Posts for Desserts Category

My “Chocolate Day” Haul (and what I plan to do with it)

Desserts, Recipe Box - Ruth - October 28, 2020

The day after Valentine’s Day has become a cultural holiday in and of itself. My daughter calls it “Chocolate Day” because that’s when the stores mark down Valentine candy. She has learned from her mother (*wink, wink*) that the candy beneath the pink & red, heart-covered wrapper tastes exactly like the regular stuff. It just costs less! So she is the one who kept reminding me that we needed to go “Chocolate Day” shopping.

I hit several area stores after Christmas and still have some candy sealed in glass jars from that expedition. Remembering where I found the best prices, I drove her straight to a certain grocery store and we made a beeline for the “seasonal” aisle. The aisle had been ransacked like the bread aisle before a snowstorm, but we still found the bargains we wanted!

Hershey Kisses were at the top of my list because I use them to make peanut blossom cookies. The recipe is one I learned from my grandmother but I’ve seen it since in cookbooks and online. This simple little concoction is perfect when you just want a few cookies for the family because it’s quick, easy, and only makes about a dozen and a half.

Before I make the cookies I’ll sort the Kisses by wrapper color. The red ones will be used for cookie baking and the pink & white ones will be saved for Resurrection Sunday treats. About 18 Hershey Kiss candies, unwrapped, if you want peanut blossoms

What to Do:

  •  Thoroughly mix the peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, and egg. Roll the mixture into 1″ balls. Roll the balls in extra sugar to coat.
  • To make regular peanut butter cookies (like those pictured), place the balls about 2″ apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Press a fork into the top of each ball twice, in a criss-cross pattern, to flatten. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then remove them to a cooling rack.
  • To make peanut blossoms, place the balls about 2″ apart on an ungreased baking sheet but DO NOT flatten them. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and immediately press the flat side of one unwrapped candy into the center of each cookie ball to flatten it. Do not press the candy all the way through to the baking sheet. The cookies will puff out and crack around the edges. Allow them to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then remove to a rack to cool.

Some of the Reese’s Cups will be used to make chocolate-peanut butter ooey gooey butter cake and some will be sorted out like the Kisses to be used for Resurrection Sunday treats. Others will probably be eaten just as they are long before Resurrection Sunday. Most of the candy is already sealed in my largest Food Saver vacuum canister. The large bag of Reese’s Cups is in the cabinet because I hope to make that ooey-gooey butter cake very soon! (My Food Saver is older, so I linked to something similar that is currently available. I hope that helps!)

And since I’ve been chatting about Resurrection Sunday you might have guessed that the plates and napkins will be set aside for that day. Resurrection Sunday is a working day for a minister’s family. It’s a holiday worth celebrating with fancy dishes and table service but it’s also very impractical for us to do so, which is why I am happy to find cute disposables to keep things in balance. I don’t know yet if we’ll be hosting the family or going to another family member’s home, but I thought I’d plan ahead and get the paper products since these were fun and festive and even less expensive than the dollar store. If we don’t host then I’ll have them available for summer gatherings or the inevitable car picnics that are sure to come as the weather warms up.

I realize I might have saved a bit more by waiting for the 75% off sales in a week or two, but I know from experience that the things I actually wanted would be long gone by then. Now that my “babies” are teenagers I don’t have to buy egg hunt candy, which I used to wait and get later at larger discounts. So what did I actually spend? This time I spent $2.14 per bag on the Hershey Kisses and smaller Reese’s Cups and $3.19 for the larger cups. I was sort of annoyed at the cost of the Kisses because they were only $1.88 per bag after Christmas. The paper products were only $.62 each, so you can see why I went ahead and got those.

That’s probably all of the candy buying I’ll do for a while. I may get some treats after Resurrection Sunday to stash for car picnics and that sort of thing, but I’ve also learned that I can’t eat it if it isn’t in the house!

My daughter, who loves stuffed animals, bought herself a strange little creature that looks like somebody took spare parts from a hippopotamus and a platypus and stitched them together. She decided to buy him and bring him home because he was the only platypotamus (her word) she’d ever seen. Remembering our recent trip to the theater, she decided to name him Cyrano de Platypotamus. The name and the nose fit.

I mention Cyrano because there were several other cute stuffed toys in the Valentine’s Day section that were pink or red but not necessarily Valentine-y. There were sock monkeys and fish and a very glittery unicorn. Any of them might have been good to stash as gifts for little people. Or teenagers who still love stuffed animals.

Did you shop on “Chocolate Day”? What did you get and where did you find the best deals?

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How to Make Vanilla Sugar

Desserts - Ruth - September 19, 2020

Since I bottled up my last batch of vanilla (read about it here) I was able to dehydrate my “used” vanilla beans and make a batch of vanilla sugar. I use vanilla sugar for baking and in my coffee (of course!) and to make gifts. More on that in future posts. But for now, let me show you how easy it is to make vanilla sugar.

Vanilla beans fresh out of the package are plump and moist and fragrant. ( Olive Nation is having a vanilla sale through August 3, check here. Save 15% with the code VAN15. ) After a few hours in the dehydrator, and it doesn’t take long, they are shriveled and crispy. That’s good, because my sugar has been lumpy enough with the humid weather lately. I don’t need to add more moisture.

I split my vanilla beans before using them to make vanilla extract, so they really do dehydrate in just a few hours. You can see in the photo how the fresh beans look plump and shiny. The split and dehydrated beans are dry and curled up. I divided my dehydrated vanilla beans between a couple of recycled tubs. Yes, black vanilla bean flecks do come off of the beans into the tub, which means the resulting vanilla sugar will have a few flecks, too. To me, that just proves it’s the real deal. Not a problem.

I covered the beans with sugar, snapped on the lids, and labeled the tubs with the contents and the date. Now they’re stashed in a dark spot in the pantry. I’ll pull them out around Thanksgiving to flavor coffee and cookies and to use for other projects.

And since I bottled up my last batch of vanilla I had to get another batch started. (Laura has wonderful instructions over at But I wanted to show you a side-by-side comparison of what the just-started batch looks like compared to the batch I just bottled. What a difference a few months of steeping makes! And yes, I do love my half-gallon Ball canning jars. I really wanted to use one for the vanilla sugar but I have them all full of other things!

Do you think you might make some vanilla extract or vanilla sugar? What other “gourmet” items do you like to make for your kitchen?

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