Patriotic Meringue Puffs

Well, these are addictive little devils! Sweet little sugar puffs that melt in your mouth, all dressed up for the Fourth of July. Trust me, you won’t be able to stop at one.

I did something out of character and took the easy route with these treats. I’ve made meringues many times using egg whites, but I tried using Wilton’s meringue powder and it worked beautifully.

If you’re fresh out of meringue powder, I’d advise a trip to the store – pronto. And get some superfine sugar while you’re there. You don’t HAVE to use it, but it dissolves into the liquid a lot faster and I highly recommend it. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Meringue Powder
  • Superfine sugar (aka: Baker’s sugar)
  • large pastry bag
  • large star tip
  • red and blue paste food coloring (or gel, if it’s thick)
  • Two paintbrushes
  • Parchment

I tried using my gel coloring but it didn’t stick to the bag at all. Maybe because it’s “squeezable” gel, so it’s thinner. Paste coloring worked fine.

This is seriously so easy. The hardest thing you’ll have to do is get the stripes of color inside the pastry bag. I’ll give you some pointers, but the important thing to remember is that even if your stripes are wonky, the meringues will still look great.

Patriotic Meringue Puffs
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Makes about 30 meringues (1½ inch) or hundreds of little bitty ones.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder (I use Wiltons)
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • a few drops of flavoring if desired (use clear colors: lemon, peppermint, cinnamon are all good.)
  • red and blue paste food coloring
Instructions
  1. PREPARATION: Drop large star tip into the pastry bag. Fold down the top third of the bag (making a cuff) and paint alternating stripes of red and blue up the inside of the bag, starting at the base of the star tip and working up. Don't make them too thick or too close together, or you'll end up with purple! (I used 3 stripes of each color.) Set bag aside.
  2. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment.
  3. MERINGUES: For best results, use a stand mixer (or a sturdy hand mixer and medium-sized bowl.) Heat oven to 250 F.
  4. Beat together the water and meringue powder until foamy.
  5. Add sugar very gradually, sprinkling it in a little at a time, scraping bowl occasionally.
  6. Beat until thick and shiny, about 5-7 minutes. Add flavoring if using and beat until incorporated.
  7. Place the prepared pastry bag inside a tall water glass. Carefully drop meringue into bag. Don't try to spread it, just drop it in there. Unfold the cuff of the bag and twist to close.
  8. Pipe meringues on prepared pan. Squeeze near the pan and pull up slowly, releasing pressure as you go. Aim for about 1½ inches at the base. The first few won't be very colorful, but they're still pretty. They won't spread and can be fairly close together. Small stars can be piped for decorations, but pipe them on a separate sheet; they'll take less time to bake.
  9. Bake large puffs for 25 minutes, (10 minutes for the tiny stars), then turn off oven (don't open the door!) and leave them for a couple of hours. If you have an oven that vents heat out when it's turned off, at the end of the bake time turn the heat down as low as it will go and let them bake for another 10 minutes before turning oven off.
  10. Store the meringues in an airtight container.

Slooooowly add sugar to water and meringue powder. Beat until very thick and shiny.

I place the cuff over my hand and very (very) carefully paint the lines. I was pretty generous here and had some vibrant colors. I used less on the second batch and they were still bright and pretty.

Here’s what it looks like before the meringue is added.

Place bag in glass for support. Carefully drop the meringue into the bag.

Piping the puffs

Tips:

  • Take your time when adding the sugar. Give it time to dissolve.
  • If you want to make the tiny stars (great for decorating cupcakes) hold the tip a little bit above the parchment and start squeezing as you push down and touch the sheet. Stop squeezing and pull up. You’ll get the hang of it!
  • To make both sizes, put the large puffs in the oven first. Let them bake for 15 minutes, then put the other sheet in too. Continue to bake for the remaining 10 minutes then turn off the oven without opening the door. Don’t peek – leave them to dry out for a couple of hours (or overnight). If you have an oven that vents the heat once it’s turned off, see the recipe for instructions.
  • Put a dot of meringue batter on the baking sheet under the parchment to hold it in place while piping.
  • If you want a little more white and a little less color in your meringues, just make 4 stripes instead of 6 inside the pastry bag.
  • Keep them dry, cool, and dark. In theory, they’ll last 2 weeks. I don’t think they’ll have that opportunity!

Here is the mini version:

Piped and ready for the oven.

Jazz up strawberry shortcake, cookies, cupcakes, or a bowl of ice cream. Or just pop them—one after another—in your mouth.

Have a sweet and safe 4th!

Lorinda

Faux Taco Cookies

Taco ’bout sweet! If you’re looking for something different for Cinco de Mayo, I’ve got you covered, because these “tacos” aren’t what they seem to be. A wafer cookie is filled with crushed chocolate sandwich cookies and frosting, then topped with fake cheese, lettuce, and sour cream. (And yes, I used canned frosting. Even I am not nutty enough to make a batch of homemade frosting for just two-thirds of a cup.)

I used orange candy melts for the cheese, spreading it very thinly on a Silpat, then scraping it up with a knife. I used green melts for the lettuce, though green coconut would have been an easy alternative.

If I hadn’t chosen peanut butter-filled Oreos for the filling, I’d have added some maraschino cherries or even chopped red licorice for “tomatoes”, but neither sounded like a good match with peanut butter. Meh. Maybe next time I’ll use the cookies with the plain white filling.

A dollop of marshmallow fluff was perfect for sour cream.

The taco shells were easy but took a while since I could only bake two at a time without making a mess of things. But the recipe only makes 14 or so, and they bake for 6 minutes, so it’s not that crazy. Right? Right? Oh, c’mon, humor me.

Making cookie taco shells

I tried a couple of different methods and the easiest way to make the taco shells was with a stencil. I cut a four-inch circle out of cardstock, placed the stencil on a Silpat sheet (you can use parchment if you prefer) and spread the batter on with a metal spatula. They came out very uniform this way. They’re soft when they first come out of the oven and must be shaped right away. You’ll have to move quickly and drape them over a dowel or spoon handle.

Shaping the shells. They harden quickly!

Tip: if the shells get hard before you manage to drape them over the spoon handle, pop them back in the oven for a few seconds. As long as they weren’t overbaked, this should soften them up. Now move FAST!

Faux Taco Cookies
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Make approximately 14 faux tacos.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 3 egg whites
  • ½ cup superfine sugar (Baker's sugar)
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream (or thick Bulgarian style buttermilk)
  • yellow/orange food coloring (optional)
  • ⅓ cup chocolate chips
  • 15 sandwich cookies (I used peanut butter-filled), crushed
  • ⅔ cup chocolate frosting
  • Toppings: orange candy melts, green candy melts (or green coconut), marshmallow fluff
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375 F. and cover two baking sheets with Silpats (or parchment, if preferred).
  2. Melt butter. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In a medium bowl beat egg whites and sugar together until foamy.
  4. Add flour and cream (or buttermilk) and beat until smooth.
  5. Add butter. Beat on low until mixed.
  6. Add yellow and orange food coloring, if desired, to make the shells the color of a corn tortilla.
  7. Spread batter in 4-inch circles on Silpat sheets, leaving at least 1 inch between circles. The easiest way to do this is to make a simple stencil. Cut a 4-inch circle in the middle of a piece of cardstock. Lay the stencil on Silpat and spread 1 tablespoon of batter with a flat spatula. Lift stencil carefully and repeat.
  8. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove pan, carefully flip over with a flat spatula. Bake 1 additional minute, or until the cookies are beginning to brown. Immediately drape over a dowel or spoon handle (suspended between two cups or bowls) while you are baking the next sheet of cookies. Repeat.
  9. Melt the chocolate chips and brush a thin coat on the inside of each shell, coming half-way up the sides.
  10. Combine crushed cookies and frosting. Divide between each taco, crumbling to resemble meat filling.
  11. "Cheese" can be made by melting ½ cup of orange candy melts and spreading very thinly on Silpat. Once it's firm, run the tip of a table knife along the candy to create shreds.
  12. "Lettuce" can be made by melting ½ cup of green candy melts and spreading very thinly on Silpat. Once it's firm, run a fork along the candy to create thin shreds. (Or use green shredded coconut if desired.)
  13. Sprinkle orange and green toppings on tacos and top with a dollop of marshmallow fluff to resemble sour cream.
  14. Keep lightly covered until ready to serve.

Add the cream and flour to the egg/sugar mixture.

Brush a thin layer of chocolate on the inside of each shell, halfway up the sides. This will keep the “meat” mixture from making the shell soggy.

Crumble the cookie mix into the shells.

Why yes, I AM using a putty knife to spread the candy melts. A bench scraper works well too!

Scrape the candy with a knife tip to create “grated cheese”.

Or, for smaller shreds, use a large serrated blade.

Use a fork to make finely shredded “lettuce”.

Transfer the candy to the taco with the fork. Your fingers would melt it immediately!

See? Not too hard! And how fun would it be to serve these at your Cinco de Mayo celebration?

They’re messy to eat—there’s no denying that. They remind me of those nasty dry shells that come in a box (except, these taste good and melt in your mouth) because filling tends to fall out as you’re eating. Serve these cookies with napkins or plates and have your camera handy. People will just love being tagged in photos while they’re eating these!

Have a great Cinco de Mayo.

Lorinda

 

 

 

 

 

“My Wild Irish Rose” Cookies

May I give you one more boozy recipe for St. Patrick’s Day? My next post will be family-friendly, but I’m still on a Jameson whiskey roll and had a lot of fun creating these crunchy mint cookies. They have a layer of dark chocolate on the bottom and each cookie sports a Jameson-spiked ganache rose on top.

I vividly remember pounding out “My Wild Irish Rose” on the piano in the living room, singing along with neither grace nor talent. Fifty years later the song comes back to haunt me, as it does each March, along with other traditional Irish songs like “Danny Boy”, “That’s an Irish Lullaby”,  “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”, and “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen”, though I read recently that this was actually written by a German composer. Oh, and that annoying unicorn song, but I am NOT getting that stuck in my head!

I love The Irish Tenors, and good old Bing crooned his way through some Irish ballads, but when I think of some of these songs it always takes me back to Joe Feeney on The Lawrence Welk Show. He wasn’t one of my favorites, but he sure had the perfect voice for Irish songs. (Grandma made me watch it, honest!)

Now, see? I gave you some nice ideas for tunes to hum while you’re making ganache roses.

The cookies are a slam-dunk. Very easy. If painting their little bottoms with dark chocolate and piping ganache roses makes you grind your teeth, you could take the easy way out and just pour a little bit of melted chocolate into the wells in the center. Or add mini chocolate chips to the dough. They wouldn’t be ROSE cookies, of course, but they’d still be tasty. And of course, you can make them without booze – just use cream instead.

Oh, and if you don’t (gasp!) have a shamrock cookie cutter, you can roll three balls of dough (a teaspoon each), add a stem, and press in the middle to create a shamrock. Flatten the petals down slightly. I learned the hard way that the cookies won’t get nice and crunchy if they’re too thick.

If you’re going for the gusto, here’s your recipe:

"My Wild Irish Rose" Cookies
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Makes approximately 18 large (3½-inch) shamrock cookies. These are baked at a low temperature so they don't brown, but get baked through for a nice crunch. If you prefer, you can use a total of ⅔ cup cream and skip the alcohol!
Ingredients
  • GANACHE:
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate (chips are okay)
  • ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ⅓ cup whiskey (I used Jameson) You may skip the alcohol and substitute cream if desired.
  • ........
  • COOKIES:
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • green food coloring
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate (chips are okay)
Instructions
  1. GANACHE: In a small saucepan on the lowest temperature, melt the chocolate, stirring often. Heat the cream until it's hot but not boiling, and add to the chocolate. Stir until combined. Remove from heat and gradually add the whiskey, stirring constantly until smooth. Cover lightly with a paper towel and set aside, stirring now and then, until the mixture is thick enough for piping. (This might take 2-3 hours, depending on the temperature of the room.) The ganache should resemble thick buttercream icing. Scoop up a spoon to test it; it shouldn't fall off the spoon when turned upside down.
  2. Spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a rose tip. Put a little icing on a rose nail (or I've used a flat meat thermometer in a pinch) and put a small piece of waxed paper or parchment on the nail. Pipe the rose just as you would with icing. (If the ganache gets too soft, allow it to cool off BRIEFLY in the fridge.) There are lots of tutorials on the Internet if you have never done this. Don't make the roses too big! Leave the paper under each rose and place them on a baking sheet. Refrigerate or freeze.
  3. COOKIES:
  4. Heat oven to 325 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  5. In a large bowl (a stand mixer is recommended) beat the butter until creamy.
  6. Add the powdered sugar and beat well.
  7. Add the egg, peppermint extract, and food coloring (make it a little darker than you want because it will lighten when the flour is added) and beat until completely mixed.
  8. Add cornstarch, salt, and flour. This is a stiff dough - you will want to use a dough hook if you have one, or be prepared to finish stirring by hand.
  9. Roll dough out between lightly dusted sheets of parchment. It should be fairly thick - between ¼-inch and ⅓-inch. Cut with a shamrock cookie cutter and place on prepared baking sheets. With your thumb, press in the center of each cookie.
  10. Bake for approximately 15-17 minutes, or until just the bottoms are lightly browned. Remove from oven and press the centers again, using your thumb (or a rounded measuring spoon, tart tamper, or the handle of your rolling pin) to redefine the well in the middle of the cookie. Move to a rack to cool completely.
  11. Melt the 6 ounces of chocolate, either in a pan at lowest heat or in a bowl in the microwave at 15-second intervals. Stir well and, using a pastry brush, brush the bottom of each cookie and place chocolate-side-down on parchment, pressing gently to distribute the chocolate evenly. Refrigerate to quickly set the chocolate.
  12. Place a dab of chocolate in each cavity and add a rose, pressing gently to secure it.

Start with the ganache:

Stir hot cream into melted chocolate.

Gradually add whiskey, stirring constantly.

Use a rose tip to pipe ganache roses.

Make the dough, then roll out between pieces of parchment.

The dough should be nice and thick – between 1/4-inch and 1/3-inch.

Press firmly in the center of the cookie with your thumb, or . . .

Use your weapon of choice: thumb, measuring spoon, tart tampers, rolling pin handle.

Once baked, the holes will have mostly filled back in. Press down again while the cookies are hot. (The first time keeps the cookies from cracking around the cavity.)

Brush the bottoms with a thin layer of dark chocolate.

Press gently onto parchment, wiggling slightly to distribute chocolate evenly. Chill.

Use a dab of the melted chocolate to nestle each rose in its place. Dance a jig!

They’re as tasty as they are pretty; just the right amount of mint. And don’t forget, if you’d like to save a step, add some mini-chips to the batter and skip the chocolate bottoms. Or, hey, if you’re like me and there can never be enough chocolate, do both!

 

My wild Irish Rose, the sweetest flower that grows.
You may search everywhere, but none can compare with my wild Irish Rose.
My wild Irish Rose, the dearest flower that grows,
And some day for my sake, she may let me take the bloom from my wild Irish Rose.

Enjoy!
Lorinda

 

 

 

Candy Corn Brownies

Hoo-boy! This is over the top–even for me. I hesitated and dithered about adding this to my blog because I didn’t know if anyone would actually want to go to this much work for a candy-coated brownie, but my trusted friend Mary assured me that the description of my struggles would be interesting, at least. We’ll see about that.

You know the drill. First I tell you about all the steps I used, then I let you off the hook with easy alternatives. Yes, yes, I’m going to do that again. But first, I want to mention that maybe it just seemed like this was an insanely big production. It took me a couple of days, but that’s because I had to adjust my brownie recipe so that it would bake as evenly as possible. No big, tall, crunchy sides and sunken center for this baby. And then I decided (no wine was involved, I promise) that it would save time if I coated one side with orange candy melts, thinking I could then just cut and dip in yellow and white. Um. I have issues with spacial concepts – can’t imagine how something will work unless I actually try it.

Nope. Learn from my mistakes, and don’t try to create a shortcut. Resign yourself to a lot of messy dipping!

It didn’t. There were still sides that would need orange coating, and I just used up all of my orange melts. Pffft. Luckily I had an extra bag of white melts, so naturally, I added red food coloring to my bag of yellow melts to make orange, and then colored the extra bag of white melts yellow. Why didn’t I just color the white melts orange? There was a reason, but I can’t remember. I’m old.

I also played with the icing, trying to incorporate melted candy corn. It.Did.Not.Work. That stuff is like taffy. (And as an aside, if you see the recipe that insists you can make homemade Butterfingers with candy corn, don’t believe it for a minute. You will get yummy chewy peanut butter taffy. I know.) So I finally gave up and used buttercream.

Maybe, maybe if I made them again, knowing what I know now, it wouldn’t seem overwhelming. But that ship has sailed, and I’m moving on. Give this a try if you’re bored and want a challenge . . . and if you enjoy washing lots of dishes.

If I were to make them again, I might make them smaller, too. They’d be easier to dip.

And if you decide to:

  • use a boxed brownie mix
  • use canned frosting
  • dip only half of them and eat the rest plain

. . . I will completely understand. And bravo for trying! Please send me photos, okay?

Candy Corn Brownies
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Brownies, decorated to look like candy corn. They're iced and dipped in three colors of candy melts. Add chopped candy corn to the brownie batter if that isn't enough sugar for you! Makes about 27.
Ingredients
  • BROWNIES:
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup cocoa (I combine regular and extra dark for a richer color)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped candy corn (optional)
  • ICING:
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • COATING:
  • You will need approximately 18 ounces orange candy melts, 12 ounces yellow candy melts, and 8 ounces white candy melts. This may vary, depending on your dipping style!
  • Shortening or coconut oil to thin chocolate for dipping.
Instructions
  1. BROWNIES: Heat oven to 325 F. Generously grease and flour (or spray with an oil/flour baking spray) a 13x9-inch baking pan. Hint: you may want to lay a piece of foil or parchment across the bottom, extending up the sides to make it easier to lift brownies out.
  2. In a large pot on low heat, melt butter. Remove from heat and add sugar, stirring well. Allow mixture to cool until lukewarm.
  3. Stir in eggs, one at a time, mixing well.
  4. Combine cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture, along with candy corn (if using). Stir gently, just until blended. Do not over stir! Spread evenly in pan, smoothing the top as much as possible. An offset spatula or dough scraper works well for this.
  5. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
  6. Cool completely in pan on rack. Once cool, remove from pan.
  7. ICING: In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and powdered sugar. Add milk and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  8. ASSEMBLE: Cut off any rough edges. Flip the brownies over and spread icing over the bottom side of the brownies (it's the smoothest) as evenly as possible. With long edge towards you, divide the brownies into three long strips, approximately 3 inches tall. (If you had to cut off much of the edges, they may be a little shorter than that.) Mark the bottom of each strip every two inches, then mark the top of the strip beginning with 1 inch and then every two inches. Cut from the bottom left corner to the 1-inch mark, then from the 1-inch mark down to the 2-inch mark on the bottom, creating a candy corn shape. You can be precise, or you can wing it from there.
  9. Set each candy corn shape on a large baking sheet and place in freezer for at least 2 hours. As you work with the brownies, dipping them in candy melts, keep them frozen, only removing part of them from the freezer at a time.
  10. Place orange candy melts in a small microwave-safe bowls or mug, adding about 1½ teaspoon shortening or coconut oil. Microwave, stirring every 15 seconds. Stop before completely melted; the hot bowl will finish melting the candy. Stir until smooth. As you're working with the candy, heat it for a few seconds if the mixture thickens. Thin candy is much easier to work with. Alternatively, you can keep the bowl of melted candy in a pan of hot water as you work - just be careful not to get any water into the candy.
  11. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment.
  12. Holding onto the wide end of each brownie, dip the pointed end about ⅔ of the way into orange candy. Place on parchment to harden. When all of the brownies have been dipped in orange, return to the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
  13. Heat yellow candy melts, adding 1 teaspoon shortening or coconut oil. Holding pointed end, dip wide end of each brownie into yellow candy, bringing it up to meet the orange candy. Don't leave any brownie showing! Once all have been dipped in yellow, return to the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
  14. Heat white candy melts, using ½ teaspoon shortening or coconut oil. Dip the tip of each brownie in the white. Allow coating to harden. These can be kept at room temperature for 2-3 days, or refrigerated if you prefer. They freeze very well too!

Combine melted butter and sugar well. Allow it to cool a bit.

Stir in eggs, one at a time.

Add dry ingredients

. . . and the candy corn, if you’re using it.

Spread evenly in prepared pan and bake.

A 3×5 index card might help with cutting those triangles.

Ice the smooth bottom side of the brownies, cut into 3 strips and cut out triangles.

Place pieces on parchment covered pan and freeze

Dip frozen brownies in orange candy melts. Pop back in freezer briefly.

Dip the other end into yellow melts until it meets the orange.

Dip the tip in white

See, wasn’t that easy? Hello? Hello?

Wait! I actually have another idea that would be good for Halloween or Thanksgiving, and it’s easier, though it still involves dipping. It even (GASP!) uses store-bought cookies. If these Candy Corn Brownies make your eyes roll back in your head, just stay with me, because the next post might be right up your alley.

Lorinda

 

Bulletproof Coffee Cookies

Anyone who knows me knows that I am passionate about coffee. I roast my own so I can get it just the way I like it. I’ve always preferred my coffee black, but recently have fallen for the charms of Bulletproof Coffee, which is coffee blended with coconut oil (or MCT oil) and grass-fed unsalted butter (or ghee), and an occasional touch of honey.

I’m sure you can see where I’m going here. How could I not create a cookie inspired by this drink?

And, oh man, what a good idea that was. Some of the enthusiasm could be chalked up to the fact that The Man and I have been on a no-sugar-no-flour diet for almost three months, but when we succumbed to temptation and each tried one, we were very, very excited about them. Which led to one more, just to be sure they were as good as we thought.

They were.

These cookies are not too sweet, with a strong (but not overwhelming) coffee flavor. Let’s see: 3 tablespoons of espresso powder equal 9 cups of coffee, and the recipe makes 48 cookies. So if you ate 5 cookies (hey, they’re little!) you’d eat the equivalent of a cup of coffee, more or less. You’ll be getting your coffee buzz in a delightful way. Yee HAW!

Of course, I’d probably dunk mine in a cup of coffee.

Hey, boys and girls. Do you know what time it is? That’s right, it’s COFFEE TIME!

What surprised me about this recipe, besides the fact that it actually exceeded my expectations, is the texture. These little devils are very soft and fluffy inside (almost like cake) but are slightly crispy on the outside. And I threw in some dark chocolate chunks, too, which complements the coffee flavor. Perfection.

They’re also incredibly easy to make. No fussy stuff – just mix ’em and bake ’em. Here’s the recipe:

Bulletproof Coffee Cookies
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Makes 48 small cookies, or go for broke and make 24 large ones!
Ingredients
  • ½ cup refined coconut oil (Refined oil is almost flavorless.)
  • ½ cup grass-fed unsalted butter
  • ½ cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup coarsely ground oats (use a spice/coffee grinder or blender. Don't use steel cut oats!)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375 F. Cover baking sheets with parchment or use Silpat sheets.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the coconut oil, butter, honey, and espresso powder. Beat well.
  3. Add eggs and beat well. The mixture may look a little curdled; that's okay!
  4. Add ground oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat just until combined.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Use a cookie scoop to drop dough 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets - approximately 1 rounded tablespoon of dough for each cookie.
  7. Bake one sheet of cookies at a time for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.
  8. Dough may be covered and kept in the refrigerator for several days.

What you’ll need. No grass-fed unsalted butter? Use regular, and cut the salt to 1/4 teaspoon.

Grind oats (quick or regular) in coffee/spice grinder or blender. Leave some chunks for texture.

Use a cookie scoop if you have one and drop on parchment or Silpat sheets. They shouldn’t spread much. If they do, chill the dough briefly.

Trust me on this: you MUST eat one (or more) warm. Mmmmmm.

If you don’t love coffee, you’ll obviously want to give these a pass. We can still be friends. Cheers!

Lorinda

Chocolate Shortbread Flowers

Oh boy, did I have fun sculpting shortbread for Mother’s Day. I’m getting this in just under the wire, but chances are you have everything you need to make these rich Chocolate Shortbread Flowers. I learned what works (and what definitely doesn’t) when it comes to designing cookie flowers, and have chosen my two favorite options for this post: roses and two-layer posies.

Roses                                         Posies

I used half butter and half shortening to give the blooms a little more stability. I know, I know . . . I don’t like shortening either. But sometimes you just have to make an exception. As long as you roll the dough out between pieces of parchment, you can re-roll to your heart’s content. (I used my handy tortilla press again, and it worked very well!)

Leave the flowers plain or decorate the heck out of them. The cookies don’t have much sugar, so you can dip the baked edges or bottoms in chocolate without being afraid of getting them too sweet. I’ll give you a few options for decorating, and then you’re on your own.

Whatever you do, make sure you have a glass of milk or cup of coffee with your cookies; they’re really rich!

Chocolate Shortbread Flowers
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Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons coffee or milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • Chocolate chips (large preferred) for 2-layer cookies
  • Dark chocolate and sparkling sugar for decorating, if desired.
  • You will need a small heart cutter for roses (though you can make them with circles, too) or two flower cutters - one large, one smaller - for the 2-layer flowers.
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter, shortening, and powdered sugar together until creamy.
  2. Add egg yolk and coffee (or milk) and mix well.
  3. Add flour, cocoa powder, salt, and cornstarch. Beat well. Be patient - it may take a few minutes before the mixture comes together.
  4. Divide into two parts and chill for 1 hour.
  5. Heat oven to 350 F.
  6. Working with half of the dough at a time, roll out thin, about ⅛-inch. It's best to roll between lightly floured sheets of parchment. (Or use my trick and put small balls of dough between parchment and use a tortilla press.)
  7. TO MAKE ROSES: Cut 6-7 small hearts. Press both rounded sides between thumb and forefinger to thin them out a little. Roll one heart, beginning at a rounded corner and rolling towards the other, making the center. It will create a "stem". Don't worry about this, you'll be cutting it off when you're done. Add one heart at a time, wrapping around the center. Stagger the petals as you go, and gently roll them outwards. If the dough cracks, just pinch it like you would clay. Add as many hearts as you want. Cut out two leaves and press them against the sides of the rose. Using scissors, cut the stem part off so the rose will sit flat. Place on ungreased baking sheet.
  8. Bake 10-12 minutes. They should be firm, but don't let them get dark. Cool on a rack. Dip the bottom of the flowers in chocolate if you wish, and place on parchment until firm.
  9. TO MAKE TWO-LAYER FLOWERS: For each flower, cut out one large and one small flower. Use a wooden skewer, toothpick, or the back of a knife to gently score the petals. This will make them easier to shape. (Dip the edges of both in sparkling sugar now if you wish.) Lightly position the small flower on the large one. Place a large chocolate chip point side down in the center of the small flower and press firmly. This will make the top flower raise and cup slightly. Slide a thin spatula under flower and lay it over the cavity of a mini muffin pan. Don't press down - it will shape itself as it cooks. Once muffin pan is full, bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes on a rack before lifting the flowers out carefully.
  10. Leave plain, or dip the bottom in chocolate. You can add filling to the center - chocolate ganache, icing, or a mini peanut butter cup.

We’ll start with the posies:

Gently press lines into each petal.

Press a large chocolate chip firmly on the top flower. It’ll magically raise up and take shape.

With a thin spatula, set flower carefully over the cavity of a mini muffin pan. Don’t press – it’ll settle in as it bakes.

Once cooled, I like to dip the bottom in melted chocolate and then set it on parchment until firm. (The fridge makes this go much faster.) You can leave it as is or fill the center with ganache or icing. You can also dip the edges in sparkling sugar before assembling the flower.

Now for the roses:

Cut out 6 or 7 small hearts. Press along the rounded tops to thin the edges. Roll first heart into a rose center.

Add a second heart. (Don’t worry about a long “stem” developing. You’re going to cut that off later.) Gently roll top edges of petals away from center.

Add petals until the rose is as big as you want. You can also cut a heart in half if you just need ONE more.

Use a leaf cutter or just cut leaves freehand. Press them into the sides of the flower.

Now – cut off all that extra “stem” at the bottom so the rose will sit nicely.

and . . . bake!

I covered the bottom of my roses with melted dark chocolate, finding it was easier to paint the chocolate on with a brush than to dip the cookies. I love the texture contrast – that snap of chocolate before your teeth hit cookie. Mmmm.

For fun, I put some of the melted chocolate into a small pastry bag and accented the petals on some of the flowers, outlining each one. It was surprisingly quick and easy, and fancy-dancy.

Well, there you have it. Not nearly as complicated as you expected, right? What are you waiting for? Go, go, go!

Lorinda

Deviled Cookies

If you’ve been following my blog, you might remember the Deviled Cakes I made a few years ago. They’re still one of my very favorite creations, but unfortunately the egg shaped baking pan is impossible to find now. So I decided to try the same idea with easy shortbread cookie dough.

Finding plastic eggs that open horizontally wasn’t that easy either, but they’re out there!

It wasn’t quite as I envisioned. I had hoped the shortbread dough would be strong enough to hold its shape in the oven with a hole in the middle for jam or ganache.

It wasn’t.

However, I filled that hole with a solid chocolate egg and baked it flat-side down, and—voilà! The chocolate egg supported the cookie dough and added a fun surprise center. Sweet!

A little white chocolate was spread smoothly on the cookie and topped with yolk-colored buttercream and red sugar sprinkles.

I’m getting this post in just under the wire, with two days until Easter. It was sort of an impromptu decision, which translates into: “I didn’t feel like cleaning house today”. This was much more important, right? If you don’t have time to make them this Easter, they’d be cute for a spring tea or luncheon, too.

Deviled Cookies
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Author:
Makes 24
Ingredients
  • COOKIES:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter, increase to ½ teaspoon)
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 24 small solid chocolate eggs
  • BUTTERCREAM ICING:
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 3½ cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • food coloring
  • *****
  • You will also need:
  • Plastic eggs that open horizontally
  • White chocolate candy melts - about 1 cup
  • Red sugar
Instructions
  1. COOKIES:
  2. In a large bowl, combine butter and powdered sugar. Beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Add egg yolk and milk, and blend well. (If using a stand mixer, you may want to switch to the dough hook at this point.)
  4. Add the flour, salt, and cornstarch and mix until it turns into a smooth, stiff dough. At first it will seem very crumbly, but it should come together. If it doesn't, add a little milk, a few drops at a time.
  5. Chill dough for 1 hour.
  6. Heat oven to 350 F. Cover baking sheet with silpat or parchment.
  7. Lightly grease or spray the inside of one egg half and dip in flour. (The grease will help the flour stick.)
  8. Press chilled dough firmly into egg, level with the top.
  9. Press one unwrapped chocolate egg into widest half of the egg as deep as possible. Using your hand or a knife, level the dough in the egg. It's okay if a little chocolate is showing.
  10. Squeeze the sides and ends gently to release the egg flat side down onto prepared baking sheet. Repeat, placing eggs at least 1 inch apart.
  11. Bake 14-15 minutes, or until the flat side is beginning to turn light golden brown. Allow to cool on the baking sheet on a rack. (If you need to use the pan for the remaining eggs, slide silpat or parchment onto the rack.)
  12. Once eggs are cool, melt white chocolate in the microwave at 15 second increments, stirring often, or in a small pan on lowest heat. Use a knife or offset spatula to spread melted chocolate smoothly on each egg. Run your finger around the top edge for a clean look.
  13. Make buttercream: Beat soft butter until creamy. Slowly add powdered sugar (and a little of the cream if it's too thick to mix), beating well. Add vanilla and remaining cream and beat well until fluffy. Add food coloring. I used mostly yellow, with just a tiny amount of green and orange to achieve an egg yolk color.
  14. Pipe buttercream onto each cookie and sprinkle with red sugar.

Solid chocolate egg ready to be pressed firmly into the dough.

Lay flat to bake. (I used a Silpat, but parchment works too.)

Baked. I flipped them over so you can see their underbellies.

Spread melted white chocolate on the flat side.

Sigh. I didn’t get a photo of piping the buttercream. You’ve got this, right?


Happy Easter, everyone.

Lorinda

Easter Bunny Drops

If you see chocolate covered raisins and grated carrot peeking out of the cookies on my brunch table, you’ll know the Easter Bunny has left a little surprise on his way through the kitchen!

He can’t help it; bunnies are like that. I had a litter-box trained rabbit once, but he still left a few droppings on the way to and from the box. More than you wanted to know, right?

These cookies are very light and cake-like, not crunchy. I like mine just bursting with goodies, so I add a handful of toasted pecans to the dough too for a little extra flavor and crunch. You could also add a small can of crushed pineapple with the juice thoroughly pressed out.

You don’t really have to glaze them, but they’re so appealing with that thin coat of icing that I couldn’t resist.

These are about as easy as cookies get. Make lots and lots; they’ll go quickly!

Easter Bunny Drops
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Author:
Makes 48 cookies (a few more if you add the optional ingredients).
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • ½ cup oil (I use peanut, but any light colored oil will work)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup grated carrot (not too finely grated - you want to see the color!)
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 8 ounces (about 1¼ cups) chocolate covered raisins
  • OPTIONAL: ¼ cup chopped nuts, 1 small can crushed pineapple (all liquid pressed out)
  • GLAZE: 1 cup powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons water, whisked together well.
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F. Cover baking sheets with silpat or parchment.
  2. In large bowl, beat sugar and oil together well.
  3. Add eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk and beat for 2 minutes on medium-high speed.
  4. Mix in grated carrot, (pineapple, if you're using it) flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon just until incorporated.
  5. Stir in chocolate covered raisins (and nuts, if desired).
  6. Using a small cookie scoop or level tablespoon, drop onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown.
  7. Cool on a rack and brush with a very thin layer of sugar glaze.

Sticky, gooey dough!

Scoop onto silpat or parchment. Don’t flatten!

Bake for 12 minute until bottoms are a rich golden brown.

Tell the kids that the Easter Bunny is magic, and his droppings are good to eat. They’ll buy that. I did!

Lorinda

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Shortbread

The combination of chocolate and peanut butter is irresistible to me, and I just love getting both flavors in one cookie. There are endless ways to put these two doughs together, and I’ll show you a few, but I’m sure you will come up with some fun ideas of your own.

Yes, you’ll have to make two different batches of cookie dough, but it really is a very easy dough to make, and it won’t take you long at all. If you’re wondering how many this will make, I just don’t know what to tell you. It depends on whether you’re making the three layer cookies or the chain cookies or . . .
Let’s just say it makes a generous amount, at least 4 dozen.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Shortbread
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Author:
Two easy batches of shortbread cookie dough can be combined in countless ways to make creative and delicious cookies.
Ingredients
  • PEANUT BUTTER DOUGH:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon milk or water
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • CHOCOLATE COOKIE DOUGH:
  • 1½ cups butter, softened
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon water or coffee
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • To decorate: your choice of chopped peanuts, sprinkles, chocolate icing or ganache
Instructions
  1. PEANUT BUTTER DOUGH:
  2. In a large mixing bowl (a sturdy stand mixer is best) beat butter, peanut butter, egg yolk, vanilla, and milk (or water) together well.
  3. Add the powdered sugar and cornstarch and beat on low until incorporated.
  4. Gradually add the flour. This is a very stiff dough! It will appear crumbly, but with thorough beating, should come together. If it doesn't, drizzle in a small amount of milk or water.
  5. Wrap and refrigerate dough. Scrape bowl out and use for the chocolate dough.
  6. CHOCOLATE COOKIE DOUGH
  7. In large bowl, beat butter, egg yolk, vanilla, and water (or coffee) together well.
  8. Add the powdered sugar and cornstarch and beat on low until incorporated.
  9. Combine the flour and cocoa and gradually add, mixing until dough forms. If necessary, drizzle in a very small amount of water or coffee.
  10. Wrap and refrigerate both doughs for 30 minutes. If you refrigerate the dough longer, it will become very stiff. If that happens, let it rest at room temperature until manageable.
  11. Heat oven to 350 F.
  12. Working with a small piece of one color at a time, roll ¼ inch thick on lightly floured surface or between sheets of parchment. Bake on ungreased baking sheet or on parchment for approximately 10 minutes, depending on the size and shape of your cookies. They should just be beginning brown on the bottom. Here are some ideas:
  13. Try using two different sizes of the same shape of cutter. If using hearts, cut large hearts out of both doughs, then use a smaller heart cutter in the center of half of the large hearts. Gently press a shape with the center removed onto a solid shape. Once baked, fill the center with chocolate ganache or peanut butter icing. You can also marble the colors, roll, and cut. Or try putting a small heart on a large one, topping with a dab of peanut butter, and covering with another large heart, creating a small raised heart in the center. Cover cooled cookie with icing or ganache. Or cut small hearts out of the center of large hearts to create heart "frames". cut one on the side, and slip the other through the cut. Press lighlty for a 2 heart "chain".

Some of the ideas I tried:

Triple layer cookies. (Okay, if you count the peanut butter I guess they’re quadruple layered.)

A layer of peanut butter dough, a small chocolate heart, a dollop of peanut butter, and top with another layer of peanut butter dough. Or reverse the colors.

See? This one was chocolate, a small peanut butter center, peanut butter, and chocolate.

Drizzle or cover with ganache or chocolate icing, and sprinkle with chopped peanuts

Or, these are fun!

A solid bottom with a cutout top. Once cool, fill with ganache or add a candy center

You can also link two cutout hearts together:

Or . . . the easiest idea of all is to simply combine the two doughs to create a marbled effect:

So many ways to play with this dough, and I’ll bet if you have littles in the kitchen, they will get very creative!

This is it for Valentine’s Day recipes for the year, and you know what that means, right? Everything green is coming your way soon.

Lorinda

Peppermint Patty Cookies

peppermint-patty-cookies-the-rowdy-bakerIf you love peppermint patties, you will swoon over these holiday confections! With a crunchy cookie bottom, a thick layer of soft, creamy peppermint candy, and a firm, snappy coating of chocolate, the combination of textures is every bit as appealing as the flavors. Family and friends will take one bite and beg you to make more; I’ll bet they’ll be the first treats to disappear from your cookie platter.

There’s really nothing hard about making them, but they are a bit of a project. If you have young ones around, I know they’d love to help cut out the shapes and put the cookies and filling layers together. And you don’t have to do it all at once; bake the cookies one day and leave the filling and dipping for another time. The cookies freeze well, so you could get that part out of the way weeks before, if you’re the efficient type.

Frankly, though I love anything and everything dipped in chocolate, I hate doing the dipping. If there were anyone else here I could stick with that job, I’d do it. I don’t usually fuss about getting messy. Up to my elbows in dough? Great! Splattered wtih icing? Sweeeeet! Food coloring under my nails? No problem. But chocolate on my hands? Eeeeuw. Wash wash wash wash.

asparagus-choc

Okay, I lied; I don’t love EVERYTHING dipped in chocolate. This was a bad idea. Bad!

Still, totally worth it!

Of course I can’t just make something the way I imagined it; I have to play with variations. So…after the recipe and instructions, I’ll show you a few different ideas I tried.

If the chocolate cookie recipe looks familiar, that’s because it’s my go-to recipe when I want crunch. The cookie itself isn’t too sweet, which is perfect, because the patty filling certainly is! It’s basically what everyone’s aunt uses to make wedding mints, right? Put them together and dip the two layers in chocolate, and it just works perfectly together.

I originally considered topping the mint layer with a firm ganache before dipping, but my daughter talked me down from that craziness. She was right—these don’t need more chocolate. (Did I just say that?)

Peppermint Patty Cookies
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Author:
Makes about 3 dozen 2½-inch stars.
Ingredients
  • COOKIES:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus a little more, if necessary)
  • ⅔ cups unsweetened cocoa
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ***
  • PEPPERMINT PATTY
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • ½ teaspoon clear vanilla (optional)
  • 8½ -9 cups powdered sugar
  • ***
  • COATING:
  • 18 ounces dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon shortening
  • Milk or white chocolate, or colored icing for decorating. Or just use sprinkles!
Instructions
  1. COOKIES:
  2. Heat oven to 350 F.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar.
  4. Add the vanilla, milk, and egg, and beat well.
  5. Add the dry ingredients (slow down there, Tiger...the cocoa will fly everywhere! Beat it on low until it's incorporated) and mix together well. It should be very soft, but if it's too sticky to handle, add up to 3 tablespoons extra flour.
  6. For best results, roll out between two pieces of lightly floured parchment until it's about ¼" thick.
  7. Cut with a star shaped cookie cutter (mine was 2¾" wide) and place ½"-1" apart on ungreased bafking sheet. Bake for 12-13 minutes. The cookies should be fairly firm. If they're still soft, give them another minute or two. They'll harden a bit as they cool.
  8. Allow the cookies to sit on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. FILLING:
  10. Beat together the cream cheese and butter. Add peppermint extract and vanilla, if using, and mix well.
  11. Slowly add the powdered sugar, using a sturdy stand mixer and dough hook, if possible. If mixing by hand, stir in as much powdered sugar as possible, then place any remaining sugar on work surface and put the dough on top of it. Knead by hand until smooth. Add additional powdered sugar if dough is too sticky to roll.
  12. Work with half of the dough at a time, keeping the reamaining half tightly wrapped in plastic. Roll out ¼-inch thick between sheets of parchment that have been dusted with powdered sugar.
  13. Cut with the same star cookie cutter you used for the cookies. Place one piece of peppermint dough on each cookie. Using a mini-roller or your hands, make sure the dough goes all the way to the edge of the cookie. Press gently around the edge to make it rounded and smooth all the way around.
  14. Chill for at least one hour.
  15. Melt chocolate and shortening in the microwave at 15 second intervals, stirring each time, or in a small pan on lowest heat, stirring frequently.
  16. Turn each cookie over and dip the peppermint side into the melted chocolate, making sure the chocolate completely covers the peppermint. You don't need to coat the bottom of the cookie.. Allow excess to drip off, and place (cookie side down) on waxed paper or parchment. Chill until chocolate is firm. (If you are using sprinkles, add them before the chocolate hardens)
  17. Or, once chocolate is firm, drizzle with a contrasting color, using milk or white chocolate or a colored icing.
  18. Store tightly sealed in the refrigerator.

cut-cookie-dough-into-star-shapes

Cut into star shapes. (My cookie cutter was 2 3/4-inches across.

 

Peppermint dough should be firm and easy to handle. If it isn't, knead in a little more powdered sugar.

Peppermint dough should be firm and easy to handle. If it isn’t, knead in a little more powdered sugar.

Press the dough onto cooled cookie, rounding the edges down to meet the cookie. You can use your hand...

Press the dough onto cooled cookie, rounding the edges down to meet the cookie. You can use your hand…

 

...but a mini roller really makes the job go quickly. You'll still have to press around the edges, but the top is so smooth!

…but a mini roller really makes the job go quickly. You’ll still have to press around the edges, but the top is so smooth!

 

smooth-the-edges-bringing-them-down-to-meet-the-cookie

I brought the peppermint down over the cookie. It will be covered with chocolate, so keeping the shape smooth is more important than how it looks.

You can use chocolate chips, but good dark chocolate is better!

You can use chocolate chips, but good dark chocolate is better!

Dip the chilled cookies in dark chocolate. (Eeeeuw.)

Dip the chilled cookies in dark chocolate. (Eeeeuw.)

Chill the cookies and then drizzle them with a contrasting color. White chocolate would be nice, too.

Chill the cookies and then drizzle them with a contrasting color. White chocolate would be nice, too.

The stars turned out so well, you’d think I would just leave well enough alone, huh? Pffft.

Here are some fun options:

  • I made little mini stars…one bite (okay, or two, if you’re dainty) poppers, but I added crushed peppermint puffs to the peppermint dough.
  • Wreaths look lovely too. Round cookie cutters – one large, one small, create a very nice wreath shape. I like to use the mint mixture with the crushed candy to give them a little texture.
  • After adding the peppermint layer to the larger stars, Add a few drops of water to a small amount of peppermint dough and use it to pipe designs on the cookies. Chill and dip.
  • I love using gold highlights on dark chocolate. You can order a small container online. Just mix the powder with a tiny bit of vodka and paint away!

 

Making wreaths.

Making wreaths.

Adding crushed candy cane or peppermint puffs give a little crunch.

Adding crushed candy cane or peppermint puffs give a little crunch.

Some fun decorating ideas.

Some fun decorating ideas.

The small stars highlighted with gold would make an elegant addition to each place setting at your holiday table, and would provide a refreshing finish to the meal.

Or hide them in an empty broccoli bag in your freezer and help yourself whenever you need a boost. ‘Tis the season to be sneaky!

Lorinda