Category: Dessert

Sweet Week

I was a Baking Fool this past weekend (it’s an official title, of sorts). I needed some new lunchbox treats. That’s always a fun time for me, finding something new to bake. I chose two recipes that I’d had tucked away for some time – Fairy Bites (tiny, little, sprinkle-y shortbread squares) and Campfire Cookies (all the yummy components of s’mores).

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I’ve had these on my radar for a while and I was happy to finally be able to make them. They were so simple and easy to make and came out so cute.

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Lightly almond and super buttery, these cookies are sure to please almost everyone (as long as “everyone” likes lightly almond and super buttery and cookies, and if you don’t, I’m not sure I want to know you)!

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They are so adorably tiny, which makes them perfect for little hands. Or big hands, like mine. Either one.

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I probably definitely should have added more sprinkles.

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But, I am still very happy with the way they came out.  These are great lunchbox treats and would be so precious at a little tea party (which my boys would straight up annihilate, so I’ll be sticking with serving these in lunchboxes for them and eating directly from the cookie jar for me).

http://pinkpiccadillypastries.blogspot.com/2014/02/fairy-bites.html

Needing something with chocolate??

Me too. Always.

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I had also been wanting to make these Campfire Cookies for a long time. I LOVE s’mores. We have a life-long love affair, me and s’mores. And when the opportunity arises to eat them deconstructed or reconstructed, I’m in.

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These hearty cookies are made with both flour and graham cracker crumbs.

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They are chock full of Hershey’s milk chocolate and mini marshmallows.

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They were so ooey and gooey and melty, fresh out of the oven.

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I highly recommend these.

http://www.kevinandamanda.com/recipes/dessert/gooey-smores-cookies.html#_a5y_p=1384098

And continuing with the “sweet” theme, for Tuesday’s lunch…

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I packed a heart-shaped ham, cheese, and mayo sandwich, colby jack cheese, assorted raisins (LOVE Trader Joe’s raisins), strawberries, blueberries, and one Campfire Cookie.

Enjoy!

Pretty on the Outside

Upon reading this title, you may think this post has to do with something deep, profound, even. And I can get like that. I’m a deep thinker, that’s for sure. But this isn’t about anything like that. It’s about food. That’s pretty. On the outside. And not so much on the inside. Well, technically, the inside was pretty, too, but it didn’t taste pretty. The only way “pretty” can be used to describe this dessert was “pretty bad”, to be honest. So bad, that I am not even going to share the recipe with you. But I love how it looked, so I am going to share that. Just the looks. The pretty outside.

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Before this, I had never made a jelly-roll cake before. I had always wanted to. And it was a fun one to make. I am going to keep making them until I get one right. You know, for the sake of research. So, stayed tuned for that. “That” being future successful jelly-roll cakes (fingers crossed).

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See how pretty this came out? Such a tragedy about the taste. Despite following this particular recipe exactly, it came out very eggy. Not in a good way. There is a time and a place for eggs, and a beautiful jelly-roll cake is not one of those times, despite what you may have heard. Or not heard, in this cake (my fingers wanted to type “cake” and not “case”, and so how can I deny them that? leaving it.).

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Luckily, I had made it to take to a girls’ night in and it was eaten by friends, very polite friends, who told me it was good even if it did taste eggy. Bless. Bless them. Bless me. Bless my egg roll. And bless my kids, who thought it was great (but, also, my two year old licks floors and chair seats, so his tastes can’t really be complimented).

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So, see? Not everything that looks like a pretty little package on the outside has a matching inside. That’s as deep as I can go with this.

Not everyone is ready for this jelly.

Kristin

Cookies for Santa (and Mrs. Claus!)

Christmas is almost here! Do you know what you’ll be putting out for Santa to enjoy? I’ve got two very easy recipe for you, should you need them (and don’t we all need extra cookies recipes in our repertoire?).

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The first cookie could not be any easier! I’m sure you’ve tried these at least once in your life. They are no-bake chocolate, oatmeal, and peanut butter cookies. The best of everything!

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

2 C sugar

4 T cocoa (using dark cocoa really changes the flavor and makes them so decadent!)

1/2 C butter (1 stick)

1/2 C milk (I used coconut milk)

1 C peanut butter

1 T vanilla

3 C oatmeal

Bring sugar, cocoa, butter, and milk to a boil. Let it boil for about 1 minute. Add peanut butter, vanilla, and oatmeal. Drop spoonfuls onto a prepared sheet pan (waxed paper or Silpat). Let them cool and harden (you can do this in the refrigerator).

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They are as equally good freshly plopped onto the pan…

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…as they are from the refrigerator or freezer.

The second cookie is not as easy, because it is a baked cookie, but is equally delicious and completely customizable.

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They are a basic brown sugar cookie with chocolate chips, M&M’s, and sprinkles. All in Christmas colors! I think Santa will be back for seconds (if you ask me, and I would know, wink wink).

Santa’s Chocolate Chip, M&M’s, and Sprinkle Cookies

Recipe adapted from: “Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie”, www.dinnersdishesanddesserts.com

3/4 C softened butter

3/4 C brown sugar

1/4 C sugar

1 egg

2 t vanilla

1 T vanilla bean paste

2 C flour

2 t cornstarch

1 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

1 C chocolate chips

3/4 C M&M’s (I picked out the red and green ones)

1/4 C sprinkles (I used Christmas colors)

Cream butter and both sugars together, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla, and vanilla bean paste. Add flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Mix until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, M&M’s, and sprinkles.

Chill the dough for 30 minutes. I covered it, and left it in the fridge overnight. I had to let it thaw a bit before baking. Chilling the dough makes for a thicker cookie.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Scoop out dough. I rolled mine into balls. Bake for 9-10 minutes or until golden brown. Let them cool on the sheet pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

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These were just a really fun take on the classic chocolate chip cookie, which goes over well with almost everyone I know. And to be honest, I’m not sure I want to know you if a chocolate chip cookie doesn’t go over well with you. #nooffense #moreforme

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My boys loved helping with these, especially knowing that “Santa” would be enjoying them (and indeed SHE will). They dumped in all the chocolate and sprinkles.

Enjoy! Only a few days left to get your baking on!

Kristin (aka Mrs. Claus, aka Cookie Queen)

Christmas Sugar Cookies (and decorating with my boys!)

I made sugar cookies with my boys yesterday. They’re finally at the age where they can do it “properly” and enjoy it. Did I say “they”? I meant that my four and a half year old can do that. My two year old ate every sprinkle that crossed his path. And that was a lot of sprinkles. Enough to dye his mouth green for the duration of the day.

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I only needed about 30 cookies for my church group ladies and this recipe made more than that. I gave each boy their own little sheet of dough, pan, and apron, and set up the cookie cutters and sprinkles.

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Bigs sort of had an accident with the green sugar. Instead of opening the sprinkle cap, he unscrewed and dumped. Oops.

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I think he’d call this a “happy” accident. It all worked out. They had so much fun and their little cookies were so cute.

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They enjoyed eating them with big glasses of (coconut) milk.

While their cookies were baking, I got to work on mine.

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I wanted to do simple cookies this year. I used a star, Christmas tree, and sleigh cutters, and made thumbprints.

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I decorated them using my gold and silver sugars…

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…green sugars, and Christmas colored nonpareils.

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I have no idea what this thumbprint cookie is all about. I just went with it. If you squint, it could be a wreath-like thing.

Whatever, it’s a cookie.

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I love the way they came out! And, as equally important, they were delicious! I think my church gals will really enjoy them.

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These cookies are sturdy, but not overly-crunchy, and filled with vanilla and almond flavors. I added vanilla bean paste to amp up the vanilla flavor. I love seeing black speckles of vanilla beans in desserts.

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To me, they taste of Christmas!

Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookies

Adapted from: Perfect Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs, lovegrowswild.com

  • 1 C unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1¼ C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ t vanilla extract
  • 1 T vanilla bean paste
  • ½ t almond extract
  • 3 C of flour
  • 1½ t baking powder
  • ¼ t salt
  • colored sugars and nonpareils
  • cookie icing, if desired
  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in egg, vanilla extract, almond extract, and vanilla bean paste and mix until combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until completely combined.
  3. Roll the dough between 2 sheets of parchment or wax paper and place on a baking sheet in the refrigerator. Chill for about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Cut dough into shapes with cookie cutters and transfer to a baking sheet. I prepared my baking sheets with parchment paper. Sprinkle with colored sugars and nonpareils and bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to a baking rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 40-50 cookies, depending on your cutter size.

Enjoy!

Kristin

Snowman Cupcakes

What a sweet week it’s been! And it’s not over yet. I’ve got more baking to do. So far this week, I’ve made Christmas Crack Candy, Christmas Chocolate Cake, Christmas Tree Brownies, and lastly, for now, Snowman Cupcakes!

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I took the semi-homemade route, again, this time. So, these were pretty easy. Sort of. I’ll get to that. But if you plan to make them, they will be easy.

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Aren’t they darling? I was in charge of dessert for my Bigs’ class’ birthday party for Jesus today. I thought about going the Jesus/religious symbol route when it came to decorating, but I was nervous about the kids having to eat Baby Jesus. It could go all kinds of wrong. I’ve seen some cute Jesus decorations, but knowing me, I’d make a disaster out of it.

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So, I decided on snowmen.

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I like the way they came out. I really enjoyed making these.

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And just like real snowmen, they each have their own little personalities*.

*decorating inconsistencies

These cheerful cupcakes were delicate and had a soft crumb, were rich in chocolate flavor (thanks boxed mix!), and covered in a delicious, fluffy, marshmallow-y frosting. The crushed peppermint added a refreshing, festive flavor. These were a hit!

Snowman Cupcakes

1 box of your favorite cake mix (or one batch of homemade) – I used chocolate

ingredients used to make cupcakes

silver cupcake wrappers (other Christmassy ones would be cute too)

1 batch of 7 Minute Frosting (recipe below)

candy canes, crushed (I crushed up 12, but didn’t need it all)

Wilton Icing Decorations, snowman variety

Follow the directions on your cake mix box and bake cupcakes, as directed. Let them cool completely. You can expedite this process by placing the cupcakes in the freezer or refrigerator.

While those are cooling, make your 7 Minute Frosting (recipe, directions, and a short story below). I iced the cupcakes using a swirled effect, to make them look peppermint-y. If you want to do that, you’ll need to paint a stripe of food coloring (I used Americolor Red gel) on the inside of your icing bag, before filling it with the frosting.

Once the cupcakes were iced with the swirled frosting, I sprinkled them with the crushed candy canes, and placed one of the Wilton Icing Decorations on top.

I ended up making the frosting twice.

7 Minute Frosting – Recipe #1

Source: Paula Deen, Food Network.com

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1 tablespoon white corn syrup (I used white corn syrup)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
2 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. (If this happens, it could cause your frosting to become grainy). Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla.
I have made this dozens of times before, and it’s always turned out beautifully, but ran into a problem this time. I used the white corn syrup, while I usually use the cream of tartar. I had both on hand, so I’m not sure why I chose the syrup. Anyways, it didn’t set up and the sugar didn’t fully melt. It was a grainy, soupy mess. And I know that my boiling water wasn’t touching the bottom of the glass bowl on my double boiler. Ohhhh wellllll.
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I tried a different recipe for the second batch. I actually used a recipe I hadn’t used before and it worked out perfectly.
Fluffy White Frosting – Recipe #2
Source: allrecipes.com
1 C white sugar
1/3 C water
1/4 t cream of tartar
2 egg whites
1 t vanilla extract

In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, water and cream of tartar. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbly.

 

In a medium mixing bowl, whip the egg whites and vanilla to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar mixture while whipping constantly until stiff peaks form, about 7 to 10 minutes.
I’m sure that either one you choose will work out fine. I’d stick with the cream of tartar though. That one always works for me. #nowiknow #lessonlearned #themoreyouknow
Since I only needed a dozen cupcakes, I had a little fun with my leftover batter.
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I baked a mini chocolate bundt cake. Then, I filled the hole with the red swirled marshmallow frosting (the good batch), sprinkled crushed peppermints on top, took a few pictures of it, then ate it, off of my “Cookies for Santa” plate. It was good. I had to test my product before it left my kitchen. Bakers and Chefs, you know this. It’s an important part of the process. I did this for you.
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I happen to know that Santa loves his (or her) cookies, but would not turn down this sweet little bundt cake, if you left it out for him (or her).
Blessings!
Kristin

Christmas Tree Brownies

As you may (or may not) know, I’ve been a baking fool this week (in my defense, a “fool” isn’t all bad! for you non-Anglophiles out there, it’s also an English dessert made from a mixture of pureed fruit that has been folded into whipped cream.). I’ve made something each day and I’m so excited about these next two (SUPER easy!) recipes that I’m going to be sharing with you all!

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Today’s recipe is not only stupidly easy, but adorable. It might be my favorite. It’s SO cute. I also love that this recipe can be changed around, so easily, for any kind of color scheme you want, or even just to use the decorating supplies you have on hand (I happen to be a decorating hoarder).

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Christmas Tree Brownies

1 box of brownie mix (or one batch of your favorite homemade recipe)

1 packet of green cookie decorating icing

1 packet of white Wilton Candy Melts (mine had sprinkles in them, a bonus for these!)

various sprinkles (I used multi colored nonpareils and star shaped sprinkles)

1 13×9 pan

Christmas tree shaped cookie cutter

Prepare your brownie mix as directed and pour into a greased 13×9 pan. Bake as directed. I baked for a little bit less time because my pan was very shallow. Let it cool completely, once baked.

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Place waxed paper on your counter top, under your cooling rack. Use your cookie cutter to cut out the desired amount of trees. Mine made 11 trees, with lots of scraps (you know, for snacking or whatever). Place on top of the cooling rack. Use your green cookie icing to make stripes on your trees. There is no wrong way to do this! Repeat with your Candy Melts (I melted mine in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl, using 30 second increments, until fully melted). The Candy Melts look like fresh-fallen snow on these beautiful trees. Add your sprinkles in any pattern (or none at all!) that you wish. When I added the star atop the tree, I first added a small dollop of the green icing, to act as glue.

Place in the fridge and package up, if desired.

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These came out SO cute and I think my Bigs’ classmates will really enjoy them.

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I hope you give these a try! Enjoy!

Kristin

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…cake!

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So, I told you I made cake. Remember that? I’m sure you do. I mean, if you told me that you made a cake, I would not forget. Cake isn’t a flippant thought in my mind. Anywhoooo…

Isn’t this a sight to behold? A thing of beauty? A real looker? I used one of my two go-to chocolate cake recipes, this one being the one-bowl selection. To decorate, I chopped up those magical Ferrero Rocher candies (I used a pack of twelve, four each of three flavors, for this 9×13 sized cake). I distributed those around the edge of this beast and sprinkled some Christmas nonpareils on top.

wpid-20141209_134643.jpgSure, my butter wasn’t fully softened and left little chunks in the frosting. Can’t win them all. But hey, when were chunks of rich, creamy butter a bad thing, in a rich, creamy chocolate frosting? Maybe you CAN win them all.

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This cake is incredibly moist and the frosting equally smooth. It’s a winning combo, especially with the addition of Ferrero Rocher chocolates. I realize this sounds like a sponsored ad, but it isn’t. Although, Ferrero Rocher, if you’re listening, I’m up for sponsorship. #pleasesponsorme #anyone #anyone? My Bible study ladies seemed to really enjoy it. I know I did!

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I mean, lookee.

Here’s the original recipe:

http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2013/06/one-bowl-chocolate-cake-made-from-scratch.html

And the frosting recipe:

http://myrecipemagic.com/recipe/recipedetail/moms-chocolate-frosting-the-best-frosting-recipe

I also made lunches for my boys (obvi).

For my Bigs:

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It’s a wreath-shaped PB&J and a teeny little gingerbread-shaped PB&J. I also packed colby jack cheese, a few pretzels, half a mandarin orange, a few apple slices, and some of that freaking good cake. I promised my Bigs that I’d try to save him a piece. He’ll be so happy to have it. I also sprinkled on a few red, green, and white chocolate covered sunflower seeds just because. Unfortunately, he got sick in the middle of the night, so he’ll be enjoying this from home today. (if you think of it, say a little prayer for his recovery? he’s got a Christmas performance at school tomorrow that I know he’d really be sad to miss being a part of – thank you!)

And for my Smalls:

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For him, I packed a PB&J in the shaped of a little tree and a little gingerbread boy (which I’ve ruined with a big ol’ face, but he won’t notice), colby jack cheese, apple slices, half a mandarin orange, honey-roasted peanuts, and a few of the chocolate covered sunflower seeds for his little dessert.

Many blessings to you!

Kristin

Candy & Gingerbread & Sprinkles, oh my!

Sounds like the stuff my dreams are made of!

I’m not even remotely kidding.

This has been such a sweet week – literally! I made some candy yesterday and baked a cake today, all of which I’ll be sharing with you. And I’ve made some really sweet lunches for my Bigs.

In appreciation of my sons’ school’s staff (most of whom have become lovely friends to me), I made candy. Crack Candy, to be specific. Have you tried this stuff?! It’s SO good, that it’s addictive, like, you know, crack. Eeeek. It could also refer to the ingredients, which include crackers. That seems like a safer name. Anyways, I Christmas-ized this Crack Candy.

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I mean, really. Crunchy, crispy, salty crackers, enrobed in a homemade caramel sauce, baked until it’s soaked all the way through, and then covered in bittersweet chocolate. I can’t even. I mean, I can. But I resisted. Not that I wanted to. But I did. These are SO easy to make and they make such an impact. At least I hope they do. I doubled the recipe and added Christmas colored sprinkles.

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Christmas Crack CandyCooking spray
35 to 40 saltine crackers, or however many cover the bottom of your sheet pan evenly
1 C butter (2 sticks)
1 cup brown sugar
About 2 C bittersweet chocolate chips

1 t vanilla, optional
Sprinkles, optional (for me, it’s not optional!)
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line 1 large sheet pans with aluminum foil and liberally spray with nonstick spray. Place the Saltines in a single layer on the pan. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat. This is when you would add your vanilla.
Pour over your Saltines and place the pan(s) in the oven for 3-5 minutes. The caramel will be bubbling. Remove from the oven and pour on your chocolate chips. I placed it back into the oven for a few minutes to fully melt the chips, but you can just wait. Use a knife (or an offset spatula) to spread the chocolate. Add sprinkles, if desired.
Let the chocolate set up. You can place these pans in the freezer or fridge to expedite the process. Once fully cooled, break up the pieces. Store in an airtight container.
These make excellent gifts!
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I also made a sweet little lunch for my Bigs – gingerbread themed! Sadly, I didn’t have any actual gingerbread for him to eat. A true crime!
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Despite this little gingerbread man’s HUGE face, I think he turned out alright. Bigs won’t notice his wonkiness. It is peanut butter and Jif chocolate s’mores peanut butter (that’s how my family rolls – peanut butter on peanut butter sandwiches!) and I used my gold food-safe spray and Food Writers to add details. I did the same to make two little Christmas trees. I also packed pretzels, raisins, dried dates, apple slices, mandarin orange slices, and yogurt for dessert. I added a teeny bit of the homemade chocolate frosting (recipe upcoming), from the cake I made today, to the yogurt for some lovely cocoa flavor and added some gingerbread and holly berry sprinkles.
Blessings!
Kristin

Ice Cream Cone Cornucopias

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Boy, have I got a fun thing for you to try! If you’re looking for a sweet Thanksgiving treat for kids or even for place settings at the kid table (although I don’t know any adults who would turn this down), then you’ve come to the right place.

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I’m here to show you Ice Cream Cone Cornucopias! Filled! With popcorn! And M&M’s!!! I came across this idea on Pinterest when looking for Thanksgiving feast desserts for my Bigs’ VPK class. They looked super easy and I have a friend who has made them and she also said they were easy.

As oft happens in my kitchen adventures…

…(to me) easy they were not. The directions call for soaking the bottoms of sugar cones in warm water for 20 seconds, microwaving the cones for 20 seconds, and bending the bottoms around a pencil (or the like) for 20 seconds. Sounds easy enough, right? I was glad I purchased two packs (of 12 cones) even though I only needed 12. I ended up using every last one (I destroyed ate mucked up about 12). So. My recommendation to you, is to A) buy more than you need just in case and B) soak the cones for longer than 20 seconds (I’d say upwards of 45).

Or, maybe it will all work perfectly for you, as it’s supposed to. 🙂 I tend to muck things up a bit.

I had to let mine dry for a few hours, due to the massive bath they took during the earlier process. Once they were dried, they looked so cute. I wanted to fill them with popcorn, M&M’s, AND pretzels (a la Charlie Brown Thanksgiving), but I only had room for the popcorn and M&M’s. And I think it came out perfectly and the pretzels weren’t even needed. I hope the kids love them.

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Here is the original post, detailing the process:

http://thecraftpatch.blogspot.com/2011/11/thanksgiving-cornucopia-treats.html#.VG6ZjY-OOrA

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Blessings!

Kristin

Fluffy Speculoos Cookies with Fruit & Nuts

Have you started your Christmas cookie list yet? I haven’t either. But I made some cookies tonight that might end up on it! My sons’ school is having a Thanksgiving feast for the teachers tomorrow and my contribution is cookies. They don’t want anything I’d have to cook. It works out much better this way.

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I found a recipe on a food blog that I follow and tweaked it a little bit for the ingredients I had (incidentally, I didn’t have brown sugar on hand and had to make some from scratch), and also made some additions. These are so easy to whip together. They only use one bowl! Those are my favorite kinds of desserts. I hope you try them and love them.

Fluffy Speculoos Cookies with Fruit & Nuts

Recipe adapted from: Biscoff Cloud Cookies, Cookies and Cups

http://cookiesandcups.com/biscoff-cloud-cookies/

  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • ⅓ cup creamy Speculoos Spread (Trader Joe’s answer to Biscoff)
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup mixed nuts and fruit (I used cranberries, raisins, pistachios, and almonds)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Cream together the butter, Speculoos and both sugars for about 2 minutes with a stand or hand held mixer.
  4. Add in egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. Add in salt, cornstarch and cinnamon and mix until combined.
  6. Add in flour and mix on low, until combined.
  7. Add in your nuts and dried fruit mixture. Only stir until incorporated.
  8. Use your cookie scoop (or spoons) to drop onto prepared sheet. These cookies won’t spread.
  9. Bake 8 – 10 minutes, or until golden. Cool on cookie rack.

These are SO easy, so festive, and even more importantly, delicious. You can customize them for any holiday, as well. The Speculoos spread (or Biscoff) is filled with a buttery, almost caramelized flavor, complementing chocolate, dried fruit, or nuts.

Give them a try!

Blessings,

Kristin