Valentine’s Day Chocolates

Valentine’s Day is almost here. It’s the holiday of love when couples across the country celebrate with chocolate hearts, cute stuffed animals, dozens of roses, and candlelit dinners. I don’t know about you, but I’m not the biggest fan of this overly commercialized holiday.

For single people, Valentine’s Day is a reminder that they don’t have that “special someone” in their life. Not fun at all—trust me, I’ve been there. Perhaps though, the holiday is even worse for people in a relationship. Single people can ignore Valentine’s Day. The last thing you want to do in a relationship is completely ignore the day. Trust me—I’ve been there too.

Matthew and I never do anything overly extravagant for the day. This year we’re going to grab lunch together on Sunday and then see a movie together afterwards. That is exactly the type of low-key celebration of love that I can appreciate. But regardless of your feelings about the holiday, Valentine’s Day is always a good reason to have some fun in the kitchen.

Candy melts are a product that I like to use for easy candy making or a pop of color when decorating baked goods. They come in several different colors and have a flavor similar to white chocolate. An important thing to note is that candy melts are NOT actually chocolate. They are made with sugar and vegetable fats—not cocoa butter. I love candy melts because they are so easy to use. Since they aren’t chocolate, they don’t need to be tempered.

Valentine’s Day Chocolates Recipe
Makes approximately 10 dozen candies

Ingredients
4 packages Wilton candy melts, assorted colors
1 heart shaped silicone mold pan

Instructions
Heat candy melts in the microwave using instructions on the package. Place melted candy in your mold using a spoon, melting bottle or disposable decorating bag. When mold is filled, lightly tap it several times on a counter to eliminate air bubbles in the candy.

Place the filled mold in the refrigerator or freezer until candy has set. When the underside of the candy mold appears to be frosted, you’re ready to unmold the candy. If there are any dark areas on the underside of the mold, it means some of the coating is still soft. In this case, chill the mold for a few more minutes, until the entire mold has a frosted appearance.

Turn over the mold about an inch above a flat surface covered with parchment or waxed paper. Gently flex or tap the mold and out come the candies!

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Make sure your silicone mold are completely dry before adding your candy and chocolate. Any moisture will complicate the process of making your candies.

Miniature Pecan Tarts

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Super Bowl 50 is right around the corner! Regardless of whether you’re a Panthers or Broncos fan, there’s a good chance you’ll be watching the big game. Although I love football and am a diehard Vikings fan, I usually feel pretty “meh” about the Super Bowl. To be honest, I get more excited about the food, commercials, and halftime show then the actual game. After I heard Beyonce was returning to the halftime show this year, it honestly didn’t matter who was playing in the actual game. Matthew was equally excited that Bruno Mars would be returning as well.

Halftime shenanigans aside, navigating the snacks at your Super Bowl party can feel like somewhat of a minefield for those of us with healthy eating New Year’s resolutions. In an attempt to lighten up one of my favorite desserts, I decided to miniaturize a pecan pie recipe. I stumbled upon some pre-shaped miniature phyllo shells at the grocery store and used this as a base for my pecan pie filling. The hardest part is stopping at just one of these little delicacies. If you’re looking for a healthier option for munching on Super Bowl Sunday, be sure to give these a try!

Miniature Pecan Tarts
Adapted from Athens Foods

Servings: 15 • Serving Size: 1 mini tart • Calories: 68 • Fat: 4.5 g • Carb: 6.5 g • Fiber: 0.3 g • Protein: 1 g • Sugar: 4 g • Sodium: 23 mg

Ingredients
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 large egg
4 teaspoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans chopped
15 Mini Phyllo Shells

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F and place rack in center of the oven.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except pecans. Mix well. Stir in chopped pecans. Arrange mini shells on a baking sheet. Fill mini shells with one rounded teaspoon of pecan mixture.

Bake for 10-15 minutes. Let them cool before serving.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
These miniature tarts are so easy to make, you might find yourself with some extra time on your hands in the kitchen. Homemade whipped cream is the perfect topping for this dessert. While the tarts are cooling, whip up a batch and add a dollop to the top before serving!

Miniature Bran Muffins

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It’s time to breathe a big sigh of relief because we all made it through the holiday season and are well into the New Year! That means we battled out holiday parties and family meals that were no doubt filled with our favorite treats. For me, this included sweet potato cheesecake, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese… the list could go on. I don’t know about you, but my body is ready for a break from these sugar and butter laden treats.

That’s why I’m turning to a lighter recipe for this January. Enter these delicious miniature bran muffins. At 40 calories a piece, these muffins are the perfect thing to give you a little morning boost without wasting the typical 400-500 calories that can be found in most muffins. I like to make a big batch and then freeze them individually in plastic wrap. That way all you need to do is pop a few in the microwave for 20 seconds and voila, a no fuss snack ready in seconds!

This recipe uses Truvia baking blend, which is a low-calorie alternative to using sugar in your baking recipes. It’s a mixture of Truvia and regular sugar made specifically for baking. It’s not for everyone, some people think it has a strange aftertaste, and others are opposed to artificial sweeteners. If you find you don’t like the taste, it’s easy to convert to a full-sugar recipe. One half cup of Truvia baking blend can be replaced with one cup of regular sugar. You can easily substitute 6 tablespoons of real sugar in this recipe!

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Miniature Bran Muffins

Servings: 24 • Size: 1 mini muffin • Calories: 40 • Fat: 0 g • Carbs: 7.0 g • Fiber: 2.0 g • Protein: 2.0 g • Sugar: 1.0 g • Sodium: 132.0 g

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups wheat bran
1 cup nonfat milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
3 tablespoons Truvia baking blend
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Grease miniature muffins cups.

Mix together wheat bran and milk, and let stand for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, mix together applesauce, egg, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in bran mixture. Sift together all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir into bran mixture until just blended.

Scoop into muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven for 6-10 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly tapped.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Once the batter is mixed, put your muffins in the preheated oven right away. Batters like this one that use baking powder and baking soda need to be baked immediately so the leavening power is not lost.

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Sweet Potato Cheesecake


Happy New Year to everyone! I always love January 1st because it’s a time when anything seems possible. Want to lose 15 pounds? No problem. Plan to run a marathon? Easily accomplished. Hope to take your dream vacation? Just book those tickets. All joking aside, no one can deny the sense of limitless possibilities that we feel come January of each year.

I go back and forth with setting resolutions. In 2014 my goal was to read the Bible and I was proud to accomplish that feat. Last year I took a break and didn’t have an official resolution. I’m taking a similar approach this year and don’t have any big resolution planned. One thing that I did take some time to do was think a little about what types of baking-related goals I’d like to tackle on Sweet Precision this year. My list below sums up some of my thoughts for the upcoming year.

2016 Baking Goals

But let’s take a moment to chat about the delicious sweet potato cheesecake that I made for this Sweet Precision post. Matthew and I spent the holidays in Minnesota this year and (as always) it felt like the time went by way too quickly. I made this sweet potato cheesecake to bring with us to a family get together. I’ve posted it before, but this really is one of my top five favorite recipes. You can find the previous post and recipe at this Sweet Precision link. Enjoy!

Old Fashioned Fruit Cake

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I love Christmas. I mean, I loooooove Christmas. To me it truly is the most wonderful time of the year. I’m sure you have your own list, but I love the carols, the cookies, the music on the radio. I love getting together with family and catching up. One of my favorite traditions is heading to the Gunflint Lodge in Minnesota for a weekend of relaxation. This year, my dad brought a delicious fruit cake up with us for the weekend. It was so beautiful I had to snap a few pictures before we cut into the cake.

Fruit cake is one of those desserts that has garnered a bad reputation over the years. People either love it dearly, or detest it passionately. For many years, I’d considered myself in the latter category. All this changed when I had a taste of my dad’s fruit cake…it was absolutely delicious! This recipe originally comes from the Pilgrim Baptist Church Cookbook, but has several of my dad’s adaptations. I asked him to type up the original recipe along with his hints and tips so that I could share it with you on my blog. Without further ado… take it away dad!


I love old church cookbooks and this recipe from Pilgrim Baptist Church circa 1960’s is a good example. Every December my aunt would dutifully pull out her dog-eared copy and faithfully prepare several fruit cakes. Actually, it was only my aunt and I that truly loved eating fruit cake as the rest of the family merely had a slice to make auntie happy. But I urge you to forget past fruit cake experiences and give this one a try. Now while the recipe is simple it took several years of watching my aunt before I actually understood how to make this fruit cake.

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Old Fashioned Fruit Cake Recipe
Ms. Velma Waters, Pilgrim Baptist Church Cookbook

Ingredients
1 pound butter
1 pound brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
6 eggs
1/2 cup wine
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup currants
2 cups candied fruits
2 cups raisins
2 cups nuts
1 tablespoon allspice
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
7 cups flour

Directions from Cookbook
Mix butter, sugar and cream. Add eggs and liquid in order, flour, currants, fruits, raisins and nuts. Mix in all the spices. Spices are to be added to the flour and added before the nuts and raisins, etc. Bake at 250 degrees for approximately 4 hours.

Dad’s Preparation Tips
Butter must be at room temperature, meaning you can push a finger into the butter block without resistance. Use dark brown sugar for a richer taste. Extra-large eggs are best. A good Zinfandel wine works best for the fruit cake. Tiny chopped up candied fruit can be used BUT using the larger chunks of fruit works much better and if you “really” like candied fruit you can add another 1/2 cup. Remember this is a butter cake (yum) with fruit and spices added. Use PECANS!! No other choice here.

Dad’s Assembly Tips
Thoroughly mix spices, baking powder, baking soda and sifted flour together. In a medium bowl combine 2 cups of the flour mixture and candied fruit and mix until candied fruit is fully covered with flour and is no longer sticky (fingers work really good for this). The object here is to prevent the candied fruit from clumping together in the batter. Add in currants, raisins and nuts.

Cream butter on medium speed till light and fluffy, add sugars in several additions, creaming between each addition. Cream until light and fluffy, add eggs one at a time until incorporated, and then add liquids. Now combine everything. Stir, DO NOT BEAT, together until everything is thoroughly mixed. This is a good workout for building arm strength.

Dad’s Baking Tips
Here’s where things get complicated! There is enough batter to make one 9×5 inch pan and one angel food pan. If you want smaller loafs you must reduce cooking time or you’ll get cement brick fruit cakes. However, too little cooking time and you’ll get cakes that fall apart, which is sad after so much effort. So for success just hang in there with me and have a loaf pan size and an angle food size cake.

Line the two pans with parchment paper cut to fit smoothly without any gaps. Remove parchment and grease pans. Replace parchment and liberally butter parchment paper and then flour, shaking off excess flour. Place a baking stone on the bottom oven shelf and place a 9×13 pan half filled with water on top of the baking stone. Preheat the oven for a half hour. Fill pans 3/4 full and decorate top of batter with candied fruit and pecans until you think it looks pretty. Bake on middle shelf of oven. Set timer for 4 hours but check water in pan after 3 hours. Bake the loaf pan approximately 4 hours and the angel food pan approximately 4 3/4 hours. 

When done, cool on rack for 20 to 30 minutes then invert and remove parchment paper. Cool completely on rack. For storage, wrap loafs in brandy (any spirit will work but I like brandy) soaked linen cloth, then in foil. Store in cool place.

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