Category Archives: Dessert

Cranberry Bliss Bar Ice Cream

Every single year at Christmas time I look forward to Cranberry Bliss Bars coming back at Starbucks. This year, I somehow got the idea to turn my beloved bliss bar into an ice cream flavor.

Call it divine intervention.

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This ice cream recipe captures all of the essence of the Starbucks bar, but in a creamy frozen treat.

I didn’t want to just throw a cranberry bliss bar into some vanilla ice cream. I really thought about how to make this ice cream blissfully special.

A cranberry bliss bar is essentially a blondie with cream cheese icing, white chocolate, & dried cranberries. There’s an almost hidden citrus-y component to them – orange zest. I wanted my ice cream to encompass all of these wonderful flavors.

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My cranberry bliss bar ice cream is a cream cheese ice cream with dried cranberries, white chocolate chips, orange marmalade, & Biscoff cookies.

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I love Biscoff cookies! I just learned that this is what a speculoos cookie is! I totally get the Trader Joe’s speculoos hype now.

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Cupcake loves them, too.

Biscoff/speculoos cookies are the perfect way to represent the blondie without having to make a blondie. I left them in large-ish chunks & they get wonderfully soft in the ice cream.

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I like a lot of stuff in my ice cream. If you’re not a huge fan of lots of bits in your ice cream, just cut the amounts listed below for the mix ins in half. The cream cheese ice cream alone is SO GOOD. I’m quite proud of myself for it!

This Christmas treat came out even better than I could have imagined.

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Bonus picture of the baby watching the ice cream machine.

Cranberry Bliss Bar Ice Cream

Makes 1 quart 

  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup dried canberries
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 8 Biscoff cookies
  • 2 tbsp orange marmalade
  1. Using the whisk attachment, whip the softened cream cheese until smooth.
  2. While the cream cheese is whipping, soak the dried cranberries in water.
  3. Add sugar & a pinch of salt to the cream cheese & continue to whip.
  4. Add lime juice, heavy cream, & milk. Mix until smooth.
  5. Pour cream cheese mix into ice cream maker. Churn for 20 minutes. Transfer ice cream to a freezer safe container.
  6. Strain the cranberries & add them to the ice cream along with white chocolate chips. Break up Biscoff cookies & add to ice cream. Swirl mix ins throughout. Finally, stir in orange marmalade.
  7. Freeze for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. If ice cream is too hard to serve, let it sit on the counter for a few minutes before scooping.

 

 

 

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Mary Berry’s American Victoria Sandwich

Are you as obsessed with The Great British Baking Show as I am?

I’m actually quite sad that the latest season just ended.

For the finale, the contestant’s technical challenge was to make Mary’s Victoria sandwich without a recipe.

A Victoria sandwich is is a two-layer light sponge cake filled with a layer of jam & buttercream.

Seeing as how I am not British – not even close – I am only able to take Mary Berry’s word that this is a classic cake & that the jam should be raspberry (with “all the bits”, as she says).

I’ve been wanting to try to create one of the recipes from the show since I started watching Season 1 on Netflix earlier this summer. I figured this one shouldn’t be terribly difficult. Not like the Prinsesstårta!

The only thing is that Mary Berry’s recipe is written in U.K. Measurements. I have no idea how much 225g of self-raising flour is. The PBS website is nice enough to link to this conversion site at the bottom of the recipe, but it only converts grams to ounces – not cups. I still have no idea how much 8oz of flour is. So with my little food scale & Google, I came up with the below recipe conversion.

Hence this is Mary Berry’s American Victoria Sandwich.

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One key difference for me is that I do not have self-raising flour. Therefore, I used all purpose plus extra baking powder. (Side note: God is real, you guys. I had JUST enough flour to make this!)

I also made my own caster sugar with a food processor. I was going to skip it but I read that regular granulated sugar wouldn’t give the sponge the right texture & could be grainy. To make enough caster sugar for this recipe, I pulsed 1 1/4 cup of sugar in the food processor for about 30 seconds.

I was all set to follow Mary’s proportions for buttercream (7 tbsp buter, 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar if anyone is interested),  but then I accidentally threw the whole stick of butter in the mixer. So 2 cups of powdered sugar it was. It’s so much easier to use the whole stick of butter anyway!

I did cheat a little & used store bought raspberry jam – seedless. Sorry, Mary. I know you like “all the bits”, but my husband does not!

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My 2 sponges domed up more than I would have liked in the middle, so I did trim them. But that just meant I got to taste test them before serving them to my friends!

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I cannot tell you how this compares to the British original.

I can only tell you it was delicious!

Mary Berry’s American Victoria Sandwich

Victoria Sponge

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour, lightly spooned – not scooped
  • 2 level tsp baking powder
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease two 8in round cake pans & line with parchment paper.
  2. Break the eggs into a large bowl. Then add the sugar, flour, baking powder, & butter. Use an electric mixer to mix together until well combined, being careful not to over-mix. (According to Mary, “The finished mixture should be of a soft ‘dropping’ consistency.”)
  3. Divide the mixture evenly between the cake pans. Use a spatula to gently smooth the surface of the cakes.
  4. Place the cake pans on the middle shelf of the oven & bake for 25 minutes. Don’t open the oven door to check them until at least the 20 minutes mark.
  5. When the’re done, remove them from the oven & set aside to cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Then transfer onto a rack to cool completely.

Buttercream

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp milk
  1. Using electric mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until soft.
  2. Add half of the powdered sugar & beat until smooth.
  3. Add the remaining powdered sugar & 1 tablespoon of milk. Beat the mixture until creamy & smooth. Add the remaining tablespoon of milk if the buttercream is too thick.

To assemble:

  1. Choose one of the sponges to be the bottom & put it down on to a serving plate.
  2. Spread the raspberry jam (store bought or homemade) on the cake, then pipe the buttercream on top of the jam.
  3. Place the other sponge on top & sprinkle with caster sugar to serve.

 

 

Cupcakes For Cupcake’s Baptism!

Yesterday was Cupcake’s baptism!

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She was such an angel about it! She was asleep up until we got up on the church altar. Then she opened her eyes & perked up, almost as if she knew that the ceremony was all for her.

Afterward we had a little party at our house to celebrate.

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So of course I made a cake!

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A pull-apart cupcake cake to be precise. Cupcakes for my Cupcake’s baptism ❤

This cake was so easy to assemble! I used 1 box cake mix, about 3 tubs of frosting, & some chocolate candies.

I think it came out looking beautiful.

I’m very much looking forward to raising little Cupcake to be a God-fearing woman.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

Pull-Apart Cupcake Cross

assembly instructions
  • 28 cupcakes
  • ~50 oz frosting (about 3 tubs)
  • candies for decorating
  1. Assemble the cupcakes into the desired cross shape.
  2. Frost each cupcake with a large rosette ( I used Wilton 2D tip)
  3. Fill in the gaps with more rosettes.
  4. Decorate with colorful candies.

Pregnant Tiramisu

I have been pretty good this pregnancy about following the guidelines of what not to eat. Not too paranoid, but definitely avoiding the basics.

No alcohol. No cold cuts. No sushi. Limited caffeine. Nothing with raw eggs.

Raw eggs is one that seems straight forward, but isn’t. Meringue frosting? Raw egg whites. Homemade mayonnaise dressings? Probably has raw eggs. Tiramisu? RAW EGGS.

I had never made tiramisu before, but earlier in my pregnancy I had a hankering for it & looked up some recipes to see if I could substitute the obvious non-pregnancy friendly ingredients out. I was surprised when nearly every recipe called for raw egg yolks, & some also use the raw egg whites!

I figured tiramisu was just one more thing I’d have to add to my  ‘No’ list. Until I came across this post by Lily from Little Sweet Baker. She did it! An amazing egg-free tiramisu recipe! With a few substitutions, baby & I could enjoy tiramisu after all!

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Not only is this recipe safe for pregnancy, it’s also amazingly simple – which is great since pregnancy brain is in full swing around here. To make the tiramisu truly pregnancy friendly I used decaf espresso & omitted the liquor. My husband & I switched to decaf espresso when we found out about the baby, so that was no issue. I also increased the amount of vanilla extract a little to ‘make up’ for the liquor taste.

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I ended up making this recipe several weeks ago when we had some friends over to watch a football game & it was a big hit! One of my friends is really sensitive to caffeine & was grateful for a decaf tiramisu recipe. So it’s not just pregnancy friendly!

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Serve with a decaf cappuccino & have yourself an (almost) authentic Italian night!

Pregnant Tiramisu

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup mascarpone, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups decaf espresso, cooled
  • lady fingers
  • cocoa powder for dusting
  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the mascarpone, sugar, and vanilla extract.. Add mixture to whipped cream and beat again until smooth.
  3. Dip each lady finger into the cooled espresso. Do not soak too long or they will get soggy. Line a 9×9 square baking dish with a layer of dipped lady fingers.
  4. Spread half of the cream mixture over the lady fingers. Repeat another layer of lady fingers & cream. Chill for a minimum of 4 hours, best if overnight.
  5. Dust with cocoa powder before serving. (If you do this before chilling the tiramisu, like I accidentally did, it will still be delicious! Just a little less pretty.)

National Dessert Day!

October 14th is National Dessert Day!

It’d be wrong if I let the day go by without sharing something with y’all.

Here are some recipes to inspire you to celebrate!

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Cinnamon Gingerbread Ice Cream

S’mores Cake

Chocolate Mousse

Blueberry Cake with Lemon Buttercream

Fudgy Cocoa Brownies

Strawberry Lemon Cheesecake Icebox Cake (or, Cheesecake Lasagna)

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Custard-style Vanilla Ice Cream

The Best Banana Pudding Ever

Ricotta Honey Sesame Ice Cream

Caramel Apple Cake


How are you celebrating?

Baby Shower Tea Party

My dear friend, Beth, had a baby girl in February!

She’s been so loved from the minute we all found out about her existence. Pretty much from the second Beth told me she was pregnant I was planning her baby shower. Another friend of ours from church helped plan it with me & we came up with a theme that we knew Beth would love – Tea Party!

More specifically, Tea for Two at 2:00!

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Planning this tea party was so much fun! I even made the invitations myself – inspired by this post from 733 blog.

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They were easy to do with Microsoft Publisher & some clip art!

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 I made the invitations look like tea bags by cutting the top corners & using a string to tie the little tag.

I also made some decorations.

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That’s a standard baby shower banner with some added tea cups to go with the theme.

My favorite decoration was a sign I made for the front porch, inspired by this sign I saw on Pinterest.

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I took a sheet of poster board, stenciled on & painted the words, & added some cut out tea cups and tea pot. I taped it to a large frame I had & set it out by the front door on a table.

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Beth knew we were throwing her a shower, but didn’t know what the theme was until she drove up to the house!

Tea parties mean finger foods, so the menu was pretty easy! Sherlain took care of the tea sandwiches & I did all the desserts (of course).

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I got most of the recipes from Pinterest – links below!

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Early Grey cookie recipe from The Kitchn

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Marshmallow Nutella Cupcakes with whipped cream inspired by this recipe.

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These mini cheesecakes are just JELL-O No Bake Cheesecakes with strawberry & blackberry jam swirled in. I made them the night before.

We also had a small cake & fruit salad. There were lots of leftovers!

The drinks were, of course, tea! We had iced sweet tea & iced mixed berry tea. There was also a selection of hot teas.

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For party favors my mother in law & I decorated little tea cups with sharpies. I baked them in the oven, but the sharpie still eventually rubbed off of the ones I kept for myself after continual use. It’s OK, at least everyone had a tea cup to drink from at the party!

As a gift & memento for Beth, I bought a plain white ceramic tea pot & all the ladies signed it.

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For games we had ‘guess how many safety pins in a jar’, ‘don’t say baby safety pin game’, ‘baby shower gift bingo’, & ‘guess how big the belly is with toilet paper’. I ran that last game by Beth before we played it – she thought it was a great idea & all in good fun!

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I made the baby shower bingo cards myself on the computer. It was really easy! I just came up with a basic list of baby supplies for the spaces & copied them in to each block but in a different spot on each card.

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Since the shower was in December, we put all the gifts under the Christmas tree.

The baby shower was so much fun! All 15 of us had a great time & everyone made it to my house safely despite the torrential downpour that was happening – it always rains when I throw a party! That’s why the pictures are so dark 🙂

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Beth is one of my closest friends & one of the sweetest people I know. Her beautiful daughter is almost 3 months old now!

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Zombie Finger Cookies

Tonight is the Season 6 finale of The Walking Dead!

In our family, this is cause for celebration. I have celebrated before with cake & cookies, so in keeping with the dessert theme I was looking for something easy yet creepy to make. I found this great recipe from the Food Network: Witch Finger Cookies courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis. I tweaked the recipe just a little & made them even creepier!

I present to you: zombie fingers!

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These were so easy! It’s a yummy sugar cookie recipe with some added freaky flair.

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Even before going in the oven my husband looked at these & said, “Ew!”

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The cookies will expand a little bit – so make them thinner than a standard finger. I didn’t do this so I ended up with fat fingers, but let’s just say these walkers are bloated.

The ‘knuckles’ were so easy – take a knife & make 1 slit closer to the nail bed & 3 slits towards the middle of the finger.

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The nails are my favorite part. I dipped sliced almond into melted lingonberry jam (any red jam will do!) before putting them on the fingers. This gives them that bloody look!

Observant Walking Dead fans might recognize these plates. (Hint: Start To Finish)

These are creepy and delicious! Enjoy the show tonight!

Zombie Finger Cookies

Makes 24-30 fingers

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg,  room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 24-30 sliced almonds
  • lingonberry jam
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with baking spray.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, & salt.
  3. Using a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter & sugar together until light & fluffy.
  4. Add the egg & vanilla. Beat until smooth.
  5. Slowly add in the flour mixture until dough forms.
  6. Using about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough at a time, roll the dough between your palms to form fingers (Giada says about 5-inch-long fingers about 1/2-inch thick). For the knuckles: using a knife, make 1 slit close to the nail bed & 3 slits towards the middle of the finger.
  7. Melt jam in microwave for 30 seconds. Dip sliced almonds in melted jam & then press into the end of each finger to make fingernails.
  8. Arrange the fingers on the cookie sheet & bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until light brown. Transfer the fingers to a wire rack & cool completely.
  9. Dip the blunt ends of the fingers in the warm jam & serve.

S’mores Cake

I love baking & decorating (& let’s face it – eating) cakes.

A few weeks ago I got the itch to bake a cake – but I needed an occasion to do so. There’s no way I was going to have a whole cake sitting around my house for me to eat all of. Not when I’ve been doing more or less OK at this whole trying to be healthy thing & have actually dropped a few lbs.

Finally I had an occasion. My husband & I threw our first backyard barbecue of 2016 a few weekends ago. While other places were just starting to defrost – or worse, getting even MORE snow! – the Sunshine State lived up to its name in February.

I was trying to think of what kind of cake to make when it hit me: s’mores!

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There are times where I am all about making complex  recipes from scratch, and then there are times I take more of a “Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee” type of approach. This is the latter.

I’m all about doctoring up a boxed cake mix to get it to taste more homemade. So this cake recipe was made with a box of chocolate cake mix. I added a splash of milk to the batter as a little something extra – it gives it just a little more personality!

Besides the chocolate cake itself, what really gives this s’mores cake some ‘oomph’ is the Hershey’s chocolate frosting & Biscoff cookie butter.

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That’s right, cookie butter! I finally had an excuse to buy some – I loveeeee Biscoff cookies!

I know it’s not the same thing as graham crackers – but trust me on this one. It’s got that yummy cookie flavor & goes oh so well with the chocolate and marshmallow! So this cake has cookie butter in the center & piped around the bottom.

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On top there’s crushed graham crackers, Hershey’s chocolate pieces, & mini marshmallows.

Full disclosure: I don’t have one of those fancy kitchen torches, so I used a lighter to toast these little marshmallows!

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The mini marshmallows alone don’t give this cake enough of a s’mores feel. I recommend serving it with a dollop of marshmallow fluff (not pictured – the cake, once served, went pretty quickly!)

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I’m so blessed to have family & friends to share cakes like this with – so I don’t eat the whole thing!

Easter Cake

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday!

Easter came early this year, which happens from time to time since its date is the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring.

Maybe that’s why this year Lent has seemed a little less Jesus-y for me than in years prior. We just celebrated Christmas & here is Easter already.

Nonetheless, just like Christmas, Jesus is the reason for the season.

My coworker is throwing her annual Easter picnic & egg hunt. Last year I made a bunny cake & brought my niece with me to the egg hunt. It was a lot of fun.

This year I am so over all the bunnies.

Easter isn’t about bunnies & egg hunts. It isn’t even about family & good food. It’s about Jesus.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

With that being said, Easter is a celebration! Up from the grave he arose! So it should be bright & fun 🙂

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I hope I captured that spirit in this cake.

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Funfetti cake with crushed M&Ms in the center, cream cheese frosting & malted eggs for decor.

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Easter should be fun, especially for children. But it’s that cross in the center that is the most important piece of this whole weekend.

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Happy Easter! He is risen, indeed!

Game Day Cookie Truffles

Tomorrow is Super Bowl 50!

We are going to a party at a friend’s house & of course we can’t show up empty handed!

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Last year I made these football cupcakes, so I wanted to do something a little different.

Oreo cookie truffles have been all over my newsfeed recently. These are not oreo truffles – but they’re pretty close & SUPER tasty!

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I had a box of chocolate graham crackers, so I decided to use it. The rest is pretty standard for any cookie truffle. Butterfinger is not a main flavor in the finished truffle, but every couple bites you get a nice peanut buttery crunch!

Using the food processor I pulsed the crackers and butterfingers until finely crumbled & poured into my mixer bowl. Then I added room temperature softened cream cheese & vanilla frosting. Using the paddle attachment, I stirred the ingredients until it was the consistency of a stiff dough.

My husband & I then shaped the ‘dough’ into little footballs on parchment paper & let them chill in the fridge. I love parchment paper so much, it’s so useful!

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I melted the chocolate chips & coated the little footballs. If you’re using a microwave, like I did, don’t melt all the chocolate at once & remember to stir often. I coated all the truffles & then put them in the fridge for a few minutes. Once the chocolate was set, I piped on the laces.

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Tada!

These are very rich & delicious! I can’t wait to share with friends tomorrow.

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Go sports!

Game Day Cookie Truffles

Makes about 4 dozen truffles

  • 1 box chocolate graham crackers
  • 1 package cream cheese, softened & at room temperature
  • 2 Butterfinger candies
  • 1/2 cup vanilla frosting, plus more for piping
  • 12oz semi sweet chocolate chips
  1. Use a food processor to finely crumble graham crackers & butterfinger candies (may take several batches depending on food processor capacity). Transfer to mixer bowl.
  2. Add room temperature cream cheese & vanilla frosting. Using paddle attachment, mix on low speed until consistency is like that of a stiff dough. Spoon about a tablespoon worth of dough at at time onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper & shape into footballs. Chill in refrigerator at least 10 minutes.
  3. Melt chocolate chips & coat football truffles. Allow to set in refrigerator before piping laces with vanilla frosting.
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