Guilty Food Pleasures

Got a guilty food pleasure? Something you like to eat, but are hesitant to admit it for whatever reason.

I have a few GFPs, but the one I’m willing to confess today is my secret love of Cherry Blossoms (a Hershey product).

Cherry Blossom

I say ‘secret’ because anyone who knows me knows I appreciate good quality chocolate.

A Cherry Blossom is chocolate candy. It’s really not supposed to be something a true chocoholic indulges in (or in this case, admits to indulging in!).

But there’s something about the texture and taste of this chocolate, coconut and chopped peanut shell with its maraschino cherry and oozing cherry syrup centre that just works for me. The little yellow box with its foil-wrapped contents rather resembles a little gift. Maybe that’s part of its allure!

Here – see what I mean……

It’s not that I eat a ton of these chunky, flat-bottomed chocolate mounds.

Once in a while I pick one up when I see them at the grocery store checkout. I tend to eat this treat quickly, partly because otherwise its oozing centre makes for sticky fingers, and tell-tale stains on one’s clothing. And, probably also to hide the evidence that my love of chocolate isn’t exclusively for higher-end brands.

By the way, Cherry Blossoms are a Canadian candy. If you don’t live in Canada, you can order this treat and other foods from Canadian Favourites, an online company that sells specialty Canuck foods.

So there. I’ve confessed a guilty food pleasure. What’s yours?

Recipe pranks for April Fool’s Day


Is it a fried egg?

Be on guard tomorrow. It’s April Fool’s Day.

All may not be what it appears. Even at the breakfast or dinner table.

Nope! It's a Chocolate Egg Pop!

Nope! It's a chocolate fried egg on a stick!

With the following “recipes”, you”ll be the one planning the surprises, serving “cake” for dinner and “spaghetti and meatballs” for dessert. Don’t be fooled into thinking these ideas are difficult. Read on to see how easy it will be to play food pranks on your fellow diners tomorrow, or any day of the year.

If you want more wacky food ideas and recipe pranks, there are additional suggestions and videos at Family Fun magazine’s website.

  • Fried Egg and Toast? – Serve breakfast for dessert. Create a faux fried egg by spooning vanilla yogurt or sweetened whipped cream on a plate in the shape of the white of a fried egg. Add the yolk by placing a well-drained canned apricot or peach half, round side up, on top of the yogurt or cream, a little to one end. Toast a slice of pound cake. Spread with a thin layer of jam. Serve with the fried egg.
  • Drink Up! – Prepare fruit-flavored gelatin according to package directions. Pour into drinking glasses. Place a straw in each glass. Chill until set. At serving time, garnish rim of glasses with fruit. Serve and see how long it takes for someone to request a spoon to eat the “drink”.
  • An Antsy Cake – Turn a layer cake, ice cream cake or cheesecake into an anthill with this easy treatment. On top of the cake, carefully pour crushed vanilla wafers or nuts in a small mound to resemble an anthill. Arrange ants parading around the top of the cake and climbing up or down the side of the cake and/or the anthill using a chocolate-covered almond for each ant body and a chocolate-covered raisin or caramel (e.g. Skor Bites) for each  ant head. Pipe on eyes and legs using a tube of black gel icing.

Meat Loaf Cake

(Makes 8 to 10 servings)

Favourite meatloaf recipe (use 2 to 3 lbs/1 to 1.5 kg) ground beef
Hot mashed potatoes (about 4 cups/1 L)
Cherry tomatoes

Prepare meatloaf mixture as usual but before cooking, divide mixture in two and place into two 8-inch (20 cm) cake pans. Bake as usual, allowing a shorter time since meatloaf will likely cook faster as the mixture will be thinner than usual.

Meanwhile, prepare mashed potatoes using boiled or instant potatoes. The mashed potatoes should be fluffy and spreadable. Keep mashed potatoes warm until meat loaves are cooked.

Once cooked, drain fat from meat loaves. Invert one loaf onto a round pizza pan or heatproof plate. Cover with a thick even layer of mashed potatoes. Place second loaf on top and “frost” the top and sides of cake with remaining mashed potatoes.

If desired, some of the mashed potatoes can be spooned into a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip and piped around top or bottom edge of cake.

Place cake in a preheated 350F (180C) oven for 10 minutes to warm through. Remove from oven and decorate with halved cherry tomatoes. If desired, write a message on top of cake with ketchup. (If the opening of the ketchup bottle is too large to write a message easily, spoon some ketchup into a clean piping bag or a squeeze bottle with a small top to write your message.)

Spaghetti and Meat Ball Dessert

(Makes 1 serving)

Small slice of pound cake or half of a cupcake
Homemade or prepared icing
Yellow food coloring (if desired)
Strawberry sauce
2 of 3 chocolate malt balls or small truffles
Ground almonds or grated white chocolate
Chopped white chocolate or chocolate chips or candy melts
Lady fingers or biscotti
Toasted coconut
Green sprinkles

Place pound cake in the centre of a plate.

If desired, tint icing with food colouring to resemble the colour of cooked spaghetti. Spoon icing into a decorating tube fitted with a large circular tip; pipe icing in a looping fashion around the sides of the pound cake (don’t frost the top) to resemble spaghetti.

Spoon strawberry sauce (meat sauce) on top of the cake to cover it. Drizzle a little over portions of the spaghetti.

Using the dull side of a knife or a grater, rough up the surface of the malt balls (meatballs). Place them on top of the sauce.

Sprinkle ground almonds (parmesan cheese) over sauce and meatballs.
Carefully melt white chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave oven; stir until smooth. Spread chocolate over lady fingers (garlic bread). Sprinkle coconut (garlic) and green sprinkles (parsley) over top. Serve with spaghetti and meatballs.

Simply Minty Brownies!

You can turn plain brownies into minted brownies really easily.

Earlier this spring, Heather Albrecht shared her super simple brownie recipe with me. I posted the recipe on my blog on May 31. Yesterday she suggested a great way to “mint” the brownies. (And it adds another hit of chocolate!)

Heather said her mom puts half the brownie batter in the pan, covers it with a single layer of After Eight mints, then adds the remaining batter. The brownies are baked as usual.

The result?

“Mmmmmmmmm!” says Heather.

Decadent, minted fudgey brownies! What’s not to like? I may have to make this brownie variation this weekend.

Thanks, Heather!

(For more brownie recipes, visit Brownie Lover’s Diary.)

A Sweet Treat for Easy Giving


Yes, this crunchy chocolatey toffee treat is full of sugar and highly addictive, but it’s so easy to make, and it will bring a smile to your face after one bite. And it will win you rave reviews. It’s a recipe that has been around for years and it goes by a few different names. I’m not sure where it originated. I’ve made pans of it over the years and often use it for gifting. It’s a perfect sweet treat to present to someone you want to give a little something to, like a co-worker, teacher or the host/hostess at the next dinner party you go to.

To give, break up the crunchy brittle and layer it in a pretty tin or a cellophane bag. If you wish, first line the tin with tissue or parchment paper. You’ll likely be asked for a copy of the recipe so why not give it as part of the gift!

Chocolate Toffee Crunch
(Makes one 10 x 15-inch (25 x 30 cm) baking pan)

Approximately 40 soda crackers (about 1 sleeve of crackers)
1 cup (250 mL) butter
1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar
1-1/2 to 2 cups (375 to 500 mL) semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 to 1 cup (175 to 250 mL) chopped nuts (optional)

Line a 10 x 15-inch (25 x 30 cm) baking pan with aluminum foil so the foil extends up the sides up the pan slightly; wrap excess foil over edges. Cover pan completely with crackers, trimming to fit if necessary. You should have 5 rows of about 8 crackers each.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add brown sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil; boil for 3 minutes without stirring. Carefully pour hot mixture over crackers. Tilt pan (again, carefully!) to spread mixture evenly over all the crackers.

Bake in a preheated 350F (180C) oven for 15 minutes (mixture will be bubbling all over). Carefully remove pan from oven. If crackers have shifted a little, use a fork to quickly poke them back into position.

Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Let stand for a few minutes until the chips are shiny and look soft, then gently spread melted chips over entire surface with the back of a spoon. If desired, sprinkle nuts over chocolate and press down lightly.

Let stand or chill until firm. Cut or break into pieces and store in a covered container. Can be frozen.

TIPS: I’ve also baked this at 375F (190C) for 5 or 6 minutes with great results. The butter/sugar mixture should be bubbling all over.

VARIATION: Graham crackers can be substituted for soda crackers. You will need about 4 rows of 6 (square) crackers or 12 double crackers. Top with mini marshmallows instead of or in addition to nuts, if you wish. After sprinkling marshmallows on top, pop the pan into the oven for 30 seconds to a minute to soften marshmallows. Then lightly spread with the back of a spoon creating a marbled effect. Top with nuts, if desired.