I know that Valentine’s Day was last week, but I figured we didn’t have enough chocolate or candy, so I’ve decided that I would load you up with more this week.  I mean it’s not like you ate your entire heart-shaped box of chocolates in one sitting, right?   And I’ve never heard anyone say “I’m tired of chocolate”.  That would be blasphemy!

And since we are in the doldrums of winter and eating coconut mentally transports me to a beach, I thought this was a fitting time to share this recipe.  Do you know what I mean about being transported to the beach when you eat coconut?  Maybe I rubbed too much Hawaiian Tropic on myself as a child, but anytime I smell coconut, it is suddenly easy for me to relax and picture my feet in the sand and a frosty cocktail in my hand.  Anyway, back to the sweets.  If you are a fan of Mounds Bars, these truffles will be right up your alley. The best part is, they are no-bake and so you can have them made and dipped in chocolate in no time.

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combine powdered sugar and coconut

add sweetened condensed milk and melted coconut oil and stir to combine

roll into balls, freeze and dip in melted chocolate

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As I said yesterday, I have great adoration for dainty bite-size sweets.   So, when I received a copy of Mini Cakes & Other Bite-size Treats written by Hannah Miles from the fine people at Ryland Peters & Small I was very excited to try some of the recipes.

The author of this book, had exactly what I described yesterday in my post in mind as her intention for her book Mini Cakes & bite-size.  In her introduction, Hannah explains how mini versions of our favorite sweets are becoming very popular in bakeries around the world.  The versatility of these petite treats is exceptional as they are perfect for showers, cocktail parties or any occasion really.  Hannah also boasts that there is an added bonus to mini desserts and that is less guilt without sacrificing any of the satisfaction.

There are many recipes in this book in addition to the Éclairs and Profiteroles that I am anxious to try.  Since I recently purchased a miniature bundt pan, these Mini Blueberry Bundts will likely be next on my list.  The author mentions that all you need for all of the recipes in this book are miniature pans such as muffin and bundt pans.

My husband would go gaga for this Tiramisu Roulade.

And how adorable are these Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tartlets?  I am so into anything with salted caramel lately!

Don’t judge this book by it’s size.  Although Mini Cakes & Other Bite-size Treats small and concise, the variety and quality of recipes is great.  Each and every recipe is accompanied by a lovely photo that transports you to a French pâtisserie or a tea party with Kate Middleton.  There is a brief description above each recipe that features a history or the tradition about where the recipe came from.

And the best part is one of you will receive your very own copy of this charming book!  See below to enter.
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Broders' Pasta Bar (i.e. my absolute favorite)
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When I was a little girl, I loved tea parties.  One of my most memorable birthday parties was when my mom hosted a tea party for me at an old historic mansion and each of my friends and I  wore old fashioned dresses and elegant hats.   We sipped on tea and ate cucumber sandwiches and petit fours.  It’s funny how when you are a child you always want to dress up and act like an adult and the you grow up and realize how simple and magical childhood was.

I think one of the reasons that I still love tea parties so much is because of the dainty, delicate foods.  So, when I received a copy of Mini Cakes & other Bite-size Treats (Author:  Hannah Miles) to review from the fine people at Ryland Peters & Small I was so excited to try some of the recipes.  This book is filled with petite cakes, tarts and pastries that are perfect for any occasion.  And you will have the chance to win a copy of the book tomorrow!

The first thing that I made out of this precious little book were the Baby Éclairs and Chocolate Profiteroles.  Both recipes use the same dough and they were so easy and fun to make.  Chocolate éclairs are one of my mom’s favorite desserts and I wish I could have shared them with her!

This would be a perfect quick and adorable dessert for your valentine ♥.

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for the pastry, heat the butter and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil

add flour, remove from heat and whisk until dough comes together

cool mixture for 5 minutes, beat eggs and whisk into cooled mixture to combine

spoon dough into pastry bag

pipe 2 cm lines (for baby éclairs) or 1 cm dots (for profiteroles) onto baking sheet

bake as directed

prepare chantilly cream and chocolate sauce and to serve, cut éclairs in half, fill with cream and top with sauce; for profiteroles, pile onto serving spoon and drizzle with chocolate sauce

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Valentine’s Day was always my favorite holiday growing up.  I know it sounds strange, but I have always been quite a girly-girl and I have always melted over anything pink, red and/or heart-shaped.  I was the girl who made my valentines out of paper doilies and would go so far as to string ribbon through the edges of the doilies!  Naturally there was also plenty of glitter and stickers involved.  There was nothing better to me than coming up with a clever idea for my valentine box for school and I just loved bringing it home, dumping it out and reading notes from friends, trying to decipher what the boys really meant with the messages on the conversation hearts they gave me and eating candy!  While my love for Christmas has probably surpassed my feelings about Valentine’s Day, the holiday is still a close 2nd.  And not for any of the materialistic reasons either.  I don’t want or expect anything from my husband.  A thoughtful card means more to me than any roses or jewelry.  I just love making treats for others and being able to whip out my pink and red food coloring!

So with Valentine’s Day only a few days away, my brain has gone to all things pink, hearts and chocolate.  I came home on Monday and my sweet valentine had some lovely red tulips waiting for me which was completely unexpected and therefore made my day.  So now I want to make my Valentine’s Day complete with some delicious and festive treats.

With how much of a chocoholic I am, it is surprising that I don’t make brownies more often.  I have had this recipe tucked away for a while and it combines  two of my favorite ingredients:  chocolate and coconut.  There is even a layer of caramel in these brownies, so they are pretty close to perfection.  Even without all of the toppings, the brownies themselves are rich and fudgey due to the combination of melted semi-sweet chocolate chips and unsweetened cocoa powder.  And the toasted coconut gives just enough crunch to keep you very interested.  If you need a sweet Valentine treat for a chocolate lover in your life, these will earn you serious brownie points (pun intended :)).


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A few tips:

  • After making this recipe, I think you could simply grease your pan and not line it with parchment paper.  Your choice, I just felt like all the parchment paper did was make the sides of my brownies and uneven shape.  And if you grease the pan well, you shouldn’t have any trouble removing the brownies.
  • Spray the bowl that you use to melt the caramels in with nonstick cooking spray and it will be much easier to clean when you are finished :).
  • Nuts would be another lovely addition to these brownies.

combine chocolate chips, butter and water and microwave until chocolate is melted

whisk in sugar, then eggs

whisk in flour, cocoa powder and salt

pour batter into prepared pan and bake

melt caramel candies and milk together and pour over cooled brownies

sprinkle toasted coconut over the top and press gently

allow caramel to cool completely, then cut and serve

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As soon as I saw this recipe for Italian Beer Bread I could not wait for an excuse to make it.  And so on Super Bowl Sunday, a day when beer in anything goes, I had already added a bottle of beer to my chili and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to keep the theme going and make this bread.

Although I am certainly overcoming my fear of yeast breads, I still appreciate the ease and convenience of a bread that can be ready to place into the oven in a matter of minutes.  This bread is dense, moist and flavorful with a lightly crunchy outside crust.  The mix-in combinations and therefore flavor possibilities are virtually endless.  I kept it simple in this batch with Italian seasoning, red  pepper flakes, cheese and a little garlic powder, but I think next time I will add fresh garlic and chopped sun dried tomatoes to the dough.

As if the bread isn’t’ special enough, a kicked-up compound butter is the perfect thing to top it off.  The components of this Sundried Tomato Basil butter are so great that if you want to try to limit your indulgences, you could even use a butter substitute of your choice and not feel like you are missing anything.

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combine all dry ingredients

add beer and stir to combine

place dough into prepared loaf pan and bake

for the compound butter, combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth

serve bread warm smeared with butter

What is your favorite quick bread and/or flavor of compound butter?

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