Category Archives: Desserts

Dessert Nachos… Say What?!

Did I just say Dessert Nachos? Indeed! There’s this awesome little restaurant my friends and I used to go to all the time called Tres Pesos. I know the name doesn’t sound German, but that’s where it was, I promise. It’s this awesome Mexican restaurant on a corner of Niederwerrner Strasse. They have some amazing food, but what my friends and I loved the most, was making a quick lunch stop on a hot summer day for their dessert nachos. This place made their own tortilla chips which were super large, dusted in cinnamon and sugar, topped with ice cream and drizzled with caramel sauce. It was A-mazing!

So, with the weather warming, I thought to myself, why not relive a little of that experience and bring some of my favorite German Mexican restaurant home to California. If that makes any sense. Hahaha. Here’s how I did it.

Start with my recipe for Sweet or Salty Tortilla Chips. Here’s a quick refresher:

  • Cut corn tortillas in quarters.
  • Fry in oil heated to 360˚ F.
  • Remove and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. You may want to use more cinnamon than sugar to bring out the sweetness for this dessert.

**Note** I don’t recommend making these chips days ahead of time. I’ve made these a couple days before and put them in an airtight container and they were slightly stale. Not horribly, though, so you may be able to get away with a day ahead of time. You will definitely be okay making them earlier in the day and storing them in a plastic bag.

So, that took all of, maybe, 10 minutes. When you’re ready to serve, layer your dessert just like nachos!

Use whatever ice cream and toppings you like. Here, I used some Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbet I’d been experimenting with.

Lay your chips on the bottom, as many as you like, depending on how many you’re serving. Top with your ice cream. It looks wonderful when it’s filled up with a variety of ice creams, but there are only two of us. You can make it a sundae by crumbling brownies over the chips, then topping with ice cream, or using fruit pieces like sliced bananas, kiwi, strawberries, mango, pineapple, etc, to top your ice cream. Then, you don’t feel so bad about eating it.

In this case, simple was the best, especially right after a big dinner.

I chose to keep it simple by drizzling some of my homemade caramel sauce around and over the top. There’s nothing better than these sweet and crunchy tortilla chips covered in caramel sauce. Oddly enough, I would feel horrible just eating these chips with caramel. Somehow the ice cream makes it all seem better.

I love making these chips alone as a snack, but I love them even more as a simple, but elegant dessert when I have company. Who doesn’t love ice cream, and this is a great way to present it, and offer your guests something a little special. Enjoy!

 

 

If you like this and other recipes from my blog, be sure to vote for me in the zuuzs Grand Spring Recipe Challenge!

 

 

Don’t forget to also use these tasty treats to dress up your desserts! A simple Vanilla Dream Ice Cream, with or without my Edible Coffee Chocolate Bowl, drizzled with a sauce of your choosing will turn your regular dessert from ordinary to OMG THIS IS FABULOUS!

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Do-It-Yourself Sweet or Salty Tortilla Chips

I love these chips because, like most of the foods I try to publish, they are super simple. I have seen so many people make variations of these, and I finally decided, I have to try them. I did, and they were wonderful! Make them any shape you like, dust them with any spice that suits you, but MAKE THEM. Here’s how I did it.

Ingredients:

  • 6″ Corn Tortillas (Each tortilla makes 4 triangles)
  • Oil for frying (I use peanut oil)
  1. Heat Oil to 360˚F. You can use a deep fryer, but I use a small pot with about 4 inches of oil.
  2. Slice tortillas vertically and horizontally, like slicing a pizza.
  3. Once the oil is hot, drop in the tortillas, 4 at a time. If using a pot, you may have to flip them. Watch for browning along the edges. It takes about 30 seconds per side. Remove them to a paper towel.
  4. While they are still hot, sprinkle them with your spice mixture. For nachos, or regular tortilla chips, I like to simply use kosher salt. For dessert nachos, I like using a salt and sugar mixture. You can sprinkle them by hand if using spices, or you can put your spice mix in a small paper sandwich bag. Drop in your chips and shake in the bag to coat.
  5. Remove them and set to the side. Repeat with each batch.
  6. Serve however you like. These are great with salsas, dips, spreads, you name it. They make great thick chips. Try them with cinnamon and sugar to make some awesome Dessert Nachos.

With sugar and cinnamon. Mmmmmmmm.

Goat Cheese and Apple Tarts

Now, ya’ll know I’m all about easy, and I’m definitely about quick. Enter: Goat Cheese and Apple Tarts. With only a few ingredients and a time of under 30 minutes, you will be making these for parties, or as a snack for yourself! I’m not even going to talk about them anymore, because once you make them, you will make them over and over and over again. Here’s how to do it:

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Puff Pastry Shells
  • 1- 4 oz package Plain Goat Cheese, softened
  • 1/2 Lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp Lemon Zest (fresh is best)
  • 1 1/2 TBSP Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 C Apple Pie Filling (slices or chopped, either is fine)
  • 1-2 TBSP Brown Sugar or Raw Sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat your oven to 425˚ F.

Unwrap your pastry shells and place them on a sheet tray. You can lay down parchment paper, nonstick foil, or just use some nonstick spray. Once your oven is ready, bake the shells for 10 minutes, just until the pastry puffs up and begins browning around the edges.

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While your pastry is baking, put your goat cheese in a bowl. Cheese should be at room temperature. Add about 1 tsp of the zest and the juice from half the lemon. Whisk until it’s all combined. Add powdered sugar and whisk until smooth and creamy. Be sure to taste it. Some lemons are sweeter than others and it may require some adjusting.

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This little piece in the middle is what you'll be removing. It will peel off easily as the pastry is so flaky. Just remember to cook it first, otherwise it'll be very difficult to pop out.

Once your shells are finished, remove them and give them about 5 minutes to cool, or at least until you can handle them. There is a small insert in the shell. Use a fork to pull it out. You can toss it, or leave it to the side on the tray and continue to cook it. Scoop a dollop of the cheese mixture into the shell and spread it around.

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Fill the shells about to the rim.

Take a scoop of apples and place a spoonful on top of the cheese. If using slices, cut them to the size of the inside of the shell and lay them on top or chop them. Taste your apple filling to judge the tartness. I like to sprinkle just a little raw sugar or brown sugar on top. Whatever you have is fine. It just bakes down into the apples.

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The molasses taste of the brown sugar, or, in this case, raw sugar, will give the apples that much more flavor and ease some of the tartness.

Pop the tray of tarts back into the oven and bake for another 10 minutes or until the shells are a golden brown. You can serve these warm, at room temp, or cool out of the fridge. You can make them ahead of time and chill them overnight. Just be sure the pastry is still flaky. You can always heat the in the oven on low (170-225˚ F) for about 5-10 minutes just to refresh them if need be.

I really hope you try these. They are so fresh and yummy. They are just perfect for breakfast, brunch, dessert, coffee and tea, or wine, with the girls (or guys). They’re also a great quick snack, and very satisfying. It’s the perfect treat to make when you have leftover apples, or a spare can of apple pie filling.ENJOY!

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You can really see the lemon zest in the goat cheese. Look out flavor explosion.

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Caramel Swirl Soy Ice Cream

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Who doesn’t love ice cream? The smooth, creamy taste of whichever flavor you choose to indulge in. With so many ice cream shops offering a never ending range flavor creations, the combinations can be unending.

I have a really good friend who also loves Ice cream. Problem is, her whole family is lactose intolerant. Now, I can’t imagine ever having to give up whole milk, but, I took on the challenge of creating some really good soy ice cream for her family. Here’s what I did:

Ingredients:
2 C Vanilla Silk (milk)
4 Egg Yolks
1 1/2 tsp Corn Starch
1 C Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla

Heat the milk over a medium heat. Keep an eye on it. You want to heat it until bubbles begin forming on the sides. It doesn’t need to come to a boil.

While your milk is heating, whisk egg yolks in a mixing bowl. I like for them to get a little lighter in color.

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Dump in your corn starch and powdered sugar. Whisk until it becomes smooth and liquidy. Don’t freak out if it clumps up instantly.

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It’s ok. It will all incorporate if you keep whisking. Doesn’t take long, about 30-45 seconds at most and you’re ready to rock.

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Once your milk gets little bubbles around the outside, it’s time to temper your egg mixture. (If it boils over, you can still use it as long as it doesn’t taste burned and you didn’t lose too much. Just let it cool a bit and taste it. ) You can do this a few ways. The simplest is to use a ladle. Take a ladle full of hot milk and very slowly add it to your egg mixture, being sure to whisk while adding the milk. Tempering raises the temperature of your eggs without cooking them.

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Add another ladle of milk, or about 1/3 of the pot, and whisk well. Pour the egg mixture back into the hot milk, whisking to incorporate. Return the heat to medium and stir with a wooden spoon or heat proof spatula. Let the mixture thicken until it coats the back of your spoon. You should be able to run your finger down the middle of the spoon.

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Yep! It’s done. Now, pour it through a sieve to make sure you don’t have any strange clumps in your ice cream. Stir in the vanilla. Pour it into a freezable container with a lid or cover a container with plastic wrap. Put in the freezer for 2-3 hours to chill.

I’ve found that ice cream made with milk will churn better with less freezing time than ice cream with soy.

** Now for the caramel part! Use your own caramel recipe, or check out my simple recipe. You can also use a premade sauce. If you make it yourself, give it time to cool to at least room temp.

Once you notice your ice cream Is sufficiently chilled, at least 40 degrees F, pour it into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s directions. Once it’s finished churning, return it to the freezer in a container and add the caramel. Pour it over the top of the ice cream, and gently stir through with a spoon. You don’t want to blend them, just swirl it through. item it in the freezer until sufficiently frozen, at least 1-2 hours. Once it’s ready, top it with additional caramel sauce for a decadent dessert. Enjoy!!!

Delicious Doughnuts, or Why Didn’t I Do This Sooner?

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I’ve seen so many recipes for biscuit doughnuts and thought, “I should try that one day,” but I never did. The other morning I wanted something sweet, and thought doughnuts would hit the spot. Now, the homemade recipe I have takes about 2 1/2- 3 hours. It involved yeast and rising and cutouts and more rising…. So, I decided, what the heck. I have biscuits, I have a sweet tooth, let’s do it.

It was so easy I could slap myself for not doing it sooner! 20 minutes start to finish, and I may have played some games on my phone while I was making them. So, here’s how I did it:

3 Easy Ingredients:
1 Roll Grands Biscuits
Cinnamon- sugar seasoning
Oil for frying

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Start by heating a few inches of oil to 325 degrees F.

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Lightly sprinkle your work surface with flour. Make sure to flour your rolling pin, too. Roll out your biscuits, one at a time, to the size of a small pancake.

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Make a hole in the middle of the flattened doughnut. My husband hasn’t yet seen fit to buy me the cutter set I keep hinting at, so I used a tip from a decorating bag. Does the job.

When you’re finished, place the doughnut, and cut out hole, on a lightly floured surface until you’re ready to fry.

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Test your oil by gently dropping the holes in first. They should begin frying immediately, and take about 30-45 seconds to brown. Mine actually flipped themselves, which I thought was pretty cool. But if they don’t, flip them.

Remove them to a paper towel for a few seconds, then you have an option, you can either sprinkle them with a sugar cinnamon combo on each side, or put your mixture in a dish and roll them around, coating all sides.

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Repeat the same steps with the doughnuts. The only difference is when they begin to puff up, they’re pretty fragile, so be careful. I used a spider to flip and remove mine after my tongs ripped a hole in 2 of them. You will see the bottom browning. Flip it, and if you need to flip it again, that’s fine. The doughnuts take around a minute per side or so. Remove them to a paper towel, drop the next few, then dust the finished ones with sweetness.

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And, now, it’s time to ENJOY!!! I’ll be trying powdered sugar icing, caramel, and maybe chocolate ganache as toppings next time. I’ll update if it works out.

Madonna Jean’s Dirt Cake

Aunt Madonna

For me, cooking and baking are more than just a pastime or hobby; it’s in my DNA. I used to sit in my grandmother’s tiny kitchen and help her bake pies and cakes, cook meals, and listened to all her tips and tricks. My mother’s food was always good, but rarely healthy. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, and since both of my parents worked, a lot of our meals were “Just Add (fill in the blank)” boxes of whatever was inexpensive. My aunt was also a wonderful cook, and she showed me some desserts and dishes that I will never forget. She was one of the biggest influences in my life. She definitely influenced the way I operate in the business world, and was a great role model for the women whose lives she touched. She was one of those people who made you better for having known them. If you could count her as a friend, you were the lucky one. My aunt died of breast cancer in 1998. She fought it for years. At one point near the end, I actually moved in with her to help her out. Some months before she died, she told me there were two things she wanted to see before she passed. The first was me to turn 18, which she did. The second, was for me to graduate high school. My birthday and graduation were a mere 2 months apart, but she didn’t make long enough to see me graduate.

There are many recipes I get from friends or family. Sometimes I can’t remember exactly who gave it to me, or where we were. This is not one of those recipes. I remember exactly how she taught it to me, where we were, and where we were going. Every time I make it, I still hear her voice telling me how to complete each step.

This recipe is awesome for so many reasons. The main reasons are, of course, the most important. It’s quick, easy, and inexpensive. You can easily make it to feed tons of people, and it’s easy to add variations to fit any occasion. The first time I made this for the group at the post I’m at now, they gave it a nickname… Cup of Love. I think about my aunt, and there could be no higher praise. This recipe is almost impossible to screw up. It requires no cooking, and you can complete it in 3 easy steps. Without further adieu, I give you the original Madonna Jean’s Dirt Cake… AKA, Cup of Love.

Ingredients:

  • 2- 15.5 oz pkg Oreo Cookies (Can use reduced fat)
  • 1- 8 oz pkg Cream Cheese, room temp
  • 1- 12 oz tub Whip Cream
  • 1- 1.4 oz or 3.4 oz pkg Vanilla Pudding (no cook)
  • 2 C Milk (for pudding)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  1. First, empty the packet of pudding into a mixing bowl and add the milk. It doesn’t matter if you use the 1.4 oz box or the 3.4 oz, they both take 2 C of milk. Mix it well and put it in the fridge to chill.
  2. Crush one entire package of cookies plus one row of another. You can do this a few different ways. You can put them in a food processor, or, dump them into a plastic bag. You don’t want them to be completely crumbs. You want pieces. If you cut the cookie into quarters, that’s about the size you want, but it doesn’t have to be perfect.
  3. Combine the cream cheese and whip cream in a bowl. Add the chilled pudding and vanilla. Stir until completely combined. Layer the dessert beginning with the pudding. There’s enough for 3 layers.

Your cookies should be around this size. The majority should be no smaller than a dime, but smaller than a quarter.

Little pockets of cream cheese are perfectly fine. Don't try to mix them out.

When layering, dollop pudding in the middle of the cookies.

Gently push to the outside in an even layer. Just like icing a cake. Keep from lifting the cookies into the pudding by tilting the bottom of the spatula toward the outside when spreading outward, and turn the bottom inward when moving back toward the center. Try not to lift it too many times until you've spread the layer out completely.

Pit it in a trifle bowl when entertaining, or a new, clean, flower pot with gummy worms and a plastic flower for a springtime gathering. Serve it using a gardening trough to complete the theme.

Like I said before, there are several ways to vary this dessert. Last week I made a St. Patty’s Day version of this by using mint Oreo cookies. You can also use green food coloring in the pudding to give it the full effect. Spring is here, at least in California, and now the golden Oreo cookies are out. If you’ve given up chocolate for Lent, use these instead.

Now, as much as I love my aunt, I have changed one thing. I make my whip cream from scratch. It’s way too easy not to, and I always have heavy cream and powdered sugar on hand. Here’s how to do it:

  • Pour 1 C heavy cream into a mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Add 1 TBSP powdered sugar and 1 tsp of either vanilla or almond extract. Whisk, mix with a hand mixer or whisk attachment with stand mixer until the cream thickens and forms stiff peaks. All done!

For friends that are chocoholics, you’ll find this version particularly exciting.

  • Use chocolate stuffed Oreo cookies in place of regular for extra sweetness, or use the regular ones to balance the extra sweetness of the chocolate.
  • Use chocolate fudge pudding instead of vanilla.
  • Use chocolate whip cream or, if making your own, use 2 TBSP of powdered sugar and 2 tsp of unsweetened cocoa powder.

Chocolate Caramel Cookie Cups

These little treats are incredibly easy and require few ingredients. I will say that they take a little time, but it’s only because they have to cool completely before you can move on. So, let’s get started!

Ingredients:

  • Pre-made Cookie Dough (Something without chips is easiest, but I’ve used chocolate chips in this one. If you want to make your own dough you can, just be sure to chill it a bit so it’s not too sticky and easier to work with. )
  • 1/2 C Melting Caramels (you can use the squares, but the bits don’t have to be unwrapped)
  • 1/2 C Heavy Cream
  • *Optional- 1/2 C Chocolate Pieces (use chips or pieces like Dove, anything you can melt)
  • Special Equipment: Mini muffin pan or a silicone candy sheet. Make sure whatever you use s heat resistant.

Pre-heat the oven to 350˚ F. If you need to spray the sides of your pan, do so, but if you’re using silicone, don’t.

Roll cookie dough into a ball. Drop it into the center of the cup and push your finger in the middle. Make sure there is a whole in the middle, and the sides are fairly even. The sides should not be higher than the cup, but flush or slightly under is perfect.

Bake these for about 8 minutes. They should not be done all the way when you pull them out.

 

Once you pull them out, use the bottom of a wooden spoon or a metal spoon like in the picture, and just tap down the middle. Be gentle. You’ll notice that as soon as you touch most of the middles, they instantly deflate. Carefully tap down the inside and push the sides back a bit, creating your bowl.Put them back in the oven for another 5 minutes, until the tops are just barely brown.

 

Once you pull them out, you will notice that some of the holes may have filled in again. No problem. Use your spoon and push them back down. If you notice they are still tender in the middle, that’s fine. They will firm as they cool. If they are spongy and airy and wet, put them back in for another few minutes.

At this point, they need to cool for at least 30 minutes before you remove them from the pan. They have to completely firm up. If you want to speed up this process, you can put them in the fridge or freezer. Just make sure you have the cup area hollowed out, because once they are hard, that’s the shape they will hold.

While you’re waiting for the cookie cups to cool, let’s move on to the caramel.  don’t care how many times I’ve made these, this is the part that frightens me the most. Actually, heating or making caramel in general scares the crap out of me. I saw my grandmother make it, and even helped her make it, growing up. I have years of experience helping her make caramel for popcorn balls, toffees, toppings, etc. Doesn’t matter. I still usually burn it and I’m still always scared. I have to admit, though, this recipe for caramel sauce scares me the least. 1- the caramel is already made! All you have to do is melt it. 2- you don’t need a thermometer, or have to put it in a cup of cold water to see if it’s ready (the super old school method.) You just look at it. When it’s melted, it’s done. Simple!

So, we put our cream and caramels in a small pot. Turn the heat to medium, and don’t you dare walk away. Stir the mixture continuously and gently until the caramel is completely melted and combined with the cream. The awesome thing about adding the cream is that once the caramel cools in the cups, it will remain chewy.

Now that our caramel is finished, let’s check on our cookie cups. First, let’s check the tin. Is it cool? Good, we’re off to the right start. If you’re using a silicone pan, push evenly on the bottom to remove the cups without breaking them. The smaller your cups the easier this is, but don’t get frustrated if you break some. I have at least 2 or 3 broken ones in every batch. If it needs longer to cool, LET IT! This is probably the most important part in making sure they don’t crumble. If they keep breaking because they’re too thin, well, now you know. No biggie. If you’re using a metal tin, gently slide an offset metal spatula or knife around between the cup and the tin. I find it’s best to place a cooling rack or clean, plastic cutting board on top and gently flip them over. Lay them on the counter and slowly remove the tin. If you used non-stick spray at the beginning, they should slide right out. You can GENTLY tap the bottoms to encourage them as well.

With our cups completely cooled and removed, we can now fill them with caramel. Now, if that last section took you as long to do as it took me to write, your caramel has probably stiffened a bit. That’s ok. Just Turn the burner on high for about a minute, again, stirring constantly, and melt it back down. Remove it from the heat and continue stirring it to cool t down just a bit. (PLEASE REMEMBER THAT CARAMEL IS HOT, AND WILL BURN YOU SEVERELY IF IT’S TOO HOT!) Luckily, this caramel cools enough to handle pretty quickly. Now, hold your cookie cup over the pot, and with a small metal spoon, take a spoonful of caramel and fill the cup. Simple. Keep going until they’re all filled. How easy was that.

Ta-Dah!!! How good are those? You know you already tried one. So yummy. Now, we can leave them like this, or we can go one step further.

One step further it is! Melt your chocolate in the microwave, the same way we did it for the Chocolate Croissants (I’ll give you a moment to slip over to that, remind yourself and slip back.) Now, just like we did there, drizzle it over the top to make cute little drizzly, see-I-worked-extra-hard drizzle designs. Or, you can place some chocolate chips or small pieces on top of your cups. Preheat your oven to its lowest setting, or use the low broil setting. Place the cups on a cookie sheet and set them in the oven until the chips soften, about 1-3 minutes, depending on the method. If you are using the broiler, keep a close watch on your desserts. Just because the chips maintain their shape, it doesn’t mean they haven’t softened. Pull them out and use the back of a spoon or an offset spatula to smooth the softened chocolate over the top. Eat them immediately or save them for later. These are still wonderful a few days from now, so you can definitely make them ahead and store them in an airtight container. Enjoy these wonderful little treats. For more variations, use different chips like peanut butter or butterscotch. Or, for a hidden surprise, put the chips at the bottom before pouring in the caramel. As always, Happy Baking!

 

Chocolate Croissants

I’ve been testing puff pastry recipes for months now. I’ve especially been working on a super fast breakfast pastry of some sort. I love making big breakfasts, but Monday-Friday, my husband works, and refuses breakfast. I want something I can make first thing in the morning that is super simple, super quick, and is super easy for him to pop in his mouth on the way out the door. He usually rides his Harley to work, so driving with something in his hand is out of the question.

Recently, I started experimenting with preserves and breakfast ingredients. I’d been making them and loving them, but no matter how well I thought I sealed them, one or two would always seep out. So, finally, I remembered how much my husband LOVED the chocolate croissants I used to get him from the bakeries in Germany when we lived there. They were super simple and super easy and worked perfectly the first time I tried them. The best part, I can make them the night before, and they don’t require using tons of equipment or destroying my kitchen. Here’s how I do it:

Preheat your oven to 425˚F. Unwrap thawed, cold puff pastry and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out just a bit. Cut on the folds to make 3 separate sheets. Cut all 3 sheets in half to give you 6 squares. Now, cut each square in half diagonally. You will now have 12 triangles. You can use whatever chocolate you like, or, switch it up and use white chocolate, butterscotch chips, etc. If you have baking squares or chocolate pieces, I recommend cutting them down. If you’re using chips, take some in your fingers and put them on the wide side of your dough.

Roll your pastry just like any other crescents. Start with the end the chocolate is on. Take the wide end of the pastry and fold it over the chocolate. Now just roll it a few times toward the thin point. Place your rolled crescents on a foil lined sheet tray. To get the shape, simply bend the ends slightly toward the middle. They don’t have to touch, don’t pinch it. Don’t worry about what it looks like right now. Once it bakes, it will puff up, the best thing about “Puff” pastry. Brush the top with an egg wash (a beaten egg, you can use a splash of milk or water to thin it a bit.)

Bake for about 12 minutes. If you notice the majority aren’t golden brown over at least 80%, they need another minute. If the majority are golden brown, but there are a few translucent spots, don’t worry. Let them cool for about 5 minutes.

For the finishing touch, melt some chocolate in the microwave. Be sure to use a microwave safe bowl and heat 10 seconds at a time, stirring thoroughly each time. You only need 1 square or 2 TBSP of chocolate pieces. Once the chocolate is melted, drizzle over the croissants. PERFECTION!

These quick breakfast treats take about 20 minutes from start to oven removal. You can drizzle the chocolate on top right out of the oven if you’re in a hurry, but I’d give them 5 minutes to cool so you can handle them, them another 5 after you drizzle them to let the chocolate firm up.

If you make these, please leave me a comment and let me know how they work for you, or what combinations you use. Happy Baking!