Indoor S’Mores

Love s’mores but don’t have a fire handy? Want something a little more…portable?

Behold, the indoor s’more:

These are super easy — albeit a bit messy — to make. It helps to have another pair of hands; setting up an assembly line cuts down on the melty marshmallow you’ll have to clean up later.

The Recipe: Indoor S’Mores

Yield: approximately two dozen
Time: 90 minutes, including cooling

1 bag mini-marshmallows
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
24 graham cracker halves (as close to squares as you get)

Do This
Line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper. Arrange the graham cracker halves on the sheet with about half an inch between each.

Melt the butter in a saucepan on low heat. Add in the mini-marshmallows, a handful at a time, and stir until melted. Mix in the vanilla, and remove from heat.

Carefully spoon marshmallow onto each graham cracker. If you can do this without it spilling over the sides, you’ll have a much easier time. Let the crackers set until the marshmallow has firmed up (this should take about 10-15 minutes).

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler (or the microwave).

Spoon a generous amount of chocolate over each graham cracker, and return to the baking sheet to set. If you’re short on time, slide the finished cookies into the fridge for a few minutes.

They’re not quite real s’mores, but they’re just as tasty, and perfect for bringing to a holiday party!


Cherry, Walnut, and Lots of Chocolate

I remixed my Toll House Remix cookies. This time, cherry extract and chopped walnuts share the stage with all of that chocolate. I also topped the cookies with walnuts, but that was mainly to distinguish them from the other batches of chocolate-y cookies I was making.

Not surprisingly, these are delicious dunked in ice cold milk.

Chocolate Mousse…Overachiever Style

This happened because I didn’t have any small dessert cups on hand, and a regular serving size of chocolate mousse just looked small in the cups I put it in. Strawberries and fresh whipped cream filled things in quite nicely, and fancied it up a bit!

Very Cordial Berries

I found these filled, chocolate-dipped strawberries over at Parsnip and Pear, and decided that they were a must-make. And now, they’re a must-make-again.

I made a few small changes to the original recipe, mostly because the oranges at Whole Foods were totally unimpressive and the clementines were fabulous. Also, sometimes I can’t read, and I added in an extra half tsp of vanilla. The cream filling is still lick-the-sides-of-the-bowl worthy.

The Recipe: Chocolate-Dipped Stuffed Strawberries
(adapted from Nikki’s recipe posted at Parsnip & Pear)

as many large strawberries as you can find (or a pint)
1 cup chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 package (4 oz) cream cheese
1/2 package (4 oz) neufchatel
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp clementine zest
2 tsp fresh squeezed clementine juice
splash of light rum

Do This

Wash the strawberries, and slice off the tops. Using a paring knive, hollow out each berry until they’re readily stuff-able. Side note: if anyone has a more efficient way to hollow strawberries, I would love to know what that is. I broke a few berries with the knife, and we’re not even going to talk about how poorly the melon baller worked.
Using your mixer, whip together the cheeses, sugar, vanilla, zest, juice, and rum until it’s all smooth and fluffy and looks like clouds with zest floating in them.

Try not to consume the creamy filling just yet. Put at least half of it into a piping bag fitted with a small tip (I used a #7 round), and pipe into the hollowed strawberries. Not your mouth. Yet.
Place the filled strawberries on a tray or foil-covered cutting board (it works really well!) and slide into the freezer until hardened.

Melt chocolate chunks in a metal bowl set over a pot of water on the stove. Using a toothpick (or your hands) to hold each strawberry, dip the bottoms of the strawberry in the chocolate as far as possible and place onto the tray to set.
When each strawberry is dipped, place tray in fridge until chocolate is set. Remove toothpicks, and serve.

Alternately (and especially if you still have lots of creamy filling left and you don’t want to waste it), pipe some filling in/on other fruits.

I sliced up a nectarine, and it went very well with the cream. The only other fruit I had on hand was that bag of clementines, so I opted out of using the rest of the cream filling tonight, but I’d love to pair this cream with blackberries, raspberries, peaches, and probably some non-fruit things like pound cake.

Or pipe it directly into my mouth.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry. And Sprinkles.

So, those thin-mint imposters are actually dark chocolate raspberry cookies. I just really enjoy those sprinkles, which is why they look so similar.

The recipe:

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder (I like Hershey’s Special Dark)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 teaspoons raspberry extract

Chocolate Topper
1/3 bag semisweet chocolate chips
pinch of salt
assorted sprinkles

Do This
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer on low speed, cream butter and sugar, then add in egg, vanilla, and raspberry extract. Slowly add dry ingredient mixture; mix until combined. If the dough is clumpy because of the mixer, use a spatula or large spoon to mash it down. If the dough is sticky, roll it up in plastic wrap and refrigerate until it’s manageable. 15 minutes did the trick for me.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool partially (until they aren’t too hot to touch), and remove from baking sheet. Cool on a wire rack, or if you don’t have a wire rack, on a dinner plate.

While the cookies are cooling, melt down some semi-sweet chocolate chips with a pinch of salt. Either set up a double-boiler or balance a metal bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Don’t do it in the microwave — this has tragic consequences that I’d rather not talk about. As the water boils underneath, the chocolate will melt. Stir the melty chocolate, remove from heat, and spoon onto the cookies. Add sprinkles if desired. Cool on a wire rack over paper towels; the bonus to this is that any excess chocolate will drip off right onto the towel and generate less mess.

Serve the cookies once the chocolate is set. Milk and champagne are both appropriate for washing down the cookies.

Not Not So Thin Mints

It looks like I’ve been making not so thin mints again.

Wrong! They’re something else, although they look very similar (and share about 90% of a recipe). Feel free to comment with your guesses over the weekend, and I’ll post the recipe when I get back on Sunday. (I’m taking a little road trip to deliver these cookies)

p.s. I finally bought some wire racks for my cookies to chill on. It’s about time, eh?

Bite-sized Frozen Chocolate Goodness

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When life gives you chocolate butter that won’t actually separate, make tiny homemade fudgsicles.

Click the image above to zoom in on the cutest little frozen treat ever.

The Boyfriend’s sister sent me a text message last week that consisted of two words: chocolate butter. I’d been toying with the idea of making my own butter for quite some time, so when Amberance came over with two mason jars and a fond memory of a 4th grade social studies textbook (don’t ask), we decided to make a batch or two of butter. The plain kind turned out just right. However, instead of waiting until the butter separated from the buttermilk, I thought it might be a smart idea to add cocoa and sugar before Batch #2 turned into butter. Instead, it got suspended at frothy-whipped-cream phase. Lesson learned: future batches of chocolate butter will be made with chemistry in mind.

The obvious next step was to make homemade fudgsicles with this rich, chocolatey cream.

The Recipe:
Mini Fudge Pops

1/2 pint heavy cream
2 tbsp cocoa powder
5 tsp sugar

Do This
Pour the cream into a mason jar or other airtight container, and seal. Shake the jar vigorously until the contents shift from cream to thick (whipped) cream to a semi-solid almost-butter.
At this point, stir in the cocoa powder and butter. It will look a little bit funky, as though the chocolate doesn’t want to mix all the way in. Keep shaking until your arms are tired. If you need to cheat and put the mixture in the blender for a minute or two, I won’t tell anyone.
When the cream, sugar, and cocoa are fully blended, they will resemble a very thin chocolate pudding, possibly with bubbles in it. Pour this mixture into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, then refrigerate for about half an hour.
Remove the bowl from the fridge. There may be a very thin skin on top, but after a quick stir, it’ll break apart and blend back into the chocolate. Carefully spoon the chocolate into an ice cube tray, and place in the freezer.
After about half an hour, add toothpicks or cut-in-half popsicle sticks to the semi-frozen chocolate bites.
Freeze for several hours, remove the treats from the ice cube tray, and enjoy!

These aren’t intensely sweet, but they’re very rich. I’m inclined to believe that they’re healthier than regular fudge pops because of their tiny size (and because they’re rich enough that you probably won’t need more than one or two to satisfy a chocolate craving).

Just a note: I’m planning on re-making these soon…the faux-fudgsicles were delicious, but very reluctant to come out of the ice cube tray. I had to use a hairdryer to coax them out. I’m going to experiment with different methods, and hopefully find something that doesn’t corrupt the flavor (my first thought was to coat the ice cube tray with non-stick spray, but I feel like that would make for some really gross popsicles). Suggestions are welcome – otherwise, expect an update to this post with more assorted fudgsicle misadventures.