Category Archives: Candy and Confections

Cream Cheese Mints

cream-cheese-mints-nancycI love the scent of pine during the holidays. And the taste of peppermint and mint–flavored sweets! This holiday season, I’m enjoying both.

Right now, I’m using the new limited-edition winter scent of ECOS™ Dishmate™ Hypoallergenic ecoswinterpineDish Soap–they have a special holiday scent called Winterpine that they sent me to try, and it smells so fresh and clean!  It’s a great way to add the scent of pine to your kitchen. If you’re not familiar with ECOS™ products, they are earth-friendly and made with plant-derived cleaning agents that clean well and are gentle and safe to use.

And I’m also eating some wonderful minty sweets! These Cream Cheese Mints are kind of addicting. They have a rich, creamy, minty flavor. I like them more than I thought I would, which makes them dangerous for me to have around. So I’ve been sharing them with friends and everyone really likes them. You can make these yummy mints for any special occasion–birthday celebrations, wedding and baby showers, wedding receptions, and, of course, the holidays! I tinted mine red (or I guess you could say pink) and green for Christmas, but you can tint them any color you want. Or don’t use any food coloring and leave them a soft creamy white. This recipe makes about 175 small mints, which is a lot, but you’ll need a lot if you’re making them for holiday parties or any other event!

CREAM CHEESE MINTS by NancyC, adapted from BettyCrocker.com

Makes about 175 small mints

  • 2 (3-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (or use 6 ounces from an 8-ounce block)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 6 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon mint or peppermint extract
  • Red and green food coloring, optional

In large bowl, cream the softened butter and cream cheese together, then add the confectioner’s sugar, 3 cups at a time, and blend until smooth. Mix in mint extract. The mixture gets pretty thick, so you may need to work everything in with your hands. Or, you can mix all the ingredients with a food processor (use on-and-off pulses until mixture comes together in a ball).

If you’re wanting to tint your dough red and green (or any 2 other colors), divide dough into 2 equal portions and place on wax paper or parchment paper; add a few drops of red food coloring to 1 mound of dough and a few drops of green food coloring to the other mound of dough; work in or “knead” food coloring into each mound until the coloring is evenly tinted to your desired shade. If you’re just making one color, you won’t need to divide the dough, and if you want your mints to be creamy white, you can skip this whole step–just leave out the food coloring.

Roll dough mixture into small balls (I rolled mine into balls that were between 1/2″ and 5/8″ in diameter-I wouldn’t go any larger than that or they will take forever to set–smaller is better!). Place on waxed paper or parchment paper–lined cookie sheets and flatten each ball with a fork. Let stand about 2 hours or until dry (If the mints are still a little soft after a few hours, go ahead and put them in the refrigerator to finish drying). When mints are set and dry, cover with another sheet of wax paper and refrigerate until ready to serve.

These mints are perfect for parties or sweet little food gifts! And this recipe makes plenty of them, so you’ll have extra for yourself! 🙂  Besides pine and mint, what other flavors and scents do you enjoy around the holidays?

Sharing this recipe at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday.

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Easter Egg Bark

Easter Egg Bark @ NancyCI can’t believe Easter is almost here! If you haven’t had a chance to make any Easter treats yet, here’s a really easy recipe you can put together quickly–and no baking required! It’s so fun and colorful, too. I based this Easter Egg Bark on my Candy Corn Bark recipe I had posted a few years ago. It’s really yummy, packed with those super-good Cadbury candy-coated mini milk chocolate eggs and Easter M&M’s, along with a colorful dash of sprinkles!

This is a thicker bark, compared to some others I’ve made; if you like thinner barks, you could spread the melted white chocolate base in a thinner layer on a 10 x 15″ baking sheet instead of a 9 x 13″ pan. One important tip: It helps if you have the mini eggs and M&M’s pre-measured so you can sprinkle them on quickly before the white chocolate starts to set!

EASTER EGG BARK by NancyC

Makes a 9 x 13″ pan

  • 2 (12-ounce) packages white chocolate (vanilla) baking chips
  • 1 cup Cadbury milk chocolate Mini Eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk chocolate Easter M&M’s
  • Colorful Sprinkles

Line a 9 x 13 ” pan with parchment paper, going up the sides and leaving 2 extra inches of paper on each side (so you can lift the bark out of the pan later); set aside.

In a medium microwaveable bowl or container, microwave the white chocolate chips for one minute, then stop and stir. Continue melting the chocolate in the microwave, stopping and stirring every 30 seconds, until all the chips are melted and smooth, for a total of about 2  to 2 1/2 minutes (be careful not to overheat, or the white chocolate will become clumpy!).

Spread the melted white chocolate evenly in a thin layer in the parchment-lined pan with a large spoon or spatula. Sprinkle the Cadbury mini eggs over the melted chocolate, pressing eggs about halfway into the chocolate as you’re placing them. Then do the same with the Easter M&M’s (it helps if you have all these ingredients pre-measured so you can sprinkle them on quickly before the chocolate starts to set). Last of all, top with colorful sprinkles, pressing lightly into the white chocolate if necessary. Note: Make sure all ingredients are pressed into the melted chocolate, or they will just fall off when you are breaking up the bark later.

Let bark set about 1 hour, or until completely firm (you can chill the bark in the refrigerator to help it set quicker). Lift bark from the pan (with the sides of the parchment paper) and place on kitchen counter. Peel parchment paper from bottom side of bark, breaking bark into pieces as you peel. Serve on a platter or in a bowl, or package into treat bags. Store any extra bark covered in an airtight container at room temperature.

That’s all there is to it! What fun sweets and treats are you making for Easter?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck.

Salted Dark Chocolate Coffee Bark

Salted Dark Chocolate Coffee Bark @ NancyC

On chilly mornings, I like to have a hot cup of coffee to start my day. With cream. I don’t like black coffee or sugar in my coffee, but I love having cream in my coffee! But cookingwithcoffeeapparently you can do so much more with coffee, as I discovered when I received a review copy of Cooking with Coffee by Brandi Evans. It’s a hardcover book with 60 recipes and lots of color photos.

The book begins with a brief history of coffee, benefits of coffee, different brewing options, and popular ingredients to use with coffee. Then you’ll find recipes for baked goods; homemade coffee creamers; drinks and smoothies; sauces, dips, and toppings; savory foods; and sweets and snacks. Recipes include:

  • Espresso Banana Muffins
  • Coffee and White Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
  • Salted Chocolate Coffee Creamer
  • Peanut Butter Mocha Smoothie
  • Chocolate-Coffee Gravy
  • Coffee Maple Vinaigrette
  • Chicken Enchiladas with Quick Coffee Ranchera Sauce
  • Triple Chip Espresso Cookies

I decided to try the Salted Dark Chocolate Coffee Bark, because I thought it would be a great recipe to keep in mind as a food gift for the holidays. It’s easy to make and only has 3 ingredients, so you can whip it up easily and quickly. You just need to give the bark enough time to harden, at least an hour, before you break it up into pieces. It makes a great sweet treat for coffee and dark chocolate lovers! The recipes says to use 10 ounces of 60% dark chocolate, so I used one 10-ounce bag of dark chocolate chips and that worked perfectly!

SALTED DARK CHOCOLATE COFFEE BARK from Cooking with Coffee

Makes about 2 cups pieces of bark

  • 10 ounces 60% dark chocolate or semisweet
  • 1/4 cup whole coffee beans
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons large flake sea salt (I used less salt-more like 1 teaspoon, and that was salty enough for me!)

Over a double boiler or in a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate until it’s just warm enough to completely melt when you stir (a few minutes over the double boiler or 1-2 minutes in the microwave, checking every 30 seconds).

Pour the chocolate onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and smooth out into an even layer.

Sprinkle the melted chocolate with the coffee beans and the sea salt.

Let the chocolate set at least 1 hour, then break into bite-sized pieces.

Like I mentioned earlier, this bark makes a great homemade food gift. Or you may want to give the book itself to a coffee-loving friend. Are you a coffee-lover yourself, and do you use coffee in any recipes?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, FoodieFriDIY, Sunday Features, Inspire Me Monday, Show and Share, Tasty Tuesday, Wow Us Wednesdays, Wake Up Wednesday, Wow Me Wednesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Wonderful Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, Share Your Style, Thursday Favorite Things, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Create It Thursday, Fabulous Foodie Friday.

Chocolate No-Bake Cookies

Chocolate No-Bake Cookies@NancyCreative.com

No-bake recipes come in very handy when the weather is hot and humid. And since I was wanting to make something chocolate, I thought Chocolate No-Bake Cookies would be perfect!

I remember the very first time I had a No-Bake Cookie–I was probably about 7 or 8, and a friend had given me some her mother had made. My mom had never made these cookies and I wanted to find out how to make them. My friend said it was easy–just mix cocoa powder, peanut butter, and oatmeal together and let them set. That’s how we exchanged our simple childhood recipes back then–word of mouth, no specific amounts for the ingredients, and the ingredients were minimal. So I did what my friend said and was so disappointed when the cookies never set! Of course I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong and my friend insisted that was the correct way to make them, so these cookies were a mystery to me for awhile. Eventually I forgot about trying to make them and went on to make other more dependable recipes…like Chocolate Chip cookies!

But recently, I’ve been noticing some no-bake recipes on different sites and decided that these No-Bakes were worth another try. I found a recipe at FoodNetwork.com that looked pretty fool-proof–and it is! I just made mine a little larger than the original recipe. These no-bake cookies set up just fine!

CHOCOLATE NO-BAKE COOKIES by NancyC, very slightly adapted from FoodNetwork.com

Makes 50 to 60 cookies, depending on size

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter (or substitute unsalted butter and add a dash of salt)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or wax paper; set aside.

In a medium size saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, milk, butter, and cocoa and stirring occasionally, bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute; remove from heat. Add in the peanut butter, vanilla, salt, and oats; stir to combine.

Drop rounded 1/2 Tablespoonfuls (or rounded teaspoonfuls for smaller cookies) of the mixture onto prepared baking sheets and let cool for 45 to 60 minutes. Store refrigerated, in an airtight container, for up to 5 days.

Note: For oatier cookies, add an extra 1/2 cup of oats or decrease amount of peanut butter to 1/2 cup.

These Chocolate No-Bake Cookies are such a classic treat! When was the last time you made them? Do you make yours any differently?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday, Full Plate Thursday, Let’s Get Real Friday, Wow Us Wednesdays, Inspiration Thursday, Show and Share.

S’mores Granola

SmoresGranola_NancyCreative.com The last time I made granola, I made Chocolate Chip Cherry Granola. It was the first time I had added chocolate to granola and I loved the combination! And now that summery weather is here, it seemed like the perfect time to try making S’mores Granola. S’mores are such a classic summer treat, so why not make a granola version? I used Jet-Puffed Mallow Bits, mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, and Golden Grahams cereal to mimic the chocolate-marshmallow-graham cracker flavors, and these all worked really well with my granola base.

This S’mores Granola makes a good snack to munch on any time of day and you can also spoon it over vanilla yogurt for an easy breakfast or dessert. If you like sweet cereal, you could also serve this granola in a bowl with milk.

S’MORES GRANOLA by NancyC

Makes about 10 cups

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 3 Tablespoons non-GMO canola oil or light olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (do not use quick oats)
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ or ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 3 cups Golden Grahams cereal
  • 1 1/2 cups Kraft Jet-Puffed Mallow Bits
  • 1 1/2 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (or chop an equivalent amount of Hershey bars into small chunks)

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line a 10 x 15″ or 13 x 18″ rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl or container, heat the honey for about 30 seconds so it’s thinner and easier to stir; then mix the honey, oil, and salt together in a small bowl; set aside.

In large bowl, toss the oats, wheat germ or flaxseed, and chopped pecans. Add in the honey, oil, and salt mixture and toss again, combining all ingredients well.

Spread mixture evenly on your parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 325˚F for 20 minutes; remove pan from oven to stir and toss mixture for even baking. Return to oven for an additional 15 minutes, until mixture is golden, and remove from oven.

Stir granola, then let it cool completely on pan (if the granola isn’t quite crunchy, it will get crunchier as it cools). When completely cool, put granola mixture in an extra large bowl and stir in the Golden Grahams, Jet-Puffed Mallow Bits, and mini chocolate chips (or chopped up Hershey bars). Store in a tightly sealed container for up to 2 weeks.

S’mores are such a classic treat and it’s fun making variations on the chocolate-graham cracker-marshmallow combination. Did you have S’mores often as a kid and do you make them now?

Linked to Full Plate Thursday, Let’s Get Real Friday, Inspiration Thursday.