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I am a day late, a dollar short, and I have no excuses.
I had originally planned to put up the surprisingly simple and amazingly delicious Vodka Pasta I made for my husband when he got home from work Friday but alas I forgot my camera in West Virginia (the problem with driving back and forth every weekend - whatever you need is always in the other state.) Oh well that just means I’ll have to make more! What a difficult life I have.
So today we are having pink sugar overload. Actually this is a really good recipe for this Spring weekend. Another find by my little sister I was originally a little put off by the aggressive Pink of it but one bit converted me. It is like the ubiquitous Christmas chocolate covered cherries - only with out the gooey middle to get on your hands and clothing.
Chocolate Covered Cherry Fudge
From Shugary Sweets
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt
1 tsp cherry flavored gelatin (I just bought a cherry jello pack and took it out of that - but what can one do with the leftovers?)
2 1/2 cup white chocolate
7 oz jar of marshmallow cream/fluff
1/2 cup dried cherries
10 oz dark chocolate, melted
In a large sauce pan melt the butter and sugar with the cream and a pinch of salt over medium heat.
Once it comes to a full boil add in the cherry gelatin and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
In a separate mixing bowl combine the white chocolate and marshmallow cream.
After you have cooked the cream/gelatin mixture for the full 5 minutes, pour it over the chocolate/marshmallow cream mixture.
Beat until smooth and all the chocolate is melted.
Fold in the dried cherries. And really, it goes without saying that I consider the 1/2 cup more of a guideline than a hard rule. Dried cherries are delicious!
Line a 9 in square pan with parchment paper - or you know, aluminum foil because that is all you have on hand - and grease the heck out of that thing. Pour the fudge mixture into the pan and place it in the fridge to begin to set up.
After about 30 minutes melt your chocolate. (In a microwave safe bowl or a double boiler. Whatever floats your boat.)
Carefully pour the melted chocolate over the barely set fudge and spread to the edge in as nice and even a layer as you can.
(I messed this part up and just poured the chocolate over the fudge as soon as I put it in the pan without chilling at all. It was a mess let me tell you. Don’t do as I do. Be patient. It will work better for you.)
Chill the fudge for an additional 3 hours or, better (but again that patience thing) let it set overnight.
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Everyone is talking about some football game or something today but do you wanna know what big day I am waiting for? Tuesday, February 5th: World Nutella Day!!!
I first came across Nutella when I was in Corciano, Italy in the fall of 2003. I ate it on strawberries, I ate it on toast, I ate it on bananas, I ate it on digestive biscuits, I even ate it on Melba toast. My roommates and I went through a lot of Nutella. A lot.
And I am still eating it. Often. On toast, on fruit, baked into brownies, Nutella is a staple in my pantry.
My favorite way to eat it? Dip in a grape. The sweet/ tart chocolaty combination is perfect.
My husband’s favorite is on a banana. Usually in sandwich form.
Though I have a tendency to find this too sweet, he swears by it.
My newest favorite creation with Nutella and fruit is to make a Reese’s banana. Take peanut butter and liberally spread on the top of the banana. Then swirl a strip of Nutella into the peanut butter.
But possibly my favorite new recipe is from Wandering Chopsticks:
Mexican Nutella Hot Chocolate
For one cup you will need:
1 cup of milk
1.5 tbsp Nutella
2 pinches of cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch cayenne pepper
Feel free to multiply by as many cups as you feel you need to make.
In a saucepan, heat the milk on low. Add in the Nutella and stir until completely melted.
Add in the spices and stir until well combined. Taste and adjust spice or Nutella as necessary.
If you want a frothy top (and to avoid that unfortunate scum which can develop), beat briskly with a whisk for about a minute. Then pour into a mug and enjoy.
For a more adult hot chocolate, add a shot or two of Bailey’s Irish Cream. The hazelnut in the Nutella plays well with the Bailey’s flavor and it makes it super-creamy.
Either way, this is a great, easy hot chocolate for cold, cold nights.
And be sure to celebrate World Nutella Day on Tuesday by checking out even more Nutella goodness! How can I do that you ask? Well you can Go to the official website, or check out the pages of the creators!
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Growing up, when it would be my mother’s turn to pick a cake, she would always go for either strawberry with chocolate icing, or orange with chocolate icing. So I knew I had to make this cake for her. I just needed a good reason.
And the reason finally came. My mother has been selected to be the new District Superintendent of the Northern District of the West Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Got all that? Yeah, it’s a lot. But this is a big promotion and she is gonna be really good at it. She just never really wanted the job, because she doesn’t have the political/ambitious drive. But I think that is part of why she will be so good at it.
Nevertheless, this cake became her Congratulations/I’m So Sorry cake.
And the cake is good. Really good. Moist days later and super orangey and delicious. If you have never had an olive oil cake, it is really worth a try. The texture has a bigger crumb than a traditional American cake, but it is really good and, though time consuming, fairly simple and straightforward to make.
Orange Olive Oil Cake
For the cake:
2 medium oranges
2 1/3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp orange blossom water**
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fresh orange juice
For the Frosting
5 oz unsweetened chocolate
8 tbsp butter
1 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
** Orange Blossom water…I couldn’t find any. I hear you can get it at Whole Foods but I do not have a Whole Foods handy. And Amazon has it-but not for AmazonPrime or for Super Saver shipping, and the shipping is more than the cost of the product. So I fudged it, by substituting more fresh orange juice or the liquid I cooked the oranges in. I note both the original and the changes in case you can get your hands on some.
Bring about 6 cups of water to a boil on your stove top. Trim about 1/2 inch from the tops and bottoms of each orange. Once the water is at a rolling boil, submerge the oranges and cook for about a minute. Drain and discard the water, then repeat the boiling, cooking, and draining two more times (for a total of three blanches).
Put the blanched oranges, 1 cup of sugar, and 4 cups of water back into the sauce pan and back onto the heat. Cook for 30 minutes while stirring frequently. Reserve the cooking liquid and let the oranges cool to room temperature.
Roughly chop the oranges into fourths or so; remove the seeds. Puree the oranges in a food processor or blender. Even the rinds.
Combine the remaining sugar, eggs, vanilla, 1 tsp orange blossom water (Here I used 1 tsp of the cooking liquid) and the pureed oranges in a large bowl. Mix well.
Add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir until combined.
Gradually add in the olive oil and mix well.
Pour the batter into a really-well-greased 8x 3 in cake pan (I used a springform pan and it worked perfectly).
Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes (mine needed to cook even longer-more like a hour-but watch it so that the edges don’t get too well done).
Mix 2 tbsp of cooking liquid, 1 tbsp orange blossom water, and 1 tbsp of orange juice. (Here to compensate for the missing orange blossom water I just did 2 tbsp cooking liquid and 2 tbsp orange juice.) Remove the cake from the oven, and poke it all over with a fork. Brush the liquid all over the cake and allow it to cool completely.
Now to make the frosting. Chop the chocolate and butter and set aside. Or, if you are like me, mix the 15 tbsp of cocoa powder and 5 tbsp of oil with the butter and set aside. (Helpful conversion: 1 1 oz. square of chocolate = 3 tbsp cocoa + 1 tbsp oil)
In a saucepan, bring the sugar and heavy cream to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6 minutes. Be careful that the saucepan does not overflow!
Pour the sugar/cream mixture over the chocolate/butter mixture and stir until completely melted. Stir in the vanilla extract and let it cool completely.
Whisk occasionally during cooling. I think of this more as a cross between frosting and ganache.
Frost that baby and let the feasting begin!
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I grew up a United Methodist preacher’s kid. And that means we moved around more than average. My mother also was a preacher’s kid and this recipe comes originally from her stories. When they would move, they would get a package of Dutch Cocoa Cookies. And really: only when they moved. Thus the cookies became Moving Here Cookies.
…though we don’t really keep to the “only having them when you move to a new place” rule. My grandmother (whose recipe this is) makes them every year for Thanksgiving. And these are my brother’s favorite cookies. He eats them no matter what: stale, old, burned, or perfect fresh from the oven.
Moving Here Cookies
This is actually one of only two recipes I have written out from my grandmother.
2 cups sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup butter
2 tsp vanilla
6 oz unsweetened chocolate (I used 18 tbsp unsweetened cocoa and 6 tbsp vegetable oil)
4 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Sugar to roll cookie balls in
Cream the sugars and butter together.
Add the vanilla,
and either melted chocolate or cocoa powder/oil. Mix well.
Stir in the baking soda, flour and salt.
Here the dough can be refrigerated for 1 - 2 hours, and it does help it come together, but I am an impatient soul and sometimes skip this step. Sorry, Grandma!
Roll dough into roughly 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll the balls into sugar and place about 3 inches apart on a greased cookies sheet. These will grow on you.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8 - 12 minutes. I usually find about 9 - 10 minutes is good in my oven, but check them on yours. These cookies, I have found, are a little easy to burn because of the dark color, but if you keep an eye on them and… hmm… well, don’t start reading your novel and forget to check until the timer has been going off for about 30 seconds because, well, you know, they could burn.
Cool the cookies, get a glass of milk, invite my brother over, and enjoy!
I love S’mores. When I was living in New Orleans we got a tiny grill, which we set out on our front porch to make hamburgers. Then, while the coals were still hot, we would get marshmallows, stick them on a fork, and roast them right then and there to make perfectly wonderful s’mores. (Soon my roommate got the S’more kit so we could move up from forks.)
Alas, now that I am home, we only have a huge propane grill which seems like too much work to fire up just because I am craving a S’more at 3 in the afternoon. I have made S’mores in the microwave before (as you may remember) but that never really works out as well as I would like…the graham cracker gets too weird in the microwave. My sister found this easy and quick in-oven recipe. It is great in that you can now have S’mores when there is 6 ft of snow outside, and you can make many at once. I’m thinking S’more party!
Oven Baked S’mores
wipes to clean up the inevitable marshmallow sticky
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Line a cookie sheet with either parchment paper or aluminum foil (I never seem to have parchment paper on hand when I want it).
Place a graham cracker square and a marshmallow on the cookie sheet, then bake for 5 minutes until the marshmallow is light golden brown on the edges.
Now this is the really hard part: when the marshmallows are done you need to let them sit for a good minute. I know. It is gonna smell amazing and they are gonna be right there…but if you don’t let them sit, the chocolate will go instantly to a liquid state and the mess will be dramatic. Believe me. I know. I am not very patient either when it comes to these things.
After you have let the marshmallows cool a little bit, cover with your desired amount ofchocolate.
(My desired amount of chocolate is 6 squares of a Hershey Bar. Maybe people think this is too much…I think they are just skimpy with their chocolate.)
Top everything with the other graham cracker half.
Use wipes to get marshmallow sticky as needed.
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What…you don’t think of fudge when you think of the 4th of July? Ok, I have never made fudge for the 4th of July before but it somehow seems perfect. I mean, first, when is fudge ever not a good idea? And second, fudge is very portable, so it would be great to take with you when you go out to wait for the fireworks; you know, sitting in the grass, getting a neck crick from looking up so much, trying not to get grass in the fudge… perfect!
(from the Fantasy Fudge recipe on back on the Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Cream jar)
3 cups sugar
3/4 cups butter (1and 1/2 sticks)
1 can (5oz) evaporated milk
1 12-oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 jar (7oz) marshmallow creme
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1 tsp vanilla
Line a 9-inch square pan with foil. Set aside.
Bring sugar, butter, and evaporated milk to full rolling boil in a large saucepan on medium heat while stirring constantly.
Boil until the mixture reaches 235 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer (about 4 minutes). Keep stirring… and stirring… and stirring.
When it reaches 235 degrees, remove from heat and add the chocolate chips and marshmallow cream.
Stir until melted. Stir in the nuts (if you are using) and vanilla.
Pour the fudge into a pan and quickly cover the top with sprinkles. Gently, using the back of a spoon or spatula, press down to anchor the sprinkles into the fudge.
Allow to cool completely.
Cut into squares and consume.
Happy 4th of July!
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My birthday was a while ago… 21 days ago to be exact. But I was in New Orleans deeply involved in the exams/graduation/packing-to-move plans and didn’t get a cake or anything, so my mom promised, when I got home, to make me one of my favorite desserts of all time: Brownie Sachertorte
Plus there is the added amusement of talking about a good type of torte. Instead of assault, kidnapping, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, this is chocolate and butter and raspberry!
3oz unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 cup shortening
3 eggs - beaten!
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1/3 cup raspberry jam (ish)
1 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
For the brownies: Melt chocolate and and shortening on the stove top. Allow to cool.
Add eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt.
Blend in the flour.
Stir just until combined.
Bake in greased 8-in square pan at 325 degrees for 40 min.
Spoon jam onto the hot brownies. Let it cool completely.
For the glaze: melt the chocolate and butter together. Blend in the corn syrup, milk, and vanilla. Beat in the powdered sugar, being careful to get out all the lumps.
Gently spread the glaze over the jam, trying your best not to incorporate the two but leaving two separate layers.
Cut into squares and enjoy!!!
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Its exam time. And I, being my usual graceful, completely not-klutzy and not-distracted self, shut two of my fingers in my friend’s car door. They aren’t broken. The doctor said it would have been an easier heal if they had been broken. Sigh. Very, very me.
So I need brownies. Not just any brownies but amazing, decedent, death by chocolate brownies.
There are hundreds of brownie recipes and variations out there. My basic go-to brownie recipe is the Fudgey Brownies from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (though how new a book that says it has been the #1 cookbook in America since 1930 on the cover can really be is a matter for debate). I have been making these brownies for years and really, as long as you don’t overcook them, they can’t go wrong no matter what you decide to add in or do to them.
The brownies I made this week are a great case in point.
Best Ever Dark Chocolate Brownies
1/2 cup butter (salted)
2 ounce squares of unsweetened chocolate
3 tbsp Hershey’s Special Dark Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 tbsp oil
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp good vanilla
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
9 - 12 oz chopped dark chocolate
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8x2 inch baking pan and set aside.
In a saucepan melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and add in the cocoa powder and oil. Allow to cool - or if you are impatient like me, just stir it a whole bunch and then declare it cool enough when you can touch the bottom of the pan without hurting your hand (Note: this is not the recommended method and I am not responsible for any burns. I just don’t want to wait for my brownies any longer than I have to… but.. hmmm… more about that later).
Stir in sugar and the eggs one at a time. Stir like crazy after each addition. Add in the vanilla. You can mix the flour and baking soda together in a small bowl here (again, that is recommended) or hmm, just pour in the flour and stir—then when the flour is like 2/3rds of the way incorporated, add in the baking soda and stir until just mixed (washing the extra bowl is no fun).
Mix in your chopped chocolate. I highly and enthusiastically recommend using a Cadbury dark chocolate bar chopped up here! But if you don’t have one on hand and well, if you fingers hurt and you really don’t want to drive, you can use whatever you happen to have. I happened to have half a bag of Cadbury mini solid chocolate eggs left over from Easter. So that is what I used.
And you know what.. it kinda tastes like the best M&M you have ever had and I like it.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. I often have to go 35 minutes but be sure to check at 30. You don’t want to over-bake these. All the other added chocolate makes the toothpick method hard to determine if they are done, so instead I just look to see if it’s set and has a just-beginning-to-crack top. And the house will smell heavenly too.. that is a helpful clue.
Allow to cool and eat.. or hmm… (as you can see from the picture), just barely allow to cool and eat a piece while the brownies are still warm and the chocolate is all melty and delicious.
Just make sure you have lots of milk or tea on hand!
Some of you may have noticed the absolute lack of recipes containing chocolate in these past few weeks. Well, I gave up chocolate for Lent. And it got harder as the weeks went past. Let me just say it was a very happy Cadbury-filled Easter for me.
This week is less of a recipe than an enthusiastic suggestion. Now I know most people, when contemplating a s’more, don’t think: ‘hmmm this really needs more sugar’. But that is where most people go wrong. For you see, it is perfectly, wonderfully, sugar-coma-inducing-ly acceptable to replace the humble marshmallow with one of the ubiquitous brightly colored Peeps lying around this time of year.
Just do it! Your inner five-year-old will be delighted.
So we haven’t cleaned our grill yet. This is the microwave version; feel free to pop a Peep on a stick and hoist it over a flame if you have that option available to you. If you are like me and sticking with the after-school favorite of microwaving your Peeps just… hmmm… don’t over-microwave. Well, do - - - microwaving Peeps is great fun and everyone should do it once in their lives; just don’t do it when you have the chocolate and graham cracker present. Or it would be a waste of perfectly good chocolate and graham cracker.
Put a graham cracker square on a microwave-safe plate of some kind, top that with chocolate.
We use Hershey’s cause that is how it is done. Place a Peep on top of that and zap it in the microwave until things get melty/gooey respectively.
For me it was about 15 seconds but your time may vary. You want enough time for the peep to expand and get gooey but not so much that it becomes inedible.
Top with another graham cracker square and eat. Then repeat. Until the Peep box is empty and we’re all bouncing off the walls. Yea for sugar!
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Sunday, Feb. 5th, is World Nutella Day. Nutella is finally getting popular and I am so happy about it! If you haven’t tried it you should; it is gooey and chocolatey and tasty on everything from grapes to pretzels to bananas and crepes. (If you like crepes which I don’t… but I wish I did. There is a lot of angst there. Don’t ask.)
Back to Nutella. It is delicious. I first ate it in Italy and was hooked. Then add something as delicious as brownies made with Nutella and make simple, easy 4 (ok, I make it 5) ingredient brownie bites and I am completely gonna try them. And they are delicious!
Nutella Brownie Bites
Adapted from Blissfully Delicious
1/2 cup Nutella
1 large egg
1 tsp cocoa powder
5 tbsp flour
1 handful chocolate chips
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a mini muffin pan (I haven’t tried just Pam-ing the heck out of the pan but that would probably work too. Just don’t blame me if your muffins stick. I haven’t tried it.)
Whisk the Nutella and egg together until creamy (yes it looks like it is just gonna gloup up in the whisk… but that won’t happen. Just keep whisking!)
Add in the cocoa powder and the flour. Blend well. Then fold in a handful of chocolate chips, just a handful; we want to gild the lily not kill it haha.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, 3/4 of the way full and bake 11 - 12 minutes.
Don’t over-bake. The toothpick will have wet, gooey crumbs and you might hit a chocolate chip so that really doesn’t work so great. Just don’t over-bake. (I did the first time I made them… still tasty but not… not the same.)
Allow to cool a little and then devour!
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