Category Archives: Recipes

Salty Sweet Rainbow M&M Cookies

I’m so excited to share one of my favorite cookie recipes today. Thick, soft-baked, buttery cookies that are overloaded with sweet and salty goodness. Trust me, you’ll find these completely irresistible.

We’re going to begin with my favorite cookie dough base. This cookie dough is incredibly special and goes above and beyond what a regular cookie dough can do. Start with your usual suspects – butter, brown sugar, white sugar, flour, baking soda, etc. You’re going to add cornstarch to your usual cookie ingredients.

Cornstarch is my secret weapon in cookie dough. It’s the cornstarch that makes the baked cookies so thick and soft. So chewy and doughy. So perfect! Think about it… cornstarch is the ingredient thickening up your soups, softening your pie fillings, and giving your gravy a full-bodied texture. Just think of what it can do for cookie dough!

For the mix-ins, I used chopped up pretzels and colorful M&Ms. I love sweet and salty treats, and the combination of the two just works in this simple cookie dough base.

I used a couple of my tried and true cookie tricks in this recipe. I chilled the dough after mixing it. I chilled this dough overnight – about 12 hours.  Although it requires me to think ahead, I chill the dough for nearly every single cookie I bake. I cannot stress this step enough. After mixing your cookie dough, chilling it firms up the fat (butter, in this case) and gives the flour time to absorb liquid evenly. It reduces a cookie dough’s stickiness, making it firm and much easier to work with.

Next, I baked today’s cookies larger than usual. I wanted a “statement” cookie to go along with the colorful M&Ms and crunchy pretzels. About 2 generous tablespoons of dough went into each cookie. And finally, it is important to note the baking time – a precise 9-10 minutes. No more! Once the cookies came out of the oven, I had to press the tops down a bit because they were so puffy from all the dough I used. That’s why you see all the gorgeous little crinkles on the cookie tops.

The soft, doughy interior, the chewy edges, the crinkly tops, the thick size, the salty/sweet taste, the huge chunks inside make these cookies an instant favorite. I know you’ll love them, too!

P.S. Don’t forget to come see me and all of my recipes over at Sally’s Baking Addiction. I love connecting with new readers!

Sweet & Salty M&M Cookies

makes approximately 2.5 dozen

  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 broken pretzel pieces
  • 3/4 cup mini M&Ms (or regular size)

Directions:

Line an ungreased cookie sheet with parchment paper or silpat. Set aside.

In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Mix in egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed. On low speed, mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Stir in pretzel pieces and M&Ms. Chill dough (covered) for 30 minutes or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Drop balls of dough (1.5 tablespoons each) onto cookie sheet OR used a standard-sized cookie scoop. Stick a few M&Ms on the tops so they show after the cookies bake. Bake for 8-9 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges. Do NOT cook them longer than 9 minutes. Remove and let cool for 5-10 minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer to cooling rack.

*Do not drop dough onto warm cookie sheets. Allow cookie sheets to cool completely between batches.

adapted from The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

chocolate fudge cake

Chocolate Fudge Cake

I think chocolate is one of the best foods ever invented! It has taste, color and texture that make it unique but it’s also incredibly versatile. You can mix chocolate with many flavors – orange, ginger, mint, coffee and chili to name a few. Over the holidays I baked my favorite chocolate fudge cake and boy, it went down well! Here it is, minus a big chunk which my husband and son surreptitiously removed whilst I was looking for my camera!

chocolate fudge cake

Some people might think this a simple and basic recipe … and they would be right. The truth is that simple is often best – something that can get overlooked in an age where culinary expertise seems to know no bounds. All I know is that whenever my family sees me baking this cake their faces light up. So here’s the recipe for all chocolate fans who want to see smiling faces.

Chocolate Fudge Cake – Recipe

You need 2 baking tins for this recipe 8 inches (20cm) diameter. Grease with a little butter.

Fudge Ingredients:
8 ounces butter
2 ounces dark muscovado sugar
8 ounces bittersweet (dark) chocolate
5 tablespoons evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cake Ingredients:
6 ounces caster sugar (superfine sugar)
6 ounces butter
3 beaten eggs
3 tablespoons golden syrup or corn syrup (golden syrup works best but not so easy to find)
1  1/2 ounces cocoa powder
1  1/2 ounces ground almonds
6 ounces self-rising flour

First, make the chocolate fudge, which will need to be chilled before you can use it.

Method: Break the chocolate into small chunks and put into a medium pan with the butter, sugar, milk and vanilla extract.

chocolate fudge ingredients in the pan

On a low heat, stir with a wooden spoon until it’s all mixed and melted. Place the pan to one side to cool for a few minutes then pour into a glass bowl to cool further.

ingredients for chocolate fudge almost melted

When cooled sufficiently, chill for about an hour in the refrigerator.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F while you make the cake mix.

Method: Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a bowl and place to one side. In a separate, glass bowl beat together the sugar and butter until soft and light. Gently stir into this the eggs followed by the ground almonds and syrup. Take the sifted flour and cocoa powder and slowly fold into the mixture until you have a smooth but slightly runny consistency. Note: if your mixture is a little thick just add a teaspoon of water at a time until the mixture drops from a spoon.

Take the 2 greased baking tins and spoon the cake mixture into them equally.  Put the tins in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. When you remove them, check with your fingertips to make sure the sponge is springy – that’s when you know it’s ready. Place the tins to one side for a few minutes before you turn them out.  Wait until the cake sponges have fully cooled then sandwich them together with half of the chilled chocolate fudge. (I find a spatula or palette knife makes this easy). Then spread the remaining half all over the outside of the cake. This is the part I love doing!

My family prefers a really thick layer of chocolate on the outside of the cake so I use more than half the chocolate fudge for that. Slice and serve on its own or with heavy cream or a dollop of whipped cream. Simple and sumptuous!

Looking for a more adventurous chocolate dessert recipe? Then check out the following – they certainly look and sound fabulous!
Choc Chip Cookie Fudge Sandwiches
Choc Chip Cannoli Pie
Spiced Mocha Fudge Cake

There are some amazing facts about chocolate – eg. cocoa beans were grown as far back as 1500 BC by the Olmec Indians of Mexico. Click here for more chocolate facts.

Chocolate Cake Ball Stuffed Oreo Pudding Cookies

Many of you may be scolding me for posting these decadent, irresistible cookies only two days into the new year when the most popular resolution is to lose weight or at least eat healthier. But I just cannot help myself! It is impossible for me to resist so why must I be alone in consuming all of these cookies? The more I share, the less I have to eat!

These cookies are made with chunks or Hershey’s cookies and cream candy bars, Oreo pudding mix (which makes them super soft), and chocolate chips. But inside there is a surprise – a moist chocolate cake ball! It seems like I always have some sort of truffle frozen in my freezer and they are perfect for jazzing up cookies and cupcakes.

CHOCOLATE CAKE BALL STUFFED OREO PUDDING COOKIES

Makes 3 dozen

Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1 (4.2 ounce) package instant Oreo Pudding mix

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

2-2.6 oz. (5.2 oz. total) Hershey’s Cookies N Cream Candy Bars broken into small pieces

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 dozen uncoated chocolate cake balls

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with silicone baking mats, or parchment paper, set aside.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Cream together butter and sugars. Beat in pudding mix until blended. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix to combine. Stir in cookies n’ cream pieces and chocolate chips. Batter will be thick.
  3. Using a cookie dough scooper, form golf ball sized dough balls. Flatten one out in the palm of your hand, place one cake ball in the center, and wrap the dough around it. Place on prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough and cake balls.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes. You do not want to overbake these! They will barely be golden on the edges and bottom. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet before moving to a cooking rack. Store in air-tight container.

Source: Adapted slightly from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

Grapefruit-Champagne Sorbet

Beyond Wonderful Grapefruit-Champagne Sorbet

I love this icy cold grapefruit-champagne sorbet, especially after a rich or spicy meal. Pretty and pink, its unique flavor shines bright with Ruby Red grapefruit juice and bubbly sweetened with simple syrup. Nothing could be easier to prepare especially when you know a few tricks.

  1. Buy an inexpensive bottle of champagne or sparkling wine for this and save the good stuff for drinking. This is also a great way to use up partially used bottles from your New Year’s celebration.
  2. Use freshly squeezed grapefruit juice; never ever think about bottled, canned or frozen juices as they won’t provide the same bright flavor. Never.
  3. Ruby Red grapefruits are my favorite for this sorbet because they are juicier and sweeter than many varieties and impart a soft, wintery pink color. Ruby Red’s are in the markets year round but plentiful this time of year through early spring. If they are unavailable in your area substitute any grapefruit of your choice.
  4. Make your own simple syrup—it’s easy and cost pennies. My recipe calls for more sugar than some because it helps maintain the delicate flavor often lost in the freezing process.
  5. Grapefruit-champagne sorbet is a great make-ahead dessert. Chill all the ingredients 4–6 hours before processing in your ice cream maker. Once finished, harden the sorbet overnight in the freezer. Both steps are key to success.

Simple. Elegant. Delicious. So cool.

 Beyond Wonderful Grapefruit-Champagne Sorbet

2 cups freshly squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice
1 1/2 cups Simple Syrup
1 cup chilled champagne

Directions

1. Pour the juice through a mesh strainer set over a medium mixing bowl. Check for pulp and strain again if necessary.

2. Add the simple syrup, mix well, and refrigerate for 4–6 hours to ripen the mixture.

3. Remove from the refrigerator and add the chilled champagne. It’s important that all ingredients be very cold.

4. Process the grapefruit-champagne mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

5. Spoon the finished sorbet into a container, cover it, and place in the freezer for 4–6 hours or overnight to harden.

6. Remove from the freezer 10 minutes before serving.

SONY DSC

Peppermint Eggnog Sundaes

 

My father is a minister, and through my growing up years, our family enjoyed many a holiday meal in homes of church members. We enjoyed the fellowship of gathering around the table together, and as an added benefit, we sampled some of the finest recipes known to southern cooks.

When we lived in East Tennessee, we were most delighted to get an invitation for dinner from an older woman in the congregation named Edith Gose. In a church full of good cooks, Miss Edith was the best. Her casserole dish was always emptied first at church potlucks, and some of her recipes had been included in cookbooks. Miss Edith’s skill in the kitchen was surpassed only by her love of sharing her cooking with others. She lived alone but always had guests. She was quick to invite visitors to Sunday lunch and looked for any opportunity to share a meal with someone who needed a lift. One year she invited our youth group to her home for a Christmas dinner and treated our boisterous crowd of teens to an elegant meal that included Cornish game hens – a new dish for many of us at the party. Miss Edith continued to cook for my parents after my brother, sister and I were grown. She would invite Mother and Daddy for lunch, greeting them at the door with appetizers and waiting on them with course after course of her unique recipes.

Most of Miss Edith’s recipes were gourmet specialties, but we learned a few quick-fix options from her too. During the holidays we loved her easy peppermint eggnog sundaes. When time did not allow preparing a more complex dessert, Miss Edith would place a generous scoop of peppermint ice cream into a pretty dessert dish and drizzle eggnog over the top. Garnished with crushed peppermint candy or chocolate curls, this refreshing treat offered a cool breath of winter.

As a newlywed and inexperienced cook, I served peppermint eggnog sundaes to guests at Christmas and felt confident knowing this dessert was Miss-Edith approved. Years later, I have a bit more experience and a wider collection of holiday recipes, but I still enjoy serving this simple dessert that combines two favorite seasonal flavors.

Each holiday season as I place generous scoops of peppermint ice cream into dessert dishes, I think of Miss Edith. Drizzling eggnog over top, I remember her kind hospitality. And passing the festive sundaes to eager guests, I am reminded that for Miss Edith cooking was not really about the food so much as the connections made with the people who gathered around her table.

One bite of a peppermint eggnog sundae, and on a cool breath of winter I am carried back to the snowy mountains of East Tennessee to enjoy food and fellowship with beloved cook Miss Edith.

For more delicious ideas, visit me at my blog, A Little Loveliness. See you there!

 

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

It has become a tradition for me to serve my Vegan Chocolate Mousse Cups on Christmas Eve.  This mousse is so rich and thick that I have piped it onto cupcakes as a healthier frosting.  It also makes a wonderful chocolate mousse filling for layered cakes… though I must admit I am partial to just eating it with a spoon.

INGREDIENTS - Makes 4 1/2 cups of mousse

14 ounce package of extra firm tofu (I used Wildwood)
1 cup vegan chocolate OR chocolate chips (I used Sweetriot 85% DARK chocolate that I chopped-up finely)
2 cups coconut milk or soy milk (vanilla or chocolate)
6 Tbs. cacao powder
6 packets Sweetleaf stevia
Chocolate cups for serving

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler.

While the chocolate is melting, blend the remaining ingredients in a high speed blender until very smooth (I used my Vitamix). Use the center agitator and stop blending a few times in order to scrape down the sides.

Once the chocolate has melted, add it to the rest of the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. The mixture will now be warm and not quite yet the consistency of pudding.

To serve the dessert as pudding, pour the mixture into a glass container and allow it to cool in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to thicken.

If using this recipe as mousse, keep it in the fridge for several hours to overnight so it firms-up completely. Prior to piping, you may whip the mousse with a handheld mixer to whip some air into it (this is not necessary, but optional).

Pipe the mousse into chocolate cups or the container of your choosing and serve.