them but then he saw them…and then he tasted them…and then he couldn’t keep his hands out of them.  Hah!  And I have to admit, they are GOOD.  I mean, I love anything mint and chocolate but these are one of the best renditions of that combo I’ve ever had…if I do say so myself.  The mint flavor from the Thin Mint cookies and Andes mints is not overwhelming and somewhat subtle and then the Bailey’s buttercream…oh my word, don’t even get me started.  It took so much restraint to keep from eating this frosting by the spoonful.

Now when I say Bailey’s, let me clarify.  When I went to purchase my bottle of Bailey’s I could not believe that is was nearly $20!!!  And all I needed was two-thirds of a cup!!  Ummmmmm, no, not happening.  So I thought hey, what about Irish cream flavored coffee creamer?  Yes!  Perfect.  Well, much to my surprise and delight I discovered that Bailey’s had their own brand of coffee creamer–for two bucks!   Score!  I knew I had some whiskey at home that I could throw in and I’d be good to go.

Perfect for St. Patty’s day!  You’ll love them–promise.

Thin Mint Brownies with Bailey's Buttercream
 
Ingredients
Thin Mint Brownies
  • 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 c. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • ½ t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Salt
  • ⅔ c. Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • ½ c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter
  • 1 T. Instant Coffee Granules
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 c. Granulated Sugar
  • ⅔ c. Bailey's Irish Cream Creamer
  • 1 T. Whiskey
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla
  • 1 Box Thin Mint Cookies (3 c. crushed cookies)
  • 1, 8.5 oz. Bag Andes Mints
Bailey's Buttercream
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter
  • 4 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 5 T. Bailey's Irish Cream Creamer
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla
  • 1 T. Whiskey
Instructions
For the Brownies
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt until combined. Set aside.
  3. Place chocolate, butter and instant coffee granules into a medium size bowl and melt in mircowave at 20 second intervals, stirring between each, until completely smooth. Set aside to cool a bit.
  4. Once the chocolate mixture is warm (NOT hot) add eggs, one at a time, whisking to incorporate. Add sugar, vanilla, Bailey's creamer and whiskey and whisk until combined.
  5. Add the chocolate mixture to the flour mixture, folding with a spatula until just combined. Fold in the crushed Thin Mint cookies.
  6. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. While the brownies are baking, chop up ⅔ (about 30 squares) of the Andes mint squares. As soon as the brownies come out of the oven, sprinkle with the chopped Andes. Put back in oven for about 25-30 seconds, remove and spread melted Andes over the brownies. Let the brownies cool completely and frost.
For the Bailey's Buttercream
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in two cups of the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, on low, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add 3 tablespoons of the Bailey's Irish Cream creamer and beat thoroughly. Beat in the remaining powdered sugar, one cup at a time, on low until thoroughly combined. Add vanilla, whiskey and remaining 2 tablespoons Bailey's creamer until completely incorporated. Chop remaining Andes mints, frost brownies and sprinkle with chopped mints.
Notes
Serves 18.

 

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St. Patrick’s Day Desserts

I have very fond memories of St. Patrick’s Day as a child.  Especially if the day happened to fall on a schoolday.  We didn’t get just any old lunch for that day…no, we got a lunch filled with GREEN.  Yes, everything was covered in mold!!!!  Ok, not really, that’s actually not true.  My mom never fed us mold.  Not knowingly at least.  Anyway…I distinctly remember cottage cheese tinted with green food dye and shamrock sugar cookies with green frosting.  So healthy, right?  Oh who cares, we loved it and looked forward to it every year!

So, in honor of that fun tradition we had as kids, I found some green desserts for St. Patrick’s Day!  Typically, when you think green and dessert, the first thing that comes to mind is mint.  And I LOVE mint and chocolate combinations.  But I’m sure not everyone is as fond of the flavor as I am so I found a couple more green ideas–pistachio and green tea!  Green tea (or matcha) sounds a little strange but it is actually DELICIOUS in desserts.  And these flavors lend themselves to the possibility of a bit more, shall we say, natural, green color.

Check ’em out!

Mint

Mint Brownies

Mint Oreo Truffles

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Grasshopper Cheesecake

Pistachio

Pistachio Bundt Cake

Cranberry Pistachio Cookies

Frozen Pistachio Pie

Pistachio Layer Cake

Green Tea

Green Tea Pound Cake

Green Tea Truffles

Green Tea White Chocolate Cookies

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Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake Shake

I know the big thing around Valentine’s Day is chocolate dipped strawberries, which are great, but I’ve gotta admit I’m more of a chocolate covered cherry kinda girl.  And I know I can’t be the only one!  So my love of chocolate and cherries inspired me to create this super simply shake but not just any shake…a CAKE shake.  Yep, there is one big ‘ole slice of chocolate cake with vanilla frosting mixed right into this creamy concoction.  I picked my slice of cake up in the Wal-mart bakery case (don’t judge) but if I’d been thinking, I would have gotten one of the mega-huge chocolate cupcakes that Walgreens now sells.  But the shake still worked out alright. Actually, better than alright–it was, in fact, AWESOME.  I topped mine with homemade whipped cream, melted chocolate and festive sprinkles–so cute!

Share one of these with your sweetie tomorrow!  Or don’t share….it’s makes enough for two. 😉

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake Shake
 
Ingredients
  • One Big Slice of Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting or Two Regular Cupcakes (or chocolate frosting/white cake/etc..whatever you prefer)
  • 20 Maraschino Cherries, chopped
  • 1 Pint or 4 BIG scoops of Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 14-1/2 c. Heavy Whipping Cream (depends on how thick you want it...I used ½ a cup)
  • ¼ t. Pure Vanilla
  • 1 T. Maraschino Cherry Juice
  • ½ c. Dark Chocolate Chips, melted
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in the blender (reserving a tablespoon or two of the melted chocolate for decoration) and blend until the shake has reached your desired consistency. Top with your choice of sprinkles, chocolate, whipped cream, etc.
Notes
Serves 2.

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Romantic Valentine’s Day Dessert

Despite the title of this post, I’m not really sure desserts can be classified as sexy, romantic, etc.  I mean, what defines that exactly??  Is chocolate inherently sexy??  Is it the shape of the dessert?!?  Is it the way the candlelight bounces off the glistening, sugary crust of your crème brûlée into the deep and yearning eyes of your one and only true love??!?!

These are the important questions people!!

Ah well, regardless of what you think of the umm, sex appeal (?) of sugar, these desserts are touted as perfect for a romantic evening and sure to get you…uhh….in the mood…for…dessert??  Yeah, let’s go with that!

Cupid Cakes (plus many more from Woman’s Day)

Chocolate Souffle

Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding with Raspberries

Individual Brownie Sundaes

Crème Brûlée

Almond Praline Cakes (see more desserts for two from Taste of Home)

Lemon and White Chocolate Mousse Parfaits with Strawberries

Cherry-Ricotta Doughnut Holes with Chocolate Sauce

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

Red Velvet Crepes

Chocolate Fondue

Strawberry Zabaglione

Mocha Pots de Crème

 

 

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Valentine’s Day Cupcakes

As you know I can’t let a holiday pass without showing all the best that the internet has to offer in themed cupcakes. And Valentine’s Day is no exception!  Check out these absolutely adorable cupcake ideas!

Box of Chocolates Cupcakes

 

Heart in the Middle Cupcake

 

Cupcakes for Two in Under 10 Minutes

 

Fondant Rose Cupcakes  (These pretty fondant roses have been a favorite of mine for a looong time!)

 

Swirled Two-Toned Frosting Cupcakes

 

Buttercream Frosting Rose Cupcakes

 

Sugared Heart Cupcake

 

Double Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

 

X and O Cereal Cupcakes

 

Conversation Heart Cupcakes

 

Red Velvet Heart Cupcakes

 

X and O Candy Cupcakes

 

Cherry Coke Float Cupcakes

 

Flying Hearts Cupcakes (L.O.V.E. these!)

 

Candy Kiss Cupcakes  (Could these be any cuter?!  Seriously.)

Sweetheart Cupcakes

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White Chocolate Cherry Cookies

Well now that Christmas and New Year’s is behind us it’s on to the next holiday–Valentine’s Day!  There are so many cute things to make and bake for Valentine’s Day it’s really hard to know how to choose or where to start. But, I had seen these cookies on Pinterest and the ingredients alone made me want to make them immediately.  I have a thing for cherry-almond anything.  And cute, pink baked goods.

Speaking of pink, you can’t make much for a holiday that is trademarked in pink and red without using UNGODLY amounts of  dye.  And these cookies are no exception to that but you could always omit the dye and bring in the color with the sprinkles and sugar…at least it cuts back on the unnatural ingredients a little.

These were supposed to be a shortbread cookie but the dough was so incredibly dry I just couldn’t resist adding more liquid, plus I wasn’t happy with the flavor and wanted to amp up the cherry and almond in it.  They might not have quite the crumbly shortbread texture and actually more closely resemble a soft sugar cookie, but these cookies are AMAZING.  Jeremy and I could have eaten them all and according to him they are the best cookie I’ve ever made and I never need to make him a birthday cake ever again, just these cookies.  Done.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from BHG

White Chocolate Cherry Almond Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 2½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) Cold, Unsalted Butter
  • ½ c. Maraschino Cherries, drained, squeezed (somewhat) dry with paper towels and finely chopped
  • 11 oz. White Chocolate Chips
  • 3 t. Almond Extract
  • ½ t. Pure Vanilla
  • 6 T. Cherry Juice, reserved from the maraschino cherries
  • Pink or Red Dye
  • Sprinkles, sanding sugar, etc for decor
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender or two forks (I actually prefer to use my fingers), cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in drained and chopped cherries and ⅔ cup of the white chocolate chips. Stir in the cherry juice, almond extract, vanilla and food dye. Knead the mixture a bit to get it into a more cohesive mass. Pinch off a chunk of dough and form a ¾-inch ball. Place on the cookie sheet and press down slightly with a drinking glass that has been dipped in granulated sugar.
  3. Bake for 10-12 minutes (mine took 12 minutes exactly) or until the centers are set. Do not overbake. Cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet and then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  4. In a small bowl, melt the rest of the white chocolate in the microwave at 20-second intervals, stirring between each. Dip half the cookies in the melted white chocolate and decorate with sprinkles, sugar, etc. Place on foil and let dry completely.
Notes
For a thinner white chocolate coating, use use white chocolate candy melts. That's what I will use the next time.

 

 

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New Year’s Eve Party Mini Desserts

I have been in love with mini desserts for years.  They are just so darn cute and the fact that you don’t have to pick just ONE dessert but can in fact try several, due to their tiny size, is just awesome to me.  I love them so much that I actually used to cater desserts and only did miniature sizes.  It was so much fun and sometimes I really miss planning dessert tables for weddings or parties with loads of colorful, bite-size desserts!  Thank goodness for the holidays when I can unleash my creative baking skills (obsession?) on all my family and friends!

So, I thought what would be better for a New Year’s Eve party than mini sweets?!  Finger foods are VERY popular for New Year’s Eve parties and these desserts stay right with that theme.  Some of these are super easy (2-3 ingredients), which is great since you have no doubt been in the kitchen waaaayyyy too much between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Also, another way to make easy miniatures is to bake up a normal 9×13 pan of brownies, blondies, cake, etc. and cut them small with a knife or fun-shaped, small cookie cutters or take any regular ‘ole cookie recipe and just make smaller than normal cookies (be sure to cook them for less time!).  Ok, let’s check out some other awesome tiny goodies from around the blogosphere:

First up, Mini S’mores Cakes.  How cute are these?!  Get a lot more mini ideas from Delish here.

I LOVE baklava.  Love it.  It was the one thing I was looking most forward to indulging in over the Christmas holiday. I’ve actually made Baklava Cups before and they are super good and MUCH less labor intensive than the traditional way.  See more ideas from Women’s Day here.

Mini Oreos.  Yum.

Mini Ice Cream Cookie Pops. How fun!  However, if you’re afraid of the ice cream melting before people can scarf them down, try it with buttercream frosting.

I love these Mini Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats.  Rice Krispie treats are sooo classic and just plain good.

Banana Split Bites.  Delicious and gorgeous.

Vanilla Bean Baby Doughnuts.  Perfect after a night of imbibing.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake.  One of my favorites.

Poptarts on a stick.  Totally awesome.  AND easy.

These Chocolate Salted-Caramel Mini Cupcakes look soooo rich and decadent.  Pure bliss.

Cut these yummy Red Velvet Brownies super small for bite-size treats.

These Lindt Mini Chocolate Trifles are adorable.  Use some larger shot glasses for the cups and think about switching up ingredients…caramel sauce for the fudge, brownies for the cookies, etc.

I have been making Brownie Tassies forever.  The only thing I do differently is top them with coffee buttercream and toasted, slivered almonds.  People will go nuts over these.

Ummm, excuse me but this Chocolate Covered Bacon Caramel Popcorn is dangerous.  Dangerous I tell you!!  And I am SO going to make it.

These Mini Cherry Pies are just down right pretty.  And begging to be eaten.

I love the playfulness of this Gumdrop Fudge.  Very festive and party appropriate.  Not to mention easy.  We like easy!

Well, hopefully this gives you some inspiration for whatever crazy New Year’s party you may be hosting or attending.  Tomorrow I’ll have my own recipe for Mini Doughnut Muffins!

 

 

 

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Festive Holiday Punch Recipes

Here are some great punch recipes that would be appropriate for either Christmas OR New Year’s.  Any of these would be a nice change from the same old mug of cider or glass of champagne you’d normally serve.  The coffee punch is soooo good…I will never forget the first time I had it at a bridal shower and thought “what IS this?!”  I immediately obtained the recipe (as I’m sure everyone else at the shower did) and occasionally get the urge to make it for myself.  Yes, just for me, no special occasion or party or whatever.  But I haven’t done that…yet.

Hope you find one you love!

Ultimate Eggnog Punch

Coffee Punch

Christmas Cinnamon Punch

Peppermint Eggnog Punch

Milk Punch

Citrus Champagne Punch

Mocha Nog Punch

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A Candy Cane Christmas

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!

 Layered Peppermint Cheesecake Cake

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cheesecake

Peppermint Crunch Truffles

Peppermint Meringues

Peppermint Brownies

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Peppermint Whoopie Pies

 

Candy Cane Cake Pops

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Cake

Chocolate Peppermint Roll with Chocolate Ganache

Peppermint Ice Cream

Peppermint Mocha Kahlua Truffles

Vanilla Peppermint Cupcakes

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Peanut Butter Balls

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…

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Balls
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter
  • 2 c. Creamy Peanut Butter (I prefer Peter Pan)
  • 1 lb. (3¾ c.) Powdered Sugar
  • 1 lb. High-Quality Chocolate Candy Coating
  • Crushed Potato Chips, Chopped Dry-Roasted Peanuts, etc for topping
Instructions
  1. 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.
Notes
Makes 55-60.

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Christmas Cookie Exchange

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.

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Homemade Christmas Candy

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??

Chubby Hubby Truffles

Gumdrops

Coffee Toffee

Honey Vanilla Bean Marshmallows

Cherry Cordials

Pumpkin Spice Truffles

Peanut Brittle

Eggnog Fudge with White Chocolate and Walnuts

Chocolate Cheesecake Truffles

Chocolate Dipped Caramels

Oreo Truffles

Divinity

Homemade Snickers

Peanut Butter Cups

Candy Cane Marshmallows

Salt Water Taffy

Chocolate Covered Coffee Crackle Crunch

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Gingerbread Loaf Cake

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!

Enjoy!

Gingerbread Loaf Cake
 
Ingredients
  • ½ c. White Sugar
  • ½ c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 c. Molasses
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla
  • ½ c. Applesauce
  • 2½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1½ t. Baking Soda
  • 2 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 t. Ground Ginger
  • 1 t. Ground Cloves
  • ½ t. Nutmeg
  • ½ t. Salt
  • ¾ c. Hot Water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch square pan (I did mine in a 6.5x11 loaf pan).
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Add the molasses, vanilla and applesauce and mix thoroughly.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Blend into the butter mixture. Stir in the hot water. Pour into the pan.
  4. Bake for 1 hour (mine took 1 hour and 10 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool.
Notes
-Serves 12. -Best if served the day after..the flavors are more pronounced and the cake is more moist.

 

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Christmas Wish List

Just a few things I want for Christmas.  I’m sure that my name is at the top of the nice list, so I expect to find all of these under the tree Christmas morning…

 

Adorable Fairy Salt and Pepper Shakers from Chiasso.  I would probably use them for cinnamon and sugar on my oatmeal in the morning–how fun!

This Cupcake Memo Pad is so cute and great for jotting down notes.

Gumball Cookie Jar from Urban Outfitters.

This Cupcake Soap Dispenser belongs in my kitchen.  I need it!

Another great find from Chiasso is this Glass Candy Bag.  So neat!

This knit Cupcake Hat from Etsy is so cute and looks like it would keep your head nice and warm.

I am so in love with this apron from Anthropologie.  I think this is one I would definitely do all my baking in.

What’s on your Christmas wish list??

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