Mocha Coconut Fudge

When How Sweet It Is posted this recipe, I knew immediately that I would be trying it. I mean really, with her willingness to interrupt our busy plans with this recipe, how could I refuse? 🙂 The flavor combination was an instant win in my book – kind of an extra rich and sweet twist on a yummy frappucino I enjoy occasionally – ahem.

This recipe was super quick, super decadent, and totally yum. I think we may have a new fudge recipe to add to our annual favorites – peanut butter, chocolate, and butter pecan. We may like fudge – the vote is still out – you can send me more recipes to, you know…make sure!

Let me tell you a little secret about this recipe…I made it in the microwave. You can certainly use the double boiler as the recipe recommends but I noticed that she mentioned the microwave as an option and I was sold. You see, I was up to my eyeballs in cookie baking when I threw this recipe in to the mix between shuffling cookies into the oven. So, yes, it was easy. 🙂 You can go here for her original awesome recipe. I’m going to post my microwave version in case you are lazy like me.

Seriously, how pretty is this?! This would make aa really great gift! Oh and I forgot to mention – my mom thought this was wonderful.

Mocha Coconut Fudge
Adapted from How Sweet It Is
Print This Recipe

12 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used 2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips)
12 oz. white baking chocolate, chopped (I used 2 c. white chocolate chips)
1 can (15oz) sweetened condensed milk (mine was 14 oz which was no problem), divided
1 1/2 Tb. espresso powder or instant coffee (I used the latter – two packets of an instant because that’s what I had)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. coconut extract
1 Tb. coconut oil, divided
1/2 c. flaked coconut, toasted (350 degrees for about 10 minutes but watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn!)

Line an 8×8 pan with buttered foil.

Add semisweet chocolate to microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave for 30 more seconds. Add in half of the sweetened condensed milk (I eyeballed it), the coffee powder and 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 tsp.) of coconut oil. Return to microwave for 30 seconds. Remove and stir. Continue 30 second increments until fully melted and smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Spread evenly in the bottom of the pan. Mixture will be quitethick. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes (or less if your me and you want to hurry).

Add white chocolate to a micorwave safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds. Add in remaining condensed milk and coconut oil and return to microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave 30 more seconds if needed until mixture is completely melted. Add coconut extract and thoroughly combine. Remove fudge from freezer and add white chocolate on top, spreading evenly to coat. Top with toasted coconut, then chill in the refrigerator for 60-90 minutes.

When ready to cut, fill a large cup with hot water or run knife under the tap. Dip a sharp knife into the water, then blot on a towel. Use knife to cut fudge into your desired size of squares.

This is SO rich and SO good – I think you could easily cut this into 1 inch squares which would make for 64 pieces of fudge. 🙂 Enjoy and go thank How Sweet It Is for this deliciousness and check out her site! If you like chocolate, coffee, and coconut, you will LOVE this.

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Gourmet Gifts & Giveaway

My  kids absolutely love to be in the kitchen with me. They are thrilled to measure, stir, sprinkle, etc. And I enjoy the conversations, the teaching, the laughter and the wonderful memories being made.

So for Christmas this year, my older boys (age 4) will each be receiving their own gourmet gift “basket” of cooking things. I went to an inexpensive superstore and found measuring cups, spoons, cutting boards, scrapers, whisks, and more. I ordered safe cutter knives from Pampered Chef – there is no way they can hurt themselves using them and they are $3 apiece. Finally, I ordered aprons and hats from Etsy – they are yet to arrive but for an embroidered apron, personalized hat, rolling pin, and hot pad it cost me $15/child. I also included a kid’s cookbook which I found at a Half-Price books for $3 or less on clearance.

You can mix and match whatever you like for your child to personalize it and to find the price point that works for you. I tried to choose colors that are the boys favorite and make it personal for them. All told, they probably cost around $30-35 with the apron being half of that but you could do it for much less. I think this type of gift would be perfect for children age 3 yrs. – 9 or 10 yrs.

I’m putting a mix into each boys basket so that have the start of something for us to make together. Either mix would be perfect for a gourmet gift basket for an adult. Make a Breakfast Basket with Maple Syrup, Coffee, and Pancake Mix or a Snack Basket with Popcorn, a movie, and Cookie Mix! Don’t forget to attach a tag with instructions on how to use the mix.

GINGERBREAD PANCAKES
4 c. flour
2 c. whole wheat flour
2/3 c. sugar
2 Tb. baking powder
1 Tb. baking soda
1 Tb. cinnamon
1 Tb. ginger
1 1/2  tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cloves

Combine all dry ingredients and store in an airtight container.

TO MAKE:
1 c. mix
1 egg
3/4 c. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (opt.)

Combine but do not overbeat. Cook on a greased griddle until golden brown on each side. Serve with syrup, vanilla yogurt, or applesauce!

OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP  COOKIES

1 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3 c. oats
1 c. chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container or bag.

TO MAKE:
1 1/4 c. butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 package of the mix

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, egg, and vanilla. Add the oatmeal cookie mix and stir until the mixture is well blended. Drop the cookies by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 9-12 minutes. Cool 1 minute then remove to wire racks. Makes about 4 dozen.

VARIATION: Instead of chocolate chips, mix in 1 c. of raisins or dried cranberries and 1 tsp. of cinnamon.

So the giveaway today is a kid’s cookbook! It would make the perfect gift for a child in your life (son, daughter, niece, nephew, sibling, friend…)! My children love looking at the pictures and helping decide what we will make. They take such pride in the things they have made themselves and getting your child involved is a great way to get picky eaters to try different foods. The cookbook today is Paula Deen’s My First Cookbook. It has easy instructions, a variety of recipes, and is spiral bound.

To Enter:
– Leave a comment telling us one thing you remember making with your parents,  something you like to make with a child in your life OR your favorite food as a kid.
– One entry per person and the giveaway will stay open through Tuesday.
– That’s it! I should have it in the mail in time for you to receive it by Christmas.

Gourmet Gifts & Giveaway

**UPDATED: Black Friday Winners! The winner of the notecards is Ruth & the winner of the cookbook is Elizabeth! I will be contacting you via e-mail. Congrats! We hope you enjoy!**

We decided that for the month of December we would use Fridays to focus on gourmet gift mixes and then to add to the holiday cheer, we would also include a giveaway!

This week, I wanted to give you a couple of mix recipes for baked goods. Be creative with your packaging and to give the gifts an extra touch, consider adding a wooden spoon, a new cookie sheet, cookies cutters, a baking pan, or even a box of tea or some coffee. Tie them with a nice ribbon and include a tag that gives the instructions for using the mix.

DOUBLE-FUDGE BROWNIE MIX
(The Perfect Mix, by: Diane Phillips)

2 c. sugar
1 c. cocoa
1 c. flour
1 c. chopped pecans
1 c. chocolate chips

Mix all the ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

To Make:
1 c. butter
4 eggs
1 package of the Double-Fudge Brownie Mix

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the Double-Fudge Brownie Mix, and continue to beat the mixture until it is smooth. Spread the mixture into the greased pan, and bake for 40-50 minutes.

SCOTTISH SHORTBREAD MIX
(The Perfect Mix, by: Diane Phillips)

1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container

To Make:
1 c. butter, softened
1 package Scottish Shortbread Mix

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Knead the butter into the shortbread mix and press the mixture firmly into an 8-inch pie plate, or shortbread mold. Bake for 1 hour. The shortbread should be pale in color, not browned. Cut into wedges while still warm.

Now for today’s giveaway! I’m a bit sorry to be passing this one on! I’ve made a couple of recipes that have been delicious. The first was the Pumpkin Bars last month and the second was the Brown Sugar Almond Cookies yesterday. Cookies Year-Round is divided by season. It is a flip book which is very handy. It includes 50 recipes with pictures and great information. The winner of this giveaway will receive the book and a set of 6 Wilton Christmas cookie cutters.

To enter: Please leave 1 comment telling us your favorite thing to make at the holidays or a recipe that you would like to see featured! That’s it! 1 entry per person. We will leave it open through Monday and hopefully I will be on it enough to post a winner on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Entertaining 101: Hostess Gifts

With the holidays around the corner and an increase in dinner and party invitations, we thought it would be helpful to touch on a tradition that we believe has too often fallen from practice – the giving of host/hostess gifts. And while you may not bring one every time you are a repeated guest, it is an especially nice gesture if it is the first time you are visiting, your hosts have moved, had a baby, or experienced any major life change, you are staying overnight, it’s a holiday or it’s been awhile since you have visited.

These gifts do not need to be expensive, can be simple, and should certainly be easy. In fact, you can always have a couple of gifts on hand for last minute invites. Here are some of our ideas for some appropriate and thoughtful host/hostess gifts.

Perhaps the most traditional gift is a bottle of wine. Buying a local wine is a nice touch to this age old offering. These are easy to keep on hand and you can usually find one for less than $10 or for a finer occasion you can splurge a bit more. Here are some ideas for ways to present your gift.

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An artisan bread and local or homemade jam is a wonderful gift. This also could be purchased for less than $10 and the jam is easily stored in your pantry for those unexpected invitations.

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A live herb plant is a lovely addition to any cook’s kitchen. You can find them right in the grocery store produce section and it is a gift that continues to give to your host or hostess. Basil, Italian Parsley or Chives are especially good choices. These should be available for $5 or less.

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Flowers are always a safe bet. You can bring a plant or a bouquet of flowers for less than $10 and often even closer to $5. They brighten anyone’s day and certainly express gratitude. (I  picked up the bouquet below at our local farmer’s market.)

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Finally, a home-baked good is perhaps the most budget-friendly gift and is always well received. In our busy society, baking is often a crowded out luxury or lost art. Brownies, bread, pie or cookies are excellent choices. Make sure to bring the baked goods in a container that you don’t need back.

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Expressing appreciation and recognizing the work that your host/hostess has gone to is thoughtful. And I’m certain there are many more practical and appropriate gifts to give. So stock up and bring a gift that will delight your hosts this holiday season!