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.

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Hooray for Holidays in the kitchen!

holidaymomdaughter

YES! It’s time to bust out the peppermint extract, obsess over which cupcake liners to use, and make up the cutest, sweetest most delectable boxes of holiday treats to give to friends, family and neighbors!

If only I could find outfits as glorious as these, I’d be PERFECT.

Now I begin the tedious task of deciding what to make. Cookies, candies, breads or cake? Actually I’m really trying to find excuses to make them all. I love the holidays!

Sweet Treats: Pumpkin Swirled Brownies

I found the absolute perfect pumpkin/chocolate combination, and of course the recipe comes from none other than Ms. Stewart. A touch of cayenne gives these brownies a very special bite, and a hint of spice that gently lingers. Thanks, Martha — you never let me down.

You should make some, too!

Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies (adapted from Martha Stewart recipes)

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or other nuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; butter lining.
  2. Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until fluffy and well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture.
  4. Divide batter between two medium bowls (about 2 cups per bowl). Stir chocolate mixture into one bowl. In other bowl, stir in pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer. Work quickly so batters don’t set.
  5. With a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle with nuts.
  6. Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.

Sweet Treats: Candy Corn Popcorn Balls

If you need a quick treat to bring to your Halloween Party tonight, whip up a batch of these! They are so easy and so quick, it’s almost criminal posting this here as some sort of triumph. Seriously, they’re cheap, fast and they look — and taste — awesome!

This is all you need:

  • 1/4 stick of butter
  • 1 bag (about 6 cups) popped microwave popcorn
  • 3/4 cups candy corn
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt

To make the the Candy Corn Popcorn Balls, follow these simple instructions (adapted from this recipe at about.com)

  1. Pop popcorn, remove all kernels, and place in large bowl. Add the candy corn to the bowl and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in the microwave (approx 30 seconds).
  3. Add marshmallows, microwave for 1 minute more.
  4. Add vanilla extract and salt, mix together until ingredients are smooth and creamy.
  5. Pour over popcorn/candy mix, and stir until everything looks coated and mixed well.
  6. Wait 5 minutes for marshmallow mixture to cool.
  7. After the mixture has cooled a bit, spray your hands with non stick cooking spray and form balls in your hands. Be sure to pack them tightly — if the candy/popcorn is not packed tightly, the balls will fall apart.
  8. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or aluminum foil sprayed with non-stick spray) to cool and harden to room temperature.
    *Makes about 6 popcorn balls

I think these took about 15 minutes total to make. I can’t wait to try them again during other holidays with different types of candy. I tripled the above recipe and made approx. 20 popcorn balls.

Have fun!

 

Sweet Treats: Shortbread Cookies for Mother’s Day

These tea bag cookies have been all over the internet lately, and as soon as I saw them on Pinterest, I knew I’d have to make them. The ones I’d seen online were beautiful of course, but I just felt the need to put my own fun + lighthearted “mommy” twist on them. They were more labor intensive than I’d anticipated, but I think they were well worth the trouble!

What made these really special to make was the fact that I made them with my mom. I love to bake treats, but I have a lot to learn from my mom — who fortunately, is always willing to help me (no matter how ambitious the project). The biggest challenge for me as a perfectionist was learning how to roll the dough evenly and get the thickness the same throughout. Big thanks to my mom is due for giving me the essential tips!

I’m a sucker for details, so I tried to make the tags as awesome as possible. I was too last minute to find the clear favor boxes I wanted to package the set of six cookies in, so I ended up packaging them in clear cellophane treat bags with wraphia and a “you’re awesome, momma!” treat bag tag.

I just wanted to pay homage to all of the awesome momma friends I’m fortunate enough to know, and if I could find a way to mass produce these suckers without driving myself crazy, I’d make a batch for every awesome momma I know! It’s going to be fun to see all the different variations on these as they pop up online post-Mother’s Day. This is a really great tutorial on how to make them yourself if you’d like to try!

Happy Baking! (and Happy Mother’s Day!)

Sweet Treats: Easter Candy Bark

After seeing this recipe for Easter Candy Bark, I just knew I’d have to make it this Easter. I can’t help it, Easter candy is just so pretty, and this stuff looked divine. The best part? It was SUPER EASY to make. (I’m not kidding, either!)


I loved how simple it was to make the marble effect with the white chocolate. After the dark chocolate is melted and spread on wax paper, all you have to do is put dollops of white chocolate on top and use a knife to swirl it around to get the effect. I think that’s what makes it look so fancy!

After you marble it up, just sprinkle your Easter candy on top (I used chopped mini Cadbury eggs and M&M’s) and let it dry for atleast 2 hours. The final step is to break it up when its all set.

I kept the packaging simple and made my own little tags, and then folded the top of a ziploc baggie down, and hid it under a folded piece of scrapbook paper. I punched holes and secured it with white wraphia. If I really wanted to make it perfect, I would’ve bought some clear plastic square treat boxes and wrapped it up like a present. Guess I’ll just have to be sure to do that next year!

Sweet Treats: Grown Up Goodies for Valentine’s Day


I’m feeling a little defeated tonight. I’ve had my heart set on making these red wine lollipops as soon as I stumbled across the recipe. I thought they’d be a perfect treat to surprise all my grown-up friends with for Valentine’s Day (treats for the little people are coming soon!). Well, my mom told me that her grandmother used to curse candy making, and now I know why …


Gathering all the ingredients was simple enough. Making the red wine reduction was a piece of cake. But when it gets to getting the candy mixture up to 300 degrees without burning it, that’s hard. I tried over and over, making 4 batches total, and I could only salvage 8 lollipops.




The good news is, the 8 I did successfully make look really cute. I kept the packaging simple and went with plastic lollipop bags, red + white baker’s twine, and a little gold tag. I’m pretty happy with how they look, I just wish I had more!

I am determined to master it … I’ve got one last pot of red wine on the stove top, and I’m hoping for the best!