Creamy Cannoli Dip

CannoliDipToday’s post is about combining two of my absolute favorite things: New York cannolis, and California Dairy. What could be a better mash-up?! By creating a phenomenal, creamy dip out of rich, California Dairy products from my home state, inspired by my future-home (I hope!) in New York City, the Land of Cannolis (unofficially, but it’s true), I have managed to combine both of my favorite things into one AWESOME treat for you!

So first things first: cannolis. I love them. After visiting NYC for the first time a couple years ago, I was forced by my dad to try one… and I was hooked. There’s something so enticing and fabulous about a crispy fried cannoli shell stuffed to the gills with outrageously rich cannoli cream. Heaven on earth? You bet your sweet face it is.

But the best part about those cannolis? The CREAM, obvi. I’ve been a fan of all things deliciously creamy since I can remember (and excuse your innuendos, weirdos). Cream cheese on bagels, whipped cream icing (!!), ice cream… you name it, I love it. So that tangy, slightly sweetened cannoli cream was basically the best thing to happen to my face in NYC. Besides macarons, but that’s a different story (and addiction).

Of course, that cannoli cream wouldn’t be possible without dairy. Tangy ricotta cheese, rich mascarpone, heavy cream, butter… just some of the components that make up that fabulous filling for these delicious confections.

And even though these fantastical cannolis are being cooked up across the country in New York City, it’s a pretty large chance that New York bakers are using California Dairy products to make them. Since California has been the leading milk producer in the country since 1993 (and also the leading butter, ice cream, whey concentrate and nonfat dry milk producer!) and the second largest cheese producer, the possibility that  bakeries and restaurants across the United States are using California Dairy is incredibly high. Eating cannolis made with cheese and dairy from California’s famous Happy Cows? A highly delicious possibility.

DSC_0299AToday’s recipe is centered around Real California Dairy. As a proud brand ambassador for the California Milk Advisory Board (and a proud consumer of Real California Milk!) I only shop for brands that feature the Real California Milk seal which ensures the milk and dairy products used in those items was made with California milk produced by one of the 1,500 dairy farms in our Golden State.

DSC_0964AFrom the tangy ricotta to the silky cream cheese to the rich heavy cream, every product used in today’s Cannoli Dip was made with Real California Milk, providing exemplary quality and taste to this outrageously scrumptious dessert dip!

But enough about that. Let’s talk this dip, y’all. Not only would it be AWESOME for a Super Bowl party (yes!), but it’d make a sweet treat for your Valentine. Just serve it up alongside some chocolate graham crackers, waffle cone pieces, butter crisp cookies, Nilla Wafers or even fruit, and you have yourself a seriously tasty, irresistible spread. #winning

Now eat up!

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4.0 from 1 reviews
Creamy Cannoli Dip
Author: 
Recipe type: No Bake, Treats
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5 cups
 
Silky smooth and bursting with rich flavor, this Creamy Cannoli Dip will be the star of your next get-together! Comes together in minutes and features creamy California Dairy for the ultimate party dip!
Ingredients
  • 1 (15 oz) container Real California Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 (8 oz) pkg Real California Cream Cheese, softened to room temperature
  • ¼ cup Real California Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 cups powdered sugar
  • About ⅔ cup miniature chocolate chips
  • Waffle cookes, waffle cone pieces, chocolate graham crackers, vanilla wafers, fresh fruit, or any other assorted dipping items, for dipping/garnish
Instructions
  1. First, drain your ricotta cheese by placing it in cheesecloth and squeezing out any excess liquid or moisture. You can also pat it dry with a paper towel if needed.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the drained ricotta, the cream cheese, heavy cream and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until just combined and creamy. Beat in the powdered sugar, about 1 cup at a time, until mixture is thickened. You may only need one cup of powdered sugar, but add more if necessary.
  3. Place the bowl in the fridge to set and chill for about 30 minutes. Remove from the fridge once chilled and garnish with chocolate chips. *I recommend spooning the dip into a separate bowl and layering the chocolate chips and dip together, like so: ½ cup dip, then a sprinkling of chocolate chips, repeating until chocolate chips are finished. That way you get chocolate chips in every bite!
  4. Serve with assorted dipping items like cookies, crackers, pretzels, or fruit. Store leftovers airtight in the fridge.

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DSC_0963ASilky-smooth and crazy creamy, this sweet and tangy dip will soon become your new favorite! I loved eating it with waffle cookies to complete the authentic cannoli experience, but it was equally delicious with fruit (or let’s be real, on a spoon) :)

For more information about California Dairy or the California Milk Advisory Board, be sure to check them out ONLINE! You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest for news, info, recipes & more! And be sure to look for Real California Dairy products featuring the Real or Real California Milk Seal! 

DSC_0300AHave a delicious day!

xo, Hayley

I am a proud brand ambassador for the California Milk Advisory Board. All opinions expressed are 100% my own. I was compensated as part of my ambassadorship to write this post. 

Strawberry Marshmallow Cookie Cups {Happy 4th Bloggiversary To Me!}

Strawberry Marshmallow Cookie CupsSo, I totally did something dumb.

I missed my own blog’s birthday!

Seriously, how this happened, I don’t know. Actually, I do know: it’s because I was sick, I was busy planning my own birthday, and because I am lame and forget minor details like the DAY IN WHICH MY BLOG WAS BORN.

In other words, I’m a terrible blogger. #loserstatus

It’s hard to believe that four years ago, I created this little space in the interwebs. I just wanted to post pictures of my frilly, fun-flavored cupcakes and had no idea that I would garner so much attention, meet so many wonderful people, create so many delicious things, and make blogging my full-time job in just four years.

It’s been a long road, but a very fun one. Sometimes this job feels like work, but most of the time it’s hilariously fun and I pinch myself since it’s still unbelievable to me that this is my life.

So what I’m trying to say without being super mushy-gooey is, thank you for making this blog what it is. Thank you for being so supportive, so loyal, so loving and so interested in my silly stories and wacky recipes. Thank you for liking, commenting and pinning the living ‘ish outta my stuff. Thank you for being here!

DSC_0895ASeeing as I forgot, I don’t have a sparkly, sprinkly post lined up, but I *do* have some ultra-delish cookie cups for you to enjoy! These bad boys are sweet sugar cookie cups filled with creamy white chocolate and are topped with a strawberry heart marshmallow. They’re sweet, simple, and totally perfect to celebrate this bloggiversary and for the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday!

I love you! Now eat your heart (cookie cup) out!

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Strawberry Marshmallow Cookie Cups {Happy 4th Bloggiversary To Me!}
Author: 
Recipe type: Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
Adorable, petite cookie cups filled with creamy white chocolate and topped with gooey strawberry marshmallows. These little bites are perfect for Valentine's Day!
Ingredients
  • 1 pkg refrigerated sugar cookie dough (24 count), at room temperature
  • About 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 24 Kraft Jet-Puffed Strawberry Heart Marshmallows
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease a 24-cavity miniature muffin pan with cooking spray. Take one dough ball and gently flatten with your hand, then place into the muffin cavity to fit. Repeat with remaining dough.
  2. Bake the cookie cups for about 10-12 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden. Remove from the oven. Allow the cookie cups to cool for about 5 minutes, then using the handle of a wooden spoon, create small indents in the center of each cup, careful not to puncture the cup. Fill with a pinch of white chocolate chips in each cup's well.
  3. Immediately top the cups with a single marshmallow. Allow the cups to set for another 15 minutes or so before gently removing them from the pan with a knife. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before serving. These are best served at room temperature, or lightly warmed up before eating.

DSC_0904ACute, pink, festive and delicious! Valentine’s treats don’t get easier than these sweet 3-ingredient treats!

Have a delicious day!

xo, Hayley

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Footballs

PB Cookie Dough FootballsOkay, let’s get real. I don’t watch football.

I know, I know. Shocker of the Year. But it just doesn’t interest me, ya know? It isn’t necessarily because football doesn’t interest me; it’s mostly because A) I have other things I could be doing than watching grown men tackle one another; and B) the commentators.

You know, the men who have to narrate every. single. play, every single breath a player takes, every itch they scratch, every thought they think… it’s just so distracting and annoying and completely unnecessary? I dunno, but it totally grinds my gears.

I think it’s because I have a deep-rooted psychological issue with watching TV with others. It all started when I was in elementary school and invited some classmates over to play. Inevitably Barbies got boring, so we turned on cartoons while we ate animal cookies and wasted our childhood brains away. But one classmate in particular — let’s call her Annoying Girl — had a habit of talking during the show. She had to repeat whatever the character just said. She had to narrate whatever the character just did. And she had to ask questions upon questions upon questions of inane subject matter so she could attempt to follow along with the mind-blowing plot of Scooby Doo, Where Are You?. Like, it’s Scooby effing Doo. The monster is always some senile old person. Get the net, homegirl.

But no. Annoying Girl continued her narration of every single grueling play-by-play as if we were deaf and blind and completely, woefully uninformed as to what we were watching.

In later years, I would date a boy whose mom did the same thing. Also, she had this really high-pitched laugh that I swore made the walls shake. Watching America’s Funniest Home Videos was like a death sentence since you never knew what toddler-falling-over video would send the house to crumbles.

And after that, I had a friend who would occasionally watch movies with me… or as much of a movie as you could watch from behind a cell phone screen. Every so often she’d glance up from her Facebook feed to check out the movie, then ask some obvious question that would be answered had she not been playing Farmville. Look, if Farmville is preferable company, then by all means, there’s the door, dude. I can watch my movie solo without fielding questions with someone who contracts a rash if they aren’t touching their phone 24/7.

So anyway, when it comes to narrating shows, answering and asking questions during shows, and generally watching shows with people other than my immediate family (who knows to shut their traps until commercial breaks), I’m not a fan. Unless you’re bringing enough spinach and artichoke dip that I can adequately bury my face in until half-time, I’m not interested in a TV party.

DSC_0803AHowever, I am interested in TV party-related foods, which are always delicious. Dips, fruit and veggie trays, cheese and meat, foot-long sandwiches, and lots of desserts, SuperBowl food is the bomb. And after building mini salami and cheddar cracker sammies all day long, everyone’s bound to crave something sweet to offset all the buffalo wing sauce and melty cheese. Enter these Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Footballs! Not only are they a cinch to make, they taste great — because who doesn’t like peanut butter and chocolate!? And they have that irresistible sweet-and-salty element everyone loves.

The best part? Everyone will be too busy stuffing their faces with them, which means uninterrupted TV for me :)

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Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Footballs
Author: 
Recipe type: Treats
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 64
 
Filled with smooth and delicious egg-free peanut butter cookie dough, these Cookie Dough Footballs are sure to be a winner at any football party!
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 sleeves (about 64 crackers) butter-flavored crackers (I used Townhouse)
  • 1 pkg. Chocolate CandiQuik
  • 2 squares Vanilla CandiQuik
Instructions
  1. First, prepare your cookie dough filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar & white sugar with the paddle attachment until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add in the vanilla and milk and beat to combine. Lastly, add in the flour until a soft dough has formed.
  2. Line two baking sheets with foil and spread the crackers in an even layer among both sheets. Using a teaspoon measuring spoon, spoon the cookie dough in a log-shape onto one of the crackers; gently top with another cracker, creating a sandwich. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough and crackers until all crackers are made into sandwiches.
  3. Briefly allow the sandwiches to set in the freezer, for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the Chocolate CandiQuik according to package directions or until smooth and melted. Dip each sandwich into the Chocolate CandiQuik, allowing the excess to drip off of the fork. Return to the baking sheet and repeat with remaining sandwiches. Once the chocolate has set, melt the Vanilla CandiQuik. Place the Vanilla CQ in a baggy, seal out the air and snip off a corner. Pipe stitching onto each football, then allow the stitching to set.
  4. Store leftovers airtight in the freezer and allow to come to room temperature before serving.

DSC_0815AButtery, crunchy, sweet and salty, these football sandwiches are perfect for the Big Game! The cookie dough is so sweet and creamy and tastes almost like the filling of a Reese’s PB cup! Combined with the milky-sweet chocolate and the crunchy crackers, these treats are a real winner. Don’t like peanut butter cookie dough? No problem! Feel free to use chocolate chip cookie dough (just use miniature chips to help make the sandwiches), sugar cookie dough, oatmeal cookie dough, or even chocolate cookie dough.

Have a fantastical day!!

xo, Hayley

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Baklava

ChocChipBaklavaSo. I kinda sorta trashed the living ish outta this baklava, but I’m not sure anyone will be too upset about it.

I remember the first time I tried Greek food. I was dating this guy — we’ll call him A — and he and his family lived in downtown Sacramento in this gorgeous 40’s-era mansion. ‘A’ and his folks were really liberal and artsy and totally not at all like what I was used to, growing up in a pretty conservative-dominant neighborhood. They shopped at farmer’s markets and liked thrifting; they listened to obscure jazz musicians, traveled the world, and used organic soap. Like, totally hippie-dippie-complete-opposite of everything I’ve ever known.

BUT. Because of this, I got a couple of odd (but good-odd) dates with A. Like, one time we went to a lecture for this supposedly-famous psychologist. And another time we went to a really nice restaurant two hours away from home, just because. But my favorite date had to be the time his parents gave us tickets to a Greek Food Festival.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but dude – Greeks are awesome. And their food is ridiculously good. As a girl who grew up on Taco Bell and Twinkies, pastitsio, dolmas and moussaka were a whole new world for me. And don’t eeeeven get me started on baklava. One bite of that heavenly, sticky-sweet confection and I was sold… and I don’t even really like honey all that much. It’s just something magical that the Greeks do to make phyllo and nuts taste like heaven. I’m convinced they have voodoo powers or something.

DSC_0342AANYWHO. Despite attending this food festival over 10 years ago (wait, omg.), I still had yet to make baklava. There was just something so … annoying? with all the preparation required in making it, and again – honey gives me the shivers. But I decided to get over my weird honey-phobia and stick it to baklava by making it my own unique way — trashed up beyond recognition with chocolate chip cookie dough and a gooey brown sugar & vanilla simple syrup.

DSC_0355AOh honnnnaaayy. This is the ultimate.

Y’all ready to get baklava crunk?

DSC_0346A*inspired from Tieghan’s recipe

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Baklava
Author: 
Recipe type: Treats
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
Rich & sinful, this outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Baklava will be your new favorite dessert!
Ingredients
  • 1 pkg phyllo dough, thawed
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • FOR COOKIE DOUGH:
  • 1 & ½ sticks butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • About 3 cups flour
  • 1 & ½ cups miniature chocolate chips
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 squares Chocolate CandiQuik
  • FOR VANILLA & BROWN SUGAR SYRUP:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 & ½ cups brown sugar (I used dark, but light works too)
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease a 13x9" pan with cooking spray; set aside. Meanwhile, make your cookie dough: in a large bowl with a stand mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar & sugar with a paddle attachment until creamy. Add in milk and vanilla, beat to combine. Lastly, add in the salt, flour, walnuts and chocolate chips until a soft dough has formed. Set aside.
  2. Begin layering your phyllo in the pan. Place one sheet of phyllo in the bottom of the pan and brush it with melted butter. Top with another piece of phyllo, brush it with butter, and repeat the process until you've stacked 10 pieces of phyllo on top of one another. *NOTE: while you work, be sure to keep the rest of the phyllo dough covered with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out.*
  3. Carefully press HALF of the chocolate chip cookie dough on top of the bottom phyllo layer. You may want to take chunks of cookie dough, flatten them in your hand, and kind of form them into a layer by hand to prevent ripping the phyllo underneath.
  4. Repeat by adding TEN (10) more layers of buttered phyllo (buttering each sheet of phyllo after laying it), then top with the remaining cookie dough. Lastly, add the remaining phyllo dough, buttering each sheet as you layer. Cut the baklava with a very sharp knife in square or diamond pattern.
  5. Bake for approx. 45 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Remove from the oven and immediately pour the vanilla & brown sugar simple syrup over top. Allow the baklava to set for at LEAST 6 hours, preferably overnight* before cutting completely into squares or diamonds and serving.
  6. If desired, feel free to drizzle on melted CandiQuik for an added chocolate drizzle garnish, as I did. Store leftovers airtight, at room temperature, for a couple days.
  7. *TO MAKE THE SIMPLE SYRUP: Bring the water, brown sugar and vanilla to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat.

DSC_0358AThis stuff is damn good, people. The buttery cookie dough, crispy phyllo, crunchy walnuts and chocolate chips, and the drizzle of chocolate on top makes for such an indulgent, badass dessert. If you don’t like walnuts, feel free to leave them out – I liked adding them for crunch and to keep one traditional component to this baklava. You could also use pistachios, pecans or peanuts, or swap the cookie dough for a peanut butter, butterscotch or sugar cookie dough!

…Just invite me over if you make those changes :)

Happy Baking!

xo, Hayley

 

Avalanche Cookie Clusters

Avalanche Cookie ClustersWhen I was in high school, one of the coolest things to do was to visit Downtown Sacramento.

Now mind you, I am a kid from the suburbs, about 20 minutes away from Downtown. But seeing as the most exciting thing in my town was the halfway abandoned Yogurt Delite, Downtown seemed so cool and exotic and hip and different to a 15-year old.

For one, Downtown had a mall which was just as crappy as our mall, but better because it was Downtown. And it had a gargantuan Forever 21 in it which was sofreakinawesome because ours only had a Wet Seal and everyone knows Forever 21 > Wet Seal, amirite?

Second, Downtown was connected to Old Town, which is exactly what you think of when you think of a once-small mining town. Cute, quaint old buildings and cobblestone streets with wooden sidewalks and horse-drawn carriages clopping around. Old Town had some quirky shops that my friends and I loved to explore in, but mostly, we enjoyed hitting up the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory down there.

My mom would send me on my day-long jaunt to Downtown with $20 to spend on lunch, but little did she know that most of that money went to things at Forever 21 and of course, chocolates from Rocky Mountain. If you’ve never been to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory before, it’s pretty much the most heavenly place on earth, with floor-to-ceiling displays of chocolate truffles, candies, confections and more, and more often than not, they’re stirring up a fresh batch of caramel and dipping everything under the sun right in front of your wee beady eyes.

In other words, a hungry teenager’s dream come true.

One of my favorite things to get were the caramel apples (hello, best treat evah) and their Avalanche Bars. The Avalanche Bars are probably what Rocky Mountain’s most known for, and for good reason. If ya don’t know, Avalanche Bars are basically white chocolate and peanut butter mixed together with rice krispy cereal and marshmallows, then studded with chocolate chips. Prettttttty genius, with the whole sweet-salty-crunchy-gooey factors happening at once. And did I mention it was a hungry teenager’s dream come true?

But since my days of dwelling Downtown are long over (and since I’ve grown up and realized Downtown isn’t that cool after all, parking sucks, and is that homeless person flashing everyone?), it’s been quite some time since I’ve had an Avalanche Bar. But since I saw Shelly post her version of Avalanche Cookies, I knew I had to recreate this childhood treat at home… with my rebellious spin, duh.

DSC_0402AEnter pie crust. Yeah, pie crust. Homie play. Homie play like that. Pie crust offers a delightful, unexpected crunch to these clusters and a bit of a doughy, cookie feel. It’s hard to explain but easy to eat 10 of these incredible cookie clusters, also inspired by the mil-dollar Pillsbury Bake-Off winner’s recipe which includes bits of baked pie crust in her cookies, too.

Genius? Hell yes it is. And ohmigawd, did I mention a DREAM COME TRUE?!

DSC_0405ASeriously. Can’t stop, won’t stop — and you shouldn’t either. Make these NOW! Live the dream!!

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5.0 from 3 reviews
Avalanche Cookie Clusters
Author: 
Recipe type: Cookies, Treats
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
Irresistible, incredible and outrageously delicious, these addictive Avalanche Cookie Clusters are inspired by Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory's delectable Avalanche Bars! You and your family will love the unexpected twist of pie crust bits in these fabulous cluster cookies!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 1 & ½ cups miniature marshmallows
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 pkg Vanilla CandiQuik
  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
Instructions
  1. First, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone liner or with parchment paper. Mist parchment (if using) with cooking spray. Place the pie crust on the baking sheet and, using a sharp knife or a pizza wheel, cut the pie crust into thin strips, then cut crosswise to make small, bite-sized squares. Separate the squares so that they don't touch as much, and bake for approx. 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.
  2. In a large bowl, melt the CandiQuik according to package directions or until smooth. Stir in the peanut butter until blended. Working quickly, add in the cereal, marshmallows and pie crust pieces and toss gently to coat completely.
  3. Working fast, drop heaping ¼ cup-sized clusters of the mixture onto foil-or silicone-lined baking sheets. Because of the CandiQuik, the mixture could harden so it's key to work as fast as possible! Allow the clusters to set before serving. Store leftovers airtight, at room temperature, for up to a week.

DSC_0408AButtery, creamy, crunchy, gooey, crispy, salty and oh-so-decadent, these are THE BOMB. Easily my new favorite cookie-candy hybrid and I guarantee they’ll be yours, too!

*Tip: for chocolate-lovers, feel free to sprinkle each cluster with some miniature chocolate chips before they set for a little chocolate kick!*

Have a fabulous day!!

xo, Hayley

Raspberry Candy Champagne Punch {Happy New Year!}

raspberrypunchHappy New Year!

I can hardly believe it’s already 2015 and I think that’s plenty of cause to celebrate! A new year, a new you, and a new drink to kick things off right :)

Since mimosas are so 2014, this Raspberry Candy Champagne Punch is just the perfect new addition to your drink repertoire. Plus, this easily doubles as a brunch beverage or a dinnertime delight… hello, awesomeness! And it has just the right amount of sweetness without being too cloying. In fact, it may be the drink of 2015. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Bottoms up, friends!

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Raspberry Candy Champagne Punch {Happy New Year!}
Author: 
Recipe type: Treats
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
This fabulous Champagne Punch combines champagne with fresh fruit and rock candy for a fun and festive treat!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups champagne
  • ½ cup raspberry syrup (I like Torani Sugar Free)
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • Fresh raspberries
  • Raspberry rock candy sticks
Instructions
  1. Place a handful of raspberries among each glass; top with ¼ cup raspberry syrup and ¼ cup orange juice in each glass. Finish off with a cup of champagne per glass.
  2. Serve with a raspberry rock candy as a swizzle stick garnish. I recommend setting them in each cup for a couple minutes to allow the candy to soak up some of the flavors, but if the candy's in there too long it will absorb into the drink, FYI.

DSC_0294AHave a very safe and Happy New Year!!

Have a fabulous day!!

xo, Hayley

Gingerbread Cookie Dough Cups

GingerbreadCookieDoughCupsTo me, there are three flavors synonymous with the holidays: eggnog, peppermint, and gingerbread.

While I’ve always had an affinity with peppermint, eggnog and gingerbread took awhile to get used to. As a kid, I wanted to like them so badly. Eggnog just seemed so cool – like something suave businesswomen in turtleneck pantsuits would drink (it was the 90s) but I just couldn’t stomach it; it reminded me of melted ice cream but not in a good way. And gingerbread, of course, for all the gingerbread home construction that I’d build during this magical time of year. But demolishing said house? I went for the candy and abandoned the stale frame behind.

But as an adult, I realized I actually enjoy all of these flavors (and none of the turtleneck pantsuits). Eggnog is best enjoyed, in my opinion, in moderation, such as a glaze on a cake or a sip here and there (spiked because hello, it’s the holidays and how else am I supposed to be so jolly?). And gingerbread, because I finally left those terrible, crumbly gingerbread cookie homes behind and had real-deal, chewy, perfectly spiced gingerbread cookies that totally assuaged my stale-cookie nightmares.

And now, gingerbread is a must during the holidays. Whether you prefer your cookies soft and chewy, or thinner and crispy, I think everyone can agree that one of the best parts of this Christmastime classic is the cookie dough. But then again, isn’t that the case with all cookies? :)

DSC_0203ACookie dough is one of my favorite treats and I combined my love for the sweet, uncooked batter with my newfound love for gingerbread to create these fabulous, sweet-and-spicy Gingerbread Cookie Dough Cups. Kinda like peanut butter cups, but surrounded by smooth white chocolate and filled with a decadent, perfectly spiced gingerbread cookie dough. These sweet, poppable cups are then topped with a small sprinkling of dried ginger which offers an irresistible pop of flavor atop these festive treats.

Both my cookie dough and the dried ginger garnish come from Gourmet Garden, the folks behind those oh-so convenient squeezable tubes of fresh herbs and spices. Gourmet Garden knows that not everyone has time or money to buy a fresh bunch of herbs for a single recipe. More than likely, the herbs will spoil before you have a chance to use them! But Gourmet Garden has created these convenient squeeze tubes filled with your favorite herbs and spices to make cooking and baking a breeze — and no more dreaded garlic fingers! Simply squeeze the amount of herbs or spices needed into your recipe and voila! No mess, no waste. It’s that simple — and the fresh pop of color and flavor added to the dishes is outstanding.

DSC_0206AGourmet Garden just released their new line of Lightly Dried Spices for your cooking needs. The Lightly Dried Line is the closest thing to fresh you’ll get in appearance, flavor, and aroma and they stay fresh for 4 weeks after opening. From cilantro to ginger, parsley to chili pepper and basil, Gourmet Garden has your herbs and spices covered to ensure a perfectly flavorful dish in no time.

…And speaking of flavorful… just look at these cups! They’re just bursting with that sweet gingerbread dough and smooth white chocolate. If this doesn’t scream “Christmas” I don’t know what does!

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Gingerbread Cookie Dough Cups
Author: 
Recipe type: Treats
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 30
 
Perfectly spiced gingerbread cookie dough is enrobed around sweet white chocolate and topped with dried ginger for these refined yet utterly delicious candy cups!
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp Gourmet Garden Ginger Stir-In Paste
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 & ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 pkg Vanilla CandiQuik or white chocolate candy coating
  • Approx. 5 Tbsp Gourmet Garden Lightly Dried Ginger, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Line a miniature muffin pan with approx. 30 miniature paper liners. Set aside. Meanwhile, melt HALF of the white chocolate coating according to package directions or until smooth and melted.
  2. Drop heaping teaspoons or so of melted white chocolate into the bottom of each muffin liner. Using the spoon, gently brush the white chocolate along the sides of the muffin cup about halfway. Allow the chocolate to set.
  3. To make your cookie dough: in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter, brown sugar and molasses until combined. Beat in vanilla, milk and ginger paste. Lastly, beat in the spices and flour until a soft dough has formed.
  4. Roll scant teaspoon-sized balls of dough with your fingers and place them, slightly flattened, into the white chocolate cups. Once the cups are filled with all of the cookie dough, melt the remaining white chocolate. Drop heaping Tablespoons of white chocolate on top of each cookie dough ball, ensuring the balls are covered completely by the white chocolate on the top and sides. Sprinkle the tops of the cups with the dried ginger, and allow to set before serving.

DSC_0215AI love the spicy, aromatic flavor ginger lends to this recipe. Both the Ginger Paste and the Lightly Dried Ginger add such a tremendous amount of freshness and warmth to these unique and festive cookie cups! If you’d like, you could also top the cookie dough cups with a sprinkling of festive holiday sprinkles or jimmies as well.

Gourmet Garden brandmarkBe sure to connect with Gourmet Garden to learn more about their company, product line, news, and more! You can follow them on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST & INSTAGRAM for more delicious recipes, tips and more, including great Holiday Baking inspiration like this!

And be sure to check out other amazing Holiday Baking Recipes from friends featuring Gourmet Garden!!

Hope you have a fantastical day!!

xo, Hayley

In the interest of full disclosure, I was generously provided with samples of Gourmet Garden’s Products to review and develop a recipe. All opinions are, and always will be, my own. 

Twinkie Trees & Ding Dong Ornaments (& A #HostessHoliday Sweeps!)

“This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Hostess blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.”

TwinkieTreesSo let’s get one thing straight, shall we? I love me some Hostess! Growing up, I was pretty much on a strict Twinkie-a-day diet… and they’re still one of my absolute favorite guilty-pleasure foods!

And if there’s one thing I love more than Hostess Snacks, it’s transforming these classic cakes into fantastic, delicious desserts that use Hostess products as the base. I’ve made Tiramisu and Truffles using Twinkies, and now I’m making Christmas trees and ornaments! (And between you and me, these may be my favorite Twinkie and Ding Dong treats yet!)

If there’s one memory from the holidays that I love, it’s the times I would decorate cookies and gingerbread houses with my family. We’d play Elvis Christmas music and sprinkle, frost, dip and eat to our heart’s content. Decorating these Hostess Snacks brought me back to my childhood and instantly reminded me of the fun I had decorating, and the best part: eating my masterpiece after it was all said & done :) But whether or not you eat these immediately or keep them around a little bit as a gorgeous, unexpected (edible) centerpiece or star of the dessert table is totally up to you!

First up, let’s talk Twinkie Trees. Aren’t they adorable?!

Twinkie1For these, simply slide a cake pop or lollipop stick into an unwrapped Twinkie. The Twinkie is the perfect vertical vessel for these picture-perfect chocolate trees. Freeze the Twinkies while you make your trees using green candy coating, sprinkles and other assorted candies — this is the most fun part for the kids! You could make your trees bright and colorful like I did, or use simpler colors like sparkling silver or gold, for something more classic and refined. Then simply squiggle on some leftover candy melts directly onto the Twinkie, attach the tree, and voila! Easy as pie.. er, as Twinkie. :)

DSC_1575A

DingDong1As for the Ding Dong Ornaments? Simple!

DSC_1582APop some unwrapped Ding Dongs into the freezer to harden a bit. Once they’re nice and solid, melt some white candy coating and give the Ding Dongs a nice, hot bath in the white chocolate coating. Lift them out to allow excess coating to drip off, then return them to a baking sheet to decorate! Attach a Rolo candy for the top of the ornament, then use candies and sprinkles to create magical, one-of-a-kind ornaments that you can eat! 

Are you hungry yet?!

DSC_1586A

4.9 from 7 reviews
Twinkie Trees & Ding Dong Ornaments (& A #HostessHoliday Sweeps!)
Author: 
Recipe type: Treats
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
These adorable Twinkie Trees and Ding Dong Ornaments are simple to make and taste fabulous! Wow your guests with these impressive treats that are a blast to make with the kids!
Ingredients
  • FOR TWINKIE TREES:
  • Hostess Twinkies
  • Green Candy Coating/Candy Melts
  • Assorted Sprinkles and Candies (like Mini M&M's)
  • Lollipop Sticks
  • FOR DING DONG ORNAMENTS:
  • Hostess Ding Dongs
  • White Candy Coating (like CandiQuik)
  • Assorted Sprinkles and Candies (like Mini M&M's)
  • Rolo Candies
Instructions
  1. FOR TWINKIE TREES:
  2. Gently slide a lollipop stick into the bottom of an unwrapped Twinkie about ½ way through. Place the Twinkie pops onto a foil-lined baking sheet and place them in the freezer until firm, about 1-2 hours.
  3. While the Twinkies firm up, make your trees. Melt the green candy coating according to package directions, until smooth & melted. Place the melted green candy into a piping bag attached with a small circular tip, or in a squeeze bottle (recommended). Pipe Christmas-tree shapes onto a piece of wax paper, then fill them in with the green candy coating. Use a toothpick to smooth out the trees or add more definition and texture. Immediately top with candies, sprinkles, etc. to decorate the trees. Allow the trees to harden, then gently peel off from the wax paper. *Note: you could trace tree shapes onto the wax paper prior to piping to help with a uniform shape. Consider using a tree-shaped cookie cutter to help act as a template.
  4. Once Twinkies are firm, pipe the remaining green candy coating on top of the Twinkie lengthwise. Gently attach the Christmas tree to the Twinkie and allow it to set.
  5. FOR DING DONG ORNAMENTS:
  6. Place unwrapped Ding Dongs onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Place in freezer to briefly firm up the Ding Dongs, about 1 hour.
  7. Melt the white chocolate candy coating according to package directions, or until smooth and melted. Dunk the Ding Dongs completely into the melted white chocolate, then lift up the Ding Dongs with a fork and allow excess chocolate to drip off. Place on the baking sheet. Attach a Rolo to the top of the ornament, and use candies and sprinkles to decorate the ornament to your liking. Allow the chocolate to set before serving.

hostess

If you thought eating these adorable creations was the best part, you’re in for an extra-sweet treat! Hostess is hosting a #HostessHolidaySweeps Pinterest Sweepstakes! All you have to do is enter Hostess’ fabulous Pinterest Sweepstakes HERE to win fantastic prizes, including Hostess Products and up to $1,000! (Hint: $1,000 can buy a lot of Zingers…) Be sure to follow Hostess on PINTEREST to see beautiful tablescape, decorating and baking ideas for the holidays & more!

And you can also enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to win $100 to Walmart, where I found all of my Hostess products and whom I think has the largest selection of Hostess Snacks!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Stay Connected with Hostess

You can also follow them on TWITTER, PINTEREST, INSTAGRAM, TUMBLR, & YOUTUBE for more great ideas, recipes, news & more!

Have a super sweet day!!

xo, Hayley

 

Peppermint Crunch Pretzels

Peppermint Crunch PretzelsYou guys.

These pretzels are everything. And I know I throw around “everything” a lot, but duuude. These are forrealsies ev.er.y.thing.

DSC_1559AI, for one, am a huuuuuge peppermint fiend. The second Target breaks out the Peppermint Kisses, I’m buying five bags and polishing them off like it’s my day job.

And while cleaning out all the peppermint goodies at Target, I happened upon a bag of peppermint pretzels. But unfortunately, those pretzels are a huuuuuge letdown, much like glitter nail polish and this season of American Horror Story. They claim they’re peppermint pretzels, but there only minimally dusted with a vaguely-minty peppermint powder. Low blow, bro. Where’s my peppermint?!

DSC_1557AThese pretzels, however, are not chintzy with the peppermint. They’re loaded with the stuff: both peppermint chips and crushed candy canes. And they’re double-coated in chocolate for an extra special treat. Plus, the sweet-and-salty flavor combo is just out of control, people. Just don’t be mad at me when you polish off an entire batch before the opening credits begin rolling for the latest Freak Show episode [which, by the way, I’m still so bitter that Twisty’s gone!]

Now who’s ready for the best snack ever?!

DSC_1562A

5.0 from 1 reviews
Peppermint Crunch Pretzels
Author: 
Recipe type: Treats
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Sweet and salty, these Peppermint Crunch Pretzels are heavy on the peppermint and deliciousness! Topped with peppermint chips and crushed candy cane, and coated in two types of chocolate, they are as addictive as they are scrumptious!
Ingredients
  • 1 bag Pretzel Thins (regular flavor)
  • 1 pkg Chocolate CandiQuik
  • ¼ pkg Vanilla CandiQuik
  • 1 & ½ cups Andes Peppermint Chips
  • 1 cup crushed candy cane pieces
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with foil or a silicone liner and set aside. Melt the Chocolate CandiQuik according to package directions, or until smooth & melted.
  2. Dip each pretzel thin into the chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. Return the pretzel to the baking sheet and repeat with remaining pretzels. Allow the chocolate to set.
  3. Once the chocolate shell has set, melt the Vanilla CandiQuik according to package directions, or until smooth & melted. Once melted, pour the mixture into a squeeze bottle or a disposable piping bag with the tip snipped off. Pipe the white chocolate liberally all over the pretzels. Immediately sprinkle with the peppermint chips and crushed candy canes.
  4. Allow the pretzels to set before breaking apart (if needed) and serving. Store leftovers airtight.

DSC_1564AIf you’re more of a creme de menthe fan, these would be equally badass with regular Andes Mint Chips and a melty green drizzle instead… but I just love the red pop of color and the buttery, minty flavor of peppermint with the pretzels. So divine!

Have a sweet Sunday!

xo, Hayley

Love Peppermint? Check out these other super-fresh recipes! 

PeppermintBarkCupsPeppermint Bark Cheesecake Cookie Cups

peppermint7layer Peppermint Seven Layer Bars

whitechocpeppermintWhite Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Slow Cooker Candied Nuts {An Edible Gift with Diamond of California!}

DSC_1513AAs you guys probably know, a couple months back I had the pleasure to tour the Diamond of California Plant in Stockton, CA for a California Walnut Harvest!

It was so very awesome to be able to see firsthand how farmers grow, harvest, and process the walnuts in those iconic pale yellow packages that we eat, cook and bake with, and of course, to be able to sample it all, too!

Since that trip, I have had walnuts, pecans, and almonds on my mind. Walnuts, because obviously. Pecans, because those are one of my top holiday nuts to bake with and my most-used nut. And almonds, because Diamond Foods actually owns Emerald Nuts, and Emerald so happened to making their cocoa-roasted almonds while we were touring the plant and the aroma was incredible. So suffice to say, I had to make some extraordinary nutty dessert for you guys.

Diamond of CA asked me to prepare a fun edible gift in a jar for the upcoming holidays! With the whirlwind of errands, cooking, eating, traveling, and shopping (not to mention your daily grind) the holidays are more like holidaze with so many things to do and so little time. You’re bound to be stuck in a rut regarding gifts for neighbors, coworkers and teachers, or perhaps you’re assigned to bring something to a party and you’re tired of the same old veggie tray or bottle of wine. Have no fear, friend! I’ve got ya covered :)

DSC_1486ANot only is this recipe absolutely FABULOUS, but it could not be simpler to make! The nuts are slow-cooked for 3 hours and only require a little stir every 20 minutes. To me, that’s far less laborious than covering yourself head to toe in snow gear, piling in the car, and battling traffic and long lines to find some other gift that may end up regifted anyway!

Plus, this recipe is surprisingly versatile and yields quite a bit, so you can stretch your gift to serve for several different recipients — hostess gifts, a special surprise for the mailman or nanny, and a little something for your hairdresser. That is, if you don’t eat them all yourself. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about their addictive powers!

DSC_1512AAnd of course, using Diamond of California Nuts are positively necessary! Diamond’s nuts are high-quality and all harvested right here in California. They’re positively perfect raw and right outta the bag, but something magical happens once you coat them in a sticky-sweet cinnamon spiced mixture that’s sure to win over anyone who’s lucky to get a jar. Because of this recipe’s versatility, feel free to use whatever nuts you’d like. For this, I chose Diamond of California Shelled Walnut Halves and Shelled Pecan Halves, and Emerald Nuts Vanilla Roasted Almonds for an extra hint of sweetness.

The hardest part? Not saving it all for yourself — and deciding which color ribbon to tie up each jar! :)

DSC_1494AAA*recipe adapted from Instructable

5.0 from 3 reviews
Slow Cooker Candied Nuts {An Edible Gift with Diamond of California!}
Author: 
Recipe type: Treats
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A variety of mixed nuts are slow-cooked and coated in a rich and warming cinnamon and brown sugar mixture for a fabulous holiday treat! Gift the candied nuts in a mason jar with a pretty ribbon, or layer the ingredients in a mason jar with an instruction tag attached for a fantastic and EASY holiday gift!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Diamond of California Pecan Halves
  • 2 cups Diamond of California Shelled Walnuts
  • 1-2 cups Emerald Nuts Vanilla Roasted Almonds
  • ¼ cup water
Instructions
  1. Liberally grease a 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray and set aside. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the egg white and vanilla extract with a fork until foamy and combined.
  2. Pour the nuts into the slow cooker liner and toss with the egg white mixture until most or all of the nuts are coated. This mixture is sticky and will allow the coating to adhere to the nuts better. In a medium bowl, stir together the brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt until combined. Pour this mixture evenly over the nuts and toss to coat all of the nuts with the sugar mixture. You may have some extra sugar on the bottom of the liner; that's okay!
  3. Cover the slow cooker and turn it on LOW heat. Cook for approx. 3 hours, stirring every 20 minutes to continue to cook & coat the nuts with the mixture and to prevent burning. In the last 20 minutes of cooking, pour in the water and toss to coat. The water helps the mixture adhere even better and creates that sticky glaze.
  4. Once the time is up, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil. Spread the nuts carefully and evenly over the baking sheet and allow them to cool. They make stick together in clusters, so gently break apart once they're dry and cooled. Store nuts covered in an airtight container, or break into pieces and serve in mason jars as gifts.

DSC_1501ABe prepared for your house to smell INCREDIBLE with the wafting aroma of sweet, slow-cooked nuts in this rich, warm and spiced coating. The brown sugar and cinnamon mixture caramelizes onto the nuts, offering a fantastic candied taste and glossy coating, while the nuts maintain their sturdiness and nutty texture, creating a great sweet-and-salty balance. I can’t help but think of other awesome flavor combinations, like by stirring in cocoa roasted almonds or finishing the nuts with a hint of orange zest and a handful of dried cranberries for a fresh and tart twist.

Likewise, whether you gift the nuts pre-cooked or hand them off for the recipients to make at home, these nuts are sure to be a HUGE hit with anyone who receives them!

diamondd

Be sure to connect with Diamond of California for more recipes, news, tips & more! You can follow them on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM & PINTEREST.

Have a fantastical day!!

xo, Hayley

In the interest of full disclosure, I have been working closely with Diamond of California as an occasional contributor to their blog and as a blogger. All opinions expressed are 100% my own and always will be. 

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