CRANBERRY WHITE CHOCOLATE MACAROONS ~ BLOG 366.151

We found the most amazing bakery, The Baker’s Table, on our last trip and they made the BEST Cranberry White Chocolate Macaroons! I just had to recreate these delectable bites! I added the chocolate dip bottom as an option 😀 Just saying you can never have too much chocolate!And you can change the color to coordinate with holidays.

Funny story though is that they had very few left. I bought all they had and was telling my nephew about them at lunch. I told him I’d quarter them and bring them to dinner so everyone could try a piece. After lunch he took his daughter and niece into the village and was so proud that he found a bakery selling them. LOL he sent me this picture of my nieces eating MACARONS which led to a discussion at dinner about the difference between a macaron and a macaroon 😀

So, for those who don’t know the difference, a macaron is a sandwich-like cookie filled with jam, ganache, or buttercream.A macaroon is a drop cookie made using shredded coconut. Preparation for each of these cookies is incredibly different, even though they start out with many of the same ingredients. Not to mention the mouth feel and texture of the cookie itself.

CRANBERRY WHITE CHOCOLATE MACAROONS – yields 2 dozen

3 LARGE egg whites at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon PURE vanilla or almond
½ teaspoon orange extract
pinch of salt
½ cup dried cranberries, FINELY chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated orange OR lemon zest
3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
4 ounces PURE white chocolate, grated (see notes)
Dipping chocolate (almond bark), melted (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 325°.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

  • Beat egg whites until frothy, then add sugar, extracts and salt, beating 2-3 minutes.

  • Gently fold in cranberries, zest, coconut and white chocolate.

  • Using a cookie scoop, press firmly into the scoop and carefully drop mounds onto baking sheets about 2 inches apart, making sure you have them nicely mounded.

  • Bake at 325°F for 12- 15 minutes until golden, watching carefully as they brown quickly.
Cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Melt almond bark in microwave at 30 second intervals until melted.
  • Dip cookie bottoms in chocolate.
  • Cool until firm on wax paper.


Note

  • Not all brands of white chocolate will melt. Be sure and check the label. In order to melt, the ingredients must include cocoa butter.
  • These cookies freeze really well, so you can make them ahead of time which makes them a holiday favorite. Store them in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.

MOCHA RUM TRUFFLES ~ BLOG 366.142

MOCHA RUM TRUFFLES (makes 5 dozen 1 inch candies)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (see notes)
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons rum (see notes)
2 teaspoons QUALITY instant coffee
Powdered sugar for rolling
optional FINELY chopped nuts, dehydrated fruits or coconut

  • In a double boiler melt chocolate until smooth.
  • Remove from heat, but keep chocolate bowl over the hot water.
  • Add butter and egg yolks, beating with whisk until smooth.
  • Add coconut and/or nuts if using.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together the rum and instant coffee.
  • Add chocolate mixture to rum mixture, stirring until smooth.
  • Add to an ice bath and chill 20-25 minutes until fudge like in consistency (it will be quite thick), but yet smooth and creamy.
  • At this point you can either roll it into balls and then roll the balls in the powdered sugar OR you can fill a decorative tipped piping bag with the fudge and pipe into decorative rosettes and then sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  • Let candies stand an hour before serving.

NOTES:

  • Using all semi-sweet chips makes a deep and rich truffle. If you’d like something a bit lighter try using milk chocolate chips or a half and half combination of chips.
  • You can change up the flavor with flavored rums. I like using Malibu which gives you a nice hint of coconut. You can also add some FINELY chopped coconut in the chocolate mixture for some added texture.

MARGARITA BALLS ~ BLOG 366.121

What goes good with Tacos? Margaritas of course 😀

MARGARITA BALLS

12 ounces vanilla wafers, crushed
1/2 pound ground almonds
4 ounces white chocolate
1/4 cup QUALITY tequila
1/4 cup QUALITY orange marmalade
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 + cup powdered sugar

  • Mix together the vanilla wafers and the ground almonds.
  • Melt white chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments until smooth.
  • In a small blender process tequila, orange marmalade and light corn syrup until smooth.
  • Stir in crumb mixture and chocolate until well blended.
  • Using gloved hands, shape into 1 inch balls.
  • Coat with sugar and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

MAGIC KINGDOM COOKIES ~ BLOG 366.86

I collect old recipe boxes full of old recipes. One of my more recent boxes had a recipe in it for “Disneyland 40th Anniversary Cookies”. Disneyland’s 40th anniversary would have been July 17, 1995. The recipe card had so many notations on it that it was really difficult to decipher. I did a bit of research, but didn’t find a specific recipe for a 40th anniversary cookie. I did the best I could, but ultimately made my own recipe out of the notes, hence the new name. These cookies have become our new family favorites!

MAGIC KINGDOM COOKIES makes 5 dozen
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 LARGE eggs
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
1 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup quick oats
1 cup ground walnuts
1 cup shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup raisins *see note*

  • Sift together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.
  • Cream together the butter, peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until creamy.
  • Add walnuts, coconut and flour mixture alternately until all incorporated.
  • Fold in chocolate chips and Craisins until well blended.
  • Chill mixture 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Scoop cookies with 1 inch scoop onto parchment lined cookie sheets.
  • Bake 15 minutes.
  • Cool on cookie sheets 10 minutes before moving to wax paper to cool completely.

NOTE: I was out out regular raisin so I used Craisins the first time and then golden raisin the next time. The golden raisins are my favorite.

OATMEAL CREAM PIES ~ BLOG 366.51

OATMEAL CREAM PIES
Soft and chewy oatmeal cookies sandwiched together with a delicious orange vanilla buttercream to create the perfect dessert.

COOKIES
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup PACKED light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 LARGE eggs
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon QUALITY ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups quick or old fashioned oatmeal

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Cream together butter and sugars 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Add in eggs and vanilla, mixing until well combined.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  • Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mixing until JUST combined.
  • Add in oats and mix until incorporated.
  • Use a large cookie scoop (about 3 tablespoons) to drop dough onto prepared cookie sheets.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown, turning baking trays half way through.
  • Allow cookies to sit on cookie sheets for about 5 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.

CREAM FILLING
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon orange extract

1/2 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
1 tablespoon WHOLE milk

  • Beat butter on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Turn the speed down to low and gradually add in the powdered sugar. Continue mixing on low speed until the powdered sugar is completely incorporated.
  • Add in vanilla extract and milk and mix until well combined.
  • Turn mixer back up to medium-high speed and beat the mixture for an additional 3-5 minutes. If needed, add in a little more cream 1 teaspoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

ASSEMBLY

To assemble the cookies, pipe or spread the cream filling on the flat side of half of the cookies and put the remaining cookies on top.

NOTE: To makes small cookies, use a medium cookie scoop (about 1.5 tablespoons) of dough per cookie and bake for 10-12 minutes.

WALNUT SNICKERDOODLES ~ BLOG 366.30

WALNUT SNICKERDOODLES
1 1/2 cups roasted walnuts, divided in half
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon WHOLE milk
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla
1 teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon
1 1/2 cups AP flour

  • Process 3/4 cup of walnuts in food processor until JUST FINELY ground. Set aside.
  • Beat butter until creamy in a large bowl.
  • Add powdered sugar, beating until incorporated.
  • Add milk, vanilla and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, mixing to combine.
  • Add flour and combine well.
  • Fold in ALL the nuts until well combined.
  • Roll and wrap dough in waxed paper.
  • Chill 1 hour.

1/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon

  • Preheat oven to 325°.
  • Combine sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl.
  • Shape dough into 2 inch balls and roll in the cinnamon sugar mix.
  • Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Flatten balls slightly with the bottom of a drinking glass.
  • Sprinkle any remaining sugar mixture over the cookies.
  • Bake 12-15 minutes until bottoms are slightly brown.
  • Cool 2 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

NOTE:

  • BE SURE AND ROAST THE WALNUTS! Toasting the nuts deepens their flavor. The same is true of all nuts and coconut too.
  • For the espresso version I added espresso chocolate chips.

COOKING THURSDAY ~ SNICKERDOODLE CHEESECAKE BARS ~ BLOG 366.18

For years many trusted name brands featured recipes on the labels – Bisquick, Campbell’s Soup, Quaker Oats, Nestles, Philadelphia Cream Cheese… These days the recipes are fewer and farther between. I did decide to try a recent Philadelphia Cream Cheese recipe and found it exceptionally flavorless. A few tweaks later and we love the recipe.

SNICKERDOODLE CHEESECAKE BARS
CRUST

1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons QUALITY cinnamon
3/4 cup COLD butter

  • Preheat oven to 325°.
  • Line 8 inch baking pan with foil so that it overlaps to create handles.
  • Sift together the flour, sugar and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl.
  • Use a cheese grate and grate cold butter into bowl. Use a pastry blender or your gloved hands to cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse sand. Reserve 1/3 of the mixture to use as topping.
  • Press remaining dough into baking pan.
  • Bake 20 minutes until lightly browned.

FILLING
1/2 cup sugar
16 ounces QUALITY cream cheese
1 tablespoon PURE vanilla
Seeds from one vanilla bean
1/2 teaspoon PURE almond paste
1/4 cup sour cream
2 LARGE eggs

  • While crust is baking prepare the filling.
  • Beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, vanilla seeds and almond paste together until well blended.
  • Add sour cream and eggs one at a time, mixing on low JUST until blended.
  • Set aside until crust is done baking.

TOPPING
2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon.

  • Mix sugar and cinnamon together.

ASSEMBLY

  • When crust is out of the oven pour the filling into crust.
  • Top with reserved crumb topping.
  • Top with cinnamon sugar mixture.
  • Bake 45-50 minutes until center of cheesecake is almost set.
  • Cool COMPLETELY.
  • Refrigerate for 4-5 hours before cutting and serving.

COCONUT MILK CHOCOLATE MACADAMIA NUT COOKIES ~ BLOG 366.12

While on a holiday shopping trip last October, a bestie took me to a favorite coffeehouse of hers. Funny thing, I ordered iced tea, but she made me try her favorite cookie, a soft and chewy cookie that was LOADED with milk chocolate chips, macadamia nuts and a sweet shredded coconut.

I instantly fell in love – I mean heart thudding, swooning kind of love and had to immediately experiment to recreate these incredible cookies.

Well, I did actually wait until the next day, but boy did I nail it, if I do say so myself 😀

You will want to make these cookies a little on the larger side so that you get lots of chewy goodness in each and every bite.

COCONUT MILK CHOCOLATE MACADAMIA NUT COOKIES 16-18 cookies
1 cup cold butter, chopped
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 LARGE eggs
1 teaspoon almond paste

1 teaspoon PURE vanilla
1 1/2 cups of cake flour
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/2 cups QUALITY milk chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups Sweetened Flaked Coconut
1 1/2 cups Macadamia Nuts

  • Preheat oven to 375-400°.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together cold cubed butter, almond paste, brown sugar, and sugar for 4 minutes or until creamy.

  • Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each one.
  • Add vanilla.
  • 
Sift in flours, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt mixing until JUST combined.
  • Gradually add flour mixture into creamed mixture until well blended.
  • Fold in chocolate chips, coconut, and macadamia nuts. 

  • Roll dough into medium-sized balls and place on a silpat or parchment covered cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 9-12 minutes or until golden brown on the top.
  • Let them rest for AT LEAST 10 minutes to set.


COOKING THURSDAY ~ CREME-DE-MENTHE BROWNIES ~ BLOG 365.348

GRASSHOPPER BROWNIES
11 ounce package dark chocolate pieces
1/2 cup butter
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 LARGE eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
Creme-de-Menthe Filling (BELOW)
Dark Chocolate Ganache (BELOW)

  • In a medium saucepan, melt and stir 4 ounces (3/4 cup) of the dark chocolate pieces, butter, and the unsweetened chocolate over low heat.
  • Remove from heat; cool.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending the foil over the edges of the pan. Grease foil; set aside.
  • Stir sugar into the cooled chocolate mixture in saucepan.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon JUST until combined.
  • Stir in vanilla.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring just until combined.
  • Stir in the remaining 7 ounces (1-1/2 cups) dark chocolate pieces. Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
  • Spread Creme-de-Menthe Filling over cooled brownies.
  • Place uncut brownies in the refrigerator while preparing the Dark Chocolate Ganache.
  • Spread slightly cooled Dark Chocolate Ganache over Creme de Menthe Filling, spreading to the edges with a spatula.
  • Cover and chill about 1 hour or until set. Using the edges of the foil, lift the uncut brownies out of the pan. Cut into bars.
  • Place brownies in a single layer in an airtight container; cover. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

CREME-DE-MENTHE FILLING
3 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons GREEN creme de menthe
Milk (optional)

  • In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and butter.
  • Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer for 30 seconds.
  • Gradually beat in 1 cup of the powdered sugar.
  • Beat in creme-de-menthe.
  • Gradually beat in remaining powdered sugar. If necessary beat in 1 tablespoon of additional milk to make the filling slightly thicker than a frosting

CHOCOLATE GANACHE
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 11 ounce package dark chocolate pieces

  • In a medium saucepan, bring whipping cream JUST to boiling over medium-high heat.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add dark chocolate pieces (do not stir).
  • Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth.
  • Cool for 15 minutes.
  • Pour over brownies and QUICKLY spread evenly.

NOTE: You can substitute 2 tablespoons milk, 1/2 teaspoon mint extract, and several drops of green food coloring for the GREEN Creme-de-menthe.

CARMELITAS COOKIE BARS ~ BLOG 365.335

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL COOKIE BARS
adapted from https://donuts2crumpets.com/2016/03/caramelitas.html

These are awesome cookie bars with deliciously gooey layers of buttery oats, rich chocolate and creamy caramel.

2 (11 ounce) bags of Kraft caramel ball bits OR 22 ounces creamy Werthers caramels
1 cup whipping cream
2 cups quick cooking oats
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 cups – 3 sticks melted butter
1/4 cup spiced rum
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 cups mini semi sweet chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Pour the rum over the raisins and let sit 10 minutes.

 

  • Melt the caramel bits and whipping cream together in a large saucepan over medium heat until smooth. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl mix together the oats, brown sugar, flour and baking soda until combined well.
  • Stir in the melted butter until you have a crumbly mixture.
  • Press half of the oat mixture in to a greased 9×13 pan.
  • Bake 15 minutes.
  • Drain raisins of excess rum, saving the rum for a yummy drink later.
  • Sprinkle the raisins and chocolate chips over the baked base.
  • Drizzle the caramel over the raisins and chocolate chips (they will be swimming in it.)
  • Crumble remaining oat mixture evenly over the caramel layer.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes more.
  • Let cool for AT LEAST 4 hours on a wire rack, but the longer, the better if you can. Try to leave them over night. You can eat them sooner (if you must) BUT be warned you will just have a gooey mess, not bars!

NOTE: I like to keep these in the refrigerator! These bars are even yummier cold in my opinion!

MAPLE BACON BARS ~ BLOG 365.332

At first I thought these were going to be too savory of a dessert recipe, but hubby and the neighbors cleaned their plates and asked for more. The salty and sweet mixed together to make a tantalizing bite that leaves you craving more.They were a HUGE hit!

MAPLE BACON BARS
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 LARGE eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon WHOLE milk
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 strips bacon, diced and cooked crisp
1/3 cup small chopped walnuts

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Cream butter and brown sugar together until smooth and fluffy.
  • Beat in eggs, milk and vanilla.
  • Combine the flour, oats, baking powder and salt.
  • Gradually add the dry mixture into the wet mixture.
  • Fold in the walnuts and bacon pieces.
  • Spread into a 9×9 greased baking dish.
  • Bake 25 minutes. Cool completely.

MAPLE GLAZE
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons PURE maple syrup
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract

  • In a small bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, maple syrup and vanilla until smooth.
  • Drizzle over bars and let set before cutting into squares.

CHOCOLATE COVERED CHEESE ~ RUBY CHOCOLATE ~ BLOG 365.325B

I’m sure you’ve heard of it on your favorite cooking show, even if you have no idea what it really is. I know I had and even though it was explained, it just wouldn’t register and stay in my brain.

I’m entering a charcuterie board contest on New Year’s Even and chose the desert category. I’ve been looking for not only tried and true recipe ideas, but some new and unusual ones too. I ran across a recipe for chocolate covered cheese. YEP, you read that right, chocolate covered cheese!

I decided to try it three ways, milk, dark and ruby covered with a flake salt. I skipped white as I’m just not a fan – worst discovery of 1930 in my book! I also decided to try it with multiple flavored cheeses. I’m using Jack, sharp white cheddar and a champagnes Havarti. These are the pre-event taste tests> 😀

I figured I should do the research to really understand what Ruby chocolate it. I didn’t believe the cotton colored hue of the chocolate could be natural, but for the most part I was seriously wrong!

Ruby chocolate magically appeared in 2017 after a 13 year development process in Switzerland by the Barry Callebaut company. I say magically because the details of how it is produced are kept closely guarded, but they have noted that the color and unique flavor are products of the bean’s fermentation process.

Nestle released a limited edition KitKat overseas and another version again in 2019 in the UK leaving many companies scrambling to develop their own version.

Ruby chocolate is made from Ruby Cacao Beans which are found in South America; Ecuador and Brazil as well as the Ivory Coast (West African coast). Like specific grapes grown for specific wines, the ruby cacao beans are directly influenced by their growing environment so are cultivated in very specific climates.

So far in my taste testing I’m finding that far more women appreciate the flavor than men do. MEH seems to be the overwhelming consensus of the men I know and even many women can take it or leave it. BUT, it will still be a stunning addition to my charcuterie board 😀

There are NO added berries, flavor or dyes, yet ruby chocolate tastes berry like. The fruity flavor has hints of strawberry and raspberry and is quite smooth in texture, but not milky. While it’s NOT bitter, it does have a slightly tart after effect taste. I did find this image on the company’s website that may explain it better.

 

CHOCOLATE COVERED CHEESE

8 ounces aged cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Flake sea salt

  • Cut cheese into 1/2-in. cubes.
  • In a microwave, melt chocolate in 30 second increments; stirring until smooth.
  • Dip cheese cubes in chocolate, allowing excess to drip off.
  • Place on waxed paper.
  • Sprinkle with a few grains of salt.
  • Let stand until set.