Valentine’s Day Heart-Shaped Brownies

I’ve never really cared about Valentine’s Day one way or the other. I like getting chocolate and flowers, so I won’t complain, but I’ve never been a girl to freak out about Valentine’s Day goodies.

More importantly, Valentine’s Day is mine and Zack’s anniversary! That’s so much more important that Valentine’s Day! I think everyone should celebrate our anniversary instead 😉

These brownies were actually quite fun to make. I made a TON of them. Oops. They all got eaten, though 🙂

Valentine’s Day Heart-Shaped Brownies

– 1 lb unsalted butter

– 1 lb semi-sweet chocolate

– 6 oz unsweetened chocolate

– 7 large eggs

– 2 T vanilla extract

– 2 1/4 c granulated white sugar

– 1 c AP flour, divided

– 1 T baking powder

1 t salt

– 1 bag melting candies (any color)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 12x8x1″ pan. Line with foil that hangs over the edge for ease in getting them out.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Remove from heat and add chocolate, mixing until smooth. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and sugar. Stir the egg mixture into the slightly cooled chocolate mixture. Cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt then add to batter. Pour into prepared baking pan and smooth top with rubber spatula.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean with a few crumbs attached. Do not overbake. Let cool completely, then cover tightly and chill. (to expedite this process, I stuck mine straight from oven to freezer). Chilled brownies are easier to cut.

Put the whole slab of brownies on a large cutting board and start cutting out hearts. To make more hearts, cut one row right side up and the next row upside down.

Melt desired coating in a bowl, in the microwave, and stir until smooth. Brush crumbs off the top of the brownies and hold onto the sides toward the bottom. Dunk the tops into the melted chocolate and place on waxed paper to dry.

Hershey’s Kisses Birthday Cake

Once upon a time there were two high school girls.  They had known each other for years, but had never been very close.  Both worked at a local nonprofit organization and got stuck organizing a social gathering for the organization.

The social gathering was a lot of work to plan and it was a blast to attend.  The two girls bonded throughout the process and they became completely inseparable.  They found out that they had very complementary personalities and almost identical senses of humor.  For the remainder of high school, they spent as much time as possible together.  They were the definition of best friends.

However, high school ended and they had decided on schools that were on opposite sides of the state.  It was really hard on both of them.  Although they no longer got to spent a lot of time together, they still maintained a relationship and hung out over breaks.

Three years into college, they still consider each other a best friend.

I thought that little story was important background info before I discuss this cake.  I made this cake for that girl’s birthday.  Her birthday was actually at the end of November, but we didn’t have a chance to get together until this week.  Hey, who would complain, she got multiple birthday celebrations! 😉

Mackenzie, the girl from the story, is a wonderful friend and I really enjoyed making this cake for her.  She seemed to like it and it was really great to spend some time with her.

Hershey’s Kisses Birthday Cake

– 2 c sugar

– 1 3/4 c AP flour

– 3/4 c cocoa

– 1 1/2 t baking powder

– 1 1/2 t baking soda

– 1 t salt

– 2 eggs

– 1 c milk

– 1/2 c vegetable oil

– 2 t vanilla extract

– 1 c boiling water

– vanilla buttercream frosting

– hershey’s kisses

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 9″ round baking pans or one 13x9x2″ pan.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.  Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat w/ electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).  Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 30-35 minutes for round pans, 35-40 minutes for rectangular pans or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes, turn onto wire racks.  Cool completely.  Prepare vanilla buttercream frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

– 1/3 c butter or margarine, softened

– 4 c powdered sugar, divided

– 3-4 T milk

– 1 1/2 t vanilla extract

Beat butter with electric mixer on medium speed in large bowl with creamy.  With mixer running, gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar, beating until well blended.  Slowly beat in milk and vanilla.  Gradually add remaining powdered sugar, beating until smooth.  Add additional milk, if necessary, until frosting is desired consistency.

Frost cake.  Remove wrappers from chocolates, garnish top and sides of cake with chocolates.

Christmas Candy

One of the best thing about the holidays is how much baking and cooking I get to do.  I made a bunch of goodies to take to various places and all of it got eaten except for a couple of marshmallows.

I had never made any of this stuff before and all of it turned out perfectly, except for the potato candy.  I don’t think I added enough sugar to make the candy stiff, because it was really runny.  It tasted good, but it looked awful.

Someone told me that homemade marshmallows are DELICIOUS and I was curious if this was true.  To me, a marshmallow is a marshmallow.  Well, my mind has been blown.  These things were just as delicious as I told they would be.  Plus, they were so easy to make!  They would be great in hot cocoa (or just plain like I ate them).

Making all of this stuff was so enjoyable. I’m going to make more goodies for Zack to take to work with him on Christmas eve.

People seem to really appreciate when I bring them goodies and it makes me feel so good.  I love making people happy!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

– 12 oz dark chocolate

– 1/3 c creamy peanut butter

– 1/4 c confectioners’ sugar

– 1/4 c crushed graham crackers

In a bowl, mix together the peanut butter, confectioners’ sugar and graham crackers.  Set aside.

Melt the chocolate (using microwave, double boiler, or chocolate melter).

Using a pastry brush, clean paintbrush, or even the back of a spoon, brush the melted chocolate on the bottom and sides of 12 mini cupcake liners.  It’s helpful to stack some liners together to give more support.  When in doubt, add more chocolate, since this will be the base for your candy.  Place the cupcake liners on a plate or in a cupcake tin and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Remove the liners from the freezer and place about 1 teaspoon of the peanut butter mixture in each cup.  Press down a bit with a spoon to spread.  Spoon more melted chocolate on top of each cup.

Place the peanut butter cups back in the freezer for another 15 minutes to set.  Eat cold or let warm to room temperature before serving.

Potato Candy

– 1 medium potato

– 1 large bag confectioners sugar

– peanut butter

Boil the potato until soft.  Mash with a fork.  Stir in confectioners sugar gradually until mixture forms a dough.  Roll dough out on sugared surface in a rectangular form.  Spread peanut butter thinly over entire rectangle.  Roll the length.  Slice into pieces.  Store at room temperature.

Haystacks

– 24 oz butterscotch chips

– 1 large bag chow mein noodles

– 2 c peanuts (unsalted or lightly salted)

Melt chips and pour over noodles and peanuts.  Make haystacks on wax paper.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

– 3/4 c butter

– 3 c sugar

– 1 (5 oz) can evaporated milk

– 1 (12 oz) pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips

– 1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow cream

– 3/4 c creamy peanut butter

– 1 t vanilla

Microwave butter in 4-qt bowl on high 1 minute or until melted.  Add sugar and milk; mix well.  Microwave on high for 5 minutes until mixture begins to boil, stirring after 3 minutes.  Mix well.  Scrape bowl.  Microwave 5 1/2 minutes, stirring after 3 minutes.

Stir in chocolate pieces until smooth and melted.  Add remaining ingredients; mix well.

Pour into a buttered 9×13 pan.  Makes 3 lbs.

Peanut Butter Balls

– 1 lb powdered sugar

– 1 stick butter

– 8 oz peanut butter

– 1 t vanilla

– 12 oz chocolate chips

– 1/4 block paraffin wax

Mix sugar, melted butter, peanut butter, and vanilla.  Roll into balls and place in refrigerator.  Melt wax and chocolate chips.  Dip balls in chocolate and place on wax paper to cool.

Marshmallows

– 3 pkgs unflavored gelatin

– 1 c ice cold water, divided

– 12 oz granulated sugar (~ 1 1/2 c)

– 1 c light corn syrup

– 1/4 t salt

– 1 t vanilla extract

– 1/4 c confectioners’ sugar

– 1/4 c cornstarch

– nonstick spray

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 c of the water.  Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 c water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt.  Place over medium-high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes.  Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees (about 7-8 minutes).  Once a mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from heat.

Turn the mixture on low speed, and while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture.  Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high.  Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12-15 minutes.  Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping.  When the mixture is whipping, prepare the pans as follows.

Combine the confectioners sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl.  Lightly spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan.  Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover.  Reserve the rest for later use.  Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture.  Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary.  Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Christmas Dinner # 2 Desserts

As I mentioned in Mini Bread Loaves, my mom had her annual Christmas dinner on Sunday.  I was enlisted to make some desserts.

I’d been wanting to try out these recipes for a while, but hadn’t had an opportunity, especially for the banana one, because, gasp, Zack isn’t a big fan of bananas.

I’m glad that I got to sample both of them, but I think they were both one time things.  Neither really knocked my socks off.

The Wassail tea was really good, though.  I will definitely make that again.  In fact, I saved some of it to give to my dad.  He loves wassail.

I’m also taking the leftover desserts to work with me and hopefully they will get gobbled up!

Also, I cannot believe Christmas is in 5 days! Oh my gosh!  I am so excited!

Banana Split Pie

– 1 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs

– 6 T butter, melted

– 3 medium bananas

– 4 oz cream cheese, softened

– 8 oz cool whip

– 1/2 stick butter, softened

– 1 c confectioners sugar

– small can pineapple

– various toppings of choice: ex) chocolate syrup, sprinkles, cherries, nuts, etc

Mix melted butter and graham cracker crumbs and press into an ungreased 8×8 baking dish.

Mix confectioners sugar, cream cheese and 1/2 stick butter together until fluffy.  Slice bananas into crust.  Add fluffy mixture on top, then add fluffy mixture.  Sprinkle pineapple on top and cover with cool whip.

Top with various toppings before serving.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Dessert

Prep: 20 minutes + chilling

– 20 chocolate cream filled sandwich cookies, divided

– 2 T butter, melted

– 1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

– 1/2 c peanut butter

– 1 1/2 c confectioners’ sugar, divided

– 1 carton, 16 oz, frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided

– 15 miniature peanut butter cups, chopped

– 1 pkg (3.4 oz) instant chocolate fudge pudding mix

– 1 1/2 c milk

Crush 16 cookies, toss with the butter.  Press into an ungreased dish.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter and 1 cup confectioners’ sugar until smooth.  Fold in half of the whipped topping.  Spread over crust.  Sprinkle with peanut butter cups.

In another large bowl, beat the milk, pudding mix and remaining confectioners’ sugar on low speed for 2 minutes.  Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set.  Fold in remaining whipped topping.  Spread the pudding mixture over the peanut butter cups.  Crush the remaining cookies, sprinkle over the top.  Cover and chill dessert for at least 3 hours.

Wassail

– 1 c sugar

– 4 c water

– 4 cinnamon sticks

– 1 t allspice

– 1 t cloves

– 1 qt orange juice

– 2 c pineapple juice

– 2 qt apple cider or juice

Simmer for several (at least 2) hours.  Serve hot.

Christmas Party Goodies!

Zack and I got to go to the first Christmas party of the season last weekend.  His boss had a dinner party for the management and office employees.  I really enjoyed going, because I got to meet the people that Zack works with.  It was really nice to get to put faces with names that I’ve heard Zack talk about.

Everyone was so nice, too!  Plus there was lots of good food.

Zack and I took a platter of desserts – peanut butter and chocolate fudge and cookie balls and a plate of jalapeno cheddar bite appetizers.  People seemed to like both plates of stuff.

There were some leftovers on both plates, so I took them to work with me Monday and every bit got snatched up 🙂

I forgot to take a picture of the platter of goodies which sucks, because the fudge and cookie balls looked so cute arranged on the platter!  Oh well, at least I got individual pictures.

Christmas Tree Cool Mint Oreo Cookie Balls

Prep: 30 minutes, plus refrigerating. Makes about 24 cookie balls.

– 6 oz package cream cheese, softened

– 1 pkg (15. 25 oz) Oreo cool mint cream cookies, finely crushed

– 2 pkg (6 squares each) white chocolate, melted

– 6 drops green food coloring

– red and green decorating icing

Mix cream cheese and cookie crumbs until well blended.

Shape into 1″ balls; place on waxed paper covered baking sheet.  Freeze 10 minutes.  Mix melted chocolate and food coloring until well blended.  Dip balls in chocolate; return to baking sheet.  Squiggle green and red icing onto balls to make Christmas trees.  Let stand until chocolate is firm.  Keep refrigerated.

Chocolate Fudge

Prep: 10 minutes.  Cook: 30 minutes.  Cool 2 hours.  Stand 1-2 hours.

– 4 c sugar

– 1 1/3 c milk

– 1/4 c corn syrup

– 1/4 t salt

– 4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate

– 1/4 c butter

– 2 t vanilla

Grease bottom and sides of square pan, 8×8 with butter.

Butter sides of heavy 3-qt saucepan.  Place sugar, milk, corn syrup, salt, and chocolate in saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and sugar is dissolved.  Cook, about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, to 234 degrees on candy thermometer or until small amount of mixture dropped into a cup of very cold water forms a soft ball that flattens when removed from water; remove from heat.  Drop butter on top, but do not stir.

Cool mixture without stirring to 110 degrees, about 2 hours (bottom of saucepan will be lukewarm). Add vanilla.  Beat vigorously and continuously using wooden spoon until fudge begins to thicken.  Then, continue beating 5-10 minutes until mixture is thick and no longer glossy.

Quickly, spread or press into pan.  Let stand about 1-2 hours or until firm.  Cut into 1-inch squares.

Peanut Butter Fudge

– 8 T butter, plus more for greasing pan

– 1 c smooth peanut butter

– 1 t vanilla extract

– 1 lb powdered sugar

Combine the butter and peanut butter in a 4-qt microwave safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave for 2 minutes on high.  Stir and microwave on high for 2 more minutes.  It will be HOT.  Add the vanilla and powdered sugar to mixture and stir to combine with a wooden spoon.  Mixture will become hard to stir and lose its sheen.  Spread into a buttered 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper.  Fold the excess parchment paper so it covers the surface of the fudge and refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours.  Cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Jalapeno Cheese Bites

– 1 can pizza dough

– 2 jalapeno peppers, halved, seeded, blanched, and sliced

– 1 – 1 1/2 t olive oil

– salt & pepper

– 1 t mixed dried herbs (oregano, parsley, basil)

– ~ 1 c Tex-Mex shredded cheese

Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Press down the dough on a lightly floured surface.  Then pull and stretch the dough into a rectangular shape.

Spread the oil on the dough and gently press it into a 14×8 inch rectangle.  Sprinkle some salt, herbs, pepper, cheese, and jalapeno peppers onto the dough.

Roll up the dough as tightly as you can.  Pinch both ends, and slice the log into 3/4″ – 1″ rounds.  Place the rolls on the baking sheet, cut side up, and bake for about 16-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and light golden brown in color.

Makes about 14 bites.

Halloween Goodies

I’ve been waiting for this all month.

I have a special section in my recipe binder entitled “Halloween” and I’ve been looking at it for weeks just waiting until I got to try them out.  Well, yesterday was finally the day.  At Zack’s place of employment, they are dressing up today and doing all sorts of Halloween-esque things, so I used that as an excuse to send these goodies with him.

I had a recipe for popcorn owls that was ADORABLE and the recipe I was most looking forward to trying out, but it was a disaster.  I thought about still including the recipe in here, but it was THAT much of a disaster that I threw it away.

I’ll still include a picture of the one owl I attempted.  To make them, you made popcorn balls (one big and one smaller) and stuck them together to form the body and head of the owl.  You then were supposed to decorate them with various candies and adhere them to the owl using marshmallow creme.  Well, the marshmallow creme did not hold and caused everything to slide right off, so I tried using some frosting.  Same problem.  I was disappointed.

See how awful it looks? Somebody needs to go to cosmetology school. I had to hold the eyes on until the last second when  I took the picture, because they slid off that fast.  They would have been adorable had they worked.  Oh well, at least my other stuff turned out well.

Quick Ghost Cookies

These were so easy to make and I think they’re adorable!  I talked to my mom yesterday and she was making a batch of these, too.  I guess great minds think alike!

These would be cute with mouths painted on, too, but I was pretty tired by this point (I made these next to last), so they will have to wait until next year to get mouths.

Prep/Total Time: 30 minutes

– 1 lb white candy coating, coarsely chopped

– 1 package (1 lb) Nutter Butter peanut butter cookies

– miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Melt candy coating (in microwave, double boiler, or candy melter), stirring occasionally.  Dip cookies into coating, covering completely.  Place on waxed paper.

Brush ends with bakery brush dipped in coating where fingers touched cookies.  While coating is still warm, place 2 chips on each cookie for eyes.  Let stand until set.  Store in an airtight container.

Yield: about 3 dozen.

Miniature Witches

I loved making these.  It is strictly just assembling the parts (which I like) so it is more like you are doing a craft instead of baking.  I would definitely make these again.

You could used canned icing to decorate these, but I just used some left over icing from when I made cake pops (shown below).

Prep/Total Time: 30 minutes

– 1/2 cup vanilla frosting, divided

– 36 mini semisweet chocolate chips

– 12 large marshmallows

– 1 drop each green, red, yellow food coloring

– 1/4 c flaked coconut

– 12 chocolate wafers

– 12 mini peanut butter cups

– 12 milk chocolate kisses

For the face of each witch, place a dab of the frosting on the bottom of three chocolate chips; press two for eyes and one for each nose onto each marshmallow.

For hair, combine green food coloring and a drop of water in a small resealable plastic bag.  Add coconut and shake well.  Spread a small amount of frosting on the side of marshmallows.  Press coconut into frosting.  Place 2 tablespoons of frosting in a small heavy duty resealable plastic bag.  Tint orange with yellow and red food coloring, set aside.

For hats, spread some of the remaining frosting in the center of the chocolate wafers, press the peanut butter cups upside down into frosting.  Lightly spread bottoms of chocolate kisses with frosting.  Place on the peanut butter cups.  Cut a small hole in the corner of pastry or plastic bag, insert a small star tip (I used tip 16).  Fill the bag with frosting and pipe stars around the base of each peanut butter cup.  Secure the hat to each witch with a dab of frosting.

Yield: 1 dozen.

Pumpkin Pie Fudge

If you had asked me two weeks ago if I would try this (or even bake it) I would have looked at you in utter disgust.  My whole life I’ve had a strong aversion to pumpkin food, but I finally gave in last week and made a pumpkin roll…and it was delicious.

I had some pumpkin left over from it, so when I saw this recipe I knew it had to be added to the Halloween goodies menu.

I’m a big fan of fudge and this is AMAZING.  It has such a good flavor and it literally melts in your mouth.  It’s easy to make, too.

– 2 cups white sugar

– 1 cup light brown sugar

– 3/4 cup butter

– 2/3 cup condensed milk

– 1/2 cup canned pumpkin

– 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

– 1 package white chocolate chips

– 1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow creme

– 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

– 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper, set aside.

In a saucepan, combine the sugars, butter, condensed milk, pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice.  Heat until all the ingredients are combined and begin to boil.  Stirring constantly, allow the mixture to boil for about 10 minutes or until it reaches 234 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Remove from pan and quickly stir in the white chocolate chips, marshmallow creme, nuts (if using), and vanilla until all ingredients are fully combined and the chips are melted.  Immediately pour the fudge into your prepared baking dish and let sit on a wire rack for at least 2 hours to cool.  Store in the refrigerator.

Cut fudge into squares before serving.

Halloween Cake Pops

I love the idea of a cake pop.  Bite size pieces of cake, mixed with icing, covered in chocolate?  Count me in!  I’ve been wanting to make some for a while, but hadn’t had a reason to until now.

The only “bad” thing about making cake pops is that there is so much idle time…wait for the cake to bake, wait for it to cool, wait for the balls to harden in the freezer, wait for the coating to harden…

I would definitely make them again, though.  I was very pleased with the way that they turned out.  I made half of them with the Halloween sprinkles like shown below and half just plain chocolate.

Here they all are arranged in their bouquets.  Aren’t they adorable?  I individually wrapped each one in a treat bag so that they would be easy to grab and take with them.

Cake:

– 2 1/4 cup AP flour

– 1 2/3 cup sugar

– 2/3 cup shortening

– 1 1/4 cups milk

– 3 1/2 tsp baking powder

– 1 tsp salt

– 1 tsp vanilla

– 5 large egg whites

– food coloring, optional

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease bottom and sides of 9×13 pan.

Beat all ingredients together except egg whites and food coloring in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl occasionally.  Beat on high speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.

Beat in egg whites on high speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.  Stir in food coloring, if using.  Pour into pan.

Bake 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on wire rack completely, about 1 hour.

Buttercream Frosting:

– 2 sticks butter, softened

– 1/2 tablespoon clear vanilla extract

– 1 lb confectioners’ sugar

– 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream or milk

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy.  Slowly add in confectioners’ sugar and continue creaming until well blended.

Add vanilla, 1 tablespoon of heavy cream or milk.  Blend on low speed until moistened.  Add an additional 1-2 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk until you reach the desired consistency.  Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

Make Pops:

– cake

– icing

– 1 bag melting chocolate (12 oz) any color

– 1 bag lollipop sticks

– 1 bag treat bags

Once the cake has completely cooled, begin gently crumbling the cake.  Place sections of the cake into a large bowl, 1/4 of the cake at a time.  When you’re finished, you should have a bunch of very fine cake crumbs.

Use two forks to work the icing into the cake.  Keep working until the icing is no longer visible.  It will eventually blend in entirely.

Next, roll the mixture into balls – make them about walnut size – a small ice cream scoop could help with this.

Pop them in the freezer, uncovered, for at least an hour.  The cake balls need to be very firm before coating them.

When cake balls are nice and firm, go ahead and melt your candy coating, stirring occasionally.

Insert a stick sideways into each ball (paying attention to flat part on bottom).  Now you can either dip in chocolate or spoon it over top.  Be sure to thoroughly coat bottom of ball where it meets the stick.  Lay them back down onto waxed or parchment paper, paying attention to flat part (put against parchment again).

Now decorate & put into treat bags!

My FAVORITE Dessert – Peanut Butter Lovers Dessert

It’s no secret that I LOVE peanut butter.  I love it anyway you can imagine – on a spoon straight from the jar, any kind of baked goods, and with bananas.

Both of my parents share this obsession, too, and it’s growing on Zack.

That said, this is my absolute favorite dessert.  It is heavenly.

The only bad thing is, it’s really easy to make, so I make it more than I should…my waistline doesn’t like it 😉

What’s that in there? A hidden layer of chocolate?  OH YES.  Just another delicious part of this delectable dessert.

This dessert is best served cold (and really good frozen, too!).

Peanut Butter Lovers Dessert

Prep: 20 minutes.  12 servings.

– 15 peanut butter sandwich cookies (I used Nutter Butters)

– 3 tablespoons butter, melted

– 8 oz cream cheese, softened

– 12 oz whipped topping

– 1/2 cup sugar

– 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

– 2 teaspoons vanilla

– 2 squares semi-sweet baking chocolates, melted

Line a 9″ loaf pan with aluminum foil.  Crush 10 of the peanut butter cookies and mix with the melted butter.  Press the cookie mixture into the bottom of the loaf pan until it is nice and compacted.

Mix the cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla until well blended.  Stir in 3 cups of the whipped topping; mixing well.  Remove 1/2 cup of the cream cheese mixture into a small dish, stir in melted chocolate and set aside.

Spoon half of the cream cheese mixture into the loaf pan, over the cookie crust and spread evenly.

Add the chocolate mixture on top and spread evenly, trying not to mix with the bottom layer.  Add the remaining cream cheese mixture on top of the chocolate mixture and spread evenly.

Freeze for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Remove from freezer and invert onto a plate, remove the aluminum foil and then re-invert onto a serving platter (cookie crust should be the bottom).

Break the remainder of the cookies into medium sized chunks.  Top the dessert with remaining whipped topping and sprinkle with broken cookies.

Cut into slices and serve.  Store remaining dessert in the refrigerator.

Homemade Kit Kat Candy Bars

Poor Zack.  He’s been deprived.  He’s been asking me to make him some Homemade Kit Kats for months, but I’ve always either forgotten or decided to make something else.

Last night we were grocery shopping and he picked up a Kit Kat to put in our cart and I said, “okay, okay okay, I will make you some homemade ones when I get home.”

These things are difficult in some ways and easy in others to make.  They require no baking (the easy part), but they are nearly impossible to break into bars at the end (the hard part).

The end verdict: Zack says they were very good, but not too much like actual Kit-Kats…I guess I will keep trying.

You can see how poorly they broke up.  Some pieces wouldn’t break at all and others shattered.

A view of the bars still in the baking dish.  They look yummy to me. 🙂

Homemade Kit Kats

– 1 box square butter crackers (like Club crackers)

– 1 cup butter (2 sticks)

– 2 cups graham cracker crumbs

– 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

– 1/2 cup white sugar

– 1/2 cup milk

– 2 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips

– 1 1/2 cup butterscotch chips

– 1 cup peanut butter chips

You need: a 13×9 inch baking dish, a smaller baking dish, plastic wrap, and cooking spray.

Spray the smaller pan with cooking spray and lay crackers edge-to-edge along the bottom.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the milk.

Add the sugars and bring to a boil.

Stir in the graham cracker crumbs and cook for 5 minutes.

Pour about 1/2 of the filling over the layer of crackers.

Make another layer of crackers in the same way as the first.

Pour the rest of the filling over your crackers.

Make a third layer of crackers on top.

Cover with cling wrap and put in the refrigerator to firm up (or freezer if you’re in a hurry).

Cut the pan of crackers into sticks after the candy has cooled and then returned to room temperature.

Melt the three kinds of chips in a double boiler, microwave, or candy melter until smooth and creamy.  Pay attention, because the butterscotch chips are difficult to get completely melted.

Cover a larger baking dish in plastic wrap.  Pour in a layer of chocolate and allow to set.

Arrange the bars you cut previously on top of the chocolate layer.

Coat the bars in another layer of chocolate, making sure to cover the tops and sides.

Once they’re set, break them up into bars.

Good luck!

Frozen Banana Bites

In keeping with my banana addiction, I decided to try out making my own Banana Babies (the frozen bananas dipped in chocolate).  This was much easier said than done.

This is very messy, so be prepared.  It was also difficult for me to make the chocolate completely stick to the bananas, so I bought a Wilton Chocolate Melter and am excited to see if that makes it easier.  I haven’t had a chance to try out the bananas with it yet, though.

To do this, you’ll need:

– 2 or 3 bananas, sliced like shown in the picture

– whatever toppings you want (nuts, coconut, peanut butter, candy, etc.)

– 1/2 cup chocolate chips

– 1-2 tablespoons milk

After slicing your bananas, put them on a wax paper lined plate or baking sheet and freeze until solid (a few hours, depending on how thick the bananas are sliced).

When they are frozen through, place chocolate in a small saucepan and melt over low heat.  Add the milk and stir well.

Coat each banana piece with the chocolate mixture and return to the wax paper lined baking sheet.  Immediately place toppings on the bananas after dipping before the chocolate hardens.  Toppings are optional, I like mine plain.

You can also pour whatever chocolate mixture is left over on top of the banana bites.

Yum!:)

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzels

These are heaven.  There’s no other way to describe them.

I’ve seen a recipe for them popping up all over the internet lately and then my friend, Demeter, sent me the recipe telling me I should make them.

I am so glad I listened to her!

In case I haven’t mentioned it a thousand times before, peanut butter is my FAVORITE.  I also love chocolate and anything crunchy.  Those things make these the perfect little dessert for me.

I bought a Wilton chocolate melter last weekend and have been looking forward to trying it out.  It made dipping these in chocolate a breeze.  Every other time I have had to use melted chocolate, I’ve just melted in the microwave.  That’s such a pain because halfway through whatever you’re doing, the chocolate will harden and you’ll have to spend time re-melting it only for it to happen again.  Well, never again! I am so glad I bought the chocolate melter.  (okay, that’s enough sounding like an infomercial).

Demeter doesn’t know that I made these.  I can’t wait to surprise her with them.  I hope she likes them!

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzels

1 cup creamy peanut butter

2 tbsp softened butter

½ cup powdered sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

bag of pretzels

1 bag semi sweet chocolate chips

Combine peanut butter and softened butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Add the sugars and mix to combine.

Break off pieces of the mix (enough to cover the bottom pretzel) and roll into a ball, then sandwich between two whole pretzels. When all the balls are rolled and successfully sandwiched, stick the whole tray in the freezer for about half an hour.

Pour the chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and heat at 30-second intervals (stirring after each) until completely melted or use a chocolate melter to make it a lot easier. Remove the pretzel sandwiches from the freezer and quickly dip each halfway into the melted chocolate. Return to the tray and repeat with the remaining sandwiches. When all are dipped, return the tray to the freezer to set up completely. Store the sandwiches in the refrigerator until serving time.