Peppermint Bark

Peppermint Bark 4There are fewer treats that taste more like Christmas than peppermint bark! Dark chocolate is layered with peppermint-spiked white chocolate and topped with crunchy candy canes. The best holiday gifts are made of chocolate and this is no exception. The best part – it’s so easy! The chocolate can be melted using a double boiler on the stove top, but I like to pop it right in the microwave. The key to melting chocolate in the microwave is to use medium power for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between to make sure it doesn’t get overheated.

 

Peppermint Bark 3This recipe takes all of 10 minutes (plus time for the chocolate to set) and is a majorly impressive holiday dessert. Williams-Sonoma sells this stuff for $28.95/lb., but you don’t have to tell anyone you didn’t spend that much!

Ingredients:
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. canola oil
12 oz. good white chocolate
1 tsp. peppermint extract
4 candy canes, crushed

Peppermint Bark 1Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a microwave safe bowl, melt semi-sweet chocolate chips and canola oil for 30 second intervals until smooth. Using a spatula, spread melted chocolate in an even layer on lined cookie sheet. Place in refrigerator for 5 minutes to partially set while prepping the white chocolate. Melt white chocolate in microwave, also stirring every 30 seconds. When smooth, stir in peppermint extract and pour in an even layer, carefully smoothing white chocolate to edges of dark layer. Top with crushed candy cane pieces and let set in refrigerator until completely hardened, approximately 1-2 hours.

Peppermint Bark 5Break into pieces and enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter FudgeIs there a better combination than chocolate and peanut butter? I don’t think so. One of my favorite treats to make during the holidays is fudge. This recipe is extremely easy, takes less than 5 minutes to prepare, but tastes like you’ve been slaving away for hours. Your friends and family will be impressed!

Ingredients:
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk, divided equally
6 oz. dark chocolate chips
6 oz. white chocolate chips
⅓ cup peanut butter
Pinch salt
1 tsp. vanilla (divided ½ tsp. in each)

In microwave safe bowls, put half condensed milk and dark chocolate in one bowl and the other half condensed milk, white chocolate and peanut butter in a second bowl. Put a pinch of salt in each bowl. Microwave for 20 second increments, until chips are melted and no lumps remain, stirring each time. Stir 1/2 tsp. vanilla in each bowl and spread into 9×9 container lined with parchment paper, using a toothpick to make swirls in top.  Let set in the refrigerator for 3 hours, then cut into pieces and store at room temperature.

It doesn’t get any easier than that. This recipe can easily be changed to make all chocolate or all peanut butter fudge. Play around with different ingredients like walnuts, pecans, marshmallows, sprinkles… The options are endless!

Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Dark Chocolate CupcakeI think desserts should be indulgent, with the perfect balance of rich and sweetness coming together.  I love making these cupcakes, because it’s a rich, dark chocolate cupcake with a light, fluffy, sweet Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting. The balance of the two together work perfectly.

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt

Wet Ingredients:
1 cup milk
½ cup brewed coffee
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
½ cup boiling water
Find the recipe for the Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting here.

dark chocolate cupcakes 2Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Add dry ingredients to bowl of stand mixer.  Add wet ingredients, except for boiling water and mix on medium speed to combine thoroughly.  Reduce speed to low and add the boiling water.  Turn mixer up to medium-high for 2 minutes.  You want it to whip thoroughly but not splash out of the bowl!  Adding boiling water to chocolate cake recipes allows the flavor of the cocoa to blend out of the cocoa powder and reach its full flavor.   Place cupcake liners in cupcake tin.  Distribute batter evenly, there will be enough for 24 cupcakes with each liner about ¾ full.

Bake on center rack of oven for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Top with Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting or other frosting that you love.

Enjoy!

Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting

Dark Chocolate CupcakeThis frosting is a lighter and fluffy alternative to a traditional buttercream.  It’s somewhat less sweet, and definitely less dense, thanks to the substitution of marshmallow creme (fluff) for some of the butter and sugar that is found in a traditional buttercream recipe.   It is a great frosting for my Dark Chocolate Cupcakes.

 

 

Ingredients:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. milk
1 container (7 oz.) marshmallow crememarshmallow buttercream frosting

Let butter come to room temperature until very soft, about two hours.  Using the paddle attachment in a stand mixer, mix butter, vanilla, milk and ½ sugar on low, until combined.  Mix on high for 2 minutes.  Turn mixer off and scrape frosting down off sides with a spatula and add another cup of sugar.  Stir on low to combine and then mix on high for 2 minutes.   Scrape down and repeat with remaining ½ cup sugar.  Whip on high for approximately 5 minutes on until fluffy.  Add marshmallow creme and combine on low for one minute.   Frosting will be light, fluffy and sweet.  I like to pipe frosting onto cupcakes but this can easily be spread with spatula.

Have fun with colors and piping patterns!frosted cupcakes

Enjoy!