Holiday Recipes

Gingerbread Skillet Cookie

| by | Cookies, Desserts, Holiday Recipes, Recipes

 Gingerbread Skillet Cookie: This giant gingerbread cookie baked in a cast iron skillet is easy to make and a different way to enjoy a Christmastime classic!

Gingerbread Skillet Cookie |

I know I say this sort of thing a lot, but can you believe that Christmas is just about one week away??

One. Uno.

Gingerbread Skillet Cookie |

I really need to sit down and pull my act together – I’ve been so busy that there just hasn’t been time to think through much. Like, it just hit me on Tuesday that I need think about what dessert/s to make for Christmas day. Yeah, totally on my game…not.

This year there have been a couple of things throwing me off, or at least I think are part of the problem. The first being that Christmas is on a Sunday. I’m not sure why that would make a difference, but for some reason it seems like it has (if anyone could give me a logical explanation as to why, I’m open for it!).

Gingerbread Skillet Cookie |

Gingerbread Skillet Cookie |

The second being that my family isn’t doing gifts this year, which I think has been the biggest thing to put me in a muddle (instead of gifts we’re treating ourselves to a snow vacay in Colorado, come January).  In a way, it has been nice not having to rush around buying gifts, but this is definitely a new and different experience!

Regardless, we’re 10 days away and I’m not ready. Stop the clocks, please!! (And someone please ban stores from clearing out their Christmas items 3 weeks before the holiday – #totalmoodcrusher)

How is your Christmas season going? Are you prepared and ready? Or are you still in a whirlwind of events, parties, and shopping?

Gingerbread Skillet Cookie |

One thing you might be ready for is this Gingerbread Skillet Cookie. If you like gingerbread, then you’ll like this, because it’s basically one giant gingerbread cookie! It’s also easy to make and perfect if you don’t feel like chilling, rolling, and cutting out dough. Maybe it seems wrong to make gingerbread that’s not in shapes and smiling at you, but you gotta try it at least once. :)

You can ice this cookie if you want, but since it’s almost a necessity to eat skillet cookies warm, I wouldn’t recommend it. You can, however, sprinkle it with some pretty decorator’s sugar! (And yes, I know mine is iced – the things we’ll do for photos, right?)

Gingerbread Skillet Cookie |

This is one of two skillet cookies and one of four(!) cookie recipes coming your way over the next  week – cottura felice!!

Gingerbread Skillet Cookie
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  • 1/2 C. butter, softened
  • 3/4 C. dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 C. molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 2 2/3 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves, optional
  • decorator’s sugar, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add molasses, egg and water and beat until combined.
  4. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together remaining 8 ingredients.
  5. Gradually add flour mixture to wet ingredients, beating to combine.
  6. Press dough in a 10 in. cast iron skillet, making sure it’s evenly distributed. Sprinkle with decorator’s sugar, if desired.
  7. Bake until edges are firm and toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
  8. Best eaten warm and topped with some whipped cream (or ice cream!).

Recipe adapted slightly from Taste of Home.


Chocolate Peppermint Bark Pretzel Cookies

| by | Cookies, Desserts, Holiday Recipes, Recipes

The Lowdown: These dense, fudgy chocolate peppermint cookies are coated in sugar and topped with peppermint pretzel bark to make for a sweet and salty treat. Perfectly pepperminty, chocolaty, and irresistible, these cookies are great for gifting, party taking, or personal enjoyment! 

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies |

So I went into Williams-Sonoma the other day…

And might I say that it is not a good idea to go into Williams-Sonoma at Christmastime and with an empty pocketbook when one wants buy the whole store? That place knows their business and how to execute warm, festive feelings. They also know how to do things right in the sugar and peppermint department.

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies |

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies |

Anyway, so while there I SAW A PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYER!! (8^0

OK, so that’s not what I wanted to tell you – even though it’s true and I can finally cross that off my list of “would like’s”. (I’ve always wanted to see an MLBer in public… #dontask #crazyfan)

No, I actually wanted to tell you that I saw these Peppermint Bark Pretzels and knew at once they had to come home with me; I knew that they needed to be a topper to something chocolaty and delicious. Cookies perhaps?

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies |

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies |

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies |

I was a little undecided but they just seemed to keep calling, waiting to be set on top of some warm chocolate cookies to melt and make someone happy. So I caved and they came home.

And that’s how these cookies came to be. The end.

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies | Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies |

Oh, I suppose I should actually tell you a little about them, huh? Well, these cookies have been a staple in my family for yearss. They’re little chocolate delights; dense, fudgy, rolled in sugar and best eaten warm when the topping (in this case the peppermint bark pretzels) is all melty and heavenly. Sosososo good and perfect for this time of year. And you can top them however you like; a simple glaze, peppermint or chocolate kisses, chocolate ganache, truffle halves – it’s up to you!

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies |

Also, to compliment the bark on top, I added a hint of peppermint extract to the cookie dough. This adds a nice little something extra without being too much.

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies |

These chocolate peppermint cookies make for good gifts and are a total party cookie. The recipe yields 20ish (about two inches in diameter) cookies, so if you plan on gifting or making for a party you might want to 3 or 4x the recipe – they can be addicting, I warn you…

Couttura felice!

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies
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  • 1 C. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 C. granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¼ C. milk
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. peppermint extract
  • 2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • extra sugar, for coating
  • 20 Peppermint Bark Pretzels or desired chocolate candy (see post for topping ideas)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, egg yolks, milk and extracts until fluffy.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, cocoa and salt.
  3. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until blended.
  4. Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour, or until firm enough to handle. (If you are a little short on time you can also freeze for about half the time.)
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  6. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper
  7. Place extra sugar (start with about ⅔ C.) in a small bowl and if desired, add some sparkling sugar.
  8. With the palms of your hands, roll dough into 1 ½ - 2 in. balls, coat in sugar, and place on prepared cookie sheet, spaced about 2 in. apart.
  9. Flatten cookie dough balls slightly.
  10. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until set.
  11. Remove from oven and immediately place 1 peppermint bark pretzel on top of each cookie (see note below!).
  12. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.


Feel free to experiment around with the toppings! Take a look near the end of my post for some ideas. If you would like to make a glaze, here’s what you need to do:

Before baking, instead of flattening slightly, press thumb gently in center of each cookie.

Let cookies cool slightly before spooning glaze in the center.

To make glaze: in small bowl whisk together 1/2 C. powdered sugar, 1 tbsp. softened butter, 2 tsp. milk, and 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract (or peppermint extract) and whisk until smooth.


Recipe adapted from Hershey’s.


Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Brownie Cake

| by | Brownies, Cakes & Cupcakes, Cheesecakes, Desserts, Holiday Recipes, Recipes

Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Brownie Cake: Why choose between three desserts when you can have all three? This Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Brownie Cake features three decadent layers of brownie, peppermint cheesecake, and chocolate cake. With a light peppermint whipped cream frosting sandwiched between, and topped with a chocolate ganache glaze, this cake is a stunner. 

Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Brownie Cake | Sempre-Dolce.comYou’ll never believe this, but I’m writing this post in the mall. Truth. As I sit here waiting for my brother, the rush of people are, well, rushing by – although some might just be sauntering. A bench is serving as my office in the mall that was a Christmastime tradition, more than a dozen years ago. Even now, the Scrooge puppet show that we watched as kids has just finished, I heard it not too far off.

You might be wondering what could be so special about a mall. Especially a mall at Christmas during the utter chaos of the season. I’d be wondering too. But memories are filled with· my mom and aunt taking all of us cousins to see the big train display, marvel at the outrageous toys at FAO Shwarz and pick up some treats in the adjoining candy store. It may seem weird, but this mall was a fun place to visit during the festive season.

Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Brownie Cake |

How things change, but at least we have memories to hold on to! Unfortunately, many things have changed about this mall since I was a youngster. The arrival of new shops and the loss of some dearly loved shops; the big train display, the puppet shows, and the lack of penguins which used to appear around this time (yes, penguins). Even so, through all the changes, it is still a family tradition – which is partly why I’m here today. :)

Do you have any special Christmastime memories/traditions?

Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Brownie Cake |

Now about this cake… Oh, this cake. It’s not a memory or a tradition, but it should become one. If you’re an indecisive person, the person where the ice cream shop with 50 flavors is more nightmare than pleasure, you will love this dessert. Even if you’re not indecisive. It consists of three layers.. and three different desserts. Why choose between options when you can have them all?

Am I right or what?

OK, so more on these layers, these THREE luscious layers. They consist of:

  1. Chocolate Cake
  2. Peppermint Cheesecake
  3. Brownie

And sandwiched between said layers is a peppermint whipped cream frosting. On top? Ganache. Pure ganache.

Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Brownie Cake | Sempre-Dolce.comI chose the whipped cream frosting because I’m not a big fan of the usual frosting fare paired with something other than pure cake. The idea didn’t just seem to work and the thought of cheesecake paired with a buttercream frosting wasn’t thrilling me. But whipped cream? That’s different. And it’s really what this cake needs as it’s heavy enough already.

And that’s also partly why I chose a ganache glaze for toppers – well, that and the fact it’s ganache. Ganache! Ganache goes with everything and is awesome with everything. Ganache and cake? Yes. Ganache and cheesecake? Heck, yeah. Ganache and brownies? One of the best toppings for a brownie! Ganache and burgers? Ok, not that, but you get my point.

Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Brownie Cake |

Now, let’s break down the layers individually. First, there’s the cake. This cake is my new favorite chocolate cake recipe and I don’t I’ll ever make another. It’s moist (which is pretty much all I look for in a cake) and full of chocolate goodness (um, it has coffee!). It also makes a wonderful accompaniment to the cheesecake.

Then there’s the peppermint cheesecake. It’s peppermint cheesecake and I shouldn’t have to tell you anything more… but I will. The highlight is the peppermint candies inside which melt into the batter and make for wonderful flavors. This not only goes well with the chocolate cake but is lovely with the brownie – think of a brownie base cheesecake.

Finally, the brownie. I chose one of my go-to recipes; it’s a good amount of fudgy and good in the way only a brownie can be. It’s also no muss, no fuss to make, which is what you need for this cake.

Put these layers together and voila, chocolate peppermint heaven.

Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Brownie Cake |

Before making, here are a few things to note:

  1. Make sure all your pans are exactly the same size. If you look, you can see the cake is a little off and that’s because one of my 3 identical cake pans went missing (how does that happen?) and so I used one that was a little deeper than the others. Not good.
  2. The brownie layer is definitely thinner than the other layers. If this bothers you, you can either, trim a little more off the cake (it’s pretty thick), double the brownie recipe, or use your personal favorite brownie recipe.
  3. Cold brownie can be a little hard to cut through, so be sure to use a sharp knife for cutting.
  4. If you want to decorate the top with some whipped cream, then I recommend doubling the whipped cream frosting recipe – it’s better than using store-bought whipped cream

And I think that’s about it!

Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Brownie Cake |

Cottura felice!

P.S. Please pardon the million steps (I wish I could break them up more!) and please don’t be intimidated by them – the time involved is really the hardest thing about this recipe. It’s worth the effort and you can do it! I have faith.

Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Brownie Cake
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    Cheesecake Layer:
  • 2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 C. granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp. half and half
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. peppermint extract
  • ⅓ C. + 2 tbsp. peppermint crunch baking chips (I use Andes)
  • Chocolate Cake Layer:
  • 1 C. + 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 C. granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 C. buttermilk, shaken(I recommend full-fat buttermilk!)
  • 1/4 C. vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C. freshly brewed hot coffee
  • Brownie Layer:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 C. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 C. cup all-purpose flour
  • Whipped Cream Frosting:
  • 1 C. heavy whipping cream, well chilled
  • ½ C. powdered sugar
  • ¼ tsp. Peppermint extract
  • Ganache:
  • 1 ½ C. (9 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 C. heavy cream (or heavy whipping cream)
  • Garnish:
  • Crushed peppermint candies
  • Whipped cream frosting, optional


    For the cheesecake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Line the bottom of an 8 in. round cake pan with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth.
  4. Add in sugar and beat until thoroughly combined.
  5. Add eggs, beating after each addition.
  6. Beat in half and half, then extracts. Beat until well combined, scraping the bowl as needed.
  7. Stir in peppermint baking chips.
  8. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-27 minutes, or until set in center and edges are puffed.
  9. When done baking, remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Cool slightly, then run knife around edges of cheesecake. Cool completely.
  10. Once cool, invert cheesecake onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap then place in freezer while making other layers, at least 1 hour.
  11. For the cake:
  12. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  13. Line the bottom of an 8 in. round cake pan with parchment paper and spray with baking spray (or grease with butter and flour).
  14. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  15. In a small/medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil, egg, and vanilla until combined.
  16. Add coffee and whisk until just combined.
  17. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs attached when inserted.
  18. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.
  19. For the brownies (if you have double ovens, the brownies can bake separately while the cake bakes to save time):
  20. Preheat oven to 325° F.
  21. Line the bottom of an 8 in. round cake pan with parchment paper and spray with baking spray (or grease with butter and flour).
  22. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa, and salt.
  23. Add butter, pouring in a steady stream, and whisking constantly until blended.
  24. Add in vanilla and whisk to combine.
  25. Add eggs one at a time, whisking vigorously to blend after each addition.
  26. Using a rubber spatula, stir in flour and stir until just combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed.
  27. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs attached when inserted.
  28. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.
  29. Once cake and brownies are cool enough to handle, invert onto cooling rack to cool completely.
  30. Once ready to assemble, make frosting.
  31. For the frosting:
  32. Place the bowl of a stand mixer (or a metal bowl and beaters of an electric mixer) along with whisk attachment in freezer for about 10 minutes to chill.
  33. In the chilled bowl using the chilled whisk attachment, whisk the cream until frothy and slightly thick.
  34. Gradually add powdered sugar then peppermint extract and beat until thick. You will want it thick enough for spreading as a frosting.
  35. If you have doubled the frosting recipe to use for garnish, reserve about ½ C. and place in fridge.
  36. To assemble:
  37. Remove cheesecake from freezer.
  38. Trim top off of cake.
  39. Place the brownie, top side down on a cake plate/pedestal.
  40. Place ½ of the frosting on the brownie and spread evenly over the top.
  41. Unwrap cheesecake and place top side up on top of brownie layer.
  42. Spread remaining frosting evenly over the top of cheesecake.
  43. Place cake top side down on top of cheesecake layer and place in fridge.
  44. Make the ganache:
  45. Place chocolate chips in a medium-sized bowl.
  46. In a microwave safe bowl/container/measuring cup, microwave on high setting for 1 ½ - 2 minutes, or until just beginning to simmer. (This can also be done on the stove top in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, if you prefer.)
  47. Pour cream over chocolate and let stand for about 5 minutes.
  48. Then, whisk together until mixture is smooth and chocolate is completely melted.
  49. Remove cake from fridge and pour ganache over the top, spreading with a spatula so it goes over the sides.
  50. Using the spatula, spread ganache around the sides of cake until thoroughly coated.
  51. Decorate the top with crushed peppermint candies and place in fridge to allow ganache to set.
  52. If decorating with whipped cream frosting: once ganache is set and you are ready to serve, pipe some of the reserved frosting around the top of cake and sprinkle with peppermint dust (or very finely ground peppermints), if desired.
  53. Store any leftover cake in the fridge and make sure it does not sit out for too long at room temperature.

Recipe Adapted from Epicurious (cheesecake & brownies), Ina Garten (cake), and (frosting)

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Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Crunch Marshmallow Swirl

| by | Desserts, Holiday Recipes, Ice Cream & Frozen Treats, Recipes, Seasonal

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Crunch Marshmallow Swirl: This ice cream starts with a rich chocolate peppermint base and features a peppermint crunch marshmallow swirl throughout. Creamy in texture, perfectly decadent, and full of chocolate and peppermint flavor, this ice cream is the perfect cold Christmastime treat!

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Crunch Marshmallow Swirl |

Hi there! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of food, laughter, good times, and more food. :)

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Crunch Marshmallow Swirl |

As I mentioned in my last post, we celebrated the holiday in Texas this year. However, for me, the fun began on Friday. For a few weeks prior, my mom and I discussed the idea of taking a day trip the day after Thanksgiving for some hiking and relaxation, and to get away from the madness that is called Black Friday. I was happy that the sibs were in favor of the idea (you know, they really can be wet blankets sometimes… just kidding! kind of.), even though there was grumbling about the early departure time involved. The two state parks we originally discussed visiting were a little too far for a day trip so Caddo Lake was settled on.

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Crunch Marshmallow Swirl |

I had heard and seen pictures of Caddo Lake and from what I could tell it looked lovely. Also, the general feedback was very positive; people seemed to love it. Anyway, so on Friday morning (after a two hour delay in leaving…) we headed off. After spending way too long in a Texas-sized-are-you-kidding-me-this-place-is-huge rest/truck stop, three hours of sore bums, and arriving three hours later than planned, we arrived at the park. Let me tell you, drive included, I saw a side of Texas I had no clue existed. If it weren’t for the fact that the people around gave it away – Texans will be Texans – I’m not sure I would have known we were still in the state! It’s a beautiful area and the lake itself is truly magical with the bald cypress trees adorning it. And guys, there were trees all around! Even on the drive there – I mean, I. never. knew. (The area I live in, Dallas/Fort Worth, is not aesthetically pleasing with its many buildings and roads.)

Caddo Lake State Park | Sempre-Dolce.comCaddo Lake State Park | Caddo Lake State Park | Sempre-Dolce.comCaddo Lake State Park |↑ This photo was taken by my mom :) 

The east side of Texas, however, is obviously different (the state park is right on the Louisiana border and the lake actually goes into Louisiana). Trees lined the highway and when hiking around the park, I actually felt like I was on the east coast.

We spent the first bit of our time canoeing and kayaking around the lake (I must say I was disappointed and somewhat relieved at the same time at not seeing any alligators) and the other bit taking a short hike in the park and taking in the beautiful scenery until sunset. I’m so glad we went and am already longing to go back and explore more of the lake (it has over 50 miles of paddling trails!).

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Crunch Marshmallow Swirl |

OK, so now that you have probably been thoroughly bored by the wordy details of my family’s trip, let’s talk about this Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Crunch Marshmallow Swirl (< good grief, what a mouthful). This recipe is another in my growing list of no-churn ice cream recipes and it’s the perfect cold Christmastime treat.

I can never say enough about this no-churn ice cream base – the texture is amazing and the flavor possibilities endless. This particular combination is super yummy, perfectly Christmasy, and the flavors are out of this world amazing. The peppermint crunch candy gives it just the right amount of crunch without being overly crunchy. I also loove the way the chocolate flavor shines through, making it rich and decadent. So if you plan on making any ice cream this winter, consider making this one – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Crunch Marshmallow Swirl |

Cottura Felice!

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Crunch Marshmallow Swirl
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  • 2 C. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1 C. marshmallow creme
  • ⅓ C. peppermint crunch baking chips (I recommend Andes)


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form.
  2. In a large bowl and using a rubber spatula, stir together sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder, and both extracts, stirring until well combined.
  3. Fold in whipped cream, making sure all ingredients are combined (this might take a little muscle! ;).
  4. Pour into a 2 quart container (a freezer safe loaf pan works well)and set aside.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together peppermint chips and marshmallow creme.
  6. Spoon marshmallow/peppermint mixture in 3 dollops on top of ice cream mixture.
  7. Using a knife, swirl marshmallow creme through ice cream (be sure to use knife to break up large clumps) until incorporated.
  8. Cover pan and freeze for six hours, or until firm.
  9. If desired, serve with ganache/hot fudge and/or extra peppermint chips.


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