Chocolate Snowball Cookies by Duff Goldman {Review and Giveaway}

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I’m a huge chocolate fan. I love everything chocolate. So when Gartner Studios offered to send me this Chocolate Snowballs Premium Cookie Mix to try, I won’t lie, I was a little too excited. I love trying new things, and it doesn’t hurt when those new things are also chocolate!

I’ve reviewed Duff Goldman by Gartner Studios in the past and enjoyed the mix, so I looked forward to receiving this one as well.

For those of you who may not know, Duff Goldman is considered the “bad-boy-of-baking” and is known for his Ace of Cakes baking show on Food Network. He created this line of baking products so people could produce their own baking masterpieces at home. I like his products because they are always so eye catching.

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The Chocolate Snowball cookies are pretty good too. Described by the company as the “perfect snow-day treat,” they combine a good combination of powdered sugar and chocolate flavor. I almost wished they were a little more chocolaty, but they still tasted great.

The cookie mix comes with chocolate cake mix and a packet of powdered sugar. All you need to add is 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 eggs. They include plenty of powdered sugar too. I still had half a packet left after I covered all the cookie balls. You could add more powered sugar to each cookie, but I didn’t want the sugar to overpower the chocolate. The box also says that it makes 3 dozen cookies, but I only got about 22 out of it. I guess my cookie balls were a little too big, but if you made them much smaller, these cookies would be pretty tiny in the end. Most of my cookies were about 2.5 inches in diameter.

When combining the ingredients, it seemed too dry at first, but after it got too thick for my stand mixer to do any good, I mashed the dough up with my hands for a bit and that allowed the butter to warm up and infuse the dough with buttery goodness. The cookie balls rolled out pretty easily and didn’t fall apart like I thought they were going to when it looked too dry at first. The dough has a little bit of a grainy texture which could turn some people off, but wasn’t too problematic. In the end, it all worked out though!

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They were chewy and chocolaty and powdery! I would try these again for sure.

If you liked this product, stick around! I’ll be reviewing and giving away the Holly Jolly Cake Mix and Holiday Frosting by Duff Goldman soon!

 

BUY IT

If you would like to try these cookies, the mix can be found at Walmart and Target or online at www.gartnerstudios.com.

CONNECT

Stay up-to-date on all things Duff Goldman by Gartner Studios! Follow on Facebook and Twitter.

WIN IT!

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One lucky reader will win their own package of Duff Goldman by Gartner Studios Chocolate Snowballs Cookie Mix!

Open to U.S. residents 18 and older. Giveaway ends 12/17/14 at 11:59 pm EST.

Click HERE for complete giveaway rules.

To Enter, just fill in your name and email into the Rafflecopter widget below. For a better chance at winning, complete as many of the optional entries as you want. Come back daily for more entries!

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****I received these products free of charge for an honest review of the products. I was not compensated monetarily for this review and all opinions are my own.****


Christmastime Giveaway!

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I love Christmastime and always like to celebrate it with my readers by putting together a little Christmas prize package to thank you for following me for the last few years.

I try to find some of the cutest baking supplies that pop up in stores at this time of year and supplement them with a few other fun things!

Here’s what you could win in this year’s giveaway:

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  1. Wilton Icing Decorations in the shapes of Santa, his elves, and his reindeer.
  2. Christmas paper straws
  3. Betty Crocker Shortbread mix (I used this mix to make the Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread Tea Bag Cookies earlier this year)
  4. Santa cupcake liners
  5. Mini Christmas cookie cutters
  6. Holiday sprinklesIMG_3682
  7. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer movie bag
  8. Cupcake Stickers
  9. A charm bracelet with sweet charms
  10. A cupcake ornament
  11. Cake Batter flavored Chapstick
  12. Holiday socks
  13. Christmas colored Sixlets candies
  14. Candy Cane flavored Pop Rocks
  15. Swiss Miss hot cocoa mixIMG_3690_2
  16. And an extra special last minute addition: Nordicware holiday cake pop baking pan!

I found the baking pan during after-Christmas sales last year to save for this year’s giveaway and totally forgot about it when I was taking the initial photos for the giveaway. Luckily for you, I remembered the pan at the last minute!

Enter the Giveaway

To enter the giveaway, enter your name and email into the mandatory entry space in the Rafflecopter widget below. You are now entered to win this entire package!

For extra entries, and a better chance at winning, fill in any of the optional entries thereafter.

The giveaway ends at 11:59 EST on December 14th (my birthday! whoo!) and is open only to US residents who are 18+ years old.

For complete rules click here.

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Evil Witch Cupcakes

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Wicked witches are one of my favorite Halloween monsters. I love that they use potions and spells and cats (CATS! I love cats) to enact evil. I just can’t get enough of them.

There are many ways to make them into cupcakes, but after looking for ideas online for witch cupcakes, none of them quite looked like how I wanted my witches to look. Some were too cutesy, others hinted at witches but didn’t have faces, and so on. I knew I wanted my witches to have certain features: a mean or scary face, a hat, and a nice big hooked nose with warts.

These were the cupcakes I came up with! Of course, when coming up with something new, you learn a few things along the way, especially what not to do! I like how they turned out, but they did put up a little fight while I was building them.

My troubles started when I could no longer find chocolate sugar cones in the stores. I know they existed in the past, because I bought some once, but I guess they have since been discontinued, as every store I checked only had regular sugar cones. I acquiesced and got the regular ones, but the chocolate ones would have worked better. I’ll get to why a little later.

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You’re going to want to collect quite a few things for this project. I’ll give you a list of all the items I used, but you’re in no way confined to it:

  • Sugar cones (preferably chocolate ones if you can find them)
  • Cupcakes of your choosing (I used Duncan Hines Devil’s Food)
  • Chocolate wafers (I used Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers)
  • Green chewy candy (Starbursts or Tootsie Rolls)
  • Decor gel in black and green
  • Green and yellow food coloring drops or gels
  • White frosting (I used this recipe from the Food Network)
  • Halloween candies and sprinkles (bugs, pumpkins, skulls and bones, colored sprinkles, etc.)
  • Candy eyeballs and/or M&Ms for eyes
  • Crispy chow mein noodles (I used these ones)
  • Candy melts in chocolate or black color

While you bake your cupcakes, you can get some of the decor items made. I made the witch hats first, because I knew they were going to take some construction time and need time to chill. If you can find chocolate sugar cones, this process will be much faster, as you won’t need to cover them in chocolate. Using chocolate cones is the preferred method, because the chocolate dipped hats were just a tad too heavy for my cupcakes and they toppled over! But if you can’t find the chocolate cones, here’s how to construct the hats.

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Cut the cones down a bit with a small serrated knife to make them fit the chocolate wafer cookies better. To keep it from cracking apart, make small cuts all the way around and then gently break it off. If it’s jagged, use a small cheese grater or a Microplane zester to file the bottom smooth.

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Next, melt your candy melts in a bowl and dip both the cookie wafers and the outside of the cones in it. While the chocolate is still wet, on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet, place the cone on top of the wafer to form a hat.

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If you find the chocolate cones, all you need to do is dip the bottoms of the cones in the melted chocolate and place them on the wafer brims to glue them together. Since the cookie wafers and chocolate cones are relatively the same color brown/black, they don’t need to be dipped fully in chocolate. This also makes the hats lighter and less likely to tip your witches over.

Stick the freshly dipped hats in the fridge to harden.

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The next things to work on are the noses. Warm the green chewy candies in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to make them pliable. I used green Tootsie Fruit Rolls for my noses. Each Tootsie Roll makes two noses. Shape the noses with your fingers until they look how you like. One thing I found out while making these is that the noses fell off the face easily, so to keep them on, cut a toothpick in two and stick it into the back of the nose.

Make your frosting, or use canned frosting, and color it the same green as the noses. You may need to use a little yellow coloring too.

For the witch hair, I used the crispy chow mein noodles dipped in chocolate. Chill these as well. You could use a number of things for the hair though. Another idea would be black licorice string.

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Decorate the hats when they are chilled with candy sprinkles. I used some of the decorating gel to draw a band around the hats and then placed different candies and sprinkles on them.

Once the cupcakes are cooled, peel the wrappers off of the ones you plan to make into witches. For the faces, the cupcakes will be placed on their sides, so cut off part of a side of a cupcake to create a flat surface for the cupcake to sit on. Cut off the opposite side to make a flat surface for the hat too. Then frost the cupcakes with your green frosting.

Place the eyes, nose, and hair onto the cupcake. For a craggily-looking witch, add some warts. I used a brown round candy sprinkle for her face warts and the decorating gels for warts on the noses. Draw on a mouth and for angry eyebrows, use a single sprinkle each. Lastly, place the hats on the top. If the hats are too heavy, like mine were, prop the cupcake up in the back with something. I used the tops of the ice cream cones that I had cut off earlier.

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Since the witches were difficult to put together, and kept threatening to fall apart, I only ended up making three and used the rest of my supplies to make other treats. The chocolate-dipped hats are pretty good treats on their own. Since I still had about 20 cupcakes left, I just frosted them normally, and decorated them with the Halloween sprinkles.

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One thing I loved about these witches is that each witch ended up with a different facial expression and personality. One looked mean, another scared, and the other looked confused.

IMG_3210I hope you give these evil witch cupcakes a try this year even if they are a little difficult to construct. Since they are so customizable, they would be great for a decorating party.

Even my cat wanted to get in on the decorating!

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Photo shoot crasher

Have a safe and happy Halloween, everyone!

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Stars, Flags, and Firecrackers! It’s a 4th of July Dessert Round Up

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titleimage_2Fourth of July is this week and if you’re in the United States, you probably have a party or BBQ to attend. Still not sure what you’re going to bring to your potluck? Check out these deliciously patriotic sweets I’ve selected from around the Internet.

STARS

1. Red, White, and Blue Fudge Stars from Hungry Happenings

These layered stars, made from white chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, and food coloring, give a bright pop to any party table.

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2.  Red Velvet Brownie Star Stacks from I Should Be Mopping the Floor

If brownies are more your style, try these stacked red velvet brownie stars with cool whip and blue berries.

red velvet brownies from cake mix

 

3. Red, White, and Blue Stained Glass Jello Stars from Brown Eyed Baker

I love these because they remind me of the jello desserts of the 1960s.

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STRIPES

4. Red, White, and Blue Raspberry Candy Bars from Cherry Tea Cakes

These candy bars are a great surprise for your friends! From the outside they look normal, but one bite reveals the red, white, and blue stripes inside. I always love surprise inside treats.

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5. Jello Pudding Pops from Number 2 Pencil

If you have access to a freezer, these pudding pops are great for a hot summer day.

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6. Triple Berry Frozen Smoothies from In Katrina’s Kitchen

Made from a combination of yogurt, fruit, and honey, these delicious smoothies are a perfect cool down on 4th of July.

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FLAGS

7. 4th of July Flag Cake from Secret Life of a Chef’s Wife

Here’s another version of the surprise inside treat. This cake is baked with several colored layers and combined to form a flag when cut into. Can you imagine what your friends will say when they see the inside?

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FIRECRACKERS

8. Firecracker Sugar Cookies from Mom Dot

To the unfamiliar, these look like your everyday sugar cookies with candy sugar and sprinkles on top. What they don’t know is these will pop and crackle in your mouth when you eat them! How you ask? The secret ingredient is Pop Rocks!

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9. Twizzler Firecracker Cupcakes from Tastes Of Lizzy T

To keep with the firecracker theme, here are some cute cupcakes that look like little firecrackers exploding.

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If you aren’t planning a red, white, and blue dish for your party but still want it to look festive, decorate it with flag picks!  To make your own, download my free American flag pick printable by clicking on the picture below:

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Have a fun and safe Independence Day!

 

***All photos were used with permission
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Easter Basket Cupcakes

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IMG_5664When I was a kid, my favorite part of Easter was going on an egg hunt around the house. Sometimes my parents would hide presents with each egg as well so it was double the fun!

This year I decided to relive my youth with adorable Easter basket cupcakes. I found these Wilton basket wraps in a store a while ago but never did anything with them. As I was going through my baking supplies recently, I came across them and figured they would be prefect for Easter cupcakes.

IMG_5675I’m not even sure if these are widely available anymore since they’re at least 2-3 years old, but you can still buy them on Amazon.

IMG_5669The cupcakes themselves are super easy to make and don’t even take long to put together. Just make a batch of any flavor cupcakes, frost them and cover them with dyed green coconut flakes and egg-shaped candy like M&Ms. That’s it!

Easter Basket Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • One batch of cupcakes (any flavor)
  • Coconut Flakes
  • Green and yellow food dye
  • Frosting
  • Egg-shaped candy (such as M&Ms)

Instructions

  1. Make a batch of cupcakes in any flavor and let them cool completely.
  2. Make your favorite kind of frosting (I used buttercream) and frost the tops of the cooled cupcakes.
  3. Put some coconut flakes in a ziplock bag, add a few drops of green and yellow food dye, close the bag, and shake it up until the flakes are a good grass-green color.
  4. Sprinkle the coconut on top of the frosting.
  5. Place 3 egg-shaped candies in the middle of each cupcake.
  6. For the baskets, construct the basket wrappers and drop a cupcake into each one.
http://shaneskillercupcakes.com/2014/04/easter-basket-cupcakes/

IMG_5670Have a wonderful Easter everyone! What types of Easter goodies do you make?

 

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St. Patrick’s Day Pot o’ Gold Rainbow Cupcakes

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IMG_5601_2These cupcakes were a long time in the making. Last year I bought the makings for some rainbow cupcakes for a baby shower but never ended up making them. I didn’t want the candy to go to waste though, so I kept it in the back of my mind to find a good time to use them. Rainbow cupcakes would be good at any time, but I wanted it to be the right time, the right situation.

Then St. Patrick’s Day came around this year and it hit me: Now is the time! Rainbows are a great motif of St. Patrick’s Day and the beginning of spring, so I modified my idea and added little candy pots of gold to more fit the theme of St. Patrick’s Day.

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These cupcakes were fun to make because they’re covered in candy! I got inspiration for these cupcakes from Babble.com. For the decor, you’re going to need Airheads Xtremes Rainbow Berry Sour Candy strips, Rolos, gold sparkle gel, gold sugar sprinkles, green jimmies, green frosting dye, and white frosting. I used Just A Pinch’s Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe for the frosting.

Make a batch of cupcakes in whatever flavor you want. I chose to make chocolate cupcakes (recipe here) so the cake was the “dirt” under the grass. If you use my mom’s chocolate cake recipe, follow the recipe exactly, except cook the cupcakes for only 20-25 minutes, otherwise they’ll be overcooked.

IMG_5589While the cupcakes cooled, I made the pots o’ gold using the Rolos, the sparkle gel, and gold sugar sprinkles. Flip the Rolos upside down, add a glob of sparkle gel to the center, leaving the edges untouched, and sprinkle some gold sugar on top. Now you’ve got a treasury full of gold waiting to be placed at the end of the rainbow!

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Make your frosting next and color about half of it green. I did the green in batches because I didn’t want to make too much green and not have enough white frosting left over, but half green/half white should work out. If you want to be cautious, make a little green at a time until you’ve frosted the tops of all the cupcakes. Thin frosting is just fine for this project. Sprinkle the green jimmies on top of all the freshly frosted cupcakes for the grass. You might need to push them into the frosting to make them stick better.

IMG_5595Next cut the rainbow candy strips in half. This will give you 24 rainbows, just enough to cover 2 dozen cupcakes. If you end up with more cupcakes or need more than 24, you’ll need to buy a second package of the rainbow candy.

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With your left over white frosting placed in a frosting bag or zip lock fitted with a Wilton #12 tip, pipe small puffy clouds on two sides of each cupcake. Then stick each end of a rainbow strip into the clouds. Lastly, use a dot of sparkle gel to the side of one cloud to attach a pot o’ gold.

One last thing I will leave you with. Make sure these cupcakes don’t get too warm or they will get a bit droopy, as seen below:

IMG_0833I hope these cupcakes bring you luck this St. Patrick’s Day!

***Update: I included a link to where my inspriation for this cupcake originated.***
 
TidyMomFRIDAYS-1

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