Easy Chocolates & New Years Dessert

I learned how to make fantastic chocolates from my Grandma. She made over 500 lb. boxes every holiday. Unfortunately, with a lot of kids, it's pretty hard to make a good batch of fondant. So, here are my favorite "cheating" recipes that still taste great. My favorite chocolate for dipping candies is 1 part Guittard Signature Chocolate mixed with 1 part Guittard Burgundy chocolate. Wilbur Chocolate is also good. Just don't use candy melts--they're great for molded candies because they harden well but terrible for chocolates. The caramels and jellies you don't have to dip, you can wrap in wax paper or roll in powdered sugar. Have fun!

Here's the chocoalte extravaganza that the girls and I made for our New Year's dinner tonight. (we used the recipe for Icicle Candy and wrapped it around wooden spoon handles to look like confetti, drew some white chocolate 2008 decorations, and added chocolates on top).

BJ Caramels
2 C sugar
1 1/3 C corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
Mix 2 C. cream and 1/2 C. milk
Add 1 c. of cream mix to sugar and bring to boil. Simmer on medium low for 25 min. Add 1/2 of remaining mixture and simmer on medium low for 25 min. Add remaining cream mix and bring to 237degrees or soft ball. Pour into greased pan and cool. When adding cream turn heat up so mixture is always boiling.

2 c. jam
2 c. sugar
4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 1/3 c. water
Dissolve gelatin in water. Blend jam and sugar. Mix and boil 2-3 minutes. Pour in greased pan. Cut into squares or other shapes. Roll in powdered sugar or dip in chocolate.

1 ½ lbs. high quality chocolate (any kind)
1 c. cream
Scald cream. Let cool to at least 130 degrees. Melt chocolate and place in bowl with whisk attachment. Add cream and beat. Add flavoring oil if desired (a couple drops). Pour in prepared pan and cool. Roll into balls and dip with desired chocolate. (This Christmas, I made peppermint truffles and dipped them in white chocolate w/ red and green candy pieces on top).

Almond Dreams Recipe--my husband's all-time favorite
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 c. softened butter
4 1/3 c. powdered sugar
chopped roasted almonds as desired (at least 1 cup)

Warm condensed milk can in hot water for a few minutes. Mix all, freeze in greased 9 x 13 pan. cut into squares and dip in chocolate while frozen. (they become very soft and gooey when thawed). Make sure the entire square is covered in chocolate or it will ooze out.


Family Tree Treat

My middle child has been asking a lot about relatives and how we all fit with each other (what's an Uncle, who is Daddy's Daddy, etc...). So, I thought this would make a great dessert! The kids can help decorate as we talk about the different people on it and how we're related.

White Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Easy, fancy, and Yummy. Enough said!


3-1/2 cups milk
1-2/3 cups HERSHEY'S Premier White Chips
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
HERSHEY'S OVATION Mint Sticks (or candy canes, or whatever you want to stir!)

Heat milk to a simmer in medium saucepan. Add HERSHEY'S Premier White Chips; whisk until chips are melted and smooth. Stir in peppermint extract. Pour into mug. Sprinkle with HERSHEY'S Cocoa. Serve with HERSHEY'S OVATION Mint Sticks. Serve immediately.



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Chocolate Ice Cream Bath Fizzies

OK, this isn't edible but it's so easy for the kids to make (teacher gifts, etc....) I had to include it. Chocolate Ice Cream Bath Fizzies Need a quick, cheap, and fun gift? The kids can help “scoop” these out with ice cream scoops onto wax paper. Pick up some ice cream glasses at the dollar store to gift wrap them in for a fun touch! Or, I saw this picture of someone who simply wrapped a scoop in plastic wrap, put it on an ice cream cone (you'd have to tape or glue it) and tied a bow. Easy!

1/4 cup citric acid (you can find this at most pharmacys or health food stores. Just call first)
1/4 cup corn starch
2 Tbs cocoa powder
7 Tbs coconut oil melted (health food store or large grocery store)

Mix dry ingredients, melt coconut oil and drizzle over dry ingredients and mix. Using ice cream scoop, make 3 scoops and unmold them onto waxed paper and allow to dry 2 days.


Omlettes and Cookie Paint....?

So, I've been really watching what I eat lately. In the mornings, I often make an egg white omelette. Sooooo....what to do with all those egg yolks? (I can think of plenty of un-healthy-pound-cake-like things to do with them, but that would sabotage the first sentence). Anyway, I found a great solution! Egg yolks make FANTASTIC paints for sugar cookies!

For you:
Egg White Omelette with fresh veggies, basil, reduced-fat cheese....YUM!

For the kids:
Take any sugar cookie dough (your favorite recipe or store-bought)

Cut into desired shapes. For the little artists in your home, I recommend simply making a large rectangle "canvas" for them.

Put an egg yolk into small bowl (or use an old egg carton if it's empty, they work great). Drop in desired amount of food coloring and stir. Repeat to make as many colors as you want.

Let the kids paint away!

Bake the cookies as directed in your sugar cookie recipe.

They come out looking so cute and the kids love eating their artwork! You can add royal icing accents as desired, but we just enjoyed the colors. I'll post a pic when I download the camera.

NOTE: this would be a super fun and easy party for kids!

Coal Candy

Can you tell we're on a hard candy kick? We tried this one today. The kids can't participate in the cooking part since it's too hot, but they will definitely love whacking it apart with hammers to make the "coal chunks". Happy Hammering!

Coal Candy

2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
¾ cup water
1 tsp. flavoring oil (or as desired)
Black Liquid Food Coloring (as desired)

Directions: Have all ingredients and tools assembled and within easy reach of the stove. Lightly spray an 8" X 8" pan with cooking spray (we recommend PAM). In a 2-quart kettle or large saucepan, mix together sugar, corn syrup and water. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Insert candy thermometer if using, making certain it does not touch the bottom of the pan.

Bring mixture to a boil, without stirring. Early in the cooking process, you can "wash down" any sugar crystals that form on the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Continue to cook the syrup until the temperature reaches 260 F; add color. Do not stir; boiling action will incorporate color into syrup.

Remove from heat precisely at 300 F (temperature will continue rising), or until drops of syrup form hard, brittle threads in cold water. After boiling action has ceased, add flavor and stir. USE CAUTION WHEN ADDING FLAVORING TO AVOID RISING STEAM.

Pour syrup into prepared pan. Do not refrigerate. Cool completely.
*Using the end of a wooden spoon, or other tool, pound candy into small chunks to simulate coal pieces. For best results, wrap candy in sucker bags or plastic wrap and secure with a twist tie.

*Before pounding, we transferred the slab of candy to a large pan with high sides such as a Dutch Oven and pounded the candy inside of the pan.



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Icicle Candy Woo hoo!!

I LOVED to eat icicles as a kid. I came across this fun recipe and tried it--they look so cute and are a great and easy Winter treat. The best part? You can do the whole thing in the microwave and they are super cheap to make! Yea! I usually like to do things that my kids participate in, but this is so hot to work with that you shouldn't do it with kids around. So, turn on your favorite chick flick after they're in bed and whip up a batch--it only takes 15 minutes or less!

Icicle Candy
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
½ tsp. peppermint flavoring (or other as desired. NOTE: if you are using flavoring oil, only use a few drops)
Blue liquid food coloring (as desired)

Directions:Preheat oven to 185 degrees. Lightly spray cookie sheet and a large sharp knife (or pizza cutter—that’s my favorite. The pizza cutter was a lot easier to work with when cutting the hot candy) with cooking spray.
Thoroughly mix sugar and light corn syrup in a 4-cup microwave-safe glass measure. Cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes and 15 seconds.

Remove from the microwave and carefully remove plastic wrap. Quickly stir the sugar mixture and then cover with a NEW sheet of plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 3 minutes and 15 seconds.

Remove from microwave, carefully remove plastic wrap and stir with a clean spoon. After boiling has ceased, stir in coloring and then flavoring.

Pour syrup quickly, but carefully onto prepared cookie sheet, tilting sheet slightly to form an 8 inch by 6 inch puddle. As the sugar mixture begins to set up, cut candy into 1/2 inch by 4 inch strips. Return sheet to oven for 1 or 2 minutes to soften for twisting.
Remove 1 strip from sheet and gently twist and pull into icicle shape (you can also wrap them around a pencil if you want). Repeat with the remaining strips, leaving the cookie sheet in the oven to keep strips soft and pliable. If strips get too soft, let them cool a bit until they are a firmer consistency. Cool strips on a rack. Do not refrigerate.

Original recipe from LorAnn Oils

To Die for Chocolate Decadence Cake

This recipe ROCKS!! Obviously, it's not low-fat, so save it for a special occasion. It is by far our favorite chocolate cake. We made it at Jon & Kir's house last week and we all enjoyed it (for breakfast, too!! Hey, it's vacation!).

To Die For Chocolate Decadence Cake

1 box Devil's Food cake mix (or any chocolate cake mix)
1 (3 oz.) box instant chocolate pudding
2 C. sour cream
5 eggs
1 C. melted butter
1 tsp. almond extract
1 C. chocolate chips (I recommend ghirardelli)
6-10 Hershey bars

In a large bowl, beat first 6 ingredients until well blended. Mixture will be thick. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into three greased 9” pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-40 minutes. (Keep an eye on them so they don’t overbake). Pull out of oven and place half of the Hershey bars on each cake. When bars are melted, spread evenly over tops of cake. Let cool completely. When cool (Hershey bars should be mostly set—you can put the cakes in the fridge to speed things up) place cake layers on top of each other.

Ganache frosting:
10 ounces Bittersweet chocolate, chopped
10 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
2 c. heavy cream

Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, watching very carefully because if it boils for a few seconds, it will boil out of the pot. When the cream has come to a boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth. Allow the ganache to cool slightly before pouring over a cake. Start at the center of the cake and work outward. For a fluffy frosting or chocolate filling, allow it to cool until thick, then whip with a whisk until light and fluffy.

NOTES: I originally baked this in two 9" pans, but the cake always seemed to bake unevenly. I recommend using three 9" pans and putting 3 Hershey Bars on top of each after they come out of the oven.

Holiday Playlist

My grandmother hasn't been doing well...to cheer her up, I rounded up a few of my musical friends and made an album of Holiday songs fo...