{Almost too easy} Chocolate Mousse

Last week my husband and I had our beloved hour and a half of kid-free time that comes every Thursday, thanks to church youth group.  The plan was to order a pizza (we had already fed the girls a healthy dinner) and watch an episode of Monk on DVD.  I really wanted a chocolate treat as well so I whipped up some yummy chocolate mouse.  Pizza, a movie, and a chocolate dessert… ahh the joys of being an “old” married couple.
(P.S. I took these photos the next day)
I think these would look so beautiful all lined up on a dessert table.  Add a small spoon (like these cute wooden ones from Garnish) and some pretty ribbon and you have a beautiful individual treat.
Now all you need is the recipe…
Here you go…
That’s right… buy the box, add milk, mix… done!
I apologize to those of you a bit disappointed in me!  I do truly love cooking from scratch.  But every now and then I like to have a box of something on hand for super quick treats.  I have no big preference for this brand over any other (although this was very good), it just happened to be what I grabbed at the store recently.  So there you have it… is my reputation ruined in your mind?  Or maybe you like me better than ever!  =) 
Happy mixing! 

Cute Valentine’s Garland and Cookies

Earlier this month I took down the gingerbread cookie garland I had hanging in my kitchen window.  The window was looking a bit bare, so I wanted to make something to dress it up again, but in a Valentine’s theme.  This time I opted for paper hearts, embellished with some buttons, beads and pretty twine.

I been enjoying the new garland over my kitchen window, and this week I had some time to make some cute matching cookies.  Simple shapes and designs, with a fun pop of blue.

For the cookies, I used my favorite sugar cookie recipe (here) and iced them with royal icing (recipe here).

For the garland I used…

Paper hearts (I cut mine out with my Cricut, but you could use a punch, or cut them by hand)

Twine (from The Twinery- I used Maraschino and Pink Sorbet )

Buttons

Wooden beads (I bought a bag of all pink ones from Wal-Mart)

~ Directions ~

Decide on the length of your garland and prepare as many hearts as you need to fill the length.  Attach two or more hearts together (as desired) using any kind of glue or adhesive (I use Tombo adhesive).  String twine through a button and make a bow.  Attach button to prepared hearts using glue dots, or tacky glue.  When you have your hearts dressed as desired with buttons, punch small holes on each side of the hearts (at the top).  String paper hearts and wooden beads along a double thick length of twine.  Tie ends, hang up and enjoy!

Happy Crafting!

Cranberry White Chocolate Bars {Recipe}

This past Christmas I became a bit obsessed with re-creating Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars.  These delicious treats are one of Starbucks most popular holiday desserts.  The Starbucks version consists of a chewy, cake base (similar to a blondie) studded with white chocolate chunks and cranberries, then a delicious cream cheese frosting, topped with more cranberries and a drizzle of white chocolate.  Sounds delicious, right?  This is why I had to learn to make them!

After purchasing two Cranberry Bliss Bars from Starbucks (in the name of research), reading the ingredient list of the original (from Starbucks) and then reading through at least a dozen different recipe claiming to be the “top secret recipe”, I headed to the kitchen and worked up a recipe that I’m really happy with.  I made several batches over Christmas and the bars received rave reviews from all of my “taste-testers”  (the official panel includes my friends, neighbors and my husband’s co-workers).  Now to be fair, the end results of my recipe tests did not create an exact copy of the original Starbucks version.  Although I know this recipe has most all of the same ingredients, the Starbucks version is a bit chewier, and this recipe is a bit more cake-like.  But the flavor is right on.  And everyone who tasted my version said they were as good, if not better than the “original”.

Cranberry White Chocolate Bars

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (slightly softened)

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons fresh orange zest

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon powdered ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup dried, sweetened cranberries, chopped

6 ounces (about 3/4 cup) white chocolate chips

~ Frosting ~

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 Tablespoons butter

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon orange extract

1/2- 2/3 cup dried, sweetened cranberries, chopped

2 ounces white chocolate, melted

~ Directions ~

1.)  Preheat oven to 350 (F) degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13 pan then set aside (I also like to line the pan with parchment paper, leaving some hanging over the two long sides- this allows the bars to be pulled out of the pan after baking for easier cutting).

2.)  In a medium bowl add the flour, powdered ginger, salt, baking soda and baking powder.  Set bowl aside.

3.)  In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until smooth.  Add eggs, vanilla, and orange zest and mix well.  Gradually add the flour mixture and blend until combined.

4.)  Stir in cranberries and white chocolate.  Pour the batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.

5.)  Bake 25-30 minutes, until edges are light brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

6.) Prepare frosting by beating the cream cheese and butter together until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and orange extract.  Beat about 1 minute until fully incorporated.

7.)  Assemble dessert by spreading the frosting onto the baked and cooled bars.  Sprinkle additional cranberries on top.  Drizzle melted white chocolate on top as desired.

Recipe Source ~ Final recipe by Glorious Treats

(Adapted from Mr. Breakfast, based on the original recipe from Starbucks)

Share these delicious treats with someone you love!

To make heart shaped bars, I used a heart cookie cutter.

You could also cut the bars into triangles, and then argue with your friends that you did in fact make them (and didn’t just buy them from Starbucks).

~ Shopping notes ~

Cute red and white straws from Shop Sweet Lulu.

The little milk bottles were a gift from a friend.  Similar ones are available from Sharnel Dollar Design.

Sweet Valentine’s for Kids {and a free printable}

There is something extra special about a handmade Valentine.  And a Valentine handmade by a child… even sweeter!

I’m blessed to have a little daughter who loves crafting as much as I do.  So, each year we have fun making and packaging little treats for her friends.  In past years we’ve made cookies and added hand written tags (using scrapbooking paper).

This year I designed a simple tag (to share with you!) and we attached them to little bags of treats.  These tags could be added to bags of cookies, candies, or little toys.

(Click the photo above or link below to download and print your own).

 Valentine’s Treat Bag Toppers

To make your own tags, simply print out the Valentine’s Treat Bag Labels onto white cardstock.

(After printing) Trim 1/4 inch off all sides of the full sheet of paper.  Cut labels into 4 inch wide by 3.5 inch tall tags.  Fold tags in half (using a bone folder if you have one).  Fill a clear (or printed) bag (4 inches wide) with treats.  Fold over the top of the treat bag, cover the folded edge of the bag with a (pre-folded) tag and staple in place.

I’ve posted similar style tags in previous post, HERE, HERE and HERE which may give you a few more ideas.

Valentine’s Sweets, Treats and Ideas

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays to make treats for.  Sweets and treats both simple and elaborate can be used to show love to those around us.  The simple color palate of red, white and pink can be adjusted to feel charmingly old fashioned or stylish and modern. 
I’ve gathered a few of my favorite sweets, and then also some of my favorite “treats” from a variety of lovely shops to give you a bit of inspiration for Valentine’s Day. 
~Above~
Top row (L to R)
Cranberry White Chocolate Bars (recipe)
Chocolate rolled cookies (recipe) decorated with royal icing (recipe).
Chocolate Cupcake (recipe) with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe).
Bottom row (L to R)
Chocolate Cupcakes (recipe) with Chcolate Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe).
Chocolate Cupcakes (recipe), frosted, then topped with rolled fondant and a fondant bow.
Chocolate rolled cookies (recipe) decorated with royal icing (recipe).
*All images above by Glory Albin (Glorious Treats)
~ Details (above) ~
1.  Pink and brown cupcake liners from Simply Caked.
2.  Chocolate Macarons from The Macaronner.
3.  Fondant cupcake toppers by Kids Cakes.
4.  Heart shirt by Modern Frills.
5.  Personalized labels by Littlebeane Boutique.
6.  Pink treat bags by Shop Sweet Lulu.
7.  Bakers twine (color is Maraschino) by The Twinery.
8.  Handmade fabric banner by Blue Moon Studios.

*Images above by the shops listed