Cupcakes for Chanukah! Recipes and more

Sorry for the lag in posting, lots of travel and family commitments but now, shes back…………………..

cup3 There are times in your life (like after eating a dozen latkes) when you just gotta have that certain something sweet BUT you really don’t want the guilt associated with gobbling up 5 bags of candy coins or a calorie laden mega doughnut topped with chocolate and filled with custard (granted, there aren’t too many times when I DON’T want that kind of doughnut). For me that’s when I reach for a cupcake. Just enough cake and frosting to satisfy but not so much as that I feel like I’ve over indulged and the “oh I blew my holiday diet AGAIN” remorse isn’t omnipresent.

The origin of the cupcake isn’t all that clear. Some historians say it’s because the original recipe contained 1 cup measurements (I cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar etc.) Another source I checked with said that long ago that cake batter was cooked in tea cups, hence the name, cup-cake. Either way it came about I’m just glad the recipes evolved into the sweet treats we love today.

Deciding what type of cupcakes to make and what to top them with can be truly a personal and existential experience. You can fill them, frost them, and dust them with powdered sugar or cocoa. Sprinkles are always nice and so is a couple of pieces of candy or chocolate stuck into the top of the batter just before baking. The possibilities are endless and the results are always irresistible.

With cupcakes you can indulge in your love of lemon, banana, chocolate or vanilla or both at the same time and not have to commit to eating a whole cake. One of the beauties of making cupcakes is that most cake recipes can be converted into cupcakes. There are, however, some exceptions, like angel and sponge cakes, they don’t have quite enough structure to pull off the smaller size, but those to obvious exceptions aside, I say go for whatever recipe you want and see how creative you can get. I prefer to use cupcake liners in my pans as I find it easier to take them out after they’ve been cooked and they help keep all those pesky crumbs from falling all over your lap or shirt.


Just a few cup cake rules before you get started.


1. Always grease or line you baking pan, easier to remove the cupcake

2. Never over fill the pan, it will make an overly large cupcake top

4. Once the pan or pans are full, put them in the preheated oven immediately. The longer they sit out, the less they will rise.

5. Cupcakes should be baked in at least a 350 so that the structure sets quickly and the cake doesn’t dry while it’s baking

3. Make sure you test the cupcake with a toothpick before you remove it from the oven to make sure it cooked throughout.



Depending on how you decorate the following recipe they can be served as a snack or at a formal dinner and are equally at home at a 5 year olds birthday party or a wedding reception. I make the peanut butter ones every Chanukah and decorate them with chocolate candy coins.  Enjoy!



1/3 cup margarine or butter
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
16 miniature peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 350. Place paper cup cake liners in the muffin pan and set it aside. In a mixing bowl of an electric mixer combine the margarine or butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar.  Mix to combine and then add the eggs and vanilla. Mix to combine. In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Alternate adding the flour mixture to the egg mixture with the milk. Do not over mix or you’ll get air bubbles in the cup cake. Fill each muffin cups about 1/2 full of batter. Place a peanut butter cup into the center of each and push it down so it almost touches the bottom but so there is still some batter underneath the peanut butter cup. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or till toothpick comes out clean (be careful not to test where the candy is, you won’t get a true test of if the cupcake is done). Makes approx 14 to 16



BANANA SPLIT CUPCAKES (dairy or pareve)

2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups flour

3/4 cup cocoa

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2 mashed ripe bananas

1 cup warm water

1/2 cup milk or non dairy substitute

1/2 cup oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla



8 ounces cream cheese or pareve cream cheese, at room temperature

4 tablespoon soft butter

4 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla


Optional Toppings;

hot fudge sauce,

maraschino cherries


Preheat oven to 350. Grease 20 to 24 muffin cups or use paper liners. In a large bowl combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix to combine. In another large bowl combine the eggs, mashed bananas, water, milk, oil, and vanilla and whisk to combine.  Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full, and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool on a rack.


In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar until blended.  Frost and top with fudge sauce and a maraschino cherry


Modified from the Joy of Baking



This recipe uses self rising flour if you don’t have it for each cup of self rising flour use 1 cup of all-purpose flour and add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

2 eggs

1 cup oil

1 cup granulated sugar

4 zucchinis, grated

1 cup shelled pistachio nuts, chopped

2 teaspoon lime zest

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups self-rising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup dried cranberries


Preheat the oven to 325. Grease or line 2 12 muffin tin pans. In a bowl combine the egg, oil, and sugar and whisk until combined.  Add the zucchini, lime zest and nuts and stir together until well mixed.  Add the flour, cinnamon and baking powder, into the zucchini mixture and gently fold it in. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and bake and for 18 to 20 minutes until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a rack and then dust the top with powdered sugar. Makes 24.


Modified from




3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup sugar

1 oz cream cheese

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

generous 1/3 cup potato flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon milk


Preheat the oven to 350.  In a bowl of an electric mixer combine the butter and cocoa powder and beat until combined. Add the sugar and beat until combined.  Add the cream cheese, vanilla, milk and eggs and beat to combine.   Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and beat until just combined.  Spoon the mixture into the paper liners and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool before frosting.


1 oz bittersweet chocolate

5 oz cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


Melt the chocolate in the microwave but don’t over heat it, it should just be soft. Cool for about minutes. Place the softened cream cheese in a bowl and then pour the chocolate over the top. Add the vanilla and mix until the cheese and chocolate is combine. Add the powdered sugar and mix to combine. Frost and serve. Makes 12


Submitted by Roger Mancref and Cheryl Rodrego Naples FL





6 chocolate candy bars, chopped into pieces (your choice)

1, 12 oz bag of any kind of M&M’s you like

Crush, cut and mash into tiny pieces

Mix together in a bowl, set aside



1/2 cup peanut butter

1 cup semi sweet chocolate

1/2 cup cream



12 tablespoons softened butter

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 cup mini chocolate chips



Make the frosting first. In a microwave bowl melt the chocolate and cream together. Stir until smooth and then add the peanut butter and mix until combined. Cool in the refrigerator and when it is cool beat the frosting until it is spreadable.


Preheat oven to 350. Grease or place paper liners in 24 cupcakes molds. In a bowl combine the butter, white sugar and brown sugar. Mix to combine. Add the buttermilk, vanilla and eggs and mix to combine. Add the salt, baking soda, flour, chocolate chips and mix to combine. Spoon the batter into the prepare tins filling each about 2/3 full. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool before frosting and then decorate with the chopped candy. Makes 24.




1 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups sour cream or pareve substitute



3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

2 1/4 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon milk or pareve substitute


Preheat oven to 350 and grease or paper line 30 muffin tins. Set them aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the butter and sugar. Mix to combine and then with the mixer running add the eggs. With the mixer still running add lemon zest and vanilla. In another bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  With the mixer running slowly add the flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. This will be a thick batter.  Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.


In the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor combine the butter and powdered sugar. Mix until combined.  Add the lemon juice, vanilla, lemon zest and milk; beat until smooth. Frost the cooled cupcakes. Makes 30.





Too Much Candy for Halloween??? Nah……recipes for leftover candy

So the high holiday of candy is coming up and your little darlings will get enough sugar to power a small nuclear plant and it’s time for the “parent” to consider confiscating a portion of bounty “for their own good” of course. Yeah, right, that didn’t work with my kids either.

What I did do was try to channel some of the candy to other venues. I always let my kids eat about 1/3 of the candy, they had to give at least 1/3 of the goodies they collected to one of the women’s shelters for the kids there who didn’t get to trick or treat and the remaining 1/3 was put into the communal candy basket at home for us to use as a family (ok, my husband and I snarfed a few) for some of our favorite, made with candy recipes.

Rather than try and justify how chocolate should really be its own food group I’m just going to offer the following recipes that have graced my family’s table in the weeks following Halloween and pray you don’t gain as much weight as we do when we eat them.





1 (8 ounce) tube refrigerated crescent rolls

1 tablespoon butter or margarine, softened

2 (1.55 ounce) milk or semi sweet chocolate candy bars, broken into small pieces

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons sliced almonds

Unroll crescent roll dough; separate into triangles. Brush with butter.


Preheat oven to 375. Arrange candy bar pieces evenly over triangles; roll up from the wide end. Place point side down on a greased baking sheet; curve ends slightly. Brush the top of the croissant with the beaten egg and then sprinkle the top with almonds. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 8. This recipe can be doubled.




3 1/2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups finely chopped candy bar (Snickers, Almond Joy, Milky Way, peanut butter cups or a combination of any of your favorites)

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/4 cups milk

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar



4 1/2 ounces milk, semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup chopped candies


Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 10-cup nonstick Bundt pan. In a bowl sift together the 3 cups flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl combine the chopped candy with remaining 1/2 cup flour. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the butter and sugar and beat until combined about 2 minutes then add the yolks and vanilla. Beat in 1/3 of flour mixture, followed by 1/2 of milk.  Add 1/3 of the flour, the remaining milk and then the last of the flour.  In another bowl for the electric mixer beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until you get stiff peaks. By hand, fold the chopped candies and egg whites into the batter. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cake, in the pan, on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and allow to cool on the rack for an additional 20 minutes.


To make the frosting place the chocolate in a bowl and pour the cream over the top. Microwave for about 30 seconds and then remove and stir. Return to microwave and cook an additional 30 seconds or until the chocolate is totally melted. Whisk to combine and let cool for a few minutes. Place the cake on the serving platter and pour the icing evenly over the top of the cake (some will drip over sides but that’s ok). Sprinkle the remaining chopped candy over the top. Let cool and serve.



Modified from ALL YOU OCTOBER 2011



1 (18 ounce) packages refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough, prepared recipe favorite

6 cups whipping cream

2 1/2 cups chocolate chips, divided

14 Kit Kat bars

2 tablespoons butter or 2 tablespoons margarine

whipped whipping cream or whipped topping


Preheat oven to 350. Line bottom of 9-inch round cake pan with parchment or wax paper. Press cookie dough in bottom to 1/2 inch thickness. Bake approximately 18 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool completely. In a large bowl, put 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips and 5 cups whipping cream. Microwave on HIGH for 4 – 5 minutes until chocolate is soft. Remove and stir well until chocolate and cream are mixed well. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.  Melt remaining chocolate chips with butter and stir until smooth.


Place large cookie in center of 10-inch spring form pan. Cut candy bars long ways and dip one end in chocolate mixture. Place vertically between cookie and sides of pan. Continue until all candy bar pieces are used.  Chill 20 minutes.  Whip cream and chocolate mixture until stiff.  Chop remaining candy bars into chunks. Take cookie shell and place one-third of mousse on bottom. Sprinkle chunks on top. Repeat layers, ending with mousse. Chill in freezer overnight.  Top with whipped cream and chunks of candy bar.  Return to freezer for at least 1 hours. When ready to serve remove from freezer and slice.


Submitted by Rachael Margoles Philadelphia PA source unknown




1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus more, room temperature, for pan

1 cup packed light-brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

1/4 cup each orange, yellow, and brown candy-coated chocolates (from a 12.6-ounce bag) or 8 Reese’s peanut butter cups, removed from their wrappers and coarsely chopped


Preheat oven to 350. Brush an 8-inch square baking pan with butter; line pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Butter paper. In a large bowl, whisk together butter and sugars until smooth. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and salt; stir just until moistened. Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth top. Arrange candies or chopped peanut butter cups in 12 rows (2 rows per color, repeating once) on top of dough.Bake until top of cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Set pan on a wire rack and let cool completely. Using parchment overhang, lift cake from pan and transfer to a cutting board; cut into 16 squares. To store, keep in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 2 days. Makes 16.


Modified From Everyday Food





3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 large egg yolk



3 1/2 ounces milk chocolate candy bars chopped

2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons water


Unsweetened cocoa powder (for dusting)


Make crust: Whisk flour and cocoa in medium bowl. Beat butter and powdered sugar in another medium bowl until well blended. Beat in yolk. Add flour mixture in 2 additions, beating just until blended. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 2 hours.


Divide dough into 6 equal pieces. Press each onto bottom and up sides of 4 1/2-inch-diameter tartlet pan with removable bottom. Refrigerate crusts 1 hour or freeze 30 minutes.


Preheat oven to 375. Bake cold crusts until set and dry-looking, about 12 minutes, pressing with back of spoon if bubbles form. Cool crusts in pans. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; store at room temperature.


Make filling: Place milk chocolate in medium bowl. Bring 1 1/2 cups cream to simmer in small saucepan. Pour hot cream over chocolate; let stand 1 minute, then whisk until melted and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours or overnight.


Combine remaining 1/2 cup cream and butter in small saucepan and stir over medium heat until butter melts; remove from heat. Combine sugar and 3 tablespoons water in heavy small saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring until color is deep amber, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 8 minutes. Immediately add hot cream-butter mixture (mixture will bubble vigorously). Remove from heat and stir until any caramel bits dissolve. Transfer caramel to small bowl and chill until slightly firm (semi-soft), stirring often, about 40 minutes.


Spoon caramel into center of baked crusts (about 2 generous tablespoons for each crust). Set aside.


Using electric mixer, beat chilled milk chocolate-cream mixture until peaks form; spoon atop caramel in crusts, dividing equally (about 1/2 cup for each crust) and spreading evenly. Chill at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated. Remove tartlets from pans. Lightly sift cocoa powder over tartlets and serve.


Created by Maury Rubin City Bakery /  Bon Appétit  September 2006




4 eggs

3/4 cup margarine

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups peanut butter

3 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

7 cups oatmeal

3/4 cup chocolate chips (milk or semi sweet)

3/4 cup pecans, chopped

3/4 cup M&M’s ® (you can use the peanut or peanut butter ones too!)


Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl combine the eggs, margarine, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and peanut butter. Beat to combine . In a separate bowl mix together the baking soda, salt, and oatmeal. Mix the oatmeal mixture into peanut butter mixture. Add chocolate chips and pecans and stir until combined.  Drop golf ball sized balls of dough (I use an ice cream scoop) on an ungreased cookie sheet and flatten each cookie into a circle shape with the bottom of a glass. Press M&M‘s into the top of unbaked cookies.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheet before removing. Makes 2 to 3 dozen.


My files, source unknown


Candy Cane Heaven

There are certain foods that have a finite season where the price is perfect and the taste sublime. You rush to the store at the first advertisement and shop with the motto “shop till you drop” and stock up.  Most the time this kind of hunting for the perfect specimen is conducted in the produce aisle. However, at this time of year, when you’re talking prime time a specialty item, it’s all about the candy cane.

The candy cane is that once a year item that you can find in abundance until December 26th and then it disappears (except for the 75% off rack for about 30 seconds) until Thanksgiving the following year. I say, plan ahead, buy now, buy a lot (because they store very well and I ‘m going to give you lots of yummy recipes) and store them the extras until you need them.

So, what is the best way to store candy canes? The best way to store any hard candy for a length of time is to place it in a zip lock bag and store in a dry place.  Do not store them in the freezer or refrigerator, the moisture is too high and will cause them to get sticky.

CANDY CANE TIP: In the event of a candy cane emergency (can’t find any) you can always substitute those round peppermint candies that are always available.



2 (10 ounce) packages vanilla baking chips

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

1 1/2 cups crushed candy canes

1 to 2 drops red food coloring (not too much)


Line an 8 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, and grease the foil. In a saucepan combine the vanilla chips and sweetened condensed milk. And heat over a low flame, stirring frequently until almost melted. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir until totally smooth. Stir in the peppermint extract, food coloring, and crushed candy canes. Mix quickly and spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Refrigerated (do not cover) for 2 to 3 hours and then cut into bite sized squares. Makes at least 24 pieces or more depending on how you cut the pieces.


Source unknown, my files




1  12 oz package of Oreo cookies (plain not double stuff)

2/3 cup crushed candy cane pieces (not too big)

1 8 oz. package cream cheese

1 package Chocolate Almond Bark ®

Mini chocolate chips or sprinkles for decorating


Put a piece of wax paper on a cookie sheet and set it aside. In the bowl of the food processor combine the cookies and broken candy canes. Process until combined and it’s totally crumbs. Add 1/2 of the cream cheese to the mixture and process to combine. Add the remaining cream cheese and process to combine. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop the mixture into balls and place it on the prepared pan. When you use up all the dough place the cookie sheet in the freezer for at least 1 hour. Melt the dipping chocolate in a microwave bowl.  Remove the pan from the freezer. Using a long bamboo skewer dip the cookie balls, one at a time, into the melted chocolate. Place the dipped balls back on the waxed paper and then sprinkle the chocolate or sprinkle over the balls. Makes 24 to 30 depending on the size of the balls. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Modified from





2 cups plain vanilla wafer cookie crumbs (about 1 8 oz box crumbled)

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

6 tablespoons butter, melted


Chocolate Layer

3 tablespoons boiling water

3/4 cup chocolate chips

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup powdered sugar


Peppermint Layer

1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

1/4 cup milk

1 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup finely crushed candy canes (7 to 8 canes)

whipped cream, for toping optional

2 or 2 candy canes chopped into small pieces


Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl combine the cookie crumbs, cocoa and sugar.  Add the butter and mix to combine. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch spring form pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes and then cool to room temperature.


While the crust is cooling combine the chocolate chips and boiling water and mix until the chips are melted. Cool the chocolate mixture to room temperature. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the whipping cream with the powdered sugar until it forms stiff peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Spoon the chocolate mixture into crust and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. While the pie is cooling place the candy canes in the bowl of a food processor and process until it becomes a fine powder. Place the marshmallows and milk in a small pan and cook over a low heat until the marshmallows are melted. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Beat the 1 cup of whipping cream to form stiff peaks. Fold the crushed candy canes into the whipped cream and then fold that mixture into the marshmallow mixture. Cool for 10 minutes in the refrigerator and then spoon the mixture over the chocolate layer. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. You can also freeze this pie and serve it frozen. Top with sweetened whipped cream and chopped candy canes.


Modified from submitted by Ronnie Cohn Chicago IL





20 chocolate wafer cookies

3 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee

1/4 teaspoon salt



8 ounces milk or semi sweet chocolate

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

2 eggs



4 ounces bittersweet chocolate

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon light corn syrup

2 tablespoons sour cream at room temperature

6 to10 candy canes, chopped


Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8 inch square baking pan and then set it aside. In the bowl of a food processor combine the chocolate cookies, butter, sugar, coffee and salt and process until combined. . Press the crust into the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes and then cool to room temperature.


While the crust is cooling melt the milk chocolate in a microwave dish and set it aside. While it’s cooling, in the bowl of the food processer combine the sugar, sour cream, and cream cheese. Process until smooth. Add the eggs and process until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and process until smooth. Spoon the mixture over the baked crust. Bake 30 minutes or until the edges are slightly puffed but the center is set but still a little wiggly in the center. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature


In a microwave bowl combine the chocolate, butter, and corn syrup and cook for 1 minute or until the chocolate is melted. Add the sour cream and mix to combine. Spread the frosting over the cake. Sprinkle the chopped candy canes over top of the warm frosting .Cool slightly and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours before cutting. Serves 8 to 10.


Modified from




8 ounces white baking chocolate, coarsely chopped, or 1-1/3 cups white baking pieces

2 cups finely crushed graham crackers (about 8 ounces)

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened

1 3 ounce package cream cheese, softened

1 8 ounce carton mascarpone cheese

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

3 eggs

3/4 cup finely crushed candy canes

2 ounces white chocolate or 1/3 cup white baking pieces

Crushed candy canes for garnish


For crust:

Preheat oven to 325. In a medium bowl, stir together graham crackers and butter until combined. Press crumb mixture firmly onto the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan (do not go up the sides of pan.) Bake for 10 minutes then cool to room temperature.


For filling:

In a microwave bowl melt the 8 ounces white chocolate and set it aside. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, mascarpone, sugar and salt with an electric mixer until combined. Beat in the melted chocolate and extract until smooth and combined, scraping sides of bowl. Add eggs 1 at a time until combined. Stir in 3/4 cup candy. Pour the filling onto the crust. Place pan on a cookie sheet and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a 2 1/2-inch area around the outside edge of the cheesecake seems set when gently shaken. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 15 then using a sharp small knife, loosen the cake from the sides of pan. Cool for an additional 45 minutes. Remove sides of the spring form pan and cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight in the refrigerator. When ready to serve place the cheesecake on a serving plate (keep the cheesecake on the bottom of the spring form pan.) In a microwave bowl melt the white chocolate and drizzle it over the top of the cheesecake and then sprinkle the chopped candy canes over the top. Cut in wedges with a sharp knife dipped in warm water. (To store any remaining cheesecake, cover and chill in refrigerator up to 2 days.)

Modified from submitted by Carin Silverston Chicago IL

Brown Sugar Is the Best

There are those among us carbohydrate addicted sugar junkies that prefer brown sugar to white when it comes to a choice of sweetener. While I know in my head and heart that there is no real difference in calories or sweetness between the two, brown sugar, with its mellow smoky taste is truly my favorite

For the uninformed, brown sugar is just white sugar combined with molasses. Molasses is actually a byproduct of sugar production. Normally, molasses is separated and removed when sugar is created from sugarcane. With brown sugar the molasses is either left in or reintroduced after the white sugar has been created.  Light and dark are the two most common styles of brown sugar. In general, the lighter the brown sugar, the more delicate its flavor. Dark brown sugar has a more intense molasses smoky flavor.

Most of us are familiar with the slightly moist, clumpy kind of brown sugar that turns into a door stop if left out in the air too long. Now a days a dryer granulated brown sugar and a liquid form of brown sugar is available. Be warned however that a 1 cup of the granulated brown sugar weighs about 5 ounces as opposed to a cup of packed regular brown sugar which weighs about 7 ounces.  Makes sure you weigh your granulated brown sugar (as opposed to just using a measuring cup) and your recipe should turn out just fine.

So the next brown sugar question is, have you’ve ever been confronted by a solid brick of brown sugar sweetness?  What looks like a catastrophe is actually a problem with a simple solution. You can re-soften it by including a few slices of apple in the bag of brown sugar and sealing tightly for 1-2 days or you can try microwaving it for about 20 or 30 seconds. You can also substitute 1 cup of packed brown sugar for 1 one cup of regular granulated sugar without any problem (other than a subtle chance of taste) in just about any recipe.

Brown sugar is super in both the main course and dessert sections of your life so it should be no surprise that the following recipes run the gamut from bbq rubs to cheesecakes. Bon Appitit.



1 can (approx 22 ounces) red-skinned sweet potatoes or 3 large fresh, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces and cooked for 15 minutes in boiling water
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
6 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups cornflakes crumbs
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
6 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted


Preheat oven to 400. Peel and cut potatoes into one inch cubes. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the sweet potatoes and butter. Beat until smooth. Add the egg, brown sugar, spice and salt; beat to blend. Transfer the mixture to 8 x 8-inch baking dish. (this can be made 1 day ahead). Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before continuing.) and prepare the topping. Bake potatoes until beginning to brown around edges and slightly puffed, about 25 minutes.

Prepare topping:
Combine all topping ingredients together in medium bowl and mix well. Spoon the topping evenly over potatoes. Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes longer. Serves 6




12 tablespoon brown sugar
4 tablespoon milk
6 tablespoon butter
1 cup powdered sugar (or a little more depending on the consistency you want)


Place the brown sugar, milk and butter one in a saucepan and boil for minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and mix in the powdered sugar. Let cool, then beat until smooth. Makes 1 cup




1 (14- to 15-oz) can crushed tomatoes in thick puree
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 (19-oz) cans small white beans, rinsed and drained (4 cups)
1 onion, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
6 bacon slices (1/4 lb)


Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl combine the tomatoes, brown sugar, mustard, and salt. Gently stir in beans and transfer to a -quart shallow baking dish. Arrange onion slices in 1 layer over beans, and then cover onion with bacon. Bake, uncovered, until bacon is browned and beans have absorbed most of liquid, about 1 1/4 hours. Serves 6.


This recipe is by Danielle Nettuno of Titusville, Florida, won the 2008 Junior Chef Division Best of Show in the American Pie Council-Crisco National Pie Championships.


1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
3-4 tablespoons water
1-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon sugar


Bottom layer
4 ounces cream cheese
1/6 cup brown and white sugar mixed
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 egg


Top layer
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 eggs


Crumb topping
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt


Combine flour, salt and cinnamon sugar in a medium bowl. Cut in shortening until it looks like crumbs. Add in the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is flaky. Roll out on a floured counter and place in a 13- by 9-inch pie pan.  Fork the pie crust. In another bowl, cream the cream cheese with the sugars, and then add the salt, vanilla and maple syrup. When this is combined, add the egg. Mix until blended. Spread it out evenly on the bottom of the pie crust. Place it in the refrigerator and chill when making the next two layers. Melt butter and brown sugar together in a medium sauce pan until blended. Let it come to a boil, stirring constantly. Let the mixture cook an additional 2 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine cream, vanilla and eggs. Once the butter and sugar is ready, slowly combine the two. Let cool. For the crumb topping, combine brown sugar, flour and oats in another bowl. Cut in shortening. Add walnuts, salt and cinnamon. Slowly pour the brown sugar layer on top of the cream cheese layer (it is okay if it combines). Evenly distribute the crumb topping on the pie. Place in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, checking frequently after 20 minutes.  Take out and let cool, then refrigerate. Serves 10 to 12




1 pound brown sugar

1 cup sugar

1 pound butter

5 large eggs

2 bananas, mashed

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup pecan


Preheat oven to 350. In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the brown and white sugars with butter until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the mashed bananas. Sift flour with baking powder and salt. Mix milk and vanilla together. Add each to the egg mixture alternately. Stir in the pecans. Pour the batter into a 10 inch well-greased bunt pan. Bake for 1-1/2 hours, or until firm. Place upside down on a cake rack; when cool, invert and turn out onto rack. Serves 12



A rich cheesecake made with bourbon and pecans



1/3 cup pecans

16 thin chocolate wafer cookies

4 (5 x 2 1/2-inch) graham crackers

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/4 teaspoon salt


24 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons Bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup packed brown sugar


1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Make crust: Preheat oven to 350. In a baking pan toast pecans in one layer in middle of oven until golden, about 10 minutes, and cool. In a food processor finely grind pecans, wafers, and graham crackers. Add brown sugar, butter, and salt and pulse until combined well. Transfer mixture to a 9 1/2-inch spring form pan and press evenly onto bottom and 1 1/2 inches up side.


Make filling: In a bowl with an electric mixer beat cream cheese until fluffy and add eggs, one at a time, beating at low speed until just combined. Beat in Bourbon, vanilla extract and brown sugar until just combined. Pour filling into crust and put spring form pan in a baking pan. Bake cheesecake in middle of oven 35 minutes. Leaving oven on, transfer cake in spring form pan to a rack and let stand 5 minutes. (Center of cake will set as it cools.)


Make topping: In a bowl stir together sour cream, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. Drop spoonfuls of topping around edge of cake and spread gently over center, smoothing evenly. Bake cake in baking pan in middle of oven 10 minutes and cool completely in spring form pan on rack. Chill cake, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 4 days. Run a thin knife around inside edge of pan and remove side of pan. Transfer cake to a serving plate and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Serve cake with sauce. Serves 12.


Bourbon Butterscotch Sauce
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup bourbon
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter


In a dry 3-quart heavy kettle cook sugar over moderately low heat, stirring slowly with a fork (to help sugar melt evenly), until melted and pale golden. Cook caramel, without stirring, swirling kettle, until deep golden. Remove kettle from heat and carefully add water and bourbon down side of kettle (mixture will bubble and steam). Simmer mixture, stirring, until caramel is dissolved. Stir in butter until incorporated and cool sauce to warm. Bourbon Butterscotch Sauce may be made 1 week ahead and chilled, covered. Reheat sauce to warm before serving.

Makes about 1 3/4 cups.


Modified from


3/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup vanilla yogurt or sour cream

1/4 cups oil

1 egg

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 1/4 cups flour

1 pounds apple, Granny Smith, cored and coarsely chopped (3 cups)

1 cup coconut, flaked

3 tablespoon butter

3 tablespoon sugar, brown (packed)

2 tablespoon milk


Preheat oven to 325. Line two 8x4x2-inch loaf pans with foil; coat foil with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.   In a large bowl, stir together granulated sugar, yogurt, oil, egg, the 1 teaspoon cinnamon, the vanilla, baking powder, salt, baking soda, ginger, and nutmeg. Stir in flour just until combined. Fold in apples (batter will be very thick and chunky).  Spoon batter into prepared pans; spread evenly. Bake about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean and tops are browned.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine coconut, butter, brown sugar, milk, and the 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Cook and stir over low heat until the butter is melted. Preheat broiler after removing cakes from oven. Gently spread coconut mixture evenly over tops of cakes. Broil 4 inches from heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until topping is bubbly and lightly browned.

Cool cakes in pans on wire racks for 45 minutes. Use foil to lift cakes from pans; remove foil. Serve warm. Serves 10 to 12




1 broiler/ fryer chicken, cut up (3-1/2 – 4 lbs) or about 6 boneless skinless breasts

1 cup packed brown sugar

2/3 cup vinegar

1/4 cup lemon-lime soda (diet is fine)

2-3 tablespoons minced garlic

2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon pepper


Place chicken in a large ziploc bag. Combine remaining ingredients, pour into bag and seal. Shake several times to coat the chicken. Refrigerate 2-4 hours. Transfer chicken and marinade to a large skillet, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes or until juices run clear.


2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup garlic powder
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup lemon pepper
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil

In a bowl combine all the ingredients. Rub into both sides of ribs and let marinate. Makes 3 to 3 1/2 cups. Enough for 5 to 6 lbs of ribs

POP goes the Popsicle/ Cool and Crazy Recipes


“Pop” goes the summer as soon as we pass that Labor Day mark. While that date tends to mean the end of vacations for most of us it sure doesn’t mean the end of the hot, sticky, hot, and humid and did I mention hot weather. While we’re on track for the one of the hottest summers on record I can safely say that I have reinvented the coolest way to stay cool will all around me are melting.

            Ta daaa…………………..may I present the home made pop-sicle. Ok, I didn’t really reinvent anything, everyone one knows what a pop-sicle is (in fact, the word Popsicle ® is trademarked so I’m using the hyphenate version for the purposes of this column), but I have done is collect a really interesting group of recipes that lets you take the corn syrup and artificial colors out of the mix and give you some really sophisticated flavors that can be whipped together with a blender or food processor in a few minutes and once they are frozen will give you plenty of pop-sicles to share. While some of the recipes are unabashedly adult in the combination of flavors and ingredients all can be modified to satisfy the kids too. So get your molds out (plastic cups and pop-sicle sticks will do if you don’t have molds) and get going. This list isn’t exclusive to pop-sicles, I’ve also included pudding pops, frozen yogurt and fruit pops.

I believe that these recipes are healthier (and sometimes less expensive) than buying ready-made Pop-sicles because you can use seasonal fruits that are typically very inexpensive (you can also you the stuff that’s a tad bit over ripe as you’re going to puree it anyway). For my money I guess the biggest problem you’re going to have is picking which recipe you’re going to try first.


Tips to making pop-sicles:




To release pops, dip molds into hot water until pops loosen and slide out. If using cups, peel away paper


Some fruits and syrups freeze harder than others; some are super-sweet, while others are lighter. You may need to tweak some of the recipes to get them to the sweetness level you like the best.


NOTE: These recipes call for you use about/approx 3 oz of filling per each pop-sicles




16 oz vanilla yogurt

2/3 cup(s) thawed orange juice concentrate

2 large bananas

Zest of 1 lime

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice


In a blender or food processer combine the yogurt, orange juice concentrate, bananas, lime zest, and fresh lime and process until smooth. Divide the mixture between six pop-sicle molds or paper cups.  I using molds put the top on and freeze. If using paper cups fill the cups and then put a layer of foil over the top of the cup and crimp into place. Push the stick through the middle of the foil, the foil will hold the stick in place while it freezes. You can place the cups in a cake pan to keep them in place while freezing. Freeze until the pop-sicles are solid, approx 4 to 5 hours. Makes 6


Submitted by Renee Barcon St. Petersburg FL




1 package (3.4 oz) instant chocolate pudding mix

2 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup marshmallow creme

chopped pecans

 mini marshmallows

 miniature chocolate chips (you can use peanut butter chips or butterscotch chips)


In a bowl combine the pudding and milk. Mix to combine and stir in the marshmallow cream before it sets up. Fill the bottom of the mold or cup with a few chopped pecans, mini marshmallows and chocolate chips (about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons total. Pour in the mixture until the mold is 1/2 full, add a few more nuts, marshmallows and chocolate chips and then top with more of the pudding mix.  Place the tops on the molds or, if using paper cups, fill the cups and then put a layer of foil over the top of the cup and crimp into place. Push the stick through the middle of the foil, the foil will hold the stick in place while it freezes. You can place the cups in a cake pan to keep them in place while freezing. Freeze until the pop-sicles are solid, approx 4 to 5 hours. Makes 12




Juice of 1 lime

Zest of 1 lime

1 cup lemon-lime soda

3/4 cup Maraschino cherry juice/syrup

8 to 10 Maraschino cherries, chopped


In a bowl combine the zest, lime juice, lemon-lime soda and cherry juice. Mix to combine and get rid of a little of the fizz. Add the chopped cherries and pour the mixture into molds or, if using paper cups, fill the cups and then put a layer of foil over the top of the cup and crimp into place. Push the stick through the middle of the foil, the foil will hold the stick in place while it freezes. You can place the cups in a cake pan to keep them in place while freezing. Freeze until the pop-sicles are solid, approx 4 to 5 hours. Makes 6 to 8





1 cup blueberries

1/4 cup frozen grape juice concentrate, slightly thawed

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup water

zest of 2 lemons

1 cup lemon juice


In a food processor or blender combine the blueberries and grape concentrate. Process to combine and fill the pop-sicle molds about 1/4 full with the blueberry mixture and freeze it. Refrigerate the rest of the mixture until need it for the next step. In a small saucepan combine the water, sugar, and lemon juice and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to a simmer, add the zest, cook for 1 minute, stirring and then remove the mixture from the heat. Cool the mixture completely. Fill the mold up about halfway with the lemon mixture and freeze for about 30 minutes. Top the lemon mixture with the remaining blueberry mixture and then put the stick part in and freeze for another 30 minutes. Top with the lemon mixture return the stick to the center of the pop-sicle and freeze for 3 or more hours. Makes 6 to 8.


Modified from a recipe submitted by Lois Winterfield Oakbrook IL



Most people assume you can’t freeze alcohol because it freezes at a much lower temperature than water. Most of us don’t have a freezer at home that can reach 30 degrees below zero. Still, you can have a frozen pop WITH alcohol as an ingredient as long as you only use a small amount of liquor and mix it with other stuff. It’s a taste or flavor rather than a main ingredient. Everything else will freeze and the alcohol will freeze right along with it. I can also suggest that if you’re using fruit you might want to try soaking some of the fruit in a wine or liquor for a few minutes before you puree it.




2 cups watermelon puree

1/4 cup lime juice (roughly 1 large lime)

3 ounces tequila

1 ounce orange liquor

1 tablespoon orange zest

2/3 cup sugar


Place the watermelon puree in a large bowl. Add the lime juice and sugar and mix until the sugar has dissolved. Add tequila and orange zest, orange liqueur and mix to combine. Fill pop-sicle molds or if using paper cups put a layer of foil over the top of the cup and crimp into place. Push the stick through the middle of the foil, the foil will hold the stick in place while it freezes. You can place the cups in a cake pan to keep them in place while freezing. Freeze until the pop-sicles are solid, approx 4 to 5 hours. Makes 6 to 8




3 or 4 medium lemons

1 cup whipping cream

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 Tbs. citron vodka


Using a vegetable peeler, remove all of the zest from 3 of the lemons in 3- to 4-inch-long strips. Set the lemons aside. Combine the lemon zest, cream, milk, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Let steep at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.


Squeeze 2/3 cup juice from the reserved lemons (juice the fourth lemon, if necessary). Stirring constantly, pour the lemon juice into the cream mixture in a slow stream. Stir in the vodka.


Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a 4-cup glass measure (or any container with a spout for easy pouring), pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Divide the mixture among eight 3-oz. pop molds or wax-lined paper cups. Freeze until just barely set, 5 to 6 hours. Insert craft sticks and freeze until completely set, about 2 hours more. When ready to serve, unmold or peel off the paper cups. Makes 8 pops.






2 large ripe peaches, pitted and sliced

5 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons tequila

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 pint blueberries


Puree the peaches in a food processor. Strain the puree into a bowl and stir in 3 tablespoons of the sugar, 2 tablespoons of the tequila and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Pour 3 tablespoons of the puree into four 5-ounce pop-sicle molds or paper cups. Freeze until almost firm, about 25 minutes. Poke a pop-sicle stick into the center of each.


Meanwhile, puree the blueberries in a food processor. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon of tequila and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Carefully pour 2 tablespoons of the blueberry puree into each mold and cover with plastic wrap. Freeze until almost firm, about 25 minutes. Pour the remaining peach puree on top and freeze until almost firm, about 25 minutes. Finish with a blueberry layer and freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Unmold and serve.






3/4 cup fruity red wine, such as malbec or merlot

1/2 cup apple, diced small

1/2 orange, peeled and diced small

3/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 tablespoons sugar

Combine the red wine, apples and oranges in a small bowl and let sit for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile combine the orange juice, lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stirring occasionally, heat just enough to dissolve the sugar and then cool to room temperature.


Set a strainer over a 2-cup measuring cup or medium-sized bowl and strain the fruit from the wine. Divide the strained fruit evenly between all pop-sicle molds. Add the cooled orange juice mixture to the wine.


Pour the sangria mix over the fruit in each mold, leaving a quarter-inch of space at the top and using a chopstick to dislodge any air bubbles. Freeze for an hour, insert pop-sicle sticks, and then freeze until completely firm (at least 8 hours). Run pop-sicle molds under warm water to dislodge pops before serving.



 1 1/4 cup water

3/4 c sugar

about 4 large sprigs fresh tarragon

12 oz fresh blackberries

3 cups grapefruit juice, preferably freshly squeezed

  In a sauce pan combine the water, sugar, and 1 sprig tarragon. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Remove the mixture from the heat and let cool, uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid and set it aside. In the bowl of a food processor or blender combine the blackberries with the remaining 2 sprigs of tarragon. In a bowl combine the blackberry mixture with the grapefruit juice and 1 1/4 cup of syrup. You should have about 1/4 cup of syrup remaining. Taste the mixture and if it isn’t sweet enough add more of the sugar liquid. Pour mixture into pop-sicle molds and top it with the top or if using paper cups fill the cups and then put a layer of foil over the top of the cup and crimp into place. Push the stick through the middle of the foil, the foil will hold the stick in place while it freezes. You can place the cups in a cake pan to keep them in place while freezing. Freeze until the pop-sicles are solid, approx 4 to 5 hours. Makes 6 to 8

Modified from

Mother’s Day Truffles


Quick Mother’s Day food thought. This year, instead of fighting the crowds for a mediocre buffet or making the same pancakes, waffles and burnt toast breakfast in bed is your present mistake, why not put a little extra effort (and chocolate) into the food portion of your present and makes truffles and/or fudge for your favorite mom. Ok, so you may need to add a little  bling bling to round out the specialness of the day but you’ll be surprised at how easy (and fun) it is for the family to create confectionary masterpieces for mom.

A truffle is an intensely rich ganache (a chocolate/cream mixture) covered with chocolate and fudge is, well, fudge You can use milk or bittersweet chocolate for either and both the truffles and fudge  can be combined with “extra ingredients” like cocoa powder, candied fruits,  coconut, or chopped nuts or what ever your mom likes best.

Most people assume that truffles are complicated and fudge is easy to make. They couldn’t be more wrong. Truffles and fudge are actually the perfect candies for kids to test their kitchen skills. Unlike a lot of commercially made chocolate candies, homemade chocolate truffles and fudge don’t necessarily require tempered chocolate (temperature controlled melted chocolate). In fact, you won’t need a candy thermometer at all for any of these recipes. All you need to create gourmet tasting candy is time and the best-quality chocolate you can find. I like Ghirardelli, Godiva, or Callebaut. Yes they are a little harder to find and cost a more than Hershey but the taste of the truffle (and mom) are worth the bigger bucks.

The Great White Chocolate Debate

Because it doesn’t contain any part of the cocoa bean except the fat, white chocolate is not actually chocolate! If you’re going to use white chocolate be sure to use one where the only fat in it is cocoa butter

Quick Tip

I form my truffles with a melon baler but you can use a small ice-cream scoop just roll the centers between the palms of your hands

Truffles are best when served at room temperature



11 ounces chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
 cocoa powder for dusting (or another top-quality cocoa)

Finely chop 8 ounces of the chocolate and put in a bowl. Bring heavy cream to a boil in a small heavy saucepan. Pour the cream over the chocolate, mashing any big pieces with a wooden spoon. Then stir with a whisk in concentric circles, starting in the center and working your way to the edge, until the ganache is smooth. (Don’t beat, or you’ll incorporate air.) Let the mixture stand at room temperature until thick enough to hold its shape, about 1 hour. Cover the bottom of a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Using a melon baller scoop out balls of the chocolate mixture and place them on the prepared cookie sheet. If the mixture starts sticking to the melon baller dip it in the cocoa powder before scooping out the balls.  Freeze the chocolate balls until firm, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 3 more ounces of the same chocolate and smear some your hand (you can use disposable plastic gloves if you prefer) gently rub a chilled truffle in the melted chocolate to coat lightly. Toss the truffles in unsweetened cocoa powder (a fork is the best tool for tossing truffles in cocoa). Shake truffles in a sieve to eliminate excess cocoa.  Repeat until all the filling is gone.  You can store truffles in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for 2 to 3 months. Makes about 60 truffles.


10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 cup rum
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder

 finely chopped nuts, and/or toasted coconut, for coating truffles
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

Place the 10 ounces of chocolate and butter in a medium size glass mixing bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove and stir, and repeat this process 1 more time. Set aside. Heat the heavy cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the melted chocolate mixture; let stand for 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir gently, starting in the middle of bowl and working in concentric circles until all chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth and creamy. Gently stir in the rum. Pour the mixture into an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a melon baller, scoop chocolate onto the prepared cookie sheet pan for 30 minutes.

Place the cocoa powder, nuts, and/or toasted coconut each in its own in pie pan and set aside. In the meantime melt the 8 ounces of chocolate and remove the truffle mixture from the refrigerator. Using a melon baller scoop out balls of the chocolate mixture and place them on the prepared cookie sheet. If the mixture starts sticking to the melon baller dip it in the cocoa powder before scooping out the balls. Shape into balls by rolling between the palms of your hands. Use powder-free vinyl or latex gloves if desired. Then place the truffle into the dish with either the cocoa powder, nuts or coconut. Move the truffle around to coat; leave truffle in the coating for 10 to 15 seconds before removing. In the meantime, continue placing the chocolate-coated truffles in the cocoa or other secondary coating. After 10 to 15 seconds, remove the truffle to a parchment lined sheet pan. Repeat until all truffles are coated. Allow to set in a cool dry place for at least 1 hour; or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes 50 to 60 truffles.


Because the flavors need time to mellow these truffles taste best if you make them at least 3 to 4 days before you want to serve them.

6 squares (6 oz.) white chocolate
8 oz. pecans, about 2 cups, ground
1 cup finely ground vanilla wafer crumbs
1/3 cup orange liqueur
finely grated peel of 1 orange
powdered sugar

Melt the white chocolate in microwave or in top of a double boiler. Stir the pecans into the melted white chocolate. Add 1 cup of the cookie crumbs, liqueur and peel. Mix well and let set until firm. Cover the bottom of a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a melon baller scoop out balls of the chocolate mixture and place them on the prepared cookie sheet. Roll the balls in powdered sugar. Store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for at least 1 week before serving, so flavors blend.  Truffles will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Makes 40 to 50 truffles.


1 cup peanut butter chips
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa
14 oz Can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 tablespoon vanilla

optional coatings:

chopped Nuts, milk chocolate, graham cracker crumbs, confectioner’s sugar

In heavy saucepan, over low heat, melt chips with the butter. Stir in the cocoa and mix until smooth. Add sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is thickened and blended, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Chill for at least 2 hrs. or until firm enough to handle. Cover the bottom of a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a melon baller scoop out balls of the chocolate mixture and place them on the prepared cookie sheet.  Roll the balls in any of the above coatings. Chill until firm; about 1 hour. Store covered in the refrigerator. Makes 40 to 50 truffles

12 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
7 ounces of apricot jam (the highest quality with the least sugar)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
enough bittersweet chocolate to use for covering the truffles (12 to 14 ounces)

In a bowl combine the cream, jam and vanilla. Whisk well to combine. Melt the 12 ounces of chocolate. Stir in the cream mixture and blend. Chill the mixture for an hour. Cover the bottom of a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a melon baller scoop out balls of the chocolate mixture and place them on the prepared cookie sheet and chill for an hour. Melt the rest of the chocolate in a bowl, and dip each of the truffle centers and return to the waxed paper and chill until hard. Makes 40 to 50 truffles.


This recipe for fudge is a tad more complicated that most but the end results is worth the extra time you need to make it.
Bottom Layer:
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups marshmallow cream
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped salted peanuts

Caramel Layer:
14 oz pkg. caramels
1/4 cup whipping cream

1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Bottom layer: Lightly grease a 9X13 pan. In a sauce pan combine the 1 cup milk chocolate chips, 1/4 cup butterscotch chips and 1/4 cup peanut butter. Over a low heat cook, stirring until melted and smooth. Spread the mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Refrigerate until set.

For the middle layer: Melt the 1/4 cup butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the cup of sugar and 1 1/2 cup milk. Bring the mixture to a boil. Boil and stir constantly for 5 min. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the marshmallow creme, peanut butter and vanilla. After the ingredients are combined add the peanuts. Mix to combine and spread the mixture over first layer. Refrigerate until set.

Top Layer: In a sauce pan combine the caramels and cream. Heat over a low heat, stirring until melted and smooth. Spread the mixture over the filling. Refrigerate until set.

In another saucepan, combine 1 cup chocolate chips and 1/4 cup peanut butter; Heat until melted and smooth. Pour the frosting over the caramel layer. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Cut into 1 inch squares. Store in the refrigerator


Easy chocolate fudge made in the microwave oven.

3 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup cocoa

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup butter

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
Grease an 8 in. pan and set it aside. In a bowl combine the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa, milk, and butter. Cook on high power until butter is melted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir until smooth. Blend in the vanilla and pecans. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan and refrigerate until firm. Cut fudge in 12 to 16 squares.


4 1/2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons butter

 pinch of salt

10 to 12 ounce can evaporated milk

12 ounces semisweet chocolate

12 ounces German sweet chocolate

1 cup marshmallow cream

2 cups chopped nutmeats

In a sauce pan combine the sugar, butter, salt, and evaporated milk. Cook over a low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 6 minutes then remove it from the heat. Put in the semi sweet chocolate, German chocolate, marshmallow cream, and nutmeats in a bowl. Pour the boiling syrup mixture over the chocolate in the bowl. Stir until the chocolate is all melted, then pour the mixture in a 9X13 pan. Let stand for a few hours before cutting into 24 squares

Hazelnuts Are 4 Everyone

Of all the nuts I have hanging around my house (hubby and kids not withstanding) the one that used to be taken out only for special occasions was the hazelnuts (AKA filberts). Then I was introduced to Nuttella ® a wonderful chocolaty hazelnut spread that made my taste buds stand up and say WOW give me more!!! I had, prior to that culinary revelation, only used hazelnuts in a few cookies and an occasional cake or two. Trying a chocolate hazelnut spread on toast for breakfast (don’t judge me) made me realize just how versatile that little nut could be.

A hazelnut has a sweet slightly unusual flavor and unique texture make them perfect for both sweet and savory dishes.  But, wait, there’s more. This nut has some real substantial nutrition to offer.

Hazelnut is a terrific source of vitamin E, protein, and fiber as well as being a great source for antioxidants. The hazelnut is readily available BUT they can be a tad more expensive than a peanut, pecan or almond. That’s why most recipes tend to use them as a side note or accent rather than a main ingredient. The following recipes will let you take them from appetizer to dessert and will open the door to hazelnut heaven.

Note: Nuttella ® is available at most grocery stores right next to the peanut butter.




1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup cocoa

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups packed brown sugar

2 cups hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

2 cups shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. In a bowl combine the 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the 1/2 cup butter and mix to combine until the mixture is crumbly. Press the mixture into the bottom of the greased pan. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from the oven. While to base is cooling make the topping

In a bowl, combine the cocoa with the 2 tablespoons flour, baking powder and salt and set it aside. In another bowl whisk together the eggs, butter, vanilla and sugar. Whisk in the cocoa mixture until blended. Stir in the hazelnuts and coconut. Pour the mixture over the crust and make sure it covers it completely.

Reduce heat to 325. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool for 15 to 20 minutes before cutting. Makes 16

Submitted by Ronnie Mixser-Hoffman Chicago IL


6 six-eight ounce fillets of tilapia

Butter or olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/3 cup hazelnuts, coarsely ground

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon butter

4 teaspoons flour

3/4 cup vegetable broth

3 tablespoons white wine

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9X13 baking dish and place the fillets in the prepared pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Brush the top of each fillet with melted butter and top each fillet with a tablespoon of chopped hazelnuts. Sprinkle the top of each fillet with fresh lemon juice Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the fish flakes easily. Remove the fish to a warm plate and then melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet and add the flour.  Whisk to blend until smooth but don’t let it brown. Add the stock and wine and stir until smooth. Pour the sauce over the fish and serve. Serves 6


Great over salad greens or rice

3/4 cup fresh raspberries (about 3 1/2 ounces)

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup oil

3 to 6 teaspoons water (optional)


1 cup chopped hazelnuts (about 4 1/2 ounces)

3/4 cup panko or plain dried breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

3 teaspoons ground black pepper, divided

1/3 cup honey mustard

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

4 large butterflied skinless boneless chicken breasts

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons oil

4 cups salad greens

1/2 cup fresh raspberries

raspberry sauce:

In a food processor or blender combine the 3/4 cup raspberries, white wine vinegar, and sugar and process until smooth. With blender running, gradually add the oil. Add water by teaspoonfuls as needed to thin to desired consistency. Season raspberry sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

For chicken:

Preheat oven to 375. In a bowl combine the hazelnuts, breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon coarse salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper.  In another bowl combine the honey mustard, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, remaining 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and remaining 1 teaspoon pepper in bowl. Add the chicken to the mayonnaise mixture and turn to coat. Then dip the chicken pieces, 1 at a time, into crumb-nut mixture, coating both sides and pressing to adhere. Transfer coated chicken pieces to baking sheet.

Divide equal amounts of butter and oil between 2 large nonstick skillets; heat over medium-high heat. Add 2 chicken pieces to each skillet; reduce heat to medium and cook until chicken is light brown, about 4 minutes per side. Place chicken on rimmed baking sheet; transfer to oven. Roast chicken until cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Serve immediately with fresh raspberries and serve raspberry sauce alongside.

Modified from


Debbie Russell of Colorado Springs won a 1st Prize at the Build a Better Burger Cook-off with this recipe and it truly deserved to win, it’s amazing

2 pounds ground lamb

1/2 cup Cabernet Sauvignon

1/2 cup minced red onion

1/2 cup fresh Italian bread crumbs

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried basil

1 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried thyme

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped blanched hazelnuts

1/4 cup unseasoned dried Italian bread crumbs

Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack

6 large sesame seed sandwich buns split

6 tablespoons fresh goat cheese (about 3 ounces)

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 bunch spinach leaves

6 large tomato slices

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the patties, combine the lamb, Cabernet Sauvignon, onion, fresh bread crumbs, parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the buns. On a plate, combine the hazelnuts and dried bread crumbs. Press both sides of each patty into the nut mixture, coating evenly.

When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, about 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. During the last few minutes of cooking, place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly. During the last minute of cooking, top each patty with 1 tablespoon of the cheese.

To assemble the burgers, spread the mustard over the cut sides of the buns. On each bun bottom, place several spinach leaves and a tomato slice. Add the bun tops and serve. Makes 6 burgers.

Reprinted from Sutter Home Family Vineyards, written by James McNair, Build a Better Burger, published by Ten Speed Press


1 cup hazelnuts

1 cup oatmeal

1 cup cake flour

Pinch of salt

Pinch of cardamom

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup oil

1/3 cup strawberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 cookie sheets and set them aside. In a food processor chop the hazelnuts until they are coarsely chopped.  Add the flour and oatmeal and pulse 5 seconds and then place it in a mixing bowl. Add salt cardamom and cinnamon. Mix to combine and then add the maple syrup and oil and mix to combine. Make walnut-size balls and place on an oiled cookie sheet. Press cookies with the middle with your thumb, making a small indentation and fill it with about 1/2 teaspoon of strawberry jam.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool. Makes 3 to 3 1/2 dozen depending on size.


8 oz angel hair pasta

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup ketchup

1/4 cup fish sauce or soy sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 teaspoon red or chili pepper

2 tablespoons oil

2 cups ground chicken or tofu cut into ½-inch cubes

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 eggs, beaten

3 cups fresh bean sprouts (you can use canned but they don’t taste as good)

1 cup thinly sliced green onions

1 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts

1 English cucumber sliced thin

Juice of 1/2 lime

Cook noodles according to the package directions, drain and set aside. In a bowl combine the sugar, water, ketchup, fish sauce, lime juice and cayenne pepper. Whisk to combine and set aside.

Heat oil in wok or large frying pan over high heat. Add the chicken or tofu and garlic, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add noodles, stirring constantly to keep from sticking. Add ketchup mixture, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until sauce is absorbed. Remove the noodle mixture to a bowl and then return the frying pan to the heat. Add the eggs and cook, stirring until almost cooked. Add the bean sprouts, 2/3 cup green onions and 1/2 cup hazelnuts, stirring until mixed with eggs. Return the noodles to the pan and cook while stirring constantly for about 3 minutes. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and place the noodles in a large wide bowl. Sprinkle the top with the remaining green onions and hazelnuts and decorate the cucumber slices. Sprinkle the lime juice on top and serve immediately.

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