Tag Archives: chocolate

Do-It-Yourself Instant Cocoa Mix

I am about to take you on a fun-filled, wondrous adventure to a magical land called filled with flavor and delicious delights and that ever-so-sumptuous food of the gods.

That’s right, we’re going to make hot cocoa.

Photo Nov 24, 11 23 26 PM

Don’t say it.  Don’t tell me that you make hot chocolate all the time–“All you have to do is open the packet of Swiss Miss and add hot water.”  That’s not making hot cocoa.  That’s just barely making it through the day and being willing to settle for something, anything with a mere wisp of chocolate in it before you go insane and take somebody with you.

Now, while I am a fan of melting down shaved chocolate into a pool of lightly simmering, frothy milk in the celebrated winter ritual that is settling down with a piping hot cup of hot chocolate whilst mentally praising those brilliant Mayans, sometimes you don’t want to spend the time, effort or money to do that and sometimes you’re at work, mentally (or physically—although in that case, you have more serious problems than chocolate-deficiency) to a desk, or snowed in at home behind 2 feet of frozen little water pellets.  In those cases, you want–nay, you need–instant cocoa.

Photo Nov 24, 11 23 37 PM

But that doesn’t mean you should rush headlong into the arms of the Swiss Miss.  Not to impugn her honor or anything, but I hear she really gets around.  You deserve someone more special than that.  Someone unique and hand-crafted.  And I am love to play matchmaker.  Well, me and Alton Brown.

Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa

* 2 cups powdered sugar
* 1 cup cocoa (Dutch-process preferred)
* 2 1/2 cups powdered milk
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 teaspoons cornstarch
* Hot water

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and incorporate evenly.  Seal in an airtight container, keeps indefinitely in the pantry.

To make hot cocoa, fill half a mug with the cocoa mixture and then pour in hot water or milk.  Stir, sip, smile.

If you want to make it even more betterer (yes, that’s right, even more betterer), you can make some snickerdoodles to dip into your cocoa.

Strawberry Marshmallows

Valentine’s Day: Make All the Marshmallows!

Strawberry Marshmallows

Strawberry Marshmallows

I’ve been on a marshmallow-making kick lately.  I’ve made vanilla bean, chocolate-Grand Marnier, amaretto dipped in almonds and chocolate, and chocolate covered strawberries.  Next I plan on lemon, stuffed marshmallows and vegan marshmallows.  Why, you ask?  Because happiness and marshmallows are pretty close to being the same thing.  Fluffy, pillowy, flavorful, fun to melt on a stick and smoosh in between pieces of chocolate and graham cracker.  There are a lot of similarities between the two.

Also, it’s surprisingly easy.

Continue reading

My friend Mac recently had a birthday.  His request?  A peanut butter cup cake.

Challenge accepted.

So I browsed through my collection of cake recipes and thought about my plan of attack.  I decided that what I wanted was a two layer chocolate cake with a layer of peanut butter frosting in the middle and a crown of tiny peanut butter cups on the top. Continue reading

a glass cup of chocolate cheesecake mousseThis mousse won’t give you diabetes.  Seriously.  I can’t make this claim about much of my food (coughapplesyrupcough) but this mousse is actually sugar-free.  Free of regular sugar, anyway.  I’ve been experimenting with sugar substitutes and this recipe is one of my new favorites.  It’s also free of one other thing: effort.  If you can put things in a mixing bowl and blend them together, you can make this mousse.  It’s great for days when you’re low on time, or low on energy and want a creamy, chocolaty fix.  I’m feeling under the weather myself today, so this is my quick-fix pick-me-up.

Enjoy :)



Sugar-free Chocolate Cream Cheese Mousse

Yield: 4 servings


  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup Splenda (or similar sugar substitute)
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream (hey, I didn't say this was lowfat)
  • (optional: dark chocolate shavings for garnish (may contain sugar))


  1. Cut the cream cheese into smaller chunks and put it into a mixing bowl with the Splenda and cocoa powder. Turn your mixer or beaters on medium and blend well. Drizzle in the whipping cream and continue to beat a few more minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until well incorporated. Serve immediately (with a chocolate shavings garnish if desired).


I ran the ingredients that I used through a nutritional calculator and it came out with approximately: 405 calories; 9g carbs; 41g fat; 6g protein; 2g fiber per serving. Again, that's an approximation and your mileage may vary.


a cup of chocolate cream cheese mousse


If you just now realized that tomorrow is Mothers Day and have yet to do anything for your respective maternal figure, don’t worry.  I’ve got just the solution to your procrastinatory, slack-alicious problem: these mini homemade mounds bars.  Or as I prefer to call them, “Mounds Bites,” since they’re just little nuggets of candy. Because moms like chocolate and moms like coconut and moms like things that are homemade.  And because these are quick and easy and have garnered rave reviews for me the past couple of days and since they’re bite-sized, it makes for easier portion control. Also, did I say they were delicious?  Cause they are.

So make a quick trip to the store, throw a batch together, nestle them into a pretty container and let your mom know how much you care…about her having delicious eats.  Do it for the noms.  I mean, moms.  Do it for the moms. Continue reading

Silly scone. You’re not a cookie.

I can hear the battle raging on inside of Cookie Monster’s head already: “It look like a cookie.  But it not a cookie.  But it have chocolate chip like cookie.  But it scone.  But it round like cookie.  How it not cookie?  Cookie Monster like cookies.  Cookie Monster not Scone Monster.  To eat or not to eat scone cookie?  That is the question.”


The story behind these scones is pretty simple.  Last night I wanted to bake something with chocolate in it.  I didn’t want to make another batch of chocolate chip cookies.  So instead I made something that looked like a chocolate chip cookie instead.  I don’t know what to think about this.  Granted, it’s a very good scone.  Airy, fluffy, sweet, delicious, easy to make.  Vanilla-y with little morsels of semisweet chocolate.  Everybody loves them.  But I’m starting to wonder how bad my obsession with chocolate chip cookies has gotten if I start making little cookie clones out of other types of food.  First the chocolate chip cookie pie and now scones?  Maybe I’ve given scones low self esteem, made them the Jan to the chocolate chip cookie Marsha.  I mean, maybe it’s always, “Cookie, cookie, cookie!” What’s next?  Will my other baked goods start making up fake boyfriends, maybe a George Glass of Milk, to try and convince me of how wanted they are?  What should I do about this?  How should I put this poor pastry out of it’s misery?

I’ll have to eat it.  It’s the only way.  Continue reading

Ogres have layers, bars have layers

It’s that time of year again.  Fat Tuesday.  Mardi Gras.  Carnivale.  For some people, “Paczki Day.”

I, for one, enjoy Mardi Gras.  Who doesn’t like shiny beads and socially accepted overindulgence?  Monks.  But we just won’t tell them about it.  Anyway, I enjoy the festivities.  There is, however, one thing that has always somewhat baffled me about the way people celebrate Fat Tuesday here in southeast Michigan, at least.

Paczkis.  The overwhelming obsession with paczkis.  I mean…why?

Now don’t hate me.  I know that already some of you are going, “Oh my god, you did not just say that,” and others are going, “You didn’t mean it; I forgive you,” and still others are going, “What the hell is a paczki?  And how do you even pronounce it?”  A paczki, pronounced here as puntj-ki, is a Polish pastry made of fried dough filled with jam. Continue reading

Does making a Bart Simpson/Butterfinger joke make me old?  No, of course not, don’t be silly.  But the fact that the Simpsons as we know them debuted on my seventh birthday in 1989 makes me feel old.  And awesome at the same time.  I never liked Butterfingers as a kid, cowabunga-cred notwithstanding.  Even now, I don’t eat them.  I much prefer my candy bars to either be all chocolate and nuts or contain vast amounts of caramel.  Josh, though, Josh loves Butterfingers.  Josh likes any combination of peanut butter and chocolate but Butterfingers are his go-to candy bar when we’re on the road and we’ve stopped in to a gas station for a pick-me-up.  So when I started experimenting in making homemade versions of popular candy bars last year, this was his request, and it was seconded by my friend Tim.  I sort of slowed down the candy-train a bit over the last few months due to just being busy with other things but now, spring is in the air, Valentine’s Day has come and gone, Easter is around the corner…the allure of melted chocolate is once again knocking on the proverbial door.  Continue reading

This cupcake has a nice body, butter face…

I wasn’t doing a lot of baking for a bit there recently and in the meantime, my Calder delivery kept coming.  By last Friday, I had amassed a small cholesterol-y fortune to the tune of about 4.5 pounds of butter in my pantry.  I thought to myself, I should probably whittle that down before it goes bad.  So I did what any other me in my situation would do: I made cornbread.  And cookies.  And those triple chocolate brownies that I’m convinced could easily be the flavonoid-filled death of some otherwise healthy person.  But it wasn’t enough.  By the end of the weekend, I still had a pound and a half of butter.  At least that’s a reasonable amount for me.  I can always make another batch or four of cornbread.  I mean, it’s really good cornbread. But I also wanted to try something new.  Frosting.

Generally, I don’t like to make frosting.  I’ve tried before, for cakes and cinnamon rolls, and it always comes out “meh.”  Seriously.  It actually shrugs its sugary shoulders with a bored sounding “meh” as I spread it haphazardly across the top of some otherwise adequate baked concoction.  The frosting is unimpressed with my meager talents at creaming various dairy products with sugar.  Well that’s fine, frosting, cause I don’t like you either.  Really, I don’t.  I’ve never cared for frosting.  Generally find it too sugary–I prefer the cake part.  I don’t like filling either for the same reason.  In fact as a kid, when given a Hostess cupcake, I would peel off the frosted design and then proceed to eat the cake around the filling and then throw the filling away.  What can I say?  That’s just how I roll.  Non-frosted. Continue reading

Comfort Food: Rorschach Cookies

As I’ve probably mentioned before, I tend to bake when I get restless.  Judging from most of my blog entries, I get restless a lot.  But there’s also the fact that I like to have a little something sweet in the evenings and instead of opting for a couple cookies made by some questionable elven folk, I prefer to satisfy my sweet tooth with a couple small creations of my own.  One, because as we established, I’m already restless and it’s something to do, and two, because I’m very much in a place where I prefer to know exactly what’s in my food and to eat food that’s…well, recognizable and pronounceable.

So the other night, I had one of these moments.  A little voice in my head said, “Bake something,” which I figure is better than a little voice in my head telling me to “burn things.”  Hopefully, anyway.  And after looking through my pantry, which is getting a little low on things–like eggs–, and then flipping through my Evernote cookbook, I finally settled on a classic: sugar cookies.

Like I said in the grilled cheese sandwich post, Fall totally revs up my need for comforting foods and sugar cookies are one of them.  While chocolate chip cookies are my absolute no-exceptions favorite cookie of all time, sugar cookies hold a special spot.  When I was a kid, my mom used to make sugar cookies at Christmas and I would help…so that I could steal bits of the raw dough and eat them while watching my sister play Super Mario Bros.  The 80s were a magical time indeed.  So I love them because of that memory but to be honest, I don’t like to bake them often because one, they often require a lot more time and rolling and whatnot and two, they don’t have chocolate on them.

Well this recipe addresses both of those points.  Both. Continue reading

Pamper Yourself

I finally did it last night.  I finally used up the last half of a bag of chocolate nibs and made another batch of my favorite bath scrub ever, the chocolate bath scrub. When I got out of the shower, I was soft and luxurious feeling.  It was excellent.  Now, almost 24 hours later, my skin still feels fantastic, no lotion necessary.  So I’m basking in my own glow as I write this post on my also-finally-finished foodie skin care e-pamphlet, “Play With Your Food.”  It’s my gift to you, free, full of little tidbits I’ve gathered from the farthest reaches of the intarwebs on all the great ways you can use foods you probably keep in the kitchen all the time to pamper yourself and your skin.  And let me tell you, nothing wakes you up better than the smell of chocolate in your shower.  Except maybe a bullhorn.  Or a car crashing through your window.  But nothing else.

Download the “Play with Your Food” free e-pamphlet.

Why don’t you take a little time out with me, just Take 5….

Take 5...leave the rest

I’m calling these my homemade Take 5 bars but really, there are only four lights ingredients.  Caramel.  Chunky peanut butter.  Pretzel.  And chocolate.  Oh unless you count awesome as an ingredient.

These candy bars came as a request, as pretty much all my candy bars do, this time from my friend Chase.  He sent me a recipe, which I pretty much ignored, as I am wont to do.  The story goes something like this:

Once upon a time, in the magical land of NotOhio, there was a little boy.  One day, this little boy felt a rumbly in his tumbly and lo, headed off in the direction of the nearest 7-Eleven to find something to sate his orangutan-sized hunger.  He perused the aisles of this and that, passing Hershey bars and Reese’s peanut butter cups and something called a Goober when his eyes fell upon a beautiful stranger the likes of which he had never seen before, a coquettish, salty yet sweet little minx all wrapped up in  red.  Hey you, she called out, you, with the face.  Why don’t you take a little time out with me?  Just Take 5, just Take 5…”

I’m just going to leave that right there. Continue reading

Toffee Break: Homemade Heath Bars

I want to make a disclaimer on this post: I don’t really eat that much junk food.  Honestly.  I know it seems like it, what with every other post being a chocolate cake or a marshmallow mousse or fruity alcoholic drink or yet another homemade candy bar.  I eat a lot of fruit, veggies, whole grains and nonfat dairy.  Honestly.  It’s just that those things aren’t nearly as fun to write about.

But anyway.  Let’s move on to the topic at hand.  Which is a post on yet another homemade candy bar!  But not just any candy bar: homemade Heath bars.  Do you know what a Heath bar is?  I didn’t.  It’s toffee, wrapped in chocolate.  Do you know what toffee is?  Sugar and butter.  Which is then smothered in chocolate.  So that’s three essential food groups right there.  Oh and there’s nuts, too, so that’s…you know…vitamin E.  And protein…

My boss Lynne requested these.  And I blame Jeff.  He started this, requesting a batch of homemade Snickers bars, which turned out remarkably well.  Then another coworker requested M&Ms, which I haven’t figured out yet, and then Lynne requested Heath bars for her birthday.  Now that those are conquered, I’ll have to work on Take 5 bars, Butterfingers and Twixes.  And then I’m going to fall into a deep sugar coma that will hopefully last all winter, so I can skip the whole “freezing my butt off” thing.

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Chocolate Marshmallow Mousse. It’s real and it’s beautiful.

All right, menfolk.  This post is for you.  Not because I think you’ll like it (I do) and not because I thought, you know, I should really reach out to the men who read this site (I didn’t) and not because I’m hoping that by doing you this favor, you’ll repay me by moving some furniture (seriously, I need to buy a new bed).  No, no.  I’m doing you this favor out of the kindness of my own heart.  And if you happen to be around when I’m moving a new bed in, well…that’s just random.  Entirely random.

But pay close attention to this post.  Because you need to learn to make this dish.  This dish is your “get out of man-jail free” card.  It is easy to make, it looks impressive, it is delicious and it’s so chocolaty I think I might die just thinking about it.  Your significant other will adore you for it—girlfriend, boyfriend, real doll, doesn’t matter.  Seriously.  Well I’m not serious about the Real Doll.  But maybe you are.  Who am I to judge?  The point is, this dessert is your chance to be the Old Spice Guy.

I should make a note here—I ran out of milk yesteryday.  So where it says “3/4 cup of milk,” I actually used cream.  It made it extremely rich and delicious, but if you don’t want the insides of your partner’s body to turn into molten rivers of chocolate and fat, you might want to stick with the milk.  I also topped mine with grated chocolate because I like extra chocolate on my chocolate.  Continue reading

200th Post! Homemade Snickers Bars

Oh yeah, we’ve hit the big time here.  That’s right, this is my 200th post on this blog.  200 entries of deliciousness, tastiness, snarkiness and about 1,322.57 other -nesses that need not be named.  I had to prepare something special for this momentous occasion.  I decided to make something that covered all the bases: included chocolate and caramel, wasn’t something you’d generally think of making on your own, had a few different steps but wasn’t overly complicated.  Snickers bars.

You can think our friend Jeff for this.  At some point, Jeff got the bright idea that if he just posted a recipe to my facebook page, I would then make it for him.  It was a risky gamble.  Actually, not that risky.  He was pretty much right.  As I’ve proven here.  Anyway, he posted a link to this recipe for snickers bars.  I was intrigued.  I like making my own candy–I mean, so far I’ve done mints, peanut butter cups, chocolate and turtles.  But I’d never made nougat before.  Or as complicated a candy as a Snickers bar.  And I love Snickers bars.  I love anything that includes chocolate, caramel and nuts.  So I gave it a go. Continue reading

Strawberries are just little red mountains

I have been to the mountaintop.

No, really.  I just got back this weekend from a cruise to Alaska and I really did stand on top of a mountain.  Not a very tall mountain, mind you, and it’s not like I was climbing up it, huffing and puffing with my faithful sherpa, Hodgkiss, a few patient yards ahead of me, doing all the real work.  No, I was very comfortably ferried up there by bus, 3300 feet up into one of the most beautiful landscapes anywhere.

So yes, Alaska was fantastic.  I was looking forward to it (I wanted to see whales—and did!) and it did not disappoint.  I mean, who knew that me, Little Miss Sunshine who is always either in front of a computer or iPhone screen, could enjoy being completely wifi-free in the frozen northwest?  Although I will be honest…it wasn’t exactly “frozen.”  Well, parts of it were.  We did see the Sawyer Glacier and that was pretty frozen, as you can imagine.

But the rest of the time, we were blessed with 70 degree, sunny weather.  And the highlight?  Part of me (the cheeky part) wants to say that it was seeing a street performer dressed as Darth Vader playing the violin.

Continue reading

Move Over Wonka

Oompa Loompa doopity doo;
I’ve got a little lesson for you.
Oompa Loompa doopity dee;
Reading this post will make you hungry.

What do you get when you put in the mix
a bit of sugar and a whole lot of nibs?
Make your own chocolate in one little batch.
What do you think of that?

I really like the looks of it.

Oompa Loompa doopity da;
You can make your own chocolate bar.
You will live in happiness, too,
like the Oompa Loompa doopity do!
Continue reading

We don’t need no stinkin’ restaurant…

this is what heaven looks like…for dessert.

I’m not feeling super impressed with restaurants lately, I have to admit.  Some restaurants never disappoint me, like Beezy’s in Ypsi or Mahek in Ann Arbor.  But then there are other restaurants, mostly chains, who shall remain nameless, where I leave disappointed and annoyed at having dropped $25 on a crappy dinner for two.  It’s especially terrible because I know I could cook way better than that.  But sometimes I’m tired or lazy or haven’t been shopping or want to hang out with friends.  So I go out.  Again and again.  And then I return home, financially and gastronomically poorer than when I left.  In fact, while sitting at one of these restaurants that shall rename nameless with Josh today, I ruminated on the lack of enjoyment I got from they referred to as a “pulled pork sandwich.”  I’ve had pulled pork.  I’ve made pulled pork.  And this, sir, was no pulled pork.  It was just a glob of overly and poorly cooked flesh draped in sauce.  Some poor pig actually died for that.  And that’s not right.

The fate of that poor pig dropped upon me another flash in what’s been a long-running yet still staggering revelation about about my personal relationship with food.  However, that is a story for another day, children.  Instead, we should focus on what I had for dessert.

Chocolate. Continue reading


kebab's your uncle

It’s a rare day in Michigan.  82 degrees, sunny, beautiful.  Not a raindrop, not a snowflake in sight.  Did you hear that? SunshineWarm weather. Keep a snapshot of this day in your mind; it may never happen again.

So I decided to celebrate in proper form.  With food on a stick.

The first thing was dinner.  Josh wanted grilled Polish sausages and potato salad, but that felt just a bit too midwestern for my taste, so while I made him that, I made something more Lauren-friendly for me.  The inspiration from this came from a Tyler Florence show once in which he made a salad with grilled chicken sausage and bread.  I figured it would be a good basis for an antipasto skewer.  I enjoy Mediterranean-inspired meals and this one is easily adaptable and super easy to make, especially because the chicken sausage was precooked.  I enjoy easy, tasty meals that allow me to be outside and lounge and eat with my hands. In fact, I find very few things as relaxing as eating a light, delicious meal with my fingers while sitting in the sunlight.  I don’t know what it is.  Things you eat with your fingers are just inherently more delicious than things you eat off a fork or a spoon or even the fabled spork.  Also, sunny days chasing the clouds away on my way to where the air is sweet make everything taste better.

By the way, you get bonus cookies if you got that reference. Continue reading

Friday Foodie Finds: the Brownie Edition

The weather in Michigan has once again turned against me.  Rain, 40 degrees, cloudy.  Spring is definitely here.  It’s enough to make a girl reach for a giant stack of chocolate.  It’s a good thing for me that I have entire shelf in my pantry devoted to chocolate.  Really, I do.  Milk chocolate, semisweet, dark chocolate.  Chips, cocoa powder, bars.  Chocolate sugar.  I really like chocolate.  Maybe too much….ha.  Just kidding.  You can never like chocolate too much.

So to soothe your soul until the warm weather comes back (which will hopefully be tomorrow), today’s Foodie Finds are brownie-centric:

  • Sea Salt Caramel Brownies from doughmesstic
  • Chocolate Caramel Tarte from Taste…not exactly a brownie…but close enough
  • Brownie pops...because everything is better on a stick
  • Chocolate Valentino from Sugarlaws is actually a flourless chocolate cake…but isn’t that just a really fudgy brownie?
  • a Chocolate Microwave Mug cake/brownie…which I want to try…but can’t…seeing as how I lack a microwave now.  So someone try it and tell me how it is.  I can taste it vicariously.
  • And just in case you feel a bit guilty for making these delicious, delectable treats…here’s a link on why home-made cakes are healthier (if not actually healthy…definitely not actually healthy) than boxed mixes!  Don’t you feel better?

Happy Friday!

Gianduja Brownies, click for recipe