Family Favorites · Holidays · New Traditions

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter S’mores

S’mores conjure up childhood memories of campfires with friends and family, biting into that creamy marshmallow with melted chocolate. Yum! Sometimes you don’t have a campfire and you still want s’mores. This recipe does that and takes it up a notch with peanut butter and chocolate hazelnut spread.

Make these delicious s’mores in advance and store in the fridge. Decorate for the occasion or holiday, in this case, Labor Day. It is a real crowd pleaser!

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter S’mores

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 16 graham cracker square (8 whole rectangular pieces, halved)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread
  • 8 large marshmallows
  • 1 package white almond bark
  • 1 package chocolate chips or other melting chocolate
  • Decorating suggestions: chopped nuts, chopped pretzels, sprinkles
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Spread a generous dollop of peanut butter onto one side of 8 of the cracker squares, and then spread the chocolate hazelnut spread onto one side of the other 8 squares.
  2. Thread the marshmallows onto 2 metal skewers and carefully toast over a flame on the stove top or grill. Place 1 toasted marshmallow onto each of the peanut butter-covered graham crackers. Top with the chocolate-covered crackers and sandwich together gently.
  3. Melt the white almond bark and milk chocolate in separate glass bowls set over simmering water. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally to keep the chocolate melted.
  4. When the toppings are at room temperature, one by one dip half of the sandwiches in the white chocolate, allowing any excess to drip off. Work quickly, and then add on whatever sprinkles or toppings you’d like to use. (NOTE: We chose to drizzle melted chocolate over the s’mores and then apply sprinkles.)
  5. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Then you can store the s’mores at room temperature or in the fridge until you’re ready to serve! (NOTE: I would recommend storing in the refrigerator so the chocolate doesn’t melt. They keep very well without getting soft).

Recipe slightly adapted from Food Network/Ree Drummond

Gluten Free · New Favorite · Vegan · Vegetarian

Chocolate Cake…Vegan and Absolutely Delicious

Who doesn’t like chocolate cake?  I wanted to make a chocolate cake for a gathering of friends, two of which are Vegan.  We all love to share salads, fruits, pastas, but dessert is always a bit tricky.

This cake was moist, delicious and almost healthy!  I would make it again and again whether my guests were Vegan or not. Even one of my Grand Dogs thought it was worthy of his attention!

CHOCOLATE CAKE…VEGAN AND ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS

Cake: 

3/4 cup plain flour/GF flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup unrefined cane sugar/brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Frosting: 

This makes a small amount of frosting as the cake doesn’t need much, but for a full batch

    1 1/2 tbsp. lite Nuttelex or other dairy free butter/margarine alternative
    1 1/2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/2 cup sifted icing sugar
    1/2 tsp. vanilla

    • Preheat oven to 180°C/355°F.
    • Grease and line a small cake tin (or cupcake tins)
    • In a large mixing bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
    • In a separate medium mixing bowl combine applesauce, sugar and vanilla and pour into dry ingredients.
    • Mix until just combined and pour into cake tin.
    • Bake for 20-35 minutes or until cooked through and a skewer inserted removes clean. If making cupcakes, cook for ~10-15 minutes or until cooked through.
    • For the frosting, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy in a mixer, adding in the cocoa and vanilla and mixing until combined. If needed, add a couple of drops of milk/non dairy milk until your desired consistency is reached

    Recipe from Southerininlaw.com

    New Favorite

    Yogurt Cake with Pear and Dark Chocolate

    Fresh, sweet pears have always been a favorite of mine. Rarely have I baked with pears but this recipe sounded too delicious to resist.  It has a wonderful texture and so very moist!
    Yogurt Cake with Pear and Dark Chocolate

    YOGURT CAKE WITH PEAR AND DARK CHOCOLATE

    1 1/2 cups flour
    2 tsp. baking powder
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1 cup plain yogurt (I used vanilla Greek yogurt)
    1 cup sugar
    3 large eggs
    1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
    1/2 cup canola oil
    1 large pear, ripe but still firm, cored and cut into small pieces (leave the skin on)
    1/2 cup bittersweet (dark) chocolate chunks.

    • Preheat your oven to 350F and grease an 8 inch loaf pan with butter (I found the recipe made too much for one loaf pan–I made an 8 inch loaf and a small loaf pan).
    • In a small bowl combine all the dry ingredients (flour through salt). In medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, yogurt, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Then, stir in the dry ingredients, a bit at a time, until well blended. Finally, use a rubber scraper to fold the oil into the batter until it is fully incorporated.
    • Pour about one-third of the batter into the greased loaf pan. Sprinkle 2/3s of the pear pieces and the chocolate chunks all over the batter. Then, scrape the rest of the batter on top of this and gently spread it smooth. Sprinkle the rest of the pear and chocolate over the top of the loaf and gently press all the pieces down into the batter to partially submerge them.
    • Bake in the middle of the oven until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean – 55-60 minutes or so. Then, take the cake out of the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Carefully turn the cake out of the pan, and then put it upright on a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. The cake will keep for several days (refrigerate if it’s more than 2 days), and slices are delicious lightly toasted before eating. Serve with sweetened whipped cream.
    Slightly adapted from FiveandSpice.com

     

     

    Garden · New Favorite

    Chocolate Zucchini Cake…good for you, right?

    Zucchini has been plentiful this year and I was craving a chocolate fix.  I found this recipe and LOVED the cake. The glaze turned into chocolate globs which I did try to spread on top of the cake.  Next time I’d either just skip the glaze, or make my own.

    The cake is moist and delicious…a keeper!

    CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE

    Unsalted butter, for the pan
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
    1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or allspice
    1 1/4 cups sugar
    1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
    2 large eggs
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 medium zucchini, grated and squeezed dry
    1 teaspoon honey

    • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch-square cake pan. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.
    • Toss 1/2 cup chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon flour in a small bowl. Whisk the remaining flour, the cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and nutmeg in a medium bowl; set aside.
    • Beat the sugar, 1/2 cup olive oil, the eggs and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until smooth and pale, about 3 minutes. Add the flour-cocoa mixture; beat on low speed until combined, about 2 minutes (the batter will be thick). Add the zucchini and beat until combined, about 2 more minutes. Fold in the flour-coated chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.
    • Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.
    • Make the glaze: Combine the remaining 1/3 cup chocolate chips, 1 teaspoon olive oil and the honey in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium-high power in 30-second intervals, stirring, until the chocolate is melted. Spread over the cake, then cut into pieces.

    Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/chocolate-zucchini-cake-recipe.html?oc=linkback

    NOTE:  I made this recipe again and used a different glaze that was perfect:

    GLAZE
    3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    3 tablespoons butter
    1 tablespoon light corn syrup
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave at 15 second intervals and stir each time until mixture is smooth. Pour over cake.

    Czech Heritage · Family · Family Favorites · Holidays

    Chocolate Kolaches

    Christmas morning without Kolaches is like the 4th of July without fireworks. Cherry Kolaches have always been my favorite and, until a few years ago, the only kind I ever made.  What to do when your new son-in-law doesn’t like cooked fruit? You can never go wrong with Chocolate.

    Hershey's Chocolate Kisses
    Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses

    The first year I was a bit doubtful about the results but I was pleasantly surprised. I took a piece of dough, as I would for the cherry kolaches, but flatten in slightly, pressing 1-2 chocolate kisses in the dough, then pinching the dough closed around the chocolate.

    Update January 2021:  I have made these every year but have graduated to a higher grade of chocolate, using Ghirardelli chocolate chips or squares.

    Allow the dough to rise, per the recipe, and bake.  Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar when removing from the oven (optional).

    See the original recipe on my Cherry Kolaches post.

    Family Favorites · Holidays

    Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods

    There is something decadent about chocolate with something salty. Chocolate dipped pretzels are a favorite of mine and last Christmas I made Chocolate Dipped Pretzels Rods in white chocolate and with dark chocolate to give as gifts. Ahem…except for those that didn’t make it past my mouth!

    CHOCOLATE DIPPED PRETZEL RODS

    White Chocolate Chips
    Dark Chocolate Chips
    Pretzel Rods
    Sugars and Sprinkles

    • Spread waxed paper on cookie sheets.
    • Melt chocolate  per instructions in microwave and pour melted chocolate into cup for dipping (makes about the right depth on the pretzel rods).
    • Over a separate plate or bowl, sprinkle the pretzel rods with sugar or sprinkles and place on waxed paper to harden.
    • Place pretzel rods in pretty tin or cello bag to give as gifts.

     

    Losers!

    Slow Cooker Brownie … a Disaster!

    A few days ago I was watching the Rachael Ray show with Emeril Lagasse as her guest. He shared a recipe for a slow cooker/crockpot brownie. With a busy day coming up and the need for a birthday dessert, I decided to give it a shot.

    I followed the instructions, shown below, to a ‘T’ and anxiously awaited the yummy results, enjoying the smell of chocolate in my home all afternoon.

    After the allotted baking time of 3 1/2 hours, the brownies were still liquid in the middle. I have a fairly large crockpot so the brownies were probably thinner than in many smaller crockpots.  Time was running out, so what to do?  I tried baking a little while longer on low with no improvement.  Finally I resorted to turning the crockpot on ‘high’ and you can imagine the burned edges and still uncooked center.

    I was NOT a happy camper and kicked myself for not making the recipe shown below but baking, old-style, in the oven.  I think this modification for traditionally baked brownies topped warm, with the chocolate hazelnut spread would be amazing. Skip the slow cooker method.

    NOTE TO SELF:  Never try to ‘bake’ a cake or brownie in the crockpot EVER!

    SLOW COOKER BROWNIES (NOT!)

    1 box of brownie mix
    1 cup chocolate chunks, a mix of milk and dark (and I used some white chocolate)
    1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread

    • Line the bottom of the slow cooker with some aluminum foil and spray it with a little non-stick spray.
    • Prepare brownie mix according to package directions and add chocolate chunks.
    • Pour the batter into the slow cooker, set at a low temperature and cook for 3 hours.
    • Remove lid and cook for an extra 30 minutes to create a crunchy top. When cool, spread hazelnut spread on top and enjoy!

    Recipe from Rachael Ray Show with Emeril Lagasse

    Family Favorites · Holidays

    Peanut Blossoms…with a kiss for your Sweetheart

    Peanut butter and chocolate are a combination made in heaven.  What a perfect way to treat your Valentines with a sweet treat for Valentine’s Day. While Peanut Blossoms are also a Christmas favorite at my house, they are good all year long.

    My 11.5 year old Golden Retriever likes them, too…helping himself to a few dozen stored in a canister on my counter.  I’m lucky he has an iron stomach! No more Peanut Blossoms for Big Bad Joe this year!

    PEANUT BLOSSOMS

    1/2 cup white sugar
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/2 cup shortening
    1/2 cup peanut butter
    2 tablespoons milk
    1 egg
    1 3/4 cups flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 bag chocolate kisses

    • Combine all ingredients in a bowl (except chocolate) and mix on low speed until well blended. Shape in round balls and roll in sugar.
    • Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees.
    • Remove cookies and press in chocolate star or kiss in each cookie while cookies are still hot.

    Yield: 4 dozen

    Family · Family Favorites · Holidays · New Traditions

    Christmas Crockpot Hot Chocolate

    Hot Chocolate and the holidays just go hand-in-hand.  That warm cozy feeling in your tummy while gathered around the fire or Christmas tree with loved ones is what Christmas is all about.

    Christmas Fireplace
    Christmas Fireplace (Photo credit: rockinpaddy)

    Daughter, Sarah, requested that we try this recipe for Christmas morning 2012 and it was delicious.  It took a little longer to heat in the crock pot so allow plenty of time for it to warm to serving temperature.

    I’m dreaming of a white Christmas!

    CHRISTMAS CROCK POT HOT CHOCOLATE

    1.5 cups heavy cream
    1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)
    2 cups milk chocolate chips
    6 cups milk (I used 1%)
    1 tsp. vanilla
    mini marshmallows

    • Stir together the whipping cream, milk, vanilla, and chocolate chips in a crock pot.
    • Cover and cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until mixture is hot and chocolate chips are melted.
    • Stir again before serving. Garnish as desired.

    adapted from mrshappyhomemaker.com

    Family Favorites · My Roots

    Peanut Blossoms…a Valentine’s kiss!

    Peanut Blossoms have been a family favorite since I was a child.  I loved them, my children love them and the tradition continues.  What beats the combination of peanut butter and chocolate!  It seems fitting to make a batch of peanut blossoms for your sweetheart with the famous Hershey KISSES as Valentine’s Day approaches.

    I was curious about the origin of Hershey’s Kisses.  Per Wikipedia, Hershey’s Kisses milk chocolates were introduced in 1907. The candy got its name because the machine made kiss sounds as the chocolate kiss is created.

    These cookies are good anytime of year.  What is sweeter than a Valentine’s ‘kiss’!

    PEANUT BLOSSOMS 

    1/2 cup white sugar
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/2 cup shortening
    1/2 cup peanut butter
    2 tablespoons milk
    1 egg
    1 3/4 cups flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    chocolate stars or chocolate kisses

    • Combine all ingredients in a bowl (except chocolate) and mix on low speed until well blended. Shape in round balls and roll in sugar.
    • Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees.
    • Remove cookies and press in chocolate star or kiss in each cookie while cookies are still hot.

    Yield: 4 dozen