Chocolate Dipped Dates with Pistachios and Sea Salt

Happy New Year!

The new year is upon us and like everyone else, I’m wondering what happened to 2014.  It flew by, but it was a great year.

 

I’m grateful for 2014 and excited for 2015.  This year was full of great things…

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Like pie of course and healthy things like Avocado Pesto Hummus

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and my new obsession with zucchini noodles:

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I also did a lot of things I didn’t document on the blog, like when I went to Philadelphia and ran a half marathon

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That was tons of fun.

I also went to weddings, hung out with friends, went wine tasting, got better at crossfit, got better at my job.  So many wonderful things, all that weren’t documented anywhere.  I’m ok with that.  I took a step back from blogging this year, and I’m happy with that decision.

This isn’t the end of Foodologie.  No, no.  Foodologie is alive and well, but I’m hoping Foodologie will change in 2015.

After all, change is good.

So let’s celebrate change and the coming of a new year with a treat, something simple and sweet:

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Dates.

Delicious and naturally sweet, dipped in dark chocolate then sprinkled with chopped pistachio and sea salt.  It’s decadent and delicious, as the New Year should be.

 

Dates Dipped in Chocolate with Pistachios and Sea Salt

24 dates
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I used 60% cacao)
1 tsp coconut oil
1/4 cup pistachios, finely chopped
1 tsp coarse sea salt

Place your dates on a parchment paper lined dish.

In a bowl, melt together chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave.  Put it in for 20 seconds, then stir. Repeat until melted and smooth.

Dip dates into chocolate, then place on parchment paper.  Sprinkle with pistachios and sea salt.  Chill for a few hours, then serve!

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I haven’t had them yet but I bet they’ll go perfect with champagne.

I hope this recipe is indicative of what Foodologie will be in 2015: fun, simple and delicious.

Happy New Year!  I wish you the very best in 2015 and thanks so much for reading!

 

Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Filling, Cream Cheese Frosting and Sea Salt Candied Walnuts

Did you see that title?  Yeah, it’s intense.

I have a little bit of a confession though.  I wasn’t going to blog about these.  Not because they aren’t good.  No, no.  They are the most amazing things ever.  But because I wasn’t happy with the photos.  You see, prior to my full time employment, I had time to bake in the morning and take photos in daylight.  Now that I work all day, baking happens at night (unless it’s the weekend of course).

In case you’re not really into taking pictures… pictures look better when taken in natural light.  Truth. I was even tempted to make these again this morning just so I could take pretty pictures in the sunlight! But in the end, laziness (or health consciousness?) prevailed.

That said, nothing is going to change the fact that these are amazing.

Not even a mediocre pictures.

Next time you have a gathering or just really need something sweet, please make these.  They’re wonderful.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Filling, Cheese Cheese Frosting and Sea Salt Candied Walnuts

1 recipe for your favorite chocolate cupcakes (I like Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake)
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
2 sticks of butter, softened
Few cups of powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 sugar
1 tsp coarse sea salt

Bake cupcakes and allow to cool completely.  While they are baking, you can make the caramel filling.  Place sugar in a deep saucepan on medium heat.  Allow the sugar to melt (about 10 minutes), stir occasionally until the sugar is a golden brown color.  Remove from heat and immediately stir in butter.  Once butter is mixed in, stream in cream while you stir.  Stir until all combined and smooth.  Set aside to cool.  You can make this a day in advance if you like. Once the caramel is completely cooled, place into a ziploc bag (or a piping bag, if you’re fancy) and cut off one corner so you can pipe caramel.

Next, make the cream cheese frosting.  Using a stand or hand mixer, blend together cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla.  I say a few cups of powdered sugar because 1. I never measure and 2. you should use as much as is necessary to get the consistency and amount of sweetness you like.  I’m guessing I used about 6 cups?  Once your cream cheese frosting is ready, put it in the fridge to keep firm until you’re ready to use it.

Next prep the cupcakes.  Scoop out some of the cupcakes to make room for the caramel.  I use a small knife just to make a small hole on top then pull out some of the filling.  Pipe some caramel into the hole.  It doesn’t need to be a ton, but let’s be honest a lot is always delicious.

Now you can make the candied nuts.  First, lay out some wax paper so you’ll have somewhere to place the candied nuts.  This really is an essential first step.  Next in a pan, over medium heat, combine the walnuts and sugar, stir occasionally.  After a few minutes, the sugar will start to melt.  Stir to coat all the nuts.  Once they look golden and candy coated, remove from heat, sprinkle with salt, stir again and then spread them on the wax paper.  Be careful.  At this point they will be very hot.  Give them some time to cool, then go through and separate any pieces and stuck together.

Lastly, now you can finish assembling the cupcakes.  Frost them however you like.  My sister and I went through a different types of frosting styles with different tips, but in the end it doesn’t really matter, since it’ll be covered in delicious candied nuts.  So once you’ve frosted them, lay some salted, candied nuts on there.  Refrigerate so everything gets firmed up together.  Then serve!

(Note: This picture will be infinitely funnier if you’ve read this)

You might be wondering why I decided to bake in the middle of the week.  Well, I suppose it’s not that out of character for me, but I had a reason. It’s my favorite brother-in-law’s birthday.

Happy Birthday, Tim!!  I think he liked them 🙂

In fact, I think everyone that’s eaten them has liked them.  I’m pretty sure that means I might have to make these again.

There has to be another birthday coming up soon, not that I really need a reason to bake.

Have a great weekend!