Chocolate Covered Pretzel Rods

Sweet & Salty is as good a combination as you can get and there’s no better way to get satisfy that craving for both than with chocolate covered pretzels. If you’re looking for a last minute treat to give your loved ones this Holiday season these may be the answer. You only need three ingredients to make them, pretzels, chocolate and a topping (if you choose). Now, when I’ve made chocolate covered pretzels in the past I’ve used the mini pretzel twists and while they taste good I always have an issue with getting the excess chocolate to drip off… It never does. I never end up with pretzels that are nice and evenly coated with chocolate, there is always one or two spots that has a little too much. As I mentioned, they taste good, but, I am just not 100% happy with how they look. This year, I decided I would make chocolate dipped pretzels rods rolled in sprinkles. Figuring that the sprinkles could easily cover any imperfections with the chocolate. Which it did!

Now, I know a lot of directions for chocolate covered pretzels call for a bit of shortening to be added to the chocolate when melting, I have never done this. From what I have read the shortening creates a smoother and more manageable consistency of chocolate – which I suppose would be ideal for the chocolate covered pretzel twists – but, I have also read that it can alter the flavor of the chocolate and that sometimes the chocolate doesn’t harden as well, so I stick with plain old chocolate. If I find that the chocolate is beginning to thicken too much while I am working with it I pop it back in the microwave for a quick 10 seconds just to get it smooth again. Not much longer because I don’t want to scorch the chocolate. Oh, and I melt my chocolate in the microwave as well. I have melted chocolate in my own make-shift double boiler – I place a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water – but, I find the microwave quicker and with less clean-up. I simply pour a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl (I normally use a silicone one) and heat it for 1 minute. I give it a good stir and continue melting the chocolate in 30 second intervals, stirring the chocolate between each zap in the microwave. I don’t melt the chocolate completely in the microwave. Once it begins to melt stirring it will help melt the rest of the chocolate into a smooth mixture. For dipping pretzel rods you want to use a small bowl that is pretty deep so you can get a lot of the pretzel rods coated in the chocolate. As you go along and find yourself with less and less chocolate but pretzel rods remaining you can use a spoon/knife to spread the chocolate on to the rod.

Once the chocolate is ready I pour my sprinkles onto a rimmed baking sheet and push them to the center of the pan. Using a baking sheet will make it easy to roll the pretzel rods in the sprinkles. I set up another baking sheet with wax paper to place the rods on once they are dipped and sprinkled. And then I simply dipped a rod into the chocolate and then rolled it in the sprinkles. I then placed it on the wax lined paper so it could set and once I was done I placed the entire pan in the refrigerator to be sure that the chocolate would harden.

Here are some tips that may help you get a good coating of chocolate on your pretzels… If you have too much chocolate and it’s just not dripping off use a butter knife to smooth it out, or, another pretzel rod. I did the latter a few times. I simply rolled the pretzels next to each other over the bowl to coat the one without the chocolate. For those rods that I wasn’t planning on rolling in sprinkles I actually rolled it on a sheet of wax paper to smooth the chocolate out and then placed them in the refrigerator so the chocolate could harden and then drizzled them with the red and green chocolate the following day. To do so, I melted candy melts and then poured it in squeeze bottles and drizzled the chocolate over the pretzels and once again placed the sheet back in the refrigerator so the drizzle could harden.

My apologies for not having step-by-step pictures, but, I made these late at night (a lot later than I had planned since my car decided to act up that day and I had to be towed from work to the mechanic and then have a friend bring me home… thankfully my car was fixed and back on the road the following day!) and I have learned that late-night pictures are not good for blogging!

So, to recap, all you need for these Chocolate Covered Pretzels is a bag of pretzel rods (I used a 12oz bag that had about 30 good (unbroken) pretzel rods), a 12oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, and to decorate sprinkles, candy melts, chopped nuts or coconut. You will also need wax paper, at least 3 baking sheets and a bowl to melt and dip the chocolate.

Happy Dipping & Rolling!

Pumpkin Cannoli

If you visited my blog yesterday you saw my post for a Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate (YUM!) and I mentioned these Pumpkin Cannoli in that post. Today I am sharing the recipe with you. Sometimes with one can of pumpkin puree you can enjoy 2 or 3 delicious treats.

Pumpkin Cannoli

Ingredients:

4 large cannoli shells

1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

Fold the ricotta cheese, sugar, pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice together in a medium bowl until well blended. Transfer the mixture to a large piping bag (or a gallon size resealable bag) and snip a half inch hole at the end (or corner) of the bag and pipe the mixture into both ends of the cannoli shells. Dust with confectioner’ sugar and enjoy.

Recipe from Rachael Ray Magazine

Lemon Ricotta Bars

So, even after I made the Ricotta Orange Pound Cake I posted about last week, I still had ricotta cheese left-over and I didn’t want to toss it. So, I decided to make Lemon Ricotta Bars. Lemon & ricotta go together so well… If you don’t believe me try making these bars, these pancakes I posted about a few years ago or these cookies I posted right before the holidays last year. All were delish!

Lemon Ricotta Bars

Ingredients:

For the crust:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (15 crackers)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

1 cup whole-milk ricotta

4 large eggs, beaten

1 1/3 cups sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons lemon zest

2/3 cup lemon juice, from 3 to 4 large lemons

1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9x13x2 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

For the crust: Combine the ingredients for the crust in a medium bowl and mix until moistened. Press the mixture evenly in the prepared pan and about 1/4 inch up the sides of the dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, until set, and then set aside to cool.

Reduce the oven to 325F.

For the filling: Whisk the ricotta, eggs, sugar and flour in a bowl until well combined. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and salt and blend well. Pour the filling into the crust and bake until filling is firm, about 30 minutes.

Let the pan cool on a wire rack, at least 2 hours. Cut into desired sized bars with a knife, wiping the knife between cuts.

Recipe adapted from Food Network and Food52

Sweets For Your Sweet

Are you thinking of making some homemade treats for your Valentine? Or, maybe something for yourself? Well, I have two quick and easy treats for just that… Matzo Crack & Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Truffles.

For the Matzo Crack, you start off by making a simple toffee using butter and brown sugar. Which you then spread over matzo crackers that have been arranged in a single layer on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Pop it in the oven for about 10 minutes, remove and then spread a bag of chocolate chips – semi-sweet, milk or dark – over the bubbling toffee. Let it sit for a few minutes and then using an off-set spatula smooth the chocolate over the toffee. Sprinkle with seat salt (and nuts if you like) and refrigerate for about 45 minutes. Once the chocolate has hardened transfer to a cutting board and cut into pieces.

The truffles are just as easy… After making the filling – beat cream cheese, peanut butter, graham crumbs, sugar and peanuts together – roll it into 1-inch balls and freeze for about 10 minutes. Melt the chocolate and dip each of the balls in the chocolate, sprinkle with chopped peanuts and refrigerate until firm.

There you go… two quick, easy and delicious treats that you can enjoy this Valentine’s Day or any day!

Chocolate Toffee Matzo Crack

Ingredients:

4-5 lightly salted matzos

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 cup light brown sugar

12 ounce bag of chocolate chips – milk, semi-sweet or dark

Sea Salt

Favorite nuts, optional

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil – make sure the foil goes up and over the edges of the pan. Top the foil with parchment paper. Cover the paper with the matzo, cutting and piecing the pieces together.

Combine the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk until the mixture comes to a boil. Once the mixture comes to a boil cook for a few more minutes until it becomes foamy and thickened. The mixture may look like its separating, continues whisking and it will come together. Pour the toffee over the matzo and spread it into an even layer using an off-set spatula. Pop it in the oven and bake it for about 10 minutes, until the toffee is bubbling. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack

Scatter the chocolate chips over the hot toffee, let it sit for a few minutes and then using an off-set spatula spread the chocolate in an even layer over the toffee. Sprinkle with the sea salt and nuts (if using) and place in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes. Don’t let it stay in the refrigerator too long or it will be more difficult to cut.

Using the overhang aluminum foil transfer the matzo crack to a cutting board and cut it into pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Recipe From Once Upon A Chef

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Truffles

  • Servings: About 28 Truffles
  • Print

Ingredients:

8oz. cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

3 tablespoons chopped peanuts, divided

8oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into pieces

Directions:

Beat cream cheese in a large bowl until creamy. Add in the remaining ingredients, except the sugar, and continue beating until all ingredients have mixed together.

Roll the cream cheese mixture into 28 balls, using about a tablespoon of the mixture for each ball. Place on a waxed covered baking sheet and freeze for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate. You can melt it in the microwave or using a double boiler. Dip the cream cheese balls into the chocolate and transfer them back to the wax-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped peanuts and refrigerate until firm, about an hour.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Recipe from Kraft

Flan

We’re at the end of January… Is it too late to say Happy New Year? I think not, so, Happy New Year! I hope the new year is treating you well so far.

It took me three tries to get the caramel sauce right for this flan. The first time, I made it in a skillet and I let it sit on the flame a little too long and the color was dark and it had a slight burnt taste. The second time I used a saucepan and I don’t know what happened, but, it just wasn’t right. The third time I used a glass saucepan and once the sugar started to caramelize I lifted the pan off the heat so it wouldn’t be heating it directly and I finally got the color and taste right.

I immediately divided it among my ramekins and it quickly hardened. I hadn’t made flan in a long time so I couldn’t remember if that was normal or not good. Thankfully, it was all good. I blended the ingredients for the custard and also divided that among the ramekins and baked in a roasting pan in a hot water bath and after letting them cool I had the perfect flan.

It was the right consistency and the perfect amount of sweetness.

Flan

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1 can (14oz.) sweetened condensed milk

1 can (12oz.) evaporated milk

1/2 cup whole milk

3 eggs

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large shallow roasting pan, place six 6oz. ramekins.

In a heavy nonreactive pan pour the 1 cup of sugar and heat over medium heat. Stir constantly until sugar melts and becomes caramel colored, about 10 – 15 minutes. Pour caramel evenly into ramekins.

In a blender combine the condensed milk, evaporated milk, whole milk, eggs, egg yolks, vanilla and salt and blend until mixture is smooth. Strain the mixture, then pour over the caramel in the ramekins.

Place the roasting pan in the oven and fill the pan with 1 inch of hot water. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the center of each flan is set.

Remove pan from oven and let cool. When the water reaches room temperature remove the ramekins, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

Gently run a knife around the edge of the flan to loosen and then invert on a plate.

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows

I’m not a big fan of marshmallows, but, I have pondered making them from scratch because I like the challenge of making different things. I finally decided to give it a try and make them as part of a gift for a dear friend and since she’s a pumpkin/pumpkin spice fan I decided to challenge myself even further and make Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows.

In the bowl of my stand mixer I combined 3 packets of unflavored gelatin with a half cup of water. I stirred it together and let it sit so the mixture could bloom while I made the syrup.

In a saucepan, I combined granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and water and brought it to a boil without stirring – stirring could cause the mixture to crystalize. Once the syrup reached 240 F I slowly poured it into the gelatin mixture with the mixer running on low. Once I added all of the syrup I turned the speed to high (8 on my KitchenAid Stand Mixer) and whisked it for 12 minutes.

While the mixture didn’t look like much at first, soon enough, about 5 minutes in, it began to resemble something that could ultimately become marshmallows. And, after the full 12 minutes I was so elated I could have done a happy dance if it wasn’t for the fact that I wanted to transfer the marshmallows to my prepared pan ASAP.

This wasn’t as easy as just spreading it with a spatula though. Because the mixture was thick and sticky I rubbed my hands with vegetable oil in order to smooth and stretch it into the dish.

I let the marshmallows cure in the pan on my counter for 24 hours and then sliced them using a pizza slicer. I then coated each of the marshmallows in a coating of corn starch, powdered sugar and pumpkin pie spice. In the directions below I include directions on making your own pumpkin pie spice, but, you could easily just use store-bought if you have it on hand.

Of course I tried these before packing them up and mailing them and I must say and of course it’s no surprise, homemade marshmallows are so much better. I didn’t get the funny aftertaste I usually get with store bought ones.

Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows

Ingredients:

3 packs of unflavored gelatin

1 cup water (divided)

1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 cup powdered sugar

 

Pumpkin Pie Spice:

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons allspice

 

Directions:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the gelatin and 1/2 cup of water. Stir together and let sit while you make the sugar mixture.

In a small saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and the remaining 1/2 cup of water. Let it come to a boil over medium-high heat. Do not stir, or the mixture will crystalize. Clip a candy thermometer to the pot and once the temperature of the syrup reaches 240 F remove the syrup from the heat.

With the mixer on low and using the whisk attachment, slowly pour the syrup mixture into to the gelatin mixture. Once all of the syrup has been added raise the speed of the mixer to high and beat for 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the pumpkin pie spice by combining all of the spices in a small bowl, set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the cornstarch, powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of the pumpkin pie spice. Stir to combine. This will be the coating for the marshmallows.

Dampen a paper towel with vegetable oil and spread the oil all over the inside of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Once the entire dish has been coated, sprinkle a few tablespoons of the powdered sugar mixture into the pan and move it around so the dish is coated.

When the marshmallow fluff has been beating for 11 minutes add in the vanilla extract and teaspoons of pumpkin pie seasoning. .

Once the marshmallow is done beating transfer it to the prepared baking dish and use a spatula to smooth the top.

Using a sifter or sieve, cover the top of the marshmallows with a light coating of the powdered sugar mixture.

Let the marshmallows sit out on your counter for at least 4 hours or overnight. I let mine sit out for 24 hours.

When they are done, sprinkle some of the coating onto your counter and turn the marshmallows out and slice with a knife or a pizza cutter.

Add the marshmallows to the bowl with the powdered sugar mixture to coat them.

Once all of the marshmallows have been coated store for a few weeks in a Ziploc bag or Tupperware.

Keep the extra powdered sugar mixture. After sitting for a few days, the marshmallows will absorb the coating, just toss them in the mixture once again.

Recipe from The Garlic Diaries

Pumpkin Chai Latte

It’s officially fall! My favorite season… Pumpkins, apples, apple picking, foliage, scarf weather and we’re closer to my other favorite time of the year (the holiday season). I think I have covered it all. And while pumpkin flavored everything has been on store shelves for a few weeks now and I will admit that I did bake a few things that are pumpkin flavored, I have waited until now to post anything pumpkin related. And I am starting small with this Pumpkin Chai Latte. Before I get to the latte though, I just want to touch on the pumpkin flavored phenomena. It’s a bit out of control! It’s so excessive that I am not really tempted to get anything. I did pick up some Pumpkin Flavored Cheerios that remind me more of Apple Cinnamon Cheerios than anything, and some Pumpkin Fruit Butter. I used to love Pumpkin Flavored Milanos and I even enjoyed some pumpkin spice almonds I picked up a year or two ago, but now, I prefer the baked pumpkin flavored treats I make more than anything.

Now, back to the latte. I began by heating milk and steeping a bag of chai tea in the milk for about 5 minutes. And here’s something I learned and maybe some of you knew this but somehow I didn’t… By steeping the chai tea bag in milk I had a chai tea latte. It’s one of the few things I order at Starbucks but I am pretty excited to know now that I can make it at home now. It just needs a little sugar. Once the milk was read I whisked in pumpkin puree and a pinch each of pumpkin spice and honey. You can sub sugar if you prefer your latte on the sweeter side. I then strained it and enjoyed!

Pumpkin Chai Latte

Ingredients:

1 cup hot milk

1 chai tea bag

1/4 pumpkin puree

pinch of pumpkin spice

pinch of honey

Directions:

Steep the tea bag in the milk for about 5 minutes. Whisk in the pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice & honey. Strain and enjoy.

Recipe from Food Network Magazine