Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas




Merry Christmas! Enjoy a cup of cocoa, a good book and time with family and friends!

Happy Christmas Eve



Merry Christmas Eve!
 I hope you are enjoying a wonderful holiday with family and drinking lots of cocoa and eating many cookies!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Salted Caramel Peanut Bark

Good morning! I hope that you had a great weekend. Are you ready for Christmas? Do you have all of your gifts purchased, and all of your baking finished?



I baked up a storm this weekend and I made this delicious and easy Salted Caramel Peanut Bark. If you are looking for an easy recipe for last minute gifts or for your Christmas celebration look no further.




Salted Caramel Peanut Bark
Recipe from Good Housekeeping Magazine

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl combine 3 Tablespoons corn syrup, 2 Tablespoons of sugar and 1/4 teaspoons of salt. Add 2 cups of peanuts and stir to coat. Spread evenly in a single layer on parchment paper lined pan and bake for 15 minutes or until brown and caramelized. With two forks separate the nuts and then cool completely. Stir into 12 ounces of melted dark chocolate until well coated and then spread evenly onto waxed paper. Refrigerate until set.

I hope you try this! Enjoy your day!

Linking to:
Stone Gable
Savvy Southern Style
Katherines Corner
French Country Cottage

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Raspberry Hot Chocolate



Hello! I hope you are having a good weekend. Are you decorating for Christmas? Do you have your tree up?


Is it warm? Do you feel a chill in the air? Or is it downright cold? Today it is a little chilly here and of course I am experimenting with some hot chocolate recipes. I made some raspberry hot chocolate and thought you might want to try it!






Raspberry Hot Chocolate

Adapted from Food Network

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped or 6 oz 60% Ghiradelli bittersweet chips
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, I use Droste
  • 3 tablespoons raspberry liqueur (recommended Chambord)
  • Snowmen, candy cane marshmallows for garnish, optional

Directions

Combine everything except the liqueur in a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Whisk occasionally until chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes.
Continue to cook, whisking frequently until smooth and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in liqueur, top with marshmallows and serve immediately.




This hot chocolate is delicious, it is creamy, sweet, chocolaty and there is a hint of raspberry, it is like eating a candy bar.  I know that I do say that all of the time but lets face it, I would not write about something that I do not like! 

I hope you try it, and if you have a favorite chocolate recipe do let me know and I will come and check it out!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gingerbread Cocoa



Hello! I know that the holidays are a crazy time for many, myself included. Between the cooking, cleaning, baking, family, friends, parties and all that the holidays entail it is always nice to sit and take a minute to relax. I like to do that with a cup of cocoa!



But then again if you have followed this blog or my other one, Pine Cones and Acorns, for any length of time than you already know that. 


Although I love good old fashioned cocoa I do like to experiment a little with new recipes. This week, I found a copy of Southern Living 2011 and inside was this delicious recipe for Gingerbread Cocoa. 



Gingerbread Cocoa
Recipe from Southern Living
Makes 16 cups

2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp. apple pie spice
11/2 tsp. ginger
1 gallon of milk

Whisk together first four ingredients in a 6 quart pan. Gradually add milk and whisk until combined. Cook mixture over medium heat for 20 minutes or until bubbles appear around the edges of the pan.

You can either serve immediately, or transfer to s slow cooker and leave on low to have a wonderful beverage all day long.


I enjoyed this cocoa, it is rich and creamy and the gingerbread flavor is a wonderful addition to the cocoa. The other thing that I like is that the recipe is for a crowd, it make 16 cups! I think it would be perfect for Christmas morning or a skating party or even a cookie exchange. I already have this added to my family Christmas menu. 

I hope you try this recipe and if you have a great cocoa recipe than let me know. 

Enjoy your day!

Linking to:
Coastal Charm
Savvy Southern Style

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Moist Chocolate Cake and Fudge Buttercream Frosting






Today is my birthday and I thought I would try something totally new for my cake. This is an unbelievable chocolate cake and chocolate fudge frosting from Jennifer Hill at the Foodness Blog.







Moist Chocolate Cake
Ingredients
1¾ cups all purpose flour
2 cups granulated white sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ tsp baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk (or substitute by putting 1 tbsp white vinegar in a cup then filling the rest up with milk; let stand 5 minutes until thickened)
½ cup butter, melted
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (or 2 tsp instant coffee in 1 cup boiling water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9 inch pans, line bottom with parchment paper circles and set aside. I USED  THREE 6 INCH PANS. THIS WILL MAKE TWO SMALL 3 LAYER CAKES. 
In a bowl of stand mixer, stir together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla beaut until smooth, about 2 to three minutes. 
Remove bowl from mixer and stir in hot coffee with rubber spatula, the batter will be very runny.
Pour into pans and bake on middle rack for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean with a few crumbs attaches. 
Allow to cool on wire rack for 15 minutes, run butter knife around the pan. Invert pans onto rack. Cool completely before frosting. 



Chocolate Fudge Frosting

 1 stick of softened butter
 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
 1 tsp. vanilla 
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 cup of milk
1/8 cup of whipping cream

Mix all dry ingredients together, then add butter and slowly add cream and milk to achieve desired consistency. Mix for 3 minutes with electric mixer to get the frosting creamy and fluffy. 






This cake is FABULOUS! It is moist, a cross between fudge and brownies and the best cake I have ever made. I love it! The frosting is creamy, chocolaty  and a great addition to the cake!

I wish you were here to share it with me!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Basil Mint Hot Chocolate

Good evening! I hope you are having a great day and hopefully not braving unseasonably cold weather as we are. Goodness the weather is strange, but for many this is the time of year to break out the mugs for hot chocolate!


Hot chocolate is a staple in my diet, in fact it is my "breakfast of champions" all year long.  Although I am a traditionalist I sometimes branch out to try variations.


This Basil Mint Hot Chocolate is a recipe that came across recently and it is unexpected and delicious! I hope you will give it a try!




Basil Mint Hot Chocolate
Recipe from Liana Krissoff

11/2 cups of milk
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of fresh mint
1/2 cup of fresh basil
pinch of salt
2 ounces of 60% or more chocolate chopped

In a medium sauce pan combine the milk, cream, mint, and basil and salt. Place over low heat. Place the chocolate in e bowl that will fit over the pan, like a double boiler ans is also large enough to hold the milk mixture too.

Stir chocolate frequently and remove the milk from heat as soon as it is simmering. Let the milk steep with the bowl of chocolate sitting on top, for two or three minutes. While the milk is steeping stir the chocolate until melted. After two or three minutes, pour the milk through a sieve to remove the mint and basil, then pour over the melted chocolate and whisk until combined.

Pour into mugs, add whipped cream if you wish and garnish with a sprig of mint.


What do you think?
 I know it is an unconventional pairing to have the savory basil along with the more traditional mint but I think it is interesting and refreshing.



I hope you have a fabulous day! Enjoy! 

And please come back and tell me if you try this recipe or any others. 

Linking to :
Home Stories A to Z Tues
Thrifty Decor Chick
Savvy Southern Style
No Minimalist There
Home and Garden Thursday
Rooted in Thyme
The Polohouse

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Chocolate Caramel Apples

Hello! Happy Day!
I know that it is November, but I was so busy this week that I did not have time to post my caramel apples that I made. 


I know a lot of people enjoy these around Halloween, but I personally like to eat them all year. In fact when I am in Wisconsin I frequently visit Amy's Candy Kitchen for gourmet home made caramel apples. 



When I am at home I like to make caramel apples from scratch, as well as using my favorite Halloween treat, Kraft caramels. This year I made both versions, but today I showing the ones I made using Kraft caramels.



The recipe is so easy, in about 20 minutes you have a nice tasty treat.



Kraft Caramel Apples
recipe Kraft

Ingredients:

1 bag of Kraft caramels
5 washed and dried apples
1 tablespoon of water

Directions:

Unwrap all caramels and place in a microwave safe bowl, add water. Heat for three minutes or until the caramels are  melted. Place sticks into the apples and dip into the caramel. Place apples on a Silphat and place into the refrigerator.

Options: If you want to dip in chocolate, I use chocolate chips and melt them then dip the apples and roll in cranberries, and pistachios.



Are you a fan of caramel apples? Do you have a special recipe that you use? I would love to hear about it.

Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Traditional Hot Cocoa


As winter has reared its head and a chill has settled in on the back of Hurricane Sandy I thought it would be nice to sit with a cup of cocoa and relax after the storm. We have been battered since last Friday and frankly I could use a little break.


Traditional Hot Cocoa Recipe

1 cup of milk
2 Tablespoons of Heavy Whipping Cream
11/2 Tablespoons of Coco Powder (Droste)
1 Tablespoon of sugar
Mini Marshmallows for garnish

Directions

Pour milk and heavy cream into a small pan, heat to almost boiling. Add sugar and dissolve, whisk in coco powder. Pour into mug and garnish with mini-marshmallows.



I hope that you have fared well in the storm. For those of you who are without power and have suffered from this terrible storm, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Be safe. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies




  1. Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies
    Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

    Pumpkin Swirl:

    4 ounces cream cheese, softened and room temperature
  2. 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  3. 1/2 cup sugar
  4. 1 egg
  5. 11/2 cups canned pumpkin
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  7. 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  8. 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/4 teaspoon allspice

    Brownies:
  9. 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  10. 11/4 cups all-purpose flour
    3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  11. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  12. 8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  13. 3/4 cup butter, cut up
  14. 21/4 cups sugar
  15. 4 eggs
  16.                    1/4 cup milk
  17. 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
    1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

    OR
    Use one Box Ghirardelli Brownie Mix for 13 x 9 Pan





Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 13x9  baking pan with foil, extend foil over the edges of the pan. Grease the foil or spray with cooking spray then set pan aside.
In a medium mixing bowl beat room temperature cream cheese and the 1 tablespoon butter with an electric mixer on medium for 30 seconds. Add  sugar. Beat until well combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in 1 egg, the pumpkin, 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, and all of the spices, until combined. Stir in the 1 tablespoon flour. Set aside.

Prepared Box Mix:

If using  Ghirardelli brownie mix or your favorite brand then prepare according to directions on the back of the box and pour mixture into greased and foiled pan. Add cream cheese pumpkin mixture in spoon fulls to the top of the brownie batter, swirl with a knife.  Bake 1 hour.

Directions for Brownies from Scratch:


In a small bowl stir together the 1-1/4 cups flour, the baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In a saucepan combine the chocolate and 3/4 cup butter. Cook and stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Add sugar, beating with an electric mixer on low speed just until combined. Add the 4 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in milk and the vanilla bean paste. Gradually beat in flour mixture just until combined DO NOT OVER MIX! Spread chocolate mixture evenly in the prepared pan.

***Spoon cream cheese mixture in several dollops on top of the chocolate batter. Using a knife, gently swirl the cream cheese mixture into the chocolate batter. 
Bake about 60 minutes or until center is just set when pan is gently shaken. Cool in pan on a wire rack, then life brownies out of pan with foil, cut into squares and serve. 


See the little chunks of cream cheese?


I made these brownies recently and I have to tell you they are my favorite  brownie ever! They are that good! Now, if you do not like pumpkin or cheesecake, than you will not like these brownies. 

That said, the recipe is easy and if you want you can even use a prepared mix and just add the pumpkin swirl on top. I have made them both ways and they are good whichever way you make them. But,  I prefer them made with the Ghirardelli box mix, maybe it was the addition of the chocolate chunks or the fact that I was hungry, I do not know.





Do make sure that your cream cheese and butter are at room temperature, as you can see in the photos I did not, that is why there are little white chunks of cream cheese, they do not detract from the taste but they look a little funny.

I hope you enjoy these brownies! Have a great day!

Linking to:
O so she Says..

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mexican Hot Chocolate




Good morning! I hope your weekend was wonderful. Did you enjoy the beautiful Fall weather? Perhaps take a few walks, see the changing leaves? Or is it already pretty chilly in your area?

My mom actually took advantage this weekend of the weather to finish her winter garden preparations and to dress her window boxes for Christmas.

If you read this blog or my other blog, Pine Cones and Acorns than you know I LOVE hot chocolate. This weekend I thought I would change things up and have some Mexican Hot Chocolate.

Are you familiar with it? This chocolate is infused with one of the main spices of the season, cinnamon. I think it  taste delicious and this recipe serves four so you can share with some friends.


Mexican Hot Chocolate

3 cups of whole milk
1 cup of heavy cream
1/4 vanilla bean split or 1/4 tsp vanilla or vanilla bean paste
2 cinnamon sticks
3 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chopped

Heat milk, cinnamon and vanilla bean(if using extract or paste wait until you mix in the chocolate) over low heat until the mixture is hot, do not boil. You will see little bubbles around the edges of the pan. Remove from heat and let the mixture steep, like a tea for at least 5 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean pod. If you are using vanilla bean paste or extract add it now, along with the chopped chocolate. Return to a low heat and whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is slightly frothy. Pour into cups, serve and enjoy.

I hope you like it! Enjoy and have a great day!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Chocolate Almond Toffee Rice Pudding



Hello! Happy Weekend to you! I hope that yours is off to a fine start. Mine is great! I have already been baking, and frankly if my day involves baking and a little chocolate than all is well.



I do not know about you but I am a huge fan of rice pudding. Plain rice, not so much. Perhaps it has something to do with the sugar and the cream? 

I am not sure but I actually think it has something to do with fond memories. I always associate chocolate rice and rice pudding with my grandmother. Now this is not chocolate rice, chocolate rice believe it or not was a diet, back in the 70's. You would take rice, cocoa powder and some sort of sweetener, I think Sweet and Low liquid and sprinkle I few drops on. Voila, chocolate rice!  Whenever my grandmother wanted to loose a few pounds she went on the chocolate rice diet. 


 I just made this recipe up today, but you can use your own rice pudding recipe and just add candy bars and you will have a similar dessert. 

Chocolate Almond Toffee Rice Pudding

Ingredients:

1 take out container of rice
1 egg
1 cup of milk
1/2-3/4 cup of heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/4 tsp of Almond extract
1 large Almond Toffee Candy Bar 

Directions:

Prepare a  9x9 baking pan with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350. In a separate bowl, combine milk, cream and egg. Whisk until combined. Add vanilla bean paste and almond extract. Then add rice. Mix well and pour into pan. IF THE LIQUID DOES NOT COVER THE RICE, ADD A LITTLE MORE CREAM. Then take the candy bar and break into bit sized pieces. Sprinkle the pieces over the top of the rice.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until rice is cooked through.  Let cool a little then serve. 



Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Lindt Chocolate Truffle Give Away



If you like chocolate truffles than this is a give away for you! Lindt is giving away 1 million bags, all you have to do is go to their Facebook Page and print the coupon. 


I you are looking for something sweet that has all of the flavors of Fall come over to my other blog,  Pine Cones and Acorns and try my family  recipe for Slab Apple Pie, it is scrumptious. 


Enjoy your day!

P.S.  This is not a paid promotion, and I am not receiving any compensation from Lindt, I just thought you might like a bag of truffles.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies



How do you like the look of these cookies? Let me be the first to tell you that they are FABULOUS! I think they may be the best chocolate chips cookies I have ever made!


I have been on a search for a chocolate chip cookie that looked and tasted like the ones my mom made while I was growing up. Even though I have her recipe which is the standard from Nestle Toll-House I can never get them to stay fat and crunchy, they turn flat and chewy with little mountains of chips. Which I do not like.



Over the past year I have tried "the best" recipes from Internet searches, magazines, The New York Times, cookbooks, etc and I have never found a recipe that could duplicate the memories of my childhood...until now.


This recipe was not invented by me(sadly) but comes from one of my favorite blogs, London Bakes. Kathryn has a fabulous food blog and if you do not know of it, leave here immediately after reading this post to go check her out. You will love it!



Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe adapted from London Bakes

Ingredient List:

1 stick of unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Bean Paste or vanilla Extract
11/2 cups of flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp instant coffee
11/4 cups of chocolate chips
optional: sea salt flakes to sprinkle on top 




Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350, prepare your cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silicon mats.
  2. Put the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat and cook until it starts to bubble and has turned a lovely golden brown color. Take off the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and coffee.
  4. When the butter has cooled, cream it together with the sugars until combined. Add the egg and vanilla and beat again. 
  5. Fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the chocolate chips.
  6. Chill the mixture in the fridge for any time between 30 minutes and 24 hours. I chilled 1 hour for the first batch and 24 for the second. 
  7. Using an ice cream scoop or a cookie scoop, place spoonfuls of the dough on the baking sheet and, if desired, scatter a little sea salt on top.(I did not)
  8. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes until the edges of the cookies just start to turn golden brown and are firm to the touch.
  9. Allow to cool on the baking tray for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. This is important because they continue to cook and get firm, also, they won't fall apart when you try to remove them
  10. Pour a glass of milk or brew a cup of tea and enjoy! Oh, and share with a friend!




Did I mention how much I love these cookies? Seriously, they are fabulous! I did make a few changes, Kathryn used whole wheat flour, I was out, and she used less chocolate chips, 2/3 of a cup, and also she sprinkled with the sea salt which I forgot. 



I am making these again this weekend to go with the Pumpkin Blue Cheese Brie Baked Macaroni I made on my other blog Pine Cones and Acorns Blog.

I hope you have a fabulous day! And do check out London Bakes, you will really enjoy the recipes and photos. 

Linking to:
Savvy Southern Style
Common Ground
At the Picket Fence
Six Sisters Stuff
Flour me with Love
The Polohouse