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Posts Tagged ‘candy’

Often in the blog world, I find really exciting new foods that are much more expensive than their regular counterparts.  Sometimes I give in, but usually I remind myself that spending $15 plus for nut butter is a little bit insane.   Ahem, unless they come to me as gifts:-) However, there are occasions when I realize I can make the same item myself at a fraction of the cost.

Have you seen these websites where you can build your own chocolate bar?  The companies have all sorts of fun ingredients from dried fruit and nuts to cereals and spices.  I’ve checked out this website and this one too, but the high cost has kept me from ordering anything.  Lucky for me, and you, this is something fairly easy to do on your own!    Here is a very easy recipe for Mix and Match Chocolate Bars.

toppings on choc

Step 1: Pick out your ingredients.

The most important part is to pick a good tasting chocolate.  If the chocolate you start with doesn’t melt in your mouth and give you that rich satisfying flavor, the final result isn’t going to either.  I found Pound Plus 72% Belgium dark chocolate at Trader Joes for just a few dollars!  Note that you could make almost a dozen large chocolate bars for this amount of chocolate!  You could use white or milk chocolate as well.

TJs choc

As for toppings, feel free to use those websites for inspiration.  Go with whatever flavors you like.  I knew I wanted to have contrasting flavors and textures so I went with pretzels and peanuts for a crunchy and salty as well as a selection of dried fruits for chewy, tart and sweet.  You probably only need about 3 cups total of toppings per pound of chocolate.

all ingred

Step 2: Set up your space.

You will need 1 medium pot or microwavable bowl for melting your chocolate and a jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper.

For ease of working, you will want to lay out your toppings so that they are easy to access once the chocolate is ready to decorate.

toppings 1 toppings 2

Step 3: Melt the chocolate.

choc in pot

melting choc

If you do this via microwave, take it slow.  Once the chocolate is about 75% melted stir it to eliminate any remaining clumps.

On the stovetop, work with low heat and stir constantly.  Again, remove the pot from heat a little before the chocolate is completely melted and stir the rest.

Step 4: Make your chocolate bar!

Spread the melted chocolate out on parchment paper to be about ¼ inch thick.

choc spread in pan

As soon as it is smoothed out, decorate it with your toppings.  Lightly push the nuts/candies/cereal pieces, etc. into the chocolate so that they will stay when it gets hard.  Imagine what you want to get in one bite and let that be your inspiration for how dense you want your toppings to be.

toppings on choc 2

Once you finish, let the chocolate cool and harden.  Cut bars to desired size.  I actually made mine more like bark because I thought it would be better for serving.

pieces 1

pieces 4

pieces 5

Store finished product in an airtight container (5 days) or refrigerator (up to 2 weeks).

Oh, and buy yourself something nice because you saved money on fancy candy bars!

Notes:

Don’t let the chocolate get wet at any point.  Your chocolate will discolor.

You can customize this recipe to do as much or as little as you want at a time.

This could make a great gift for the holidays .  Use crushed candy cane or ginger snaps for a festive theme.

Mix and Match Chocolate Bars

Ingredients:

1 pound of chocolate of your choice

3 cups of fun toppings

Directions:

Line jelly roll pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Layout toppings to be easily accessible.

Melt the chocolate on stovetop or in microwave, being careful not to burn.

Spread the melted chocolate out on parchment paper to be about ¼ inch thick.

As soon as it is smoothed out, decorate it with your toppings.  Lightly push the nuts/candies/cereal pieces, etc. into the chocolate so that they will stay when it gets hard.  Imagine what you want to get in one bite and let that be your inspiration for how dense you want your toppings to be.

Let the chocolate cool and harden.  Cut bars to desired size.

Store finished product in an airtight container (5 days) or refrigerator (up to 2 weeks).

What is an expensive food product that you refuse to buy even though you REALLY REALLY want it?

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There are a few ways I decide what recipes to make.  Usually, I can assess the ingredients and ratios of things like butter to sugar or oil to flour and figure out if it will taste good.  In brownies, for example, if the recipe has you melting butter and chocolate together and then mixing in sugar, you can be certain that you are on the right track.


A commenter reminded me the other day of my favorite brownie recipe, the basic one-bowl Bakers recipe. This is an easy recipe that requires very few kitchen tools but always produces rich, fudgey, brownies with that thin crispy layer on top that gives you the presence of 2 textures in one bite.  For readers that have a small kitchen with limited kitchen supplies, I highly recommend you try this recipe (the original or my twist).
Normally I make these brownies (sans nuts) and sprinkle powdered sugar on top (just like my mom of course).  This time, I thought an extra chocolate punch would be good.  Sometimes, you just need all the chocolate you can get. What could be better than individual brownie bites with Hershey kisses tucked inside?

Chocolate Lover’s Bites

All You Need Is:

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)

2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup all purpose flour

36 Hershey Kisses (maybe a couple extras to snack on while you wait)

Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease or line 36 mini-muffin holders.

I couldn’t decide which I preferred so I tried both ways.

Melt butter and chocolate in large sauce pan over low to medium heat.  You don’t want the heat to be higher than this because burnt chocolate = start over!

You can also melt chocolate and butter in the microwave. I recommend heating for 30 seconds at a time and stirring to prevent burning the chocolate.

Stir in sugar.

Stir in eggs and vanilla.

Whisk in flour until smooth.

You could use a spoon to stir, but I like a whisk because it is easier for getting rid of flour clumps.

When batter is smooth, pour into muffin tins. Don’t worry if your batter is almost at the top of the holders.  Brownies don’t grow much like cupcakes which have baking powder in them.

Bake for 14-18 minutes, or until tops are puffed up slightly and knife comes out clean.

While brownies are baking, unwrap your Hershey kisses.

You will need about 3/4 of a bag which leaves plenty to eat while you are being tortured by the amazing smell of brownies baking.

As soon as brownies are out of oven, push kisses into each.  Push them far enough so that only the tip of the kiss is above the top of the brownie.

Allow to cool for just a few minutes, and then remove brownies from pan.  Let them finish on a cooling rack.

If this isn’t heaven for chocolate lovers, I don’t know what is.

Ok, maybe just taste one when the kiss in the middle is still warm and melty.  That might put you over the edge.

What is your favorite chocolate dessert?

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For my first official recipe post, I considered baking something epic, a culinary masterpiece that would impress all of my readers.  However, I’d rather show you more of my every-day baking style.  My fit-into-busy-work-week and keep-fitting-into-my-clothes style of baking.  Don’t worry, though, the more complex recipes will come and this is just as delicious.

I present to you, Personalized Mini Ice Cream Pies.

There are a few reasons I came up with this dessert:

1)  It incorporates 3 of my favorite dessert elements: ice cream, chocolate and peanut butter (in fact, I happen to believe that peanut butter deserves to be its own food group)
2) Simplicity.  Sometimes on a weeknight, I just don’t have the energy for an elaborate dessert. This is simple yet delicious. Limited baking skills required.
3)  Portion. Control. I could take down anyone I know in an ice cream eating contest and win. Enough said.

For this recipe you will need:
1 regular-sized muffin pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray

1 ½ cups of crushed oreos (~20 oreos)

3 Tablespoons melted butter

1 8-ounce tub of cool whip plus extra for final topping

4 cups of ice cream, flavor of choice (I used ½ vanilla and ½ chocolate)

2 cups of chopped candy (I used peanut butter cups and pretzel M&Ms)

[Sidenote: pretzel M&Ms are a genius new candy.  They have the perfect balance of salty and sweet like their cousin the peanut M&M, without the peanut flavor the Executive Taster detests (I know, we almost couldn’t get married because of this)]

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove ice cream from freezer to soften slightly.

For the crust, mix together the crushed oreos and melted butter.  Fill each muffin tin with approximately a heaping tablespoon of cookie mixture and press down with the back of a spoon.  You will form a flat base that curves up slightly around the edges.

If you have extra cookie mixture, take whatever small baking dish you have available and bake additional crust in there.

I used this tool for scooping the crumbs:

You don’t really need to use a cookie dough scoop for this, but I take advantage of every excuse I have to use mine.  The Original Baker bought it for me and she knows her baking tools.

Now your crusts are almost ready.  Place the muffin pan in the oven for 10-12 minutes.  You just need to cook the crusts long enough for them to harden, otherwise your ice cream pies will be a melting mess.

Meanwhile, pretend like you work at Cold Stone and mix your ice cream and candy together.

You don’t need to do this on the counter (although I bet it would be fun if you had a cold marble countertop).  I did a couple of different combinations:  Vanilla ice cream with pretzel M&Ms for the Executive Taster; chocolate ice cream with both candies for me.  You can do as many variations as you have muffin tins, I just like to minimize my number of dirty bowls (leftover habit from 2 years living sans dishwasher).

Once your ice cream is done, you can put it back in the freezer until ready for use.  Warning:  It will be very tempting to eat the ice cream as is, do your best to hold off for the finished product. It will be worth it!

By now your crusts should be almost done.  Once out of the oven, allow to cool and then scoop a heaping tablespoon of cool whip into each crust.  Flatten it out a bit to be its own layer.  Place your intermediate product in the freezer for 1 hour.

When cool whip layer is frozen, scoop about ¼ cup of ice cream mixture onto each base.  Press down with the back of your scoop to flatten out.  Refreeze until solid.

Serve topped a dollop of cool whip.

Notes:

Recipe serves 12, plus a little extra.

This recipe is great because you can personalize it to your liking.  Are you a chocolate lover?  Use chocolate ice cream mixed with dark chocolate chunks.  Craving coffee?  Try coffee ice cream and chocolate covered espresso beans.  The possibilities are endless.

I used reduced fat items because I like the way they taste and when mixed with some of the more indulgent ingredients (such as butter and chocolate candies), the finished product will still taste decadent.  However, these ingredients can easily be substituted for their regular counterparts.

If you don’t have a muffin pan, don’t fear!  You can either buy a disposable aluminum version at the supermarket or put your creation into a pie dish or 8×8 pan instead- good luck with the portion control, though…

The Sister Came to Help! And eat a piece I made her without ice cream…

Of course I had to dig in….

I only had 3 tonight, oops;-)

Question: Is this a dessert you would make?  Does it seem easy enough for those of you who don’t consider yourselves bakers?

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