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I Scream Sandwiches…*
…cookies and ice cream and candy, oh my!  

This is the
ultimate three-in-one dessert and it is customizable to your tastes! With Betty Crocker’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix, I was able to whip up these bad boys in less than 30 minutes! Fudgy chocolate chip cookies, cool ice cream and even more chocolate, what’s not to love? All you need is a few ingredients for the cookies and a tub of your favorite ice cream (I used Moose Tracks for this batch!) The best part about this frozen treat is that it can be made far in advance and will last a long time! I think I will try Dark Chocolate Cookies with Peppermint Ice Cream…or maybe Oatmeal Cookies with Cinnamon Ice Cream next time? Ohhhh the possibilities :)
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 The Cookies…*
1 package Betty Crocker® Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Mix
1 stick butter, softened
1 large egg
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (because you can never have enough chocolate chips!)

The Sandwiches…*
1/2 gallon ice cream
Assorted candies for decoration (Reese’s, M&M’s, Mini Chocolate Chips, York Peppermint Patties…etc.)
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Directions…*
(1) Heat oven to 375° F
(2) Stir softened butter and egg in medium bowl; Stir in cookie mix until soft dough forms
(3) Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.
(For larger cookies yielding 2 dozen, drop by rounded tablespoon)
(4) Bake as directed or until edges are light golden brown
(5) Cool 1 minute before removing from cookie sheet; then cool completely

Assembly…*
(6) Lay half of the cookies bottoms up on a cookie sheet or paper towel
(7) Place candies in separate bowls, large enough for dipping
(8) Use a spatula or ice cream scoop to spread about 1/4 cup of ice cream onto each cookie;
Place the other half of the cookies on top
(9) Roll sandwich into chocolate chips so that they coat the ice cream
(10) Return to cookie sheet and freeze for 2 hours or until they are set;
Serve immediately or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in freezer for later! Enjoy ;)
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Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins…*
 …simple yet beyond satisfying

This is the ultimate muffin to make in a
time-crunch. It’s right off the box of Pillsbury’s Pumpkin Quick Bread and only requires a few additional ingredients. I actually found this recipe online at Pillsbury Baking and knew I just had to try it! Sure enough, it was just as delicious as I hoped! The muffins are moist, full of flavor and resemble a slice of pumpkin pie. They make a wonderful grab ‘n’ go snack, breakfast, or anytime treat!
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The Muffins…*
…Yields 12
1 (14 oz.) package Pillsbury® Pumpkin Quick Bread
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted

The Filling…*
1 cream cheese (8 oz.), softened
1 large egg
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest

The Instructions...*
(1) Preheat oven to 350°F and fill muffin pan with 12 paper liners
(2) Beat cream cheese in medium bowl with electric mixer until soft
(3) Add egg and sugar and beat until smooth
(4) Remove 3/4 cup dry pumpkin mix and set aside in small bowl for topping. Pour the rest of the mix into a bowl.
(5) Add milk, oil and egg to remaining bread mix in large bowl. Stir until blended
(6) Fill each muffin cup with about 1/4 cup batter
(7) Make indentation in batter with spoon and put a small scoop of cream cheese mixture in center of each muffin
(8) Add melted butter to reserved dry mix. Mix with fork until crumbly. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon over each muffin
(9) Bake 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan
  

*Note: The original recipe calls for chopped pecans which I omitted
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Ultimate Hot Cocoa Mix…*
…the perfect, warming treat
I will drink hot chocolate any day of the year, but it is my go-to drink during these cold winter months. I’ve tried quite a few different brands and flavors of this tasty beverage, but nothing compares to a homemade cup of cocoaespecially this recipe. Thanks to Brown Eyed Baker’s Homemade Hot Cocoa, I will never again purchase hot chocolate packets from the store. This mix is simple to make and it is sure to satisfy your taste buds and warm your soul. I highly recommend making this mix for you and your family--it is rich, creamy, sweet, and VERY addicting. Add a handful of plump marshmallows or a dollop of whipped cream to this decadent cocoa and sip away!
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The Ingredients…*
Yield ≈ 20 servings
3 cups nonfat dry milk powder
2 cups powdered sugar
1½ cups cocoa powder
1½ cups white chocolate chips
¼ teaspoon salt


The Cocoa…*
(1) Whisk together all ingredients in a large bowl
(2) Working in two batches, pulse the ingredients in a food processor until the chocolate is finely ground
(3) To make hot cocoa, put 1/3 cup of the cocoa mix in a mug and stir in 1 cup of hot milk and enjoy yourself! :)
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Trail Mix Cookies…*
…an energizing cookie
When I think of trail mix, I picture all of my favorite snack foods in one bowl. What better way to enjoy this tasty treat than to combine it into a cookie? Just like every other fabulous idea, the creation has already been invented. The recipe I decided to use is by GoldMedal and it is jam-packed with flavor and crunchiness. Every bite is filled with an explosive array of chocolate, peanuts, dried cherries and peanut butter. The old-fashioned oats add a nutrient-rich layer and a flavorful punch to the crunchy cookie. These versatile cookies are sure to please everyone!
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The Ingredients…*
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups chocolate candies
1 cup peanuts
3/4 cup raisins (I used dried cherries)

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The Cookies…*
(Yields ≈ 5 dozen cookies)

(1) Heat oven to 375°F

(2)  In a large bowl, beat sugars, peanut butter, butter, shortening, vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until creamy
(3) Stir in flour, oats, baking powder and baking soda thoroughly
(4) Stir in candies, peanuts and raisins (or whatever snacks you decide to use!)

(5) Drop dough by rounded tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet
(6) Flatten slightly with fork
(7) Bake 8-10 minutes, or until light brown
(8) Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack or paper towel until completely cooled (about 25 minutes)
(9) Serve with your favorite beverage & enjoy! :)

 
 
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Custom Chocolate Toppers…*
…an easy way to dress up your desserts

I think I’ve been watching too many episodes of ‘Cupcake Wars’…but I can’t help it—I’m addicted! The contestants are quite talented in creating elegant cupcakes with limited ingredients and time. The one thing I’ve noticed from every episode is how gorgeous their cupcakes look with a few quick tricks. I was inspired to create custom chocolate toppers to add to my desserts as a way of dressing them up a little. These delicate toppersare extremely easy and fun to make. As long as you have a Ziploc bag or pastry bag handy, you can craft melted chocolate into any shape, letter, or design that you can dream up. Enough of the talk—let’s get started!

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The Chocolate…*
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or any chocolate)
microwave safe bowl for melting

(1)
Empty chocolate chips into microwave safe bowl

(2) Microwave morsels in 30 second intervals, stirring in between until chocolate is completely melted
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Chocolate Designs...*
(1) Line counter with wax paper and tape corners down to keep in place
(2) Spoon or pour melted chocolate into bag
(3) Snip the corner or tip of bag and begin drawing designs directly onto the wax paper
(4) Let chocolate completely cool and harden before attempting to remove from wax paper
(5) Store in airtight container at room-temperature or in refrigerator
(6) Decorate frosted cakes, pies, muffins, cupcakes, frozen ice cream treats or drinks!

My Secret...*
I placed a sheet of paper underneath the wax paper with designs already drawn out. I was able to replicate the designs by tracing over them with the chocolate onto the waxed paper. Another idea would be to find designs off the internet and in magazines to trace or to use for inspiration! Be creative and have fun... :)
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Chocolate Banana Bites…*
…a bite-sized chocolatey treat
[[Featured in Health magazine: January 2011]]

Aside from peanut butter, chocolate pairs perfectly with a sweet, ripe banana. Top off this cool combo with your favorite candy bar or salted nuts and you have the recipe for deliciousness. These bites are full of flavor and style. Simple. Elegant. Tasty. Enough said—now let’s get dippin’!
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Banana Bites…*
4 ripe bananas
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Assorted toppings for coating bananas (Crushed M&M’s, peanuts, shredded coconut, Reese’s, toffee bits, Butterfingers…etc.) 

(1)
Peel and freeze the bananas ahead of time.

(2) In microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips in 30 second increments, stirring well after each, until chocolate is completely smooth
(3) Remove banana from freezer and slice into thick chunks
(4) Dip each piece hallway into chocolate, and then roll in topping of choice
(5) Place banana pieces on wax-paper lined baking sheet and pop back into freezer for an additional 15 minutes, or until set
(6) Serve immediately, or keep in freezer for up to 3 hours. Enjoy J 
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Warm Cinnamon Pears…*
...a guiltless indulgence
Featured in Health magazine: January 2011


As much as I love my chocolate, it’s nice when I come across a healthy dessert that satisfies my sweet tooth without the guilt. This 15-minute fix couples
ripe Bartlett pears with creamy ricotta cheese and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a
simple, yet satisfying dessert.  With only three ingredients, it is easy to make this tasty treat whenever you’re craving something sweet!
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The Pears…*
2 ripe pears
(1) Preheat broiler or toaster oven
(2) Halve and core pears (an ice cream scooper works great!)
(3) Place pears on baking sheet, cut side up
(4) Broil until tender (9-12 minutes)


The Cinnamon Ricotta…*
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
(1) In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese and cinnamon
(2) Top warm pear with ricotta mixture & sprinkle with cinnamon
(3) Serve immediately and enjoy J

 
 
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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake…*
Because who can’t get enough chocolate & peanut butter?!
(Adapted from Rachel Ray)

This year for my dad’s birthday, I wanted to create a special treat with two of his favorite things: Chocolate and Peanut Butter.I was going to keep it quite simple…until I stumbled across this recipe in the December issue of the Rachel Ray Magazine. Although I changed around some of the ingredients and took a few shortcuts—the concept remains the same: “chocolate cake with peanut butter-chocolate chip filling and fudgy frosting…” This moist double chocolate stacked cake is enough to feed an army so feel free to cut the recipe in half…unless you’re like me and have a serious addiction to PB & C. Simply stated, this cake is a dream come true.
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The Cake…*
(NOTE: this makes 2 full-sized cakes for stacking)
2 boxes Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge cake mix
2 cups water
2/3 cup vegetable oil
8 eggs
1 large box instant chocolate pudding mix

(1) Preheat oven to 350°
(2) Blend cake mix, water, oil, and eggs with electric mixer at low speed until moistened
(3) Add in dry pudding mix and blend on medium speed for 2 minutes
(4) Pour cake mix in two greased 8” square pans (or any size desired)
(5) Follow baking instructions according to box
(6) Meanwhile, whip up the filling and frosting….

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The Filling….*
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup mini chocolate chips

(1)
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, peanut butter, cream cheese and salt at medium speed until smooth
(2) Mix in the confectioners’ sugar at low speed until fluffy
(3) Mix in the chocolate chips; Set aside

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The Frosting…*
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Nonpareil candies, such as Snowcaps, for decoration
(1) In a large bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder
(2) Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, cream cheese and salt at high speed until fluffy; Mix in the cocoa-sugar mixture 1 cup at a time at low speed
(3) Beat in the vanilla at high speed until fluffy; set aside

The Assembly…*
(1) Place a cake layer right side up on a plate or cake board
(2) Spread the peanut butter filling evenly on top with an offset spatula
(3) Invert the second cake layer (upside down) onto a flat cookie sheet, then it slide carefully on top of the filling, so that the edges of the 2 layers are aligned
(4) Frost the top and sides with the chocolate frosting; Decorate with the Snowcaps….ENJOY!

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes…*
…Two sweets that are meant to be together

(Adapted from Annie’s Eats and from The Doctor’s Dishes, Desserts & Décor)
After taking a week off from baking, I was desperate to create something magnificent without taking a trip to the grocery store. I had limited supplies to work with, but I was up for the challenge. To get a little inspiration and direction, I visited a few of my favorite blogs and came across the perfect recipe--
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes.These cupcakes are the perfect marriage between two sweets that are meant to be together. Just like in all good relationships, the cupcake is delicate, sweet and the perfect complement to the strong, blissful and heart-warming chocolate chip cookie. Each cupcake is suitably topped with a creamy cookie dough frosting and garnished with a mini chocolate chip cookie. Seconds, anyone?

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The Cookies…*
If you're feeling ambitious, you may follow the recipe for homemade chocolate chip cookies as posted on Annie’s Eats
; Otherwise, opt for a semi-homemade version by using refrigerated cookie dough or a premade dry mix like so...

1 bag Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Mix
1 stick butter, softened
1 egg

(1) Blend all ingredients in medium bowl until moistened
(2) Place bowl in freezer until ready to use

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The Cupcakes…*
Many of the other recipes found online call for vanilla cupcakes, but I opted to use a yellow cake mix and trust me, they turned out to be scrumptious lil treats! 

1 box Betty Crocker Yellow Cake Mix
(or any flavor desired)
3 eggs
1 stick butter, softened
2/3 cup water
1 small package of instant Vanilla pudding mix (or any flavor that compliments your cake mix)

(1) Preheat oven to 350°
(2) Blend dry mix, water, softened butter and egg in bowl at low speed until moistened
(3) Add in pudding mix and beat an additional 3-4 minutes at medium speed
(4) Scoop batter into 24 lined cupcake holders until about 2/3 full
(5) Remove cookie dough from freezer and scoop quarter-sized balls into each cupcake tin; do not push dough down into batter
(6) Shape remaining dough into dime-sized balls and place on cookie sheet; set aside
(7) Bake cupcakes for 15-17 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean (NOTE: cookie batter will remain a little undercooked and gooey!)
(8) While cupcakes cool, place cookie sheet in oven for 4-6 minutes, or until edges are slightly browned; set aside to cool

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The Frosting…*
(Also adapted from Annie’s Eats)

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

(1) Beat together the butter and brown sugar until creamy
(2) Mix in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth.
(3) Beat in the flour and salt

(4) Mix in the milk and vanilla extract until smooth and well blended
(5) Frost cupcakes using frosting gun, ziplock bag, or smooth knife
(6) Garnish with mini chocolate chip cookie and voilà! Eat your heart out! :)

 
 
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Kathleen King's Double Chocolate Almond Cookies
Courtesy of Kathleen King
White chocolate and cocoa and almonds—oh my! The second I saw these heavenly cookies prepared on the Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa, I knew I just had to try them. Their rich chocolatey taste is accented with the crunch of the almonds and a sweet, velvety hint of white chocolate. It’s no surprise that these divine delicacies are one-of-a-kind and an absolute must for chocolate-lovers.
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The Ingredients…*
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) salted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark or light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup almonds, chopped
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The Instructions…*
(1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
(2) In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
(3) In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted, cream the butter and sugars.
(4) Add the egg and vanilla and mix together.
(5) Add the flour mixture and continue mixing until just combined.
(6) Add the chocolates and almonds and mix until combined.
(7) Drop 2 tablespoons of the dough two inches apart on sheet pans lined with parchment. Bake for 15 minutes.
(8) Cool the cookies on the cookie sheets. (The cookies should be very soft when they are removed from the oven. They will firm up as they cool)
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little shortcake...*