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Trix Cereal Bark

Trix BarsWhen planning a big party where you are making most of the food, you want to make sure to include some quick and easy recipes so you’re not slaving in the kitchen all day.  Another good idea is to plan menu items that can be prepped in advance.  This Trix Cereal Bark fits both categories.

The presentation of these is perfect for kids’ parties.  You might think the combination is strange, but the flavor even wins over the adults.  It did at Judah’s party!

Although “Trix” is in the title, you can definitely use a generic brand cereal.  I used a generic brand for two reasons.  It was cheaper, and for some reason Trix is selling their cereal right now with swirled colors.  Not the look I was going for.  I wanted solid colored cereal balls to match the color theme of Judah’s party.  Yes, I panicked a bit when I saw only the new swirled Trix cereal at my usual grocery store.  But, I headed over to another store and found a generic brand that kept the solids.  Perfect!

To make these, just take a bar of white chocolate, melt it, spread it and pour Trix cereal over it.  That’s it!  Well, you then chill it and break it, but that’s the easiest of the easy!  That is, if you don’t count eating it.  🙂

Trix Cereal Bark

Printable Recipe

8 oz white chocolate bar, broken into pieces
1 cup Trix cereal (or generic brand, as I used)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl for 1 minute (stirring half way).  Stir until smooth and pour onto prepare baking sheet.  Carefully spread chocolate into approximately a 10- x 6- inch rectangle, about 1/4- inch thick.  Scatter the cereal over the chocolate and gently press.

Chill until hardened.  Break into pieces and serve immediately or store in fridge.

Source:  Adapted from Tablespoon

(This month we are giving back to the King family.  Visit Pennies on a Platter from January 1st to 31st to increase the blog hits which will in turn raise more money for Veronica and her children.  Please read this post for more information. You may also make a monetary donation by clicking on the PayPal button in the left hand column above.)

Chocolate Haystacks

Chocolate HaystacksThis is not the first recipe post of the new year you want to read if you have made a resolution to start eating healthier.  I’m not one to make new year resolutions, so in a sense I’m rebelling and trying to drag you down with me.  🙂  These cookies have been in my family for quite some time now.  One of the easiest (no bake) cookies to make!

The ingredients may sound strange…chow mein noodles, butterscotch and chocolate?  What?!  Actually, many haystack cookies are made with only butterscotch chips, giving it the light tan color that appears more like a haystack.  Others stir in peanuts, marshmallows or other fun additions.  I personally love the butterscotch and chocolate combination along with keeping it simple, leaving out the extras.

These cookies will surprise you.

Chocolate Haystacks

Printable Recipe

Yield: TBD (I didn’t count and will update when I make them again)

6 ounces butterscotch chips
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 to 4 cups dry chow mein noodles

Line sheets of wax paper on kitchen counter or on large cookie sheets.

In a medium heavy saucepan, melt the butterscotch and chocolate chips over low heat, stirring frequently.  When chips are almost completely melted, remove pan from heat and continue to stir until smooth.  Stir in the chow mein noodles, combining until all noodles are covered with the chocolate mixture.

Drop by tablespoons onto wax paper and let cool until hardened.  Store in an airtight container, with sheets of wax paper in between each layer to avoid cookies sticking together.

Source: Pennies Original

(This month we are giving back to the King family.  Visit Pennies on a Platter from January 1st to 31st to increase the blog hits which will in turn raise more money for Veronica and her children.  Please read this post for more information. You may also make a monetary donation by clicking on the PayPal button in the left hand column above.)

Governor Bars

Governor Bars

Are you ready to make one of the most addicting dessert bars ever?  These Governor Bars (I have no clue where this title came from) have definitely become my favorite in just the short weeks since Thanksgiving break.  When I was back in Chicago visiting friends, we had a cookie exchange party and this was one of the contributions.  I fell in love instantly.

Although I know that I have had these before as a child, I never made them myself or even remember having them as an adult.  I’m glad to tap back into my childhood once again, and now just make them whenever I want.  🙂

This is also one of the recipes we made together when I had the college group girls over to bake Christmas treats.  It was a perfect addition to the list as it doesn’t include using the oven, allowing us to bake other yummy cookies.  And, of course you know I can’t resist chocolate and peanut butter together, especially when butterscotch is also involved!!

Governor Bars

Yield: 30 bars

Printable Recipe

6 cups Kellogg’s Rice Krispies (or generic brand)
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup honey
1 cup sugar
12 ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 oz bag butterscotch chips

Place Rice Krispies and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl.  Do not mix together yet; set aside.

Heat the honey and sugar in a medium sauce pan until it is just boiling.  Immediately remove from heat and pour into the bowl with the Rice Krispies and peanut butter.  Mix with a wooden spoon until combined.  Lightly press the mixture into a greased 13- x 9- inch pan.

Melt the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in a microwave safe bowl for about one minute, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir until melted and smooth.  Spread evenly on top of the Rice Krispies.  Let cool until hardened before slicing into bars.

Source:  Kara Conrad, friend of Pennies on a Platter

Chocolate Cupcakes with Candy Cane Buttercream Frosting

Candy Cane Cupcakes4If you want to have a little glimpse of the thoughts that go through my head when writing one of these posts, I can tell you that there is usually an internal debate on what to title a recipe.  Honestly, I sat here for about 15 minutes deciding if I should instead name these Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes for a simpler heading.  But, reason won out with the fact that there are no candy canes in the actual cupcakes.  They are just regular (but delicious!) chocolate cupcakes with all of the peppermint flavor in the (to-die-for) buttercream frosting.

Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes1Funny that I should characterize the frosting as “to-die-for.”  If anyone knows me well, they know I do not love the chocolate/peppermint combination.  Leave the minty flavors for my toothpaste, chewing gum and holiday tea please.  Do NOT ruin my chocolate!  😉  But, with white chocolate added into the buttercream, the peppermint flavor becomes so subtle that it actually is a refreshing delight!  Yes, even mixed with the chocolate cupcakes.

Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes2I was very pleased with how the chocolate cupcakes turned out.  What attracted me to this recipe was the added tablespoons of coffee brew, knowing that it enhances the chocolate flavor.  They were also moist and perfectly puffed for a beautiful presentation.  Both the cupcakes and frosting are easy to prepare, so I’ll be keeping them as “go to” recipes (easily keeping out the peppermint extract flavoring.)

You can see from the photos that I decorated them a few different ways.  Initially, I tried the swirl method of painting red food coloring into the pastry bag before adding the frosting, however, the two cupcakes above were the only ones that turned out right.  I finished the rest with decorations of these very cute candy cane sprinkles

Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes5

and holly sprinkles

Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes3…both given to me by Karen’s Cookies when ordering another one of their products.  This post is in no way sponsored by Karen’s Cookies.  I just love to share my good experiences and recommendations when possible.  It was a super cool surprise to see an extra sample of another product with my orders!

Hope you enjoy these cupcakes as much as I do!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Candy Cane Buttercream Frosting

Printable Recipe

Yield: 2+ dozen cupcakes

For the Chocolate Cupcakes:
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 extra-large or jumbo eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup good cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Line cupcakes pans with paper liners.  Set an oven rack to the middle position of the oven.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until combined.  Increase speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes.  Lower the speed back to medium and add the eggs one at a time.  Mix in the vanilla.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream and coffee; set aside.  Using another medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  Turn the mixer to low speed and alternately add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture to the creamed butter in thirds, starting and ending with the flour mixture.  Mix only until blended, then use a rubber spatula to fold the batter and ensure no flour pockets remain.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake pans.  Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes (20 minutes was perfect for me.)  Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove and allow to completely cool before frosting.

For the Candy Cane Buttercream Frosting:
2 cups butter, at room temperature
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces white chocolate bar, melted and cooled to lukewarm
1 to 2 teaspoons peppermint extract (I used 1 1/2 teaspoons)
Red food coloring (optional)
Sprinkles (optional)

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the powdered sugar, salt and butter until light and fluffy.  Beat in the white chocolate until combined.  Stir in the peppermint flavoring to your taste.  Whip until the frosting reaches your desired consistency (*see recipe note below).

If desired, color with red food coloring.  Scoop frosting into pastry bag fitted with a Wilton 1M star tip and pipe frosting onto the cupcakes.  Optional:  Decorate with candy cane sprinkles.

*Recipe Note: The original recipe calls for 3 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream in order to reach the desired frosting consistency.  I didn’t need it, and therefore saved myself from having to open a package of whipping cream only to use up a tablespoon or two.

Source:  Chocolate Cupcake recipe adapted from Ina Garten via The Food Network, Candy Cane Buttercream Frosting adapted from Peanut Butter and Julie

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Peanut Butter BlossomsPeanut Butter Blossoms are such a classic cookie that most people make only during the holidays.  Can anyone tell me why?  I’ve been hunting for the reason that these aren’t enjoyed all year long!  There isn’t a seasonal ingredient in the recipe, so I’m baffled.

One reason I do not make them all year long is because I forget about them.  Maybe that’s your reason, too?  As I’ve stated before, I love the chocolate and peanut butter combination so I’m not sure why I forget to make these “easy to whip up” cookies.  But, here’s your reminder.  And, maybe I’ll just have to remind you (and myself) again this spring, summer and fall!

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Printable Recipe

Yield:  2 1/2 to 4 dozen*

48 Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 375˚F.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the shortening and peanut butter. Beat in 1/3 cup sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg, milk and vanilla, mixing until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Gradually beat the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until just combined.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in a bowl of sugar.  Place on the prepared cookie sheet.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Immediately remove from the oven and place unwrapped chocolate Kisses into the center of each cookie, slightly pressing.  Allow cookies to cool completely on a cooling rack.

*Recipe Note: You will have to make these cookies pretty small in order to get 48 of them.  My batch turned out to be only about 2 1/2 dozen.

Source:  A Bloggable Life, originally from Hershey’s

Christmas Crunch Cookies

Christmas Crunch CookiesI’m.so.tired.  This week has been a busy yet very fun week.  Saturday was Judah’s first birthday party (so fun!), Monday we had a Christmas party to attend, Tuesday we hosted the college girls for a Christmas baking night and last night we hosted the Ugly Sweater Christmas party where we ate the sweets we baked.  Today, we are finishing off the week with some final Christmas shopping “down the hill”.  (We quickly learned that’s what these desert people call it when you head down the mountain pass towards LA.)  Phew!  ‘Tis the season, huh? 🙂

Because of this busyness, I haven’t even had time to bake for my Christmas baskets.  I’m now toying with not doing it this year.  <sigh>  But, I think I can say I’ve done enough Christmas baking for the season.  There are, however, a couple of recipes I want to try yet this weekend.  We’ll see if I get to them…

Christmas Crunch CookiesThese Christmas Crunch Cookies are one of the sweets we baked together on Tuesday.  I was excited to add this recipe to the list at the last minute because of the Christmas colors in it.  Just pick out the red and green M&M’s, then you can save the rest to make this White Chocolate Chex Mix, or something else you may have in mind.

The super cool thing about these cookies is that the original source also gives instructions on how to assemble most of the ingredients in a jar and give as a gift!  I just wanted to make the cookies, so I didn’t create any jars.  But, I might put it on my “to do” list next year!

Christmas Crunch Cookies

Printable Recipe

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup M&M’s
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup Rice Krispies
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, vanilla and egg.  Add the sugars and cream together until smooth.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and baking powder.  Slowly stir it into the egg mixture.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until blended.  (The dough will be crumbly.)  Drop rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Source:  Blue-Eyed Bakers

Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies

Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies

These next couple of weeks I’m predicting you’ll see quite a few sweets posted here.  I’ll admit, it’s not only because I’m making them for holiday parties or gift baskets, but partially because when winter hits my sweet tooth enhances.  🙂

The other day I was thinking about how I haven’t been using a couple of my cookbooks that I’ve had for a few years.  At the same time, I was craving some chocolate cookies.  So, I dusted off one of the books, opened it up to the cookies section and baked the first chocolate recipe I found where I had everything on hand.  I should’ve known that this recipe would be a bust just by looking at the list of ingredients.  They were like eating chalk!  Fail.

The cookbook I chose to use that day is a compilation of recipes from members of a certain church.  I usually really like this kind of collection as they are tried and true dishes that you probably have enjoyed many times at a church potluck or gathering.  Keeping this in mind, I decided to continue on to the next cookie recipe in this book (again, where I had all ingredients on hand).

Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies2

Enter these Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies.  Oh my!  I’m so glad the previous chocolate cookies were a fail so it forced me to try these instead!  It was interesting to me that it included graham cracker crumbs, but I think it is the “treasure” part of these cookies.  The combination of coconut and chocolate chips with the sweetness from the condensed milk and graham crackers had me at “hello.”  Again, I omitted the walnuts (can you tell I’m not a big walnut fan?) but will still include it in the recipe below.

Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookie

Printable Recipe

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup flaked coconut
12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375˚F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, flour and baking powder; set aside.  In a large mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the condensed milk and butter until smooth.  Add the graham cracker mixture; mix well.  Stir in the coconut, chocolate chips and walnuts.

Drop tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheet.  Bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Source: Sara Mungons via Highland Hills Baptist Church Cookbook, 2000