Peanut Butter ~ Salted Pretzel Balls

This is seriously the easiest treat to whip together. Plop yourself in front of the tv with a friend and commence to rolling out the balls. Take advantage of your little gremlins to help get all the balls rolled and then you can get to the dippin. I like the crunch of the Himalayan salt on top-don’t skip that part; it helps make them extra special. The salt I had was a little coarse so I bashed it (yes that’s a cooking technical term) in my mortar and pestle until it was a wee bit finer in texture. With all the other time sensitive treats you may be whipping up these don’t take much time to crank out.

Happy Holidays!

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter ~ Salted Pretzel Balls

1 stick (1/2 Cup) unsalted butter, room temp

3/4 Cup smooth peanut butter; such as Jif (not natural style)

pinch of kosher salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla

3 Cups confectioners sugar, sifted

1/2 Cup salted pretzel thin sticks (cut into small pieces)

10 oz. bag Ghirardelli dark chocolate melting wafers

pink Himalayan salt for garnish

Cream the butter, peanut butter, and salt together until smooth. Switch to the whisk attachment and blend in the sugar a cup at a time until combined. Add in the pretzel pieces and stir until combined. Using about a tablespoon roll into balls. Place the balls onto a parchment lined tray and chill until firm; about 30 minutes.

Melt the chocolate wafers in the microwave in 30 second increments; taking out to stir and keeping close watch so the chocolate does not burn. Once melted dip the balls using either a fork or a chocolate dipping loop and place onto the tray and immediately sprinkle with the pink salt. Once all the balls have been dipped place in the fridge to set up completely. Let come to room temperature to serve.

Chocolate Kahlua Mousse Pie

Okay, I cannot tell you how much I love this pie. It is insanely good, like seriously no joke. If you can stir- you can make this pie. Its stupid easy. I don’t want to hear any excuses. I mean it- I’m not kidding. Can you press a crumb crust into a pie-shell? Check. Whip some cream? Check. Melt some chocolate? Check. See- you can make this pie. Okay, now my picture doesn’t really do it justice how high this sucker really is, (cuz I hastily snapped a pic before running out the door to my neighbors with it) but trust me its like 4-5 inches high. People will ooh and ahhh when you bring it out. I used the trick of adding in non fat milk powder into the whipping cream which will hold the cream without weeping for days in the fridge- not that it will last that long, because as soon as people taste it they’re gonna go gaga over it, and it will be gone in 2 seconds. Girls! This is proposal worthy!!! Make it- report back to me haha!

Chocolate Kahlua Mousse Pie

(recipe adapted adapted slightly from Serious Eats)

Chocolate press in crust:

Chocolate wafers; process to fine crumbs to equal 8 oz (this is 36 cookies if using Famous Nabisco brand). I reserve the remaining 8 cookies to crush coarsely (this is 3 oz. if measuring). (I used Nabisco brand-you can use Oreo if you like)

*Note; if you use Oreo-discard the filling and only use the cookie part

1 stick (8 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted

2 tsp. sugar

pinch of salt

1 tsp. water

Place 8 oz. of the crumbs in a large bowl and stir in melted butter, 2 tsp. sugar, pinch of salt, and one 1 tsp. of water; the mixture will be very moist; but this is intentional since it’s no bake; it needs to be this wet. Trust me. Press into the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie plate and chill until firm.

Chocolate Kahlua Mousse filling:

8 oz. Bittersweet dark chocolate, chopped fine ( I used Trader Joes Dark Chocolate- the one in the Pound Plus brown wrapper)

3/4 tsp. powdered un-flavored gelatin

1 Tbsp. water

6 Tbsp. Kahlua liquor

3 1/3 Cups heavy cream, very cold, divided

Place 1 Tbsp. of water in a small microwave proof bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over and let sit for 5 minutes to bloom. In a medium heat proof bowl place the chocolate and melt over a pot of simmer water until melted.

Heat the gelatin mixture for 10-15 seconds in the microwave to melt.

Into the melted chocolate whisk in 6 tablespoons Kahlua until combined. Whisk in the melted gelatin.

Whip 2 1/3 cups of the remaining heavy whipping cream along with 1 tablespoon of sugar to medium peaks. Fold the cream into the chocolate in 3 batches until combined. Fold in the remaining 3 oz. of coarsely crushed cookies. Pour into the chilled crust and let the pie chill until completely set; about 3-4 hours.

Stabilized whipped cream

1 Cup cold heavy cream

1 Tablespoon confectioners sugar

1 Tablespoon non-fat milk powder

Place the cold heavy cream in a mixer bowl and ad in the milk powder and confectioners sugar and beat until firm peaks. Place on top of the pie (use a piping nozzle if you like to add a decorative touch) and decorate as desired with any chocolate pearls or chocolate shavings or chocolate sprinkles. I used Valrhona chocolate crunchy pearls which adds a nice contrasting crunch.

Pomegranate Curd,Mini Tarts

Pomegranate Curd and Mini Tarts

I am lucky to live near a fresh farmers market with really cheap produce. They had pomegranates for 50 cents a piece. I bought 4 of them. I’ve seen them in the grocery stores for 4 for 5 dollars.

Quite often people are intimidated on opening a pomegranate, but it couldn’t be more simple. You simply cut down in an angle with 1/2 centimeter cuts around the crown-pop out the crown and then cut a series of 3-4 cuts down the sides of the pom with 1/2 cm cuts. Then using your thumb placed into where the crown was and pull back each section. The best was to release the arils is to have a deep bowl of cold water and place the sections up side down under the water and push out the arils. The white membranous pieces will float to the top of the bowl so you can scoop it out to toss. Once you have all the arils in your bowl then strain the contents through a strainer. There is nothing more beautiful than fresh pomegranate juice created by placing in a high speed blender. The color is stunning.

Cream cheese press in crust (makes 24 mini tarts)

1 stick butter, cubed at room temp

3 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 Cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. sugar

pinch of salt

In a large shallow bowl combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and cream cheese. Using a fork mix to combine into one cohesive mass. Knead gently into a ball to gather up any scrappy bits of dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for 30 mins.

Remove the tart dough from the fridge and using a non stick mini muffin pan press about a 1 measured tablespoon size ball (14.5 grams) into the wells of each mini muffin well. Bake at 350 for about 15 -17 mins until lightly golden brown. Remove the tin from the oven and immediately use a rounded measuring 1/2 tsp. to flatten the bottom and sides if puffy. Let cool. When cool, top with pomegranate curd and top with stablized whipped cream, a few pomegranate arils and a sugared tiny mint leaf or a fresh cleaned mint leaf and sprinkle with confectioners sugar.

Pomegranate Curd

(makes about 2 cups) you will have some leftover which you can freeze

7 Tablespoons butter (cut into small pieces)

Scant 1 Cup sugar (measured slightly less full)

2 eggs

1 Cup pomegranate juice (You can use fresh or bottled)

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (it helps with a tang)

In a saucepan place all the ingredients and stir over low to medium low heat until the butter starts to melt and the sugar starts to dissolve a bit. Once the butter has melted switch to a whisk and whisk continuously over medium low heat until it starts to bubble and continue whisking until it thickens and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain mixture into a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap directly onto the surface and cool in the refrigerator. It will thicken more once it has completely cooled.

Stablized whipped cream

1 Cup heavy cream; very cold (I also put the mixer bowl and whisk in the fridge for about 30 minutes)

1 Tablespoon non fat dry milk powder

1 Tablespoon powdered sugar

Place all the ingredients into a cold mixer bowl and whisk until medium peaks.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls


Are you a pumpkin spice lover or hater? I’m a lover. You haters must have a wee bit of a hard time this year as pumpkinpalooza explodes over everything-showering us with “punkin” delights. Ohhh…me- I love everything spice. Spice is the fruit of life; it’s what makes everything better. Have you ever had a cinnamon roll that just fell flat and didn’t have enough goo or cinnamon between the layers? yeah. I know. It’s a crime. Sooo calorie not worthy. There’s nothing worse than blowing your diet for a non calorie worthy bite. Of anything. This pumpkin roll will not disappoint. This is the roll where you eat salad all week-saving up your calories for just the right moment on a Sunday morning with a cup of Joe for. Promise. I can guarantee you it’s worth every calorie. Truth be told I think I had one roll on the tray that the very inner middle was a wee bit underdone. It was extra gooey and saturated with cinnamon goodness and extra pillowy soft. The Husband exclaimed “Honey, I think it’s a bit underdone” and I retorted; “Yeah, well some people would pay for that inner bite of goo”. He left it on the plate and I’m telling you….I went for that bite and it was pure nirvana. NIRVANA! He was born in Asia; so he didn’t grow up with cinnamon rolls where you know the most coveted bite is that inner piece of cinnamon jackpot bliss. His loss, my gain. Ok, enough of me waxing poetic, and onto the recipe…..

p.s. I cannot tell you how soft and luscious this dough is to work with and roll out. Shout out to Melskitchencafe for her recipe. I doesn’t fight you back when rolling; truth be told I pressed it out almost 80 percent and then just finished by rolling it even. It is that easy to work with. Something to do with that added moistness of the pumpkin makes it a divine dough.


Pumpkin Dough

( dough recipe from Mels Kitchen cafe)

3/4 Cup buttermilk, warmed to ~ 110 degrees F

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

1 large egg

2/3 Cup pumpkin puree (I swear by Libby’s it’s the only one I use)

1/4 C granulated sugar

1 Tbsp. instant (rapid rise yeast)

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp. ground ginger

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

4-5 Cups all purpose flour (I use unbleached)

In the stand mixer bowl add the warmed buttermilk and butter and mix together. With the mixter running add in the pumpkin, egg, spices and 1 cup of flour. Switch to the dough hook and add in the flour and add a cup of the flour at a time until the dough collects on the hook and beat/kneed until the dough becomes tacky but not sticky. When you touch the dough it should not stick to your finger when you pull it away from the dough; it will feel tacky but no residue of dough will stay; that’s when you know the dough is ready.

Remove dough and shape into a ball and place into a large lightly greased bowl. (The paper from the butter wrapper is perfect to grease the bowl with). Place in a warm spot and over with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. You can speed up the rise if you place in a lightly warmed oven. I turned on my oven to 150 ° F then immediately turned it off; waited 5 mins then parked the bowl in the turned off oven. My dough rose in one hour this way.

When the dough is ready turn it out onto a lightly greased counter and press into a rectangular shape. Roll out gently until it is 16 x 12 inches. Spread the softened butter onto the dough leaving about a centimeter of space on all sides and sprinkle over all the cinnamon filling. It will seem like a lot of filling; but make sure to use it all. Press gently with the hands to allow the filling to adhere to the butter. With the long side in front of you roll up the dough as tightly as possible and pinch the dough together to seal. Cut into 12 equal pieces and place in lightly greased 9×13 inch pan or line the pan with parchment paper.

Cover the pan of rolls and allow to rise one more time in a warm place. (used the oven trick again for this and mine took only 40 mins to rise).

Preheat the oven to 350° F and bake for 22-25 mins or until lightly golden and cooked through. Mine took exactly 22 mins. Check at the 20 min mark though because you don’t want to over bake them. You want them still pillowy soft.

Let the rolls rest for about 6 mins, then pour over the glaze while they are still warm.


Cinnamon Filling

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

3/4 C brown sugar ( I used 2/4 and 1/4 dark)

2 tsp. cinnamon ( I use Saigon cinnamon) (use what you have)


Cream Cheese Icing  (my recipe)

4 oz. Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

1 tsp. vanilla

3 Cups confectioners sugar

2 Tbsp. whole milk as needed to adjust consistency (depending on how runny you like your icing)

Cream the cream cheese and butter together until combined. Add in the sugar a cup at a time and beat until smooth; (I just do this in a bowl; no need for the mixer). Stir in the vanilla and milk. Adjust the consistency with the milk as needed. Let the rolls rest about 6 mins then pour over the warm rolls.




Mojito Macarons


Rum. Mint. Lime. Did I mention rum? Three of my favorite flavors is probably why I love a good mojito, so no surprise why a mojito macaron was something I had to try. I made these family friendly though and used rum emulsion flavoring. My first filling try I actually used a little rum but it wasn’t “rummy” enough on flavor. I’ll be honest-I toyed around with this filling for three tries until I got it just right. I got a little angry with it until I found the right balance. Mint is one of those subjective things too; either you like it real minty or subtle. The beauty though is it’s all up to you.


Macaron Shells

124 g confectioners sugar

140 g almond flour

108 g fresh egg whites (I don’t age mine)

110 g granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

assorted green gel food colors (I used a swirl of mint green, electric green, avocado green, and mojito green)

  1. In a food processor place the almond flour and confectioners sugar and run for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides so the mixture settles into the processor bowl. Repeat this 2 more times, then sift mixture through a strainer (it doesn’t have to be fine) over a large bowl (I use a 5 quart size stainless steel bowl). Preheat the oven to 300° F convection, 325° F for non convection setting. Prepare two baking sheets with Silpat mats. I use these mats by Velesco (you can get 2 for 13 dollars on Amazon).
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer place the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar and whisk by hand to combine. Place over a ban marie and stir gently for about 5 minutes until the mixture reaches about 130° F or when you touch the mixture with your index and thumb fingers you don’t feel any sugar crystals. Remove from the heat and place on the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and start the meringue by running mixer on  power level 4 (Kitchen Aide) and run for about 3 minutes.  Stop once to scrape the sides of the bowl to push down the mixture that appears on the sides.
  3. Increase mixer then to power level 6-8 and run until the meringue is stiff peaks and it has started leaving tracks in the meringue and a good portion has collected inside the whisk . A sign that meringue is ready is there will be a good amount collected within the whisk and if you turn the bowl upside down the meringue will not slip or move. If you stop the mixer and tap the whisk gently on the side of the mixer bowl it will look like a bird beak; the meringue is stiff but it has a slight hooked curve when holding the whisk horizontally. If the color does not appear to be mixer to your liking at this point I add in any color and mix gently by; being careful not to overmix.
  4. Add one half of almond flour/sugar mix and start folding with a rubber spatula until mixture starts to look cohesive. Add in the remaining half and continue to gently fold, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The batter is perfect when you lift up the spatula and tip the pointed end of the spatula down and ribbons of batter fall smoothly back into the bowl. I like to gauge its ready when I can count 6-7 continuous ribbons falling without breaking and I can “draw” a figure 8 with the batter when lifting the spatula and letting it fall into the bowl. Fill your pastry bag by using a heavy tall cup or mason jar to hold your pastry bag with the top folded over the glass. When preparing your bag after you drop in your round tip (I use Ateco 804), twist the bag right above the larger end of the tip and push it down into tip. Fold the top 4 inches of the bag over the jar or glass.
  5. Let the batter fall right into the bottom of the bag and continue filling to ensure you don’t get air bubbles. When ready to pipe and all of the batter is in the bag, twist the top of the bag and when ready to pipe, push down with your dominant hand to force the bottom of the tip to open.
  6. Pipe the batter onto prepared baking sheet with 30 macarons per sheet. Six across the long side, and five rows perpendicular. Take the sheet pan and let it drop onto the counter about 5-7 times, then look for any visible air bubbles and pop with a toothpick or bamboo skewer. Bake the first tray right away (no resting), in a preheated (convection oven if you have at 300° F , 325° F for NON convection oven*) for about 16-18 minutes or until the cookie does not wiggle when attempting to check by carefully grabbing both sides of a cookie and gently testing. Let the tray rest on a wire rack and then bake the second tray.  After the cookies have cooled about 8-10 minutes turn them upside down and let the cool on the tray until completely cooled. (I find this helps prevent hollow shells)
  7. Cool the cookies completely and pipe a ring of mojito buttercream. In the middle of the ring pipe a small amount of the lime burst flavored filling. Top with a macaron shell and sandwich together.
  8. Chill the macarons in an airtight container for 24-48 hours to impart flavor and help soften the macarons to desired chewiness. Bring to room temp to enjoy.


Mojito Ganache: Mint, Lime and Rum Ganache

6 oz. white chocolate chopped fine

1 1/2 oz. heavy cream

1 dropper full of lime oil

zest of 2 limes

4-5 stalks of fresh mint leaves removed, washed and chopped fine

1/4 tsp. rum bakery emulsion flavoring (I used Lorann brand)

In a microwave proof bowl place the chopped chocolate and the cream and microwave in 30 second intervals; stopping to stir until mixture is cohesive and chocolate is melted; which no small bits showing. Stir in the lime oil, zest, fresh mint, and rum flavoring. Cover with plastic wrap.

Chill or keep at room temperature until the mixture has firmed up.


Lime “Burst” Center Filling 

7 oz. sweetened condensed milk

2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

zest of two limes

In a small bowl stir together the ingredients until combined. Chill until mixture becomes more firm.