Sometimes you need a quick dessert to whip up for that last empty bit of table space at a party. That's where these come in. I know you may be tempted to set a bowl of peanuts in that space, or maybe a bag of m&ms. Stop right there. Make these. They're salty, sweet and bite-sized (read: perfection). I've seen them on a few other blogs recently, so obviously I'm not the only one who loves these. Next time I may try them with the caramel filled Hershey's Kisses. You can't go wrong!

M&M Pretzel Hugs

1 10oz bag plain Pretzel Snaps (this will be about three times as many pretzels as you'll need for one batch)
1 bag M&Ms

Preheat oven to 175 degrees farhenheit. Line a sheet pan with tin foil. Arrange pretzels on tray, leaving about a centimeter between them. This should still give you enough space to fit enough pretzels to use up all of the Hershey's Hugs on one pan. Unwrap the Hershey's hugs and place one on the center of each of the pretzels. Place in the oven for three minutes. The hugs will melt quickly, so don't walk away. Keep an eye on them. You want them to still have their shape, but be melted enough on the inside that you can press an M&M into each one. Remove from oven and place an M&M gently on the top of each hug, pressing down slightly. Allow to cool to room temperature, then remove from pan. If you want to speed up this process throw the tray in the fridge for 15 minutes. Allowing them to cool ensures that the hugs won't stick together on the sheet. 

The few days leading up to Christmas are always a baking marathon for me. By the time Christmas finally gets here I'm just about sugared out. It's that time when you start thinking about eating more dessert and feel slightly nauseous. Do I keep eating desserts anyways? Yes. But I think twice before grabbing that last cookie, and it takes a lot of sweets to get me to that point. 

I wanted something easy to prepare for Christmas dessert with my family. I go to my grandparents house for lunch on Christmas so that leaves about four hours of cooking before the other side of the family comes over for Christmas dinner. Basically I need to prepare Christmas dessert early so I can leave those four hours for cooking for the 15 people arriving at 7pm. This meringue was just the trick. It's beautiful and easy, and it's supposed to be made ahead of time. It needs to be assembled the day/night before, but it's nothing too tricky. The original recipe says it serves 8-10, but I've changed that to 10-12, and as I said, I served 15 with a bit left over.

My only complaint is that it's nearly impossible to cut a pretty slice of meringue cake. Maybe I was just doing it wrong, but the second I started cutting it I immediately decided I would need to make meringue parfaits because the slices were going to look like a mess. By the second or third slice it got slightly better, but I'm just warning you about that in advance. If the cake isn't cutting well, make them into meringue parfaits. In the words of Donkey from Shrek, "Parfaits gotta be the most delicious thing on the whole damn planet!"...True words, Donkey.  


Chocolate Meringue Cake
Recipe from Heat Oven to 350

  • 6 large egg whites (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • Chocolate shavings for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw two 8-inch rounds on one sheet of the parchment and one 8-inch round on the other.
  2. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites with the salt at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar at high speed until stiff and shiny. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts and cocoa powder. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the melted chocolate down the side of the bowl and gently fold until the meringue is lightly marbled.
  3. Spread the meringue in the drawn circles. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 300 degrees and bake for 1 hours and 20 minutes, until crisp; rotatating the pans halfway through baking. Turn off the oven and leave the door ajar to let the meringues cool completely.
  4. In the bowl of the standing mixer, beat the cream with the powdered sugar until firm. Remove the meringues from the parchment paper. Spread the whipped cream on the layers and stack them. Refrigerate or freeze the cake overnight. Cut into wedges (this is done easiest with a serrated knife when the cake is frozen or very cold) and serve cold, but not frozen. Garnish with chocolate shavings before serving.
Prep Time: 15 min Cook Time: 1 hour 20 min Serves: 10-12

I'm a mushroom fiend (normal 'shrooms, people). Seriously, I will throw them on anything and everything. I was in New York for Santacon this past weekend and managed to get a portobello mushroom sandwich from one of my favorite sandwich shops there three times from when I got in Friday night to when I left Sunday night. I also order a mushroom dish on any menu 9 out of 10 times. Coming from a huge meat eater, it's kind of an odd obsession. 

I know mushrooms aren't for everyone, though. I actually made this pizza over the summer and never posted it because look at it - that's a mushroom overload. But I realized that it's a delicious pizza and there's no reason it has to have mushrooms on it for those who aren't fans of fungi (I do somewhat understand the aversion if you've never tried them). The method for making the crust is the part I found most interesting about the recipe. Resist temptation and add the extra step!

I've obviously made it pretty clear on my blog that I make pizza all the time. It's so easy and I love being able to mess with ingredients however I want. For those of you who like mushrooms, feel free to make your pizza look more like mine. I think my goal when making this was to cover every inch of the pizza with mushrooms. If that's not your thing, add all of your personal favorite toppings. Also, if you don't want to splurge on truffle oil you can do without it.


p.s. get excited for holiday's coming!

Truffled Fontina and Mushroom Pizza
Recipe adapted from Flying Fourchette

Active time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Makes 4 servings
1 pound pizza dough, thawed if frozen
1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
3/4 pound cold Italian Fontina (or Taleggio), rind discarded and cheese sliced, or freshly grated (use good fontina for this)
1 teaspoon white truffle oil (optional)
1 tablespoon minced garlic spread


Put a large heavy baking sheet (17 by 14 inches) on lowest rack of oven, then preheat oven to 475°F.

Stretch out dough on a lightly floured surface, pulling on corners to form a roughly 16- by 13-inch rectangle. Transfer to a tray lined with parchment paper. Lightly prick dough all over with a fork.

Slide dough (still on parchment) onto hot baking sheet. Bake until top is puffed and pale golden in patches, 6 to 10 minutes.

Remove from oven; prick any large bubbles with a fork and flatten. Gently spread garlic over crust, and scatter mushrooms or your toppings of choice on top.

Season with salt and pepper and lay or sprinkle cheese on top.

Bake pizza until edge of crust is deep golden and cheese is bubbling and golden in patches, 8 to 10 minutes.

Drizzle with truffle oil (if using) and season with pepper. Serve immediately.

Welp, looks like we're back to pumpkin overload. I couldn't resist. I won't do a long write-up on these cookies because they're honestly so good I think you just need to make them and let them speak for themselves. I'm not usually a fan of cake-like cookies, so I was a little hesitant to give this recipe a try. I tend to think they often end up either overly dry or at some weird in-between consistency that bothers me. I also am not usually a fan of butterscotch. Alas, the recipe was super easy and I had everything on hand, so I went for it anyways (why I had butterscotch chips on hand when I don't like butterscotch is beyond me). 

These cookies are soft and cakey, but also incredibly flavorful with the butterscotch chips. They're probably some of the best seasonal cookies I've ever made. I'm already planning the next time I'm going to make them...I give it less than a week. 


Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies
Recipe from Wishes and Dishes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola or corn oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat the oven to 325  degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and butter the  paper.Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon  together in a medium bowl and set aside.In a large bowl, using an  electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar until smooth and  lightened in color, about 1 minute.  Stop the mixer and scrape the  sides of the bowl as needed during mixing.  On low speed, mix the oil,  pumpkin, and vanilla until blended.  Mix in the flour mixture to  incorporate it.  Mix in the chips. (Note: I chilled the dough at this point to make it easier to scoop.)
Using an ice cream scoop with a 1/4-cup capacity, scoop the  dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies at least 2  1/2-inches apart.  You could also simply use a 1/4-cup measuring cup if  you don’t have a  scoop.  Use a thin metal spatula to smooth and flatten  the rounds.
Bake the  cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm and a  toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, about 16 minutes*.  Cool them on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then use a  metal spatula to  transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Optional: dust the cooled cookies lightly with powdered sugar.
The cookies can  be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

*They were done in about 12-13 minutes in my oven. Make sure to keep an eye on the cooking time!