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Do Good While Eating Chocolates: Seattle Chocolates for the Holidays

When I first moved to Seattle, I had a "real job" at an upscale furniture store. Truthfully, it wasn't very well suited to me, and it didn't last very long. But one of the real benefits of having the job (you know, aside from the money) was the fact that I was next to a store that sold bars by Seattle Chocolates

More often than was decent, I would purchase and eat an entire "Pike Place" bar--a deep, dark chocolate bar amped up with the addition of toasty ground espresso. It was so good that it made me float for as long as I ate it, and since I would slowly suck each piece, it would really last a good long while. 

That is a very happy memory for me, so I was really-really-really excited when Seattle Chocolates reached out to me to tell me about their new program for the holidays. Basically the idea is this (from an email from their marketing department):

Through our #ChocolateGives program, we are raising money to fight hunger through a network of local food banks. One of our partners is Northwest Harvest! We would like to send you a special gift of our Seattle-based, American made chocolate and information about the program. We know your readers will enjoy, because we are happy and colorful just like you.

So, they sent me a package and darn-straight, it was jam-packed with happiness and color.

So what does my awesome box of chocolate have to do with you?

Here's how you can get involved in goodness through eating chocolate.

Fact 1: I think that Seattle Chocolates are just great. I think you should buy them.

Fact 2: If you do buy them between November 1 through the end of the ear, for every item purchased on the Seattle Chocolates website and every post of #chocolategives on social media, Seattle Chocolates will donate a serving of fresh food to someone in need. The donations will be made through a network of food banks in New York City, Boston, SF-Marin, and Seattle. 

And that--along with the chocolate you're eating--is something to feel really good about.

So go ahead, get your chocolate on! Shop at Seattle Chocolates.


Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Strawberry-Mascarpone-Hazelnut Chocolate Tart

Hazelnut strawberry tart - bake-off

What I love about this tart is...well, more than one thing. I love how it marries health food (strawberries) with dessert food (everything else in the recipe). I love how it looks super fancy but comes together rather quickly. And, I love that it has a cookie dough crust. YUM. Thanks to Pamela Shank of Parkersburg, West Virginia for coming up with this clever and pretty Bake-Off entry!

Strawberry-Mascarpone-Hazelnut Chocolate Tart

  • Prep Time: 30 Min
  • Total Time: 1 Hr 55 Min
  • Makes: 8 servings


  • 1 roll Pillsbury refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 2 (8 oz) containers mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread
  • 3 cups halved large strawberries (about 2 pints)
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate candy melts or coating wafers (1 1/2 oz) or 1/4 cup white vanilla baking chips


  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Press cookie dough evenly in bottom and 1 1/2-inches up side of ungreased 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Bake 15 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and edges are set. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack, about 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat mascarpone cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar with electric mixer on medium speed, 2 minutes or until well blended; set aside.
  3. Reserve 2 teaspoons of the hazelnut spread. Spread remaining hazelnut spread evenly in bottom of cooled cookie crust. Spoon and carefully spread mascarpone mixture over hazelnut spread to within 1/4 inch from edge. Arrange strawberries over mascarpone.
  4. In small microwavable bowl, microwave reserved hazelnut spread uncovered on High 20 to 30 seconds or until drizzling consistency. Drizzle over strawberries. In another small microwavable bowl, microwave candy melts uncovered on High 30 to 60 seconds, stirring once or until drizzling consistency. Place melted candy melts in small resealable food-storage plastic bag. Cut off small corner of bag. Squeeze bag to drizzle melted candy melts over strawberries. Store in refrigerator.

Note: the Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Check out my coverage of the 45th and 46th Bake-Off, and follow the recipes posted so far by clicking the bakeoff tag below.


Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Hummingbird Macaroons

Hummingbird Macaroons

You probably didn't need to be told that Hummingbird cake is simply the bomb. That might be a cheesy thing to say, but it's such a beautiful cake it moves me to corniness.

But did you know that hummingbird macaroons are also exceedingly amazing? If you didn't, it's time to give this recipe from Melanie Eichman of San Antonio, Texas a try. It yields soft cookies that are bound to make you hum with joy.

Hummingbird Macaroons

  • Prep Time: 20 Min
  • Total Time: 1 Hr 15 Min
  • Makes: 30 cookies


  • 1 roll Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 1/4 cup mashed very ripe banana (1 small)
  • 2 cups flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dried pineapple
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon Watkins™ Ground Saigon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Watkins™ Original Double Strength Vanilla Extract


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Let cookie dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften. Line cookie sheets with Reynolds® Parchment Paper.
  2. In large bowl, break up cookie dough. Add remaining ingredients; beat with electric mixer on medium-low speed 1 to 2 minutes or until well blended. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 11 to 16 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 15 minutes. Store covered.

Note: the Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Check out my coverage of the 45th and 46th Bake-Off, and follow the recipes posted so far by clicking the bakeoff tag below.


Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Halloween Links!

Corn Summit

Happy Halloween!

A cultural history of candy. (Smithsonian Magazine)

What does Mellowcreme pumpkin think of Candy Corn? Find out here. (CakeSpy)

A brief history of candy corn. (CakeSpy)

The history of the jack o' lantern. (History.com)

Meringue skulls! (CakeSpy for Serious Eats)

America is addicted to PSL. Hilarious audio file! (Bob & Tom)

Pairing wine with Halloween candy. (Neatorama)

Happy Challah-ween! A Jewish tradition meets Halloween candy. (Tablet Magazine)

Fun infographic of pumpkin facts. (Sparefoot blog)

Cute pug Halloween costumes. You're welcome. (BuzzFeed)

Use up your leftover halloween candy like this. (CakeSpy for Serious Eats)

Pan de Muerto is a classic day after Halloween treat, for Day of the Dead. Why not try Frida Kahlo's recipe? (CakeSpy for Serious Eats)

What's the best Halloween candy? (ET Online)

What kind of Halloween candy do you give out and what does it say about you? (Post Grad Problems)

Book of the week: Sweet Treats for the Holidays: Edible Creations for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and More. I will be talking a lot more about this adorable book, but for right now: BUY IT.


Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Creamy Cashew Turtle Pie

Creamy Cashew Turtle Pie

Things that I love definitely include pie crust, chocolate, cashew butter, cashews, salt, cream cheese, and caramel. Guess what? This pie has them ALL. Thank you to Tina Repak-Mirilovich of Johnstown, Pennsylvania for coming up with such a gem of a recipe. Good luck at the Bake-Off!

Creamy Cashew Turtle Pie

  • Prep Time: 25 Min
  • Total Time: 1 Hr 50 Min
  • Makes: 8 servings


  • 1 Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust, softened as directed on box
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 1/3 cups cashew butter
  • 1 cup chopped salted cashews
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup caramel topping
  • 1 container (8 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed


  1. Heat oven to 450°F. Make pie crust as directed on box for One-Crust Baked Shell, using 9-inch glass pie plate. Cool completely on cooling rack, about 20 minutes.
  2. In small microwavable bowl, microwave 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips uncovered on High 30 to 60 seconds, stirring once, until chips can be stirred smooth. Add 1/3 cup of the cashew butter; mix well. Spread chocolate mixture over bottom of cooled pie crust. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the cashews over chocolate mixture. In large bowl, beat cream cheese, remaining 1 cup cashew butter and the caramel topping with electric mixer on medium speed 1 to 2 minutes or until blended. Gently stir in whipped topping until well blended. Spoon and spread cream cheese mixture over cashews. Refrigerate 1 hour.
  3. In small microwavable bowl, microwave remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips uncovered on High 30 to 60 seconds, stirring once, until chips can be stirred smooth. Place chocolate in small resealable food-storage plastic bag. Cut off small corner of bag; squeeze bag to drizzle chocolate over pie. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cashews. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. Store loosely covered in refrigerator.

Note: the Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Check out my coverage of the 45th and 46th Bake-Off, and follow the recipes posted so far by clicking the bakeoff tag below.


Monster Cereal Milk Smackdown

Recently, I received a box containing the holy trinity of sweet Halloween nostalgia: the re-issue of Monster Cereals: Count Chocula, Boo Berry, and Franken Berry. Any self respecting child of the 80's ought to be highly jealous of me, and also very excited about this re-issue, because you're an adult now and you can eat all the sugary cereal you want.

But let me cut right to the chase and tell you that my first thought upon receiving the parcel was this: which cereal yields the best-tasting cereal milk?

Long considered a by-product of the cereal eating experience, the residual cereal-soaked milk has come into vogue in recent years, with much thanks to the tireless work of Christina Tosi of Momofuku. It's become a beverage which can be appreciated as a stand-alone thing, not a sad liquid giving you pause about whether or not you want to pour in more cereal to sop it up.

This is all to say: cereal milk matters. And therefore, by pouring milk in a sample of each cereal and then tasting the results, I am doing an experiment that really matters. And one that my mother never would have let me do in the 80's, so I was delighted to do it as an adult.

Oh, and since the cereals were sent to me gratis, it's a good time to put this: Disclosure: The product, giveaway samples and information have been provided by General Mills. All opinions are my own.

The specifics


A tasting of the milk left after steeping Monster cereals for an hour: Boo Berry, Count Chocula, and Frankenberry. 


 I poured a sample of each cereal into a small bowl, and then filled it with milk, which I then left to steep for an hour before straining.

Because I have a naturally scientific mind, I also did some combinations:

  • Frankenberry and Count Chocula
  • Count Chocula and Frankenberry
  • Frankenberry and Boo Berry

and then, for fun, I made one bowl with equal parts of all three cereals.

The steeping process

I then let the cereals steep in milk for one hour. I figured an hour was a long enough period of time to get as much flavor as possible out of the cereal.

At the end of an hour, I strained out the cereal (I'd like to say I ate it, but it was at this point soggy and gross). 

And then I took a deep breath and set to tasting.

And here are my results.

Taste test: which Monster Cereal milk tastes best?

Stand-alone cereals:

Franken Berry:

This was undoubtedly the prettiest of the bunch, with a light pink hue. The flavor was like a gentle strawberry milk--and when I say strawberry milk, what I mean is the kind that contains no actual strawberry. It was pleasant, but perhaps not memorable.

Boo Berry:

The Boo Berry yielded an only gently blue-hued milk. The flavor was not very pronounced, and quite honestly tasted like Franken Berry milk but with slightly less personality. I was unimpressed by this milk.

Count Chocula: 

The color was a light cocoa hue, and the taste was like a milky chocolate milk, with undertones of Yoo-Hoo. It made for smooth drinking, and I thought it might be super nice when foamed and put on a latte. 

Mixed cereals:


Franken Berry and Count Chocula: 

The pink color and strawberry flavor remained dominant in this mix, even though it contained equal parts of each cereal. It tasted a little more interesting than the strawberry alone, but I found myself hoping for more chocolatey flavor.

Count Chocula and Frankenberry:

This milk had a sort of unpleasant purplish-brown hue, and the taste was just OK. It was not offensive, but it was like light chocolate milk with a soupçon of berry flavor. It was not memorable.

Franken Berry and Boo Berry:

This milk had a lightly purplish hue and tasted like a slightly enhanced version of the strawberry-flavored milk from Franken Berry alone. I liked the enhanced aspect, but I did not enjoy the color. Still, I would have this milk with a slice of cake.


All cereals together: Franken Berry, Boo Berry, and Count Chocula

I will confess, I was extremely surprised by the mix. I had thrown it into the mix mostly to be amusing, but I surprised myself by loving the combo. It had high notes of fruit, an extended strawberry flavor, and a lingering chocolate aftertaste. I surprised even myself by loving this mix. It was different, it was interesting, and I drank the entire little ramekin-full. 

The winners:

In spite of how horrifying it sounds, the mix of all of the cereals together, Franken Berry, Boo Berry, and Count Chocula, yielded the most interesting milk and the one I'd be most excited to drink again. 

Second place goes to the Count Chocula milk, which I think would taste great frothed and added to a latte. 

Third place goes to the Franken Berry and Boo Berry mix, which sounds like a Dr. Seuss creation and had a pleasing berry flavor. 

Happy Halloween! 


Trick or Sweet: 33 Amazing Halloween Recipes

Halloween is all about sweets, right? And costumes, I guess. But I am most concerned about the sweets.

Here is a collection of 33 (cos that's how old I am this year) Halloween recipes that are bound to make it a year of trick or SWEET for sure!

1. Mega fun-size candy bar.

What happens when you melt together a bunch of fun-size candy bars to make a mega mass of chocolatey goodness? Find out here. (CakeSpy)

2. Candy corn pecan pie.

What could make pecan pie even sweeter? How 'bout a nice serving of candy corn? (CakeSpy for Serious Eats)

3. Frankenstein monkey bread.

Monkey bread gets Halloween-ified with this spooky treatment. (Pillsbury)

4. Candy corn cookie cake.

It looks like a pie, but this spy knows the truth: it's a cookie coated with candy corn! (Culinary Concoctions by Peabody)

5. Candy corn cookies.

This clever adaptation of Kaleidoscope cookies is sweet and cute. (CakeSpy for Serious Eats)

6. Homemade mellowcreme pumpkins.

Because the homemade version blows store-bought out of the water! (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

7. Candy corn boston cream pie. 

Even fancy desserts like to play dress-up on Halloween. (CakeSpy)

8. Cake baked in a pumpkin.

Are you still eating cakes baked in pans? Not this month, sucker! Make yours in a pumpkin for Halloween. (CakeSpy for Serious Eats)

9. Microwaved halloween candy.

How do different treats fare when put in the microwave at high power? (CakeSpy)

10. Glow in the dark buttercream.

Illuminate your treats--um, literally. (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

11. Pumpkin bread.

Plain and simple. In case you like more wholesome treats, no tricks. (CakeSpy)

12. Homemade candy corn.

An awesome DIY version of everyone's favorite Halloween tricolor triangles! (Shauna Sever via CakeSpy!)

13. Creamy Candy Bar Sauce.

It's just such a good idea. (the Kitchn)

14. Candy corn Nanimo bars.

Nanaimo bars like to get dressed up for Halloween, too! (CakeSpy for Serious Eats)

15. Zombie graveyard cake.

Make a ghoulish cake for people, not zombies! No brains included in the ingredients. (CakeSpy for Serious Eats)

16. Deep fried halloween candy. 

Take Halloween candy...and deep-fry it. Like, whoa. (CakeSpy for Serious Eats)

17. Homemade halloween oreos.

They have orange filling = instant Halloween! (Smells Like Home)

18. Scaredy-cat brownies.

Oreos become cute cats on this adorable brownie presentation. (Martha Stewart)

19. Candy corn and spider web cake pops.

She's the queen of cute cake pops, and these ones are a good example of just why she's considered royalty. (Bakerella)

20. Creamed candy corn.

Yes, I went there. You'll like it more than you think you will, I promise. (CakeSpy for Serious Eats)

21. Candy corn milk.

If creamed candy corn is too thick, perhaps you will like the easy drinking quality of candy corn infused milk.(CakeSpy)

22. Candy corn cupcakes.

These are just adorable: tricolor delights of cake! (Chocolate Moosey)

23. Glittery pumpkin cupcakes.

Add a little glitz and plenty adorableness to a Halloween party with these dazzling cupcakes. (Real Simple)

24. Candy corn tuxedo cake.

I don't know if I can express how worthy this is of clicking over to see. It's truly stunning. --> (Sprinkle Bakes)

25. Pumpkin Pie Milkshake.

I say it's appropriate through all of the pumpkin holidays: Halloween thru Thanksgiving. (CakeSpy

26. Crescent witch hats.

These crescent witch hats are not only cute, but they're easy. Really! (Pillsbury for CakeSpy)

27. Ghost cupcakes.

These are ghoulish, but the taste is all sweet thanks to an enrobing of white chocolate! (CakeSpy)

28. Brownie spider web cake.

Yummy, easy, cute, Halloween-y, and brownies are included. What more do you need? (Heather's French Press)

29. Peanut butter haystacks.

It's the eyes that make them look like little monsters. Delicious little monsters, that is. (The Girl Who Ate Everything)

30. Candy corn upside down cake.

Like pineapple upside-down cake, but replace "pineapple" with "candy corn". Yes indeed. (CakeSpy for Serious Eats)

31. Halloween fudge.

It's not only super-sweet, but also highly adorable. (Crazy For Crust)

30. Halloween jell-o Jigglers.

These are amazingly easy to make, and they will make everyone happy when you serve them. (CakeSpy for Serious Eats)

31. Candy corn popcorn balls.

Like popcorn balls, but with the added Halloween joy of candy corn. Hooray! (CakeSpy for Serious Eats)

32. Bell pepper jack o'lanterns.

This savory treat is allowed because they LOOK so sweet (figuratively, of course). Promise me you'll check 'em out. (itsyummi.com)

33. Leftover halloween candy pie. 

It's awful and awesome all at once. Just like a horror movie. Gulp. (CakeSpy for Serious Eats)


Make Your Own Nougat

Have you ever been mid-bite into a candy bar and wondered "how on jolly green and blue planet earth do they DO that?".

Well, if so, here's a tutorial just for you: how to make your own nougat. You can re-create the beating heart of what makes candy bars great! Full tutorial here.


Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Tropical Honey Butter Breakfast Rolls

Honey butter tropical rolls (Bake-Off)

When it gets cool outside, I begin to crave foods that make me think of warmer climates. So these rolls are just perfect for me: kissed with coconut and pineapple, they make me feel like I'm back in Bali for a moment. Now that's sweet! This recipe is via Rhodora Keegan of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Tropical Honey Butter Breakfast Rolls

  • Prep Time: 25 Min
  • Total Time: 55 Min
  • Makes: 8 rolls


  • 2 cups coconut (6 oz)
  • 1/2 cup well-drained crushed pineapple, patted dry with paper towel (from 8-oz can)
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Watkins™ Coconut Extract
  • 1 can Pillsbury™ Grands!™ Flaky Layers refrigerated honey butter biscuits (8 biscuits)


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Place 2-inch square of Reynolds® Parchment Paper in bottom of each of 8 jumbo muffin cups or 6-oz custard cups. Spray each cup with Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray.
  2. In medium bowl, mix coconut, pineapple, brown sugar and coconut extract until well blended. In small bowl, place 3 tablespoons coconut mixture; set aside.
  3. Separate dough into 8 biscuits. Press each biscuit to form 5-inch round. Spoon about 3 tablespoons coconut mixture onto center of each biscuit round. Fold biscuit in half over filling, stretching gently if necessary. Press edges firmly to seal; shape into ball. Place 1 ball in each muffin cup, seam side down. Spoon about 1 teaspoon reserved coconut mixture onto center of each biscuit; press lightly.
  4. Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until deep golden brown. Immediately loosen with tip of knife; gently remove from pan. Cool 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Note: the Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Check out my coverage of the 45th and 46th Bake-Off, and follow the recipes posted so far by clicking the bakeoff tag below.



Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Strawberry-Cinnamon Roll Belgian Waffles

Cinnamon roll waffles

Breakfast is served. And is it ever beautiful: these "waffles" are made using cinnamon rolls! How's that for a decadent delight? Dressed up with strawberries and whipped cream, they're the perfect cold-weather breakfast to carb-o-load for a race you're never gonna run. This one comes from Kelly Humphreys of Vancouver, Washington. Good luck at the Bake-Off!

Strawberry-Cinnamon Roll Belgian Waffles

  • Prep Time: 30 Min
  • Total Time: 30 Min  
  • Makes: 5 waffles


  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen (thawed and drained) strawberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 can Pillsbury Grands! Flaky Supreme refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing (5 rolls)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted


  1. Place large bowl and beaters in freezer or refrigerator to chill.
  2. In 2-quart saucepan, mix 3/4 cup of the sugar and the cornstarch. Stir in strawberries and 1/4 cup water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils (mixture will become translucent during cooking). Boil and stir 2 minutes. Pour strawberry sauce into heatproof bowl; set aside.
  3. Heat Belgian waffle maker. (Waffle maker without a nonstick coating may need to be sprayed with Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray before cinnamon roll is added.)
  4. Meanwhile, in chilled bowl, beat whipping cream, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of the orange extract with electric mixer on low speed until mixture begins to thicken. Gradually increase speed to high and beat just until stiff peaks form. Do not overbeat, or mixture will curdle. Refrigerate.
  5. Separate dough into 5 rolls; reserve icing. Place 1 roll in center of each waffle section. Close lid of waffle maker. Bake 2 to 3 minutes or until deep golden brown. Repeat with remaining rolls.
  6. Meanwhile, in small microwavable bowl, microwave reserved icing uncovered on High 10 seconds; stir in melted butter, remaining 1/4 teaspoon orange extract and 1/8 teaspoon salt.
  7. To serve, place each waffle on serving plate; drizzle with icing. Top with strawberry sauce and whipped cream.

Note: the Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Check out my coverage of the 45th and 46th Bake-Off, and follow the recipes posted so far by clicking the bakeoff tag below.

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