Friday, January 24, 2014

Valentine's Day Mini-Pretzel Bites for the Nonchocoholic

The inspiration for these salty sweet bites occurred while I was making butter cream fondant mini-roses. The rose pink balls of fondant were just a little smaller than a chocolate kiss and I found myself wondering if the fondant would stick to a mini-pretzel. Only one way to find out. The mini-pretzels and the bag of candy were soon sitting on the counter top beside the fondant.

Carefully, I flattened a fondant ball on top of a pretzel. The fondant stayed. Next, I gently pressed a candy into the center of the flattened fondant. I repeated this process several times. Two pretzels broke when I pressed a candy just a little too hard into the fondant, but other than that, everything went smoothly.

Valentine's Day Mini-Pretzel Bite Ingredients

coated chocolate candy
butter cream fondant - see recipe below


  • Roll out a log of fondant to about 3/4 inch. 
  • Cut log into pieces 
  • Roll into balls about the size of a chocolate kiss.
  • Place a ball on top of a mini-pretzel
  • Flatten the ball gently with your thumb
  • Place a coated candy on top of the fondant
  • Gently press it into the fondant.
  • Repeat until your fondant is gone, or until you have the desired number of pretzels.

 Yield: 70 to 80 mini-pretzels

NOTE: You will have left over ingredients to make more bites with, or to use in another project
To take a tray of mini-bites to an event, I would recommend layering the bites on a tray, fondant side up, and wrap well with plastic wrap. Fondant will melt if it gets wet.

Butter Cream Fondant

Yield: about 1 1/2 pounds

1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup shortening 
1 pound of powdered sugar (half of a 2 lb. bag)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (clear for snow white fondant, brown for ivory fondant)
food coloring for desired colors
1/4 tsp. salt

Note: This recipe can be doubled for a yield of 3 pounds.


  • In a large bowl, stir together the shortening and corn syrup. 
  • Mix in the salt and vanilla flavoring
  • Then gradually mix in the confectioners' sugar until it is a stiff dough. 
  • Divide and add desired food coloring.
  • Knead by hand until the fondant is smooth and flexible.
  • If the dough is sticky, knead in more confectioners' sugar until it is smooth. 
  • Wrap fondant in plastic wrap and place in an air tight container.
  • Store in the refrigerator.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sallee B's Strawberry Chocolate Cereal Hearts

This post began to take shape when I decided to combine two of my favorite flavors into a heart-shaped, cereal treat. Chocolate and strawberry. Sounds good doesn't it?
Cocoa Dyno-Bites would provide a nice, cocoa-chocolate flavor. However, I wasn't sure about how to flavor the marshmallows. After spending some time looking through the pantry, I eventually decided to use a package of sugar free, strawberry jello. A kitchen adventure was about to begin because I had no idea if the gelatin would dissolve in the marshmallows. 

Four batches later, my original recipe has proven to be a winner! A coworker asked me to make two and a half dozen for a Valentine's Day raffle. I was and am thrilled by the success of my dynotastic treats.

Sallee B's Strawberry Chocolate Cereal Hearts

This recipe is husband tested and approved. Updated on February 13, 2014 

Yield: about 16 to 20 three inch hearts


1 baking sheet
1 large, microwaveable glass bowl
1 large spoon
1 dry measure measuring cup
1 Tbsp. measuring spoon
1 three inch heart cookie cutter
1 self-closing snack size plastic bag


4 Tbsp. butter      1- 10 oz. bag miniature marshmallows             6 cups Cocoa Dyno-Bites cereal

1 package sugar free strawberry jello    1 Tbsp. light corn syrup

1/4 cup white, vanilla flavored chips      Valentine's Day coated, chocolate candies
shortening to lightly grease the baking sheet, cookie cutter, and hands

Directions for Cereal Mixture

  • Grease baking sheet lightly with shortening. Set aside.
  • Place butter and 1 Tbsp. corn syrup in a large, microwaveable bowl and microwave for 30 second. 
  • Stir once or twice.
  • Microwave for an additional 15 seconds, or until the butter is melted.
  • Remove bowl from the microwave. Add marshmallows to the bowl and stir until the marshmallows are coated with the butter and corn syrup mixture.
  • Place the bowl of coated marshmallows in the microwave.
  • Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir mixture once or twice.
  • Repeat this step twice, or until the marshmallows are melted.
  • Add the packet of dry jello. Stir until mixed well and the mixture is uniformly pink. You will still see very small flecks of pink jello, but that is okay.
  • Add the cereal to the hot marshmallow mixture.
  • Stir carefully until well blended.

Method 1

  • Place the bowl on top of a pan that has about 2 inches of warm water in it. Do not simmer. Keep the bowl warm, not hot, so the cereal mixture will remain pliable. Stir occasionally. 
  • Lightly grease your hands. 
  • Carefully press the hot mixture into the lightly greased cookie cutter that is sitting on the baking sheet.
  • Remove the cookie cutter from the heart shaped cereal treat. Repeat until the cereal mixture is gone. 
  • Set pan aside to cool

Method 2

1. Press the cereal mixture into a greased 13" x 9" x 2" baking pan
2. Press the cookie cutter into the mixture.
3. Level the marshmallow cereal mixture by removing or adding small amounts of the cereal mixture.
4. Remove the hearts to a wax paper covered cookie sheet.

Decorating the Strawberry Chocolate Hearts

  • Place 1/4 cup of white vanilla chips in the snack bag. 
  • Microwave for 30 seconds. Check to see if the chips are melting. 
  • Microwave another 30 seconds. Gently squeeze the chips inside the bag until all of the lumps are melted and the mixture is smooth. 
  • Make sure the top is locked securely, snip bottom corner of the snack bag and drizzle the chocolate cereal hearts with the melted chips. 
  • Then, place a small dot of melted chocolate on an M&M.
  •  Place in center of a heart. Repeat until all the hearts have been decorated.

What I Have Learned

  1. The flecks of jello will not be noticeable when the chocolate cereal is stirred into the marshmallow mixture.
  2. I thought a whole package of sugar free jello made for an intense, strawberry flavor. However, three separate tasters disagreed with me. I'm not going to argue with happy eaters.  
  3. It is necessary to add some liquid to the marshmallow/jello mixture. So I settled upon one tablespoon of light corn syrup.
  4. Each batch will vary slightly because: a. the cereal is at the top of the bag is bigger than the cereal at the bottom of the bag. b. different varieties of marshmallows melt differently.
  5. If your marshmallows won't melt, try this:
  • Add one Tbsp. of milk and stir for two or three minutes. 
  • If your marshmallows STILL won't melt, try adding 1 tsp. of corn syrup and stir for another two or three minutes. 
  • Still won't melt? Your marshmallows are too old and you need to start over with a fresh bag. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Valentine's Day Twist on Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

Vintage dishes and jars increase the eye appeal
of your treats and sweets.

The Inspiration 

About a year ago, I made the classic fall version of orange, yellow, and white candy corn sugar cookies. After filling a vintage, 2 quart bowl with the baked cookies, I took them to work and set them out in the workroom. The bowl was empty by noon!

Back by Popular Demand

Due to the popularity of the white, orange, and yellow candy corn cookies that I took to work last fall, I made a Valentine's Day version of the sugar cookies. And yes, I am using my Best Ever Sugar Cookie Recipe.

Serving Tip

 I like to serve my treats in vintage jars and in vintage dishes to increase the eye appeal of my baked treats. Adding Valentine's Day coated chocolate candies gives a nice contrast to your cookies.

Sallee's Best Ever Sugar Cookie Recipe

                               Makes about 6-1/2 dozen 1-1/4" cookies  


  • 2 medium or  large mixing bowls                      measuring cup for dry ingredients
  • measuring spoons                                            electric mixer with dough hooks
  • flour sifter                                                         wooden spoon
  •  rolling pin                                                         waxed paper
  •  spatula                                                             baking sheet(s)
  • cooling rack(s).


1/2 cup  salted butter, softened        1 cup sugar                        1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract                 3 cups flour, sifted             1 teaspoon baking powder 

1/2 teaspoon salt                              red food coloring


1. Do not substitute margarine for all of the butter. It makes a big difference in how your cookies taste! Instead, use half margarine and half butter for a great tasting, but more economical cookie.

2. This recipe can be doubled successfully. However, the vanilla extract needs to be adjusted to 1 1/2 teaspoons, not 2 teaspoons.

Directions for Making and Coloring the Cookie Dough

  • In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. 
  • Beat in egg and vanilla until well blended. 
  • In a separate bowl, stir together sifted flour, baking powder, and salt. 
  • Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture, in small amounts, and beat until dough is mixed well, but not forming a ball. 
  • Now you will use your hands and start kneading the dough in the bowl until it comes together and forms a smooth ball.
  • Be patient. 
  • Divide the dough into 3 balls
  • Set aside and do not color 1 ball of dough.
  • Color 1 ball of dough pastel pink by placing it in a bowl and adding small amount of red food color. Knead color into dough. Add more red color as necessary to get the desired color.  
  • Repeat the above process and color the other ball of dough a deep, rose pink.

Layering Your Three Colors and Baking

Don't use plastic wrap.
 I did. It didn't work well.
Use waxed paper.
  • Press uncolored ball of dough evenly into the bottom of a loaf pan that you have lined with wax paper (Don't use plastic wrap, I did and it was a mistake.) 
  • Flatten pastel pink dough into a rectangle and then place dough over white dough. Press and flatten evenly over the white dough. 
  • Repeat this process with the deep, rose pink dough. 
  • Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours or overnight. Once the dough is chilled, remove the layered loaf from the pan.
  • Cut loaf crosswise into 1/4-inch slices with a sharp knife. 
  • Cut each slice into triangles that are 1 inch wide on the top.  I don't measure, I just guesstimate.
  •  Place about an inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. 
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. Cool on trays or remove to plates.
  • If you only have one baking sheet, make sure it is cool before placing more cookies to bake on it. 
  • Ready to bake

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A "Beary" First Birthday Cake

Teddy bear mini-cake pan and 1982 Wilton teddy bear cake pan
First birthdays are a very special occasion. My first grandson turns 1 year old in January and Grammy Bonham is going to make a "Beary Special" first birthday cake and mini-cake for the occasion.

A teddy bear cake wearing a camo vest. Ashley knew exactly what she wanted for Ashton. Confidently, I told her I could make camo fondant, even though I had never made it before. I really wanted to make Ashton's cake and after all, fondant tutorials and techniques are easy to find online. However, watching a technique and using a technique are two completely different things. Occasionally, I forget this and volunteer for a surefire challenge to learn new decorating skills.  Translation of underlined phrase - in over my head. Thankfully, I found that making camo fondant is well within my self-taught skills.

My Butter Cream Fondant Recipe

I have broken two stand mixers trying to mix fondant with the little spiral dough hooks that came with them. The second one was supposed to be a heavy-duty, detachable, stand mixer - it wasn't. I am now using a 1960's model stand mixer with dough hooks to make this recipe. A Kitchen Aide mixer is at the top of my wish list!

Yield: about 1 1/2 pounds of fondant

1/2 cup light corn syrup                   1/4 cup shortening                          1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract                      1 pound confectioners sugar - about half of a 2 pound bag

This recipe can be doubled and the yield will be 3 pounds of fondant. 
  • In a large bowl, stir together the shortening and corn syrup.
  • Mix with an electric mixer until the mixture is creamy and smooth.
  • Add the vanilla extract and salt.
  • Gradually mix in the confectioners sugar until it forms or begins to form a stiff dough.
  • Knead by hand until the fondant holds together in a smooth ball that is not sticky. Add a little more confectioners sugar as needed. 
  • Divide fondant into three 1/2 pound balls
  • Flatten each ball and wrap in plastic wrap
  • Place wrapped circles of fondant into a container with a tight fitting lid. I use a 4 qt. ice cream bucket.
  • Place container in refrigerator until you want to use it. 
  • Remove the  fondant from the refrigerator and let it warm for about 15-20 minutes. 
  • Knead with your hands until fondant is pliable. 
I like to make the fondant 2-3 days ahead of time and keep it refrigerated until I need it. Plus, I feel like the fondant handles better after is has been in the refrigerator for two or three days. 
For chocolate butter cream fondant, add 1/4 cup of cocoa powder with the vanilla extract, and salt.

The "Beary" Special Cakes
  • I use generic, extra moist, white cake mix. 
  • One change that I make to the box directions is to use two whole eggs, instead of 2 or 3 egg whites. 
  • A second change is to replace 1/4 cup of the water with unsweetened applesauce. Unsweetened applesauce will add moisture and slightly more density to a cake mix cake. I add the applesauce with the wet ingredients.  
Teddy bear mini-cake
9" tall x 4" head-7" bottom x 1" - 1.25" deep
Large teddy bear cake
12" tall x 9" head-11.5" bottom x 2" deep

What Went Where

  • Chocolate Butter Cream Icing - bear "fur" piped on with a # 195 tip and a # 21 tip
  • Chocolate Fondant  - bear paws, inside of bear ears (shown below), muzzle, and camo .
  • Vanilla Fondant - green cake board, eyes, buttons, noses, T-shirt neckline, and camo
  • The tan fondant was achieved by mixing equal amounts of chocolate and vanilla fondant. The dark brown paws are the actual color of the chocolate fondant.

Finishing Details 

One finishing detail is chocolate fondant shapes to give more definition to the inside of the bear ears.

Additionally,  a 3" x 5" sugar cookie, covered with chocolate fondant "wooden boards", and piped icing will say  "Happy 1st Birthday! Ashton" onto it. This "sign" will be with the large teddy bear cake.

I used a round toothpick to model/make the
boards and detail the wood grain on each board.
Lettering was done with a #3 tip and royal icing

What I Learned

  1. Making camo fondant out of little balls that are placed together and then rolled did not work well for me. I used this method for a larger camo pattern, and it worked well. However, I could not get the small pattern that I needed to form into a sheet that would hold together. 
  2. The method that worked best for me was to roll out a sheet of the tan fondant. Then, placing small pieces of the two green colors on top of the tan fondant sheet, and small pieces of tan fondant to fill in and separate the greens, worked very well. I could then roll pieces into the sheet, cut the pieces I needed, and transfer them to the cake. Click on the camo fondant link in the second paragraph of this post to watch the video that shows this method.
  3. Add fondant paws last, not first. I ended up removing them to pipe the bear fur onto the cake.
  4. Do not let frosting dry before adding fondant pieces. You cannot press them into the frosting and achieve a more dimensional look.
  5. The mini-cake is too large for a 1 year old. The mini-cake head was all that we gave the baby. A jumbo cupcake decorated with a bear face would be a better choice.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Valentine's Piping Practice with Chocolate Buttercream

1. This is my favorite. I would like to
use this design again
 After making my grandson's "beary" special birthday cake, I had extra chocolate frosting and sugar cookie dough.

With Valentine's Day only five weeks away, I decided to bake the leftover dough into heart cookies and practice my piping skills with the leftover frosting. My momma always says,"Practice makes perfect."
All of the piping was done with a #21 star tip.

2. An assortment of swirled roses.
3. A broken cookie from my bear cake project, decorated with
swirls and stars.

4. My husband laughed when he saw my chocolate version
of tic-tac-toe, or hugs n kisses. He enjoyed eating it. I would
like to make this design with a piping tip for the
inside grid. 

Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting


1/2 cup white shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup unsweetened, cocoa powder
4 cups. powdered sugar
3 - 4 1/2 Tbsp. milk


  • In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and butter on medium speed. 
  • Add vanilla and cocoa powder.
  • Stir it in until the cocoa powder is mixed in.
  • Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time.
  • Beat well after each addition.
  • Scrape bowl often.
  • Add milk and beat until fluffy. 
  • Adjust amount of milk to get the consistency you want.
  • Keep bowl covered with plastic wrap until ready to use. 

Store left over frosting in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Before using again, remove from refrigerator, let warm up for 20-30 minutes. Then beat the frosting until it is fluffy again.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Chocolate Drizzled Crispy Rice Mini-Bites

Ho, Ho, Hmmmm...The Christmas cookies, Christmas candy, and Christmas cakes are all gone. No sweets for the hubby to eat. Bill asked if I would make him some crispy rice treats. Bill loves crispy rice treats. Yep, he periodically craves that yummy combination of crackling rice cereal, marshmallows, and butter. Yes, I said butter, not margarine. Also, he remembered that I told him two weeks ago that I would make some treats for him.

As I looked in the pantry for rice cereal and marshmallows; the realization that the pantry still contains chocolate bark and assorted sprinkles caused my brain to kick into a higher gear. Hmmm...visions of "Christmas Crack" and a variety of other bark drizzled snack mixes whirled through my mind's eye. Suddenly, the whirling visions consolidated into a single thought - top the crispy rice treats with chocolate bark and sprinkles! A second thought quickly followed - cut them into bite-size pieces. Happily, I began constructing a pan of crispy rice mini-bites.

  Crispy Rice Mini-Bites 

This recipe is husband tested and approved.

Yield: about 60 pieces


1 - 13 x 9 inch rectangular baking pan
1 large, microwaveable bowl
1 large spoon
1 dry measure measuring cup
1 sharp knife
1 quart-size freezer bag (a sandwich bag will not work for this)


3 Tbsps. butter      5 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows             6 cups krisp rice cereal

2-3 squares of chocolate bark       dessert sprinkles of choice    shortening to grease pan and hands

Directions for Cereal Mixture

  • Grease 13x9 inch pan lightly with shortening. Set aside.
  • Place butter in a large, microwaveable bowl and microwave for 30 second. 
  • Stir once or twice.
  • Microwave for an additional 15 seconds, or until the butter is melted.
  • Remove bowl from the microwave.
  • Add marshmallows to the bowl and stir until the marshmallows are coated with butter.
  • Place bowl with marshmallows in the microwave.
  • Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir mixture once or twice.
  • Repeat this step twice or until the marshmallows are melted and the mixture is well blended.
  • Add the cereal to the hot marshmallow mixture.
  • Stir until well blended.
  • Place mixture in the greased 13 x 9 inch pan. 
  • Lightly grease your hands 
  • Carefully press the hot mixture into an even layer in the pan.
  • Immediately sprinkle with your choice of dessert sprinkles
  • Set pan aside to cool

Directions for Chocolate Bark Topping

Step 1

  • Take quart size freezer bad and fold the top down. (see picture)
  • Place desired squares of chocolate bark in the freezer bag
  • Place bag into the microwave, make sure the top of the bag is open.
  • Microwave for 30 seconds
  • Remove from microwave. Squeeze the bag to see if squares of                                            bark are getting soft.

Step 2

  • Place bag back into the microwave, make sure the top of the bag is open
  • Microwave for 15 seconds
  • Remove from microwave and squeeze the bag again.
  • Repeat Step 2 until the bark is melted completely.

Step 3

  • Hold bag with melted bark so that one bottom corner is pointing downward. 
  • Gather bag top and twist to form a cone of melted bark.
  •  Snip the bottom corner and drizzle bark diagonally across the crispy rice treat from bottom left to top right; repeat from top left to bottom right. This will form a diamond or cross hatched design. 
  • Repeat until all the topping is gone. 
  • Immediately sprinkle with your choice of dessert sprinkles

Step 4

  • Cool until bark is firm. 
  • Slice crispy rice into 1 inch pieces. My pieces are more or less 1 inch pieces because I use the Guesstimate Method. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Trio of Addictive Appetizers

New Year's Eve is movie night at the Bonham house. Traditionally, a full meal is not served. Instead, a selection of appetizers and finger foods are set out buffet style. About 6:00 P.M., a pot of dark roast coffee is brewed and sparkling water is available in an assortment of flavors. Cherry Limeade is a family favorite. Try this trio of addictive appetizers at your next special occasion. Your family, friends, and acquaintances will love them.

  • Cocktail Mini-Sausages
These bite sized gems are addictive. Bill loves the sauce and has me make it for chicken wings and baby back ribs.
The recipe.
Dinner rolls were on the table, too. Anyone desiring a mini-sausage roll had that option.
  • Shrimp Stuffed Baby Portobello Mushrooms
I doubled the original recipe and did not use the shredded mozzarella. The end result was great. Another addictive appetizer for my recipe box.
The recipe.
  • Garlic Shrimp Spread
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 10 medium, peeled and deveined frozen shrimp
  • Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium to low heat.
  • Add garlic powder and shrimp to skillet.
  • Saute until the shrimp are thawed.
  • Put the shrimp and butter in a food processor or mini food chopper.
  • Cube the cream cheese and add it to the food processor.
  • Blend until the mixture is smooth.
  • Place the mixture in a bowl
  • Cover with plastic wrap
  • Chill in the refrigerator until firm.
Makes about 1-1 1/2 cups of spread.
Serve with round, all-purpose crackers