hot chocolate on a stick


We recently had a cold snap here, which I hear is in store for the rest of the country as well.  (I don’t know what that means, because I’m pretty sure it’s actually “winter” for the rest of you, but that’s what the weather man said.)  I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a better way to warm up than a nice cup of hot chocolate.

Not just any hot chocolate, but THE BEST HOT CHOCOLATE IN ALL THE LAND!

I know this because I was told so by my co-worker when she had some.  And also from those who received it in their Christmas baskets.

Oh, and it’s way more fun than regular hot chocolate, because it’s on a stick!  How fun is that?  Just stir it into hot milk (note: really hot milk, unless you want to eat the fudgey leftovers like I some people do).

It’s so good it’ll warm you right up.  It will warm your tummy and your heart.  Especially when served in an adorable, heart-warming penguin cup.  (BF took this pic with his iPad)


This is nice to enjoy while warming your toes with your loved one, or as quietly as possible standing in front of the fridge.  I store mine in the fridge because I think it stands to reason they should last longer that way.  In the event that they hang around long enough that their shelf-life becomes a concern.

Did I mention that it’s also delicious on its own as a fudge-pop?  Like a lollipop made of fudge.  Fudge on a lollipop stick.  Whatever.  Or, ya know, as a cube of not-hot chocolate.

You should always taste for quality-control.  You wouldn’t want to gift a sub-par product, would you?


Hot Chocolate on a Stick

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (1 1/4 cups)
  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate (chopped chocolate bars or chips)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or extract of your choice)
  • Marshmallows
  • Lollipop sticks

1. Line an 8″ x 8″ pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

2. Heat the cream and condensed milk over low heat until steaming.  Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate.  Set aside for 10 minutes while the chocolate melts.

3. After your 10 minutes have passed, return the pan to the burner and whisk over low heat until the chocolate has completely melted.  Whisk vigorously until the mixture is thick and shiny.  This is where you can add extract, if you wish.   I added a teaspoon of vanilla extract, you could make peppermint hot chocolate with peppermint extract, or hazelnut with hazelnut extract… you get the picture.

4. Pour the chocolate mixture into the pan and shake the pan to level.  Set aside overnight (I stored mine in the microwave… with the microwave off, of course).

5. Remove your chocolate from the pan by pulling your foil handles (if you covered the pan in foil), or you can turn it upside down if you like.  If you didn’t line your pan (aka – didn’t follow step #1), gently go around the edges of the pan with a butter knife to loosen the chocolate, then remove it from the pan.

6.  Slice into 1″ to 1-1/2″ cubes (I actually tried to size mine to the diameter of my marshmallows).  Heat a knife in hot water and wipe dry before each cut, for smoothest cuts.  Stick a lollipop stick into the center of the marshmallow, then the center of each chocolate block.  I wrapped mine in cellophane bags that were made for “cake pops” (the bags and sticks actually came together as a cake pop kit, but the sticks were a little shorter than I’d have liked.)

7. When you are ready to consume your hot chocolate, just stir it into 8 ounces of hot milk -plus or minus a couple ounces, depending on how chocolatey you want your hot chocolate.

soft and chewy candy-filled cookies


It’s the last weekend of 2012, and I apparently fell off the face of the earth for the week of Christmas.


But these were able to bring me back.

Lucky for you, because now I’m able to share these delightful goodies with you, for our last installment of COOKIE MADNESS.


I’m sure you thought cookie madness ended with Christmas.  Don’t worry, I did too.

But then, well, like I said… these happened.

photo (7)

Giant, soft, chewy, candy-filled cookies.  Oh, and you don’t need to wait for butter to soften, because it’s melted.  Oh, and you don’t need to use a mixer, just a sturdy whisk and your arm. Although, if you’ve been slacking off at the gym (like some of us lately), you may want to pull out your hand mixer.  It’s easier to lift than the Kitchen Aid anyway.

Oh, and they’re completely delicious.  Did I mention that?


Soft and Chewy M&M Cookies 

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt (scant)
  • 1 ½ sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 to 1 ½ cups mix-ins (chocolate chips, m&ms, even dried fruit if that’s the way you roll)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix the flour, scant ½ teaspoon salt, and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

In another bowl, whisk the butter and sugars until they are thoroughly blended.  Add the egg, extra yolk, and vanilla.  Continue stirring until mixed.

Add flour mixture and continue mixing just until dough forms.  Once ingredients are incorporated, gently fold in your mix-ins.

Scoop into dough balls (1/4 cup portions for 18 large cookies or 2 tablespoon portions for 36 smaller cookies).

Roll each ball in your hands, and then gently pull the ball apart at the center, creating two equal-sized half-balls.  Press both halves back together with the jagged edges (what used to be the center of the ball) facing up. Try not to feel too ridiculous while doing this.  Clearly it’s totally normal, right?

photo (6)

Place the new mutant dough-“balls” on your baking sheet. If you’re doing large cookies, I’d leave at least 2 inches in between each.  Large cookies will probably be about 4 inches in diameter, “smaller” cookies will be more… regular-sized.

Bake for 15-18 minutes until lightly golden and just set.  Cool the cookies on their baking sheet at least ten minutes to finish setting.  Move to cooling rack to finish cooling completely.

Makes about 16 large or 36 small cookies

[ Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated: The New Best Recipe ]

great food blogger cookie swap 2012


The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is like a food blogger’s “Secret Santa” except instead of getting each other gifts, we give each other cookies.  Cookies are like gifts, except way more delicious.  Each participant bakes 323428 3 dozen cookies, and then sends one dozen to each of three other food bloggers.


There is a small $4.00 donation to a great cause, plus we all got this awesome oxo cookie spatula.  How cute!?  This year our donations went to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer which raises money for pediatric cancer research, you can even host your own CFKC bake sale!  But you don’t have to be a baker to donate.  You can donate right now by clicking that link.  🙂  It is the holiday season after all, aren’t you feeling charitable?


Once our cookies are in the mail, we anxiously await the arrival of our own cookie surprises. This year I received delectable soft pumpkin chocolate chip cookies from Elyse at The Cultural Dish , chai snickerdoodles from Leslie at My Kitchen Is Open, chocolate espresso cookies from Jessa at Heed the Feed … and I even got bonus cookies from Shannon at A Periodic Table who sent me her cookie “leftovers” because she’s the sweetest person in the whole world.

Though it was a lot of fun to participate, and I’m totally going to do it next year (and you should, too!), it was probably the most stressful thing ever.  I needed to find the perfect cookie.  I’m pretty sure I did.  After piles and piles of “cookie research”, I settled on one of my all time favorite cookies, aptly named World Peace Cookies.  These cookies have a crisp exterior and a chewy center.  They are deeply chocolatey with bit of sea salt to give them that salty-sweet combination that makes them so dangerously addictive.


Oh, and they’re crazy easy to make.  Except for the slicing part.  That part will make you want to rip your hair out, but it’s worth it, because even your most grotesque piles of cookie mush will taste just as good as the perfectly-shaped ones.

If you or someone you know is interested in next year’s cookie swap, you can sign up here for notifications once info is available.  It may seem really far in advance right now, but trust me, we all know how quickly these holidays sneak up on us.  You can also like The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap on Facebook.

World Peace Cookies

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 11 tablespoons (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (or 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped)

Making the dough

1. Sift flour, cocoa, and baking soda into medium bowl.

2. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth but not fluffy.  Add both sugars, vanilla, and sea salt and continue beating until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

3. Add flour mixture all at once and cover the mixer with a tea towel (this is to prevent cocoa powder/flour dust from coating your kitchen.  You’ll be happy you did this, trust me.)  Pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times for a couple seconds each time.  If there is still a lot of flour on the surface, pulse a few more times.

4. Once you have successfully averted flour disaster, go ahead and continue to mix low speed for about 30 seconds more until just blended (the mixture may will still be crumbly – I definitely should have taken a picture of this part).  Add in chocolate chips and mix just until incorporated.  You want to try to mix the dough as little as possible.

5. Turn the dough out onto a work surface (I usually dump it right onto a large piece of plastic wrap).  Gather the dough together an divide it in half (I transfer the other half to another piece of plastic wrap).

6. Press and roll each half of the dough until you have two logs that are 1 1/2-inches in diameter.  It is helpful if you use the plastic wrap to help press the dough into a log, then you can use that same plastic wrap to tightly wrap each log.  Place dough logs in the refrigerator to chill at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.*

*Alternatively, you can freeze the dough for up to two months.  Bake straight from frozen, just add an extra 1 minute. 

Baking the cookies

1. When ready to bake, place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 325°F

2. Slice logs into 1/2-inch thick rounds and place on parchment-lined baking sheet.  There will be crumbles, just gently smoosh the crumbs back into the cookie discs.

3. Bake cookies for 12 minutes (13 minutes for frozen), remove from oven and cool on baking sheet.  They won’t look markedly different, they will be more like slightly poofier versions of the discs that you put in the oven a mere 12 minutes ago.

[ Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours ]

cookie madness: nyo sugar cookies


On my quest to find the perfect cookie for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I read a lot of recipes.  A lot.

So many recipes that I had to ban myself from reading anymore recipes.  And then I read more.  And banned myself again.  And again.

And then I was grabbing something from the pantry and noticed this recipe hanging inconspicuously from a bottle of vegetable oil.  I didn’t mean to read the recipe, it just happened.  All on its own.  Out of my control.

Next thing I knew all of the ingredients were on the counter and then… by then I was too far in.  There was no turning back.

These are like sugar cookies, but so much better.  So, so much better.  The secret?  Brown sugar.

Brown sugar cookies.  So simple.  So sweet.  So delicious.

Even Boyfriend who thinks that sugar cookies are “a waste of a cookie” loved these.  Amazing what a difference brown sugar makes.  Just look at how soft and chewy they are.


You’re drooling, I know.

It’s ok.  I won’t tell.  Just go into the kitchen and make these cookies.  Like, now.

Brown Sugar Cookies

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Heat oven to 350ºF


  1. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt.  In a large mixing bowl, beat shortening and butter until creamy.  Add brown sugar, egg and  vanilla, continue to beat until light and fluffy.  Mix in flour, baking soda and salt.


  1. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet.  (I chilled my dough and then flattened it slightly before baking).


  1. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown (I kept mine closer to 12).  Cool on baking sheet on a wire rack 10 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack to finish cooling completely.


[ Adapted from the tag hanging on my bottle of Crisco ]