Holiday

Chocolate Raspberry Heart Cookie Pops

Chocolate Raspberry Heart Cookie Pops  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’m posting the February cookies early so you have plenty of time to make them for Valentine’s Day next week. Which you will definitely want to do because how cute are these heart cookie pops? They are also game-changer cookies, but I’ll get into that in a bit. I have to admit that I was a little nervous about making these cookies because the recipe called for two things I’ve never done before; making cookie pops and making royal icing. I am happy to report that both were easier than I anticipated and there is no reason to be intimidated about making these Chocolate Raspberry Heart Cookie Pops!

Chocolate Raspberry Heart Cookie Pops  |  Lemon & Mocha

The dough could not be easier to make since you whip it up in a food processor. I know not everyone has a food processor (if you are thinking of getting one I highly recommend the 14-cup Cuisinart I have), but I imagine you could use a stand mixer instead. The butter gets cubed up and added into the dough while it’s cold, just like when making a pastry crust, so there’s no waiting around for your butter to come to room temperature. Since the dough is cold from the chilled butter, it’s very easy to roll out without any stickiness.

Chocolate Raspberry Heart Cookie Pops  |  Lemon & Mocha

I had to re-roll my dough because I initially rolled it too thin. You need the dough to be about 3/8-inch to 1/2-inch thick in order to insert the lollipop stick, which is thicker than you would think so break out that measuring tape! Since the dough was so thick, inserting the lollipop sticks was easy – first challenge complete! When I was cutting out the circles of dough I cut them tightly together so I was able to get all twelve circles from the initial rolled dough. The recipe says to gather, refrigerate and re-roll the scraps to cut out more cookies. Twelve cookie pops was already plenty for me so instead I just baked the scraps as is after I was done baking the cookie pops. They looked like funny bat winged cookies, but they still tasted delicious!

Chocolate Raspberry Heart Cookie Pops  |  Lemon & Mocha

Next up was the royal icing. Basically, the recipe has you make an icing that’s pretty stiff, which you pipe around the edge of the cookie. You then thin the icing and fill in the rest of the cookie within the piped line. I found it a little difficult to pipe a smooth line around the edge of the cookies, but after a few wonky lines I had it down. I don’t think I’ll become a cookier anytime soon, but they look so nice when they’re done. I went with a little heart on top instead of the swirl rose design on the original Food Network Magazine recipe.

Chocolate Raspberry Heart Cookie Pops  |  Lemon & Mocha

Okay, now back to that game-changer comment I made earlier. These Chocolate Raspberry Heart Cookie Pops taste so good! As in, both Matt and I called them dangerous and tried to hide them. Matt hit the flavor spot on – they taste like a buttery version of that Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle. I couldn’t find cherry extract in my grocery store, which the original recipe calls for, so I went with raspberry extract and I’m happy I did because the flavor was subtle, fruity and complements the chocolate cookie perfectly. There’s also something really satisfying about eating a cookie off a lollipop stick. This chocolate cookie base is definitely going to be a new regular in my cookie rotation. Next time I’m going to try chilling it in a log to make slice and bake cookies. And I might even slice them thick enough to stick lollipop sticks in them again. Yum!

Chocolate Raspberry Heart Cookie Pops  |  Lemon & Mocha

Chocolate Raspberry Heart Cookie Pops
 
Yield: 12 cookie pops
Ingredients
for the cookies
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2½ sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
for the icing
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons meringue powder
  • ¼ cup water, plus more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon raspberry extract
  • Red gel food coloring
Directions
for the cookies
  1. Prepare two sheets of parchment paper that are sized to line a baking sheet. Set aside. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, granulated sugar and salt. Once combined, add the cold butter cubes and the vanilla extract. Pulse until the mixture looks like it has larger crumbs and will hold together when pinched. Transfer the dough to a large bowl or clean work surface and press the dough into a ball. Knead the dough a few times. Place the dough ball on one of the pieces of parchment paper then top with the other sheet. Press the dough to flatten then roll out the dough until it’s ⅜-inch to ½-inch thick. Refrigerate the dough slab for about 1 hour, or until firm.
  2. Make sure oven racks are positioned in the lower and upper thirds of the oven. Preheat to 325 degrees F. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter or biscuit cutter, cut out 12 cookies and arrange 2 inches apart on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Carefully insert a 6-inch lollipop stick about ¾ of the way into each round cookie. If needed, form the scraps into a ball, refrigerate and re-roll to cut out more cookies. Or, refrigerate the scraps as is to bake as odd shaped scrap cookies once the other cookies are done baking.
  3. Bake the cookies until they are set for 25-30 minutes, switching the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through. Mine took closer to 30 minutes. Let cookies cool for 10 minutes on the pan on a wire cooling rack then transfer cookies to the wire cooling rack to cool completely.
for the icing
  1. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the powdered sugar and the meringue powder. Add the water and raspberry extract then beat with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until there are soft glossy peaks. Tint the icing with the red food coloring. I found that I needed a lot of gel food coloring to achieve a red color (almost half a tube). The icing should be able to be piped without being runny. If the icing is too thick add up to 1 more tablespoon of water. I needed to add about 2 teaspoons more water.
  2. Put ½ cup of icing into a pastry bag or resealable plastic bag and snip a corner. If you wanted to be more precise you could use a small round pastry tip (I didn’t do this, but I would probably do it next time). Apply firm and even pressure to pipe the icing around the edge of each cookie. I found it piped cleaner when I made sure I didn’t have the tip of the bag too close to the cookie. Set the piping bag aside for decorating the heart detail later.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of water at a time to thin the remaining icing in the bowl until it is the consistency of runny yogurt. Put the icing into a new pastry bag or resealable plastic bag (no need for a pastry tip) and pipe a bunch of icing within the outline of 6 of the cookies. Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to smooth out the icing and bring it all the way to the piped edge. You want to pipe enough icing that it’s easy to smooth, but not so much that it is spilling over the piped outline. Repeat with the remaining 6 cookies then let set at room temperature for about 1 hour. Use the reserved original piping bag of icing to pipe the heart details onto the cookies.
Notes
The cookies have a nice crispy texture to them. I stored them without the icing in a plastic container and they stayed that way. However, probably because of the icing, after storing them with the icing on, they became soft. They tasted really good both ways. I’m not sure if there is a way to avoid them from becoming softer because of the icing.

 

Recipe from January/February 2019 issue of Food Network Magazine.

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission for my referral. This does not affect the retail cost of the item. Thank you for supporting Lemon & Mocha!

Strawberry Chocolate Ganache Cake Balls

Strawberry Chocolate Ganache Cake Balls  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’m going to have a hard time writing about these Strawberry Chocolate Ganache Cake Balls because every time I think about them my mind goes blank except for thoughts of wanting to eat them. By the time I’m done writing this post I’ll probably find myself in the kitchen making a batch of these because I made and photographed them so long ago – like last September long ago! Which means I don’t have any right now while I’m writing about them and editing the photos, which is probably the most torturous writing endeavor ever.

Strawberry Chocolate Ganache Cake Balls  |  Lemon & Mocha

Typically, cake balls consist of cake and buttercream mushed together and then dipped in chocolate. Instead of the traditional buttercream, these cake balls are made with my Perfect Chocolate Cake recipe and my Chocolate Ganache. Chocolate ganache is silky, decadent and a pure chocolate-lover’s dream. Alternatively, if you wanted to speed the recipe up you could use a store-bought chocolate cake mix instead.

Strawberry Chocolate Ganache Cake Balls  |  Lemon & Mocha

Just the cake and the ganache together is enough to make me swoon, but I’ve rolled the cake balls in powdered freeze-dried strawberries to add some tartness and fruitiness. What are powdered freeze-dried strawberries? Just store-bought freeze-dried strawberries that you can get at Trader Joe’s and or Target that I’ve crushed up in my mini food processor to make a powder. I got this idea from one of my favorite candy retailers – Chukar Cherries out of Seattle, Washington. Matt and I first tried Chukar Cherries products during our Seattle vacation in 2013 and we’ve been hooked ever since. They have these raspberry truffles that are dried cranberries covered in white chocolate and then rolled in raspberry powder. They are sweet, tangy and crazy addictive.

Strawberry Chocolate Ganache Cake Balls  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’ve even seen raspberry powder and strawberry powder in a local spice shop here, but it would definitely be less expensive to buy the pack of freeze-dried strawberries and crush them yourself. After rolling the cake balls in the powdered freeze-dried strawberries they are dipped in melted semisweet chocolate to form a rich chocolate shell on the outside.

Strawberry Chocolate Ganache Cake Balls  |  Lemon & Mocha

I initially made these cake balls because I had all these leftover ingredients, but they are worth a special trip to the kitchen just to make these Strawberry Chocolate Ganache Cake Balls. Obviously they are a perfect treat for Valentine’s Day, but seeing as how I first made them during a warm day in September they really are the perfect chocolate dessert any day of the year!

Strawberry Chocolate Ganache Cake Balls  |  Lemon & Mocha

Strawberry Chocolate Ganache Cake Balls
 
Yield: about 4 dozen
Ingredients
for the cake
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk, see note
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot coffee, see note
for the chocolate ganache
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 12-ounce bag of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (see note)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
for the cake balls
  • 1 bag freeze-dried strawberries, about 1 ounce
  • About 4 cups semisweet chocolate chips (see note) or chocolate coating wafers
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or coconut oil
Directions
for the cake
  1. If you want to use a box mix, bake it according to the box directions in a 9x13 pan then skip ahead to the last step in this section.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x13 pan. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together until smooth.
  5. Pour the hot coffee into the batter and stir until combined. The batter will be extremely liquidy. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes back mostly clean.
  6. Let cool in the pan for a couple minutes then remove to a wire cooling rack to cool completely before making the cake balls.
for the chocolate ganache
  1. Heat the cream over medium heat until steaming, stirring constantly.
  2. Once steaming, remove the cream from the heat. Add the chocolate and stir then let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the butter to the chocolate mixture then stir until smooth. You may need to return to low heat to stir and melt all the final bits of chocolate and butter. Let cool.
for the cake balls
  1. Line 2 baking sheet that fit in your fridge or freezer with wax paper. Set aside. Turn the freeze-dried strawberries into a powder using a food processor or by carefully crushing into a powder in the bag with a rolling pin. Place in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, completely crumble the cake then combine with 1½ cups of the cooled chocolate ganache. Stir together until the chocolate ganache is completely incorporated and the cake balls are roll-able, but not too wet, adding more chocolate ganache as needed. Roll the mixture into balls, then roll each ball in the powdered freeze-dried strawberries. Place on the prepared baking sheets then either freeze for a little bit or refrigerate for a few hours. You want them to be cold and solid, but not frozen.
  3. When you’re almost ready to take the cake balls out of the fridge or freezer, melt the chocolate chips and vegetable oil or the chocolate coating wafers. I melted mine in two batches instead of melting it all at once. Microwave in a tall deep bowl (like a microwave-safe liquid measuring cup) for 30 seconds, stir, then continue in 15 second intervals until the chocolate is completely melted. Make sure not too over heat it or the chocolate will seize up. Alternatively, you could melt the chocolate using a double boiler. Use a spoon or fork to dip each chilled cake ball into the chocolate, letting the excess drip off before placing back on the wax paper lined baking sheet. Top each cake ball with a sprinkling of the powdered freeze-dried strawberries and some Valentine’s Day sprinkles before the chocolate hardens. Store in the fridge - if you don’t eat them all right away!
Notes
To make your own buttermilk: pour 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar in a liquid measuring cup. Pour milk, any fat percentage, into the measuring cup until you have 1 cup. Let sit for 5 minutes before using.
If you don’t want to use coffee you can use hot water, but the flavor of the chocolate won’t be as pronounced. You can use decaffeinated coffee if you prefer.
For the chocolate ganache (and if using chocolate chips instead of chocolate coating wafers for the outer layer), I recommend using Ghiradelli, Guittard or Scharffen Berger.
Any leftover ganache will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission for my referral if you purchase something. This does not affect the retail cost of the item. Thank you for supporting Lemon & Mocha!

Roasted Acorn Squash with a Thai Peanut Sauce

Roasted Acorn Squash with a Thai Peanut Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Are you guys peanut butter fanatics like I am? Most days I just look around the kitchen to see what would be a good vessel for my peanut butter snack. Pretzels? Check. Carrot sticks? Yup. Pancakes? Yes, please. Spoon? Sure, why not?

Roasted Acorn Squash with a Thai Peanut Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Sometimes when I’m coming up with recipes I think the same way. I quickly discovered that roasted acorn squash makes an excellent peanut butter vessel. Especially when the peanut butter is combined with coconut milk, lime juice, coconut aminos (or soy sauce) and maple syrup to make a rich, tangy, salty and slightly sweet sauce. Add some chopped crunchy peanuts and savory scallions and you have absolute veggie perfection.

Roasted Acorn Squash with a Thai Peanut Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Have you ever used coconut aminos? I bought a bottle at Trader Joe’s and this was my first time using it. Many people use it as a substitute for soy sauce since it tastes similar, although slightly sweeter. Coconut aminos is lower in sodium and contains no soy. If you would rather use low sodium soy sauce because that’s what you already have in your fridge you might need to adjust the sauce to taste a little since it’s not a direct substitution.

Roasted Acorn Squash with a Thai Peanut Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

I love pretty much all roasted vegetables and acorn squash is no exception. The slices get tender, a little crispy and caramelized. Plus, how fancy do they look all laid out on the platter? You definitely need a very sharp knife to cut through the squash. If you’re finding the squash too difficult to cut through, cut a few slits in the skin of the squash then microwave for three minutes to help soften the skin.

Roasted Acorn Squash with a Thai Peanut Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Looking for more peanut vessel inspiration? Check out my Thai Peanut Chicken Tacos, Sesame Peanut Noodles with Chicken or Apple Nachos. Or if you want something a little sweeter, the Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter Crunch Chocolate Brownies and the Peanut Butter Apple Bars are both loaded with peanut butter. Yum!

Roasted Acorn Squash with a Thai Peanut Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Roasted Acorn Squash with a Thai Peanut Sauce
 
Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 acorn squash
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter (I used Jif)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 2 tablespoons light coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • ¼ cup chopped peanuts
  • ¼ cup chopped scallions
  • Cooking spray
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Cut the acorn squashes into ½-inch slices. Use a small round biscuit cutter or a knife to remove the center of each slice to leave you with acorn squash rings. Lay the squash slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Spray with nonstick cooking spray then season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 25 minutes.
  3. While the squash is roasting, make the peanut sauce. Whisk the peanut butter, coconut aminos, light coconut milk, maple syrup, lime juice, ground ginger and red pepper flakes in a small mixing bowl until well combined.
  4. When the squash is done, layer on a serving dish. Drizzle the peanut sauce over top then top with the chopped peanuts and scallions. Serve warm.
Notes
Substitutions: If you can’t use coconut aminos, you can try swapping in low sodium soy sauce. You might need to increase the amount of maple syrup. If you can’t use light coconut milk, substitute water.
Leave the acorn squash unpeeled. When you cut the slices you want the squash positioned so the stem end is facing your left hand and the bottom end of the squash is facing your right hand (if you are going to be cutting with your right hand).

 

Candied Pecans

Candied Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

Hello, everyone! I hope you are all having a fun-filled weekend so far! I wanted to pop in this Sunday with a quick recipe before all my family Christmas festivities got started. I saved this recipe for the last minute because it’s so easy, but I wanted to make sure I shared it because these Candied Pecans are seriously addictive.

Candied Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

If they look familiar it’s because I first made them to go on top of my Pumpkin Pecan Ice Cream Pie I shared before Thanksgiving. When I made them for the ice cream pie I was so excited by how tasty they were that I decided the pecans deserved their own post here on Lemon and Mocha.

Candied Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

Most recipes I’ve seen online for candied pecans use butter, but this recipe actually uses a single egg white instead. The egg white and vanilla extract are beaten until frothy before tossing with the pecans, which then get coated with brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon and ground cloves. The pecans get the best crispy and sugary spiced coating on the outside without any greasiness of butter. If you’re like me and have been baking like crazy all holiday season then you probably have all these ingredients in your pantry right now to whip up a batch.

Candied Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

I just made a batch for putting on top of my browned butter pecan cheesecake for Christmas Eve at my aunt’s house and I may have sneaked one or two (or ten) for myself. They are perfect for sprinkling on cakes, cheesecakes, trifles or ice cream, but they also taste crazy delicious just by themselves. Especially warm out of the oven – drooling over here! Simply put them in a bowl for snacking alongside dessert or use as part of a sweet and salty cheese and snack board.

Candied Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends and I’ll be back here with a fun post on Wednesday!

Candied Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

Candied Pecans
 
Yield: A little more than 2 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces pecan halves
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon and cloves.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg white and vanilla until frothy. Add the pecan halves then toss to completely coat. Spoon the coated pecans into the bowl with the sugars, trying to leave any excess egg white behind. Place on the prepared baking sheet and spread out the pecans. Bake for 1 hour, tossing the pecans on the pan every 15 minutes. I use a spatula to separate the pecans from the parchment paper then spread them back out in an even layer before putting back in the oven.

 

Healthy Gingerbread Muffins

Healthy Gingerbread Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

Does anyone else think this year flew by? Here we are, already looking at the December muffins! As I mentioned in my October Apple Pumpkin Muffins post I decided not to make the Food Network Magazine’s December muffins, which were candied cherry muffins. I might try those muffins at some point in the future because they sound good, but with all the cookies and fudge I was making this holiday season I wanted something a little lighter on the sugar. Instead, I decided to bake these Healthy Gingerbread Muffins from Ambitious Kitchen.

Healthy Gingerbread Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

They are free of refined sugar and instead use maple syrup and molasses as the sweeteners. There’s a few other healthy swaps in this recipe, such as using whole wheat flour, nonfat plain Greek yogurt and olive oil instead of butter. These are a great breakfast muffin, especially since they’re studded with tasty chopped walnuts and chocolate chips. Matt and I enjoyed these muffins, but they are definitely “healthier” muffins.

Healthy Gingerbread Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

Without the refined sugar they are noticeably less sweet than muffins I’ve posted already this year and they have a less moist texture that you get from using whole wheat flour and minimal fat when baking. The best way I can describe them is that if you already don’t eat a lot of sugar or full fat foods then their “healthiness” won’t be that noticeable to you, but if you are in full Christmas cookie mood you could whip them up in January to jump-start your sugar detox. Like most of the muffins I posted this year, they freeze well, so for now ours are in the freezer to pop out whenever we need a quick and healthy breakfast.

Healthy Gingerbread Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

It definitely is interesting how your body adjusts to the sugars you are eating. Over the summer I was eating very little processed sugar. I made some “healthy” chocolate brownies and thought they tasted amazing. I froze a bunch of them and recently tried one, mid-holiday cookies-for-every-meal mode, and thought they tasted horrible! Do any of you have a refined sugar free lifestyle or have you ever “quit” sugar before?

Healthy Gingerbread Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

Healthy Gingerbread Muffins
 
Yield: 12 muffins
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour, see note
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk (any fat percentage or almond milk)
  • ⅓ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup blackstrap molasses
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup chocolate chips, optional
  • ⅓ cup chopped walnuts, optional
  • Coarse sugar, optional for sprinkling on top
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup cupcake pan with paper liners and spray the inside of the liners with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Add the milk, yogurt, maple syrup, molasses, olive oil, vanilla and beaten egg. Stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and chopped walnuts, if using.
  3. Evenly divide the batter among the prepared paper liners. The batter should fill each liner ½ way up. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with coarse sugar. Bake the muffins for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a couple crumbs. Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes, them remove to a wire cooling rack to completely cool.
Notes
If you don’t have whole wheat pastry flour, take 1½ cups whole wheat flour then remove 1½ tablespoons of it. Add in 1½ tablespoons of cornstarch and sift together.

Recipe slightly adapted from Ambitious Kitchen.