Dry Marble Nail Art with a Tutorial Video

I recently saw a great nail design on Pinterest by Sam of FingerFood that made me think of mocha or hot chocolate which she called Mocha Coffee Chocolate Frappuccino. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a coffeeholic. I loved the look of the design and the rich colors work perfectly for cool weather drinks. It has a marbled look but it isn’t water marbled; it uses a technique called dry marbling. Sam referenced a YouTube video for No Water Needed – Marble nail art Tutorial by Robin Moses. It’s this tutorial video that I will be Pintesting.

This is the Mocha Coffee Chocolate Frappuccino nail art that caught my eye. Can you see the swirls of coffee, chocolate, and whipped cream? Yum! Starbucks anyone?Mocha Coffee Chocolate Frappuccino

If you’ve been following my blog, then you might remember the Four Leaf Clover Water Marble Nail Art post. It didn’t end well and, to this day, is still the Pintesting with the lowest score. I haven’t tried the technique since then, so I approached the dry marble technique with a bit of trepidation – even with a video tutorial. After all, the water marble was a video tutorial, too. However, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So let’s start this Pintesting.

The Pintesting:

This is the tutorial video. It used similar colors as the Mocha Coffee Chocolate Frappuccino with a couple of substitutions; Robin used a French manicure base color rather than the milk chocolate taupe and instead of black I used a chocolate brown.

I also made a video so that you could see the whole process rather than step-by-step photos.

So there you have it. One of the things that I really like about this is that because the swirls are random it isn’t hard to do “the other hand” whether you’re right or left-handed. There’s plenty of forgiveness as long as you don’t overdo it.

Now for the results.

Mocha Coffee Chocolate Frappuccino

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 4.3 Pins

4 Pins Overall

Accuracy:  This manicure technique performed rather well. Perhaps a bit of practice would bring this from 4 to 5 Pins, but as it’s my first attempt, this will get 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Difficulty: The technique of dry marbling is not difficult but there is definitely a fine line between pretty swirls and a muddy mess, as Robin warns in her video. I tried this a second time with not so great results. (Maybe it’s not a great idea to do manicures late at night when you’re tired.). Due to the need for caution, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time: As manicures go, this one takes a bit longer than a straight up single color polish but not horribly so. The trick to “pull” the polish from the edges was brilliant and helped reduce the drying time since it reduces the excess polish. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Cost: According to a Glamour Magazine survey, the average woman owns 25 nail polishes at a given time. This means that the “average” woman has the supplies to do this technique in any number of color schemes. If, however, you have to purchase each of the 4 polish colors, you’d probably spend about $20 which is the cost of a good manicure so I’m giving this 5 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality: I thought this was a cute manicure technique with lots of different color options. It can be as elegant, seasonal, or whimsical as you choose to make it based on the colors. The mani lasted nearly a week without chipping and, due to the swirls, when I did get a small chip on the tip of my nail it wasn’t very noticeable.  5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

When I was a college freshman living 700 miles away from home and “independent” for the first time in my life, I felt that I was seriously underfunded – as most freshmen do. I had a nice dorm room with a great roommate, a cafeteria card that would provide all the cafeteria food that I cared to eat, and all my needs were more than met. But that’s not the same as having spending money to go hang out with my friends (never mind that I was supposed to be studying). Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip CookieOne day I was feeling rather homesick, so I made Chocolate Chip Cookies in our dorm kitchen. I had girls rushing in offering to buy the cookies (and cookie dough). That was my Aha! moment. I found out that two hours of serious cookie making in the cafeteria during their down time on Saturday afternoons could turn my $20/week allowance into $80 or more, and got me the nickname, Betty Crocker.

Since then I’ve made hundreds of dozens of cookies, but I’m always looking for a way to improve upon the standard. I’ve tried chilling the dough, using different kinds of flours, using different kinds of chocolate, and so many other tips. So when I saw this recipe for The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie, I was rather sceptical. . . until I saw the source – America’s test Kitchen.

I’ve watched their PBS show, Cook’s Country, for years and I have a subscription to their magazine, Cook’s Illustrated. For those who don’t know, they test recipes, ingredients, gadgets, and products. Per their website, “we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most-foolproof recipe.”

Well, I’m accepting the challenge to see if theirs really is The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie. Let the Pintesting begin!

Pintesting Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - ORIGINAL PIN

The Pintesting:

They make several changes to the original Toll House cookie recipe, so please go to their recipe to read the logic and science behind the changes.

One of the biggest differences is that instead of creaming softened butter with sugars, this recipe starts by browning most of the butter to develop the butterscotch notes and deepen the flavor.

You can see how the butter melts and then browns below. Then the browned butter is added to and melts the remaining butter.

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - Melt Butter Collage

Whisk the sugars, salt, and vanilla with the melted butter and then add the egg. Even here they modified the recipe from 2 eggs to 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk. They have their reasons – just go with it.

Now walk away for 3 minutes.

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - Add Sugars & Salt

Whisk and wait for 3 minutes two more times. This allows the sugars to completely dissolve rather than having a grainy creamed mixture.

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - Whisk & Wait

You can see that the mixture is satiny smooth. No graininess in these cookies.

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - Add Flour Mixture

Next, stir in the flour and baking soda mixture.

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - Dough

Here’s the dough made without a mixer. Doesn’t it look like peanut butter?

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - Add Nuts & Chips

Add the chocolate and *optional* nuts. My HH LOVES chocolate chip cookies with nuts and he chose pecan pieces this time.

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - Cookie Dough

Oh. My. Gosh. Just look at that dough. This is the stuff that dreams are made of.

I scooped it for uniformity, as I usually do with cookie dough, and baked them in a 375-degree oven.

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - Baking

Even without chilling the cookies didn’t melt into flat cookie pancakes. I was so happy to see that they had nice volume and height.

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - Done

And after the torture of waiting for them to cool (because cookies don’t taste as good when they’ve melted the flesh from the roof of your mouth), they did recede a little. But only just a little.

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie - Closeup

You need to try these cookies. The flavor and texture are beyond what I could have imagined from a humble chocolate chip cookie.

Pintesting The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

And now for the Pintesting results – and a large glass of milk.

The Results:

OVERALL RESULTS:  4.85 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  The recipe promised cookies that are “moist and chewy on the inside and crisp at the edges, with deep notes of toffee and butterscotch to balance its sweetness,” and this cookie definitely delivered. The taste and texture were incredible. My HH gave it 500 pins so I’m giving it 5 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: This recipe involved browning the butter, but because the butter was melted no mixer was needed. If it’s easier to just mix in the bowl, then I think it’s just all-around easier. But because there is the extra step of browning the butter, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  Most cookie recipes require a minimum of an hour to make and bake (not including dishes). This includes 30 minutes (give or take) to soften the butter, a minimum of 5 minutes of creaming time, and chilling time (30 minutes to overnight) in order to keep the cookies from going flat in the oven. But this recipe uses melted butter and although there were roughly 10 minutes of mix/wait time, they went straight from the mixing bowl to the oven and the cookies maintained a nice thickness. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost: There were no weird, unique, or specialty ingredients to pull off these cookies. Most of the ingredients are common to most kitchens, so I’m giving this 5 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  These are ridiculously delicious cookies when they come out of the oven. They were still moist, chewy, crispy, and delicious four days later. (They’re big cookies and it’s just the two of us.) This is now my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Brigadeiros

Today is (yesterday was) chocolate caramel day!

So obviously my perfect intentions for staying ahead of the game this year didn’t work out as perfectly as I’d hoped. Does anyone else have this problem?

That’s okay – chocolate makes everything better, so let’s focus on that. Combine chocolate with caramel and you take “better” to a whole new level. When I saw this recipe for Brigadeiros, and saw how few ingredients they needed, I knew I had to give this a go.

Pintesting Brigadeiros - ORIGINAL PIN

You’ve never heard of Brigadeiros??? Don’t feel bad; neither had I until this pin came across my Pinterest feed by Stacy of Food Lust People Love. They are a Brazillian chocolate caramel (swoon) made from only 4 ingredients. Shall we get on with the Pintesting?

Pintesting Brigadeiros

Here are the ingredients. I had everything on hand – hooray for a well stocked pantry. Not shown is the butter; 1 Tablespoon for the recipe and more to coat your hands when shaping them.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

Pour the sweetened condensed milk and butter into a skillet, then sift the cocoa into the mixture.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

Don’t miss this step or you’ll have clumps of cocoa! Use the back of a spoon to break up the clumps.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

Heat on medium heat, stirring to combine well.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

Keep stirring…

Pintesting Brigadeiros

…and stirring, until the mixture is nice and thick. Stacy says 10-15 minutes; it was just over 10 minutes for me.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

Pour the chocolate sprinkles into a container and grease your hands with butter while the caramel cools enough to handle. Roll spoonfuls into little balls,

Pintesting Brigadeiros

and then coat them in the chocolate sprinkles.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

I did several at a time; dropping them in and swirling the bowl of sprinkles.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

My friend was having a birthday, and so I thought it would be fun to use these to top mini cupcakes.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

To go with the chocolate and caramel candy, I did rich chocolate mocha cupcakes with a salted caramel buttercream. The cupcakes were delicious, but the Brigadeiros were the star. Everyone loved them – especially the Birthday girl.

Now for the Pintesting results.

Overall Results: 5 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy: These sweets were as easy to make as Stacey’s’ blog said they would be. Her step-by-step instructions were easy to follow and the Brigadeiros turned out perfectly on the first try. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: This is one of the easiest candy recipes I’ve ever made. No melting sugar, no worrying about melting chocolate seizing, and no candy thermometer needed. Once the caramel has cooled sufficiently, you could let children help with the rolling and shaping, but use caution since it does stay quite warm to the touch. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time: Start to finish, this was done in 30 minutes – including the dishes! The recipe makes quite a lot, which requires quite a lot of rolling and shaping the caramels, so I thought it might take a long time. Nope! 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost: Since I had everything on hand, this was free for me. Even if you had to buy everything, the four ingredients would set you back fewer than $10 and you’d have lots of leftovers. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality: Stacy made these and served them in cute little paper cups, but don’t let that limit your creativity. I topped cupcakes with them. They’d be great to garnish a cake. You could even press them into candy molds or hand shape them into unique designs for any occasion. These are quick and easy – so much so that I’m going to be making more to bring as a class treat. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Some of you know that I’ve been working very hard to change to a healthier lifestyle and lose weight, although the weight loss is secondary to getting healthy and fit. The problem is that I also love to cook and bake, and I don’t always want to choose the celery and peanut-butter rather than a rich dessert. Don’t get me wrong – I really like healthy foods, but I’m honest enough to admit to having moments of weakness. (Don’t we all?)

So when I saw this pin for Oatmeal Fudge Bars by Deborah from her blog Taste and Tell, my eyes lit on the “Oatmeal” and my brain tried to convince me that these were healthy. Well, oatmeal IS healthy… and chocolate has lots of antioxidants… and it would pair so nicely with coffee, which also has antioxidants.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - ORIGINAL PIN

Yes, I followed that logic right down the path to the kitchen. I mean, wouldn’t you? And since I had all of the ingredients, I thought it was a sign that this was the right thing to do. As you can see, the ingredients are pretty basic.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Ingredients

The first step is to prep the pan with non-stick spray, parchment paper, and more spray.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Prep the Pan

Cream the sugar and butter,

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars

…until it’s light and fluffy.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Add in the eggs and vanilla.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Mix the dry ingredients

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Mixed Dry Ingredients

Then add them to the creamed mixture

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Crust combinedPintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Crust

and pat it into the pan, reserving 1/3 of the mixture.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Pat Crust Into Pan

Now for the fudge layer.  Melt the milk, chocolate, and butter in a saucepan, stirring until smooth.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Fudge Filling

Stir in the vanilla and salt.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Add vanilla and salt and stir until smooth

Spread the fudge mixture over the crust (after a quick taste test), then crumble the reserved crust mixture over the fudge layer.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Top with reserved crust mixture

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Deborah says to let the bars cool before cutting, but she didn’t say for how long. I waited for 20-30 minutes because they smelled so good and I didn’t want my coffee to get cold. (Seems like a legit reason.) You can see that in the first picture that the fudge layer didn’t have long enough to get really set and solidified. The next day, however, these cut much better and the fudge layer seemed fudgier (2nd picture).

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - warm and cold

These bars were a huge hit. The HH loved them. They were delicious both warm-ish and completely cooled. Will I make these again? ABSOLUTELY!

Overall Results: 4.7 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy: These bars turned out exactly like they were portrayed. The oat cookie crust and crumble were the perfect compliment to the rich fudgy filling. The recipe was detailed and straightforward with no issues or surprises. It would have been good to know that these are best served completely cooled for the filling, but they were delicious either way. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating -  5 Pins

Difficulty: The bars were simple to make and the recipe was easy to follow. Because of the added cooking step rather than just mixing and baking, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time: The prep time took 20-25 minutes – longer than the 15 minutes in the recipe. However, I’m trying to take pictures while working a recipe for the 1st time. The total time, including cooling time which is necessary, came to almost 1 1/2 hours. This is a perfect recipe to make early in the day or even the night before. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Cost: I had every single ingredient in my cupboard for this recipe. Not running out to the store is a good thing. Even if you did have to make a grocery run, not any ingredient is more than a few dollars. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating -  5 Pins

Practicality: We had these for dessert, in our lunches, and as snacks. They would be great for a cookie exchange, potluck, or… anything. The cookie on top and bottom makes it not as messy for eating with your hands rather than a fork – again, perfect for kids lunches. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating -  5 Pins

Hot Chocolate Sticks

It was really Cold in Florida this past weekend. I don’t mean cold for Florida or cold for this time of year. It was 36 degrees when I woke up this morning. That’s COLD! Our cat, who insisted on going out last night, couldn’t wait to come in as soon as we opened the door. I know that up north it’s colder by quite a lot, but this is Florida. We would like our warmth back.  In the meantime, these Hot Chocolate Sticks from Kristi’s blog, 30 Pounds of Apples, seemed like just the thing to make on a cold day. I saw this pin around the holidays and liked the idea and the gift-ability of them. But it took freezing temps to motivate the Pin Test, so let’s get going.

http://www.30poundsofapples.com/2011/12/hot-chocolate-sticks/

The Pintesting:

A funny thing happened on the way to this Pin Test… I was gathering all of the ingredients to get started and thought I’d put all of the dry ingredients into one bowl. I had just added the salt when I knocked the bowl off of the counter. (EEK!) My lightning fast ninja reflexes caught the bowl and saved my kitchen, my floor and what was left of my sanity. However, the nicely separated dry ingredients were no longer separated. Oh well, they’re going to get mixed together, and my floor is clean. It’s a good trade.

Pintesting Hot Chocolate Sticks

Here are the rest of the ingredients. I like that the recipe calls for milk and dark chocolates as well as the cocoa. This should give a greater depth of chocolatey-ness.

Pintesting Hot Chocolate Sticks

The recipe says to sift them together but I find that whisking works well for cakes and other pastries, so I whisked. More about that later.

Pintesting Hot Chocolate Sticks

Next, chop up the chocolate into small pieces for better melting.

Pintesting Hot Chocolate Sticks

Put the chocolate in a clean and dry microwave-safe bowl. Heat at 30-second intervals on medium power until two-thirds of the way melted. Stir until smooth.

Pintesting Hot Chocolate Sticks

NOTE: Be patient while melting the chocolate! If you heat the chocolate too high it will seize up and you’ll have to throw it out and start over.

Pintesting Hot Chocolate Sticks

Now pour the melted chocolate into dry ingredients.

Pintesting Hot Chocolate Sticks

Stir to combine.

Do you see those little, unsifted balls of powdered sugar and cocoa? That’s why I was supposed to sift the dry ingredients. If you make this recipe, please don’t try to take a shortcut. Listen to Kristi and sift. It took a lot longer to work out all of the little clumps.

Pintesting Hot Chocolate Sticks

Mix until the chocolate is smooth like a soft tootsie roll.

Pintesting Hot Chocolate Sticks

Fill a piping bag. The mixture is thick so you don’t need to use a coupler or tip.

Pintesting Hot Chocolate Sticks

Then fill the molds.

Pintesting Hot Chocolate Sticks

Finish by topping each one with 4 mini marshmallows and a stick. The next time I’ll use wooden stirrers or bamboo sticks. The paper sticks were cute but began to unravel while stirring in the hot milk.

Pintesting Hot Chocolate Sticks

Now leave them to dry, like I did, or you can refrigerate if you’re in a hurry.

Pintesting Hot Chocolate Sticks

Once they’re dry, pop them out and stir one into 8-oz of hot milk. . .

Pintesting Hot Chocolate Sticks

. . .until dissolved and yummy.

Pintesting Hot Chocolate Sticks

This was a welcome warm treat on a very cold day. One note about possible user error. I had set some of these out at work with instructions on how to use them to make a cup of hot chocolate. Unfortunately, people don’t always read instructions; just ask any guy who’s built anything from a kit. I had about half of the testers tell me how hard it was to eat the chocolate. I recommend putting instructions on each and every hot chocolate stick. That could be really cute with little flags!

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Rating: 4.7 Pins

Pintesting Seal 5 Pins

 

Accuracy: The recipe was simple enough to follow and I really liked the tip for melting chocolate. The chocolate set up nicely in the molds, and when stirred into the hot milk, gave a nice frothy foamy cup of hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was creamy, rich and chocolaty. I will add a teaspoon of vanilla the next time I make this to see how it affects the flavor. One of my testers noticed that as the milk cooled, the chocolate started to separate and clump a bit. However, that left chocolate surprises at the bottom of the cup, so it wasn’t really a complaint. Just drink it quickly. 5 Pins.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Difficulty: The recipe was simple. I had issues with how thick the chocolate mixture became. Even without a coupler or tip in the piping bag, it was very difficult to squeeze it into the molds. Someone with arthritis or dexterity issues might have to come up with an alternative way to make these 4 Pins.

Rated 4 Pins - SMALL

Time: It took about 2-3 minutes to melt the chocolate and 30 seconds to whisk the dry ingredients. Add about 2-3 minutes to sift the dry ingredients properly (like the recipe instructs). I was going to check on the drying after half an hour and then every 15 minutes after that, but they were set in 30 minutes. 35 minutes – 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Cost: The chocolates were the most expensive ingredient, but I used the large Hershey bars. You can usually find them on sale for 2/$5 or less. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Practicality: This was cute and fun to make, and perfect for holiday gifting. However, if you just want a quick cup of cocoa it’s faster to use a packet or add some Hershey’s syrup to a cup of milk and microwave. It does take some extra time to stir until everything is melted. 4 pins

Rated 4 Pins - SMALL