Chocolate, chocolate and ….more chocolate

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 How do we celebrate here at Life’s Patina? Well let me say that we do like our chocolate! I wanted to share with you some of my favorite tasty creations that are all fairly easy to make. All involve chocolate in one form or another. I love to dip things in chocolate, so much that the kids say when I am in this mode of action, that they better not get too close or they might be next and my husband says, “wouldn’t it be easier to buy these at the store?” I love giving a handmade gift though, even if it entails staying up until the wee hours of the night to do so. That is my quite creative time. You can start with items that you already have in your kitchen, follow these recipes and them wrap them in pretty packaging to share a little bit of love on this special day. 

CHOCOLATE DIPPED TREATS

For the chocolate dipped items, I like to start with a quality dipping chocolate. Sam’s club sells a good Ghirardelli dark chocolate bar or you can use the chocolate melts that your local craft store sells by Wilton. My advice in melting chocolate is to use the microwave for it is much quicker that way.


 Before you start to melt you should prepare anything that you will use to either dip or decorate your chocolate treat.

Some yummy things that work well dipped are Oreos, pretzels (any shape or form), strawberries, Ritz crackers spread w/ a thin layer of peanut butter, candy canes and even spoons!
Suggestions for making your chocolate dipping experience pleasant:

-Be as prepared as possible!
-work quickly for the chocolate dries quickly
– lay out wax paper on your counter before you begin to melt that is close to your cooking area (Running around looking for somewhere to lay your dipped items on can be a messy proposition)
-try to get off as much of the excess chocolate as possible after dipping by lightly shaking the item OVER the dipping container
-add your decorative items quickly for they will not adhere once the chocolate is dry
-be prepared for a bit of a mess…especially if you try to get your kids involved…try to get your kids involved! A good job for them is to sprinkle on the toppings.

 Dip to your HEARTS content and have fun with it!


Toffee pieces are delicious on pretzels





Oreos look festive when nonpareils are added and conversation hearts. All of these toppings can be chosen according to the Holiday or occasion that you are making them for.



 We added a Valentine marshmallow heart, nonpareils and  mini marshmallows to the spoons that we dipped. The spoons are shown with my favorite scones ever! I found the recipe years ago in Mary Engelbreits magazine and I make them every Valentine’s Day. Use a heart shaped cookie cutter, top them with melted butter and pink sanding sugar before baking and you have a festive treat. They are wonderful with raspberry jam or lemon curd.


Chocolate Chip Scones


Scones:
2 cups unbleached flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 1/4-1 1/3 cups whipping cream


Topping:
2-3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2.Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in bowl.
3. Add the chocolate chips.
4. Stir in the cream with a fork until the dough holds together in a sticky mass. (You may need to add a tablespoon or two more of cream until dough holds together.)
5. Turn dough out on a lightly floured board. Knead the dough several times. (Do not handle too much or the scones get very hard.)
6. Pat dough into a 10″ circle. Cut circle into 8 wedges (or use a round glass or cookie cutter to make shapes.)
7. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2″ apart.
8. Brush scones with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.
9. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Another chocolate based treat to make that is very easy and can be adapted to any color scheme are these pretzel and M & M treats. Definitely enlist the help of your kids for this one for though it is very easy, it does take some time when doing it solo.

1.Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
2. Spread out Butter Snap Pretzels on cookie trays in rows. 
3. Top each pretzel with 3 chocolate chips (you can place a chocolate melt on each one instead of the chips but I have found that they do not stay on as well, once dry.) 
4. Place in the oven and let chocolate melt slightly, approx. 4-5 minutes. 
5. Take out of oven and top each one with an M & M. Let dry. 

These are delicious and when the kids balk at helping out, tell them the story of “The Little Red Hen”. Remember…the little red hen plants the wheat seeds, harvests it, thrashes it, makes it into flour and then bakes it into a delicious loaf of bread? All the while she asks the other animals on the farm (aka, your house) to help her. They all come up with excuses, tell her No, and she ends up doing it all by herself. Sound familiar?? I think you know the ending to the story. Who gets to eat the loaf of bread?




The last item that I love to make as a gift for either Christmas or Valentines Day is homemade hot chocolate mix. It is so very easy and fun to package up in creative ways. I have found many recipes but this is my favorite.


Flavored Cocoa Mix
Yields about 19-20 cups of cocoa mix


1 box ( 1 lb. 10 oz) nonfat dry milk (8 cups)
4 cups sifted confectioners sugar
2 jars (8 oz each) of your favorite flavored nondairy creamer. (Past flavors have been Belgian chocolate toffee, gingerbread, peppermint, vanilla hazelnut… anything will do that you like.)
1 jar nondairy creamer (11 oz)
1 box chocolate milk mix (1 pound, more if you like it really chocolatey!)
1/2 teaspoon salt


In a very large pot, combine all ingredients; stir until well blended. Store in an airtight container. Package up with serving instructions


To serve: Stir 3 heaping tablespoons into 6 ounces hot water. Stir.



I love to package the hot cocoa mix in plain brown paper lunch bags. You can embellish them in so many different ways. Here I tied on a glassine bag that I had stamped with an image. I adhered a handwritten label on the bottom and used bakers twine to tie up the bags. What is inside the bags you ask? Why of course, the chocolate covered spoons and some marshmallows. You can do things a little more simply and add a tag tied with a string or a cut out heart. For one of my son’s “Winter”/ Christmas  parties at school, we did this in his class and added a candy cane. You can tailor it to whatever works for you!



You can package up your treats in many different ways. This time I used brown bakers boxes that I placed tissue paper in first and then wrapped with ribbon. I have used cellophane bags, canning jars, and other various containers that I have had around. The important factor is that they are food safe.




Enjoy and have fun with it! The recipients will love the special touches and it makes the day a little more festive.

” Where we love is home, Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”
                               Oliver Wendell Holmes




  1. deb says:

    Inspired by your creations! Happy Valentine’s Day! – Deb, Tiny Olive