Christmas Treats: A twist on traditional bark

I can hardly believe it’s the holidays again! It’s been hard to squeeze in some making this year, but I can’t let my favorite season go by without crafting some homemade treats. This year, I really wanted to do something different — but with an insane work schedule, it had to be simple. So, I took to the internet to see what interesting options would yield from a “bark recipe” google search.

And then I found it: Coffee Roasted Almond + Pistachio Dark Chocolate Bark with Coconut! (recipe via Half Baked Harvest)

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So the name is quite a mouthful, but WOW — it was exactly what I was looking for. Something you can enjoy with your holiday blend coffee, something unexpected and bonus: this stuff is totally vegan, too! It’s sooo easy to make, you could whip some up today.

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Toss almonds and pistachios in coconut oil and vanilla, then mix with fresh ground coffee.

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Ready for roasting!

I found a cute Christmas silicon mold on clearance last year (similar mold here), and knew it would be perfect. Melt your dark chocolate, pour into mold, and toss some coconut flakes on top. Make sure the nuts have cooled, add nuts to the top, and then drizzle more melted chocolate lightly on top. Place in the fridge for 30-60 mins., and voila!

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Once it’s out of the silicon mold, cut and package. This stuff tastes sooo good. And like the original author says, with almonds, dark chocolate and coconut, its practically health food, right? 😉 I packaged mine in cellophane as whole bars for a pretty presentation, and they were done!

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Thanks, Half Baked Harvest! This is gonna be some great gift-giving this year!


Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole raw almonds
  • 1 cup pistachios
  • 1/2 cup fresh ground coffee beans
  • 1 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 16 ounces dark chocolate, chopped, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut, toasted
  • flaked sea salt, for topping

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

Pour the almonds onto the baking sheet. Roast, the almonds halfway through, until the almonds are fragrant, about 10-12 minutes. Watch closely to make sure they don’t burn.

In the meantime mix together the coffee grounds, cocoa powder and salt. Add the melted coconut oil and vanilla to a small bowl. When the almonds are done roasting add the pistachios to the baking sheet. Toss the nuts with the coconut oil and then toss them with the coffee. Toss well making sure the coffee grounds evenly coat the almonds and pistachios. It will seem like a lot of coffee, but this is what you want!

Roast the almonds + pistachios until the coffee is fragrant and the almonds are starting to become crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Line a sheet pan with parchment or wax paper.

Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring until melted.

Pour 3/4 (leaving about 1/4 of the chocolate for drizzling over top the nuts) of the melted chocolate on to the prepared baking sheet that has been lined with wax or parchment paper and spread the chocolate out to form a rectangle, be careful not to make it too thin. Immediately sprinkle on half of the toasted coconut, then sprinkle on the almonds and pistachios, leaving out most of the coffee grounds. If desired, sprinkle the bark with a few tablespoons of the coffee grounds that were left on the baking sheet (I probably used about 1/4 cup). Add the remaining toasted coconut and then drizzle the remaining melted chocolate overtop of everything. Sprinkle with sea salt if desired. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Peel off parchment, and break bark into pieces.

Sweet Treats: Holiday Fun with Oreos

Did Christmas sneak up on you as fast as it did for me this year? With limited time, I decided that I would ditch all my baking from scratch (gasp!) and have a little fun with Oreos this year. After all, it’s kind of merging my love for candy-making with cookies, and how could that be anything but a win? I had a lot of fun playing with different varieties of Oreos and chocolate combinations to make both pops and chocolate-covered treats. It’s so easy to do, I almost feel bad for bragging about doing it.

Christmas Oreo Treats, project #1: Gingerbread Cookie Pops

I’ve been holding on to this little idea for awhile. After I first saw them on Love From the Oven I knew I had to make them. Did you know there were Gingerbread Oreos? Unfortunately, I couldn’t find them here locally in CA this year, but thank goodness Target came out with some generic “Gingerbread Sandwich Cookies” under their Market Pantry label. They tasted great and allowed me to stick with the theme!

All you gotta do to make these cute little pops are buy some cookies, some white chocolate and some popsicle or lollipop sticks (and whatever sprinkles you think would make them look cute, if you’re into that).

  1. Screw the tops off your “oreos”, lay ’em on a tray, and get your chocolate melted. You dip the sticks in the melted chocolate, and gently push them down into the layer of creme filling. Make sure you’ve got enough chocolate on there to stick to the cookie once you put top back on as well. Once they’re put back together (“glued” by the chocolate), stick them in the freezer so the chocolate can set and the sticks will be in place.
  2. Add a pinch of cinnamon to your white chocolate and about 10 mins. after the cookies have been in the freezer, dip them again to make the cookie pop. Add sprinkles/decorations and you’ve got yourself a tasty and adorable little treat!(Find The Domestic Rebel‘s original recipe post here.)


I used lollipop wrappers from Wilton and found cute holiday-themed twist ties to wrap ’em up with. Piece of cake. And because I’m a sucker for those Candy Cane Oreos (and anything Peppermint flavored or themed during Christmas for that matter!), I did Milk Chocolate Candy Cane Oreo Pops as well.

Christmas Oreo Treats, project #2: Chocolate Covered Poinsettia Oreos

Seriously – these are so impressive and all you have to do is melt some chocolate into a mold and stick an Oreo in it – they really are that easy! My mom and I found poinsettia molds on the amazing Fancy Flours site a few years ago and we finally tried making a few last year. Since they turned out so gorgeous, we knew we wanted to make them for gifts this year. We bought Winter Oreos (regular Oreos with red filling) and made red poinsettias, and I bought some White Mint Chocolate to make white poinsettias with Candy Cane Oreos.

First, I melted a tiny bit of red chocolate to put in the center part of the flower mold (I used yellow on the red poinsettias) and let that chocolate set. Then, I filled 1/2 the mold with white chocolate, submerged the Oreo, and covered the top. They’re ready to pop right out of the mold in about 15 minutes!

Christmas Oreo Treats, project #3: White Chocolate Covered Candy Cane Oreos decorated with icing and sprinkles

I bought plain molds like these to get a cleaner look than the pops, and I was really pleased with how they turned out. It was fun to use different sprinkles and toppings to create different looks for each one. I didn’t use anything fancy — just the Red and White sprinkles out of Wilton’s Christmas Confetti Sprinkle Mix, some of the white candy canes from Wilton’s Candy Cane Sprinkles, Crushed Candy Cane Topping and red, white and green cookie icing. Since I didn’t have boxes to fit three, I cut gold cardstock to fit inside of the Wilton Pretzel Bag and used my hole punch to add two holes to feed my ribbon through. I tied it up in bow and had a pretty little trio to gift a few friends with.


In the end, it was a really fun and easy way to dress up Oreos that ended up looking great. I made a few larger variety boxes with 6 cookies and wrapped them up with ribbon to give as gifts, too. I can safely say I’ll be making these again. You should too!

Christmas in November: Treats (and recipes!) from the Holiday Craftacular

photo(8)Well folks, this year I broke my own rule. I have a strict policy of “No Christmas until AFTER Thanksgiving”. Even as much as I love Christmas time, I do not indulge in Peppermint Mochas nor do I listen to my vintage holiday albums until after I’ve eaten turkey. But this year, when my friend Crystal of Baby Begonia asked if I wanted to be a vendor at her Holiday Craftacular, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

photo(1)Since I’d never really done an event like this, I wasn’t exactly sure how much to make. I wanted a variety, and I wanted to show off how tasty treats can be adorably sweet, but I also didn’t want to go home with 10 lbs. of leftover fudge on my hands, either. I decided to stick with some tried and true holiday favorites, and I threw in one new treat for fun. Fortunately, I guesstimated correctly; I ended up selling everything I made — hooray! But the best part was seeing all the people enjoy the stuff in person. I had a great time and I definitely want to try and do more of these “live” events in the future!

So now for the good stuff … here’s what I made. You’ll recognize these for sure, and I’ve even linked up the past posts in case you’d like to make some this year. (Just wait until Friday, though – okay?)

photo(6)#1 “Elements of the Holidays” Mini Bread Loaves
Inspired by the Periodic Chart of Elements, I think of certain flavors as elements of the holidays. I usually do Gingerbread and Pumpkin Bread, but since my favorite Gingerbread recipe was more labor-intensive than I could pull off under such a time crunch, I opted for making Cranberry Orange Bread instead. These make such nice hostess gifts if you’re an invited guest for Thanksgiving dinner or even if you just don’t want to show up empty handed at the holiday party. I made some Fall themed loaves with brown hounds-tooth fabric I had, attached an orange bow, and voila – they’re ready for Thanksgiving! I also did my signature red and green stripes/polka dots loaves for Christmas.

Learn to make the no-sew packaging yourself, here!
(The post also includes my favorite Pumpkin Bread recipe.)

photo(7)#2 Triple Decker Maple Peanut Butter Pretzel Fudge
Yup, you read that right This stuff is ridiculous. The part I love most is that it’s delicious and pretty. I package huge pieces of it so you can see how rustic the pretzel rods and crushed pretzels look on top, even though it’s so decadent that there’s realistically about 4 pieces per “block”.

Recipe and free download for a tag is here, now go make some yourself!

#3 Festive Holly Berry Cupcakes
These are so. freaking. easy. Use your favorite cupcake recipe and pick up a bottle of these Holly Mix sprinkles by Wilton. Yes, I apply the sprinkles individually with tweezers so I can make them perfect. Really, it’s that easy.
IMG_00139#4 Red Velvet Brownies drizzled with Cream Cheese IcingThese were new for me, but I had to make them, simply because I wanted something red! This is a GREAT brownie recipe – super crackly on top, and gooey on the inside. I used a round cookie cutter to cut the brownies so they’d be a perfect fit inside these red/white striped baking cups I had. But, when I cut them, the tops were so crackly that they weren’t very pretty, so I flipped them upside down and iced the bottoms! Wish I would’ve remembered to take a pic before they were gone. Sorry ’bout it.

This recipe is a keeper. Make your own using this recipe here.

Now it’s time to take a break and gear up for more holiday treat making once the season officially begins! Still trying decide on this year’s goodies. What will you be making?

Sweet Treats: Cookie Butter Truffles

photo(11)I had the honor and privilege of manning my uber-talented friend’s boutique, Fox & Moon Clothing, on Sunday while she took some much needed time off to enjoy a music festival. I decided to promote a little treat as a “free gift with purchase” as an incentive to bring new peeps into the shop (Actually, it was just an excuse to get back in the kitchen and make something fun, since this summer has been so insane). I had limited time and funds available for the project, so when I came across this Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter Truffle recipe, it seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

I ended up tweaking the recipe a teensy bit, and I used milk chocolate instead ’cause I think it tasted better (you can absolutely use dark chocolate if you wish). I like to make them a little smaller so they end up as a perfect one-bite kind of treat. You should totally make some.


photo(7)Cookie Butter Truffles (a variation on Pint Sized Baker‘s recipe)

Three ingredients:

  • 2 cups Trader Joe’s Cat Cookies
  • 3/4 cup Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter
  • Milk Chocolate Chips

Directions:

  1. Throw the cookies in your food processor or blender and grind ’em up until they’ve turned into crumbs. Set aside. Take another handful or two, grind coarsely and reserve for the truffle toppings.
  2. Mix cookie crumbs and cookie butter together in a medium sized bowl until they’re combined. (Use your hands and really get in there to mix it) Texture should be grainy, but able to form a ball and hold. If ball won’t hold, add a tad more cookie butter.
  3. Lay the balls out on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Put them in the fridge or freezer to let them set up.
  4. Once balls feel firm (but not rock hard), melt chocolate and dip the balls. Return dipped balls to lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs.
  5. Wait for chocolate to cool and harden. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Anybody can make these little guys. Anybody.

Heads up: If you’ve never tried cookie butter, don’t expect cookie dough. Big difference. Cookie butter tastes like gingerbread, and its made with European style biscuits, so it’s not like chocolate chip cookie dough at all. It’s important to make that clear.

Once you get over that, you will love cookie butter! Mixed with the cat cookies, you get a crunchier more textured filling inside than you would with a usual truffle. Throw those babies in some mini cupcake/candy liners, and you’ll complete the sweet, confectionery look!

Sweet Treats: Carrot Cake Fudge

Truth be told, one of the things I love most about this time of year are all those adorable, pastel-colored Easter candies that float around alongside smiling bunny rabbits and super-cute baby chicks. The candy is totally my downfall … I love Cadbury Creme Eggs, Reeses Peanut Butter Eggs, and of course the old-school Easter favorite: Peeps.

It only seemed right to make candy for Easter this year, but because there’s usually such chocolate overload, I wanted to find a chocolate alternative. Then I came across this recipe for Carrot Cake Fudge and I knew I had to make it.

If you’re a fan of Carrot Cake, you’re definitely a fan of this Carrot Cake Fudge. It’s got a thick bottom layer of Carrot Cake flavor, and it’s even topped with a thin layer of Cream Cheese fudge. Yep — that means very rich and decadent. The original recipe called for Carrot Cake M&M’s, but since I never found any, I settled on Reese’s Pieces. I like the way the small bit of peanut butter pairs with the fudge.

Because I was feeling very confectionery, I decided to go old-school and wrap up the fudge in wax paper. I couldn’t seem to stop there, so I made a little “belt” for the wrapper out of various scrapbook papers I had available, and tied it up with a simple tag and wraphia.

Want to make your own? Follow the link for the recipe. Happy Easter!

Christmas Goodies: Old Fashioned Fudge

Everybody who knows me knows that I enjoy a retro slant to almost anything. Hair styles, clothing, music, imagery … yeah, everything. So this year, I stayed true to form and decided to make some old-fashioned fudge to give away during the holidays, because you know there’s nothing more “retro” than that.

Milk Chocolate Fudge w/Candy Holly Sprinkles

White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

Fantasy Fudge with Chopped Walnuts

There’s a reason fudge has always been such a traditional favorite to give as gifts for the holidays. First off, it’s so easy to make! Seriously, it doesn’t take a lot of time, and the biggest thing you’ve got to worry about is not burning your chocolate. It’s also not very expensive — most recipes yield quite a bit, and because a little piece of fudge goes a long way, you’ve got lots to give out.

It took hardly any time to make the three varieties I selected. Once you get it all together and pour, you’re pretty much finished. And with so many ways to cut and embellish the fudge, it can look festive without being too labor-intensive, too!

The 1st fudge I chose to make was Martha Stewart’s Foolproof Holiday Fudge. You don’t even need a candy thermometer (see, I told you it’s easy!). I personally think Milk Chocolate tastes better than semi-sweet, and because I wasn’t going to add nuts or anything to this batch, I especially wanted to use real milk chocolate. I used the same recipe to make the White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge as well, and simply substituted peppermint mini-marshmallows for the regular ones (and of course, I used white chocolate).

The third batch of fudge I made was the tried-and-true Fantasy Fudge recipe, also the same as Mamie Eisenhower’s Million Dollar Fudge (AKA White House Fudge), which is completely old-school and retro as it gets!

Sorry Martha — as much as I love you, Mamie wins with this one. This fudge was perfection. Martha’s is tasty, but a little different in texture. I loved it, but Mamie’s is exactly what you expect fudge to taste like. It’s dense, rich, chocolate-y and absolutely requires walnuts. I decided to lightly sprinkle the fudge with Christmas-colored nonpareils, to keep things looking cute. Thanks to Martha, I got the idea to cut my fudge into circular pieces with a fondant cutter — they fit better in the cute mini-treat cups when they’re cut that way, and there’s just something about the round pieces that make them look a little fancier.

Bring the retro back and surprise your friends and neighbors with a sweet little box of holiday fudge. They’ll love it!

Christmas Goodies: Triple-Decker Maple Peanut Butter Pretzel Fudge

Maple. Peanut Butter. Pretzel. FUDGE.
That’s exactly how I read this entry from one of my blogger idols, Heather, at Sprinkle Bakes. Oh, I’ve tried twice before to emulate her absolute perfection in the amazing treats of hers that I’ve tried to make. Unfortunately, I never seemed to execute the projects quite to her level of awesomeness. But I’m gonna be frank here — this time, I nailed it.

The second I saw all those combined together in one delectable treat, I knew I had to make it for my friends this holiday season.

The look of this fudge is so stunning. I love the way the pretzel rods and crumbs look on the top of the rich ganache layer. The middle layer is the thickest, creamiest, most scrumptious peanut butter fudge ever — with just a hint of maple. And the bottom is a “crust” of all chocolate/butter/crushed pretzel goodness.

It was a no-brainer that I’d make the fudge, but what I didn’t know was how I was going to package it. Because it’s so pretty, I knew I wanted the wrapper to be clear, but just putting this stuff in a treat bag didn’t seem to do it justice. After trying a few things, I finally settled on printing a label to use as a backing inside, and printed it out on kraft brown cardstock.

It’s super easy to do. Just leave an equal extra amount at the top and bottom of the label to score and fold over (I used a ruler on the fold line and traced over it with a butter knife —careful, you don’t want to cut through! — to get a clean folded edge), so that the label wraps the bottom and top sides of the piece of fudge. I also recommend cutting a piece of wax paper for the fudge to sit on so that it doesn’t seep through the paper and mess up your pretty label!

FourEyedGirl-mpbpfudge-thumWant to make this delicious and amazing fudge? Of course you do! You can find the recipe here at Sprinkle Bakes (Heather, thank you for sharing this with the world!). If you’d like to use the tags I made, you can download the free printable tag here. If folding it as a backing isn’t your thing, punch a small hole and tie it to the outside with some red/white bakers twine to keep it looking seasonal!

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

*added note: The pieces of fudge pictured are pretty huge. The idea was to give out mini “bricks” of fudge to each recipient. Again, because of how pretty the topping is, I thought it looked better to give a larger piece. You could realistically cut about four pieces of candy from the size of the block I have pictured.