No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake

No Bake Cherry Cheesecake

I was scolded last week by a cashier at my beloved Wegmans…I know, right?  Well, truth be told, in her defense… she caught me shoplifting.  I am an oblivious shoplifter….

It never fails, I always grab the mini cart when I walk into the store, because I never have a lot to pick up…

Right.

And I always end up filling every nook and cranny of that cart. This last time wasn’t any different…except that I didn’t notice the two Vitamin Waters that I had put in the little basket that is under the handle on the cart.

As she was ringing me up, she noticed the Vitamin Waters. “What about those bottles of water, honey?” she asked me. “Oh my gosh, I totally missed them” I answered her, while I grabbed the bottles and put them up on the belt.

I could see that she was annoyed, and my ingrained Catholic guilt kicked in. “I’m so sorry., I just didn’t see them there..” I started to explain…

“You know..” she said looking me squarely in the eye…so that I could see she meant business…

The scolding began..
“People do that all the time. They put food in those baskets and forget about them…” she said.
“You don’t think that you’re being watched…but what you don’t know, is that we are watching you…” she said pointing my asparagus at me..

“I know..I’m sorry..” I said..

I looked at the lady waiting in line behind me…and she shrugged her shoulders with a smile on her face…

“We wait. We wait for you to walk out with those items.” The cashier went on to say, placing my cherries into the bag…

“As soon as you put those unpaid items in your car, you are a shoplifter…” she said putting her hands on her plump little hips.
“I’m so sorry..” I said, trying to look serious.. 

I looked back again at the lady in line behind me.  She was clearly enjoying this, and we exchanged looks.  Mine was more of an eye rolling…while her eyes had that sparkle of silent laughter…

And…my cashier continued on with….“And then the police come, and follow you…”she said while holding up the bottle of Vitamin Water, which was also the evidence in question…and…I think to emphasize the seriousness of my $2 crime.

And as quickly as it started…my scolding was over…

She finished with: “That will be $45.56, honey.”

I started to push my cart away, and looked at the lady behind me… “Good luck!” I told her…and she started to laugh, and waved her hand over her cart “My cart is empty..I’m clear” she answered.. and we both did the “silent eye laugh”… and I left.

Anyway…I just cannot stop eating cherries lately…and the funny thing is, they’re not in season yet!  They must be in season somewhere, because they’re sending them to my beloved Wegmans… and I have to say, whoever they are, they’re having the best season…EVER.   

And the best desserts can be made with cherries… like this simple classic  no-bake cherry cheesecake.  I’m here to tell you that it’s totally cool to make them, especially on a hot summer day., or when you’re crunched with time…  And honestly? Everyone loves them… even the biggest “foodie snooty” who would turn his/her nose up in public, but is honestly a closet no-bake cheesecake eater… let them try to say otherwise, but we all know what they’re doing behind closed doors.

 How could they not love it? The creamy cheesecake filling is delicious with the dark cherries, and the buttery chocolate crumb crust gives it a black forest edge.  No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake… It’s simple.  It’s a classic.  It’s delicious.

Life is good.  It’s a “Seriously…I’m all about the simple things in life…and you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen to make a beautiful dessert.” kind of good.. 

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No  Bake   Cherry   Cheesecake

No Bake Cherry Cheesecake
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Chocolate Cookie Crumb Crust
  • 1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
  • ½ stick butter, melted
Cheesecake Filling
  • 1 - 8oz pkg cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup whipped cream
  • 4 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
Cherry Topping
  • 2 cups fresh pitted cherries
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
Instructions
Chocolate Cookie Crumb Crust
  1. In a small bowl, mix combine the cookie crumbs and melted butter. Stir until blended. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the crust into four jam jars. Set aside.
Cheesecake Fillling
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, whipped cream,, powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice. Using the whisk attachment, beat until smooth and creamy..about three minutes. (Make sure that the cream cheese is room temperature, otherwise you'll be fighting little lumps of cream cheese in the mix).
  2. Spoon ⅓ cup of the cream cheese filling over the chocolate cookie crust in the jam jars. Place in the refrigerator until it sets, about an hour.
Cherry Topping
  1. While the cheesecake is chilling in the refrigerator, mix the cherries and sugar together, and place in refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. When the cheesecake is set, divide the cherries between the four cheesecakes (1/2 cup cherries per jar.)
  3. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve cold.
  4. This will keep in the refrigerator for up to two days. Or you can easily freeze them without the cherries. Simply seal them with the jar lids, and store in freezer for up to a month.
  5. Enjoy!

 

Toffee Pecan Bark Ice Cream Sandwiches

Toffee   Pecan   Bark   Ice Cream SandwichI made enemies with a chipmunk this past weekend… well, maybe I exaggerate a little. Maybe not enemies, but he was pretty mad at me.

He was clearly in the wrong.

I happened to look out my kitchen window when I spotted him. He was hanging from the suet cage that I put out for the birds…so I grabbed my camera and quietly snuck outside. I managed to snap a couple of photos (which turned out blurry, because he wouldn’t sit still), before he noticed me.

Well… you would think that I had violated his privacy or something… okay, so maybe I did. But he’s a chipmunk for goodness sake… I didn’t realize that they have privacy issues. The darn little guy jumped to the top of the fence, and started yelling at me.

ChipmunkHe yelled for his right for privacy.

He yelled for the rights of all chipmunk-kind…

He yelled for the love of rodent humanity…

And then he yelled some more…

This all lasted a matter of thirty seconds, maybe less… and then he jumped back up to the suet cage for one more bite…I think to prove a point… and then ran down the trunk of the tree.

I’ve always thought that we had an understanding, my chipmunks and me. Because not ten feet from the suet cage, lies a pile of peanuts in the shell. I put suet out for the birds… and I put the peanuts out for them. It has worked for years, our unspoken agreement..

I don’t know.. maybe he was a stranger passing through, and didn’t know the rules that I’ve put in place. But he was in the wrong…and yet…he was mad at me.

HE was mad at ME.

A little chipmunk. Angry.

With me.

I wonder if he realizes that he’s considered a delicacy in some countries..seriously…maybe even considered a delicacy in some states right here in the US… and here I am, feeding him a feast of peanuts. He doesn’t know how lucky he is.

Ungrateful adorable little fellow.

Lucky for him, I love animals.

And he can eat the suet any day…

Toffee    Pecan  Bark Ice Cream Sandwich

Before I looked out my kitchen window, I was busy pouring toffee over graham crackers, in preparation for the cookie part of these bark ice cream sandwiches.

The bark…a favorite Christmas treat favorite, made with graham crackers, toffee, melted chocolate and pecans, cut into squares makes a perfect companion cookie for the homemade vanilla ice cream.

This recipe makes exactly one quart of ice cream, which, when poured into a 9”x9” pan, yields nine ice cream squares that fit perfectly into one half of a graham cracker square. And while I churned this ice cream, a no churn ice cream would work just as perfectly. I also broke the graham crackers in half, before placing them on the baking sheet, so that they would be easy to cut in perfect squares after they cooled.

I’m not going to lie to you…while this is really easy to make, and the prep time is minimal…you do need to start the day ahead so that the ice cream can freeze over night before you cut it into squares. You definitely need a good 8 to 12 hours of freeze time, just for the ice cream alone, and then another couple hours for the sandwich to freeze together after you’ve assembled them… trust me, they’re well worth the time.

This is a such a delicious and refreshing treat to delight your summer party guests! Before serving, wrap them in parchment paper to collect any drips of the melting ice cream on that warm summer day!

Chipmunks not allowed.

Life is good. It’s a “Never mess with a chipmunk who just got caught in the act of thievery…he will have you apologizing to him for his wrongdoing before you know what hit you…” kind of good.

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Toffee Pecan Bark Ice Cream Sandwiches

Toffee Pecan Bark Ice Cream Sandwiches
 
Author:
Ingredients
Vanilla Ice Cream (Recipe from Ben and Jerry’s)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
Toffee Pecan Bark
  • (This recipe makes a couple extra squares of bark, just in case some squares break during cutting)
  • 12 graham crackers
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 12 oz bag milk chocolate chips
  • 1 6 oz bag chopped pecans
Instructions
Vanilla Ice Cream (Recipe from Ben and Jerry's)
  1. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until light and frothy, about two minutes. Add the heavy cream, milk, and vanilla to the eggs, and whisk until completely blended, about two minutes.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator for about an hour, or until the mixture is completely cooled. Remove from refrigerator, and place in ice cream maker. Churn according to manufacturers instructions.
  3. Place churned ice cream into a 9”x9” pan that has been coated with vegetable spray. Cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer. Freeze for at least 8 hours to 12 hours.
Toffee Pecan Bark
  1. Coat a baking sheet with vegetable spray.
  2. Break each graham cracker in half, into squares. Place side by side (do not overlap) onto the baking sheet.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the brown sugar, and mix well. Bring the sugar/butter mixture to a low boil, and let boil for about two to three minutes. Pour over the graham crackers.
  4. While the toffee is still hot, sprinkle the milk chocolate chips evenly over the toffee, and let sit for a minute to melt the chocolate. With a rubber spatula, carefully spread the melted chocolate chips over the toffee.
  5. Before the chocolate cools and hardens, sprinkle the chopped pecans over the whole top of the bark, and lightly press into the chocolate. Place the pan of bark into the refrigerator, and let cool until completely hardened.
The Sandwich
  1. While the bark is cooling, remove the ice cream from the freezer. Using a square of graham cracker (one graham cracker cut in half) as a template, cut the ice cream into squares. Carefully remove with a mini spatula, and place each square onto a baking sheet. Place back into freezer to keep frozen and harden.
  2. When the bark is completely cooled, remove from refrigerator, and using that same halved graham cracker as a template, cut the bark into squares.
  3. Remove the ice cream squares from the freezer, and working quickly, place one bark square nut side down on the workspace. Place an ice cream square onto the graham cracker side of that square. Top with the graham cracker side of another bark square. You should now have an ice cream sandwich with the chocolate and pecan sides to the outside of the sandwich. Wrap in plastic wrap and immediately place in the freezer.
  4. Repeat with remaining bark and ice cream squares until you have nine ice cream sandwiches.
  5. Keep frozen until ready to serve, and serve wrapped in parchment paper to catch the drips of melting ice cream!
  6. These will keep for one week in the freezer. After that, they’re still okay to eat, but the ice cream turns crystally, and not too many people like crystals in their ice cream!
  7. Enjoy!

 

Fresh Tomato and Basil Spaghetti

Fresh Tomato and Basil   Spaghettibutter, basil, and breadcrumbs is back up and running again!! 

Honestly..today just could not get here soon enough!  It’s so nice to be back…I feel like I’ve been gone forever, but I know that we’ll fall right back into step, as if no time has passed us by…because that’s just what friends do. We pick up right where we left off…

And…you know…I’ve always had sympathy for the bloggers who have been in panic mode over their blogs when they’ve realized that they are down.. but I’ve never really understood the true panic that they felt….until now.

When you think that you’re going to lose everything.. and I mean everything on the blog… it’s almost like your whole “blog life” flashes in front of you.. Honestly, I know it’s not the end of the world, and there are worse things… but only a blogger understands the blood, sweat, and tears that actually go into a blog. Not that I’m complaining, because you know how much I love it here, but the thought of rebuilding everything was a little more than daunting. Thank goodness for people who know how to find those files, and put them back where they belong.

It took a while, but I think it was worth the wait.  I hope you do, too.

So, thank you… for your patience, and for all of your kind words of support, for your emails, and for your messages while my techy geeks helped me to fix all of the issues that I had going on behind the scenes..It meant so much to me. You mean so much to me.

And the big lesson learned? Pretty much everything can be fixed, and don’t settle for an answer that you don’t like. Get a second opinion. Always.

I think that pretty much applies to life, too.

And even though the blog has been down, it doesn’t mean that I took a vacation from cooking… I have quite a few new recipes to post in the next couple of weeks!  You can always catch a sneak peek on my Instagram…simply click on the banner to the right!

Naturally, with all of the recipes that I could be posting, I chose to share spaghetti with fresh tomato and basil. You know my love for anything pasta…so I think this is rather fitting to be starting out with spaghetti.

And this one is so simple…so quick and easy, especially for the hot summer months that are ahead. A few slices of bacon fried crisp.. sauted garlic..and tomatoes cooked for about two minutes…all tossed with spaghetti, and topped with chopped basil and shredded parmesan. It really is one of my favorite meals, especially when I’m alone, and there isn’t anyone to judge just how much I’m eating!

Life is good. It’s a “I’m just so happy to be back, and so very thankful for all of you…” kind of good.

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Fresh Tomato and Basil Spaghetti

Fresh Tomato and Basil Spaghetti
 
This one is so simple…so quick and easy, especially for the hot summer months that are ahead. A few slices of bacon fried crisp.. sauted garlic..and tomatoes cooked for about two minutes…all tossed with spaghetti, and topped with chopped basil and shredded parmesan.
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ pound uncooked spaghetti
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • About 1 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Freshly shaved parmesan to garnish
  • Fresh ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, and cook spaghetti per the instructions on the box. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.
  2. Cut the bacon into small squares, and fry in a large saute pan until crisp. Drain on a paper towel lined plate. Discard all but three tablespoons of the grease. Saute the garlic for about 1 minute. Do not overcook, it burns quickly.
  3. Add the tomatoes, and toss with the garlic for about a minute or two on low heat. Do not overcook, you don’t want the tomatoes to break down.
  4. Add the cooked spaghetti to the pan of tomatoes and toss until combined. Add the bacon and basil, and toss until they’re equally distributed throughout the pasta.
  5. Serve immediately with fresh grated parmesan cheese, and a sprinkle of fresh ground black pepper.
  6. Enjoy!

 

 

Pardon My Dust As I Redecorate…

Hello Everyone!

butter, basil, and breadcrumbs is almost ready to be back up and running!

I’ve missed you terribly, and have been so excited to share a new look, as well as some really delicious new recipes!

Thank you so much for your patience during my panicked moments of trying to find a new host for bb&b, and while my wonderful new host friends picked up a few broken pieces and put them back together for me… and then after some serious consideration, decided to do a little redecorating too…

We’re still doing a little tweaking here and there, but my plan is to be back online this week sometime.
I have a delicious fresh tomato and basil spaghetti recipe that I think you’re going to love..

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Lemon-Harissa Sweet and White Potato French Fries

Sweet and White Lemon Harissa French Fries Have you ever let your mind wander to the point in which you’ve scared yourself silly? Like you know that what you’re thinking is highly improbable, yet you’re so spooked, that any and/or all reason has flown out the door? I have. Too many times…

I spent the weekend at the cabin…And while Sophie and I were sitting on the porch one evening, there was a sound coming out of the woods that I just couldn’t recognize. It was kind of eerie sounding, and I just have no idea what it was. Maybe some sort of an owl. Or a possum. I don’t know..I don’t even know what a possum sounds like, but..I’m not going to lie to you…it did enter my mind as a possibility.

Sophie sat there staring into the woods, so I know that she heard it too.

When I texted my friend about it…the name “Sasquatch” was suggested. I did the “lol” text back…but it didn’t take me long to grab Sophie and go inside because it was getting “too chilly outside”…

Truth be told, it wasn’t cold out at all.
I’m just a big chicken.
I was afraid of the noise.
Of Sasquatch.
Sweet and White Lemon Harissa French Fries 3You know..I could even handle Sasquatch, as long as it wasn’t a bear. I’m terrified of bears. I don’t even know why, because I’ve really never met a bear. In my mind though, I have the whole “bear meeting” scenario played out, so I’m quite certain it wouldn’t go very well.

I’ve heard that you’re supposed to punch the bear in the nose to scare him away. I’m not sure I would even remember that if I came face to face with one…

And honestly?
I don’t think I pack a very big punch.

I heard about a man who lives not too far from our cabin, who, for a short time was feeding the bears. Every day, he’d put donuts out for them, and every day the bears would come to feast on those donuts. They became quite greedy…those little bears…and followed the man wherever he went on his property. It got so bad, that he finally had to stop feeding them.

And that, my friends… is a very good reason why you should never throw donuts outside.
Sweet and White Potato French FriesAnyway..getting back to Sasquatch scaring me back into the cabin… It’s really okay. I can always find something to do inside…and safely tucked in my little kitchen, I started slicing potatoes…and it didn’t take long before Sasquatch and the bears were a distant memory.

A mix of sweet potatoes and white potatoes, these french fries are deep fried, tossed in a bowl of harissa infused olive oil, and sprinkled with some fresh thyme leaves and freshly grated parmesan. And if that isn’t enough… a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the top just takes these french fries to a level that is worthy of the biggest french fry aficionado. Like me.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you how quick and easy they are, because we all know that if you want to do it right, you have to double fry fries. It takes time. It can be messy. But I am going to sit here and tell you how delicious they are. They’re worth the time, and the clean up. I promise.

Life is good. It’s a “I still don’t know what was making that noise, but now that I’m home and rational again, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Sasquatch…” kind of good.

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Sweet and White Lemon Harissa French Fries 2

Sweet and White Harissa Lemon French Fries
 
A mix of sweet potatoes and white potatoes, these french fries are deep fried, tossed in a bowl of harissa infused olive oil, and sprinkled with some fresh thyme leaves and freshly grated parmesan. And if that isn’t enough… a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the top just takes these french fries to a level that is worthy of the biggest french fry aficionado.
Author:
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 cups canola oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp harissa infused olive oil
  • ¼ to ⅓ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
Instructions
  1. Wash and dry the potatoes. Slice into ¼” thick fries. Try to keep them as uniform in thickness as possible, so that they cook in the same amount of time.
  2. Bring the vinegar and water to boil in a medium saucepan or dutch oven. Add one half of the potatoes and boil for exactly four minutes. Remove with a wire spider skimmer and place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Let them dry completely, flipping them so that they dry on all sides. Let cool completely. Repeat with the other half of the potatoes.
  3. While the potatoes are cooling, heat the canola oil in a large saucepan (You want the oil to be at least 2” deep, so add more oil if you think you need it). I deep fry them when the oil reaches 350 degrees.
  4. When the oil is ready, add a few potatoes at a time to the pan. Don’t overcrowd them. Deep fry for 3 minutes. Remove with a wire spider skimmer to a baking sheet with a cooling rack placed on top. Repeat with remaining potatoes, and let cool completely on the cooling rack, which by the time you’ve finished the last of the potatoes, the first batch will have already cooled.
  5. At this point the fries will still be white / light orange and soft.
  6. Now to bring a little color and crispiness to the fries….This is where you really need to stand over the pan and watch the french fries cook…Add ½ of the cooled potatoes back to the oil, and let them fry until they’re golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oil with the wire skimmer, and drain them on the baking sheet with the cooling rack. Salt to taste. Keep in warm oven until the remainder of the french fries are cooked.
  7. After the last batch has been deep fried, add the fries to a large bowl. Drizzle with the harissa infused olive oil, and carefully toss until the fries are fully coated. Divide into four servings, and top with parmesan cheese. Sprinkle each serving with thyme leaves. Serve with lemon wedges, and squeeze the lemon juice over the loaded fries right before eating.
  8. Enjoy!

Malted Milk Cupcakes

Malted Milk Cupcakes

I have a love/hate relationship with malted milk balls. There are times when I will think that I’ll never eat another malted milk ball for the rest of my life…and then the next day crave one so badly, I wonder how I could ever live without them.

I can go years without eating them…and then have to have them in my house for six months straight.

I’m currently in month number two.

While I do love a high quality malted milk ball, my relationship with them insists that I only buy the lowest priced package that a person can buy right in the candy aisle at the local grocery store. I can’t bring myself to pay $20 for a bag of them, especially since there is a chance that my short lived admiration of them could expire at any time.

And since I’m still early on in this present love of them, I thought I should whip up a batch of malted milk cupcakes with a delightful chocolate malted milk frosting before I lost interest.

I should be very clear here. I don’t think I could ever lose interest in these cupcakes.

I mean…they’re a cupcake.
And we all know how I feel about cupcakes.

I would definitely eat these cupcakes any day, any time, regardless of their malted milkedness… The moist cupcake has a faint malted flavor, not overpowering at all, while the chocolate frosting has a definite malted milk ball flavor. And for these? I did actually run to a local chocolatier and bought exactly 36 premium chocolate milk balls for this batch. They’re definitely worth it..

Life is good. It’s a “Malted Milk Heaven… well….at least for a couple more months…” kind of good.

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Malted Milk Cupcakes
 
A moist and delicious cupcake that tastes just like a malted milk ball!
Author:
Serves: 36
Ingredients
Yellow Malted Milk Cupcake
  • ⅔ cup butter
  • 1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups malted milk powder (I used Carnation, found in the coffee aisle at the supermarket)
  • 1-1/4 cups milk
Chocolate Malted Milk Frosting
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 malted milk powder
  • 2 cups butter, room temperature (Yes. Really.)
  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
Instructions
Malted Milk Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Prepare cupcake tins with paper cupcake wrappers.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla. Beat on high until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until fully incorporated after each addition. Beat for another minute until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and malted milk powder. With the mixer on low speed, begin adding a few spoonfuls of the flour mixture into the egg mixture alternating with the milk, until all of the flour and milk are fully incorporated. Turn the mixer to high, and let beat for about three minutes.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake tins, to half full. Bake for 16 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool completely on a cooling rack. Frost with Chocolate Malted Milk Frosting.
Chocolate Malted Milk Frosting
  1. Sift together the powdered sugar and malted milk powder.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the melted chocolate*, vanilla, and salt on medium speed. On low speed, add the powdered sugar mixture a few spoonfuls at a time until fully incorporated, Add the heavy cream, and beat on low for about one minute. Turn the mixer off, and scrape the sides and bottom into the middle of the bowl. Beat on high for about three minutes, and then turn the mixer off, and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl one more time. Beat on high for three minutes.
  3. *To melt the chocolate: Break into pieces, and place into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir. It should continue to melt on its own as you stir. If you think it needs a little longer in the microwave, microwave for 10 to 15 seconds more, remove and stir. It will continue to melt on its own.
  4. Using your favorite decorating tip, pipe the frosting onto each cupcake. I used Atecco #826 for these cupcakes. Top with a malted milk ball.
Notes
Just a quick note about the frosting. This recipe will frost 36 cupcakes with a normal amount of frosting. If you want to go wild and crazy like I did in the photo, you'll want to double the recipe!