a balanced plate with room for dessert


Double Chocolate Peppermint Biscotti

2015 has been quite the year for us. I just finished my first year of grad school and I am transitioning to a new job that will allow me to be at home with Mike once again. While I have loved my work in Madison the last 2 1/2 years, being away from my husband during the week was more difficult than I had anticipated. I’m sad to be leaving a great job and my wonderful coworkers, but I am excited to see what opportunities my new position will bring.

Christmas is just a few days away, but the weather outside is more spring-like than winter. I’m not sure how I feel about the lack of snow. I’m trying to find ways to get into the Christmas spirit and this biscotti really hit the spot. The double chocolate base pairs perfectly with the white chocolate and candy canes. It’s sweet and crunchy and perfect with a mug of hot chocolate or some coffee.

Double Chocolate Peppermint Biscotti |

I made my go-to Andes mint cookies for a cookie exchange last week, but I think that these biscotti will be my new holiday treat. So easy, so festive, and so good!

Double Chocolate Peppermint Biscotti |

I want to wish you and your loved ones a very merry Christmas and a wonderful new year!

Double Chocolate Peppermint Biscotti

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
8 ounces white chocolate chips
3/4 cup crushed peppermint candies

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 1 – 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and add eggs in, one at a time, until well combined. Scrape down the sides and add in the vanilla extract.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients and semisweet chocolate chips into the butter mixture and mix on low speed until just combined.
  4. Lightly flour a work surface. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the dough onto the work surface (it will be very sticky) and lightly dust with flour. Using your hands, shape the dough into a ball and divide into two even pieces.
  5. Form the dough into a log by rolling it back and forth. Place the logs onto the prepared baking sheet and press the dough into a longer log that is about 2 inches wide and 3/4 inch high. Make sure to leave enough room between the logs to allow them to spread slightly during baking.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking pan for a couple minutes, or until just cool enough to handle.
  7. Using a sharp knife, cut the logs diagonally into 3/4 inch slices. Turn the biscotti onto their side and bake for 10 more minutes to allow the biscotti to crisp up. Allow biscotti to cool for 5 minutes on the pan and move to a wire rack to cool completely .
  8. Once biscotti are cool, it’s time to decorate them. Line the baking pan with a clean sheet of parchment paper.
  9. Place white chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 1 minute, stirring every 20 seconds, or until chocolate is melted and smooth.
  10. Dip one side of the biscotti into the melted chocolate, using the back of a spoon to make sure the biscotti is evenly covered. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy. Repeat with the remaining biscotti, re-heating the chocolate as needed.

recipe adapted from Once Upon a Chef


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Wrapping up 2011 with Sea Salt Caramels

It’s been a long, crazy year. Even though I didn’t quite make it through my 11 in ’11 list (oops), I managed to accomplish a lot of things that I am very proud of. Mike and I bought our first house; I got accepted in the dietetic internship program of my dreams; I ran my very first race, the Hot Chocolate 15K in Chicago; signed up for my first half marathon; and celebrated one year of marriage with Mike.

Maybe 12 in ’12 will be a little more successful. I actually made most of the items on  my 11 in ’11, but I never found the time to write about them. I think once I graduate in May my life will become much more manageable and DSD will once again be updated regularly. So, keep an eye out in 2012 for my 2011 must-cook dishes!! Until then, stir up some of these delicious caramels – the perfect balance of sweet and salty goodness.

Microwave Sea Salt Caramels

1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
coarse sea salt

  1. Line a 9×13 pan with aluminum foil. Coat inside with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large microwave safe bowl combine butter, white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Stir together and place in microwave.
  3. Cook on full power for 6 minutes, stopping to stir thoroughly twice during the cooking time (every 2 minutes).
  4. Remove from microwave and stir until well mixed. Pour into prepared pan. Place in fridge until firm, about 45 minutes.
  5. Remove whole slab of caramel at one time by pulling up on aluminum foil. Place slab on cutting board covered with parchment and peel off foil.
  6. If caramels are oily from the cooking spray, blot them off with a paper towel. Sprinkle coarse sea salt directly on top of caramels.
  7. Cut caramels into desired size and wrap with parchment paper.
recipe from The Yummy Life


Peanut Butter Cups

Mike and I made a trip to Minocqua two winters ago and he got peanut butter cups at one of the fudge shops in town. I can still remember how happy he was to eat such a huge peanut butter cup. I don’t know why I never thought about doing this earlier, but I finally decided to make some peanut butter cups myself!

They turned out great. My only complaint is that they need to be kept in the fridge or freezer until you eat them because they will melt at room temperature. Other than that, they’re nearly perfect.

Peanut Butter Cup

Peanut Butter Cups
yields 7 large cups

3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar

  1. Fill a small pot with 2 inches of water. Boil and then turn heat to low. Place a heatsafe bowl over the pot, making sure the pot doesn’t touch the water.Melted chocolate
  2. Pour chocolate into the bowl and stir chocolate constantly with a spatula or whisk until melted. Remove chocolate from heat.
  3. When chocolate reaches a comfortable handling temperature, begin making the chocolate cups.
  4. Place a large spoonful of chocolate into the bottom of a cupcake liner and carefully smear the chocolate over the entire surface of the cup, making sure everything is evenly covered.
    Chocolate cups
  5. After all cups are covered with chocolate, place them onto a plate and put them in the freezer for 15 minutes to harden the chocolate.
  6. Meanwhile, make the peanut butter filling. Mix the peanut butter and powdered sugar together in a bowl until well combined and smooth.
  7. After the chocolate cups have hardened, remove from the freezer.
  8. Place a spoonful of peanut butter into each cup until it’s about 1/4 inch from the top and smooth flat.
    Peanut butter cup filling
  9. Spoon remaining chocolate on top of the peanut butter. Push the chocolate to the edges of the cup, creating a seal.
  10. Place the cups in the freezer for 20 – 30 minutes, or until the chocolate is hard. Carefully (and quickly) peel off the muffin liners.
  11. Serve straight from the freezer or allow to thaw for 5 minutes at room temperature.
    Peanut Butter Cup