Tasty Tuesday–Peppermint Hot Chocolate Bread Pudding

Even though I wasn’t planning on making a dessert for New Year’s Day, once I stumbled across this recipe, I knew I had to try it. I did have to make a few changes, based on what was available to me at the store, so you’re getting the recipe I actually used, not the one I found. I also used Kahlúa in place of the coffee required in the original recipe, because I wanted to add more mint flavor, plus, I’m always looking for a new booze-soaked dessert recipe!

  • 4 large whole eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup peppermint hot chocolate mix
  • 1/4 cup peppermint mocha Kahlúa
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 16 ounces stale challah bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows, divided

Place the eggs in a blender and blend on the lowest speed for 30 seconds. Slowly add the sugar and then add the hot chocolate mix and blend until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the Kahlúa, milk, and vanilla and blend until well combined.

Butter a 9 by 13-inch dish and place 1/2 of the cubed bread in the pan. Sprinkle half of the chocolate chips and 1/4 cup of the mini marshmallows on top. Add the rest of the bread and pack tightly. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips and another 1/4 cup marshmallows.

Slowly pour in the custard. Press down on the mixture with a spatula or the back of a spoon to thoroughly saturate. Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.

Bake at 325, uncovered, for 45-55 minutes or until the bread cubes are crisp and browned and the center is firm.

Remove the dish from the oven and top with the remaining mini marshmallows.

Switch your oven settings to broil and broil for about two minutes, or until the marshmallows are toasted to your liking. Watch it closely, the broiler will burn the marshmallows easily.

Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

Tasty Tuesday–Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know this is going to sound silly, but I have worked long and hard to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. Basic, I know, but none of the ones I made in the past were quite good enough. Last summer, however, I finally perfected a recipe that met my standards and pleased everyone in my family. A recipe like that is definitely worth keeping! I love how big they are, and the fact that you can customize them to suit your tastes. I’ve used many combinations of baking chips in subsequent recipes, and I like them all. Dark and white chocolate chips have been especially popular, as have milk chocolate chips and chunks. You can use whatever your favorites are, too!

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  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips
  • sea salt

Preheat the oven to 325. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, eggs, and egg yolks until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets (cookies should be about 3 inches apart). Sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Tasty Tuesday–Christmas Baking 2015

On the twelfth day of Christmas, the Christmas baking is finally done!

I think this was a record year…I baked over 60 dozen cookies. About 15 dozen each of raspberry-almond thumbprints and chocolate peppermint cookies (the two most popular that I bake), Another 12 dozen or so each of gingerbread and sugar cookies, plus kolaches and hot chocolate cookies. I also made two trays of Christmas cracker candy, which are kind of cookies and kind of not.

Our big family baking day is always so much fun!

We’ve really upped our decorating game! Turkey made Mario and Luigi snowmen, and Bunny made the “leader of the hosen”…I really liked that she included a feather in his cap! And we also added actual ninjabreadmen cookie cutters, which provided even more opportunities for creative decorating…

There were other special baked goods, as well, including our St. Lucia Day lussekattes, baklava for Epiphany, two birthday cakes (one for Jesus and one for Ryan), a bûche de Noël, my first-ever lattice top pie, a trifle, and a coffee cake:

I even baked one savory item…smoked Gouda cheese straws:

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The Markel Bakery is now temporarily closed…but I’m sure it won’t be too long before I get the itch to bake something again!

Pies for One and All!

As I always do the day before Thanksgiving, I spent the better part of today making pies. One for each member of the family, as is our tradition:

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This year’s pie lineup:

  • Ryan–Caramel apple
  • Me–Spiced cranberry apple
  • Turkey–Peanut butter cup
  • Bunny–Pecan
  • Ladybug–Butterscotch
  • Moose–S’mores
  • Chickadee–Pumpkin

Chickadee did actually pick her pie this year, but I think pumpkin pie is the only one she really knows by name…I hope she’s happy with her choice!

Tasty Tuesday–Pumpkin Tiramisu

If you’re looking for a unique Thanksgiving dessert that still falls into the mandatory “pumpkin” category, you’ve come to the right place! Plus, you can make this pumpkin tiramisu as early as today, and refrigerate it until the big event…always a bonus when you can work ahead!

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I tried this recipe out last week, and was amazed by both how easy it was to make (I’ve previously been afraid of trying to make a real tiramisu ), and how delicious it was. The crystalized ginger is what really takes it the holiday level, but I imagine even without that, it would still be amazing!

  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 12 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups coffee, cooled
  • 2 7 oz. packages Italian ladyfingers
  • Crystalized ginger

With whisk attachment of stand mixer, whisk pumpkin, brown sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Add mascarpone and 1 1/2 cups cream; beat at medium speed until soft peaks form. Do not overbeat.
Dissolve 2 Tbsp. sugar in coffee. Dip both sides of approximately 8 ladyfingers in coffee and arrange them in a single layer in a  4-quart trifle dish. Spread one cup of pumpkin mixture on top. Repeat layers five more times, ending with pumpkin mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Beat remaining cream and 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar until soft peaks form. Dollop over tiramisu and garnish with crystalized ginger.

Tasty Tuesday–Beignets

I made beignets last Tuesday for our family Mardi Gras celebration (my first attempt at frying doughnuts of any kind), and I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was, as well as how much fun! Make the dough a day ahead and refrigerate it for best results.

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  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 7 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 quart vegetable oil for frying
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar for dusting

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tsp. sugar in warm water. Let stand 5-10 minutes. Add remaining sugar, salt, eggs, and evaporated milk; blend well. Mix in 4 cups of flour and beat until smooth. Add the shortening, and then the remaining 3 cups of flour. Cover and chill overnight or for up to 24 hours.
Heat oil to 360 F. Roll out dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 2 1/2 inch diamonds or squares. Fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
Dust hot beignets with powdered sugar.. Serve warm.

Tasty Tuesday–“Laissez les bon temps rouler!”

I decided to go all out for Mardi Gras this year! We had pączki for breakfast (store bought…one of these years I’ll make them from scratch), red beans and rice with andouille sausage for lunch, beignet for an afternoon snack (my first-ever attempt at making donuts, and a very successful one at that!), jambalaya for dinner, and a King Cake for dessert. It was a delicious day!

Let the good times roll!