Chocolate Soufflés

Chocolate Soufflés
I’ve always had a thing for soufflés, chocolate soufflés to be exact, but I’ve never made them. There are a lot of things in the culinary world that people attach myths to, soufflés being one of them. The lore with soufflés is that they’re incredibly hard to make, near on impossible in fact. You end up with more ruined soufflés, than actual successes. Me? I bought in to that. Silly really, when they’re actually a lot easier to make than some might want you to believe.

This month for Baking on the 15th I was the host, and I thought it was time to tackle my fear of soufflés. I became Soufflé Girl! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist a Doctor Who reference, I just couldn’t.) Not only was it much easier than I expected, I would happily make these again. I decided to go with “Individual Chocolate Soufflés with Vanilla Bean Custard Sauce” (aka crème anglaise) from The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker. If you’re unfamiliar with this cookbook, it has an interesting way of writing things up, some argue confusing, but it’s one of the few cookbooks I actually still have a copy of, though I’ve never used it. Thankfully Kelly went through and typed up the recipe for me, since Jamison was having his first of several oral surgeries when the big reveal occurred, and cleared things up a bit as she went. This made it easy to print out and hang up for easy reference while baking:

Chocolate Soufflés: Recipe

I’m getting attached to this method of recipe gandering. 😉

First let’s talk ingredients:

Chocolate Soufflés

The recipe called for coffee, rum, or water, but as I loathe coffee, and I wasn’t feeling the rum, while thinking the water was too bland, I decided to use some chocolate liqueur instead. I had originally thought chocolate vodka, but I realized I was out when I ventured out to the freezer. I remembered I had some Godiva liqueur in the cabinet and went with that instead and as I expected, it turned out pleasantly well.

The recipe said to place the bowl with the chocolate, liqueur and butter in a skillet of water, and I thought that was weird, so I did a double boiler set up instead:

Chocolate Soufflés

I like double boilers. They make sense to me. I was worried about scorching the chocolate the other way, though I’m sure it would have worked. Maybe.

The recipe calls for using 10-11 ounce ramekins. I’m not sure what size me ramekins are. I’ve had them forever and they aren’t stamped on the bottom. I ended up using two different kinds to use up all the batter. Here they are buttered and sugared:

Chocolate Soufflés

You see the smaller heart ramekins and the bigger round variety. I baked the round with the hearts first, and then baked an additional three in the white dishes.

They baked up perfectly! I mean look at this:

Chocolate Soufflés

The “batter” was dreamy too:

Chocolate Soufflés

Very smooth and creamy. Also airy, which I suppose you’re looking for with a soufflé.

The bigger ramekins baked up nicely as well:

Chocolate Soufflés

Now let’s talk about the vanilla custard sauce aka crème anglaise!

This stuff was heavenly. Absolutely fabulous! It was good warm and was superb chilled! After the soufflés are baked, you punch a whole in the center and spoon in the crème anglaise. I found other uses for it too, such as drizzled over strawberries:

Chocolate Soufflés: Crème Anglaise

Or keeping with the strawberry theme, as they were in season a few weeks ago, how about on a nice slice of strawberry pie:

Chocolate Soufflés: Crème Anglaise

I even took the basic recipe for the crème anglaise and added (you guess it!) strawberries to it and made ice cream. I’ll definitely be making the sauce and the ice cream again too!

Mine didn’t end up deflating much, though the recipe said they would. They held their shape through to the next day. Surprisingly even Jamison tried one and liked it. Given they are gluten free, he was able. He doesn’t usually venture to try new things, but in this case he did. I recently got him to try bulgogi too, but that’s a story for another time. Lex liked them too, and of course I loved them!

Chocolate Soufflés

Sometimes it’s good to go out of your comfort zone in the kitchen. Every time I have, I’ve been surprised by the result, usually in a good way. Who knows what I’ll tackle next? 😉

Not Your Mama’s Tiramisu

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu

If you’ve been around Dianne’s Dishes a while, you probably have heard me lament my extreme distaste for coffee. I just don’t like it. The flavor doesn’t appeal to me. If you get enough cream and sugar in the cup to make it somewhat palatable, you’re actually drinking sugar sludge and that’s not appealing either. Therefore, tiramisu has never been a favorite, in fact though I’ve tried many times, I’d rather pass. Don’t get me wrong, I love the concept of tiramisu, but in actuality? No…not so much! I mean come on! Creamy layers of soaked lady fingers, with a sprinkling of chocolate for fun? Divine…IF you leave out the coffee, because coffee! Blech!

A few years ago I stumbled across a recipe for a coffee free tiramisu and I was intrigued. As is often the case I intended to make it, and then got tied up in this crazy ride we call life, and never got around to it, because isn’t that how it always goes? A few months ago around Christmas I decided I was going to make some and set out to acquire lady fingers, only to find those buggers are harder than you would think to locate, so I got side tracked…again.

I finally decided to check Amazon, and wouldn’t you know it, lady fingers! Then as is par for the course, I got side tracked again. I even put them in my cart, and still forgot them. I finally got back to the whole idea this weekend.

When I had ordered the lady fingers, I actually looked at the recipe for the first time in years and wasn’t convinced it was what I wanted to do. It just wasn’t quite right. I did some research and found other coffeeless recipes, but they weren’t quite it either and in the grand tradition of kitchen experimentation I thought, “Screw it! I’m going rouge!” and what I ended up with is so good, whether you like coffee or not, you won’t miss it. I promise! And if you like chocolate this is definitely the dessert for you!

So here we have my coffee free tiramisu! It’s definitely not like your Mom would make, but that’s not a bad thing…at all! One day, I plan to experiment with a chocolate tea variety, but that is a story for another day. So sit back, relax, and let’s make a little tiramisu…and hold the coffee, please!

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: Ingredients

What You’ll Need to Soak the Lady Fingers:
2 cups of milk
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar
1/2 cup of cocoa
1/4 cup of chocolate vodka or liqueur

Stir the ingredients together in a small pot. Heath through until sugar is melted.

Yes…you just made hot chocolate! 😉

Sit aside and let cool to room temperature.

What you’ll Need for the First Part of the Cream Layer:
4 egg yolks (Note: If you have a thing about raw eggs, this is not the recipe for you.)
1/4 cup of sugar

Place the egg yolks and sugar in a glass bowl and beat on medium/high for 3-5 minutes until the mixture is pale yellow and the air in the mixture makes it look bigger. It’ll be very creamy. Set aside.

What You’ll need for the Second Part of the Cream Layer:
1 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup of sugar
1 – 8 ounce package of mascarpone, softened

Beat the cream and sugar together until soft peaks form. Add the mascarpone and beat until incorporated.

Now you’re going to mix the first part of the cream layer and the second part of the cream layer together.

Fold the second part in to the first egg mixture until incorporated:

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: Cream

Now comes the assembly.

Give an 8 X 8 inch dish a quick spray of non-stick spray, or if you want to go a little crazy, give it a rub with butter. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with about a tablespoon of cocoa powder:

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: Cocoa

Next you will start making your lady finger layer. Take a lady finger and dip it in the cooled hot chocolate mixture, coating both sides and place in the your baking dish:

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: Starting Out

Repeat this process until the bottom of the dish is covered. You may have to break a few of the lady fingers to get them to fit toward the end:

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: Ready for the Cream Layer

If you soak the lady fingers more than a few seconds they’ll disintegrate. I like to just give them a dip on one side, and then on the other.

Add 1/2 of the cream mixture and spread out over top of the soaked lady finger layer:

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: Ready for the Second Layer

Then repeat with another layer of soaked lady fingers:

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: Second Layer

And then top with the remaining cream mixture:

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: Ready for Chocolate Garnish

Now this is where you can have a bit of fun. You can shave chocolate over the top, drizzle it, or go a little nuts like I did, and place a dark chocolate ganache heart on top of each slice. It makes it easier to tell where you’ll slice it later too:

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: Ready for the Fridge

And now comes the hard part. You need to place your tiramisu in the refrigerator and let it sit overnight. You’ll want to cut right in, but trust me, sitting makes it better. The lady fingers become soft, the flavors meld and you end up with lovely, gorgeous layers!

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: Layers

I had some the next day for second breakfast. What? You didn’t know I was a Hobbit? 😉

Take a look at this forkful of goodness!

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: A Bite

Even though it’s hard, you’ll be glad you waited! Now dig in and enjoy!

Notes: There are so many variations you could do with this. You could add 1/3 cup of cocoa in to the cream mixture for a more concentrated chocolate flavor. You could add in some salted caramel elements to give a bit of a twist. If you just wanted to, you could add in espresso in place of hot chocolate, but that would defeat the purpose as far as I’m concerned, now wouldn’t it! 😉

‘Tis the Season for Cookies: Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls

There’s something very satisfying about the peanut butter/chocolate combo, especially peanut butter and milk chocolate. Those two are part of classic combos that you easily think of, peanut butter and jelly, milk and cookies, cake and ice cream, just to name a few.

Also be sure check out the other participants of ‘Tis the Season for Cookies to see their fabulous cookie recipes as well!:

Diana Cannone at To Di for Bakery.
Judy Chiappini at No Fear Entertaining.
Mandee Racer Pogue at The Kitchen Wife.
Marye Audet-White at Restless Chipotle.
Renee Joslyn at Flamingo Musings.
Sandy Smith at Eat Real.
And Sherri Jo at The Adventures of Kitchen Girl Jo.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls

This week’s theme is Fancy Cookies! But nothing says fancy has to be hard. 😉

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls: Peanut Butter Ball Fillings

What You’ll Need for the Peanut Butter Balls:
1 – 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup of peanut butter (Note: You can use smooth or crunchy.)
1 cup of powdered sugar

Mix together a can of sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter until thoroughly mixed.

Mix the powdered sugar in to the peanut butter mixture until incorporated a ball forms.

Take roughly a tablespoon of the mixture and roll it in to a ball. Place the ball on a lined baking sheet and repeat until you run out of filling.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls: Peanut Butter Balls

Next make your chocolate coating.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls: Chocolate Covering

What You’ll Need for the Chocolate Coating:
1 package of chocolate chips (Note: I usually use milk chocolate with peanut butter, but you can use dark or semi-sweet if you like instead.)
2 tablespoons of coconut oil

In a large glass bowl melt chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave on 10 seconds intervals, stirring between rounds, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Dip each peanut butter ball in chocolate until completely covered:

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls: Dipping in Chocolate

And place each ball back on the baking sheet:

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls: Dipped

Next make the peanut butter drizzle.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls: Peanut Butter Drizzle

What You’ll Need for the Peanut Butter Drizzle:
1/2 cup of peanut butter chips
1 teaspoon of coconut oil
1 heaping tablespoon of peanut butter

Melt the peanut butter chips with the coconut oil on the same 10 second intervals you used for the chocolate, stirring between, until melted. Once melted stir in the peanut butter until smooth.

Drizzle each covered peanut butter ball with the peanut butter drizzle and put them back on the sheet.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls: Done!

Notes: You can sprinkle with crushed peanuts if you want, instead of the peanut butter drizzle (honey roasted peanuts would be particularly nice) or you can dust them with cocoa.

‘Tis the Season for Cookies: Cow Drop Cookies

This is the last week or our cookie roundup and I must say, I’ve had a lot of fun with this! This week I’m going with another chocolate/peanut butter combo, because you can’t go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter! These are the perfect last minute cookie, and I have it on good authority that Santa really loves these! I’ll let you use your imagination and figure out why they’re called what they are. 😉

Also be sure check out the other participants of ‘Tis the Season for Cookies to see their fabulous cookie recipes as well!:

Diana Cannone at To Di for Bakery.
Judy Chiappini at No Fear Entertaining.
Mandee Racer Pogue at The Kitchen Wife.
Marye Audet-White at Restless Chipotle.
Renee Joslyn at Flamingo Musings.
Sandy Smith at Eat Real.
And Sherri Jo at The Adventures of Kitchen Girl Jo.

This week’s theme was easy to make cookies and these are about as easy as you can get…just perfect for that last minute Christmas prep!

What You’ll Need:
1 stick of butter
2 cups of organic cane sugar
2 heaping tablespoons of cocoa
2/3 cup of half and half
1/2 cup of peanut butter
2 cups of oats
2 teaspoons of vanilla

Melt butter with both sugars, cocoa and half and half in a medium sized pot and bring to a quick boil over medium heat. Boil for five minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until the peanut butter is completely melted and smooth. Stir in vanilla and then add oats, stirring until completely incorporated.

Drop by the rounded tablespoonful onto a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Let set for an hour or two and serve. Store in an airtight container.

How simple and delicious is that?

Notes: You could use crunchy peanut butter if you liked. Sometimes I like to make these with brown sugar for part or all of the sugar. It gives them an extra oomph. Also I forgot one time to add the cocoa powder, and they were good that way too.

‘Tis the Season for Cookies: Gingerbread!

Gingerbread House

I’ve always loved making gingerbread houses. I’m not sure when I made my first gingerbread house, school perhaps? Or with my mom? But I remember making them, and loving the process. The first one I made was with graham crackers and a milk carton, if I recall. I even made gingerbread houses one Christmas for all my friends.

When Alexis was born I couldn’t wait until she was old enough to make them too, and once she was (we did our first gingerbread house when she was 3), we’ve made one every year since. We make a big production out of it…we make the cookies one day, along with hot chocolate, and then we assemble the houses the next. We make royal icing, get our candy together and construct away.

The secret to a good gingerbread house is a firm cookie, and these have a bit of a crunch to them. That also helps if you want to turn these cookies in to ornaments, because the firmness makes for a good ornament too. I’ll give you instructions on how to do that below as well.

Be sure and check out the other participants of ‘Tis the Season for Cookies to see their fabulous cookie recipes for this week as well!:


Diana Cannone at To Di for Bakery.
Judy Chiappini at No Fear Entertaining.
Mandee Racer Pogue at The Kitchen Wife.
Marye Audet-White at Restless Chipotle.
Renee Joslyn at Flamingo Musings.
Sandy Smith at Eat Real.
And Sherri Jo at The Adventures of Kitchen Girl Jo.

The theme this week was formed and decorated!

Gingerbread House: The Pieces

What You’ll Need:
1 cup packed natural brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups dark molasses
2/3 cup cold water
7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In large bowl cream brown sugar, butter and molasses until smooth. Add water and mix well. Stir in remaining ingredients and stir until well incorporated.

Sprinkle some flour onto the surface you’re working on and roll dough out to between 1/4-1/8th of an inch thick:

Gingerbread House: Rolling the Dough

To make a gingerbread house cut out house shapes using a template, or gingerbread house cutters. To make ornaments, cut with the cookie cutters of your choice. If you are going to use the cookies for ornaments remember to make a hole for the string or ribbon to tie them onto your tree. You can do this by using a straw to make a hole at the top of each cookie.

Bake for 9-10 minutes and cool completely on the pan. Cooling overnight is best. You want them to get extremely firm, the firmer the better.

And if you’re like Alexis, then you’ll want a little bite of dough, or several bites of dough, or a lot of dough. It’s good dough. And it is eggless, if you’re worried about such things, which we aren’t, but there you go.

Gingerbread House: Dough!

And make sure you get plenty of flour all over yourself. On your face, on your apron, on the floor…I mean the bigger mess the better. Just ask Alexis! 😉

After the cookies have cooled and sat overnight you want to make some royal icing if you’re making gingerbread houses (see below) or you can paint them if you’ve decided to make gingerbread ornaments.

Gingerbread House: Royal Icing

What You’ll Need:
6 egg whites
1 teaspoon of cream of tartar
8 cups of powdered sugar

Add all the ingredients to a large glass bowl and stir until mixed.

Beat on medium speed for 5-6 minutes until icing is thick and has a pearly sheen to it.

Use immediately to make your gingerbread house, or to decorate cookies.

Now you get to assemble your gingerbread house!

Take a piece of cardboard and cover it with aluminum foil. This will be your “yard” for your house. Next add a layer of royal icing for the “snow” on the yard, and this also serves as glue for the bottom of your house walls:

Gingerbread House: Snowy Yard

Now you want to put up your walls:

Gingerbread House: Putting it Together

I like to use a canned good, or a bottle to balance the walls on until the “glue” dries. Add a line of royal icing to each wall and balance them against each other. Once the icing dries you will do the same process to add the roof to the house.

While the walls are drying you can also start adding some of the decorations around the sides of the house:

Gingerbread House: Decorating

The roof can be tricky, because gravity, well she’s a bitch. You’ll need to hold the roof on while the icing dries. Be generous with the icing on the edges of roof peek, so that it has plenty to hold on to. This is when you can watch a Christmas movie, or something, while you’re sitting there holding the roof. If you’re really talented you can figure out a way to brace the ceiling with cans or bottles, but you have to have the perfectly situated can or bottle size and it’s easier said than done. Your best bet is holding it on and amusing yourself for a bit some other way.

Decorate with icing, candy, sprinkles or other embellishments if you’re going to cookie route. Whatever you like works. Just let out your inner cookie creator!

If you’re making ornaments paint them with craft or acrylic paints and let dry completely. Once the paint is dry you can “seal” the ornaments by painting or spraying on a coat of polyurethane if you want them to last for many years. If you want to make “Pissy” Gingerbread boys and girls, like the one pictured below, use a fluted cutter to cut a “bite” out of the side of their heads or even their foot if you want, because after all wouldn’t you be a little pissy too if someone took a bite out of you? ;o)

Pissy Gingerbread Man

See? Doesn’t he look pissy? I absolutely love these ornaments! To make a girl gingerbread person, paint a little bow on the other side of the head away from the “bite”.

I’ve made gingerbread houses for almost 30 years now. Wow. That’s a long time! Alexis gets a little impatient and doesn’t wait for her “glue” to dry so she ends up with a disaster house, more often than not. Being the laid back kid she is, she just goes with it. Last year she said her collapsed house was hit by a tornado. This year she explained it was caused by a tsunami. But hey, she kept decorating it anyway!

Gingerbread House: Decorating Her Disaster

I mean how disastrous does this look?

Gingerbread House: Catastrophee

Candy cane loss, Christmas tree chopped in half, Santa hanging out next to the rubble. The kid makes it fun, even if it’s not what you expect in a gingerbread house!

But what she really enjoys about the collapsed houses, other than having fun in general, is eating the parts!

Gingerbread House: If it Collapses, Eat it!

What’s not to like about a little nibble of gingerbread? Oh and royal icing. AND candy! 😉

This was the first year my house collapsed too. I’ve made so many houses over the years, but this one just gave up. I think it had to do with the humidity in the air, as a friend of mine suggested. We had a very rainy day on Saturday, like ark worthy rain, and when I decorated the roof the weight of the icing and candy, just took out the house.


I’d like to tell you I was as cool about my house collapsing as my 11 year old, but sadly not so much. As I’ve said I’ve never had one collapse I wasn’t impressed, so it took the wind out of my sails a bit, and it felt like a big defeat. But then again I nibbled on mine too, so that made it all better…well sort of! 😉

Gingerbread disasters aside, a few years ago I made a Fangtasia gingerbread house:

Fangtasia Gingerbread House

I was a big fan of the Sookie Stackhouse books, and even though they didn’t end up the way I would have liked, this is still one of my favorite gingerbread houses I’ve ever made. I put a bite out of Bill’s head, like the pissy gingerbread men, as if Eric had gotten tired of his nonsense and finally taken a bite out of him to put him in his place. I made Sookie look Christmasy, and I did a cross between book Eric and SkarsgÃ¥rd Eric, by the pink spandex from the book, and the black muscle shirt from the show.

The point being, gingerbread can be anything you want it to be. Just have fun with it. After all, isn’t that what the holidays are about?

‘Tis the Season for Cookies: Pecan Pie Cookie Bars

Pecan Pie Cookie Bars

I’ve been meaning to get back to the blogging thing for a while, and I’ve got plans for a redesign and change around for the the New Year, but when some online friends in a blogging group I’m in on Facebook started to talk about having a cookie post round up in December, I could resist and I signed up for ‘Tis the Season for Cookies right away!


Week one’s theme is fruit and/or nuts and I knew these Pecan Pie Cookie Bars were just the thing! This is one of my all time favorite recipes that I got from a friend years ago. They’re just perfect for sharing during the holidays and make the perfect addition to a cookie tray or gift for someone on your list. They take the comfort of pecan pie and turn them in to an easily transported cookie bar that is a whole lot easier to take, not to mention a less messy alternative to share, than your traditional pecan pie.

Be sure and check out the Pinterest board for the group for more great cookie recipes from the other participants. We’ll be posting recipes each Monday for the next few weeks.

Also check out the other participants of ‘Tis the Season for Cookies to see their fabulous cookie recipes as well!:

Diana Cannone at To Di for Bakery.
Judy Chiappini at No Fear Entertaining.
Mandee Racer Pogue at The Kitchen Wife.
Marye Audet-White at Restless Chipotle.
Renee Joslyn at Flamingo Musings.
Sandy Smith at Eat Real.
And Sherri Jo at The Adventures of Kitchen Girl Jo.

Happy Holidays!

Pecan Pie Cookie Bars

What You’ll Need for the Shortbread Layer:
1 1/2 cups of unbleached, all purpose flour
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 sticks of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Set aside.

In a bowl stir together flour, sugar and salt until combined. Next add butter and stir until dough forms.

Mash flour mixture in to the prepared dish, spreading it out to cover the entire bottom of the pan.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.

While the crust is baking, make the pecan filling. (See Below).

Pecan Pie Cookie Bars

What You’ll Need for the Pecan Filling Layer:
4 tablespoons of butter, melted
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 cup of light corn syrup
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 cups of pecans, chopped

In a large glass bowl melt butter in the microwave.

Once butter is melted add sugar, corn syrup, eggs and vanilla extract and stir until well mixed.

Next add the chopped nuts. (An easy way to “chop” the nuts? Put them in a ziplock bag and beat the snot out of them with a rolling pin. Not only do you get “chopped” nuts, you have the added benefit of getting out some of your frustrations at the same time. What’s not to like about that?) Stir nuts until thoroughly incorporated with the sugar/corn syrup mix.

Pour filling on to the baked shortbread crust and spread out to the edges. Return to the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

Let cool completely before cutting in to squares.

Notes: You can stir a package of chocolate chips into the filling if you like. You also do a mix of nuts instead of all pecans, or how about adding in some seeds of some sort like pumpkin of sunflower, for part of the nuts.

Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting

Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting

Chocolate. Dear, dear, chocolate. How I love thee, let me count the ways…

Of course I won’t count the ways, not here, I could wax philosophical for hours about chocolate itself, and right now you need to make this frosting!

This frosting is completely easy, yet it makes a sinfully good topping that you can use to top any cake you like. You could even use this as a spread on a bagel, or to dip strawberries in for a decadent little treat. However you use it though, if you’re a chocolate lover, and many of us are, you’re going to love this fabulous little frosting.

What You’ll Need:
1 pound of cream cheese, softened
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 jar of marshmallow cream
1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups of powdered sugar
Half and half, if needed to smooth out the frosting

Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting

Cream together cream cheese, butter and marshmallow cream until smooth. Slowly add cocoa to the cream cheese mixture until completely blended. Add sugar and beat until smooth.

If the mixture seems stiff add a tablespoon of half and half and beat again to help smooth out the frosting. You can keep adding half and half in this manner if needed until the frosting is smooth, but not runny.

Notes: If you wanted to make a vanilla version you could leave out the cocoa powder and add another cup of powdered sugar to the amount listed above as well as a tablespoon of vanilla extract. When the humidity is higher or it’s warm you most likely won’t need any half and half at all, when the humidity is lower or it’s cold you might need more.

High-Hat Cupcakes

High-Hat Cupcakes

I love cupcakes. Some argue that cupcakes are over, but I disagree. What’s not to like about a single serving of cake, a decadent little bit of heaven, just enough for a nice treat, or to share with a friend? There’s nothing not to like about that! And chocolate…I also love chocolate. Chocolate and cupcakes together? The perfect match!

A while back I saw a recipe on Pinterest that linked to Martha Stewart’s Hi-Hat Cupcakes (and really that should be spelled “High” instead of “Hi” so I changed it!) I’ve wanted to make them every since. But let’s be honest, as brilliant as Martha is about some things she can take something relatively simple and make it so difficult you want to just give up. This recipe? Well yes it is just like that! BUT you can make it simpler, much simpler.

First of all if you’re making this recipe read through it first. Not that I didn’t you understand. I would never do that. Seriously…

OK you caught me, I didn’t read through it. There are you happy? Now back to the recipe-o-rama.

If you follow this as written you’ll notice several things. First she has you using like 3 or 4 bowls for just the cupcake part alone…for one recipe…all of which you have to wash and that doesn’t include the bowl for the icing and the double boiler for the chocolate. That’s not my idea of a good time washing all those dishes! Not at all!

You could easily do the cupcake batter in one bowl. First melt the chocolate and then let it cool. After the chocolate is cool, add the creaming ingredients, along with the sour cream, extract and other wet ingredients in to the chocolate and mix well. Next add baking powder and salt (I used 1 teaspoon of salt instead of the recommended 1/4 teaspoon) and stir to mix that in and then add the flour and mix until batter forms. The recipe calls for all purpose flour, but I used cake flour and I baked them as directed.

And now let’s talk about the icing….

High-Hat Cupcakes

Basically you’re making an egg white icing, or as I like to call it “marshmallow” icing, because it tastes and looks a lot like marshmallows. The directions in the recipe to make this quite frankly just don’t work and the first batch just didn’t come together. I’ve never had that kind of issues with egg whites, though I know others who have. I ended up just melting the sugar in the egg whites, water and cream of tartar on a double boiler until warm to the touch and then whipped them on high. I didn’t get them stiff enough, so it sort of sagged once the cupcake had sat for a while, but despite looking wilted once the chocolate was on top, they still tasted fabulous. I also ended up drizzling the chocolate over the top of the cupcakes instead of dipping them due to the not quite stiff enough icing and the first one collapsing the cone top.

You could easily shortcut the cupcakes and just use a mix. I recommend King Arthur Flour’s cake mixes and the chocolate one is especially fabulous. You could make a stiff icing with marshmallow fluff, cream cheese and enough powdered sugar to make it firm and not have to deal with egg white drama. Also the recipe calls for corn syrup in the topping chocolate, but I used coconut oil instead. It makes a form of “magic shell” chocolate which is just perfect for this.

High-Hat Cupcakes

Again I can’t stress enough, this is a recipe you need to read and read carefully. There are mistakes in the recipe. In the cupcake portion it says 1/2 cup of water when it means sour cream and in the icing portion it wants you to add 1/4 of a cup of water to the egg white/sugar mixture, but it isn’t listed in the ingredient list. It’s confusing. This might even be a read 3 or 4 times sort of deal. Trust Martha to make it anything but simple!

High-Hat Cupcakes

No matter how you do it though, this is a really fabulous taste combination and both Alexis and I really enjoyed them even though the icing/chocolate got slipperier and flatter than the pictures above. After all isn’t the best part the taste anyway?

Yes, yes it is!

Key Lime Cheesecake Bars

Key Lime Cheesecake Bars

Key lime, key lime, key lime….oh how I love thee, let me count the ways…

But seriously we don’t have time for me to wax philosophically about my love for Key Lime, instead let’s focus on a really simple, yet fabulous dessert!

This dish takes cheesecake and crosses it with a bar and then throws in a little Key Lime to make an all-in-one fun little treat that is perfect on a hot summer day, or even nice in the middle of winter for a reminder of summers past. Cheesecake and Key Lime all in a handy, dandy bar form? You can’t go wrong with that!

What You’ll Need for the Crust:
1 sleeve of graham crackers, crushed
1/2 stick of butter, melted
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Crush graham crackers and stir in melted butter and sugar to mix. Press mixture into a 13 X 9 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.

Set aside.

What You’ll Need for the Bar Filling:
2 – 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1/2 cup of unbleached, all purpose flour
1/2 cup of key lime juice

Cream together cream cheese, eggs and sugar until smooth. Slowly add the flour and mix until incorporated. Last add the key lime juice and mix for 1 minute on medium.

Pour filling mixture over the crust in your baking dish (see above) and bake in a preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until bars are set.

Let bars come to room temperature and then chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Store uneaten portions in the fridge.

Key Lime Cheesecake Bars

Notes: If you can’t find Key Lime juice you can use regular lime as well, but it won’t be as good. You can also use lemon juice for a lemon bar alternative.

Sweets for Your Sweet: Salted Chocolate Truffles

Salted Nutella Truffles

I love truffles, and not the kind Italian pigs dig up, which I am sure are lovely too, but I’m talking chocolate truffles. I love truffles almost as much as I love cheesecake, and you all know how much I like that! It has its own category on Dianne’s Dishes! It’s a deep love, an abiding love, an all encompassing obsession. In short I love me some truffles!

I also love Nutella. It’s a recent love, but it’s a strong love. Chocolate and hazelnuts? What’s not to like?? I also love sea salt. Do you see a pattern forming here? Truffle? Check! Nutella? Check! Sea salt? Check! This is the collision of the perfect truffle/Nutella/sea salt storm!

Truffles are really easy to make. You’ve got a creamy center, dipped in chocolate, and then for added pizazz sometimes you even drizzle/sprinkle something on top of that. Truffles are big on wow factor, yet simple to create. They are perfect for a little gift, such as for Valentine’s Day, for that person in your life who is a chocolate lover like me. I know you have one of those, don’t we all?

One word for you….


Say it with chocolate. You’ll be glad you did! Heck, they’ll be glad you did too! ;oP

What You’ll Need:
1 – 13 ounce jar of Nutella
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 – 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
1 package of semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup of coconut oil
1 cup of 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
Coarse see salt (Note: I prefer either fleur de sel or Celtic sea salt for this. This go round I used the Celtic variety.)

In a large bowl stir together Nutella, sea salt and sweetened condensed milk, until thoroughly mixed. Next add the powdered sugar and stir until “dough” forms.

Scoop out “dough” with a tablespoon and roll it between your hands to form a ball. Place on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet:

Salted Nutella Truffles: Ready for the Freezer

The balls will flatten out a bit due to the heat of your hands, but don’t worry. You’ll be freezing them for a bit and this will sort itself out.

Freeze Nutella balls for 30 minutes.

Ten minutes before you remove the Nutella balls from the freezer, place semi sweet chocolate chips and 1/4 cup of coconut oil in a microwavable glass bowl and microwave on 20 second intervals, stirring between each one, until chips are melted.

Remove Nutella balls from the freezer and rolls them between your hands to make them more round:

Salted Nutella Truffles: Making Nutella Balls

They’re firm enough now to keep their shape:

Salted Nutella Truffles: Ready to be Dipped

Dip each ball in the melted chocolate:

Salted Nutella Truffles: Drizzling

It’s easiest to do this with a fork. Unlike Alexis however I wouldn’t taste the chocolate as you go. You’ll run out! ;oP

Place them on another sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet:

Salted Nutella Truffles: Ready for Drizzle and Sea Salt

Melt 1 cup of 60% cacao chips with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil using the same method as above. Drizzle over the top of each truffle and sprinkle with coarse fleur de sel or Celtic sea salt:

Salted Nutella Truffles

Let harden and then enjoy!

Notes: You can use any type of chocolate you want with this. Milk chocolate would work, as would a white chocolate drizzle. It’s all up to you. If you want them to set faster you can stick them in the fridge.