Chocolate Covered Ice Cream Bars

Were you a pool kid?

chocolate ice cream bars

I grew up at the pool. I remember refusing sunscreen, getting stung by bees, lots of skinned knees, and  that big wet spot on my shorts that was left behind from my swim suit.  We wore those pool-wounds like badges of honor -as proof that we were having fun.

And some days we were even allowed to pick a treat from the pool snack bar that gushed Choco Tacos’, Push Up Pops and Screwballs.

chocolate covered ice cream

And among a crowd of fancy frozen novelties were the old standbys -chocolate covered ice cream bars. So simple and understated, just like we were.

Here’s a refined but simple version of that snack bar classic.

chocolate and cream

Ingredients:

1 quart of vanilla ice cream
1 cup heavy cream

1 cup chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions:

chocolate sauce

Fill Popsicle molds with softened ice cream. Freeze several hours or overnight.

To make the chocolate sauce:

Pour the heavy cream into a small saucepan and heat on medium low. When warm, stir in the chocolate. Whisk until smooth.

Allow to cool to room temp.

Gently remove the ice cream bars from the mold and arrange on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.

Using a spoon, pour the chocolate sauce onto the ice cream bar. Lay the bar back on the tray and freeze until firm.

pavlova cookies

It was my first attempt at meringue.

meringue cookies

And they flopped. They flopped the second and third time, too.

So I can’t sit here and tell you how to make meringue.

But I can tell you that even if you mess up, you can still make it look so pretty that no one will ever know.

meringue cookies

Just call them Pavlova cookies, a sweet wafer like crust destined to be piled with roasted almonds, dark chocolate and fresh strawberries.

cream of tartar, vintage

Send your meringue making tips my way!!

 

the cutest cupcake ever

Ok, maybe not ever. But as far as baked goods in pots go, it’s pretty cute.

flower pot cupcakes

Here are the directions for making the cupcake segment.

All you need after that is one  mammoth bag of butter cream frosting and a few skewers with tiny paper flowers attached.

flower pot cupcakes

Happy Mother’s Day!!

Homemade Freeze Pops

homemade freeze pops

Let’s face it, most food that comes in tubes are not healthy.

*But it’s a fact that kids love to eat frozen food from a tube.

(*indicates that it is not really a fact and more of an observation)

homemade freeze pops (2 of 1)-3homemade freeze pops (2 of 1)-4

Luckily, there is an alternative to those sugar laced freezable yogurt tubes…

You can make your own and freeze them in small ziplock bags and your kids won’t even notice because they are just so happy to be eating sans silverware.

homemade freeze pops (2 of 1)-8

Homemade Freezer Pops

This being more of a technique than a recipe, the flavor possibilities are endless and they are super fast and easy to make.

Supplies:

Blender

Snack sized ziplock bags

baking sheet

tape

Ingredients for natural yogurt pops

1 cup plain yogurt

1 cup raspberries (mangoes, strawberries, pineapple or peaches can be substituted)

1/2 cup orange juice or pineapple juice

2 frozen bananas

1 Tablespoon maple syrup ( or more to taste)

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Puree all ingredients in a blender and pour about 1/3 cup into each ziplock bag. Gently press the air out of the bag and seal. Fold the sealed edge over and secure with a piece of tape. lay flat on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining bags and freeze for 3-4 hours. When ready to eat, snip one end of the bag.

Chocolate Flower Pot Cakes

I grant you full permission to eat one of these healthy chocolate cakes for breakfast on the grounds that…

 

chocolate flower pot cakes

most of the butter and sugar were replaced with a heaping scoop of speckled mashed bananas.

flower pot cakes

Leaving a perfectly balanced and perfectly cute partner to your morning coffee or afternoon tea.

coffee

And wouldn’t they make a totally awesome gift or spring party favor?

flower pot cakes

Chocolate Banana Cake Pots

Recipe adapted from Betty Groff’s Chocolate Cake Recipe

Ingredients

1 cup granulated sugar

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 eggs

1 cup plain yogurt

1 cup mashed banana

1 tsp. salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup brewed coffee

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Before you start baking, wash and dry the terra-cotta planters and be sure to remove any stickers. Line the pots with parchment paper or lotus cup liners. The 3 1/2 inch planters are the closest size to standard cupcakes, but larger ones can be used, too.

Directions

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

1.Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl. Add in the eggs, one at a time until smooth and fluffy.Beat in the yogurt and bananas.

2.In a separate bowl,  blend together the salt, flours, baking soda and cocoa powder.

3.Pour the butter-sugar mixture into the dry ingredients and beat well.

4.Beat in the coffee.

5. Pour the batter into terra cotta planters no more than 2/3rds full.

6. For 3 inch pots, bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. ( increase baking times for larger pots)

flower pot cakes

 

 

 

 

cheese babka with raspberry sauce; polish easter bread

cheese babka with raspberry sauce

Babka floods my polish arteries but once a year, every Easter since birth.  There will never be a bread to match my beloved babka on Easter morning.

The chrusciki? Way too crunchy.

The Polish poppyseed  bread? Too much like bird food mixed with butter.

As a kid, I would sneak slices from the babka bread basket and eat it while nestled under the dining room table or while jumping on my grandmother’s bed. Later, my teenage angst led me to rebel against my parents,all traffic laws and polish food- laughing in the face of stop signs and sticking my nose up at anything containing meat or cabbage.

babka 4 (2 of 1)

But I always ate the babka. While everyone else was swooping down like vultures on piles of smoked kielbasa and pools of polish mustards, I was munching on my third slice of babka.

cheese babka

Although our traditional Polish meal was enthusiastically shared with friends, neighbors and passersby, only the traditional polish food was welcome at this table and any creative culinary variations were scorned as sacrilege.

I just hope my late grandfather never finds out that my dad grills the polish kielbasa instead of boiling it and may he never know that I infused a homemade cheese babka with (sssshhhh…) raspberry sauce.

 

Babka, Polish Easter Bread

Cheese babka is traditionally speckled with lemon peel and raisins, but this one has soft scented raspberry preserves swirled through the center.

Ingredients:

21/2 tsp. active dry yeast (equal to one packet)

¼ cup water (use a thermometer to get it around 110 degrees)

½ cup sugar

5 eggs yolks (or 3 whole eggs)

½ tsp. salt

2 Tablespoons vanilla extract

½ cup melted butter

¾ cup warm milk, using more if needed

1 pound of flour (approximately 4 cups sifted flour)

Raspberry Cheese Swirl

2 Tablespoons melted butter

1 ½ cups farmers cheese (or ricotta or cream cheese)

¼ cup confectioner sugar

¼ cup of raspberry preserves

 

Start by proofing the yeast. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar in the warm water. The temperature is important here, because the yeast cannot grow correctly if the water is too hot or too cold. Give a little stir and let sit for about 10 minutes, until it’s smelly and bubbly.

While the yeast is proofing, beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add in the sugar, salt and vanilla, beating until smooth. Slowly pour in the melted butter while continuously whisking until smooth. Pour in the yeast mixture and beat.  Add one cup of flour, then a splash of milk, alternating with each for the remaining milk and flour. If the dough is too sticky and wet, add more flour until it is firm enough to knead on a counter top.

On a floured work surface, knead the dough a few times until smooth. Place the dough in a clean, buttered bowl. Cover bowl with a damp cloth and set in a warm place for about an hour, until is doubles in size.

Prepare the filling. Mix the cheese with the confectioner sugar and vanilla. Gently heat the raspberry sauce in the microwave or a small pot until it loosens up a bit.

Prepare the bundt pan. Generously grease the pan with melted butter and a dusting of flour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

When the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a floured work surface and shape into a 10 x 15 rectangle.  Brush the dough with the melted butter and then layer on the cheese filling. Spoon the raspberry sauce on top of the cheese filling, adding more if needed.

Begin rolling the dough into a log shape. Gently lift the log and place it in the greased bundt pan. Seal the ends shut and let rise another hour, until doubled in size.

Bake the babka for 40 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before inverting on a plate.

Salted Caramel Pudding

salted caramel pudding

Salted Caramel Pudding

So here’s a dessert that you can make at the last minute, (in case you have forgotten that it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow) and you most likely have these ingredients in your pantry.

whisk  (1 of 1)

If you are short on an ingredient, this is where it comes in real handy to have great neighbors. Hopefully, you live in neighborhood like mine, where it is completely normal to knock on a neighbor’s door with a smile and a measuring cup, asking to borrow a cup of milk or a few eggs.

eggs

You: can I borrow some eggs?
Cute guy down the hall: Of course, here you go…

Come to think of it, college dorms are not much different. A cup of milk is nothing compared to all the unmentionable random things I borrowed from my hall-mates in the dorms.

 

Salted Caramel Pudding

Adapted from Good Earth Country Cooking, by Betty Groff

Salted caramel is the new thing, and here is a way to enjoy it without it yanking out your fillings…

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup packed light brown sugar

3 cups milk, room temperature

¾ tsp sea salt

1 Tablespoon flour

2 ½ Tablespoons cornstarch

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Next, add the brown sugar and cook on medium for 3-5 minutes, or until gently caramelized. While whisking the sugar, very slowly and gradually pour in 2 cups of the milk. Continue whisking as it bubbles and thickens. You may need to reduce the heat slightly if it is too hot.

Add the flour and cornstarch to the remaining cup of milk and mix well.

Stir this mixture into the pot and whisk together until thickened.

In a separate medium sized bowl, crack the eggs and beat with a fork. Remove 1 cup of the pudding mixture from the sauce pot and slowly whisk it into the eggs. Continue whisking until fully blended. Slowly pour the egg-pudding mixture back into the pot and whisk until blended again.

(When in doubt, just keep whisking)

Cook this mixture for about 2 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extra and an extra pinch of sea salt.

Serve with whipped cream and sea salt flakes.

milk

Raspberry Tarts

tarts. milk2 (1 of 1)

Raspberry Tarts

Do my pastry shells look too puffy?”

Is my equivalent to “Does my butt look fat?”

In both cases the response “It looks fine!” is completely wrong and unacceptable.

I don’t even know why I bother asking adults questions when I want an honest opinion.  An adult hears the word puffy or fat, and they go on some auto pilot protection mode. When you ask a kid,  they assess the situation and tell you what they really think in their teeny tiny little voices while staring at you straight in the eye.

“Well, mom, they may not look perfect, but they sure will taste good!”

And with that, I smile at my imperfect pastry shells and we sit down to eat raspberry tarts and a glass of cold milk with pink paper straws.heart tarts 3 (1 of 1)

Raspberry Tarts

Adapted from the Frog Commissionary Cookbook

My mom used to make us these when we were kids for Valentine’s Day. It’s like a chocolate covered raspberry, if there ever was such a thing, dipped in a cloud of whipped cream and mounded on a giant butter cookie.

melted chocolate (1 of 1)

melting chocolate

tart shells

jam on tart shells

Tart Shells

1 ½ cups flour

2 Tablespoons sugar

8 Tablespoons butter (original recipe calls for 6 Tablespoons butter, 2 Tablespoons shortening)

3 Tablespoons cold water

Vanilla Pastry Cream

8 oz. heavy cream

3 Tablespoons confectioner sugar

1 Tablespoon whiskey

½ tsp. vanilla extract

About 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

2 pints of raspberries

1/3 cup raspberry jam

Directions

Combine flour, sugar and butter in the bowl of a food processor and blend until crumbly. Pour in the cold water and blend until the dough forms a ball. Mold the dough into a ball and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a hand mixer, whip the heavy cream, sugar, whiskey and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Lightly flour a work surface and cut the dough ball into 6 equal parts. Roll each ball out and place in a tart mold with a removable bottom. Trim the edges and prick the dough with a fork several times. Repeat for the 6 molds and line them up on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Once cooled, remove the shells from the mold. Melt the chocolate in a small pan and spread or pour evenly over the 6 tart shells. Put the tray of tart shells in the freezer for a few minutes to allow the chocolate to harden. Spread a thin layer of raspberry jam on top of the chocolate layer. Next, scoop the whipped cream into a pastry bag (or a ziplock bag with one end snipped off) and pipe the whipped cream onto the tart shells. Top with berries.

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Chocolate Butter Mints

butter mints small

These are slow mints. Not the sort of thing you shovel into your chute like a handful of M&M’s or a plate of brownies. These treats just kind of linger on your tongue for a bit as the minty, buttery sweetness slowly dissolves. And if someone offers you a slice of triple chocolate cake, you will most definitely say something like:

“ No thanks, I am really enjoying this super awesome mint”.

And you will be so proud of yourself for not eating that ridiculously indulgent dessert, and instead opting for one of these Chocolate Butter Mints.

Chocolate Butter Mints

There is just enough butter in here to bind the sugar together to form a little patty that is suitable for a minty melting experience.

Ingredients:

4 Tablespoons butter

4 cups confectioner sugar

2 Tablespoons water

¼ teaspoon peppermint oil

½ cup chocolate

Mix the butter, sugar, water and peppermint oil together in a bowl. It will be slightly crumbly. Take about a third of the batter out and knead it onto a surface dusted with confectioner sugar. Flatten it out to a patty about ¼ inch thick. Slice into little squares or rectangles, and repeat with the remaining dough.

DSC_0282 (2)

Melt the chocolate in a double broiler and use a butter knife to spread a thin layer of chocolate on each one. Allow to cool in the fridge.

buttermints3small

Spiked Cranberry Citrus Slush

Who says cranberry sauce has to be that goopy, jelly like condiment plopped out onto the plate? I know, this is the time of year that people want the same dishes they have eaten every Thanksgiving for the past 30 years. And to go and change something, even something as a simple as the cranberry condiment could disrupt the whole harmony of the holiday. Because that’s what make the holidays so great.  The recipes made by grandmothers and great aunts who are long gone, and these edible memories are the only thing we have left to keep us connected to our past.

And then people like me go and try to change something as crucial as the cranberry sauce. So I would never recommend replacing your traditional cranberry sauce with cranberry slushy, but rather, adding to it. Because not only does this cold, icy texture make a great contrast with warm turkey, but it can also double as a cocktail mix. Just mix equal parts vodka and cranberry slush for a festive cranberry cocktail.

Spiked Cranberry Citrus Slush

Recipe adapted from Betty Groff

1 lb. Cranberries

½ cup water

1 ½ cups sugar

2 cups club soda

Juice of 2 limes

Juice of 2 grapefruits

Vodka (optional)

Wash cranberries and put in a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Cook until the berries are starting to soften and burst. Using a wood spoon, start mashing the berries against the walls of the pot to help smooth it out. While the berries are hot, stir in the sugar. Allow to cool and add the lime juice, grapefruit juice and soda. Pour into a Quiche or pie plate and freeze for a few hours or until a slushy like- texture and serve in the pie plate.

Optional adult version: float a tablespoon of vodka on top just before serving. It cuts the sweetness a bit.

Use any leftover slushy as a cocktail mix, just mix 2 oz. vodka with 2 oz. cranberry slushy.