Chocolate Covered Peanuts

Coconut oil works well with chocolate because it will prevent the candy from softening, as butter or oil would do.

Makes about 18 clusters

Ingredients

2 cups unsalted peanuts
1 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon coconut oil or shortening
3 tablespoons powdered sugar or powdered sugar-free sweetener

Directions

Combine the chocolate, coconut oil and sugar in a microwaveable glass bowl or in a double boiler.

Melt the chocolate mixture in a microwave at half power, for 1 minute, stir and then heat for another minute or until melted, stirring several times.

You can also melt the chocolate in a double boiler over hot water.

Stir in the peanuts, completely covering them in chocolate. Using a 1 inch scoop or tablespoon drop the mixture into wax paper. Cool completely before serving

One-Layer Heart-Shaped Carrot Cake

For the Cake:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large room-temperature eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts

For the Frosting:

4 ounces room-temperature cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup heavy cream

To Make the Cake

Heat oven to 325 F. Cut parchment to fit heart pan (or 8 inch round cake pan) and coat with cooking spray. Set aside.

Measure flour and add to an electric mixer bowl along with the sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, oil, eggs and vanilla.

Blend for 1 minute on low-speed.

Stir carrots and nuts into the batter. Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack. Remove from the pan to a serving plate.

For the frosting:

Place all the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. With a hand mixer beat the ingredients until the cream forms stiff peaks.

Frost the top of the cake and refrigerate the cake until serving time.

Easy Frozen Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients

1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream, well chilled
8 oz good quality chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate sprinkles, garnish

Directions

In a double boiler or in a bowl set over a saucepan, melt chocolate over simmering water. Remove from the heat to cool slightly.

Pour the cream and vanilla into a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream on medium speed until slightly thickened, about 30 seconds.

Add sweetener to taste if you want. I did not because I think the chocolate makes it sweet enough

Continue beating on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, until soft peaks form, about 1 minute.

To test, turn off the mixer and lift the beaters. If the cream makes soft little peaks that flop over slightly, it is ready.

Add the warm chocolate to the cream and mix in slowly until incorporated.

Spoon into 4 dessert dishes. Chill in the refrigerator to serve as mousse or place in the freezer overnight to serve as frozen mousse.

Garnish with chocolate sprinkles before serving.

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

Ingredients

8 large strawberries with tops
6 oz good quality chocolate, chopped

Directions

Gently rinse strawberries and dry on paper towels (berries must be completely dry). Line cookie sheet with waxed paper or set out muffin paper cups.

In 1-quart saucepan, melt chocolate chips and shortening over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. You may also microwave the mixture.

Dip the lower half of each strawberry into the chocolate mixture; allow excess to drip back into the saucepan.

Place on  the prepared cookie sheet or muffin paper cups.

Refrigerate uncovered about 30 minutes or until the chocolate is firm, or until ready to serve.

Store covered in refrigerator.

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