Sweet Inspiration – 8 Chocolate Easter Treat Ideas

When it comes to seasonal candy, chocolate is one of those must-haves for an Easter basket. Whether you take pleasure in nibbling on the ears of a sweet bunny or cracking open the goodies found inside of a filled egg, the following Easter treat ideas could become your new favorite obsession:

1. Flavorful Easter Bunnies – Exotic-flavored chocolate treats emerge during the Easter season for the more mature palate. Consider the solid chocolate creatures from Vosges-Haut Chocolates, which offers the Barcelona Bunny made with hickory-smoked almonds and gray sea salt, and the Toffee Bunny with butter toffee, pink Himalayan salt, and deep milk chocolate.

2. Eco-Friendly Easter Treats – Whether they abide by eco-friendly business practices or offer organic products, eco-conscious loved ones will enjoy the fact that you took the time to locate treats that fit into their lifestyle. For example, the certified organic Easter bunnies (Organic Chocolate Hopp’n Bunny) from Lake Champlain Chocolates are a real winner. Available in milk or dark chocolate, the planet-friendly rabbits are organic and free of preservatives. They come wrapped in a compostable cellophane bag tied with ribbon made from recycled plastic bottles.

3. Easter Bunny with Personality – Talk about personality…Christopher Norman Chocolates makes the Racer Bunny, which is a hand painted hollow rabbit that sits inside of a convertible.

4. Stylish Easter Bunny – Courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue, this stylish Easter bunny is made out of rich milk chocolate with white chocolate accents. Wrapped in clear cellophane tied with a ribbon, the hollow bunny is hand-decorated and weighs 7.7 pounds. The Charbonnel et Walker Giant Chocolate Easter Bunny actually costs $370.

5. Decorative Springtime Chocolate Cups – Pastel colors and spring-related imagery are a common theme for Easter treats. You can use light blue, light purple, yellow, and light green to liven up a basket for loved ones. There are plenty of gourmet chocolate treats to consider. For example, Savorique offers the romantically decorated Spring Dark & White Chocolate Cups – dark chocolate and white chocolate cups made with a layer of salted butter caramel, handmade vanilla marshmallow and dark chocolate ganache. The outside is decorated with vintage flowers.

6. White Chocolate Bunny – Who says all Easter bunnies have to be brown? A white chocolate bunny makes a delightful addition to any Easter basket.

7. Miniature Easter Bunnies – Perfect for family and friends on a diet, choose the Easter treats that come in bite-sized portions. Cute and cuddly, Leonidas Belgian Chocolates creates a set of six hollow mini-bunnies in milk, dark and white chocolate. Each weighs 40 grams and is 3.25 inches tall.

8. Homemade Chocolate Bunny Lollipops – Pay a visit to the local crafts store and purchase an Easter-themed mold to make your own chocolate bunny lollipops.

Peanut Butter Treats

Peanuts are a very versatile sweet treat that is naturally sugar free. Some spreads include Nature’s Promise, Skippy, and even Smuckers.

Then, you have the original, the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich(PB&J.) You even have peanut butter sauces to pour over your ice cream sundaes and it’s simply great with fruit like bananas and apples. There are even peanut butter cookies.

PEANUT BUTTER COOKIE RECIPE

To make this recipe you need a peanut butter spread and it can be any type you want, whether smooth or crunchy.

Then you need eggs, vanilla extract, and a sweetener such as sugar, honey, or agave syrup (this is very low on the glycemic index.) Of course, this is your choice.

Photo courtesy of Flyingdream
Take one cup of peanut butter and mix in two eggs. Then, add in one tsp of vanilla extract and half a cup of sugar cane. Or if you prefer to use honey or agave, only use a quarter of a cup. Make sure that you mix every ingredient evenly. If necessary, you may add a splash of milk to moisten the mixture as you stir.

Then, you have to use your hands to shape the cookies. Take a scoop of the peanut butter dough approximately the size of two quarters. Roll it into a ball and slightly flatten it on a cookie sheet. Continue to repeat this process until, you have a total of eighteen cookies.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake for ten to twelve minutes. Then, you have sweet, crunchy cookies that are great for a “good old fashion dunkin.”

PEANUT BUTTER ALTERNATIVES

Of course, if you are allergic to peanuts you can revise this recipe. There are alternative spreads that can be used like cashew, almond, soy, and sunflower seed. ENJOY!

Allergen Free Candy

Have you ever heard of a chocolate candy bar, that was not only gluten and dairy free, but sugar free too? Well, I’m here to tell you that there is one and it is called Endangered Species Chocolate.

TYPES OF BARS

All of these candy bars are sweetened with beet sugar and are made from dark cocoa. There are a variety and to name a few they include coffee, raspberry, mint, and supreme dark chocolate.

EXTRA CHOCOLATE TREATS

You can, of course, eat it piece by piece, but there are other ways to enjoy it too.

Photo courtesy of Endangered Species Chocolate Company

You can melt this candy in your microwave or even in a bowl over your stove. When it is all melted, you can reshape it and make holiday decorations. You can have designs like bunnies or eggs for Easter. Of course, depending on the holiday you can make a heart, a shamrock, or even a Christmas tree. Then, on an ordinary day, you shape smiley faces, stars, or balloons. This is actually a great activity to do with children.

Now, once you have the shape you desire place them into the refrigerator for a few hours, until they re-harden.

You also have the option of rolling the melted chocolate in a variety of fruits, such as bananas, apples, strawberries, or pineapples. Then, place the covered fruit in the re-fridge to harden and simply enjoy this sweet treat.

Lastly, you can leave the chocolate melted and have a fondue night!

CHOCOLATE BONUSES

Plus, with every purchase of candy you make, ten percent of the proceeds goes to support Endangered Species, habitat and humanity. Hence, the name of the candy company.

Non Dairy Desserts: Part Two

“Non dairy desserts: Part Two” is a continuation of our previous blog post. This time, instead of homemade treats, we’ll introduce you to some prepackaged ones. You can find them in your local grocery stores, health food stores, or in Whole Foods Market. You may have to kiss dairy goodbye, but not the types of treats you are used to enjoying. Having discovered these alternatives to dairy provides people with tasty options for enjoying decadent, creamy foods without the ramifications associated with dairy allergies.

PRE-PACKAGED TREATS: TOFUTTI & TURTLE MOUNTAIN

The first option is the Tofutti company. They offer Tofutti Cutie, which are snack sized ice cream sandwiches bars with delicious chocolate wafer cookies. Their flavors are vanilla, key lime, wild berry, chocolate, totally vanilla, and cookies ‘n cream.

They also have Premium Tofutti, which are prepacked pints of non dairy, frozen desserts. The flavors are vanilla, chocolate supreme, wild berry supreme, vanilla almond bark, vanilla fudge, chocolate cookie crunch, and better pecan.

The second on the list is Turtle Mountain. They offer coconut and soy based options. Coconut includes ice cream, sorbet, creamers, yogurts, ice cream novelties, and more. Coconut actually has a nice sweetness all on its own, so it’s a perfect choice to create ice cream. Especially, since milk has a natural sweetness to it from the lactose. As for soy based you have ice cream, ice cream novelties, and yogurts. To be more specific, the brand names go as followed: Purely Decadent, So Delicious, It Soy Delicious, and Sweet Nothings.

TAKE A BITE

Don’t just look forward to these tasty treats. Stop by your local grocery store and pick up a pint or a bar today! Then, you can curl up on your couch and enjoy your favorite dessert all over again.

Non Dairy Desserts: Part One

If you are allergic to dairy you may think that chocolate milk, milkshakes, ice cream sundaes and popsicles are gone forever. Well, I’m here to tell you to “chin up” there are many, many alternatives. Soy, rice, and almond come to the dairy lovers’ rescue.

CHOCOLATE MILKS

The company Taste the Dream™ has a sweet, thick, creamy texture and taste. Silk is your chocolate soy milk and Blue Diamond is the chocolate almond milk options. One good shake of the container, pour it into a glass, and you won’t even remember it is not cows’ milk.

HOMEMADE NON-DAIRY TREATS

You can still have milkshakes, sundaes, and pops.  Here’s how you do it within your very own kitchen.

photo courtesy of Flying Toaster

Take an ice cream maker and place it in the freezer overnight. Then, the next day, take rice or soy chocolate milk along with plain almond milk and whip it together in a large bowl. Now just a little FYI, it might not get as creamy and thick looking as dairy.

Pour the thickened mixture into the frozen ice cream maker and let machine do the rest of the stirring for you. Once it has a velvety consistency, put it in the freezer and leave it for at least two hours. Depending on how soft or hard you prefer your ice cream.

Now, here’s how you make chocolate ice popsicles. Take any shaped container, pour the “mock” chocolate milk in and place it in the freezer for approximately two hours. Then, you have an icicle. You can even make a vanilla, chocolate mixture pop by adding in vanilla rice or almond milk.

TOO GOOD TO WAIT FOR

I would try out any of these frozen treats even before the summer time rolled around. Believe me, they are that good!

And don’t forget to read Part Two!

Grilled Strawberry Sandwiches

Summertime means strawberries. Red, juicy, sweet with just a tiny bit of tartness, they are the queen of the May garden. We go to strawberry festivals, buy baskets of them at roadside stands, and even labor in the fields of the “pick your own” stands.

But once you have them, what do you do with them other than eat them with sugar, or pile them on a biscuit with whipped topping for strawberry shortcake? Sure, there are strawberry preserves to be made. Few of us do that any more. And there are chocolate covered strawberries. Those tend not to keep in the summer. What good are chocolate covered fruit when the chocolate runs off in the heat.

One thing you can do is Grilled Strawberry Sandwiches. Not exactly a sandwich, really, but they look like one, and they are easy to make.

Grilled Strawberry Sandwiches Recipe

To start, you have the option of buying a pound cake ready made, or you can make one, either from scratch or a mix. You can also make your own chocolate butter cream frosting, or buy it in a can. Buying is easier. Once you have that hurdle decided, you may proceed. Allow one “sandwich” for each serving.

photo courtesy of Dave Allen

Ingredients
You will need:

– Thinly sliced pound cake
– Strawberries, sliced
– Chocolate frosting
– Butter

Directions:
1. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Put some butter in the pan.
2. Once it is melted, place the slices of cake in the butter, moving the slices around so they soak up any excess.
3. Watch the cake carefully, as the sugar content will make them burn easily. Once they are golden and crispy on the bottom, turn them onto plates.
4. Allow the cake to cool so you can handle them without burning your fingers. Cut each slice in half diagonally.
5. Spread chocolate frosting on each half. Arrange some sliced strawberries on top of the chocolate, piling them several layers thick.
6. Using two spoons, cut quenelles of chocolate frosting, and place one on top of each half. You may also place a quenelle of sour cream beside each half.

Serving options:
1. These can be served using ice cream in place of the frosting, or whipped topping can be spread on the bread, then topped with the berries, and chocolate syrup drizzled over them. Or you can make them, as above, and put a scoop of ice cream in between the two halves.

2. You can also serve these with ice cream and blackberries or raspberries. Chocolate doesn’t fare well with these two berries, but white chocolate does. Spread the grilled cake with ice cream, cover with berries, and drizzle it with white chocolate sauce.

No decent berries in season? No problem. Use tinned, drained peach slices. Peaches and chocolate go well together.

Use your imagination. Use what you have on hand. Use a spoon so you don’t miss any of the good stuff.

Easy Pastry Recipes

The word ‘dessert’ has its roots in Seventeenth Century France. In the middle to late 1600s, it became popular to serve fruit and cheese after a meal, hence the name ‘dessevir’, literally ‘to clear the table’. It was the last course, meant to ‘close the stomach’. Soon, with the advent of ovens built into kitchens rather than outside, and with the coming of Antonin Caréme, the first ‘Celebrity Chef’, spectacular fancy pastries began to appear.

Mille-Feuille, what Americans know as Napoleons, are layers of puff pastry and custard and chocolate, all in a crispy, gooey melange that makes the tummy happy. Tarte Tatin, a pie without a bottom crust, was rumored to have been first made by an overworked innkeeper who forgot to put a bottom crust in a pie tin, is filled with caramel and apples, topped with puff pastry, then turned out crust down on a plate. One thing these desserts have in common is only the fillings are sweet, and even then not overly sweet. The crusts would work equally well with savory filings.

Puff Pastry Raspberry Stack
Puff Pastry Raspberry Stack. Photo courtesy of susiedepingu

Puff Pastry sheets can be purchased frozen. Different brands recommend different cooking times and temperatures. It is not difficult to work with, so long as it is allowed to come to room temperature and isn’t allowed to dry out. But it can still be intimidating, not to mention expensive.

After some experimentation, I figured out that refrigerated dough, particularly crescent rolls, work really well for all sorts of things. Like these

Chocolate Croissants

You will need:

– one tin of regular [not Grand] crescent rolls. Separate the dough into eight triangles.

– One large candy bar ( you can use most anything, including Caramels, Milky Way, just some chocolate chips, or for those brave souls, some chocolate with chili and sea salt.) Cut the candy bar into 8 pieces.

– optional: you can put a bit of cream cheese inside with the chocolate if you like

– about a ¼ cup of raw sugar for dipping. Raw sugar gives them a lovely, satisfying ‘crunch’ when you bite into them.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375° F (191° C, Gas Mark 5)

2. Lightly grease a baking sheet

3. Place a piece of chocolate in the center of a triangle and fold the dough over it, making sure to seal all the edges. If there are any holes, the insides will escape, make a big mess and will leave the dough hollow.

4. Once sealed, press the top of the dough into the sugar. Place on the baking sheet.

5. Bake 12-15 minutes, until golden brown

6. Let them cool slightly before serving. They are delicious warm or cold.

The same technique can be use with puff pastry sheets in place of the prepared dough. Everything else is the same, but the baking time and temperature should be that shown on the manufacturer’s packaging.

Another alternative is to use the full sheet of ‘recipe’ crescent roll dough.

Lattice Pastry

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375° F (191° C, Gas Mark 5).

2. Well  grease a baking sheet.

3. Unroll the dough , stretching slightly, then place it in a well greased pan. On one third of the dough, spread about 4 ounces of softened cream cheese and one cup of chocolate chips.

4. Fold the rest of the dough over the top, and turn the edges on the end and the side to seal well. With a sharp knife, cut some slashes in the top. Sprinkle some raw sugar onto the top.

5. Bake  until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Sweet Ideas for Pancakes

Pancakes, also called flapjacks, hotcakes, or griddlecakes, are best known as a popular breakfast food, but with a quick twist of ingredients and toppings – can easily transform into a tasty treat. A sweet batter is used to create the flatbread-like food that is typically cooked on a hot griddle or in a frying pan. In honor of National Pancake Month in February, consider the following sweet ideas for pancakes:

Blintz and Blinis

In Russia, Poland and Ukraine, their version of a pancake is called a blintz or blini. A typical recipe may call for jam, fruit, cottage cheese, or other cheeses rolled into a blintz, which is then lightly fried, sautéed or baked.

Pannenkoeken

In the Netherlands, pancakes are called pannenkoeken, which come in a sweet variety. Slightly thicker than crepes, the pancakes are usually large – measuring 12 inches or more in diameter. An egg-based batter may use fillings, such as sliced apples, candied ginger, and cheese with a thick sugar molasses-like syrup called “stroop.”

photo courtesy of pzado

A crepe is a very thin pancake often associated with France that may include a variety of fillings. Wheat flour is a common ingredient used to make the sweet version of the dish, along with eggs, milk, butter, and a pinch of salt. There are many different variations, including the mille crepe, which is comprised of many layers of the thin pancakes. Crepe Suzette is made with lightly grated orange peel and liqueur (such as Grand Marnier). Cherry Kijafa crepes use a traditional crepe base, but are filled with cherries simmered in Kijafa wine sauce. Strawberries and whipped cream are popular toppings for crepes served in the United States.

Sugar and Spice

Add vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg to your pancake batter to create a sugar and spice combination.

Fruit Toppings

Strawberries, blueberries, and bananas are common fruit toppings for pancakes, but nearly any fruit can elevate the taste. Consider apples paired with a drizzle of caramel; strawberries and a scoop of strawberry ice cream; or peaches soaked in cinnamon sugar.

Honey

Substitute your maple syrup for honey as a pancake topping. Drizzle chopped nuts on top.

Chocolate

Whether you add chocolate chips to the batter, decorate as a topping, or drizzle chocolate sauce instead of syrup – chocolate is another fun way to enhance the taste of your pancakes.

Yogurt

You can add flavored yogurt to a pancake recipe to create a semi-thick, relatively moist texture.