Homemade Peppermint Patties

Keeping with my annual tradition of finding a fun and easy recipe for Valentine’s Day, this week I decided to make one of my husband’s favorite treats – peppermint patties.  I must say, they were a BIG hit when customers sampled them yesterday and I gave out a record number of recipes! 

I found a great recipe on Taste of Home that only used five ingredients – sweetened condensed milk, powdered sugar, peppermint flavor, chocolate chips, and some shortening (all of which you can buy organic and trans-fat free at the Co-op).  This recipe is fun because you can shape the peppermint dough however you like, something I realized after I had made all my patties for my recipe demo – I’ll pat the dough flat and use a small cookie cutter to shape them as little hearts for the holiday!  It also comes together relatively quickly – it took me about 20 minutes to make the dough and shape the patties, plus chill time, and then it took me about 10-15 minutes to coat them with chocolate, plus chill time.

© Sassy Sampler 2013

© Sassy Sampler 2013

One thing I learned from this recipe is that I will always put a little oil in my chocolate from now on if I am using it to cover candies – I’ve always had difficulty with getting a nice even coating of chocolate when I make things like this, and the shortening added to the chocolate in this recipe really makes a difference.  If you are averse to vegetable shortening (we carry an organic 100% palm oil version), or just don’t have any on hand, I think that coconut oil would be an acceptable substitute.

If you are vegan and are craving some of these homemade candies, I suggest making this coconut version of sweetened condensed milk created by Sunny B on her gluten/dairy-free recipe blog – I think it would work great in this recipe.

…I’ll also mention that our Bakery has developed a vegan peppermint patty that will be available soon – I got to sample one and they are yummy!

Mmmmm...organic peppermint patties! © Sassy Sampler 2013

Mmmmm…organic peppermint patties! © Sassy Sampler 2013

Homemade Peppermint Patties

adapted from Taste of Home


  • 3/4 c organic sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 t organic peppermint flavor (use less if you use real extract)
  • 3—4 c organic powdered sugar (up to 1#)
  • 3 c (18 oz) organic fair-trade dark chocolate chips
  • 2 t organic vegetable shortening (or organic coconut oil)


  1. In a bowl, combine milk and peppermint flavor.
  2. Stir in 3 c powdered sugar, to form a stiff dough. Once you have initially incorporated the sugar into the milk mixture, it is easiest to finish mixing with your hands.
  3. Knead enough remaining sugar to form a dough that is very stiff and no longer sticky.
  4. Working quickly, shape into 1” balls (really compact the dough) and place on a waxed paper or parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Flatten balls into 1 1/2” disks.Place cookie sheet in the freezer for half an hour, flipping them after 15 minutes (don’t freeze them for longer than that).
  6. Melt the chocolate chips and shortening in a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl over about 1” of boiling water, stirring frequently. The chocolate is easiest to work with when it remains hot, so once the water is boiling and the chocolate has melted, turn off the heat but keep the bowl on the pot to keep the chocolate warm.
  7. Place a fork under a patty and dip in the chocolate mixture; tap fork against the side of the bowl gently and scrape excess chocolate off the bottom of the patty using the side of the bowl.
  8. Place patty on waxed or parchment paper to harden—you can either do that at room temperature or in the fridge.

These have a great shelf life—keep them in an airtight container (separate layers with parchment paper) in the fridge for up to a month.

Chocolate Peppermint PattiesPDF

Flourless Chocolate Cookies, and a Bellingham Gluten-free Restaurant Guide

Chantel holding a plate of yummy chocolate cookies made with Dagoba organic and fairly traded cocoa powder.

Chantel holding a plate of yummy chocolate cookies made with Dagoba organic and fairly traded cocoa powder.

We’ve been busy over the last year redesigning our website, and one of the new things we are doing is picking a staff favorite item to feature on the site as well as in our print ads – for December, long-time staff member Chantel was selected (who is our Membership Coordinator and also works on the Front End at our Downtown store).  She loves to cook and bake, and one of her favorite recipes features her staff pick of the month – Dagoba Fair Trade Organic Cocoa Powder.  We thought it would be fun to tie that into the Sassy Sampler blog this month, so the recipe was an easy pick since Chantel had already chosen it!

These flourless chocolate cookies are scrumptious – they come together very quickly and contain no added fats (although plenty of sugar, so don’t get too excited about the basically fat-free status!).  They taste like a meringue brownie – they are a delicate cookie that is packed with chocolate flavor and only contain a few ingredients.  They are similar to the Triple Chocolate Cookies that I have blogged about before, but these are much easier to make and don’t contain any flour at all.  Customers loved their flavor, and also loved their simplicity…and the fact that while they contain egg whites, you don’t have to whip them for this recipe!

One other new addition (to my blog) is that I have created a list of restaurants in town that offer gluten-free selections/substitutions.  I urge anyone to comment on them and to offer suggestions to add to the list – you can either email me (address is located on the bottom of the About page) or use the form – most of the restaurants listed are ones that myself or my coworkers have personally eaten at so it is by no means a comprehensive list.  You can find the PDF document (and places to comment) here.

Flourless Chocolate Cookies © Sassy Sampler 2012

Flourless Chocolate Cookies © Sassy Sampler 2012

Flourless Chocolate Cookies

adapted from www.kumquatblog.com


  • 3 c organic powdered sugar
  • 2/3 c organic cocoa powder
  • 1/4 t sea salt
  • 4 large organic egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 t organic vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4—1 1/2  c organic semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper (and sprayed lightly with oil) or Silpat mats.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and sea salt.
  4. Stir in the egg whites and vanilla until the batter is well combined (if the batter seems too thin you can add more powdered sugar until it reaches school glue consistency).
  5. Spoon thick fudgy batter onto cookie sheets in 12 small, evenly spaced mounds (about 1 T).  Chill for 5 minutes or so to keep them from spreading when they bake.  Refrigerate remaining batter.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the tops are glossy and lightly cracked.
  7. Slide the parchment onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely before removing from the sheet.
  8. Repeat steps 5-7 with remaining batter.

Cookies can be kept in an airtight container for up to three days and taste just like brownies!

There are many variations of this recipe on the web—you can use anywhere from 2-4 eggs (depending on how thick you want the batter—I definitely think the thicker the better) and some recipes use as much as 2 cups of chocolate chips.  Nuts can be added to these cookies as well—hazelnuts, walnuts, or pecans would be a great choice.

Flourless Chocolate Cookies PDF

1/3/13 – Since posting this recipe I’ve made a batch using Dutch processed cocoa powder.  They turn out much darker (in color) and have a slightly richer chocolate flavor – give it a try if that is your preference!

I just have to mention that when I made the cookies, three of my four eggs had double yolks!!!  Just thought that was weird...

I just have to mention that when I made the cookies, three of my four eggs had double yolks!!! Just thought that was weird…

Michael Symon’s Chocolate Pumpkin Pie (gluten-free option)

I don’t watch a lot of daytime TV, but this last Monday I happened to catch the chocolate-centric episode of ABC’s new show The Chew.  Most of you probably know by now that I am a great lover of chocolate, so when Chef Michael Symon said he had a recipe for chocolate pumpkin pie, I think my heart skipped a beat.  I immediately got on their website and checked out the recipe – it was a no-brainer – this was definitely the recipe I was going to prepare for this Friday’s recipe demo!

We have some beautiful locally grown sugar pie pumpkins in our Produce departments right now, so I decided to use fresh pumpkin rather than canned, although you can use either in this recipe.  I also love bittersweet chocolate, so I used 6oz of the Cordillera 65% dark chocolate coins as well as 3oz organic dark chocolate chips.  I made a gluten-free pie crust using Pamela’s Products Gluten-free Bread Mix “Easy Pie Crust” recipe (which I think is the best gluten-free crust out there), but I also made a wheat-based pie crust because I had plenty of filling for both pies (the recipe is technically for one pie, but I had enough to fill two shallow pies).

The feedback from tasters was pretty unanimous (o.k., there was one person that thought it was “sacrilegious” to add chocolate to pumpkin pie, but she was in the definite minority).  Nobody had heard of a chocolate pumpkin pie before, even though it seems like such a natural combination!  The pie was delightful – a strong chocolate flavor followed by a delicate pumpkin flavor that combined into pie heaven.  I urge you to try this pie this Thanksgiving – it isn’t any harder to make than a traditional pumpkin pie, yet you will wow your guests with your baking genius when you serve it!

Michael Symon’s Chocolate Pumpkin Pie, Sassified Photo © 2011 Sassy Sampler

 Michael Symon’s Chocolate Pumpkin Pie, with gluten-free option

For the original recipe, click here


For Pie Crust (wheat flour based):

  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1/2 t sugar
  • 2 t salt
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, (very cold and cut into small pieces)
  • 2-3 T ice water

Ingredients for Pamela’s Gluten-Free Pie Crust:

  • 1 bag Pamela’s gluten-free Bread Mix
  • 1 cube (8T) Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2 c Spectrum Shortening
  • 7-8 T Ice water (tip – you can use half vodka/half water – the vodka evaporates and leaves you with an even flakier crust)

For Pie Filling:

  • 3 oz Bittersweet Chocolate (finely chopped) (I used the organic dark chocolate chips we have in bulk)
  • 6 oz Semisweet Chocolate (finely chopped) (I used the Corderilla 65% chocolate coins)
  • 4 T Unsalted Butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 14 oz can Pumpkin (see instructions below to make your own from scratch)
  • 1 12 oz can Evaporated Milk
  • 3/4 packed Light-Brown Sugar (I used organic dark brown sugar)
  • 3 large Eggs
  • 1 T organic Cornstarch
  • 1 t Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 t Sea Salt
  • 3/4 t Ground Cinnamon
  • 3/4 t Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 t Ground Nutmeg
  • Pinch of Ground Cloves


For the Pie Crust:

  1. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and butter in a food processor and pulse until coarse, with small marbles of butter remaining OR follow directions on bag of Pamela’s Gluten-free Bread Mix for a gluten-free pie crust and skip to the filling instructions.
  2. Sprinkle 2 T of the ice water and pulse until crumbly and dough holds when squeezed together.  Add another sprinkle of water if it is too dry, but do not over-mix.
  3. Transfer dough to a plastic bag, press into a disk, and refrigerate for one hour.

For the Pie Filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Roll out dough on floured surface. (wheat) or on parchment paper.  Press into pie plate, trim to leave 1-inch excess around edges, fold under and flute edges.  Cut a piece of parchment paper or non-stick foil to the size of the pie, and use to line pie crust.  Fill with pie weights, and bake until golden, about 15 minutes.*
  3. Reduce heat in oven to 325°F
  4. In a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter, stirring frequently until it is smooth and then remove from heat.
  5. In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, evaporated milk, brown sugar, eggs, cornstarch, vanilla, salt cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
  6. Fold in the chocolate mixture, and pour into your pie crust(s).
  7. Place the pie pan on a baking sheet and bake at 325° until the center of the pie has set, about an hour.
  8. Refrigerate until cooled completely to serve.

* I only pre-baked one of my pie crusts and they both came out perfect – you can opt to skip this step if you like as I didn’t really notice a difference between then two.

To make Pumpkin Puree –

Wash your pumpkin and cut in half—discard the stem, seeds and stringy pulp.  In a shallow baking dish, place pumpkin halves face down and cover with foil (optional—sprinkle insides with sea salt).  Bake in a 375°F oven until tender, about 1—1 1/2 hours.  Let pumpkin cool, remove the flesh and either purée in food processor or mash it until smooth.

Michael Symon’s Chocolate Pumpkin Pie PDF

Buttercream “Eggs” with Royal Icing Flowers – Part 2

Photo © 2011 Sassy Sampler

Buttercream eggs, also known as fondant eggs (although they really are neither) are very easy to make.  Just four ingredients (plus nuts if you add them) and chocolate chips for coating them, and you are on your way to sugar heaven!

As I stated in my last post, my mom used to make these when I was a kid, and this must have been a well-used recipe in the 70’s and 80’s as I had many customers exclaim that their mother or grandmother used to make these for them every Easter.  I don’t know where my mom got the recipe, but it’s one that will always be in my arsenal.

The recipe I have doesn’t have many instructions, so it is good they are so easy to make!  I started by melting a stick of butter and then I let it cool completely.  You put two pounds (yes, I said pounds) of powdered sugar in that largest bowl you have, and then drizzle the melted butter, sweetened condensed milk (we have Santini Organic at the Co-op) and a tablespoon of vanilla and then mix it all together – I tend to start with a wooden spoon and then use my hands once the bulk of the powdered sugar is mixed in.  If you are adding nuts (I used organic roasted almonds) you mix those in and voilà – you are almost done.

Form the dough into egg shapes using your hands – the dough is very pliable and should do this easily.  I like to let them harden in the fridge for at least a couple of hours (or overnight) so the melted chocolate doesn’t make them too smooshy.  I melted two bags of Tropical Source semi-sweet chocolate chips (dairy and gluten-free) in a large bowl over a barely simmering pot of water, and then removed it from the heat.  The dipping method that worked best for me was to place the egg on a fork and then lowering the fork into the bowl so the egg was resting on the chocolate.  Then I spooned chocolate over the egg and smoothed it out.  I lifted the fork out and let the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl and carefully transferred the egg to a parchment lined baking sheet.  If you made Royal Icing flowers, this is the point you need to place them on the egg, otherwise the chocolate will harden and they won’t stick.

Photo © 2011 Sassy Sampler

That’s it – aside from letting the chocolate harden, which you can do on the counter or in the fridge.  Once they are made, they should be good for about a week or so (kept in the fridge and wrapped up tight – especially if you have cut into it, although I think they are best at room temperature so I leave them out for a little while before I eat them), if you can keep them around for that long!

Buttercream “Eggs” Photo © 2011 Sassy Sampler

Buttercream “Eggs”

(recipe for Royal Icing drop flowers can be found here or in the PDF at the end of the post)


  • 2 lb powdered sugar
  • 1 stick melted and cooled salted butter or margarine (8T)
  • 1T vanilla
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2c chopped nuts (optional)
  • 12-18 oz chocolate chips for topping


  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Form about 10 eggs and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  3. Refrigerate for a couple of hours (or covered, overnight) for best results.
  4. Take eggs out and melt chocolate in a double boiler.
  5. Either dip the eggs in the chocolate (using either turkey nails or a wide-tined fork in the bottom to hold the egg) and place them on the baking sheet (be sure to let the excess chocolate drip off) or place a spoonful of chocolate on the baking sheet and place egg on top—then spoon another couple spoonfuls of chocolate over it and spread until even.
  6. Place your icing flowers on the eggs while the chocolate is still soft.
  7. Let eggs sit until chocolate hardens (you can refrigerate them).
  8. Use leftover Royal Icing to write the name of the recipient on the eggs before serving.

(I also used the leftover chocolate – I put little blobs on some parchment paper and put a Royal Icing flower in the middle for tasty little candies.)

Buttercream Eggs with Royal Icing Flowers PDF

Candy Bars – gluten-free and vegan, but noone will ever know!

As I stated in an earlier post, Wynne, our Produce Manager at the Cordata Co-op, really wanted me to make candy bars for a demo, and today she got her wish (just in time for Valentine’s Day).

I found a recipe for “Three Amigos” candy bars on about.com – think Three Musketeers, except way better and more truffle-like.  This recipe looked super easy, and I was not disappointed!

I only used two ingredients: chocolate chips and a container of Suzanne’s RiceMellow Créme.  It took about 10 minutes (including melting the chocolate chips on the stove) to prepare the inside of the bars, and then you have to wait for it to set (at least 4 hours or overnight).  Then I just melted some more chocolate chips, dipped the bars in them, refrigerated them for about 10 minutes and voilá, I had super delicious candy bars that tasted like I’d slaved all day in the kitchen!  People couldn’t believe how simple they were to make and I gave out a ton of recipes to customers today – I have a feeling there are going to be some sugared-up households in Bellingham this weekend!

I used the new SunSpire Chocolate Dream Chocolate Chips, and with Suzanne’s “marshmallow” creme these candy bars are vegan (no dairy or eggs), nut-free, and gluten-free (there is soy in both the chips and the creme).  I used two forks to dip them into the melted chocolate – I made about 100 little cubes instead of cutting the filling into 10 bars (for sample purposes) – and found that it worked well to cover the bar/square in chocolate in the bowl and then gently push away the excess chocolate before moving them to my parchment lined baking sheet.  It’s a little cumbersome at first if you aren’t very experienced with dipping things in chocolate, but they’ll taste just as good even if they’re not pretty.

If you can’t find vegan marshmallow cream where you live, you can substitute regular marshmallow cream (and they still make Marshmallow Fluff!).  You could probably even throw plain marshmallows into the melted chocolate to get a similar result (you may want to add a T or two of water to the mixture).

I highly recommend that you whip up a batch this weekend.  In no time at all you will be everyone’s best friend!

photo homemade candy bars

Three Amigos Candy Bars © 2011 Sassy Sampler

“Three Amigos” Candy Bars


  • 2 pounds semi-sweet chocolate chips (or 3 10 oz. packages of chips will work)
  • 1 container Suzanne’s RiceMellow Créme


  1. Prepare an 8×8 pan by lining it with aluminum foil.  Spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Put half of the chocolate chips in a double-boiler with simmering water and melt (you can use a heat-proof bowl on top of a small saucepan if you don’t have a double-boiler).  You can also place the chips in a microwave safe bowl and melt them in 45 second bursts (stir in between).
  3. Once the chips are melted, add the container of RiceMellow Créme and stir until the mixture is smooth.  Pour it into the prepared pan and smooth it to an even layer.  Refrigerate until chilled thoroughly, at least 4 hours or overnight.
  4. Once the nougat is completely set and firm, melt the rest of the chocolate chips  using the same method as in step 1.  Let cool slightly before starting step 6 (about 5 minutes).
  5. While the chocolate is cooling, remove the candy nougat from the fridge and pull up on the foil to remove it from the pan.  Place on a cutting board, and using a sharp knife, cut the candy in half, then cut each half into 5 bars.  Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
  6. Using two forks or dipping tools, submerge one bar at a time into the melted chocolate.  Remove the bar from the chocolate, allowing excess chocolate to drip back down in the bowl (I found it worked well to lightly scrape the bottom of the bar on the side of the bowl to remove the excess).  Place the bar on the baking sheet.
  7. Repeat with remaining bars.
  8. Place the bars in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to set the chocolate.  Once set, the bars can be served immediately.

Three Amigos Candy Bars PDF

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

Every week when it is time to sample a recipe, the Produce staff are always excited to find out what I will be sampling (my demo table is between the Bulk and Produce departments). Last week as I was setting up my hummus demo, they asked what was on the menu for the day, and I hear the Produce manager holler from the prep area “candy bars?!?” Hummus is in no way a candy bar (I think somebody was craving a sugary treat that day!), but based on her enthusiastic “suggestion” that was what I had planned on preparing and sampling this week.

Thursday came around, and I went to check the shelf stock on the ingredients I would need, and guess what? One of the main ingredients was out of stock! All of a sudden, I had no demo for the next day and I had to think fast. Thank goodness I had done a little recipe recon earlier in the week, and I ran across a gluten-free blogger that I hadn’t checked out before. It was the name of the blog that got me “Hey, that tastes good! or how I learned that gluten-free doesn’t mean taste-free“. Connecticut blogger Jill has some fantastic recipes, and it is on her blog that I found what would prove to be a delicious substitute for the candy bars I had planned to make (don’t worry, I’ll still make them around Valentine’s day) – Chocolate Tres Leches cake.

For those of you that haven’t had Tres Leches cake, it is a sponge or butter cake that is soaked in three kinds of milk – cream, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk – that originates from Latin America and is best served chilled. It is a delicious cake that isn’t soggy like you would think, and I was even more excited to find a chocolate version on Jill’s blog. Customers absolutely loved the cake – it is a great one to serve if you have a gluten and/or egg intolerance, because no one will know that it isn’t a “regular” cake!

I used the Swan Bakery’s GF Vegan Chocolate Cake mix in the recipe, because I had experience soaking it with berry sauce when I made the vegan Fluffy Berry Cake last year. You can use just about any chocolate cake recipe (GF or wheat) in this recipe, just be sure that it isn’t a dense cake or it won’t soak up enough of the milk mixture and will become soggy. I used the fairly traded organic chocolate chips and cocoa that we have in the bulk department, and the cake turned out fantastic. In the original recipe, Jill uses regular sugar in her whipping cream, but I usually use powdered sugar; you are welcome to use whatever is your favorite method for making whipping cream. Be sure to use at least a little sugar though – you will be adding cocoa powder to the cream and if you don’t add any sugar at all it could come out a little bitter and/or blander tasting overall.

As I mentioned before, Tres Leches cake is best when allowed to soak up the milk overnight, so this is a great cake to make when you know you have guests coming over the next day. If you use a cake mix, there is really very little hands-on time that you spend in the kitchen making this cake, and it tastes like you slaved for hours!


photo chocolate tres leches cake

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake © 2011 Sassy Sampler


adapted from Hey, That Tastes Good


  • 1 package Swan Bakery Chocolate Cake mix (GF or wheat variety, or any airy chocolate cake recipe), plus related ingredients

For the Swan Bakery GF cake mix (you may need to adapt this depending on what chocolate cake mix you use):

  • 2 c water or soy milk
  • 1 c grape seed/canola oil
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar

Tres Leches Ingredients

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 oz chocolate chips (about 1/3 c)
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 2 T powdered sugar
  • 2 T cocoa powder


  1. Prepare cake according to the instructions. Once it’s cooled, poke holes all over the top with a fork. Don’t worry if it is messy, the top of the cake is going to be covered with whipped cream anyway!
  2. Combine the condensed milk and the chocolate chips in a small saucepan and heat on the stove just long enough to melt the chocolate chips. Don’t boil or simmer the milk. You can also place them in a microwave safe bowl and heat them for a minute or two to melt the chocolate.
  3. Pour the chocolaty milk into a bowl and add the evaporated milk and 1/4 c of the heavy cream.
  4. Slowly pour about 1 1/2—2 cups of the mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in (overnight in the fridge is best for flavor).
  5. You will have some chocolate milk mixture left over. I recommend making a mocha with it…I did—it tasted like a liquid truffle.
  6. To make the whipped cream, combine the rest of the cream with the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and whip until it is thick.Spread over the top of the cake and refrigerate again until ready to serve.
  7. Store cake in the fridge.  Best when consumed within a couple of days.

Gluten-free Chocolate Tres Leches Cake PDF

No Bake Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

For yesterday’s Cordata recipe demo, I wanted something tasty and sweet.  Our annual staff party was Friday night (a Co-op Prom!), and I knew that I would want to have something easy to prepare because I would be doing my own preparations at home that evening.  I came across a post from Amy Green’s blog Simply Sugar and Gluten Free – No Bake Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars, and I knew I had found a winner.

Amy uses only unrefined sugars in her recipes, and I have kept my eye out for something that used coconut palm sugar.  We started carrying it at the Co-op a little while ago, but I hadn’t used it in a recipe yet.  Coconut sugar is derived from the sap of the coconut palm, and is a low-glycemic sugar (it has a glycemic index of 35, which is equal to figs, quinoa and wild rice).  It is gaining popularity as an alternative to agave syrup (although this recipe calls for both).

I of course made a few artistic changes to the recipe to suit what I had in my pantry.  I used Republica Del Cacao‘s organic 75% cacao chocolate chips (in bulk!) in place of the carob chips in the original recipe (you know I’m a sucker for dark chocolate).  We do carry unsweetened carob chips in bulk, so if you are looking for the lowest sugar level possible, give those a try (we also have grain sweetened carob chips).  I also used my favorite Santa Cruz dark roasted crunchy peanut butter in place of the smooth peanut butter in the original recipe – just make sure the peanut butter you use has no sugar, as it is commonly added to most conventional brands of peanut butter.  Nature’s Path GF Corn Flakes and Puffed Rice worked really well in this recipe as well.  They are headquartered in Richmond, British Columbia, a short 25 mile jaunt across the border, and are produced locally in Blaine (just down the road from my dad’s house!) as well as in Delta, BC (which is also in the lower BC mainland).

The bars were very easy to make, and turned out great.  The NP corn flakes gave them a satisfying crunch, and they were very popular with customers.  I love recipes that you can adapt to what you already have in your cupboard, and this is another gem!  They remind me of my granola bar recipe ingredient wise, but end up tasting very different.  Enjoy!

photo chocolate peanut butter bars

No Bake Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars © 2010 Sassy Sampler

No Bake Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars


For the chocolate filling:

  • 2 T organic unsalted butter (or organic shortening)
  • 7 oz unsweetened carob or dark chocolate chips
  • 1 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
  • ¾ t vanilla extract (use high quality vanilla if using carob)

For the crunchy bit:

  • 2 ½ c GF corn flakes, lightly crushed
  • 1 ½ c GF puffed rice cereal
  • ¾ c peanut butter (unsweetened)
  • ¼ c agave nectar
  • ¼ c coconut palm sugar
  • 1 ½ T organic unsalted butter (or margarine)


  1. Line a 9×13 pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper (let the edges hang over the side).  Lightly mist with cooking spray.
  2. Put 2 T butter (or shortening) in the bottom of a glass or stainless steel bowl (that will fit snugly on top of a saucepan) or in the top of a double boiler.  Top with carob/chocolate chips, chopped baking chocolate, and vanilla.  Bring an inch of water to a boil and place the bowl on top of the pot.  Turn off burner.  Let sit until the mixture melts, stirring occasionally.
  3. Put the corn flakes and rice cereals in a large bowl.
  4. Put the peanut butter, agave, palm sugar, and butter in a heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil for one minute, stirring.  Pour hot peanut butter mixture over cereals and stir until coated.
  5. Press half of the cereal mixture into the bottom of your prepared pan.  Spread with the melted chocolate mixture.  Top with the remaining cereal mixture, pressing them into the chocolate mixture.
  6. Cover and refrigerate until set, about one hour.  Cut into desired size with a sharp chef’s knife.
  7. Enjoy!

No Bake Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars PDF

“Buckeyes” (Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls)

For this week’s demo, I wanted to make something sweet. If you notice the ratio of desserts to entrees that I tend to sample, you’ll see that I do have a bit of a sweet tooth, although I try to keep a balance of recipes. I haven’t demoed a sweet treat since late August, so I felt it was time!

Buckeye tree nut

Buckeye tree nut

I trolled the web and found numerous recipes for Buckeyes that sounded promising – who doesn’t like peanut butter and chocolate? Well, actually one mother daughter duo professed to me yesterday that they didn’t, but everyone else I talked to sure did! If you are not familiar with Buckeye trees (as probably many in WA state are not), here are a few facts: Buckeyes are nuts from trees of the same name, which are very closely related to Horse Chestnuts. They grow all over the world but in North America, they grow mostly in the southern half of the continent (you’ll find them in CA, TX and of course in OH, which is called the Buckeye state). Buckeyes and Horse Chestnuts were historically used to aid circulation in both humans and horses (hence the name).

Homemade buckeye treats are very easy to make, and taste like a really, really good peanut butter cup. I used Santa Cruz organic dark roasted peanut butter in my batch, as well as organic dark chocolate chips for the coating. Some organic powdered sugar, butter and vanilla rounded out the ingredients. This is a recipe that does not shy away from sugar, and believe it or not, I used less sugar than the original recipe called for (by about 2 cups!).

A customer and I chatted about substitutions for the recipe, and you can of course use margarine in place of the butter if you want a vegan version, but she was going to try using coconut oil instead and I thought that might work out pretty well. She was also going to replace the powdered sugar with Rapadura sugar (both powdered and the crystals) but I wouldn’t recommend that unless you know what Rapadura tastes like – it does have a stronger flavor than regular white sugars, but I think in this recipe it could work.

This is a great recipe to make with kids, as there is no oven involved – as long as there is supervision melting the chocolate (although that can be done in the microwave in a pinch, but I think it tastes better done on the stove). You can also easily halve this recipe and still have a decent amount of treats. Enjoy!

photo of buckeye peanut butter balls

Buckeyes © 2010 Sassy Sampler



  • 16 oz jar of peanut butter
  • 1 c butter or margarine, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1# powdered sugar
  • 4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. In a large bowl, mix together peanut butter, butter, vanilla and powdered sugar.
  2. Roll into 1” balls and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  3. Press a toothpick into the top of each ball (to be used later as the handle for dipping them).  Chill in freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.
  4. Melt chocolate chips in double boiler or in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water.  Stir frequently until smooth.
  5. Dip frozen peanut butter balls in chocolate holding onto the toothpick.  Leave a small portion of peanut butter showing at the top to make them look like Buckeye nuts.
  6. Place Buckeyes back on the cookie sheet and refrigerate until served.  Remove toothpicks before serving.
  7. Buckeyes (Peanut Butter Balls) PDF

    adapted from www.allrecipes.com

Bob’s Gluten-free Fudgy Brownies

This last weekend I had a couple of friends coming over, so I decided to whip up a treat.  I had a package of Bob’s Red Mill GF Brownie Mix in my cupboard that I hadn’t tried yet, so I threw it together.  There was a recipe on the package for a fudgy topping, and since I had all the ingredients I needed, I figured “why not?”.  An hour later I had my treat made and was good to go.

Holy cow, these brownies were to die for!  They were so rich and fudgy!  I brought the bulk of them into work because my husband was out-of-town and I knew I couldn’t (shouldn’t?) eat all those brownies by myself.  They were gone lickety-split!  So fast, in fact, that I figured I should make them for my recipe demo this week.  I always look at the recipes supplied by the manufacturer, but I rarely make them.  I am so glad I did!

Since I’m so used to putting my own spin on things, Bob’s suggested adding nuts, so of course I thought well, why not marshmallows instead?  The marshmallows ended up being absorbed into the batter as they cooled (and adding the hot fudge frosting helped the process), and I was bummed until I tasted them – um, can anyone say YUM!

For my demo, I decided that since I ate them with a big glass of Fresh Breeze (local!) organic dutch chocolate milk at home, that it would only be fair to offer some to customers – you must have the full chocolate experience if you’re really serious about chocolate, and anyone who reads this blog knows that I am a huge fan!  Their chocolate milk tastes like liquid ice cream, and everyone who went whole hog walked away with a big smile.

I used butter and bulk organic dark chocolate chips (the domestic ones – we carry some great fair trade organic chocolate chips as well!).  I made the fudge frosting about five minutes before the brownies came out of the oven, and that worked out great (even at low heat, the chocolate chips melt pretty fast).  The recipe recommends adding a 1/4 c of chocolate chips to the batter, but I added a 1/2 c (surprise, surprise).  If you dunk your knife or kitchen shears into hot water, it is much easier to cut the marshmallows down (you can of course use mini marshmallows instead, but we don’t carry them at the Co-op).


Bob's Fudgy Brownies Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Bob’s Gluten-free Fudgy Brownies



1 package Bob’s Red Mill GF Brownie Mix

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 c) melted butter

3/4 c warm water (110 degrees)

1 egg

2 t vanilla

1/4—1/2 c chocolate chips

5—6 marshmallows, cut into eighths

Optional— 1/4 c nuts of your choice

Fudge Topping:

1 14oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 1/2 t vanilla

12 oz chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 13×9” pan with cooking or baking spray.

2. Pour brownie mix into large bowl.

3. Beat in butter, egg, vanilla and warm water with electric mixer/stand mixer on medium speed until just combined.

4. Add 1/4—1/2 c chocolate chips, and the marshmallows (and nuts, if using).  Stir to combine.

5. Spread batter in prepared pan and bake for 20—25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

6. When brownies are nearly done, combine all Fudge Topping ingredients in a heavy saucepan over low heat.

7. Cook until chocolate chips are totally melted and remove from heat.

8. Spread mixture over warm brownies.

9. Allow brownies to cool and then cut into bars.

Bob’s is an employee owned company—for more information visit their website at www.bobsredmill.com.

Bobs GF fudgy brownies

Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake with “Fluffy” Berry Sauce

I am so excited to tell everyone that the Swan Bakery has developed a stellar instant chocolate cake mix – both traditional wheat and gluten-free!  I have been waiting to demo it since I first heard they were planning this, and it was worth the wait.

This cake mix takes about 5 minutes to make, including cleaning your bowl!  Seriously!  I made one of each cake for my demo, and both turned out great.  When I tasted the final product (the GF cake, of course!), I was elated – it was the closest to wheat flour based cake that I have ever tasted.  This GF cake could fool anyone, and the fact that it is vegan as well only adds to the (well intentioned) deception!

I used organic canola oil and water when I prepared the cake, and since the cake is so easy to make, I wanted an easy topping to go with it.  I make a blackberry and blueberry sauce in the summer when I can just go pick berries, and I asked our frozen buyer to contact Northwest Wild Foods and to ask them if I could have a couple bags of their Wild Harvest local berries to make the sauce for my demo (they generously said yes, and will be at Cordata in a couple weeks to demo themselves!).  The sauce turned out delicious (I had never made it with frozen berries). I also thought that the RiceMellow creme that we sell (vegan marshmallow creme) would be an easy and tasty topping so I went with that.  The finished product was very pretty, and tasted fantastic!

Vegan Chocolate Cake with "Fluffy" Berry Sauce Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake with “Fluffy” Berry Sauce


1 package Swan Bakery Chocolate Cake mix (either the GF or wheat variety)

1 c canola or grape seed oil

2 c water or soymilk

1T vinegar (apple cider or white)

1 package frozen berries of choice

Sweetener (sugar or other)

Suzanne’s RiceMellow Creme


1. Prepare cake mix as directed on package.  Cook in a 9×13 pan.

2. Remove cake from oven, and let cool on wire rack.

3. While cake is cooling, place berries in saucepan and cook over med low heat.  Sprinkle with about a tablespoon of sweetener.  Stir frequently.  Taste as it reduces into a sauce to see if you need to add more sweetener.  Try not to let it boil too vigorously.

4. Once berries have broken down, remove pan from heat and let it cool for about 5 minutes.

5. Add berry mixture to blender (see note, or use an immersion blender) and pulse on low to break up any chunks of berries that may be left.

6. Put sauce through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove any seeds and skins and place in bowl to cool.  Stir occasionally.

7. Once cake and sauce are cool, spread about half of the sauce over the cake (you can either remove the cake from the pan or leave it in!).

8. Drop RiceMellow in spoonfuls onto cake and spread it around as best as you can.  You should use the whole container.

9. Pour remaining berry sauce over “frosting”.

10. Cut and enjoy!


  • Never fill a blender with boiling hot liquid —it will explode out the top and burn you!  Always let it cool slightly and never fill more than half full.  Put the lid on (but not tightly), and cover the lid with a dry towel.  Be sure to “burp” the lid.  Use the slowest speed possible.  Puree in batches.
  • If you can eat dairy, try replacing some (up to half) of the water with milk.
  • A customer suggested using coconut oil in place of the canola or grape seed, and I thought this was a good suggestion, but I haven’t tried it myself – let me know if you do!

I am preparing the April Meal of the Month as I write this, Carrot Ginger Soup served with Avenue Bakery Rosemary Loavette.  It smells amazing, and I’ll be sampling it in about an hour – stop by the store if you are in the area!