Lazy Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Z1Here’s the quick story behind this recipe: Half-Pint wanted zucchini bread (actually, the request was “Can you turn this zucchini into something chocolate?”), but it’s nice outside. Autumn is a’comin’, and I want to be outside savoring the end of summer! This recipe Continue reading

Alice in Wonderland Snacks

Alice 1“One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter.”

“One side of what? The other side of what?” said Alice.

“Of the mushroom,” said the Caterpillar and then it crawled out of sight.

Continue reading

Chocolate Dipped Valentine Cookies

heart-cookies

Nothing says “I love you” or “I value your friendship” like something homemade and delicious! Why not whip up a batch of these luscious cookies and brighten someone’s day?!

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened Continue reading

No-Bake Chocolate Coconut Cookies

win_20161202_165101My mother makes these delightful bites of holiday goodness every December… they are a Christmastime comfort food here at Crowded Earth Kitchen. There is no flour in these cookies, making them perfect for friends who eat mostly paleo but are still game for an occasional cheat. No-bake cookies are also perfect for those inevitable occasions when school-age children announce “Tomorrow’s the day I have to bring treats for ____. Sorry I forgot to tell you!”

Ingredients (Makes 3 dozen)

1   6 oz. pkg. of semi sweet chocolate chips

l/3 cup butter

16 large marshmallows Continue reading

Chocolate Cheesecake Roll

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If chocolate chip cheesecake and homemade sweet rolls fell in love and had a baby, the result might be this Chocolate Cheesecake Roll. One taste and you’ll understand… you need this in your life. Equally perfect for breakfast or dessert, Chocolate Cheesecake Roll can be enjoyed while still warm from the oven OR can be frozen to be frosted and enjoyed later. On second thought, when the aromas of fresh bread and chocolate waft through your kitchen, I doubt the finished product will ever see the inside of a freezer.  😉

WIN_20160208_152324Ingredients (Makes 2 loaves, serves 16)

For the bread:

1 cup milk

1 cup sugar

1 cup butter Continue reading

Springtime Chocolate Truffles

WIN_20160313_171730At Crowded Earth Kitchen, we love chocolate truffles. They’re ridiculously easy to make, beautiful when dipped in chocolate coating, and make lovely hostess gifts. This recipe for Springtime Chocolate Truffles is so easy – what are you waiting for?

Ingredients (Makes about 36 truffles)

4 ounces bittersweet baking chocolate

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips Continue reading

Chocolate Easter Egg Cookies

Chocolate Easter Egg Cookies

WIN_20160321_213809Springtime is perfect for festively decorated cookies, and what could be more festive than cookies decorated to resemble brightly colored Easter eggs? Today’s recipe begins with a rich, delicious sugar cookie and ends with a deceptively simple decorating technique. You won’t need buttercream frosting today, folks… we’re using something even more amazing!

WIN_20160321_152817Ingredients (Makes 24 large cookies)

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 egg Continue reading

Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

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Here’s a new spin on an old favorite, a truffle that tastes like a peanut butter cup! While some truffle recipes are a bit fussy, these Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles are super easy. You can use either creamy or chunky peanut butter, depending upon the texture you prefer. You could even substitute the peanut butter for something a little fancier, like almond butter or crème de marron. Be creative and have fun!

WIN_20160214_123938Ingredients (Makes about 36 truffles)

4 ounces semi sweet baking chocolate

1/2 cup peanut butter Continue reading

Chocolate Kiss Date Cake

WIN_20160109_090746This recipe is a variation on the chocolate date chip cake that my Great Grandmother Helen used to make. It’s a chocolate cake so delicious, it doesn’t need frosting… seriously. The dates simply “disappear” in the cake, adding sweetness and preventing the cake from drying out, but otherwise are a secret ingredient. The Hershey’s Kisses sink down into the center of the cake, providing surprise bites of chocolate in each slice. I recommend Chocolate Kiss Date Cake as a fun variation on classic chocolate cake for dessert, and also as a decadent coffee cake for Sunday brunch. Enjoy!

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Ingredients (Makes a 10 inch round cake)

1 cup chopped dates

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup boiling water

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/3 cup flour

3 tablespoons cocoa

1/4 teaspoon salt

16 Hershey’s Kisses

WIN_20160108_205429Directions

Step 1) In a small bowl, combine dates and baking soda. Pour boiling water over the top and allow to sit until cool. The dates will mostly dissolve – this is normal.

Step 2) In a separate bowl, cream together butter and 1 cup of sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla; mix well.

Step 3) Combine flour, cocoa, and salt. Add dry ingredients and date mixture, alternating a little at a time, to the butter mixture. Stir until well combined.

Step 4) Grease a 10 inch round Springform pan (a cheesecake pan), or a 9 inch square baking pan. Dust the greased pan lightly with flour. Transfer batter to the greased and floured pan.

10 inch Springform Pan

WIN_20160108_210238Step 5) Arrange the Hershey’s Kisses evenly on the top of the cake. Don’t press down; just set them lightly on top. [As the cake bakes, the Hershey’s Kisses will sink into the middle of the cake.] Sprinkle the top of the cake with 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Step 6) Bake your Chocolate Kiss Date Cake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 55 – 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Step 7) Sprinkle the baked cake with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving.

Homemade Hot Fudge

WIN_20160114_191200Homemade Hot Fudge takes only about 10 minutes to prepare and is extravagantly delicious. To enjoy this treat, don’t be afraid to think beyond classic hot fudge sundaes. Homemade Hot Fudge is also a fun dipping sauce for fresh strawberries, frozen banana chunks, biscotti, and vanilla wafers. Be creative and enjoy!

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WIN_20160114_184934Ingredients (Makes about 3 cups)

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup real butter (not margarine)

2/3 cup chocolate chips

12 ounce can of evaporated milk

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After one minute

Directions

Step 1) Melt butter in a medium skillet. Add remaining ingredients and whisk well to combine.

Step 2) Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and stir constantly for 8 minutes.

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After eight minutes

Step 3) Allow to cool before serving. Hot fudge is delicious when slightly warm, but should not be literally “hot.”

Store leftover hot fudge in a glass jar (such as a pint size mason jar) in the refrigerator. Warm in a microwave for a few seconds and stir carefully before serving.

Chocolate Orange Cremes

WIN_20160219_201527Candy making doesn’t need to be complicated. Today’s recipe is super easy! You don’t need any special equipment – no candy thermometers, tempering surfaces, molds, tubes, brushes… none of that. If you have a pot and a mini muffin tin, you have all of the equipment you need to get started.

WIN_20160219_164032If you want – but this is entirely optional – you could use an inexpensive plastic candy mold instead of (or in addition to) a mini muffin tin. The molds shown here were purchased for about $2 each at a local craft store. I purchased them simply to test them alongside a mini muffin tin, and I can confirm – the mini muffin tin works just as well. If anything, the muffin tin is a bit easier to work with, because the larger size is easier to coat evenly with chocolate.

I spent about an hour making the plate of Chocolate Orange Cremes shown above. They are delicious – it was time well spent!

WIN_20160219_164101Ingredients (Makes about 30 candies)

1/2 pound of bulk chocolate coating (milk or dark, such as Ambrosia brand) -AND/OR- Wilton brand Candy Melts (any color)

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

WIN_20160214_162404Directions

Step 1) Melt chocolate. You can microwave chocolate coating to melt, just make sure to stop the microwave every 30 seconds to stir. I melted my milk chocolate coating in a double boiler, and melted a small quantity of orange-colored Wilton Candy Melts (to drizzle over candies) in the microwave. It really doesn’t matter how you melt your chocolate, just stir frequently and don’t burn it.

WIN_20160219_171757Step 2) Fill mini muffin tins or candy molds about 1/3 full with melted chocolate, and use a small spoon (a baby spoon works well) to push the chocolate up the sides of the tin/mold to coat the surfaces. Don’t worry, this is easy.

Step 3) Place coated tins/molds in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes.

Step 4) While tins are cooling, beat together cream cheese and orange juice concentrate with an electric mixer. Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat until smooth.

WIN_20160219_181605Step 5) Remove tins from the refrigerator. Use a small spoon to fill each chocolate lined tin about 3/4 full with orange creme filling. Important – do not spread the orange creme filling right up to the top of the mold, especially along the edges! Just fill the molds 3/4 full. Return the tin/mold to the refrigerator for another 5 – 10 minutes.

Step 6) Remove tins from the refrigerator and spoon melted chocolate evenly over the top of the filling. It’s important to form a “chocolate seal” between the top and the side edges.

Step 7) Return filled molds to the refrigerator until chocolate is firm and looks a bit cloudy. To remove cooled Chocolate Orange Cremes from their molds/tins, simply turn the molds upside down and wiggle the candies a bit. They’ll pop right out!

WIN_20160219_195738Step 8) If desired, melt a small quantity (about 1/4 cup) of candy melts in an accent color (I used orange). Pour melted chocolate into a small zip-lock bag and cut a very small corner off of the bag. Use this homemade pastry bag to decorate your Chocolate Orange Cremes!

Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

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What’s even better than sneaking chocolate chip cookie dough from the mixing bowl?

How about safe-to-eat cookie dough dipped in chocolate?

Try this recipe. Happy Monday!  🙂

WIN_20160214_125852Ingredients (Makes 36 truffles)

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 tablespoons white sugar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

WIN_20160214_1309241/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1 tablespoon milk (if needed)

1 pound milk chocolate bark

WIN_20160214_162404Directions

Step 1) Cream together butter and sugars.

Step 2) Stir in vanilla extract, salt, flour, and chocolate chips. Dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a ball. If dough is too dry and crumbly, sprinkle up to one tablespoon of milk over the dough and stir until a large ball forms.

WIN_20160214_175302Step 3) Roll pieces of dough into small balls, using approximately 1 teaspoon of dough per piece.

Step 4) Cover little dough balls and chill for at least one hour.

Step 5) Melt chocolate bark over low heat in a double boiler, stirring frequently.

Step 6) Use either a fork or a toothpick to dip each dough ball in chocolate. Set dipped truffles on a baking sheet lined with foil.

Step 7) Chill dipped truffles for one hour, either in a refrigerator or outside, depending upon your climate and the time of year.

Step 8) Store Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

 

 

Frozen Chocolate Banana Tart

WIN_20160105_180446This dessert falls into my favorite category… the “looks complicated, but is really easy to make” category. In just a few minutes time, you can prepare a decadent tart that looks elegant enough to serve at the end of a fancy dinner. Frozen Chocolate Banana Tart is quite rich, and will serve a few more people than a similarly sized fruit pie. A modest wedge of this tart, perhaps garnished with fresh whipped cream and served with coffee, will make a perfect finish for an evening with company. If you prefer to enjoy this Frozen Chocolate Banana Tart in your PJs on a Tuesday night, I won’t judge!

Ingredients (Serves 12)

1 roll-out pie crust (or made from scratch if you prefer)

1/2 pound dark chocolate

1/3 cup half-and-half

2 tablespoons rum cream

2 ripe bananas (the yellow peels should have dark spots!)

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WIN_20160105_142824Directions

Step 1) Roll out your pie crust and use it to line a tart pan. Trim crust even with the rim of the tart pan, and poke a few holes in the pie crust with a fork (this helps to prevent air bubbles). Bake the pie crust according to the package directions, until the pie crust is light golden brown. I baked my pie crust in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Allow your baked pie crust to cool completely.

Step 2) Combine chocolate, half-and-half, and rum cream in a saucepan. Melt together over LOW heat, stirring constantly. This will only take a few minutes… be patient, and keep the heat LOW! Burned chocolate is gross.

Step 3) When chocolate is completely melted, remove saucepan from heat. Allow to cool until close to room temperature. Mixture will thicken a little, but shouldn’t solidify.

WIN_20160105_145524Step 4) Spread a very thin layer of cooled chocolate on the bottom of the baked tart shell. Use just enough chocolate to coat the crust.

Step 5) Slice bananas into 1/4 inch slices. Cover the chocolate on the bottom of the baked tart shell evenly with 1-2 layers of banana slices.

Step 6) Carefully pour the chocolate mixture over the banana slices. Spread chocolate so that the banana slices are completely covered; the back of a large spoon works well for this.

Step 7) Freeze the chocolate banana tart for at least two hours or overnight. Slice and serve!

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Delicious!