Tag Archives: chocolate

Give Me S’more Love

S’mores are gooey goodness.

While many people consider them a summer ritual, for me it’s fall fare. I am far more likely to sit around a campfire when the temperatures cool off than I am on a hot summer night.

There is something so simple and special about a toasted marshmallow sandwiched between two graham crackers with chocolate. I love it. When I was a kid, I made basic S’mores but today I get creative with this treat. There are different flavored marshmallows on the market, a variety of graham crackers to choose from, different chocolates (I’m partial to dark chocolate), and my imagination.

If you’re only familiar with a traditional S’more, try a few of these ideas:

Use a cinnamon graham cracker topped with apple butter or pumpkin butter instead of chocolate and then add the toasted marshmallow.

Use pumpkin flavored marshmallows in the fall and pair it with white chocolate.

Create a S’more ice cream sandwich with a little vanilla ice cream, toasted marshmallow and a big drizzle of fudge sauce and caramel sauce. This is lovely! Eat it like a sandwich or use the graham crackers as a spoon.

Use Ritz crackers instead of graham crackers for a salty kick. A little date jam or spread is great with the salt.

A thin slice of brie at room temperature with the chocolate and toasted marshmallow is excellent.

Use a chocolate graham cracker, dark chocolate and add a slice of strawberry on your S’more sandwich.

After you toast your marshmallow, roll it in shredded coconut and drizzle dark Hershey’s syrup on instead of using a square of chocolate.

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One of my favorite S’mores is Peanut Butter Banana because the peanut butter cuts the sweetness and adds richness, and I love bananas and chocolate.   Add a slice of candied bacon and call it “The Elvis.”

Use a variety of nut spreads on the graham cracker like almond or cashew; or skip the chocolate and use Nutella instead.

As you can see, there are so many combinations.

Aside from good old-fashioned S’mores, I wanted to share a few other S’more themed recipes like my  Easy S’more Bars. The name says it all. I start with a box of cake mix, mix it with eggs and butter and then spread it in a pan. I top that with chocolate and marshmallows and bake it. That’s easy!

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You can serve this dish warm or room temperature, see my notes in the instructions.

And finally, The S’mores Fondue is so decadent, quick, and perfect for a party. If you don’t have a flame to toast your marshmallows but still want the spirit of that dessert, this is the recipe for you. The fondue takes less than 10 minutes to make (it has only two ingredients) and then you dip graham crackers and marshmallows in the melted chocolate and it’s heavenly. If you don’t have a fire pit, live in an apartment or just don’t want to deal with fire, this is a great option.

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I hope this gets you out of your S’mores comfort zone and you enjoy these recipes.

Peanut Butter Banana S’mores

10 graham crackers

5 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

10 thin slices of banana

5 large marshmallows

5 large pieces of dark chocolate (or your favorite chocolate)

Spread the peanut butter on only one side of the graham crackers and then top each with two slices of banana.  Set aside.

Toast your marshmallows to desired doneness and then sandwich one on a graham cracker. Add chocolate and close it to make a sandwich. Eat and enjoy. It’s messy so have a napkin handy.

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Easy S’more Bars

Serves 12-16

1 yellow cake mix

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

2 large eggs, beaten

2 cups chocolate chips

2 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour the cake mix into a medium bowl.  Melt the butter in the microwave and the pour it into the bowl. Add the beaten eggs and stir until combined. Coat a 13×9 inch pan with cooking spray. Spread the mixture in the pan using your hands to spread it out and press it down. Try to make it as even as possible. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and mini marshmallows over the top and bake it for 30 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.

Note: This dish is incredible warm out of the oven but it doesn’t slice well. If you are serving family and don’t care how it looks, you can serve it warm while the chips are melted, just know it will fall apart. It’s amazing with a scoop of vanilla ice cream when it’s warm though.

For proper bars, you must cool the dessert completely before slicing.

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S’mores Fondue

Serves 10

½ pint of heavy whipping cream

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 bag or large marshmallows

1 box of Graham crackers

Sticks to skewer the marshmallows

This dish comes together quickly so you want everything ready for serving. It takes about 7 minutes total and then it’s ready to serve. I have fondue equipment, but if you don’t you can use forks to skewer the marshmallows or even wooden skewers.

Pour the heavy whipping cream in a medium pot and turn the heat to medium. When the cream just starts to form bubbles around the edges, stir in the chocolate chips.  Stir until the chocolate has melted and it is smooth. It will look and smell incredible. Immediately transfer it to a serving bowl. Surround the dish with marshmallows and graham crackers and serve.

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Healthy Chocolate Pudding- it’s dairy free, gluten free and still fabulous

A healthy chocolate pudding?

Yes. I wish I could take credit for this recipe, but I can’t. My husband is a teacher and one of his colleagues brought this to a meeting. He came home and told me I had to get the recipe for this rich, incredible chocolate pudding.

What makes it so special? Avocados.

The basis for the pudding is actually avocados but you cannot taste them because the flavor is disguised by cocoa powder. This recipe is easy to make- all you do is blend the ingredients.

You can serve this chocolate pudding for dessert or even breakfast (for those of you who must start your day with something sweet). This is a healthier alternative to cinnamon rolls or doughnuts. While the pudding is high in fat and calories, it’s an excellent source of fiber (16 grams), potassium (contains 36 percent of DRV), and contains 7 grams of protein and 24 percent of your daily vitamin C and iron needs.

If you compare that to a chocolate doughnut which is high in fat and calories too, the doughnut has virtually no redeeming properties- it’s high in sodium, has almost no fiber, no potassium and no vitamin C.

And if you eat it with sliced strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate seeds, or a banana, you boost the health benefits and already have one serving of fruits and one serving of vegetables for the day.

I adapted the original recipe, cut out some of the sugar and dairy (replaced it with almond milk), and came up with this version.

The key is it needs 8-12 hours to marinate so make it before you go to bed. It’s shockingly good. If you don’t want it for breakfast, it makes a great dessert.

 

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Chocolate  Pudding

2 ripe avocadoes

½ cup cocoa powder

¼ cup Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk

4 to 6 tablespoons agave syrup

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Serving suggestions: serve with sliced banana, ¼ cup pomegranate seeds, ½ cup sliced strawberries or 1 teaspoon orange zest.

 

Slice avocados in half and remove pit. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh of the avocado. Place in a food processor with cocoa powder, almond milk, agave and vanilla extract. I start with 4 tablespoons and add more sweetener if needed.

Pulse until smooth. Cover and refrigerate 8-12 hours before serving.

Serve with fresh fruit.

 

Calories: 411; Fat: 23.7 g; Cholesterol 0; Potassium 1269 mg; Carbs 57g;  Fiber 16.3g; Sugar 1.5 g. Protein 6.8 g. Also contains 24 percent of DRV of vitamin C and iron.

Halloween Fun: Assorted Dipped Spooky Pretzels

My Assorted Dipped Spooky Pretzels are a combination of pretzel rods dipped in chocolate with an almond sliver that makes it look like a finger, and pretzel ghosts dipped in almond bark with miniature chocolate chip eyes.  The great thing about Halloween is it’s the one time of year that if you mess up what you’re making it doesn’t matter because it can just look scary. For example, misplaced eyes on my pretzel sticks don’t look bad but that would be a completely different story if this was Christmas and those were snowmen. They’d look deranged.

rods laying down

Christmas and Thanksgiving are about perfection but anything goes with Halloween, which is why I think I love it so much.

These rods are fun, easy to make and yummy (I am partial to the chocolate). If you have children, they will love helping with these

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. I got the idea for the pretzel finger at a Halloween festival I was at last week. A vendor was selling those chocolate fingers and I thought it was a great idea to share. I have long made the bloody finger cookie for Halloween, so thought this was a nice change.

If you want a little “blood” you could always melt raspberry jam and use it as a dip. I hope you have fun with these. My daughter loves them

Spooky pretzel rods

Assorted Dipped Spooky Pretzels

1 (12-ounce) bag of pretzel rods

2 cups of miniature chocolate chips

12 ounces of almond bark (half a package)

Almond slivers to make fingernails

Black icing or chocolate chips to decorate

Parchment paper

Clean a work space and lay parchment paper out over a cookie sheet.

For the almond bark: Melt it according to package directions (there are microwave and stovetop options but I used the microwave because it was the fastest).

To keep the almond bark from getting hard, divide it in two batches and melt it in two batches and make one batch of dipped pretzels and then the other.

When it has melted, dip 2/3 of a pretzel rod in the almond bark and swirl it around to coat it.

Place it on parchment paper. Allow to cool 5 minutes and then add mini chocolate chips for the eyes, if using chocolate chips. If you are using icing instead, allow the almond bark to cool completely before drawing the eyes and mouth on with icing.

For the chocolate dipped pretzels, place chocolate in a coffee mug and microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring between intervals, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. When it is smooth, dip the pretzel rod in the chocolate and swirl it around to coat 2/3 of it (a spoon helps with this process).

Place it on parchment paper and carefully add an almond sliver at the top to look like a finger nail.

Cool completely before serving (1-2 hours).

Midwest Beer, Wine, Cheese and Chocolate Festival

What did you do yesterday? Well, I attended the third annual Midwest Beer, Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Festival at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds and it was awesome.

The festival attracted throngs of people who lined up to sample more than 200 products- many made in Missouri.

The fair puts this on and from year one, attendance has more than doubled and it’s easy to see why.  It was an incredible opportunity to sample as much I wanted and discover new products. I’ve fallen in love with beers I would never have ordered at a bar or restaurant, and tried locally produced food that I will now seek out.

While there was wine and beer, it definitely felt more beer-centric.

My only complaint were the lines were very long everywhere I went and it could 10 minutes to get to a booth. But in true Ozarks fashion, some people would pass samples back down a line if it was stagnant, which was nice.fesgtival

To my amazement, with this many samples, there wasn’t anything I disliked but there were definitely standouts. Here were some of my favorites that are definitely worth trying, if you haven’t already:

Booze:

Springfield’s White River Brewing Company’s Copper Creek IPA was exceptional. This English-style ale is hoppy and aged in charred oak barrels which gives this beer an incredible flavor with hints of caramel, butterscotch, and a fruit finish. This was my favorite beer of the day. http://www.whiteriverbrewingco.com/beers/

The Chocolate Thunder from Mother’s Brewing Co., in Springfield, uses nitrogen instead of carbon dioxide in the brewing process, lending the beer a creamier mouthfeel. The full-bodied American porter style, has a rich chocolate taste, almost to the depth of a brownie. http://mothersbrewing.com/

I had to stop at The Traveler Beer Co., because I am a traveler and loved the name, but I found the beer was fantastic, too. The grapefruit, yes grapefruit, was exceptional and perfect for spring. The lemon shandy was also excellent and will be on my list this summer. You seriously taste the fruit in these beers but it’s fresh and natural tasting, not a fake chemical flavor. It’s so refreshing. I picked some up at Harter House on my home and my husband’s initial thought was “grapefruit?” But he loved it, too. This is not a Midwest product, it’s out of Burlington, Vermont, which is an incredible city if you’ve never been. http://travelerbeer.com/

Crown Valley Brewing and Distilling in Ste. Genevieve had a nice blackberry cider and the best Missouri-made sparkling pink Moscato I’ve ever had. It was light, bubbly, fruity (particularly with strawberry notes), sweet and retails for about $16. If you like Moscato, give this a try. http://www.crownvalleywinery.com/

Wenwood Farm Winery out of Bland, Mo., wins the award for best Missouri red. The Century Farm Red is a dry red made in the tradition of Pinot Noir and it tastes like a Pinot. It’s very fruit forward and smooth. I’d never heard of this winery or Bland, Mo., so this was a nice surprise. I went on the website and it looks so quaint. I want to visit this place http://wenwoodfarmwinery.com/

Food

Cloud’s Meats Inc., out of Carthage, Mo., has been in business since 1959 and it’s easy to see why. The family-owned business produces smoked meats and other sausages, which were delicious. Summer sausage and similar products can be too greasy, or overly garlicky, but this was just right. I particularly liked the cranberry sausage and the buffalo sausage. Although this is what they offered at the tasting, if you visit the website, you see there’s so much more for sale from bratwust to ribs. They also custom process deer and other meats. http://cloudsmeats.com/

Crazy Uncle Dave’s Beef Jerky out of Branson is homemade, all natural, and it’s one of the best beef jerky’s I’ve ever sampled. It has an intense smoky flavor and doesn’t taste processed at all. It was great. This is all I could find for a website, although the man serving the jery said the product is or will be available at Silver Dollar City. http://www.crazyuncledaves.com/~shop/crazy-uncle-daves-beef-jerky/252631/

The Branson Craft Mall served up incredible, warm, cinnamon-kissed candied pecans and almonds. The pecans were outstanding; sometimes candied nuts have a hard coating or the coating is as thick as the nut, but these were softer and just the right amount of candy coating. I will go to Branson just to visit this place. It has free samples daily of other products and lots of crafts and work from local artists. I love that type of thing. http://bransoncraftmall.com/

Cake Pop Co., served up a moist stout cake with a bourbon buttercream frosting that was heavenly. This Springfield company has national business and it’s wonderful to see its success. http://www.cakepopco.com/

Panera Bread Co.,’s chocolate croissant was buttery but light and had a delicious chunk of chocolate tucked inside. I love Panera but always eat lunch there, so this was my first time sampling something sweet for breakfast. https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/home.html