Category Archives: Desserts

Bourbon Brown Sugar Peach Ice Cream

peach ice cream side blog

Peaches are one of my most favorite fruits in the whole world. Every summer, I buy all the peaches I can possibly consume (and then some) every week at the farmer’s market. This past February, I finally decided to plant a peach tree in our backyard in hopes of having my own crop. (My crop this summer? Exactly one peach. My hopes are high for the future.)

Sometimes, however, I buy more than I can eat. I can certainly freeze them for later, or make jam, but once I’ve done that, what else is there?

Oh, right. DESSERTS!

This time around, I wanted to make something I could share, but that would stay good for more than a few hours, so pies and cobblers were out. What’s left? Ice cream, of course!

I started out by cooking down the peaches to really get their flavor going, and making a nice, rich vanilla custard base. Then, once all that was cool, I lightened and brightened it up with sour cream and a splash of lemon. Oh yeah, and bourbon. Because after all, homemade ice cream stays softer if you throw a little liquor in there, and bourbon just begs to be married to peaches, doesn’t it?

The result was a perfect treat that just sings summer. It’s not overly sweet, thanks to the sour cream, but the balance of brown sugar, the subtle hint of bourbon, and the freshness of the peaches is happiness in your mouth.

So before peach season is over where you live, I highly encourage you to make this ice cream. You won’t be sorry.

Print Recipe

peach ice cream blog

Bourbon Brown Sugar Peach Ice Cream (gluten-free)

2 lbs peaches, peeled and roughly chopped

1/2 c water

1 c heavy cream

1/2 c brown sugar

1/4 c granulated sugar

2 T liquid sweetener of choice (I used cane syrup, but you can use corn syrup, maple syrup, or agave nectar)

3 egg yolks

pinch of salt

2 T bourbon

2 t vanilla extract

3/4 c sour cream

1/2 t lemon juice

In a medium saucepan, add the peaches and water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until peaches are soft and water is pretty much evaporated. Refrigerate until cool.

In a separate saucepan, add the cream, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and liquid sweetener. Bring to a simmer, whisking until sugar is dissolved. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Continue whisking the yolks and pour a few tablespoons of the cream mixture in. Then pour the egg yolk mixture back into the cream, whisking the entire time to be sure you don’t “cook” the eggs. Continue to whisk the custard base until thick. Remove from heat and whisk in the salt, bourbon, and vanilla. Refrigerate until cool.

Once everything is cold, blend the peaches, custard base, sour cream and lemon juice to desired texture (I left small little bits of peach in mine). Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze until firm (mine was scoopable in about 3 hours).

 

Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

zucchini cake blog

Just when you thought the zucchini and summer squash recipes were over for the season…

Out comes one more zucchini recipe!

Yes, I’m kind of in a zucchini rut. But there’s just so much of it, and it’s so versatile. Already this summer I’ve made a quinoa-stuffed patty pan squash and a delicious zucchini dip. I also made a zucchini ribbon salad. And that’s just in 2014. Search through the archives, and there’s even more zucchini goodness.

The way I figured it, it was about time for a dessert recipe around here. Thing is, I haven’t made all that many desserts lately. Most days, we don’t have dessert, or we simply enjoy a piece of fruit. No really big reason for it – I just haven’t craved much in the way of sweet treats. But the zucchini was staring at me in the fridge, lonely and starting to go south. I had a few hours before I was to meet up with friends to watch my soccer team play (I’m almost ready to be back playing myself – been a long hiatus with my hip surgery), so I figured this was an excellent time to make a dessert. I’d have someone to help me eat it!

It seems there is never a shortage of helpers in that regard – I show up with food, and people are more than willing to take it off my hands for me. Nevermind that this is a cake with vegetables in it, or even that it’s gluten-free – nobody minded that one bit. It’s definitely not a flashy, pretty, fancy birthday cake, but I don’t think that mattered. Sometimes, simple and homestyle is delicious too. With a tender, moist crumb and the tangy cream cheese frosting, I can’t imagine this cake needs to put on such fancy airs. It speaks for itself.

So if you still have zucchini, why not make a cake? No special occasion necessary.

Print Recipe

Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (gluten-free)

2/3 c superfine brown rice flour (I like Authentic Foods)

2/3 c gluten-free oat flour (if you can’t find gluten-free oat flour, you can process GF oats in a food processor until finely powdered)

2/3 c tapioca starch

1 T unflavored gelatin

1/2 t baking soda

2 1/4 t baking powder

3/4 t kosher salt

2 t ground cinnamon

1/4 t ground nutmeg

1/4 t ground ginger

1/2 c butter, softened

1 c granulated sugar

3/4 c brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 t vanilla extract

1/3 c Greek yogurt

3 c grated zucchini, packed tightly

For the frosting:

6 oz cream cheese, softened slightly

4 T butter, softened

1/2 t vanilla extract

1 1/2 – 2 c powdered sugar

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13 X 9 inch glass baking dish and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, gelatin, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Add the vanilla and Greek yogurt and mix in. Add the flour mixture, about a third at a time, and mix on low speed until everything is blended. Add the zucchini and mix on low speed until everything is mixed evenly.

Spoon the batter into the prepared baking dish and spread out evenly with a spatula as necessary.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs still attached. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. Beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until smooth. Add the vanilla and a cup of the powdered sugar and mix in on low speed. If the frosting needs to be more stiff, continue to add powdered sugar, beating on low speed at least until incorporated, and then increasing the speed to medium or medium-high to whip smooth. If your frosting is too stiff, add a tablespoon or two of milk and beat in.

Once the cake is completely cool, spread the frosting over the cake evenly. Slice and serve. Refrigerate the cake, covered, to store.

Serves 16.

Strawberry Cheesecake Frozen Yogurt

strawberry frozen yogurt blog

Confession: I’ve never made frozen yogurt. Not until this recipe, that is. Truth be told, I’ve tended towards the belief that frozen yogurt was inferior to ice cream. It’s lower in fat. That automatically means it can’t be good, right?

Well, I was wrong.

I didn’t set out with the intention of making something lighter. This was born more out of a desire for ice cream, and the freezer being devoid of said ice cream. Furthermore, the refrigerator only had whole milk, which can tend to get icy when making homemade ice cream. However, I had some plain Greek yogurt. Not wanting to make a trip to the store, I figured I’d give this frozen yogurt thing a shot.

In the blender went the yogurt, a little cream cheese, some frozen strawberries left over from last summer that needed using up, some sugar, and vanilla. Also a splash of vodka, just to keep it from freezing too hard. I blended until creamy, poured into the ice cream maker, and about 15 minutes later, I was rewarded with delicious soft-serve strawberry frozen yogurt. It was way better than I’d even anticipated. But how would it be once fully frozen? That’s the real test.

As it turns out, it turned out pretty darn well! It still freezes quite firm, as most homemade ice creams do, but a few minutes to thaw on the counter, and it’s scoopable, creamy and not a bit icy. It’s delightful on a hot day, and that’s a good thing, as July is almost here, and I’ll be seeing nothing but hot days for a long while.

In my mind, the only thing missing is a waffle cone.

Print Recipe

Strawberry Cheesecake Frozen Yogurt (gluten-free)

2 c plain Greek yogurt

2 oz cream cheese

2 c whole strawberries (frozen or fresh)

1/2 t vanilla extract

1 t vodka (optional, but will make the ice cream a little softer)

1/2 c sugar

Place all ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth and creamy. Pour into your ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions.

Enjoy as soft serve or freeze until firm.

 

Cheerios Protein Chocolate Almond Munch

cheerios treat mix blog

This is a sponsored post on behalf of General Mills, but the opinions are my own.

Cheerios has another delicious option out there for those of you looking to add a bit of sneaky protein into your day. Their new Cheerios Protein line, which comes in Oats and Honey and Cinnamon Almond, have 7 grams of protein per serving. It’s not the super-high totals of a typical protein shake or a can of tuna, but it has the added benefit of tasting pretty delicious and is something that my picky kids will actually eat. I think it’s pretty tasty myself!

Of course, as much as I love munching on cereal (honestly, cereal is a dessert or late-night snack of choice for me), I thought I’d come up with a little treat mix using the Cinnamon Almond variety. Playing with the almond flavor and upping the protein a bit more, I threw in sliced almonds and a chocolate almond butter. For some sweetness, chocolate and dried cranberries were added as well. What resulted was a slightly indulgent, delicious treat that would please adults as well as children.

This treat mix is perfect to munch on as a snack or dessert. It makes a trumped-up version of my bedtime snack of choice, thanks to the chocolate. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that it has a higher protein content!

Print Recipe

Cheerios Protein Chocolate Almond Munch (NOT gluten-free!, dairy-free)

5 c Cheerios Protein Cinnamon Almond

3/4 c dried cranberries

3/4 c sliced almonds

1/2 c honey

1 c brown sugar

1 c Justin’s chocolate almond butter

1/2 t ground cinnamon

Pinch salt

1/2 c dark chocolate chips (Enjoy Life is dairy-free)

 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the cereal, dried cranberries, and sliced almonds. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine honey and sugar. Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves. This should only take about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate almond butter and cinnamon.

Pour chocolate almond butter mixture over the cereal mixture and stir, mixing until thoroughly coated. Pour out onto prepared baking sheet and spread into clumps.

In a small microwaveable bowl, melt chocolate chips, stopping to stir every 15 seconds or so, until melted. Drizzle chocolate over the cheerios mixture evenly. (You can do this by using a spoon and drizzling, or by spooning the melted chocolate into a Ziploc bag and cutting off a small corner, and squeezing the chocolate out.)

Refrigerate for about 15 minutes or until chocolate hardens. Break into bite-sized pieces and store in an airtight container.

 

I received compensation in exchange for writing this review.

Udi’s “What The Hack” Contest and Giveaway!

choc chip smores udis blog

Maple Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookie S’mores

Update: This contest is now closed. The winner is Melissa, who would make pizza hoagies using Udi’s French baguettes as the bread. Sounds like a grand idea! Congrats, Melissa!

Wanna know how to make these super-simple gluten-free s’mores? How about other simple gluten-free treats and dishes that are excellent when you’re short on time, but long on hunger?

Truth is, most of these are SO simple, you can put your own thinking cap on and come up with a ton of different simple gluten-free solutions to breakfast, a handy appetizer for a party, or that all-too-familiar 4 p.m. “Mom, I’m hungry!” call for snacks.

Udi’s has recently launched a campaign called “What the Hack”, where the goal is to break away from recipe limitations, and transform an ordinary recipe into a quick and clever hack.  Food hacks are helpful tricks, like the S’mores made with Udi’s Gluten-Free Maple Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies.

In order to get us all motivated to come up with some food hacks, I’m working with Udi’s to bring you this fun (and rewarding!) contest.

Rewarding? How? Well, Udi’s will share with the winner a lovely care package filled with Udi’s product and some other items, worth about $100. I’ve received these packages – let me tell you, they’re pretty awesome. (If you have kids, though, you may want to be sure to intercept so you have half a chance to enjoy some of the goodies too, as they often include delicious cookies or brownie bites!)

What do you need to do to enter? Simply create a food hack using any one of Udi’s gluten-free products. It ought to be a fairly simple recipe (you can use my S’mores recipe below as inspiration), as the point of a “hack” is that it’s not a complicated practice. Once you’ve created a food hack, either post your recipe (and a quick photo – doesn’t have to be fancy!) on your Facebook page or on your blog (if you have one), and share the link in the comments below. You can also email me a photo and the recipe to enter as well.

The contest is open to all US Residents 18 years of age and older.

The submission deadline for entries is Friday, June 13, 2014 at 11:59PM Central Time.

That’s it! A winner will be chosen once the contest is over and will be announced here as well as via Facebook and Twitter.

This is a sponsored contest written by me on behalf of Udi’s Gluten Free. The opinions and text are all mine.

And now, the recipe for these S’mores. Udi’s Soft-Baked Maple Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies are pretty delicious on their own, but for my food hack, I opted to take them up a notch. Adding some Hershey’s chocolate squares and a marshmallow, and voila! - the next generation of gluten-free s’more-dom was born! These are perfect for an afternoon snack or dessert and are definitely a kid-pleaser.

Print Recipe

Maple Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookie S’mores (gluten-free)

1 box Udi’s Gluten-Free Maple Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 Hershey’s milk chocolate bar

5 large marshmallows

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place half of the cookies upside-down on the baking sheet. Top each cookie with 2 squares of chocolate, and then a marshmallow.

smores set up blog

Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove and top each marshmallow with the remaining cookies.

That’s it! Serve while they’re warm and gooey.

Makes 5 s’mores.

 

Strawberry-Coconut Butter Cups

strawberry coconut choc cups blog

After you’ve made a batch of strawberry-coconut butter and have spread it on all the things (biscuits, toast, your finger…), maybe it’s time to take that next step with what’s left. If there’s any left, that is.

Which makes me think that maybe, you ought to make these before you get to spreading it and spooning it straight into your mouth, just so you can make sure you have enough. But either way, these are definitely a natural next level of deliciousness. They’re also perfect for gifts. After all, who doesn’t like chocolate?

Making your own candy might seem difficult, but I promise you, these are simple. If you wish, you can skip tempering the chocolate, like I did this time around, and make them refrigerator-only treats. But for gifts, tempering only takes an extra step or two (I describe how to do so here) and turns your chocolates into something professional-looking. But essentially, you melt chocolate, paint the inside of a chocolate mold, fill with the strawberry-coconut butter, and paint more chocolate to seal. It’s kind of like kindergarten, all over again. Easy peasy. And the results are far worth the effort – the mix of dark chocolate and the strawberry-coconut butter is a delicious treat.

So whether you’re tiring of simply eating this strawberry-coconut butter as a spread, or you want an easy-to-make candy that’s definitely worthy of gift-giving, these cups are sure to meet your needs.

Print Recipe

Strawberry-Coconut Butter Cups (gluten-free, vegan-friendly)

8 oz dark chocolate (I used Brix Smooth Dark Chocolate – if you want a vegan chocolate, be sure to choose one without milk or butter fat.)

About 1/2 recipe Strawberry-Coconut Butter - if refrigerated, allow to warm on the counter for about 30 minutes

Candy mold, such as one for peanut butter cups

Small paintbrush (like 1/4″)

Prepare a double boiler. (If you don’t have a double boiler, you can simply set a small saucepan with an inch or two of water to simmer, and place a large stainless bowl over the top. Place the chocolate in the top bowl/pot. Allow to melt and come to about 113-120 degrees F, stirring occasionally. (If you wish to temper the chocolate, bring the chocolate back down to 80 degrees F, and then rewarm to 90 degrees F, making sure not to heat it above that temp. Hold the chocolate at this temp while using.)

Using a small paintbrush, paint chocolate into the candy mold, making sure you cover it completely. Allow to dry. (I had to place the molds into the fridge for 10 minutes or so to set.)

Once the chocolate is set, spoon a small amount of strawberry-coconut butter into each mold. Finally, paint more chocolate over the top to fill the mold and seal the filling inside. Place the molds in the refrigerator or freezer to set for another 10-15 minutes.

Once the chocolates are sufficiently hard, you can pop them out of the molds by turning the mold upside down and pressing on the backs of each candy. They should pop out with relative ease.

Store in refrigerator, unless you’ve tempered the chocolate, and in that case, they can be stored at a cool room temperature.

Makes about 18-20 chocolates.

 

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

choc chip pb cookie for blog

Apparently it’s National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day today. Usually I’m too late on all of these food holidays. I just don’t keep up. But today, it’s a good thing I have these in my pocket, ready to go for you. (Okay, not literally in my pocket – that would create a lot of crumbs!)

These are your traditional chocolate chip cookies, slightly soft, with chewy edges, but with a small twist. I had a partial bag of peanut butter chips in the freezer left over from making some treats for my co-workers, so I opted to use them in place of some of the chocolate chips.

What resulted was my favorite version of chocolate chip cookies, only better. There’s a lovely balance of chocolate and peanut butter in these beauties. My favorite part, though, has to be the texture. I’m very much a soft+chewy fan when it comes to chocolate chip cookies, and that specific texture is sometimes difficult to achieve when baking gluten-free. However, my friends, this seems to be the key.

Feel free to make these as written, or use all chocolate-chips for a traditional version. Unfortunately, peanut butter chips don’t come dairy-free (that I know of), so for a dairy-free version, use all dairy-free chocolate chips. They are, however, gluten-free, so you’re good to go there. Whether you make them with or without dairy, I’m sure you’ll be just as delighted.

Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day.

Print Recipe

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free, dairy-free options)

½ cup unrefined coconut oil, softened (can substitute butter)

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups superfine brown rice flour

¼ cup + 3 tablespoons tapioca starch

1 tablespoon gelatin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons water

6 oz chocolate chips or chunks (double for dairy-free – Enjoy Life chocolate chips are dairy-free)

6 oz peanut butter chips (omit for dairy-free)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Put the coconut oil/butter, sugar and molasses in a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Cream together on medium speed for about a minute. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and mix again.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the brown rice flour, tapioca starch, gelatin, salt, and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and beat again on low speed until combined. Add water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together. (you may not need all 3 tablespoons) Stir in the chocolate chips.

Scoop the dough into small balls (about 2 tablespoons each) and place on a parchment-lined (or silicone baking sheet lined) baking sheet, at least 2-3 inches apart. Flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.

Bake for 12 minutes or until the edges just start to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Poppyseed Cake

lemon poppyseed cut cake blog

You know those cloudy, dreary, sometimes wet days that come with springtime? The ones that leave you wanting to snuggle on the couch with a blanket all day?

We’ve been having a few of those here lately. I’m thankful – we desperately need the rain – but it doesn’t mean that I don’t wish for sunshine as well. But when the sunshine won’t come from outside, we have to make it ourselves. And what better way than to make something with lemon?

I had a gorgeous large Meyer lemon in my refrigerator, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to become something great. Apparently, it was destined for cake. Not a fancy, extravagant cake, however. This lemon wasn’t destined for a birthday or a holiday. Instead, it was destined for something humble. You can make this cake anytime it feels dreary out and you’d like to brighten someone’s day. It’s an “everyday” cake – the type my grandmother often bake when we would come visit, so we had a special treat to enjoy after lunch. It’s not too sweet, and there’s no fancy frosting or layers. But there is a light lemon flavor, the pop of the poppyseeds, and a tender, moist crumb. It’s also great with an afternoon tea, or even for breakfast.

In my mind, it’s a happy-making cake. And on any spring day, dreary or otherwise, who couldn’t use a little happy?

Print Recipe

Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Poppyseed Cake (gluten-free, dairy-free)

2/3 c sweet white rice flour (I like Mochiko)

2/3 + 2 T c superfine brown rice flour (I like Authentic Foods)

2/3 c tapioca starch

1 T baking powder

1/4 t kosher salt

1 1/2 t unflavored gelatin (I like Great Lakes)

2/3 c milk (dairy or non-dairy variety of your choice)

1/2 c olive oil (any variety)

1 t vanilla extract

3 eggs, room temperature

1 c + 2 T granulated sugar

1 T Meyer lemon zest (from one large or two smaller Meyer lemons)

1/3 c Meyer lemon juice (from one large or two smaller Meyer lemons)

1 1/2 T poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9-inch round cake pan and dust with brown rice flour. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, and gelatin.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, olive oil, vanilla, eggs, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice until well-blended and a bit frothy.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until smooth. Add the poppy seeds and whisk again.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Rap the pan against the counter once or twice to prevent bubbles in the cake. Place on center rack in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it.

Remove and let cool on a wire rack. Can serve slightly warm.

Makes one 9-inch cake.

Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie Cupcakes

mint choc chip brownie cupcakes

Last weekend, I decided I would make something green for my coworkers in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not normally one to really celebrate the holiday in any grand style (Not Irish, and I’m not the biggest celebrator of holidays anyway, save a few. Just call me a big fuddy-duddy.), but I made an exception this time.

It started with a superb little pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream that I enjoyed a few weeks ago. I went back to the freezer to have another small helping only to find it was gone. (Teenagers in the house means this happens more often than I’d like – c’est la vie!)  But since then, the idea of these cupcakes, made with brownies and topped with frosting reminiscent of mint chocolate chip ice cream, just stuck in my mind until I decided to make them.

And so I did.

I opted for brownie base rather than just a regular chocolate cupcake because, let’s face it: brownies are better than regular cake. It’s just a fact. At least it is in my mind. Besides, I’ve always found that making brownies gluten-free is so simple, as the flour is not as much of a star ingredient in a brownie as it is in cake – instead, sugar and eggs play a chief role. And of course, the cocoa powder. Because chocolate is the chief-est of all chief roles in brownies! (Yes, I totally just made up the word “chief-est”. Let’s just go with it and move on.)

Once the brownie-cupcakes were baked, I made the frosting. It was super-simple, and because of the chocolate chips stirred in, I opted to simply smear on the frosting rather than try to carefully pipe something out. Definitely a time-saver, and it saved me from my otherwise perfection-driven tendency to spend far too long trying to execute perfectly piped frosting.

The end result was delightful. A sweet, chocolate-y treat with the pleasing, but not overpowering flavor of mint. The brownies were rich and full of fudgy chocolate. And that frosting? It was truly like my ice cream I was craving.

So even though St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, I felt this treat just had to be shared with you. Because mint (and green food) isn’t just for March 17th. I think this would be a great treat for any time of year. I hope you agree.

Print Recipe

Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie Cupcakes (gluten-free, dairy-free options)

For the cupcakes:

1/2 c unsalted butter (can use vegan buttery sticks for dairy-free)

1 c granulated sugar

2 eggs, beaten

2 t vanilla extract

1/4 t peppermint extract

2/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder

2 T sweet white rice flour

3 T tapioca starch

3 T superfine brown rice flour

1/2 t unflavored gelatin

1/4 t kosher salt

 

For the frosting:

1/2 c butter, softened (can substitute vegan buttery sticks for dairy-free)

About 4 c powdered sugar

2-4 T milk (use almond or coconut milk for dairy-free)

1 t vanilla extract

1/4 t peppermint extract

5-8 drops each yellow and blue natural food coloring (or until desired color is reached)

1 c mini chocolate chips (Enjoy Life is gluten and dairy-free)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with 9 cupcake liners.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and sugar together over medium heat, stirring until completely melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the eggs, vanilla and peppermint extracts, and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, gelatin and salt, and whisk those into the butter mixture until completely blended.

Portion out the batter equally into the lined muffin tin (about 1/4 cup of batter each). Bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center still brings out some chocolate, but the centers are set and no longer jiggly. (You don’t want to wait until the toothpick comes out clean or the cupcakes will be dry.) Allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. Beat the butter until smooth and start adding in the powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time. Add the milk and beat until the texture is stiff enough to hold but still creamy, adding more powdered sugar or more milk until desired texture is reached. Add the extracts and food coloring and beat well. Stir in half of the chocolate chips.

Frost the cupcakes with the frosting once they have cooled. With the remaining chocolate chips, microwave in a small bowl 30 seconds at a time, and stir until melted. Drizzle the chocolate over the frosted cupcakes.

Store in the refrigerator, and serve at room temperature. Makes 9 cupcakes.

 

 

 

Chocolate-Covered Cherries

chocolate covered cherries

Growing up, one of my Dad’s favorite treats was a box of chocolate-covered cherries. I loved them too. Biting into the chocolate shell to reveal the sweet maraschino cherry inside was like opening a delicious present. But over the years, the boxed chocolate-covered cherries of old became less appealing. The quality went down, and they were more often a cheap chocolate shell filled with cherry-like goo. Next-to-none of the real thing.

While I certainly could have sought out a higher-quality confection from one of the fancy candy stores, I opted instead to attempt my own. I’ve made other candies – chocolate coconut candies, fudgepeanut butter cups, chocolate pecan pralines and more – so why not these?

Turns out, they were easier than I’d imagined. Making the fondant was a cinch, and without the testy nature of boiling sugar (like there is with pralines or caramels and such), this was a project I could do at my own pace and while working on other things in the kitchen without fear. The most difficult part in my opinion was remembering to set the cherries to dry out a bit the day before I wanted to make these – which really isn’t that difficult at all!

So whether you want to treat your Valentine this year to something special, or you just want to play candymaker in a new way, I encourage you to make your own chocolate-covered cherries! They’re sweet and delicious and well worth a little work.

Print Recipe

Chocolate-Covered Cherries (gluten-free, vegan-adaptable)

About 20 maraschino cherries (I used an 8 oz jar of these, as they have no dyes or corn syrup)

2 T butter or vegan buttery sticks (don’t use the vegan spread, as it has too much water), softened to room temperature

2 t agave nectar

1 1/2 T reserved cherry liquid

1/4 t almond extract

1 1/2 c powdered sugar

8 oz semi-sweet or dark chocolate (I used Guittard)

The day before you want to make your chocolate-covered cherries, drain the cherries from their liquid (reserving the liquid) and pat dry. Set on a wire rack inside the refrigerator to dry overnight.

The following day, to prepare the fondant, add the butter/buttery stick, agave nectar, reserved cherry liquid, and almond extract and beat until combined. Add the powdered sugar, and mix on low speed until everything comes together in a ball around the paddle. If it’s too dry, add a few drops of cherry liquid. Too sticky, add a bit of powdered sugar. You want the texture to be a soft and malleable dough, but not sticky.

Scoop a small ball with the dough (about the diameter of a quarter) and roll in your hand. Flatten out the dough into a circle, and place a cherry in the center. Wrap the cherry with the fondant so that it covers the cherry completely, and roll between your hands to get rid of any seams or wrinkles and make it as round as possible. Place on a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining cherries. Place sheet of cherries in the refrigerator or freezer for about 30 minutes while you prepare the chocolate.

Temper the chocolate: Prepare a double boiler. Once water is simmering, add chocolate to the top bowl/pot. Allow to melt and come to about 113-120 degrees F, stirring occasionally. Scrape chocolate onto a cool marble slap, and using a scraper, smooth out the chocolate and move it around the slab to help it cool. (alternatively, you can reserve some “seed chocolate” and add it to the warm chocolate to cool it down.) Once it’s about 80 degrees F, scrape the chocolate back into the double boiler. Allow to come to about 90 degrees F, stirring occasionally, making sure not to warm it too much. Then it’s ready for dipping.

Dip each cherry into the chocolate, rolling around to coat completely. Place the cherry back on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cherries.

You can store the cherries in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Over the next few days, the fondant will soften and liquefy a bit (this will slow down considerably in the refrigerator). My photo shows them still with a solid fondant – they’re still delicious that way too!

Makes 20 chocolate-covered cherries.