Tag Archives: Chocolate

Holiday Candy Bark

Holiday Candy Bark - Perfect hostess gift or quick treat for busy holiday schedules!

This week, Betsy from Desserts Required is doing a guest post!  I love Betsy and I know you will too!  We’ve been friends for a few years now and I must tell you, when you are around her – a good time will be had, whether you like it or not!  🙂  She is a ball of energy, a ray of sunshine and has a serious sweet-tooth just like your truly.   Betsy is a “girl’s girl”, a cheerleader & champion of her friends, the kind of friend everyone should have.

Hello Pook’s Pantry readers!

I am so excited to guest blog while Cheryl takes some much needed time to recover from her surgery. I met Cheryl at Food Wine Conference a couple of years ago and last year she was my roommate. To say that I love and adore her would be an understatement. I mean, seriously, you already know how fabulous her sense of humor is in addition to her talent in the kitchen but I got to see it firsthand. Cheryl was on team Betsy’s Balls in the Chopped competition and, holy moly, can that woman cook!

My blog is Desserts Required and I live by the mantra, “Without desserts, life would not be as sweet.” If there is a delicious dessert within reach, driving distance or flying distance, I am always up for giving it a try. That goes for candy, too.

Since Thanksgiving is two days away, I thought it would be best to offer a quick and delish option to make; Holiday Candy Bark. I love the idea of making something that is as easy to serve at home as it is to take to someone for a hostess gift.


The key is to use high quality chocolate. I love bittersweet chocolate but Holiday Candy Bark will work just as well with semisweet, milk or even white chocolate. When I was at Whole Foods buying dried cranberries and unsweetened shredded coconut, I had trouble locating dried apricots. I was directed to a bin of very dark, almost black, apricots. I thought something was wrong with them but learned that they were Turkish apricots and, as such, did not contain sulphur, which gives that very bright unnatural orange color. Although, initially, I wanted that bright orange color, I opted for the natural dried fruit. Feel free to use whichever dried apricot you prefer.

Assembly is a breeze. It’s just a matter of adding layers of dried fruit, coconut and toasted pecans over most of the melted chocolate and then drizzling more melted chocolate over the top to keep the goodies in place.

Holiday Candy Bark - a perfect hostess gift or quick treat at home for busy holiday schedules!

Best of all, Holiday Candy Bark is great throughout this holiday season. I’ve even heard a rumor that Santa loves a batch with his milk and cookies!

Find DR on twitter, facebook & instagram!

Holiday Candy Bark
Yields 48
A delicious, no-bake treat perfect for hostess gifts and holiday gatherings!
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  1. 1 cup (141 grams) dried cranberries, chopped
  2. 1 cup (172 grams) dried apricots, chopped
  3. 1 cup (120 grams) pecan pieces, toasted
  4. ½ cup (40 grams) unsweetened shredded coconut
  5. 2 pounds (910 grams) bittersweet, semisweet, milk or white chocolate, melted
  1. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil. Add 4/5 of the melted chocolate and use a small offset metal spatula to spread it evenly in the pan. Top with the cranberries, apricots and most of the pecans and coconut.
  2. Drizzle half of the remaining chocolate over the top. Sprinkle the remaining pecans and coconut over this. Lastly, drizzle the rest of the chocolate on top to ‘glue’ the pecans and coconut onto the bark.
  3. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes. If the block of chocolate is too hard to cut through, allow it to sit out on the counter until a knife cuts through the chocolate without breaking it into shards of chocolate. Cut in squares.
Pook's Pantry http://www.pookspantry.com/



Food Friends

Greetings, All!  I am away in Idaho this week with my friends from Idaho Potato!  In lieu of posting a new recipe, I wanted to share some awesome recipes from my super talented friends.

I do hope you will check out their recipes, as I happen to think they are pretty great!  Besides being amazing in the kitchen, they are good humans and I am lucky to know them.  I can’t wait to tell you all about Idaho and the fun things happening there right now!  I’m updating and sharing pics on social media every day, so if you want to see what we’re up to, check out my Facebook page,  Instagram account or Twitter feed for the latest shenanigans.

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Oh I couldn’t… Well, maybe just a little


bread pudding 010

Bread Pudding is one of those desserts people just don’t make very often anymore, since carbs have been deemed the devil and all…

So of course I’ve decided to make it, put 3 different kinds of chocolate in it and cover it with a sauce that tastes like melted ice cream.

I figure this is the perfect indulgence after a month of Lenten sacrifice.   It would make a great dessert anytime, quite honestly.  It is one of the easiest desserts to make because it requires very little effort and it does not demand hours of babysitting to ensure perfection. Thank you Very Much…

For this bread pudding, I prefer brioche (brioche is a buttery, eggy bread) but if you can’t find it use french bread, challah or plain white bread.  If you are lucky enough to live near a good bakery, ask them for the “eggiest” bread they have if they don’t bake brioche.

There really isn’t much to it: cut up some old bread, mix it up with a few other ingredients, let it soak for a bit while you get on with other things and then put it in the oven to bake.  I mean really, what else can you ask for in a dessert?

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Chocolate Buttermilk Bundt Cake


swirly pan choc cake

A few years ago, my “wish she were my sister” friend Jenni of Pastry Chef Online, started tossing around the idea of this project. The idea was to bring people together through baking and therefore build a community. You know I was game right from the get-go. Firstly, because I would always entertain anything that Jenni wanted to do and secondly, because something like this is right up my alley.
I am a firm believer in connecting with people through food. It is a common denominator. No matter who you are, where you live or what language you speak… We all gather around a table.

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Fruit and Nut Chocolate Bark



I try, I mean I REALLY try to eat a healthy diet about 90% of the time… but, there is this issue I have with sweets.  I don’t limit myself to candy a few times a year like most reasonable people…  I limit myself to chocolate a few times a month (ok, a WEEK!),  it’s a problem but honestly I don’t care.  Chocolate Bark is one of the easiest treats to pull together and this one has fruit and nuts in it, so it’s practically health food.

We have all seen the peppermint bark for sale around the holidays.  Why limit yourself to peppermint and why limit this deliciousness to only the holidays?   While we’re on the topic, why pay $20 a pound when you can double that amount for half the price?

This treat is perfect for those times when you want a little something (which for me, is always), but you just don’t feel like turning on the oven, or getting the big stand mixer out, or cleaning up a huge mess (does anyone ever want to clean up a big mess?!).   During the summer months, I’m especially inclined to make something that allows me to have my sweet fix without having a 400 degree box of heat cranking in the kitchen.

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Salchichoc (Chocolate “Sausage”)


Disclaimer:  I received a pdf version of “Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain” .  Any links to book are affiliate links.

choc sausage


Chocolate Sausage?  No, it isn’t a recipe for actual sausage made with chocolate,  it is a dessert fashioned to look like sausage and it is made out of chocolate.   Kinda brilliant…  but then again, I do love Spain, Spaniards and their whimsical sense of humor 🙂

Charcutería: The Soul of Spain is an in depth look at Spanish charcuterie, unfortunately most of which is completely unavailable to us here in the United States.   This book covers every facet of it and is peppered with anecdotes from the author’s experiences in Spain, which also make it a fun and engaging read as it connects to recipes in the book.  The writing and explanations are descriptive and never feel like the author is talking “at” you instead of “with” you.

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(Ohio State) Buckeyes

Buckeyes! Growing up in the buckeye state,  I have had a buckeye or two (thousand) and while the recipe is indeed very simple, not all buckeyes are created equal.  

The very basics of this recipe are peanut butter and chocolate.  Perhaps you’ve heard of this teensy little company that makes a candy based on that very flavor combination?!  It’s not like it works or anything, right?   I mean, yours truly may have used a chocolate bar to scoop peanut butter out of the jar a time or two but I’m not confirming that.   Whether someone got chocolate in your peanut butter or peanut butter in your chocolate, just be thankful they did.

Buckeyes represent home to me, maybe that has something to do with my affection for them.    Ohio is the Buckeye State, the state tree is the Buckeye and even our football team has the same name.  

My first football memories are of my grandfather sitting in his recliner in front of the television.  If you grew up in any part of the country where football is a near religious experience, chances are you have similar memories.

The months from August to December (and if you’re lucky, January) have always meant football season.  As a teenager, it was high-school games and as I graduated to the next level of education, the tradition carried on.  The season starts out in the thick heat of Midwestern summer, the air so heavy your lungs can barely allow it in.  Slowly as the season progresses,  Autumn begins to settle in and the temperatures begin to drop making night games only slightly less enjoyable.  Night games have always been my favorite, watching the field come to life under the bright lights of a thousand bulbs.  Bundled up from head to toe, hooded sweatshirts under bulky coats.  Blankets draped over chilled legs, cheeks and noses pink from the cold, hands wrapped around steaming Styrofoam cups of hot chocolate… and always a buckeye or two.

   peanut-butter scoop    Dipping buckeyes   buckeye-nation

Yields 48
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
3 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
3 hr
  1. 1 1/2 c. smooth peanut butter
  2. 3 c. confectioners sugar
  3. 1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
  4. 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  5. 1/4 c. cream cheese, softened (2 oz)
  6. 1 tsp. vanilla
  7. 12 oz dark chocolate (I used 70% Lindt chocolate bars)
  1. Cream peanut butter, cream cheese and butter together until completely smooth and free of any lumps.
  2. Add vanilla, salt and sugar to mixture, beat until combined.
  3. Using a 1 ounce scoop or tablespoon, scoop balls of peanut butter mixture and place on parchment-lined baking sheet.
  4. Roll (in your hands) to smooth out and round. Set in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours.
  5. Break chocolate bars into small pieces, place in a microwave safe bowl. Put in microwave for 30 seconds, stir, put back in for another 10 seconds. Repeat in 10 second increments until chocolate is mostly melted (a few pieces the size of peas are ok). Stir and set aside. The residual heat will melt any tiny pieces of chocolate. Let it cool until the bowl no longer feels warm.
  6. Using a skewer or toothpick, pierce peanut butter ball and dip into the chocolate about 3/4 up the sides. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Chill for an hour or until chocolate has set up.
  1. Tip: If you want a thinner coating, dip when the chocolate is warmer. If you want a thicker coating of chocolate, let the chocolate cool more. It will become thicker as it cools, giving you a thicker layer of chocolate.
Pook's Pantry http://www.pookspantry.com/

Cookies for Muffin

I wasn’t really planning on writing a long post about these triple chocolate cookies that I made the other day, until they became part of a charity bake sale.  I really just wanted to say “hey guys, these cookies are really good.  Go make them.” and that would’ve been the end of it.

Then, I saw her.  Muffin.  This sweet dog that had been abused and neglected.   She is currently being cared for by a wonderful family through Response-A-Bull rescue.   I find myself at a complete loss for words when I see the photos of these dogs.  Having endured unspeakable things and still able to trust, love, and protect their (new) human companions.

Those of us who love our pets like family can’t even begin to fathom how someone could harm an animal, yet it happens with more frequency than I care to think about.   Which brings us to Muffins for Muffin.   Kita, a fellow blogger over at Pass the Sushi, organized a wonderful bake sale to auction off our baked offerings to benefit Response-A-Bull and Muffin’s increasing medical bills.


I couldn’t make up my mind about what to send.  What will travel the best?  Is it too hot to bake something with chocolate?  Will it melt by the time it arrives?  What if people don’t want 3 different types of chocolate in their cookie?! (I realized that was just plain silliness!  OF COURSE they do!)

So, off to the kitchen I went to bake a batch of Triple Chocolate Cookies for Patrick, the generous winner of this item.   While I do enjoy baking, this particular batch was extra special.  Full of love and gratitude for being given the opportunity to help a little dog named Muffin.


Triple Chocolate Cookies
Yields 24
A Brownie-Like Cookie studded with 3 different types of chocolate
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
18 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
18 min
  1. 1 cup + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  2. 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  3. 1/2 tsp baking powder
  4. 1/2 tsp salt
  5. 1 stick unsalted butter
  6. 4 oz good quality milk chocolate, chopped
  7. 1 cup sugar
  8. 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  9. 2 eggs
  10. 1 tsp vanilla
  11. 1/4 cup each: semi-sweet, milk and white chocolate chips
  1. (preheat oven to 350 degrees)
  2. In a small sauce pan, melt butter over low heat. Once butter is completely melted, remove from heat and add in chopped milk chocolate. Let chocolate melt into butter, stirring occasionally.
  3. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  4. Pour butter mixture into bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add sugars and vanilla, beating on low speed until combined (about 2 - 3 minutes), then add eggs and beat until completely incorporated.
  5. Add in flour mixture on low speed (or turn mixer off) and mix until just combined. Turn mixer off, scrape down sides and bottom of bowl, then add chips.
  6. Beat on low speed just until chips are evenly distributed in dough.
  7. Using a small (1 1/2 oz) scoop, scoop dough onto parchment lined sheet pan. Let rest for at least 15 minutes in the refrigerator prior to baking.
  8. Dough will spread more when it is warm. If chilling dough overnight, let dough come to just below room temp before baking.
  9. Place dough 2 - 3 inches apart on baking sheet lined with nonstick mat (Silpat) or parchment paper.
  10. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, rotate tray and bake for an additional 6 - 8 minutes, depending on your oven.
  1. Do not overbake. The key to these cookies is letting them sit on the warm baking sheet to cool. The outside will be just barely crisp and the inside will be soft and brownie-like in texture.
Pook's Pantry http://www.pookspantry.com/


Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream

Deep, dark devil’s food cupcakes topped with cooling mint buttercream make an excellent treat for St. Patrick’s Day or any day!  Shaved chocolate mint candies are the perfect garnish for these tasty cupcakes.

My days of tipping back green beers at a packed in like sardines Irish pub are long behind me (thankfully), but being the good Irish lass that I am, I still enjoy a bit of silliness on St. Patrick’s Day and bow to the obligatory “green something”.

This year, I’ve decided it should come in the form of a cupcake.  It’s as good as any other choice and I’d take a cupcake over a green beer any day of the week. Continue reading

Redemption Brownies


Recently, I made brownies and did not have chocolate in the house to melt down.  So, I made them with only cocoa powder.  It was an epic fail.
Lesson learned, do not take short cuts with brownies. 

Feeling extremely unsatisfied with that batch of bad brownies, my craving for them was unfulfilled.
Seeking redemption, I decided that this effort had to be proportionately as good as the last batch was bad…  meaning, these brownies had to rock. 

I had about a cup of dulce de leche left over from this and aside from eating it straight from the container with the biggest spoon I could find (a thought which I seriously entertained), I decided that I should be a bit more creative.

Needing to expunge the memory of these humdrum brownies, it was clear that this was what my leftovers were intended for.

Making brownies from scratch takes about 5 minutes longer than making them from a box.   The only extra step is melting chocolate into butter, the rest of the process is the same. 

To say that brownies from scratch are the same as boxed mix is like saying cheese in a can is the same as an aged cheddar.

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