Sea Salt and Nutella Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Valentine’s Day is such a great holiday. It’s less stress than Christmas, but you still get to make really delicious treats. Like these cookies. They’re a salted chocolate truffle cookie filled with Nutella. Because Nutella should be in everything. 
Feb-4196On a side note… has anyone ever known what “bae” is without googling it? I feel like I spend a large portion of my time googling things just so I can understand what other people are saying. It’s hard to keep up.

Anyway. These cookies are the same as last year’s Frosted Brownie Cookies, but filled with Nutella instead of frosted. I may not be able to keep up with Internet lingo, but I do try to keep abreast of cookie trends, and filling things with Nutella is certainly one of those trends. These are super easy, but they have a fancy name, so if you make them for Valentine’s Day, people will think you’re very cool. Feb-4199 copy

Nutella-Stuffed Salted Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Makes about 20 cookies // Prep time: 20 minutes, plus 1 hour refrigeration of dough

  • 1 1/2 cups high quality semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Sea salt for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
Begin by refrigerating your Nutella. If it is more solid, it will be easier to work with.
In a double boiler (heat proof bowl in a pot of water, 1 inch deep), melt the butter and 1 cup of chocolate chips over medium heat, being sure not to let the water boil or spill into the heat proof bowl (if water gets into the melting chocolate it will cause the chocolate to “freeze” and be unusable). Stir every so often until melted and smooth.
Meanwhile, use a fork to sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Set aside.
In another bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the sugar, eggs and vanilla until well combined and smooth. Add the chocolate mixture to this and beat together on medium speed until well incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 3 increments, beating on low between each increment. Finally, stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Your cookie dough will be like a thick brownie batter. It will be hard to work with in this state, so refrigerate it for an hour to let it solidify.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Take about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of dough and form a ball. Break off 1/3 of the ball and make a crater in the larger portion. Scoop a teaspoon or so of Nutella into the crater and then cover with the “lid” of the remaining 1/3 of the ball. Roll a bit to seal the edges and place on your baking sheet. Repeat to make 8 cookies per batch, placing dough balls at least 2 inches apart. (Be sure to put your remaining dough and Nutella back in the fridge between batches.)
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until top of cookies appear cracked. Do not over-bake or your cookies will be too dry. Immediately upon removal, sprinkle your cookies with a bit of sea salt.
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Let cool and then package in your prettiest packaging. Send to all your favorite people for Valentine’s Day.

Fruity Valentines (+ Free Printable)

 Every year when Valentine’s rolls around and my kids want to give out those licensed Valentines from the grocery store I try to talk them into something more fun and creative. And this year we finally came to an agreement when I designed these little cards and we washi taped up some little paper bags of cuteness. Also, I love puns, especially fruity ones, as you can see.

“You are simply sub-LIME and I like your smile.” is my favorite. Also, “Hey you, ORANGE you cute!” I was really hoping to find a peach graphic so I could say, “you’re such a peach and I’m glad we’re friends.” But alas, I didn’t find a peach graphic. Maybe next time.

You could put really anything inside. We gave mini homemade cookies (like these Frosted Brownie Cookies) to our friends, because everything is better when it’s mini. But their school has a weird rule about not allowing homemade things for events like this, so the girls packaged theirs up with little Valentine’s erasers or chocolates. I think these would be the cutest with flower seeds inside or even Sour Patch gummies or other fruity candies like Starbursts. (If you are going to put in something baked like brownies or cookies, I suggest wrapping them in clear plastic wrap first, or the oils will bleed through the paper sacks.)

Of course, you could attach these to ziplock bags of actual fruit for a healthy snack! Except maybe not limes… I don’t know how well those would be appreciated.

I made the design using graphics by AF Studio via their Octavia Font on Creative Market. (Can I send a Valentine to Creative Market? I love them so.) Watercolor textures used for the fruit names are via Watercolor Texture Pack.

And guess what? I made all this into a free printable for you! Isn’t that so nice of me? You know, just in case you’re procrastinating about Valentine’s Day and your kids are expected to bring something on Friday. You can get it here. Just download, print on white cardstock and cut along grey lines, then every 2 inches to separate each card (final product should be about 2×3.5″ – standard business card size). Tape onto something cute, or just sign your name and you’re good to go!

Happy Day of Love and Chocolate and Snail Mail! (It’s my favorite.)

Additional sources:
Mini paper bags – 3×4″ (shown) or 4×6″, available at most craft stores

Frosted Brownie Cookies

If you’ve known me long enough, you know that I like Valentine’s Day. A lot. A friend of mine theorized that we are all very fond of the holidays closest to our birthdays, and maybe that’s why I like it so much. Or maybe it’s because Valentine’s Day is a good excuse to break up the bleary wintery days with pretty notes and chocolate and heart confetti. And to try to talk your children out of store-bought valentines in exchange for complicated handmade ones that are not going to turn out as you are currently envisioning. Sigh.
But let’s get to the point. I made these cookies for Superbowl as a little test. And they passed the test. So I think I will be making more and sending them as valentines to friends near and far. And so should you. Or you could just make some and eat them all yourself. That would also be a good idea.

Frosted Brownie Cookies
Makes 12 large cookies. Adapted from Sweetapolita.

For the Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups high quality semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Frosting
  • 1/2 cup high quality milk chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup high quality semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon corn syrup
Sprinkles of Choice (I like these.)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a double boiler (heat proof bowl in a pot of water, 1 inch deep), melt the butter and 1 cup of chocolate chips over medium heat, being sure not to let the water boil or spill into the heat proof bowl (if water gets into the melting chocolate it will cause the chocolate to “freeze” and be unusable). Stir every so often until melted and smooth.
Meanwhile, use a fork to sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Set aside.
In another bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the sugar, eggs and vanilla until well combined and smooth. Add the chocolate mixture to this and beat together on medium speed until well incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 3 increments, beating on low between each increment. Finally, stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.
Use an ice cream scoop to scoop out six dollops of batter and place two inches apart on baking sheet. These will spread in the oven, so be sure to give them plenty of room. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies have a cracked appearance. (Do not overcook or the cookies will dry out and taste chalky.) Let cool on pan for 10 minutes, and then on a wire rack for another 10.  Repeat to make the last six cookies.
After the two batches are cooled, make the frosting. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips, butter and corn syrup together, stirring occasionally until smooth. Use a knife to spread the frosting onto one half of each of the cookies and then add sprinkles generously.

Wrap them up all prettily and send them to everyone you love. I’m sure they’ll like them.

P.S. These cookies are very rich, so you don’t need to send a whole batch to each person.

Chocolate and Candy Cane Creme Brownie Cookies

Steve is always sad when I don’t make him peppermint bark at Christmastime. I guess I don’t really know why I never do. I think almond roca just has a firm hold in my heart as the candy I make during this season. Anyway, this year I thought I’d try to make it up to him with some peppermint-themed cookies. My aunt has been making these delightful things for years, so I borrowed her recipe. And I’m glad that I did.

These are pretty simple, although take a little time because the dough needs to chill for an hour. But honestly, these days, things I can make in multiple small steps seem more likely to happen amidst all the baby wrangling.

Chocolate and Candy Cane Creme Brownie Cookies
Makes 4 dozen cookies
12 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) butter
2 1/3 cups brown sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract
12 ounces (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses, unwrapped*
*One bag of Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses should suffice, unless you’re having your children help you unrwap them. In that case, get at least two bags. Because half of them will mysteriously disappear.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, brown sugar, water and vanilla. Add the chocolate chips and stir until melted. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool for ten minutes.
In the meantime, sift together flour and baking soda in a separate bowl.
Add eggs to cooled chocolate mixture. Pour the flour mixture into the chocolate and stir to combine. Be sure to scrape the bottoms and sides of the bowl to get all the flour mixed in. Cover dough and place in fridge to cool for an hour.
Roll cooled dough into 1-inch balls and place on a prepared cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and place one Candy Cane Kiss on each cookie, then return to oven for an additional 2 minutes. When you take the cookies out again, use a butter knife to spread the Candy Cane Kiss into a small circle in the center of the cookie. Cool on the pan for ten minutes and then place on a wire rack to finish cooling.

This is a big batch, but these cookies will go fast. Especially if you take them to a cookie exchange or give them away to all your loved ones. I think they will like them. (Also, cookie exchanges are my new favorite thing. Please have one and I will come to it.)

Valentine’s: Monogrammed Treat Bags

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. Well, except that all holidays are probably my favorite.

I saw a tutorial on Oh Happy Day to make these little treat bags with the initial of the recipient on them. I loved the idea and ordered the supplies on Amazon Prime (muslin drawstring bags, and black and pink paint pens).

Paint pens are my new favorite. I used an alphabet that came in a notebook from Target, which is also very pretty.

Didn’t they just turn out the cutest? I can’t wait until they arrive at all their intended destinations.

Each was filled with some candy and chocolate (obviously). And a little paper heart with a note on it was enclosed as well. Sweet and simple. Just the way I like it.

I hope Ellie and Olivia like them, too.

Christmas Atlas Wreath

I made this before Thanksgiving and am just now on top of things enough to show you. And even though it’s late, I think it turned out pretty cool.

I saw the idea at a DIY Christmas show I attended with my mom. The designer behind Inspired by Ellee was there showing us all kinds of cool stuff (seriously… the things she did with chalkboard paint = very fun!). But my favorite thing she had on display was an atlas wreath with the word “Peace” (as in Peace on Earth) in the middle. I spent the next day searching all over my hometown for book of atlases so I could make my own.
An old picture frame from goodwill, some wooden letters, glitter and a hot glue gun later, I had my atlas wreath. And I really love it. Although mine is more like Joy to the World.

I accented it with some of the trees I made last year for my Glittery Christmas Village, and a nativity from my grandmother. And even though I made this for Christmas, it might stay up a little longer than that. It’s nice that it’s not super Christmas-y color-wise, so I could probably get away with it for a bit. Right?
O, and this is what Olivia saw in the living room that she described as “berry cole” and “beau-iful.” I have to say I quite agree with her.

Thin Mint Mousse Cups

Well it’s that time of year again. That wonderful time of year when Girl Scout cookies make their lovely reappearance in the world. I thought I might celebrate this momentous occasion with some themed mousse cups, because, well, they’re yummy.

Thin Mint Mousse Cups

  • 1 large (5.6 oz) package chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 small (3.4 oz) package vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 4 cups cold milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Mint Extract*
  • 6 drops green food coloring
  • One sleeve of Thin Mints**
  • Chocolate shavings, for garnish

Prep the layers:
In a medium size bowl, whip 2 cups of cream and 1/3 cup sugar on high for about 4 minutes, until stiff peaks form when you lift out the beaters.
In another bowl, combine chocolate pudding mix and 2 cups cold milk. Whisk for 1 minute to incorporate. Once the pudding begins to set and thicken, whisk in half of the whipped cream.  Set the other half aside for topping.
In another bowl, combine the vanilla pudding mix and 2 cups milk. Add the mint extract and green food coloring and whisk for 2 minutes until fully combined.
Let everything stand to completely set for at least 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, crush one sleeve of Thin Mints into medium-sized crumbs.

Assemble the layers:
Spoon two large spoonfuls of the chocolate mouse into parfait dishes, glasses or whatever kind of cup you have on hand. Add a layer of cookie crumbs. Next, add two large spoonfuls of the mint pudding and another layer of cookie crumbs. On top of that, the chocolate mousse and more cookie crumbs. Top with whipped cream and some chocolate shavings for garnish. Keep refrigerated until serving.

Makes 5 generous servings.

*Mint Extract is not the same as Peppermint Extract. And mint really is better for this recipe.
**Even though this recipe calls for Thin Mints, I think it would be delicious with Oreos or Andes Mints        substituted in case you feel like making this during that dreary time of year when Thin Mints are no longer in your cupboard.

This dessert is so refreshing. It would be perfect for St. Patrick’s day… or really just a small dinner party. Of course you could always use a little less of each layer to make more cups for more people. I would recommend serving within an hour or two of assembly, although you could prep the layers up to a day in advance. Just be sure your whipped cream, mousse and pudding are stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator.

I shared this recipe on Tastetastic Thursday by A Little Nosh and on Tip-Toe Thru Tuesday on Crayon Freckles. It was featured on the following Tip-Toe Thru Tuesday.

Chocolate-Filled Croissants

A couple of years ago, on Christmas, I came up with the most brilliant idea ever: Chocolate-Filled Croissants. Ok, it’s not like penicillin or anything, but I do like it a lot.

The great thing about these is that they are so simple and easy to make, yet they feel really special. They are the perfect thing for Christmas morning, when you’ve likely gotten a late start on making breakfast but still want to make something a bit out of the ordinary.

Chocolate-Filled Croissants

  • Croissants from the bakery of your grocery store
  • Milk chocolate chips or Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Use a knife to make a horizontal cut  into the croissants, leaving one side connected but creating a cavity to be filled with chocolate. Put some chocolate chips or Hershey’s Kisses inside. (Kisses melt better, making the chocolate gooey-er. However, chocolate chips tend to retain a little more shape which gives the croissants a nice texture. Just use whatever you have on hand.) Wrap each croissant in aluminum foil and place in the oven for about 20 minutes, or just as long as you’re making whatever else goes with your feast. Might I suggest scrambled eggs with tomatoes, green onions, chives and garlic along with berries and whipped cream, and of course, a side of bacon? It’s our traditional spread. And it’s awesome.

There you have it. Christmas morning (or New Year’s Day, or whatever special occasion) simplified.