Oktoberfest! Chocolate Beer Balls

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“Beer and chocolate are two pleasures that should be enjoyed and savored.”
-Samuel Adams


Happy Oktoberfest! The 180th Oktoberfest kicked off today in Munich. I am not in Munich and am therefore left to drown my sorrows in the kitchen. Just like last year, the next 16 days will feature recipes made with beer in honor of the season.

That is all I know about the form Oktoberfest on the blog will take this year. Last year, I planned an Oktoberfest menu with seven different types of beer. This year, I have a stack of recipes, a refrigerator full of beer and hopes for the best. So on that note, let’s start with dessert first – chocolate beer balls.

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For the chocolate beer, I chose Southern Tier’s Creme Brulee. Holy. Freaking. Moly. This beer is good. I add this with the caveat that a beer purist might not think so. It does not taste like beer. It tastes instead like a sweet, warm whiskey coffee. It also smells amazing.

As for the recipe, if you too choose this beer, note that it is sold in a 22 ounce bottle. The recipe requires only four ounces of beer. Sixteen ounces of leftovers, and you have nothing but a good time on your hands. For the cookies, you can use store-bought or use this chocolate wafer cookies recipe to make your own  at home.

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Not a fan of beer? No worries. After October 6, things will be back to normal. Until then, Prost!

Chocolate Beer Balls
Recipe type: dessert
Serves: 30
  • 3 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar, divided
  • 1½ cups almonds, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1½ tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup (preferably dark)
  • ½ cup chocolate beer
  1. In a large bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, 1 cup of powdered sugar, chopped almonds, cinnamon and cocoa powder.
  2. Stir in the corn syrup and beer and mix well.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to help set the mixture for rolling.
  4. When the dough is chilled and somewhat firm, roll the dough into small balls.
  5. Next roll the balls in the remaining ½ cup of powdered sugar until lightly coated.
  6. Enjoy immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to enjoy.
If you plan to prepare this dessert in advance, I recommend waiting until immediately before serving to coat the balls with the powdered sugar. The chocolate balls will absorb most of the sugar, so waiting until the last minute to coat them will improve their look.

This dough is pretty soft, so you may want to work in batches when rolling it into balls, keeping the dough you are not working with refrigerated. Likewise, you may find it easier to coat the balls in powdered sugar if you refrigerate them for another 30 minutes or so after rolling and before coating.


A Secret Recipe: Sweet Vanilla Granola

8927717914 e0cfb57009 z A Secret Recipe: Sweet Vanilla Granola

I was born to…what? When I try to finish that sentence, nothing comes to mind. I think I was probably born to simply hang out here for a while and enjoy myself, hopefully helping out a few others or doing more good than bad along the way. My Secret Recipe Club blogger, on the other hand, was born to cook.

After looking through a ton of delicious recipes on Melissa’s blog I Was Born to Cook, I wholeheartedly agree with her conclusion. I seriously considered many of the recipes before narrowing it down to three choices. I thought long and hard about roasted shrimp with either thousand island dressing or chipotle lime glaze before I did a complete 180 and settled on Vanilla Granola.

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Melissa writes that granola is one of those things she never made at home prior to starting her food blog. After realizing how easy it is to make homemade granola, coupled with how delicious it tastes, store bought granola is a thing of the past.

The recipe calls for ingredients that are probably already in your pantry, and the ones that are not are easily substituted (like vegetable oil for coconut oil). I love all the adaptations granola recipes can take, and I Was Born to Cook features a number of other delicious granola combinations like cinnamon-walnut, pumpkin, peanut butter and maple-almond as well.

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Now for how to use it. I typically eat granola as I would a bowl of cereal, but I also enjoy it sprinkled over a bowl of vanilla Greek yogurt or ice cream. My go to granola recipe, prior to this sweet vanilla granola, was a quinoa-based granola. Now that I have a new recipe to enjoy, I went in search of more things to do with it.

I came across suggestions to use it as a topping for muffins or baked fruit. Others suggested adding granola to banana bread, pancake or waffle batters. My favorite idea was to fold granola into cookies. Here are two recipes to get you started: granola cookies from NPR and granola cookies from CHOW. You’ve got the granola. Now go get your week off to a good start. Enjoy!

8927105505 aca957b790 z A Secret Recipe: Sweet Vanilla Granola


Sweet Vanilla Granola
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • ½ cup Craisins
  • ¼ cup flaked or shredded coconut
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, Craisins and coconut. Set aside.
  2. Combine the coconut oil, honey, brown sugar, water and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat. Cook until melted and mixed, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Pour the liquid sweet mixture over the dry oat mixture and stir to coat.
  4. Spread the mixture across a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake at 275 degrees F for 30 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. The granola should be golden brown when complete. If it is not yet done after 30 minutes, allow it to continue baking, checking at 5 minute increments.
  6. Allow to cool completely, also stirring occasionally to help break up the granola as it cools.
  7. Store in an airtight container.


 A Secret Recipe: Sweet Vanilla Granola

Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Dessert

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Mexican chocolate pudding topped with sweet pepitas is my choice of  Cinco de Mayo dessert this year. A classic chocolate pudding goes Mexican-style with a dash of cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne. Pepitas, initially introduced in a pumpkin seed salsa recipe to kick off the week, now get the sweet treatment courtesy of sugar and agave nectar.

If spiced chocolate pudding does not appeal to your taste buds, simply omit the cinnamon and cayenne pepper to enjoy a classic chocolate pudding. As for the pepitas, they are as delicious scattered across a dish of ice cream, oatmeal or fresh fruit as they are pudding. Or just enjoy them by the handful. I definitely did, and I enjoyed every bite.

Thanks for joining me for Cinco de Mayo week. Enjoy a happy weekend!

8689263575 10c7347150 z Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Dessert

Day 1: The Appetizer - Pumpkin Seed Salsa
Day 2: The Main Dish - Mexican Noodle Casserole
Day 3: The Side Dish – Baked Mexican Style Beans
Day 4: The Drink – Michelada
Day 5: The Dessert
Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Dessert
Serves: 6
  • For the Pudding
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 6 ounces chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used dark chocolate)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • For the Pepitas
  • 2 cups raw (green) pepitas
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  1. Whisk together the cornstarch, sugar and salt in the top of a double boiler (or a dish – not Pyrex – set above a saucepan filled with a bit of water).
  2. Slowly whisk in the milk until fully incorporated with the dry ingredients.
  3. Bring the water in the double boiler to a simmer, and occasionally whisk the ingredients on top to ensure they remain incorporated.
  4. Add the chocolate when the mixture thickens to the point that it coats the back of the spoon, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Stir the chocolate in for until the pudding is smooth and thickened, about two to four minutes.
  6. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla, cinnamon and cayenne.
  7. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any lumps (don’t stress if you do not have a strainer- you will just enjoy the occasional lump in the pudding) and into a serving bowl.
  8. Pour into serving dishes and refrigerate at least 30 minutes until soft set. To prevent a skin from forming on the pudding, cover the top of the pudding itself with plastic wrap before refrigerating. If you like the pudding skin, simply cover the top of the dish with plastic wrap.
  9. While the pudding sets, prepare the pepitas by stirring them together with the olive oil and agave nectar followed by the sugar.
  10. Transfer the pepitas into a skillet over medium-high heat. Make sure you get all of the sugary mixture into the skillet as well.
  11. Stir constantly until the pepitas are fragrant and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about two to four minutes.
  12. Spread the warmed pepitas across a sheet of parchment paper and allow to cool.
  13. Before serving, heap a few spoonfuls of the pepitas onto the dishes of pudding.