Easter Peeps Nest

I saw this done on Pinterest, but the nest was made out of chinese noodles instead.  These nests are shredded wheat done up like rice crispy treats with the melted butter and marshmallows.  Then drop a couple egg shaped candies, these ones are Reese’s Pieces, and Cadbury Chocolate Eggs, and then place a Peep on top.  I found these chocolate covered Peeps at Wal Mart.

A super cute treat for an Easter gathering.

Lemon Tassies

We planned an event for some missionary friends of ours here on the central coast.  They wanted to do an informational talk about what they do in Africa, and invited us to plan the event as well as a dessert.  A friend of ours made chocolate dipped mini cupcakes (yum!).  The second dessert was mini strawberry shortcake triffles in votive candle holders.  The last dessert we made were mini lemon tassies.  They were outstanding!  These would all be great for a tea party as well.  The recipe is courtesy of Martha Stewart

Crust:

  • 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks, plus more for pans
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Pinch of salt

Filling:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with rack in upper third. Lightly butter a 24-cup mini-muffin pan; set aside. Combine the flour and butter using a food processor or a fork. Pulse or mash until mixture is the consistency of fine crumbs. Add the sugar, egg yolk, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. Process until evenly incorporated and smooth; do not overprocess.
  2. Divide the dough into quarters. Divide each quarter into 6 pieces. Shape into balls. Place each ball in a muffin cup; press down in the centers so that the dough fits the cups snugly. Make sure the bottom of each cup is pressed thinly.  A thick crust on the bottom does not taste as good.
  3. Bake until lightly browned all over and slightly darker at the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Do not over bake as these will bake again when the filling is put in.  Transfer muffin pan to a wire rack to cool.
  4. Make the filling: In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla until completely smooth. Using a 1/4-ounce ice cream scoop, fill the cooled crusts. Bake until filling is set and just beginning to color at the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer muffin pan to a wire rack. Let cool completely before serving. The tassies may be stored in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 days or frozen and defrosted at room temperature before serving.

If you are doing any event planning, this is sure to please!!

Out-Of-This-World Brownies

I’ve done it!!  I thought that there would never be a cake recipe or brownie recipe from scratch that is better than a box.  Well, I found a brownie recipe that is worthy.  (Still looking for that fine moist cake.)  The best thing is that it is easy and fast.  The recipe is from a book called Desserts By the Yard by Sherry Yard.  A friend got it for me from Avila Valley Barn.  It’s a really fun recipe book.

3/4 C. plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter chopped

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate finely chopped

7 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped

2 large eggs

1 C. sugar

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a square baking pan.  Sift flour and salt together.  Melt the butter, unsweetened chocolate and bittersweet chocolate in a micorwave-safe bowl at 50% power for about 2-3 min.  Stir until mixture is smooth.  Allow to cool until warm – about 90 degrees.  In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer beat together the eggs and sugar until fluffy.  Using a whisk, gently beat in the butter and chocolate.  Fold in the flour.  Scrape the batter into the pan and place in the oven.  Bake for 25 min until slightly firm to the touch and a crust has formed on top.  A toothpick will not come out clean.  Allow to cool.

Notes on ingredients:  I have made this recipe twice.  The first time I mixed semisweet and milk chocolate chips together in place of the bittersweet chocolate and the second time I used only milk chocolate chips.  The brownies came out great both times.  The recipe recommends Michel Cluizel Noir Infini 99% as the unswetened chocolate and Scharffen Berger as the bittersweet chocolate.  I have not tried either of these options.  Let me know if you do!

Note on folding:  If you do not know how to fold something into a batter:  Pour flour mixture into the bowl.  With a large spoon cut horizontally through the batter, scooping a big scoop off the bottom and drape it over the center of the flour mixture.  Turn the bowl 90 degrees and repeat until the flour is all mixed into the batter.  Folding helps the mixture not become tough and allows the fluffy nature of the batter created from the eggs and sugar to be retained.

Christmas Favors

We were asked to make the favors for a friend’s Christmas party this year.  We had fun brainstorming all sorts of ideas.  In the end we hand dipped oreo cookies in milk and white chocolate and then sprinkled them with sugar crystals of green and red.  I found some sugar crystals that were pepermint flavor.  That was fun.  Summer designed a label for the clear bags and we attatched the label and finished it off with Christmas ribbon.

A tip  if you try this idea at home.  The back of the chocolate chip bag has directions for melting the chips to dip.  They tell you to put them in the microwave and don’t stir them until the end.  Being a food snob I turned up my nose at these direction and thought surely this would be better done on the stove.  Nothing good ever came out of the microwave.  …  Twenty minutes later I had a hard glob of golden brown white chocolate in the trash can.  I would recommend following the directions on the package…I will humbly check my pride at the door next time.

Rocky Road Cookie Bars

I went to a holiday cookie exchange and tried a new recipe.  Here it is, and I think they are very very yummy.  They’re rich, and sweet, and luxurious.  I was in a pinch so I used pre-made chocolate chip cookie dough, but you can use your own favorite recipe.

Ingredients

1 roll (16.5 oz.) Nestle Tollhouse Choc Chip Cookie dough

1 cup miniature marshmallows

1/2 cup pecans

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup caramel topping

Directions

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Grease 9×9 bar pan with shortening or cooking spray. In pan, break up cookie dough. With floured fingers, press dough evenly in bottom of pan to form crust.

3. Bake 12 to 17 minutes or until light golden brown

4. Sprinkle marshmallows, pecans and chocolate chips evenly over crust. Drizzle with caramel topping.

5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes longer or until topping is melted.

6. Cool completely, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cut into squares.