Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Bark

The Christmas Season is such a fun time to make desserts, traditional and new. The candy cane is a symbol for Christmas, and the perfect accent for goodies. The bright colors add a festive perk to any treat, and the sweet, minty flavors sing, "Christmas" (they do!!)

One of my favorite things to do each year, is make Christmas bark. I usually use peppermint (red and white) AND spearmint (green and white) candy canes, together. The flavors blend well, and the red and green together are sooo pretty. This year, we are having flooding rains, and I didnt feel like going out for the spearmint candy canes, so I am making the traditional peppermint version.

The hardest part of this recipe is crushing the candy canes. In years past I have ended up with candy cane dust all over the place. What works best for me, is to put unwrapped candy canes in a plastic zipper bag, and then wrap in a towel (paper or cloth) and lay it flat on a hard surface. I then use a hammer to pound strongly, and firmly, smashing the candy into small pieces.

While smashing up my candy canes, I am simultaneously tempering my white chocolate. I use the Rev 1 tempering unit. It is a commercial grade machine, about the size of a shoebox, designed for at-home use. It takes less than 30 minutes to temper up to 1.5 pounds of chocolate.

At almost every chocolate party, someone mentions that white chocolate is not really chocolate. I tell them that is true for most brands. The FDA has standards for chocolate (basically, that it actually contain chocolate)..and since many companies do not use real cocoa butter, they are not allowed to call their candy, "chocolate", but resort to names like, "candy coating" or "white chocolate flavored candy". Candy melts often found in the baking aisle are not chocolate at all, but flavored animal fat. This is true for the dark chocolate too....you will find "candy coatings" that look like chocolate, but contain nothing from the actual cocoa bean. Dove white chocolate is a true and legal white chocolate, using high quality cocoa butter.

Anyways.....nothing but real chocolate for my bark :)

I then pour the mixture into tempered white chocolate.

Mix the crushed candy cane thoroughly through the chocolate. The large chunks add bright colors, and the dust gets soaked in, flavoring the chocolate.

Spread the chocolate onto parchment paper. You can make it as thin or thick as you want. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Once set up, break into pieces....they look pretty in a bowl or on a platter, and can be packaged into goody bags for gifts.

Id love to see your holiday favorites...feel free to post your treats in the comments.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


In our house, it's a holiday tradition to make marshmallows. Each year, we make batches and batches of the fluffy stuff to give as gifts (ok, we eat some too!) I used to make homemade cocoa, put it in cute containers...add a baggy of thick, marshmallows, and a plate of goodies....and deliver loving baskets of yummies to neighbors, friends and teachers.

Since joining Dove, I have foregone the cocoa, and instead give Dove Chai Teas and Sipping Chocolates. My old recipes of cookies and truffles have been replaced with chocolate dipped candy canes and spoons, and homemade designer chocolates. And now this year....Dove has come out with gourmet marshmallows....and while it's tempting to give the Dove chocolate covered marshmallows, I simply cant give up my traditional Sprague Marshmallows.

I have tried many variations of marshmallows over the years, and have found this recipe to work out best:

3 (1/4 ounce) envelopes gelatin (Knox Gelatin)
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or other flavoring)

In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 C of cold water, and let sit for 10 minutes. The water will absorb the gelatin, and it will look like this:

In a medium saucepan, on medium heat, mix granulated sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 C of water. Continue to mix until granulated sugar is disolved. Then turn to high and bring to hard boil for one minute.

Pour sugar mixture into gelatin, and add salt. Using hand mixer, mix on high for 12 mninutes.

12 minutes of mixing is a long time, so you might want to enlist the help of a cutie like this..... (and notice that my refrigerator is missing in the background! The house is still in an upheaval from the foundation leak back in OCTOBER..ACK!!)

As you mix, the marshmallow mixture will get creamy. Here is a picture from the 5 minute mark...

As mixing continues, the marshmallow will get fluffy and grow! Here is a picture from the 10 minute mark, notice how much higher it is in the bowl....

After 12 minutes, quite honestly, the marshmallow has expanded so much that it is crawling up the top of the mixing paddles. This is the time to add the vanilla, or any other flavoring you might like (kahlua, caramel, peppermint, orange....)Make sure you mix it in well.

You will want to cover the bottom of your pan with powdered sugar. Make sure the entire surface has sugar...this will keep the marshmallow from sticking.

Pour mixture into your pans. I double the recipe and use one 9x9 and one 9x13 glass pan. This yields me 40 large, thick squares.

Cover the entire surface with more powdered sugar, and let sit out overnight.

When ready, you can use a warm knife to make sure that marshmallow separates from the sides of the pans. Then cut into squares.....and ENJOY!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Live Chocolate Demonstrations

at the Dove Choco-thon, JOIN US!!

Log in and watch, learn and win prizes....share this with friends :)

Chocothon info here

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lego pops - baking free!

My son celebrated his 10th birthday this week, and it put me in a bind, as our kitchen is currently under repair (slab leak, ACK!)

I usually bake whatever my kids want....we've had Rolly Polly Ollie, Dora, Princess, and Elmo cakes, and even Bokugan cake pops.....but without my kitchen, I was really stretched for what to make.

Andrew loves Lego's, and wanted lego cupcakes to share with his friends at school. Since this wasnt possible, I opted for marshmallow pops, with a Lego theme.

He was set on me making all the different faces, but to be honest, Ive yet to find a good pen for writing on desserts....the one I had barely let me put the basic face on....if you know of a good brand of pens, please share!

Here the little guy is looking happy, simple, but happy.

The greatest thing about this treat is that there was no baking. I plugged in my happy tempering unit, and didnt even need a kitchen.

Remember, that when coloring white chocolate, DO NOT use a water based color, but an OIL based color. The Wilton water (gel) and oil based come in identical packaging, except for the ingredients...so make sure to double check. Water will cause the chocolate to seize; getting all clumpy and unusable.

I started by putting the marshmallow on the stick.

I used Smarties to create the Lego snap

I secured the candies in place with the chocolate, before coating the marshmallow.

To coat the marshmallow, I DO NOT dip. I get a spoon or small rubber spatula and scoop up some chocolate. I then put the marshmallow onto the spoon, and move it around til fully coated. You can use the spatula to spread in the hard to reach places and make sure everything is fairly smooth.

The result, a plain friend. If I had a good pen, I could have created a host of expressions and characters.....but alas, it was not to be....but at least everyone was happy.

Another way to make these treats fun, is in the final display. Because the chocolate is tempered, you can put these in treat bags, and they will NOT smear....this is perfect for making individual treats to be given away for parties.

For my son's birthday, I placed them inside a decorative container....

Now, remember, any container will do...I have used baskets, pails, etc. for other pops....this time, I used one of the plastic bins that they use to keep their toys organized. (remember, no kitchen access leads to heightened creativity)

As usual, I filled the container with floral foam, and then covered it...this time with foil. Each pop can be inserted into the foil covered foam...both when drying the chocolate, and afterward for the presentation.

Once the Lego pops were complete, I put them in their spot, and then added Lego pieces to cover up the foil and add to the theme.

Happy 10th Birthday Andrew!!!

note: I am sorry the pics are so small, I tried to make them larger with no luck....

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Amazing ideas from The Chocolate Addict

Meet Kat, she is incredibly creative with tempered chocolate...check out this video!! So many fun ideas!

Check out her website: The Chocolate Addict she sells instructional videos too!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Video making cute chocolate animals

Watch our Dove Chef making these cute animals.....so simple!! We have a huge sale on the tempering unit this month....I have so much fun with it!!

Fun with chocolate tempering

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Congratulations to Sarah and Lynn....you were selected by random.org

You have each won a new Smoothie Express by Back to Basics

I know you will love this....it blends so well, and is small and easy to use. Please email me with your shipping address; thechocolatelady@cox.net

Thanks to everyone for entering, and there will be more fun ideas and giveaways coming soon.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Smoothie Express Giveaway

Watch video to find out more about this great giveaway....

Giveaway rules:

1. Mandatory to be a follower of my blog

2. An extra entry if you are a fan of my Facebook page: Dove Chocolate Discoveries Independent Chocolatier Kim Sprague

It's that easy!! Leave a comment so that I know how many entries you have....all comments must be posted by Wednesday, August 18th 11pm PST.

The winner will be announced Thursday morning, and must respond with their mailing address by Sunday, August 22, 2010 at noon PST, or a new winner will be announced.

Remember, I will be giving away 2
.....limit one winner per household.

Winner must provide mailing address in the continental USA. Dove Chocolatiers and their families, Mars employees and their families and employees of Westbend and their families are not eligible.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tempering Chocolate

I love to post the fun creations that I can make with tempered chocolate, and I am excited to announce that Sept. 1st the Rev1 tempering unit will be going on sale.

They retail for $400-$700 (google it and see!!) and we will be selling them for only $154 AND that includes 2.5 pounds of chocolate and an assortment of design transfer sheets. This is an incredible bargain!!

Check out the video below, and see what tempering is all about...and how easy it is to make incredible gifts and treats.

Friday, August 6, 2010

What is a Dove Chocolate Tasting Party?

When people here I do Dove Chocolate Tasting Parties, their eyes get big and their mouths starts to gape open...and then they ask, "What exactly is a tasting party?"

Well, my friend Emmy recently had a tasting party, and shared some pics on her blog. We started with a little history of Chocolate, and some taste comparisons (sort of like wine tasting, but with chocolate), and then quickly moved into sharing AND SAMPLING great entertaining ideas and recipes.

As you can imagine, it's fun....for me and for the guests, and especially for the hostess who gets lots of free dessert items.

Thanks to Emmy for hosting this party, and for sharing it with all of her readers (and mine!)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Chocolate Convention

Well, Im back from the Dove National Conference...whew!! What a busy time, full of fun and chocolate.

Ive got lots to show and tell, including some really great giveaways lined up!

Before I get to that, have you ever heard of a Taxi driver in Philly NOT knowing where the Liberty Bell is located? Even when the Liberty Bell was just down the street about 4 miles and 1 block over?

I mean, if you are going to drive people are for a living, shouldnt you know your town? And if said town is "historical" filled with tourists, shouldnt you know the famous monuments??


Check back as I reveal all the goodies and giveaways!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cutie Patootie Cupcakes

Hey Friends,

I have found the most adorable cupcakes....

Gina @ Cutie Patootie Cupcakes makes custom treats...whether you are looking to get some goodies for your next party, or just want to browse her ideas...check out her site; Cutie Patootie Cupcakes

She just started her blog, so become a follower, leave her a nice comment...and tell her The Chocolate Lady sent you.

Monday, July 19, 2010

ipad Giveaway

There are so many fabulous things that come with being part of the Mars, Inc. Family. Well known brand, incredible product, and lots of support. Including support in the way of incredible giveaways.

During the month of July, Dove is giving away 2 ipads, EVERY DAY. EVERY SINGLE DAY they will hold a drawing from the previous days parties, and a lucky Chocolatier and her hostess will each win an ipad.


And you know what is even better???? This past weekend, I WAS A WINNER.

Yep! I won an ipad, as did my hostess!! It should arrive in a few weeks...I cant wait to play with it.

I can win more than once....so my husband is hoping that he gets one too!!

I love Dove!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Homemade Ice Cream - no ice cream maker needed!

no problem – make this
delicious creamy treat in a dish
in your freezer.

Dove Chocolate Discoveries has a great recipe for homemade ice cream, and you dont need an ice cream maker! Everyone can make this easy treat!!

3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1¾ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup DCD Cocoa Powder
6 oz (3 bars) DCD Chef Series
Dark Chocolate, melted
Optional: Dress it with DCD Toppings
1 cup DCD Milk Chocolate covered
Cappuccino Biscottini, chopped
½ cup DCD Merlot Fudge Sauce
½ cup DCD Chardonnay Caramel Sauce

1. Prepare a double boiler on medium heat.

2. Pour eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and salt into
the bowl, and begin whisking until
mixture is thick, pale, and coats a spoon
(about 5-7 minutes). Be careful not to
overcook. Remove bowl from saucepan,
and let cool slightly.

3. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer
to whip cream, vanilla and cocoa powder
to stiff peaks. Stir in melted chocolate.

4. Add a third of the chocolate whipped
cream to egg mixture and mix thoroughly.
Gently whisk in remaining whipped
cream, until just combined.

5. Pour mixture into a 9x13-inch glass
baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and
then aluminum foil. Freeze undisturbed
for 3-4 hours. Scoop into ½ cup servings
and serve with a sprinkle of DCD
Biscottini and a drizzle of Merlot Fudge or
Chardonnay Caramel Sauce, if desired.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Decorative Plating

If you watch Top Chef and similar food shows, you know that presentation is a big part of the meal. Today Im going to show you just a few of the pretty ways to decorate a dessert plate.

Im going to use our Dove Raspberry and Mango Dessert Sauces. These come with a plastic bottle, making plate designs easy to make.

To make a simple, but beautiful border, make dots around the edge of a plate, equal distance apart. You can do all one color, or use alternating colors to coordinate with your event (school pride! Fight On USC Trojans!)

Now, take a knife or similar pointed utensil, and drag it from one dot to the next. You will probably need to go around more than once. Dont be nervous, just drag it around, and around, and around. As the dots begin to run together they make a nice frame for your dessert. You can also see how dragging through a dot can look like a heart.....so many great ways you can accent your special treats!

This next creation looks more like a web....you start by making the circles, with a large dot in the center. Draw your knife outward, in several equi-distant points on the web.

Now pull your knife towards the center, going between the lines that pulled outward, and it adds a new dimension.

Imagine taking a fudgy brownie or chocolate cake and laying it atop that web, garnished with some rasberries and sprinkled with powdered sugar, perfect!

A final design, is this sweet flower.

At first glance, someone dropped an egg!!!

But begin to pull through the sauce, alternating directions, and you have a pretty poppy. When entertaining at a shower or ladies event, you can put a slice of angel food cake aside the flower, and garnish with fruit...simply beautiful.

I hope these ideas get you thinking about more ways to enhance the presentation of your desserts.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips and Bark

I wanted to post another favorite chocolte treat...one perfect for the men in your life, but admittedly, EVERYONE will love them!

You can use whatever type of chips you want; tortilla, potato, even fritos!

Im using plain potato chips, dipped into Dove Dark Chocolate.

I start by tempering the chocolate (remember, this process allows it to harden up nicely, without adding a bunch of animal fats...so you can enjoy the premium chocolate.)

Then, just dip the chip!

Lay chips on parchment paper to harden. You can make a nice platter of chocolate covered chips, pretzels, bacon....all the manly snacks!

My favorite part, is when you are all out of potato chips, take those crumbs at the bottom of the bag, and dump them all into the tempering unit...YES!! Just dump the crumbs into that chocolate!

Now...mix it around, covering all the chips and crumbs....and spread it onto parchment paper. This is a potato chip bark, so make it thick, not thin.

When this hardens, you will not believe the deliciousness of this silky, crunchy, sweet and salty treat.

and the winner is....

Safety 1st Guru!! Congrats!!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Peanut Butter Cups

My Honey's favorite treat, is Peanut Butter Cups. So for Father's Day, I decided to make him some. It was easy to do, watch......

I start by tempering some Dove dark chocolate. Remember, tempering is the process that will allow you to shape and mold chocolate, with the end result having a nice shine, a crisp snap....you can not achieve this with melting, unless you are using fake chocolate (flavored animal fat)

...this process takes about 20 minutes, so while it's tempering, Ill move along to the next step....making the peanut butter filling. It is simply peanut butter and powdered sugar....

whipped with a hand mixer until it is fluffy...

I made some small peanut butter cups for my kids, using foil candy wrappers....

For My Honey, it's the grande size! I used silicone cupcake molds....

Now, once the chocolate is tempered, I will fill each cup about 1/2 way. You can use a brush to spread the chocolate, I use my fingers, as it's just easier for me to make sure I get every crevice covered. I make sure that all the ridges are filled.

I then pipe in the peanut butter mixture, filling about 2/3 of the cups.....

Once they are stuffed full of the peanut butter mixture, I add more tempered chocolate, making sure to cover them completely...

This entire process took less than 45 minutes. Now I'll pop them into the fridge for about 30 minutes, to make sure they solidify, and soon I'll have a very happy husband!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I want one!!

For the month of July, Dove will do a DAILY DRAWING....and a lucky hostess and her Dove Chocolatier will EACH WIN AN IPAD. Yes, that means they are giving away 2 IPADS A DAY FOR AN ENTIRE MONTH!!

I want to win one! With such a new company, my chances are good!! Which of you will host the party that will earn me an ipad?? BECAUSE YOU WILL WIN ONE TOO!!

Get in touch with me asap, to get our July party rolling....(I do fundraisers too!)

Monday, July 5, 2010

The best manicure.....a giveaway!

Every now and again, I find something so fabulous, I just must share it with you, my friends.

Months ago, I went to my favorite nail salon, Nails by Holly.

Now, I want to take a minute to tell you about Holly....she and her sister Connie emigrated to the US from Viet Nam when they were in high school, and she is a living example of the American dream! She has started her own successful business, which not only provides for herself, but for the many women she employs. I love that!!

I dont typically get manicures, in fact, since getting busy with kids, I really dont have time to keep up with my nails...it's just something that got sacrificed in my mommy world, and that is ok, but ya know, a manicure every blue moon is a good thing.

So, I went in and the sweetest gal, Connie, suggests I try GEL nail polish. She promises that it wont chip as quickly. Well, that sounds like a plus, so I go for it.

Guess what? my nails...my nails that are used to being banged up and abused, didnt chip for FIVE WEEKS. And in that time, my nails grew! I almost felt like my pre-kid self with healthy nails.

The greatest thing about gel polish, is that it doesnt ruin your own nails! It's simply a gel that is painted onto your own nails.

I highly recommend that you try gel polish, and if you are local....go to Nails by Holly. They have always been a step above, providing quality services....they scrub more, massage more, and the girls are really nice. Ask for Connie, she is amazing!! ...and, tell her you read about her on my blog.

Nails by Holly
27660 Marguerite Pkwy #C
Mission Viejo, CA 92691
(949) 364-5009

Now....because I love you, and because Holly is generous, I have a special giveaway for my local friends;

A Nails by Holly gift certificate; $30 value...enough for a spa manicure and pedicure, gel nails...however you choose to pamper yourself!

All you need to do to enter; become a "follower" of my blog and post a comment!

This contest will end Thursday, July 8 @ 5pm PST, and the winner will be posted. Winner must contact me by Friday, July 9 @ 5pm PST and make arrangements to get the gift certificate (pick it up at my house or at the Nails by Holly Salon)

Im excited to share this fun find with you - Good Luck!!

Ni Hao

Hello, or in Chinese, Ni Hao!

Custom, homemade birthday cakes are a tradition in our family. Every year my kids tell me what kind of cake they want.....they have asked for a variety of characters and scenarios, including;

Elmo cupcakes
Rolly Polly Olly Cake
A volcano WITH lava and dinasaurs cake
A spider-man-traversing-a-city cake
Bakugan cake and cake balls
Pokemon cupcakes
Dora cake
Cinderella and Belle cakes
Snowy blue cupcakes

and I always do my best to fulfill the order with something that at least resembles the request.

This year, Little One asked for Kai Lan cupcakes....Kai Lan is a cartoon character, sort of a Japanese version of Dora....and she has a show, "Ni Hao Kai Lan"

So, keeping with tradition, I set out to make Kai Lan cupcakes, and it went something like this....

Thank goodness pleasing a preschooler is so easy!

Have you made any fun cakes for your kids? Id love to hear about them, and if you have pictures, please post!

My Chocolate Videos