chai truffle

Chai-Infused Dark Chocolate Truffles with Toasted Almonds

chai-infused trufflesI’ve been wanting to experiment with infusing chocolate truffles with different flavors, ever since a friend of mine posted a video about it on Facebook. I decided that, since I was making truffles as a Valentine’s Day gift, I would give it a whirl.

I wanted to use what I had on hand, so I came up with the idea of steeping chai tea bags in the cream. I used Bigelow Spiced Chai Tea, but you can use any brand or even make your own.

The truffle recipe calls for 1/2 cup of cream. I heated it until it just started to bubble around the edges, and then I put 4 tea bags in it and left them there while the cream cooled. I squeezed as much cream as I could out of the tea bags, being careful not to break them, and discarded the tea bags.

chai creamI poured the chai cream back into my measuring cup and added more cream to bring it back up to 1/2 cup. This is the cream I used to make the truffles. It had a nice aroma of chai spices that was very present.

If you already know how to make truffles, you can skip the next two paragraphs.

You make truffles by chopping up high-quality dark chocolate (I used Scharffen Berger Semisweet Dark Chocolate, with 62% cacao), heating the cream until bubbles start to form around the edges of the pot, and pouring the hot cream over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for about 5-10 minutes, and then gently stir with a whisk, until it is smooth. This is the ganache.

hot cream and chocolateOnce the ganache cools—I put mine in the fridge for about 30 minutes—you scoop it and roll it into small balls. These are your truffles, which you then roll in cocoa powder, chopped nuts, or whatever you want. You can even dip them in chocolate to form that hard coating that commercial truffles have.

rolling truffles in almondsI decided to roll mine in toasted and chopped almonds. I thought the nutty, earthy flavor would be a nice complement to the chai spices, and boy, was I right. I hate to brag, but these truffles came out great!

chai truffle

Chai-Infused Dark Chocolate Truffles with Toasted Almonds

What you need:

  • 8 oz quality dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup cream, plus about 1/4 cup more due to cream absorbed by tea bags
  • 4 chai tea bags
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds

What you do:

  • First make the chai-infused cream. Pour 1/2 cup heavy cream into a sauce pan. Heat the cream until small bubbles form around the edges, just shy of boiling. Submerge 4 chai tea bags into the cream. Steep until cream cools. Gently squeeze the cream out of the tea bags, and discard them.
  • While the cream is steeping, prepare your chocolate. Chop it into very small pieces, and place it in a heat-proof bowl. Set aside.
  • Pour the chai cream into a measuring cup, and bring it back up to 1/2 cup by adding additional cream. Heat the cream, as above, and pour it over your prepared chocolate. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
  • Gently stir the chocolate and cream with a whisk, until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate about 30 minutes. You want the ganache to be firm enough to roll into balls, but not too firm to scoop.
  • While the ganache is cooling, toast the sliced almonds in a 400-degree oven until fragrant and lightly browned. Keep an eye on them so they don’t over brown. Allow to cool, and chop finely.
  • Remove the ganache from the refrigerator. Using a teaspoon for smaller truffles or a tablespoon or dough scoop for larger ones, scoop the ganache and roll into balls. This step is very messy. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes because they will be soft from handling.
  • Remove from the refrigerator, and roll the balls in the chopped toasted nuts.
  • Keep refrigerated in a sealed container.


Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to like Charity’s DIY Life on Facebook for the latest posts and other things.


First Attempt at Baked Donuts

I finally bought a donut pan, and this was my first attempt at baked donuts. They came out ok, but there was something off about the glaze, and I wasn’t 100% happy with the donut recipe either. I want to work on it some more before I post a recipe, but here’s a picture.

Have you tried baked donuts? What kind did you make?

ganache tart

Simple Mini Chocolate Ganache Tarts with Fresh Raspberries

These little ganache tarts are so easy to make, and they taste delicious. They do not have that easy to make taste that you get with many short-cut recipes. That’s because they are made with real chocolate and cream, giving them a rich, decadent flavor.

Simple Ganache Tart

I used pre-made mini graham cracker crusts, which make this recipe a snap, but you could use whatever you want: homemade graham cracker crusts, pie crust, puff pastry cups, phyllo cups, or anything you can think of.

mini graham cracker crusts

Making ganache is so simple. You just chop up the chocolate. (I used half semisweet and half bittersweet, but you can use all of one kind.) Heat up the cream to just boiling, and pour it over the chopped chocolate. Then you let it sit for about 10 minutes. Stir until smooth with a whisk, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, if necessary.

chocolate and cream

Pour the ganache into the pie crusts. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Top with fresh raspberries or whatever you wish.

Ganache Tart with Raspberries

Mini Chocolate Ganache Tarts with Fresh Raspberries

What you need:

  • 8 oz chocolate (semisweet, bittersweet, or half of each)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 package of 6 mini graham cracker crusts (such as Keebler) or other prepared pastry
  • Fresh raspberries or other toppings

What you do:

  • Chop up the chocolate into small pieces, place it in a bowl, and set aside.
  • Heat the cream and salt in a small sauce pan until just boiling.
  • Pour cream over chocolate. Let it sit undisturbed for 10 minutes.
  • Stir the chocolate and cream mixture with a whisk, until smooth. You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to incorporate everything.
  • Divide the ganache evenly between your prepared crusts.
  • Chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
  • Top with fresh raspberries.
  • Enjoy!

ganache tart


Tiramisu Truffles

Valentine’s Day Vanilla Wafer Mocha Cookie Balls

I’m going to tell you a secret about Valentine’s Day. You can make any recipe into a Valentine’s Day recipe by (1) making it heart-shaped, (2) putting hearts on it, or (3) making it red or pink—or any combination of the three.

These Vanilla Wafer Mocha Cookie Balls can be made anytime of the year. Adding a chocolate heart on top and putting them in red heart mini cupcake papers make them adorable Valentine’s Day treats.

Vaneltines Day Tiramisu Truffles

First you mix together cream cheese, crushed vanilla wafers, and instant mocha powder. Then you roll the mixture into balls.

Rolled Cookie BallsMelt together white chocolate and more instant mocha powder.

Melted White Chocolate with Mocha Then dip the chilled balls into the white chocolate.

Dipped BallsMelt some semi-sweet chocolate, put it in a pastry bag, and add hearts or another design.

Tiramisu Truffles

Vanilla Wafer Mocha Cookie Balls

Makes 12-14. Recipe can be doubled.

What you need:

  • 40 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 30 vanilla wafers, finely crushed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant mocha powder, divided (I used Maxwell House International Cafe, Suisse Mocha)
  • 6 oz white chocolate
  • 2 oz semi-sweet chocolate

What you do:

Mix the cream cheese, vanilla wafer crumbs, and 1/2 tablespoon of mocha powder. Blend very well. (I used my hands to get it really well mixed.) Roll 1 tablespoon scoops of the mixture into balls. You should get about 14 balls. Place them in the freezer while you prepare the white chocolate.

Melt the 6 oz of white chocolate and mix in the remaining tablespoon of mocha powder, until smooth and blended. Dip the chilled balls into the white chocolate mixture, fully coat, and tap off the excess. Place them on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet to set.

Melt the 2 oz of semi-sweet chocolate and put in a pastry bag or plastic sandwich bag with the corner snipped off. Squeeze the chocolate on to the tops of the balls to make hearts or another design. Chill for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Heart Brownies with White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl

Heart-Shaped Brownies with White Chocolate Raspberry Sauce Swirl for Your Valentine

These brownies are sweet and fudgy. The tartness from the raspberry sauce provides a nice flavor contrast and a lovely pink swirl befitting Valentine’s Day. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to really show the love.


What you need:

Brownie Batter –

  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 + 1/2 sticks butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour

White Chocolate Raspberry Sauce –

  • 4 oz white chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 6 oz container of fresh raspberries
  • 1/4 teaspoons vanilla

Raspberry Brownies

What you do:

Put the chocolate and butter into a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 2 minutes. Alternately, melt it in a bowl set over simmering water. Stir the butter and chocolate together until melted and smooth. Stir in the sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and stir well. Stir in the flour.

Line a 9×13 baking pan with foil. Butter it or spray it with cooking spray. Pour half of the brownie batter into the pan and smooth.

To make the white chocolate raspberry sauce, melt the white chocolate in the microwave or bowl set over simmering water. Meanwhile, mash up the raspberries. Add 1 tablespoon of cream, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and the raspberries to the chocolate, and mix until smooth.

Drop 1/4 cup of the white chocolate raspberry sauce in dollops around the batter, and swirl with a knife. Pour the remaining brownie batter on top. You may have to spoon mounds of it on and spread it after, if the batter is thick. Repeat the white chocolate raspberry swirl. You might not need all of it (but it’s so good that I’m sure you’ll find a use for it).

Bake 35-40 minutes. You want the batter to be set, but try not to over-bake. A toothpick inserted near the center should come out with fudgy crumbs not raw batter.

Allow the brownies to fully cool. Use a metal heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out heart shapes, or cut into squares.

Heart Brownies with White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl

valentines day peanut butter cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Hearts

I have never been a big fan of peanut butter cookies with chocolate kisses because of the inferiority of the chocolate. These peanut butter cookies with Dove dark chocolate hearts are a huge improvement, and they are great for Valentine’s Day.

I love the following peanut butter cookies recipe because the brown sugar gives the finished cookies a nice hint of molasses flavor, but you can do this method with your favorite PB cookies recipe or mix.Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Heart

What you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed dark (or light) brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 36 chocolate hearts (I used Dove dark chocolate hearts)

What you do:

  • Unwrap the chocolate hearts, put in a bowl, and place in the freezer while you prepare the dough.
  • Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
  • In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • Mix the peanut butter and butter with a mixer, until smooth. Add brown sugar and beat until combined. Add eggs and vanilla, and mix until combined. With mixer on low, add the flour mixture in 2-3 batches.
  • Scoop tablespoons of dough, and roll into balls. Put the granulated sugar on a plate, and roll the balls in the sugar. Place the balls 2-inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake cookies for about 7 minutes, until cookies are puffed up slightly. Remove cookies from oven. Press one heart into each cookie. Return to oven and continue baking about 6 minutes more, until cookies are golden brown and chocolate has begun to melt. Let cool 10 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

valentines day peanut butter cookies

turtle brownie recipe

Turtle Brownies (And Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce)

I woke up the other day with a craving for turtle brownies, followed by a deep appreciation for the fact that I know how to bake.

Caramel, pecans, chocolate. Mmm.

turtle brownie

There are many recipes for turtle brownies online, but none of them gave me what I wanted. I decided that, if I really wanted to satisfy this craving, I needed to make my own recipe.

The cool thing about these brownies is that you can make them as easy or as hard as you want.

The easy way:

  • Buy a box of brownie mix, and prepare the batter according to instructions, adding 1 cup chopped pecans.
  • Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan (that they tell you on the box to use).
  • Using a store-bought caramel sauce of your choosing, take about 1/4 cup worth and drop dollops around the top of the brownie batter and swirl with knife.

brownies with caramel swirl

  • Repeat with remaining batter and remaining caramel.
  • Bake as directed.
  • Once brownies are cooled, at least somewhat, pour about 1/2 cup of caramel sauce over the top, spread, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of pecans.

Pan of Turtle Brownies

That’s it.

Now, if you want to make your own caramel sauce – and you do – it’s so easy.

Boil water and sugar.

water and sugar

Simmer until golden brown (that’s where the caramel gets its color).

amber color

Remove from heat and stir in butter and cream.

caramel sauce

Cool for about 15 minutes and add vanilla.

Rock your taste buds’ world.

Since you went to the trouble of making your own caramel, you know what you’ve got to do now: Make your own brownies. It’s so easy. It’s barely harder than making the box mix, and it tastes so much better. You’ll thank yourself. I promise.

Turtle Brownies

What You Need:

Caramel Sauce –

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Brownie Batter –

  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 + 1/2 sticks butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans for batter
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans for topping

What You Do:

First make the caramel sauce. Put the water into a sauce pan, and pour the sugar and salt into the center. Gently stir until the sugar is all moistened. You want to try to avoid letting the sugar get on the sides of the pan, or it will form crystals. But don’t stress out about it. Put it over medium heat until it starts to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 8-10 minute, until the mixture is a medium amber.

Remove from heat and slowly stir in the cream. It will bubble and spit, so go slowly. Once the cream is incorporated, stir in the butter until melted. Set the caramel aside to cool for about 15 minutes, and then add the vanilla.

While the caramel is cooling, make the brownie batter. Break up the chocolate into pieces that are small enough to melt. They don’t need to be tiny, just not huge. Put the chocolate and butter into a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 2 minutes. Alternately, melt it in a bowl set over simmering water. Stir the butter and chocolate together until melted and smooth. Stir in the sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and stir well. Stir in the flour and pecans.

Line a 9×13 baking pan with foil, leaving extra on the ends to grab later, when it’s time to take the brownies out of the pan. Butter it or spray it with cooking spray. Pour half of the brownie batter into the pan and smooth. Drop 1/4 cup of the caramel sauce in dollops around the batter, and swirl with a knife. Pour the remaining brownie batter on top. You may have to spoon mounds of it on and spread it after, if the batter is thick. Repeat the caramel swirl. Bake 35-40 minutes. You want the batter to be set, but try not to over-bake. A toothpick inserted near the center should come out with fudgy crumbs not raw batter.

Allow the brownies to cool for a while. Pour remaining caramel sauce on top and spread to the edges. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of chopped pecans on top. Allow to fully cool for easier and neater cutting. But you’ll probably want to lop off a messy square before they’re totally cool to taste test this masterpiece.

turtle brownie 2


cranberry orange muffin split

Cranberry Orange Dessert Muffins

Now that we are in the thick of the holiday season, bags of fresh cranberries are easy to find in your local super market. You may even have some leftover from Thanksgiving, as I did.

I called these “dessert muffins” because they are sweeter than a breakfast muffin. They’re more like a sugar cookie in muffin form, with cranberries, orange, and walnuts.

cranberry orange muffin splitWhat you need:

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange, plus 2 tablespoons of the juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup cranberries (not dried)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

What you do:

  • Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 6-cavity jumbo muffin pan with cooking spray with flour (such as Pam for Baking), or grease with butter and flour.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl, and set aside. Combine the cream, orange juice, and vanilla in another small bowl, and set aside as well.
  • Cream together butter, sugar, and orange zest in your mixer. Reduce speed and add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by 1/2 of the cream mixture, and continue alternating until all is added. Stir in cranberries and walnuts.
  • Spoon the mixture into the muffin pan and smooth with the back of a spoon.
  • Bake 30 – 40 minutes until lightly browned and toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks, and enjoy.

cranberry orange muffin

Lady Bug on Queen Annes Lace

How to Find a Legitimate Work-at-Home Job

I really want to get back into the habit of blogging here regularly. I really do miss blogging, and this is certainly the time of year that I am making and baking lots of things.

I’ve been pretty preoccupied the past month with trying to find a new job, and I realized that would be a good thing to write a post about.

I have a lot of friends ask me for advice on finding a work-from-home job because there are a lot of scams out there. These days, there are also many legitimate opportunities as well. There are even well-known companies – such as U-Haul, Guthy-Renker, and 1-800-Flowers – that hire virtual workers.

But there are scams, as well as jobs that pay so low they are not worth your time, unless you live in a foreign country with an extremely low cost of living.

So where do you start?

Whenever someone asks me for advice, I always direct them to the blog Real Ways To Earn Money Online. Though it may sound like the name of a scam site, it is actually a blog written by a work-at-home mom named Anna. I have been reading this site for a couple of years, and it is extremely helpful in finding at-home job leads and researching companies. Anna posts job leads daily, has a work-at-home job directory categorized by type of work, and posts reviews of work-from-home jobs on a regular basis on the main page. You can also follow Real Ways to Earn on facebook.

I’ve been doing freelance writing. I get bored with it though, so I was trying some phone jobs recently. I pretty much hated it, but only because it triggers my anxiety disorder, making it pretty much unbearable. I don’t mean that I get the normal jitters. I have full-blown panic attacks that seem to get worse as time goes on (as opposed to getting better, as normal anxiety would).

So, I’m back to writing. I think I would like it more if I put the time in to getting better opportunities or marketing my own writing (or even blogging regularly to make a little money from that). I love writing itself, but the stuff I do for money isn’t the most enjoyable subject matter. I guess I’ll have to start working on getting those better opportunities, now that I have accepted that this is the career that I want to stick with.

Anyway, so that’s my advice on beginning your work-from-home search. The only thing I could add would be to also check out a couple of forums, but to be honest, I find them to be a bit catty. There is some valuable feedback there on popular WAH jobs. Work Place Like Home and are two of the popular ones.

Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies with Maple Icing

Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies with Maple Icing

I love oatmeal cookies. These moist, chewy cookies, made with chunky applesauce and drizzled with a maple glaze, are perfect for fall.Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies with Maple Icing 2

First, start with homemade applesauce. You can also buy a pre-made applesauce, but making your own is so simple and will yield enough for you to enjoy on its own.

This applesauce is made using two types of apples. The McIntosh break down as they cook, but the Granny Smith keep their shape, which makes for a nice texture when mixed into the batter.

applesauce oat cookie batter

Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies with Maple Icing

What you need:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup chunky applesauce (recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons water

What you do:

Preheat the oven to 350. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine the oats, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of your mixer, mix together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium until well-combined. Add egg and applesauce and mix until blended. Add the oat mixture 1/3 at a time and mix after each addition until just combined. Stir in the walnuts.

Scoop dough onto prepared pans using a dough scoop for uniformity. Bake 13-15 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Cool cookies on a rack.

When cooled, place cookies on rack with parchment paper beneath. Prepare the icing by whisking together the powdered sugar, maple syrup, and water. Using a spoon drizzle the glaze across the cookies in a back-and-forth motion, allowing the excess to drip down on the parchment paper. The glaze will dry, allowing cookies to be stacked on a plate.

Icing Cookies

Chunky Applesauce

  • 3/4 pound Granny Smith apples (about 2)
  • 1 pound McIntosh apples (about 3)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

Peel, core, and cut apples into 3/4-inch chunks. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add apples, cinnamon, sugar, and water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the McIntosh apples begin to break down and the Granny Smith apples are tender. Reserve 1/2 cup for the cookies, and serve the remainder warm or chilled.

Chunky Applesauce