Tag: chocolate

6 (Pretty) Easy Desserts to Make for the Holidays

(Above: Watch the video and see how super easy it is to make Italian Christmas Pudding.) 

Three of these holiday treats are quick and super easy to make and the other three are just easy. All make good after-dinner treats or sweet gifts.

Quick & Super Easy

1.) Italian Christmas Pudding (aka: Pudding with the Red Stuff):
This couldn’t be any easier to make. It’s my grandmother’s recipe and she served it at family dinners, including on Christmas Eve. It’s a quick and easy version of an Italian dessert called, “Zuppa Inglese.”


2.) Chocolate Kahlua Rum Balls:
 If you’re short on time but still want to make some homemade Christmas treats, try this one (but this is for adults-only). They require no baking and so the alcohol doesn’t burn off. They make a great gift too. Avoid heavy machinery and sleighs.


3.) Chocolate Bark with Walnuts and Orange AND White Chocolate Bark with Pistachios and Cranberries:
The only thing easier than making this sweet treat would be going out and buying it. Takes only about 30 minutes to make too.


Just Easy

 4.) Christmas Befana Cookies:
This recipe from Northern Italy makes 100 cookies. They’ll keep for weeks and even months in an air-tight container.


5.) Amaretti Cookies:
Three main ingredients — almonds, confectioners sugar, egg whites — keeps this recipe simple. However, you have to pay attention to shaping and forming the cookies before baking.


6.) Chocolate Bread:
Treat yourself to Pane alla Cioccolata, an Italian bread that despite its name is not too sweet. This goes great with a morning cup of coffee or an after-dinner glass of red wine.

(Thanks for reading this far. To show our appreciation we’re offering this free eCookbook with “9 Recipes to Help you Relax and Enjoy the Holidays.” )

Chocolate Bark (Semi-Sweet and White Chocolate)

Chocolate Bark (Semi-Sweet and White Chocolate)

The only thing that would be easier than making this sweet treat would be going out and buying it. And it takes only about a half hour.

I got these recipes from the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine but altered the ingredients somewhat in the dark chocolate version to create my own flavor combination. I also doubled the recipes because they didn’t make much and who wants to waste time doing this in batches.

Put a few pieces in a small gift bag or box and you have an instant gift.

Chocolate Bark

December 10, 2011
: 30 min
: Easy


  • For Chocolate Bark With Walnuts and Orange:
  • Semi-sweet chocolate (Toll House chocolate chips are fine) (24 ounces)
  • Chopped walnuts (1 1/2 cups)
  • Candied orange peel (4 ounces, chopped)
  • For White Chocolate Bark With Pistachios and Cranberries:
  • White chocolate (Toll House morsels are fine to use) (24 ounces)
  • Pistachios (chopped) (1 1/2 cups)
  • Dried cranberries (chopped) (1 1/3 cups)
  • Step 1 For Chocolate Bark With Walnuts and Orange:
  • Step 2 Lightly toast the walnuts in a hot oven (400 degrees or so for about 5 minutes).
  • Step 3 Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or waxed paper).
  • Step 4 Melt chocolate in a double boiler on top of the stove. Do not let water touch bottom of pan. Stir frequently.
  • Step 5 Combine walnuts with candied orange peel. Set aside 1 cup in another bowl.
  • Step 6 Stir in the larger bowl of nuts and orange into the chocolate.
  • Step 7 Dump chocolate mixture onto the parchment paper and spread to about 3/4 inch thickness.
  • Step 8 Sprinkle the remaining nuts and orange mixture evenly over the chocolate and press into the chocolate.
  • Step 9 Put cookie sheet into the freezer for about 20 minutes (do not allow to freeze).
  • Step 10 Take out of freezer and peel off parchment paper. Break bark into pieces and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Should be good for about 2 weeks.
  • Step 11 For White Chocolate Bark With Pistachios and Cranberries:
  • Step 12 Followed instructions for chocolate bark above, using the ingredients for this recipe instead of the chocolate bark ingredients.
Pane alla Cioccolata (Chocolate Bread)

Pane alla Cioccolata (Chocolate Bread)

(Above: This light, fluffy bread with chocolate chips takes several hours to make because the dough needs to rise twice.)

This is great with a cup of coffee or a glass of red wine. It’s not too sweet. The recipe comes from “The Italian Baker” cookbook, by Carol Field.

I’ve made this several times before but this time it tasted better than ever. The texture was light and more like soft Italian bread. In the past, it’s had more of a cake consistency. I think the difference was sifting the flour (actually I don’t own a flour sifter and instead push the flour through a fine sieve with a butter knife) and using a food processor (instead of working it all by hand).

In the past I’ve spread cream cheese over each slice but this time I splurged and used Mascarpone. I’ll never use anything else or make it any other way.

This recipe makes two round loaves.

Pane alla Cioccolata (Chocolate Bread)

January 5, 2010

This takes several hours to make because the dough needs to rise twice.


  • 1 package (2 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup, plus 1 tbsp, warm water
  • 4 1/2 cups of unbleached, all-purpose flour (sifted or pushed through a fine sieve with a butter knife)
  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 tbsp, sugar
  • 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1 1/4 cups of warm water
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp butter, at room temperature, cut up into four pieces
  • 1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips
  • Step 1 Stir the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar into 1/3 cup, plus 1 tbsp of warm water in a small bowl. Let stand until foamy (about 10 min.)
  • Step 2 Put the flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a food processor fitted with a dough blade. Process with several pulses to mix well.
  • Step 3 Stir 1 1/4 cups of cold water and the egg yolk into the dissolved yeast.
  • Step 4 Put the pieces of butter ontop of the dry ingredients in the food processor.
  • Step 5 With the food processor running, pour the yeast mixture through the feed tube as quickly as the flour can absorb it and process it until the dough gathers into a ball.
  • Step 6 Process for another 40-45 seconds, pouring the chocolate chips through the feed tube during the last 10 seconds.
  • Step 7 If necessary, knead dough a little more on a floured surface until it is velvety, elastic, and moist.
  • Step 8 First Rise: Put dough in an oiled bowl and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Let it rise until doubled (about 2 hours).
  • Step 9 Second Rise: Punch the dough down and cut it in half on a lightly floured surface. Shape each piece into a round or oval loaf and place on an oiled baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled (about 1 hour).
  • Step 10 Heat the oven to 450 degrees and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake 30 minutes longer.
  • Step 11 Cool completely on a rack before slicing. Spread Mascarpone cheese on a slice and enjoy. Makes a good dessert or breakfast treat.