Dark Chocolate Mint Ovation Brownies

It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve made something really chocolaty and rich to share here on my blog.  Since I feel a wee bit irresponsible for not making more chocolate goodies for you, I’m making it up to you by sharing my newest chocolate brownie creation.

If you like the combination of mint and chocolate together then stick around.  These brownies (in my opinion) have the perfect texture; cake like and fudgy.  And the flavor is delicious – and that’s coming from someone who would normally prefer peanut butter to mint most any day of the week. 

These brownies will surely fit perfectly in your holiday cookie gift boxes this year.  If you don’t make cookie boxes, but are expecting to entertain guests this holiday season, then serve these up with a scoop of French Vanilla Ice cream and drizzle a little hot fudge on top – they’ll be a hit!

Instead of using mint chocolate chips in these brownies, I used Ovation Dark Mint Filled Break-A-Part candy.  These scrumptious candies come in the shape of an orange and they break apart into 20 pieces.  They also come in a variety of other unique flavors so you can really get creative when you bake using these.

Dark Chocolate Mint Ovation Brownies

1/2 c. margarine, melted

1 c. granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 c. dark chocolate mini chips, melted

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. baking cocoa

3/4 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. chopped Dark Chocolate Mint Ovation Candy, (1/2 c. for the batter and 1/2 c. for the topping)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 8”x8” glass baking pan.

In a large bowl, add margarine, sugar, eggs, an melted chocolate dark mini chips; mix thoroughly.  Add baking powder, salt, cocoa, and flour.  Mix all ingredients together until blended.  Fold in 1/2 c. of chopped Ovation candy. 

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the pan of brownies.  Remove brownies from oven and immediately sprinkle remaining 1/2 c. of chopped Ovation candy on top.  Cool thoroughly before cutting.

Ovation Break-A-Parts also come in Milk Chocolate Raspberry, Almond, Pumpkin Spice, Orange, and Key Lime, and Dark Chocolate Orange.  Which flavor would you pick to bake with?

Candy provided by SweetWorks Candy.  I was not compensated for this post and the opinions are my own.

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Thanksgiving Day Favors

Although I’m oddly fixated on making Christmas cookies, decorations, and gifts right now, I had to throw myself in full throttle reverse to make sure I stopped and focused on Thanksgiving.  After all, it is fast approaching.  I know, can you believe it?  Honestly, where does the time go?

Over the years, I’ve gotten in the habit of making little favors or place cards to place in front of each place setting on the Thanksgiving dinner table.  These little decorations are far from sophisticated, but they are always brightly colored and fun, and nearly everyone remembers to take theirs home with them. 

Here is a quick look at some of my past projects.  Check out my 2011project here.

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This year I decided to make favors that I’m sure that no one will leave behind.  If they do forget and leave them behind, I’m just warning them now, it’s fair game!

These little foiled turkeys are actually disguised Niagara Chocolates – 100% all natural goodness.  If you haven’t had Niagara Chocolates then you MUST try them.  They are insanely delicious!  What else would you expect from a chocolate that has been in production for over 50 years?  If you’re like me, and you’re thinking ahead towards Christmas, make sure you check out all of Niagara’s other delicious holiday themed chocolates too.

Although these cute little guys came with gift tags already attached to them, I took them off, taped them to the bottom of their feet, and made my own personalized tag for each turkey.  Why?  Because I enjoy fiddling in my craft room. 

These tags are easy to make.  If you’re looking for a quick evening, or Sunday afternoon project, this fits the bill.   Or, hand the project over to your kids –  I’m sure they would love to help. 

Simply cut out or purchase some plain gift tags (I used my Cricut), stamp a cute Thanksgiving Day theme or word on them, glue on a little rick rack, string a colorful ribbon through them, and that’s it.  It’s as simple as eating this whole chocolate turkey in one setting.

Do you make favors for your dinner guests?  What’s your Thanksgiving Day tradition?

The chocolates for this post were provided by SweetWorks Candy.  I was not compensated for my work, and the opinions are sincerely my own.

Treat Your Ghouls with Easy to Make Halloween Goody Bags

This weekend I made some trick or treat goody bags that I’m going to surprise some little ghouls that I know with.

I used my Cricut to cut out the gift tags, and I used my Halloween stamps to decorate both the bags and the tags.  I added a little orange ribbon as a finishing touch.

Once the bags were decorated, I filled them with Spooky Eyes Wrapped Gumballs and Sixlets from SweetWorks Candy

It was a little hard slipping the candy past this guy, but I managed, and it was well worth the risk!  

What kind of candy are you passing out this year for Halloween?

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Triple Chocolate Halloween Bark

When I was a kid, my sister and I would disguise ourselves in our annual Halloween costumes (on Halloween) and we’d join the throng of other kids in our small town for a night of trick or treating.  Our goal was to fill our big orange plastic pumpkins with as much candy as we possibly could. We usually didn’t have much trouble doing that either.  After a final stop at the fire hall for a cup of cider and a doughnut, we’d head home to sort the candy we had scored that evening.  Once everything was sorted; the trading began.  She had her favorite candy and I had mine.  It only seemed logical to negotiate for more of what each of us really wanted. 

Once the negotiating was done, and we’d eaten enough sugar to keep us fueled for the next few days to come, I’d stash my candy away for safe keeping.  My sister say’s I would have saved my candy until Easter, but we’ll never know that because after she ate all of her candy, she’d find my stash and eat that too.  So much for all that negotiating… 

My daughter and I recently got together to make this Triple Chocolate Halloween Bark.  It is one of the easiest Halloween treats that you can make, and it looks impressive.  If you can chop, melt, and pour, you’ve got it made in the shade. 

Triple Chocolate Halloween Bark

1/2 c. milk chocolate chips

1/2 c. dark chocolate chips

1/2 c. white chocolate candy wafers

1/2 c. (lime green, black and orange) Celebrations Sixlets, chopped

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Measure chocolate chips into separate glass bowls.  Microwave one at a time – for about 1 minute each.  Stir completely, and pour onto prepared cookie sheet into thirds.  Repeat until all chocolate has been melted and poured onto cookie sheet.  With a toothpick, swirl the chocolate together.  Sprinkle the chopped Celebrations Sixlets on top.  Place in refrigerator until chocolate has hardened.  Cut into desired sizes.  Store in refrigerator.

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Did you stash your candy as a kid?  Or did you raid your siblings stash?

Thanks to SweetWorks Candy for providing the Celebration Sixlets and the adorable Halloween pumpkin gumballs featured in this post.

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The Chocoholic Cupcake: Another Valentine’s Day Dessert

A couple weeks ago I announced that I was going to make a few  treats in an effort to pick the perfect Valentine’s Day dessert.   The only requirement for the dessert; it must have chocolate in it.  And as you might imagine, this is becoming a harder chore than I originally thought.

The first recipe I presented was for Strawberry Kiss Cheesecakes.  They definitely hit the spot, and after making them I had to wonder if I would be able to top them.

Well… now I present the Chocoholic Cupcake.  The cake is dark, moist, and less sweet than a lot of chocolate cupcake recipes.  I like to top them off with either  vanilla or chocolate buttercream frosting which is sweet and buttery and compliments the dark chocolate cake.

I have to say that it is nearly impossible to choose a favorite between the two desserts I’ve made so far.  I have at least one more dessert to make before picking a favorite, but now I’m wondering if we should celebrate Valentine’s Day with just desserts and wine!

Chocoholic Cupcakes

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1 c. brown sugar, not packed

2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 c. olive oil

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 c. cocoa

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. skim milk

1 c. boiling water

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Makes 1 1/2 dozen cupcakes. 

Prepare cupcake tins by placing paper liners in each cup.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, add sugars, eggs, skim milk, and oil.  With an electric mixer beat ingredients for 2 minutes.  Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa; mix again until completely blended.  Add boiling water and flour; beat until smooth and creamy.  Stir in vanilla extract. 

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean.

Cool completely before frosting.

I couldn’t resist decorating these cupcakes with bright gumballs from SweetWorks candy, along with Hershey’s creamy milk chocolate hearts and kisses.  Both are so festive!

And drum roll please…. 

TheMaryJaneFam blog, Raising Jane Journal, featured photos of my one and only Pink Paradise today.  They also shared a link to my Tin Can Tourist post as well.   I feel so honored!  If you have a minute,  please hop on over there and check it out.

Also, an important reminder all you glampers  –  the International Glamping Weekend is scheduled for  June 1-2, 2013.  Follow the link above to find out more.

I shared this recipe at:

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Lemon Melt Away Cookies

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With a few lemons rolling around in bottom of  the refrigerator drawer that needed to be used up, and the urge to bake, I did a quick search on-line for something lemony to make.  Thinking along the lines of cookies actually helped narrow my search down.

I found a lot of recipes for lemon cookies that called for a lemon cake mix but I didn’t have such great luck finding a lemon cookie recipe made from scratch.   I eventually found a delicious looking recipe from Landolakes.com that fit the bill – with a few changes of course.

I transformed their cookie, described as “crisp and tender”, into a soft and tender cookie – just the way I like them.  I also made a vanilla buttercream frosting for my batch of cookies, whereas they made a lemon glaze for theirs.

My version of the recipe appears below. Follow the Land O Lakes link above to find their recipe and check out their cool website.  It’s one you’ll want to add to your favorites!  (*This is just my opinion – Land O Lakes did not compensate me to say this.)

Lemon Melt Away Cookies

1/2 c. margarine, softened

1/2 c. butter, softened

1 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. powdered sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1/3 c. lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)

1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

1 tsp. baking soda

1/8 tsp. salt

3 c. all-purpose flour

Line 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, margarine, eggs, sugar, and lemon juice.  Add cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; mix thoroughly.  Add flour one cup at a time mixing well between each addition. 

Drop by spoonful on prepared cookie sheets about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 6 minutes, or until cookie is a light golden color.  Remove from oven an allow to cool before transferring to a cooling rack. 

Frost when completely cool.  For a hint of color I topped mine with Pearls.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

2 tbsp. butter, softened

1 tsp. clear vanilla extract

2 c. powdered sugar

1-2 drops of milk

In a large bowl, add softened butter and vanilla; mix thoroughly.  Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time.  Add a drop or two of milk to get frosting to your desired consistency while mixing.  Beat until smooth and creamy.

I’ve had several people ask me about getting your frosting to the right  consistency.  Here are a few of my tips. 

1. Always soften the butter before mixing up a frosting, but don’t melt the butter.  Melting is bad! 

2. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time; beat thoroughly after adding.  If the frosting seems to stiff, add a drop of milk to thin it, but be careful not to add too much milk at once.  A little milk goes a long ways.

3. Add vanilla extract before adding and mixing final cup of powdered sugar.

4.  Beat for 1-2 minutes for best results. 

5.  If the texture isn’t to your liking carefully add a bit more sugar, or a bit more milk – which ever you need to get to your desired consistency.

These cookies will melt in your mouth.  You will hear oohs and ahs from the lucky tasters of them!

Cupcakes, Candy, SweetWorks, Giveaway!

There are three things you should know about me, and each has to do with candy.

1.)  I loved the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  And that’s how I envision every candy factory being run.  Yes, even today!

2.)  My sister and I were once mad scientists and put Pop Rocks candy in a bottle of soda while we were sitting in our dad’s car.  Whoa!

3.   I’ve conspired with SweetWorks candy to show you some of their awesome new products, and in return they are sponsoring a GREAT giveaway here at The Joy of Caking!

Don’t you just love it when I tell you my secrets?  Now, let me tell you a few of SweetWork’s. secrets.

SweetWorks, Inc. is a candy manufacturer and distributor located in Buffalo, NY.  Their brands include Sixlets, Oak Leaf, Niagara Chocolate, Ovation, and Celebration candies.  And if that’s not enough, they are the parent company for Florida Tropic and Bubble King.  This corporation produces some of the most popular candies out there.

Since I typically blog about baking it only seemed appropriate to share SweetWorks Celebration line with you.

The Celebration line offers an unbelievable variety of beautifully colored Pearls (smaller, harder) candy coated balls that taste similar to a Jawbreaker in flavor, and Sixlets (larger, softer) candy coated balls that have a sweet chocolaty flavor.  Both are gluten-free.

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To show you just what you can do with the Pearls and Sixlets I started out by making lemon cupcakes with a white vanilla buttercream icing.  I’ll share that recipe with you later this week – I promise. 

I decided to focus on three decorating themes to give a sense of just how useful these decorations are.   I am sharing my finished cupcakes in the form of three virtual parties!

The first party is….

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Both the brightly colored and shimmering Pearls and Sixlets turned my simple lemon cupcakes into a cute and inviting baby shower theme. 

The second party is…

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I knew immediately when I saw the shimmering gold and silver Pearls and Sixlets that I was headed toward a wedding shower theme.  I only wished I knew someone who was getting married soon so I could show these off in the real world and not just the virtual world.  All I can say is elegant!

And the last party…

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What is a birthday without candles?  A great one in my estimation…   Especially when they illuminate the whole room and the fire department has to be on standby!  Again, these bright and shimmering Pearls and Sixlets offer an eye catching and festive birthday celebration. 

Now, a word about my experience with Celebrations candy.

Neither the Pearls or Sixlets melt in your hands when you handle them and they’re durable. The colors also didn’t run when they came in contact with the frosting. I actually frosted my cupcakes the night before and left them out at room temperature before taking my pictures the following morning.

I would offer a word of caution where the Pearls are concerned.  They are considerably harder than the Sixlets and they might be too hard for small children or people with dental concerns.  The Sixlets make the perfect alternative in those situations.

I have had so much fun working with SweetWorks and their candies. And now it’s your turn to have some fun!

SweetWorks is offering an assortment of eleven bottles of Pearls and Sixlets to one lucky TJOC reader.

This contest is now closed.  The winner is CindyB – congratulations!

To enter: Leave a comment on this post telling me which of the three virtual parties you liked the best.

For additional entries:

Follow SweetWorks on Pinterest, Facebook, and/or Twitter

Follow The Joy of Caking by Email, RSS, Pinterest, and/or Twitter.

Pin on Pinterest

Share on Facebook (with the link to this post)

Tweet this on Twitter:  Win Celebration Candy from @SweetWorks and @thejoyofcaking (with the link to this post).

Make sure you leave a comment for each of the actions you take in order to qualify for additional entries.  Eleven possible entries per person!

This contest is open to US Residents only.  The giveaway will close and the winner will be randomly selected on April 6th. 

Disclosure:  SweetWorks provided the candies for this post.  All opinions are my own.