Nutter Butter Truffle Eggs

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Every Easter, Reese’s rolls out its Peanut Butter Eggs, and in my head, I envision a chubby chocolate bunny bouncing from store to store across the country and dropping off the eggs for selling. That’s one bunny I’d like to meet. The Easter Bunny is cool and all, but a chocolate bunny that hands out PB Eggs? That’s my kind of rabbit!

Last year, I beat that chocolate bunny at his own game when I made some stellar Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs, complete with a how-to video. But this year, I wanted to step it up another level. You’re wondering, “How does one take a step up from Peanut Butter Eggs, the crème de la crème of Easter treats?”

Well, I might have something to change your mind and take over the throne for supreme Easter confection: Nutter Butter Truffle Eggs.

I took a beloved American cookie, which is also one of the most versatile (See: Nutter Butter Penguins), and turned it into a sweet & salty creamy filling. You get the peanut butter flavor, plus the sweetness and substantiality of the cookie. Then, the Nutter Butterific filling is enveloped in a silky coat of creamy and smooth chocolate.DSC_2454

What you wind up with is the Peanut Butter Egg’s cooler, smarter, all around-awesome sibling. I’m sorry, but plain peanut butter filling can’t hold a candle to rich Nutter Butter filling. That’s like saying apples are as good as apple pie. Don’t be silly.

Don’t be intimidated by the pretty appearance of these divine little eggs; their cute egg shape is easy to make, and all you need to dress ‘em up are some festive, Springy sprinkles. This is a no-bake treat that’s easy to execute, and even easier to eat. The only problem is, you might eat half of the Nutter Butter filling before you ever get to shape it into an egg. You’ve been warned.

Now get your bunny butt up and shake your cotton tail into the kitchen to whip up these must-try chocolate-covered PB cuties.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Make sure you give the filling enough time to freeze and firm up rock hard before dunking in the chocolate or it won’t hold up.
  2. Use whatever sprinkles or decorations you like. Be creative!
  3. Skip the egg shape and just make these truffle-shaped, and you can enjoy these any time of year.
  4. Go for white chocolate if that’s more your thing.
  5. Coating these in chocolate is not a technical process. Use whatever method you like. The easiest way is to stick it on a fork, or you can be like me and just use your hands!
  6. You must melt chocolate in intervals when melting in the microwave or it will burn.DSC_2436

Nutter Butter Truffle Eggs
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Yield – about 2 dozen eggs

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Nutter Butters, reserving ½ of last sleeve for your own snacking or whatever you please
  • ½ cup peanut butter chips
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 6 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
  • 4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • Easter sprinkles, for decorating

Directions:

  1. Place the Nutter Butters and peanut butter chips in a food processor and process until they start to come together, about 5 minutes, stopping to scrape down halfway through. Give it time to let the chips melt and the cookies break down.
  2. Stream in the canola oil and process until smooth and creamy, another 2 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and place in fridge to chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
  3. Form Nutter Butter mixture into scant tablespoon-sized balls. Press down lightly and pull at the edges gently to create an oval, about ¼-inch in thickness. Pinch the top to make it look like an egg. Place on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper so it doesn’t stick. Repeat with remaining mixture.
  4. Transfer shaped eggs to the freezer until completely firm, about an hour.
  5. Place all the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 20 second intervals, stirring very well in between to help it melt faster. This should only take about 3 intervals.
  6. Dunk frozen eggs into the chocolate and coat completely (you can use a fork to do this or just your fingers). Flip to coat both sides and let excess drip off. Return to lined waxed paper lined baking sheet. Immediately top each coated egg with sprinkles because they set up quickly, and the sprinkles won’t stick then.
  7. Stick coated eggs in fridge to set completely, about 15 minutes, then enjoy. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Let come to room temperature before eating.DSC_2415

Chocolate Coconut Cashew Butter

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Nuts are kind of like crack to me. Everyone has their vices; for many it’s potato chips or cookies. In my case, if you give me a container of roasted mixed nuts, I’ll munch and crunch until it’s empty.

I love almost all nuts, but cashews are definitely my favorite. Don’t tell the other nuts though; I wouldn’t want them to be offended. There’s just something so addicting about a cashew’s buttery flavor, and its crunchy yet smooth texture. I can eat cashews like it’s nobody’s business. Just don’t ask me to share my nuts because I won’t.

Seriously, don’t even ask. I’m like a squirrel preparing for winter, a really gluttonous and greedy squirrel who couldn’t care less if the other squirrels go hungry.

It dawned on me that I was missing out on a potentially wonderful part of life by not having tried cashew butter yet. I’ve had peanut butter and almond butter, so why haven’t I made my favorite nut into butter yet?

This Chocolate Coconut Cashew Butter has been a long time coming. My first attempt was a failure, but the second time proved to be perfection, and at last, I can enjoy the world’s greatest nut in smooth butter form. Of course, anything ordinary is seldom welcome in the Smart Cookie kitchen, so I switched things up by adding creamy milk chocolate and nutty coconut extract to the butter. This goes from a delicious spread to an addicting treat you can put on anything or scoop directly into your mouth with a spoon. I mean, you might as well skip the charades and get straight to the good stuff.DSC_2180

Now, if you’re not into super sweet things, don’t worry. The chocolate and coconut are both subtle here; it’s just the right amount. This is no like Nutella, which is basically spreadable candy. My cashew butter is certainly more of an indulgent step-up from traditional nut butter since it’s so creamy, rich, and kissed with chocolate, but it still retains its nutty, wholesome integrity.

I love a good nut butter because there’s no cooking involved; just pile everything in your processor and whir away! Plus, this scrumptious spread is very versatile. Use it on apple slices, celery sticks, graham crackers, pound cake, bread, and more.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Omit the coconut extract if you’re not a coconut fan.
  2. Craving more nut butter? Try my White Chocolate-Maple Almond Butter. That stuff’s dangerous!
  3. You can use dark or semisweet chocolate if you prefer, but you might need to play around with the amount you add.
  4. This stuff is just like peanut butter; you don’t need to refrigerate it. In fact, if you do, it’ll turn into a big block because that chocolate will firm up.
  5. Not sure what to put this butter on? Try: white bread, whole wheat bread, pound cake, bananas, graham crackers, Nilla Wafers, apple slices, celery slices, and more.DSC_2171

Chocolate Coconut Cashew Butter
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsalted cashews
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 ½ tsp. coconut extract
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Place the nuts in a food processor and pulse until they resemble a fine crumb. Add remaining ingredients and process until completely smooth and spreadable, pausing to scrape down the sides a few times. If yours is too, thick, stream in more oil, 1 teaspoon at a time. NOTE: You want your butter to be on the thinner at first because the chocolate will have melted from the friction of the processing. It will firm up as it sits.DSC_2152

Peanut Butter-Toffee Cookie Bars with Ganache

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Only a fellow foodie can understand the kind of all-consuming obsession that takes over when you find a recipe you really want to try. Until you make that recipe, your mind (and grumbling stomach) will not rest. Your every waking thought is consumed by salivation-inducing fantasies of what that first bite will be like. It’s similar to when you develop a crush on someone you just met and obsess over them, except, in the case of the recipe, you can basically guarantee you’ll be together someday. I can’t say the same for your love interest.

And that, my friends, is why I cook.

I had an encounter with one of these recipe obsessions when I changed my Pillsbury calendar to the February page. For each month, the calendar has a Pillsbury recipe. Everything about the February recipe called to me: peanut butter cookies, toffee, chocolate…good lord, what else do you need?

I’m not one to make other people’s recipes too often, but when you’re craving something, there ain’t much you can do but give in. I put a few of my own touches on Pillsbury’s recipe to give you these Peanut Butter-Toffee Cookie Bars with Ganache.DSC_1287

I just love when a semi-homemade recipe comes out just as good as, if not better than, something made from scratch. These bars are bangin,’ so perfectly soft and chewy, like 360 degrees of the best center-bite of a cookie. Even though we used pre-made peanut butter cookie dough, you’d never know. Between that perfect texture and the marvelous mix-ins like aromatic vanilla, peanut butter chips, and crunchy butter toffee, you’d never know we didn’t make these decadent bars from scratch.

The only thing that could make this better is a thick coating of rich, silky chocolate ganache. I’ve tried a lot of ganaches, homemade and from bakeries or restaurants, and this is the best I’ve had. I figured out my ideal level of sweetness, no too sweet, but not bitter like most ganaches are. It’s perfect!

There is so much good stuff going on in one place here that your mouth will be overwhelmed with sensory satisfaction upon the first bite. There’s crunchy, creamy, chewy, chocolaty, salty, nutty, and sweet. If you don’t find love at first bite with this easy-to-make treat, then you must be missing taste buds.

DSC_1362A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. You can make this with homemade peanut butter cookie dough if you’re an all-homemade kind of cook. I highly recommend my Perfect Peanut Butter Cookie recipe.
  2. My ratio of chocolate in the ganache may sound like it’ll be too sweet, but it’s actually just perfect. Try it; you won’t be sorry!
  3. Ganache sounds like this fancy, scary thing, but literally all you’re doing is melting chocolate and mixing in cream. Bam, you’ve got ganache.
  4. There were originally chopped nuts in this recipe, which I left out for a co-worker with an allergy, but feel free to mix some in.
  5. DON’T overbake! You’ll lose that wonderful chewy texture.DSC_1074

Peanut Butter-Toffee Cookie Bars with Ganache
Adapted from Pillsbury

Ingredients:

For the cookie bars

  • 2 rolls Pillsbury® refrigerated peanut butter cookie dough
  • 1 cup Heath® Bits ‘O Brickle® toffee bits
  • 1 ¼ cups Reese’s® peanut butter baking chips
  • optional: 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp. McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract

For the ganache

  • 4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup heavy cream

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 13×9-inch pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In large bowl, break up the cookie dough, reserving ¼ of the second roll to munch on yourself or bake into cookies. Add toffee bits, peanut butter chips, nuts if desired, and vanilla. Mix with wooden spoon or knead with hands until well blended.
  3. Press dough evenly in bottom of pan. Bake for 18 to 24 minutes or until golden brown, puffed, and set.  Remove from oven to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  4. In large microwavable bowl, microwave the chocolate and cream in 20 second intervals, stirring well in between. As long as you mix well, it will only take 4 intervals to be able to stir it smooth. Pour over top of cooled cookie and smooth into an even layer. Place in fridge until set, about 20 minutes (put in freezer to speed this up).
  5. Cut cooled cookie into bars. Store in an air tight container.

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Puppy Love Brownie Cupcakes stuffed w/ Lindt Truffles + How-To Video

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Have you ever followed someone you loved around like a lost little puppy dog, unable to focus on any other aspect of life but them? We’ve all been through it, that all-consuming, gleeful, gushing, innocent puppy dog love. Our eyes cloud over with lover’s haze, we float through every hour of every day on a cloud, and no form of reason can reach us. It’s love; we don’t need a reason.

It’s February, which means it’s the season of puppy love. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, that means every fool’s falling in love and chasing the feet of their crushes. Well stop wasting your breath running after them and try a more efficient approach; everyone knows food is the way to the heart. I’ve got you a one-way ticket right here: Puppy Love Brownie Cupcakes stuffed with Lindt Truffles.DSC_0475-2

These are the cutest, lovey-doviest darn cupcakes you could make this Valentine’s Day. And although they look intricate, they’re actually super simple. We start with a boxed mix of brownies to save you time. I find brownies are one of the better baked mixes you can get, but because I live by the philosophy that store-bought mixes are okay if and only if you jazz them up, we stuffed the brownies with silky Lindt truffles. It’s an unexpected bonus to bite into the fudgy, rich cupcake and find a creamy chocolate center. If that doesn’t say “I love you,” then nothing does.

These cupcakes are beautiful inside and out, with their decadent deep chocolate center and their adorable puppy love décor. A combination of creamy Vanilla Buttercream and rich Triple Chocolate Buttercream makes for endless decorating possibilities. Use the frostings in combination with M&Ms and heart-shaped sprinkles to create infinite different combinations of adorable dog faces.

My video breaks down just how easy the basic face is to make: squeeze out some frosting fur as sloppily as you like, it doesn’t need to be perfect, then make two ears and two circles for cheeks. Then you’re free to stick on eyes, draw on mouths, or pipe on slobbery tongue. Let your imagination run wild. Whatever you chose will be adorable.

Ah, puppy love; so much better in a cupcake.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Watch the video to really get a feel for how to make these cuties.
  2. This décor works on any kind of cupcake.
  3. Here’s a bunch of different combinations you can try to make different dogs:Puppy Love Cupcake Brownies
  4. Using store-bought brownie mix is fine since we doctored it up, but don’t you dare use store-bought frosting. That stuff’s nasty, and homemade is so easy.
  5. Not an artist? Don’t worry! You’ll be surprised how simple these are. You don’t need an artsy bone in your body.
  6. When melting chocolate in the microwave, you MUST cook it in short intervals, stirring in between, or it will burn.DSC_0446

Puppy Love Brownie Cupcakes stuffed with Lindt Truffles
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Yield: About 20 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 box brownie mix (I used Betty Crocker)
  • About 2 dozen Lindt Milk Chocolate Truffles
  • Red frosting or writing gel (I used Wilton)
  • Pink frosting or writing gel
  • Black frosting or writing gel
  • Heart-shaped sprinkles
  • Red, pink, & white M&Ms

For the Triple Chocolate Buttercream

  • 2 oz. milk chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 4 oz. semisweet or unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 2 sticks butter (1 cup), softened
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 – 4 tbsp. heavy cream
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the Vanilla Buttercream:

  • 2 sticks butter (1 cup), softened
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. almond extract
  • ¼ tsp. salt

Special equipment: 2 ziplock bags for frosting the brownies

*NOTE: Brownies are a bit difficult to get out of cupcake liners, so you might want to just spray the pan instead.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Fill two cupcake tins with liners or spray with nonstick spray.
  2. Prepare the brownie mix according to box directions. Use an ice cream scoop to fill lined cupcake tins 2/3-full. Drop a Lindt truffle into the center of each one.
  3. Bake 20-25 minutes or until set and cracked on top. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out with fudgy crumbs; if it’s clean, you’ll have overbaked them. Let cool completely before removing from tins.
  4. While the brownies cool, make the frostings. For the Vanilla, in a standing mixer, beat sugar into the butter two cups at a time, until well-combined and creamy. With each addition, start a low speed then increase as it starts to incorporate or you’ll have a sugar dust storm.
  5. Beat in the salt, vanilla, almond extract, and heavy cream on high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  6. For the Triple Chocolate, place the chopped chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 20 second intervals, stirring in between, until completely smooth. If you stir well, this should only take 3 intervals. Let cool slightly.
  7. In a standing mixer, beat sugar into the butter two cups at a time, until well-combined and creamy. With each addition, start a low speed then increase as it starts to incorporate or you’ll have a sugar dust storm.
  8. Beat in the melted chocolate, vanilla, salt, and heavy cream on high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  9. Transfer each frosting to a plastic bag, pushing the frosting down to one corner of the bag. Tie off the top and snip off that corner. Pipe fur onto each cooled brownie in little strands. It’ll look kind of like grass. Pipe on two long or short oval ears (you can vary the ear shape/size across the cupcakes to create different looks). Finally, pipe two circles of equal size, right next to one another, centered towards the bottom of the cupcake. You can experiment with different frosting combinations like making a white face with brown ears & one brown eye patch to look like a beagle.
  10. Take either two heart sprinkles or two M&Ms of the same color and place next to one another centered above the circles you made to represent eyes. You can also pipe on white/black to represent eyes.
  11. Place one M&M or heart centered right on top of the two circles to represent the nose. You could also pipe it on with one of the colored frostings.
  12. For the mouth, you can pipe it on in red or pink, or you can use an upside down heart sprinkle to look like a tongue. You can also pipe on a tongue with one of the colored frostings.
  13. Make different faces for each dog, or make them all the same. Have fun and be creative. Store cupcakes in an air-tight container.

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Copycat Chocolate Candy Shop Blizzards

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In case you’re new here, allow me to make something clear: I have an obsession with Dairy Queen. Loyal readers will know this about me. I’m constantly complaining about not living anywhere remotely near a DQ, and the suffering I experience because of it. I also tell you about how I have to stop at a DQ whenever I travel. And when I can’t get my DQ fix, I make my own frozen bliss at home like these Buster Bars or these Copycat Confetti Cake Blizzards.

When you grow up with something, it makes you that much more fond of it when you’re older. Everything tastes better drenched in nostalgia. I find that to be true with Pizza Hut pizza and Spaghetti-O’s; they’re childhood staples that I still have a soft spot for today.

As a kid, or in what seems like far-off dream, I actually lived near a DQ and frequented it many times. Although I’m far away from the nearest DQ today, a fiery (or should I say frozen) passion still lives on in my stomach today for Dairy Queen treats.

When I saw their Chocolate Candy Shop Blizzard was back as January’s Blizzard of the Month, I was elated because I missed it the first time they debuted it last year. However, I didn’t make any trips out of CNY this month like I expected I would, and as the end of January crept closer, I realized I probably wasn’t going to get to try the Chocolate Candy Shop Blizzard (again).

Rather than wallowing in despair, I decided to be proactive and make my own instead. Although I haven’t tried the actual Chocolate Candy Shop Blizzard to officially compare, I have eaten approximately one million DQ Blizzards throughout my lifetime, and I can say with confidence that my Copycat Chocolate Candy Shop Blizzard is just as good as DQ’s.DSC_0232

I made a super creamy cocoa ice cream base and served it straight out of the ice cream maker so you get that soft-serve texture just like in DQ’s Blizzards. You don’t need eggs or anything complicated to make this soft-serve; It’s four ingredients and yields the absolute creamiest-dreamiest texture you could ever fathom. It’s just wonderful.

Then, I folded in chunks of assorted chocolates, straight out of the fancy box. It’s fun because, with each bite, you never know what kind of chocolate you’re going to bite in to. They say, “Life is like a box of chocolates because you never know what you’re going to get.” Well, this ice cream is like a box of chocolates…because it’s literally got a box of chocolates in it.

There’s no better way to describe my Copycat Chocolate Candy Shop Blizzards than as a chocolate lover’s dream. You get that fluffy, creamy cocoa ice cream plus whole hunks of assorted chocolates with all kinds of surprise fillings. It’s an easy-to-make dessert, perfect for serving to your sweetie this Valentine’s Day. Or, if you’re like me, you can have a little date night with this chocolate bliss all to yourself.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Got leftovers? Just stick it into the freezer, let it chill, and you’ve got yourself some ice cream! The great thing about this recipe is that it doesn’t get rock hard like store-bought ice cream. It stays nice and soft.
  2. The better quality chocolate you use, the better your Blizzard will be. I used Russell Stover’s, which was not very good chocolate. Next time I will definitely get some better stuff.
  3. The soft-serve base is meant to only be light in chocolate flavor. DQ’s Blizzards are never too heavy on the cocoa.
  4. Serve these in little paper cups with red plastic spoons to really get the authentic DQ feel.
  5. You must sift the cocoa powder or you’ll have chunks of it in the ice cream.DSC_0135

Copycat Candy Shop Blizzards
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup jarred fudge sauce (recommended: Mrs. Richardsons)
  • 2 cups chopped assorted chocolates, chilled in fridge

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, milk, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt until well-combined. Cover and chill in fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.  Place another large mixing bowl in the freezer to chill as well.
  2. Pour mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s directions, until thick and creamy like soft-serve. Transfer to the chilled mixing bowl and immediately fold in fudge sauce and chilled chocolates until just combined. Serve immediately. Store extra in an air-tight container in the freezer. You can eat extras right from the freezer like ice cream or let soften again before eating.

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