Category Archives: Desserts

The Amazing Trail Mix Bar

This has got to be one of my favoritest recipes on the planet. They are perfect. Make them for parties, make them for road trips, make them for family reunions, make them for ski trips. Make them for cotton harvest.

Everyone will love you. Because everyone loves the Amazing Trail Mix Bar.

I mixed up a batch the other day since I will soon be entering the throes of cotton-harvest-supper-cooking. And these seem to be a favorite.

And I even got to take pictures of them.

Let me share with you. But before that, let me say, “I love you, the Amazing Trail Mix Bar.”

The Amazing Trail Mix Bar (adapted from Smucker’s Trail Mix Bars)

3 cups old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup pecans

4-5 cups toasted oat cereal (I used Mom’s Best Naturals)

1 cup honey

3/4 cup sugar

1 16-oz. can natural peanut butter, stirred

1 tsp. vanilla

Combine oats, cereal, sunflower seeds, and pecans in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan, combine honey and sugar. Heat until boiling, stirring frequently. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Add peanut butter and vanilla; stir until well combined.

Pour peanut butter mixture over the cereal mixture. Stir until coated. Press into a 15×10 jelly roll pan. Let cool. Cut into bars; serve and spread good cheer.

Note: Change anything you like; these bars are very adaptable. Change the nuts, change the cereal, stir in chocolate chips and watch them become chocolate bars. Please make them your own.

Warning: DO NOT cook the peanut butter with the honey and sugar! This will cause the bars to crumble excessively. Don’t let it happen to you.

 

The Amazing Trail Mix Bar up close.

Have a wonderful next week!

~Rachel~

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'” (Hebrews 13:5)

Advertisements

Chocolate Macaroons

I am exceedingly grateful to be back in the blogging world, editing pictures and posting recipes.

Chocolate Macaroons came to mind as I was searching for a treat to make for a recital. By the way, Chocolate Macaroons are the perfect recital cookie. I wish I could say all these Chocolate Macaroons disappeared at the recital, but lots of other cookies came to see the recital too. That means only a few Chocolate Macaroons disappeared.

In my opinion, Chocolate Macaroons are beautiful cookies. See?

Chocolate Macaroons

1/2 cup shortening (I used butter)

4 (1 oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate

2 cups sifted flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

Confectioners sugar

1. Combine shortening and chocolate in saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until melted. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

2. Add sugar to chocolate mixture, stirring until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. Add flour mixture; blend thoroughly. Beat in vanilla. Chill dough 2 to 3 hours.

4. Dip out rounded teaspoons of dough; form into small balls. Roll each in confectioners sugar. Place on greased baking sheets.

5. Bake in 375 oven about 10 minutes. (Do not overbake. Cookies should be soft when taken from oven.) Remove from baking sheets; cool on wire racks. Makes: 5 to 6 dozen cookies

Recipe from Farm Journal’s Best-Ever Recipes

Just a warning: if you can help it, make Chocolate Macaroons right before you serve them. They look best right out of the oven….they lose something when they sit in a Tupperware for two days. Believe me.

Aren’t they pretty? Sorry…they just are.

Have a wonderful day….

~rachel~

Smith Island Cake

When my aunt came to visit last week, she had an idea. An excellent idea. A divine, layered, dark chocolate idea.

She had an idea to make Smith Island Cake with me.

I am so glad she had that idea.

We made Smith Island Cake. It was amazing.

Isn’t is loverly? And the best part – this loverliness isn’t that hard to make! It just takes a little extra time and some more dishes. Don’t let me scare you. Smith Island Cake is so worth making.

Smith Island Cake

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 recipe yellow layer cake batter (enough to make two 8-inch layers, about 5 1/3 cups batter)

Frosting: Place chocolate in a large bowl. Heat cream, sugar, and salt, in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to simmer. Pour hot cream mixture over chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisk in vanilla and butter until glossy. Cover and refrigerate until icing is firm but still spreadable, about 1 hour.

Cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper. Spread one-eight of batter (about 2/3 cup) evenly in each pan and bake until edges are golden brown and cake springs back when touched, 10-14 minutes. Cool on rack 5 minutes. Run a knife around pan perimeter to loosen cake, then invert onto rack to finish cooling. Cool pans to room temperature, then wipe clean and repeat process 3 more times for a total of 8 layers.

Assembly: Place 1 cooled cake layer on serving platter. Spread 1/4 cup frosting over cake. (If frosting is too firm, let warm at room temperature 5 minutes, then stir to soften.) Top with second cake layer and additional 1/4 cup frosting. Repeat, alternating layers of cake and frosting and finishing with cake layer. Frost top and sides with remaining frosting. Serve. Yield: lots of servings!

Please ignore my last post where I said I was on a health kick. I still am (sort of), but every once in a while I think it’s okay to have something special and chocolaty! =)

And imagine all the possibilities for such a wonderful cake! You could use a white or even chocolate cake mix instead of the yellow one. You could add some instant coffee granules for a hint of espresso flavor. Peanut butter frosting every other layer? Or a sweet raspberry filling?

Have fun with this cake. And enjoy the chocolate.

~Rachel~

Layered Turtle Cheesecake

I’m sorry for the people who don’t love cheesecake. What’s not to like? Sweet, creamy, dairy. You have tender crumbly crust, velvety filling….and think of all the different kinds! Chocolate, mocha, pumpkin, chocolate, chocolate. Oh, sorry. Those are the best.

I came across this recipe from Taste of Home while searching for a cheesecake recipe for our youth group-hosted Valentine’s Banquet. Always a lot of fun, by the way.

Layered Turtle Cheesecake. Perfect.

Forget my description. Let me share this marvelous recipe. 

Layered Turtle Cheesecake

Crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

6 T. cold butter

Filling:

4 packages (8-oz. each) cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup plus 1 T. all-purpose flour, divided

2 T. heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

4 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips, melted and cooled

1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping

1/3 cup chopped pecans

Ganache:

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

2 T. chopped pecans

Place a greased 9-in. springform pan on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 18 in. square). Securely wrap foil around pan.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar and pecans; cut in butter until crumbly. Press onto the bottom of prepared pan. Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 325° for 12-15 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugars until smooth. Beat in 1/4 cup flour, cream and vanilla. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Remove 1 cup batter to a small bowl; stir in melted chocolate until blended. Spread over crust.

Combine caramel topping and remaining flour; stir in pecans. Drop by tablespoonfuls over chocolate batter. Top with remaining batter. Place springform pan in a large baking pan; add 1 in. of hot water to larger pan.

Bake at 325° for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours or until center is just set and top appears dull. Remove springform pan from waterbath.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.Place chips in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream just to a boil. Pour over chips; whisk until smooth. Cool slightly, stirring occasionally. Spread over cheesecake. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Refrigerate until set. Remove sides of pan. Garnish with pecan halves and additional caramel topping if desired. Yield: 12 servings

Note: As you can see, we skipped the ganache. What is a ganache, anyway? We just topped the cheesecakes with chocolate and caramel ice cream syrup and a pecan half. Lovely.

I hope you think so, too.

~Rachel~

Let all that you do be done with love. (1 Corinthians 16:14


Cappuccino Scones

I never knew I could love a scone so much. But when you add lots of butter and chocolate chips and coffee granules….it’s divine.

It was the Sunday of the men’s pancake breakfast at church, so I had to think of a “girl” breakfast treat. I agonize over breakfast treats. Why can’t I just decide on something normal we’ve had before? Please tell me.

Finally an idea emerged. Scones…chocolate chips…coffee…

I modified The Pioneer Woman’s Maple Pecan Scones recipe: minus the pecans, plus some chocolate chips, minus the maple, plus instant coffee granules. Well, you can just look at the recipe. Show, Rachel, don’t tell.

Cappuccino Scones

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

2 T. egg, beaten

1/3-1/2 cup almond milk

2 tsp. instant coffee granules

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/3 cup miniature chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine flours, sugar,  baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly.

In a small bowl, combine egg, almond milk, coffee granules, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture, along with chocolate chips.Stir until just combined.

Move to a lightly floured surface and gently form a rectangle. Cut 6 pieces, 3×2. Cut each square in half, forming 12 mini-triangles. (Make sense?) Place on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown. Cool slightly before removing scones from pan. Drizzle with a glaze – see below.

Serve with good cheer.

Yield: 6 servings (12 miniature scones)

Glaze Recipes:

Vanilla Glaze

Vanilla Bean Glaze

Coffee Glaze

May these scones go down forever in scone history. The butter unconsciously imparts flavor and tenderness, the frothy almond milk gives richness without making them too heavy. The chocolate chips and instant coffee granules add unimaginable depth and quality.

But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13:5-6

~Rachel~

For a Cold Day

Please note: it’s 6 degrees outside. The wind is blowing; the snow is falling.

That’s why I’m inside, sipping hot chocolate.

We thought a frigid day like this was a perfect day for peanut butter babies and hot chocolate. Don’t you think so, too?

Here’s the recipe for peanut butter babies. They’re a family favorite. Oh yes. And since today is a perfect peanut butter day in which I also have new macro lenses, I took a picture.

And don’t forget the hot chocolate!

Best Hot Chocolate

3 cups milk

1/4 cup cocoa

1/3 cup sugar

In a small saucepan, whisk cocoa and sugar until smooth. Add milk, a little at a time, and whisk well to combine. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring often, until it’s as hot as you like it. (I like mine boiling!) Pour into mugs and serve with joy. Yield: 2-3 servings

Recipe source: Tammy’s Recipes

Hot Chocolate

Enjoy your cold day!

~Rachel~

The Best Chocolate Cupcakes?

Because we call my older sister “cupcake,” we made chocolate cupcakes for her birthday instead of a normal chocolate cake.

Thought I to myself, “I need to find a good chocolate cupcake recipe.” So I went searching in my favorite spots: Taste of Home, The Pioneer Woman, and Tasty Kitchen. No luck there. I’m sure there would have been a good Taste of Home one, but nothing caught my eye. So I Googled it, “Best Chocolate Cupcakes.” I didn’t want some blah-blah recipe from some obscure website, I just wanted the BEST chocolate cupcakes.

Thankfully, the first website that came up had a recipe from Cooks Illustrated. I knew that Cooks Illustrated is picky, but perfect. So I decided this had to be the perfect recipe.

Corrie and I set work on the cupcakes. I tried hard to follow the recipe like a good girl, but I think I slipped up just a little. I mean, we didn’t have bittersweet chocolate – what could I do but substitute? And what did it matter that I increased the recipe without making two separate  batches? But I tried.

Would you like to see this much-talked of perfect recipe? Here you go.

1/2 cup butter

2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup cocoa

3/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. baking powder

2 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup sour cream

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard-sized muffin pan (1/2 cup capacity) with baking-cup liners.
  2. Combine butter, chocolate and cocoa in medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water; heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted and whisk until smooth and fully combined. Set aside to cool until just warm to touch.
  3. Whisk flour, baking soda and baking powder in small bowl to combine
  4. Whisk eggs in second medium bowl to combine; add sugar, vanilla and salt and whisk until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Sift about one-third of flour mixture over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined; then sift in remaining flour mixture and whisk batter until it is homogenous and thick.
  5. Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake until skewer inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.
  6. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before icing, about 30 minutes.

Then we iced them with a version of this chocolate icing, plus powdered sugar. Everyone loved them.

Here’s my nephew enjoying his cupcake.

However, as good as they were, I’m not convinced they are the perfect cupcake. That, or I’m a horrible cupcake maker. Probably the latter. They were ultra-light (the miniature ones we made almost don’t exist), perfectly moist, and the flavor was balanced just right. Maybe I didn’t think they were perfect because they didn’t rise and form domes; they spread and had flat tops. Or maybe that was the result of not making two separate batches. Oh dear. What a bad girl I am.

Do you have a favorite cupcake recipe? I’d love to see it! And I need to sharpen these dull cupcake-making abilities.

Forever and always,

~Rachel~

You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, because in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength. (Isaiah 26:3-4)

 

 

 

Pear-Cranberry Crisp

Don’t be afraid of pears. They are delightful in the utmost sense. That’s why we made a crisp with them. Not only a crisp, but a healthy crisp. The healthy part actually happened on accident but turned out rather nicely. It became our Sunday dinner dessert.

I started out using Pioneer Woman’s Pear Crisp, but you know I can’t follow a recipe. So this Pear-Cranberry Crisp is the result. And because I was dumping and pouring, it has to be a non-recipe.

I know this isn’t the greatest picture. I’m still learning about food photography. And sad to say, Pear-Cranberry Crisp isn’t the prettiest food in the world to begin with.

What you’ll need:

Pears

Cranberries

Apple juice

Honey

Cornstarch

Salt

Flour

Oats

Butter

Cinnamon

Walnuts or Pecans

Start with 4-5 pears, a cup or two of cranberries, and a greased 9×9″ baking dish. Peel the pears (optional, as you can see from the picture), then dice them or slice them, whatever you prefer. Throw them in the pan, add some cranberries, and just do what looks right. =) Now for the thickener. Mix about 1 T. cornstarch with 1/4 cup apple juice, then pour it over the pears. Drizzle in some honey. Sprinkle in some salt and cinnamon to taste.

Yay! The pears are all done! Set the pan aside and get out a bowl for the crispy topping. Measure out 1 to 1 1/2 cups flour, a couple cups of oats, and around 1/2 cup nuts. Mix it together and don’t forget to add more cinnamon! Now cut in 1/4 to 1/3 cup melted butter and some more honey. (Hint: the honey mixes easier if you heat it in the microwave first.) Taste it. A little dry? Add some more honey or butter. A little sticky? Add some more flour or oats.

When your crispy topping is perfected, sprinkle it atop the patiently waiting pears and cranberries. Stick it in an oven preheated to 350 degrees, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until bubbly. It’ll be best when it’s warm, and to make it even better, top it with whipped cream or a little vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy greatly!

~Rachel~

Layered Mocha Cheesecake

Let me ask you a blunt question: what do you think of cheesecake? Rich? Smooth? Happy? Heavy?

Here’s what I think: delish. delish. delish.

Here’s another question: how can something NOT be good when it has four packages of cream cheese and over a package of chocolate chips?

It can’t NOT be good.

Confession: Layered Mocha Cheesecake is one of the best cheesecakes I’ve had. Try it, will you? You’ll be glad you did and your family will weep for joy. (Well, my family didn’t weep for joy. I guess that depends on your family.)

I asked my brother if he had any special requests for his birthday cake. He mentioned cheesecake. I asked if he was a praline or a mocha type of guy, cheesecake-wise. He said mocha.

So here it is.

Layered Mocha Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups cream-filled chocolate cookie crumbs

1/4 cup butter

Filling:

2 T. plus 1 1/2 tsp. instant coffee granules

1 T. boiling water

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

4 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp. vanilla

4 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled.

Glaze:

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

3 T. butter

Chocolate-covered coffee beans, optional

Place pan on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 16 in. square). Securely wrap foil around pan. Combine cookie crumbs and butter; press onto the bottom of a greased 9-in. springform pan. In a small bowl, combine the coffee granules, water and cinnamon; set aside. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Divide batter in half. Stir melted chocolate into one portion; pour over crust. Stir coffee mixture into the remaining batter; spoon over chocolate layer. Place springform pan in a large baking pan; add 1 in. of hot water to larger pan. Bake at 325° for 55-60 minutes or until center is just set and top appears dull. Remove springform pan from water bath. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and butter; stir until smooth. Spread over cheesecake. Garnish with coffee beans if desired. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 16 servings.

No, I didn’t follow this recipe exactly. You know that. Don’t ask me what I did. It shouldn’t have changed the end result too much.

I really, really, really liked this cheesecake. Especially liked the chocolate layer. I guess I’m just a chocolate kind of person.

Have a wonderful day!

~Rachel~

“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

Happy Thanksgiving: German Chocolate Thumbprints

When I go to looking at holiday cookie recipes, it’s actually rather hard to find one that’s perfect for the occasion. Honesty, I don’t absolutely love melt-in-your-mouth-sugar-cookies. They are okay but….how do I say this…boring. Fruitcake cookies, cashew cookies – no thanks. I don’t despise this type, but they don’t measure up to….

Chocolate.

You can have your favorite sugar cookies if you really do enjoy them. But as for me, I prefer chocolate.

My little sister and I, needing some “fun” cookies to make, skimmed over the “Daria’s Best-Ever Sugar Cookies,” the “Nutty Chocolate Batons,” (hey, they didn’t really have that much chocolate!), and the “Coconut Almond Bombs.” We made German Chocolate Thumbprints.

German Chocolate Thumbprints

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 T. shortening

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 T. strong brewed coffee

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 T. baking cocoa

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

Filling:

3/4 cup flaked coconut, toasted

3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1 tsp. vanilla extract

4 to 6 T. sweetened condensed milk

Drizzle:

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 T. shortening

In a microwave, melt chips and shortening, stir until smooth. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, coffee, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Roll into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Using the end of a wooden spoon handle, make an indentation in the center of each ball. Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes or until firm. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Meanwhile, for filling, in a small bowl, combine the coconut, pecans, and vanilla. Stir in enough milk to form a stiff mixture. Fill cookies with filling, a rounded teaspoonful in each. Melt chips with shortening; stir until smooth. Drizzle over cookies. Store in an airtight container. Yield: 4 dozen

Verdict: These were excellent! My favorite part was the filling – something about toasted coconut and pecans. Wow. And when you get a combination like this, how can you go wrong? Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

~rachel~