Category: candies

Valentine’s Day Treatsie sweets box review & giveaway!

Happy Valentine’s Day, four days early!

You know what the perfect Valentine’s Day gift is for me? Other than flowers (which I do actually love)? CANDY! I love candy. I love sweets in general, but if you buy me chocolate, especially chocolate with caramel, I’ll love you forever.

A Treatsie giveaway!

Speaking of candy, two weeks ago I was gifted with an amazing treat box from Treatsie! If you’ve never heard of Treatsie, and you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’re going to want to pay attention.

What is Treatsie, exactly?

Treatsie helps you find amazing, high-end artisan sweets you’d normally never find unless you stumbled across the shop. Try our monthly subscription sample box of multiple and ever-changing vendors or order boxes from our store to get sweets right away!

The sweets you get in a Treatsie box aren’t the kind you’ll find at big box stores. We only work with small, independent vendors. By subscribing to Treatsie, you are directly supporting small businesses around the country as every Treatsie box and store sale benefits those vendors.

And they certainly aren’t! This January box included hot chocolate pops from PopBar, lavender sea salt caramels from Lillie Belle Farms, peanut brittle from Brittle Brothers, AvenueSweets espresso caramels… this isn’t your average drug store candy. And I LOVE drugstore candy, but trust me. This is better.

A Treatsie box giveaway!

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Dark-chocolate-peanut-butter-filled-white-chocolate candies from heaven.

Finally- it’s heading into the second week of December. Christmas is like, the Mount Everest for bloggers. Especially food or crafty bloggers. Since before Halloween it’s been a slow build-up to right now. First came all the fall stuff, then the spooky stuff, then the turkey stuff. But now… now shit is getting’ real. All the good foods, cakes, cookies, snacks, decorations & crafty stuff is out right now. It’s officially CHRISTMAS!

What would Christmas be without tons of insanely delicious sweets, candies & cookies? Horrible. I mean, it’s only natural. It wouldn’t seem right to have a Christmas or a holiday season without a little over-indulgence. If not now, then when?!

Homemade Reese's- white chocolate filled with dark chocolate & peanut butter.

These little babies right here are a result of late-night holiday cravings. Inspired by my original creations- which were also a late night craving. Thankfully, they’re insanely simple to make and take all of a half hour tops, including the melting.

Homemade peanut butter cups! No preservatives, no chemicals!

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Spinning a web of sweetness.

BOO!

 

Not sure what your day is going to consist of come the 31st, but mine? Candy, candy, and more candy. Maybe candy corn vodka. Maybe trick-or-treat Halloween candy cupcakes. Maybe none of the above- maybe just handfuls upon handfuls of chocolates & bubble gum & sugar. These cupcakes here are just an early treat!

Oh and pizza. There will most likely be pizza.

See, I’m determined to enjoy this Halloween. Being that it’s my favorite holiday, I am DETERMINED to not let anything ruin it this year. So determined, I made these JUST to snack on in anticipation! Last year my Halloween was ruined when that bitch Sandy blew in here & wrecked everything- knocking out my power for a week. So this year I am sitting on my ass, eating junk with my TV playing all the horror movies I want… but anyway, let me get back to the cakes.

Easy spiderweb cupcakes for Halloween!I know, the cake stand rocks…

 

These cupcakes are just vanilla cakes with vanilla frosting, topped with black “spiderwebs” I made from Wilton Candy Melts. See? You don’t have to go crazy or over the top to make cute Halloween cupcakes!

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Candy girl.

Did you ever get a craving for candy at like, 3 a.m.?

Sometimes I do. Sometimes I just decide at midnight that I want a piece of candy… and usually I never end up filling that wish, unless I have some in the house or I can convince someone to go get me some. Those are the lazy nights. And then there are other nights, nights when I have baking chocolate, sugar, & all the ingredients necessary to make my own candy… so I do.

I get asked fairly regularly some variation on the following theme: “Giiiiiirl, how do you make all this stuff and not weigh 600 pounds?” or “How do you stay so damn skinny when you bake all of this delicious stuff?!” or “OH MY GOD how can you exist in a home with all of this food & not EAT IT ALL ALL DAY LONG?” No joke, I think I get asked something like that at least once a day. And my answer is, in a word: moderation. All in all, I eat well. Yeah, I eat cake & cookies. And I eat a lot of cheese & carbs, too, as well as drinking an obscene amount of coffee (including lattes) and Coke Zero. And I absolutely love me some good red wine or good beer. However on the other hand I also eat a lot of broccoli, salad, carrots, etc… & I drink a lot of water. I don’t believe in restriction, I don’t believe in denying yourself anything or busting your ass in the gym because you ate three cookies instead of two. I don’t think a life where vegetables are your only food source is much of a life at all… but that’s just me. So yeah, in short, I eat good quality baked goods but I eat far more well balanced food. And as much as I F$#!ING hate him (and I really do) I agree with Anthony Bourdain’s quote: “Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”

I mean, I’m not making broccoli in the wee hours of the morning. Jay is, not me. I’d eat it, though, if I was hungry. ‘Cause broccoli is friggin’ awesome.

Shit. Sorry. Got distracted. Back to the homemade candy…

Yes, folks, I made some homemade peanut butter cups! I had this massive tub of peanut butter left from those cupcakes… plus I had tons of chocolate left from Christmas. What else is a girl supposed to do!? They’re insanely easy. You can be finished with a batch in a half-hour, no joke. And there are a lot of recipes out there on the web, some more difficult than others, but mine is relatively simple & to the point.

It goes like this:

  1. Melt a bag of milk chocolate chips in a double boiler, or microwave, half of the bag at one time.
  2. Meanwhile, mix together 1 1/2 cups peanut butter, 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, 3 tablespoons melted (& cooled) unsalted butter and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Make sure it’s thoroughly combined & smooth. Fill a disposable plastic pastry bag with the peanut butter filling & set aside. If, for whatever reason, it’s not thick, add more sugar & peanut butter until it’s thick. You want a thicker consistency than regular peanut butter (so it resists melting in the warm chocolate).
  3. Line mini-muffin pans with mini cupcake liners or spray them well with PAM. Spoon some melted chocolate into the liners or the muffin tins, smoothing it up a little onto the sides with a small spoon or your (clean) finger to create the bottom of a “cup.” Place the tin in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to fully cool & harden.
  4. When it’s hardened, take it out and pipe a decent-sized ball of peanut butter filling into each cup. Once every cup has filling, use the back of a spoon or a finger dipped in water to push the balls of filling down more to make them a bit flatter. Then spoon more melted chocolate on top of each.
  5. Once the entire pan has been filled, tap it gently on the counter until the chocolate smooths out. Then put the pan back into the freezer for another 10 minutes or until hard.
  6. Repeat the process until all the chocolate and all the peanut butter filling is done.

Et voilà! Peanut butter cups. No preservatives, no chemicals, no additives.

Now in theory you could probably just use straight peanut butter instead of making a filling out of it. It would still work. I just think you need a sweeter filling for these, and regular straight peanut butter can be too “dry” or salty. Plus I think it’s just way too soft, and it’d probably melt as soon as the very warm chocolate hit it. But if you like it that way then hey, go for it. I think you could probably use chunky peanut butter as well, you just may need to make larger peanut butter cups (and a larger pastry tip too). Also, if you want to experiment with other nut butters- heh, I said nut butters- then you can probably do that as well. Just take into consideration the consistency of it, as long as it’s thick enough & not liquidy, you’re good. Same goes for chocolate; use dark chocolate or semi-sweet even, if you prefer. I’d actually like to make them with a white chocolate coating next time. And for Valentine’s Day, you could sprinkle some heart-shaped sprinkles on top! Or, make them in those heart-shaped silicone baking cups.

And speaking of peanut butter… I think I kinda wanna read this book!

Snap, crackle, Snackle Mouth.

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Snackle Mouth is an awesome company. I’ve done two different posts with their delicious granola snacks before, and I had so many more ideas floating around my head. So I was thrilled when they offered me some boxes of their new varieties: Bacon Maple and Salty Chocolate. BACON. MAPLE. Did you read that? Bacon maple. And salty mutha’f’n chocolate. WHAT. Yes.

Sweet and Salty….we get it and we likey!  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night, snack time – seriously, any time is the right time to eat Chocolate.  So, we baked in loads of yum and sprinkled just the right amount of sea salt for a little zippy-do.

-Snackle Mouth

They sent these to me around a month ago, perhaps longer, and I couldn’t wait to start experimenting. But first comes the taste testing! And after thoroughly testing each one, I had some serious thinking to do. I had already done a coffee cake, and made parfaits with it. And being early August at the time, there weren’t a lot of “cozy” moments; it was hot as hell. So I was a little hesitant to bake. But that’s what I do, yanno? I bake. I get down in the kitchen with a wooden spoon and beat batter & people with whisks. Plus, fall is swiftly coming upon us. And I know the warm, late-summer days & nights are numbered. In a few weeks, maybe even days, things will change; I’ll be cooking up (& eating up) fall treats & I’ll want to wear toasty, fall-y clothes.

But now? Now there are still those hot, sweaty & humid days. Except now there are more of the much cooler, lovely nights. And I like to spend those nights drinking an Octoberfest or Pumpkin Ale, sitting around the fire pit. The smell of burning wood & toasting marshmallows, the crackling & snapping sounds, the need for a (light) sweater. So with all that in mind, I decided to bake something with the Snackle Mouth after all. And I came up with these babies:

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Salty chocolate granola campfire bars. The granola’s name, Snackle Mouth, kind of reminds me of the crackle of a fire. So I thought, why not incorporate their salty chocolate granola into a more portable version of the classic campfire treat: the s’more. You all already know I love s’mores. But they can be messy, you know? And yeah the messiness can be the entire point, and even what makes it so fun, but what if you want a s’more at like, 12 noon on a random Thursday? Or while you’re at school… and there’s no campfire? That, my friends. That’s why you make these.

The bottom “cookie” layer has a graham crackery taste, but yet it’s soft, like a chewy chocolate chip cookie base. The chocolate chips melt just enough and the saltiness of the Snackle Mouth combined with the marshmallows… UGH. So delicious. And sweet. And a little salty.

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I made this recipe three times, each a few weeks apart, and wrote and rewrote it numerous times before I got it to the point where it was good enough to write up for you guys on the blog.

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I think this is it.

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SALTY CHOCOLATE GRANOLA CAMPFIRE BARS

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted & cooled to just slightly warm
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 box Salty Chocolate Snackle Mouth granola
  • 1/2 bag mini-marshmallows
  • 6 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chunks (or chips)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F. Line an 8″ x 11″ brownie pan (or a 9″ x 13″ pan) with parchment paper & spray lightly with PAM, or brush a little of the melted butter on it. Set aside.
  2. Combine the butter, sugars, flour, vanilla, salt and honey in a bowl with a hand mixer. Once it’s thoroughly combined, pat the dough into the prepared baking pan, a handful at a time. It will be very moist but very crumbly. Using your (clean!) hands, press it and push it together to form a cohesive dough. Make sure it’s as even as you can get it so it bakes evenly. I made it slightly lower in the middle, making a little “crust” on the edges like a deep dish pizza, but you don’t have to do that.
  3. Spread the chocolate chips on top in an even layer, pressing them into the dough just slightly. Bake it for about 15-20 minutes, or until the chips are almost but not yet completely melted. Remove from the oven and add the Snackle Mouth granola, pushing it down in between and on top of the chips.
  4. Bake another 15-20 minutes or until the crust is baked through. Remove the pan from oven. On top of the granola layer, arrange the marshmallows evenly while it’s still hot.
  5. Turn on the broiler and place the pan under the broiler until the marshmallows begin to toast & melt slightly. Remove immediately and let cool completely to room temperature before slicing.

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If you drape the parchment like I did, it helps when you’re taking them out of the pan. If you’d rather cut them on a board instead of in the pan, just lift them up & out. Once they’re 100% cooled that is. Look at this melty goodness.

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They were sweet, messy (when eaten on the warmer side as I did- I couldn’t help it) and perfectly campfire-y. I guess I’m just on a toasted marshmallow kick lately, huh? So I hope by now you’ve realized that granola, especially Snackle Mouth, isn’t just for snacking on right out of the box or for making into granola bars. You can use it in all sorts of different ways- coffee cakes, parfaits, cookie bars. And there’s more to come! I have tons of ideas. But these will tide me over until I come up with an appropriate Bacon Maple recipe. Hmm…

I think it goes without saying I lit a fire in the fire pit, settled in next to it and ate these until I couldn’t stand it anymore! And I hope that this Labor Day, you do the same, hopefully while remembering the reasons you have off from work.

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One potato, two potato…

Ah, St. Patrick’s Day. It took me a while to think of what my cupcakes were going to be this year for St. Patrick’s Day. I couldn’t think of anything to top my previous years exploits: Guinness stout cupcakes, Bailey’s Irish cream cupcakes, maple-Irish whiskey frosted cupcakes & green velvet cupcakes. But I really didn’t have any awesome cupcake ideas this year. I know- crazy right? I other awesome ideas, yes, but none for cupcakes. I tortured myself, I even experimented with some things that I didn’t like at all. And then… I decided to scrap the whole thing & just make some Irish potatoes.

No, not actual potatoes. They’re candy! Little candies made from coconut & cream cheese & rolled in cinnamon. Nope, they are not cupcakes. But you know what? Screw it! I always make cupcakes! This year I’m makin’ me some pertaters! Ireland & potatoes go together like peanut butter & jelly.

The potato was introduced to Ireland as a garden crop of the gentry. By the late 17th century, it had become widespread as a supplementary rather than a principal food, as the main diet still revolved around butter, milk, and grain products. In the first two decades of the 18th century, however, it became a base food of the poor, especially in winter.[23] The expansion of the economy between 1760 and 1815 saw the potato make inroads in the diet of the people and became a staple food all the year round for farmers.[24] The large dependency on this single crop was one of the reasons why the emergence of Phytophthora infestans had such devastating effects in Ireland, and had far less effects in other European countries (which were also hit by the fungus).[25]

The potato’s spread was essential to the development of the cottier system, delivering an extremely cheap workforce, but at the cost of lower living standards. For the labourer, it was essentially a potato wage that shaped the expanding agrarian economy.[24]

In 1844, Irish newspapers carried reports concerning a disease which for two years had attacked the potato crops in America.[30] According to James Donnelly, a likely source was the eastern United States, where in 1843 and 1844 blight largely destroyed the potato crops. He suggests that ships from Baltimore, Philadelphia or New York could have brought diseased potatoes to European ports.[35] W.C. Paddock suggests that it was transported on potatoes being carried to feed passengers on clipper ships sailing from America to Ireland.[31]

Once it was introduced, it spread rapidly. By late summer and early autumn of 1845, it had spread throughout the greater part of northern and central Europe. Belgium, Holland, northern France and southern England by mid-August had all been stricken.[36]

In Ireland, the Great Famine was a period of mass starvation, disease and emigration between 1845 and 1852.[1] It is also known, mostly outside Ireland, as the Irish Potato Famine.[2] In the Irish language it is called an Gorta Mór (IPA: [ənˠ ˈɡɔɾˠtˠə ˈmˠoːɾˠ], meaning “the Great Hunger”)[fn 1] or an Drochshaol ([ənˠ ˈdˠɾɔxˌhiːlˠ], meaning “the bad times”).

During the famine approximately 1 million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland,[3] causing the island’s population to fall by between 20% and 25%.[4] The proximate cause of famine was a potato disease commonly known as potato blight.[5] Although blight ravaged potato crops throughout Europe during the 1840s, the impact and human cost in Ireland – where one-third of the population was entirely dependent on the potato for food – was exacerbated by a host of political, social and economic factors which remain the subject of historical debate.[6][7]

The famine was a watershed in the history of Ireland.[8] Its effects permanently changed the island’s demographic, political and cultural landscape. For both the native Irish and those in the resulting diaspora, the famine entered folk memory[fn 2] and became a rallying point for various nationalist movements as Ireland was then part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Modern historians regard it as a dividing line in the Irish historical narrative, referring to the preceding period of Irish history as “pre-Famine”.

The band Black 47 takes their name from the worst year of the famine, 1847. It was a very serious thing & there isn’t much to joke about. But the fact that Ireland bounced back (granted there were huge migrations to other countries as well) is a testament to their strength. Not to mention a reason to celebrate Ireland! It’s no surprise after reading that that potatoes & Ireland are so intertwined, though, is it?

My grandma always used to order them from an Irish gift company every St. Patrick’s Day. These are the ones she used to order; they’re O’Ryan’s. They’re so delicious, and unexpected. I searched around for recipes & I found one I liked at bakedbree.com. Most of the recipes are similar if not the same, so you can’t really go wrong. Really you can just mix some cream cheese, butter, coconut, vanilla & confectioner’s sugar until it’s the right consistency and go from there without a recipe if you want. They’re just like little truffles.

IRISH POTATOES (COURTESY OF BAKEDBREE.COM)

Ingredients:

  • ½ stick of butter softened
  • ½ brick of cream cheese softened (4 oz.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Beat together butter and cream cheese. Slowly add the confectioners sugar.
  2. Add the vanilla, then the coconut and mix until combined.
  3. You may want to chill the coconut mixture a little before you roll them. I like to use a small ice cream scoop. These are really rich, so you want them to be small.
  4. Roll the coconut mixture into a ball. Then roll the coconut mixture into the cinnamon and put on a parchment lined baking sheet. Keep the finished Irish Potatoes in the fridge.

And there you have it. Totally easy, totally fun and really yummy. Great to make with kids, too. Since they have to be kept in the fridge, I decided to put them in a jar for storage. Glass keeps out odor & moisture better than plastic, anyway. Plus it doesn’t impart nasty old flavors from previous things that have been stored in it. So I used a flip-top jar to keep my potatoes nice & cold. I really suggest you get some glass jars for storage if you don’t already have them. Way better for you than plastic.

On that note, enjoy, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

“Only two things in this world are too serious to be jested on, potatoes and matrimony.”
(Irish saying)

Candy apple red.

Okay I’ll admit it: I hate people who hate Christmas. I hate people who hate any holiday, really, because it’s stupid. I hate people who don’t like Christmas music, too, but that’s a bit different ’cause there is a lot of holiday music I can’t stand (anything modern for the most part, or anything post-1960′s, [save for very a select few songs] or anything Karen Carpenter, James Taylor, Celine Dion, Amy Grant, anything with the lyrics “Mama went home to Jesus today”, etc, etc), so I have to give them that. But that being said, if you’re anti-holiday, go jump off a cliff & do the rest of us who enjoy life a favor. Besides, if I didn’t enjoy the holidays or put effort into them, my grandfather & grandmother would come back from the great beyond & slap the shit out of me. They wouldn’t accept that kind of shit, ever. I inherited a love for it through them, its in me whether I like it or not. But seriously, you’re breathing & you have a computer to be able to read this, not to mention the ability to read to begin with and just those things alone mean you have a lot to be thankful for compared to most of the world… so get off your ass & appreciate it & celebrate it. Even when times were hard, like during the Depression or WWII, my family always celebrated & decorated for the holidays. If you’re alive, you have a lot to be happy about as far as I’m concerned. So stop being all friggin’ bah humbug about it, and remember there are people far worse off than you that can find joy in the season. There. That was my last public service announcement for 2011. Moving on…

That little mickey on the right is my mom! Super cute, right? Anyway normally, this time of year, I do a kind of list of awesome baking/cooking/whatever-related presents, sorta like a (very brief) gift guide. But this year I just didn’t feel like it. Mainly because I had no ideas, but also because I just wasn’t digging it. So I’m sorry… but on the plus side, you get an extra recipe post out of it. And it just so happens to be jelly.

This jelly might frighten some of you. Or at least the mention of Red Hot candies that go in it might frighten you. But I assure you that it’s nowhere near as frightening as you think. The heat from the candy literally disappears & leaves a bright red, beautiful jelly that’s got an amazing cinnamon-apple flavor that kinda reminds me of not only candy apples but Apple Jacks cereal. And of course, it’s perfect for Christmas.

I love Red Hots. But then again, I’m a big fan of anything spicy or “hot.” While I was making this jelly, I ate the entire rest of the bag of Red Hots, standing at the stove stirring the pot. Seriously.

But like I said above- what happens in that pot is magical. The “hot” of the Red Hots just goes away. You’re left with a fantastic cinnamon-apple jelly that’s sweet & not spicy. And of course, perfect for gift-giving. The color is just so beautiful. Really ‘candy apple red‘ and definitely has that candy apple taste.

Candy apple is made by coating an apple with a sugar layer.

The most common sugar coating is made from sugar, corn syrup, water, cinnamon and red food coloring. The sugar syrup is created by boiling the ingredients in a saucepan. The liquid should reach about 300 °F (150 °C) on a candy thermometer. Dip the apple with the sugar in the “hard crack” stage. The sugar will harden within an hour.

Humid weather prevents the sugar from hardening.[3]

Jelly apples, found in New York’s Coney Island area, are related but have a soft candy (“jelly“) coating and a cherry flavor, not cinnamon. Some have sprinkles on them or coconut.

It’s stupid easy to make this, too. If you’ve got any canning experience at all, you can do it blindfolded. Maybe not literally, we don’t want any hot sugar accidents. Of course, as usual, I write this assuming you have full knowledge of home-canning procedures & safety measures, etc. If you don’t, or if you’re new to it, then please take a minute to read through the USDA’s National Center for Home Food Preservation’s website on it before starting. This happens to be incredibly easy to make, and there’s no concern about the acid/sugar levels in it, but if you’re a newbie it’s always good to do your research first.

CANDY APPLE JELLY (Betsy Porter’s recipe from AllRecipes.com)

Makes about 6 half-pint jars

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups apple juice
  • ½ cup red-hot candies
  • 1 (1.75 ounce) package powdered fruit pectin
  • 4 ½ cups sugar

Directions:

  1. In a large kettle, combine apple juice, candies and pectin.
  2. Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar; return to a full rolling boil. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Remove from the heat; skim off any foam and undissolved candies. Pour hot liquid into hot jars, leaving ¼-in. headspace. Adjust caps. Process for 5 minutes in a boiling-water bath.

Gorgeous & simple. All of my candies dissolved so I didn’t need to skim any off. I will say though that my jelly took a day or two to set because I used liquid pectin (at least I think that’s why), but ultimately it did set beautifully. I suggest using the powdered as the recipe asks for, just to simplify your life. I like to make things difficult for myself. Life is hard when you’re a rebel.

Once they were set, sealed & cooled, I made the cutest little ‘jar cozies’ out of red polka dot wool. Kinda like the jelly jar’s version of a Christmas sweater, haha. Then I tied ribbons & Christmas charms on it, printed up pretty labels for the top and safety-pinned a label to it describing what’s inside. I think they look perfectly suited to this time of year. I can’t wait to give them as gifts. But for now, maybe I’ll have some on toast… and I heard using it as the jelly in a PB&J is delightful, if you’re into that kinda thing. I am not. Speaking of pimping my preserves, Pimp That Preserve 2011 is officially on! So if you’re so inclined, get your booty over to the Well Preserved FB page, go to the album for Pimp That Preserve 2011 & vote for my jars! I entered two- my amaretto cranberry sauce & a champagne jelly (that won’t be posted for some time yet, sorry!), so go take a peek. It’s super easy, just click ‘like’ to vote for a particular jars’ decorations *ahem*mine*ahem* No seriously, you can vote for whoever you like, there are some awesome entries!

I decided this year would be a practically 100% homemade gift year for me. Meaning very few people will get anything bought, if any. I myself, while having tons of ‘wants’ & things I lust for, most of which is totally unnecessary or extravagant… I don’t need anything. And I know that I’ll get some things that I don’t need anyway, & I’ll love them. It’s just part of my attempt to try & be simpler & more noble, I guess. Eh. Whatever. I wouldn’t be turning down any Le Creuset or Tiffany’s, you can bet on that.

Are you hoping for anything special from the big guy in the red suit on Christmas Day?

Tricks & treats… trick number one: it’s not Halloween anymore.

Boo hoo. So sad. And treat number one? Well, treat one is much more fun than the trick… it’s cupcakes made from leftover Halloween candy! I didn’t get much more than 5 or 6 trick or treaters this year, so I had a lot of candy left.

The spread… pre-trick-or-treaters.. looked basically the same after

Yes, it’s been done. Numerous times. In the form of brownies & cookies, too. But please, give me this much. I love this holiday & I have trouble letting go. I know it’s November now, & everyone is preparing for Thanksgiving already. But let me have my one last Halloween post, okay? Thank you. I’ll miss all my decorations, my Halloween tree & all my table settings. *sad face* No more ghosts & goblins for another year. But I’d like to thank the ladies from Georgetown Cupcakes- you may know them from the TLC TV show, DC Cupcakes- for the video that got me wanting to make these. It also used up some (notice how I said some) of that delicious leftover Halloween candy that I managed to not shove into my face while waiting for the doorbell to ring. You can find the recipe on their TLC page, but I listed it below as well. I ended up with some Reese’s, some Whoppers, Snickers, Butterfinger, Nestle Crunch and Hershey bar mini’s to play with, not to mention candy corn, so I made cupcakes with them. Oh, and some Dots, but I didn’t think they’d work well in cupcakes. Yes. Cupcakes stuffed with Halloween candy. I can’t really imagine anything more fattening & root-canal inducing, can you?

Oh, but so cute. And so good. And since we got SNOW on Saturday, I think I deserve it. Snow. In October. That’s just not right, you know? It goes against all things I know & love about New York, like (usually) no snow until after Thanksgiving. For me to properly deal with snow in October, I need freshly made baked goods daily, tons of Netflix & copious amounts of liquor. Okay, okay, so it was like an inch or two of slushy snow. But that’s after a whole day of freezing rain & sleet! That sucks. Anyway back to these here cupcakes. Like I said I got this idea from a video posted by Katherine & Sophie of the now famous Georgetown Cupcakes. Oh, and let me just say I wouldn’t mind having a KitchenAid mixer or two that coordinated with every holiday, like these ladies’ black & orange ones. Let’s get on that, shall we? All donations gratefully accepted.


TRICK OR TREAT CUPCAKES (adapted very slightly from Georgetown Cupcakes)

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups of flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder, sifted
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups whole milk at room temperature
  • 12 different bite-sized mini candy bars, chopped into small pieces

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° degrees F.
  2. Line a cupcake pan with baking cups; depending on how big your cupcakes are, you can make between 12 and 18. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Place the unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar; beat on medium speed until well incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition. Combine the vanilla extract and milk in a large liquid measuring cup.
  4. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add ⅓ of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then gradually add ⅓ of the milk mixture, beating until well incorporated. Add another third of the flour mixture, followed by a third of the milk mixture. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining milk mixture, and beat just until combined.
  5. Spoon batter into baking cups, filling each about halfway. Add one type of chopped-up candy bar to each baking cup and press into the batter. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
Clockwise from top left: Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, Hershey, Reese’s, Kit Kat & Whopper cupcakes, post-baking

Better view of my superawesometotallycool skeleton plate!

I upped the baking powder by a half teaspoon because I felt that with the candies in them they needed an extra bit of oomph to rise nicely. The orange & black liners and the little sprinkles (or are they jimmies?) are by Wilton. I topped them with a thick swirl of vanilla-flavored orangey-colored buttercream, although a dark chocolate frosting would be sweet. But if you wanted to get all crazy fancy-pants, you could color the batter too. I like to keep it simple (yeah right). Oh, I should also state that I got 2 dozen cupcakes from this recipe. My pans must be from an alternate universe.

Hurray! Delicious, overly sweet, totally over-the-top tooth rotting goodness in a cupcake. Amazing. I love it. They really put me back in a 9-year old trick-or-treater mood. Which is hard to do given I’m now 30 years old & nobody gives me candy, not to mention the fact I didn’t even dress up this year. Poopsticks. Anyway… I ate them with a big ol’ mug of this:

Yes, I ate them with green hot cocoa. What of it? I made some green hot cocoa, ate some trick or treat cupcakes & snuggled up under my leopard print blankie to watch The Bride of Frankenstein. Awesomesauce. The hot cocoa wasn’t really that spectacular; it tasted sorta how it looks. But worth a shot anyway… or I should say, the packaging was worth it. I’m a sucker for packaging. That’s probably why I fell for that tall, dark, handsome chunk of manhood I’ve got. Give me a death metal t-shirt wearing, guitar-playing, Wu-Tang-Clan-lyric-knowing, food loving, hysterically funny dude that’s taller than me (I’m 5’9″ & that’s not an easy task believe it or not) with a shaved head & even if I didn’t like him, I’d probably still go for it. Kidding, kidding. It’s the candy- the candy makes me crazy.

So anyway, yes, Halloween is over for this year. Another 361 days or so until it rolls around again. But there’s plenty to keep us occupied until then, what with Thanksgiving looming & Christmas right around the corner (52 days!) we’ve got plenty to do, and cook, and bake…

But right now, I’m just gonna enjoy what remains of All Hallows Eve. Before I wrap this up, I want to make sure you crafty types check out my friends’ new site: All Crafts on Deck. Each Friday they giveaway a fat quarter & they’re gonna be featuring all sorts of awesome & amazing crafts & tutorials (I even wrote one up for them!). So go!

Indy does not understand Halloween, why he has to dress up & why he can’t have any chocolate.

Yeah, pit bull mixes are really dangerous. He’s totally about to rip my face off in that picture…

A monster mash-up of Halloween goodies!

And so here we are. As much as I can’t believe it, it’s fall. Another October, another Halloween is upon us. The air is getting drier & brisker… & yes, I do love this time of year. I’ll desperately miss my garden, fresh fruits, canning up a storm & the sunshine. This summer went by too fast & wasn’t quite as enjoyable as I had hoped it would be. But there ain’t no use in moping, especially about things I can’t control. Besides, this really is my favorite time of year. The best part, though, aside from Halloween (of course) is the fall baking. Pumpkin, apple, cinnamon, allspice; all those delicious, warming, spicy ingredients. Not to mention the incredible creative opportunities Halloween gives you in terms of decorations!

……

Part of the charm & intrigue of Halloween is the fright factor. That things-that-go-bump-in-the-night-”what-was-that-sound” factor that gives you the chills- but you love it. The reason why people go on scary roller coasters or watch horror movies. That same feeling, that’s the best part of Halloween. I try to make that a part of everything I make around this time of year, not to mention I try to include the fall flavors that everyone loves. Of course, I’m biased. Like I said, this is my favorite holiday. I think some of my favorite things about it, in addition to the “scary” aspect, are all the traditions & symbols. It has such strong Celtic roots, I find the origins of the things we do today to be really interesting. Some of which I’ll be sharing with you over the next few weeks in detail… for now:

Development of artifacts and symbols associated with Halloween formed over time. For instance, the carving of jack-o’-lanterns springs from the souling custom of carving turnips into lanterns as a way of remembering the souls held in purgatory.[5] The turnip has traditionally been used in Ireland and Scotland at Halloween,[6][7] but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which are both readily available and much larger – making them easier to carve than turnips.[6] The American tradition of carving pumpkins is recorded in 1837[8] and was originally associated with harvest time in general, not becoming specifically associated with Halloween until the mid-to-late 19th century.[9]

The imagery of Halloween is derived from many sources, including national customs, works of Gothic and horror literature (such as the novels Frankenstein and Dracula), and classic horror films (such as Frankenstein and The Mummy).[10] Among the earliest works on the subject of Halloween is from Scottish poet John Mayne in 1780, who made note of pranks at Halloween; “What fearfu’ pranks ensue!”, as well as the supernatural associated with the night, “Bogies” (ghosts), influencing Robert BurnsHalloween 1785.[11] Elements of the autumn season, such as pumpkins, corn husks, and scarecrows, are also prevalent. Homes are often decorated with these types of symbols around Halloween.

Halloween imagery includes themes of death, evil, the occult, or mythical monsters.[12] Black and orange are the holiday’s traditional colors.

I’m aware not everyone enjoys this day as much as I do, and I guess my personal opinion that they’re a bunch of boring, humorless stick-in-the-mud’s is irrelevant, but either way I think it’s fun & harmless. What could be more fun than dressing up as something you aren’t & getting free candy? I don’t know. It sounds pretty friggin’ amazing to me. So being it’s my favorite holiday, I have lots of treats for you to choose from for your spooky fall baking needs. I’ve done compilation posts before, as a matter of fact this past year, 2010-2011, I did one for every holiday, Halloween being the first. But being I did it early on each season, I excluded all the new ideas I had & implemented afterward. So this year it’s a truer compilation: all (or most) of my muffins, cupcakes & other treats; all with a Halloween or fall theme. Some are slightly more complex than others, but all of them are pretty simple when you get down to it & they really don’t take a lot of time or effort (or money, or experience really) to execute.

If you have any questions about where I bought supplies, etc, or just about the cupcakes/treats in general, feel free to comment or e-mail me.

CHOCOLATE STOUT CUPCAKES WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE BONES TRUE BLOOD ORANGE CUPCAKES WITH CANDIED BLOOD ORANGES

DEVIL’S FOOD CUPCAKES WITH CINNAMON RED-HOTS FROSTING DOUBLE CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN CUPCAKES

CHOCOLATE MALT CUPCAKES WITH FUDGE FILLING EERIE MONSTER CUPCAKES WITH SWEETMELT EYES

TRUE BLOOD VELVET CUPCAKES & CREAM CHEESE FROSTING BLACK LICORICE CUPCAKES & ORANGE MARSHMALLOW FROSTING

JACK-O-LANTERN PUMPKIN MUFFINS PUMPKIN STREUSEL MUFFINS WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING

MARSHMALLOW BONES APPLE MUFFINS

CINNAMON VANILLA CUPCAKES & MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE FROSTING TRES LECHES COCONUT CUPCAKES

S’MORES CUPCAKES WITH MARSHMALLOW BUTTERCREAM SPICE CUPCAKES WITH BROWN SUGAR FROSTING

And of course, if you’re looking for something in particular, you can always go through the archives, specifically the seasonal ones, like the pumpkin or apple categories. Another particular favorite of mine not pictured are the infamous apple cider donuts, they’re perfect for Halloween shenanigans. You could go bobbing for apple cider donuts! And if you’re into pumpkin seeds, I have two recipes, both plain & brown sugar/spice versions. And the two recipes second to last on the list, the cinnamon/vanilla & tres leches coconut, would both be perfect for Dia de los Muertos as well (which is what I used the latter for myself).

Almost any cupcake recipe or cookie recipe can be altered or decorated to fit in with Halloween. Use your imagination… you never know what you may come up with. If worse comes to worse, and you’re stuck for ideas, ask a kid! Kids have the best imaginations and come up with the best stuff, especially for Halloween. A kid’s brain works on a totally different level, they’re practically un-offended by everything, which is perfect.

And stay tuned this month for many more creepy (& not so creepy) fall-appropriate recipes & ideas.

Spring has sprung.

Not 100% of course, but for the most part anyway.

I’ve done one of these little compilation posts for Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas, Valentine’s Day & St. Patrick’s Day, so here’s my springtime/Easter version. I don’t really do “Easter”, I like bunnies, baby chicks, lilies & chocolate… so I celebrate those things & call it Easter. I’m not one of those Wiccans or “Pagans” either. I’m Agnostic, but I do love me some holidays. I can’t help it. I love to decorate and bake and cook and that’s the best part of life, in my opinion. So why not celebrate everything!?

The real meaning of Easter:

Easter (Old English: Ēostre; Greek: Πάσχα, Paskha; Hebrew: פֶּסַח‎, Pesakh, “Passover“) is the central religious feast in the Christian liturgical year.[1] According to Christian scripture, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. Some Christians celebrate this resurrection on Easter Day or Easter Sunday[2] (also Resurrection Day or Resurrection Sunday), two days after Good Friday and three days after Maundy Thursday. The chronology of his death and resurrection is variously interpreted to be between AD 26 and 36, traditionally 33. Easter also refers to the season of the church year called Eastertide or the Easter Season. Traditionally the Easter Season lasted for the forty days from Easter Day until Ascension Day. The first week of the Easter Season is known as Easter Week or the Octave of Easter. Easter also marks the end of Lent, a season of fasting, prayer, and penance.

Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the northern hemisphere’s vernal equinox.[3] Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on March 21 (even though the equinox occurs, astronomically speaking, on March 20 in most years), and the “Full Moon” is not necessarily the astronomically correct date. The date of Easter therefore varies between March 22 and April 25. Eastern Christianity bases its calculations on the Julian Calendar whose March 21 corresponds, during the 21st century, to April 3 in the Gregorian Calendar, in which calendar their celebration of Easter therefore varies between April 4 and May 8.

Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In most European languages the feast called Easter in English is termed by the words for passover in those languages and in the older English versions of the Bible the term Easter was the term used to translate passover.[4][5]

Relatively newer[citation needed] elements such as the Easter Bunny and Easter egg hunts have become part of the holiday’s modern celebrations, and those aspects are often celebrated by many Christians and non-Christians alike. There are also some Christian denominations who do not celebrate Easter.

Yeah so that last part applies to me. Delicious chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs filled with creamy fondant? Yes please. I guess, though, I more celebrate just the coming of spring itself, which is more like Ostara:

Old English Ēostre (also Ēastre) and Old High German Ôstarâ are the names of a putative Germanic goddess whose Anglo-Saxon month, Ēostur-monath, has given its name to the festival of Easter. Eostre is attested only by Bede, in his 8th century work De temporum ratione, where he states that Ēostur-monath was the equivalent to the month of April, and that feasts held in her honour during Ēostur-monath had died out by the time of his writing, replaced by the “Paschal month“. The possibility of a Common Germanic goddess called *Austrōn- was examined in detail in 19th century Germanic philology, by Jacob Grimm and others, without coming to a definite conclusion.

Linguists have identified the goddess as a Germanic form of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn, *Hausos, some scholars have debated whether or not Eostre is an invention of Bede’s, and theories connecting Eostre with records of Germanic Easter customs (including hares and eggs) have been proposed.

Notice the spelling similarities between Eostre and Easter? Hmm. Food for thought. I’ll let ya chew on that one.

So in short, I like to eat and make stuff, and that’s what holidays are all about, really. I don’t think you have to believe in a God to celebrate the coming of spring, especially after a winter where here in New York we got a whopping 60.9″ of snow total. At any rate… here are some delectable cupcake confections that celebrate this time of year, and can be adapted/used whether your celebrations are referred to as Ostara, Easter, Passover or just plain spring.

One of my favorite Easter cupcakes; lemon-vanilla cakes with a lemon-vanilla buttercream, topped with toasted coconut “nests” and Cadbury mini-eggs. Super cute and so easy! These were a humongous hit with everyone who ate them, I highly recommend trying them. Recipe here: Nest Eggs.

I grouped these two together because they’re in the same post from last Easter. The top ones are Creamsicle mini-cupcakes topped with a thick marshmallow Fluff buttercream, and the bottom ones are carrot cupcakes topped with a lavender-tinted cream cheese frosting. Check both recipes out here: Easter?
I didn’t actually make these for Easter, I made them for my grandmother’s 92nd birthday… however they’re a perfect springtime cupcake idea. A light chocolate cake topped with an Earl Grey/lemon icing and candied lemon peel garnish (which is deceptively easy). Very sophisticated & delicious. Find the recipes for the cake, icing and lemon peel here: Earl Grey with lemon “tea party” cupcakes.
Another one I didn’t make for Easter, I made them for Cupcake Rehab’s 1st birthday, but yet they would be totally appropriate for spring. Neapolitan cupcakes- vanilla cake, strawberry Kool-Aid frosting and chocolate sauce drizzled on top. Extremely delicious. Recipes: Neapolitan “happy 1st birthday Cupcake Rehab” cupcakes.
These I definitely didn’t make for Easter. But being that they’re almond cupcakes with a white chocolate buttercream, they’d be so cute with marzipan fruits or hand-rolled marzipan Easter eggs on top for Easter, wouldn’t they? This is one of my favorite cupcakes ever. Try them yourself: Frau Marilla’s Alpenblume Weiße Schokolade Kleine Kuchen!


So that’s that. If you’re not drooling by now, there’s something wrong with you. Also, I also have a recipe for chocolate hi-hat cupcakes that I made for Easter a few years back that I didn’t include above. So knock yourself out!  And If you’re looking for something more Passover-y, I have a recipe for sweet noodle kugel. I also have TONS of other cupcake and cookie recipes that can be adapted or used for this time of year, with just a little creativity.

As usual, I’ll be posting more spring-y things in the weeks to come so stay tuned... and tomorrow I’ll be guest posting over at Frosting 4 the Cause, so please come and check that out. I promise you’ll like it.