Category Archives: Chocolate

Candy Cupboard Cookie Bars

Candy Cupboard Cookie Bars. For this recipe, I literally used all the bits and pieces of leftover chips,  dried cherries, toasted coconut and toffee bits in my cupboard. I always say that my best recipes are the ones that are spontaneous. Take a basic cookie formula and just start adding in some bits and pieces of leftovers to create a delicious treat. And with the added unsalted butter from Cabot, these cookies were a big hit with my husband and his co-workers. Recipes such as this challenge your creativity in the kitchen, something that I really enjoy. 

Candy Cupboard Cookie Bars

Candy Cupboard Cookie Bars

2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tablespoon espresso powder
1 cup Cabot unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 large eggs
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup toasted coconut
1/3 cup mini dark choc. chips
1/4 cup toffee bits
turbinado sugar

Cabot's unsalted butter always makes for some tasty cookies!
Cabot’s unsalted butter always makes for some tasty cookies!
A mix of my favorite cookie add-ins.
A mix of my favorite cookie add-ins.
Not only for cookies, this combo would be great for a Chocolate Lovers Candy Bark.
Not only for cookies, this combo would be great for a Chocolate Lovers Candy Bark.

Candy Cupboard Cookie Bars

Tips~An empty baking pan pressed up against the parchment paper will help keep the dough in place while baking.


1. In a  bowl, sift the dry ingredients, flour, baking soda and espresso powder. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray or grease with butter or oil, set aside.

2. Cream the butter with both white and brown sugar for 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the salt, vanilla and one egg at a time.

3. Gradully add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Fold in chips, cherries, coconut and toffee bits.

4. Spread  the cookie dough onto a lined baking sheet, and form an 11X9 rectangle. Push down and up against the edges making sure the dough stays on the parchment paper. If the baking sheet has room to spare, use a smaller baking dish pressed up against parchment paper to hold it’s shape during baking. Sprinkle some turbinado sugar over the top.  Bake at 350 for 23 to 25 minutes.

5. Remove from oven and let cool before slicing into 24 cookie bars. Store in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.

Candy Cupboard Cookie Bars

Tips~ You could use a baking dish as well. Just make sure the dough is no more than an inch thick before baking.

Candy Cupboard Cookie Bars

Chocolate Cherry Pie with Dulce de Leche

About fifteen years back when I was trying to expand my list of family recipes, I asked my Mom for an empanada dough recipe. I knew of the traditional one that she prepared for us during the holidays, but I wanted to prepare some savory empanadas. My tia’s in Monterrey are awesome cooks and bakers and she knew they would be able to help me.

So, after a call to my tia, my Mom gave me this version of dough that listed beer as one of the ingredients?? I was like, really, beer? But, I trusted that my tia (aunt) knew what she was talking about and I was so thrilled with the results of the recipe. Since then, I have experimented with this dough recipe hundreds of times. The beauty of it, is that is can be used for sweet or savory and it can be fried or baked. I usually bake my empanadas, but have been known to fry, if dared! LOl! To this day, my long time friends will say, “Hey, remember those empanadas that you used to make for us?”  Yes, I do like to share my foods and it’s very rewarding for me.


Chocolate Cherry Pies

~For Dough ~
1 1/4 cups shortening, melted
6 ounces light beer
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting

~For Cherry Topping/Filling~
3/4 cup water
7 tablespoons sugar
2 inch piece of vanilla bean, scrape the beans out.
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 pound sour cherries, pitted
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water

You will also need

1 1/2 cups milk or dark chocolate chunks

1 cup dulce de leche caramel

Turbinado or sugar in the raw

1 egg, plus 1 tablespoon water, whisked together for egg wash

Chocolate Chunk Cherry Pies with Dulce de Leche

Directions for dough

1. Melt shortening in large bowl. Add the cold beer and salt. Stir gently. Add in the baking powder and gradually add in the flour until the dough forms. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for 1 hour or chill until ready to use.

2. For cherry filling: In a medium saucepan, add the water, lemon juice sugar and vanilla bean. Bring to a low simmer, add cherries and continue cooking for 8 minutes. Taste for sweetness.

3. In a small bowl add the cornstarch and water. Mix until smooth. Slowly add into the simmering cherries. They will start to thicken right away. Cook for another 5 to 6 minutes.

4. To assemble small pies, divide the dough into 12 equal balls. Roll out the first 6 and transfer to pie plates, using your fingers to gently push down. Add 1/4 cup chocolate chunks, 2 tablespoons of dulce de leche and about 1/3 cup cherry topping. Roll out remaining dough balls and fit the tops of pies. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 36 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly before serving. Yields 6 small pies.
Tips~ For small pies, you will need 6 pie pans(4 1/2 to 5 inches in diameter).  For a quicker version of this recipe, you could use store bought pie dough and prepared cherry filling.

Chocolate Chunk Cherry Pies with Dulce de Leche

Let Them Eat Cake~ Just Add Chocolate

I did not intend for this cake recipe to be eggless, It came about out of lack of time. It was New Years morning, which also happens to be my husband Richard’s birthday and we were in the midst of a bad snow storm. So, there was no chance of heading to the market and for cases like this, this is when Pinterest comes in handy! I just search for cakes made with no eggs and it’s as easy as that. Well, the plus part was that I had the other ingredients I needed for the cake and of course I had to add my touch to it.

As I browsed through my pantry, I see a can of light coconut milk, semi sweet chocolate chips and a can of dulce de leche. Chocolate sauce! At first I thought, hhmm it might be too runny, but as it cooled it thickened up. And then once chilled overnight it was the perfectly thick sauce or ganache  for my cake.  I know ganache is typically prepared with cream,  but the coconut milk worked beautifully! Richard’s all time favorite cake is vanilla cake with chocolate frosting and shredded coconut…mission accomplished! This recipe reminds of a chocolate dessert one would enjoy on Valentines Day as well, hint…hint…..

I also included the recipe for a version of  my Mom’s  butter cake with chocolate frosting just like she used to prepare for us on our birthday when we were children. With a little added La Piña twist, this is how I remember it 

Cherry Coconut Cake with Chocolate Coconut  Dulce de Leche Ganache

Chocolate Coconut Dulce de Leche Sauce
13 ounce can of light coconut milk
12 ounce bag of semi sweet chocolate chips
1 can “La Lechera” dulce de leche
* Prepare the frosting at least 8 hours in advance so it has time to chill and thicken.

For Cake
1 3/4 cups, plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup cold milk
1/2 cup cherry preserves
1 cup flaked coconut, plus 1/2 cup reserved to garnish cake
2- 8 inch round cake pans (greased and floured)
Cherry Coconut Cake

1. Heat a saucepan to medium heat. Add coconut milk, 8 ounces of chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of dulce de leche caramel. Whisk now and then until it just starts to bubble and is all smooth. Remove from heat and let cool overnight. The sauce will thicken up nicely to frost the cake.

2 .Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift the dry ingredients together, set aside.

3. With a hand mixer, whip the butter and sugar, but do not over whip. Gradually mix in the condensed milk and vanilla.

4. Now you want to alternately, add the dry ingredients to the wet in stages, including the milk. So it will be add 1/4 flour mixture to condensed milk mixture and mix. Then add a little milk and mix, just until blended. Continue this, ending with the flour. Do not over mix. Fold in the 1 cup coconut and 1/3 cup of cherry preserves.

5. Butter and flour 2 eight inch cake pans and divide the batter into the pans. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until knife comes out clean from the center. Remove from oven and let cool.

6. Once cakes have cooled, add bottom layer of cake to serving platter. Add chocolate sauce and flaked coconut. Add second layer of cake, add more chocolate sauce, flaked and remaining chocolate chips. Yields up to 8 to 10 servings.

Eggless Cherry Coconut Cake


Old Fashioned Butter Cake, Mendez Style

Old Fashioned Butter Cake, Mendez Style



2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8 inch x 2 inch baking pans and set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

3. Add butter, milk, and vanilla. With a hand mixer, beat for 2 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides of bowl.

4. Add eggs and beat for 2 more minutes.

5. Pour batter into prepared pans, dividing equally between two pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven.

6. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then turn cakes out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Old Fashioned Butter Cake, Mendez Style

For Frosting
1 stick butter
2/3 cup Hershey’s cocoa
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk(plus a few additional drops if needed)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons instant espresso
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup strawberry preserves, set aside

1. Melt the butter, stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium speed to spreading consistency. Mix the espresso with 2 tablespoons of water until dissolved. Mix in the espresso, vanilla and cinnamon to the frosting.

2. To finish cake, add the first cake to the serving plate. Spread the preserves over the top evenly. Layer the second cake on top and spread the chocolate frosting evenly over entire cake. If you would like, you could take a solid dark chocolate bar and using a vegetable peeler, shave some chocolate over top of cake for garnish. Yields up to 10 servings.

Old Fashioned Butter Cake, Mendez Style