Chocolate Caramel Acorns

There is no baking required to make these elegant fall treats. Thin pieces of caramel are wrapped around chocolate truffles, creating acorns that are beautiful to look at and delicious to eat. Yes, yes, you heard me. No baking, no mixing . . . just a little rolling.

Whether you put an acorn at each place setting, use them to adorn a cake, or place one on each slice of pumpkin pie, you will create fall magic for friends and family. These would also make a memorable gift for a teacher, and kids would love to help to create them.

As you can see, they’ve featured prominently on some recent projects: my Maple Crown Cake and some fancy-schmantzy fall brownies.

The acorns in this post are made with purchased truffles, caramels, and a package of caramel apple wraps (found in the produce department of most large grocery stores). I used wraps because of the beautiful color, but if you can’t find them, there is a good substitution; with a little more—okay, a lot more—rolling, Tootsie Rolls will work.

Caramel wraps are conveniently rolled out for you. That’s a plus! But they are a little softer than square caramels, so they are slightly harder to work with and won’t hold a design well, making them a poor option for the acorn caps. They do make a beautiful, shiny acorn, however. That’s why I used both wraps and caramels in this version.

Chocolate Caramel Acorns
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Makes 12
Ingredients
  • 3 sheets caramel apple wraps (1 package contains 5 sheets)
  • 12 round 1-inch chocolate truffles (or you can use large malted milk balls if you prefer)
  • 6 square caramels
  • 1 teaspoon butter (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place one caramel wrap on a piece of parchment. Using a 2½-inch round cutter, cut 3 circles. Move them to a large piece of parchment, being careful not to let them overlap. Set scraps aside. Repeat with the other two caramel wraps.
  2. Form a ball with the scraps and place between two pieces of parchment. Roll out to the same thickness as the wraps and cut out 3 more circles to equal 12 circles total. Gently stretch each piece out a little.
  3. From the scraps, form small balls of caramel – smaller than a pea. Place one in the center of each circle. This will help create a pointy bottom tip for your acorn.
  4. Unwrap truffles and center one on top of the small piece of caramel. Bring the sides up, smoothing as you go. If the caramel gets sticky, butter your fingers very lightly. Cut off excess caramel at the top, close to the truffle. Pinch the tip at the bottom a little to make it pointed.
  5. Unwrap square caramels. Roll out, one at a time, between pieces of parchment – approximately 1½ inches by 2½ inches. Cut two circles out of each piece with a 1-inch round cutter. (The cap from a milk carton works well.)
  6. With a metal spatula or the back of a knife, press lines into the caramel vertically and horizontally, creating a crisscross design. Use a toothpick to make a small hole in the center of each circle. Stick a small piece of the dark caramel wrap into the hole to make a short stem. It doesn’t have to go all the way through the hole. This is the acorn’s cap.
  7. Place one cap on the top of each acorn, pressing gently.
  8. Caramel wrap is softer than the square caramels, and the acorns will get sticky. To prevent them from sticking together, use a very small amount of butter on your fingers and rub the acorns lightly. Serve individually in pretty mini-muffin cups or arrange them a little bit apart on a plate.
  9. Store lightly covered at room temperature.

 

Cut circles from caramel wraps.

 

Make the acorns.

Make caps. Place one on each acorn and press gently.

That’s about as easy as it gets, folks. Start unwrapping those caramels!

Lorinda

Maple Marshmallow Treats

Okay, I’m not offering a stunning show of baking skills here; what I’m posting is pure comfort food, with a maple twist. I’ve always loved Krispie treats, as long as they aren’t so dry they tear your mouth up. My version has always included more butter and more marshmallows for a soft, chewy experience.

These are even better, because . . . duh . . . maple!

I cooked a very simple caramel-type syrup, using pure maple syrup, then stirred in marshmallows and MORE maple flavoring. Actually, in the pictured batch on this post, I was so intent on getting a photo of the maple flavoring being poured into the mixture that I jerked my hand and probably poured another tablespoon into the pan. It was wonderful, but you don’t have to use that much!

Whoops. I may have gotten a little carried away.

To do this right you will need pure maple syrup. Inexpensive breakfast syrup might not set up as well. You know those maple candies I blather on about every year? The ones shaped like leaves that melt in your mouth? Those are just pure maple syrup, cooked until it turns into sugar. You can’t make that happen with fake syrup, no matter how good it tastes. It’s just a different product entirely.

You’ll also want to buy maple extract or flavoring. I usually use Mapleine, but have been known to experiment with other brands. And, here’s news!!! (Can you tell I’m so, so, so excited about this?) Nestle has just come out with maple morsels. I haven’t seen them yet (we live in the boondocks) but my friend in Florida just bought some, and I’m so jealous. I will buy them by the case as soon as I find them. Anyhow, my point here is, if you want to skip the flavoring and just stir in a bag of maple morsels, I’ll bet that would be fabulous.

I cut most of the treats into traditional squares but couldn’t resist forming some into little balls, then rolling them in chopped toasted pecans. Yum.

Ready? This is easy. If you have a candy thermometer, cook the mixture until it’s about 260 F. It not, just boil for 6 minutes. This isn’t as touchy as fudge or peanut brittle – just get the temperature in the ballpark and you’re good.

Maple Marshmallow Krispie Treats
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Ingredients
  • 3 quarts (12 cups) crispy rice cereal
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup (If you can find Grade B, use it for more flavor)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons maple flavoring (I use Mapleine)
  • A 10-ounce bag of mini-marshmallows
  • Chopped, toasted pecans (optional, if making pecan covered balls)
Instructions
  1. Line a 12 x 17 baking sheet with parchment. Butter lightly.
  2. Lightly grease a very large bowl (I use a stock pot). Put the cereal in this and set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan (3-quart size is best) over medium heat, cook and stir sugar, butter, syrup, and salt until it comes to a boil. Continue to cook and stir for approximately 6 minutes (it will get slightly thick) or until 250-260 on a candy thermometer.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the maple flavoring and marshmallows. Pour over the cereal and stir well.
  5. Press into the prepared baking sheet and allow it to cool and set up. If you want to roll some into balls, simply spoon a little out at a time and roll, using buttered hands. Roll in pecans if desired.
  6. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

Bring the sugar, butter, syrup, and salt to a boil.

Boil and stir 6 minutes, or until it reaches 250-260 degrees.

Add marshmallows and maple flavoring

Stir the hot marshmallow mixture into the rice cereal

Press into prepared pan. Let them set a bit before cutting.

Or form balls and roll in chopped pecans!

Chewy, squishy, buttery. Yes, these are good. Very good.

Next up is a maple recipe that isn’t sweet! Wait for it . . .

Lorinda

Caramel Candy Corn

I’m working my way through some caramel recipe ideas that have been keeping me awake at night, and it hasn’t been a hardship for me at all; I love caramel! I don’t think I’ve ever met a bowl of caramel corn that I didn’t like, and this is no exception. Of course, I also love candy corn. If you’re not a fan (and I know there are some of you out there) you can substitute something else that screams “Fall” to you. Maybe Reeses Pieces? M&Ms? Black licorice? (Haha, got you there. Black licorice would be gross. I think. Hmm.)

I like lots of nuts in my caramel corn, so I used a generous amount of peanuts. Any nuts would be good, though. They have a tendency to stay at the bottom of the pan, so do try to encourage them to mingle with the popcorn. Of course, if you remember what Cracker Jack was like, the peanuts (all two of them) were always at the bottom of the box. Rebels!

A drizzle of melted white, yellow, and orange candy melts added to the festive autumn theme. Go lightly with melted white chocolate; it can overwhelm the flavor of the caramel, and you wouldn’t want to do that!

I use little pastry bags and melt the white chocolate in a glass of hot water. No mess!

The recipe calls for 4 quarts of popcorn, which may sound like a lot, but believe me—it really isn’t. This stuff has a tendency to disappear before your very eyes, and it stores well in an airtight container. I used mushroom popcorn because I wanted the big, round, fluffy kernels.

Speaking of recipes, do you see how short this one is? That’s because this is EASY. And oh, so satisfying. Do it! Seriously, just do it!

Caramel Candy Corn
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Ingredients
  • 4 quarts popped corn
  • 1 cup peanuts (or any nut you like)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup candy corn
  • 10 each: white, yellow, and orange candy melts (optional)
Instructions
  1. Grease a really large pot or bowl. (I use coconut oil.) Put popcorn and nuts in the pot and stir to combine. Set aside.
  2. Lightly grease a 12x18x2" cake pan - or two 9x12" pans. Set aside.
  3. Heat oven to 225 F.
  4. In a large saucepan combine brown sugar, butter, honey, water, and salt over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Drop heat to medium-low. Adjust as necessary to keep mixture gently boiling for 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat.
  5. Stir in the vanilla and baking soda and pour over the popcorn and nuts. Stir well.
  6. Scoop into the prepared baking pan(s) and place in the oven. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and stir in the candy corn. Dump out onto a piece of parchment or foil and allow caramel corn to cool completely.
  8. Melt each color of candy melt separately - either in small dishes in the microwave or by putting candy in small pastry bags or zip-type bags in a glass of hot water. (Don't let water touch the candy or it will seize up.) Drizzle over caramel corn. Let the drizzle harden before storing or serving.

Putting together the ingredients for the caramel.

Boil for 5 minutes without stirring

The baking soda will foam up. Just give it a few good stirs and pour it over the popcorn and nuts.

Stir hot caramel into popcorn

Spread into greased pan and bake.

I got this in just under the wire because tomorrow is October and I’m moving on . . . to maple. No pumpkin spice here, folks. We’re going for Maple Madness!

Lorinda

 

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

Cherry Nut Fudge

This easy fudge is full of sweet dark cherries and walnuts . . . and a little bit of Baileys Chocolate Cherry Liqueur. You don’t have to add the liqueur, of course (a dash of cherry flavoring is a good substitute) but it sure adds a festive touch for Valentine’s Day.

I used silicone heart molds to create perfect little fudge hearts. You could also pour the fudge into a large heart-shaped pan, or into a regular sheet pan and cut hearts out with cookie cutters. (I’m sure you can think of something to do with the leftover scraps.) This makes a lot of little hearts, so unless you have several silicone pans, have a small pan lined with parchment to put excess fudge into.

When I say the fudge is easy, I mean it’s not a complicated recipe. It does require your undivided attention at the stove for ten minutes or so, though. You can do that, right? For simplicity, leave the fudge plain. If you want to play with your food, you can “ice” it with a thin layer of melted chocolate and decorate with sprinkles, or roses made of royal icing or candy clay.

The heart on the left below is unadorned. The heart on the right was flipped over and the smooth side was coated with chocolate and gussied up with a few candy roses.

You’ll need a candy thermometer for this recipe. I started out with the recipe on the jar of marshmallow fluff, but because I added frozen sweet cherries to the mixture, it took a lot longer to reach the proper temperature – about ten minutes instead of the four minutes in the instructions on the jar. Not something you should guess at!

Speaking of temperatures, did you know that altitude really matters when making candy? My home is at an altitude of 2,500 feet, so I deduct five degrees from the target temperature. Subtract one degree for every 500 feet in elevation.

This recipe calls for 12 ounces of chopped chocolate. I use good dark chocolate and include 1 ounce of unsweetened chocolate because I want my fudge to be really rich. I tend to have little chunks of different brands of chocolate in the cupboard, so I just throw them all together on my kitchen scale until I have 12 ounces. Mix and match! (And yes, to make it even simpler, you can use dark chocolate chips.)

Cherry Nut Fudge (with a little something extra)
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Ingredients
  • 1 cup (packed firmly) frozen dark sweet cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups sugar
  • ⅔ cup evaporated milk
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 7-ounce jar marshmallow creme (or fluff)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup Baileys Chocolate Cherry Liqueur (or substitute 2 teaspoons vanilla and ½ teaspoon cherry flavoring)
  • Optional for decorating: Melted chocolate, sprinkles, nuts, candy, royal icing flowers
  • Candy thermometer and silicone molds (or 9x13-inch cake pan)
Instructions
  1. If using a 9x13-inch pan or heart-shaped cake pans instead of silicone molds, butter lightly and place parchment in the bottom of the pan. Silicone molds do not need to be greased.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine cherries, sugar, evaporated milk, and butter. Stir frequently until mixture comes to a boil, then stir constantly until it reaches 234 F. on a candy thermometer. (Adjust for high altitude if necessary, lowering temperature by 1 degree for each 500 feet.)
  3. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate and marshmallow creme.
  4. Add walnuts and liqueur (or flavorings) and stir until well mixed.
  5. Spoon or scoop into ungreased silicone molds (tap lightly to level the fudge) or spread into prepared pans.
  6. Allow mixture to cool completely, then cover and place in cool location. Refrigerate for firmer fudge (and easier cutting.)
  7. Decorate fudge by spreading with a small amount of melted chocolate and adding desired candy, nuts, or icing flowers.

 

Chop up the chocolate! (Yes, you can use dark chocolate chips if you prefer.)

Prepare and set aside everything that you will add at the end. Trust me, you don’t want to be trying to stir and chop at the same time!

Combine cherries, sugar, milk, and butter in large pan

Almost done! Love that purple color.

Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate and marshmallow.

Add nuts and Baileys (or vanilla and cherry flavorings if you’re substituting) and stir well

Fill silicone molds or prepared pans and chill until firm.

I use a knife to put a thin layer of chocolate on the smooth side of each heart because I love the little “snap” when I bite into one. Or two. It would be fun to write names or little conversation heart sayings on each one, too. So many possibilities!

More sweet treats coming soon,

Lorinda

 

Cherry Marshmallows – Dipped in Chocolate!

Chocolate Cherry Marshmallow HeartsI adore chocolate covered marshmallows. Plain, flavored, dark chocolate, milk chocolate – I love them all. Well…except for the cheap kind (not even individually wrapped) you get in an egg carton at Easter. Those suck. Patooey!

Anyhow, since I’m working my way through a gallon jug of maraschino cherries, it only makes sense that they found their way into gooey chocolate covered marshmallows. Making marshmallows is really very easy, and they taste so much better than the ones from the store.

Dipping things in chocolate isn’t my favorite thing to do; for some reason I don’t have any problem getting flour and powdered sugar everywhere, and can dig my hands into a big pile of dough, but I really don’t like getting chocolate on my hands.

I pull up my big girl panties and do it, though – because the results are always, always good.

These marshmallows are mild tasting, with little bursts of cherry flavor. I think it complements milk chocolate coating very well.  If you want a more distinct cherry taste, or are using a strong dark chocolate for dipping, just add a little cherry flavoring in place of some of the vanilla. You can also add a dash of coloring if you choose.Chocolate Cherry Marshmallow Hearts up close

Cherry Marshmallows - Dipped in Chocolate
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This recipe will make about 15 large chocolate hearts.
Ingredients
  • 24 maraschino cherries (more or less, to taste)
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 3 packages of powdered gelatin (like Knox)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ⅔ cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (or ½ teaspoons vanilla, ½ teaspoon cherry flavoring)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon shortening or coconut oil
  • 12 ounces chocolate, chopped - or you can use good-quality chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Finely chop the maraschino cherries. Roll in paper towels, pressing firmly to remove as much juice as possible. Set aside.
  2. Line a 9x13" (quarter sheet) pan with plastic. I find it's easiest to do this if I oil the pan lightly first to hold the plastic in place. Lightly oil the plastic.
  3. Put ½ cup cold water in a large mixing bowl (a sturdy stand mixer works best) and sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes to soften the gelatin. You don't need to stir it..
  4. In a medium pan on medium heat, bring sugar, ¼ cup water, and corn syrup to a boil, stirring constantly. Once the mixture boils, stop stirring and let it boil for 2 minutes.
  5. Pour hot syrup slowly over gelatin mixture, mixing on low speed until well combined.
  6. Add salt and beat on high until very thick. It doesn't have to hold a stiff peak, but when a beater or spoon is lifted, it should hold shape and not immediately return into the bowl. This could take anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes, depending on your mixer.
  7. Add vanilla, flavoring if you're using it, and chopped cherries.
  8. Spread evenly in pan. Allow the marshmallow to set for at least 3 hours. The top should not feel sticky!
  9. in a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch.
  10. Lift the plastic wrap and marshmallow out of the pan and set on a level surface. Cut with a lightly greased cookie cutter, dredging each heart in the powdered sugar, cornstarch mix. Flip the marshmallow from hand to hand to dust off excess sugar.
  11. Melt shortening or coconut oil and chocolate together slowly, using a pan on lowest heat or a microwave at 50% power in 30 second increments. Stir often! Chocolate should be smooth and barely warm. If it is too thick, add a little more oil. Stir, stir, stir!
  12. Cover a baking sheet with parchment.
  13. Dip each marshmallow in the chocolate, covering completely. The marshmallows are pretty sturdy - they won't melt. A large serving fork works well for this. Tap against the edge of the bowl or pan to remove excess chocolate. Use a knife or spatula to slide heart onto parchment.
  14. Chill in refrigerator until chocolate is firm. Decorate if desired, using drizzled chocolate, sprinkles, or edible glitter. Or write names on the hearts with royal icing.

 

Squeeze out all the juice from the chopped cherries.

Squeeze out all the juice from the chopped cherries.

Sprinkle gelatin over old water.

Sprinkle gelatin over old water.

Boil sugar, water, and corn syrup.

Boil sugar, water, and corn syrup.

Slowly add hot syrup to gelatin mixture.

Slowly add hot syrup to gelatin mixture.

Beat until VERY thick. It looks like it's falling off the beater, but it's just hanging there.

Beat until VERY thick. It looks like it’s falling off the beater, but it’s just hanging there.

Add flavor and cherries and spread into prepared pan.

Add flavor and cherries and spread into prepared pan.

When firm, cut out shapes using greased cutter.

When firm, cut out shapes using greased cutter.

Dredge hearts in powdered sugar and cornstarch.

Dredge hearts in powdered sugar and cornstarch.

Dip!

Dip!

Chocolate Cherry Marshmallow Hearts dipped

 

We’ve still got some cold weather here, and I’m thinking I’ll try one of these plopped into a big mug of hot cocoa tonight.

Enjoy!

Lorinda

Easter Recipe Collection

For several years I created recipes for my Food for Thought column in Yummy Northwest, and loved every minute of it. The website is in the middle of a transformation, so all of my past columns are archived for now, but you can still read them at any time. This Easter I’m posting photos of my Yummy Northwest favorites, with links to the recipes.

Easter hot cross buns watermark YNW
Easter Kulich Watermark YNW
Hot Cross Buns and Kulich were two recipes I created for an old-time Easter theme. This link will take you to both recipes:Old Time Easter Treats
easter egg clip art cropped


Easter bunnies watermark YNW



Easter Birds watermark YNW

easter lambs Watermark YNW

Easter sugar eggs watermark YNWLittle bread bunnies, birds, and lambs are fun to make, and kid-approved. Using the link below, you’ll find instructions for making bread critters and sugar eggs. Let your creativity loose on this project! I have a Rowdy blog about them, but there’s good info in this column too.
Bread Animals and Sugar Eggs

Who says you shouldn’t play with your food? Use your imagination and enjoy!

Lorinda

Drunken Leprechaun Balls



leprechaun balls vertical with boozeYes, you read that correctly; I’m posting a recipe for Leprechaun Balls. There are so many jokes that will be left unsaid…probably.

These green confections are quite (ahem) firm – a cross between fudge and cookies. To make them you will need to bake a batch of green shortbread cookies, but trust me…the cookie recipe is very easy, and the balls are a slam dunk! What more could you ask for this St. Patrick’s Day?

My shortbread recipe makes a little more than you’ll need, so you should end up with 6-8 extra cookies to munch on. I tried rolling the dough out on a cookie sheet and baking it in one piece, which worked pretty well, but it’s harder to get the center of the dough cooked completely that way. So…I recommend you make cookies, even if they’re just squares of dough. You’ll be crushing most of them, so the shape doesn’t matter.

Drunken Leprechaun Balls
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Green shortbread is baked and crushed, then blended with Irish Cream Liqueur and Whiskey for a tasty adult treat. Makes about 36.
Ingredients
  • SHORTBREAD:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • green food coloring
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon milk (if needed)
  • BALLS:
  • 3 cups crushed green shortbread (recipe above)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • ¼ cup Baileys (or other Irish Cream Liqueur)
  • 2 tablespoons Jameson (or other whiskey)
  • powdered sugar and green sugar for rolling cookies in
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl (use a stand mixer if possible; this is very stiff dough) beat the butter until soft and creamy.
  3. Add powdered sugar and mix well.
  4. Add egg yolk and enough food coloring to create a deep green color, beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl often.
  5. Add dry ingredients. (If using a stand mixer, you may want to switch to your dough hook.) The mixture will be very dry and stiff but should come together into a dough. If it isn't cooperating, add milk a little at a time until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and you can form it into a ball.
  6. Roll dough out to about ¼-inch thick and cut into cookie shapes. (You can also form into small balls and press with a cookie stamp if you prefer. ) Place close together on baking sheets and bake for approximately 10-12 minutes. If you see a tiny bit of brown along the bottom edges, they are done. Don't overbake them, because green cookies turn an unpleasant color if they brown.
  7. Cool cookies on a rack and crush in a bowl until you have 3 cups. Eat the rest!
  8. BALLS:
  9. Combine the crushed cookies, nuts, and powdered sugar in a medium bowl.
  10. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.
  11. Roll scant tablespoons of dough into balls and roll them in a dish of powdered sugar and colored sugar.
  12. Refrigerate until firm. These can be served chilled, which will give them the texture of fudge, or at room temperature, which will make them a little softer.
  13. I'm sure you know this, but just for the record: DO NOT SERVE TO MINORS.

Combine dry ingredients, then stir in wet ingredients.

Combine dry ingredients, then stir in wet ingredients.

Roll the balls gently in your palms, then dust with sugar.

Roll the balls gently in your palms, then dust with sugar.

leprechaun balls vertical
By all means, improvise. Use walnuts instead of pecans, switch the booze around and use 1/4 cup of whiskey and 2 tablespoons of Irish cream (you may have to add a little more crushed cookie in this case), or roll them in coconut or sprinkles. Pop Rocks? Hmmmm.

Enjoy! And…hello? Keep ’em out of the reach of kiddies, of course.
Lorinda

For each petal on the shamrock this brings a wish your way. Good health, good luck, and happiness for today and every day. (Irish Blessing)

 

 

 

 

 

Macadamia Nut Eyeballs

candy round upThere’s always something fun cooking with this crazy group of bloggers I hang out with. This month we’re challenging ourselves with Halloween candy. That could be taken two different directions – a recipe made with Halloween candy OR homemade Halloween candy. I opted for making my own, because…well…what’s creepier than eating eyeballs?

eyeballs on leaf watermark
These are so simple. A softened caramel is wrapped around a macadamia nut (you could use hazelnuts if you prefer) and then dipped in dark chocolate and white chocolate. A touch of red food coloring for blood vessels, and they’re ready to pile in a bowl for brave souls to grab.

Here’s what you’ll need:
ingredients

This recipe gives you more than enough chocolate for dipping, because the chocolate needs to be deep enough for smooth results. If it thickens as you work, simply microwave it for 10 seconds and stir.

Macadamia Nut Eyeballs
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Author:
12 chewy, crunchy, melty eyeballs...perfect to eat as-is or to decorate cupcakes or cookies.
Ingredients
  • 12 macadamia nuts
  • 12 caramels
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate (chips are okay)
  • 12 ounces white chocolate
  • 12 dark brown mini M&Ms, or chocolate chips
  • red food coloring for adding blood vessels to finished eyeballs
Instructions
  1. Place 4 unwrapped caramels at a time on a small plate and microwave for 10 seconds to soften.
  2. Wrap one softened caramel at a time around a macadamia nut and roll in your hands to smooth into a round ball. Repeat until all nuts are covered.
  3. In a small bowl or a coffee mug (make sure the container is completely dry), melt the dark chocolate. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir thoroughly. Repeat at 15 second intervals until chocolate is thoroughly melted. You may thin the chocolate by adding 1 teaspoon of shortening if desired.
  4. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
  5. Using a fork or a special chocolate dipping tool, dip each ball in the chocolate. Tap well on the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate and slide the ball onto the waxed paper. A toothpick can be useful to help slide the ball from the fork.
  6. Add a dark brown mini M&M or chocolate chip (pointy side down) to the top of each ball for a "pupil". For a really creepy look, use a red mini M&M.
  7. When all of the balls have been coated, move the baking sheet to the refrigerator for 20 minutes, or until the chocolate is firm.
  8. Melt the white chocolate in a clean, dry bowl or mug using the same method for melting the dark chocolate. Stir until just barely warm; if it is too warm it will melt the dark chocolate when dipping.
  9. Using a fork or chocolate dipper, dip each ball quickly in the white chocolate, almost to the top. This will leave a dark "iris" and the M&M "pupil" showing. Tap well and carefully slide the eyeball onto the baking sheet. Refrigerate until completely firm.
  10. With a toothpick dipped in red food coloring, make thin lines on the white part of the eyeball, creating blood vessels. Allow the food coloring to dry before serving.
  11. Enjoy!

 

 

Dip it in dark chocolate.

Dip it in dark chocolate.

Slide onto waxed paper.

Slide onto waxed paper.

Dipping in white chocolate, using my toothpick method.

Dipping in white chocolate, using my toothpick method. (See “Note” below.)

A variation on the theme. ..red pupils!

A variation on the theme. ..red pupils!



eyeballs watermark

NOTE: I have issues with dipping, lacking the coordination to do it without a great deal of sighing and swearing. So…instead of putting the M&M on the chocolate when it’s warm, I used a toothpick stuck where the “pupil” would eventually go to help guide the ball in and out of the white chocolate, a two-handed method. Then, once the completed eyeball was firm, I used a small paring knife to carve out a spot for the M&M. So…in case you don’t have the dipping knack either, that’s an alternate method. Just sayin’.

The alternate method, adding the pupil after the eyeball is firm.

My alternate method, adding the pupil after the eyeball is firm.

These little guys are awfully good. Certainly much better than they look! As long as you’re going to the trouble of making them, I’d make as many as you have the patience for. Trust me – they disappear quickly!

Here are the other fun Halloween candy recipes this group has created.

Tampa Cake Girl’s Snickers Overload Cheesecake.

Hun, What’s For Dinner’s No-Bake Peanut Butter Cheesecake Pops.

Moore or Less Cooking Blog’s Chocolate Covered Caramel Popcorn Balls.

Cooking From a Stay at Home Mom’s Spider Crunch Bites.

Happy Halloween!
Lorinda

Star Spangled Cookies

Each month a group of crazy food bloggers gets together to make theme-related recipes. This month we’re running with a rousing patriotic Red White and Blue theme! After you’ve read this post, click on the links at the bottom of the page to see what the other gals have come up with. There are still a few to come, so check back every morning for the latest creation.

Can you hear the John Philip Sousa march playing in the background? Smell the burgers on the barbecue? See the kids lined up at the fireworks stand? Independence Day is right around the corner, and do I have a fun recipe for you! Kids will love to help with this one. Presenting…Star Spangled Cookies!



Star Spangled cookies I used cinnamon Jolly Ranchers for the red cookies. You’ll find lots of hard red candies to choose from, and may prefer cherry or strawberry flavors. Your biggest challenge will be finding hard blue candy. I used Dum Dum suckers from the dollar store, but found that there was blue and then there was blue.

My first batch turned green when they baked. Apparently blueberry flavored suckers held their color, and blue raspberry didn’t. I recommend that you test one or two cookies first, just to be sure they’ll turn out a nice, patriotic blue. Red white and green just doesn’t have the same impact. Unless you’re Italian.

I have two more options for you. I tried baking the cookies until they were almost done and then pulled them from the oven and VERY carefully dropped the crushed candy in the centers, returning them to the oven just until the candy was melted. That worked quite well. The candy didn’t cook as long, so it didn’t get that amber tone to it. (Yellow + blue = green, as I found out.)

The other option is to make your own hard candy. It’s really very easy to do. Here’s a simple hard candy recipe from Lorann Oils. I would recommend making the candy, letting it harden, and crushing it. Pouring hot candy into the small star centers would be very tricky. If you have better hand-eye coordination than I do, you might be able to pull it off. I’d make a mess of that!

Whoops…did I say two options? I have one more, though it’s a little artsy-fartsy. I think it’s pretty, and you could mix colors this way too. Bake your cookies and as soon as they’re done, add the crushed candy. The heat from the cookie and the baking sheet will partially melt the candy. It won’t be smooth and flat, but as long as the candy is touching the sides of the cookie in a few spots, it will stay put. Kind of interesting, huh?

This is fun, too!

This is fun, too!

I used a strong freezer bag and a hammer to crush my candy. It worked like a charm and got some of that aggression out! Star Spangled Cookies horizThe cookie itself is a sturdy shortbread. If you have a favorite sugar cookie recipe that doesn’t spread too much, that would work well too. You’ll need two star cookies, one large and one smaller. Here’s my recipe and easy instructions.

Star Spangled Cookies
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Author:
Festive, summery shortbread cookies with a stained-glass candy window in the center. Makes about 36 cookies, depending on the size of your cutters.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • ⅔ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla (clear vanilla, if you have it)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ cup crushed blue hard candy
  • ½ cup crushed red hard candy
  • For decorating: ½ cup white chocolate chips, sprinkles, nonpareils.
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl (a stand mixer is best) beat the butter and powdered sugar together until creamy.
  2. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well.
  3. Add the flour and cornstarch. Mixture will be stiff - switch to a dough hook or stir by hand if necessary. Cover and chill for one hour.
  4. Heat oven to 350 F.
  5. Roll dough out to ¼-inch thickness on lightly floured surface. Using a large star cookie cutter, cut out stars and place them on parchment-lined cookie sheets.
  6. With small cookie cutter, cut a star out of the middle of each.
  7. Carefully put enough crushed candy in the center of each cookie to cover the parchment, but don't overfill or it will bubble up the sides. Use a toothpick to distribute the candy evenly. Make sure there are no little bits of crushed candy on the cookie dough. (Use the toothpick to flick them down where they belong!)
  8. Bake for about 10 minutes. Place baking sheets on cooling racks and let the cookies cool completely.
  9. Drizzle the cookie with white chocolate or royal icing if desired, and sprinkle with sugar decorations.

 

Here's what you'll need (plus fun decorations)

Here’s what you’ll need (plus fun decorations)

Distribute the crushed candy.

Distribute the crushed candy.

Just think of how pretty these will look in a basket on your picnic table this Fourth of July. They’ll be a hit with young and old alike. Now strike up that band and march over to these blogs to find some other great recipes!

Lorinda

Devilish Buffalo Eggs From Tampa Cake Girl.
(deconstructed) Berry Pies From An Affair from the Heart.
Double Decker Patriotic Pizookie From Cooking From a Stay at Home Mom.
Berry Pound Cake From Moore or Less Cooking Blog.
Red, White (chocolate) and Blue Trifles From Aunt Bee’s Recipes.
Red White and Blue Berry Poke Cake From Crumbs in My Mustachio.