Madeleines

You know I love desserts.

But I really love small desserts.

Well, I really like most small things. I have a whole set of tiny silverware (which I use often), and I love baking small-portioned treats. This is also nice when you want to treat yourself but not get too crazy.

One of my favorite desserts we had while in France a few years ago was the humble madeleine or financier. They’re the most beautiful, simple little moist cake in beautiful shapes.

I also received a madeleine pan for Christmas, so I had to get serious about making some of these!

Yes, you do have to have a special pan for these guys. Is it worth it? I would like to think so for $10, but don’t invest in it unless you think you’ll make them every so often.

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Buche de Noel

So, my family (my in-laws, technically) have this really neat tradition of doing a family bake-off a la Great British Baking Show every holiday season.

We’re either all together at Thanksgiving or Christmas, so a month or so before that my mother-in-law (the brains of the whole operation) sends out an invite with the theme of the year. Each couple is a team, and last year’s winners are this year’s judges and don’t have to compete.

The first year it was tarts. The next year it was pies. And this year it was the famed French dessert: Buche de Noel. If you haven’t heard of it, a Buche is a sort of Swiss roll cake decorated to look like a Yule log.

First Timer

I was so excited when I got the email with the theme, since this past Christmas was the first time I competed (having somehow slid by as the judge for the previous two times). My mind started racing with flavor combinations, decorative ideas and strategies.

Thankfully, I’m not the only one who is serious about baking. Each couple enjoys baking together, so it made it extra fun.

Making the Buche

For our Buche, I found a nice Real Simple recipe to use as the base with a chocolate sponge cake, whipped cream center and beautiful chocolate ganache to look like bark. I decided to jazz it up by adding almond extract to the whipped cream, as well as toasted almonds, gold powder and meringue mushrooms to the top.

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Groceries with Grace Update & Super Bowl Recipes

I hope everyone is having a grand week!

Mine has been a bit odd since I caught a weird 24-hour cold thing, but I just baked these salted butter chocolate chip shortbreads, so I think I’m feeling more like myself.

I wanted to give an update on my Groceries with Grace videos! They’re still going strong, and I hope you still enjoy watching them. I know some of you aren’t on Facebook, so I thought I would share the most recent one, as well as a link to see all of them on YouTube. I also try to keep the most recent one updated on the bottom right column of this page.

Here’s the most recent Groceries with Grace video:

You can also follow the think fruitful YouTube playlist to see the rest of them! Or see them on the think fruitful Facebook page

On to the Super Bowl Snacks

What are you making for the Super Bowl this weekend?

I’m planning on whipping up some Pimento Cheese (and serving with crackers and celery), as well as a dessert (either leftover from something I’m making for Saturday night or perhaps these brownies).

If you’re looking for snack inspiration, then check out these posts:

I just know anything of the above will be a hit!

How I Survived Giving Up Sugar for a Week

yogurt with cinnamon

Ok, so it really wasn’t all that dramatic…and it was just a week. But I did learn a few things from avoiding added sugar over the past week.

Although I have quite a sweet tooth, I usually don’t go too overboard with dessert. But lately, after Christmas and my birthday, I found that I was eating dessert and sweets like a daily habit.

I had thrown around the idea of giving it up for quite awhile, so I decided to give it a go (this also fulfilling one of my food resolutions).

Here’s what I learned and how I survived:

Sugar is in everything

Ok, not everything, but even these new wheat crackers I bought had added sugar. I also still ate my Siggi’s plain yogurt that had a tiny bit of sugar because I wasn’t that strict.

When you start reading labels, you realize a lot of unexpected things have added sugar so it’s good to be aware. Also, whenever I buy packaged cookies or sweets, we usually don’t even eat them all (because my fresh baked goods are much better) and thus get wasted anyway.

Lesson learned: The fewer packaged foods I buy, the better for my sugar intake.

mini quiche

Meal planning helps

It really helped me avoid sugar to have my meal plan set and have easy breakfasts on hand. Last week during the snow, I whipped up some homemade mini quiche and froze them, and those were a great pop in the microwave breakfast.

Lesson learned: Have non-sugar options for each meal.

Fruit is a good go-to

I made a decision early on that I was not giving up the natural sugar in fruit, and fruit was very important in me staying on track. After each meal, I would look to a banana, apple or orange to satisfy my sweet tooth (and it didn’t leave me feeling draggy the afterward).

Lesson learned: Always keep fruit on hand!

pb banana toast

Natural peanut butter FTW

Natural peanut butter was also very critical to my sugar-free week. I had it with apple slices and on toast with banana, and it was filling and exciting. And who really needs sugar in their PB?

Lesson learned: Lean more on natural peanut butter!

More alert, more balanced

Even though I only gave up added sugar for a week (6.5 days technically), I do feel like I noticed a slight difference. Funny enough, I didn’t have issues with my stomach until I had a beer to break my fast.

When I wasn’t eating sugar, I didn’t have some of those slight sugar highs and lows. I felt it was easier to get up in the morning and wake up positive. It was also nice not to depend on anything. Oh and I definitely have crazier dreams when I’ve had sugar a few hours before bed.

Overall, I will still keep eating sugar in moderation, but I want to be more mindful about it.

I want to save it for special occasions or really good things I bake at home and make sure it isn’t a habit in my mind. I’m also open to exploring how I can use honey more. I’m already a fan of buying organic cane sugar.

Pastry-Topped Apple Pandowdy

apple pandowdy

Am I the only one who gets excited when they hear of a food with an unusual name?!

I am a pretty curious person (like the type of person who always looks up words they don’t know), so I love learning new food knowledge. That’s probably also why I have the capacity to sustain a food blog for 6 years and not get bored…and cause you readers are so awesome!

apple pandowdy

So, when I saw that Bon Appetit had a recipe for Apple Pandowdy and that it combined the season’s best apples and puff pastry, I was all about it!

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The Sweetest Season 2017 & Mint Chocolate-Dipped Shortbreads

mint chocolate-dipped shortbreads

If you like holiday sweets and treats and supporting a good cause, then today’s post is for you!

It’s always fun to do blogger sweepstakes and virtual recipe exchanges, and this one is no different. For The Sweetest Season 2017, dozens of bloggers are sharing brand new, holiday-inspired cookie recipes and encouraging donations to the Cookies for Kids’ charity.

the-sweetest-season-banner

If you’ve been a think fruitful reader for a bit, then you know that I love a good shortbread. They’re buttery, not too sweet and can be jazzed up easily with a special extract or topping.

And today’s recipe takes that to whole new, holiday festive level.

mint chocolate-dipped shortbreads

Meet the Mint Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread cookie. It’s your cup of coffee or tea’s best friend. It’s sure to wow holiday guests. It’s the perfect thing for your holiday cookie exchange. And it’s quick to make with low ingredients.

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The Best Pumpkin Bars

pumpkin bars

One time I was hosting a dinner party for 8-10 friends.

And I needed a killer dessert that was a little sweet, a little interesting and could feed a crowd. Oh, and it needed to be super easy to whip up because no one wants to waste precious dinner party planning time making a dessert for hours.

Then, The Best Pumpkin Bars came into my life.

pumpkin bars

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A Date with Sticky Toffee Pudding

sticky toffee pudding

I’ve been wanting to make this dessert for months, or years…it’s been on my list for awhile!

It’s likely that I’ve been craving it since discovering it, which might have been when I went on a college choir trip to Ireland. At the retreat center where we were staying, they served us some amazing cakes (or puddings) with incredibly buttery sauces. I mean, in the bowl, half of the height of the cake would be covered in sauce. It was amazing!

sticky toffee pudding

And now I know that it was so amazing because the sauce was made of butter, vanilla and sugar. But, seriously, what’s not to love about a delicious, spice-filled cake covered in a caramel-like sauce?!

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New with the Old

image (54)

*Reposting this recipe from the archives (April, 2014) because I just made these recently and remembered how amazing they are. Enjoy!

I like to live a life that mixes the new and the old.

New adventures mixed with the old standards.

Nature walks (which I’ve always loved) in new neighborhoods.

Eating at new restaurants while still visiting the all-time favorites.

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There’s got to be a balance with the familiar and the new in life. Read more

Creative S’mores

s'mores dip

There’s no wrong way to make a s’mores.

I know, that’s a pretty bold statement. And after polling you guys on Facebook last week, I know that there are folks on both sides of the issue. Do you have to stick to the classic graham cracker, Hershey’s chocolate, just toasted marshmallow equation or can you get a little creative and crazy with your s’more? Is s’more individuality allowed?

Well, I say yes!

As long as you’re enjoying the wonderful combination of chocolate, cracker (or cookie) with toasty mallow, then you’re doing right and enjoying summer (or whatever season, I suppose).

I got so much good feedback from what creative things you do with s’mores, so I thought I would share some inspiration, along with a recipe for S’mores Dip!

The Mallow

There are many more debates about how to get the perfectly cooked marshmallow, but I really feel that there are two main camps:

  1. You like your marshmallow browned (not burnt) evenly across and gooey inside. This is achieved by cooking your marshmallow rotisserie-style over the coals or by not getting too close to the coals.
  2. You either like your marshmallow evenly browned or burnt, but you burn it either way (I’m in this camp).

The Cracker/Cookie

You guys had so many ideas around this, so here are a few of my favorites:

The Chocolate

The varieties ranged a lot here, too, so here are some ideas:

  • Reese’s cup
  • A Rolo in the marshmallow
  • Dark chocolate
  • Slightly warmed by the fire
  • Nutella
  • Sub for strawberries or a nut butter
  • Hershey’s cookies and cream chocolate
  • Symphony bar

s'mores dip

And if you really want to go off the rails, make this simple, shareable S’mores Dip. You basically add your chocolate topped with mini marshmallows in a cast iron skillet and stick it in the grill for a few minutes. Then, you can all hover over the dip with crackers or cookies in hand and dip away.

What could be more summer-worthy?!

Recipe Card
s'mores dip recipe card

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