Will Kill for PB Cups

How about this for a Valentine’s Day treat?

Martha Stewart’s Valentine’s Day Peanut Butter Cups.

Please send some my way??

Holiday Bark, Play With Your Food

Making Holiday Bark is almost more like making art and playing with your food than it is cooking or baking.

When I was younger I used to absolutely love sketching, painting, collaging, sculpting, or any other artsy activity that I could just spend hours completely focused on. I seem to have lost this hobby in the daily grind somewhere after high school, but I still miss it and have hopes and plans to pick it up again someday (though, no day like the present, right?). Making Holiday Bark helps me get my artistic fix, and in delicious, edible form!

marbling holiday bark

Making any kind of bark candy can be as simple or as detailed as you make it. If you have kids, they will probably love attempting to help mix and swirl the chocolate (and get it all over their faces). If you’re setting out trays of food for a Christmas or New Year’s party or would just like something fun to bring to work, this is a very attractive option.

In its simplest form, you can get away with using only two kinds of chocolate and one kind of nut or flavor. No cooking or baking is required, though if you’re really looking to unlock the full flavor of the nuts then you may want to heat them in a shallow pan until warm and fragrant. You can even make bark while waiting for Christmas cookies to come out of the oven.

Basically, when you think you might explode if you have to make one more Christmas cookie – Holiday Bark to the rescue.

And, if I left this part out, it tastes and smells heavenly. Don’t forget to use ingredients that you enjoy and just have fun with it!


Holiday Bark

8 oz white chocolate, chopped
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2.25 oz (or ½ cup) hazelnuts, chopped
2.25 oz (or ½ cup) pecans, chopped

Place chopped white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Place semi-sweet and bittersweet together in another microwave safe bowl. Microwave bowls separately for 10-15 second intervals, stirring thoroughly after each interval until melted. Do this until both bowls contain melted chocolate. (I’ve been told that if I don’t use a double boiler to melt chocolate that I’ll burn it, but I haven’t burned it yet! Don’t worry.)

Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Stir in nuts to the bowl containing semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate. Spread the chocolate and nut mixture on the parchment paper using a rubber spatula. Drop spoonfuls of white chocolate over this, and swirl the chocolates using a fork or skewer (I used a fork because the nuts make it a little tougher to swirl).

Refrigerate for approximately 1 hour until hard. Break bark into large chunks and store in your refrigerator until serving.

Brigadeiro, A Sinfully Sweet Brazilian Candy

I had a friend in high school who moved to the United States from São Paulo, Brazil. One day after school, she took me back to her house and taught me how to make a deliciously sweet and simple Brazilian treat known as brigadeiro.

A brigadeiro is made using cocoa and condensed milk, a thick and sticky blend of milk and sugar that yields some of the most decadent and rich desserts I’ve ever had. It combines all the things that make my ideal candy – smooth, sweet, and full of unadulterated chocolate.

Brigadeiro, thickened - notice the bottom of the pan Brigadeiro, hardened mixture

My friend rolled her brigadeiro in chocolate sprinkles (the most common way) and placed each candy in a tiny paper wrapper. But you can get as creative as you like, incorporating any number of sumptuous outer coatings including coconut, pistachios, almond shavings, powdered sugar, more cocoa, etc.

I tried to make brigadeiro around this time last year and I failed. I lost the recipe my friend gave me (in my defense, it was almost 10 years ago), and I decided to follow a recipe I found online. I had also forgotten most of the instructions, which are actually pivotal in this recipe, and the recipe online gave little guidance.

After deciphering some “how-to” videos in Portuguese, I’m proud to say that I’m back in the brigadeiro-making ring. And just in time, too, because these are absolutely excellent to bring to any kind of holiday party.


Ghost Baker Suggests Holding the Butter:

The Portuguese videos I watched did not use 1 tablespoon of butter, something that many recipes I found online called for. Since my butter-free recipe worked very well and the experiments with butter did not, I did not include butter in the recipe below. If you think butter is a must, I’d love to hear it!

Enjoy, and good luck not eating them all in one day!

Brigadeiro, serving


1 can sweetened, condensed milk (15 oz)
3 tablespoons cocoa, sifted (I used Nestle, because they introduced cocoa powder)
Chocolate sprinkles (and/or coconut, nuts, etc.)

Heat 1 can of sweetened, condensed milk in a small pot on medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Sift in one tablespoon of cocoa at a time (I didn’t use a sifter this time because my sifter was MIA, and you can clearly see little deposits of cocoa in my photos. It still tastes great if you don’t sift it, but you may want to do it to achieve aesthetic perfection).

Use a wooden spoon to combine the cocoa into the condensed milk. Stir, stir and stir some more! Don’t stop stirring or else your chocolate could burn.

After about 5 minutes, you’ll notice the mixture getting thicker. You can tell that it’s done when, while stirring, you are able to see a good bit of the bottom of the pot (see my photos for an example).

Remove from the heat and pour onto a plate. Smooth the mixture out so that there’s a thin layer covering the entire surface. Set this aside, or if you can’t wait – set it in the fridge, for about 15 minutes. The mixture is ready when it’s completely cooled and hardened. Notice in my photo that I’m holding the plate at a 90 degree angle and the mixture hasn’t budged; you should be able to turn the mixture completely upside down without consequence (yep, just like they do Dairy Queen when you order a Blizzard).

In the meantime, ready your chosen toppings. I used chocolate sprinkles and coconut flakes and added these to two separate, small plates.

Using a spoon, scoop up about 1 tablespoon of your hardened mixture. It’s going to be very sticky! Using an additional spoon or very buttered and greased hands, drop it onto your topping and roll it until it’s completely covered and shaped like a ball. Continue scooping, dropping and rolling until you’ve used all your mixture. You may want to store these in mini paper cup wrappers; I just used a plate and covered it with saran wrap. You can try to share with others, but it’s hard!

Many Brazilians actually eat their brigadeiro just straight out of a bowl with a spoon. You can even use the mixture as a topping on ice cream or brownies. So really, you can’t go wrong!