Recipe: Edible Fireballs

Edible FireballsTruffles are one of my go-to treats for the holidays. They’re a delicious treat that would be considered a bit of a luxury when bought from a chocolate shop. Once you get the hang of the recipe, it’s a lot of fun to create custom flavor and presentation combos to suit the recipient. These fireball truffles were created for a Dungeons and Dragons lover. The truffle, named after a popular spell from D&D, has a hint of spice and a bit of a kick from the Pop Rocks. Use them to butter up a new DM or make them for everyone in your adventuring party!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream,
  • 2 12 oz. bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • red Pop Rocks

Directions:

In a medium-sized saucepan, mix the cream, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon together over medium-low heat. Heat until it starts simmering.

Turn off the stove and start adding 12 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate chips into the mixture. Stir until the chocolate has melted and everything is smooth and mixed together.

Pour the mixture onto a wax paper lined pie plate or shallow casserole dish. Place in the fridge to chill for 1+ hours or until firm but scoopable.

Remove the plate from the fridge and roll the truffle filling into small balls using a spoon and your hands. Sizing of the balls is up to you, I’d recommend sizing them somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon. Place the balls on a plate covered in wax paper and place back in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Place the other 12 ounces of chocolate in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, then microwave in 10 second intervals while mixing in between until the chocolate is smooth.  Microwaving for longer can result in burnt chocolate. Trust me–you don’t want that. (If your chocolate stops melting/mixing and starts looking clumpy/gritty while smelling bad, you’ve burnt it.)

Pull the truffle balls out of the fridge and dip into the melted chocolate. (Use a fork to fish the truffles out of the chocolate so any excess can go through the tines.) Place the dipped chocolates on a wax paper lined plate or cookie sheet.

While the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle red Pop Rocks on the top.

Place back into the fridge until you’re ready to serve!

 

Banana-na-na-na-na-na-na Cupcakes (Batman-Inspired Banana Cupcakes)

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Smart Balance.

Batman Cupcake

I’ve been wanting to make these cupcakes for a while. Like, almost a year. I love bananas and I love cheesy names, so I naturally had to make a “Banana-na-na-na-na-na-na Batman” cupcake. So when Smart Balance wanted me to try their new blended butter sticks in the place of recipes that normally use butter, I thought “this is my chance!”

I threw on the Bat Signal and got to work.

See, I’m lactose intolerant (as are many of my family and friends) and yet I still use butter when baking and make buttercream frosting by the boatloads. I just assumed there wasn’t a tasty option. I swapped my butter for Smart Balance sticks in the cupcake and the buttercream frosting, and was pleasantly surprised! The cupcakes turned out fluffy and delicious, and doesn’t taste any different than butter would make it. The buttercream frosting turned out as well! The only caveat is that Smart Balance sticks have salt in them, so if you use it for frosting, it’ll turn out a bit more salty than usual. But it would be perfect for a salted caramel buttercream!

Banana Cupcake

If you’re looking for a less fattening, less lactose-y alternative to butter, I’d definitely recommend the Smart Balance sticks. It’s a 1-1 substitution for butter in your recipe, and I doubt you’ll notice a difference in taste/usability. The sticks are a butter/canola oil blend with no trans fats, and a blend of other fats that helps absorb good cholesterol and block the bad kinds. Kinda like your own personal Batman. If trans fats and bad cholesterol were villains and Smart Balance was really rich and had cool weapons and spent a lot of time brooding… ok, maybe it’s not like Batman. Maybe I really just want to make this analogy work because I like the name of these cupcakes more than I probably should.

On to the recipe!

Banana(nananananana) Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 stick Smart Balance Blended Butter Stick (or 1 stick of salted butter)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (3-4 ripe bananas)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place 12 cupcake wrappers into a cupcake tin.

Mix flour, baking powder, and baking soda together. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together until well mixed and fluffy. Add mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla to the butter and sugar. Mix together.

Add the mixed dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir until combined (be careful not to overmix!).

Spoon batter into the 12 cupcake cups evenly. (The batter will be thick–that’s fine!)

Bake for 22 minutes or until a toothpick goes in and out of a cupcake cleanly.

Let cool and enjoy!

These cupcakes are delicious on their own (like a banana bread-muffin-cupcake hybrid), but if you’re a frosting lover and/or want to make them more “Batman”-y, read on!

Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks Smart Balance Blended Butter Sticks (or 2 sticks unsalted butter)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 TBS vanilla
  • 2 TBS milk
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • yellow food coloring (optional)

Directions:

Cream together the butter and powdered sugar. Add in vanilla and milk, mix until fluffy with an even consistency. If it’s too dry, add more milk 1 TBS at a time. If it’s too runny, add more powdered sugar.

Once it’s to your desired consistency, add in cinnamon and mix. Then add the yellow food coloring, a few drops at a time, until it’s the desired color. I used about 15 drops to get the bright yellow for my cupcakes. 

Frost your cupcakes!

Chocolate Batman Toppers

Finish your cupcakes off with these fun (and delicious) toppers!

Chocolate BatmanDirections:

Find a Batman symbol online and paste it multiple times to create a template sheet. Print the sheet out. 

Place the sheet on a baking sheet and place waxed paper over it.

Melt some chocolate chips in a bowl by microwaving for 30 seconds, mix. Microwave for 10 more seconds, mix.

Place melted chocolate into a frosting sleeve, and using a thin tip, trace the shapes on the wax paper. Fill in the shape.

Place tray of finished chocolate outlines into the fridge to cool and harden.

Carefully peel off the chocolate symbols and place (flat side up) onto the top of the cupcake.

Voila! a delicious banana cupcake ala Batman.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve substituted butter while baking, and how it worked out for you. Have you tried Smart Balance before? 

Smart Balance

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Smart Balance.
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Quick Holiday Recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Planters Peanut Butter Balls

Around this time of year, my apartment goes missing and in its place is a workshop of chocolatey proportions. I have traditional holiday candies I make every year as well as some other basic treats to bring over to potlucks and parties, and any other homemade gifts Mr. Geek and I concoct. And while some of the candies and gifts are fairly tedious to make, there’s one that I love making over and over, and it’s these chocolate peanut butter balls.

I wish I could say the recipe has been passed down for generations, but in reality I found a magazine clipping years back and have made it my own since. These peanut butter balls are easy to make, take under an hour (plus some chill time in the fridge), and are absolutely delicious. I usually make way more than I actually need to give out, and steal some whenever I need a quick pick-me-up. So if you’re looking for a quick and delicious treat to make for the office party or need a creative and homemade gift for a friend or family member, don your apron and get ready to party. (Bonus: Kraft currently has a ton of coupons you can use at Target, and you can use them to save $1 off of the peanut butter used in the recipe!)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Ingredients:

  • Approx. 4 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 2 sticks (8 oz.) Melted Butter
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) Planter’s Peanut Butter (I used creamy, but feel free to go wild with crunchy or one of their other flavors!)
  • 2 11.5 oz bags of Milk Chocolate Chips
  • Sprinkles (optional)

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together the powdered sugar, melted butter, and peanut butter until smooth. Consistency should be almost play-doh like and easy to roll into a ball. If not, add more powdered sugar.

Roll the mixture into small, even balls (around the size of a large marble or gumball).

Melt the milk chocolate chips in a double boiler or by very carefully microwaving them in a bowl for 30 seconds at a time. Don’t burn the chocolate!

Dip the balls in the milk chocolate until they’re evenly coated and place on a wax paper-covered cookie sheet. Top the chocolate covered balls with some sprinkles if you’d like (I love the extra crunch and pop of color!), and then place in the fridge for around an hour to chill.

Package them up for your friends/parties before you eat them all yourself.

Or heck, just eat them all yourself.

What’s your go-to holiday treat?

From shopping for gifts to planning family dinners, it’s hard to keep up with all your holiday to-do’s. This year, Kraft is helping out with great weeknight meals and entertaining ideas to make the season a little bit easier. Plus, Kraft is offering up to $20 in coupons, redeemable exclusively at Target, to make food shopping easier and to help you have a happy holiday season.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kraft. The opinions and text are all mine.

Bake with Doctor Who

The other day, Kristen Hackett from On Wednesdays We Wear Pink introduced me to Dalek Cupcake toppers. I had a bit of a freak out moment. Why aren’t these in my life, and how quickly can I get them? Who makes these? Do they make other things? Why is it only available on Amazon UK?

I did some sleuthing, and came across the company that makes them. Guess what: They’ve made a full set of amazing Doctor Who baking and party supplies. Be still my beating heart. Unfortunately for me, the company is based in the UK, and shipping to the US starts at around $40. I may have to love these all from afar for the moment, but hopefully some of you are able to get them!

Here are some of my favorite pieces from their collection:

TARDIS Cupcake Kit

TARDIS Cupcake Kit Two different patterns of cupcake wrappers, 4 different types of toppers, and it call comes packaged in a mini TARDIS? Yep. Need it. £9.99.

Dalek Cake Stand

Dalek Cake Stand This cake stand would make the coolest centerpiece for a Doctor Who party, or a great way to display cupcakes for a Whovian’s birthday. £7.99.

TARDIS Chocolate Mold

TARDIS Chocolate Mold This chocolate mold features 6 different Doctor Who designs. These would make super cute gifts or party favors! £4.99.

Doctor Who Dusting Set

Doctor Who Dusting Set This set allows you to dust powdered sugar, cocoa, or other fun ingredients over cupcakes, cakes, the foam on your coffee, and whatever else we can think of. This is super classy looking! £3.49.

Dalek Cake Mold

Dalek Cake EXTERMINATE the cupcakes and go for one large cake with this fantastic Dalek Cake Mold. I mean, just look at it! £16.99.

See the entire Doctor Who collection from Lakeland at Lakeland.co.uk.

Which of these Doctor Who items are you wishing will appear in your kitchen?

Bluth Bananas Recipe

Bluth Banana

I couldn’t wait until photos were done to try it…

When I first tried to make Bluth Bananas, I tried a fairly basic recipe: Frozen Banana + Melted Chocolate (and a tiny bit of butter) = Profit, right? Unfortunately, that recipe resulted in clumpy, unappetizing bananas and way too thick of a coating. It was too rich and difficult to eat! However, I’ve figured out a way to make a prettier and more delicious chocolate banana: Magic Shell.

You know that stuff you can buy in the ice cream section at your store? It quickly becomes solid once it hits your ice cream? You can make it at home with two ingredients: semi-sweet chocolate chips and coconut oil. It will make the best Bluth Bananas. There will always be money in the banana stand with these babies.

Bluth Bananas

Ingredients:

  • 4  Bananas
  • 3/4 cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup Coconut oil
  • Chopped nuts, optional
  • Popsicle sticks

Directions:

Carefully put a popsicle stick in each banana. Wrap the banana (I wrapped it in plastic wrap and placed it on wax paper) and place in the freezer. Let freeze for a few hours or overnight.

Place the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Remove and stir until ingredients are combined and smooth. (Ta-da! You’ve made Magic Shell!)

Take a frozen banana and dip into the chocolate mixture. You will most likely need to pour more chocolate over the banana using a spoon.

Roll one side of the banana over a plate of the chopped nuts. Let cool/harden on wax paper. Place back into the freezer until you’re ready to serve.

(If you have leftover “Magic Shell” you can store it in a container in your fridge. Just heat it up for a tiny bit in the microwave then spoon over the cold item of your choice!)

Chocolate Crisis Center: You Need It.

Christmas is 12 days away. Everyone I know is shopping, putting in longer hours at work to prep for some vacation time, getting started on their resolutions for the new year, and trying to wrap up projects before the new year. Clearly, everyone needs a chocolate break. The Chocolate Crisis Center can get you your fix, and can suggest gifts for others who are going through the same crises. Their packaging is super cute, and their treats sound amazing. (Who wouldn’t want Tiramisu Cocoa Caramels?)

I recommend finishing up your holiday shopping here and getting a treat (or two, or three) for yourself while you’re there. You deserve it.

Instagram Your Chocolate

I just downloaded Instagram for the first time today. I know, I know. I have an older Android phone, and I had to manually update the OS to even get access to Instagram. I haven’t even taken a picture yet. BUT, Cocoagraph is giving me a reason to get snapping. I can turn my best Instagrams into works of edible art by putting it on a chocolate bar! This would be a fantastic holiday gift, party favor, or “thanks for putting up with me and my wedding” gift to your bridesmaids after your wedding is over.

What would you put on a cocoagraph? And what are some good Instagram tips/tricks for a noob like myself?

Instagrammed chocolate bars, $18-30 based on size and amount, are available at Cocoagraph.com.

Vegan/Allergen-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

Cupcakes by Geeky Hostess, Photo by Vince Miller

As I’ve been making cupcakes for others, I’ve found the need for a vegan, allergen-free recipe. Although this recipe isn’t gluten-free, it does take care of people who can’t have dairy or eggs. I was turned on to the type of recipe, “crazy cakes”, by the makeup artist on the Job Hunters set. Apparently this type of cake was made often during the depression/war time because of the lack of more expensive ingredients. The only weirdish ingredient in it is white vinegar, but I promise you can’t taste it (even in the raw batter). Almost everything else you should be able to find in your pantry already!

These particular cupcakes were made for my dad’s birthday–I expected them to taste weird or different, but the family loved them, even those who didn’t have food allergies. The cupcakes turn out pretty light and fluffy and can be topped with a frosting of your choice. (I used canned frosting for these–but here’s a dairy free frosting recipe from Divvies, courtesy of MarthaStewart.com.) I then topped the frosting with tons of sprinkles and hand-molded chocolate dinosaurs, cause they were born around the same time as my dad. 🙂 You can find the same mold at Amazon.com.

Allergen Free Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe inspired by traditional “Crazy Cake”, this one taken from Divvies Bakery, as found on MarthaStewart.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (the original recipe calls for cake flour, but it turns out just fine without, in case you don’t have it)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare cupcake pans with wrappers

In a medium bowl, lightly mix together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water until well combined. Add dry ingredient mixture and mix until smooth.

Pour batter into cupcake tins, filling each cup 1/2 to 3/4 full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through cooking, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Immediately remove cupcakes from muffin tin and transfer to a wire rack to let cool.

Frost and enjoy!

Do you have any fave recipes for people with dietary restrictions? Share the links in the comments!

Epic Win Cupcakes

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. If you haven’t yet picked out a gift for your loved one(s), or are looking for a sweet treat for yourself, I’d recommend you check out these “Epic Win Cupcakes.” The cupcakes include a trifecta of ingredients: coffee, whiskey, and bacon. (Not into pork products on your baked goods? Feel free to keep it off.) Between the kick of the whiskey and the caffeine from the coffee, these cupcakes are not for the faint of heart. They’re guaranteed to make an all-night gaming session or movie marathon even better.

Chocolate-Coffee Cake
(Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book’s “One-Bowl Chocolate Cake”)

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS instant coffee powder
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup cooking oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked, broken into small pieces (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare cupcake pans with wrappers.

In a small bowl, mix the instant coffee powder into the milk. Set aside.

Mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add milk/coffee mixture, oil, and vanilla.

Beat with electric mixer on low speed until combined, then mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add egg, and beat for 2 minutes more.

Pour cupcake mixture into cupcake pans, filling them up 1/2 way.

Bake for 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cool, frost and top with a piece of well-cooked bacon. Enjoy!

Chocolate Whiskey Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 8 TBS unsalted butter
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 TBS whiskey (I used Mischief whiskey, made locally in Fremont!)
  • 3 tsp cocoa powder
  • dash of salt

Directions:

Taste the whiskey, make sure it’s good.

Pour another 3 TBS of whiskey to actually use for the recipe.

In an electric mixer, whip butter until fluffy.

Add in 3-4 cups powdered sugar, 3 TBS whiskey, 3 tsp cocoa powder, and a pinch of salt slowly as you mix.

Continue to mix until the frosting takes on the consistency you prefer, adding more powdered sugar if necessary.

I took these cupcakes with me when I joined BJ Shea’s Geek Nation podcast to talk about Valentine’s Day gifts. You can check out the full podcast here. My segment starts about 15 minutes in.

Looking for the Wonder Woman underwear I mentioned in the podcast? Try SuperheroStuff.com, Hot Topic, TopShop, and Spencers.

You can find a Golden Snitch locket on Etsy.

Need more gift ideas? Check out my post on Valentine’s Day gifts here!

Above all, remember that Valentine’s Day is just a great excuse to tell people you care about them–that can be done with something homemade, a nice hand-written letter, or even just an earnest phone call. You don’t need to spend any money as long as there’s some thought there.

What are you doing for your Valentine?

The GH Wishlist: Think Geek

The Geeky Hostess will be posting her holiday wishlists at some of her favorite online shops over the next week. Use them as a guide to creating your own holiday wish list or find the perfect gift for the geeky host(ess) in your life!

Think Geek and their mascot, Timmy, constantly keep their store filled with the best geeky products. Whenever I need to put a wishlist together for my birthday or Christmas, it’s the first site I turn to. Here are a few things on my wishlist this year:


Cylon T-Shirt, $27.99.
I thought up a shirt very similar to this and tried to make it recently, but found out I’m not skilled in drawing realistic spines. So instead, I’ll just purchase this one, created by Her Universe! (The shirt is currently sold out at Think Geek, but is still available from Her Universe.)


Caffeinated “Magic” Brownie Mix
, $13.99.
Best slumber party/game night snack ever? Plus, I could dissect the mix a bit and learn how to make it myself from scratch. (Insert evil laughter here.)

Hand-forged Feasting Utensils, $49.99 (currently on sale for $39.99).
These utensils are the best for LOTR, Game of Thrones, and D&D-style feasts. Plus it comes with a holster, so you can look totally bad-ass while bringing your own utensils to the Ren Faire.


Timmy’s Tea Sampler, $17.99 (currently on sale for $14.99).
These tea canisters are the cutest! I’d love to have them on display when guests arrive. The teas all sound great, and it’s a nice mix to suit everyone’s tastes.


Moldable Magic Chocolate Kit, $6.99.
I could create some really cute decorations out of this moldable chocolate without worrying about it melting. But I’d probably limit my usage to one time only. I feel more than that would make it pretty disgusting.

What I’m Giving:


Cosmic Catnip Bubbles, $4.99.
My cat is actually going to do paranoid little back-flips when I give her this gift. The rest of us will greatly enjoy it.

ThinkGeek.com has something for every geek on your list, check it out!