Part of the recipe calls for heating sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan and this works best with a nonstick saucepan (it helps prevent the sweetened condensed milk Continue reading
Trail Mix is such a great snack and so easy to make! I just made a mix with some healthy ingredients I had on hand and also added in some new Lärabar Bites that I had recently received as complimentary samples. These are truffle-like bites made from real food like fruits and nuts, just like Lärabars. The bites come in 4 different flavors: Cherry Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Macaroon, Double Chocolate Brownie, and Mint Chocolate Truffle. I really liked all the flavors, which is not surprising, since I love chocolate so much! But you can feel good about eating these bites, since they’re made with healthy ingredients and fair trade certified chocolate chips. They’re also gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan and dairy-free.
I thought these Lärabar Bites would be perfect in this trail mix I came up with, which you can make in no time. It’s perfect when you want a healthy sweet snack! This makes 2 1/2 cups, but if you want a larger amount, you can always double the recipe.
DARK CHOCOLATE–ALMOND TRAIL MIX by NancyC
Makes 2 1/2 cups
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup chopped Lärabar Bites, cut into fourths (I used the Double Chocolate Brownie bites) or, substitute 1/2 cup chopped dates
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup unsweetened or sweetened coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup roasted almonds
Add all ingredients to a medium-size bowl and mix. Store in an airtight container for 2 to 3 weeks.
It’s nice when a snack is both yummy and healthy, isn’t it? What healthy snacks do you like to keep on hand?
If you’re looking for something sweet to sink your teeth into, these blondies are exactly what you need! Some blondie recipes I’ve made before were more on the thinner side. But these are really thick and chewy. And they’re packed with dark chocolate (or semi-sweet chocolate) chips, dried cranberries, and chopped pecans…a really yummy combination of flavors!
I had just received a sample bag of Georgia pecans from Pearson Farm so I used them in this recipe. Pearson Farm has been growing pecans for over 100 years and they are really good! In addition to their fresh raw pecans that I received, they also sell salted, roasted, and chocolate-covered varieties. I love to much on raw pecans as a healthy snack and use them in dessert recipes when I’m baking. But pecans can also be added to healthy foods like salads, yogurt, and smoothies for a little extra nutrition. They contain vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, E, and B1, calcium, potassium, zinc, thiamin, and magnesium.
I like to think pecans make desserts a little healthier, too, so I thought they’d be great paired with dark chocolate and dried cranberries in this blondie recipe. I was so happy with the way these blondies turned out–a combination of rich, buttery taste with the chocolate-cranberry-pecan goodness mixed in!
DARK CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY PECAN BLONDIES by NancyC, adapted from Taste of Home
Makes an 8 x 8″ pan
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 2 cups hot water
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips (or substitute white or milk chocolate chips)
- 2/3 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line an 8 x 8″ square baking pan with parchment paper and lightly grease or spray with cooking spray; set aside.
In small bowl, soak dried cranberries in hot water for one minute to soften and plump them; drain well and set aside.
In medium bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together, blending well, then add in the vanilla extract and eggs, blending eggs in one at a time.
In another medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add this mixture to butter mixture and mix until all ingredients are combined.
Fold in cranberries, chocolate chips, and chopped pecans. Evenly press batter into prepared pan.
Bake at 350˚F for 38 to 40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then lift out of pan with edges of parchment paper. Cool completely on wire rack, then cut into squares.
Note: when these blondies are cooling, they do sink a little in the center, but don’t worry when that happens–that’s just what they do!
I often use pecans in my baking–they go well in so many different recipes! Do you use pecans much in your recipes?
This is a good, easy cookie bar recipe that I’ve had for quite awhile! I think I originally found it in a magazine ad and then I came across it later at Kraft Recipes. This recipe uses a cake mix as part of the ingredients for the yummy chocolatey crust, so it’s simple to put together. I usually prefer making things from scratch, but sometimes a mix comes in handy if you’re in a time crunch. And these bars are so good you may not mind that they’re made with cake mix!
My version of these bars is a little different from the original recipe–I usually use pecans instead of walnuts (this time I used a little of both), dark chocolate chips instead of chocolate chunks, and regular chocolate cake mix instead of German chocolate. When you’re in the mood for a very chocolatey, chewy, caramel treat, this is a great recipe to try! Save some time by unwrapping the caramels ahead of time before you make these!
DARK CHOCOLATE CHIP CARAMEL NUT BARS by NancyC, adapted from Kraft Recipes
Makes a 13 x 9″ pan of bars
- 1 (11-ounce) bag Kraft caramels, unwraped
- 1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk, divided
- 1 package (2-layer size) chocolate cake mix with pudding in the mix
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts, divided (I used a mix of pecans and walnuts)
- 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap caramels and melt them with 1/3 cup of the evaporated milk in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until caramels are completely melted. Remove from heat; set aside.
Mix remaining milk, dry cake mix and melted butter in a large bowl. Press half of the cake mixture firmly onto the bottom of a greased 13 x 9-inch baking pan to form crust. Bake 8 minutes, then remove from oven.
Sprinkle 1 cup of the nuts and 3/4 cup of the dark chocolate chips over the crust. Drizzle evenly with melted caramel mixture. Top with teaspoonfuls of the remaining cake mixture; press gently into caramel mixture with back of spoon. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of nuts and 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips.
Put back in the oven and bake an additional 16 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars.
Note: if you want to eat these warm (they’d be great with some ice cream on top!) wait about 20 to 30 minutes before cutting them so they won’t be so gooey. For less gooey bars, wait about an hour before cutting them, when they’ve cooled more. Be sure not to wait more than a few hours before cutting them; if you do, they will be harder to cut since the caramel and bottom crust will harden some.
It may be a little tricky to get your first piece out of the pan without crumbling it a bit, but once that’s out, the rest of your bars should come out easily!
The combination of dark chocolate, nuts, and caramel is so good! What’s your favorite chocolate/caramel dessert?
This cookie is quite different from your average chocolate chip cookie! For one thing, it’s giant-size because it’s made in a 10″ cast iron skillet. I got the idea from The Nourished Life and thought it was great! There’s nothing like having a nice thick slice of a giant chocolate chip cookie! I thought I’d use dark chocolate chips in my giant cookie and I loved the way it turned out. The cast iron skillet bakes it up just right–thick and chewy on the inside, and crispy on the outside!
Since May 15 is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, it seemed like just the right time to make this! Besides, I had recently received a sample of a very quality vanilla extract to use in my chocolate chip cookie–Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract. It has a sweet, creamy, mellow flavor that works well with both sweet and savory dishes. I’ve seen this vanilla at Williams-Sonoma, so I was happy to have the chance to try it out. I thought it worked really well in this recipe and gave the batter a great flavor. If you want a chance at winning a complimentary 2 ounce sample of this vanilla, just leave a comment at the end of this post saying you’re interested in trying it by 8:00 pm CST on Thursday, May 15–I’ll do a random drawing and one winner will be selected and notified by email. The winner will receive the vanilla extract directly from Nielsen-Massey. This giveaway is limited to residents in the continental U.S. CONGRATS TO LORI K. for winning the bottle of Nielsen-Massey Vanilla! The random number drawn was 3, and Lori’s was the 3rd comment that mentioned wanting to try the vanilla!
I hope you get a chance to try this cookie out–it is so, so good. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, this may be a great reason to get one! 🙂
GIANT DARK CHOCOLATE CHIP SKILLET COOKIE by NancyCreative, adapted from The Nourished Life
Makes 1 giant cookie in a 10″ cast iron skillet
- 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3.4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I used Niielsen-Massey Vanilla)
- 1 (10-ounce) bag dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease a seasoned 10″ cast iron skillet with butter or coconut oil.
In medium size bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In large bowl, cream softened butter with granulated and light brown sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, blending well.
Add flour mixture from small bowl to butter-sugar mixture and mix all ingredients together just until blended–do not overmix!
Fold in chocolate chips and mix until the chocolate chips are evenly incorporated into the batter (the batter will be thick, so you’ll need a large sturdy spoon to mix!). Then spread or pat the batter evenly into your cast iron pan and bake at 350˚ degrees for 32 to 35 minutes, or until the edges of the cookie are golden brown. Cool for 20 minutes and cut into slices (as you would a pie) and serve while it’s still warm. A scoop of ice cream on top wouldn’t be a bad idea, either! 🙂
Just a note that it was a little hard getting the first slice of cookie out without a little crumbling and breaking, but after that it was smooth cookie sailing–the other pieces came out very nicely!
I just have one cast iron skillet–my 10″ skillet, but I love using it! Do you cook often with cast iron?