Sunday, December 27, 2015

Hot Chocolate with Eggnog Whipped Cream

Good morning! I hope that your week has been great. Can you believe that it is the night before Christmas? Where did the time go? Tonight is the time to relax and enjoy your time with family and friends. 

My favorite drink on a cold winter day, or any day for that matter is a steamy cup of hot chocolate. Recently I have discovered that a dollop of egg nog whipped cream makes it the perfect winter beverage!

 Eggnog Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3-1/2 cups of egg nog
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2  teaspoon ground nutmeg

Place whipping cream and egg nog in a chilled bowl and whip until medium soft peaks form, then add powdered sugar and nutmeg and whip just a lit more to incorporate. Do not over whip or you will have something resembling butter.

Top your favorite hot chocolate (or try on of the many I have made here in the past few years) or hot beverage with a dollop of egg nog whipped cream and enjoy!

I hope that you have a wonderful day and a very Merry Christmas!

Sharing at:
Coastal Charm

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

I hope that you have a wonderful and happy day surrounded by the love of family and friends. 

Merry Christmas. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Easy Caramelized Almond Bark with Sea Salt

Christmas is just a few days away, can you believe it? I am so looking forward to spending time relaxing, going to Midnight mass, breakfast with my family and of course eating lots of treats. This Easy Sea Salt Bark is one of the things that I cannot wait to eat. 

I have made so many batches of this bark for family, friends and for our house. It cannot be any easier  or delicious. The mix of sweet, salty and crunchy is scrumptious. If you are looking for a lat minute, easy gift for family or friends this is something you should try. 

Easy Caramelized Almond Bark with Sea Salt
Recipe from Epicurious

1/2 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon butter
11/2 cups roasted almonds
1 pound dood quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
coarse sea salt for garnish

Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat of tin foil, set aside. In a small saucepan combine water and sugar, stir over medium-low until the sugar is dissolved. Bring mixture to a boil and cook, string occasionally swirling the pan and brushing down the sides with a pastry brush until the caramel is dark amber, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately sir in butter until melted. Working fast stir almonds until well coated and spread onto baking pan, separate the nuts the best you can. Let cool and break up any large clumps. Set aside 1/4 of the nuts.

Stir chocolate in a medium bowl, set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted. Remove from heat and add nuts from making sheet. Spread the nut mixture on the same baking sheet, make sure to keep the nuts in one layer. Top with the reserved nuts and then sprinkle with sea salt. Chill until set.

I hope that you have a great week and that you have a minute to slow down and enjoy all the beauty of the holiday season. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Polar Express Hot Chocolate

Once of my favorite things to do at Christmas is to watch all of the classic movies, both new and old, Rudolph, Frosty, White Christmas, Elf and of course the Polar Express. I personally love the "hot chocolate" scene and dance.

In the next few days before the holidays why not make a batch of Polar Express Hot Chocolate, flip on the movie and enjoy a little time with your family and friends?

I discovered this recipe from Honey & Fitz several years ago and just made it this past week. It is easy and delicious!

Polar Express Hot Chocolate

11/2 cups of heavy cream
1 can of sweetened condensed milk 
2 cups Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
6 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large pot combine all the ingredients listed above and cook over low heat for 30-40 minutes and all ingredients are melted and incorporated. Stir frequently. Serve with whipped cream, marshmallows or just enjoy it plain.

I hope that you enjoy this holiday season!

If you like hot chocolate I have a Hot Chocolate Board on Pinterest with this recipe and about 400 others!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Bailey's Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding

My mom loves bread pudding so I often make it when she is visiting. I love to experiment with different "breads," sometimes I have french, plain white, croissants, cookies or whatever laying around and I hate for it to go to waste. 

This week I had an extra loaf of brioche from Thanksgiving and this pudding was the result. It is creamy, chocolaty, buttery and has a hint of Bailey's Irish cream. If you do not like to use alchol, omit the Bailey's it will still be buttery, sweet and chocolaty.

Bailey's Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding

3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup Bailey's Irish Cream
8 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 load(11/2 lbs) Brioche
5 ounces dark chocolate chopped
1/4 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 slices

Butter a standard loaf pan, or spray with cooking spray. If you want the pudding to come out whole add a piece of parchment to the pan as well.
In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar and cinnamon. Cut the brioche into 1/2 slices and dip into the egg mixture.
Place the 1 layer of soaked brooch pieces into the pan, then alter with chocolate and butter. Then add another layer of bread ad chocolate and butte. Do this until all the bread is used up.
Pour the remaining milk mixture over the pan. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 30 and bake for 1 hour.

Garnish with chocolate, a drizzle of Bailey's and whipped cream.


Monday, December 7, 2015

Decadent Dark Hot Chocolate on the Eve of St. Nicholas

Decadent Dark Hot Chocolate 
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen
Make 9 cups

1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 ounces see or bittersweet chocolate roughly chopped
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla or the seeds from a tiny segment of vanilla bean pod
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients ingot the bowl of a food processor and blend until powdery. Keep in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

To use:
Heat one cup of milk in a saucepan over medium heat until steamy. Add 3 tablespoons of cocoa mix and whisk for another minute or two until the mix is dissolved and the cocoa is creamy. Pour into cups and top with whipped cream or marshmallows. 

This hot chocolate is a great, go to mix to have in the cabinet, it is also a wonderful gift to give with a cute mug and some homemade cookies. I will be snuggling down with a cup, or two this evening after I put my slippers out for St. Nicholas to fill tonight.

Do you celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas? We have celebrated it our entire lives, he leaves treats in our slippers or stockings on the eve of December 5th and we find it December 6th. Then we get our presents on Christmas day. 

If you would like to know more about the holiday come over to my other blog,  Pine Cones and Acorns and read all about it!

Happy St. Nicholas Day

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mast Brothers Classic Hot Cocoa

Now that the Christmas season is upon us and the cool weather is settling in, it is the perfect time for cocoa! Honestly, I could drink it morning, noon and night I love it that much. 

While I have my "go to" recipe I am always open to trying something new. This classic hot cocoa recipe from Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook is smooth, chocolatey and delicious! 

Classic Hot Cocoa
Serves 4

4 Cups whole milk
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ounces dark chocolate

In a medium saucepan combine milk, cocoa powder, sugar and vanilla, bring to a boil, string frequently. 

Shave chocolate over each mug or add a toasted marshmallow. 


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce From David Lebovitz

The holidays are upon us, how they arrived so fast I have no idea! It seems like a few sorts weeks ago I was laying on the beach. I am currently trying to get into the holiday mode.

One of the things I like to do for family and friends at the holidays is give homemade gifts. Aside from the usual cookies, I like to make candy and ice cream toppings. Once of the easiest and tastiest is Homemade Hot Fudge.

You could make fudge, caramel, and a few other sauces, put it in a basket with some brownies and other ice cream topping and have the perfect gift for the sundae lovers in your family. Personally, I do not know anyone that would not like a jar or two of this fabulous fudge sauce perfect by the king of chocolate, David Lebovitz.

Homemade Hot Fudge
Recipe from David Lebovitz
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Melt the chocolate and the butter in a bowl set over simmering water, stir until smooth. In a medium saucepan, while the chocolate is melting, whisk together the sugars, cocoa, corn syrup, salt and heavy cream. Heat the mixture over low-medium heat until the mixture starts to thicken and comes to a low boil. Continue to cook for 45 seconds.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the melted chocolate.

Serve over ice cream, cake or whatever suits your fancy.

NOTE: The hot fudge can be stored for up to one week in the refrigerator. Rewarm gently and use a bit of cream to thin out if mixture is to thick.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Whipped Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Today is my birthday and what better way could there be to celebrate than with a chocolate cake? 

This isn't just any cake, it is a moist, chocolaty, buttermilk chocolate cake with whipped chocolate buttercream frosting. 

Buttermilk Cake

1 cup of butter, cubed
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare either a 13 x 9" pan or 2 8" round pans with cooking spray. In a small saucepan bring butter, water and cocoa to a boil. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add cocoa mixture. Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla, then add to the batter and mix well, beat in the eggs and then pour into prepared pans. Bake for 23-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 


3/4 cup of cocoa
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 stick softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup whipping cream, plus extra

In a bowl which together the cocoa and the sugar and set aside. Then in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream the butter until smooth. Add the cocoa mixture, alternating with the whipping cream until mixture is creamy and blended well, then add the vanilla. Gradually add cream until you have the desired spreading consistency. Do not add a lot at once or your frosting will get soupy. 

Note: For this cake I garnished with berries and I used about 1/4 cup of frosting which I heated in the microwave and drizzled over the top of the berries. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Best Salted Caramels EVER by Salt & Ayre

I love salted caramels! I could curl up with a box and a book and be happy for about 10 minutes...ok maybe 15 if I did not embarrass myself.

Recently I was given a box of these unbelievable salted caramels and frankly they are the best I have even eaten! They are called  Salt & Ayre and are made by Harbor Sweets.  These sweet creamy caramels are enrobed in dark chocolate and dusted with  sea salt, making the perfect sweet salty mouthful.  

Since then I may or may not have purchased another 6 boxes. In my defense I did give 1 box away to a friend.  In fact I will be ordering a lot more of these to give as Christmas gifts. 

If you are a salted caramel fan then you might want to give these a try! If you have suggestions for your favorite salted caramel then please share with me!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Wellesley Chocolate Fudge Cake

I bake a lot of cakes and chocolate happens to be a particular favorite, go figure. Although I have quite a few in my repertoire there are several that I go back to again and again and again and this cake is one of them. 

What I love about it is that it is:

A. It's chocolate
B. It has a  fabulous chocolate fudge icing. 
C. Is moist and stays that way for days.
D. And it mails well, yes I have mailed this cake to several friends and it always arrives in one piece and is still fresh!

This recipe is one that I found while perusing Pinterest. What did we ever do without Pinterest by the way? The recipe is from Sifting Focus, it is a little long but worth it.

Wellesley Fudge Cake 

21/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
2 sticks of butter cut into 16 pieces, softened
2 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

31/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
1/2 stick of butter cut in half and softened
11/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup half and half
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cake: Place oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 350. Prepare two 8" square pans with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. 
Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the cocoa powder and the hot water until smooth. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time and mix until incorporated. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk. Mix until combined. Reduce speed and slowly add the cocoa/water mixture and the vanilla, until incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans. Bake about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out to cool on a rack. 


Sift together the powdered sugar and the cocoa. Set aside. Heat 4 tablespoons butter, brown sugar, salt, and 1/2 cup of half and half in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until bubbles occur around the edges. About 4-8 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently until the mixture thickens and turns golden brown about 8-10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add 4 pieces of butter, stir well then add the remaining half and half with the other ingredients. Add the chopped chocolate and vanilla, then stir until smooth. Slowly whisk in the cocoa/powder sugar until incorporated. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Then refrigerate for 30-40 minutes until frosting reaches desired consistency.


Place 1 layer of cake on a platter, spread a cup of frosting over the surface. Add second layer and the frost the rest of the cake. Can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Serve and enjoy. 

What do you think? Doesn't this cake look fabulous? I hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Connie's PMS Brownies

A few weeks ago I shared a recipe from Extreme Brownies my new favorite cookbook. I have been going from cover to cover baking each and every recipe. These "PMS" brownies are another rich, chewy, chocolaty brownie that I have made and shared several times now, they are quite popular in my house and will be in yours too I believe. 

Connie’s “PMS” Brownie

3 sticks unsalted butter

2 cups,60% bittersweet chocolate chips

6 large eggs, at room temperature

3 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups cake flour

1 cup and 2 tablespoons  Dutch-processed unsweetened 

     cocoa powder

Adjust the rack to the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 F.  Prepare a 9 x 13 inch  baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil, spray foil with cooking spray or grease with vegetable shortening

Cut the butter into 1- inch chunks. In a small, heavy saucepan, melt the butter pieces over low heat; add the chocolate chips. Stir with a small whisk until combined and the chocolate is melted and smooth. Turn off the heat but leave the saucepan on the burner until ready to use.

Using a whisk, lightly beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Place the sugar and salt in a separate small mixing bowl, then whisk into eggs just until incorporated. Briefly whisk the melted chocolate mixture, then gradually whisk into the egg mixture until just combined, whisk in the vanilla.

Place the flour and cocoa powder in a small mixing bowl; whisk to combine. Sift through a strainer directly into the batter; stir into mixture with a spatula until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 34 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let cool at room temperature for at least 15 minutes, then refrigerate the pan for 7 or 8 hours, or overnight. 

Remove brownies from the pan then peel off and discard the foil. Place the slab of brownies on a cutting board. Cut brownies with a sharp knife that as been heated in hot water. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Chocolate for Breakfast

Just curious? Do you ever eat chocolate for breakfast? Aside from chocolate cake, or leftover brownies I mean chocolate cereal, pancakes, or even chocolate rice?

You maybe too young but I can remember as a child and I am now 48, my grandmother having chocolate rice for breakfast every morning! I don't know that she had a recipe for this heavenly concoction but as a child it seemed like a delicious and healthy morning treat.

What is your favorite chocolate breakfast?

Goodbye Summer Hello Fall

Hello Fall!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Beatty's Chocolate Cake by Ina Garten

I am a huge fan of the Barefoot Contessa otherwise known as Ina Garten and in fact bake from her books a lot.  I have scrolled through the pages often and have seen a fabulous chocolate cake with shiny chocolate that looks delectable but for whatever reason have never made it, until today! And I am so happy that I did because this cake is light, moist, sweet, and has a rich chocolate flavor.

Beatty's Chocolate Cake

13/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup butter milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare two 8 inch round baking pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, then spray with baking spray or butter and flour.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until combined.

In a separate bowl add eggs, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla, mix to combine. With the mixer on low speed slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With the mixer still on low, add the coffee until just combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a spatula.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, the. Turn out onto wore rack, remove parchment and cool completely.

Chocolate Frosting

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, Not chocolate chips
2 sticks of unsalted  butter, softened
1 large egg yolk at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
11/4 sifted powdered sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee dissolved in 2 teaspoons hot water

Chop the chocolate and place in a bowl over simmering water. Stir until just melted the set aside to cool to rom temperature.

In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment beat the butter until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eg yolk and the vanilla and beat an additional 3 minutes. Turntable he mixer on low and add the powdered sugar then beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy. Turn mixer to low speed and add the coffee and the melted chocolate, mix until just blended. Don't whip. Spared the frosting on the cooled cake.

Note: The egg yolk makes the frosting shiny, you can omit it and just whip the frosting a bit more. Also, I used 2 9" square pans although the recipe calls for round. I cut one in half and made this cake.

I hope that you try this fabulous cake! Have a great day.

Linking to:
Rooted in Thyme
Coastal Charm
Inspiration Monday
Savvy Souther Style
Katherine's Corner-Thursday
Cedar Hill Farmhouse

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Choctal Ice Cream Review

Did you know that ice cream is the preferred dessert of most people? Aparantly in a recent poll 40% of the participants said they would choose ice cream over cake, cookies, brownies and more. I have to be honest I was a little surprised by that. But I have to tell you that if they were eating any of the rich, decadent  ice cream from Choctal than I can see why.

Choctal if you are not familiar is "the new kid on the block" as far as premium ice cream is concerned. Currently, they make vanilla and chocolate ice cream and thats it! What makes their ice cream not only unique but special, is that they make four kinds of vanilla and four kinds of chocolate and each one is a single-origin ice cream. Meaning that a single plant from a single region is used in each different ice cream, a single variety of cocoa or vanilla bean used is in each flavor.

Now that might sound like a marketing ploy, chocolate is chocolate right? I am here to tell you that all chocolate is not created equal nor does it taste the same. The cocoa beans from each area taste different because of the soil, the climate, etc. Just like wine or coffee. In the case of Chocotal ice cream, each kind is unique, from the color to the texture and of course in the taste.

The four varieties of chocolate are, Coasta Rican Chocolate, Ghana Chocolate, Dominican Chocolate, and Kalimantan Chocolate and the tastes are as different as night and day.

For instance in the Costa Rican has hints of coffee, sweet buttery caramel and chocolate, where as the     Ghana is the lightest in color and more milk chocolate like, it is light, fruity and refreshing. The Kalimantan which is the darkest of the four has a hint of caramel and a bit of a smokey taste. The Dominican is my absolute favorite because it is like eating a spicy hot chocolate, it has hints of coffee, cloves, nutmeg and licorice all rolled into one dark ice cream. I think it is the perfect flavor for Fall!

Choctal is available at 200 stores across the U. S. including Whole Foods and Bristol Farms. Check their website for more locations or purchase directly from their web-page HERE.

NOTE: I also tasted all four flavors of the vanilla and they are all delicious!

Disclosure: I was supplied with samples of Choctal ice cream to try and review. I received no compensation in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.