Chocolate Treats in Time for the Holidays
What goes better with the holidays than chocolate treats? There is just something about chocolate that makes everything taste better. Here are a few recipes and tips to satisfy any sweet tooth. Make some to share and some to keep for your own personal stash.
Heavenly Chocolate Chip and Walnut Cookies
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
12 oz pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
6-8 oz chopped walnuts
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl; set aside. Cream butter, brown and granulated sugars in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg; beat well. Gradually add in flour mixture; mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon, or for a larger cookie use an ice cream scoop, two inches apart onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 9-10 minutes or until just golden brown. They should still be a bit soft. Let stand for 2 minutes on baking sheet then promptly move to wire rack covered with wax paper to cool. Yields approximately 3 dozen cookies. Store in an airtight container so they will stay soft, chewy and delicious for several days, if they last that long.
I got the basic cookie recipe from the back of a package of semi-sweet chocolate chips. After making a few adjustments I ended up with this recipe, and they turn out perfect every time! Consider additional mix-ins such as white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, raisins, chocolate chunks, candy or candy bar pieces, and/or different nuts with, or in place of, the chocolate chips and walnuts.
Triple Layer Chocolate Cake
2 boxes favorite super moist chocolate fudge or dark chocolate cake mix (recommend using Betty Crocker SuperMoist brand)
eggs (per box instructions)
milk (replaces the water in the box instructions)
vegetable oil (per box instructions)
18 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (divided)
2 cans whipped chocolate frosting
strawberries (for garnish)
Heat oven according to box instructions. Prepare three 8- or 9-inch round baking pans with cooking spray and sprinkle the dry cake mix, rather than flour, on the bottom and around the sides. Prepare both cake mixes together, according to package directions, except use milk in place of the water, and add about 12 oz of the semi-sweet chocolate chips. Fill each prepared baking pan about 3/4 full. (There will probably be batter left over. You can use it to make cupcakes or another cake layer.) Bake according to package directions. Once cakes have completely cooled, take a large serrated knife and cut horizontally across the top of each cake in order to get them level. Frost cakes on serving platter as you normally would, using plenty of frosting between layers. Rinse and dry strawberries. In a microwave-safe bowl melt the remaining 6 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Dip each strawberry in the melted chocolate, being sure to cover at least half of the berry. Garnish the cake with them, putting some on top and some around the bottom, on the platter. Using a spoon or knife, drizzle remaining melted chocolate around top and sides of cake and berries.
This cake turns out so moist, light, and delicious, it literally melts in your mouth! You can get creative by using different kinds of berries, white chocolate for dipping and drizzling, candy sprinkles, or even slice the berries and put them between the layers. A quick baking tip: use milk instead of water to make any cake recipe super moist.
Other Chocolaty Tips
One of the easiest ways to spruce up your holiday sweets, whether for a party or for gifts, is to use melted chocolate. This works for almost any snack food from pretzels and cookies to nuts and fruit. There are several different chocolate options to choose from, besides the obvious white, milk or dark. You can find melting chocolate at most craft stores, or go to almost any grocery store to pick up either Baker’s (or similar brand) melting chocolate or chocolate chips. Get really creative by adding flavoring to melted chocolate prior to dipping anything into it. Flavorings such as mint, almond, or vanilla are great options. Additionally, sprinkles and chopped nuts are great for accessorizing chocolate covered food. For items like pretzel rods, some cookies, or some fruits dip about half to 3/4 to have a fabulous presentation. For items like nuts, pretzel twists, sandwich cookies, smaller fruits, and caramel candy dip the entire thing. Any of these recipes or items would make wonderful, heartfelt holiday gifts. Other than the cake, all you need are clear cellophane bags and a bit of curling ribbon.