Simple Chocolate Pleasures

recipes courtesy Nestlé

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Candies

makes 30 candies

Elegant and easy-to-prepare, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Candies are perfect for entertaining those special guests. A few grains of sea salt as a topping garnish creates a great flavor contrast with the dark chocolate. Store in a covered container in refrigerator.

30 1-inch paper candy liners
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) Nestlé Toll House® Dark Chocolate Morsels
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
Coarse sea salt
Place paper liners on a baking sheet.

Combine peanut butter, sugar and butter in small bowl until well-blended. If mixture is very soft, mix in an additional tablespoon of sugar. Shape peanut butter mixture into 30 1/2- to 3/4-inch balls flattening slightly.

Melt morsels and shortening in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on medium-high power for 1 minute and stir. Morsels may retain some of their shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until melted. Spoon 1 teaspoon of melted morsels into each cup. Place peanut butter filling onto top of melted morsels. Top each with a half teaspoon of melted morsels. Sprinkle with a few grains of sea salt. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until firm. Store in covered container in refrigerator.

TIP: To keep melted chocolate warm, place bowl on top of smaller bowl filled with very warm water. Do not allow water to touch bottom of bowl or allow water to get into chocolate.

Red Velvet Pancakes

makes 10 pancakes

Show your affection with a plate of colorful Cocoa-Kissed Red Velvet Pancakes featuring rich cocoa, buttermilk and fresh berries. Take heart-shaped cookie cutters out of hibernation for a special touch

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup reduced-fat buttermilk or lowfat milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon red food coloring
–Heart-shaped pancake cutters or cookie cutters (optional)
–Optional garnishes: butter, powdered sugar, maple syrup and fresh berries

Combine flour, sugar, baking cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl; stir well.

Whisk egg, buttermilk, butter, vanilla extract and food coloring together in large bowl. Add to flour mixture. Stir to combine.

Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes (this produces more tender pancakes).

Heat nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Brush with a little oil or butter. Add about ¼ cup batter to skillet. Cook for about 2 minutes or until bubbles start to form on top. Flip and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until bottom is lightly browned. Serve immediately with butter, powdered sugar, syrup and berries.

TIP: If using pancake or cookie cutters, be sure to coat with a little oil so the pancakes don’t stick. Place cutters in skillet and pour batter into cutters. Remove cutters before flipping.

Flourless Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

makes 3 dozen cookies

Parchment paper
3 cups powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon 100% pure instant coffee granules or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate morsels
4 large egg whites, at room temperature,  lightly beaten
1 teaspoon gluten free vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325° F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine powdered sugar, baking cocoa, coffee granules and salt in large bowl. Stir in morsels. Add egg whites and vanilla extract; stir until combined.

Drop by level tablespoon 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until tops are cracked and shiny and edges are firm. Cool completely on baking sheets, then peel off of parchment paper. Dust with additional powdered sugar, if desired.

TIP: For Chocolate Fudge Coconut Crinkle Cookies, eliminate instant coffee and stir in 3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut with the morsels.

Easy Chocolate Covered Strawberries

makes 60

60 fresh strawberries, with stems, rinsed and patted dry
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons shortening (do not use butter, margarine, spread or oil)*

Cover tray with parchment or waxed paper.

Place chocolate chips and shortening in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at medium heat 1 to 1 and 1/2 minute or so, just until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Cool slightly.

Hold strawberry by stem. Dip 2/3 of each berry into chocolate mixture. Shake gently to remove excess. Place on tray covered with waxed paper.

Refrigerate until coating is firm (about 30 minutes). Store covered in refrigerator until ready to serve.

* TIP: The chocolate experts at Hershey recommend using shortening as oil may prevent chocolate from forming a coating. Butter, margarine and spreads contain water which may prevent chocolate from melting properly.

Optional: Melt 8 ounces of white chocolate. Dip a fork in the melted white chocolate and drizzle over the chocolate dipped strawberries.



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