Tag Archives: dessert

Secret Kisses Cookies

12 Jan

A couple of weeks ago I made secret kiss cookies as part of a belated Christmas gift for my best friend and her husband. One of my New Year’s resolutions this year is to bake more. I’ve tackled the buying and eating desserts concept well so I figured this would give me a new challenge. No worries though, I fully intend to still do reviews of local bakeries and dessert places! 🙂

These little babies were so good that my dad starting snagging some when they came out of the oven. I ended up giving him his own little stash so that my bestie and her hubby would actually have some left! They are basically Italian wedding cookies with a Hershey’s Kiss in the middle. They’re very rich and twice a good with extra powdered sugar plunked on top.

Secret Kisses Cookies (Makes 3 dozen cookies): Recipe taken from “Hershey’s Cookbook and Recipe Cards”

  • 1 cup (2 sticks margarine, softened)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts or almonds (I used almonds for mine)
  • 36 Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolates or Hershey’s Kisses with Almonds (I used the traditional Hershey’s Kisses)

1) Beat butter, granulated sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed in large bowl until fluffy. Add flour and almonds/walnuts; beat on low speed of mixer until well blended. Cover; refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until dough is firm enough to handle.

2) Remove wrappers from chocolates. Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Using about 1 tablespoon dough for each cookie, shape dough for each cookie, shape dough around each chocolate; roll in hand to make ball. (Be sure to cover each chocolate piece completely.) Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

3) Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are set but not browned. Cool slightly; remove to wire rack. While still slightly warm, roll in powdered sugar. Cool completely. Store in tightly covered container. Roll again in powdered sugar right before serving.

The Cupcake Shoppe – Raleigh, NC

27 Dec

While at home in NC over winter break, I went to see some of my friends in Raleigh. One of my favorite cupcake places and probably the best known place in the city for cupcakes is the Cupcake Shoppe. The have a smaller menu than many of the places that I’ve been to in DC but they also have a good number to choose from and more traditional options. Some of the best flavors in my opinion include the coconut, cookie monster, peanut butter cup and black and white cupcakes.

During the holidays, they have some options that are not only seasonal but delicious. They include peppermint patty, eggnog and gingerbread. I’ve had their gingerbread in the past and it’s always a winner. The cake is gingerbread of course, the frosting is vanilla and is topped with a hot cinnamon candy. (Sorry for not posting a picture of it by the way! I took it to go and it didn’t exactly travel well. Oopsies!)

If you’re in the area stop on by. You won’t be disappointed. 🙂

Location: 104 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh, NC 27603; Price: $3/cupcake or $33/dozen; Hours: Monday-Thursday: 10am-8pm, Friday-Saturday: 10am-11pm, Sunday: Closed.

Chocolate Pecan Pie, a Delicious Success!

5 Dec

Chocolate Pecan Pie

This weekend I made time to make a delicious chocolate pecan pie (see recipe two posts down). I’d only ever had traditional pecan pie so I had really high expectations but I absolutely love this pie. The top layer is slightly crispy and the middle is creamy and rich. I was also pleasantly surprised that something like pecan pie was this easy to make. And to be honest one slice is not enough! If you’re a sweet lover like me you’ll be coming back for more. However, I did have to change the recipe some. Since I live in the land of organic grocery stores, the only cocoa I could find was Ghiradelli. Not a bad substitute at all though since it’s probably the most premium cocoa you can find. First dessert creation was a success and I plan to try something more challenging next time. I’m open to suggestions. Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. 🙂

S’mores, the Dessert Sandwich

4 Dec

I don’t think it matters how old you are. You’re never too old to eat s’mores. Besides, what could be more perfect that sandwiching melty chocolate and marshmallows in between two graham crackers?

A week or so ago my bestie and I went to the Festival of Lights in Tanglewood Park in Clemmons, N.C. Besides for the extraordinary light displays, our favorite part  is stopping by the giant bonfire and buying two of the s’mores sets they sell. Even though I think s’mores should be eaten at any age, we were probably the only people doing so over the age of six. Haha. I’ve never quite mastered the art of giving your marshmallows that nice toasty glow…mine caught on fire TWICE as I was more preoccupied with running my mouth about something (see evidence in the photo below) than attending to the mallows. No worries though. It was still incredibly delicious. The BFF did a better job with hers.

Extra crispy mashmallows. 🙂 Still tasted good though!

S'mores time!

One of my favorite light displays at the Festival of Lights.

The BFF with her smores.

New Year, New Blog!

30 Nov

Chocolate Pecan Pie (Credit: Hershey's Cookbook)

I want to apologize for not posting this week 😦 Prepping for the end of the semester in grad school has been occupying my time recently. With the new year coming up I got to thinking and decided it was a great time to amend my blog a bit. And what does that mean? Well instead of just posting critiques of dessert places in DC (since let’s face it I have to run out eventually) I will try my hand at baking. This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop going to new dessert places because let’s get real, that’s just not humanly possible for me, but I’d really like to take a stab at baking. So with that said the content is just going to be more diverse. In my life so far, I didn’t make any sort of dessert unless the mix for it came in a box…the more error proof it was the better! I have several great dessert cookbooks and I’ve decided that they’re no longer going collect dust. The first dessert I’m going to try is chocolate pecan pie from the Hershey’s cookbook (see recipe below if you want to try it yourself). I’m hoping this a dessert I can bring to the dinner table on Christmas Day as well. 🙂

Also, I’ll be completely honest if I mess up any of these recipes along the way! And I’m not going to be like one of those cooking talk show hosts who pretends like some intricate dessert is a piece of cake (no pun intended). I’ll be completely honest about how difficult it is, how it turned out, if I burnt it, hated it, etc. I’m no Martha Stewart but I’m going to do my best! Hopefully I can try more complicated recipes as I go along too. Stay tuned and see my culinary triumphs (with hopefully very few failures)! Also, feel free to send me any dessert recipes you love or just want to try out. I’m volunteering to be your dessert-making guinea pig! Also feel free to follow me/talk to me through Twitter (@vanessamgray). 🙂

Happy cooking!!!

Vanessa

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa

3 eggs beaten

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup pecan halfs

1 unbaked (9-inch) pie crust

Whipped topping (optional)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees; 2. Stir together sugar and cocoa in medium bowl. Add eggs, corn syrup, butter and vanilla; stir until well blended. Stir in pecans. Pour into unbaked pie crust.; 3. Bake 60 minutes or until set. Move to wire rack and cool completely. Garnish with whipped topping if desired.; 4. You’re done. Woohoo! Relax, sit back and enjoy! 🙂

Firehook Bakery

20 Nov

Pumpkin Cupcake

With it being less than a week away from Thanksgiving, I made it my mission to get something seasonal. I’ve been craving pumpkin everything recently and wanted something to celebrate one of my favorite upcoming holidays. With that in mind, I trekked out to Dupont Circle to a bakery I’ve heard some rave reviews about…Firehook Bakery. Firehook has locations all over DC and the DC area.

Maybe it was my high expectations but the pumpkin cupcake wasn’t anything special. The cake was pretty dry; however, if it hadn’t been I think this would have been a pretty good cupcake. The frosting was delicious – creamy and rich.

The seven-layer bar on the other hand was pure heaven. It has a graham cracker crust topped with chocolate and butterscotch chips and pecan and coconut shavings. There’s a lot going on with this dessert bar – it’s rich but the blend of ingredients is pure perfection.

They also serve cookies, pies and tarts. In addition to the chocolately goodness that this place serves up, they also have breakfast and lunch items. Can’t wait to go back for breakfast here at some point in the near future! 🙂

Seven-layer Bar

Firehook Bakery in Dupont Circle

Baked and Wired

11 Nov

The Tessita cupcake

Located in Georgetown, Baked & Wired is found a stone’s throw away from the chaotic hubbub of M Street. You can find it between 30th and 31st on the charming street of Thomas Jefferson. The motto of this place is “get baked”. Pretty witty if you ask me. 🙂 This bakery/coffee shop has plenty of room for sitting and enjoying your drug of choice…coffee or dessert. And if you can’t decide between dessert and coffee there are plenty of desserts injected with a jolt of mocha to give you that caffeine fix you’re looking for.

Get Baked– Baked & Wired doesn’t discriminate when it comes to dessert. In fact, it houses almost anything sweet you can imagine. They have dessert bars, breakfast bars, coffee cakes, brownies, cakes, cookies, cupcakes, muffins, pie, sandwich cookies, and scones. Basically, it’s a sweet lover’s dream come true. They also have hippie crack (noooo, not what you’re thinking people…it’s granola!) and quiches.

O.M.G. bar

While I was here, I tried two items: an o.m.g bar and the tessita cupcake. The o.m.g. bar has certainly earned its name. It’ll have you singing that Usher song in your head (or maybe even out loud) before you’re done. This dessert bar has a graham cracker crust and is layered with homemade caramel, marshmallow and chocolate glaze. I will definitely being coming back for this amazing creation! The equally delicious tessita cupcake has vanilla cake with dulce de leche filling and chocolate-hazelnut satin icing. Yum, yum, yum!

But Baked & Wired is not just known for its sugary goodness. It’s also known for its coffee…hence the word ‘wired’ in its name.

Get Wired – They offer expressos, macchiatos, lattes, mochas and several other caffeine-infused options. While a sugar fix is more my drug of choice, I noticed plenty people lined up for a caffeine fix as well.

Need something for the pooch? Baked & Wired offers options for your loveable furball. These doggie treats are available in five flavors and include: bacon and cheese, BBQ kitty riplets, chicken and cheese, minty fresh breath and PB crunch. Puppies need yummy goodies too!

Getting Social – Check them out on Twitter (@bakedandwiredDC), Facebook (www.facebook.com/pages/Baked-and-Wired/134625793248511) or on their blog (iambakedandwired.tumblr.com).

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