Save Room for Dessert

Assorted Desserts
There’s a reason they say: “Life is short. Eat dessert first.” It really is the best part of the meal. Now that spring has arrived, there will be plenty of entertaining opportunities. Why not offer to bring dessert? Many people don’t realize that craft stores have large baking departments with specialty pans, cake decorating tools, glassware, cake plates, fondant and many other useful tricks of the trade to make your desserts the hit of the party.

Apple Pie
Apple Pie – Hot apple pie a la mode is a favorite any time of year. Layering the apple slices across the top in a creative spiral design adds to the visual appeal.

Birds Nests
Chocolate Birds Nests – Kids and adults love the taste of Rice Krispie Treats but these have a wonderful springtime chocolate twist. Simply follow the recipe using chocolate rice cereal.  Drop spoonfuls into cupcake wrappers and shape into nests. For the finishing touch, place a few malted milk eggs or jellybeans on top as eggs.

Brownie
Brownies with Heart – Everyone has a recipe for brownies. To make them extra special, bake them in a specialty pan with individual compartments. Cut out a paper heart and set in on top, and then sprinkle with powdered sugar. It’s so much more impressive than the usual square cut brownie.

Caramel Flan
Caramel Flan – This delicious egg custard has a caramel glaze poured over the top.

Raspberry Cheesecake
Raspberry Cheesecake – Any flavor of cheesecake is a delicious choice year round.

Chocolate Fudge Cake
Chocolate Fudge Cake – This chocolate lover’s dream has a thick layer of chocolate fudge icing, chocolate filling and a chocolate graham cracker crust. Yummy!

Chocolate Roll
Red Velvet Roll – Moist rich chocolate cake filled with vanilla cream and topped with chocolate shavings, coffee beans and a dusting of chocolate powder – Who could resist?

Chocolate Truffles
Chocolate Truffles – To make these decadent truffles, you will need to fill the candy mold one layer at a time. Form the outer shell by coating the mold with chocolate. Next add the filling. Popular favorites are hazelnuts, butter cream, peanut butter, caramels, chocolate liqueurs and cream fillings. A piping bag can be used to make filling easier. Refrigerate the mold to allow the filling and chocolate to solidify. The last step is adding another layer of chocolate to fill any remaining voids and seal the top of the mold. Refrigerate and carefully un-mold. If you want a more colorful treat, dip each truffle in melted chocolate and then dip in candy sprinkles.  Your candy making skills will be the envy of all your guests.

Cookies
Assorted Cookies – Dress up your next batch of cookies by using fanciful cookie cutters, and embellishing with icing, sprinkles, nuts or dipping chocolate.

Cupcakes
Cupcakes – These are easy to make party favorites and kids love to help with decorating.

Fruit Tart
Fruit Tart – This is a beautiful, eye-catching dessert. It’s all about the pattern and colors. The brightly colored plate creates the perfect frame for this artistic piece.

Fruit Yogurt
Yogurt Parfaits – What could be easier than mixing yogurt and fresh fruit?

Muffins
Muffins – Decorative paper wraps add pizzazz to simple muffins and cupcakes. Use a piping bag to apply whipped cream icing and top with a few berries and a sprig of mint.

Raspberry Vanilla Pudding
Raspberry Vanilla Pudding – While this may appear fancy, it’s easy to make. You’ll need an empty egg carton to hold the glass dishes at an angle. Mix the pudding, pour it into the tilted dishes and refrigerate. Puree raspberries and pour onto the firm pudding. A little whipped cream, a few chocolate pieces, a fresh raspberry and a mint leaf complete this visually intriguing dessert.

Strawberry Cream Puffs
Cream Puffs – Two dessert favorites in one: cream puffs and strawberry shortcake.

So many delicious choices! What’s your favorite? The only challenge in making dessert is preventing your family from devouring it before the guests arrive. Oh well, you can always make extra just in case.

Happy Crafting!

Chocolate – How Sweet It Is

I have a confession to make – researching this article made my mouth water, and I realized it should probably contain a warning, so here it is: If you don’t have a craving for chocolate right now, you will by the time you finish reading this post. You might want to have some chocolate on hand before you continue reading. Grab some Hershey’s kisses, or break open a bag of chocolate chips – anything will do – just in case!

Assorted Chocolates
Assorted Chocolates
Chocolate is a worldwide obsession. Everybody has a favorite. The purists prefer their chocolate free of any added ingredients. Some crave nuts, caramel, or coconut with chocolate, but others passionately insist peanut butter and chocolate make the ultimate combo. While the debate continues, candy makers tantalize the chocolate-loving public with their latest creations. It all starts with a seed…

Seeds Growing upon Cacao Trees
Cacao
Turning cacao seeds into the delicious chocolate treats, we have come to adore, is time consuming. For the DIY candy makers, manufacturers have simplified the process by creating small chocolate wafers called candy melts, which are available in milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and assorted flavors, such as peppermint and strawberry.

Milk Chocolate Candy Melts
Milk Chocolate Candy Melts

Melted Milk Chocolate
Melted Milk Chocolate
Chocolate is melted in a double boiler. When it reaches a smooth, creamy consistency, it can be poured into molds similar to the one shown below.

Milk Chocolate Hearts
Milk Chocolate Hearts
After refrigeration, the chocolates are unmolded and ready to eat. The solid milk chocolate hearts in the above photo are the easiest, beginner-level of chocolate candy making.

Assorted Gourmet Chocolates
Assorted Gourmet Chocolates
With practice and a little creativity, you can graduate to the next level.

Chocolate Truffles
Chocolate Truffles
Do you have a gourmet sweet tooth? Chocolatiers, such as Lindt, and Godiva, are excellent choices, but can be expensive. Making these decadent truffles takes a little more effort, but it’s still an easy process. Instead of filling the mold all at once, it is done in layers. The first layer forms the outer chocolate shell. Coat the mold with chocolate. Next the filling is added. Popular favorites are hazelnuts, butter cream, peanut butter, caramels, chocolate liqueurs and cream fillings. A piping bag can be used to make filling easier. Refrigerate the mold to allow the filling and chocolate to solidify. The last step is adding another layer of chocolate to fill any remaining voids and seal the top of the mold. Refrigerate and carefully un-mold. Your candy making skills will be the envy of all your friends and family.

If gourmet chocolate isn’t your style, there are simpler options…

Chocolate & Vanilla Fudge
Chocolate & Vanilla Fudge

Assorted Chocolate Barks
Assorted Chocolate Barks

Crispy Chocolate Caramel Bar
Crispy Chocolate Caramel Bar
Have you ever eaten a 100Grand candy bar? It’s a delicious combination of crispy chocolate with a gooey caramel center. Making your own is simple: Melt milk chocolate wafers and stir in Rice Krispies. Spread half the mixture in an 8×8 pan. Pour caramel sauce over the top, and then cover with the remaining chocolate mixture. Refrigerate to harden the chocolate and cut into bars. Don’t be surprised if the pan magically empties.

Chocolate Covered Cookie
Chocolate Covered Cookie

Chocolate Covered Marshmallows
Chocolate Marshmallow

Chocolate Covered Cake Pops
Chocolate Covered Cake Pops
Undecided whether to have chocolate or cake? Have both with chocolate cake pops.

Chocolate Covered Apples
Chocolate Covered Apples
If soft, gooey, caramel and decadent chocolate were people, they would be best friends. For gourmet apples, dip fruit in caramel first, followed by chocolate, and roll in sprinkles, crushed nuts, or anything else your taste buds desire.

Chocolate Caramel Popcorn
Chocolate Caramel Popcorn
What more do you need on movie night?

Hot Chocolate & Red Velvet Cake
Hot Chocolate & Red Velvet Cake
Perhaps beverages are more to your liking? There’s no need to wait for cold weather. Crank up the air conditioner, we’re having hot chocolate!

Chocolate Fudge Pie
Chocolate Fudge Pie

Chocolate Mousse
Chocolate Mousse
Who could resist the rich, creamy taste of chocolate mousse?

Brownie a la Mode
Brownie a la Mode

Solid Chocolate Cell Phone
Solid Chocolate Cell Phone
No phone plan is needed here. Hold all my calls! This is going to take a while.

Happy Crafting!!