Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Fudge

It is so fun to try different kinds of fudge - breaking out from the traditional "plain" chocolate is a risk worth taking! I've tried a few varieties over the years: mint chocolate, caramel chocolate, and gumdrop, but this cherry version will be one of my all time favorites, I suspect.

Dried cherries (one of the best inventions ever!) are suspended in a cherry flavored white chocolate base, and then the whole thing is covered with dark chocolate. These make a beautiful addition to any cookie tray, and would be just as appropriate for Valentine's day with the beautiful colors. (and chocolate!)

Find more great stuff at What's Cooking.

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Fudge

3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
pinch salt
1 Tbsp. cherry flavored gelatin2 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
7oz jar marshmallow creme
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
10oz dark chocolate, melted

In large saucepan, melt butter with sugar, cream and pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once boiling, add in cherry gelatin and let simmer for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes remove from heat. In mixing bowl, combine white chocolate chips and marshmallow cream. Pour hot mixture over this and beat with a whisk until smooth and creamy (and all chocolate is melted.) Fold in dried cherries.

Pour in a parchment paper lined 9-inch square pan. Pour melted dark chocolate over cherry fudge and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Recipe Source: Shugary Sweets

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ginger Nut Cookies

It's the cookie exchange for Secret Recipe Club! I was assigned to Claire K Creations, and found these delightful cookies, just in time for pre-Christmas cheer. Claire lives in Australia, and she's lucky enough to live in walking distance of a farmer's market. Here in snow covered Minnesota, I'd be happy to walk anywhere at this time of year! Anyway, I adapted her recipe slightly for American ingredients. These cookies have a really nice, light, ginger flavor. I have a molasses ginger cookie recipe that I love, and these ginger nut cookies are much more subdued, so it's nice to have a couple options when craving ginger!

Find even more great cookies below, and check out these fun link parties: Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Melt in Your Mouth.

Ginger Nut Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. molasses
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until smooth, creamy and fluffy. Add the molasses and egg and continue to beat until everything is just combined. Stir in the flour, baking soda, ginger and pumpkin pie spice by hand with a wooden spoon.

Use a tablespoon of dough at a time and roll it into a ball. Place the dough balls on parchment or silpat-lined baking sheets at least 1 inch apart. Flatten each dough ball slightly.

Bake the cookies at 350 for 15 minutes or until they start to turn golden. Leave them on the trays to firm for about 5 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mocha Chip Meringues

I like to try a few new cookie recipes each December, and these stand out as a favorite. I love meringue cookies, and these are made extra special by coffee flavoring and chocolate chips. Everyone will love these, but they are especially great if you have anyone in your family, or at your party, with gluten issues. No flour here! And no dairy either! Just all deliciousness. And they can be whipped up quite quickly, leaving you plenty of time to wrap presents, address Christmas cards, read Christmas stories or bake additional cookies!

Mocha Chip Meringues

3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. instant coffee, finely ground
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and cornstarch; set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt on medium speed until frothy. Beating constantly, add sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time; beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, 6 to 8 minutes total (scrape down the bowl halfway through). Add instant coffee and cocoa; beat until well blended. With a rubber spatula, fold in chocolate chips.

Drop batter by level tablespoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake at 300 until crisp, about 40 minutes. Cool completely on sheets, about 20 minutes.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart

Monday, December 8, 2014

Decadent Chocolate Mint Dessert

When I saw this recipe last year, I knew it would be the perfect dessert for Christmas. And I was right. It is SO good. Brownies studded with mint are topped with a creamy minty filling and it's all covered in VERY thick ganache. You can cut the pieces small, because this rich dessert packs a punch! It's so perfect for the Christmas season and would make a lovely ending to any dinner party.

It won rave reviews in my family and I'm sure will make a repeat appearance soon, if not this year.

Find more inspiration at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Totally Talented, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Try a New Recipe, Tasty Tuesday, Tickle my Tastebuds.

Decadent Chocolate Mint Dessert

Brownie base:
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup butter, cubed
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
12 mint Andes candies, chopped

12 ounces cream cheese, softened (low fat is ok)
6 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 package (10 to 12 ounces) white baking chips
1 Tbsp. shortening
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
3 to 4 drops green food coloring
12 mint Andes candies, chopped

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream

For the brownie base: In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine unsweetened chocolate and butter; cook on medium power in the microwave until nearly melted; stir until smooth. Cool slightly. In a large bowl, beat eggs, sugar and salt. Stir in chocolate mixture. Gradually add flour, mixing well. Fold in mint candies. Spread into a greased 9-in. springform pan. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For filling: in a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until blended. In a microwave, melt baking chips and shortening; stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Beat into cream cheese mixture. Add extract and food coloring. Fold in mint candies. Spread over brownie layer. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

For ganache: place chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream just to a boil. Pour over chocolate; stir with a whisk until smooth. Cool slightly. Spread ganache over filling. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until set. Remove rim from pan. Makes 12 servings.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Taste of Home

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Andes Mint Cookies

How do you Christmasfy a plain old chocolate chip cookie? Substitute Andes mints! Don't you love those? And now there are Andes baking chips, little nuggets of mint and chocolately goodness already chopped up for you. These cookies, although not fancy by any means, taste just like Christmas. And they are a good option if you have folks in your family who can't abide (why? I don't know...) some of the fancier Christmas cookies on the plate.

Find more great stuff at Full Plate Thursday, Showcase Your Talent, Foodie Friday, Weekend Bites, Friday Flash, Friday Frenzy.

Andes Mint Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 package (10 oz) Andes Creme de Menthe Baking Chips or 1 1/2 cups Andes After Dinner Mints, coarsely chopped
2 2/3 cups flour

Blend butter, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla and eggs until mixed. Stir in baking chips or chopped candy and then flour. Chill at least one hour in refrigerator.

Drop spoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheets and then bake at 350 for approximately 8-10 minutes. Cool on pans for two minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Recipe Source: Check it out Avesta

Monday, December 1, 2014

Chicken Wild Rice Soup {Crockpot}

Isn't it rewarding to use the crockpot? On your drive home from work, you're thinking, "oh my, what am I going to do to feed this hungry crew," and then you remember, "I have dinner in the crockpot!"

That's what will happen when you make this soup. Here in Minnesota, wild rice soup is akin to apple pie, and I'm absolutely thrilled to find a version that works so well in the crockpot. This is a little different than other crockpot soups in that there are a few steps after the crocking, but the result is a wonderfully creamy, delicious and hearty soup that does most of the work while you're at work. (Or out shopping, or what have you.)

It's nearly zero degrees fahrenheit here today, so soups like these are a great way to say "welcome home."

Find more great recipes at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Melt in Your Mouth, Totally Talented, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Tasty Tuesday.

Chicken Wild Rice Soup {Crockpot!}

1 cup uncooked wild rice
2-3 chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
6 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups whole milk (or sub 3/4 cup half and half and 1 1/4 cup skim milk)

Rinse the wild rice. Place the uncooked wild rice, raw chicken, carrots, celery, onion, chicken broth, and poultry seasoning in a crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours. The chicken should be cooked through and the rice should be soft. Do not drain any remaining liquid.

Remove the chicken breasts from the crockpot and allow to cool slightly. Shred the chicken then return it to the crockpot.

When rice and chicken are done cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the flour and let the mixture bubble for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk until a thick, creamy mixture forms.

Add this to the rice and chicken in the crockpot and stir to combine. Add extra water or milk to adjust the consistency as you like it. Season with additional salt and pepper.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Pinch of Yum

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Spiced Apple Cider Donuts

Donuts. Apple cider. It's like the chocolate/peanut butter combo - so much better together. These little gems would be a perfect breakfast on Thanksgiving morning - or any morning for that matter. They were devoured at our brunch table, and the poor scrambled eggs took a very back seat to these delicious donuts.

Reducing the apple cider on the stove top intensifies the flavor - so don't skimp on that step. After baking the donuts are dipped in melted butter and then cinnamon and sugar (another amazing combination!). The result will be melt in your mouth morsels that will disappear quickly upon serving!

Find more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Melt in Your Mouth, Totally Talented, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Tasty Tuesday, Wake Up, Hearth and Soul, What's Cooking, What's Cooking #2.

Spiced Apple Cider Donuts

1 cup apple cider
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla

2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 Tbsp. butter, melted

In a small saucepan over medium heat, simmer apple cider and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon for 15-20 minutes. Cool slightly in the refrigerator. (You can place in the freezer to accelerate the cooling, or you can reduce the cider the night before and refrigerate until you're ready to bake the donuts!)

Toss the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. In a large batter bowl, whisk the egg, melted butter, brown sugar and sugar together until smooth. Whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, and 1/2 cup of concentrated apple cider.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and very gently mix together with a wooden spoon or rubber scraper until all ingredients are just combined.

Grease a donut pan with nonstick spray, and fill each donut well 3/4 full. Bake the donuts at 350 for 9-10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Make the topping by mixing the granulated sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Dip the top of the donuts lightly into the melted butter, then dip them into the cinnamon sugar. Makes 12 donuts.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
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