Tag Archives: dessert

Salted Caramel & Chocolate Samoa Macaroons, Recipe

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I had big plans for today: up early, nice run around Fresh Pond, errands, lunching, some cooking… But then last night I decided that dancing was in order and ended up heading to TT the Bears for Heroes – their awesome 80s dance night. Needless to say I didn’t get out of bed at 7am as anticipated and instead snoozed until about noon. When I did finally get up the last thing I wanted to do was go for a run or be productive in any way. After a few hours of mind-numbing TV I scavenged through my cabinets and found the ingredients to make Salted Caramel and Chocolate Macaroons. Thank god as this is just what I needed to get through the day.

These are quick, easy, and delicious. They taste like Samoas / Caramel Delites without the shortbread cookie. As Depeche Mode said, I just can’t get enough.macaroon

Salted Caramel & Chocolate Samoa Macaroons

from The Craving Chronicles
Makes about 24 cookies

Egg whites vary in size, so if you find your cookie mixture too runny and your cookies are forming puddles around the bottom as they bake, don’t be afraid to add a little bit more coconut and/or flour to firm things up. Keeping the mix cool will help prevent that too. The coconut oil is optional but helps to thin the chocolate some for easier dipping and drizzling.

Ingredients

4 large egg whites
12 ounces sweetened flaked coconut, divided
7 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon salt

6 – 8 ounces dark (at least 60%) chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp coconut oil (optional)

Directions

Whisk egg whites in a large bowl. Add half of coconut and flour, stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until combined. Set aside remaining coconut.

In a 4-quart or larger saucepan over medium-high heat, combine butter and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until caramel reaches a rich coppery color. (Caramel may looks separated with a layer of butter on top. Don’t panic.) Remove from heat. Carefully add reserved coconut and salt (Caution: may spatter!), and stir to combine. Cool about 5 minutes.

Add about 1/4 cup of the caramel mixture to the egg white mixture at a time, stirring vigorously to combine and prevent cooking the eggs. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Mixture should be wet but not too loose or runny.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet or two with parchment or Silpats. Scoop cookies between 1 1/2 and 2 tablespoon size, and place about 1-inch apart on baking sheet. (Return any remaining mixture to the fridge until read to bake.) Bake at 350°F for 12-14 mins, or until bottoms are golden brown. Cool about 2 minutes on the pan, then move to wire racks to cool completely.

Place chocolate and (optional) coconut oil in a small, microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30 second intervals on High until chocolate starts to melt. Continue heating in 15 second intervals, stirring well between each, until melted and smooth. Dip cookie bottoms in chocolate and set on wax paper. Drizzle remaining chocolate over top. Allow chocolate to harden at room temperature, or pop cookies in the fridge to speed the process up.

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Oak Long Bar and Kitchen, Back Bay

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Where: Oak Long Bar and Kitchen – 138 St James Ave, Boston, MA

One of the many benefits of my day job is that I get to work with the Fairmont Copley Plaza on our annual gala. The gala is a blast to plan and has gone off without a hitch (or at least appeared to have which is the important part) and looked beautiful the past two years. This year my contact at the Fairmont Copley suggested I meet her for lunch at the hotel restaurant, the Oak Long Bar and Kitchen, to discuss set up and the details of the event. I quickly agreed as this is so my kind of working lunch. I hadn’t been to the restaurant since it was the Oak Room and had only been for drinks so it was like trying a completely new restaurant. Well, it basically is.

Lunch was not only very productive but also very delicious. I had the Organic Mushroom Flatbread with roasted garlic, wild arugula and a fried egg. I don’t know why all pizzas / flatbreads aren’t served with a fried egg, such a good addition. It reminds me of being in France, they throw a fried egg on everything- pizzas, burgers, fries… you name it. The mushroom flatbread was an excellent choice – salty, cheesy, light, and the crust gave good bite. I’ve had a soft spot for anything mushroom since I was a little girl and, in fact, refused to eat anything other than toast and mushrooms for a good year which must have driven my parents nuts.

I didn’t think I would be able to finish my flatbread as its generously portioned but it wasn’t as heavy as I had thought it would be (or I am pretending it wasn’t so I don’t feel like such a fattie) so I did. Bravo, me.

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[Btw, no, that’s not a wine glass stem you see in the photo. I would never drink during a working lunch, that would be totally inappropriate and unprofessional. I just like drinking my ice tea in a wine glass….]

My lunch date insisted I try the whoopie pie for dessert so I, reluctantly (ha!), agreed to split it with her. It was an ice cream whoopie pie, chocolate on chocolate. You all know I love my chocolate but I am actually not a fan of chocolate ice cream for whatever reason so had wished it was vanilla (or caramel? or anything but chocolate really) but I can see how anyone else would have been drooling over this. I do love the side of milk- very cute!

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Overall, it was a lovely lunch with great service. The menu is nice and short and everything delivered on its promises of tastiness. Can we host another event at the Fairmont Copley, please?

How did Oak Long Bar and Kitchen measure up? 4 Spoons!

Oak Long Bar + Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Giulia, Harvard / Porter Sq

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Where: Giulia– 1682 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138

After reading about Giulia on one of those “hot new restaurant” lists, I quickly made a reservation to go with OZT. Excellent. I had a week to pine over the menu and figure out a tactic to convince her to share a few different items with me, which it turned out was just waiting for her to make the suggestion. Great minds think alike.

Giulia is conveniently (for me) located between Porter and Harvard Squares in the old space where Rafiki briefly lived. The layout is similar but with an additional built up seating area (watch your step), open kitchen, large pasta / dining table at the back and more rustic charm. Our server told us that if you walk by Giulia during the day around 3:30 you can peek in and see the chef making all the pasta from scratch on this big table. Not sure I could resist joining if I ever caught that.

We were quickly seated and greeted by our server. He poured over the menu describing half of the menu items in great detail while we stifled our giggles at explanations of fairly well known items like “lardo”.

I still don’t understand this trend in restaurants to have the server describe each item on the menu in flowery detail. One or two items to point out fine, but if you don’t want me to read the menu for myself don’t give me one! I could have taken a nap in the time he took to finish!” – OZT.

After we were left to look over the menu, he came back and told us that he “didn’t want to previously tell us about this other item but is now ready to…”. Um, why didn’t he want to tell us before?! Did he think we weren’t worthy of knowing? Was he watching us to make sure we were sophisticated enough? Why was it some big secret?

We started with the Bruschetta with tuscan kale with house made ricotta and chilies. The bruschetta looked gorgeous with the deep green kale and bright white ricotta with little specks of chili oil. Sadly, the Bruschetta didn’t taste as vibrant as it looked – it was pretty bland. We couldn’t taste any heat, zing, or seasoning from the chilies. Nada. Salt helped a little but the Bruschetta were definitely missing something.

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We then shared two pasta plates – the lobster agnolotti (umbrian truffles, chives and lobster brodetto) and pappardelle with wild boar (black trumpet, juniper and aged parmigiano), the latter being highly recommended by our server.

The lobster agnolotti, which were like little tortellinis, came out in a delicate broth and looked divine. I couldn’t wait to get in there so I started with this one before we did the midway swap. I was pretty disappointed to find that the lobster flavor was very, very mild. I likely wouldn’t have been able to distinguish the lobster in the pasta at all had it not been for the small pieces (2) of shell I came across.

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We did the midway swap, and as soon my OZT took a bite of the lobster agnolotti she said that what she had started with, the pappardelle with wild boar, was definitely better. I couldn’t agree more. The pappardelle with wild boar was phenomenal. The pasta was perfect, the sauce rich but not heavy and boar salty and a touch gamey. Delicious. I would like another whole plate of that, please. I polished that off and then dug into the bread to get the rest of the sauce off the plate. This dish made up for the first two.

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I wasn’t too bothered with getting dessert but why not? Boy am I glad we did. We split the Panna Cotta with madagascar vanilla bean, and poached quince and it was well worth the calories. The panna cotta was nice and firm and the vanilla tickled my senses before I could even take a bite. The quince, which I realize I know far too little about, was light and a perfect contrast to the dessert.

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Overall, I’d go back to Giulia for a drink at the bar but I don’t think I would go back for dinner, at least not until they settle in and for a few months and work out a few of their kinks. Half of our meal was fantastic but the other half was lacking in flavor. The wait staff were a little too attentive which may just be growing pains, but you really don’t have to reach in front of us mid conversation to fill up our water glasses after each sip. I really wanted to love you, Giulia, but you didn’t give me much of a chance.

How did Giulia measure up? 2.5 Spoons

Doris Greenspan’s French Pear Tart, Recipe Link

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There really is something about the French and their pastries. The professionally done ones in shops are always so delicate and like little works of art and you can barely stand to eat (I said barely). Then you have the home bakers who seems to just throw something together effortlessly, pop it in the oven, and pull something gorgeous and inspired out. I’m certainly no pastry expert but I like to think that with Famille Jolivet blood running through my veins I can claim a smidge of that talent but I have a long way to go.

When I bought my first tart pan a few years ago I experimented with numerous different kinds of crusts and fillers before finding Dorie Greenspan’s French Pear Tart recipe. The recipe looked complicated, long, and intimidating but the results looked well worth it. I’ve since made it a few times and each time time its been absolutely fantastic. There is a lot of effort that goes into into this tart but it will show in the final product, I promise you. I don’t have any changes or edits to Dorie’s recipe, she has far perfected it.

French Pear Tart after cooling but pre-powdered sugar.

Homemade Oreos, Recipe

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Find me a man who doesn’t like Oreos and I will show you a man lacking a soul. Everyone loves Oreos. If you don’t, you should. Don’t be soulless.

A couple of weeks ago we hosted a company wide lunch for a colleague of mine who was leaving our Cambridge office to work remotely from her hometown in California. She makes up 50% of the most rocking kick ass events team out there so I wanted to be able to bring a little something homemade to the party. Cake wouldn’t work as that’s impossible to carry on the subway. Same with cupcakes. I threw around a bunch of other ideas – truffles, macarons, shortbread… but then I saw these homemade Oreos and had to try them. I doubled the batch to have enough for all 40+ people and had just enough leftover for a couple coworkers who missed the party the next day (as well as breakfast for myself). They are as close as one can come to an Oreo being homemade. The difference I would assume to be in the ingredients – you can pronounce all of mine.

I’ve posted the recipe for you below so go grab a glass of cold milk and start dunking.

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Homemade Oreos
From Smitten Kitchen

Makes 25 to 30 sandwich cookies

For the chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar [see recipe note]
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.

In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.

Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.

To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.

To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream. Dunk generously in a large glass of milk.

Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies, Recipe

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A couple weeks ago I dragged my dad (well, technically he drove me) to Costco when he was in town as I wanted to buy some pistachios to make Pistachio French Macarons from a recipe my friend Louise has given me. I bought a ginormous bag of these pistachios and then, of course, never made the french macarons. Instead I was just making my way through the bag one handful at a time. Enough was enough, I had to make something with them. Not having the patience to make french macarons I decided some quick and easy cookies would have to do.

I found this recipe for Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies and since I had all the ingredients already decided to whip up a batch. The recipe promises to be quick and tasty, and they were both. The one warning I would give you if you are going to follow the original recipe is that it calls for a tablespoon of vanilla extract which is A LOT. I was going to comment on her post to ask if that was a typo but comments were closed (why? no idea) so I had to wing it. It had to be a mistake so I went with a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon, thank goodness. These cookies are plenty sweet as are that I bet they would be ruined with 3 times the vanilla. Yikes.

Anyways, I’m glad I finally got to use up some of my pistachios and this was a great way to do so. Now if I can only stop eating handfuls of cookies…

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Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Felicia Sullivan

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup cane (white) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped pistachios (unsalted, not the red variety)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.

Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk into the wet mixture until light and creamy. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just blended. With a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips and pistachios. Drop a tablespoon of dough onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. As you may size your cookies differently, I would advise you to keep checking, as no one wants a crumbly mess of a cookie. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Try not to eat all the cookies before taking them into work to unload.

Nutella Mousse, Recipe

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Happy 100th post, Five Spoons! A big thanks to everyone who has been so supportive over these last few months, I am having a blast with this little project and hope you are all enjoying my recipes and reviews.

What better way to celebrate 100 posts than with nutella, right? I made this mousse a few days ago when an old friend was in town visiting. It was a nice light finish to our roast beef and leek and potato puree dinner. I love this recipe as you have to make it in advance. Its also is, obviously, served chilled so you don’t have to spend any time fussing in the kitchen when you should be enjoying yourself with your guests. The mousse was really light and fluffy and not overly nutella-y (although that’s never a bad thing). The oreo crunch at the bottom gave it nice texture as well. Definitely an easy recipe I’ll be keeping on file to make again and again.

Nutella Mousse
Adapted from Wishful Chef

2 Oreo cookies, without cream center
1/8 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup Nutella
1/2 cup cream, whipped
ground cookies and almonds for garnish

Grind slivered almonds in a food processor until almost like powder and reserve. Do the same for the chocolate cookies. Place cookie crumbs on the bottom of 2 small glasses or bowls. Save a little extra of the ground almonds and cookies for garnish at the end. In a small bowl, whip the cream until you get soft peaks. Mix both the ground almonds and Nutella, then whip the whipped cream and almond Nutella mixture together until smooth and well blended. Place mixture on top of cookie crumbs and sprinkle some crumbs on top. Chill in fridge until ready to eat.

Total Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

Galette des Rois, Recipe

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One of my favorite memories growing up was celebrating Epiphany with my mother’s side of the family in Paris. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you how we celebrated other than sitting around the table sharing a Galette des Rois. These cakes are sold in every bakery in France leading up to and around the first Sunday of January. Unfortunately they are close to impossible to finding here in Boston so you’ll just have to make your own.

A Galette des Rois is a cake made of flaky puff pastry layers with a dense center of frangipane. The south and north of France have slightly different versions with the south adding candied fruits, so I am sticking to what I know of from living in Paris.

Adapted from Wiki: Tradition holds that the cake is “to draw the kings” to the Epiphany. A figurine, la fève, is hidden in the cake and the person who finds the trinket in their slice becomes king for the day and will have to offer the next cake. Originally, la fève was literally a broad bean (fève), but it was replaced in 1870 by a variety of figurines out of porcelain. A paper crown is included with the cake to crown the “king” who finds the fève in their piece of cake. To ensure a random distribution of the cake shares, it is traditional for the youngest person to place themselves under the table and name the recipient of the share which is indicated by the person in charge of the service.

I chose this recipe from All Recipes and it came out very similar to as I remember. Its a lot of work (especially if you make the almond paste from scratch as I did) but well worth the efforts for the flood of memories.

Galette des Rois

Ingredients
1/4 cup almond paste
1/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1 (17.25 ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 dry kidney bean
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Directions
Place the almond paste into a food processor or blender with about half of the sugar, and process until well blended. Add the butter and remaining sugar using and process until smooth, then blend in 1 egg, vanilla extract, almond extract, flour and salt. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Butter a baking sheet or line with parchment paper, and set aside.

Roll out one sheet of the puff pastry into an 11 inch square. Keep the pastry cool, do not knead or stretch. Use a large pie plate, cake pan or frying pan to trace an 11 inch circle onto the dough using the tip of a small knife. Place the circle of pastry onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the second sheet of pastry. Refrigerate both sheets.

Mound the almond filling onto the center of the pastry that is on the baking sheet. Leave about 1 1/2 inch margin at the edges. Press the bean or feve down into the filling. Place the second sheet of pastry on top, and press down the edges to seal. Beat the remaining egg with a fork, and lightly brush onto the top of the galette. Use a knife to make a criss cross pattern in the egg wash, and then prick several small slits in the top to vent steam while baking.

Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Do not open the oven until the time is up, as the pastry will not fully puff. Remove from the oven, and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Return to the oven, and cook for an additional 12 to 15 minutes, or until the top is a deep golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Lay a golden paper crown gently on top of the cake. This will be used to crown the person who finds the bean or feve. Serve warm or cold. Make sure to tell everyone about the bean or feve.

It was probably wise for my grandparents to buy numerous Galettes so that there could be numerous kings.

Praline Topped Brownies, Recipe

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I was making dinner for a friend this past Sunday and wanted, naturally, to include dessert but had a hell of a time trying to decide what to make. I didn’t want something too fussy that I would have to make during the evening as I wanted to enjoy being able to hang out. I didn’t want something common like a chocolate chip cookie as I wanted it to feel a little more special. I didn’t want something bulky or untransportable as I wanted to be able to get rid of the leftovers. Brownies! Yes. But not your everyday run of the mill brownies, they needed to have something special to them. Something to make them feel like dessert and not something you just add to your order at your local coffee shop. I think I got it… Praline Topped Brownies.

I made a note about the frosting below for you but, basically, the frosting will look very different whether or not you have patience. Either is totally fine and equally delicious, it’s just what you prefer esthetically. I think I prefer the cooled version myself although I have little patience when assembling desserts as I just want to eat them as quickly as possible.

The brownie recipe alone was actually really good (I ate three before I even made the frosting – not particularly proud of that). They were very chocolately and chewy and soft in the middle, just the way I like them. We enjoyed one after dinner and, turns out, they make a great mid-morning snack as well. They also transported well so that I could rid of my house of them as not to eat any more.

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Adapted from You Made That (modified from Delish.com)

Ingredients:
1 cup butter
4 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups sugar
1/4 cups light brown sugar
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Praline Topping
5 tablespoons margarine or butter
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 T vanilla extract + 2 T water
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 13- by 9-inch metal bakingpan with foil; grease or spray foil with cooking spray.

In heavy 2 quart saucepan over low heat, melt margarine or butter and chocolates, stirring frequently. Remove saucepan from heat.

Transfer chocolate mixture to a large bowl and beat in sugars, then eggs, until well blended. Stir in vanilla, salt, then flour just until blended. Gently stir in chocolate chips until just blended. Spread batter evenly in pan.

Bake brownies 35 min. (toothpick inserted in brownies will not come out clean). Cool brownies in pan on wire rack. If not using brownies within 1 day, cover cooled brownies with foil and refrigerate or freeze for longer storage.

20120310-113814.jpgIn 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, heat butter and brown sugar, until mixture melts and bubbles, about 5 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat. With wire whisk, beat in vanilla and water, then confectioners’ sugar, until mixture is smooth.

*Side Note: You Have two options here, both equally delicious. Option 1) Glaze your brownies as the frosting is still warm and let it drip down the sides or Option 2) Wait, somewhat patiently, for your frosting to cool to room temperature and then frost your brownies creating more of a traditional cake look / feel. Personally, I did one (I impatiently wanted one stat) and the the other which I think is the way to go.

With metal spatula, spread frosting on cooled brownies; sprinkle with pecans. To cut brownies lift the foil out of pan and cut even squares.

Cheesecake Pops, Recipe

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Last year Cake Pops took the world by storm! This was a bandwagon I had to get on.

I had just made a cheesecake that barely had a dent in it when I was invited to a dinner party so thought this was the perfect opportunity to try these cute little pops out.They are easy to make and look really impressive (to make it even easier, just buy a pre-made cheesecake at your grocery store). You can serve them in little narrow short containers, like shot glasses, or upside down in pretty cupcake liners, which is a lot easier for transporting. You can also be your own chef here by dipping and rolling them into the toppings of your choice. White chocolate with chopped pistachios and dried cranberries, dark chocolate with candied ginger, milk chocolate with sprinkles – the possibilities are endless (and delicious)!

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Cheesecake Pops

I used leftover cheesecake from this recipe but you can use any recipe or even buy a pre-made cheesecake at your local grocer.

Instructions:
Scoop, avoiding the crust, out balls of cheesecake with an ice cream scoop. Roll out little balls using your hands, about 1 & 1/2 inches round. Insert a popsicle stick into each ball about 3/4 of an inch in (hallway). Freeze until frozen, about 2 hours.

Once cake pops are ready, melt 1 lb semi-sweet chocolate chips with 2 tbsp vegetable shorting in a double boiler over low heat. Remove pops from the freezer and dip them, holding the stick, in the chocolate to cover the entire pop. Gently tap the stick on the edge of the bowl to shake off excess chocolate. Immediately roll chocolate covered pop in crushed nuts (I used almonds and walnuts).

I used an upside down colander to dry my pops (put the sticks in the little holes) but you can dry them in an upright, short, narrow container or even laying down if you don’t have anything (not ideal as then they get a flat side).

These always go quickly at parties so make sure to make plenty!