Tag Archives: dessert

Homemade Nutella

Oh, my friends…I’m sorry I haven’t been back here in a while.  I’ve been busy, though!  I have some things to share that I’m really excited about.  I also have a new project in the works!

I’ll confess: I had a cleanse all planned out to ease the sugar before bombarding you with holiday sweets.

You know what?  It’s just not time for a cleanse, yet.  We’ll take care of that in January.  Right now, let’s work on Christmas gifts.



hazelnut single

(Sorry…chocolate hazelnut spread).

Let’s have a sidenote really quickly here: I want you to meet my baby brother.


He is no longer a baby and he has a job lined up for after graduation….in Seattle. He’s brilliant and I’m very proud of him but I mean seriously…that’s the other side of the country!!  I’m gonna miss that guy.


(Awful) iPhone photo of our high school senior pictures hanging in the hallway of my parent’s house. *sniff*  Lauren’s a senior.

My siblings (that’s us^) have had an understanding for years that we exchange favorite candies on Christmas.  I love it.  We get our favorite candy, we don’t have to spend a lot of money and everyone is happy.  This year, because brother bear is moving far far away, I’m stepping up my game.


He looooovvvessss Nutella…so he gets a giant homemade jar.

This. Is. So.  Simple.

Hazelnuts. (Ground)




(Melted) With powdered sugar and vanilla.  Cocoa powder is involved for extra chocolatey awesomeness.  There’s a little bit of oil (I’m not sure why).  I think it would be awesome to add some coffee flavor but that wouldn’t be true Nutella.  Let’s stick to the classic for now.


This is literally a grind and stir situation.  In no time at all you could have a homemade nutella+peanut butter sandwich.


Easy, awesome gift for any Nutella lovers in your life. Or chocolate lovers.  Or just delicious lovers because for real…this is hard to hate.  Pour it in a cute jar, stick a bow on top and attach a recipe card…or just a spoon.


Get ready for the best Nutella cookies of my life.


❤ Ellen

Homemade Nutella

Recipe adapted from The Splendid Table

1 cup toasted, unsalted hazelnuts
12 ounces (or less, to taste) milk chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon canola (I really want to try this with coconut oil!) ((I’m also not entirely sure the oil is necessary but I haven’t tried to go without so I can’t say what would happen)
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 (or 2!) tablespoon(s) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1.  Place 12 ounces milk chocolate in a double boiler and stir until melted in smooth, or place in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 15 second increments until melted.  Stir in the sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla and oil.  Let cool completely.
2.  Place 1 cup of toasted hazelnuts in a food processor with the blade attachment and chop until it forms a paste.
3. Add the chocolate mixture to the hazelnut paste and stir to combine.  Adjust to taste.  It will be thin at first but it thickens as it cools!
4.  Pour in a jar and decorate!  It should keep on the counter for about two weeks…if you have that kind of self control.


Filed under Breakfast, Dessert, Hodge Podge, Snacks, Uncategorized

Apple Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

Hey, don’t worry.  Everything is going to be ok.

I know it’s going to be ok because I have apples.  I have lots and lots of apples.

Here’s some advice from me to you: when life throws everything in its arsenal directly at your face…make something yeasty.  The bad gets good and the good gets better!

Or maybe life isn’t throwing anything at you.  Maybe life kind of forgot about you.  Yeast works well for that too…it’s an attention grabber.  (Who can ignore warm bread?  Especially when it’s a cinnamon bun 😉 )

Today, I suggest soft, lightly spiced, yeasty dough.  You know…the kind that takes a really long time to rise.  You’re gonna have to knead it, and pat it, and roll it, and read it a story, and bring it one more glass of water, and tuck it in and roll it again.  This is certainly not an every day project.

It takes some loving…and I love it.  All that rising and kneading and rolling gives you lots of time to think.  It’s a zen thing, man.  We’re totally meditating.  We’re figuring out life and what to do with it.

All of this and more made possible by butter and sugar…as usual.

This butter situation is not a joke…

…and the cinnasug means even more business.

Oh, did I mention? I put apples and pecans in my cinnamon rolls.

It’s such a simple addition but the difference is divine.  It’s like an apple pie and a pecan pie became best friends and threw a party in a cinnamon roll.  (That was the obvious scenario, right?) This is a great thing, people.  We threw all of the delicious into one gooey, doughy container…for the indecisive among us!  Or for the pie crust-fearing among us. (Silly.  We’ll discuss that ridiculous situation soon.  Pie crust is much less terrifying than you think, I promise.)

The risen dough is slightly tacky, but the lightest of flour showers later, it becomes a dream to work with.  All rolled out it takes over a third of my table.  Perfect.  You want the maximum number of gooey layers.  Trust.  (Let’s just be honest with each other.  That doughy middle bit is the real reason anyone eats a cinnamon roll. More dough=more layers=more doughy middle bit.)

Let’s talk about dental floss for a second.

(Hang in there!  This is relevant, I swear.)

Dental floss is a “Cinnabon” baker’s best friend.  If you start hacking at the log with a knife you’ll end up with some sad, squashy, misshapen cinnamon blobs.  You want perfect swirls of cinnamon delight…ammiright? Avoid cinnamon blobs and create perfect cinnamon rolls with dental floss!  Here’s the trick:

Scootch the floss under the log until it gets to your desired cinnamon roll size, cross the two ends at the top and pull them apart until the floss cuts all the way through the roll.  Yes, this works even with pecans and apples in the way.  You’re left with perfectly round  and swirly buns.  No prob, Bob.

Half of my dough became minis – straight up, no gimmicks.  Baby cinnamon rolls of pure cinnasug delight.

(Remember cinnasug?  We’re bringin’ it back!)

The other half took a hard left toward fall and fat pants and there’s no turning back.

Look: toasted pecans sauteed with butter and brown sugar until they could be candy in their own right.



The glaze is simple.  It’s just powdered sugar and milk, but really, that’s all you need.

Have you ever seen such magnificence?

My work here is done.

Your work is just beginning!  Go! Eat! Be merry!

((But don’t you dare eat these cold.  Warm and gooey is the only way to go!))


❤ Ellen

Apple Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

Recipe from my high school Gourmet Foods class =)

**I’m sharing the recipe I used but if you have a favorite cinnamon roll recipe, toss some apples and pecans in there! You won’t be sorry.  Also, cinnamon rolls have a special place in my heart.  If you have a great recipe, please share!  I’m always on the search for new gems!**

For the Rolls:

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or one 1 1/4 oz packet)
1 cup warm milk (105-110 degrees F)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the filling:

1 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/2 TABLESPOONS cinnamon (it seems like a lot but it’s not a joke)
1/3 cup butter, softened until it’s easily spreadable

[optional.  but do it]
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 large apple, chopped into your desired chunk size (mine were tiny)


Powdered sugar
Milk of choice

1. Heat milk slowly over low heat until it reaches 105-110 degrees F or until bubbles juuusssttt barely start to form along the edges.  Do not let your milk come to full boil.

2. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl until it starts to foam.

3. Add the sugar, melted butter and eggs.  In a small bowl, mix the flour, salt and spices before adding the flour mixture to the milk mixture.

4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead with lightly floured hands until it forms a large, smooth ball.  Place in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for about one hour or until doubled in size.

**At this point you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the next day.  Make sure you allow the chilled dough to rest on the counter for at least half an hour before attempting to roll**

5.While the dough rises, saute the pecans with the butter and sugar over low heat until everything is dissolved and the whole situation smells toasty.  The SECOND you smell even a hint of burning get it off the heat.  Set aside.

6. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle(ish shape) that is 1/4 inch thick.  The recipe says the final rectangle should measure 21 inches long and 16 inches wide.  I didn’t measure.  Everything worked out just fine.  Just roll your dough until it’s flat and not so thick you can’t roll it into a cinnamon bun shape.  If your dough is too sticky to work with, sprinkle LIGHTLY with flour.  Don’t go too crazy with the flour or the buns will be tough.

7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and mix the brown sugar and cinnamon for the filling.

8.  Spread 1/3 cup butter evenly over the surface of your rolled dough.

9. Sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mixture evenly over the butter.  Make sure you get the butter and sugar all the way to the edges.  Spread the apples and pecans in a even layer over the sugar mixture.

10.  Cut the dough in half (vertically, not horizontally) to make it more manageable.  For minis, tightly roll the dough into a log like a sleeping bag starting from a long side.  For big buns start rolling from a shorter side.

11.  Slice the log into roughly 2 inch sections, arrange in a greased baking pan and sprinkle with any of the sugar mixture that fell out while you sliced.  It’s kind of ok if they’re squished up next to each other but it’s better if they have some room to breathe (and grow!)

12.  Bake minis at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes (17 for me), and big buns for 20-25 minutes (23 for me)

13.  Starting with a cup of powdered sugar in a bowl, slowly add milk, whisking after each addition, until the glaze reaches the desired consistency.  Add more milk to make it thinner and more sugar to thicken.  Vanilla extract is allowed as well.

Glaze and SERVE WARM!!


Filed under Breakfast, Dessert, Uncategorized

Secret Ingredient Chocolate-Peanut Butter Fix

That title is how I got around sending out an e-mail with the title “Date Balls.”

That’s a ticket straight to the spam folder if I ever saw one.  So…hey, inbox.  Nice to see you (I hope).

Ok, I know you’re thinking this is weird.

It’s not weird.  At all.  I promise. It’s good.  Reeeaaally good.

I’ve seen these things everywhere with every different flavor and add-in you can imagine…

..except this one.

Turns out I’m happiest with just 3 ingredients:

1.  Dates.

2. Chocolate.

3. Peanut Butter. (Also peanuts for some crunch..same thing)

Might as well be a peanut butter brownie.

And I might as well be in heaven.

And also slightly ball-shaped from eating WAYYYYY too many of these.  Good thing they’re nutritious?  Or something?



❤ Ellen

P.S. Don’t be afraid of the dates!  They just add sweetness and let the whole mess stick together.  They seriously taste like a super fudgy peanut butter brownie.  Delicious.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Date Balls

Recipe inspired by basically every blog out there…but the “recipe” is all my own.

10 pitted mejdool dates
3 tablespoons peanut butter, maybe a tablespoon chopped peanuts if you want some crunch
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (plus extra for rolling)

1. Place the pitted dates in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.  Pulse until the dates have been reduced to roughly pea sized pieces.

2. Add cocoa powder and peanut butter.  Pulse until combined.  ((If you want to add the peanuts throw them in at the very end and pulse just once or twice)) The mixture will look crumbly but it is ready when you can press it into ball shapes that hold together.

3. Press the mixture into whatever size ball you want.  This recipe made eight 1-inch balls.

4.  Roll in cocoa powder (or topping of your choice…crushed peanuts?)  to prevent sticking.

**These are delicious at room temperature but if you want to freeze them (which I recommend!) spread them out on a wax-paper lined baking sheet and freeze for about an hour. Once they are partially frozen you can throw them all in a bag or even individually wrap them. They’re an awesome grab and go snack or delicious sweet bite for dessert.  Feel free to experiment with flavors!


Filed under Dessert, Snacks, Uncategorized