Chocolate Pecan Tassles

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The remnants of this year’s Christmas treats shall be the death of me. They sit on the counter in a plastic bag, and even more lurk in the freezer, calling out, “Come hither, little weakling. Just one won’t hurt…” Except it’s never just one; I wind up eating six and wondering afterwards how it happened.

Evil, conniving little cookies.

Some of the tasty devils giving me trouble this holiday season are these Chocolate Pecan Tassles. They’re actually a hybrid of two classic cookies in my house: my Babci’s Tassles and my mom’s recipe for Tiny Cherry Cheesecakes. Mother Cookie made both this year, but I didn’t eat any since they’ve both got cream cheese, an ingredient I loathe more than anything else on the planet (I know; it’s weird). This year, however, it dawned on me to combine the delicious filling from the tassles with the soft and tasty chocolate crust of the tiny cheesecakes. I get the best of both cookies (and no cream cheese)!

These Chocolate Pecan Tassles are like pecan pie meets chocolate cookie, miniaturized. The filling is crisp on the top and gooey in the middle, with buttery, caramel undertones and crunchy pecans that perfectly compliment the tender chocolate crust. It’s multidimensional palate satisfaction.

My Chocolate Pecan Tassles are a great party dessert since they’re bite-sized and snackable, but they’re also wonderful anytime you need a sweet treat. With a trio of textures and nutty, buttery, chocolatey flavor, they’re delicious any time of year. Plus, they freeze great, so you can make them ahead of time and pull ’em out when you need ’em!_DSC8099-2

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. To freeze cookies, make sure they are sealed well in an airtight container, preferably wrapped in cling wrap to prevent freezer burn. Freeze for up to a month and let thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes before eating.
  2. Replace the pecans with whatever nuts you like.
  3. I tried a simple graham cracker crust with these as well, which was also delicious.
  4. Leaving out the nuts just doesn’t work. The filling doesn’t bake up correctly.

Chocolate Pecan Tassles

Yield – 2 dozen

Ingredients:

For the Cookie Shell
adapted from Taste of Home

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
  • 2 tbsp. cold water

For the Filling
By The Smart Cookie Cook

  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 3 tbsp. melted butter
  • 1 cup ground pecans
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, and cocoa. Cut in butter until crumbly. Gradually add water, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Shape into 24 balls. Place in greased miniature muffin cups and press dough onto the bottom and up the sides of each cup.
  2. Combine all filling ingredients in a medium bowl. Fill each dough-lined muffin cup about 2/3 full with filling. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until puffed and set. Let cool completely before removing from tins.

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3-Ingredient White Chocolate Walnut Truffles

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Truffles seem so fancy, not to mention they taste like they were crafted in Heaven’s chocolate shop. But I’m going to share a little secret with you: truffles are not quite as hoity toity as they seem. In fact, I can show you how to make luscious, dreamy truffles in your own kitchen with only three ingredients.

My 3-Ingredient White Chocolate Walnut Truffles require only heavy cream, white chocolate, and walnuts. Plus, they’re extremely easy to make; it’s a matter of melt, mix, chill, and roll. But when you bite in, you won’t believe something so simple could taste so good; I’m talking slap-Santa-upside-the-head good!

These truffles are so beautifully smooth, creamy, and rich. After you bite through the initial crunchy layer of salty walnuts, the luscious truffle center instantly begins to melt in you mouth like a snowflake does when it hits your tongue. You get that buttery, sweet white chocolate combined with the salty, robust walnuts for the perfect balance of flavors.

These heavenly little truffles are exactly what you’d get if you could fuse freshly fallen snow into a sweet confection. They’re a little bit of naughty and nice for this holiday season, giving you sinful indulgence along with pure sweet divinity. They make a perfect gift that’s sure to impress the receiver with their elegance, but you’ll be the only one who knows how easy they were to make. Or you could always skip gifting them and make them as a sweet treat for yourself._DSC7746

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Melting chocolate is a precise process, but easy if you follow these rules: Firstly, use a low heat. As long as you’re gentle in heating the chocolate, it won’t burn. Also be sure to stir constantly. Not only does this prevent burning, but it makes it melt quicker. Finally, you don’t have to keep the chocolate over the heat until it’s completely smooth. Once the chocolate is about 75% melted, you can take it off the heat and whisk it, and its own heat will melt it.
  2. Don’t like walnuts? Roll these babies in pretty colored sprinkles or shredded coconut instead.
  3. Easily adapt this with dark or milk chocolate instead; just switch out with whatever kind you want and keep the proportions the same.
  4. If you don’t chill the melted chocolate-cream mixture, you’ll have one hell of a chocolate sauce!

White Chocolate Walnut Truffles
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups finely chopped walnuts

Directions:

  1. Pour the white chocolate and heavy cream into a medium sauce pan over low heat. Stir continuously as it melts (don’t stop mixing; chocolate burns easy). When chocolate is almost completely melted, remove from heat and keep whisking until totally smooth. You don’t have to get the chocolate hot to melt it completely.
  2. Pour melted chocolate into a heat proof container and let cool to room temperature. Cover and chill until completely firm, about 2 hours.
  3. Put chopped walnuts into a shallow bowl. Use a mini ice cream scoop or spoon to scoop out balls of white chocolate. Or you can do what I did and just just roll chunks of chocolate into balls with your hands like you would clay. Roll the truffles in the walnuts to coat the outsides and gently pack so it sticks. Set in an airtight container lined with waxed paper or parchment paper and store in fridge._DSC7794

Almond Joy Fudge + How-To Video

Sometimes, you need a little bit of joy in your life.

Last week, I needed some joy. It was one of those weeks when the world was against me. And when I have weeks/days/months like that, I realize something: food is the only constant in life. Pathetic as that sounds, I actually find it comforting to know that no matter how hard it gets or how many obstacles stand in my way, food will always be there to cheer me up once more. Even after a long, gruesome day when my butt has been handed to me on a silver platter, the thought of a good meal can keep me going through the rough spots.

I found out why Almond Joys are called Almond Joys this weekend. After I stumbled through that long week, I had one delicious Friday to look forward to, knowing full-well what I wanted to make. I stepped into my kitchen and whipped up this Almond Joy Fudge in the hopes that it would live up to the candy’s name. And you know what? It did.

With the magical trio of chocolate, coconut, and almonds, there really is no wonder they’re called Almond Joys. And when you take those complimentary components and turn them into decadent fudge, you get something even more joyous.

This fudge requires only a handful of ingredients to make, and I’m betting you’ve got the necessary goods waiting in your pantry as we speak. And the best part? No candy thermometer required! Honestly, it doesn’t get any easier than this when it comes to fudge-making, or tastier for that matter.

This is some seriously creamy and dreamy fudge. It melts right in your mouth; you barely need teeth for this sweet stuff! Plus, that luscious chocolate fudge is blanketed by a creamy coconut topping and crunchy toasted almonds. Talk about a beautiful blend of flavors and textures! It definitely evokes memories of your favorite Almond Joy candies, but this fudge is, dare I say, even better.

Join me in the kitchen and see just how easy and delicious this fudge is. Let’s almond rejoice!

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Make sure you watch the video to catch the step-by-step how-to and hear all my best tips for fudge making!
    You must stir constantly, especially once the fudge starts boiling, or it will burn.
  2. You don’t have to toast the nuts, but it makes them extra crunchy & intensifies their flavor.
  3. This fudge is much easier to get out of the pan if you line it with parchment paper.
  4. To make Mounds Fudge instead, leave off the almonds and use dark chocolate chips instead of semisweet.
  5. I’ve never seen a 12 oz. bag of chocolate chips like in the recipe. I bought 11.5 oz, which is close enough, and that worked just fine.

Almond Joy Fudge
Adapted from the Fluff jar; Coconut topping adapted from Joy the Baker

Ingredients:

For the topping

  • 1 7-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups shredded coconut
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 16 almonds, toasted*

For the Fudge

  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  •  3/4 tsp. salt
  •  1/2 stick butter (4 tbsp.)
  • 1 5-oz. can evaporated milk
  •  1 Jar (7.5 oz.) Marshmallow Fluff
  •  3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  •  1 12-oz. package semi-sweet chocolate pieces

Directions:

  1. Make the topping: In a large bowl, mix the condensed milk, powdered sugar, vanilla, coconut, and 1/4 tsp. salt until well-combined. Cover and refrigerate while you make the fudge.
  2. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan and line with parchment paper; set aside.
  3. In large saucepan combine the sugar, salt, butter, evaporated milk, and Fluff. Stir constantly over low heat until blended.
  4. Increase heat to medium and bring to a full-rolling boil while stirring constantly, being careful not to mistake escaping air bubbles for boiling. Make sure you’re scraping down the edges to prevent burning.
  5. Boil slowly, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and chocolate until chocolate is melted and mixture is completely smooth. Use a whisk if you need to break up the chocolate better.
  6. Turn into greased pan and let cool. Once the pan is cool enough to touch, refrigerate until completely set.
  7. Once fudge is set, pour the coconut mixture on top and gently spread out in an even layer. Top with toasted almonds and refrigerate until coconut is firm enough to cut. Slice fudge into squares and enjoy.
    *To toast almonds, line a baking sheet with foil. Spread almonds out in an even layer and bake at 350 degrees F for 5-10 minutes or until aromatic. Let cool.


Sweet & Simple: Honey Roasted Nuts

When it comes to flavors, sweet and salty treats provide the ultimate eating experience. They give a little bit of this and a little bit of that so you don’t have to choose when you snack sensors start calling to you. It’s the best of both worlds, a complex blend of sugar and salt to create multiple levels of flavor.

Honey is perhaps the most naturally sweet substance mother nature has bestowed upon us (besides sugar itself). It’s like sweet liquid gold. In contrast, nuts are the Earth’s natural salty snack. Combine the two, and you’ve got the pinnacle of salty-sweet snacks in the most basic form that nature intended.

These Honey Roasted Nuts are a handful of honey-kissed delight. With the perfect balance of salty and sweet, they are wonderfully satisfying to your snack attack cravings. They’ve even got a bit of heat that kicks in when you least expect it, spicing up your snacking experience. These aren’t your ordinary store-bought honey roasted peanuts; they’re fresh from the oven, made with real honey, and packing more flavor in one peanut than a whole jar of the store-bought stuff.

Besides being delicious, these nuts are quick and easy to make. Mix up the ingredients and give it a nice and toasty roast, and you’ve got yourself a snack. They’re the perfect finger food for Super Bowl celebrations, or for late-night self-indulging. To share or not to share? That’s up to you, my little cookies.

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Grandma’s Hello Dollies

There is one thing that I truly associate with the holidays. It’s not eggnog or peppermint or gingerbread, although all of those things carry their holiday nostalgia as well. No; for me, the most Christmasy thing I can imagine is my late grandmother’s Hello Dollies.

Once a year, every year, when Christmas rolls around, I break out her handwritten recipe on a faded note card and bake up a batch of these nostalgic treats. Like most handed-down recipes, the instructions are rather vague. And yet, I’ve never once messed them up. It’s almost as if I have her spirit to guide me through.

It’s strange how that little note card seems so fragile. It is from another time and place entirely, and to hold it in my hands feels slightly surreal. It is as if I must handle it with the greatest care or risk it shattering in the palm of my hands. Every time I look at it, I envy my grandmother’s perfect, dainty handwriting (mine is all over the place). Unlike a recipe from a random cookbook or website, it feels as if she’s actually speaking to me. I can see her in her kitchen, many years ago, preparing these beloved cookies for my father and his brother, who to this day cannot get enough of them. It’s slightly eerie, but a special experience indeed. No matter how fancy or impressive a cookbook is, it will never come close to the special feeling of following a hand-written family recipe.

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