A Where the Wild Things Are Birthday

Where the Wild Things Are Chocolate Cupcakes

Yesterday we celebrated my nephew’s 1st birthday!  My sister held an adorable themed party – Where the Wild Things Are.   Growing up, I remember reading that book over and over again as a child, thinking how imaginative his mind was. To have a forest grow within his room, go to another land with beasts,  become their king, only to realize that he DID miss his dinner and decided to calm down and come back to reality.  Funny thing about this story is I don’t see this in my nephew at all, yet. But, he IS only one year old!  Perhaps one day he will be parading around in a wild outfit, aggravating my sister while she is cooking.  I look forward to hearing stories of her wild and wonderful adventure with her beautiful son.  🙂

For the party, I made cupcakes with crazy looking hair similar to the creatures in the book.  At least I tried.  It helped that there were toppers and wraps to outfit the cakes making a nice finish.  The recipe I used was Add a Pinch, and then I added my own spices to the mix to jazz it up.  The cupcakes were a hit!

Jazzed Up Chocolate Cupcakes -makes 12 cupcakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of All-Spice
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon bourbon vanilla
  • ½ cup boiling water

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Add liners to muffin pan and spray cooking oil on the liners. Don’t overspray. Combine in a stand mixer all dry ingredients.  Add the wet ingredients and mix again.  This will create a wet mixture, so I poured it into a large measuring cup to pour into the liners without making a mess.  Bake for roughly 20 minutes depending on your oven.  Once cool, add your favorite frosting to top.  I used my own which is a little of this a little of that. I really don’t have it measured out, but I do use salted butter to balance out the heavy sugar load.  Also a splash of milk helps the texture smooth out.

Where the Wild Things Are Food 15079002_10155341543539240_5812808363216727072_n 15085577_10155341544029240_820606144068354252_nimagejpeg_0-2

cupcakechocolate cupcake

A Valentine Treat Recap

In our home, we love celebrating Valentine’s Day!  But not for the reasons that you think; if you missed yesterday’s posting, stop by and check it out.  In our home, the kids and I make the sweets instead of buying them – that is – unless I’m having a lazy type of holiday.  I had fun researching what types of projects I had worked on in the years past, and it made me appreciate why I keep my blog running, even if I don’t find enough time these days to do so.  This year, I believe I’m going to make scones and somehow dress them up to make it fitting for the day, but that remains to be seen on “how.”  Why scones?  Why not?  Actually, I made a batch for a group of people and the reviews came back that they were heavenly.  Some people even said they were the best scones they had ever had, so that must be saying something!  Truth be told, my family was so jealous when I walked out the door with this beautiful batch of scones, and didn’t even get one bite.  So I owe it to them to make a batch.

Enough rambling – break out the recap!!  Enjoy your Valentine’s Day!!

Goat Cheese TrufflesGoat Cheese Truffles – what better way to say, “hey honey, I love you, and I know you love goat cheese! And chocolate!”  True story, I made these for a dinner party, and found my husband eating the leftovers (straight from the bowl, not even rolled up!) and thought, hmmm, there must be something to these little devilishly amazing bites!  These chocolates keep you coming back for more.  Great for a “la-tee-da” type of person, or someone you just want to impress. 🙂  You’re welcome.

 

Red Velvet MadeleinesRed Velvet Madeleines – Need a Valentine Day breakfast that will impress?  Try these little delights!  Perfect compliment with a nice cup of tea, or hot chocolate.  You and your sweet other will enjoy this as a nice change of pace.  Also great for a dessert at the end of the day, especially after a heavy dinner.  Want to jazz it up?  Serve it with vanilla ice cream.

 

 

Chocolate Strawberry ShortcakeChocolate heart shortcakeChocolate Waffles with Strawberries – Seriously, words cannot describe how amazing this breakfast can be.  Or dinner, should you decide to mix it up.  I have two pictures here because I made it the shortcut method with pre-made chocolate waffles, while my lovely blogging friend in Oklahoma showed an even better way to make them if you have the time and equipment.  Here is her link to make her fancy waffles.

 

 

Chocolate Covered Strawberries – a classic, and yet people still buy these rather than try to make them.  Friends, they are not difficult.  Plus your loved one will love you for trying to make them instead of buying them.  Trust me.  If you don’t believe me, look at who is making them in my pictures of that particular blog post.  My kids, when they were tiny!  Don’t like strawberries, roll some raspberries instead, they are a true delight as well.

 

Finished CakeHidden Hearts Cake – Remember when hiding pictures in a cake was all the rage?  Is it still a thing? I’m not sure, but it’s still fun to create, especially for your kids.  Enjoy the tale of my crazy adventure with making this cake. You will definitely get a laugh.

 

 

 

DIY Valentine Bracelet – This is a fun little project that you can create with the kids.  I definitely recommend following the instructions to make it work.  Seems simple enough, but can be a bit tricky if not careful.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

Valentine Cake Pops – I have found myself rolling into a Starbucks buying my kids these sweet bites, and each time I think, “ridiculous what I am paying for these when I know how much it costs to make them!! TONS of them.”  Are they difficult to make? Not if you follow the rules.  And your freezer is your friend when it comes to setting up the cake with the frosting.  I recommend making a red velvet cake with a dark chocolate outer coating – the best!

That’s it for now!  You can search my site for more delights, but I didn’t want to overwhelm you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Chocolate Roses for Mother’s Day

White chocolate roses The Secret Chocolatier

Chocolate.  What is not to love?  This Mother’s Day, my favorite chocolatier in South Charlotte is creating the most unique gift!  Delicate chocolate roses.  Not just any style either.  Read the details below, (and how to order!)

This is not your ordinary rose. It’s chocolate and flowers all in one that are in full bloom at The Secret Chocolatier. Offered for Mother’s Day in white, yellow and brown hues, each petal is hand formed and brought together to create a fully chocolate, edible rose. Each rose is sold as a single long-stem, 1/2 dozen, or full dozen, and wrapped and packaged as a real rose would be. Cost: $15 a stem.

To order, contact The Secret Chocolatier at 704-323-8178, visit http://www.thesecretchocolatier.com/ for online orders, or stop by their retail stores in Cotswold or Ballantyne.

Did you all catch that?  Each PETAL is hand formed… This is no simple stem rose mold they use.  It takes time to create these pretty treats!  I know. I’ve seen them in the store.

Now… to convince my husband to buy me one. 🙂Secret Chocolatier Roses

 

Disclaimer: The opinions of this post are my own. I was not given any compensation to review this company.  I just LOVE their products and stand by them. 

My visit to Nothing Bundt Cakes

Nothing Bundt Cakes

Last week, I was informed that a new location for Nothing Bundt Cakes has had their soft opening in south Charlotte. Naturally this calls for a chocolate break! Well, maybe more for my kiddos rather than myself, BUT I will say I did have several bites as a treat. 🙂

Just walking into the store, I will say that it’s lively and fun, and very welcoming! They have the store beautifully arranged to carry displays of their many types of cakes from all sizes, to displays of items for sale, along with a lavish book of cakes that could be created for an event of any type. While perusing the store my daughters and I had a chance to sample a piece of red velvet cake that was out of this world delicious. However, chocolate is my soul mate, and I had to order the “chocolate chocolate chip cake.” Heaven on a plate, truly.

Nothing Bundt Cakes

I was informed that they have a GRAND OPENING coming up April 5th, complete with face painting and other fun activities for the family. But the real interest (for me) was the Wine and Cakes event held the night before (April 4th.) What is not to love about that? Wine? Cakes? See you there!

Store - Nothing Bundt Cakes

Check out this great little store, next to the new Starbucks, down in the Marvin, NC  area, just a mile south of the Blakeney shopping center. Enjoy!!

EDITED TO ADD:  Below is an email I just received on fun events coming up!

Details

Disclaimer: This is not a paid promotion of Nothing Bundt Cakes; I bought my own cake. Opinions of this store are my own.

 

Chocolate Avocado Muffins

Healthy cupcakes

If you want to get your kids to eat a better version of muffin, try this wonderful recipe out!  I have, and can say while they are not overly sweet, they are a great guilt-free treat!  I can satisfy my sweet tooth and not watch my waist line “pudge” out just by taking a bite.  This recipe falls in line with my road to healthier eating because of the ingredients chosen within.  Real food!  And to top it off there is no oil in this recipe – thank you avocado.

What a sneaky way to get your kids to eat well!  I tested this recipe out on the kids and they did not know that the avocado was in the recipe, but they did notice it had a taste to it that was different than if you were to make it with oil.  Also, this recipe was made with whole wheat flour, maple syrup and applesauce.  No sugar, egg or or AP flour please.

If you want to kick it up and make it vegan, by all means, this can be adjusted easily.

I hope you enjoy this recipe!  If you find it needing a little something, add some spices in the batch like cinnamon or all-spice to give it a kick.

Chocolate Avocado Muffins (adapted from Live.Learn.Love.Eat)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 medium avocado – ripe
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup organic 1% milk
  • 1/4 cup natural applesauce
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1-1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin pan with 12 paper liners.  In a food processor, blend the avocado, maple syrup, cocoa powder, milk applesauce and vanilla.  Stir in chocolate chips by hand to the batch.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and the salt.  Combine the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix.  Spoon in batter into paper liners 3/4 way.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.  Test with toothpick to see when completed.  The batch will be heavy and cake-like.

Makes 12.

Spicy Pumpkin Seed Chocolate Bark

Spicy Pumpkin Seed Chocolate Bark

While I was busy slow cooking a pumpkin today, I cleaned up the pumpkin seeds and began to roast them in the oven.  It makes my family happy to nibble on them when fresh out of the oven.

Let me ask you this… what happens when they cool and the seeds lose their appeal?  They sit in a bowl, looking helpless.  Not this year!  This year I’m coating them in rich dark chocolate (of course) and giving the chocolate a kick in flavor!  Not spicy, so the kids wouldn’t touch it, (though, that sounds great!)  I’m doing the pie spices.  All-Spice, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, cinnamon and a hit of ginger.  Mix that up in some melted dark chocolate, add in the roasted (salty) pumpkin seeds, and pour to cool on a covered baking tray.  Delicious!

What do you like to do to mix it up?

Ingredients:Raw Pumpkin Seeds

  • Roasted, salted pumpkin seeds
  • Dark Chocolate (bar, not chips)
  • All Spice
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger

Directions:

Roast and salt fresh pumpkin seeds (though I’m sure a bag of already roasted will do fine.)  Melt dark chocolate either via microwave (1 minute at a time on 1/2 power – and stir) or double boiler. (Don’t use chocolate chips, as it will not be the correct texture.)  Sprinkle spices into dark chocolate and swirl.  Add pumpkin seeds and stir.  On a covered baking sheet (parchment paper or waxed) pour mixture on top.  Let the chocolate set up at room temperature or if you’re like me and impatient, pop the sheet in the fridge for a faster cooling time.  Break chocolate bark into irregular chunks to get the look.

*Want more salt? When chocolate is cooling, crack sea salt on top of bark.

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am not a fan of “diets” but I do understand the concept of Paleo, and have decided to try a few recipes lately.  I have been eating real foods (most of the time), but the other concepts out there are also pretty close when it comes to ingredients used.  Paleo, while a strong favorite for many people, is not on my top list, only due to the cholesterol count that runs high (genetically) in my family.  Red meats and eggs are not my friend (even though they taste fabulous!)  So it doesn’t work for me, but if it works for you, by all means, go for it!

In the meantime, I did try a beautiful recipe for chocolate chip cookies.  I love how this recipe does not have eggs, milk or sugar in it.  It uses almond meal, honey and coconut oil as the foundation.  Perfect!  The only ingredient I had to pick up at the store was the almond meal!  One fast stop at Trader Joe’s, and I’m armed and dangerous… 🙂  If you don’t have a TJ’s near you or the local store doesn’t carry almond meal, you can create it quite easily on your own.  Just Google it!  Me?  I hit the lazy button and bought it.

This batch only makes 8 cookies.  What?  8?   I know!!  Trust me, we’re only eating to satisfy our craving of sweets, so how many do we honestly need?  Gosh… that’s like someone telling me to only eat one potato chip.  Sure…  Well, my husband would say double the batch, and I might have to agree.  This recipe is too good!

Recipe (with only one tiny modification) by Oatmeal With a Fork.

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • scant ¼ t. sea salt
  • ⅛ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • shake of all-spice
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 4 Tbsp. dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the almond meal, sea salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and all-spice together.  Add the oil, honey, and vanilla and mix everything together.  Add in 1 Tbsp water (or a little less if batter seems moist enough.)  Mix, and then add chocolate chips.  Bake for 10 minutes until golden edges appear.  Let set for 5 minutes (do not remove until the cookies sets.)  Enjoy!

Easy Chocolate Guinness Cake

Chocolate Guinness Cake

Yesterday I had taught 2 cooking classes, ran errands in between, and then had to dash home to prepare an Irish Stew for dinner.  I don’t honestly know where they day had gone!  Sound like your kind of day?  While I was making the stew, I used a “bit” of Guinness for it, but had a cup leftover.  Sure, I could have poured myself a glass while cooking but I had a better idea…

Chocolate.

I was going to make Irish Car Bomb cake bites, but… after making the cake in a Bundt pan, I thought, let’s just keep life simple.  After all, I basically cooked the ENTIRE day with my classes and stew (which takes 2-3 hrs.)  So, I grabbed my tub of frosting, melted in the microwave for 30 seconds and poured over the cake. DONE.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

Recipe:

  • Devil’s Food Cake Mix 
  • Eggs
  • Oil
  • Guinness
  • Chocolate Frosting

Bake the cake according to the direction on the box.  Replace the water for the Guinness.  I was told this cake cooks better in a Bundt pan, so that’s what I did.  Flip cake out of pan onto a cooling rack shortly after out of oven.  Let cake cool completely.  Take cap and foil off of frosting, and heat up in the microwave for 30 seconds.  If you are worried about plastic toxins, put into a microwave safe bowl.  (I probably should have, but was lazy.)  You won’t need all of this frosting, unless you bake cake in a 9×13 pan.  Let chocolate set up. EAT!

Sweet Tooth Festival – 2013

Sweet Tooth Festival

This past Saturday evening, I attended the annual Sweet Tooth Festival held at the Blacklion store in Pineville, NC.  The event once again was a big success and they changed it up this year by making it a closed event in the evening, complete with a red carpet entrance!

Greeted in the foyer, I was given a Yelp swag bag with a Fuze drink and a big cake box (very necessary!)  Immediately, the fun began as I headed to the tables loaded with all sweets and a familiar faces.  The big theme that I noticed within the festival was the amount of cupcake makers!  My goodness, I never knew we had that many cakeries in the Charlotte region, but then again, I’m used to my little South Charlotte “box.”  It was really wonderful to see the many varieties of cakes, cake pops, cookies, chocolates and even granola.  One bakery had “milk shots” to wash down the sweet tooth everyone was gaining from the sugar rush.  Good idea!
Think Chocolate

To help everyone keep track of what station they hit, there was a Passport to ensure we stopped everywhere. This year, the Sweet Tooth Festival pulled in 28 companies!  That is a serious amount of sweets, which is why I was grateful for the cake box to stash for another day.  By the time I left the event, my arms were full of goodies, and I was ready to head home and share a few bites with my Hubby.

Did I have a favorite company?  Wow, this year I have to say was TOUGH!

For cupcakes, I was intrigued this year with the Man Cake… dark chocolate, beer, bacon, and smoked caramel…Yes, really!  I hear those cupcakes ran out fast, and you can see why!

So this year, my Best Cupcake award goes to: Hot Sugar Confections!

For cookies, I must say that I’m not a big cookie eating person, unless it has chocolate, however, I was definitely loving one company and her variety of sugar cookie.  Sweet, buttery and soft, the perfect sugar cookie, with unique designs was a clear winner.

This year, my Best Cookie award goes to: Hey Sugar Shop!
Hey Sugar Shop
For chocolate, ahhh my favorite topic. 🙂  Many of you know that I have loyalty to a particular company, but this year, I have to say that a different company took the win this year.  Complete with a full chocolate making demonstration and beautiful artisan style chocolate, along with flavors… quite the show.

This year my Best Chocolate award goes to: Bar Chocolate!
Bar Chocolate

Lastly, I’d like to give an Honorable Mention to a new group!  Their granola was very tasty and their name fits their grace they carried when sharing their product…

Please welcome Royal Oats Granola!

Granola

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Were there other things than cake and chocolate and cookies?  Yes! There was a spice company, a candy party group, and some ice cream to sample as well.  A perfectly wonderful very SWEET tooth satisfying event!

Milk shots

Happy {Belated} Nutella Day!

Nutella Nanaimo bars

Gosh… who knew Nutella would have a day dedicated to it?  Or website of the many MANY recipes that people have created with it??  I did a quick search on my concepts, and wanted to put them in a bulk post just for you!  Keep it simple…

And there you have it!!  Enjoy!