A’Tempting’ Tuesday: A Very Christmasy Cookie

Whew! I’m really behind. We traveled over the Thanksgiving holiday for the first time in years, so I am not only behind on blogging, but also decorating. I still have Fall pumpkins all over my house.

I am a firm believer in leaving the Fall décor until the day after Thanksgiving, but on that day we were six hours away from home. It was worth it though, as we had a wonderful time visiting my in-laws and spending time with our daughter in her college town.

But, now we are “that” house on the block with no lights up yet, or no Christmas tree in the window. Fortunately, my recipe for today is definitely a holiday one and has me in the mood to decorate.  Since it is now December 3, I must get a move on.  But, first the cookies!

I’m invited to a cookie exchange this weekend. I really wanted to do something festive that I haven’t done before. I definitely have some great cookie recipes that are always a go-to, but decided it was time to try something new. I had a “friendsgiving” get together at my house recently so in preparation for the exchange, I made my friends my guinea pigs.

I picked this cookie mainly because of its holiday ingredients and appearance.  It calls for candy cane “dust.”  Doesn’t that just bring visions of Santa’s elves hard at work in the North Pole’s bakery?

I also chose these because my son is very much a fan of chocolate, minty-type things. This recipe for Chocolate Fudge Cookies with Candy Cane Buttercream fit the bill. It is definitely minty, and is a very pretty and festive cookie. My photo here really does not do it justice. Its appearance just screams “holiday”. Crushed candy canes give the buttercream frosting that is sandwiched between to chocolate cookies a pink color, with little flecks of red running through.

Again, this recipe came courtesy of another blogger, who I think found it from another. You can find the post I got it from HERE.

This recipe makes approximately 2 dozen cookies.

Chocolate Fudge Cookies

1 cup + 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave for about 1 minute. Stir. Continue to melt in 30 second increments until fully melted and smooth. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla. Set aside.

With an electric or stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Beat in the sugars, scraping down the sides every 10 seconds or so. The mixture will be granular.

Mix in the beaten egg and vanilla until incorporated.

Add the chocolate in a steady stream and beat until combined.

Add the dry ingredients on slow speed.

Fold in the mini chocolate chips. Do not overmix.

Chill dough for at least 30 minutes.

Scoop about 1 Tbsp of dough and roll into a slightly flattened ball.
Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cookies have just begun to set with the centers still appearing very soft. They will firm up as they cool.

Candy Cane Buttercream
3/4 cup (1.5) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2.5 – 3 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-2 Tablespoons heavy cream or milk (I prefer heavy cream in frostings)
1/2 cup candy cane dust (about 8-10 candy canes ground to a fine dust in a food processor)
Crushed candy canes for rolling, optional (I did not do this)

Beat the butter for 1 minute with the paddle attachment on medium speed.
Add 2.5 cups of sifted powdered sugar and slowly mix on low speed.
Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 1 Tablespoon of cream/milk. Beat for about 1 minute.
Manually stir in candy cane dust.
If your buttercream needs to be thicker, add more powdered sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk/cream.

Frost the bottom end of a cooled cookie and top with another to make a sandwich.

Cook’s Notes: 

  • I premeasured everything before I began preparing the cookies.  I know this makes more mess to clean up, but baking is so much quicker and easier when I do this.  I don’t mind washing a few more prep bowls and measuring cups.
  • The original recipe I used called for sifting the ground candy canes before putting them in the butter cream.  I did not do this and it was fine.  If you pulverize it enough I don’t feel there is a need for the sifting.
  • This is a really, really sweet cookie.  Almost too sweet for my taste.  I do recommend using the dash of salt in the buttercream to cut some of the sweetness.
  • I did not prepare extra crushed candy canes to “roll” the cookie sandwich in.  I think for the exchange I will roughly crush candy canes of a different color, maybe green.

Tool Talk: 

  • I would recommend using a stand mixer with paddle attachment for the cookie dough if you have one.  (My Kitchen Aid Professional stand mixer is my pride and joy.)   It could certainly be done with a hand mixer, but the dough is really thick and is handled much easier with a stand mixer.

All in all, this batch of cookies was a success and I think they will work quite well for the cookie exchange.  As I mentioned above, it is a very sweet cookie.  Although they are good, one cookie is almost too much for my taste because of the sweetness.  I may try making smaller cookies for the exchange.

Hopefully by Friday, I will have some handmade tags for the cookie “packages” to share with you.

Until next time, enjoy….

Next Week:  Old Fashioned Cornbread Dressing


A’Tempting’ Tuesday: S’More Cake


I love, love to bake. It relaxes me. I love the mess. I love searching for the perfect recipe and ingredient, and working to create something that is as pretty as it tastes. I bake from scratch 99 percent of the time and rarely use boxed mixes. I’m not always on a mission for a timesaver when it comes to my baking, like I am with our nightly meals. So, I admit I was a little apprehensive when I first saw this recipe. First, it’s made in the microwave — yes, I said microwave — and secondly, it uses a cake mix.

I thought “what the heck,” it uses minimal ingredients and will take very little time. I tried it and was pleasantly surprised.

Two words: YUMMY and EASY!

This is what I have to say about this Pampered Chef recipe. I’ve made it a several times now and while nothing can beat a traditional S’more made sitting around a camp fire, this is a close second when you want a good “comfort” dessert and don’t have the time to prepare it. It is baked in the microwave and finished off under the broiler, and all in the same pan!

It is made in Pampered Chef’s Rockcrok™ 2.5-qt. Everyday Pan, so it went straight from the microwave, to the broiler, to the table all in less than 10 minutes.

Here’s the recipe:

S’More Cake

3 milk chocolate candy bars (1.55 oz), broken into squares
1 small package (9 oz.) devil’s food cake or 1 2/3 cup from a regular size package
1 egg
1 container (8 oz.) sour cream
1 bag (10 oz.) regular-size marshmallows or 4 cups mini marshmallows
3 whole graham crackers, coarsely crushed.

Place oven rack in middle of oven; preheat broiler.
Microwave chocolate on high for 30-60 seconds or until mostly melted. Stir until smooth; set aside. (I used Pampered Chef’s Prep Bowl).
Combine cake mix, egg and sour cream (I used the Classic Batter Bowl); mix until blended. Pour Batter into the Rockcrok™ 2.5-qt. Everyday Pan.
Microwave, covered, on high for 4-5 minutes or until center of cake is firm and springs back when pressed.
Remove pan from microwave; arrange marshmallows in an even layer over cake. Broil 30-60 seconds or until marshmallows are golden brown.
Remove from broiler; sprinkle with crushed whole graham crackers (I used Pampered Chef’s Manual Food Processor to crush them) and drizzle with chocolate.

Yield: Serves 12

Cook’s Notes:

  •  This is best served immediately. It’s such a quick recipe, it’s very easily made right when you need it.  If you need to “bake” the cake in advance, save broiling the marshmallows and drizzling with chocolate until you are ready to serve.
  • The first time I made this, I jumped ahead without reading carefully.  I drizzled the chocolate before I placed it in the broiler.  The chocolate did not broil well.  This is just par for my life.  I’m always in a hurry.

Toolbox Talk:

I want to mention two of the Pampered Chef products I used when preparing this cake — not because I sell them, but because I really LOVE these items and use them all the time.

  • First is the Rockcrok™ 2.5-qt. Everyday Pan. I really do love this pan.  It is the only pan in my kitchen I can use in the microwave, on the stovetop, in the oven or under the broiler.  I have used it in all those ways.  It’s also attractive enough to serve from.  It is perfect for one dish meals (which makes it perfect for me because my husband will eat anything that is mixed together all in one pan).
  • Next is the Manual Food Processor. It is no secret that I love kitchen gadgets.  What I don’t love is bulky gadgets that are hard to store and have a ton of pieces.  The Manual Food Processor is no gadget — it’s a tool.  I literally use it every day. It is so much easier than climbing to the top shelf to pull out the food processor or standing for what seems like hours to chop something.  I use it for everything — from tasks such as crushing the graham crackers in this recipe to chopping onion.  I have even made salsa in it!  It’s compact and only has three pieces that all store together.  LOVE it!

Hope you enjoy.  Until next time….

Next week’s A’Tempt’:  Balsamic glazed pork tenderloin.

Confessions of a “Martha wanna-be.” This will be my journey ….

Wow.  It has been a long time since I last blogged, years in fact.  That’s hard to believe because I love to write.  More so, I love to create anything, but life gets in the way…. thus my long hiatus.

I have decided that now is the time to start doing something I want to do…this will be my journey to be the organized, creative and entertaining person I know is inside of me.  I, as is my home, am a work in progress.

I’ve set some goals for myself, some things I want to do in the coming days, weeks, months and even years.  I may be a little old to start with this kind of  venture, but hey… why not??   My children are older (10 and 19), my life has slowed down somewhat and my current career doesn’t require me to exhaust my creative juices during the work week.  I now have the time — and more importantly — the determination to do this.

Let’s start by explaining my title …. Cooking, Crafting and Chaos.  That is my life.  Better yet, maybe my title should just simply be Chaos.  There’s no better way to explain it.  I spend a lot of time taking care of my home and family, going to my son’s baseball tournaments, sending goody boxes to my daughter at college, cooking, trying new recipes, testing the waters of selling Pampered Chef products and playing in my very disorganized craft room.  All wrapped up in one package it is CHAOS.  Chaos is served daily at my house.

I confess, I am somewhat of a “Martha Stewart Wanna Be,” I know with all the negative publicity around her of late, I should probably not admit this. Yes, I want to be like her in some ways. But, I don’t want to be her.  I’d love to have her talent, her drive to do what she enjoys doing and be able to make a living doing that. (Her money wouldn’t hurt either). Although I respect what she has accomplished, I want to be like her minus the jail time and the famed, hardened personality.  So maybe I just want to be my own version of her.  Just call me Martha Shelly 🙂

I’m starting with this blog.  For those of you who know me, you know it will be filled with cooking, crafts and lots of talk about my husband and beautiful children —  All the things I love and yes, lots of just plain chatter.  I’ve spent the last few weeks browsing blogs and YouTube channels and enjoying what so many other people out there have to offer.  I’ve even spent some time revisiting my past blog posts (now posted here).  It has reignited my inner creativity that I could never find time to use.  I can do this.  I’m starting small with goal of posting here at least once a week, and eventually three to four times a week.  Hopefully, making this public will keep me committed. Hopefully, I will also find some readers.

Then, on to harder goals.  I’d love to do a video blog.  This is a big fear, especially for someone self-conscious about everything from her accent (yes I have one) to her graying hair, to the disarray of my home.  It’s so much easier to hide behind your words; to share without being seen. But becoming what I want to be includes conquering some fears.  So, here goes.

I’m looking forward to sharing my journey — including successes and failures — with you.  Let’s do this together.  I have a lot to learn, so be patient. There will be lots of recipes and crafty projects, lots and lots of time spent organizing and beautifying my home and, I’m sure, lots of rambling.  I like to talk.

Until next time…