Valentine’s Hot Chocolate Popcorn

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hot chocolate popcorn

I was putting away Christmas the other day and feeling nostalgic about another holiday gone by.  Isn’t there something about the end of the year/holiday season that makes you just a bit depressed?  Me too.  As I was putting boxes away, I stumbled across my little stash of Valentine’s things.  Not a lot of things, mind you.  Just some Valentine’s and toys for the kids.  A few little cutesy decorations.  It’s mostly for the kiddos; I mean, I don’t really LOVE this holiday.  It seems so forced and fake, and I have a hard time getting into it.

BUT…

I did get excited at the prospect of making pink and red treats and maybe getting out the glitter glue for some Valentine fun with my daughter.  What better cure for the post-holiday blues than indulging a little in another holiday?  So, while I was daydreaming of Valentine’s projects, I got hungry (or maybe it was all that taking down and putting away the Christmas that worked up my appetite).  And, being in a Valentine-y mood, I whipped up this yummy snack.

Hot Chocolate Popcorn with a Valentine’s twist.  I think this would be cute for an after-school snack, a little teacher gift in a fun Valentine mug, or maybe just some munchies while you chat with a friend over tea.  It’s a little festive, but a lot yummy.  Enjoy!

Hot Chocolate Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup un-popped popcorn
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 2 packets instant cocoa mix
  • 3/4 cups Valentine's chocolate chips (red chips and chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup marshmallows (pink, if you have them)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

1. Pop popcorn using air popper or on stove with oil. Put popcorn into large bowl.
2. Melt white chocolate chips and then pour over popcorn in bowl. Stir until popcorn is well coated. Before, chocolate sets, add hot cocoa mix and stir until well coated.
3. Stir in marshmallows and chocolate chips.
4. Lay popcorn out on parchment paper and drizzle with melted dark chocolate.
5. Allow chocolate to fully set before serving.
6. Store in airtight container.


Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll Cookies

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pumpkin cream cheese roll cookies

Well, it might be the wrong time of year to be posting a pumpkin recipe.  But, that doesn’t make these any less delicious!

I was cleaning out our pantry area and found a whole case of canned pumpkin.  I wanted to whip up something yummy with the pumpkin, but wasn’t in the mood for a muffin or bread.   These cookies turned out so delicious, I decided to share them with you (despite it being post-pumpkin season).  Plus, they make the house smell wonderful!

Feel free to improvise with the seasonings and use pumpkin pie spice or add some cloves.  I’m not a fan of either of those spices, so I just went with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and all spice.

Pumpkin Roll Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups Flour
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions

1. Combine oil, 1 cup sugar, vanilla extract, and pumpkin puree with a whisk.
2. Whisk in spices, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
3. Stir in flour.
4. Toll dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper to about 1/2 inch thickness. Finished size will be about 25x15 inches. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, combine softened cream cheese, 1/8 cup sugar, maple syrup, and cinnamon.
6. Remove dough from fridge and take off top sheet of parchment paper. Spread cream cheese mixture on top of dough. Starting from one of the shorter edges, roll the dough into a tight roll. Wrap with plastic wrap and freeze until firm.
7. Once dough is firm, remove from freezer and cut into slices, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Bake at 350 on parchment lined cookie sheet for 12 minutes.


Cocoa Wedding Cakes

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cocoa wedding cakes

These are such a great addition to a holiday cookie tray!  They are absolutely delicious and look pretty as well.  You can store these for up to 2 months in your freezer, so make them up ahead of time to save time around the holidays!

Cocoa Wedding Cakes

Website BHG

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Pecans
  • 1 3/4 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 cup Cold Butter, Chopped into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweeted cocoa
  • 1/3 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325.
2. Combine pecans and 1/2 cup powdered sugar in food processor until finely ground.
3. Add butter and vanilla and process until smooth. Add flour and cocoa and blend until well mixed. You may need to work dough with your hands at the end to ensure it is well combined. Alternatively, you can use a pastry blender for this step!
Add chocolate chips and pulse until just combined.
4. Shape dough into 1 inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet.
5. Bake 16 to 18 minutes and cool on wire rack. While cookies are still warm, dust with a little powdered sugar. When cookies are cooled, dust with remaining sugar.

If you like this type of cookie (crispy and flakey), then you must also try my Almond Crescent Cookies. 

almondcrescents

And, if you’re looking for something just a little different for you cookie swap this year, then check out my full list of Christmas cookie favorites!


Egg Nog Chocolate Chip Cookies

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eggnog

These egg nog cookies put a fun, festive twist on traditional chocolate chip cookies.  The cookies are light, chewy, and have just a hint of egg nog flavor.  They are terrific with hot cocoa or coffee.

Do you have a favorite Christmas cookie?  Be sure to check out my full list of Christmas Cookie favorites!

Egg Nog Cookies with Chocolate Chunks

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons softned butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Egg Nog
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup Dark Chocolate Chips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. Mix dry ingredients and set aside.
3. Cream together butter and sugars until fluffy. Add egg nog, egg yolk, and vanilla. Beat well for about 2 minutes.
4. Slowly add dry mixture to butter mixture. Mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
5. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes.

Coconut Snowball Cake

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snowball cake

Okay, so this isn’t really a cookie, it’s a cake (obviously).  But, I decided to include it in my Christmas Cookie Countdown anyway.  Why?  Because it’s delicious and easy and because I can.  :)

This is light and sweet.  A nice treat when you’re surrounded by cookies this time of year.  Plus, it looks like a giant snowball, which is so fun and makes a great centerpiece on a buffet table at a party!

I promise this recipe works, when I first made it I though there was now way the cake would stick together, but it does.  Store it in the fridge.

Snowball Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 Angel Food Cake (Store bought or homemade)
  • 2 cartons Cool Whip
  • 1 can Crushed Pineapple, 20 oz
  • 1 bag Shredded coconut
  • 1 box Lemon Jello
  • 1 cup Boiling Water

Directions

1. Line a large mixing bowl with parchment paper.
2. Break angel food cake into bite sized pieces.
3. Drain canned pineapple, reserving the syrup.
4. Dissolve gelatin in 1 cup boiling water. Add one more cup of pineapple syrup and mix well. Refrigerate until it just begins to thicken. Then, fold in one container of cool whip and crushed pineapple.
5. In the bowl layer cake pieces and then pineapple mixture. Repeat until all ingredients are used up.
6. Refigerate overnight.
7. Turn cake out of bowl onto cake platter and cover with other container of cool whip. Sprinkle cool whip "frosting" with shredded coconut.


Super Creamy Fudge Recipe

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fudge

I think creamy fudge is one of the most sought after Christmas treats.  I totally made that up, but it’s gotta be true!

I had quite a time making fudge this year.  I tried so many recipes and it kept coming out brick-hard.  I don’t know what the issue was, but I finally found a recipe that produced some creamy and delicious fudge.  This will be my go to recipe from now on!  I had to share, just in case you’re having fudge troubles, too!

Creamy Christmas Fudge

Website Nestle

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Butter (or use 3/4 cup margarine)
  • 2/3 cups Evaporated Milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bag Semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 oz)
  • 2 cups Mini Marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Directions

1. Line 9x9 pan with foil
2. Combine butter, sugar, and evaporated milk, and salt in heavy saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue to boil for 4 minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips and marshmallows until melted. Then add, walnuts and vanilla extract.
4. Pour fudge into prepared pan and allow to cool before cutting into squares.

 


Hedgehog Truffles

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hedgehog truffles

These are a delicious twist on regular peanut butter balls.  They take a little extra work with the topping, but it gives them an adorable presentation (hence the name) and great crunch and flavor!

Hedgehog Truffles

Serves 60
From magazine Martha Stewart Living

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1 1/2 stick Butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream (milk will work, too)
  • 1 1/2 cup Creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 8oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup Cocoa nibs (or chopped dark chocolate works, too)

Directions

1. Bring butter, cream, peanut butter, and vanilla to boil over medium heat. Stir constantly.
2. Once mixture comes to boil, remove from heat and pour into bowl with sugar. Mix well until smooth.
3. Pour mixture into 8x8 baking dish and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 hours or more.
4. Roll peanut butter mixture into 1 inch balls.
5. Melt chocolate and stir until smooth. Remove from heat.
6. Dip one peanut butter ball at at into chocolate. Remove with fork, tapping to remove excess chocolate. Place onto wax paper or parchment paper and immediately sprinkle with cocoa nibs.
7. Refigerate until set, about 30 minutes.

If these truffles seem to daunting, you may enjoy my easy marshmallow truffles!  Also, be sure to check out my full list of favorite Christmas recipes!

truffles

 


Hallelujah Toffee

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toffeeWhen I married my husband, his cousins would always bring the most amazing toffee to Christmas gatherings.  The recipe was a closely guarded secret and I desperately wanted it.

After years of having Christmas together (and me gushing over the toffee), I was finally allowed a copy of the recipe.  I kid you not.  They did not want to share.  Actually, it was my Mother in Law who gave me the recipe.  She had been a part of the family much longer than I and earned her copy.  I guess she figured it wasn’t fair to make me wait any longer.  Thanks, MIL, I owe you one.

I’m not sure if the cousins know that I have their secret recipe handed down from some Mrs. Allen (her name is on the top of my copy, at least).  But, families have since moved and we don’t keep in touch like we used to.  I’m so thankful that I can make my own toffee.

And, I want you to be able to, too.  I don’t believe in secret recipes.  If it’s that good, it needs to be shared.  And, this recipe certainly does.

It took me a long time to perfect my toffee making techniques.  This is the only toffee recipe I have ever made.  But, you must remember some important things when making this toffee!

  • DO NOT STIR!  You will be tempted, I know.  (It’s gotta be sticking to the pan, or maybe it’s burning….)  But, put the spoon down.  I’m telling you.  Stirring will ruin your toffee.  It makes the butter and sugar separate and you will end up with a greasy mess that doesn’t taste very good.  The boiling will do the stirring for you.  Even when you add the nuts at the end, do not stir them in.  Sometimes I just throw the nuts into the bottom of the pan I’ll pour my toffee into and call it good.  Other times, I throw them in the toffee pot right before I pour it out.  Don’t stir them!  This toffee is fickle but delicious, don’t ruin it!
  • Try your best to make this on a dry, sunny day.  Foggy and/or rainy days are just too moist and tend to make the toffee, well, not right. IMG_3022
  • Use a candy thermometer.  Or not.  The recipe says to cook to 290 degrees.  Being at high altitude myself, I tend to let it go a little higher, closer to 310.  If you watch your pot closely, you’ll notice the mixture will go from a light brown to a dark, rich, toffee brown.  This is the perfect temperature.  I usually just stand by and watch.  But, I have my thermometer handy so I can double check the temperature and make sure it seems right.
  • Use a high quality chocolate.  It really makes the difference.
  • Share this toffee!  Your friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors will all love you for it! :)

Hallelujah Toffee

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1/2lb Butter
  • 1 tablespoon Light Karo Syrup
  • 3 tablespoons Water
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Almonds (or nut of your choice)
  • 2 Hershey Chocolate Bars

Directions

1. Add sugar, butter, karo syrup, and water to heavy sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until candy thermometer reaches 290 degrees. Or, in my experience this is the same temperature at which the mixture turns a dark toffee color. DO NOT STIR during this time. Throw in chopped nuts (do not stir).
2. Pour hot mixture with nuts directly into 9x13 pan.
3. Melt chocolate bars and spread over top of toffee. Dust with finely chopped nuts.
4. Allow to cool and the break into pieces.

Want some more great Christmas recipes?  Check out my list, I’m sharing a favorite each day, Thanksgiving to Christmas


Hot Chocolate Cookies

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hotcocoaAll I can say is yum!  These are best served warm so the chocolate centers are all melty and the marshmallows are gooey!

Hot Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Semi-Sweet or Dark Chocoalte Chips
  • 1/3 cup Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1 cup Granulate Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 1 1/3 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 12 large Marshmallows, cut in half
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Dark Chocolate morsels

Directions

1. Put 1/2 cup chocolate chips and butter in microwave safe bowl. Microwave in intervals of 20 seconds, stirring after each interval until smooth and melted. Alternately, melt on stovetop. Set aside.
2. In separate bowl, combine egg, egg yolk, sugar, and almond extract. Mix well until fluffy.
3. Add chocolate mixture to egg mixture. Stir well.
Then, add flour and stir until just combined.
4. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, but no longer as dough will dry out.
5. Shape dough into 3/4" balls around chocolate chips. Use about 3/4 teaspoons worth of dark chocolate in the center of the ball, roughly 4 large baking chocolate chips
6. Place one cut marshmallow on top of each cookie.
7. Bake at 350 on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for about 9-10 minutes until marshmallow just starts to toast.

Check out all my favorite holiday cookies, I’m sharing a recipe every day, Thanksgiving to Christmas!


Easy Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

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gingerbread

I dare say it might not be Christmas without Gingerbread.

When I smell gingerbread cookies in the oven, I know Christmas is just around the corner.  It is the most warm and inviting scent I know.  It just is Christmas.

However, I have not had much success cooking gingerbread from scratch.  Perhaps you know my pain.  The recipes can yield dough that is tough and difficult to work with or burns quickly in the oven.  For years, I relied on the store bought pre-made dough.  But, I knew there must be a better way.

And, there is!

You can still feel like a superstar and cook your gingerbread cookies from scratch.  It really is easy with this recipe.  Butterscotch pudding is the secret ingredient that adds a great flavor and yields a moist and delicious cookie.  No one will ever know you didn’t slave for hours with a dough made of molasses and elbow grease!  I won’t tell if you won’t.

Easy Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups Butter, softened
  • 3/4 cups Packed Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 box Instant Butterscotch Pudding mix, 3.5 oz
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 tablespoon Ground Ginger
  • 1.5 teaspoons Cinnamon

Directions

1. Blend butter, sugar, and pudding mix together until creamy and fluffy. Then, add egg and mix well.
2. Mix flour, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon in separate bowl.
3. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Blending by hand if necessary to make a nice dough.
4. Refigerate for about 15 minutes.
5. Roll out to 1/4" thickness and cut using floured surface.
6. Bake 350 for 10 minutes.

You don’t want to miss my full list of Christmas cookie favorites!  I’m sharing one each day, Thanksgiving to Christmas.