Bacon, Bourbon and Peanut Puppy Chow

Bacon, Bourbon, Peanut Puppy Chow

I know it may sound silly, but I love puppy chow (also known as muddy buddies to some).  And just like 7-Layer Bars, I had never made it before!  Crazy, right?  Puppy chow is such a holiday thing to me and I always knew someone else would be bringing it to whatever function I’d be attending so I’ve never bothered to make it.  However, I have always thought that puppy chow needed revamping.  It’s totally yummy but am I the only one that would look for the little nuggets of two or more Chex squares stuck together with an excess of the chocolate and peanut butter mixture??  Know what I’m talking about?  Yes, I’d pick through the puppy chow mix to find those little scrumptious morsels–I’m not ashamed!  I’ve just always thought it needs MORE chocolate and peanut butter goodness.  So I decided to do something about it!

Bacon, Bourbon & Peanut Puppy Chow

I started off doubling the chocolate and peanut butter mixture but then I thought it needed something more.  And that something was alcohol!  Can’t go wrong adding booze to a dessert, right?!  But then my evil mind went even further and thought it needed something even more…like bacon….and peanuts.  Yes, bourbon, bacon and peanuts…in puppy chow.  Things got crazy up in my kitchen people.  Crazy in a VERY GOOD way.  What resulted was the yummiest puppy chow I’ve ever had.  No more digging for the little morsels of Chex Squares stuck together–there were plenty of those!  Now if you don’t want to add all the additional ingredients and stick closer to the classic, that’s totally ok…but the bourbon, bacon and peanuts add such another dimension of yumminess to it.  I highly recommend!  Fabulous sweet/salty snack for a Superbowl party!

Enjoy!

Bacon, Bourbon and Peanut Puppy Chow
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Smooth Peanut Butter (I prefer Peter Pan)
  • ½ c. Unsalted Butter (I'm sure salted would work fine too)
  • 2 c. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ⅓ c. Bourbon
  • 1 lb. Bacon, cooked and chopped (I tore the fatty pieces off of mine)
  • 2 c. Dry-Roasted Peanuts
  • 9 c. Chex Rice Cereal
  • 3 c. Powdered Sugar
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine the cereal, bacon and peanuts.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, melt the peanut butter, butter and chocolate chips at 30-second intervals in the microwave, stirring between each until completely melted and smooth. Stir in the vanilla and bourbon.
  3. Pour the chocolate/peanut butter mixture over the cereal mixture and toss gently until all the cereal is evenly coated.
  4. Place the powdered sugar in a large bag. (You could use a large Ziploc type bag but it will probably not be big enough. I used a large paper bag and I recommend doing that.) Add the chocolate/peanut butter and cereal mixture to the bag. Shake the bag vigorously to evenly coat each piece of the puppy chow with powdered sugar.
  5. Once the mixture is fully coated, store in an airtight container.
Notes
Makes 15, 1-cup servings.

 

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7-Layer Bars

7-Layer Bars

Believe it or not, I have never made 7-Layer Bars.  Shocking, right?!  I’ve always really enjoyed them at parties and church functions but just never made them myself.  And I’m not sure why because wow, they are easy and delicious (duh).  I thought they’d be a great Superbowl dessert and believe it or not, that blessed event is right around the corner.  So it’s time to start planning your menu people!  It’s all about the food.  At least for me it is…I could kind of care less about football.  Sorry, it’s true.

7 Layer Bars

Ok, let’s get to the bars.  The recipe I used called for a potato chip crust which I thought would give it a more salty component but I didn’t notice it much.  So I might add in 1/4 teaspoon or so of salt to the potato chip mixture next time I make them.  Just fyi.  And traditionally the crust is graham cracker so feel free to swap out the potato chips for graham cracker crumbs and follow the recipe accordingly.  I’m not sure which I prefer more.  The potato chip crust actually turned out kind of chewy which I love but I also adore graham cracker crusts so…yeah.  Flip a coin?  Anyway, this recipe is fabulous, you can’t mess it up and it really is super easy and great for parties.  Try them!

Oh and if you want some more Superbowl sweets ideas, check out these past blog posts here and here!   I’ll have another great Superbowl recipe later this week for puppy chow–with a twist!  If you like booze, you’re gonna love it.  And even if you don’t like booze, you’re gonna love it.  Seriously.  Stay tuned!

7-Layer Bars
 
Ingredients
  • 3 c. Regular, Salted Potato Chips, crushed
  • 1½ sticks Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 4 T. Granulated Sugar
  • 12 oz. (2 c.) pkg. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 12 oz. (2 c. ) pkg. Butterscotch Chips
  • 12 oz. (2 c. ) pkg. White Chocolate Chips
  • 1½ c. Walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted
  • 3 c. Flaked, Sweetened Coconut, toasted
  • 2, 14 oz. Cans Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease 9x13 pan.
  2. Combine potato chips, sugar and melted butter. Press into the bottom of the pan.
  3. Top the crust with the following ingredients, in order: semi-sweet chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips, walnuts and coconut. Combine the sweetened condensed milk with vanilla and pour over the layers.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes and let cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 18 squares.

 

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New Year’s Eve Eats – Dessert Dips!

Red Velvet Cake Batter Dip
Red Velvet Cake Batter Dip by Cookie Crazed Mama

Hey friends!  Man, I feel like I’ve barely recovered from all the Christmas baking and New Year’s Eve is staring me right in the face!  Ack!  I’m not gonna lie, at this point I’m not sure what I’m going to bake, if anything, and quite truthfully these no-bake dessert dips are looking pretty good to me right now.  Very short list of ingredients, no oven involved and just darn tasty.  So this is the direction I think I’m gonna go…because I actually want to enjoy my New Year’s and not drive myself crazy the next couple of days baking non-stop in the kitchen.  Just keepin’ it real people!

So what are your New Year’s baking plans?  Or do you have any??  I’d love to know!

P.S. Check out last year’s New Year’s Eve dessert inspiration here!

Cherry Cheesecake Dip

 

Cherry Cheesecake Dip

Pumpkin Pie Dip

 

Pumpkin Dip

White Chocolate Oreo Fluff Dip

 

White Chocolate Oreo Fluff Dip

Raspberry Lemon Fruit Dip

 

Raspberry Lemon Fruit Dip

Cannoli Dip

 

Cannoli Dip

Funfetti Cake Dip

 

Funfetti Cake Dip

Apple Pie Dip

 

Apple Pie Dip

Candy Cane Dip

 

Candy-Cane-Dip-and-Chocolate-Cookies

Red Velvet Cake Batter Dip

 

Red Velvet Cake Batter Dip

S’mores Dip

 

S'mores Dip

Pina Colada Fruit Dip

 

Pina-Colada-Fruit-Dip

Brownie Batter Dip

 

Brownie Batter Dip

Orange Creamsicle Fruit Dip

 

orange-creamsicle-dip

Monster Cookie Dough Dip

 

monster-cookie-dough-dip-words

Peanut Butter & Yogurt Dip

 

Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip

Fruit Salsa Dip

 

Fruit Salsa

Nutella Yogurt Fruit Dip

 

Nutella Yogurt Fruit Dip

Caramel Cheesecake Dip

 

Caramel Cheesecake Dip

Chocolate Toffee Cookie Dough Dip

 

Chocolate Toffee Cookie Dough Dip

Snickerdoodle Dip

 

Snickerdoodle Dip

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Bakery Review – Pinkitzel in Oklahoma City

Warning:  This post contains many pictures.  I apologize in advance.  However, I originally had 50 and managed to narrow it down to 20.  And yes, I know you’re dying to see ALL 50 so I have a slideshow at the very end of this post with every. single. photo.

Ok, so I’ve talked about the little trip Jeremy and I took to Oklahoma City and the bakeries we visited, here and here.  But I have saved the best for last.  Pinkitzel is the sole reason I wanted to go to Oklahoma City.  Ever since finding them online a few months ago, I have been absolutely DYING to visit.  And I finally got to!  Since I have ambitions of opening my own candy shop one day, Pinkitzel is a MAJOR inspiration in my book.  I was so excited to go.  Probably too excited.

From the moment we walked in, I tried to contain myself but it was hard!  I’m sure the employees thought we were nuts…Jeremy taking pictures, me jotting down notes…yeah, we looked crazy.  At least I felt like I did.  But I didn’t care!  I was in candy heaven and no one was raining on my parade.  First off, the decor is AMAZING.  Totally my style and pretty dang close to what I’d choose for a store of my own.  It was black, white and hot pink with a rococo/baroque feel to it.  The party rooms were out. of. this. world.  There is a black and white one that could be accented with the colors of the person’s party/event they are having.  I believe the room was set up for an engagement party when we were visiting that day.

And then you have a red/pink room that is very girly and a little smaller, probably more for a young girl’s birthday party or even a bridal or baby shower.  Both of the rooms were so neat and over the top, pretty much like everything in the store.

There were also tons of fun merchandise and nicknacks and novelty gifts.

And the candy.  Oh, the candy.  So much to choose from.  I tried to be really picky but still get a good variety–at $3.75 for 1/4lb, this stuff wasn’t cheap!  But I can honestly say, it was totally worth the price.  A million times better quality than the stuff you’d get somewhere else (like our local shop in Springfield, Mr. Bulky’s) and the selection was just phenomenal.

My only regret about this place was spending $9 on three, yes THREE, cupcakes that were horrible, instead of using it on more candy.  Yes, you are doing the math correctly…$3 each.  I had read reviews that people posted online saying the cupcakes were from somewhere like Sam’s Club and just frosted different colors and sure enough…that’s what they were.  Except I like the cupcakes from Sam’s Club (shocker, I know) and I definitely did NOT like these.  They were even smaller than a regular size cupcake (if you can imagine that) and so loaded with artificially flavored frosting they were nearly inedible.  Let’s just say it was a good thing we were sitting right next to a trash can.  They also had a selection of chocolate truffles that were decent.  Not the best, but definitely ok.

BUT, the candy more than made up for the cupcakes and truffles.  I think it’s clear that the main product focus is the candy and it’s worth every penny.  I truly wish I’d just stuck with candy but I have no doubt I’ll be back to this place.  It’s sensory overload in every way and I love it!  Definitely make sure you stop in if you’re ever in the area!

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Sparkling Basil Lemonade

This past Friday night we had our once-a-month Gourmet Cooking Club that my friend, Shawna, hosts at her house.  It was a pizza themed event this time (yum!) and while everything was delicious, my favorite thing was actually a drink that Shawna made.  When we walked into her kitchen there was a beautiful glass punch bowl with what looked like lemonade but with something additional floating on top…basil leaves and sliced jalapenos!  Yes, somewhat uncommon for a sweet punch but trust me on this, it is AMAZING.  The lemonade is sweet and tart and bubbly and the basil is the perfect, refreshing addition.  And then there is just the slightest kick and spice from the jalapeno…it’s barely there but definitely noticeable and honestly, delicious!!

Put this one on your list for your Memorial Day party–I guarantee it will end up in your regular drink rotation for the summer!

Recipe by Better Homes and Gardens

Sparkling Basil Lemonade
 
Ingredients
  • 4 c. Water
  • 3 c. Sugar
  • 2 c. Fresh Basil Leaves (about 1-1/2 ounces)
  • 2, 1-liter Bottles Club Soda, chilled
  • 2 c. Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed is best)
  • Ice cubes
  • 1 Fresh Jalapeno Chile Pepper, sliced*
  • Fresh basil leaves
Instructions
  1. For basil syrup, in a large saucepan combine water, sugar, and basil. Bring to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Strain syrup and discard leaves. Cover and chill syrup for 2 to 24 hours.
  2. For lemonade, in a very large punch bowl combine chilled syrup, club soda, and lemon juice. Serve over ice and garnish with jalapeno slices and fresh basil leaves.
Notes
Makes 16, 8 oz. Servings *Tip:Because chile peppers contain volatile oils that can burn skin and eyes, avoid direct contact with them as much as possible. When working with chile peppers, wear plastic or rubber gloves. If bare hands touch the peppers, wash hands and nails well with soap and warm water.

 

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Sweets for Superbowl 2012

Sometimes I make the mistake of doing, ahem, research for my blog when I’m hungry.  And it never ends well.  After looking at numerous varieties of desserts for this post, it was all I could do to not go into my kitchen, get a huge bowl of peanut butter, sprinkle it with dark chocolate chips and crushed graham crackers and call it dinner.  But I didn’t!  Instead, I had a sensible meal of garden lasagna (delicious!) and refrained from eating every bit of sugar in my house.  Just a word of caution!

Any of these desserts would be GREAT for a Superbowl party.  I tried to choose things that were fairly simply and not too labor intensive.  After all, you’ve barely recovered from Christmas baking!  I really don’t think you can go wrong with whatever recipe you choose–they’re all delicious.  And next week I’ll have football themed desserts if you’re feeling a little more crafty with your baking…football shaped sweets are just too darn cute!

Brownies

The Baked Brownie

 

King Arthur Flour Brownie

 

S’mores Brownie

 

Caramel Coconut Pecan Brownies

 

Blondies

Peanut Butter Blondies

 

Fondue

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Fondue, Salted Caramel Pecan Fondue and Apple Cinnamon Fondue

Chocolate Orange Fondue

Mocha Fondue

 

White Chocolate Fondue

Dessert Pizza

Apple Pie Pizza

Sugar Cookie & Fruit Pizza

Banana Split Brownie Pizza

Rocky Road Cookie Pizza

Cookies

NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Oatmeal Cookies

 

Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Peanut Butter Potato Chip Cookies

Monster Cookies

Turtle Cookies

Mudslide Cookies

 

Snack Mixes

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Mix

Gluten-Free Popcorn, Cereal & White Chocolate Mix

Sweet & Spicy Mix

Maple Cinnamon Cereal Mix

Pumpkin Spiced Mix

 

Puppy Chow

 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Popcorn

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Gingerbread Cheesecake

Please excuse me for a moment while I declare this THE. BEST. CHEESECAKE. RECIPE. EEEEEEVVVVVERRRRR.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way…I made this cheesecake the other night with my friend Nicole.  She wanted to make it for her family for Christmas and I am SO glad she did.  It’s truly amazing, super creamy, has THE BEST gingerbread flavor and  is heavy on the molasses which I love!  And I have a newfound faith in water baths..we actually used one, after my ranting and raving that I didn’t think they actually made a difference.  Well, they DO.  There was not even a hint of a crack on the top of the cheesecake and I really believe it contributed to the creaminess of it.  Just divine.  Perfect if, say, you have a party this weekend…there might be a couple happening.  Just maybe.

(Recipe from Cooking Pleasures Magazine)

Gingerbread Cheesecake
 
Ingredients
Crust
  • 2 c. Finely Ground Gingersnaps
  • 6 T. Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 2 T. Granulated Sugar
Filling
  • 4, 8 oz. packages Cream Cheese, softened
  • ½ c. Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • ½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • ½ c. Sour Cream
  • ½ c. Molasses
  • 2 t. Ground Ginger
  • 1 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ t. Ground Cloves
Topping
  • 1 c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • ½ c. Powdered Sugar
  • ½ t. Pure Vanilla
  • 1 T. Rum (optional...but recommended)
Instructions
For the Cheesecake:
  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and wrap outside of pan with a couple pieces of heavy-duty foil.
  2. Combine all crust ingredients in a medium bowl. Press into bottom and halfway up sides of springform pan. Refrigerate while you make the rest of the cheesecake.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and both sugars until smooth and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add all remaining filling ingredients and mix until combined. Pour into crust.
  4. Place pan in a large baking or broiler pan. Add enough water to baking pan to come a couple inches (no more than halfway) up the sides of the springform pan. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until edges are puffed and top is dry to the touch. Center should move slightly when pan is tapped but should not ripple as if liquid.
  5. Remove cake from water bath; Remove foil. Cool on wire rack 1 hour. Refrigerate, uncovered, overnight.
For the Whipped Cream Topping:
  1. Beat heavy whipping cream in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Beat in powdered sugar, vanilla and rum. Spread over top of cooled cake.
Notes
Serves 20

Nicole mentioned, and I agree, that even though we cooked it for an hour and a half (five minutes longer than the recipe called for), it could have probably used another 5-10 minutes.  So, use your judgement.

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New Year’s Eve Cupcakes

Yes, cupcakes. Again.  People love them, there’s absolutely no denying that.  When I first started researching for this post, I wanted to do cupcakes that were themed and decorated for New Year’s Eve but man, the selection and variety was abysmal!  So instead of coming up with (and making) something cute and clever myself, I opted for Plan B:  Boozy Cupcakes.

Are cupcakes and liquor a match made in heaven? Most certainly.  I love any chance I get to throw alcohol into my desserts and these cupcakes are an absolutely legitimate excuse to do just that.  So, for the guests at your New Year’s Eve party that love cupcakes and would rather eat their alcohol than drink it (or do both), whip up one or two of the cupcakes below…maybe create a cupcake “bar”??  I think that’s one bar-tending job I could handle!

 

White Chocolate Champagne Cupcakes

Stout Cupcakes

Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes

 

Bourbon Chocolate Cupcakes

Mudslide Cupcakes

 

Jack and Coke Cupcakes

 

Margarita Cupcakes

Red Wine Cupcakes

 

Chambord Cupcakes

Cupcake “Shots”

 

 

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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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A Vintage Christmas

I am so in love with this pretty, pastel vintage Christmas dessert table.  If only I had time to squeeze in another Christmas party before this weekend, I’d so do this.  For now I’ll just have to be happy with looking at these pictures…over and over and over again.

 

If you’d like to see more of the photos, you can check them out here.   Hope everyone is having a great week so far!  Only a couple days until Christmas!

 

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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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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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Perfect Party Cupcakes

I’ve not had very good luck with cupcakes in the past.  I mean, really, cupcakes?!?  Five-year-olds can make them!  I’ve filled the pans too full and had the batter overflow as they baked.  I’ve tried rotating the pans and ended up dumping half-baked cupcakes all over my oven door.  I’ve baked them perfectly (or so I thought) only to find out they were as hard as rocks when I removed them from the pan.  I mean, I’ve cried over cupcakes.  It’s bad.

So this past weekend I had a request for cupcakes.   “This is it”, I thought,  “time to get over my fear.  Time to conquer the cupcake!”  A little melodramatic, I suppose but I literally felt like I was going into a baking battle and I was determined to win.  I got to researching and found what I hoped to be the best white cake ever.

So, guess what?  I didn’t ruin them!  Yay!  And just like the name says, this truly is a perfect white cake.  Super moist, tender and a fine crumb.  All the good qualities you would want in a cake.  Dorie Greenspan knows her stuff and this cake recipe (with my tiny modifications) proves it.

Oh and please forgive my decorating skills.  I’m used to doing things that taste awesome and don’t have to look pretty so I was poorly equipped to make these resemble anything close to a Sprinkles cupcake.  But hey, I tried.

Perfect Party Cupcakes

1 1/2 c. Sugar

1 Stick Unsalted Butter

2 1/4 c. Cake Flour

1 T. Baking Powder

1/2 t. Salt

1 1/4 c. Whole Milk

4 Large Egg Whites

1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

Buttercream (recipe below)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a regular muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, whisk together the milk and egg whites.  In a mixer, beat sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat the vanilla into the sugar and butter mixture.

Add one-third of the flour mixture to the sugar and butter, still beating on medium speed.  Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.  Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until fully incorporated then add the last of the dry ingredients.

Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.  Spoon 3-4 tablespoons of the batter into the lined muffin tins or until they are 2/3 full.  Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Makes 24.

Buttercream Dream Frosting

2 Sticks Unsalted Butter

1 c. Shortening

1/8 t. Salt

2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

2 pounds (7.5 c.) Powdered Sugar, sifted

4 T. Very Cold Heavy Whipping Cream (or milk)

Pink Dye (optional)

Directions

Cream the butter and shortening in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy.  Add the salt and vanilla extract and combine well.  Begin adding in the sugar, one cup at a time and mix thoroughly after each addition.  After all of the sugar has been added and mixed thoroughly, begin adding the the very cold heavy whipping cream one tablespoon at a time, combining well after each addition.  Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes to reach desired consistency.  Color with dye, if using, and frost cupcakes.

 

 

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