Michele Ferrero, Italian entrepreneur, chocolate manufacturer and creator of Nutella, the chocolate hazelnut spread beloved the world over, passed away quietly at the age of 89 on Valentine’s Day. Many a scrumptious recipe has been developed (not to mention a blog post written) and a diet hastily broken by this delightfully sinful concoction. Some of my favorite ways of indulging in Nutella are spreading it on a rice cake topped with raspberries, or swirling it on pancakes, sliced strawberries or English muffins. Of course, spooning it straight out of the jar works too. And although I’ve never baked with Nutella, this Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction might get me to put down the spoon and get out the baking sheet.
Rest in peace Mr. Ferrero; regardless of how I get my Nutella fix, my spoon salutes you.
Looking for more Nutella recipes? Check out Nutella: The 30 Best Recipes. Do you have a favorite recipe involving Nutella? Let me know in the comments!
I’m certainly not one to turn away from a lovely Easter basket, but this year I wanted to make something a little different, and was inspired by a nest I saw in a tree outside my terrace. With visions of chocolate eggs and chicks gathered cozily in a nest dancing in my head, I was off to Jo-Ann’s for supplies. This is a small nest (the wreath is only 6″) so I made a couple of them to decorate the Easter dinner table. Remember, the bigger the wreath, the bigger the nest and the more candy it can hold!
To make this super easy little nest (it’s so easy you don’t need to read this, just look at the pictures!), you’ll need (clockwise): a paper plate, moss, a decorative butterfly, a grapevine wreath, and excelsior or raffia:
You’ll also need a glue gun (and don’t forget the candy!)
First cut out a circle from the paper plate and glue to one side of the wreath to make the bottom of your nest. Wad up the excelsior or raffia to and glue it to the paper plate to start lining the nest; then, glue the moss on top of that.
Glue the butterfly onto your nest, add candy and you’re done!
Wishing you all a Happy Easter!
I originally posted this Christmas cookie recipe back in July when we were in the throes of a sweltering heat wave and the chill of a winter’s day seemed like it was a world away. Now that the thermometer has hit a crisp 29 degrees and we await a snow storm (and being that it’s actually the Christmas season), I thought I’d post it again. I baked a third batch of this family favorite last night, this time adding red and green sprinkles along with the Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses. The dough in this recipe freezes up nicely so you can make it ahead of time and pull it out when you need it.
Ingredients:1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour ½ teaspoon baking soda 2/3 cup packed brown sugar 6 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon water 1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces 1 egg, lightly beaten Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses Red and green sprinkles (optional) 1. In a small bowl, mix together flour and baking soda; set aside. In a medium saucepan or double boiler, combine brown sugar, butter, and water. Cook and stir over low heat until butter is melted. Add chocolate; cook and stir until chocolate is melted. Pour mixture into a large bowl; cool for 10 minutes. 2. Using a wooden spoon, stir the egg into the chocolate mixture. Stir in the flour mixture until combined. Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours or until the dough is easy to handle. 3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Roll some of the cookies balls in sprinkles if you wish. Depending on the size you roll the dough, makes about 30-36 cookies. 4. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and gently press a Kiss into center of each cookie. Transfer to wire rack and cool until melting mints are firm (I put them in the refrigerator for about an hour to firm up the Kisses). Makes about 48 cookies. 5. Store at room temperature in an airtight container separated by layers of waxed paper for up to three days (if they last that long) or freeze for up to 3 months.
What’s your favorite Christmas cookie recipe? Post it in the comments!
My recipe was featured on Disney’s Spoonful.com in “23 Santa Approved Christmas Eve Treats” – check out the other great recipes here.
Photos courtesy of Mom Meets Blog
Last week, in the midst of the summer scorcher that gripped most of the nation, the most popular place in town was the pool. Kids and adults alike jockeyed for position in its cooling waters, swimming laps, playing Marco Polo, or just chatting while trying to beat the heat. As the thermometer flirted with triple-digit temperatures and we took bets on when the heat wave would break, my friend pointed out that in just a few short months we could possibly be dealing with single-digit temperatures and double-digit snowfall.
That just made me think of cookies.
Not just any cookies, but my family’s favorite recipe, Chocolate Candy Cane Kiss cookies, which I start baking at Thanksgiving and continue baking right through Christmas. They’ve become a holiday staple at my home – when my son sees them come out of the oven he knows it’s the official start of the holiday season. Friends and family have come to expect them and they are perfect for gift giving (and leaving out for Santa on Christmas Eve). I found the original recipe here but substituted Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses for the pastel cream mint kisses. The dough in this recipe also freezes up nicely so you can make it ahead of time and pull it out when you need it.
Ingredients:1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour ½ teaspoon baking soda 2/3 cup packed brown sugar 6 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon water 1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces 1 egg, lightly beaten Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses 1. In a small bowl, mix together flour and baking soda; set aside. In a medium saucepan or double boiler, combine brown sugar, butter, and water. Cook and stir over low heat until butter is melted. Add chocolate; cook and stir until chocolate is melted. Pour mixture into a large bowl; cool for 10 minutes. 2. Using a wooden spoon, stir the egg into the chocolate mixture. Stir in the flour mixture until combined. Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours or until the dough is easy to handle. 3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Depending on the size you roll the dough, makes about 30-36 cookies. 4. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and gently press a Kiss into center of each cookie. Transfer to wire rack and cool until melting mints are firm (I put them in the refrigerator for about an hour to firm up the Kisses). 5. Store at room temperature in an airtight container separated by layers of waxed paper for up to three days (if they last that long) or freeze for up to 3 months.
Photos courtesy of Google Images and mommeetsblog.com
I’m standing at the kitchen counter about to start dinner. I open the cabinet to round up the ingredients for this evening’s meal and I see it, that seemingly innocent white-lidded jar, beckoning my attention. I look away and continue gathering my supplies, but its call is too great to ignore. I remove the Nutella from the cabinet and slowly twist off its lid. I open the drawer below and grab a spoon. I put the jar on the counter and hold it in place with one hand as I dip the spoon into the jar with the other, its contents yielding against the touch of the stainless steel. I raise the spoon to my lips, closing my eyes and inhaling its familiar, delicate fragrance. As it finds its way into my mouth, this intoxicating concoction slides off the spoon and onto my tongue, enveloping it like a silky blanket, the hint of hazelnut providing the perfect counterpoint to the smooth, velvety chocolate. I open my eyes and, staring into the cabinet, inspiration strikes – dare I reach for the peanut butter? My taste buds shiver at the thought. No, I decide as my inner goddess pouts, that’s too much for now. “Perhaps another time”, I can almost hear the peanut butter grinning salaciously. I plunge the spoon into the jar again and again, greedily devouring the Nutella like a . . .
A small voice shakes me out of my reverie. “Is dinner almost ready?” my son calls out from the living room. I look down sheepishly at the jar in my hand and realize I’ve just consumed 600 calories worth of Nutella and we haven’t even had dinner yet. I put the jar down and knot my fingers on the counter, chastising myself over my loss of control. As I bite my lower lip, my subconscious smirks at me over her half-moon specs and clucks “A moment on the lips, no matter how sweet, a lifetime on the hips.”
I roll my eyes at her and angrily throw the spoon into the sink. I shove the jar back in the cabinet, vowing to never lose control like that again (at least until the next time I open the cabinet). Oh Nutella, you are a cruel master. . .
Photos courtesy of Google Images and nutellachocolate.com
This afternoon I met with my friend C. at our favorite neighborhood spot. A quaint bistro-style coffee-house that serves delicious sandwiches and salads, pastries and artisanal coffees (C. swoons over the perfectly blended iced coffee), we love to sit here and chit-chat over lunch. Occasionally I finish up my meal with a handmade salted caramel chocolate truffle – heaven!
While greedily devouring our eggplant, red pepper, zucchini and mozzarella sandwiches (on freshly baked Italian bread), C. mentioned how much she was enjoying the NBC musical drama “Smash”.
The conversation went something like this:
C.: “. . . and Debra Messing is amazing on this show, I love her.”
Me: “So do I, she is so funny. Is she wearing her hair curly or straight?” (I’ve recently stopped blow drying my naturally curly hair straight, thus alleviating my arm pain and most likely averting carpal tunnel syndrome. Knowing that Deb was a curly girl, I was curious).
C.: “Not pin straight, but wavy. She was so great in that other series, too, you know, the one where. . . oh, you remember. . . “
Me: “Yes of course, with that guy. . . what was it called again??? “
C.: “Yes, the one with Jack. . . “
Me: “Yes, and the other one – ugh, what is the name of that show???”
C.: “I just can’t think of it. . . . “
Me: “Neither can I – why can’t we think of that name???”
We stared at each other blankly. Neither one of us could come up with the name of that damn show, not for the next 45 minutes of our lunch date. Not even on the way home. I told her we were having a Midlife Moment – where you can recall some details of what you’re trying to remember, but you can’t quite remember exactly what it is you’re trying to remember. I felt like I was being punk’d by my own brain – the answer was just kind of dancing around the edges of my memory banks, then got yanked away just as it was about to descend onto the tip of my tongue. If you fall anywhere on the 40-spectrum, you might know what I’m talking about.
The funny thing about these Moments is that eventually you do remember what it was you were trying to remember. I finally remembered the name of the show. Nine hours later.
“WILL & GRACE for cryin’ out loud,” I text-yelled to C. “OMG!! Of course!” she texted back.
Sigh. I wonder if they can put some ginkgo biloba in those salted caramel chocolate truffles. Doesn’t chocolate have some memory enhancing properties? I think I read that somewhere, I just can’t remember where. . .
Are you “forgetting to remember” more often than usual? What are some of your Midlife Moments? Let me know (don’t worry, I’ll probably forget all about it!)