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Monday, March 17, 2014

Easy Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

There's nothing better than knowing exactly what you're eating. This hot fudge sauce has only 6 ingredients - all which you can pronounce. Not to knock on Hershey because I've always been a fan of Hershey products and I'm sure the ingredients are all the same for most brands, but have you read the label of a bottle of Hershey chocolate syrup? First and foremost is High Frutcose Corn syrup and then more corn syrup, water and ends with stuff I can't even pronounce. Wowza. So, I want to share this with you because everyone needs a syrup recipe they can trust. And, it just tastes so much better too! It's nice because it's a quick, easy dessert if you have nothing else planned and it jazzes up plain vanilla ice cream. It's good either hot or cold.

This recipe is the recipe I grew up on. My mom used to make it for us all the time when my brothers and I were in high school back in the 80's. We'd have sundae bars, being able to make these big fancy sundaes. Oddly, my favorite toppings were whipped cream, the fudge syrup and wheat germ. Ice cream has always been an important staple in our family, we rarely were every caught without it in the freezer. And now, I can say my own freezer is the same way. All my kids (& hubby) LOVE ice cream. I can't make this sauce without being taken back to the 80's and remembering making sundaes. Sigh.... thanks mom for the fond memories! XOXO

HOT FUDGE SAUCE (printable version)

2 cups sugar
4 tbsp corn starch
6 tbsp cocoa
2 cups milk
5 tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla

In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and cocoa. Add milk and butter. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Let cool down slightly before eating. Makes approx 2+ cups of sauce. Enjoy!

The sauce fills 2 half pint Ball jars. Keep one for yourself and pass one on to a friend. They'll love you forever!

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Awesome Chocolate Mint Cupcakes



Along with most everyone else, chocolate mint is a combo you just never can get enough of. If you are looking for something to fulfill your chocolate mint craving, these babies will certainly do it! I can't deny, I've been known to eat 2 in a sitting. For breakfast. Even though St. Patty's day is just around the corner and these would make the perfect treat, we enjoy them anytime!

They have the perfect chocolate cupcake base, then just the right amount of mint and cream cheese layer, topped with the perfect chocolate buttercream frosting. I mean come on.... how. can. you. go. wrong?


I've shared the perfect chocolate cupcake base recipe (from Hershey) previously, but because I like to share, I will share it again. Then, the cream cheese frosting is adapted from Buddy Valastro's (aka The Cake Boss)  The No-Fail Cream Cheese Frosting he shared on the Rachel Ray show. He uses 2 blocks of cream cheese, which quite frankly I didn't care for. It was waaaay too cream cheese tasting. The chocolate buttercream is my basic go to buttercream frosting recipe. So, I will put everything in one place so you can whip up a batch of these beauties! Trust me, whether they are for a St. Patty's day treat or just because... whoever you make them for will be lucky!!

I got 27 cupcakes out of this recipe and I had leftover mint and chocolate buttercream frosting. I normally don't have leftover buttercream, but I didn't pile it on as high as I normally do if it were the only frosting. It's up to you. You can either half the mint cream cheese recipe or throw the leftovers in the frig and make another batch of cupcakes later. I wouldn't say I had enough of the buttercream left to go halves, so I just put both leftovers in the frig to use again later. I would half the buttercream recipe next time and combine the leftovers. 

Another thing to mention is this cupcake batter is VERY runny. I find it easier to put it in a condiment bottle (I cut the tip a little bigger) and squeeze into the cupcake liners. That way I'm not dribbling all over my pans but if that's all you can do, then do it. But I promise you, you'll be making these cupcakes a lot, so investing in a cheap plastic condiment bottle is a huge help. I still dribbled all over using a ladle!


Ok, on to the good stuff!

Awesome Chocolate Mint Cupcakes (printable version)

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable/canola/olive oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water (last batch I used 1 cup of fresh brewed, hot Highlander Grogg coffee)

Heat oven to 350F. Insert cupcake liners into 2 cupcake pans. 

Stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder & soda and salt in your mixer bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Lower speed to low and gradually pour in boiling water. Be careful, it may splatter. I sometimes like to stir it in slightly with a spatula before turning my mixer back on. Fill prepared cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 15-17 minutes. Move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Mint Cream Cheese Frosting
2 sticks softened butter
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp pure mint extract
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Green food coloring

Using a mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add cream cheese and both extracts and beat until fully mixed. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating on low until well combined. Also gradually add food color until your shade is achieved. Beat on high until smooth and well combined.

Using a wide frosting spatula, plop a good sized frosting blob on the cupcake. Pat down from the top with the spatula until it smoothes out to the edges. Set aside to be topped with chocolate buttercream.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
2 sticks butter, softened
3+ cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp milk or heavy cream

Beat butter for a few minutes until creamy. Add cocoa powder and gradually add 3 cups of powdered sugar. Add vanilla and milk or cream, 1 tbsp at a time until desired consistency. Add additional powdered sugar if necessary. 

Using a frosting bag and large round (2A) tip, pipe frosting on top of mint frosting. If you don't have a frosting bag and tip, just put frosting inside a ziploc bag, cut one corner off at an angle and pipe from the bag. 

Enjoy!


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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Copycat Fannie May Mint Meltaways


February 19th was National Chocolate Mint day and for the occasion, I made my copycat Fannie May Mint Meltaways. Our whole household loves the original ones, but the copycats are just as easy to make (& much less expensive!) and every one thinks they are spot on. So, why not, right? I took some to my parents, took some to my BFF's when I went for Wine Wednesday and sent some to work with my hubby. I've had a few requests as to how I made them, so I will tell you, but I don't have any as-I-go-along pictures.

Hershey makes a mint chocolate morsel, but I was at a local grocery store and saw Nestle Winter Limited Edition Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels on clearance for $1.56 per 10 oz bag. I grabbed 4 bags. Now I'm wishing I would've grabbed them ALL. I know, greedy me. I also picked up a 2 pound bag of Ghirardelli White Melting Wafers at Sam's Club last week for under $4. Yeah.

These 2 are my main players in this recipe. (If you don't have mint chocolate chips, you can always use regular and add mint extract.)


The main candy part is almost like a basic fudge recipe, the sweetened condensed milk, the chocolate chips, some butter and vanilla, melted until all mixed and creamy. Pour it into a non-stick tinfoil lined pan (I use an 11"x7" pan) and throw in the frig until it's cooled. When it is cool, lift the fudge up by the tinfoil, and cut into 1" rows, and then into 1" pieces. I cut up about 2 rows at at time, put the pieces on a plate and put them in the freezer while I get the melting chocolate ready. I put the chocolate back in the frig when I'm not working with it. Then after I do one batch, I get it back out again, cut 2 rows, put it in the freezer for about 10 mins, then coat them.

I fill a small saucepan about 1/4 full of water, and put a glass bowl on top to use as a double broiler. Put in my candy wafers and I add Wilton Gel paste coloring - all I had on had was a Moss Green, but it worked. Add the paste to the wafers as they melt, stirring in. Don't use liquid food coloring!

Lay out a piece of waxed paper on the counter and grab a fork. Get your chocolate squares and plop one in the candy melt, covering thoroughly and remove with the fork, shaking some excess off. Lay it on the waxed paper, either flick it off or use a toothpick to scoot it off. Try to have it spend as less time as possible in the candy melt, or the chocolate will melt. Then just wait for them to harden, which doesn't take long.

And there you have your very own Mint Meltaways! Now comes the problem of trying not to pop all of them in your mouth!


You can either leave them on a plate or fancy them up a bit by using mini treat wrappers. They look pretty either way!


Copycat Fannie May Mint Meltaways (printable version)

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
3 cups mint chocolate chips (18 oz of chips)  OR 2 cups semi sweet & 1 cup milk chocolate & mint extract
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups (give or take) Ghirardelli White Melting Wafers

Line a 9x9 (or similar) pan with non-stick tinfoil, making sure there is enough to go over the edge. In a sauce pan, heat the milk, chips, butter and vanilla over medium heat. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is nice and smooth. Pour into your prepared pan and chill until firm.

When it is cool, lift the fudge up by the tinfoil, and cut into 1" rows, and then into 1" pieces. Cut up about 2 rows at a time, put the pieces on a plate and put them in the freezer while you get the melting chocolate ready. Put the chocolate back in the frig when not working with it. After coating one batch, get it back out again, cut 2 rows, put it in the freezer for about 10 mins, then coat. Repeat until all chocolate is coated.

To coat the chocolate:
Fill a small saucepan about 1/4 full of water, and put a glass bowl on top to use as a double broiler. Put in candy wafers and melt. Add your green gel paste coloring to the wafers as they melt, stirring in. Don't use liquid food coloring!

Lay out a piece of waxed paper on the counter and grab a fork. Get your chocolate squares and plop one in the candy melt, covering thoroughly and remove with the fork, shaking some excess off. Lay it on the waxed paper, either flick it off or use a toothpick to scoot it off. Try to have it spend as less time as possible in the candy melt, or the chocolate will melt. Let candies harden.

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