Sunday, 26 February 2012

Easter Bird Nests

Easter Bird Nests(C) 2008 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

Easter Bird Nests are a fun, easy Easter candy recipe. These whimsical candies are especially good to make with children. If you don’t want to use chow mein noodles, you can substitute approximately 3 cups of cold cereal—twig-shaped cereals will work best, but crisped rice or cornflakes will taste great too.

Prep Time: 15?minutes

Total Time: 15?minutes


  • 2.5 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 4 tbsp (2 ounces) butter
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 can (5 oz) crispy chow mein noodles
  • 1/2 cup small candy eggs
  • 12 marshmallow peeps
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 drop green food coloring
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional


1. Prepare a muffin tin by spraying it thoroughly with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the marshmallows and butter. Microwave for 1 minute then remove and stir vigorously. If the marshmallows are not fully melted, microwave for an additional 30-45 seconds, until the marshmallows are melted. Stir the marshmallow and butter mixture until it is smooth and homogenous.

3. Add the vanilla extract and chow mein noodles and stir until the noodles are completely and evenly covered with the mixture. Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes until it is cool enough to handle, but still warm enough to manipulate.

4. Using a large spoon, evenly divide the chow mein noodles among the 12 muffin tin holes.

5. Spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray, and mold the noodles into a nest shape, indenting the center and pressing the edges up the sides of the tin.

6. Place the nests in the refrigerator to set while you prepare the coconut. Place the coconut into a small bowl and add a drop or two of green food coloring. Using your hands, rub the coconut together until the green color is well-dispersed. (Wear plastic gloves if you don’t want to get your hands green—the coloring usually washes out right away, though.)

7. Sprinkle the coconut on top of the nests. Add two or three eggs to each nest, and top them with a Peep. If you are going to be transporting these, you can melt a small amount of chocolate chips and use the melted chocolate to secure the eggs and Peeps to the nest. Otherwise, you can leave them loose and allow people to eat the nests piece by piece.

8. Allow the marshmallow mixture to completely set before removing the nests. To remove them, slide a knife around the sides of the tin and gently insert it under the bottom of the nest to pull it out.

9. These nests are best at room temperature. They can be kept in a wax-paper lined Tupperware container for up to a week, but the Peeps will get stale quickly, so add those at the last minute if you are making these in advance.

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Almond Special K Bars

Don't tell peanut butter, but I have a new nut butter love: almond butter. My favorite variety is roasted and salted, and includes chunks of almonds and toasted flaxseeds. It's more flavorful and crunchy than most peanut butters, and I like to think that I'm getting some heart-healthy benefits along with all the calories slathered on my morning toast.

Since I'm never content to leave well enough alone, I decided to use my favorite almond butter in these Almond Special K Bars, and was pleasantly surprised at the results. The chewy base has a nice almond flavor, and the toasted nuts on top of the chocolate boost the almond taste. You can substitute other nut butters in place of the almond butter, or try adding a handful of chopped nuts to the cereal mixture to boost the nut flavor.

Get the recipe: Almond Special K Bars

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Almond Special K Bars Photo c2008 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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S'mores Treats

I've had my fair share of Rice Crispy treats. I've also tried a few variations, like chocolate Rice Crispy treats and even Lucky Charms treats. (I can't quite recommend those...yelch.) But I've never tried to make these familiar marshmallow-and-cereal bars with graham cereal before...until now. I don't know what I was waiting for--it turns out they're pretty awesome, and super simple!

The idea is dead easy: Golden Grahams cereal (or a similar graham-based breakfast cereal) is mixed with marshmallows and chocolate chips, then covered with a gooey marshmallow mixture that holds everything together. The result is S'mores Treats, small bars with all the flavors of s'mores, no campfire required!

Get the recipe: S'mores Treats

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S'mores Treats Photo c2012 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Saturday, 25 February 2012

Candy Corn Tree

Finish Gluing the Candy?Corns

Candy Corn Tree picture (c) 2010 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

Glue the candy corn all the way up the foam cone until it is entirely covered. You could also add other Halloween candy onto the tree: packaged single-serving candies in Halloween colors look very nice, and different Halloween candies allow you to create other patterns and textures on the tree.

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Starting Making Chocolate Candy Guide: When I hear "chocolate factory," I get visions of Willy Wonka. Can you describe your factory setup? How many workers do you have? Where did you get your machinery?

Art Pollard: Our factory is pretty small. Right now, our factory is only about 2,000 square feet and all a single room. We have recently taken over another unit in our building and are working on getting it painted and ready so that we can expand into it as well. When we started out, we had just enough space to make chocolate and no more. However, now that we are up and running, we have found that we could really use more space than what we had initially planned.

Along the walls, we hang large poster-size prints of cocoa flowers, cocoa pods, and various places from my travels to Central America and elsewhere. This helps bring some color to our factory and liven things up. I do almost all of our photography, so there’s a great sense of satisfaction in seeing such beautiful prints on the walls and knowing that they were not purchased but are my own creation.

Our process starts with loading the cocoa beans onto a sorting table. The table has a hoist over it which allows us to lift the bags into the air so we can empty them easier. All of our cocoa beans are at this point sorted by hand to ensure that the bags we receive from the farm do not have rocks, sticks, and farm implements in them that might damage our machinery or get into the final chocolate. We find all sorts of interesting things tucked away in the bags of beans.

Once the beans are sorted, we use a wheelbarrow to take them over to our roaster. We imported our roaster from Portugal. Although manufactured in 1962, it follows an earlier design. In fact, an engraving from a chocolate book was published in 1912 shows an almost identical roaster. It is cylindrical, five feet around and about eight feet tall. A large door opens on the front, swung up via a counterweight. Inside is a large sphere about four feet in diameter, into which we load and roast our cocoa beans. When the circular lid is off, I can't help but think that it looks like the Death Star from the movie Star Wars. When we roast the cocoa beans, all our neighbors can smell the aroma. Our neighborhood smells like a large oven full of brownies. Our neighbors tell their visitors about what a wonderful area in which they get to work.

Our next machine, our winnowing machine. It is located right next to the roaster. The winnowing machine crushes the beans to help separate the fibrous husk from the meat of the bean. The winnowing machine then classifies the bits of bean (called "nibs") by size and then uses a vacuum system to separate the light husk away from the heavier nibs. When the nibs come out of the winnowing machine, they fall into tubs and are ready to be made into chocolate.

We use a melangeur (a French word that means simply “to mix”) to grind our nibs into chocolate liquor. For the uninitiated, this is not a drink with alcohol but simply ground up cocoa beans—the equivalent of baking chocolate. We add sugar here as well as vanilla. I personally source our vanilla just as I source our cocoa beans. Once the ground beans have reached the right consistency, we load the chocolate into five gallon buckets and load it into our next machine, the roller mill.

A roller mill is a large machine in which a series of rollers roll against each other, being pushed together with lots of force. We use the roller mill to grind the chocolate ingredients until they are perfectly smooth. Many people find it interesting that when the chocolate comes out of the roll refiner, it is not liquid but is flakey, like sawdust.

When all the chocolate has run through the roll refiner, we load it into our conche. Essentially a conche is a machine that heats the chocolate and stirs it or otherwise moves it around for a long period of time. This process allows a number of volatile oils and acids to evaporate and improves the flavor and texture of the chocolate. A number of other aspects to conching also help improve the flavor and texture. Conching is a crucial phase, it is very important for flavor development. I spend lots of time at the factory as we are conching; sometimes I have been known to sleep there just so that I can be sure to adjust the speed and temperature of the conche as it massages the chocolate so that the final chocolate is as close to perfect as it can be.

It isn't all romance, however. When we are in full production, our factory gets to be very hot. This is nice in the winter, but during the summer months, it can be quite an experience. As the conche runs, acids (such as acetic acid) evaporate, as well as do the other volatiles. Depending on the type of bean, this can make your eyes water, and it takes time to get used to. Finally, with all the machinery, our factory can be very loud, so the wearing of hearing protection is mandatory. It is, in the ,end, very hard and difficult work. At the same time, classical artists have long worked in sweltering conditions to be able to create porcelain, glass, and bronze sculptures. Chocolate is, I believe, no exception to this great tradition.

We have three workers. Two of us make the chocolate, while a third, whom we just brought on, markets it. I personally oversee each and every batch of chocolate and formulate the recipes we use.

As to where we obtained our machinery, most all it is out of Europe. Europe has a chocolate making tradition that the United States does not have. In the United States, a few key players for many have dominated chocolate making for many, many years. For this reason, it is very difficult to obtain machinery in the United States for making chocolate, though machinery for making confections is relatively easy to come by.

Read more interview questions:

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Candy Sushi

Don't be alarmed--no fish were harmed in the making of this Candy Sushi! I can't say the same for gummy worms or Swedish fish, however.

I've been making this dinner look-alike for years, but it still makes me smile every time. It's also surprisingly simple--just make some crispy rice treats, and either top them with some Swedish fish, or roll them around gummy worms and wrap them in Fruit Roll-Ups. Honestly, the hardest part is finding green Fruit Roll-Ups--it seems all of the stores around me only carry berry flavors or crazy swirled varieties. This is a great recipe to make with kids, and it's a fun way to end a (legitimate) sushi dinner.

If you're new to making candy sushi, here are a few resources to get you started:

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Candy Sushi Photo c2010 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Cinnamon Crunch Truffles

What do you get when you combine rich white chocolate truffles, several heaping spoonfuls of cinnamon, and a crunchy coating of crushed cinnamon cereal? Only the best truffles this side of the Mississippi! (And by "this side of the Mississippi" I mean whichever side you're on.) I used Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal to give these Cinnamon Crunch Truffles a sweet, crispy coating that's a perfect contrast to the silky smooth truffle filling inside. The only downside to these truffles is that the cereal coating gets soggy after a few days...but that's all the more reason to eat them quickly!

Get the recipe: Cinnamon Crunch Truffles

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Cinnamon Crunch Truffles Photo c2012 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Chocolate Factory Picture Tour

After the nibs go through the melangeur, the resulting chocolate liquor is pressed to remove the cocoa butter, which leaves a powdery disc known as “cocoa presscake.” Presscake, when pulverized, becomes common cocoa powder. At this point, the chocolate process differs depending on the recipe and formulation of the manufacturer. If the chocolate is low quality, the pulverized presscake will be mixed with vegetable fats, sugar, and flavorings to become substandard chocolate.

However, at Scharffen Berger, cocoa butter is re-added to the chocolate liquor, along with other ingredients like sugar and whole vanilla pods. The excess cocoa butter gives the chocolate a pleasing mouth feel, creating that “melt in your mouth” quality that can’t be reproduced by hydrogenated vegetable fats.

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Sunday, 19 February 2012

Coconut Brittle

Coconut Brittle(c) 2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

Coconut Brittle is a rich, toasty brittle recipe with loads of flavor from shredded coconut. If you thought brittles had to include peanuts or other nuts, you must try this coconut variation. It’s wonderful dipped in chocolate, eaten plain, or crushed and used on top of coconut cream pie or other desserts.

Yield: 1 lb coconut brittle


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda


1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside for now.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, sugar, butter, and salt over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar and butter dissolve, then insert a candy thermometer.

3. Cook the candy without stirring until it reaches 240 degrees F (115 C) on the thermometer. Once at 240, add the unsweetened coconut and stir it into the candy.

4. Once the coconut is added, you will need to be very vigilant and stir the candy frequently to prevent it from burning. It will be thicker and more difficult to stir, and might clump around the thermometer. The coconut will start to darken and the whole candy will get browner and have a toasty aroma, but with frequent stirring it should not blacken or burn.

5. Cook the candy until it reads 290 degrees F (143 C) on the candy thermometer.

6. Once at 290, remove the pan from the heat immediately and stir in the vanilla extract and baking soda. As the baking soda is added the candy will start to loosen up and foam up.

7. Pour the candy onto the foil-lined baking sheet and use an offset spatula to spread it into a very, very thin layer. This candy is better the thinner it is, so try to get it as thin as possible.

8. Once it has started to set but is still flexible, carefully use your hands to pull it thinner, as you would stretch peanut brittle.

9. Allow the Coconut Brittle to cool completely. Once cool, break it into small chunks. If you want, you can smear chocolate on the brittle before breaking it, or dip individual pieces in chocolate.

10.Coconut Brittle can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

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Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Happy Valentine's Day! If you're looking for a last-minute treat, how about romantic Chocolate-Covered Strawberries? They're one of the simplest candies to make, so there's no excuse not to wow your valentine with some chocolate-covered bliss. Seriously, if you can press the "start" button on your microwave, you can make these. Figuring out how to uncork the champagne bottle is totally up to you, though.

If you're ready to branch out a little more and stretch your chocolate-covered wings, try this recipe for Marbled Strawberries. The concept is the same, only instead of dipping the strawberries in plain chocolate, you first swirl together a mix of white and dark chocolates, and then dip. Brilliant!

But maybe you have a formal occasion to attend, and nothing but the most smartly dressed candies will do. Then may I suggest Tuxedo Strawberries? Wearing their Sunday best, these dark and white chocolate-covered berries look completely adorable grouped together on a serving platter. Just make sure they're not out-dressing you when you present them to your beloved.

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Strawberries Photos c2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Vegan Chocolate Coconut Truffles

Here is the truth: I respect and admire many aspects of the vegan lifestyle and diet, but for years I have resisted the thought of attempting vegan candies and desserts. It would be much, much easier for me to give up animal products in my regular diet than to stop using them in my pastry and candy creations. I held firm to the belief that there are just no substitutes for the rich, mellow taste of butter, or the heft and body of heavy cream, or the volume and stability that comes from whipped egg whites. In short, I was a vegan baking skeptic.

However, in this new year, I've decided to become a bit more adventurous, and I've started experimenting with different ingredients, healthy substitutions, and...hold on to your hats...vegan recipes! One of the first things I tried was substituting coconut milk for cream in a truffle recipe. Holy smokes, it works! The fat from the coconut milk products rich, silky truffles that are every bit as luscious as their dairy cream counterparts. The coconut milk also gives the truffles a subtle fruity flavor that is lovely on its own, but also reserved enough to make this a good "base" recipe for other flavored vegan truffles. So if you're ready to be adventurous too, or if you just love the taste of coconut and chocolate together (and who could not?) try this Vegan Chocolate Coconut Truffles recipe.

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Vegan Chocolate Coconut Truffles Photo c2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Pina Colada Fudge

Coconut White Chocolate Fudge(c) 2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

Pina Colada Fudge is a smooth white chocolate-based fudge with the tropical taste of coconut and pineapple. It comes together in just a few minutes using the microwave, so it's a great candy for when you're short on time.

If you can find dried pineapple, it makes a nice, chewy addition to the fudge, but the pineapple extract gives the fudge enough pineapple flavor if you cannot find the fruit itself.

Yield: 25 fudge pieces


  • 1 lb chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup marshmallow creme or fluff
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, preferably unsweetened
  • 2 oz (4 tbsp) butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 tsp rum extract
  • 3/4 tsp pineapple extract
  • 3/4 tsp coconut extract
  • 7 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried pineapple, optional


1. Prepare an 8x8 pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Place the chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, stirring after every 30 seconds to prevent overheating. Stir until the white chocolate is smooth and completely free of lumps.

3. Add the marshmallow creme, shredded coconut, butter, extracts, condensed milk, and salt, and stir until the butter melts and everything is combined. If you have chopped dried pineapple, stir it in at the end to get it well-distributed.

4. Pour the fudge into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer. Allow the fudge to set at room temperature overnight, or in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

5. Once set, lift the fudge from the pan using the foil as handles. Use a sharp knife to cut the fudge into small 1-inch squares to serve. Pina Colada Fudge can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week, or in the refrigerator for two weeks.

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How to Make Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup

Fill the Cups With Peanut Butter?Filling

Peanut Butter Cups photo (c) 2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

When the cups are set and the filling is made, use a teaspoon or small candy scoop to drop balls of filling into the chocolate cups. Pat them down gently so they don't mound up over the top of the cup. Fill them until they are almost full, but leave space at the top to cover it with chocolate.

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Saturday, 18 February 2012

Candied Flowers

Who knew making Candied Flowers was so simple? For years I've seem them on pastries and cakes in "fancy" shops, but it was only recently that I learned how to make them myself. And, bombshell: it's super-easy. A quick brush of egg white, a dusting of sugar, and you have beautiful sugar-crusted flowers, perfect for putting on top of cakes, cupcakes, or any other special-occasion dessert. *cough Valentine's Day cough*

Just make sure you use flowers that are meant to be edible and aren't doused in pesticides, and you're golden. I usually buy them pre-packaged in the herb section at Whole Foods or similar upscale supermarkets, but I've also seen them at the farmer's market, and if you have a green thumb (which I decidedly do NOT) you could even grow your own edible varieties. Not convinced it's as easy as I'm making it sound? Look, I have a Candied Flower photo tutorial right here. Told ya so.

Get the recipe: Candied Flowers
How to Make Candied Flowers (Photo Tutorial)

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Candied Flowers Photo c2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Chocolate Boxes for Packaging Valentine's Candy

For the last several weeks I've been focusing on Valentine's Day candies. But with Valentine's Day almost here, we must take a break from truffle-palooza and focus on a more pressing issue: how to package all this cute Valentine's candy. If you've made candy for friends, coworkers, or neighborhood riff-raff, you might be happy shoving it in some Tupperware and calling it good. But if you want the packaging to be as dazzling as the candy inside, consider making a Chocolate Box to hold your candy.

These edible chocolate boxes are so beautiful and eye-catching, your loved ones will practically throw the candy aside to get a better look at it. You can make it with or without a lid, and it's honestly as simple as doing a little addition and some light measuring with a ruler. However, if the thought of that gives you the heebie-jeebies, here's a photo tutorial showing how to make a chocolate box.

But wait, there's more. That beautiful gold heart on the front doesn't just magically appear when you glue the final side onto the chocolate box. (If only.) That heart is an example of a chocolate filigree, and I've put together a whole tutorial showing how to make chocolate monograms and filigrees. They look awesome on chocolate boxes, yes, but there are so many more uses for these chocolate decorations. Make a monogram to use as a cake topper for a birthday or shower, make a dozen filigrees to put on top of cupcakes, or make mini chocolate letters to use atop truffles or other candies. Once you start, you'll keep finding places to use them. Just promise you'll stop once your family is decorated with individual monograms atop their foreheads.

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Photo c2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Saturday, 11 February 2012

Cake Batter Chocolate Bark

Cake Batter Chocolate Bark photo(c) 2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

Cake Batter Chocolate Bark couldn't be easier—or more delicious. A simple white and dark chocolate bark is flavored like cake batter and decorated with colorful sprinkles. I like the contrast of the thin dark chocolate layer underneath the white chocolate-cake batter layer, but you can omit it or make it thicker to suit your tastes.

Yield: 1 lb chocolate bark


  • 6 oz (1 cup) chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
  • 9 oz (1.5 cups) chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp dry yellow cake mix
  • Sprinkles


1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil or waxed paper.

2. Place the chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips in a bowl and microwave until melted, stirring after every 30 seconds to prevent overheating.

3. Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, pour it onto the prepared baking sheet and smooth it into a thin, even layer, less than 1/4-inch thick. Refrigerate the tray to set the chocolate while you prepare the white chocolate layer.

4. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave the same way you melted the dark chocolate, stirring frequently so it doesn't overheat. Once melted and smooth, add the dry cake mix and whisk or stir until the mix is completely incorporated and there are no lumps in the chocolate. Taste the chocolate and add a bit more cake mix if you want a stronger flavor. Allow the white chocolate to cool until it is just barely warm.

5. Once the dark chocolate layer is set and the white chocolate layer has cooled, pour the white chocolate over the dark chocolate and spread it into an even layer. Scatter sprinkles over the top and press on them gently to adhere them to the white chocolate.

6. Refrigerate the tray until the bark is completely set, at least 20 minutes. Once set, cut it into small squares or break it into pieces by hand.

7. Store Cake Batter Chocolate Bark in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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Friday, 10 February 2012

Chocolate Roses

If you're getting a little tired of hearts-Cupids-red-pink-explosion everywhere right about now, I have something unique and refreshing and utterly different for you: roses!

*Crickets chirp*

Okay, so roses are a little played out too. It is Valentine's Day season, after all! But I'll bet that no matter how tired you are of red roses, you haven't seen many edible roses hand-sculpted out of chocolate, hmm?

Chocolate Roses are made out of a little something called chocolate plastic, which is basically a mix of chocolate and corn syrup that's nice and pliable. (They can also be made from fondant or marzipan, if you prefer.) They look amazing scattered on top of a cake, or cupcakes, or brownies--they're not too particular! They're also surprisingly easy to make, once you get the hang of it. I've put together a photo tutorial showing how to make chocolate roses, just in time for you to astound your loved ones with your chocolate rose-making prowess. Go forth and delight.

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Chocolate Roses Photo c2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Lovebug Truffles

Lately I've been wearing my culinary Fancy Pants pretty frequently. What can I say? Valentine's Day brings out the gourmand in me. Why settle for boring candy when I can enjoy decadent delights like Passion Fruit Truffles, Raspberry Rose Truffles, or Champagne Truffles? But sometimes, a girl gets tired of gold dusted-this and silver-flecked that, and longs for something a little less extravagant.

Enter...Lovebug Truffles! These charming rascals are on the other end of the classy-cute spectrum. No one will mistake them for a runaway from a Parisian pastry shop, but everyone will love their sweet little faces anyhow. These ladybug lookalikes aren't too complicated, but there are lots of decorating steps involved, so I've put together a photo tutorial showing how to make lovebug truffles.

Get the recipe: Lovebug Truffles

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Lovebug Truffles Photo c2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Red Hot Love Truffles

Are you a spicy chocolate convert yet? It may sound a little strange, since many of us are used to our chocolate as a purely sweet confection, but chocolate was actually originally paired with chili peppers by the Mayans over 1000 years ago. They would roast and grind cacao beans, and mix the paste with water and chili peppers to make a hot, frothy drink. Now that's a pedigree! Compared to that history, mixing chocolate with milk and sugar and forming it into bars seems downright newfangled.

I looked to this time-tested combination for inspiration when developing the recipe for Red Hot Love Truffles. The cream used to make the truffles is infused with crushed red chili flakes, so the spiciness is subtle, but present in every bite. You don't even really notice it while you're chewing the truffle, but it's only after you've swallowed that a little heat starts to be felt in the back of the mouth. It's a lovely pairing with dark or milk chocolate, and helps to cut through the sweetness and richness of the truffles. I like to top these with a little sprinkling of chipotle chili powder, which adds a little pop of color and a smoky flavor, but you can use cayenne pepper or leave off the sprinkle entirely. Here are a few more red hot recipes to spice things up this Valentine's Day:

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Red Hot Love Photo c2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Rose Lollipops

Rose Lollipops(c) 2012 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

Who wouldn't want to receive a bouquet of these Rose Lollipops? These beautiful rose-shaped candies are delicately scented with the fresh floral fragrance of rose water, and they make a perfect gift for Valentine's Day, an anniversary, or any romantic occasion.

Yield: about 8 2" rose lollipops


  • 1 cup sugar
  • ? cup light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons rose water (see Note below)
  • Pink or red food coloring
  • Rose-shaped lollipop molds, meant for hard candy
  • Lollipops sticks


1. Prepare your molds by spraying them with a very light coating of nonstick cooking spray and inserting lollipop sticks into the molds.

2. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Once boiling, insert a candy thermometer.

3. Allow to boil, without stirring, until candy reaches 295 degrees Fahrenheit (146 C).

4. Once the candy reaches 295 F, remove it from heat. Allow it to sit until it stops bubbling completely. If you want to make multiple colors from the same batch, start with a light pink color. Pour some of the candy into the mold's cavities, then add a little more food coloring to deepen the color. Continue until you have made as many shades of red and pink as you desire. To make opaque lollipops, add a drop or two of white food coloring when you add the pink or red. Continue to fill the mold's cavities until you run out of candy. Make sure that the back of the lollipop sticks are well-embedded in the candy.

5. Allow the lollipops to cool completely at room temperature. Once cool, gently flex the mold to pop them out—do not pull them out by the sticks.

6. Store Rose Lollipops individually wrapped, in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to a month.

Note: Rose water is a common ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine, and can often be found in the ethnic section of large supermarkets. Rose flavoring or food-grade rose oil can be substitute. Be aware that rose oil is much stronger, so use much less than the recipe calls for—a few drops should probably do it.

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Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries(c) 2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

Chocolate covered strawberries make an easy and elegant candy dessert. You can substitute white or milk chocolate for semi-sweet, or experiment with double-dipping the strawberries in different chocolates to vary the flavor and appearance.

Be sure to check out the video showing how to make chocolate covered strawberries!

Prep Time: 10?minutes

Total Time: 10?minutes


  • 1 dozen ripe strawberries
  • 1 cup chopped chocolate (preferable) or good-quality chocolate chips


1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil.

2. Wash the strawberries and dry them thoroughly.

3. Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until it is melted, stirring after every 30 seconds. Overheated chocolate gets thick and hard to work with, so it's important to keep a careful eye on the chocolate. Remove it when some pieces are still not melted, and stir until they melt. If you are using low-quality chocolate chips, you might need to add a little vegetable shortening to thin it out and make it easy to work with.

4. Holding a strawberry by the stem, dip it in chocolate, twirling it in a circular motion to evenly cover most of the berry. As you lift it from the chocolate, twirl it so that any excess chocolate drips back into the bowl.

5. Place the berry on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining berries and chocolate.

6. Once all of the berries are dipped, refrigerate them for 30 minutes to set the chocolate. These candies taste best when eaten the same day they are made.

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