Pumpkin Spice Dessert Dip

Pumpkin Spice Dessert Dip

Have you heard of dessert hummus?  Sounds kind of gross, right?  When you think of hummus you typically think savory, spicy, chickpea goodness served with veggies, crisp chips and deliciously soft, warm pita bread.  You usually don’t think of dessert.  But this recipe will forever change the way you view hummus!  Because chickpeas have a fairly neutral flavor, they are a great base for MANY things (brownies, fudge, etc).  Kind of like avocado…remember this awesome Chocolate Avocado Pudding made with avocados?!  Yeah, it was awesome.  But back to the hummus…in a word, this stuff ROCKS.  You would never know it was made with BEANS and you definitely don’t have to tell people.  I absolutely love that it is healthy and a perfect holiday treat.  I served it with graham crackers, gluten-free cinnamon crisp cookies and tart fuji apples.  I actually liked the apples best for dipping!  That is when I was actually using something to dip it with and not just eating it with a spoon.  Kind of addictive.  But in a good way!  Try this for your next holiday party just don’t mention the beans! 😉

Pumpkin Spice Dessert Dip with Pecans

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Dessert Dip and Apples

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Dip
 
Ingredients
  • 3 c. Chickpeas (2, 15 oz. cans), drained and rinsed
  • 2 c. Pumpkin Puree (I like organic because it has the best taste)
  • ½ c. Almond Butter
  • ¼ c. Olive Oil
  • ½ c. Agave (or honey, maple syrup, etc)
  • 4 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3 t. Cinnamon
  • ¼ t. Ground Ginger
  • ⅛ t. Nutmeg
  • ⅛ t. Ground Cloves
  • ½ t. Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve with cookies, apples, pumpkin or apple bread, etc.
Notes
Makes 6 cups.

 

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Crispy Nutella Candy

I know, I know.  Nutella has been SO done.  But believe it or not, I haven’t done many Nutella recipes on this blog.  As a matter of fact, I think the only one I have so far is for these Dark Chocolate Nutella Raspberry Cupcakes.  But there is a reason people love their Nutella recipes so much and it’s because, well, the stuff is DANG good.  I mean really, all you need is a spoon and the jar and you’re pretty much set.  But mix in into your favorite cookie, brownie or in this case Christmas candy, and you’ve got near dessert perfection.

This is another recipe from my baker-extraordinairre friend, Judy.  I will never forget the first Christmas party at my first “real job” after I got out of college.  She brought these, along with a few other goodies (which I can all recall distinctly and do in fact have the recipes for), and I immediately fell in love.  The original recipe calls for peanut butter so I decided this time to switch things up and use Nutella.  And ummm, holy cow, mother of mercy.  Good.  These are good.  Kind of amazing.  As I was shoving the mixture into my mouth…I mean, delicately taste testing a totally finished and dipped candy, I kept thinking they reminded me of a candy bar but I couldn’t figure out which one.  And then it hit me–Ferrero Rocher!  YUM.

These babies are seriously the easiest candy I have yet to make this holiday season.  It’s all done in one bowl and you don’t even have to use your stove.  Love it.

Enjoy!

Crispy Nutella Candy
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Dry Milk
  • 1 c. Quick Oats
  • 1 c. Rice Krispie Cereal
  • 1 c., plus 2 T. Nutella
  • ½ c. Honey (try to use a honey that is mild in flavor, otherwise it will overwhelm the Nutella a bit)
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 lb. Dark Chocolate Candy Coating Discs (Wilton or Ghirardelli brand is best)
  • White Chocolate Candy Coating for drizzle (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix dry milk, oats, cereal, nutella, honey and vanilla. It will be a very thick mixture. Form into 1½" balls and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes while you melt the dark chocolate candy coating. Dip each ball in the dark chocolate candy coating and let dry completely. Decorate with white chocolate, white/red non-pareils or other decor.
Notes
Makes 40, 1½" balls.

 

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Fresh Orange Italian Cream Cake

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

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

 

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Healthy Sweet Treats

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

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

Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Quinoa Trail Mix Bars

Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Java Mocha Protein Balls

Lightened Up Gluten-Free Brownies

No-Bake Almond Butter Rice Crisp Treats

No-Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites

Strawberry Almond Butter Soup

Whole Grain Strawberry Newtons

 

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Candy Cane Mocha Fudge Truffles

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

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

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

Enjoy!

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Hot Cinnamon Cranberry Punch

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

Enjoy!

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

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

 

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Cappuccino Truffles

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

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

 

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Orange Slice Cake

I just had to get in one last recipe before Christmas is over and this cake was the perfect one to share.  This is a cake that my Grandma used to make and I first had it a couple of years ago when my Aunt Tammy made it for a family get-together.  Can I just say, this cake totally blew my mind?  I kid you not.  It was so incredibly moist and bursting at the seams with all kinds of good stuff…dates, coconut, orange slice candy and pecans.  It had an orange glaze all over it that had soaked into the cake and made it out-of-this-world amazing.  AMAZING.

I started craving it a couple of days ago.  At first I tried to ignore the craving, telling myself I already had enough to make and bake, but it just got more and more persistent.  So I thought ok, I’ll see if I can find the recipe, but no such luck. Not meant to be.  And then my mom emailed me a recipe for Orange Slice Loaf.  Hmmm, that might work.  But before I settled on that one I hopped onto allrecipes.com and sure enough, found a recipe for an Orange Slice Cake. I figured between the two recipes, I could probably come up with something VERY similar to my grandmother’s.  So I finally gave in, went and bought everything and made the dang cake!  How did it turn out?  Umm, awesome.  If I do say so myself.  Just like Grandma’s!

Now the good thing about this cake is that it gets better with time as it sits in the fridge and soaks up all the orange glaze goodness, so if you make it now, by the time Sunday rolls around it will be complete and total perfection!  Give it a try, I think you’ll love it!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Orange Slice Cake
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Unsalted Butter
  • 2 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla
  • 4 c. All-Purpose Flour, divided
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1½ c. Buttermilk
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • 2 T. Orange Zest
  • 1 lb. Orange Slice Candy, chopped (I used my kitchen scissors to cut each piece into 4 small pieces)
  • 1 lb. (2 c.) Dates, finely chopped
  • 2 c. Sweetened Flaked Coconut
  • 1½ c. Pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 1 c. Orange Juice
  • 2 c. Powdered Sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in the buttermilk and set aside. Whisk together 3½ cups of the flour and the salt. Add the flour to the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the orange slice candy, coconut and dates. Toss with ½ cup of the flour. Add to the batter and thoroughly combine. Fold in chopped pecans.
  4. Pour the batter into the tube pan. Bake for 3 hours. Whisk together the orange juice and powdered sugar. Heat the juice mixture for 30 seconds in the microwave just before applying to the cake. As soon as the cake comes from the oven, poke a few holes in it with a chopstick or other pointy object and begin spooning the orange juice mixture over the cake. It will take several times of spooning it over the cake for it to soak in. Just apply some of the juice, let it soak for a few minutes and then do more. Let the cake cool completely and then put in the fridge until ready to serve.
Notes
Serves 18

 

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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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Eggnog Fudge

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.

Enjoy!

Eggnog Fudge
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. Granulated Sugar
  • ½ c. Unsalted Butter
  • ¾ c. Eggnog
  • ⅛ t. Salt
  • 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)
Instructions
  1. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil and let it hang over the sides, creating "handles". Butter well and set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Using the foil "handles", lift the fudge out of the pan and cut into 1-inch squares. Store in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 60 pieces.

 

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Christmas Cupcakes

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!

Holly Berry Cupcakes

Candy Cane Tree Cupcakes

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Snowman Cupcakes

Reindeer Cupcakes

Santa Cupcakes

Gingerbread Man Cupcakes

Festive Sugared Marshmallow 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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Savannah Chocolate Chewies

There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Savannah Chocolate Chewies.  I didn’t know about them either until a few years ago and discovered them in one of my favorite cookie books, The All-American Cookie Book.  I’ve never had a recipe in this book let me down and this one is no exception!  I actually forgot about this recipe until recently and I am so glad I have rediscovered it!  What I didn’t know a few years back is that this cookie is reminiscent of one of my favorite kinds of cookies today… the French macaron.  These Savannah Chocolate Chewies are made primarily with egg whites and powdered sugar and end up forming a shiny “crust” as they bake, but the inside remains chewy and delicious.  They are perfect for any holiday party you have ever the next few weeks and very simple to make, although beware of the baking time—16 minutes!  But so worth the wait.

Enjoy!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Savannah Chocolate Chewies
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. Chopped Pecans, toasted
  • 2¼ c. Powdered Sugar
  • ¼ c. plus 2 T. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 2 T. All-Purpose White Flour
  • ⅛ t. Salt
  • 3 Large Egg Whites
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla
  • 1 oz. Bittersweet (not unsweetened) or Semi-Sweet Chocolate, grated (I just finely chopped 2 T. chocolate chips since I didn't have any bars)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly combine the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, flour and salt. On low speed, beat the egg whites, one at a time, into the powdered sugar mixture. Add the vanilla and beat for 1½ minutes on high speed, scraping down the sides several times. Fold in the pecans and chocolate until evenly incorporated.
  3. Scoop the dough onto the cookie sheet by heaping spoonfuls, spacing about 2 inches apart.
  4. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, in the middle of the oven for 15 to 18 minutes (mine took 16), or until dry on the surface but soft in the center when pressed. Reverse the sheet from front to back halfway through baking to ensure even browning. Let cookies cool on the sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack. Let cool completely.
Notes
Makes about 24 cookies.

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Christmas Food Gifts

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.

Enjoy!

Minty Hot Cocoa Mix

Personalized Coffee Blend

Vanilla Sea Salt

White Chocolate Cinnamon Pretzels

Peppermint Marshmallow Sauce

Vanilla Coffee Syrup

Cookie Bar Mix

Hot Fudge Sauce

Flavored Popcorn Kit

Homemade Nutella

Holiday Drink Mixers

 

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No-Bake One Pan Wonders

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.

Enjoy!

Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats

No-Bake Lemon Curd Cheesecake Bars

No-Bake Brownies

Peanut Butter Cup Bars

Oatmeal Butterscotch Bars

Chocolate Layered No-Bake Cheesecake Bars

No-Bake S’mores Bars

No-Bake After-Dinner Mint Bars

Nanaimo Bars

No-Bake Chewy Cookies and Cream Bars

 

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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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Dino’s 24 Karrot Cake Company

In case you don’t live in the Ozarks or anywhere near Branson, MO you might not be familiar with an entertainer named Dino but he is actually fairly well-known for his musical abilities in these neck of the woods.  He is also known for his carrot cake.  Yes, carrot cake.  Supposedly it’s an old family recipe that had been passed down and he decided to open up a bakery featuring the carrot cake as it’s star and of course added a few more tasty cake options.

I had been hearing about this carrot cake from family members who lived around that area but never made it in to Hollister, where his first bakery is located.  So a couple of weeks ago when Jeremy and I were in Branson, I discovered he had opened up a second location at The Landing.  I was so excited!  I’d finally get to try his famous carrot cake!

He didn’t have a ton of options on the menu (which is probably a good thing for me since I can be so indecisive) but what was available all looked so delicious it was hard to decide.  And it’s not like we could order 12 different things…these were cake slices, not little cupcakes, so it was all a bit more pricey.  I think the slices were around $5 and the cupcakes were $2.50.

I decided I wanted to try the 24Karrot Cake (obviously) along with a Pumpkin Cupcake.  The carrot cake, was really good and very rich.  It was super moist and had chunks of walnuts, coconut and pineapple all through it.  It didn’t have quite as much spice as I normally like in carrot cake and it actually tasted a bit buttery to me, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

The pumpkin cupcake was another story…it was absolutely horrible.  We both took one bite and had to throw it away.  The cake was very dry and hardly tasted like pumpkin and the icing was just bland and hardly had any cinnamon in it at all.  It was very odd and I honestly just wondered if something went wrong with that batch.

Jeremy chose the Chocolate Fudge Cake and I have to say it was both our favorite choice by far.  The chocolate cake was divine and it was filled with layers of light chocolate buttercream and the whole thing was covered in chocolate ganache.  It was awesome.   Somehow Jeremy’s choice always ends up being our favorite!

Oh and the cinnamon rolls looked AMAZING and I noticed lots of people buying those and I so wanted to get one but didn’t.  I will definitely try one next time.  If you’re down at The Landing to do some holiday shopping, be sure to stop in and try Dino’s bakery!

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Dark Chocolate Cheesecake for Christmas

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!

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Cappuccino Ganache
 
Ingredients
Dark Chocolate Cheesecake
  • 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
  • 4 Eggs
  • 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
Cappuccino Ganache
  • 9 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 T. Instant Coffee (or 1 T. Espresso Powder)
  • ¼ t. Cinnamon
Instructions
For the Cheesecake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 10-inch springform pan.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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
  1. 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.
Notes
Serves 12-15.

 

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